Summary: The life of a seaman is full of peril and songs and good drink. But it's also downright boring . . . unless one has the right mindset.
Pairing: Not really a pair, but if it were, it'd be Jack/Norrington
Disclaimer: Disney owns these characters and the setting in which they live.
Notes: The past few fics with this daring duo have been about getting the character voices. This is an attempt to find character mindsets. Hold on, friends--eventually the two will merge. =)
The past few fics with this daring duo have been about getting the character voices. This is an attempt to find character mindsets. Hold on, friends--eventually the two will merge. =)
No Ties, No Distractions
Pirates liked to sing songs about the excitement of their trade. They serenaded the noble art of terrifying merchants out of their wits and slicing through people who had been in the way at the wrong time, and wrote odes to the sheer joy of ravishing a woman who probably would've said "yes" if they'd bothered to ask.
These songs were intended to drown out the mind-numbing boredom that comprised almost nine-tenths of the pirate's life.
There were other ways, and of course these had their own songs. Drinking, for one. A seaman could do worse than to lie on deck, mind hazed with rum, when the wind was calm and the ocean was flat.
The act of singing was another way in and of itself. After weeks or months at sea, a crew got to know all of the verses to all of the songs by heart, and if a man had a pennywhistle or a drum about him the song could get interesting indeed. When the waves were calm, there might even be dancing.
It was best not to drink and then dance--while storms could make a deck buck and sway, a belly full of alcohol had much the same effect.
But if one left out the pillaging and plundering and ravaging and shore leave, it was a bloody boring way to make a living.
That is, unless the one making the living was Jack Sparrow.
He lived with the absolute certainty that everything he had would be taken from him and that everything he wanted, he'd get. So far, he hadn't been proved wrong. He'd spent a good few decades having an eventful life, and he would have laughed if asked whether he wanted to settle down.
The life of a pirate, eventful or not, was about what he wanted at the moment. Jack didn't make plans more than a few days in advance, because it took next to no time to change course.
Always wanted to go to Singapore? Spin the wheel, boy, and turn this ship to the east! 'Round the tip of Africa and through the Indian Ocean, and there you are!
Dream of wealth and riches? When there's a ship to be found, take it!
On land, people tied themselves to things to keep steady. Men had respectable jobs and built big fancy houses and got married and had packs of children. They trussed themselves in morals. They lashed themselves to life as tightly as they could be bound.
But a pirate had no need for ties.
Jack stood at the stern and watched the white sails in the distance. He shook his head and chuckled.
A pirate has no need for ties . . . but life would be boring if he never took the opportunity to tie someone else.
The British built their warships for elegance and speed. The men slept in bunks set into the walls, and even the captain's cabin was little larger than a decent-sized privy. The hold was full of ammunition and dried food; the galley was the navy's one concession to luxury.
Most mutinies occur on ships without proper cookware.
It was very difficult to get more British than the British navy. The lot of them knew exactly what the phrase "stiff upper lip" entailed, and they all applied the expression. They kept their uniforms as clean as was possible in the middle of the ocean, and while the pirates were off drinking rum, the British navy warmed its hands on hot tea.
If they kept on being busy and straightforward and British, the navy assumed, the men would have no time to be bored out of their skulls.
The navy also had its songs, and the men knew the verses as well as any. But there was always a man with a drum and usually one with a flute as well, and the cook knew the musical value of the triangle.
When the navy was very far away from land indeed, when the men had relaxed enough to put off their stifling coats and wander the decks without their boots, the men sometimes danced. They felt properly contrite about it later, but dance they did.
If one conceded the fighting and business and stiff upper lips and hot tea, the navy was almost as boring as piracy.
Commodore John Norrington would be rather shocked to hear it put that way, but he had been in the navy long enough to ingrain the manner of it into his personality.
He had spent his life being a very practical and straightforward man. He simply did not see the broad expanses of calm water between himself and his goal because his eyes were forever fixed on whatever the goal happened to be. Commodore Norrington's mind operated almost a day ahead of his circumstances when he felt particularly relaxed.
It was a very bad idea indeed to attempt to budge him from a set course.
On the sea, most sailors chose to think about now because thinking about later numbed the mind. They didn't want to anticipate the weather that could spring out of nowhere--or worse, continue indefinitely. They liked their card games and songs and busy work because it kept their minds off of what was coming next.
But he didn't need that distraction.
John Norrington held a spyglass to his eye and peered over the prow. He could almost make out the face of the man who was leaning over the stern of the other ship, but on a ship with black sails, there were limited possibilities. He smiled in satisfaction.
He didn't need a distraction, but he'd developed a knack for being one.
Return to Archive