Sleep was impossible and unreasonable that night. Captain Valentine had informed his crew of their intended hour delay in departure the next morning but purposefully neglected to explain his reasoning. Pearl had immediately retired from her party so to be able to pack her endless supply of dresses the chief had had made by the island's seamstress since her first birthday. As she pulled out the dozens of silk and comfortable dresses, Pearl deiced they would be impractical for life in a city such as France.
Pearl's now meager packing was interrupted by a welcome visit from Penelope. "Your father suggested that I come and find you." she stepped into the room and noticed the half-filled trunk open on the floor. "Are you going somewhere?"
Pearl dropped a simple nightdress into the trunk and turned to Penelope with a secretive smile. "Aye," she reached for her friend's hand. "I am leaving this very morning for France!" She sensed Penelope's confusion. "I am to be married to Vincent!"
Penelope squealed. "I am so glad! I have hated seeing you so miserable without him."
"I shall hate to part from you though," Pearl hugged her friend sadly.
"Aye, that shall be hard to bear." Penelope sat on the edge of the bed and began folding a few of the dresses Pearl had chosen to bring. "I have no other true friends."
"I shall be so lonely in France!" Pearl wouldn't reconsider but she couldn't help pondering the consequences.
The girls were silent for a few minutes, packing Pearl's trunk sadly with only a small interest. Their miserable moments though were presently disturbed by rapt and relentless knocking on the door. Pearl opened it promptly and jumped back as two excited men burst into the room, full of energy and enthusiasm equal to that of little boys. Vincent finally stood still and motioned for Wesley to proceed in explanation.
"Penelope, my dear, my love, my wife…" Wesley came to the bedside and pulled her to her feet.
Vincent mimicked Wesley's motions and took Pearl's hands. "Pearl, my angel, my life, my future wife…"
"What on earth?" Pearl glanced puzzled at Penelope whose face mirrored Pearl's confusion.
"We've been talkin'," Vincent began but was cut off by Wesley.
"I am aware of your friendship with Pearl and how distraught you both must be to lose that now that she is leaving for France," Wesley continually turned back and forth between the two girls. "And you are aware of m need for a serious profession now that I have a wife," he smiled lovingly at Penelope.
Vincent jumped in excitedly, "And I'll be in need of a partner in France…"
Pearl suddenly screamed as realization dawned. "Oh Vincent, are you in earnest? Please say you are in earnest!" She begged him with her eyes. Vincent nodded. "Oh Penelope, please agree! France would be positively unbearable without my dearest friend there with me!" Pearl rushed to Penelope's side.
Penelope looked to Wesley who shrugged. "It is your decision."
"Alright," Penelope answered finally. "We shall all move to France!" Pearl screamed again in delight and hugged Penelope and Wesley as well as she could at the same time and then returned to Vincent for a grateful embrace.
Vincent kissed her cheek and whispered, "Your welcome".
Penelope and Wesley were informed of the fast arriving departure and so left to gather their belongings, leaving Pearl to finish with Vincent's assistance.
"France is going to be good." Pearl decided as she placed her final belonging into the trunk and closed it securely. "Aye, France'll be very good." Vincent sat on her bed and watched her, captivated, as she stood before the mirror, adjusting the comb in her disheveled hair.
She caught his stare in the mirror's reflection and smiled shyly, "What are you staring at me?"
He grinned, "Because you're beautiful." she blushed. "Let your hair down," He said with some thought. "It looks nice down."
Pearl rolled her eyes and removed the comb. "I look a mess." she smoothed down the curls.
"Come here!" He reached out his hand and she came to take it. With a gentle tug, Vincent unbalanced Pearl and pulled her onto the bed beside him. "You look perfect, my wife."
Pearl shook her head, "I am not your wife yet, Captain Valentine!"
"You're right," He ran his fingers through her hair with a content smile. "In six months we'll have reached France and then we'll have a proper ceremony and be wedded. It's hardly no time at all!" Vincent kissed her ear.
"Six months?" Pearl straightened up. "And for all that time on the ship, we shall not be husband and wife?" She loved him so much. "And it were my desire we not spend another day unmarried."
Vincent grinned and took her ring hand. "We've waited for a year, we'll wait six months more."
Pearl nodded resignedly. "Of course." she stood. "The men shall surely be rowdy in anticipation to deport come daybreak, you shall never sleep properly with them. Stay here for the night's remaining hours. A captain must not board his ship exhausted." She kissed his cheek and motioned to her bed. "I must bid my father a proper farewell and spend my last hours with him."
"Thanks," Vincent stretched out on the bed and she covered him with blankets.
Six months, she thought to herself as she left the room. Much too long! Pearl's mind formed an idea and she excitedly ran down the corridor to the large rooms shared by the pirate crew.
A few hours later, Vincent awoke refreshed and ready. He yawned and glanced around the room noticing the sunlight shining brightly through the windows. The captain worried that he had overslept and leapt from the bed, ashamed and embarrassed. He hurried to the door where he found a note posted with a nail. It read:
I could not bare to wake you. When you feel sufficiently rested, wash up and dress befitting for an honored Captain. Then come and meet us at the ship where everyone and everything is properly prepared for departure.
All my love,
Pearl…the future Madam Valentine
Vincent grinned at her closing signature and then looked around the room for a way to wash up. He found a basin with a bowel filled with fresh water and obediently washed his face and hands, drying off with a supplied hand towel. Unsure what she expected form his attire he simply straightened out his rumpled breeches and completely buttoned his fancy, red jacket over the white blouse. When he felt appropriately dressed, Vincent hurried down to the beach where he found Jose waiting with a jollyboat and a few strong rowers.
"Good mornin', Cap'n!" Jose handed Vincent his best Captain's hat, decorated with extraordinary red and yellow feathers.
"Thanks," Captain Valentine positioned the hat on his head and stepped into the waiting boat, followed by Jose.
The row to the ship was made short by the rowers' strength and swift maneuvers. Jose boarded first and waited for the captain opposite of the high rail. Vincent expected his men to be gathered around as usual, awaiting the captain's orders but when he stepped onto the large, main deck , Vincent was shocked at what he found.
Along with his motley crew, at least two dozen or so islanders were also grouped about on either side of the deck, leaving a wide walkway through their mass. Where the crowd divided, at the edge of both separate groups, arranged in two straight lines, stood twelve of his men; six on each side. Each stood regally with their long swords extended fully above their heads, slightly forward, creating an arch above the path. At the end of the aisle Chief Marcett waited, dressed in ceremonious white robes and shelled necklaces. He beckoned to the captain with a wide grin and Vincent saddled down the walkway with Jose at his heels.
"Stand there," the chief positioned Vincent to the right and Jose took his place beside the captain.
"Are ye nervous Cap'n?" Jose grinned and nodded back towards the aisle's entrance.
Vincent froze as he saw her. Pearl was gliding down the aisle, led by Penelope and at Wesley's side. She was dressed splendidly in a long gown of white silk with straps of pearls. It was simple and certainly nothing in comparison to the dress she would have worn in France, but he didn't imagine that even a queen's robes could have improved her loveliness. Her long hair hung freely past her shoulders and he knew she had worn it down for him. No veil graced her curls, instead her golden locks were decorated by a wreath made of leaves, white roses, and a strand of pearls. Her smile illuminated her face and her aquamarine eyes seemed to shine brighter than the noonday sun.
Pearl was proud of her quick plan and glad at how smoothly it was unfolding. Wesley and two fellow pirates had already alerted the majority of the village and Jose was busily directing the preparation of the ship so it would be ready for immediate departure after the ceremonies. Chief Marcett had readily accepted her request. He had been secretly hoping to be able to marry his daughter her entire life and had been disappointed when he heard they were to marry in France. Now only minutes before sunrise, Pearl was dressing in her old quarters on board the ship.
"Here you are," Penelope held up the modified version of her own wedding gown.
"Thank you for allowing me to use your dress," Pearl quickly slipped the silky dress over her head, admiring the altered straps. They had been changed to white pearls for her own special preference.
"Of course, you helped me make it anyway so it is as much yours!" Penelope tied the sash.
"I do hope Vincent is pleased with my surprise!"
"He will be," Penelope fixed the flowered wreath on Pearl's head. "Six months is far too long to not be married."
"Aye, those were my feelings." Pearl smoothed down her curls. "Madam Valentine," she whispered to herself.
"It sounds nice," Penelope giggled.
After a few more minutes of primping the girls were interrupted by Wesley's alerting knock.
"It is time," He opened the door and smiled at Pearl. "You look lovely."
"Thank you Wesley," Pearl took his arm and waited for Penelope to lead the way out onto the deck. "You have been such a good friend to me, Wes," Pearl spoke softly as they neared the deck. "It means a lot that you agreed to accompany me down the aisle."
Wesley patted her hand, "I am honored that you asked me."
Their talking ceased because they had reached the start of the walkway. Pearl's eyes immediately met with Vincent's and his joy was evident. He looked very handsome in his fine jacket and she could tell he had read her note because he face seemed brighter than usual and not as dry from the usual abuse brought upon by ferocious winds and spraying salt water. She adored how prominent he looked in his ornate Captain's hat and so she smiled. Vincent smiled back and her heart fluttered.
Soon they reached the end and Wesley passed her off to her future husband. Chief Marcett spoke swiftly but appropriately, knowing the ship needed to leave with the morning tides and within a few minutes he had announced them officially married.
Cheers and congratulations erupted from throughout the crowd as Vincent and Pearl turned, hand-in-hand, to face their marriage witnesses. Unfortunately the wedding party could not last long, in fact hardly at all, for soon after they were ordained husband and wife, they had to depart from St. Marie.
Pearl again forced her father for a teary-eyed goodbye and then she and Penelope bid farewell to their island home and its occupants as a whole, waving from the bow of the ship. The girls waved lovingly until the island was no more than a speck on the horizon an then sadly relinquished their home to the ocean and turned forward to face their new lives.
During the girls' emotional farewell, Vincent and Wesley considerately let them be and took care of necessary procedures on the ship. Finally, the captain and his new wife were able to have time alone. Vincent led her to the highest deck, just off the captain's cabin, where they could peacefully watch the sunset.
"Were you pleasantly surprised?" Pearl asked.
"Aye," Vincent wrapped his arms around her waist, both facing out towards the sun. "Very pleasantly."
"Good," Pearl laid her head back against his shoulder.
"I love you, my wife." Vincent grinned.
"I love you, husband." Pearl shivered I her thin, white dress and Vincent quickly removed his jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders.
And so they stood together, warmed by their overflowing love, watching the sun drop steadily into the depths of the sea, enjoying the final rays of light and brilliant colors before night took over in all of its starlit majesty. They stood there together in blissful silence observing the beauty of nature as they had so many evenings before and as they would doubtless for many evenings to come; the young, beautiful island hostage perfectly bound within the security of her captain's loving arms.