We scoured the island for three days looking for the treasure, but we weren’t having any luck. Even Waves tried to figure out how to use some magic to locate it, but she didn’t fare any better.
The third night, we sat around a bonfire. Many of them were lying on their backs, looking up at the stars. Hermes was over on de Bastille’s ship, checking it out with Slim and the Barrys to make sure it was seaworthy.
Waves came over and sat down next to me. “You seem to have a gift for magic,” I said to her.
She blushed. “I get it wrong more often than not,” she admitted.
“You did alright.”
She looked down at her lap. “Thanks.”
“How did you become a pirate?” I asked her. “Was it because of Smee and Rummy?”
Shaking her head, she said, “I didn’t meet them until after I joined the crew.”
“So if it wasn’t because of them, why did you?”
“Things at home weren’t good,” Waves replied sadly. “Too many people to feed, not enough food. Me da kicked me out, told me find some work to help pay for things.”
“Why didn’t he go to work himself?”
“Oh, he did. Me da was a hard worker,” she said earnestly. “But he liked his rum, almost as much as Rummy loves hers. So I found a job as a kitchen maid. It didn’t pay much, but I got free meals and was able to give some to me mum. She done her best to hide it, but Da always found it. He’d hit for hidin’ the money from him, then go off and drink.”
She shrugged. “I managed. One night, Tooth and Slim came into the inn where I worked. I liked ‘em right away, so I made excuses to get out of the kitchen and listen to their tales of the sea. I overheard the name of their ship, slipped out the back door, and made me way onboard. I’m so small they didn’t notice me until we were far out to sea. Rummy kept them from throwin’ me into the water.”
“How long ago was that?” I asked her.
She shrugged. “I dunno. Does it matter?”
“I suppose not. Are you happy with them?”
She got a thoughtful look on her face. “Sometimes. The capt’n isn’t always truthful with us. He gets a certain look in his eye when he’s lyin’. And he licks himself a lot when he’s lyin’, too. Not always, mind ya, but once in a while.”
“Do you think he’s lying about the treasure being here?”
“No, I think it’s here. He just don’t remember where it be.”
“Waves!” Smee called out to her. “C’mere a minute.”
Jumping up, Waves ran over and joined the other women. I got up as well and wandered over to the beach, where I found Tooth pacing up and down. Every once in a while, he’d stop and dig in the sand. A disappointed look would come over his face, and he’d cover the hole back up.
“I’m curious, Tooth,” I said as I approached him.
The pug jumped, spun around and growled. He relaxed when he saw it was just me. “Don’t be sneakin’ up on me like that, boy,” he said, sitting down. “What are you curious about?”
“How come you can’t remember where you buried your treasure?”
“Well, it’s been a while since we buried it here.”
“In your years or dog years?”
“Maybe ten years.”
“Has the island changed that much in all that time?”
“Oh, aye,” Tooth nodded. “Trees, bushes, things like that…a lot of it tweren’t here back then.”
“Who actually buried it?” I asked.
“Well, I think it was Pete the Cat Guy and Teacup.”
“Did you ask them where they buried it?”
“Well, no. I mean, I know they told me, so I should remember, but…” he looked sad.
“Pete! Teacup!” I called out.
The two pirates jumped up and ran over to us. “You called, Capt’n?” Pete said.
“When you buried our treasure here ten years ago, do you remember where you put it?”
Pete started to answer, but Teacup spoke up first. “I blew a big hole in the ground, and we buried it there.”
“Did you make the hole before or after you buried the treasure?” I asked him.
“After…no, wait, before, it was definitely before,” Teacup replied.
I rolled my eyes and shook my head. “Pete, was it out in the open?”
Teacup said, “Of course it was!”
“No, it wasn’t,” Pete said quietly. “We actually buried it in a cavern near the middle of the island. My belief is that the vegetation and trees have grown enough that the entrance is hidden.”
I stared at Pete, my mouth hanging open slightly. I couldn’t believe how articulate he was. “Where do we need to be searching?” I said to him.
He pointed inland. “That way.”
I went over, grabbed a stick from the fire, and held it aloft. Whistling, I got everyone’s attention. “Grab a stick from the fire and follow us.”
Once everyone had a torch, I turned to Pete. “Lead the way.”
We followed him, single file, toward the center of the island. We only walked for about twenty minutes until we came to a large mountain. “The entrance should be somewhere around here,” Pete told me.
“Alright, everyone spread out and look for an opening.”
It didn’t take long to find it. It looked like an ordinary doorway chiseled into the side of the hill. One by one, we filed through, making our way down a dark passageway which led us to a cavern. We all walked into the room and stared in awe.
Water dripped from the top of the cavern to the floor below, creating a small pool in the center. Rocks were scattered around like furniture, just waiting to be used. I studied the walls. They were smooth, yet a bit slimy from condensation that had seeped through. Stalagmites rose from the floor, while stalactites hung from the ceiling. I turned to Pete. “Are you sure this is where you buried the box?” I said.
He nodded. I noticed the shovel in his hand. At least one of us had thought ahead. Then I noticed the others had shovels and pickaxes, too. I stood back and let Pete take charge. He paced off in one direction, then turned and went another thirty steps. He stopped near a rather large stalagmite. “This wasn’t as big when we were here last time.”
“I can take care of that,” Teacup said. He reached into his pocket, poured some gunpowder around one side of the formation, then ran a line back toward us. Pulling a match out of his pocket, he looked at us and said, “You might want to take cover.”
Given his track record, none of us had to be told twice. We dove for cover just as he lit the match and touched it to the powder. He stood there, watching the flame racing toward the large pile. I jumped out of my hiding place, grabbed him by the back of his shirt, and pulled him to safety just before the explosion.
Dirt and smoke filled the air, and we all started coughing and fanning the air. Pete and Teacup hurried over to the newly formed hole and looked down. “I see it!” Teacup said, dancing up and down.
The others rushed over with their tools, and soon they were all working to make the hole bigger. Even Tooth jumped down into the hole and helped dig. I merely stood and watched. After all, this was their booty, not mine.
Tooth scrambled out of the hole about thirty minutes later. He walked over to the small pool and lapped some water before coming over to me. Sitting down at my feet, he looked up at me with his big brown eyes. “You’ll help us lift it out of there, won’t you?”
“Your two men got it down in there. You’ve got more than enough right now to get it out.”
Sure enough, the three women and two men pulled the chest free and pushed it out of the hole. I noticed the big lock on it and looked at Tooth. He glanced at the box and growled. “I don’t have the key anymore,” he said. “It’s at the bottom of the sea somewhere.”
I went over, twisted the lock back and forth a little bit, then yanked it off. Tossing it aside, I opened the chest myself. I looked inside, then slammed the lid shut. “Do you still intend to honor our agreement about payment for my ship?”
“Aye, of course,” Tooth nodded. “‘Tis only fair.”
“You all are my witnesses, are you not?” I said to the other crew members. They all nodded in agreement. “Good, then I’ll take my cut now, and you all can fight over the rest.”
“What do you mean, ‘the rest’?” Tooth barked. “That chest should be brimming with riches.”
I opened the lid part way, reached way down into the chest, and grabbed two bags before pulling my arm out. I slammed the lid down again. Looking around, I found an enormous boulder. I went over, picked it up, walked back to the chest, and smashed it down on top of the lid. They couldn’t see inside the chest, and they’d have to work together to get it off. “I am going outside, while you all figure out how to remove that.”
I made my way back down the passageway, then back outside into fresh, salty air and down to the beach, where Hermes, Slim, and the Barrys had arrived. I pointed the three pirates in the direction of the cavern. “They found the treasure and are waiting for you.”
The three of them ran off. I grabbed Hermes’ arm before he could follow him. “Grab the line for the other rowboat,” I said. “Don’t ask questions right now, just do it.”
He ran over, picked up the line, and dragged it back to the first rowboat. I took the rope from him, tied the second boat to the first one, then hopped in it. “Let’s go.”
We quickly rowed far enough away from the shore that the pirates couldn’t safely get to us. “What are we doing?” Hermes asked me.
“You’ll find out shortly,” I assured him.
It took about an hour before we spotted their torches on the beach. Tooth started barking at us while the others yelled for us to return. “Did you enjoy your treasure?” I called out to them.
“There was hardly anything left,” Tooth replied. “You stole most of it.”
“Not true,” I said. “You gave me permission to take what you owed me, which is exactly what I did. No more, no less. The God of War is an honest and honorable man.”
Hermes snorted. I smacked him upside the head.
“Are you coming back to shore to get us?”
“Send us back the rowboats then.”
“I’m not going to do that, either. I’ve decided to take de Bastille’s ship and return to my vacation.”
“You can’t do that!” Tooth growled and yapped. “You’d be stranding us on a deserted island.”
“Not for long, I promise. I’ll send another ship to pick you up.”
“Do you give me your word, lad?”
“On my life as a pirate, I shall send someone for you.”
We could see them talking and gesturing. “You’ve not left us much choice,” Tooth said. “Just hurry up and send someone.”
“I will. In about three or four months.”
“What?! You can’t do that! It will be winter soon! We’ll freeze to death!”
I started to row toward de Bastille’s ship. “Have Teacup start some fires. That should keep you warm, if he doesn’t blow you to Tartarus first!”
The last time we saw them, they were still standing on the shoreline, watching us sail away. I never saw the pirate crew again, although I did hear stories about Captain Tooth and the Aye-Aye Crew for many years after our encounter. They certainly gave me an interesting tale to tell.
It was a barking great adventure.
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