CHAPTER TWELVE

“Oh, Stuart!” yelled Captain Brannigan. “It's beautiful!”

“There are diamonds!” said Felix.

“And rubies!” added the captain.

“And emeralds!” hollered Felix.

“And sapphire rings!” exclaimed Captain Brannigan.

“And a cruddy old piece of paper,” said Felix.

Stuart wasn't surprised by the treasure until Felix talked about the paper. “A... a what?” he asked.

Madame X was standing very still. She wasn't laughing at all anymore. Her eyes sparkled as she said, “It's here! It's really here!”

Nobody knew what the pirate was talking about.

Felix popped his head out of the hole and held the paper up in his hand. “That's what I said. Look, it's an old piece of paper with writing on it. It says, `Ye old caramel chocolate cookie recipe - property of Sarah Sugarbottom.'”

Felix stopped talking and everybody looked at everybody else.

Then they all exclaimed, “Caramel chocolate cookies?”

“Sarah Sugarbottom?” Captain Brannigan asked next.

Stuart put one hand to his head and waved his other hand to make everybody else be quiet. “I get it!” he said then. “The initials S. S. from the boulder: H.M. loves S.S. Henry Morgenstern loves Sarah Sugarbottom!”

Stuart felt pretty smart to have figured that out.

Then Felix said, “But who's Sarah Sugarbottom?”

Madame X surprised them all. “I am!” she said. She whipped off her pirate hat. She pulled a bonnet out of her pocket and bundled her long hair into the bonnet. Then she smiled the sweetest smile any of them had ever seen.

“It's Sweet Sarah!” yelled Felix and Stuart and Captain Brannigan.

“Of Sweet Sarah's Feed Store and Country Restaurant!” said Stuart.

“Of caramel chocolate cookie fame!” added Felix.

“That's right,” said Madame X, who was also Sweet Sarah. “But I never thought I would find that recipe again. I thought that recipe died with my granny, the first Sweet Sarah. I thought it was lost forever. But now I've found it!” She took the piece of paper from Felix and rubbed it in her hands. She looked like she might cry.

Felix suddenly understood. “Is that why the cookies haven't been tasting right? Because your granny didn't tell you the recipe?”

Sweet Sarah nodded. “Granny never told a soul that recipe. She was so proud of her secret cookies. But then she died, and I didn't have any idea how to make those cookies! My customers were very angry!”

Stuart happily said, “But now that you have the recipe, everything will be all right again!”

Sweet Sarah didn't look as happy as Stuart. She shook her head. “I don't know. The whole point of becoming a pirate was to find the recipe. But now I think I like being a pirate better than I like being Sweet Sarah!”

“You do?” they all asked.

She nodded. “Yes!” Then she looked worried again. “But if I go out to sea, who will look after my restaurant?”

“I will,” Felix piped up. The toucan squawked.

“What?” Sweet Sarah asked hopefully.

“You, Felix?” Captain Brannigan said in surprise.

Felix shrugged his shoulders. “Sure. Why not? I've always had a soft spot for those cookies!”

“But,” interrupted Stuart, “what about the farm?”

Felix looked at the ground. “Oh, the farm. Well....” He looked at them again. “The truth is, all I ever did at the farm was play with the dogs and scare the chickens. My toucan really scared the chickens!”

Captain Brannigan nodded. “It's true,” he said. “That bird had to lay low, or the hens wouldn't lay at all.”

Sweet Sarah was looking at the toucan. That light was in her eyes again. “Your bird won't scare my customers.”

Felix started to smile. “Then it's all settled? I'll watch over your restaurant and make cookies while you become a famous pirate.”

“And you'll probably be a better cookie baker than I could ever hope to be,” said Sweet Sarah. She agreed with Felix's plan. “It's all settled. Let's shake hands on it!”

Felix jumped out of the treasure hole and shook Sweet Sarah's hand up and down. He was thrilled to be a baker!

Sweet Sarah was thrilled to be a pirate!

Captain Brannigan was thrilled to claim the treasure so he could go back to being a farmer!

“I'll load up that treasure and get it ready to take back to the ship,” said Captain Brannigan.

“I'll help you, Captain... uh, I mean Farmer Brannigan!” Felix said with a big smile.

They dropped down into the hole. They laughed and talked, and the treasure jingled and jangled, and the pretty stones glittered in the sun.

But Stuart was still confused. “There's one thing I don't understand,” he said to Sweet Sarah.

“What's that?” she asked.

“How did the recipe get in the Morgenstern treasure in the first place?”

Sweet Sarah laughed deep in her throat, and she sounded very much like Madame X. “That, Stuart, is another story!”

A little chill went through Stuart when she laughed like that. He tried not to be too nervous as she began her story.

“It all started --”

Thug suddenly crashed through the trees and burst out of the underbrush. “Madame X!” he yelled. Then he noticed her bonnet. “Uh, ma'am,” he said. “Uh, Captain X... uh, Sweet Sarah!” He had to stop to catch his breath.

“Thug!” she said. “What is it?”

Thug pointed towards the beach.

“A ship!” he gasped.

“From the king's navy!” he panted.

“They're on to us!” he puffed.

“It's only two leagues away!” he coughed.

“We have to... run!” he finally managed to yell.

Sweet Sarah turned to Stuart. “Well, Stuart, that story will have to wait for another day. Now it's time to set sail, to weigh the anchor, and shiver some timbers!”

She tossed her bonnet onto the ground and replaced her pirate hat. She was once again the fiercest pirate to sail the seven seas... Madame X!

She grabbed her sword and shouted, “Come on, Thug, let's go!” She ran off into the trees.

Thug grinned at Stuart. “Isn't she a great pirate?” he asked. Then he happily called after her, “Coming, Sweet Sarah... uh, Madame... uh, Captain X!” With one last whoop, Thug ran after his captain.

Stuart sighed in the sudden quiet. Well, he thought, Sweet Sarah got her pirate ship, Thug got a captain, Felix got a restaurant, and Farmer Brannigan got his treasure.

Then Stuart had an even better thought. Maybe if he told King Phil all about his adventure with the pirates, he could stop being a gardener and convince the king to let him be a finder of pirates from now on!

Stuart liked that idea! He started to grin.

“Well,” he said to himself, “all in all, everything turned out pretty good!”

THE END


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