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Authors: James Matlack Raney

Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves (37 page)

BOOK: Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves
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But even more than that, I pray also that you will take this necklace from around my neck for your own. It belonged to your mother, James, and though she died long ago, when you were but a newborn babe, it was she that taught me of the greatest treasure of all. Of that treasure, I have no fear of your Aunt or the Cromiers’ looting, no matter what manner of magic or evil they dare to brandish
.

For this treasure may not be stolen. No map leads the way to its location nor should it ever need to be hidden or buried beneath the sand. This treasure cannot be bought or sold – it may only be given from one to another. The greatest treasure on earth is love, James Morgan. Love between brothers, between the truest of friends, love between a father and a son. – love of a family, whether born or found. If you find this treasure within you, James, then you will be wealthier and happier than any King or Lord, no matter their rank or stature
.

Whatever adventure befalls you after tonight will surely not be your last, my son. So be brave and be kind, and always, always remember, my greatest treasure was ever, and ever shall be, you, my son
.

Love
,

Your Father, Lord Lindsay Morgan

Wiping a tear from his eye, Jim looked up from the seal beneath his father’s signature to where the Ratts and Lacey huddled around a little stove on deck, laughing as Peter and Paul imitated the pirate crew around them. This was his family now, Jim knew. And he was certainly glad to have them.

Jim came back down to join his friends, just as Dread Steele gave the order for the sloop to luff the sails and moor up at a small pier near a lighthouse, where the river opened into the sea.

“This is where we must part ways, I’m afraid,” Dread Steele said, just as Cornelius Darkfeather flapped down to a rest on his shoulder.

“Can’t we come with you?” George said, looking crestfallen.

“Not this time, Master Ratt. It will be rough sailing for me and my men for some time, I’m afraid. But fear not, I will not leave you without help. Follow the little path from this pier to the cottage at the base of the lighthouse. The real MacGuffy, the one on whom I modeled my most current disguise, lives there, having retired from pirating some years ago. Jim, I’m assuming that the letter from your father displays his seal?”

“It does,” replied Jim. “And it’s even written on magic paper.”

Dread Steele smiled. “The old rascal,” he said, shaking his head. “He never could do anything less than magnificently.”

“Is that why you came to our house in London, Captain Steele?” Jim asked. “Is that why you helped me? I thought you and my father were enemies.”

“Even a pirate knows a good man when he sees one, Jim Morgan. Even when that good man is his adversary. And you’re well on your way to becoming just such a good man yourself, like your father. But don’t get the wrong idea completely about me, Jim,” Steele added with a sly grin. “I am a pirate after all, and there was the small matter of a certain treasure.”

“Right,” Jim said, smiling back. “I’m afraid it disappeared, sir,” he said, only a little sad now that he had thought long and hard about the unfortunate fate of all that gold and wealth piled up around him. “Vanished like smoke when I took the Amulet.” But Dread Steele just widened the toothy grin that glimmered in the moonlight.

“Lost treasures tend not to stay lost for long, young Morgan, especially not when Dread Steele goes looking for them. Even though it has disappeared for now, your father’s treasure is still out there, somewhere. But I imagine that if we let slip a small rumor that you already
handed that treasure over to us, a certain Captain and his red-haired father would probably forget all about you and focus their attention on us, wouldn’t you say, Cornelius?”

“I would indeed, Captain,” the raven cawed happily. “In fact, I’ve already been concocting a rather colorful version of the story that involves a small army of skeleton warriors and talking sharks - really quite brilliant if I do say so myself. I think a certain whisper of the tale into the ears of a few of the chaps at the Inn of the Wet Rock will do the trick.”

“And as for you, Jim Morgan,” Steele said, placing a firm hand on Jim’s shoulder. “While it may take some time, MacGuffy will take you and your sealed letter to the proper authorities, who will relieve your aunt of her current position as head of your house. Which would leave you, the true Lord Morgan.”

“You know,” Jim said, almost as much to himself as anyone else. “I thought so long about going back home and being the Lord Morgan myself, but now that I finally get to, I’m not sure that’s what I really wanted after all.”

“But Jim,” Lacey said softly, taking him by his arm. “What else could you possibly want?”

Jim looked back into Lacey’s blue eyes but then found his gaze drifting past her, out over the ocean to the moonlit white horses on the waves. The strong smell of the ocean salt and the scent of a sea breeze caught his nose and Jim’s smile widened and spread over his face. Perhaps he knew what he wanted after all.

“Just like your father,” Dread Steele said quietly, looking at Jim’s smiling face. “Perhaps one of these days we shall meet again, Jim. And wouldn’t that be something? The Lord Morgan and Dread Steele sailing off on some reckless adventure together?”

“It would be something, indeed,” Jim replied.

But the time finally came for pirates and the children to say their goodbyes, including a kiss from Lacey on the top of Cornelius’s feathered head, which sent the pirate crew into a fit of coarse laughing
and guffawing at the stalwart Raven, who ignored it all and bowed dashingly to the young lady.

And so it was that Jim, the Ratts, and Lacey stood on the little pier, watching the sloop sail out of the river and onto the ocean waves, heading off to who knew where.

“That was some adventure, Jim,” George said, putting his arm around his friend. “You know, it may have been the best decision I ever made to let you join our gang.”

“You?” Peter and Paul protested, hands on their hips. “It was our idea! You said he didn’t stand a chance of becoming a proper thief, George,” Peter added.

“Did not!”

The Ratts set in on each other, laughing and hollering as they wrestled each other down to the ground in a pile of kicking and punching limbs.

“I guess it’s finally back to ordinary for us,” Lacey added, shaking her head at the Brothers Ratt. But Jim was still smiling, the mischief that once glimmered in his little boy eyes shining in them anew.

“No,” he said, turning to lead his newfound family up to the lighthouse. “I don’t think we’re going to have another ordinary day for the rest of our lives. And knowing that, I can’t wait to see what great deeds we happen upon the world tomorrow.”

THE END

BOOK: Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves
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