CHAPTER ELEVEN

Stuart stared wildly at the pirate. “M...M... Madame X! You found us!”

“That's right,” she agreed in a harsh voice. “You thought you were clever using that bird to lead me in circles. But I'm more clever than you are!” Madame X laughed a delighted, evil laugh.

Stuart's mouth hung open and he could only grunt, “Uh...”

Madame X put her hands on her hips and strutted closer to Stuart. “You led me right to the Morgenstern treasure. I thank you for making it so easy on me.” She pointed a finger at Stuart. “Now stand aside, you landlubber! I intend on taking that treasure!”

Stuart was so scared he couldn't even swallow. How would he be able to handle Madame X if he couldn't even swallow? She was going to tie him up and hang him from a tree by his thumbs!

Behind him he heard Felix and Captain Brannigan digging as fast as they could. They grunted. They strained. The toucan screeched at them to go faster. But digging was slow work. Stuart knew they would never be able to keep Madame X away and dig for the treasure at the same time.

Just then Madame X stepped towards them! They needed his help. He had to do something, fast!

Stuart gulped and jumped in front of her, blocking her path. “You'll have to go through me first,” he squeaked.

Madame X was so surprised that at first she didn't say anything. Then, with eyes narrowed to beady slits, she asked, “What was that?”

Stuart gulped a bigger gulp. “I said, not so fast, Madame X. That treasure belongs to the captain. Finders keepers.”

“Finders keepers, you say?” Madame X snarled at Stuart. Her eyes grew into even smaller slits. “Well, I say losers weepers!”

She threw her head back and laughed long and loud. “Ah ha ha ha!” Then Madame X pulled out the sword that hung from her waist. She pointed it straight at Stuart.

Stuart lifted his sword up and pointed it straight at Madame X. The sword was steady in his hands. Suddenly he felt strong and brave. He was going to beat Madame X!

Then he looked at the swords. Madame X's sword was big, bright, and shiny. Stuart's sword was small, short, and rusty.

Stuart gulped the biggest gulp yet.

Madame X laughed at him again and lifted her sword even higher. She yelled, “Defend yourself, you sorry excuse for a pirate!”

Stuart wasn't ready to give up yet. Captain Brannigan and Felix were counting on him. “Okay,” he said in a shaky voice. “But remember, you asked for it.” He swung his sword and hoped for the best. “Take that!”

His sword clanged against hers. The fight began!

Madame X swung at Stuart. Stuart blocked with his sword and dodged behind a tree. Madame X cut a chunk out of the tree, and bark flew in every direction.

“You take that!” Madame X laughed. “And that!”

She swung again. He blocked her swing with his sword. He swung again. He missed.

Madame X didn't miss. Stuart jumped backwards to get away from her sharp, shiny sword. Madame X jumped forward. Their swords clashed against each other, and the sound echoed off the rocks and Morgenstern's cave.

“I'm better than you are!” Madame X crowed. “Give up!”

“No!” Stuart yelled. “I'm just as good as you!”

But then he tripped on a tree root. “Uff!” He fell, and his foot flew out to kick Madame X in the shin.

“Ow!” she yelled and rubbed her leg.

Stuart rolled away while he had the chance.

“You come back here!” Madame X chased him around another tree.

Stuart leaped onto a big rock and turned to face Madame X. “I'm better at sword fighting than you think I am!” he said bravely.

“Oh yeah?” Madame X twirled her sword above her head and laughed.

“Yeah!” Stuart twirled his sword above his head and lost his balance. He fell off the rock. “Wooah!”

Madame X leaped onto the rock. She towered over Stuart. “Grrrr!” Madame X growled.

“Ooog-argh!” Stuart yelled right back. He stood up to face Madame X.

She jumped down and swung her sword. Sparks flew as Stuart blocked her swing.

He grunted. She grunted.

He ran. She chased him.

He led Madame X in circles around the hole that Captain Brannigan and Felix were digging in the ground.

He turned to attack again.

They fought back and forth, and they grunted some more!

“Oof!”

“Uh!”

“Eek!”

“Argh!”

Stuart growled again. “Grrrr!” He was getting really good at the growling part.

But then Madame X tapped Stuart on his knuckles with the back of her sword. His hand stung in pain. “Ouch!” he yelled.

Worse than that, he dropped his sword!

“Now I've got you!” gloated Madame X. She raised her sword to wave it in the air one last time.

But Stuart suddenly had an idea. “No, you don't!” he yelled. While Madame X was busy twirling her sword and looking mean, Stuart ducked in and started to tickle her.

“Coochy coochy coo!” he sang.

Madame X didn't laugh at first. She was too surprised. But before she could get away, she giggled. Then she snorted. Then she laughed. Then she twisted under Stuart's tickling fingers, laughing too hard to breath!

“Stop!” she yelled. “Stop, please stop!”

But Stuart only tickled her more.

Madame X laughed and laughed... and a minute later she dropped her sword!

“Now I've got you!” Stuart shouted in triumph.

But it was Captain Brannigan who was the real winner.

“We found it!” yelled the captain. “Stuart, we found the treasure!”

Go on to Chapter 12.


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