A Business Opportunity
Title: A Business Opportunity
Characters: Will, Jack, Norrington, very brief Gillette
Pairing: Will/Elizabeth with James/Elizabeth mentioned briefly
Teaser: Jack offers Will a business opportunity. Is it a scam or for real?
Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to whoever owns the rights to Pirates of the Caribbean. This is just for fun.
Author's Note: A big thanks to Icybubblz from Neo who explained why companies sell stock. A lot of this story is based on the stock market, but you don't need to know anything about stocks to read it. Of course, a real stock market didn't exist in the Age of Sail. This is a comedy so…
Will Turner pounded away on the red hot metal, slowly shaping it into the form of a sword. It was hard work but he was used to it. And he was darn lucky that he hadn't got hung after pulling that wild stunt of rescuing Jack Sparrow. He had been pardoned, Elizabeth had said she loved him and all was good in Port Royal.
Pausing at his work, Will wiped at his sweating brow and frowned. All wasn't really that good at all. He should be the happiest man around, but he wasn't. Although Governor Swann had seemed to accept him, he could tell from the look in the older man's eyes that he really didn't like it at all. He wasn't from the correct social class and he couldn't support Elizabeth properly at all. He had tried to explain all that to Elizabeth one day and she had said she didn't care, but he didn't think she really understood any of it at all. How could she? She had servants her whole life, ate fancy meals, rode in carriages and had a closet full of fine gowns. Would she really understand living in a tiny room, saving every coin or eating bits of dried bread? It was just things she couldn't relate to at all and he feared she was in for a nasty shock, a shock he feared may end their relationship before it really started. Then she would be trapped, would turn bitter and would wish she had married the Commodore after all.
"If only I had some real money! Then I could take care of her properly, like she deserves!" Will slammed the hammer down on the hot metal again, his bare back and chest glistening in the fire of the forge. He couldn't help thinking of the piles of treasure he had seen in the pirate cave. If only he had grabbed a tiny handful, a few precious jewels! It would have been enough for a decent start with Elizabeth. But of course he hadn't. He wasn't a pirate and the stuff hadn't been his. Nor had he ever thought Elizabeth would have chosen him over Commodore Norrington. Sure, he had hoped but it had been more a fantasy dream than reality. The two social classes just didn't mix. It wasn't done. But Elizabeth hadn't cared.
Or so she said.
Still, his money problem remained and Will didn't know how to solve it. He slaved away all day and a good chunk of the night at the forge and he had little to show for it. There just was no way to get ahead it seemed. What profit he made had to go for buying more metal to make new items, so there was little for himself. He couldn't even take Elizabeth out to dinner. Just then the door to the blacksmith shop swung open, a cool breeze blowing across Will's sweaty back. Expecting to see a customer with a beat up cooking pot for repair, he was startled to see a smartly dressed footman in fine clothing.
"A letter for you, Mr. Turner." The footman said from where he stood near the door, apparently unwilling to enter farther into the too hot and blistering shop.
"For me?" Will blinked his eyes in surprise and then hurried to accept the piece of folded parchment. Although he had little experience with parchment, he could see it was a fine, thick piece that shouted great wealth. Was it from Elizabeth? Somehow he doubted it, as surely she'd prefer to visit in person. Still, the Swans were the only wealthy family he knew and they employed footmen. Turning the sealed letter over, he saw an unfamiliar seal pressed into the dried wax. "Who is it from?"
"Blackheart, Inc." The footman replied. "A new business that has moved in near the waterfront. If there isn't a return message, may I go, Sir?"
"Oh, sure. Go ahead." Will waved the footman away, still unused to the whole thing. It felt odd as well. If he married Elizabeth, would he have to get used to it? Prying the letter open, Will started to read the fine elaborate script inside.
Dear William Turner,
You are cordially invited to join a unique business opportunity. Here at Blackheart Inc we have YOUR future in mind. Join us so we both can grow wealthy together.
Sincerely yours,Mr. Blackheart
Will stared at the letter dumbfounded. He had never received anything like it before and didn't know what to think. Who was this Mr. Blackheart and why did he send the letter to him? Was it some sort of scam or was it for real? And what did Inc mean? Did they mean Ink and they spelled it wrong? Realizing that it was almost lunch time, Will decided he'd go get a bite to eat and stop off to see this person. Quickly pulling his white shirt and brown vest back on, he was ready to go.
After closing up shop, Will bought a hard roll from the local bakery and strolled down the waterfront. His own blacksmith shop wasn't that far from the water, either, but he hardly ever got out to go exploring due to his heavy workload. Chewing the yeasty bread, Will stopped in front of one of the buildings. A fancy sign hung on the buildings front, the words spelling out 'Blackheart Inc'. Pushing the door open Will strolled in.
A man sat behind a desk, wearing much finer clothes than he himself did. The outfit included a fine frock coat, a lacy neck cloth and a powdered wig. And like all the other rich snobs Will had encountered, he had the way of scowling down upon him as if he wasn't good enough. But then, since that fiasco with Jack Sparrow, he'd been getting lots of funny looks. The engagement to Elizabeth caused more looks and hushed whispers. Sometimes he'd enter a noisy shop and things would fall silent, making him feel uncomfortable. Still, there was nothing to be done about it. He loved Elizabeth and had been willing to die for her. What were a few whispers or even a scandal compared to true love? "Is Mr. Blackheart in? I received this letter…"
"And you are…?" The man replied with a nasally voice.
"Will Turner." Will replied, doubt growing in his stomach about this whole thing. Perhaps his recent celebrity status had attracted some conmen? Still, these people didn't look like ruffians or pirates. They were too clean and well dressed. And surely pirates wouldn't own a building right in town. Even Jack Sparrow wasn't bold enough to do that!
"Please wait a moment and I will check." The man stood and went through another door. After a few short moment, he returned, a somewhat pleasant smile upon his face. "Mr. Blackheart will see you now. Please follow me."
Glad that he was finally getting somewhere; Will followed the man down a long hall to a nicely decorated office. Once he was inside, the man left, closing the door on the way out. Someone was sitting in the chair behind the desk, just the white powdered wig showing over the chair's back. When the chair spun around, a very familiar face met him.
"Jack?" Will gasped, shocked to see the pirate he had only recently helped rescue from the hangman's noose. "You're Mr. Blackheart?"
"'Course, mate. Can't rightly use me own name can I? Old Norrie be on me faster than ticks on a dog." Jack Sparrow replied, frowning as he adjusted the white powder wig he was wearing. "Hate wearing this thing, mate. It makes me itchy. No wonder Norrie is always so sour."
"What is this letter about, Jack?" Will thumped the piece of parchment down onto the pirate's desk. "Or was that just a cover to get me here?"
"I thought you'd like to invest in me company." Jack replied.
"Invest? You're a pirate, Jack. You don't have a company!" Will couldn't believe what he was hearing. Jack was asking him for money! "Why are you asking me for money when you have an entire cave filled with it?"
Jack stared at him long and hard. "Ye don't understand how business works, do ye?"
"Of course I do. A person works long and hard and does a good job…" Will automatically replied, but then paused. Doing that hadn't really gotten him any money for himself though. It kept him off the street, yes, but he couldn't really support a wife or buy anything. All the money he earned had to go right back into the blacksmith shop for more supplies.
"And where has that gotten ye, Will? Ye helped me out of a very difficult spot, so I'm going to help ye in return, mate." Jack grinned as he pulled open a desk drawer and pulled out a piece of parchment. "I'm going to sell ye a piece of me company."
Will rolled his eyes. "You don't have a company!"
"Of course I do. Pirating is me company!" Jack explained matter-of-factly. "Now pay attention, William. This is a unique investment opportunity and ye don't want to pass it by. Trust me on that. Spend a wee bit of coin now and in the future you'll receive a big chest full of coins!"
Skeptical, Will crossed his arms over his chest. "You're a pirate, Jack. Pirates don't give money away, they only take it. Isn't that what your Code says?"
"Yes," Jack jumped off his chair and hurried around to Will's side, pressing close and waved the parchment before his eyes. "But this paper makes ye an honorary pirate! When we prosper so do you! And ye don't have to do any actual pirating, either! You just live here in Port Royal and help us support our business. That tiny investment you make now will come back to you later in thousands of shiny golden coins! Think of what ye could do with that, mate! Surely ye could use it, err?"
"Thousands?" Will asked, the image of a treasure chest filled with gold doubloons hanging before his eyes.
"Aye, mate, thousands or even more. Depends on how much ye want to invest…" Jack grinned pleased he had him interested. "It's what all the big companies do ye know. Take the East India Trading Company for example. How do ye think they got so big?"
Will blinked and shrugged his shoulders. "By selling tea and coffee?"
Jack laughed, swinging a ring-studded hand. "Of course not, mate. They had the wealthy lords invest in their company. That money allowed them to grow and expand. It bought them more ships, allowed them to travel to more ports, acquired them more products from far away places and boom, they were so powerful they practically own everything now."
"But if I invest in your pirate business, how will I know I'll ever see any money down the line? What's to stop you from running off with my money into the tropical sunset?" Will asked, suspicious. Still, the things Jack told him seemed to have a ring of truth to it. The East India Trading Company seemed to own almost everything and they were everywhere. For all he knew, they did have rich lords backing them. It wouldn't surprise him one bit. The wealthy stuck together and did everything to keep the poor people poor with their rules of society.
"Dividends, William. The money that comes back to you is a dividend. And this," Jack waved the bit of parchment. "Is what gets you your money. It will clearly show how many shares you have purchased this day, making you an official shareholder in me company. And ye'll get your dividend because you'll be an honorary pirate and all pirates get their share. The better we do, the better ye do! It's a win-win situation, err?"
Will stared at Jack and then at the parchment, not sure what to think about the whole thing. It seemed like some sort of scam. He had always earned money by working for it with his muscles and sweat. And now Jack was saying he didn't have to do anything to get it. "So you're saying if a give you one coin I'll get ten coins in return later?"
"Aye, that's the general idea. The more plunder we collect each month, the more you get. We will use your contribution for ship repairs, supplies and so forth so we can do more pirating." Jack grinned, a gold tooth flashing in the bright tropical sunlight that came in through the window. "So, how many shares ye want to buy?"
"So I'd be helping you to rob innocent people…." Will stated, not sure if he was comfortable with that. Still, if the offer was genuine…
"Wealthy people, Will. Ye know I don't kill anyone if that's what's bothering you…"
Was Jack telling the truth? It was hard to tell. Jack kept switching sides, but he had come through on the end. That and he had very little spare money. With his engagement to Elizabeth, he really couldn't afford to loose it. Nor did he want to live off Governor Swann, as that just didn't seem right at all. Still, if it actually could get him a small fortune could he pass up that chance? He had seen the treasure in the cave and it was more than any king had or so he thought. Even a tiny fraction of that would be beyond his wildest hopes and dreams. He could support Elizabeth as she was meant to be…
Will took the paper and read it, still uncertain. "How would I explain the sudden wealth that came in?"
"Dividends, William, from Blackheart, Inc who for all legal purposes is a shipping company on paper."
"Oh…" Doubt and nervousness bit at him. It had been far easier breaking Jack out of jail and freeing him at the hanging. Half of him expected it to work just as Jack said and the other half of him believed Jack would run off with his coin never to be seen again. Which side of himself should he believe in?
"I never lied to you, Will." Jack added, a sincere expression on his face. "I did everything I could to protect ye from Barbossa."
Will sighed and slapped a few coins down onto the table. It wasn't much, but it was all he had at the moment.
A wide grin spread across Jack's face. "Ye won't regret this, Will, I promise ye! I'll return in three months with ye dividends from our loot!"
Feeling like a total idiot, Will walked back to the blacksmith shop with the parchment in his pocket. Jack had given him one hundred shares, although Will didn't exactly know if that was considered a lot or a little. It sounded like a lot to him…unless it was a hundred pence? It was a risk and he felt foolish for taking it, but there was a very slim chance that Jack might come through for him.
Then there was another issue, one that Will had thought of only after he had left. What if the authorities discovered that pirates ran Blackheart Inc? Could he get into legal trouble for owning a part of the company or wouldn't they know?
Slightly worried, Will reached the forge and soon got back to work. He needed a way to make some money now. He had been working for about an hour when the door opened again, letting a cool breeze into the blazing hot forge.
"Mr. Turner," Commodore Norrington said as he strolled into the blacksmith shop. "The Navy needs a few parts made for the Dauntless…"
"Good afternoon, Commodore." Will replied as a brilliant idea sprung into his head. "Tell me, Commodore, have you ever heard of a dividend?"
"A dividend?" Norrington blinked, surprised at the unexpected words. He was still a bit sore that Elizabeth had chosen a blacksmith instead of himself, but he vowed to try to treat the young man decently and not hold a grudge. Still, if he could somehow win Elizabeth back fairly… "Is that one of your tools?"
"It's an investment opportunity." Will explained with a smile. If anyone had money to waste, it was Commodore Norrington.
"I must be insane." James Norrington said to himself as he stepped out of the blacksmith shop, a piece of parchment in his hand proudly proclaiming him the owner of one hundred shares of the blacksmith shop. "I gave my money to Turner and all I got in return was this bit of paper. That's … I don't know what that is."
Blushing and looking around furtively, Norrington quickly folded the parchment and hid it within his pocket before anyone saw it. He had no idea where Turner had cooked up such a moneymaking scheme or why it sounded too good to be true. He had said all the right words, words that made it sound official and real. And that bit about the East India Trading Company – brilliant!
And who in their right mind would invest in a blacksmith shop? He could only do so much business anyway, as it was a one-man company. Mr. Brown didn't count, as he was drunk all the time anyway. "I'd be lucky to get my initial investment back not to mention a profit! And six months is a long time to wait…"
Vowing to send Lt. Gillette over next time, he hurried over to Fort Charles.
Will was ecstatic. The Commodore had handed him over a small fortune in coin, as he didn't have any smaller ones in his pocket. Not really understanding the entire shares business, Will had scribbled the same number – one hundred shares – that Jack had given him onto a new piece of paper. He had also told the Commodore six months instead of three months as blacksmithing took more time with less profit than pirating. Realizing he had stumbled onto a real way to make serious money, Will threw on a shirt and rushed off to buy a few more sheets of parchment, just in case more investors from the Navy decided to visit. The Commodore had been so flustered after his investment that he had forgotten to tell him what the ship needed in parts. That probably meant one of his lieutenants would be sent over soon. He hoped the one that showed up had a few coins in his pocket.
Will made it back to the shop a few scant minutes before Lt. Gillette showed up, a list of needed parts in his hand.
"Tell me, Lieutenant, did you ever hear of dividends?"
The End … for now.
I'll write a short sequel to show the results of this story soon, but for now I'll let you ponder this: was is a scam or was Jack telling the truth? What do you think?