Change Of Tune: Part Four
So when dusk settled over Krawk Island, Lana and I were
aboard a pirate ship named Speedwell.
"I can't believe you volunteered us to do this!"
I said to Lana.
"You heard the pirates Moonabi, unless we find
some way to earn dubloons we'll be drying out on the sands of Krawk Island until
doomsday," she moved Melody to her shoulder. "And unless you're the master of
dubloon disaster, this is the best plan we've got."
I sighed, knowing she was right. I looked over
the stern and watched our little stolen sailboat drag weakly behind. Lana had
insisted that it be tied to Speedwell so that we could sail away on it when
we were the closest to Meridell and had earned the dubloons we'd needed to pay
"'Ey minstrels!" we heard the pirates call,
"lets 'ear a song!"
"You heard them," sighed Lana, "and the sooner
they pay us, the sooner we get to Meridell."
"Yeah, yeah," I said.
We walked to the bow where I stood ready to
play before on the most mangy, haggard and scruffy crew of sailors I'd ever
seen. But maybe that was just the rich pet in me, and maybe that was the reason
I decided to once again dawn my black sequinned mask.
Regardless, I pulled out my violin, brought the
bow across the strings, and played the nicest tune I could muster for such an
And yet they booed.
I was completely unfamiliar with others being
disgusted with my music. "Maybe they just didn't like the song," I thought and
quickly switched to another. But the mutter of revolted pirates grew to a roar.
"Bleugh! What is this?"
"Whose 'e thinks he's playin' for? Queen Fyora?"
"I say we toss 'im off the ship!"
To this comment the entire crew rose in agreement.
I could hear the ching of rusted swords being drawn from holsters.
"Lana," I hissed as all the pirates came towards
me, "I could use a little help right now!"
"Well, you know how I told you that fiddler
was a cheap street performer and a pathetic waste?" she said.
I backed farther toward the edge of the bow.
"Well, forget it."
"But I don't think I even know how to
Lana looked over at the pirates who were slowly
closing me in like a pack of wolves. "Then I sure hope you know how to swim."
I was at the very edge of the boat, with nowhere
to go but down.
Desperately I tried to think back to Bell's
birthday party, and the worn old Aisha whom despite age played with vigor. In
my head I could remember the fingerings, the measures he moved to, which notes
to blur the strings. I closed my eyes and tried to match my playing to my memory.
And then something happened.
All the angry clanging and shouting stopped.
Everything was silent.
The pirates applauded.
Even after hearing the whoops and cheers, the
sound of feet stomping and dancing, I still didn't open my eyes.
We played well into the night, with Lana's singing
earning her praise from the pirates and me as well. When she'd told me to follow
her lead I just nodded unsurely until she began to sing:
Take ye' yer battles
N' fiery brigades
I'd trade 'em fer seadogs
Any ole' day
An' have ye' yer warm beds
To rest on yer soft heads
Just give me the ocean
The sweet lady ocean
An' I'll have a notion
For not a thing else
Ye can soak me in white squalls
Or slap me with wet pfish
I'd still take the ocean
As my only wish
Just give me the ocean
The sweet lady ocean
And I'll have a notion
For not a thing else…
The pirates had hooted and yelled, soon joining
in and clinking their glasses in good cheer. They threw dubloons and yelled
for more verses even after Lana couldn't think of any more.
We stopped only after most of the pirates had
stuffed themselves with food and fallen asleep, strewn all over the deck. They
almost looked helpless…well…not really. It was then that the pirate uni and
mynci we had talked to much earlier motioned us over.
"I bet you two're hungry," said the uni, handing
us a leg of grackle-stuffed turkey. I realized then that I really was starving.
As I ate like a wild animal the uni said, "I don't thinks I intr'duced meself,"
he said, "I'm first mate Robbins, n' this 'ere is Peter." The mynci nodded.
Lana and I introduced ourselves.
"Y'see," said Robbins, "we pirates aren't such
a bad folk after all! We love our music and dancin' just as much as the next
man," then looked at Lana, "'er women."
Peter nodded, "Ay, and Robbins'll always tell
ye' that if ye' ever want yer crew merry as mirgle, ye'll always get a good
minstrel to play a happy tune the night b'fore a raid!" He slapped me hard on
the back and I choked on my turkey a little bit.
"Well," sighed Lana, standing up from the table,
"I thank you gentlemen for your kind meal and generous dubloons, but my masked
friend and I really ought to be on our way to Meridell."
The two pirates protested with groans. "Aww,
just stay till mornin' at least," said Robbins.
"Oh no, we really should be going," Lana insisted.
The pirates continued insisting that we stay. I smiled as I looked off the port
side; pirates really weren't so bad after all. But then I saw something moving
towards us, like a huge ghostly shadow gliding across the ocean, its features
unclear in the darkness.
A cannonball flew past my head and crashed into
the deck. Suddenly the entire crew was alive.
"Get the captain," said Robbins to Peter as he
ran to go ring the bell. "Fire off the port side!" he yelled, "all hands to
Cannon fire lit the night and gunpowder hung
in the air like fog.
I grabbed my violin and a lantern. "We have to
get out of here!" I said.
Lana agreed and we both ran towards the stern
through screaming men and firing weapons. I looked down and our little sailboat
seemed very far away. "We have to climb down," I said grabbing the rope that
held our boat to Speedwell. I counted to three and leapt over the side of the
ship, swinging down the robe like a mynci on a vine. But by the time I'd neared
our boat my momentum was too great and I flipped over the bow. The sound of
shattering glass followed close behind as the lantern I'd been holding broke.
Where was Lana? I heard splashing and sharp wistling
and looked over the side of the boat to see her flailing around in the dark
water with her beekadoodle flying around above her. "Help me Moonabi!" she gurgled.
I lunged over the side and grabbed onto her hands. I pulled her up and we fell
back onto the deck with Lana soaking wet. Melody was still whistling loudly.
"Moonabi, the lantern!" Lana cried and I turned
to see the brown tarp aflame.
"Oh no," I whispered, "the fireworks." The tarp
"Get down!" I screamed, grabbing Lana and jumping
back into the water.
The fireworks exploded into the night and flew
into the air.
A group of them went off and flew right towards
the other pirate ship!
The fireworks crashed into its big dark side
and went off in a burst of reds and blues and greens. I could hear the screams
of surprise and defeat from where we floated
Speedwell's crew however, screamed in joy.
Once again we stood aboard the pirate ship,
facing the same grubby crew. A pirate Wocky stood before us, looking us over
with his one eye.
"You," he said to me, "masked Zafara."
I stepped forward towards the Wocky's wary glare.
I untied my mask.
The pirate's suspicious glare melted away to
a beaming black toothed smile and he put an arm around me as if he'd known me
his whole life. Then we turned to face the crew.
"I thank ye' lad," he said in a booming, commanding
voice that only a captain could have, "'fer savin' our ship from the rotted
Nereid's Song. That'll teach any buch o' raid stoppin' scallywags from ever
tryin' to sink lady Speedwell and her mighty crew!"
All the pirates aboard responded with a roar
of approval, swords waving in the air. The captain continued.
"Even though we pirates be a dishonest, stealin'
"Don't forget crooked!" interjected a crew member.
"Ay, Ay to that!"
"-and crooked," added the captain with a smile,
"we always return a favor fer a favor." He looked at me and Lana. "So," he grinned
again, "what'll it be?"
I glanced at Lana and the shiny new flute she'd
gotten from a sack of loot the pirates still had on board. I looked over the
side of Speedwell to where our stolen sailboat now floated along as mere rubble
from the fireworks incident and then back down at my violin. What other favor
could I have asked for?
"Captain Scarlet," I said, "sail us to Meridell."
To be continued...