Recap: Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter Five | Chapter Six | Chapter Seven | Chapter Eight | Chapter Nine | Chapter Ten | Chapter Eleven | Chapter Twelve | Chapter Thirteen | Chapter Fourteen | Chapter Fifteen | Chapter Sixteen
Recover from the celebrations? Some bloody chance. Earl Grey was in limbo. Somewhere between life and death. His head belonged to some other being. He remembered how Lady Grey used to get so mad when he went out drinking with his friends. There was no Lady Grey on the Buggerall. He had really pushed the boat out that night. And now he was paying for it. Maybe he was getting too old for all this.... this..... piracy! But Earl Grey looked over at Roy Turse and thought "Maybe I'm not the only one. Maybe feeling like this is normal".
Normal? What was that? Anymore? Or ever? Was he not a tea-making aristocratic amateur botanist who had left home for passing the port the wrong way and had unwittingly joined a pirate ship, fallen in love with the ship's cook and raided a French ship and was now heading for another battle? He took a swig of rum. Just for medicinal purposes you understand. Just to steady his hand.
Skoob was cooking breakfast. Well actually he was standing by the stove scratching his scrotum and singing to himself. "It's a thriller. Killer." You're not wrong there, thought Earl Grey. The cook's singing was worse than his cooking. "Good morning Skoob. What's for breakfast?" "Leg of Leeds United lamb" replied Skoob. "Or it will be, if I can just saw through this bit of bone." Earl Grey's heart sunk. Leeds United again. The meat was always too tough. But after the heavy session anything was welcome.
Earl Grey walked along the poop. Well, that was another pair of shoes ruined. He took another swig of rum. Medicinal again. Well, ever since his visit to the Doctor he needed a bloody drink. He still couldn't sit down. At least the Doctor was busy with his experiments now. But, thought Earl Grey, what would happen when the Doctor ran out of rats? Would he start on the crew? Would there be human experiments? The very thought made him reach for the rum again. The accountant had at least made sure that there was plenty of rum on board. Earl Grey still hadn't forgiven him for tricking him in to joining the crew of the Buggerall. But there was no turning back now.
Monkey Woods hurried past. Seasick? The mad, bad pirate of Hull, the Trawler Mauler, actually suffered from seasickness! Monkey wasn't well. "Bloody arsenal" he shouted. So he had a pain there also, thought Earl Grey. Maybe he had been to the Doctor to get his seasickness cured? The Doctor with one cure for all ailments. The oil and the rubber glove. Earl Grey went cold just remembering it.
Captain Morse approached. "Hope you enjoyed last night. But the party is over. We are headed for Portugal. Hornblower is there. So it is back to work". Back to work? Was this work? No. This had become Earl Grey's life. He couldn't go back to the tea. Not now he was at sea. One letter's difference, but it might just as well have been a million.
So they really were going after Hornblower! Earl Grey could try to get ashore at Portugal. During the confusion of the battle he could slip away. He was no pirate. No matter what anybody else said.
He looked over at Skoob. He was urinating into a bottle. A rum bottle! "What the f... what are you doing Skoob?" cried Earl Grey. "Oh, I've been filling these up since even before we departed Bristol. Hal said that we could make a saving if I did this. I don't mind doing it. I never seem to run out".
Earl Grey was stunned for a moment. But then he had an idea. An idea of how to get back into business. If he could persuade the cook to join him. He would bottle the cook's water and sell it as a tonic. An alcoholic tonic. There must have been some fermentation as a result of the fungi. That's why they all got so drunk.
Just then Earl Grey heard a noise. Well it wasn't so much a noise as an exclamation. "Bollocks!" Earl looked around and there was no one to be seen. "Must have been on this fucking ship too long" he said to himself. "Bollocks!" That voice again! "Who are you? Show yourself you swine!" cried Earl Grey. Several other crew members gathered at the sound of a raised voice.
"Bollocks!" Earl, Skoob, Roy and Dr Vic looked high and low, but could not find the owner of the voice. "What manner of trickery is this?" asked Skoob "I love a bit of banter but this is going too far." "Bollocks!"
It was then that Dr Vic noticed, high in the rigging, the bright green plumage of a parrot. "Look! The bird. Maybe he can talk" said the Doctor. Indeed a talking bird could be worth a tidy sum once ashore. This was now in Earl's mind. If he could capture this bird and leave the ship at Portugal maybe he could get a nice place on the Algarve. Play a bit of golf. Put his feet up. Just then his dreams were shattered. Skoob was halfway up the rigging with a pot, trying to entice the parrot into becoming the next item on a very nasty menu. "Bollocks!" The parrot was having none of it. He flapped around frantically. Skoob ended up with his leg tied up in the rigging, hanging upside down. "Oh bollocks!" cried Skoob. "Yes?" said the parrot, "What do you want?"
The parrot's name was Bollocks. Bollocks the parrot. And he could talk perfectly. Once Skoob was freed, and had calmed down, the parrot began to tell his story.
"I first went to sea with Captain Spoof, aboard the Dirty Swan. But the ship sank. All the crew were lost. I alone survived. But when it sank, it was laden with treasure. It was the richest treasure in the world. I. Bollocks the parrot, am the only living creature who knows where that treasure lies. If you look after me I will take you there. You will have riches beyond your dreams. I can promise you all of this. All I ask is that you give me shelter. And some food. But not cooked by him! I don't want any Leeds United steaks thanks. I'll stick to vegetarian. Remember, I can give you more money than you could ever dream of."
The crew members said nothing. Their minds were racing to fast for words. A chance to share a fortune. Or was it a chance to claim it for themselves?