The Beggar Boy
Unpleasantness had a way of being forgotten—when a disgusting smell offended the senses or a shocking event offended the sensibilities, people were first appalled and then pulled all their thoughts away from the offense. Like the beggar boy: most of those old enough to know remembered that there had been a beggar boy, but no one remembered who he was or what he had been like.
Except for Lucinda; she remembered him quite well. She'd been six, perhaps seven, when she'd first run into him. The details of that specific day were foggy sometimes, but there had been many like them: days that she had managed to slip away from her nasty old Governess and cross paths with the beggar boy.
She'd done it, little Lucinda crowed to herself. She'd managed to run away from the evil Governess Graff! The first thought that crossed her young, celebrating mind was that she wanted to see her father—he'd been at sea for an eternity, it seemed, but he was supposed to be coming home today. Lucinda smiled; she would go to the harbor and wait for her father, and he would be so pleased to see her right away that he'd pick her up and never let go.
But when she finally got to the harbor, Lucinda felt a moment a fear. There were so many people around, every last one of them bigger than her, and not a single one was casting pretty smiles at her, like she was used to. She should have brought a friend to wait with her, she chastised herself.
"Don't let him get away!" someone shouted, and before she could even turn around to see what the commotion was, something barreled heavily into her back and sent her sprawling to the ground.
Her forearms stinging now, she began to cry almost immediately, but didn't protest when a young boy helped her up. He was a little older than her, but she recognized him as a neighbor. In fact, out of the small gang of boys now surrounding her, the only one she didn't recognize was the one who had knocked her flat.
He was a wretched thing, she thought immediately. Tall and filthy, perhaps eleven or twelve years old; he was gangly, thin, and unkempt—no match for the group of well-bred boys surrounding him.
"You ruined my favorite dress!" she accused him angrily, tears still in her eyes. "There's dirt all down the front now!"
"It'll wash out," he paused uncomfortably, not meeting her eyes and unsure what to call her.
"Lucinda," she supplied heatedly, her tone suggesting that she was to be treated like a princess.
"Look, Lucy—" he began.
She cut him off with a glare. "Lucinda!"
"Lucinda," he repeated nastily.
One of the circling boys pushed him for that, but when Lucinda glared at him too he backed away immediately.
"Look at me," she demanded, a frown puckering her little brow. This boy was bothersome in every way possible: he was dirty, he was mean, and he wasn't even looking at her when she was talking to him.
He finally looked up, and what the girl saw shocked her. His eyes were the exact color of her favorite chocolate candies: a rich mahogany-brown, with small highlights of gold and black. That wasn't the surprising part though—the surprising part was the humor in those depths, as if they were all playing a funny game and he knew he was going to win. There was even a crooked half-smile playing about his lips.
"What's so funny," is what she meant to ask, but she got about as far as the 'what' before someone came up behind her.
"Lucinda?" the tone was deep and concerned, older, and most definitely her father.
Her father had given all those boys quite the tongue-lashing for playing so roughly with a little girl, then he'd given her a tongue-lashing for wandering around the town on her own, and had listened patiently when she'd cried about her ruined dress. After a few days, she'd mostly forgotten about the beggar boy, but it would not be the last time they crossed each other.
Graff was particularly wicked that afternoon, so Lucinda had slipped out the nursery window when her Governess wasn't looking. She'd nearly torn her dress when she'd landed in her mother's garden, but she'd come out free and mostly unscathed, so it had been worth it. But victory was short lived when she realized she had nowhere to go. With a shrug, she let her feet wander, searching out a friend or a familiar face.
She whipped around, noticing for the first time that her feet had managed to bring her back to the harbor, and bristled at the nickname.
Unsurprisingly, it was the rude boy she'd met nearly a month earlier; she'd nearly erased him from her memory, but now all her irritation came flooding back. "My name is Lucinda," she snapped.
He nodded, but she got the distinct impression that he was actually ignoring her. "What are you doing here, all by yourself?" he asked, darting out from behind the stack of crates he'd been sitting near.
She drew away a little when he came too close, but she still answered him. "I ran away from my Governess." Her voice dropped conspiratorially, "I think she's a witch."
One of his eyebrows quirked and his half-smile began to bloom. "As in she's a terrible person, or she's actually in league with the devil?"
Lucinda stared at him blankly. "There's a difference?"
"Well, yes," he laughed, showing surprisingly clean teeth for a street urchin. "One is a crime punishable by death and the other is just a personality flaw."
She huffed a little. "Graff is terrible, always shouting at me."
"You know," he shook his head, trying to draw close again, "they'll fire her if you keep managing to run away on her watch."
Lucinda didn't draw away this time. "It's not my fault she's useless," the young girl said plainly.
The boy had laughed then, and the sound had been so carefree and wonderful that Lucinda had gone out of her way to search for him after that. He had become her reason for escaping, although she wouldn't dare to call him her friend for many more months.
"What's you're name?" Lucinda asked the beggar boy, several weeks into their relationship. It was an odd thought that had occurred to her a few days previous, but the boy had never once introduced himself.
He shrugged. "It doesn't matter."
"Don't you have a name?" she wondered aloud. When he didn't respond, she frowned. "You remind me of a little sparrow," Lucinda continued after a pause, "all puffed up and dirty from grabbing at things in the street." She thought about it for a moment, then nodded. "That's what I shall call you: Sparrow."
"That's as good a name as any," he smiled, although she couldn't tell if he was being sincere or if he was simply laughing at her.
They'd become fast friends after that, meeting each other in all manner of places around town to talk and play games. Unlike the other boys she knew, it never seemed to bother Sparrow that she was a girl or so much younger than him; he'd seemed to enjoy their time together as much as she had.
But their friendship had caused problems for others: the neighbor boys had gotten angry, Graff had turned a worrying purple color whenever Sparrow's name had been mentioned, and the butler had taken it upon himself to chase Sparrow away whenever he was caught near Lucinda's home. On the other hand, the maids had just thought it was a harmless bit of fun, and the neighbor girls were always asking to be told stories about the wild beggar boy.
Lucinda sat on her bed in a sullen haze. Graff had gotten so mad at her that morning that she'd sent the girl to her room. Now she was stuck on the second floor of the house with nothing to do, and it was maddening to her young mind.
Suddenly, there was a noise just outside, and when she went to investigate, she found Sparrow sitting in the massive laurel oak tree near her windows.
"You live in a very strange house, Lucy," he commented once she threw her windows open.
Lucinda leaned eagerly on the sills, no longer taking offense at the nickname since it was a mark of their friendship. "What do you mean?"
"Everyday, your butler comes down to the harbor with a coin and tells me not to see you anymore," he smiled, "but then one of the maids comes over with two coins and tells me I ought to keep playing with you."
"Is that why you play with me?" she failed to mask her hurt miserably. Was he her playmate only because he was being paid?
"No," he shook his head, leaning as close as the tree would let him. "I'd find you, coins or not, and we'd still have all our adventures. Even if it was only the butler paying me to stay away, I'd never stop."
"Good," she laughed. "I'd be bored with you."
That simple statement had been later proven to be painfully true, although she hadn't realized at the time that she was speaking a prophecy.
They played together for many more weeks, but Sparrow became increasingly moody and distant, like he knew something unpleasant was going to happen soon. Lucinda had feared that he was simply growing tired of having a girl half his age always hanging about him—she hadn't realized that something unpleasant was on the horizon.
"Lucy's in love with the beggar boy," the little Lords-to-be caroled at her and Sparrow.
She threw a rock at the closest boy, uncaring that it was not the proper thing to do and that she would get into a lot of trouble if anyone found out. "If you ever say that again," she floundered for a moment, then brightened. "Whenever your mothers have tea with mine, I'll tell them all that you're the ones ruining my dresses, that you push me down in the streets and call me rude names!"
It was a weak threat, but the potential wrath of their mothers was enough to send the boys away.
Lucinda turned back to Sparrow, ready to start their fake sword fight over.
But Sparrow had a far away look in his chocolate eyes. "Would it be so bad if we were?" he asked quietly, lowering his stick-sword.
Lucinda frowned. "Were what?" she asked, following his lead.
"In love," he replied with his typically impish smile.
Suddenly, she felt very uncomfortable. "I don't think—"
Sparrow cut her off excitedly. "It'd be like one of our adventures. Here," he gave her his threadbare coin purse, "see, it's something to remember me by, so that when I'm not around you can clutch at it and think about how much you miss me."
She took the purse, but didn't return his smile. Suddenly, her heart felt sick and heavy. "Why are you saying such things?" she asked worriedly. "Why should I need something to remember you by? If I miss you, I can just go down to the harbor and find you."
The light in his eyes dimmed and his smile slipped. "I won't always be there, Lucinda."
"Well then I'll search the whole town," she replied, beginning to panic. He never used her real name! What was he trying to tell her?
"Lucy—" he began.
And, just like that, she knew—he meant to go away. "No! You can't leave me," she stamped her foot, "I forbid it!"
Sparrow sighed heavily, shifting on his feet. "I'm older than you, Lucy, old enough to be a powder-monkey or a cabin boy, old enough to have a purpose." There was pleading in his eyes—he didn't want her to be angry. "I don't want to be a beggar boy forever, you must understand that."
Lucinda felt her lower lip begin to quiver. "So you'd just sail away from me?"
"I suppose I'd be able to come back eventually," he shrugged. "The Caribbean's not that big, after all."
"And what if you're killed?" she accused, tears running down her face.
"Doesn't have much faith in you, does she, boy?"
They both turned at the new voice, Sparrow in resignation and Lucinda in fear. The owner of the voice was a curious man. He was tall and thin, dressed in clothes that neither matched each other nor him, there were jingling beads and trinkets in his graying hair, and he seemed to sway on his feet a little. Lucinda's first thought was that he must be a pirate; her second thought was that he had the same eyes as Sparrow.
"You said your goodbyes yet?" he asked the boy and, not waiting for a response, turned to leave.
"It's not really goodbye," Sparrow told her quietly. "Nothing can keep us apart, remember? Not a witchy Governess or a cranky butler—not even the ocean itself." He leaned close, until he was nearly whispering in her ear. "I'll come back, I promise."
"Come along, Jack," the retreating man shouted over his shoulder.
Sparrow gave her a sad smile, then took her hand and kissed it lightly, like a gentleman, before dashing off to join the pirate. And Lucinda watched him go until long after he was out of sight, clutching his coin purse in her little hand. When she did finally move, it was only to smack straight into her butler who, for once, didn't look angry with her. She began crying immediately and in earnest.
"Life's funny that way, lass," the butler soothed as they walked back to the house. "Sometimes, it just can't help but to take away what you want most. But never you worry, little one, you'll forget him in time."
Lucinda had been furious at the suggestion, and perhaps that was the reason she had continued to hold onto the memory of the beggar boy long after everyone else had seemed to forget him. Or it could have been her anger at Sparrow himself that had kept his memory alive.
It had taken her a long time to come to terms with what had happened that day, to realize that the pirate with Sparrow's eyes had probably been his father. It had taken much longer to understand why Sparrow had gone with him, though. In the end, however, she'd come to realize that he couldn't have done anything else. He never would have been content to stay a beggar boy forever, he'd longed for the adventure that only the sea could give him and, though he never kept his promise to her, Lucinda was glad that he was probably living a better life out there somewhere.
A/N: The end? I'm debating whether to continue this little story or not. We'll see.
Nothing against Captain Teague, mind you—I really liked his brief screen time, but I don't think he'd have made a good father. Also, I guess this might explain why he and his son have different names.
On a personal note—I'm in the process of switching majors, living quarters, and schools, and I'm also heavily entrenched in writing an original novel. I may or may not have the time to continue this, or any other fic that is currently in progress. The only reason this was written was because I had to get the pirates out of my system; let's see if this did the trick.
Disclaimer: I do not own Pirates of the Caribbean or any of its characters.