Everyone has heard romantic tales of lovers who can never be together because of their positions in life. At the end of such stories, love conquers all, and the couple somehow beats the odds and lives a happily ever after—the servant girl marries a handsome prince, an apprentice blacksmith marries the governor's daughter.
This is not one of those stories.
I wasn't from a wealthy or well-known family. We weren't poor either, though; at least, not as poor as many who lived nearby us. I still did not have many options for a future, however, as I was not good at many things. I did become an apprentice at the nearby smithy for a short while, but had a rather unfortunate accident within the first two weeks and lost my right eye.
My family was devastated, even more than I was at the time. I was regularly stopped on the streets by Royal Navy soldiers for questioning. Apparently my eye patch made me look like a pirate. But more than that, I had "lost my handsomeness," as my mum said. I had never expected to marry anyone above my class, but now it seemed I had lost any chance of marriage with anyone within my class as well.
I was rather young, and did not really understand. I was not thinking of marriage or wealth. I was simply angry at my family for suddenly treating me differently, for behaving as though I was no longer human simply because I had lost an eye. Other people had such injuries. The blacksmith I had been working for only had four fingers on his right hand. I was angry at the world for gossiping behind my back as though they had nothing better to do.
So I ran away.
I joined the Royal Navy, although that was the last job I really wanted, especially with the increase of pirate attacks nearby. But I felt that there was nothing else I could do. I was stationed at a port nearby my home, much to my disappointment, but my location never seemed to reach the ears of my family. Or perhaps it had and they decided that they no longer wanted me.
I had only lost an eye—it was not as though I was a walking skeleton!
I had a most boring job guarding one of the docks. Nothing exciting ever happened there. The post was not nearly as bad as it could have been. I could have been assigned much more dangerous tasks. The other man stationed at the docks was quite obnoxious—he rarely shut up, and he loved making crude remarks about the women that passed by. He did not even try to avoid the subject of my eye patch as most did.
"So what happened to you, mate?" he asked, motioning to my eye patch. "Yer wife throw something at you?"
I chuckled. "No, I'm not married."
I flinched at the thought of my mother. "No."
"Am I going to have to keep guessing, or are you going to tell me?"
Laughing, I said, "Just keep away from me when I'm holding a pointy object." I waved the gun with the bayonet that was in my hands, and the man stepped back. "Name's Ragetti, by the way."
Apparently I was not the only man who had a sad story about getting into the Royal Navy. Pintel had recently been press ganged into service. I didn't even know that the British Navy did that—made them sound much like the pirates they were always fighting, except with more discipline and less freedom.
My eye (or lack of the one) began attracting attention as the days went by. One day, two young women passed close by us. They were both very attractive, but one seemed to be of the upper class and the other much closer to mine, perhaps a personal handmaiden to the lady. The woman of higher class was blonde and had a stern face that made one wonder if she knew how to smile. The other was brunette, her cheeks pale and eyes downcast.
Pintel could hardly keep his mouth shut, needing a hard jab in the side from my elbow to keep from saying anything suggestive. "Good day," I greeted them politely, bowing my head slightly. The blonde looked at Pintel and me in suspicion, deigning to tilt her head ever so slightly to us, her eyes obviously focused on my eye patch.
The brunette looked up at me hesitantly, her eyes first focusing on the eye patch as well, but then moving to my dirty-blond hair, and then my whole body. She blushed when she looked back up into my eye and saw that I had been watching her. She curtsied quickly before following her employer away.
"That blonde was a looker, wasn't she?" Pintel said as soon as they were out of earshot. "I'd love to try and put a smile on that one."
"I think she's a little out of your league," I said with a chuckle, my mind still thinking about the brunette.
The next day, I found myself alone at the docks. Pintel was apparently late. Technically I was supposed to inform a superior officer, but that wouldn't do any good.
"Excuse me, sir?"
I turned and was captured in a pair of deep brown eyes. I blinked and quickly looked the young woman over, recognizing her as the brunette from the day before. "Hello," I said after a moment. "Is there something I can do for you, Miss?"
"Is your…friend…going to be here today?"
My heart sank. "Yes, he is, I believe. He's just late."
"Oh," she said. "Miss Worthington won't be pleased. She'll have to take a longer route on her walk."
"The lady who was with you yesterday?" I inquired.
The brunette nodded. "Yes. She didn't like the way he was looking at her." I grinned, trying to keep from laughing. "Something funny?"
"Just my friend."
We stood in silence for a few moments. "I had better go. Thank you, Mister…?"
"My name is Ragetti," I said.
"Mr. Ragetti," she said with a curtsy.
I shook my head. "No Mister, just Ragetti please, Miss…?"
She swallowed. "Belle." When I opened my mouth, she quickly added, "Just Belle." She flushed as I smiled at her.
"A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Belle." She blushed harder when I said her name, and I admit to nearly reddening myself.
"Likewise, Ragetti." She turned to leave. "I do hope our paths cross again."
I had the feeling that they would.
And I was right. We met again on the docks, on the street, in shops—it was almost as though we were purposefully trying to run into each other. Belle was wonderful. Her name was beautiful, just like herself; she had a wonderful smile, alluring eyes, and she was the one person who did not act as though my eye patch made me different or ugly.
Belle and I walked along the beach as the sun set. She had the afternoon off, and I had no assignment for that evening, and we were simply enjoying one another's company. "Do you mind me asking why you wear that eye patch?" she asked hesitantly. She bit her lip when I turned to her.
"No, I don't mind. I simply lost me eye."
"A battle?" she inquired, her eyes shining.
I was tempted to tell her yes, that I had lost my eye during some brave struggle for my life against a ruthless onslaught of pirates. But I would not lie to Belle. "No, an unfortunate accident."
"I'm sorry," Belle said after a moment. "It does make you more—interesting."
"Interesting?" I repeated, sure that "interesting" was not the word she was going to say.
Belle blushed. "I was going to say dashing, actually."
I couldn't help but grin. "Really?" Belle nodded, her eyes looking down at the sand below our feet. "No one has ever told me that. Not since the accident, at least," I added. "But I suppose that a pirate accessory isn't everyone's cup of tea."
Belle laughed, her smile seeming to light up the dark that was falling over the beach as the sun disappeared over the horizon. "I'm sure that you were very handsome with both eyes as well." She avoided looking directly at me.
"Has anyone ever told you that you're the loveliest creature they have ever laid eyes on?"
Belle turned to me, her cheeks redder than they had probably ever been as she tried to hold back a smile. "No."
"Good. Then I can be the first," I said with a grin. "You are the most beautiful creature I have ever laid eye on."
Belle smiled softly. "You have a lovely eye, you know. And the fact that you have one makes it all the more precious, does it not?"
I think that was the moment that I realized it, the big fact that usually changes the lives of those in a romantic story. I was in love with her. I had never cared for another more, never desired to spend time with anyone else as much as with her. I was in love.
Parting from her was the most painful thing I would ever have to do, or so I thought at the time. Pintel and I were transferred aboard the Allegiance.
I don't remember much of my time aboard that vessel. It was awful. Being the lowest of ranks, Pintel and I were often mistreated, scorned, and it seemed that many had a particular aversion to me, given my missing eye.
By the time I got back to the port, I was determined that I would not be going back aboard that or any other Navy ship. I had changed; I had grown. The two things that had not changed about me were my lack of a right eye and my love for Belle. I planned on taking her away, marrying her in some far off port and making a new life. Anywhere had to be better than here—Belle, as a servant, was likely not treated as she should be. In fact, I knew she wasn't. She deserved to be treated like a queen.
When we met again, I greeted her with a passionate kiss, my arms holding her body close and my mouth caressing hers. Belle was flustered, completely unprepared for how I said hello. "I should have told you before I left," I whispered in her ear. "I love you."
Belle stared at me in silence, and I feared that I had misread our conversations, our relationship…but she suddenly smiled broadly and embraced me. We stood in silence for a while before I revealed my plan of leaving the port. But Belle was not nearly as excited as I was.
"Where would we go?"
"There are other towns."
"But then what? Neither of us would have a job, nor money."
I sighed as I gazed into her eyes. "You sound as though you don't…as though you don't want to marry me."
Belle shook her head quickly. "No, no, that's not true at all! I want to, really!" She kissed my cheek. "But going somewhere else with no jobs or money? That-that can't work…" She looked at me apologetically. "Maybe if we managed to get some money together—."
I cut her off by placing a gentle kiss on her lips. "I'll get the money. I swear it. And then I intend to marry you." I kissed her again, grinning as I felt her smile against my lips.
I did everything I could to keep that promise. Being a mere soldier wasn't enough, and I wasn't up for promotion, so I did the next thing that came to mind—I stole.
I never hurt anyone—just a little pick-pocketing here or there, and once a little adventure Pintel and I took into a rich family's mansion where we stole some of their silver. I never spent any of it. It was for Belle and I to start a new life.
Then Pintel and I ran away from the Royal Navy. I'm pretty sure we weren't missed. We went to Tortuga where we managed to get together some more money through games of poker. I never cheated. I can't say the same for Pintel. But I finally believed that I had made enough money for Belle and I to go away together.
My love was amazed when I revealed the small amount of wealth I had managed to collect. But when I would not tell her how I garnered the money, she became suspicious.
"Ragetti, where did you get all this?" she asked again.
"I won some of it. Poker."
"Gambling?" I winced at the disappointment in her voice. "You must be a wonderful poker player…or…" Belle looked up at me, her brown eyes wide.
"I didn't cheat," I said quickly. "Really, I didn't."
She nodded slowly. "You got all this money from gambling?"
I could not lie to her. "No."
It did not take long for her to figure out what I had done. "You've lived up to your eye patch now, haven't you?" she said, tears coming to her eyes. "Don't you see? You've ruined your life!"
I wrapped my arms around her and tried to comfort her, but she insisted that I had done wrong. "Promise that you will never steal again."
I did not promise, because I was not sure if I could keep it. I did steal again, but only because I wanted to get Belle something special—a diamond ring. But then her answer to my proposal was not what I expected…
"I can't marry a pirate!"
I don't remember what happened after that up until the day that Pintel and I joined the crew of the Black Pearl. The first mate of the vessel, a rather frightening man named Barbossa, called me trustworthy, something I found rather odd, and gave me a wooden eye "for safekeeping." I used it in place of my missing right eye, but I never got rid of my eye patch, even though I no longer needed it. It was leftover from a previous life, one with a beautiful woman, true love…perhaps if I held onto the memory, maybe, just maybe, I somehow would live a happily ever after. Maybe I would return to Belle; maybe she would forgive my sins.
I have held onto the eye patch for years. The memory of Belle resurfaces every time I close my eyes. My heart pains every moment I think of how I disgraced myself and disappointed her.
I hope you did not expect a happy ending to this tale. I did warn you. This isn't like those other stories. When you see the sadness in my eye, now you know why.
Now that I think about it, it's strange that all this happened because I lost me eye…
Funny old world, isn't it?