This week’s edition of Time Capsule Tuesday takes us back to 2005 when 15 year old me was told to write a short story for her Grade 9 English class. Enjoy!
A Few Coins Go a Long Way
It was a typical Friday afternoon in the town of Carinwell Woods, with the sun beating down on the piazza, and the busy markets at their financial peak. A short distance away from the busy streets, standing prominently outside of an alleyway was a young man. Here the man stood each and every day at this time, separating his morning job at the blacksmith mill from his evening duties, which normally were just small errands for his family. He didn’t say a word unless spoken to and never broke his charming grin. He always kept his composure while the others complained about the heat. After all, it had been an unusually warm spring, and it would only make sense that summer would be even warmer. As the day wore on, the young man packed up his things, consisting of one battered old guitar, and its damaged worn-out case with a few odd coins graciously given by the pitiful townsfolk. Tomorrow he would return to his same spot, for the exact same duration, and leave with the same collection of coins.
“How much did you make today?” Joseph Turner asked his brother as he walked in the door.
“Enough,” replied Jake. “I think more people are starting to take notice,”
“I think you’re quite delusional,” piped Abigail, the young sister. “You should quit wasting your time with that silly thing, and spend more time working, make real money,”
“Maybe so,” started Jake, “but I like it. So do the townspeople. Some of them say their favourite part of their day is hearing me play. So people do notice … and one day the Duke will take notice. I bet you by next year, I’ll even play at his wedding,”
His sister and brother snickered simultaneously at his remark, but Jake didn’t mind, he was use to it now. He was a dreamer, but a confident one who didn’t give up easily. He had been playing guitar since his grandfather moved out to a neighboring city when he was only 6, leaving the once perfectly conditioned hand crafted instrument to him. At the time, Jake could hardly fit his hand around the maple neck, or keep a steady position on the steel strings. Despite that, he was always eager to show his grandfather some improvements. Now, after twelve years of daily practice, Jake decided he was going to do everything in his power to become a well respected musician in the community. He not only played for his grandfather now, but namely himself.
A week later, while standing in front of the same alleyway as all the previous days, a young boy and girl approached Jake. As always, Jake merely glanced at the children, careful not to break his concentration on the song and did not speak. He had seen them before running around – these two always seemed to be on the run for whatever reason.
“Told you he doesn’t say anything,” said the boy. The girl smirked.
“Good,” she replied sitting in front of Jake. As if on cue, the little girl and boy snatched all of the money out of Jake’s old guitar case and started to run. The kids must have only been six years old, but they were good runners. Unfortunately, they were not quick enough for Jake, as he was able to catch up with them just down the street.
“Help us!” the kids cried. “He’s trying to hurt us!” they yelled as Jake held them by the arms. He quickly let them go as they had caused a scene.
Bewildered, Jake stammered, “What? No. They were stealing —,” but only received unimpressed glares in his direction. All of a sudden two full sizes mares come trotting over to Jake and the kids, pulling the biggest and most extravagant carriage he had ever seen. Out of the carriage jumped the Duke and he didn’t look too thrilled.
“Thank God you’re here sir, see these two –,” Jake quickly stopped as the Duke put his hand up, putting his immediate focus on the children.
“Billy, Mallory, you okay?” he asked the kids.
“I think so Uncle Mavis,” responded Mallory, shuffling her feet. Jake’s jaw dropped in complete shock, realizing that he was in a lot of trouble. As the children scurried into the carriage, a short stubby man wearing a sparkling black vest and sporting a black top hat hopped off of his seat where he had been holding the horses’ reigns. Out of his pocket he held a piece of parchment, which he promptly unraveled, and intently read part of it aloud to Jake.
“By order of the New England charter rights, section 5, subsection a, paragraph four, ‘He who violates any of rules 1 through 12 aforementioned in section 4 entitled ‘criminal charges’ is subjected to the punishment ruling of the current leading King. If said King is unavailable at the present moment for a hearing, the Lord of the town in which said violation is committed may choose to deal with the issue as sees fit. Any higher power of the monarchy has full privilege to take the matter into his own questioning if he wishes to interfere’. Questions,?” the little man asked, peering up from his paper. Jake chose not to respond, nervously looking from the short stubby man, to the prominent, tall, rich and obviously much stronger Duke, which stood before him.
“Personally, for attacking minors, I believe you deserve nothing more than death. However, we will take you to the castle for further judgment,” the Duke scoffed. With that, he pushed Jake into the back of the carriage, and didn’t allow him to say a single word the whole ride.
They arrived at the castle a short while later, and Jake was led down into the dungeon by the two children and a guard. As the children walked away and the guard locked him up, Jake’s change clattered away in their pockets, almost mocking him. Sullenly, he took a look around at his temporary home. The castle was old, as he could see the mildew seeping through various cracks in the walls, and every few minutes you could hear the screeches and squeals of the mice which inhabited the place. To his left was another cell, visible only through a small peep hole. There was a man in there which gave Jake a startling thought, as the man looked as if he hadn’t eaten in a year. There were no torches on these walls, but he could just faintly see a beam of light carrying itself down the stairs, struggling to reach to final step. He slunk back against the wall after his inspection and just waited, for anything.
Jake must have dozed off, as he awoke to the sound of noisy rustling and shouting. Through his blurry eyes he could see two figures, one waving something around. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he realized it was two guards, as well as the prisoner in the cell beside him. The guards both grabbed the man and hit him with some sort of blunt weapon at the knees, causing the man to fall flat on his face.
“Right, now I bet you’ll think twice about trying’ something like that, wont you?” one of the guards said. “Off to the guillotine with you, thief.” Before anything else could be said or done, the weary old man was taken away with only the look of guilt on his face to accompany him.
When the guards came back down into the dungeon, Jake sat himself upright looking as innocently as humanly possible, and waited to be addressed.
“Jake Turner?” one enquired. Jake simply nodded.
“The fool tried to harm Lord Mavericks’ kids,” the second guard scoffed.
“Never would have guessed you were the one they were talking about all day,” said the other, smirking slightly. “Now get off the ground. Maverick wants to see you,” Without showing any sign of remorse for Jake, the guards pulled him up just as they had the thief and forced him up the stairs to Lord Maverick’s study.
When they entered the study, there was only silence. “Well go on boy, explain yourself. Why are you wasting space in my cellar?” Lord Maverick said finally without even looking up at him.
For the first time since being arrested three days prior, Jake was given the opportunity to explain himself, and everything which took place leading up to this meeting. When he finished, he was ordered back to his cell until the Lord came up with suitable punishment.
It must have been hours later when the Lord finally ventured into the dark dungeon.
“Those kids are always getting themselves in and out of trouble for petty crimes, so I can believe your story,” the Lord stated. But if word gets out about this I’m finished. This has happened too often. Is there anything I can do which will keep your mouth closed on this whole spectacle?”
Stunned, Jake began to stutter his agreement with the ruling, but the only coherent sentence he could form was, “Well, there is one thing I’d like…”
On May 15th, Jake received a letter, carried personally by the little man with the top hat. It had a gold trim and simply was the most elegant piece of paper Jake had ever seen. He almost didn’t want to open it, but he was too excited and ripped it open, and it stated;
‘Jake Turner, Lord Maverick would be pleased if you would do him, and Duke William the honor in playing at his wedding on June the 6th. We trust that you will not let us down,
Charles O’Connell, Advisor’.
That summer Jake was reunited with his family, friends, and fulfilled his dream of being the most sought after musician in Carinwell Woods. He played his heart out at the wedding, and the entire Maverick family loved every minute of it. Even after all the fame and praise he received, every now and then Jake would set himself up with his newly purchased guitar outside of the alleyway where he first encountered Mallory and Billy Maverick, place his fingers on the frets, and strum.