Captain Elizabeth Finds a Cook
By Silas Champion
The morning sun found Captain Elizabeth standing behind the wheel of her ship, the Flying Turtle. It was her favorite place to be in the whole wide world. That’s because from there, she could go anywhere in the whole wide world. All she needed was some water and wind.
Right now, though, she also needed some breakfast. A rising sun and steady wind did nothing to curb her hunger.
“Logan,” she bellowed over her shoulder. “Go see what’s taking that lazy cook so long with my breakfast.”
“Aye, Captain,” Logan said through a mouthful of his own breakfast. Unlike the captain, he did not wait for the cook but grabbed some stale bread from the kitchen. He scrambled down below decks to yell at the cook.
Heavy boots stomped up behind Captain Elizabeth. “Everything is in top shape.” Emmey sounded disappointed. As first mate, she enjoyed ordering the crew around, and if everything was in top shape she had no one to yell at. That was soon to change, however.
“Good,” Elizabeth said. “We should make port in time for lunch.” She grinned. “Maybe we should hit the town for a spot of tea.”
Emmey laughed. “Let’s give those old ladies something to talk about.” “Those old ladies” were the esteemed and upright citizens of the port city of Updownton. The citizens of Updownton were as proud of their proper manners as they were their comfortable harbor. They loved the money and goods that ships like the Flying Turtle brought in, but they didn’t care for rowdy sailors. And of course they did not care for girls who wore pants and carried swords. Such a thing was just not done.
“Land, ho,” shouted Harrison from the crow’s nest. As the smallest crewmember, he liked to spend time high above the deck and all the rowdy, stomping sailors. Since he had the best eyesight, Captain Elizabeth didn’t mind if he stayed up there.
“Well, I guess you’re right,” Emmey said, “We’ll be there in time for lunch.” She raised her voice. “All right, you scalawags, let’s get this ship in order. We make port this morning. “ A thunderous cheer broke out from the deck and the sailors scurried to carry out their tasks.
“Here’s your breakfast.” Logan returned with a steaming bowl of porridge. “I had to threaten him with a beating, but he got it finished.”
“Maybe we should get a new cook in Updownton.” Elizabeth took the bowl.
Two hours later, the Flying Turtle nestled gently against the dock in Updownton Harbor. It took two more hours to unload the cargo, and by then everyone was hungry and a little grumpy.
“Okay, you lot,” Captain Elizabeth shouted. “When you get your money from Emmey, you are free to go. Stay out of trouble and be back on the ship by sundown.” The crew gave another thunderous shout and scrambled to get their money from the first mate. She yelled at them until they got into a line, and fifteen minutes later, they scattered through the streets to scandalize the good citizens of Updownton.
“Phoebe, make sure to get us some more gunpowder.” Elizabeth pointed. “And no fighting this time.”
“Yeah right,” snorted Jonathon. “Like that will ever happen.”
“Hush, Jon,” Captain Elizabeth said. “I want you to get us some new sails. These old ones are reaching their limit.”
“What should I do?” Logan asked.
“I want you to go along and keep help Phoebe stay out of trouble,” Elizabeth said.
“Every kind of trouble?” Logan asked. “Like what if someone attacks her? Can’t she defend herself? What if somebody needs a good beating?”
“Enough questions. Get out of here, both of you,” Captain Elizabeth shouted, and the two sailors scrambled down the gangplank.
Captain Elizabeth and Emmey stepped into the Dapper Delights Teahouse and Restaurant. The collective gasps of scandalized ladies made a breeze that ruffled the large feathers on their fancy hats.
“Well, I never” and “what on earth?” were the most common loud whispers among the diners. Captain Elizabeth and Emmey paid them no mind but followed a properly shocked waiter to a corner table. The stomping of their boots and clanking swords filled the awkward silence.
Elizabeth and Emmey doffed their own ornate hats, although they were not at all like the ladies’ hats. For one thing, they were splattered with sea salt and perhaps a bit of blood here and there. Only after the waiter had brought their drinks did they look at the diners around them.
“Hello.” Captain Elizabeth nodded at a portly woman at the next table. “What is good here?” The woman just stared and tried to close her gaping mouth but failed.
“Well, I used to think everything was good,” replied another woman in an icy voice. “But now I’m losing my appetite.” She was a tall woman with knobby elbows and angry eyes.
“They say that happens to the elderly,” Captain Elizabeth said with a grin. The woman’s white face turned red and she sputtered. Before she could speak, Emmey reached over and whacked her on the back so hard the fine china rattled.
“Don’t choke. You’ve got to chew your food before you swallow.” She whacked her back again. Somehow the woman got even redder and let out a screech like a cat with its tail caught in the door.
“Don’t touch me.” The woman leaped to her feet. “Oh, I shall have to burn this dress.” She stepped toward the kitchen. “Pierre! Pierre!” Her voice got shriller with each word. The other good citizens all looked anxiously at the door. A moment later, a burly man in an apron and a towering chef’s hat burst through the door.
“What is going on here?” His angry eyes focused on Emmey and Elizabeth.
“These two pirates are disrupting our meal,” Skinny Red Face said, “How can you allow such riffraff in your restaurant?” Pierre’s eyes got wide, and he patted the woman’s hand.
“There, there, calm down. I shall take care of everything.” Pierre turned to Captain Elizabeth. “Perhaps you, uh, ladies would be more comfortable at some of our other, uh, establishments in town.” Several of the fine ladies nodded in agreement.
“Why? Is your food not good?” Elizabeth asked. Pierre coughed, and for a moment it looked like his head would explode. When he spoke, his voice was like steel.
“My food is the best in town–no, in the country.” He paused. “It is, however, somewhat expensive.” He stopped talking and tapped his fingers together.
“If it’s expensive, it better be the best in town.” Emmey glared at him. Captain Elizabeth pulled a huge diamond ring from her pocket.
“Thanks for the warning.” She held the glittering ring up in the candlelight. “It’s good that I’m always prepared.” The women in the room could barely stifle their gasps. In spite of all their wealth and finery, none of them owned a diamond that big. Pierre’s eyes changed from hard to greedy in an instant. The only thing he liked better than cooking was diamond rings.
“Probably stolen off a dead man, no doubt,” the plump woman said looking at the ring with jealous eyes.
Elizabeth nodded. “Well you are partially right, he was almost dead. In fact, he traded this very ring for his life.”
“So you stole it.” The fat woman’s cheeks jiggled her disapproval.
Elizabeth smiled. “Let’s just say he thought he could kill me, and when the tables were turned he offered this ring in exchange for his worthless life. Though I’m not sure it was worth it.” She turned the ring and it mesmerized the crowd. Then she looked at Pierre.
“So how about you scurry back in the kitchen and make us the meal of your life.” She sat the ring on the table. At the same time, Emmey moved her sword, causing it to bang against the chair. Pierre swallowed. He looked at his fancy customers. He looked at the ring. He looked at the sword.
“I’ll see what we can do.” He rushed back into the kitchen, ignoring the angry shouts of the other diners. For the next three hours, Emmey and Elizabeth enjoyed a meal fit for a king. Fit for several kings, actually. It was far more than they could eat.
The good citizens of Updownton decided it just wouldn’t do to dine in such company and left the restaurant. Emmey and Elizabeth did not let that keep them from enjoying their meal. In fact, they sent a waiter down to the local orphanage and soon everyone enjoyed Pierre’s cooking. The chocolate cake was especially appreciated.
As they walked slowly back to the ship, Elizabeth and Emmey noticed the dark clouds rolling in over the green hills outside of town. Updownton had such a great harbor because it sat exactly where the Updown River met the sea. Already they could see that the river was rising fast.
“We should get out to sea,” Elizabeth said. “Ships are always safer at sea.” They found their ship still rocking gently at the dock. Sailors bustled around, loading supplies and readying the ship for departure. Jonathon stepped up as they got on board.
“I figured you would want to get going.” He pointed at the clouds.
“Good job,” Elizabeth said. “Is everyone here?”
“Everyone but Phoebe and Logan and the cook.” Jonathon shrugged.
“I’ll go find them,” Emmey said. As it turned out, she didn’t have to go anywhere. A moment later, Logan and Phoebe appeared, followed closely by a large mob of outraged citizens.
“What did you two do now?” Elizabeth said as they scrambled aboard.
“Nothing, it’s all a big misunderstanding,” Phoebe said.
“How was I supposed to know you weren’t supposed to drink out of the sacred bowl?” Logan said.
“Oh I don’t know, maybe the fact that it’s called THE SACRED BOWL,” Emmey replied. The small mob stopped on the dock.
“You must hand them over to us,” a fat man in flowery robes shouted.
“I don’t think I will,” Elizabeth said. “Why don’t you go home and clean your sacred bowl?”
“They have violated the sacred bowl that protects us,” Flowery Robe shouted. “They must pay.” The crowd surged forward and Elizabeth pulled her pistol.
“Well, unless the sacred bowl can protect you from a bullet, I think you might want to step back.” The crowd stopped. No one trusted the sacred bowl that much. At that moment, bells sounded over the city and the crowd panicked.
“The floodwaters, the floodwaters,” Flowery Robes shouted, and the crowd scattered.
“Let’s get out of here!” Elizabeth shouted, and the sailors scrambled to get the ship away from the dock. The water had already filled two of the streets and kept rising. Rain poured from dark clouds as at last the ship moved away from the dock. When they reached the middle of the harbor, Captain Elizabeth took a deep breath.
“Look at all the water.” Emmey pointed at the town. More streets were covered and people scrambled to higher ground.
“Over there! Over there!” Harrison’s sharp eyes spotted something in the floating in the water. After a moment, they realized it was the roof of a house. Four children clung to the top, screaming and crying.
“Let’s get them,” Elizabeth ordered, and they slowly brought the ship alongside the frightened children. One by one, they plucked them from the raging water. For the next hour, they sailed around the harbor, rescuing pitiful flood victims. They even rescued Mr. Flower Robes, although Phoebe thought they should let him swim. Perhaps the most satisfying was when they rescued the tall, angry woman from the restaurant
She was clinging to a barrel that bobbed up and down in the waves. Somewhere she’d lost her fancy hat and her bad attitude. In fact, she looked quite happy to see the Flying Turtle, although she must have forgotten to say thank you when they pulled her up on deck. Some people just have no manners.
“Lovely to see you again, ma’am” was all Captain Elizabeth said. A moment later, they spied Pierre floating past on a table.
“Thank you, Captain.” He bowed. “I do appreciate the rescue.”
“It would be shame to lose such a good cook as yourself,” Elizabeth said. Just then, Logan leaped into the water with a rope tied around his waist.
“What in the world is he doing?” Emmey asked Jonathon, who held the other end of the rope.
“He’s after the sacred bowl,” Jonathon said. Sure enough, Logan bobbed to the surface and swam toward a bowl that somehow remained afloat. After a few desperate minutes, he reached the bowl. Jonathon and Phoebe hauled him back on board. He held it above his head and the people cheered.
His victorious moment didn’t last long because the wet bowl slipped from his fingers and landed on the deck. A large piece chipped off the handle, and Flowery Robes nearly fainted. He screamed and protested and even cried over the sacred bowl.
“If you don’t hush up that wailing, I’m going to put you in the bowl and send you out to sea,” Pheobe said. Flowery Robes decided to hush up his wailing. They sailed the ship up to a tall building and everyone got off on the second floor. The clouds opened up and the sun returned.
“Well, we must be off,” Captain Elizabeth tipped her hat. “Pierre, I want to thank you for probably the best meal I’ve ever eaten.”
“It was my pleasure,” Pierre bowed low.
“That reminds me,” Jonathon said, “The cook never came back to the ship and when it started flooding we had no time to find him.”
Captain Elizabeth sighed. “I guess we’ll all have to take turns cooking.” Everyone groaned.
“If I may, Captain.” Pierre stepped forward. “Since my restaurant has washed into the sea, perhaps I should follow it. If I could be so bold as to ask for passage on your ship.”
“ A well-fed crew is a happy crew. Welcome aboard.” The crew cheered and Pierre boarded the ship.
“Let’s get underway,” Elizabeth shouted, and the ship left the harbor under a splendid rainbow.