'Pirates of the Caribbean' belongs to Disney.


The boy is six years old.

It's a sunny day, by London standards, and it's midway between noon and dinner. So Jack is on his way to church.

As he approaches the wide carved-wood door, he's careful to remove his hat- a frayed ruin of faded black silk. His Mum has made a point of teaching the boy proper manners. "If you're polite, people won't chase you off as much," she's told him, and it seems to be so.

The boy smiles up at the glowering doorkeep. "Good afternoon, Deacon. Kin I come in?"

The Deacon is pale, balding and sour, but they both know the rules here; even dirty little street urchins may enter this church, so long as they keep to the rear and stay quiet.

"Yes, but not fer long- theer's ta be a weddin' soon." As he scrambles inside, the boy hears the man grumble, "'Suffer the little children...'"

Jack resents being called 'little' because it's all too true, but forgets it as he locates his usual spot against the back wall. He sits straight, crossing his legs, gripping the brim of his precious hat with both hands.

The boy's timing is just right. Afternoon sunlight is falling full against the one stained-glass window at the other end of the church, making it blaze. It's a picture of a bearded man wearing a very long white shirt and a blue sheet. A much smaller man and woman stand on either side; the man wearing an equally long purple-red shirt, the woman a deep blue cloak and skirt. All three have huge gold coins behind their heads.

It's the colors Jack loves; vivid and sparkly as the jewelry he's seen on rich people, in the well-off parts of town. Looking at this window is even better- it's much larger, and he can stare directly at it without being told to "Move along!"

The boy drifts into his usual daydream, about chests crammed full of such jewels. He's heard many a dockside yarn about these things, hidden in faraway caves or buried on tiny islands. If he found just one, he could have everything he and his Mum must now do without. They could march into the market and buy great slabs of pork (Mum having a baffling aversion to beef), piles of toffee, every kind of fruit and nut there. And thick woolen coats and stout boots, to keep them warm on even the coldest winter days.

Even better; he would go down to the docks and buy his own ship- a big one! The largest merchantman there! Then he and Mum could sail away, wherever they wanted to- India and Madagascar and China and the Spanish Main. All the wonderful places Mum has told him about. He could find more treasures- better ones- so they could...

His pleasant reverie is shattered by hard push on his shoulder. Deacon's voice snaps, "The weddin' party's arrivin'. Be on yer way, now!"

The boy scampers to the door, shooting a final glance to the brilliantly colored light before darting back onto the dusty street. Carefully he replaces his oversized hat, grimacing a bit as his stomach growls- his appetite's been roused by his visions of endless foodstuffs.

Jack checks the position of the sun. It's the late half of the afternoon. Grinning, the boy turns down the lane that'll take him to the marketplace. It will be crowded and busy at this time of day- there's a good chance he'll be able to nick a few sweets.