All good stories start at sea

All good stories start at sea. At least that was what I had always been told. I had been born into an upper class family in 1645. All the men of the family for as far back as anyone could tell had served within the royal navy.

As a child of such an era, my brother and I were brought up by a nanny, only seeing our parents in the evening for dinner, where I was to only speak when spoken to. James on the other hand was allowed to speak to my father, not about toys and friends but of naval college and battles. After my father had had his evening port and cigar I was permitted to speak with him. I was to show him what my tutor had taught me that day and more often than not I was put down by my father, who throughout his short life was most disappointed in my lack of ability to learn.

My brother James took pity on me and when he was home from school he would often play with me, we developed a close bond and I was broken when he was sent to the Caribbean to serve for the country. My father had died six months previously so James had taken the position so that my mother and I would not lose our way of life.

Ten years later when I had reached the age of two and twenty years I had received a letter from James informing me of his promotion to Commodore, a rank which no member of our family had ever received. He had arranged passage for me from England to Port Royal. And so I stood on the deck of the Messenger willing the last day to come to an end, the next morning I would be docking in Port Royal and would finally see my brother whom I missed so dearly.

I retired to my cabin for the evening and sat on my bunk, I retrieved my book from under the pillow and opened to the page with the turned down corner. Whenever my father had seen me doing this I had been made to strip my lower half and would be lashed until I couldn't sit for a month. He always said that it had ruined the book and devalued it, as they were his books I was reading it was my duty to give them back as I had borrowed them.

I thumbed the corner gently for some time, my eyes flitting from word to word, the book gradually moving closer to my face as the light outside the cabin window dimmed. Within half an hour the light had grown so poor that it became pointless to try to continue. I arose slowly off of the bunk, stumbling slightly before I remembered that I was not on land. I changed quickly and climbed back into my bunk and pulled the blanket up to my chin and rapidly fell into a deep sleep.

The night passed quickly and I soon awoke to the sound of the crew scurrying around on deck. I opened wide my window and leant out. There was nothing I loved more than the morning breeze. I could see Port Royal much clearer now, with every moment that passed the port seemed to grow. I allowed my mind to wander and imagined James waiting impatiently for the ship to dock. I could feel the tears well in my eyes. I forced them back and set about changing into the silk dress that James had sent me for my twentieth birthday. I couldn't wait for him to see me in it; I knew he would be pleased. I packed away the last of my belongings and called a sailor into the cabin to take my trunk out onto the deck to be de boarded.

Hours passed as I paced up and down the deck. People rushed by me doing their various jobs and before I knew it the ship was being guided into the dock. I ran gracefully to the rail and searched in earnest for James. I scanned the faces of the people standing on the jetty. I prayed that James's appearance had changed somewhat from our last meeting, as my eyes failed to find him.

I waited for a few moments more, the other passengers walked down the gangplank and into the arms of their loved ones. I searched every face I could see hoping against hope that I was at first mistaken and that James was in fact waiting for me.

An hour later and I stood along on the jetty, my belongings in the trunk at my feet. All the other passengers had left and the only people around were drunks and vagabonds. I turned to face the sea, I could see no ships on the horizon, and all around me was quiet. A tear collected in my eye and slowly trickled down my face, I heard a footstep behind me and my heart skipped a beat. James had arrived at last.

My hand rose to my eye and gingerly wiped away the tear. The person behind me cleared his throat.

"Miss Norrington?" It asked. I turned, realising that it was not James. A tall man stood before me, his hands clasped behind his back. He bowed to me and I had no choice but to courtesy back.

"Excuse me, sir. How is it that you know my name?"

"Miss Norrington, I am Lord Cutler Beckett. I am afraid that I have come to deliver bad tidings."

I nodded my head. I knew what he was to say. James Norrington was dead.