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When twelve year old Peter Barthofemew's reclusive cousin dies, leaving a metal detector and cryptic clues to a buried treasure, Peter and his friend Vin set sail for the mysterious Black Jack Island. But things get complicated when they encounter a ghost and real pirates.
Published by Eakin
Peter Bartholomew liked everything about pirates. Well, maybe not everything. He was
pretty sure he wouldn't want one living next door, or dating his older sister, but he liked
reading books about pirates, playing pirate video games, and watching pirate movies. Back
when he was a little kid he always played pirate. His fort had been a tree house in the
back yard where lie hoarded potato chips Twinkies and other treasures.
Peter didn't do that any more. He was twelve now and much too grown up for games
like that, except for a few times when no one was around to see him. Now, the walls of his
room were hidden behind pirate movie posters and old maps. He had more books and CDs about pirates than both his school library and the public library combined. They left barely
enough space on his shelves for pirate ship models. Brigantines, barkentines, schooners,
and caravels were his favorites. Those were the ships real pirates used, but he had galleons
and frigates, sloops, and barques as well. Add to these his pirate action figures, plastic
swords, pirate hats, a few fake doubloons, a real ship's lantern, plus a dozen or so toy can
nons, and the pirate stuff in Peter's room left very little room for Peter.
Peter even thought lie looked kind of like a pirate. 1 lis face was always tanned from being
outside' and on the water. His hair was sunbleached and curled around his ears. Several
times, lie tried to grow it long enough to have a pigtail, but either his fattier or his teachers
always noticed and made' him get a haircut. His mother insisted this was all just a
"phase," which lie' would soon grow out of. The minister at his church feared he was a
"troubled child." His teachers recommended counseling.
Peter did live' in the perfect place to become "obsessed" with pirates. His parents home was an old beach house on the shore of Galveston Bay. In front of it were piers where
the big shrimp boats owned by his father and two uncles docked. And absolutely best of all.
Peter had his own boat. It was just a small sailboat, barely eighteen feet long, but with a high,
jaunty bow7, a/raked mast J and a little cabin which was just large enough lo sleep in. Peter's
fattier had bought it cheap after a hurricane left a big hole in its hull, and although it was an old
boat, they had lovingly repaired it. Peter named it The Falcon, after a boat in a book he read in
the fourth grade. Now, it was his own personal pirate ship.
Very early one warm Saturday morning in May, Peter sailed THE FALCON out to a little island
in Galveston Bay and anchored just a few yards off the beach. He waded ashore and, for a
while, watched the big ships passing in the distance. Tankers, inbound for the refineries in
Houston, blew their horns as they passed barges running south for Galveston and
freighters headed out to the Gulf of Mexico, and onto far-flung ports at the ends of the earth. As
usual, Peter's thoughts soon turned to pirates. A long, long time ago pirates had sailed these waters. Jean Lafitte, Jim Campbell, Louis DeAury, Jaun Furaite: Peter memorized their
names, and the names of their ships like other kids memorized baseball players and batting
averages. The pirates had been here, right here, and somewhere they left treasure.
Everyone said they did. It was written in all the books, but no one, and none of the books,
could tell him just where.
As seagulls called and circled overhead, he walked along the beach, looking for anything
that might have washed up. Shore birds darted along in front of him, and sand crabs scurried
for cover as he passed. He found a fishing float, but it was plastic, like the ones they used to
mark crab traps. There were bits of wood, but nothing old enough to have come off a ship-
wreck, and there was the usual junk which always got dropped overboard from yachts and
fishing boats: broken plastic coolers, one torn tennis shoe, Styrofoam cups and pieces of a
After a while, Peter looked up at the sun and decided this was not going to he his day to find
pirate treasure. "Got to start back," he said to himself, "and get cleaned up for Cousin Bill's funeral." He didn't know much about his Cousin Bill. He had lived across the hay, somewhere
around Double Bayou and the family never talked about him much. "Looks like they could
of buried him on a school day, instead of messing up a perfectly good Saturday." With a sigh
he began wading out to where The Falcon lay anchored. He pulled himself aboard over the
stern. The little boat rocked as he made his way forward, but Peter had been around boats all
his life and started sailing before his, seventh birthday. He moved easily onto the dow and
began hauling in the anchor line. The boat moved forward as, foot by foot, the white nylon
rope piled up on the deck until the anchor was directly below the bow. Peter pulled harder now
but the anchor remained stuck on the bottom. He sweated and strained with all Ills might
until, suddenly, it pulled free. A couple of oyster shells were embedded in the mud which covered the anchor as Peter at last pulled in onto the deck. But something else was there too.
"Always sonic piece of junk down there fouling my anchor," he complained as he scraped
away the mud. "Old rusty . ." Per a long moment Peter stared at the rusted metal which hung on the anchor. One end was shaped like a "D" and the other curved to a jagged, broken
point. Peter rubbed with all his might, getting mud, oyster shells, and flakes of rust all over
himself and the deck. "I think I know what this is!" he almost shouted and held the object up to
the sunlight. "This is a sword!" His hand fit naturally into the grip, the wide curving blade was
broken off several inches from the hilt but Peter had no doubt. "And it's not just any sword," he
whispered to himself. "It's a cutlass. I just found a real pirate sword!"