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By Sarah Hapgood

Later that day Julian and Hillyard were having a quiet chat up on the main deck. The weather had got cold enough for them to need overcoats for sitting still in, but the ocean was calm and the waves provided a soothing back noise for them. Kieran had been strolling around up on the poop-deck, and gradually wound his way back down to them.

“Kieran, is there something on your mind?” asked Julian, impatiently.

“Why do you ask that?” said Kieran.

“Because you’ve been pacing about like an expectant father ever since tea-time”, said Julian “And you’re constantly looking towards the east, as though something’s about to appear on the horizon at any moment. It’s really quite unnerving. I do wish you’d settle down”.

“Oh I’m just trying to place that noise I heard earlier”, said Kieran.

“It’s the ocean, Kiel”, said Hillyard “It could be anything. Could’ve been seagulls”.

“I think I should know what seagulls sound like by now!” said Kieran, sitting down on a pile of rope behind them “And they don’t usually sound like jester’s bells”.

“Probably another phantom clown coming to terrorise Bengo and Bardin”, said Julian.

“There might be a whole colony of ‘em on one of the other islands”, said Hillyard.

“Oh good, we can offload our set onto them”, said Julian.

“I’m starting to wonder if we’re in some enchanted part of the ocean”, said Kieran.

“Bound to be, if you’re here”, said Julian.

“What, like that Sea of Lost Souls or whatever it was off the West Coast?” said Hillyard.

“Not quite like that, no”, said Kieran “But you have to admit, there is something different about this area, and Christmas back on the mainland seemed to think so too”.

“There is ALWAYS something different about this world”, said Julian “Everywhere. That’s why I don’t hold out much hope for Bardin’s series of guide-books!”

“It might keep him out of mischief”, said Hillyard.

Julian raised a sceptical eyebrow at this idea.

Plans were afoot to get Bardin pulled into line, and to try and calm his inexhaustible adrenalin. After supper Adam whispered to Bengo behind the galley door that he was to lure Bardin into the room, and make sure he didn’t speak.

“Oh that’s easy”, said Bengo “If he knows he’s gonna get a spanking he’ll do whatever we want. It’s great when that happens”.

Bardin must have known something was in the works because he made sure he was wearing his sheerest shorts for the occasion. Adam smacked him soundly on his starched behind. Bardin tried to act as docile and mute as possible, but the occasional “ow!” escaped from him. By the end of it he just wanted to be wrapped in a fluffy towel and tucked into bed.

“We’ll let you have your little voyage around the islands, Bardin”, said Adam, when Bardin was still across his knees “But other than that, we are all going to have a few moments of repose, is that clear?”

“And what if I refuse?” said Bardin “You can’t exactly threaten me with a hiding!”

Adam whacked him again, very hard.

“Are you seriously telling me?” said Adam “That you don’t want a jolly, peaceful existence of our unique family life, and as much spanking as you can possibly handle? That you want to swap all that for seeking out more bloody adventure?”

“That’s the last thing we need”, said Bengo, pinging Bardin’s shorts.

“No of course not”, said Bardin “But you’ve never put it that way before, but what if the adventure comes to find us? You won’t be able to blame me for that!”

“Well of course we won’t”, said Adam, smacking him a few more times “Don’t be silly”.

Bengo helped him to his feet. Bardin momentarily regretted choosing a tight pair of shorts to wear, as they chafed his sore behind mercilessly.

“I shall ache all over tomorrow”, said Bardin.

“Ask Toppy to set the hip-bath up in your cabin in the morning”, said Adam.

“Ooh yes”, said Bengo.

“I shall tame you with chastisement and comfort”, said Adam, pinching Bardin’s cheek playfully.

“I wish I could resist this humiliation”, said Bardin “But I can’t”.

“You know it’s good for you”, said Adam, slapping his behind one more time as he left the room.

“It’s amazing that man hasn’t turned into a complete monster”, said Bardin, when Adam had gone “Considering he has total domination over me, and gets to humiliate me whenever he wants”.

“Adam hasn’t got it in him to be a complete monster”, said Bengo, picking up Bardin’s trousers from the floor “And he scarcely gets everything his own way, not with Julian around. You look so beautiful, with your hair all tousled, almost meek”.

“That was one of the best spankings I’ve ever had. You can’t beat the basic over-the-knee job. And you made it perfect too. I’ll try and calm down a bit”, said Bardin “It’s just we’ve been restless for so long, that I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to spend any length of time in one place. And the world’s been bonkers for so long that family life has gone out of the window. I don’t think we’ve had anything really like that since Snow Lake, and God knows how long ago that was. There have been times lately when I’ve worried that we’re turning into just another ship’s crew”.

“Us?” said Bengo “Never! Don’t be so silly.”

“Is he still in the the bath?” asked Joby, the following morning.

“Yes”, said Adam “Don’t complain, with any luck he might soak all morning”.

“Probably needs it after the whacking you gave him last night”.

“I do hope I’m not intruding on Bengo’s pitch, it is something that concerns me a bit at times”.

“Are you kidding me?” said Joby “He appreciates what you do! No one else round here can pull Bardin into line”.

“Oh I don’t know”, said Adam “Bengo can give a jolly good account of himself when he gets riled up, and there’s still Julian”.

“You’ve got a rapport with Bardin, stop fretting about it”, said Joby “You’re as bad as Kieran sometimes for trying to find things to feel guilty about”.

Suddenly the ship’s engines started up.

“Hey-up”, said Joby “We’re on the move”.

“Round those other wretched islands”, said Adam “Sometimes I think I would rather NOT know what is on them”.

Bengo bustled up to his cabin door and was immediately stopped by Toppy, who was standing in the doorway with a towel carefully draped over his arm.

“The Captain is in his bath”, he announced, gravely.

“Oh get out of the way”, said Bengo, elbowing him aside.

Inside the room Bardin was sprawled in the hip-bath.

“Bardin!” said Bengo “I thought you were going to take it easy today. That’s what you told me last night”.

“What does it look like I’m doing, you silly great clown?” said Bardin.

“But we’re on the move!” Bengo squawked.

“Well I’m not rowing the galleon all by myself am I! And I did say we were going to sail around the islands. Sometimes I think you’re losing what’s left of your brain. I sat here and gave Hillyard the order to get things rolling, that scarcely translates as 12 hours at the coal-face does it!”

“Oh yes I see”.

“Oh yes I see”, Bardin mimicked him “Go and get on with your pastry, or whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing this morning”.

Bengo grabbed the towel from Toppy and threw it in the bath.

“Well really!” said Toppy.

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