”I’m embarrassed to admit that whenever I go to sleep I still dream of finding treasures”
Captain Cutthroat and John watched as Corent burst out laughing, as if he had just heard a joke.
“You think this is funny, old man?” John drew his saber threateningly.
“Oh, you can’t scare me with that,” Corent chuckled, wiping a tear of laughter from the corner of his eye. “I’ve been around too long to be intimidated by clueless children like yourselves.”
“Clueless children? Why, I’ll kill you right now!”
“Do what you must, but know that even in death I’ll be better off than all of you. You’re all trapped in your search for money, slaves to your desires. You’ll never be free, not while you waste your lives in pursuit of treasures.”
“Thanks for the philosophical lecture! Now tell us where all our treasure is!”
“Your treasure? Ha! Everyone thinks they are entitled to treasures. But the truth is, we’re not entitled to anything. Everything in life is just a gift. We should be happy with whatever we have, however little it is.”
“Captain, permission to kill him now?” John’s hand trembled on the hilt of his sword. “Please, Captain, let me do it.”
“Wait.” Captain Cutthroat tucked his pistol into the sash tied around his waist. “I see we can’t intimidate you. I respect that, see. You’re an old man who doesn’t have anything to live for, anyhow. So, we’ll stop with the threats and just make a request, man to man. Tell us, if you please, when did the other captain and the boy come here? When did they take all of the treasure and where are they headed?”
“Oh, there wasn’t ever any treasure on this island, my good sir. I made up the entire legend. The captain and the boy were here, I won’t deny that. But they’re long gone now. No point in chasing them, as I’ve already told you; they did not take any treasure except my old ship with my old friend Jack aboard, if he’s still alive.”
“Jack? Who’s Jack?”
Corent just smiled and shrugged.
Tuvia sat up in his hammock bed, his heart pounding wildly.
“Captain! Captain! Did you hear the voice?”
“Yes.” The captain swung himself out of the hammock opposite Tuvia and drew his sword. “Let’s go track the scoundrel down, once and for all.”
Side by side, they searched the lower cabin rooms. The ship tilted from side to side, the wood groaning as the sea pushed against it.
“Show yourself!” the captain barked in his most commanding tone. “As captain of this vessel, I demand that you come forth immediately!”
“Easy does it, Bucko!” the voice brazenly replied.
The captain exchanged glances with Tuvia.
“You think you’re so funny? Well, we’ll see after I’m through with you!”
“Blow me down! He’s threatening me!”
“That’s right, I’m threatening you!” The captain paused and sniffed the air.
“I smell it too!” Tuvia whispered. “Someone’s been drinking rum! Wait, look over there! We never checked that closet.”
“Okay, on my command…” The captain drew his sword back. “One, two, three!”
He threw the closet door open and something small and fluffy flew out at him, scratching him in the face with its talons.
“Get if off me!” the captain roared, struggling with the pesky attacker.
Tuvia snatched the aggressive creature out of the air and pinned it onto a table.
“Pirate?” the green and red feathered parrot squawked in alarm. “Fire in the hole! Fire in the hole!”
“Be quiet, naughty bird!” The captain sighed and wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead. “You almost gave us a heart attack.”
“What? What’s he saying?”
“I think that’s his name.” Tuvia laughed. “I wonder how he survived by himself for so long.”
“Rum! Rum!” the parrot squawked.
The captain and Tuvia looked at each other and just laughed. What else could they do?
The next day at sea Tuvia and the captain watched Jack fly around the deck, stretching his wings.
“I wonder why Corent didn’t mention anything about the talking parrot drinking rum in the bottom of his ship,” Tuvia said.
“Maybe he forgot.” The captain shrugged. “Who knows with that man? He lied about the island containing treasures, who knows what else is going on inside his head.”
“Are you upset that he lied about the island, Captain? Aren’t you happy that he did that? It led you to the true, greatest treasure in the entire world.”
“True, true. Speaking of which, perhaps we can continue learning from where we left off yesterday.”
“That’s a wonderful idea. So, where were we? Oh, yes, I remember now. Ben Zoma in Pirkei Avos asks a question that many people grapple with: What would define a person as being strong, a warrior? What would you say, Captain?”
“A strong person is defined by brute strength!” the captain replied swiftly, drawing his sword and slicing it through the air. “A master swordsman, an expert marksman, and perhaps someone who’s also a military genius who is mentally fit, as well.”
“Hmmm, nice answer but that’s not what the Torah tells us. Ben Zoma answers that a true warrior is someone who has conquered their yetzer hara. As long as a person is not in control of their desires, they are slaves to the yetzer hara. Only one who has taken control of their mind and makes sure every action is made only for Hashem, is truly a mighty person.”
“I’m embarrassed to admit that whenever I go to sleep, I still dream of finding treasures. I suppose that means I’m still a slave to the yetzer hara, and that I’m not a strong person.”
“It’s hard to change ourselves, Captain. It’s very, very hard. But I’m confident that one day you will be a true gibbor.”
“Gibbor! Gibbor!” Jack the parrot was back, settling himself onto Tuvia’s shoulder.
“Pipe down, parrot!” The captain scowled. “I never really liked pets, Tuvia. Maybe we should encourage him to fly off and be a free bird?”
“I kind of like him, Captain. I think he’s funny!” Tuvia laughed. “You’ll see, you’ll come to like him, too.”
“I’m not so sure about that, Tuvia.”
“Shiver me timbers! Danger! Danger!”
“What’s that, Jack? Where is there danger?”
“Tuvia, look up!” The captain pointed at the sky with his sword.
The strange flock of colorful birds that had attacked them earlier was back.
“There’s at least 50 more of them, Captain! What do we do? Should we hide below deck?”
“No time! Look out, here they come!”
Screeching with rage, the birds descended, talons outstretched.
“Fight, lad! Fight!” Jack screeched into Tuvia’s ear, as Tuvia drew his sword.
The battle was on.
TO BE CONTINUED…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 828)
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