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And Unto Dust Returned

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My friend, and lately, confidante, Arabella Blood... I find myself quite unable to begin these words, and yet I must perforce say them if for no other reason than that you understand what lies within these volumes and why I ask that you do me this favor of terminating their earthly existence. You of course know of my devotion to my greatest of friends, your late husband, who, though departed some years past is still ever present in our thoughts. He was to me a man to be admired in all ways when I first knew him, save his nonchalance to the crown of James and our meagre revolution, and as our imprisonment extended, we became as close in our affection as in our growing hatred of the crown. That I should pledge to him there an oath of brotherhood of sorts, to be renewed again whilst on that arduous crossing of the ocean some months later should not come to you as a surprise. There was, of course, no question that I should be at his side in any escape from our wretched position of servitude and that I should thereafter serve as master of his vessel.

It is under this capacity that these volumes should even exist. They are a record of portions of the log on that ship that bore your name and our good fortunes. You will protest, of course, that these can not be the totality of the records, knowing that I did some time ago entrust what was believed to be the entire remaining set to the library at Comerton. In this you are correct, but neither is the prior collection the entire set, as I did in fit of selfish conscience rob the volumes of a number of their pages and neglect to include a few volumes in their entirety, claiming in defense the unfortunate loss of the vessel and the trials of many months at sea.

These, my friend, are what remain. I find myself completely unable to destroy them as must be done and equally unable to leave them to the ravages of history. I ask, at this late date in life, that you take charge of this record. If you honor the memory of your husband and the fame that he won in his exploits, I would ask that you do no more than glance at these pages before submitting them to their destruction.

It is, perhaps, not unusual that men of the sea will find comfort in one another's presence whilst navigating that watery desert. It gives us peace and courage in those lengths between harbors and the pleasantries that may be obtained there. To many a man this is but a pastime and something to be forgotten when the land presents its solidity beneath his legs. I must exclaim again on the graces and good nature of the man we both love, for I know not how else it happened that I should be one of those that the sea life claims so utterly. Those times that I spent in the presence of our Captain filled me with the most intense joy imaginable of heart, spirit, and body - a joy which I know that you share in your own fashion and of which I could not imagine depriving you. A stay in a harbor was to me a torture while to others it was a time of merriment and excess. I can not recall the number of times that I burned with quiet jealousy while watching that French scoundrel make merry with Peter, handing him an endless succession of tawdry damsels that he gallantly denied. That he denied them, was, I have no illusions, more due to the love that he carried constantly for you than any bond that we might have shared at sea, and though I was comforted in those denials, yet they punctured my heart like a splinter from a cannon shot. It was at these times that I turned more determinedly to my duties recording the log of the ship, and if I recorded more of a personal nature late of such a night, I pray that you may excuse it. You may certainly rest assured that, whatever strange paths he may have taken, Captain Blood was faithful in his heart to you since the day that the Barbados sun shone upon your cheek and your true nature was revealed to him.

Pray take these artifacts of a ship's master and render them unto dust. I have no doubt that I will follow them in short order. The scars upon my back ache and I am no longer able to even see the harbor lights of an evening. I have had but one true and complete love in this life, and I trust the Maker will judge me on that as I can not imagine history will.

Ever your friend,

Master Jeremy Pitt


The funeral was over, a quiet and solemn affair, and with it the last of that buccaneer crew passed into memory. Storm clouds had gathered above the harbor, and presently a gale had blown up, lashing the house with a torrential downpour that did nothing to drown Arabella's sorrows. She picked another of the pieces of loose paper from the bundle he had left for her, letting her eyes wander over that elegant script, not reading, for she knew already what it said. That such feelings were possible, she understood, for she had loved Peter as completely as she believed anyone was capable. That she was not alone in that love, that his friend and companion of so many years was of a similar heart...

She shook her head, letting a tear find its way out from the corner of her eye. She treasured these papers and the words upon them as much as the men who were their cause. And yet this was a private affair. She could no more consign these to the library at Comerton than could Jeremy, thereby staining the memory of the already legendary Captain Blood and his crew.

A sailor, and man of that brotherhood all the more, may love the sea and expect no more than that his secrets will be buried with her, nestled in her depths. Yet the rain kept up its steady barrage outside the walls and would not let her gather these papers down to the rocky headland where she might put them to rest. At last, Arabella stirred and knelt beside the fire. She stared deep into its depths, seeing embers there laid bare like her heart. Her hands, wrinkled and weathered with age, were nevertheless steady as she held first one sheet, and then another to the flames. What is once written may blur and fade, ink running and losing truth as it ages. She saw each sheet, each volume, and etched it on her heart in clear and unfading memories as she returned them to the dusts of time.