《The Price Of Freedom》的最終章〈The Black Pearl〉，附原文＋自翻中譯。
One sunny morning in the pirate town of Tortuga, Captain Jack Sparrow headed purposefully up the dock toward his new, coal-black ship. In each hand, he carried a bottle of rum. Reaching the gangplank, he sashayed up it, then stepped down onto the black deck. His recently acquired crew of buccaneers, realizing that something important was in the offing―and that the“something” quite likely involved rum―gathered around him.
It was a beautiful day in the Caribbean, perfect for a maiden voyage. The sun was so brilliant it could nearly blind a man as it reflected off the water. Mindful of that, Jack, remembering the kohl his ladies had used on their eyes to such good effect, had acquired some of the black substance in Tortuga. When he'd dressed this morning, Jack had carefully applied the kohl to both his upper and lower lids. He was pleased with the result. It really did cut down on the glare, and, he thought, gave him quite a dash-ing air. His beard was coming along nicely. Jack was thinking about doing something distinctive with it when it got a bit longer. Perhaps he'd loop it up and tie it? Or maybe braid it?
Jack grinned at his crew, revealing the flash of two gold teeth. He'd needed work done on another front tooth for a while, and he'd figured, as long as he had the gold from the secret compartment in his cabin, he might as well use it on that problematical tooth.
A bit more than half of that gold was gone, now, but Jack figured it had been worth it to properly provision and supply his magnificent new vessel. His negotiations with Davy Jones had specified that his ship be properly armed, but all his impressive new guns required a suffcient amount of powder and cannonballs.
“All right, lads, follow me!” Jack shouted, beckoning to his men. In Tortuga's best tradition, they were a motley bunch of ruffians, scarred, tattooed. and armed to their often blackened teeth.
Smiling happily, Jack, followed by his crew, wended his way up to the bow of the ship, past her black hatches, up the starboard bow ladder bordered by the black railings, past her black foremast. He came to a halt where the bow narrowed, culminating in the long, black bowsprit. On each side of the bow hung a black anchor. Between the anchors and beneath the bowsprit lay Jack's immediate goal:the ship's figurehead, a graceful black angel, cupping her outstretched left hand to release a black dove into flight. It was a beautiful figurehead, and completely new to the ship.
Jack sometimes wondered why Davy Jones had felt it necessary to supply Jack's ship. the resurrected and transformed Wicked Wench, with a figurehead. The original Wench didn't have one.
Putting down one of the bottles of rum, Jack jumped down into the forecastle, moving as far forward as he could, so he was standing right above the black angel. Balancing himself by placing his booted foot up on the lower part of the black side rail, Jack couldn't help admiring his new footgear for a moment. They were still a little stiff, having been com-pleted just this week by the best cobbler in Tortuga. Ah, pirate boots. One could really swagger while wearing them, couldn't one?
“Mates, please listen up!” Jack waved the bottle of rum he was still holding. “Your captain has an announcement to make!” His crew stopped murmuring, giving him―or was it the rum?―their full attention.
“My fellow shipmates,” Jack said, accompanying his oration with a sweeping gesture,“today we set out on our new enterprise, seeking adven-ture, swag, and fame. And, perhaps, rum and salty wenches.” He winked broadly, and his crew responded with guffaws, elbowing each other. Jack had made sure to select only candidates with a sense of humor. This new ship was going to be a happy one; he just knew it.“And so, mates, I would like to inaugurate our maiden voyage by following tradition and smashing a bottle over our lovely angel here. May she keep us safe, and guide us on our journeys!”
Jack leaned over, took aim at the figurehead, raised the bottle of rum, and gave it a vigorous swing―
―only to stop his hand before the glass touched the wooden angel's wing.
He straightened up.“Gentlemen, I find meself incapable of smashing―and thus wasting―a bottle of perfectly good rum. That would be a sin, gents, now wouldn't it?”
Grinning, his men indicated their complete agreement. Jack raised the rum bottle to his lips, grabbed the cork in his teech, and pulled. The cork came free. He spat it out. “That's better! Mates, I now libate―if there indeed be such a word, which I rather doubt―our lovely angel here. May she watch out for us, keep us safe, and guide us on our journeys!”
Leaning over, Jack splashed a generous dollop of rum over the angel's head. Then, raising the rum high, he shouted, “I christen thee...the Black Pearl!” He took a large gulp of the rum, feeling the lovely burn as it coursed its way down his gullet. “Here's to me lovely Black Pearl, gents. Please toast our beautiful lady with me!”
The crew erupted into assorted cheers. “Huzzah! Hurray for Captain Sparrow! Cheers for the Black Pearl! Huzzah for the Black Pearl!”
Climbing back up out of the forecastle, Jack passed the open bottle to his new quartermaster, a villainous-looking Dutchman named Jan van der Groote. Then he pulled the cork on the other bottle, took another drink, and started that one making the rounds, too. He hadn't managed to find a first mate yet. Maybe there'd be someone in Shipwreck Cove....
Even though he'd promised himself that he'd focus on the future, not the past, Jack found himself thinking of Robby for a moment. He hoped his friend had reached shore safely, dug up his share of the pharaoh's reward. then used the gold to go back to England and buy himself a snug little farm. Maybe Robby would actually pursue that whole seminary and talking orders notion. The lad really would make a good minister. He was probably the only Englishman Jack had ever met that really tried to live his beliefs―yet managed not to be a prig about it. He deserved that farm and that vicar's collar, and a rosy-cheeked girl who was plump in all the right places....
The cheering was dying down now. Both bottles of rum were empty, which was no surprise. Jack wet his finger and held it up, as a breeze tugged at his loose hair. It was long now, past his shoulders. He nodded. The winds were favorable. Time to go.
Cupping his hands around his mouth, Jack bellowed,“All hands! Make sail! Prepare to cast off on my order! Helm, stand by to set course! Cheerily, lads!”
Jack strode back and forth, watching, evaluating the response of his crew. The great black sails rose. as the sweating men heaved on the lines. Jack wasn't satisfied with the effort they were putting into it.“You call that heaving?” he sneered. “I've seen grandmothers that could do better! Try it again, with a will, and lively, you barnacle-encrusted lummoxes! Heave!”
“Cast off all lines!”
The tempo of work increased. Jack looked up, shading his eyes against the sun. I must get myself a bloody hat.
As the Black Pearl got under way, gliding out of the harbor, Jack headed up to the quarterdeck. His helmsman, a young Spaniard named Domingo Velasquez, who had proudly told Jack that his father had sailed aboard Venganza under command of Don Rafael, looked at him expectantly. Jack gave him his course. It was odd to be up here, on the quarterdeck. with everything painted black, instead of the chestnut color of the Wicked Wench. But he'd known that black paint would hide the burn marks most effec-tively. And besides...a black ship with black sails, a fast black ship with black sails, was the stuff on which legends were built, here in the Caribbean.
”You will be pleased when we clear the harbor and put up the t'gallants and royals,” Jack told Domingo.“I believe that with the wind, the Pearl will be the fastest ship you've ever sailed on. Uncatchable, savvy?”
Jack felt confident that his boast would prove true. So far, Davy Jones had fulfilled his side of the bargain admirably. Jack had been very careful when he'd negotiated, making his terms very precise.
Captain of the fastest pirate vessel in the Caribbean, Jack thouhh. Faster than Venganza. Esmeralda is going to lost that red hat of hers....
Jack took a deep breath of the sea air, and felt his soul sing within him. And I've still got it, my ruddy soul...for thirteen more years at least....
Thirteen years. And after that, Jack belonged to Davy Jones and the Flying Dutchman, body and soul, to serve for a hundred years. Old Squid-face drove a hard bargain.
Thirteen years wasn't all that long a time....
Jack shivered, then resolutely gave himself a mental shake. Something would turn up. Somehow he'd get out of the bargain. I'm Captain Jack Sparrow, he thought. And I'm good at getting myself out of situations. I'll figure something out....
Jack wandered over to the other side of the quarterdeck, turned his back on the helmsman, then reached beneath Amenirdis's sash to extract Tia Dalma's compass. He flipped it open to check their heading. Right on course.
Jack wasn't taking any chances of running afoul of Teague, or any of the other Pirate Lords who might be sailing the Caribbean. He was taking the Pearl straight to Shipwreck Cove, and there he would clear his name. He had Christophe's sword, and he knew Esmeralda would speak for him. And after that? Jack grinned. Merchant ships here on the Spanish Main were going to need their white flags. Particularly ships sailing under the flag of the East India Trading Company. Captain Jack Sparrow planned to honor them with special attention.
He pulled up both sleeves. The burns on his left arm, and the “P” brand on his right arm, were nearly healed and no longer pained him. His first tattoo, which he'd had put just above the “P” brand, was still a bit ten-der, but that was to be expected. Jack flexed his right forearm with satisfac-tion. The tattoo artist had done a nice job. The tattoo depicted a sparrow, flying free, over stylized ocean waves. Most fitting, Jack thought, pulling down his sleeve. Because this particular Sparrow is going to fly fast, and far, and free....
Jack headed down the ladder to the captain's quarters. He sighed when he looked at the dark walls. He missed his bright colors. Perhaps he'd get the place repainted, when he had a bit of time.
Most of his belongings had perished in the fire, but his sword, pistol, and, of course, the contents of his sea chest had survived. He'd gotten a new baldric for his cutlass, one with a fancy silver buckle.
Jack rummaged through his sea chest until he pulled out two large rectangles of silk. One was white. He'd need it to be allowed to approach Shipwreck Island for a parlay. Otherwise, the cannons mounted on the cliff walls would make short work of his Pearl―and he couldn't have that. He'd sacrificed too much for this ship. He intended to sail with her for a long, long time. Rather like a marriage, he supposed.
The other rectangle he withdrew was his own flag. He was still refin-ing it. Against a black silk background, a white skull was shown in profile. In the upper right-hand corner, a red sparrow took wing. Very classy, Jack thought, proudly. Though the workmanship can't possibly compare to Amenirdis's. Should I hoist it, in honor of the Pearl's maiden voyage? Jack shrugged. Why not?
Carrying his flag, he went back out and strolled the weather deck, making sure everything was in order. When he was satisfied that all was shipshape, Jack went over to one of his hands, a burly black man, whose speech patterns reminded him a bit of Chamba.
“Good morning, Kwame.”
“Mornin' Cap'n Sparrow. It be a joli day, yes?”
“Extremely joli, ”Jack agreed. “I thought it would be nice to run up me flag on our maiden voyage. Will you do the honors?” He handed Kwame the folded black silk.
Jack headed back up to the quarterdeck. He got there just in time to see his flag ascend to the top of the mast, and flutter there, black as ink and bold as brass. Seeing it, Jack nodded. Turning to Domingo, he smiled. “I'd like to take her for while.”
The wind had picked up, whipping Jack's unbound hair across his face, into his mouth, and eyes. “Stand by, Domingo, ”Jack said. Reaching beneath his sash, he found a small, folded bulge of fabric, and tugged it free. Esmeralda's red bandanna.
Jack faced into the wind, and, as his hair blew back, he wrapped the bandanna around his head and secured it.“There! Much better, don't you think?”
Stepping over to the wheel again, Jack raised his hands, sliding his fin-gers over the familiar spokes, caressing them. The wheel was darker than it had been before, but it wasn't quite black. Jack glanced at the binnacle, and felt the life of his ship beneath his feet. Black against the blue sky, his flag fluttered.
After glancing at the waves, Jack turned the wheel ever so slightly, mak-ing sure the sails were precisely as he wanted them. As usual, his ship was yar. If anything, the Black Pearl was even more responsive than she'd been befoer she'd surged up from the sea bottom in a mighty burst of magic. As Jack had clung to her mast, wide-eyed, his reborn ship had coasted serenely into Tortuga Harbor―the destination Jack had specified to Jones.
Jack remembered little of the “Journey” that had taken them from the African Coast to Tortuga Harbor. There had been the sensation of incredible, rushing momentum, then a bright flash of green that had daz-zled his eyes, and then...he was back.
“She goes good, si, Captain?” Domingo said.
Jack smiled.“She goes very good indeed,” he said.
Joy filled him. He was free, and he had his Pearl...surely life could hold no more.“Let go the t'gallant and sheet home, lads,” he shouted. “Catch that wind and put her to work!” Jauntily, Jack Sparrow began to whistle―the same pirate jig that he and Eameralda had danced to, long ago...in another lifetime.
Obedient to her captain's will, the Black Pearl followed her dark angel over the azure water; as fast as the wind, as free as the men who sailed her. It was almost as though she knew she was a legend in the making, destined for adventures both great and terrible....
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