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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Adventures of Fish and Chips - Book 8


“Stephen Macintosh brought a bag of sea glass to school today. He let each of us have a piece.” Fish pulled the polished blue glass out of his pocket. “It used to be part of a bottle, but the sand polished it as it tumbled in the waves.”

“That's great, Fish. Why don't we go and look for our own. Where did Stephen find it?” Harry took the glass from Fish's hand.

“He said he found them up at Wick. We'll never find it here. We live near the loch, not the sea.” Fish looked out the window, catching a glimpse of his friend, Chips, running towards the house.

“We live on a sea loch. I've seen sea glass before. It would help me on a project I've got to do for school. I've got to make a mosaic using things I can find on the island. Stupid project, but it's a big part of my final grade.” Harry handed the glass back to Fish.

The doorbell rang. “It's Chips. I'll answer it.” Fish opened the door and invited her inside.

“Harry wants us to go down to the loch and help him find sea glass. Do you want to go with us?”

Chips smiled. “Sea glass? I suppose it's possible to find. All right. I'd love to go.”

Harry grabbed a cloth bag and they headed down to the loch. After searching for a while, they'd only found a few pieces.

“What is that?” Fish pointed further ahead. Harry and Chips looked up.

“It's a ship that's been marooned. What is it doing here in our loch?” Chips ran towards it.

“Wait for us.” Harry and Fish dashed along the beach.

The ship, a Corvette, lay on its side. Rusted cannons jutted from rotted holes in the ship's wooden hull.

“This type of ship was used as a scouting ship centuries ago. What is it doing here? Do either of you see the name?” Harry searched for the head piece. “Looks like it belonged to the French.”

“Harry, I found it.” Chips called from the other side.

Harry and Fish ran through the shallow water to see.

“Her name is the Jamari Gaye. That's a nice name. I've never heard of it before though.” Chips gazed for a passageway onto the ship.

“I've never heard of it either,” Fish said.

“I have.” Harry frowned. “Around 1689 a ship was spotted off the north-eastern coast of Scotland. It apparently had stopped further down the coast, pillaging and destroying every town it attack. History says it was on its way to Orkney.”

“What happened then? Why is it here?” Chips looked up at the mast. “It looks harmless to me.”

“Nobody knows why, but the ship rammed into the Rocks of Papillon, down the coast from here,” Harry said.

“Papillon? That's a French word for butterfly.” Chips boasted with a smile of pride.

“You're right. The scary part is that there have been rumors of the ghosts of this ship coming ashore every anniversary of the date of their crash. They pillage the nearest village and carry off damsels and any gold and jewels they can find.” Harry's eyes furrowed as he spoke. “If this is the date of their fatal crash that means our village is in danger.”

“Damsels? Chips is a damsel, isn't she?” Fish glanced at her.

“He's just teasing you, Fish. Harry's making it all up, aren't you Harry?” Chips refused to be afraid.

“Let's do some exploring and find out for ourselves.” Harry climbed up the side of the slanted ship. His feet gripped the decaying wood as he threw his body over the top rail. Fish and Chips followed with care.

“I say we find the captain's quarters and see if he kept a log.” Chips glanced about the deck, searching for the entrance. “There it is. I'll go and look. Why don't you the two of you go down into the hold and see what cargo they were carrying.”

“Chips! Harry! This ship is not supposed to be here. I think it's haunted.” Fish refused to move.

“You think every thing's haunted, Fish. What a baby. I was only making it up about ghosts, Fish. You stand there if you want. I'm going exploring.” Harry disappeared through a door.

“Well? Is it true, Fish? Are you afraid?” Chips opened the door to the captain's quarters. “Harry was only trying to scare you with ghost stories. You believe him? You stay here then. I'll be waiting for your answer while I search the cabin.”

Finding himself alone on the shipwreck's deck, Fish looked up. “Ah. It's a crow's nest. I'll go up there. I'd rather take my chances above ground than below.” He pulled himself up the wet rope, climbing cautiously. On a few occasions his foot slipped, but he managed to catch himself before falling. Fish eyed the crow's nets. He reached for it, tugged a few places on the rails and finding it sturdy, he lifted his leg over. As the ship was tipped on its side, he wasn't as high as he would have been had the ship been upright, but it was still high enough to hurt himself if he fell. “Ahoy mateys!” He shouted down. “Avast ye land lubbers. Ye can call me Evil Jack, the worst pirate in the North Atlantic. Argh!”

“Fish, what on earth are you doing up there? Playing pirate?”

He looked down and saw Chips staring up at him, her arms wrapped around a leather-bound book. “What's that? Is it the captain's log?”

“Yes. Come down from there before you break your neck.” Chips sat with her back against a nailed down wooden box.

Fish slid down the ropes, landing on his bottom near Chips. “Where's Harry?”

“Still down in the hold, I imagine. Let's look at this first and then we'll go and find him.” Chips blew dust off the cover. “The Jamari Gaye.” She opened the book. “Wow! It's got everything the ship did from the first day it sailed. The captain's name was Geoffrey Sinjin Cooper. Captain Cooper! Very dignified. It looks as though he was the captain from day one. Looks like he had a crew of forty-five men.”

“They must have been cramped together. This ship isn't that big.” Fish turned to look from one end to the other. “It's quite small actually.”

“I'll turn to the end and see what the last entry was.” She rolled the book so the back was facing up and lifted the back cover. “The last entry was made March 29,1831. That's not that long ago. This ship isn't as old as Harry thought it was.”

“What does it say?” Fish leaned over to look.

“It's written in ink and thank goodness it's not smeared by the water. Let me read it for a while. I'll have to go back to the last journey. Why don't you go and find Harry. I'll read this and tell you all about it when you and he come back.”

Fish shook his head. “I'd rather stay here.”

Chips scowled. “Fish! Go and find your brother. He might be hurt or something.”

Fish did as he was told, leaving through the same door as Harry had. “Harry! Harry! Where are you?”

“Over here. Watch out for the skeletons. I've found some cases. I thought there might be gold, but they're full of guns.” Harry whistled. “Over here, Fish.”

Fish's eyes adjusted to the dark. He saw the light from Harry's torch and headed towards it. Skeletons in ratty clothes lay scattered about. “This is disgusting, Harry. I'm walking on top of dead people.”

“Stop being so dramatic, Fish. They've been dead for at least a couple of centuries.” Harry scoffed and opened another chest.

“They died around March 29,1831. That's when the last entry is to the captain's log.” Fish stepped over a pile of cannonballs. “Those are cannonballs. Are they real? Will they explode?”

“Fish. Come and look at these guns. They're pistols. There's even some gunpowder. I don't think it's dry though. Everything here is moldy and damp.” Harry pried the lid off a box. “This one's full of pelts.” He pulled a few out.

“They look like bear skins. That one,” Fish said as Harry lifted it up, “looks like it came from a fox.”

“There are some moose antlers in here. They must have been going to trade these things. Don't let Mum know. She's against fur trading of any kind.” Harry dropped the pelts.

“There's no gold, silver, jewels, or even wine. I think I'll take one of these guns. Don't tell Chips. She'll have a fit.” Harry slipped the gun into a deep pocket on his pants leg.

“We shouldn't take any of this stuff. It belongs to the men who sailed on this ship, or at least a museum.” Fish glared at his brother. “Put the gun back.”

“Get off your high horse, Fish. You're not my boss. Keep your big mouth shut. We might as well take one of these bear skins. Maybe Dad can do something with it.” Harry slipped it over his back. “Weighs a ton.”

“Harry, don't.” Fish looked at one of the skeletons, expecting it to stand up and fight for it's belongings. “I'm going back up top.” He found Chips in the same place as he'd left her. “Did you find out anything?”

“This ship's last voyage was Nova Scotia. It was on its way back to Leith, Scotland, when it was caught in a violent storm on the North Sea on March 29,1831. That's the last entry.” Chips looked up at Fish. “What's wrong with you?”

“The hold is full of skeletons. All the crew's bones are scattered all over. Some of them are in their clothes still. It's disturbing. Harry's been plundering and found a bear skin and some guns. He took one.” Fish shook his head back and forth. “It's not right.”

“The log has a list of the crew. I think we should take this log with us and show our parents. I imagine all these crew members had wives and children, who never knew what happened to their men,” Fish said, wiping a tear from the corner of her eye.

“Their wives and kids will be long dead by now,” Harry said, bursting into the cabin. “Did I hear you say Nova Scotia? That's where the bear skins came from and moose antlers.”

“The great grandchildren of these men won't be dead. I'm taking it. If you can take a gun and a bear skin and not feel guilty, then I certainly can take the captain's log.” Chips stood, holding the book in her arms. “Let's go home. I'm sure Captain Cooper would have approved of this. He'll finally get the honor he deserves.”

As they climbed off the ship, Harry sneered. “Captain Cooper? Honor? His boat crashed and every man on it died, including him. That's not honorable.”

“They may have died, but he was still a captain and deserves credit for all the good things he did. I read his log. He's a very brave man and he loved his men. You're so negative, Harry. Don't talk to me any more.” Chips jumped into the sand and ran away from the brothers.

“Now look what you've done, Harry. You've upset Chips.” Fish turned around. “Wait for me, Chips.” He ran after her. “Wait. Let's take it to my house. My dad's home and he's computer literate. He can look things up for us.”

Chips stopped. “That's true. My dad's not going to be home till late tonight. All right. To your house then.”

When Fish and Chips walked in the door, Hugh Ross stood at the kitchen sink. “Fish and Chips. Fancy the two of you coming home this early. What's that you have there?” He put his empty coffee cup in the sink.

“You're not going to believe this, Dad. Down at the beach, over past Kyle Peninsula, we found a shipwreck.”

“What? I've never heard of this. Fish, are you sure?”

“Dad, we went on it and I even went up into the crow's nest. Harry and Chips came too.” Fish pleaded with his dad to believe him.

“It's true, Mr. Ross. We found a shipwreck and I've got the ship's log. I think you'll find it interesting. It tells all about how the ship floundered in a storm and has the entire history of the ship. It was called the Jamari Gaye and the captain's name was Geoffrey Sinjin Cooper.” She handed Fish's father the ship's log.

He took it from her and sat at the table. “This is marvelous, Chips. The ink is in perfect condition. There's no smearing or mold.”

“It even lists the crew for every journey. I was thinking that the descendants of these crew members would like to know what happened to their ancestor.” Chips sat next to Mr. Ross.

“How do you know so much about that sort of thing, Chips?” Mr. Ross gazed at her with a smile.

“My mum does genealogy. I know she's thrilled when she finds out anything about our ancestors. If she's like that, I'm sure others out there are too.” Chips grinned back at him.

“You're right about that. I think we need to contact a museum, but first, I want to get as much information off this as possible. I'm going to photocopy it. I'm used to handling rare documents, so I'll be gentle with it. Then I'll set up a website on the Internet with the information I get from the log. As soon as I've copied it, I'll call Miss Brodie at the Inverlarich Museum and let her take it from there.”

“Dad, I should tell you that Harry took some things from the ship.” Fish gulped when he saw Harry standing at the door.

“You little tattle tale. I was going to tell you, Dad, until the big mouth blabbered.” Harry showed him the bear skin. “There were lots of others, including fox and beaver and even moose antlers.”

“What about the gun, Harry?” Fish stepped behind his dad for protection.

“I left it there.” Harry's face blushed with lies. “I didn't feel right about bringing it.”

“Very well,” Mr. Ross said. You two go and wash up. Chips, would you like to stay and have lunch with us? Mrs. Ross has gone to town, but I can cook too.”

“That would be nice, Mr. Ross,” Chips said. She followed Fish to his room to wash her hands.

While eating pickle and cheese sandwiches, Mr. Ross said, “Tomorrow morning I'd like to go and see this ship for myself. I have a lot of work to do this afternoon. Will you show me where it is, or is it a secret?”

“I'll show you, Dad.” Fish ate the last bite of sandwich and washed it down with an Ir'n Bru. “Oh, I forgot to show you. I picked up a few pieces of sea glass while we were on the beach. Do you know much about it, Dad?”

Mr. Ross took a piece from Fish's hand. “This is lovely. What a pleasant shade of green. You know each piece of this glass has a history, just like the ship. Someone, at some time, maybe hundreds of years ago, maybe thousands, tossed something glass into the sea. Maybe the glass was washed into the sea during a storm. Whatever the reason, it was tumbled about on the sand and caught in the waves, washing up on the shores of our loch. It's a blessing to have our loch be a sea loch. Think of the adventures you've had because of that. I'd hold onto these pieces of glass and when you've nothing better to do, try to imagine where each peace came from.” He handed the glass back to his son, who put them in his pocket.

That night Mr. Ross spent hours copying the log. He made sure each page was handled with the utmost care and dignity. When he finished, he wrapped the log in a plastic bag. He stayed up until the wee hours of the morning making up a list of the crew members and putting the data on the computer. He sent several messages to historical groups who spent their time looking for wrecked ships and also added data to the genealogical places he'd heard about.

When the sun rose the next morning, bringing with it a fiery red sky, Mr. Ross woke up his sons. They didn't wait for breakfast, but rushed out before Maureen got up.

“Dad, can we take a few more things off the ship? I know it belongs in a museum, but it would be grand to have some of the things for ourselves.” Harry ran behind his father.

“It's only natural for you to want to keep things, Harry, but it belongs to the world, not to us. Now, where's that ship.” Mr. Ross stood on a huge boulder. The loch's waves lapped at the base of it.

“Where's the ship, Fish? I thought it was right here?” Harry glanced from side to side. “I'm sure this is the place. I remember it well.”

“It is the right place. The ship is gone.” Fish shaded his eyes from the morning sun.

“Nonsense. How could it just disappear? There was no high tide last night, nor any storms.” Mr. Ross put his hand on Fish's shoulder. “Are you sure this is the right place?”

“Yes, Dad. It's gone. Look on the beach. You can see where it was. It's left an indentation.” Fish pointed.

“I see. This is very strange.” Hugh's mind traveled back to the night before when he sat with the ship's log in his hands. “This might sound odd, but perhaps this happened because the people on that ship wanted that log book to come to the world. They wanted to let their ancestors know. Stranger things have happened.”

Harry and Fish didn't say a word, but thought of what their father had said. “You're right, Dad. It seems that way, doesn't it.” Fish took his dad's hand. “Let's go home and see if anyone's responded to the emails you sent out.”

As they walked home, Harry stopped and tugged at his dad's arm. “Dad, I've got a confession. I took the gun. I didn't mean to steal or anything, but, well, I have it at home.”

“Thanks for telling me, Harry. Both it, and the log will go to the Inverlarich Museum.” Hugh put his arm around Harry's shoulder.

When Mr. Ross logged on, he had a few emails regarding the ship's discovery. A few days later one of the people showed up at his door. “Welcome, Mr. Cooper. I'm so glad you could make it up here.” Hugh invited his guest inside.

“Thank you and thank you too, lads. You see, Geoffrey Sinjin Cooper was my great, great, great, grandfather. His wife, Janet Elizabeth Dunn, never knew what happened to her husband. He just didn't come home ever again. They had five children together. My great grandfather, Robert Cooper, was six years old when his father disappeared. None of the men in our family ever took to the sea again. When I saw your website on the ship, my heart fluttered and when I saw the log had been found, well, I had to come right up here. May I see it?”

“It's in the museum, but since your great, great, great grandfather was the captain, I will give you this photocopy of the book.” Mr. Ross picked it up off the table and handed it to the elderly man.

A tear trickled down Joseph Cooper's cheek. “Thank you.” He wiped it away with his hand. “When I called your father,” Mr. Cooper said to Fish, who stood nearby, “he told me about your sea glass collection. I brought a few pieces for you.” He put his hand into his pocket and pulled out a handful of smooth glass. “There's purple, pink, green, blue, clear, white, brown and even black. You can keep them all.”

“Thank you, Mr. Cooper. I saw the ship, you know. My brother, Harry and my friend Chips all went on it. If you want to stay a while, I'll tell you all about it.” Fish smiled.

“I'd love that. I'm an artist and if you don't mind, I'd like to draw the ship as you describe it to me. The Jamari Gaye sounds like it was a beautiful ship in its day.” Mr. Cooper touched Fish's arm. “I'll stay for a while, if you don't mind.”

Fish sat with Mr. Cooper the rest of the day. Chips showed up and Harry joined in the conversation later, each adding their thoughts and descriptions of the ship.

A few weeks later a package came addressed to the family. Hugh opened it with his family gathered around. A drawing of the Jamari Gaye sailing through the seas sat inside a wooden frame.

“That's exactly what it looked like, Dad. That's the ship!” Fish giggled with excitement.

An attached note read:

“Dear Harry, Fish and Chips,

Thank you for bringing my ancestor, Geoffrey Sinjin Cooper home at last. A painting identical to this one sits on the wall above my fireplace, reminding me daily of my proud heritage. I read the ship's log and I will treasure it forever. My son will inherit it after my passing and keep the traditions and honor alive for eternity. Once again, thank you. I'm sure others will contact you as they discover their ancestor's names on the Internet.

Sincerely,

Joseph Geoffrey Cooper”


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