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Pirate Island Tales – Episode 2

cottage“What happened next, Granddad?” Timmy asked, wanting to hear more of the story.

I continued, “Later that night Nanny and I sat in the lounge of the Galleon Inn. We could hear lots of singing and merriment coming from the bar next door and so we decided to take a look. Much to our surprise, there was Ester and Solly sitting at a table with other men and women who had piles of money in front of them. Eyes turned towards us so that Solly had to turn round to see who had entered the bar. On seeing who it was, he dragged himself from his chair and shook my hand.

“Why, it’s my good friend Granddad and his beautiful wife Nanny. Come and join us.”

I could tell that he’d drunk a fair amount of ale which I expect was because of the business we’d entered into that day.

“I’d rather not, Mr Solly, if that’s alright. This looks a bit like gambling if you ask me. Something my father would never allow me to do.”

Solly indicated that we should watch him play. “Perhaps you’ll change your mind when you see how much money you can make. “Right Ester, what are you going to bet now?”

Ester looked very unhappy. “I’ve only got two gold sovereigns left.”

It was then that I realised that it was our gold sovereigns they were playing with. All but two of these were in front of Solly.

“I wouldn’t worry Ester, there’s plenty more where those came from.” Solly explained.

I didn’t like the way he was laughing so, explaining that we were tired, I turned to Nanny and suggested that we should leave.

“Oh, come on Granddad”, Solly called out as we walked to the door, “it’s only a bit of fun.”

I had to admit that I was a bit worried that night but next day in Solly’s office, seeing all the nicely written papers I felt much better.

“This is the contract”, Solly explained, passing it to us for us to read.

It was very easy to read; it said “Granddad and Nanny give Ester Gent 200 gold sovereigns and Ester gives them Dream Cottage.”

With the contract came a map of the land with Dream Cottage and its garden circled in red. Outside the red circle was a blue pool.

“Mr Solly”, I asked pointing to the magic pool, “what does this mean?”

“It’s very simple, the red circle on the map is what you are buying and you can see the cottage is inside the circle so that’s what you will own.”

“What about the blue pool? Ester said that was ours.”

“Oh, I think you misunderstood, the water belongs to you but the pool belongs to your neighbour.”

I did not really understand. “Where do I find someone to explain this all to me?”

“Now, Granddad, I don’t understand. I’m explaining it for you, isn’t that good enough?”

“But you’re Ester’s friend. Shouldn’t I have my own friend, someone like you who would explain it all to me?”

“Tut, tut Granddad, I’m your friend too. If you involved your friend then you would have to pay another two gold sovereigns. However, I can arrange for one of my friends to be your friend if you like but that would take time.” Solly scratched his chin. “I’ve heard that the price of cottages is going to go up tomorrow because the weatherman says there will be more sunshine. If we get this finished now you’ll save a fortune. Anyway, that’s not how we do it here.”

I was confused. “That’s OK then Solly, if you give me the paper saying that Ester owns Dream Cottage then I’ll give you the 180 gold sovereigns.”

Solly looked worried. “There’s a little problem with that.”

My heart fell, and I could see that Nanny was unhappy too. “What problem?” I asked.

“Well, you see, before you can own a cottage on Pirate Island you have to pass a test.”

“Pirate Island, I thought this was Yew Rope?”

Solly turned to Ester and they both laughed. “Yew Rope, no, this is not Yew Rope. Many years ago it was but after the big disaster Pirate Island broke away and drifted off on its own. We made up our own rules, and they suit us much better. That’s why I said to you that we don’t do it that way. You see, we don’t do things like they do in Yew Rope, we do them much better. Like the way you saved two gold sovereigns by sharing a friend with Ester. The test is like that too. We only let people who pass the test join us, that way we get the best people.”

I did not know what to say. “Is the test difficult?”

“Not at all, in fact there’s only one question and I’ve already tested you to make sure you would pass; and you did pass.”

I was pleased. “When was this?”

“It was when I first met you.”

“What was the question?”

“You have to remember that you’ll have to answer this question in front of the twelve Clever Cloggs in order for you to officially be allowed to own the cottage.”

I nodded, not totally clear what was going on. “So, what was the question?”

“Have you got a lot of gold sovereigns?”

“Yes, but what is the question?”

“That was it, and you’ve answered it right again.”

I was stunned, it all seemed quite crazy and I had to remind myself that they did it differently here. “When can I go and answer the question?”

“Soon.” Solly explained.

“When?”

“Well there’s another little problem.”

“What!” I said, beginning to lose my temper.

“Calm down, Granddad, get a grip. As soon as we re-elect the twelve Clever Cloggs then you’ll be the first to be asked the question.”

“So when are the elections?”

Solly looked as if he was calculating something, then he looked at me. “How long is a piece of string?” he suddenly asked.

“That’s impossible to say.” I replied.

“Well there you are.” he said. “It’s impossible for us to say, but the Clever Cloggs will soon have it sorted out when the counting is finished.”

I got up to go but before I could ask for my money back Solly surprised me. “Would you like to move in to Dream Cottage today?”

“Yes!” I said at exactly the same time that Nanny did.

“Well if you give me the 180 gold sovereigns, and the Purchase Tax, and sign the contract then I can give you the keys straight away.”

“Purchase Tax?”

“Yes, 20 gold sovereigns. We can sort out the Deeds once you answer the question. Is this OK?”

We were so tired and confused by now, and we’d be late for the trip round the island the Galleon Inn had arranged, that we signed the documents, gave Solly the money and collected the keys. After we left Solly’s office we were part excited and part worried. On the trip round the island we drank lots of ale and wine and soon we forgot all our worries and did not even wonder why we were the only person on the trip; 1 silver shilling each and you could eat and drink as much as you like. Pirate Island was a dream come true.

To Be Continued…

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