The rain thundered down like bullets on Sakurai. It was terrible weather which didn't improve his mood. In a big city like London, no one had time for the homeless. Sakurai was starving. He had no money and he called an arch near the bottom of a steep hill his home. He had stayed alive by scavenging scraps of the more generous people and stealing off the less generous people. A couple of years back, he wouldn't have been so fussed about being caught stealing but last year, something happened which he hoped would change his future.
A ship had come from the port and claimed they were heading to Portugal to find some treasure. Most people had learnt to stay away from ships like these. "Nonsense ships" they called them. Sakurai was always interested in potential job offers like these. He wanted to have a bit of excitement to spice up his life. Luckily, the captain needed a crew. "Fine young lads are what I need," the captain said examining Sakurai. The captain introduced himself as Captain Marvellous. "You don't look like you have an inch of meat on your skinny bones!" laughed Captain Marvellous as Sakurai offered to join. "Tell you what though, I don't think enough people are interested this year so I'll come back next year and if you're bigger and better, I'll hire you, Deal?" Sakurai had grinned and promised he would do just that. His eyes had widened and he whispered, "Yes," to himself.
A year later and here he was. Nothing had changed about him. He was taller but that was just about it. He was still hungry, still thin and still lived under that arch. If anything, Sakurai was hungrier as he was a lot more cautious about getting caught stealing money. He was worried about getting caught and he would not be at the port the day the ship was due to come. What if the ship didn't come? What if he was stopped when trying to get to the ship? What if he wasn't hired?
"Sorry," Sakurai said automatically as he walked into someone. He scolded himself for losing his concentration. It was happening more and more as he let his mind wonder in the deepest far corners of his brain. He told himself to snap out of it and focus on the road ahead. He shook his head and stopped. He was at the market. Sakurai loved the market. He could mix in with the crowd with no one giving him disapproving looks. Sakurai eyed the butchers queue as it was decreasing. He needed meat the most if he were to look well fed.
Sakurai carried a fistful of shillings which he had stolen from the merchant he had bumped into earlier. It was so easy now.
It took a long time to get anywhere in the market. You had to wrestle through crowds of people and it took a lot of energy and patience. After weaving in and out of several people, he rushed to the butchers to get in front of the queue. As Sakurai barged in at the front, many people shouted obscene curses at him but Sakurai took no notice. The butcher was a meaty bullish man. "What can I get you?" asked the butcher.
"As much as I can get for this, "Answered Sakurai throwing down the coins.
"Where did you get it?" questioned the butcher sharply.
Sakurai replied calmly, "I sold my mother's locket." Sakurai still had his mother's locket but the butcher nodded and turned around to start preparing the meat. It didn't matter where they got their money, the butcher thought, as long as they were willing to pay up. "Here," said the butcher handing over the meat. He grinned as he had deliberately given him less meat as he knew the boy wouldn't notice. Sakurai nodded his thanks and scurried away. Sakurai was always self-conscious about the fact he wasn't from London. In fact, he wasn't from Europe. He came from a far distant island called Japan. His family had always wanted to move to England in hope for a better life. It took years to get to England but he did it. His mother had died from fever in Germany. He had then stowed away on a ship to set for London.
Sakurai bounded to the port hardly containing his excitement. He stopped short as he noticed a policeman stare at him. Sakurai frowned, generally policeman ignored him. Then, Sakurai noticed the other person talking to the policeman. It was the merchant he had stolen from. "Drat," said Sakurai to no one in particular. He started running the opposite direction. He laughed as he saw the policeman shouting at him while trying to keep up. Sakurai was a lot more adapted to the streets than most people.
10 minutes later, Sakurai had made his way round a building and back to the port again. He carried a triumphant smile which only grew wider when he saw Captain Marvellous' ship. "Finally, you're here," called Captain Marvellous as he came up to Sakurai. Welcome aboard my ship, The Cortes.