Edgar and I returned to the Sanctuary around noon. The place wasn't as deserted as it had been that morning, but it was still pretty quiet.
Then, Edgar asked, "You hungry Jack?"
I was about to reply no when my stomach let out a monster of a growl. Edgar laughed, "I'll take that as a yes!"
Edgar led me to the storage room where we took out some leftovers of soup from the previous evening. We ate until our stomachs were silenced and then headed back out to the town of Tortuga. Edgar led me along the beach until we entered the tavern that went by the name of The Faithful Bride. I had heard of the bar from my parents, but the place looked even worse that what they told me. Bottles littered the ground, sometimes accompanied by the hand of a passed out sailor. Screams and curses were hurtled at random, pistols shots were fired into the air and a steady stream of music came from the musicians that hid in the corner. Rum flowed faster than water, and tongues rolled out secrets and oaths faster than that. It was a dangerous place. But to me, it was all the more fascinating because of it
Over the uproar, Edgar shouted, "Welcome to the Bride! Quite a place here! The food is terrible, but the rum makes up for it!"
I shouted back, "What are we doing here!? And could we please find a quieter place to talk about it?!?"
Edgar laughed as he led me up a flight of stairs and to a pair of chairs, where the roar wasn't as loud, but still pretty deafening. "Here's a little better, at least I can hear myself think," I replied, "So, what are we doing here?"
Edgar told me, "Here to teach you a tool of the trade! When you’re short on doubloons and food, best come here, and steal it from others."
"Stealing? But won't these men notice?"
Edgar laughed at this. “A man drunk on rum here would barely notice if he had a dagger stuck through his guts! They won't notice nothing if you it right boy, and if you mess up, what can they do? You’re just a kid."
"Still, they can retaliate something awful if they catch me."
"If they catch you. One thing men cease to notice... Children, those that hear and see everything, but are not seen and heard in return. Now, just try stealing from that guy hanging near the railings and talking to that woman there," He said, pointing behind him, "He's too occupied to notice his rum and pouch of gold sitting on that railing. Just be natural Jack, and be neither seen nor heard.
I looked at Edgar, saw his grin and felt reassured. I rose from my seat and proceeded to walk over to the burly man. He had no idea that he was about to lose his hard earned pieces of eight. I creped slowly behind him and saw his half-drunk bottle and his small bag of money. I looked one last look at the man before reaching out for the goods. I grabbed them and flinched, waiting for that hard blow from the man. But it never came. I opened my eyes and saw that he hadn't even turned around. I walked back over to Edgar slowly and then sat back down.
"Excellent! Now, let's see what else these people have that they no longer need.”
Edgar and I spent the next few hours robbing from everybody who had too much food and drink. We finally exited the bar around sunset and hurried back to the Sanctuary, where we met up with David Bladescar and gave him the days findings, to which he exclaimed, "Nice going boys. You got enough food to feed a dozen people! You seem to have a knack for this Jack, just hope you can keep it up."
"Thank you, sir." I replied proudly
"You’re welcome," David pondered for a moment before adding, "Jack, you can eat with Edgar, I and the rest of my closer men in my room for dinner tonight... You deserve it."
I went in shock for a moment before blurting out, "Thank you sir! Thank you!"
I had to wait an hour or 2 before Dinner started that night. Edgar then came to me and told me to follow him, where he led me to the room I had been in the previous night. This time it was well-lit, and the table had been removed to put in place a blanket to set the food and drinks on. Besides Edgar, myself and David, there were 6 other tough looking men, all whom looked surprised to see me there. Dinner was served, and we all ate alligator meat and potato soup. Jokes were made, people were laughed at and everything went merrily. But a question still nagged at me, and finally, during a lull in the conversation, I asked David, "Sir, how did you come to make the Scroungers Sanctuary?"
The room was thrust into complete silence. I looked at every face in the room and saw blank expressions from them all. I almost felt ashamed of the question and was about to withdraw from it, when David started chuckling. Everybody turned to look at him and his strange laughing. David then told me, "Haven't told anybody the story of that Jack. But, I guess it wouldn't hurt to give you a small background of myself... but you have to understand, I have to leave some names alone in this tale. “Alright.” Years ago, when I was a young lad, I sailed on an English vessel, a vessel used for combat and to sink any ships that threatened the Crown. I was an adequate sailor, and was more than a match for many of cannoneer. But, one day, a storm hit our ship and blasted it to bits. I was thrown over, and was near death, when a hand took me from my watery grave. These men.... these animals, were savages, and their captain was no better. They held blades to the throats of the survivors and asked us a question. I responded to the question, but none too nicely. My captor, who held the blade and pushed it father into my skin, which gave me this scar on my neck. The captain pushed me into servitude then. I had to serve on that infernal ship of his for a long time.... doing things I dreaded to do. Serving him, dooming others to the fate I had. And also helping him use that cursed beast of his..... To kill all those who didn't do what he wanted. Finally, my term on said ship was over, and I was dumped off on Tortuga and lived on this place ever since...... I made this sanctuary to take those who were near death in... But to help them, not hurt them like that captain did to me and all his crew. This place is the exact opposite of that ship... and I'm proud to be the founder of it."
Everybody still sat in silence, for a long time, until the conversation resumed. Hours later we all went off to bed, and went to sleep. But not before Edgar told me, “You’re pretty lucky Jack... some people got their hides skinned when they asked that question. You must be something if he actually told that story... he's never told it to anybody before."
Over the next few weeks, I learned more and more jobs and skills. I learned how to use a pistol (although I almost blew my instructor's hand off), which bars and houses had the most scraps, and also practiced with the sword against wooden opponents as well as the real things. Also during this time, I began to gain for myself, instead of the clothes on my back, I had at least 3 outfits to choose from, instead of giving all I gained to the Sanctuary, I was actually able to keep some of the gold pieces I "earned". And I was starting to be accepted by the other Urchins, who actually began to call me Jack instead of Kid.
Then one day, the usually joyous mood seemed to become even more joyous, with everybody in the sanctuary grinning at me as if drunk. I didn't even notice Edgar as he came up to me and tapped on my shoulder. “You don't know why we're all in a good mood, do ya?” he proceeded to laugh, “Today is a pretty good day for an urchin! The fishing captains are coming back to town, seeing as they've finished their voyage and have gained quite the fish bounty. "
Puzzled, I asked, “But why is that such a good thing?”
Edgar seemed amused by that as he responded, “Because David takes the gold he has and rents out a fishing ship! He doesn't do it but once a year, and although most of the fishes have been caught, it still feels good to have that sea salt hit you in the face. You ever been out to sea Jack? "
“I’ve only been out to the sea once, and that was only in the shallow parts of the waters.”
"Ah... You've never experienced that thrill of sailing.... not all people enjoy the seas, but It looks like you got seafaring' legs, he said observantly. “You better get ready, we be leaving' around noon. Pack some clothes; we'll be out there for a week or 2. "
I spent the rest of the morning packing my necessities as well as helping others pack their belongings and rations. As we walked down the beach to the docks I thought our ship would be something that rivaled the largest ships of the Spanish Armada. I was disappointed when I saw that our vessel was only a fishing Galleon. One of the others noticed my expression and remarked, “It may not be the largest vessel out there, but it is a pretty decent size. And the seas are still pleasant no matter what your ship is. "
I felt somewhat better and began to help load the ship up. I noticed the name of the ship, the Victory Explorer, painted on side as I was loading up. 3 hours later we had loaded up the ship and began to head out of the bay. I started down the stairs after we left Tortuga so I could sit down and rest, when David grabbed hold of me and told me this, “Go and stand at the bow of the ship, and just stand there. "
I gave him a questioning look as he just nudged me forward. I did as I was told and stood there for a few minutes when the sun came out from behind the clouds. The sun beams hit me and warmed my face, and then a cool, salty breeze hit me. The waves splashed all around the Victory Explorer and even splashed on to the deck and cooled the deck. At that moment, nothing else distracted me. The feeling was the best I had felt at the time, and is one of the best I have ever felt. Looking over the front of the ship, staring over the deep blue waters, looking onto the setting, wondering at all the possibilities that the seas could bring me. At that moment I fell in love with the seas. David came up behind me and said, “The Caribbean... the waters that can be so peaceful, yet so rough at the same time. Many fall in love with the sea, but this love is rarely returned by it, but the risk of either life or death still brings them back. "
We both stood there, looking over the vast picture before David told me, “Well, we better hurry below and eat. Heh, the sea may be a good sight, but the food makes you want to sail for port!
Laughing, we returned below deck and ate dinner, after which we anchored down and slept the night away.
To be continued...
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