CHAPTER FIVE

The Pirate Ship Vengeful Revenge

Training Officer Stuart's log - Entry 2

Training got off to a slow start today. But with persistence and a lot of patience, I think the crew is actually taking shape. We might not be as doomed as I first thought.

Signed: Training Officer Stuart

P.S. Of course, I've been wrong before....

* * *

Shmee ran up to Stuart, who was sitting on a barrel, a bundle of rope in his lap. Shmee slid to a stop just before colliding into the barrel and Stuart. He stood panting, then saluted.

Shmee said, “Training Officer Stuart, this is First Mate Shmee reporting that the sails are secured, just like you ordered.”

Stuart grinned. “Very good, Shmee.” Then he hesitantly asked, “But let me make sure -- you did raise the sails before you secured them, didn't you?”

A confused look crossed Shmee's face. He looked up at the sails. They slapped back and forth against the tall poles they were hanging from. When the wind filled them and they billowed out, they looked like pretty canvas clouds. “Well,” Shmee said, “they're up. Is that what `raise the sails' means?”

Stuart grinned even wider. “Yes. Excellent. Now let's make some rope. Rope can be very handy on a pirate ship -- or so I've heard.”

Shmee said, “But you already have some rope. See?” He held up a short piece of rope.

“We have to braid all this rope together to make one big rope. It will be stronger than all these little ropes,” Stuart said. “You take that end, and I'll take this end and we'll --”

“Stuart!” came a yell from across the deck. It was Captain Brannigan.

Stuart jumped up. “What?” he yelled back, panicked. “Are we sinking? Are we under attack?”

“No!” the captain yelled again, then hurried over to stand next to Stuart and Shmee. “I've been practicing my pirate lines, just like you told me to,” he said. “Listen to this!”

Captain Brannigan spread his feet apart, grabbed the front of his pirate coat, and took a deep breath. “Avast ye maties!” he bellowed. His voice was so loud that everybody on the ship stopped what they were doing to watch.

The captain continued. “Batten down the hatches! Secure the sails!”

Shmee patted Captain Brannigan on his shoulder. “We already did that!” he announced proudly.

The captain didn't appear to notice Shmee's interruption. In the same high tone of voice he yelled, “Man yer stations! Prepare for boarding!” Then he paused, and his puffed out chest unpuffed a bit. “Uh... there were a few more, I was certain there were..... Oh: Weigh the anchor!”

Stuart rolled his eyes. He couldn't help but say, “We already did that, too.”

“... and shiver me timbers!” Captain Brannigan beamed at Stuart. “How was that?” he asked. “I was good, wasn't I? I was fierce!”

Stuart groaned. The captain was trying to be fierce and scary, but the truth was, he still looked like a farmer dressed up for Halloween. Stuart tried to be polite. “Yes, it was... very nice,” he managed to say. “Good job.”

Captain Brannigan was too excited to notice Stuart's tone of voice. “Do you think we're ready to start after the treasure now?”

Stuart was still being polite. “It's a little early for that yet, don't you think? Let's work on these ropes for now.”

But Shmee was jumping up and down. “Oh, Captain!” he said. “That was great! You sounded like a real pirate!”

Captain Brannigan smiled and puffed out his chest again. His pirate hat bobbed up and down. “Of course I did, me mate! After all, I'm Captain Brannigan, the fiercest pirate of them all!”

“Yes sir!” Shmee saluted smartly. “You are sir! Ooog-argh!” he growled.

“Ooog-argh!” the captain growled back.

Just then Felix arrived. “Oh, are we practicing that again? Well, okay.... ooog!” He looked around at the others. “I'm still a one-word pirate.”

“Squawk!” squawked the toucan.

Shmee jumped up again. “Officer Felix, I feel a song coming on. Don't you?”

Felix perked up. “A song! What a good idea! Yes!”

“No!” Stuart exclaimed in frustration. They would never get all that rope braided before bedtime at this rate. “I don't think now is a good time for --”

Felix was too excited by then to listen to Stuart. “Of course it's a good time for a song. It's always a good time for a song if you're a pirate.”

Stuart didn't believe him. “I have never heard of singing pirates.”

Captain Brannigan smiled. “But that's what pirates do. We sing! Don't we? You know, when there's nothing else to do?”

Stuart's eyes narrowed. He suddenly realized that the pirates were just trying to get out of braiding rope. What a childish thing to do! It sounded like something he would do when his mom wanted him to work in the kitchen and he didn't want to. He started to say, “If you're bored, I can think of several projects that might --”

Shmee interrupted him. “Oh, Stuart, don't act like a grown up. It's time for some fun!”

He clapped his hands and started to sing and dance around the barrel:

We find treasures in lagoons,

Maybe even gold doubloons.

There was no melody or even a tune that Stuart could understand. It sounded terrible. He slapped his hands over his ears.

But Captain Brannigan was so caught up in the excitement of a song that he jumped right in. His singing was even worse than Shmee's:

Always looking for pieces of eight.

Oh to be a pirate is really great!

Ohhhhh, to be a pirate is really great!

Felix looked at his toucan, and they both seemed to grin. Felix nodded, and started singing too.

Pirates must be good at math.

But we'll never take a bath!

Captain Brannigan joined Felix and the toucan for the last verse:

We `Yo Ho Ho' all day in the sun.

Being a pirate is lots of fun!

Being a piraaaaate is lots of fun!

Captain Brannigan and Felix hooted and laughed, and the bird squawked from the top of Felix's head.

“That was fun!” the captain declared. “Let's sing it again!”

Felix was just about to start the song over from the beginning when Shmee suddenly appeared from around the barrels. He was carrying a big sword.

Shmee lifted the sword and pointed it at them. He looked mean. “Ah ha! Now I've got you!” he roared in an excellent pirate voice.

Stuart pointed at Shmee with both hands. “Yes! That's the idea, Shmee! That was a great imitation of a pirate!”

Shmee raised the sword even higher. “Now get yer hands up, you yeller-bellied cowards!”

“That was even better!” Stuart complimented.

“Hey!” Felix said then, pointing at Shmee. “Where did you get that sword? Are there more? I've always wanted to swing a sword. Is it time to learn sword fighting, Stuart?”

“No, it's time to sing!” yelled Captain Brannigan. He started the song over again. “We find treasures in lagoons. Maybe even gold --”

Shmee stepped closer. He seemed more threatening the more the captain sang.

Suddenly Stuart put a hand on the captain's shoulder. He didn't like the way Shmee looked. He still looked mean, but now he also looked scary. “Uh, Captain, you better stop. I think the song is over.”

Shmee cackled evilly and swung the sword around in circles. “That's right; the song is over! The party is over! In fact, it's all over!”

Stuart watched the sun glint wickedly off the swinging sword. “What?” he said. He was getting so scared that his voice cracked.

“I'm in charge now!” Shmee said and cackled again. “You have to do what I tell you to do!”

Captain Brannigan stepped towards Shmee before Stuart could stop him. “Shmee, what's all this about? What's going on?”

Shmee gleefully tossed the sword back and forth between his hands. He was so good at it that he didn't even have to watch what he was doing. “I'm taking over this ship, that's what's going on,” he said. “It's a mutiny, I'm leading it, and you are my prisoners! Now, hand over that treasure map!”

But the captain was still confused. “Prisoners? But Shmee!”

Shmee glanced at the captain. He curled his lip. “And one more thing; my name is not Shmee!”

“It isn't?” Felix asked, a surprised look on his face. “Then what is it?”

Shmee sneered the best pirate sneer that any of them had ever seen. He walked around them, herding them into a tight little circle. The sword stayed pointed at them all the time.

Shmee said, “I am a pirate to be feared above all others, by far the fiercest, the most ferocious pirate of them all. Much fiercer than that landlubbing Captain Brannigan.” He stopped circling them and sneered again. “I am... Madame X!”

“Madame X!” yelled Stuart and Felix and Captain Brannigan. They all stared at Shmee, terrified.

Shmee, now known as Madame X, laughed a loud, evil laugh. He brandished the sword in the air with one hand, then pulled the blue plaid bandanna off his head with the other. Long black hair fell down his back. Not only was Shmee not Shmee, but Shmee was... a girl!

Felix fainted dead away. The toucan jumped off his head just before he hit the deck.

Captain Brannigan fainted too, making a loud thud as he hit the deck.

Stuart was too terrified to faint. He could only stand and stare at Madame X.

Madame X let her evil cackle ring out across the ship. She stood over Felix and the captain and yelled, “The Vengeful Revenge is mine! Now, hoist my jolly roger and set sail for the Island of Em!”

She laughed and swung the sword around her head as a pirate dressed all in black quickly attached a flag to a long pole. In moments a piece of black cloth with a big X and two crossed swords flapped next to the sails. It was the black flag of Madame X.

Stuart groaned. They really were doomed!

He had just enough sense to take the treasure map from Captain Brannigan's pocket and stuff it down his own shirt before he fainted dead away.

Go on to Chapter 6.


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