Pirate Island Tales – Episode 4

bottleTimmy was not asleep, as he should be. I got up from the story chair to tuck him in, ready for bed. “But the story hasn’t ended Granddad, what happened about the horse and cart. 10 pennies, that’s too cheap for those thieving…”

“Timmy! You behave yourself or you’ll get no story.”

“As it happened the price would have been a good one if the donkey hadn’t died the minute we tried to get it to move the cart, which collapsed when the donkey fell on it. We did managed to get a golden sovereign for the dead donkey and broken cart though, but only if we paid the used donkey and cart saleswomen 21 sovereigns for a much younger donkey and an only slightly decrepit cart.

We filled the cart full of ale and wine and a few other essentials and for the first time drove our own vehicle up the path to our Dream Cottage. We’d only been going for 10 minutes when the carter who’d sold us the dying donkey and collapsing cart waved us down. We thought he was after a lift but soon discovered what he really wanted.

“This is my path you’re travelling on. Walking is free but to pay for the damage that a donkey and cart will make I have to charge a toll.”

“How much?” I asked, too tired to argue.

“A silver shilling each day or a golden sovereign a month.”

I could see that this was going to cost us a fortune and was even planning to never come to town again when the carter gave us the good news.

“But for 10 golden sovereigns I will give you a certificate that entitles you to travel whenever you like for the rest of your living days.” The carter swiftly brought out a nicely written certificate which I noticed bore Solly’s handwriting.

We paid and then wearily move off just as the carter shouted out to us, “keep the certificate with you at all times or else you will have to pay a fine!”

We were too fed up to care and were happy to get back to our cottage and open a cask of ale and a cask of wine. After a while everything seemed peaceful until suddenly we heard people talking outside the cottage.

“Put the stake there!”

We heard banging and went to investigate. We found three men with strange instruments, taking measurements and creating a fence out of string around the cottage.

“What’s happening?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s alright, we’re just making sure your boundaries are clearly set out. We don’t want any mistakes.”

We watched as they banged stake after stake into the ground and were pleased when we saw how much garden we had. It was reassuring to know exactly where we should be putting our fences and we even decided that the next day we would buy some fences and put them up.

The men moved away and started putting stakes in lots of other places.

“What are those other stakes for?” I asked.

“The Council Estate.” One of the men replied. “The old estate in town is full up and the newly elected 12 Clever Cloggs have decided to move all the worse families out of town, away from everyone.”

Before we had a chance to ask any more questions the men disappeared, leaving us wondering what this meant. We were glad that the 12 Clever Cloggs had finally been elected and so we immediately decided to find them and see if we could arrange the test so we could get the deeds to the cottage. At the same time we could find out what a Council Estate was. We decided to go down straight away and ask, but unfortunately we forgot our certificate and had to pay a silver shilling fine, and realised would have to pay another one on the way back. We knew we’d eventually get used to the way they did things on Pirate Island but at the moment everything was confusing and new to us.

As soon as we reached town we asked where the 12 Clever Cloggs could be found and were shown to a huge palace in the town centre, surrounded by gardens, and with a guard outside. The guard would not let us in. Just then, from inside the palace a man we recognised started walking towards us.

“Granddad, how nice to see you again.”

It was Solly. He spoke to the guard and arranged for us to follow him into the palace. He looked at us, a beaming smile on his face.

“I suppose you are wondering why I’m in here.” He said proudly.

I explained that I was surprised to find him inside Clever Clogg Palace.

“Not as surprised as I was when I was voted to be one of the 12 Clever Cloggs…” his smile looked as if it would break his face, “…and I was even more stunned when it worked out that I had the most votes and it was decided that I would be the Black Guard.” Solly looked as if he were going to faint with pleasure. “Do you know what that means?”

We said that we didn’t.

“That means that I’m the rule maker. I can make up anything I want and the rest of Pirate Island has to do what I say. Isn’t it amazing?”

I tried to explain that in the Old Kingdom hundreds of people were elected and they all had a say in what the rules should be. Solly creased up his nose and laughed.

“Oh, we’ve got one of those but we all ignore the rules they make. We have a kind of secret rule which says that the richest person can make up whatever rule they want and the eleven other richest people have to make sure these rules are obeyed. Guess what? It was your golden sovereigns that made it all possible.”

I was puzzled. “But we didn’t give you many sovereigns; we paid Esther most of them.”

Solly laughed, “but they all gamble here; Esther, the Carter, the Inn keeper, everyone. So in the end I got to keep all the sovereigns. When the votes were counted I had 329,456 doubloons.”

“I’m sorry?” I asked. “What has money got to do with votes?”

Solly looked perplexed. “Of course you don’t come from around here.” Patiently he tried to explain. “To be one of the 12 Clever Cloggs your money is counted. One doubloon equals one vote. I was easily the winner because of your money.” Solly held my arm firmly, “I owe you a lot so what I’m going to do is to do away with the need for you to take the test. We’ve been through all that in my office. You pop in for lunch tomorrow and I’ll give you your certificate saying you can buy a home here. How about that! It usually takes 10 years!”

We did not know what to say, this was such good news. We thanked Solly and arranged to meet him at noon tomorrow. We then drove home, paid our silver shilling fine, finished our barrels and opened some more. We were so lucky living in our Dream Cottage with trees all the way down to the sea and mountains on each side and what’s more, tomorrow we would be officially able to own it.

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