A local minister preforms the most unusual ceremony of his carreer. The mispellings in Jack's note are intentional since the Johnson dictionary would not make it to the Caribbean until late in the...
"Yes, yes, I'm coming," he answered, taking a moment to straighten his wig before fumbling with the large keys and unlocking the door. At this hour of the evening the church was "closed" so to speak to the public and few ventured abroad unless they were desperately seeking shelter or salvation or both.
"May I help you?"
If the minister's hair had not been false, it would have surely stood on end. Quite a rough character stood on the other side, his hair a wild mess of beads and braids, gold glinting in his crooked smile, and steel on his hip. The Reverend swallowed very hard indeed. A pirate most likely, but seemingly alone.
"Hello Reverend," the seaman began, elbowing the door open wider and laying hold of the pastor's arm. "If you could come with me please, there's business that needs conducting and you're the only man for the job. Well, all right, I could do it, being a captain of a ship and all, but it wouldn't seem right conducting me own wedding vows, now would it? Not quite proper, if ye take my meaning."
Wedding? Captain? Good heavens! The old minister was beginning to feel quite faint, the shock and confusion of the situation rendering him entirely mute in the presence of the gold-toothed captain who was apparently still talking.
"So if you would be so kind as to grab your holy book and registrar, I'll bring you aboard."
The minister, already having a small bible in his vestment pocket gaped dumbly for a moment before turning and snatching the church registrar from its place before the captain pulled him bodily out the door. The pirate- for Reverend Dunwitty could not possibly see what else he could be- was at least not rough with him. Rather, he seemed entirely oblivious to the dumbfounded look and stumbling steps of the old priest hurrying to keep up with his swaggering gait.
"Drunkenness is a sin," the minister panted, having finally found his voice.
"Then it's a very good thing I haven't had a drink yet," the pirate winked. Reverend Dunwitty blinked, even more confused than he had been before. The pirate offered no further conversation, instead whistling merrily to himself as he dragged the old man down from the mission towards the cove where a huge ship- entirely black from her hull to furled sails- sat waiting. Good Lord! The /Black Pearl/!
"Let me go at once!" the minister gasped, trying inexpertly to free himself.
"Now, now Reverend, don't tell me you've got cold feet?" the pirate smiled. In his confusion, the minister stopped struggling.
"I beg your pardon?"
The pirate resumed dragging him towards the wharf. "As I said, I'm fixed to be married within the hour, with your good assistance, of course, and that of the Lord. Wouldn't have it any other way, would she. Besides, as I said, wouldn't be entirely right to marry meself, now would it?"
The minister, flabbergasted, said nothing.
"So I'll be bringing you aboard for the ceremony and if you're not inclined to stay for the celebration, one of the lads'll ferry you back and not a copper from your altar box will you find missing."
A wedding? Aboard a pirate ship? This was all really too much and the minister would have surely fainted if he had not been so thoroughly confused. Instead he sat stiff and dumb in the longboat as the pirate rowed them out towards the ship. A huge cheer went up as the crew spotted them over the railing.
"Welcome back, Cap'n!" bellowed a stout man with graying mutton chop whiskers. "All's ready, we're only waitin' on you and the bride o' course."
"Of course. One moment while I make meself a bit more presentable. Mr. Gibbs, see the pastor is obeyed accordingly. If it's proper she wants, proper she gets!"
There was mingled laughter and cheering from the raggedy men and a loud "Aye, Sir!" from Gibbs, the man with the whiskers.
"Well now pastor," he said, pushing his whiskers into the minister's startled face, "what's it that needs doin'?"
It was, by far, the most extraordinary wedding Reverend Dunwitty ever had conducted. A union of captain and quarter master aboard what was supposed to be a ghost ship surrounded a band of pirates! And that was only the half of it. The captain, upon reappearance, had outfitted himself in a less ragged set of clothes but the same beaten hat upon his head and not even so much as an attempt to tame his mess of hair. The pastor supposed he considered such efforts beside the point. The bride, an island woman from the look of her. Her hair had been loosely pinned up with a tortoise shell comb and inexpertly at that and she had arrayed herself most scandalously in a gown of coal and garnet, more befitting of...well...the pastor wasn't sure what, only decent women did not go around in such shades of red! Then again, anyone marrying a pirate was probably rather less than decent. As if to confirm his guess upon her character, a brief glimpse of bare ankle above black, buckled shoes with equally shameless red high heels was afforded as she lifted her skirts slightly in order to walk. The minister shuddered. Well, such was his calling and if anybody needed salvation it was these misguided, salty souls. He supposed they ought to be commended for wanting to be decently married instead of living in sin. This in mind, Reverend Dunwitty mentally girded himself and opened his Bible, determined that these two should be joined in matrimony, as the union was most likely to be the only thing holy in either of their wicked lives.
Having no address prepared- and since one was unlikely to be well-received among these brigands- the minister launched immediately into the vows. At this the motley onlookers grew silent, an air of appropriate solemnity settling over the ship. The couple repeated their vows gracefully, so much so that Reverend Dunwitty began to wonder if this was not some sort of strange dream and that he imagined himself marrying a fine couple of good family and character yet for some reason, aboard a black ship. It was when he requested "Have you the rings?" that things degenerated once again.
"Rings?" the captain asked, his expression scandalized. "Are ye daft? I can't go around with a loop of gold about me finger! That'd make me twice the marked man I am now and her besides," he added, nodding to the bride who looked equally insulted. "I'm not the king, you know!"
The minister gulped. "Oh well, er, have you...anything else?"
"I do, actually," replied the pirate, digging in his coat pocket and producing a pendant of some sort of polished green stone set in silver and strung on a long chain. The bride reached into a fold of her gown and produced a similar ornament, the stone red instead of green. Plundered, no doubt, from some honest man but the minister held his peace and said only, "Very well."
The necklaces thus looped about the other's necks, it was time for those who objected to the union to make it known.
"Actually Reverend," the captain interrupted, "I have something to say."
The minister blinked. He had been quite sure it was impossible to be even more flabbergasted than he already was. The captain turned his back to face the crew.
"I'll remind you rogues that what we do here tonight is sacred! You've sworn your honest vow not to breathe a word of this to anyone alive or dead! I say to all of you, swear on this parson's good book or whatever it is you allow holy that you take the knowledge of this union to your graves or be sent there should you ever in the least way give hint! Line up now! Swear it! Or be cast off my ship!"
The reverend could not see the captain's face, but his stance alone proved his words deadly serious. There was not a word from the crew and less movement. Slowly, silently, they formed a queue between bride and groom, each man stepping forward, laying his hand on the open Bible and swearing their silence on pain of various means of torture and death. Reverend Dunwitty could only marvel at the matched loyalty and barbarism thus displayed in the crew. When every man aboard had pledged his silence the captain turned and addressed the minister.
"Reverend," he said, "I know men of your kind are not supposed to swear by anything, not heaven or earth or the name of God, but that your word should be trusted and taken for what it is.* However, I would ask that you make a promise, that is never to breathe a word of this unless absolutely necessary. If you must, show the registrar, but give no recollection of what has happened here. Indeed, I think it might be best for you to forget."
The pastor boggled slightly, amazed that this rough man should be quoting scripture at him. Not knowing how else to reply, he nodded.
"Yes, I will promise." It was, after all, a strange but not unreasonable request. When he had so answered, the pirate smiled and turned to once more take his wife's hands in his own.
"Shall we proceed?" asked the minister, impressed at the lack of quaver in his own voice. The captain nodded, accepting a quill and signing his name to the registrar and then handed it to his bride who did the same.
"Then I pronounce you man and wife."
A deafening cheer went up and the captain gave his new wife a decently short and civil kiss upon the lips. At this the shouts grew even louder. The captain, a mischievous glint in his eye, turned briefly and offered a "Sorry, pastor," before clutching his bride close and leaning her half over backwards in a most indecent display of affection. Thoroughly shocked, the minister backed away a few steps, clutching his Bible tightly. When at last the couple came up for air, the captain inquired if he would like to stay and assist in the celebration. Reverend Dunwitty politely declined and was only too happy to be escorted back to the mainland by a pair of scruffy fellows- one round and balding, the other narrow as twig with a staring glass eye. He left them at the shore and ran all the way back up the hill to the parsonage, vestments clutched aloft in his fists like a lady's skirts. Not until after the vestry door had been bolted behind him did he pause for breath. Going to one of the windows, he looked down upon the cove to where the black ship still lay, small yellow lights gleaming brightly, the shouts and laughter of the pirates wafting up on the sea breeze. Shuddering, he barred the window on the ghastly scene, more than ready to retire to his bed and wake from the bizarre nightmare.
Indeed that was all it seemed to be for when he awoke the next morning, the black ship was gone. Giving a sigh, the minister went about his duties, content to dismiss his strange adventures as nothing more than a freak dream brought on by overripe meat or some other such commonplace ailment. However, as he noticed the registrar was out of place. It sat upon the altar with a small package wrapped in sailcloth atop it. Black sailcloth.
Oh no... the minister thought, first leafing madly through the registrar to see if he had not in fact, been dreaming. Alas, the names were still there, bold and black in dry ink and rather handsomely written for people he would have assumed to have had precious little schooling.
Capt. J. Sparrow; Anamaria - October 26, 1775
In a sort of vague hope that it might provide a more concrete explanation, he turned to the package. Upon unwrapping it, he discovered an exquisite box about the size and shape of a pipe-case, covered in gold and encrusted with enamel and jewels, a narrow glass window set into the lid afforded sight of what appeared to be a bone inside cushioned upon a bed of red silk. A reliquary? What on earth? Glancing at the grayish sailcloth in his other hand, he noticed there was writing on it:
My thanks for your part in the ceremoney night last. My First sends gratitude as well. I well realize the Church of England does not houlde with Relics, but I had no idea what else to do with suche an object. I happened upone it in a treasure cave near Constantinople and have had no opportunity to restore it to a house of worship. Since the crew was loathe to keep it aboard I thought it best to return it to a Clergeyman of some sort. If you do not wish to keep it, I pray you give it to some other fellowe of the cloth who will have better use of it.
The gentlemen who escorted you back to your parsonage have informed me that your alms box is nearley empty. I have since had them remedey this.
I thank you again for your moaste kind service.
Capt. J. Sparrow
The cloth fluttered to the floor without a sound as the minister raced down the aisle towards the alms box. He had to struggle with the thick iron lock momentarily, briefly surprised that it was still intact. Once free of the lock he threw up the lid and cried aloud. He'd fully expected to find naught but dust at the bottom of the wooden box. Instead the minister nearly collapsed with shock at the sight that met him. Filling the alms box to the brim were gold and silver coins of every stamp and weight imaginable. Spanish, English, French, Italian, and, heaven help us, even a few American! There were others too, the origin of which the humbled pastor could only guess. Immediately he flung himself upon his knees, clutching the gold and glass box which he still held in one hand to his chest.
"O Lord God, forgive me my judgments upon those poor sinners who have shown this day more generosity than many a man who calls himself a Christian! Bless that ship and the men who crew her! Bless the captain and his red-gowned bride! Bless them for following your commandment instead of living in sin! Bless their union and bless the children they beget!"
"And, O Lord," he added after a moment's prudent reflection, "bless this town and all others should those children ever come to be!"