Of Pirates and Orphans
A Kind-Hearted Motley Crew
They were big men and women who wore eye patches and sported mouthfuls of gold and silver teeth. Parrots squawked from their shoulders. The beards of the men were grizzled and all of their bodies bore tattoos that gave clues to their deepest passions. One had a picture of an otter on his upper arm. Another wore the image of a meteor flying across a night sky on her left shoulder blade.
One woman pirate wore a deep blue silk jacket that sparkled with golden stars and moons, and a dark brown suede hat with a wide brim. She stepped forward from the group of pirates lined up on the dock to greet the band of orphan children walking toward them. The time was 5:00 p.m.
"Welcome, children, to our home at sea. My name is Captain Jasmine and you are about to board the Pirate Ship Starry Night . We are the "Peace Pirates" and we have come to share our love of the sea with you, and to treat you to a ride and a feast."
"Ahoy, maties!" squawked the brightly colored parrot on her shoulder.
The child at the front of the line of orphans stepped forward to present to the captain a giant bouquet of wildflowers tied in lacy, ivory-colored ribbon, and duffel bag full of gifts that they made for the crew. She curtsied before the captain and introduced herself.
"Hello Captain Jasmine. My name is Autumn Sunflower. We thank you for your kindness. Here are some gifts that we have made for you. We hope that they will be of use to you and bring you pleasure.
Captain Jasmine bowed to the young girl and said "We thank you for this kind and thoughtful gift, Autumn Sunflower." She gave the girl a warm hug and handed the duffel bag to her first mate, whom she introduced by name. "This is my First Mate, Francesca."
Francesca bowed to the girl with a warm smile and a handshake, then turned to the crew and opened the duffel bag. In the bag was a collection of wooden boxes decorated with seashells, glittering stones, and sea glass arranged in attractive patterns.
The pirates smiled at the bouquets of wildflowers and the collection of treasure boxes decorated so lovingly. They took their hats off and bowed to the children.
The Pirate Ship Starry Night
Each crew member took the hand of each child, with a smile and a nod of the head, and the last one in line helped the children board the ship.
Captain Jasmine took the wheel at the helm. The bo'sun climbed the stairs to the poop deck and sounded her whistle.
"Attention crew! Let down the sails and make do course for a spin around the cove. Musicians, tune your instruments and prepare for a dance!" The children cheered and rushed to the gunwale to watch the cat's claws on the water, made by the fresh evening breeze and the tacking of the ship. It was 5:30 p.m.
The sun was low and the clouds glowed with golden linings around their edges, through which flat, low rays of late afternoon sun reached across the salty sea water. The spray from the sea foam licking the sides of the ship elicited giggles of delight from the children. Several of the crew talked with them about the seagulls and other wildlife that they saw. One pirate was an artist who painted a small version of the sunset on parchment paper, enough times for each child to use as a bookmark.
There were several musicians who tuned their instruments: fiddle, concertina, autoharp, flute and tambourine. The children skipped and danced to the music, each arm-in-arm with a jolly crew member. They danced jigs, reels, tangos, and tarantellas. When it was time to rest, one musician sang a few ballads, like "Lady Franklin's Lament" and "The Mary Ellen Carter."
When the ride was over, the crew invited the children to furl the sails with them, hand-over-hand, while a couple of musicians led them all in singing shanties.
On the Seashore
When the ship was safely docked in the cove again, the crew invited their Headmistress to bring them to shore and gave the orphans blankets to spread out on the sand. One crew member made a fire with dried driftwood that the children collected. It was 6:30 p.m.
There was a sunset full of pink, gold, orange, violet, and green painted across the sky behind the ship. As the light faded from the sky and the bonfire lit up the twilight, the pirates shared a feast with the orphan children. There was grilled fish sprayed with lemon juice, berries picked from bramble bushes by the shore, grapes from vines, grilled vegetables soaked with lime juice. A refreshing watermelon punch was served for all to drink. For dessert, the pirate crew spooned dollops of ambrosia into bowls for all to enjoy. It was 7:30 p.m.
A Fond Farewell
While they enjoyed their dessert and drank the punch that the seafarers served them, the children thanked them for their ride around the cove. It was 8:00 p.m.
In the glow of the festive gathering, one orphan named Hugo asked one of the pirates a question.
"Horatio, if pirates are supposed to be mean, why are you all so nice?"
In response to Hugo's question, Horatio gave this answer:
"We are Peaceful Pirates. Our mission is to spread love and kindness, especially to those in need, and to bring back to the rightful owners their possessions that have been stolen by others, whether the thieves be pirates at sea or land. We are pirates because we are doing something that some powerful people do not like. But those who seek gain at the expense of others are the real pirates, the dark ones. Thus, we call ourselves Pirates of Peace."
When Horatio finished speaking, the orphans cheered and thanked the whole crew for their delicious meal.
The Captain's Blessing
Captain Jasmine blessed the children with a prayer for their continued joy, health, and safety, and promised to return next year. The parrots squawked "good night" and the band of peaceful pirates bid them a fond "farewell mateys" as the children climbed the hill to their cave at nightfall. Each child saluted them as they turned to climb. It was 9:00 p.m.
The stars twinkled bright that night, and the pirate captain bid her crew a good rest after their evening of revelry. She and Francesca took the first watch while the rest of the crew members settled down to sweet dreams as they slept in their bunks and hammocks that night.
Songs for Young Seafarers
A set of rousing sea chanteys with kid-friendly lyrics.
© 2011 Karen Szklany Gault
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