Meanwhile, Dunstana has wandered into her own personal paradise, a magical place called the Ninety-Third Annual General Assembly of the Brotherhood of the Coasts, Box Social, and Sharky Awards.
She feels like she’s standing inside the pages of her Big Book of Pirates, surrounded by the living legends she’s heard bedtime stories about every day of her life.
These are the people she wants to be when she grows up. And she can get their autographs!
This is better than her birthday. This is better than five birthdays.
The only person she wants to meet more is Princess Moonflower. But she isn’t a pirate, so she’d have no reason to be at the Brotherhood meeting.
She’s already met Salty Stevens and Salty Stevens, Junior and shaken their hands. And then she met Matchlock Sally, who told her not to give up on making her own way as a pirate in a man’s world.
And then she accidentally bumped El Robusto and made him spill his grog, but he wasn’t mad, because he spilled it on Two-Legs Williams, and he doesn’t like Two-Legs Williams very much.
As Dunstana navigates the crowd in the groghouse, her gaze falls upon a familiar red outfit topped by a familiar head of red hair. The recognition is mutual, as the older pirate is soon glowering down at Dunstana.
“Hey, I know you!” Dunstana exclaims. She turns to her father. “Dad! This is, um, Moira. She helped us on Oake Island. She’s pretty cool.”
“Myra,” the older pirate interjects in a vain attempt at correcting her name.
Though she can’t help but feel just a little proud at being called cool. Even if it is coming from such a little maniac.
“Good to meet you,” Dorian tells her, shaking her hand.
She doesn’t get the opportunity to answer, because Dunstana promptly leads her father away as she continues making her way through the groghouse.
Dunstana suddenly gasps.
“Dad! Dad!” she exclaims. “That’s Plaid Jack over there! We have to go talk to him!”
Dorian smiles and nods. “Go right ahead. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to meet you.”
Dunstana scurries across the room, weaving and dodging around the assembled pirates towards the tall, gallant figure dressed in a plaid vest, plaid belt and plaid bandana. It kind of hurts to look at him, but Dunstana doesn’t really care because he’s Plaid Jack Rackman.
He’s Dunstana’s very favourite living pirate. Amid the horde of Princess Moonflowers in her room, Dunstana also proudly has on display the official Brotherhood-endorsed Plaid Jack doll.
Dunstana clears her throat to get his attention and tentatively speaks up. She’s not usually this nervous, but then, she’s not usually asking her favourite pirate ever for his autograph.
“Excuse me, um, Captain Plaid Jack?”
The older pirate turns towards her and smiles broadly, revealing a shiny golden tooth. “What can I do for you, little lady?”
Dunstana holds out her book and pen. “Could I, um, maybe, have your autograph, please?”
Plaid Jack bows his head graciously. “It’d be my pleasure, little lady.” He takes the book and pen into his hands. “And who am I signing this for?”
“Me, please,” Dunstana answers.
Plaid Jack smiles again. “And your name, little lady?”
“It’s Dunstana. Dunstana Darkstone,” she replies.
The pen and book almost fall from Plaid Jack’s dumbfounded hands. “The Dunstana Darkstone?” he asks incredulously. “The one who found Captain Fryte’s gold and the treasure on Oake Island?”
“Wow,” he says. “I should be asking for your autograph!”
As she watches Plaid Jack autograph her book, a sudden idea occurs to her. It is likely the best idea she has ever had.
“Hey, Captain Plaid Jack?” she asks.
“What’s up, little lady?” the older pirate replies, looking up from the book.
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
A look of bemusement crosses Plaid Jack’s face. He does, indeed have a girlfriend. Several, in fact, and the pirate has thus far managed to keep each happily unaware of the others.
“I’m flattered,” he tells Dunstana. “But, uh, aren’t you a little young to be asking that?”
“Not me,” Dunstana explains. “My big sister. Kat hasn’t got a boyfriend, and you’re so cool. I think you’d be an awesome boyfriend for Kat.”
“Yeah?” Plaid Jack asks cautiously. “Is, uh, is she cute?”
“She’s fifteen,” Dorian interjects in a low growl.
Even though Plaid Jack promptly excuses himself, muttering something about having left something in the oven, Dunstana decides this is the best day of her entire life.