Once upon a time, on a wooden ship that looked as though it had always been old, a pirate known by those who lived on the land as Edwin Salt was directing his crew to navigate his beloved ship, Neptune, towards the eastern horizon. When Captain Salt was satisfied that the crew had control of Neptune and that she was heading in the correct direction, he quietly made his way to the lower deck and bent down to better admire the intricate beauty of the treasure chest sitting on the table in the middle of the room. “Now, ma boy,” Captain Salt said to the child who was sitting on a chair next to the table. “We didn’t have time to get properly acquainted amongst all the ruckus back there on the island. The name’s Captain Salt.” The Captain held out his hand for the young boy to shake. “And you are?” The boy’s lips and mouth were dry from being in the desert for so long, but he managed to muster up the strength to shake the captain’s hand and introduce himself.
“I’m… I’m Tristian.” The captain dusted the sand from his hands and poured Tristian a cup of water.
“Now then, Tristian, you made a promise to me back there on the island. So, tell me again, you have the key for this treasure chest, yes?”
Earlier that week, Captain Salt had received word from a traitorous member of The Baratonia Tribe that a young boy was seeking some treasure and that the child was venturing into the Forests of Pantagnomia with a camel, a map and a key. Although the captain was sceptical that the person seeking the treasure was a child, any pirate worth his weight in gold knows that there is always an element of truth in any rumour, so he immediately got his crew together and informed them of the plan. They were to follow the boy until he found the treasure and then take it right out from under him. As far as the crew of Neptune were concerned, this was as easy as pirating gets. They arrived on the island, made their way to the edges of the Forests of Pantagnomia and watched and waited. To everyone’s surprise, a boy no more than ten years old emerged from the forests on foot and, although he was weary, battled the elements before locating the treasure and digging it out with his bare hands. Captain Salt barely had time to admire the young boy’s courage before an arrow fell from the sky and landed in the sand beside him. The Baratonia had found the pirates after spotting their ship from the peaks of Mount Navana and were doing everything they could to prevent them from reaching the boy and his treasure. After twenty minutes of running and ducking and weaving, however, the pirates managed to capture the boy and the treasure chest and were already rowing their way back to Neptune. Once on the ship, they immediately took their plunder to the lower deck and, under the authority of their captain, prepared the ship to set sail.
Tristian took a sip from the water Captain Salt had given him. “I didn’t say I had the key,” he responded. “I said I knew where you could find the key.” The captain stood upright and placed his hands behind his back before walking slowly towards Tristian.
“Well then, ma boy, I’m afraid that is terribly inconvenient for both me and for you.” The captain walked over to the far end of the room and took a crowbar from a hook hanging on the wall. “You see, I already have the ways and means of opening this treasure chest.” The captain put one end of the crowbar under the lock and gripped his hands on the other end. “I just didn’t particularly want to break such a magnificent chest, but, now that you have left me with no choice, I will no longer have a use for the chest or for you.”
Just as the captain was about to use his strength to pry open the chest he was caught off guard by a man walking down the stairs to the lower deck of the ship. The captain turned around and immediately recognised the man as the chief of The Baratonia. He was painted from head to toe in red and white and was wearing a large, feathered headdress. The chief pointed to Tristian and beckoned him to get up and walk. “Come,” he said in a deep and demanding voice.
“You cannot walk in here and take what is mine!” Captain Salt exclaimed as he walked towards the chief. Four more Baratonia revealed themselves at the top of the stairs, pointing their arrows towards the captain who immediately froze. The chief walked over to Tristian and again encouraged him to get up. The four Baratonia walked down to the lower deck, picked up the treasure chest and carried it up the stairs while the chief escorted Tristian to the main deck where each member of Neptune’s crew was being closely guarded. Without so much as blinking an eyelid, Captain Salt allowed the rage to build inside him as he watched his treasure being carried on to a Baratonian ship destined to return to the desert island.
After watching the pirate ship disappear over the horizon, Tristian turned to the chief to thank him for rescuing him. Before he could get the words out, however, the chief took Tristian’s hand, opened his fingers and placed a key in the palm of the boy’s hand.
This tale has connections to #134 – The Tale of a Search for Treasure. Click here to go deeper!
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
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