CHAPTER TEN

“Two hundred and forty-eight,” Stuart said, too tired by now to get excited about being so close.

“Two hundred and forty-eight,” said Captain Brannigan. Felix didn't say anything. The captain shook his shoulder.

“What? Oh. Two hundred and forty-eight,” Felix dutifully repeated.

Stuart took another step. “Two hundred and forty-nine.”

The captain and Felix took another step. “Two hundred and forty-nine,” they said together.

One more step.... “Two hundred and fifty!” Stuart stated in relief. “Wow! That's a long way!”

They looked around. The trees and bushes and rocks here looked exactly the same as the trees and bushes and rocks two hundred and fifty steps back the way they had come.

“This is it,” Stuart said.

“This is it?” Captain Brannigan asked. He sounded like he didn't quite believe they were in the right spot.

Felix wasn't sure either. “Are you sure?” he asked Stuart. “This doesn't look like a place to bury a treasure. There isn't even an `X marks the spot' or anything.”

Stuart sighed. Did he always have to explain everything? “If it looked like a treasure was buried here, somebody would have found it and dug it up a long time ago. This is where the map says we should start digging.”

“Uh... digging?” Felix asked next. “Did you say digging?”

“How else do you find buried treasure?” Stuart pointed out.

“But we don't have any shovels,” reported Captain Brannigan.

“Yeah,” agreed Felix. “What are we supposed to dig with -- our hands? I don't think so!” He stubbornly put his hands on his hips.

Stuart shook his head. “We can't stop just because we don't have any shovels! It won't be long before Madame X finds us. We have to hurry!”

The captain nodded. “We have to dig up the treasure in order to claim it by Official Pirate Law. What do we do now?”

Stuart suddenly got very quiet. He was looking at the map again. “Oh,” he said.

“What?” the others asked.

“Wait, there's a little more on the map here... it's kind of faint and worn off, and there's a bug stain on it... let me see... It says: `Need a shovel? Look in the cave right behind you.'”

Stuart and Felix and the captain whirled around. They saw a cave, like a black stain on the rocks right behind them. They would never have seen it if they weren't standing exactly where the map told them to.

“Wow!” Stuart exclaimed in surprise.

Felix and the toucan crawled into the cave. “Hey, there's two shovels in here!” he yelled back to them. “And even a sword! This is perfect!” He crawled out of the cave pulling the shovels and the sword with him.

“Quick, everybody, dig!” said the captain.

But before they could even grab a shovel, they heard the sound of footsteps crashing through the trees.

They all froze.

“It's Madame X!” Captain Brannigan whispered in fear.

“And Thug!” added Felix.

What should they do? They needed more time to dig up the treasure. But they were about to run out of time for good! The crashing was getting closer! They needed help!

Stuart knew exactly what kind of help would help the most. He made a fast decision. “Quick, Captain, you and Felix dig! Give me the sword!”

Felix handed the sword to Stuart. His eyes were wide and scared. “What are you going to do, Stuart?”

Stuart swallowed hard. He hoped he sounded braver than he felt when he said, “I'm going to handle Madame X.”

Just then, Madame X stepped out of the bushes right behind Stuart. “Handle me, will ya?” she cackled evilly. “That's what you think, ya poor excuse for a pirate!”

Go on to Chapter 11.


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