Authors: Gerald (ILT) Rachelle; Guerlais Delaney
by Rachelle Delaney
Grosset & Dunlap
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Text copyright © 2013 by Rachelle Delaney. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Map copyright © 2013 Fiona Pook. All rights reserved. Published by Grosset & Dunlap, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. GROSSET & DUNLAP is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Printed in the U.S.A.
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Table of Contents
“Empty pockets for filling with plunder?”
Jem Fitzgerald pulled his pockets inside out to show how empty they were. “Check. We’re ready, Captain.” He tucked his pockets back in his trousers. “We should get going.”
Scarlet McCray bit her lip. “Right… It’s just…” She looked up at the afternoon sky and watched a flock of green parrots flap by overhead. “I have a feeling I’m forgetting something.”
Jem sighed. The captain of the Lost Souls, he knew, was not forgetting anything. She just didn’t want to leave her beloved Island X. “Look, it’s only for a day—” he began.
“Don’t rush me, Fitz,” Scarlet snapped. “I just
I’m forgetting something.”
Jem rolled his eyes. “Okay, okay,” he muttered. “Take your time, then.”
“I will, thanks,” she retorted, crouching to retie her bootlaces.
“Fine.” Jem folded his arms over his chest.
“Fine,” Scarlet said to her boot.
Jem took a deep breath and counted to ten. They’d left Island X only a few times since arriving there two months before. But each time they did, Scarlet would stall until the last possible moment. He always tried to hurry her up, but there was only so much prodding the captain of the Lost Souls would take. She’d already threatened to string Tim Sanders up by his toes for calling her a slowpoke. Even when she was nowhere near her ship, Scarlet couldn’t help but act like a pirate.
Jem turned away and surveyed the lush green clearing around them, which was slowly beginning to feel like home. Well, as much as a tropical island inhabited by smelly wild pigs, mischievous monkeys, and the odd poisonous tree
feel like home.
He shaded his eyes from the sun and squinted at the small but sturdy tree houses perched on the clearing’s edge. The sight of them made him stand up a little taller. As Head of the Housing Committee, he had directed the entire building project, bringing a touch of civilization to the wilds of Island X. Of course, it was nothing like his real home, back in the Old World. Here lanterns were lit by fireflies rather than flame, and everyone slept in hammocks instead of real beds. And though it was nice to hear the rain patter on their leafy rooftops at night, sturdy wooden beams would have been much more effective in keeping out curious, hungry animals. Every now and then, Jem would wake, certain he’d heard something other than birds and bugs in the trees around them. Something
Scarlet let out a loud grunt, and Jem glanced down. She was untieing and retieing her bootlaces as if her life depended on the loops being perfectly even. He shook his head and turned back to the houses. Yes, real doors would be nice. And shutters for the windows. But these would have to wait until he returned from their trip to Port Aberhard. For whether Scarlet liked it or not, she’d been summoned to the nearby port by the only person in the world she actually had to answer to—her father.
“Blast! Blimey and bilge!” Scarlet swore as her bootlace snapped in two. “Stupid boots. Why do I have to wear them at all? They’re such a waste of—” She looked up at Jem. “What?”
“What, what? I didn’t say anything.” He took a step back, not liking the glint in her eyes. Mad Captain McCray, as the crew sometimes called her, had a glare that made even the fiercest pirate’s knees quake.
“You’re giving me that look,” she said, eyes narrowing.
“What look? I wasn’t giving you any look,” Jem protested.
“You were. It was a ‘buck up, McCray, going into port’s not so bad’ kind of look.”
“It was not,” said Jem, although he suspected that was exactly the look he’d been giving her. Going into port wasn’t really
She glared at him a moment longer, then looked down at her bootlaces and sighed. When she glanced back up, the angry look had been replaced by a downright mournful one. “I just hate to leave the island,” she muttered.
Jem sighed. Part of him wanted to point out that they should have been halfway to port by now. But two months under Scarlet’s command had taught him that wasn’t the way to get things done. He swallowed his impatience and knelt down beside her.
“Look, I know these father-daughter meetings are a pain, but look on the bright side.”
Scarlet raised an eyebrow.
“Well…” Jem swallowed, thinking hard. “You get to catch up on all the port news.”
Scarlet looked unconvinced.
He tried again. “We can steal some of those preserves you like.”
Jem decided to change tactics. “It’s only for one night. We’ll be back tomorrow afternoon, and everything will be fine. Nothing will have changed.”
Two small black monkeys scampered by, shrieking.
“For instance,” he continued, “the monkeys will still be up to no good.”
“Come back here!” A ginger-haired girl raced by in hot pursuit. Two purple butterflies clung to her braids, and a small chameleon poked its head out of her shirt pocket.
“And Ronagh will still be working on her menagerie,” he added. Scarlet nodded and managed a tiny smile.
“And doubtless, Smitty will still be head over heels in love.” He batted his eyes at Scarlet. Finally, she laughed.