"I never had time to be in that phase between boy and man, at least not in any sense that made it apparent to the world. Poor Miss Swann, though, was right in the public eye when she went through h...
We weren't used to spending very much time with each other, though I made special precautions to keep an eye out for her. She would run through the streets of Port Royal when she wasn't being kept in better company. She always held her head like the little lady she was taught to be, even while playing with peasants in between teas and ceremonies by her father's side. It was obvious, though, as good as she was at being the young lady Swann, that it was never a strong interest to stay that way.
It must have been only shortly after we both arrived in Port Royal that she showed up at the smithy's door, interest burning in her dark eyes. She had heard the call of the steel and insisted on sitting to watch with me every now and then. Even taking up wooden swords I kept for practiced. Miss had always had a natural talent for it.
She had borrowed the practice swords from me, once or twice, to play with the boys who had a game of pirates and pirate hunters going. She was much older than the boys who would play with her, I recall, at the time. She was a girl of fourteen, already blooming into a stunning woman, but don't trust a gang of urchins who were only eight to see that.
Me, only a blacksmith's apprentice could see it. Freckles and gawkiness during those short years aside, she was always a beautiful angel. Miss Swann was a saviour at sea, for me.
The younger boys, though, taunted her. They'd said Miss was a boy in girl's clothing. One suggested that the Governor would have been better off with a son. The other said that he already had one. She took it in stride. After all, she was the one winning the sword fights. Not because of her size--though she had, perhaps, a full few inches on either of them--but because of her skill. She had the upperhand with her gawdy wooden weapon each time. The boys only recourse was to tease her for being better than them.
I only watched from the side windows into the alleyway. It was not my place to take up her side, and she was doing more than fine on her own. However, it was quickly decided that pirate hunters would carry pistols. They aimed to take out Miss Swann with pebbles and rocks. Finally, they chased her to take refuge in the doorway and I pulled her inside. She resisted for a moment.
"I could have beaten them, Will!" she argued, making a fist and practically bouncing to take them again. I led her past the sleeping Mr. Brown, "I had them right in my clutches!"
I couldn't help but laugh a little and she gave me that questioning frown. The one she's always given me. The one I've always had to answer to each time.
"What would your father think if he saw his daughter in blood and dirt, Miss Swann?" I said, finding a few strips of clean cloth for binding any wounds I made. Older, from when I was clumsier, but I still had them. After her customary insistance that I call her Elizabeth, she told me about all they'd said as I wrapped her up, cleaned up her cuts and scrapes. She told me, as though I hadn't been watching, about the rocks. I looked up at her when she said,
"They threw stones at me, Will."
I could see that hurt to her pride. It wasn't what they'd done to her that had made her unhappy. Only their words had really gotten through to the Fearsome Pirate Lizzie. She had been strong enough to stand up against. I offered her a smile as I wiped off the last smear of blood and smudge of dirt.
"Don't worry, Miss Swann. Someday, they'll be throwing flowers."