In which the pirates help a young Charles Darwin make his name as a scientist. Yes, I partly wrote it to impress a girl. No, it didn't work. I am okay to talk about it now.
"That was some storm!" said the pirate in green, emptying the sea water that had collected in his pirate boots over the side of the boat. "I don't think I've ever seen one like it! I thought the mast was going to crack for sure! And we must have lost half a dozen men, just washed away into the deep."
"I think it must have been the most exciting thing that's ever happened to us, on all our adventures!" said the pirate who had a hook where his hand should have been. "Thank god it's over!"
All the pirates were too tired to even roar at each other, let alone sing a shanty, after their strenuous efforts in bringing the boat through the previous night's fantastic storm. So they just sprawled on the deck, looking up at the last few seagulls to have made it this far out from land, circling above in what was now a clear blue sky. It wasn't until the smell of fresh ham wafted up from the boat's kitchen that the pirates stirred and went below to the pirate dining room.
The Pirate Captain was already sitting at the table, tapping his knife and fork expectantly. Of all the pirates it was true that nobody loved his ham more than the Pirate Captain. The hams were brought to table, and they had been roasted, which annoyed the pirate who had argued they should have been boiled, but he was so hungry he didn't bother to complain, and he had to admit that they tasted delicious. The pirates tore into their food and grog with the relish that comes from a hard night's pirating.
"Honestly, pirates! Have you forgotten you are provided with teeth? Small wonder you complain about indigestion when you forget to chew!" admonished the Pirate Captain.
"I thought it was cold feet gave you indigestion," said the hook-for-a-hand pirate, "And that wrapping your feet in a hot towel would prevent such belly pains."
"That's head-aches, idiot!" said the pirate in green.
"No. Head-aches are most commonly caused from reading by candle light, when the candle is positioned incorrectly. It should be placed behind you, so the rays can pass directly over your shoulder to the book."
The pirates almost started fighting again over this, but the Pirate Captain held up an imperious hand, and started to speak.
"I got a letter this morning," he said, "from our old enemy, Black Bellamy."
The pirates muttered a few oaths. Black Bellamy was that roguish rival pirate who the pirates had encountered during the pirates' adventure with Buried Treasure, and the pirates' adventure with the Princess of Cadiz. Somehow they weren't surprised that they had not heard the last of him.
"Black Bellamy has invited us to a feast onboard his schooner, the Barbary Hen, which is sailing just a few leagues from here."
"It's Black Bellamy, Captain! You can't mean to trust him!" cried the albino pirate. The other pirates nodded.
"Perhaps he's changed," said the Pirate Captain. "He says in his letter that he's changed, and that he wants to hold this feast to make up for all the trouble he and his villainous crew have caused us in the past."
"Oh, well. You can't really argue with that sort of sentiment," agreed the pirate in green.
"Yes, that seems really nice of him," said the albino pirate, feeling a bit guilty for being so harsh on Black Bellamy just a few seconds ago.
"And it would be good to see how they prepare their hams on board the Barbary Hen," said the pirate in red.
"So it's settled, we'll accept the invitation and set sail for Black Bellamy's feast at once!" said the Pirate Captain, picking a piece of ham from his immaculate beard.
The moonlit waters were still calm by the time the pirate boat moored up alongside the Barbary Hen. The pirate crew piled into a launch - "Shotgun!" shouted the sassy pirate who liked to sit up front with the Captain - and paddled across to where a rope-ladder had been hung over the other ship's side. There were around forty head of hog wandering about the decks, which was clearly Black Bellamy's way of impressing his guests. Black Bellamy politely took the pirates' coats and cutlasses, which showed he really had changed - the Black Bellamy of old was famous for his lack of manners. He was still a fearsome sight, with a beard that came up to his eyes, two pairs of pistols hanging at the end of a silk sling, and a big knife held between his teeth.
"Herro. Relcon ahord ha harrarry hen," said Black Bellamy.
"What did he say?" whispered the pirate in green.
"I think he said 'welcome on board the Barbary Hen'. It's a bit hard to tell, because of that knife clenched between his teeth," said the scarf wearing pirate.
Black Bellamy made a few incomprehensible introductions, and then lead the pirates into the feasting hall. Black Bellamy had certainly pulled out all the stops - there was roast veal, which had half a pint of melted butter poured over it, fillets of beef garnished with slices of lemon, a sumptuous pork broth, potato scones, stewed mushrooms... several of the pirates had to use their pirate neckerchiefs to wipe saliva from their mouths. Initially, because there was so much history between them, the two sets of pirates were a bit hostile, and conversation was understandably awkward, but after some pirate grog they were soon carousing with each other. Piratical conversation buzzed about the boat.
"Diving. Have you ever tried it? It's fantastic! We went and dived at the wreck of an actual pirate ship!"
"My friend here thinks you should boil hams, but he's an idiot."
"... 'twas the unmistakable tang of human flesh..."
"...and I'm not making this up - he had a wooden leg!"
Both Black Bellamy and the Pirate Captain were pleased it was going so well.
"Why don't we adjourn to my drawing room, for a spot of cards? Hmmm?" said Black Bellamy to the Pirate Captain. The Pirate Captain could have gone on eating mutton necks all night, but his host had been so gracious he thought it rude to refuse.
The Pirate Captain was a bit annoyed by how nice the drawing room was, especially when Black Bellamy flipped open the top of a huge mahogany globe to reveal a little drinks cabinet. The Pirate Captain's globe back onboard the pirate boat was made out of tin and about the size of a football and he wasn't even sure it had
Black Bellamy suggested a game of Cincinnati High Low.
"Oh, that's a lucky man's game," said the Pirate Captain, because he had heard someone say this before.
"Well, what would you suggest?" asked Black Bellamy. "Crossfire? Seven Card Flip? Mexican Seven Card Stud?"
He was just showing off, thought the Pirate Captain, but he wasn't about to be intimidated.
"How about," said the Pirate Captain, "Cat's Cradle? Or Round the World? Or Walking the Dog?"
"Those are Yo-Yo tricks."
"Ha! Of course they are. Well then, that one with the mexicans."
They settled down to the card game. Pretty soon the Pirate Captain was down several doubloons, and pretty soon after that he had lost all the boat's precious supply of hams. The trouble was that Black Bellamy's beard, coming up all the way to his eyes as it did, gave him a perfect poker face. The Pirate Captain's crew was starting to get worried, but then the Pirate Captain had a fantastic idea. He had another useless hand, but this time instead of thumping the table and looking miserable, the Pirate Captain gave a big grin, and whispered loudly to the pirate who wore the scarf, "We'll be feasting on that forty head of hog, with this brilliant hand!"
Black Bellamy heard this, and decided to fold. The Pirate Captain shuffled the pile of doubloons into his pockets. Black Bellamy saw his cards and gasped.
"But... you had a terrible hand! Garbage!"
"Yes. But I knew that if I looked pleased with it, you would think it was a flush or something like that!"
"You're confounded clever!" roared Black Bellamy. "But listen. Give me back all those doubloons I've just lost, and in return I'll tell you where you can find ten times that sort of loot."
The Pirate Captain thought about Black Bellamy's offer for a second or two. Mathematics wasn't his strong point - obviously pirating was his strong point - but you didn't need to be Archimedes to realise that ten times the amount of doubloons he had just won was a good deal of cash.
"Very well, Black Bellamy," said the Pirate Captain, taking the coins back out of his pockets, "Where can we find this treasure?"
"I'll need to show you on the charts," sighed Black Bellamy, doing a sad face. "Me and my men had been planning to sail to the south seas, near the
"You're sure about this? That's 800 leagues from here. It's a bit out of our way."
"I swear by the Pirate Code."
"Do you know the name of this ship?"
"It's called The Beagle. And it's chock full of gold, mark my words. Can I have those doubloons back now?"
As the pirates crossed back to their boat they could hear laughter coming from The Barbary Hen - it was good, thought the Pirate Captain, that they had left their hosts in such high spirits, even though he had got the better of Black Bellamy. He turned to his crew and flashed them a big grin.
"Heave-ho my beauties! Let's set a course.... for adventure!"
It was meant to sound exciting, but the crew just gave him a bit of a blank look.
"All right," said the Pirate Captain with a sigh. "South."