Jack inhaled another lungful of the oddly-scented smoke, held it, exhaled slowly. It had a musty-spicy sweetness to it, not unlike certain incenses he'd smelled on the Main, up in the hills, where the natives' influence had changed even the rituals of the Church. He rolled his tongue against the roof of his mouth to taste it again, pleasantly fascinated with the faint tickling sensation so induced. He closed his eyes and concentrated, running the tip of his tongue over his palate, teeth and lips, mesmerized.
Jack lay back and laughed. Someday, he'd smoke this with James. That'd be… interesting.
Captain Carter prided himself on his seamanship. He liked to think that he could out-sail and out-fight any pirate or coasting smuggler in the Caribbean. His Redoubtable had the best record of victories of all the Jamaica squadron. He'd boasted of it more than once and, perhaps, too loudly. It was taken, in certain quarters, as a challenge.
He suffered, therefore, considerable mortification when Redoubtable was neatly dismasted and boarded by the 26-gun sloop Fury. Fuming, he stood with the remnant of his men; the pirate captain approached. Rage became apoplexy as Anamaria, grinning, broke his sword over her knee.
Seven of them. Seven bloody agents of the bloody East India Trading Company. All wide awake, all staring straight at him. Jack shifted a little in his chains, trying not to jingle the damned things, looking for a comfortable position. There wasn't one, apparently.
He still heard Black Bart's laughter, heard him proposing the wager. And he, like a fool, had taken it, so certain he would win.
Jack'd rather die than admit it (and, come to think of it, he might), but perhaps, just perhaps, he'd bitten off more than he could chew this time.
It didn't look good.
Norrington stood on the quarterdeck, hands folded behind him, watching the topmen set the foret'gallant with a sharp eye. They knew their business, as of course they would, on such a ship.
He thought of his extraordinary good fortune. To have been in the right place at the right time and to have caught the Admiral's eye. His father had written congratulations.
First Lieutenant aboard Dauntless, bound for Port Royal. It was a prime posting; with extremely good prospects for prizes. Prizes meant prize money, and the battles to win them meant excellent chance for promotion.
Norrington smiled to himself.