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Emily received the news of the new addition in silence, only raising her eyebrows once they had finished.
“Well,” She said finally. Luke risked a glance at John, but Emily wasn’t finished. “Well!” She said again. “I suppose you should have asked the captain first, but as it is, maybe Polly can help us. As soon as our work is done, go directly to him and tell him what you did.” She lowered her voice. “Did you get the bottle?” Luke glanced over at the door, making sure they were alone.
He nodded. “Yes, it was right where the captain said it would be: in the drawer of his desk behind the false back. We got it out safely enough, and I managed to put the three drops into Rudy the Red’s whiskey bottle. Polly is going to make sure he drinks it all tonight.”
Emily smiled. “Well done Luke and John! Maybe Polly will prove to be worth her salt after all.”
Hopkins popped through the door suddenly. “Luke, John, ye’re to go below deck now. Miss Emily will follow as soon as she finishes preparing supper.”
Grudgingly, the boys followed Hopkins below deck. Once he had left them, the boys let the real captain know that Emily was working on preparing supper, but would be with them soon.
The captain grew hopeful. “You found the bottle then?” he asked in feverish excitement.
The boys nodded. “Yes. And Emily is doing her part next.”
The captain looked across at them thoughtfully. “You know, your plan just might work,” He said.
Luke grinned. “I think it will, sir.”
John nodded. “It had better…”
* * * * *
Hopkins brought Emily down after a few minutes, and Emily smiled reassuringly at the captain and the two boys.
“Our plan is working. All I had to do was put the three drops of liquid into the stew and then gave a bowl of it to each of the pirates. They are eating it now!”
The captain paced up and down in the narrow space, but there was hope shining from his eyes. “You children are wonderful! Absolutely wonderful! I don’t think I could have done anything without your help. My ship would have been lost.”
Emily smiled again. “Well, we are glad to be of any assistance to you. We don’t like pirates either.”
The captain sat down on a nearby barrel. “Now we just have to wait until the drug takes effect.”
Luke grinned. “Hopkins promised to tell us as soon as the pirates fall asleep.”
John sighed. “I do hope they hurry up about it.”
Emily laughed, sitting down on the floor. “Have some patience John. Save your strength for later. We’ll need it.”
Luke and John grudgingly sat down like their sister to wait until the pirates fell asleep.
* * * * *
Darkness had fallen by the time Hopkins finally opened the trap door and grinned down on their upturned faces.
“It’s alright now. They’ve all slipped into a peaceful slumber, every single pirate, even the captain!” He said leading them out and freeing the captain and his men from their bonds.
Immediately, the English captain took charge. “Alright men, listen to me and obey quickly. In a few hours the drug will have worn off and the pirates will awaken. If they haven’t been tied up securely and gagged, we’ll be in serious trouble. Go!”
The men obeyed as one, rushing from one sleeping pirate to another, tying them up and gagging them. The captain, Hopkins, and the three siblings checked all the knots to make double sure that they would hold.
The captain turned to Luke and John. “Make sure Rudy the Red has been taken care of,” He ordered. The boys nodded, thrilled that the captain would give them such an important job.
Polly greeted them with a loud “Awk!” when they entered the room.
John hushed her quickly. “Did the captain drink all his whiskey?” he asked.
Polly cocked her head wisely. “Yes, nasty pirate drank all the nasty whiskey.” She said. “Pirate uses horrible language!” She added in a shocked voice. “Polly had to squawk loudly to not here nasty words.” The parrot shook her head knowingly. “Polly doesn’t like nasty pirates.”
John hid a smile and opened Polly’s cage. “Well, Polly, I think you’ve earned your freedom. But please, be quiet!”
Polly gleefully hopped out of her cage and settled on John’s shoulder. “Polly can be very quiet!” she said in a wounded sort of voice, as if she thought the boys said she couldn’t. “Polly just doesn’t like nasty pirates.” She scratched her wing with a claw before settling back down on John’s shoulder again. “They yell and yell at her,” She added in a confidential whisper.
Luke finished tying up the pirate captain securely. “Come on,” he hissed, “Let’s get the captain!”
Quickly, John put a restraining hand on Polly’s beak, and the two boys went back to let the captain know that they had done their job.
What’s this?” he asked, motioning to the parrot on John’s shoulder. John and Luke exchanged a guilty look.
“Well Sir, I meant to tell you about that, but I forgot,” Luke began, feeling that it was his duty to explain things to the captain since he was the eldest.
John intervened. “Sir, it was my idea. I didn’t want Polly to be a pirate’s parrot. She doesn’t want to be one either, so I thought maybe she could be one of us now.”
Polly looked at the captain meekly. “Polly doesn’t like nasty pirates,” She explained for the hundredth time. “Pirates yell and yell at her. And…” she added, fluffing up her feathers in horror, “They use terrible language when they are angry!”
A smile played around the corners of the captain’s mouth. “I suppose that you can be one of us then,” he said slowly, but in an amused voice.
Polly flapped her wings excitedly. “Polly is SO thankful!” she said. “Polly will be quiet for a cracker, awk!”
The captain laughed. “I’m sure you will! Hopkins?” he turned to the reformed pirate. “Take Polly to the kitchen and feed her.”
Polly looked at Hopkins in horror. “No! Polly WON’T go with nasty pirate!” she exclaimed, hopping up and down in agitation.
John soothed her ruffled feathers. “Calm down Polly, Hopkins is a good pirate. He’s one of us just like you’re one of us.”
Polly looked doubtful. “Will pirate yell and yell at Polly?” she asked dubiously.
Hopkins shook his head solemnly, though his eyes danced with hidden laughter. “I promise to not yell at ye like ol’ Rudy did,” he promised.
Polly seemed relieved. “Then Polly will go with good pirate,” She said.
Everyone sighed in relief. Polly left with Hopkins and the children turned to the captain. All of them burst into laughter as soon as Polly was safely out of hearing shot.
“That parrot certainly has her own opinions!” The captain exclaimed.
John grinned. “You aren’t mad at me then?” he asked.
“Of course not!” The captain ruffled John’s hair, leaving it standing on end. “Now, as soon as all the pirates are safely locked away in the hull of my ship, I shall tell you why we’re really here.”