Ahoy! Skybright here again, along with her faithful crew of muses, to bring you yet another Pirates of the Caribbean ficlet.
This one was inspired by a random comment made by my roommate's brother, Cory, while we were all watching PotC on video Saturday night. Many thanks to you, mate!
Before we get on to the fic, let me make a few of my now-famous Obligatory Author's Notes:
1) Tortuga changed hands between the Spanish, French, and English: True, historically speaking -- however, I've compressed the timeframe a little here. For a good overview of the history of Port Royal and Tortuga, I recommend ErinRua's excellent page at http:// captainjack .t35. com/ index.html (no spaces in there; that's just to keep FF.Net from eating the address). And read ErinRua's ripping good Pirates adventure yarn, The African Star. A better fic would be hard to find!
2) I haven't the foggiest idea how the Church of England christens people -- nor, in fact, of how the Catholics do it. The christening charges used herein are ad-libbed from (of all places) the Catholic baptism scene in The Godfather. Please, if you're of either faith, don't take offence -- none's meant. (And feel free to correct me if you wish).
3) As with all foreign languages used in my fics, the French herein has been B.P.I.M.ed -- Badly Pirated by Internet Means. I am always open to corrections, since online translators can be so famously fickle about giving good translations.
4) I'm less than happy with my title, and any good suggestions would be welcome. All suggestions and/or corrections can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
That's all. Please review if you will -- reviews are what my muses feed on. (especially Spot, the Ruthless Attack 8-Ball. And he gets cranky when he doesn't eat!!)
On to the Fic!!
The Name They'll Know Him By
Father Eustace, cleric of the parish of Tortuga, took a deep breath and tried to calm himself by thinking thoughts of England. The dusty, doddering old priest had not asked for this. It had been at the request of his superiors that he had first boarded the ship bound for this sweltering, heathenish port. They had sent him off with assurances that his presence would have a redeeming effect on the town's heathen population, that his willingness to commit to missionary service would be rewarded in no time with a parish in a more desirable location.
That had been near twenty years ago. Whether his superiors had never planned on calling him back, whether they'd decided Tortuga needed a lot of saving, or whether they'd simply forgotten him out here -- Father Eustace didn't know. And, in fact, he no longer cared. After the first decade, he'd stopped caring.
Tortuga was still what it was when he'd arrived -- a filthy, sweltering, staggering town brimming to the gills with drunks, murderers, thieves and whores, a pirate's haven where even the most pious citizens would have scandalized any good English cleric.
The woman in the room's single bed was a perfect example. There had been a thunderous pounding on his rickety front door, and a ragged, barefoot boy had announced that he was wanted to perform a christening. He'd followed the impatient lad to one of the myriad taverns that lined Tortuga's main street and been led up a set of creaking stairs to the room he now stood in -- and to the difficulty he now faced.
Father Eustace squared his shoulders and tried again. "Madame, you cannot . . . ."
A string of blasphemous French cut him off. The dark, fiery woman in the bed had introduced herself (in fragmented English) as Marie Moineau, and had asked Father Eustace to christen the sleeping newborn she cradled in the crook of one arm.
That hadn't been the difficulty. That had come when she'd told him the name she wanted for the boy.
"My dear woman . . . ."
"I'd not waste breath arguin' with 'er, mate." The battered, middle-aged man who leaned against the room's doorpost interjected. "'er 'ead's 'arder than a stone saint's 'eart -- ye'll die of age long before ye win, even weak as she is."
The priest looked appraisingly at the man who had followed him upstairs to the small shabby room -- one of several situated above the tavern. He was ragged and rough-looking, his face the battered, finely-wrinkled leather of skin worn and tanned by the elements. His grizzled hair was a mass of tangles, only partially restrained by a length of dirty string at the nape of his neck. A pirate or an ex-pirate most likely, the priest thought morosely. Most men were in this festering town.
"I'll tell you what I told her, Mister . . . ."
"Jack's me name, Father."
"Jack." Father Eustace waved his hands hopelessly. "She cannot name her child . . . ."
"An' why not?" The man rolled forward, sauntering with the wavering walk of a man long-used to the sea. "'e's not yer child, is 'e?"
Father Eustace sputtered at the blatant rudeness, fishing for some appropriate response. But none came, and finally he threw up his hands. "Bring me some water."
The old sailor nodded at the washstand in one corner. "That do?"
For such a christening as this, anything would.Father Eustace sighed and went about the motions of blessing the water in the basin. "You're standing as Godfather?"
"Aye." He raised one shoulder and lowered it again in a slow, eloquent shrug. " 'Tis what she wants."
"Is the child . . . ."
"Nay." Jack didn't seem offended at the insinuation. " 'er 'usband was Spanish -- lit out when the port changed 'ands."
"Ah." The old priest nodded. Tortuga changed hands frequently between the French and British, with the Spanish occasionally sneaking in a few months or years of control. Father Eustace had all but lost track of who held the town, for Tortuga's chief business was piracy -- and it flourished no matter who was in charge.
Another string of French, equally profane to the last, issued from the woman in the bed. Jack turned and swayed over to sit by her side. "Easy, Marie luv. Ye know what th' midwife told ye."
The priest sighed deeply and thought again of England, cool green England far away from ill, half-crazed Frenchwomen who wanted their sons christened with ridiculous names.
"Very well, Jack. Let us begin."
The ceremony began without any real problems, though Father Eustace found himself half-choking on the words whenever he spoke the boy's full name. He had all but finished -- having reached the charges, when the Godfather was meant to answer in the child's stead. Jack did his best to look solemn as he answered the priest.
"Do you believe in God the Father Almighty -- Creator of Heaven and earth?"
"And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Saviour and Lord?"
"Do you believe in the Holy Ghost?"
All but done now. Soon he could leave these people and this bizarre christening behind him. "And do you renounce Satan and all his works?"
Jack hesitated. "Father . . ." He cleared his throat.
England . . . cool, green, pleasant England . . ."Yes?"
"I can't . . . eh, that is . . . ." He shrugged once again. "I'll not be sayin' that."
"What?" Father Eustace rubbed his temples, reflecting that he'd no doubt have a roaring headache by the time this was over. "And why not?"
Jack squared his shoulders. "There's things a man does in this world a man like ye can't understand, Father. There's things I myself've been part of, an' things this lad'll have t'do, that a man like ye'd call Satan's works. But it's what men like us," He touched the sleeping boy's head lightly, "Have t'do to live. An' I'll not deny nor denounce that, nor make apology for it."
Father Eustace felt what control he thought he had over the situation spiral away into nothingness. "Not even in the boy's stead?" He asked, not very hopefully.
"Fine." He threw up his hands. "But I warn you, no good will come of it. The boy will grow up wild, with no respect for law or order at all."
Jack chuckled. "I'll not doubt that, Father. I know 'is mother."
The Frenchwoman -- Marie -- roused herself from the half-slumber she'd fallen into and said something in French by way of retort.
"Ye know it's true, luv." Jack replied easily. "There's too much of ye in 'im f'r the lad t'ever be what ye'd call proper."
Father Eustace sighed deeply and shook his head. "Very well. Then . . . will ye --" He cleared his throat. "Will you be baptized?"
"Aye." Jack grinned, revealing the gleam of golden teeth. "I will."
The ceremony ended, and Marie roused herself into wakefulness enough to smile graciously and thank Father Eustace in her broken English. Then she turned to cooing over the baby. Jack stood and offered to escort Father Eustace to the street.
"T'make sure none trouble ye." He explained.
Father Eustace accepted -- grateful to have this day over and done with -- and followed the old sailor downstairs to the tavern's door. Then he managed to shake the weathered hand that was offered him.
"Should anything happen to the woman . . . ." Father Eustace tried to curb the host of other words that sprung to mind instead of woman, "The boy will be in your charge. You are his godfather."
"Aye. I'll not forget. And . . . I thank ye, Father." Jack shuffled his booted feet awkwardly. "She's a good lass, ye know. Just 'ad some 'ard times, same's all of us 'ave."
"Indeed." Father Eustace took a deep breath and looked out into the fast-gathering twilight, where pools of light spilled from tavern doorways and drunken patrons already crowded the streets. "After all," He muttered, "Perhaps in a place like this a strong name can do a child no harm."
"Aye." The sailor touched his forelock. "Ye take care, Father."
The old priest nodded and stepped slowly out into the street. After a moment Jack raised and lowered his shoulder once more. "Aye," He said quietly to the streets of Tortuga, "No 'arm at all's t'be had of that."
"Mon garçon, mon bébé." The mother cooed. "A great man you will be, with a great man's name -- a name men will know, mon petit amour." She brushed her fingers through the babe's thick, night-dark hair. "Mon Capitaine Jacques Moineau."
"Nay, luv." Jack had returned from escorting the priest downstairs. "Ye heard th' priest christen 'im. Tortuga's an English port -- f'r now, anyway -- and it's a English name 'e'll be needin'."
He sauntered to the bedside and held his ring-studded fingers out. The babe, awakened by his mother's caresses, grasped one of the old pirate's fingers blindly.
"It's Captain 'e'll be called, luv." He said, using the English pronunciation and translating the meaning of the boy's new name.
"Captain Jack Sparrow."============================================================================================
The Beginning . . .============================================================================================
Aaaaaw . . . . Baby Jack! Ain't he cuute? :: snaps out of "aaw, baby!" mode with some difficulty:: Well, there you are! Like it, love it, hate it? Well you know the drill, mates! Review it!!