Some called him a pirate, some called him a scoundrel, and some said he was the devil himself! His name was Jack and he had been a sailor and an adventurer for a long, long time.
His body carried the scars of a hundred sword fights, a map of the marvelous travels he had, a constant reminder of the things he had done. His schooner had sailed the seven seas and was beginning to show signs of old age, just like her master. Her sails were tattered, and she too had scars, from cannonballs and chain shots.
Jack’s lone companion was a outspoken parrot named Polly, who was always perched on one of his shoulders. Now the three were setting off on one last voyage, one last chance for fame and fortune. They had sailed so many times before, only to find that their dreams of treasure and booty were only rumors. But this time would be different, this time they would find it. This time they had a map!
Jack had seized the map from the ship he last raided. It wasn’t much of a map, the parchment was old and yellowed and the compass directions were hard to make out. There were two tall mountains and some forests drawn on the paper, but most importantly, there was an X. The old man had seen maps like this before, and had never found anything near the marked spot. But this map had something about it that made him believe it was the real thing.
And so with fair skies and following winds they sailed south, further south than they had ever been before. They sailed for seven days and seven nights, and on the morning of the eighth day, at the break of dawn, they saw land. It wasn’t much, a small strip of land, but with two tall mountains and some trees, Jack knew it was the place. As the ship drew nearer, he began to see the island better, and he could see the beach. The sand was smooth, and white. It was one of the most beautiful sights he had ever seen in all of his years. Jack could see now that there were more than a few trees here. There was a thick tropical forest stretching from one mountain to the other. And the mountains were sending up small wisps of smoke. As the ship drew nearer, it hit him. Those weren’t mountains, they were volcanoes!
Jack anchored his ship and tossed a dinghy over the side. Map in hand, he jumped onto his raft and began to row towards shore, eager in anticipation of what he would find. All of a sudden, Jack heard a loud sound. The rumbling was getting louder as he got closer, and when he finally pulled the dinghy onto the sand, the rumble had turned into a steady roar. He had never seen a volcano before, and he stood before the mass formation in awe of it. Beautiful as it was, he knew that an island with a rumbling volcano was not a place he wanted to be for very long! He decided to go about finding his treasure right away.
There seemed to be an opening in the trees that lined the beach, so Jack ventured towards it, carefully following the map. In it, he found a narrow path which lead him deeper into the woods, closer to the supposed treasure. The volcanoes didn’t seem to be as noisy now, the roar had lessened and Jack was thankful for that. As he moved deeper into the woods, there was a new sound. Jack thought his old ears must have been mistaken for it sounded like a melody being played on a harp. He decided it had only been the wind whistling through the tall trees, and he kept walking.
He had just looked at his map again when the path ended, the forest stopped, and there, in a clearing before him, was the most extraordinary sight he had ever seen! A creatures wings which captured nothing less than every color of the rainbow, and as they moved they made the sound of a thousand harps playing. A beautiful, but very intimidating dragon. The chest below it was spilling over with gold, diamonds, emeralds, and rubies, their preciousness gleaming in the sunlight.
The dragon had seen Jack, and was watching him keenly, yet made no threatening motions. It seemed to float effortlessly above the chest, making no sound but for the wonderful music of it’s wings. The chest was huge, almost half as tall as Jack and quite wide. The old pirate didn’t know how he would be able to get such a prize back to the ship, providing the great dragon ever let him get close enough to try! In his thoughts, he struggled to gain ideas of how to get rid of this giant dragon blocking him from his much desired treasure. Yet the idea of killing it made him shiver, for it was so beautiful. Then something happened that made him forget about the treasure. From behind the chest where they had been hiding came two young children!
A boy and a girl, both blonde and sunburned and dressed in ragged cloth, their bare feet wiggling in the sand. They looked at Jack for a moment, and then he began to speak. His name was Johnny, he said, and the girl beside him was his sister, Alice. They were the children of a wealthy Englishman, and had been sailing these waters with their parents searching for the very thing that had brought Jack here, treasure. Their father had hidden gold and jewels here many years before, and now they had come to find it again. They hadn’t been too far from the island when a summer squall came up and their ship started to take on water and began sinking. Their father had tied the two to a large plank and lowered them into the sea, and that was the last they saw of their parents or the ship. They had washed up on the shore of the island with nothing but the clothes on their backs and the treasure map their father had stuffed in the boys pocket.
The children found the same path that Jack had walked, and they too had come upon the large treasure chest, but nothing more. They were both very tired and fell asleep for a long time. When they awoke it was to the sound of beautiful music, and the sight of a lovely dragon flying above them. The brother and sister had been very frightened, but soon realized the beast meant them no harm. The dragon would fly away at times and return with melons and bananas and other fruits for them to eat. At night they would sleep under his great outstretched wings. The creature had protected and cared for them always. Jack was fascinated by the children’s story, but more than anything, he was touched. He had grown up without parents, a misfit, who had no where to turn but the sea, lonesome his entire life. All of a sudden, the earth began to shake and he knew he would have to leave the island very quickly. But he had a problem.
He knew he would not be able to take the children and the treasure in the small boat at the same time. The smoke was getting thicker and the rumbling was a deafening roar now. There would be time for only one trip back to the ship. The old scoundrel looked at the chest with all its wealth. Then he looked at the young ones who had been stranded here for so long, and he made his decision.
The little boy girl at his side were worth far more than any amount of gold and jewels. Jack knew he had found the greatest treasure of all with that map. The pirate, the scoundrel, the devil, call him what you will, had found something far more valuable than riches. He had found a family. He would care for these two orphans now, and being loved by them and having them as his family fulfilled him much more than any amount of riches ever could. It was then that he knew he needed nothing more. Hand in hand, they quickly escaped from the islands exploding volcano, and sailed into the sunset with hearts full of happiness.