Pirates of the Spanish Main
Nate’s father was an abusive drunk who disapproved of his son’s interest in reading, poetry, etc. He’d regularly have to fetch the old man home form the pub or tavern. Mother died of consumption, at which point things got worse. At some point in adolescence, Nathaniel’s father’s abuse was witnessed by another patron at the bar who turned out to be a dueling master, who then took an interest in the boy and wound up taking him under his wing, teaching him swordsmanship. This goes on for a while and Nate’s dad leaves him alone for fear of the duelist’s retribution. Nate is under an unspoken kind of protection. But when some unknown enemy (perhaps a jealous husband) drops a cobblestone out a high window onto the duelist’s head and kills him, this ends.
Nathaniel learns that the Duelist has left him his dueling sword, which infuriates Nate’s father, who accuses him of putting on heirs. Worked up and in a drunken rage, he attacks, but Nathaniel has learned how to faint and parry and dodge like a master. He evades the old man, in an almost judo style, until the old man knocks himself out by charging against the wall. At which point young Nate decides not to stick around anymore. He steals his father’s purse and runs off, initially taking to sea on a merchant class vessel, but eventually his ship is boarded by pirates. They are killing crewmen and they’re going to kill Nate when he tells them he’d be more use to them alive because of his skill with the sword. They make him prove it by fighting their best swordsman. He kills the man in a duel on the deck and then signs the articles of piracy on the spot. It was the first time he ever drew blood with a sword.
As for more recent history, he climbs through the ranks of the pirates to the point of being second mate, and, having come ashore with his friends after a particularly lucrative score, runs afoul of Lt. Lloyd and his men at a pub frequented by British Navy. Nathaniel and his friends really shouldn’t have been in there, but sometimes they like to push their luck. And what starts out as a minor disagreement over a dice game erupts into a brawl. And when the sorry lot find themselves hurled bodily from the fine drinking establishment, they look up to discover the same ship the lieutenant had been boasting about right in front of them and ripe for the taking.