“LAND HO!” the cry was like a breath of fresh air after being stuck in a dank cellar for a month.
Doan Muller, first mate and the strongest man in the crew rushed up to the bird’s nest.
“Is it big?” he yelled as loud as he could, trying to get his question to the watchman before it flew away in the wind.
“You bet it’s big,” the watchman replied. “Looks bigger’n Tilakia!”
Doan grinned in relief. Bigger than Tilakia. Now that must be something.
Tilakia, the large island Doan had grown up on, was the only land he had ever remembered until he had signed on this pirate ship as a crewman. On their journey to the island they were trying to get too, (the captain never told them the name of it) a different ship, pirates, had come after them, but they all fought well and beat the pirates back until they were forced to climb back onto their ship and retreat. In the battle, Doan had seen the captain fall to the ground, an enemy pirate raising his sword for the kill. Doan had simply reacted and tossed his knife into the pirate’s back.
It had saved the captain’s life and he didn’t forget it. The next thing Doan knew he was first mate. The original first mate had died in the battle, so the captain said it was fitting to get a new one right after.
Now they were reaching their destination. Finally. At long last.
When the ship was close enough to the beach they could lower the little boats, a small crew was formed. The captain, Doan, and six crewmen entered one small boat and pushed off toward land. Doan’s muscles bulged as he rowed. The two other men rowing had to try their hardest to keep up with Doan’s pace.
“Hold up on the rowing, Doan!” the captain ordered him. He stopped abruptly. The two other men gasped with relief and dropped their shaking arms.
The boat slid up the water gracefully and then ground to a halt on the sand of a beach. They had reached the island.
The captain’s agile form slid over the side of the boat and hopped across the wet sand to land on the dry.
He waved for Doan and the crewmen to join him. Doan jumped off the boat and landed lightly in a crouch. He quickly joined his captain. The other six men joined them shortly and they tied their small boat to the rocks.
Then they were off, trudging through the sand and glancing around to make sure no people were about that they couldn’t spot at first glance.
The captain grinned.
“Don’t worry. No people on this island.”
The men slowly grew at ease after hearing the captain and seeing him stroll along as if he owned the island.
Doan leaned down to the captain.
“What are we doing here? Is there treasure?”
“You could say that,” the captain replied mysteriously.
“Come on, tell me!”
The captain sighed. “If I must.”
He swept an arm up and pointed to a little cottage in the forest not far away. They reached the trees and continued toward it.
“Who’s in there?” Doan asked.
The captain smiled.
“Oh, no one. Not yet.”
He reached the door, took out a key from inside the depths of his great coat, and inserted it into the lock on the door. He turned the key and the door swung open with a long, protesting squeak.
“You own this cottage?”
“Yes my boy. That I do.”
The crew followed the captain inside. He grinned from ear to ear and sat down on a small bed in the corner.
“This, my friends, is where I lived when I was abandoned by the captain I sailed under. I made this cottage, made a little raft and sailed out again. I ran into a large pirate vessel far out in the sea and they were concerned for me, floating out in my little raft and they picked me up. I felt sorry to do it but I single handedly captured that ship and now that is the one that I sail.”
“So why are you coming back here?” Doan asked yet another question.
The captain held up a finger and quickly bent over. He began searching for something under his bed. He cried out a muffled yell of delight, reached under, and pulled out a large sea chest.
“It’s still here! I can’t believe it!”
“What is it? What’s still here?” The crewmen began chattering, pestering the captain with questions, surrounding the chest.
Doan knew what they expected was in the chest. Gold, diamonds, gems, treasure. But Doan knew the captain when he was about to gain riches. He always had a greedy glint in his eyes. Right now he calmly waited for the men to get their excitement out so they wouldn’t trample him when he started to open it. Finally they died down and quickly stepped back to give the captain room. He withdrew another key from his coat and inserted it into the lock.
Doan held his breath. What would it be that the captain had come all the way back for? Was it treasure? Something else? A weapon? Perhaps he had come back because he couldn’t live without it. Was it a magical healing potion then? Maybe immortal fruit? What could it be?
The captain pulled out the key, flipped up the latch, opened the lid, and stuck his head inside. Shouts of joy floated from out of the chest.
“What is it?” the crewmen began screaming.
“What is in the chest?” Doan asked the captain. The captain withdrew from the box and rose himself up.
“I can’t believe it! The cottage is still here, the chest is still here and it is still here!”
“What is it?” Doan asked.
The crew held their breath as the captain pulled the object out of the chest.
Doan leaned forward.
The captain took out a large leather hat identical to the one he wore then, and waved it around.
“My extra hat!” he said.
Copyright © 2018 Caleb E King
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