Sure enough, when I stepped out of the other door, I found myself on the deck of a sailing ship and from the top of its mast was flying the skull and crossbones. Suddenly there was a cry of “Ship ahoy!” and bulky, bluff Captain Tempest appeared from beneath deck. He ordered the sailors to catch the ship they had spied and plunder its booty.
I wondered at this. Can we catch the ship? I questioned the sailors. They replied that they certainly could, but certainly wouldn’t. They were determined not to be pirates and hadn’t caught a ship yet. So it proved with this particular ship.
Later, I took dinner into the Captain’s quarters where I found him poring over a map of an island. His island, the Captain told me. But, he added mournfully, there aren’t any crosses on it because we haven’t bagged any treasure to bury.
The ship pulled into harbour at the island – just in time, because a storm was suddenly whipping up. “Ship ahoy!” rang out the cry again and the sailors turn to see a ship out at sea being tossed and turned by the great waves of the storm. The ship shall surely be wrecked if no-one saves her, said the sailors, but there is nothing they can do about it, the Captain would not permit a rescue.
I conspiratorially suggested to the sailors that they pretend to go after the ship for its treasure and really bring it back to harbour and safety. I hauled down and hid the skull and crossbones while the sailors strained and soon they had rescued the ship and brought vessel and crew to the haven of the harbour.
The Captain was delighted – so his sailors were not hopeless after all. The men of the rescued ship cheered Captain Tempest and his crew and the Captain was flattered, and pleased. Then he remembered he was a pirate. “Of course, we only rescued you to steal your treasure” he thundered. “So hand it over. What is it? Gold? Jewels?”
The rescued sailors laughed – where is the ship’s skull and crossbones if it is a pirate ship? And anyway, they had no treasure, only trees and flowers, but they will gladly give some of these to the Captain.
The Captain was highly distressed, until I made a suggestion. Why not plant trees on the island and mark each spot with a cross on the island’s map. They can be treasure trees. The crew looked hopefully at the Captain, will he agree?
He beamed, and Captain and crew were finally of the same mind – pirates no more.
Later, a sailor played an old sea-shanty and both crews join in lustily. Then the shopkeeper appeared and led me away from the happy scene. Back in the shop, I found the Jolly Roger flag still tucked under my tunic. “Captain Tempest won’t be needing that any more Sir, thanks to your help,” said the shopkeeper, and offered the flag to me. My largest souvenir yet.
Back in Festive Road it is sunny and warm now, and a fruit van is making deliveries.