The Bravest Pirate
Sometimes, the bravest people are the ones who don't even know it
“And the prize for the bravest pirate goes to …”
Greybeard, the oldest of all the pirates, held up a piece of paper and waved it around dramatically.
“Get on with it,” shouted Nobeard, the baldest of all the pirates. “We want to know. Is it me again? I bet it is,” she added.
But Greybeard shook his head.
“Not this year, Nobeard,” he said. “This year the prize for the bravest pirate goes to Stubble.”
All the pirates standing on the deck of the Grumpy Gretel ship sucked in their breath – the sails were emptied. Then they all breathed out and the sails filled back up. The Grumpy Gretel moved backwards and forwards and she shouted out, “Hey, be careful! The anchor is rubbing my barnacles the wrong way.”
“Sorry Gretel,” said the pirates, who didn’t want to get on the wrong side of the grouchy ship. Then, they all turned to stare at Stubble.
Stubble was the newest and youngest and littlest pirate. He hadn’t wanted to become a pirate but his mum had made him.
“We need the money, Stubble,” she had said. “And it’s a good job. You get to travel, see foreign lands, go to sea, have fights – it will be great fun, son, you’ll see” she had added, her eyes shining excitedly.
Stubble didn’t want to go to sea. He got seasick on the swings.
He didn’t want to travel and see foreign lands. He got lost going to the corner shop.
And he especially didn’t want to have fights. He needed a cuddle from his mum or dad for even the littlest ouchy.
But no-one listened to Stubble when he tried to object, and so he became a pirate. He got a new t-shirt with blue and white stripes going across, and he ripped the bottoms of his trouser legs so they came to just below his knee. He tried out an eye-patch but he kept bumping into things, and he didn’t want to have a hook for his hand or a wooden leg – the limbs he had were just fine, thank you very much, he thought.
So Stubble joined the crew of the Grumpy Gretel and sailed away. His mum and dad waved at him as the ship left the harbour, then they turned away and went shopping.
He slept in a swinging hammock that made him feel poorly. The ship’s parrot didn’t like him and kept nipping his ear. When he swabbed the deck (which meant he had to mop it with water), he got splinters in his hands from the mop and in his knees from the wooden deck. When he climbed the ropes to the top of the mast, his hands were all sweaty from fear and he slid back down again and got terrible rope burns. As for the fighting, he was so scared that he closed his eyes and waved his cutlass around and hoped for the best.
Most of the time he was scared but he kept going and before he knew it, he had bashed three different sailors in the knees and helped his ship win a battle; he had made the decks on his ship the cleanest in the pirate fleet; and because he had sent his pirate pay to his mum and dad, they had enough to eat and some left over for a new hat each.
“But I didn’t do anything brave,” he said to Greybeard, his voice very small and shaky.
“Nonsense,” boomed Greybeard. “Everyone knows how frightened you have been, young Stubble. But you were brave enough to try your hardest, even though everything was new and scary and going up-and-down a lot.” He cleared his throat and read out the words on the piece of paper.
“To the Bravest Pirate – Stubble. He might be here because his mum made him, but he never gave up, even when he was afraid, and that’s real courage.”
And Stubble felt a little bit braver than he did before.