A Visit With the Pirates

              (With Emily, David, Elwood and Henry)

Daddy, I asked Emily if she would join me today for a fearful adventure, and as fast as Jack-be-quick she said, "Yes!"  My sister is the bravest girl in all of the village of Wickenham.  Did Aunt Geraldine go on adventures with you, when you were my age?

We were going to visit the pirate gang that has a hideout in our garden, and we needed the right sort of clothing for the adventure, so Mummy found a red bandana for me, and a cocked hat for Emily.  Mummy said I could wear that old vest of yours, the one that was torn, and it was perfect.  I even had an eye patch, but I really didn't need it.  Emily said the cocked hat was quite enough, but Mummy tied a green sash around her waist and told her she looked ever so much better.  Mummy even tied a bright blue handkerchief around Bailey's neck so he could join us.  when Bailey tilted his head, she told him that even an English sheep dog can be a pirate.

After breakfast we folded some stale scones into a handkerchief...not for us, but Dillard and Demora would certainly enjoy them.  There was still a bit of fog in the garden when we arrived, and just a small shiver of cold, but if it didn't rain later, it promised to be a splendid day.  We went through the gate...Daddy...You simply must get that gate fixed!  It hangs open and doesn't serve as a gate at all.  Do you recall the small pile of lumber on the other side of the garden wall next to the gate?  We found the most feasome daggers and swords there!  My dagger went into the vest pocket and Emily tucked her sword into the green sash.  Now we were ready.

Dillard and Demora waddled toward us as we approached the pond.  I made Emily laugh when I waddled, too.  Ducks are so funny out of water, but they are splendid in the pond.  They are also quite noisy, you know, especially when they know we have treats for them.  Both of them were very polite, and thanked us for the scones when we had finished feeding them, but then they went about their business of finding garden snails as we walked around the pond.  We went to the other gate...the one that is a proper gate.  Elwood and Henry were there!

You remember Elwood and Henry?  They have come to visit at the Brighton house for a few months.  Elwood and Henry call them Grammy and Grunty, but Emily and I call them Sir and Ma'am.  We like them.  Elwood and Henry, that is, but we like the Brightons, too.  Elwood and Emily are the same age, but Henry is older.  Henry is the quiet one, and he's a bit shy.  Mrs Brighton says he's also a bit slow, but he can run faster than any of us!

Elwood was anxious to show us his new Scottish penny whistle and told us it was much better than his old one, an Irish whistle which he had learned on.  He played a tune for us that he said was was first played in Scotland, and was often played on bagpipes.  Elwood said the name of the tune was The Merry Band of Stonehaven.  Daddy, do you like bagpipes?  We told them that we were going to see the pirates in their hideout, and they would likely enjoy his whistle, just as we did.  He was very excited, and said that he and his brother would like to join us, and of course we agreed.  Both he and Henry turned their shirts wrong-side out so that they too, would look like pirates.  We decided we would be the Merry Band of Wickenham if anyone dared to ask.  Henry just smiled and nodded his head, so we knew that he also wanted to come with us.

Daddy, you know the little rowboat you keep at the wharf on the pond?  The one that you and uncle Edward built?  Did you know that the pirates use it for pirate business?  Yes, they do!  The Water Queen gave them a magic blue stone, and when they take it aboard the rowboat, it gets enormous!  The rowboat...not the stone.  It has great sails and an iron anchor, too!  There are big black cannons all along the deck, and a black flag on the highest mast.  Emily told the brothers all about it when we reached the wharf after walking around the pond.  The pirates were not aboard, so of course it was just our rowboat while we looked at it.

The hedge behind the wharf has a hole in it.  It's not very big, and you have to crawl to enter it, but the hole goes all the way through to a small meadow.  The meadow used to be part of the pasture, Daddy, but now the hedge is almost completely around it, which makes it very difficult to find.  The pirate hideout is amongst the trees at one end, and the three witch sisters live in the cottage at the other end, closer to the little road.  Do you remember the old stone wall that's still in the middle of the meadow?  Neither the witches nor the pirates are able to cross it.  The Water Queen has a spell on it.

All four of us crawled through the hedge.

Daddy, you once told us that when you and Uncle Edward were boys, you sometimes took Aunt Geraldine on a picnic in that meadow, and fixed supper in a rock firepit.  It's still there, but now the pirates use it.

Emily showed us where the pirates gathered around the old fire pit and held their meetings, but told us we would not be able to see them because they were only shadows when live people were around.  Elwood quickly spun around, to see if he could see one of them before he became a shadow.  He put his finger to his lips and pointed to a nearby bush!  He whispered that one of them was hiding there, which made Henry suddenly stepped behind Emily.  His eyes got very big!

"Don't be frightened, Henry!"  Daddy, that's what Emily said to him as she took his hand.  She then told us that the pirates had a very odd way of speaking, but that the Water Queen had given her a pink stone that gave her the power to speak the pirate's language.  She spoke to the bush and then turned her head, as if to hear better, and then spoke a few more strange words.  All the time Henry was behind her, with eyes as big as shillings.  Only when Emily laughed did Henry let go of her hand.  She told us that the pirates had given up being real pirates a very long time ago, but had decided to stay together as a band of friends so they could go sailing whenever they wished, and drink tea in the afternoon, and then after supper they could dance around the camp fire.  She turned to the bush again and spoke a few more strange words; then waited for the reply.  The pirates told her they would like to hear Elwood play the whistle, if he would.

While Elwood played The Merry Band of Stonehaven, Emily and I, with Henry, danced in a circle around Bailey.  When I fell down, Emily yelled out for the pirates to join us.  Henry laughed and laughed as I got up and bowed to one of the pirates!  Later, when we were sitting on the grass, Emily told us that the pirates had promised the Water Queen that they would never again go pirating in exchange for the blue stone they had received.  Mostly they just sailed on the pond and fired the guns because it was exciting.

We stayed in the meadow the whole afternoon and danced with the band of pirates until it was time to come home for supper.  It's nice to have you home, Daddy.  Tomorrow the four of us may go and visit the three witches.  Do you know how to ward off spells?  Can you tell us how to be careful?

------------------------------------------------------- r.w. ------------------------------------------------------

by Roy Wilson