Author: Lucy Woods – Second Place Senior Division 2019

The seas be a treacherous yet beautiful maiden, whose secrets are far too many to be understood, but here be one I’ve come to experience meself. I have seen me a bunch a’ misfits an’ otherwise unrelated men an’ turnin’ them to the closest brotherhood they’d ever know. This be the tale of a crew such as this. It all started as I boarded the ship of Cap’n Williams, the greatest seaman known to sail. I looked about me an’ me eyes fell upon a sturdy young man barkin’ orders at a crew of about seven men hoistin’ barrels, crates an’ chests onto the deck. As I be walkin’ closer to the sailor barkin’ commands, there be no doubt that I caught his attention, for he turned toward me with his hand on his weapon an’ called, “What be ye business here? Be ye one lookin’ fer the Cap’n?”

“Aye, sir,” I replied. The man looked me up an’ down. I could only picture what he be thinkin’ of me sun-worn coat an’ me wearied boots. Finally, he spoke.

“What be ye business with the cap’n?”

“I got me a letter about a week ago from Cap’n Williams tellin’ me to get meself here to Tamsworth an’ find his ship, an’ I’d be on me way on a dangerous voyage to get me fortunes untold. So, I be lookin’ for Cap’n Williams.”

“Well then,” he said, “I’ll be takin’ ye to the cap’n meself.” He led the way into the cap’n’s cabin. As we entered, I looked about an’ saw a great many things. Straight ahead there be sizable windows that had thick curtains that be opened only to allow in the smallest bit of light aided by a rusty lantern which be settin’ on a scruffed wooden desk covered with maps, papers, pouches of gold an’ gems an’ other such things one’d be apt to see on any sea cap’n’s desk. I looked around an’ saw chests, barrels, weapons, bottles an’ treasures linin’ the walls. Then I saw him, Cap’n Williams. The sturdy sailor approached him, an’ they exchanged a few hushed words. The sailor looked more like a scrawny cabin boy standin’ next to the tall, bearded cap’n.

“Ahoy, ye be James, aren’t ye?” inquired the cap’n as the sailor went to his duties again.

“Aye, Cap’n,” I replied.

“I be supposin’ ye have a bit ye don’t be knowin’ quite yet, but ye’ll come to learn in due time. For the moment we’ll be hoistin’ anchor an’ settin’ off rather shortly, an’ I must have yer decision now. Ye can return ye back homeward, or ye can join as the newest member of me crew.” I thought me a moment an’ spoke with confidence.

“Aye, aye, Cap’n. I’ll join ye crew.”

“It be settled then. I’ll tell Rigger we be on our way.” We left his cabin an’ the cap’n shouted: “Rigger, shove off!”

A shout came from above “Aye aye Cap’n!”

“Who be Rigger?” I asked.

“Rigger be me second in command. He be the fine sailor who ye’ve already had the pleasure a’ meetin’. He showed ye to me cabin. After we be on our way, I’ll have him show ye about Ol’ Abigail.”

“Who be Abigail?”

“Why, she be this fine ship. If ya keep her in shape an’ cared for, she’ll bring ye through anythin’ an’ will never fail ye.”

* * *

As I watched the land behind us slowly grow smaller, I heard me a voice behind me, callin’ me name. “James!” I turned to see who it be an’ saw Rigger swaggerin’ over. “I’m to be showin’ ye around.” We walked about, an’ he told me of the riggins’, cabins an’ me new crewmates. “Silvertooth be that sailor with the tooth about his neck. He keeps it as his trophy, it be from the first sailor he fought an’ killed. He be the finest fighter to sail the seas, well, second to the cap’n of course. He at the wheel be Navigator. He be at the wheel most ev’ry moment unless he be readin’ maps with the cap’n or eatin’. Over there be Chumchop. He cooks the grub. Silverfin, Jones, Pegleg, Four Fingers an’ Brownbeard all run the riggings, sails, an’ ropes an’ have duties about the ship. Ye’ll be workin’ with them. Ye know me. I keep records an’ be second in command only to the cap’n.” Quickly the first days passed, and I became more knowin’ of what me duties be. I keep the sails in good condition, help Chumchop catch food an’ aid Rigger an’ me other mates with the sails an’ ropes.

* * *

As we be eatin’ our fish one evenin’, I asked the crew where we be goin’. “Ye don’t know?” asked Silverfin.

“We thought maybe ye was told in ye letter the cap’n sent to ye. He didn’t tell us in ours,” said Brownbeard.

“Even Navigator an’ I don’t know,” added Rigger.

“Wait. The rest of ye got letters too? I be thinkin’ ye be always his crew,” said I.

“No, matey,” asserted Navigator.

“We all got the same letter as ye,” said Jones.

“The cap’n be assemblin’ the greatest crew that ever sailed the seas to join him on what be a legendary voyage,” said Pegleg.

“Back to the letters,” said Four Fingers.

“We all got ‘em about the same time as ye but we already be in Tamsworth, so we could be here right away. The cap’n be sayin’ we couldn’t set sail ‘till ye came, an’ ye did,” said Chumchop.

“Why’d ye wait fer me?” asked I.

“Cap’n said we needed every sailor he sent for, that we all be havin’ a certain reason or specialty an’ that be why we motley crew be thrown together. Strangers from all across the seven seas brought together as the idea of a cap’n in the search of the greatest treasure known to man,” answered Jones.

“But we don’t know what this treasure be,” Interrupted Four Fingers.

“I be thinkin’ it be a palace of gold there for the takin’ of whoever finds it,” said Navigator.

“What be wrong with my idea of the greatest ship to sail the seas?” argued Rigger.

“I think meself that it be a cove of gems an’ gold that shines like the sunlight when it be reflectin’ off a calm sea,” declared Jones.

“It might be the biggest carbuncle, the size of me head!” exclaimed Silvertooth.

“Or riches to last me whole life!” said Chumchop.

“Or the praise, respect, an’ admiration of all sailors!” said Pegleg.

“Well, whatever it be, Cap’n Williams won’t tell us,” remarked Four Fingers.

“Why not?” asked I.

“Because ye all will be findin’ out soon enough.” We all jumped an’ looked to where the voice be comin’ from. It be Cap’n Williams standin’ in the doorway with an eyebrow raised. He swaggered over to join the rest of us an’ unrolled a large leather map in front of us on the table. It had upon it a great many things: islands, mountains, names, scribbled notes an’ arrows. I had seen a great many maps an’ been a great many places, but yet I could not see me a familiarity on this here map. “Here, men,” said the cap’n, pointin’ to a small island. “This is where we be headin’.”

“Where be this island?” I asked.

“Right here, can’t ye see where I be pointin’?” replied the cap’n with a twinkle in his eye.

“Aye, but I haven’t seen any of those places sorroundin’ it before.”

“Of course ye haven’t seen them. Very few have. It be a very dangerous place surrounded by treacherous waters an’ risks unknown called the island of Stellae. Very few have dared to go. Only one has made it an’ returned to tell of the beautiful wonders that be beyond these hazards an’ here on this island, an’ that be me.” We all be starin’ at the Cap’n in disbelief. We had heard stories when we be but children, an’ that’s what we’d be thinkin’ they be, stories, much too good to be true.

Days passed an’ turned into weeks an’ weeks into months. We hadn’t seen ourselves land since shovin’ off at Tamsworth, but visions of what be on that island be keepin’ up our spirits. Days be filled with sharin’ stories an’ trades with one another. One day, Silvertooth be learnin’ me some fightin’ moves as the rest of the crew be watchin’.

“Watch yer left!” said Rigger. I jumped to the right just as Silvertooth lunged with a knife in his hand, barely missin’ me.

“How’d ye know he’d do that?” I shouted at Rigger.

“Easy, ye left it open as a perfect opportunity to strike ye. I be knowin’ any sailor worth his salt would take advantage of ye there,” he replied with a grin.

I ducked as Silvertooth made a swing fer me head, an’ I landed me a good jab in his belly. Silvertooth doubled over, an’ I, bein’ concerned, asked if he be alright. He replied by quickly sluggin’ me on me jaw. The ship seemed to spin about me as I fell to the deck. Me eyes stopped blurrin’ only to see Silvertooth lookin’ down at me with a grin.

“Nice work, matey,” he said, offerin’ me his hand. “Don’t ever let yer guard down.” By then I be standin’.

“I won’t,” I replied as I pinned his arm behind his back an’ pushed him to his knees.

“Nor will I,” he said. Quickly he rolled over an kicked me in the stomach an’ jumped up. This whole time the rest of the crew be shoutin’, cheerin’ an’ givin’ advice.

“All right! All right!” said the cap’n, “A storm be a brewin’ so we’d better batten down the hatches.”

We all quickly ran to the riggin’ an’ prepared ourselves for a war against rain an’ wind. By now I’d gotten me the hang of battlin’ such storms. Before I’d never been so far into the open sea where such things be an almost every other day happpenin’. Me hands had gotten rough an’ strong, me shoulders broad an’ muscles hardened from fightin’, haulin’, hoistin’ an’ riggin’ the ropes. Me changes weren’t just muscular, but fer the first time in me life, I felt that I be belongin’. I had me brothers that be lookin’ out fer me an’ learnin’ me all they know.

Thunder crashed with a flash of light. The wind started to pick up a great deal, an’ rain started to pour an’ drenched us to the bone. The boat rocked violently as we be doin’ our very best to keep her upright. We fought the sails an’ battened the hatches. We set anchors an’ went to our quarters, dried off an’ put on warm clothes an’ met in the galley where Chumchop cooked up some grub. If it weren’t fer fish an’ Chumchop’s skills an’ creativity, we’d a starved weeks ago.

“That be, what, fifth storm this month?” asked Brownbeard.

“Sixth,” said Silverfin.

“We’d better stop an’ get some repairs done on Abigail soon,” said Rigger, “She surely can’t be up fer much more.”

“Ah, don’t ye worry. Ol’ Abby hasn’t let me down yet.” said the cap’n.

“Cap’n?” I asked.

“Aye?” he replied.

“Will we be stoppin’ soon? Chumchop ain’t barely got nutin’ to be eatin’ but fish. I be unsure I can take much more,” said I.

“Aye, ye be right. Besides, Abigail could use some help here an’ there. Don’t ye worry. We’ll be hittin’ the port a’ Cammonmouth in a week ‘er two. In the meantime, ye’ll have ta toughen up a little more, men.” The next few days, we all kept an eye out fer land an’ gulls as we went about our sailin’. The sea be gettin’ calmer an’ the air a little warmer.

A few more days passed, an’ we saw the port straight ahead. It be small at first but then grew as we got close. A smell hit me an’ hit me good. It be bread bakin’. I hadn’t smelled bread bakin’ since we left Tamsworth about three years ago. We docked Abigail an’ stood on solid ground fer the first time in what felt like forever. We spent us about ten days gatherin’ supplies an’ makin’ repairs on ol’ Abby.

Months came an’ went an’ Rigger became sick. With Rigger out a work, we all be havin’ to be doin’ more about the ship. Brownbeard an’ Silverfin be takin’ care a the sails. Pegleg an’ Four Fingers made sure nothin’ be brokin’ or needin’ fixin’. When storms come or navigation be done, that be takin’ care of by Navigator or the cap’n. Navigator ain’t be very good at barkin’ orders so seein’ as I could hear about twice as good as any other sailor aboard, he’d have me be doin’ his yellin’ an’ shoutin’ fer him. It be a good way a doin’ things but it still be not half as good as with Rigger. We all be feelin’ like we had an arm taken off.

I’d spend me little bit a free time goin’ an visitin’ him. Somehow, even though he be feelin’ the worst I think he’d ever been, he somehow still be the cheeriest of us all, still tellin’ stories an’ jokes like it be any other day. One day when I be bringin’ him his supper, as I’d done fer the last week an’ a half, I noticed somethin’ that be different about him. He didn’t seem to notice the sudden amount of light let in by the door.

“Ahoy!” I chimed. “Here I bring ye a hearty meal fit fer the cap’n himself, an’ actually, made by the cap’n himself. Ye see, he be thinkin’ he should try his hand at cookin’. Ha! He burnt half the fish we caught. The rest be made with very close help from Chumchop an’ still we had to catch more just to get ‘em close to resemblin’ food!” I saw a wide smile spread across Rigger’s face as I told him the tale, but it quickly ran from his face followed by a frown an’ a sigh a’ sadness.

“What be the matter?” I asked, handin’ him his tray.

“I…I be tired of just lyin’ here cooped up away from the crew. I want to feel again a gentle sea breeze on me face an’ ropes in me hand. An’ the stories ye be tellin’ me, I want to be in them, to experience them meself, not just hear them,” he said, thrustin’ his knife in his fish.

“I see.” I replied. “When I be but first becomin’ a sailor, I broke me leg. All I could do was sit there an’ watch the others climb up the ropes an’ masts. It be torture when ye be small an’ only wantin’ to run. So, I can tell ye, I understand how ye be feelin’.”

“Really? I be thinkin’ ye said that ye ain’t never broken yer leg before.”

“Well, that’s bein’ because I never did break me leg.”

He just looked at me with a smile an’ twinkle in his eye an’ said, “Ye scurvy dog, If ye weren’t me friend, I’d throw ye to the sharks meself fer lyin’ to me.”

“Ha! I’d like to see ye try!” I replied with a grin. We laughed ourselves along as Rigger finished his meal. I started to take his tray but he held to it with a grip like iron.

“I think I’ll take this tray to Chumchop meself.” he said, startin’ to stand. At first, he be a little dizzy, seein’ as he’d not stood fer a while. I steadied him an’ gave him me shoulder to lean on.

“Here we go,” I said. We walked out onto the deck an’ I could feel Rigger regain his strength as he smelled the fresh sea air. The rest of the crew who be goin’ about their business, cheered an’ greeted Rigger.

“Ahoy! What sailor be emergin’ through yonder portal? Arr! ‘Tis Rigger who we been waitin’ an eternity to see!” yelled Jones, beaming.

“Rigger! Good to have ye back me boy!” said Cap’n Williams as he swaggered over to Rigger an’ meself. “I order ye to never get yeself sick again.” He spoke with a stern frown but a twinkle in his eye.

“Aye, aye, Cap’n, yer orders will be carried out!” replied Rigger.

Over the next few days he quickly got himself to full strength an’ be as hard-workin’ an’ merry as ever which be givin’ us high spirits, an’ not a moment too soon, as we be gettin’ to the dangers that be between us an’ the island. The gentle breeze turned to a chilled gust. The cap’n said, “Here it be, men! Ready yerselves! To yer places!” The wind picked up, rain be startin’ to fall, an’ the sun hid itself. Fer hours we fought to keep her from capsizin’ as the wind an’ rain beat on our faces. Between the frigid cold an’ the stingin’ ice rain, every one of me bones ached somethin’ terrible an’ I struggled to see on account of the rain hittin’ me eyes.

“Hang on!” I yelled. Other shouts filled the air but the rain muffed them too much to be heard. More hours came an’ passed bringin’ me to the end ‘o me strength. Thankfully, the wind started to settle an’ it stopped rainin’, but it still be dark as night. The little light we got from lanterns be lightin’ only the ship an’ we could only see about a fathom ahead. I be lookin’ about the ship to see what I could of our surroundin’s. What the light showed was not much. I looked to the water an’ it be clear as polished glass only to reveal rocks, broken remnants resemblin’ ships an’ weapons ruined by corrosion an’ barnacles.

What I saw next made me shudder, then freeze in me boots. I saw a long scaly black an’ green creature with teeth like swords an’ eyes like fire. It be weavin’ in an’ out of a shipwreck makin’ the ship look about the size of a toy that a small kid would play with. It stopped, tilted its head, then came straight at us. It be all I could do to scream, which caused the others to come runnin’. The serpent got bigger an’ bigger as it be comin’ toward us, its red eyes glowin’ an’ teeth shinin’ in the light of our lanterns. The monster crashed through the surface an’ its head flew over the deck. It’s massive snake-like body seemed endless as it ran amidships. Suddenly, it be tightenin’ itself an’ the ship started to creak an’ moan. Instantly, we sailors ran up to its scaly side an’ tried to wack, cut, an’ stab the creature, but it was all in vain. Then we noticed the cap’n who be dragin’ over Chumchop’s biggest cookin’ pot.

“Don’t just stand there, men! Give me a hand!” barked the Cap’n. Chumchop, Brownbeard an’ Jones all went an’ helped the cap’n carry the pot an’ be placin’ it under the belly of the monster. Rigger an’ I understood what the cap’n be doin’, an’ we got some hay an’ small pieces a kindling an’ threw ‘em in the pot. Silverfin smashed his lantern in there too, an’ flames erupted from the mouth of the pot. The monster shook, an’ it be loosin’ it’s grip on the ship. It quickly slid the rest of its body across an’ off the ship an’ swam away.

We all took ourselves a deep breath an’ collapsed on whatever be the closest thing one could sit or lean upon. Fer some it be a close crate, fer others the wall or gunwale. Fer me it be the deck. I nearly fell asleep right there on account a me bein’ so tired from the events of the last few days.

“C’mon men, Abigail must’ve gotten herself some damage o’er the last few days,” said Rigger. “I know ye all be tired but so’s ol’ Abby, an’ she’s gotta’ get us through so we need to put her first.” What he said was already known an’ be accepted by us, but we be so tired we needed ourselves a little reminder. Rigger got right to work, tellin’ us what we are to be a doin’.

“Silvers,” that be meanin’ Silverfin an’ Silvertooth, “ye check the deck an’ see if ye can see any damage on her broadside. Jones, Brownbeard, Pegleg an’ Four Fingers check the hull, holds, an’ ballasts. Navigator, help the cap’n as he sees fit. Chumchop, do ye think ye can whip up somethin’ to eat fer a much-spent crew?”

“Aye, aye, Rigger!” replied Chumchop.

“What will ye an’ I be doin’?” I asked.

“James,” he said, “ye an’ I will be checkin’ an’ fixin’ the riggin’s, ropes an’ sails.”


Some time came an’ be gone as we all be carryin’ out our assignments. We all had quite a bit to do, seein’ as Abigail had a great deal a repairs needin’ to be done. Some of the other sailors finished their checkin’ an’ repairin’, so they came up an’ gave Rigger an’ me a hand. Thank goodness the weather settled down as the ol’ girl couldn’t take much more. When we all be finished, we feasted on a hearty meal that we all be needin’ badly.

* * *

It be still dark outside with a touch a fog as it has been fer over two weeks now. As we sailed on, we all be sittin’ or standin’ near our posts, ready fer anything yet still recoverin’ an’ restin’ from the exhaustion of our long journey. “Up ahead! What do ye think it could be?” yelled Four Fingers as he pointed ahead an’ above us at a point that seemed be some light shinin’ through a cloud.

“Sink me!” gasped Brownbeard.

“It be God shinin’ His kind face upon us!” said Jones. It be just the sun shinin’ down through the dark clouds, but it be feelin’ like God’s glory an’ grace shinin’ on us. Gradually the light spread over the whole sky, an’ what we saw in front of us be truly a beautiful sight. It be the island that we’d been waitin’ to see the last four years. Huge mountains, surrounded by lush green trees, rose an’ turned gray then white as they touched the sky. Birds be flyin’ gracefully just over the trees an’ a beautiful white sandy beach be outlinin’ the edge of the water where it be meetin’ the trees. We stood there, takin’ it all in.

“Men,” said the cap’n, “we’ve made it. Welcome to paradise. Welcome to Stellae!” Time flew as we quickly got to shore. It truly be paradise. Every tree there had somethin’ fresh an’ good to eat hangin’ right there on the branches. We figured out that what we thought be sand before be tiny diamonds an’ jewels with bits a gold mixed in. We all carried on like we be mere children livin’ in a fantasy dream, swimmin’ in clear lakes, eatin’ like kings, adventurin’ through the woods an’ caves. I see now why the cap’n took us here: because without a crew that be as close as brothers, this place would seem to be mockin’ yer lonlieness with all this richness an’ pleasure but not a soul to share it with.

* * *

After a while, we sailed on from Stellae an’ went to many another islands, saw many a thing an’ fought many a creature, but those be fer another time. All in all it be a wondrous journey that wouldn’t have been nearly as good without me mates. The seas be a treacherous yet beautiful maiden, whose secrets are far too many to be understood, but here be one I experienced meself. I have seen me a bunch a misfits an’ otherwise unrelated men an’ turnin’ them to the closest brotherhood they’d ever know. This be the tale of a crew such as this. It all started as I boarded the ship of Cap’n Williams, the greatest seaman known to sail.

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