It was pirate week at Geoffrey's school and everyone was excited.
The school trip was to Cut-throat Cove, and Cut-throat Cove was home to two great pirates:
Captain Faithless and Shark-Tooth Ned.
Shark-Tooth Ned had sailed with Carcosa Jack under the Barbary Moon, and Captain Faithless had killed his own crew for gold in the salt and peppery waters of the Devil's Spice Islands, and every man's hand now was against him.
The two pirates hated each other and it was said that it was only their burning rivalry that had kept them alive all these long years.
For both of them had loved the she-Captain Jacqueline Smee whose father had sailed with Hook himself.
She had scorned to choose between them, saying no pirate captain would she wed but only an honest man whose hands weren't red with Tortuga gold, nor yellow with sailors' blood. (Ah, she were bonny but she were colour-blind.)
Faithless had moored his ship, the Scarlet Eel in the lee of Saucepan Island, whose lagoon bubbles and froths and boils where the volcano mutters in the deeps. He manned his ship alone, for no crew would serve under a man who'd cut the throats of his own sailors for nothing but gold. Jewels now, that would have been understood.
Geoffrey and the rest of 7b came along side the Scarlet Eel in the school's motorboat and finding Faithless asleep - owing to too much gunpowder rum - tied him up. Geoffrey put on the Captain's black pirate hat, o waterproof leather, and took one of his powder pistols. It went off and sent a ball through Michael Jones' lunch box. Mrs Mercator who was in charge said Geoffrey should give the pistol to her.
Michael said he liked black powder sandwiches. The motorboat sailed to the edge of Loudhailer Island, the whole shape of which magnifies every sound, for it is one vast cave.
An awful growling groan was coming from the cave mouth. Dragons! said Jane - but this was, Geoffrey pointed out, pirate week, not Dragon week. Ogres, said Arthur, but Geoffrey just gave him a look.
Mary who was by far the bravest of 7b was all for going into the cave, but before she could the groaning became a sort of song.
'Oh serve me rum, when day is done
And serve me more in bed
A hot spiced glass
And a pretty lass
For my name is Shark-Tooth Ned!'
He sang his name 'Ssshaarrk Toooth' probably because of the aforesaid dental impediment. Geoffrey, Mary, Michael, Jane, Arthur, and Mrs. Mercator steered the motorboat round.Loudhailer Island until they found Ned stitting in a rowing skiff with a vast pirate's blanket of sea-sheep's wool over his knees, and his face cradled in his hands.
Oh maties, he cried when he saw them - Ye may have taen old Faithless napping for the brute was ever a slave to drink, but Captain Ned suffers no lubbers to take him down.
And he pulled from under his sea-sheep's blanket a great blunderbus full of grapeshot and crammed with black powder.
Hands up! my jolly children, hands up school marm who should no better than to sail around Cut-throat Cove. Hand over you valuables!
Be reasonable - said Geoffrey, how can we hand over our valuables with our hands up. Besides we aren't allowed to bring valuables on school trips, not since Astronaut Week.
Thank you so much, said Michael - you know I won't get any pocket money until that camera phone makes re-entry.
Ned groaned and set his blunderbus aside. I wish, I could have been an Astronaut, and never a pirate - he said - but me maths let me down.