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By Sarah Hapgood

“I can tell what you’re thinking Hillyard”, said Kieran “And I don’t even need to use my psychic powers”.

Hillyard looked up sharply. He was roaming the top of the new island, accompanied by Kieran and Joby. It was a calm day, but noticeably chilly. The frigid greyness which they seemed to have endured for some time now was continuing.

“So tell me then”, said Hillyard “What am I thinking?”

“That this isn’t the same as ‘hy brasil’”, said Kieran “After all, one bit of crumbling old wall isn’t exactly the same as that lovely wee cottage now is it”.

“Maybe not”, said Hillyard “But don’t try and make out that I’m in some kind of a grot about it. I’m sure I’ll cope with the loss. That’s the trouble with everybody at the moment, mountains keep getting made out of molehills”.

“Anyway I’m starting to quite like it”, said Joby, much to Hillyard’s astonishment “Yeah I do. It’s got potential. Can certainly start up a garden here, and it doesn’t feel quite so exposed as the other place did, more sort of tucked away”.

“I can see that”, said Hillyard.

Suddenly a bark-like shout went up from Ransey, who was standing on a small grassy knoll a short distance away. He had been looking at the eastern horizon through a pair of binoculars.

“Don’t tell me you’ve seen something”, said Hillyard.

“Come and look”, said Ransey “Quickly though, I’m not convinced it won’t turn out to be a mirage”.

“Another ship?” asked Kieran.

“No, it’s definitely not moving”, said Ransey.

Kieran took a turn with the field-glasses after Hillyard. In the far distance, viewed as if through some kind of gauzy haze, was a range of bare mountains, tinged with a distinct pink/orange hue.

“Is it the New Continent?” said Joby “And if it is, why are we only just seeing it now?”

“Who knows, in this magical ocean?” said Kieran “But I suspect it may be part of the New Continent”.

“So do we head over that way now then?” said Hillyard “Now we’ve spotted the Pink Mountains”.

“In time perhaps”, said Kieran “But first, I think we need to burrow down into this island”.

“How?” said Joby.

“A way will appear”, said Kieran “I can feel it in my bones. It will be like when the doors suddenly appeared on the other island. Al these three islands are connected by tunnels under the ocean”.

“But why do we have to solve the mystery of the third island first?” asked Ransey.

“Well if nothing else”, said Kieran “Then for the sake of Cloris and the others. They can’t build a new life in the shadow of that mystery”.

“I’m getting sick and tired of hearing about doing things for Cloris and the others”, said Joby.

“I know”, said Kieran, squeezing Joby’s arm “But it won’t be forever”. *

“Hah! Good old Joby”, Julian laughed “Voicing what I’ve been thinking for a while now. I’m getting absolutely fed up with us having to keep prostrating ourselves for the sake of the Yacht Club. Sometimes I think if I hear one more word about that lot I’ll kick a hole in the wall”.

“We do seem to be wet-nursing them a bit”, said Hillyard.

“Yes, and it’s high time we stopped!” said Julian “Pass the sherry bottle over, we’ll have a little libation”.

Bardin burst into the room.

“Do you have to make us jump like that!” said Julian “Hillyard could’ve dropped the bottle!”

“Shall I go back and make my entrance again?” asked Bardin.

“Behave, you’re not on stage now”, said Julian “Come and sit down”.

Bardin took off his cap and shook some rain droplets off it. Julian snatched it from him and chucked it on his desk.

“Anyway, be careful with that sherry”, said Bardin, throwing himself onto a spare chair “Just in case it’s an age before we can replenish it”.

“You mean it’s not eternal like Kieran’s Magic Whisky Bottle?” said Julian “The little ratbag, I should’ve known he’d do a thing like that!”

“I came in to let you know that I’m calling for a 30-day period of rest and spiritual meditation”, said Bardin.

“Sounds a riot”, said Hillyard.

“Before we go heading off anywhere else”, said Bardin “And when we do, we’ll try and find a way of going down inside this island first, before risking any more confrontations with sea monsters”.

“How will we know when the 30 days are up?” asked Hillyard.

“I’ll get Toppy to keep a chalkboard account of it”, said Bardin “And I shall make up a daily itinerary of what we shall do every day”.

“Will your spanking sessions be included in that?” said Julian.

“They’d better be or it won’t be worth doing!” said Hillyard.

“I don’t think this island is suitable for a long-term stay”, said Bardin “In spite of what Joby wants to do with a garden here, but for a short while it will do the job, and it’s quite private in its own way. I think a 30-day hiatus is called for”.

“Hear hear”, said Hillyard.

Bardin woke up in the dark, disorientated. It seemed to be the middle of the night, and yet Bengo was getting dressed.

“What the hell time is it?” Bardin asked.

“Oh about 7-ish”, said Bengo, pulling on his breeches.

“And it’s dark??”

“It’s been dark around this time for a little while now”.

“Where are you going then?” asked Bardin.

“Well I know we’re all now supposed to be on sabbatical”, said Bengo “But I think you’re all still going to want breakfast”.

“No, I suppose it won’t be much of a sabbatical for you three in the galley”.

“Not just us, the life of the ship will still have to go on. Hillyard and Kieran will still have to tend to the horses, and Lonts will still take care of the goats and the dogs”.

“Even so, I hope we can find some peace for a little while”, said Bardin “Can only hope for the best on that one I suppose”.

“It’ll be a lot more peaceful if you have a break from stamping around the ship shouting out orders at everyone”, said Bengo “You could have nice long lie-ins for a start”.

“No I can’t”, said Bardin “I’ve got so used to constantly being on the alert for things all the time that I’d find that nigh-on impossible”.

“But I thought that was what the point of the sabbatical was!” said Bengo.

“It’s mainly to give you lot a break from constantly having to move on, and having to mither over the yacht gang, but oh I dunno, I don’t hold out much hope for me in that respect. And that is entirely between you and me, I don’t want the others to think I’m going down with some kind of martyr complex!”

“Finia, I have been very tolerant with your astrology stuff over the years”, said Adam, just outside the galley door “But I will not tolerate being insulted”.

“No one’s insulted you, Adam!” Finia protested, clutching a chunky book under his arm “I just thought you would be interested”.

“Not when your beloved star signs degenerate into abuse”, said Adam “Now I must crack on with my work, I suggest you go and read Very Quietly at the other end of the ship”.

“What was that all about?” said Joby, when Adam went into the galley.

“Finia’s loopy astrology stuff”, said Adam.

“Oh I see”, said Joby “Must be something critical of Scorpios, or you wouldn’t be carrying on like that”.

“No actually”, said Adam “He decided to tell me which were the most narcissistic signs of the zodiac, and Taurus came out tops. Well Lo-Lo is a Taurus, and I don’t want him to hear such stuff, it would upset him greatly”.

“Sort of proves the point really doesn’t it”, said Joby.

“No it doesn’t, Joby!” Adam exclaimed “Do you want a smacked butt?!”

“Not if you want these rock cakes doing, no”.

“Who came second?” asked Bengo.

“Leo”, said Adam.

“That’s Tamaz”, said Joby “Seems overwhelming evidence really don’t it. Cheer up, at least it wasn’t Scorpio”.

“No we came third”, said Adam “I mean really, how on earth am I narcissistic? I spend my entire life working my fingers to the bone for everyone else! I put up with endless complaints and dismally unfunny jibes …”

“Well at least you don’t get branded as a crabby old git with a mother fixation!” said Joby “That’s usually all I hear about Cancerians!”

“No you lot came out of it pretty well all told”, said Adam “You were way down the list”.

“Where were Sagittarians?” said Bengo “I’m amazed we weren’t topping the bill, particularly when you consider Bardy’s monstrous ego”.

“You were pretty low down too”, said Adam “Apparently Sagittarians can be bratty and do crazy things …”

“You can say that again”, said Joby “Blimey, I never thought I’d be so impressed by astrology!”

“But you aren’t narcissists”, said Adam.

“Where was Julian in all this?” asked Joby.

“Quite low down too”, said Adam “Gemini’s are fond of their own voices, which is certainly true, but are usually too lazy to be narcissists”.

“That’s him to a T”, said Joby “That’s why it didn’t bother him passing the Captaincy over to Bardin. Let some other poor bugger do all the work, whilst he can sit quaffing sherry with his feet up in his cabin. You’ve gotta admit though Ad, Scorpio is a VERY dark sign. I mean, it rules the nuts for one thing, and all that vengeful sting in the tail stuff…”

“Scorpios are very loyal, devoted friends to have”, said Adam “That’s why I’ve put up with so much from you over the years, not to mention Julian”.

“Who was the least narcissistic?” Bengo butted in, hastily.

“Pisces”, said Adam “Kieran’s sign”.

“Oh well that’s definitely true”, said Bengo “I’ve never known a man with so little ego”.

“He can be a devious little sod though”, said Joby “He knows how to use his charm to get what he wants, done it on me enough times”.

“Yes, but that doesn’t make him narcissistic”, said Adam.

“What’s going on in here?” Bardin strolled in, wearing his bath-robe “Seemed to be a lively discussion going on”.

“An exhausting, thoroughly pointless debate about astrology”, said Adam.

“Which you started”, said Joby.

“Who are the biggest narcissists in the zodiac”, said Bengo “And amazingly, it wasn’t us!”

“Well we don’t go craving attention do we”, said Bardin “It just sort of comes to us naturally, which is only right and proper really. Are we having rock cakes again?”

“Bardin!” said Bengo, crossly “You’ll be lucky if you get anything!”

“That book is enough to start a bloody war”, said Julian, a short while later in the dining-room “Finia, if you keep flashing it around in here, I’ll chuck it over the side of the ship!”

“What are you complaining about?” said Finia “You came out of it surprisingly well”.

“I like the surprisingly bit!” said Julian “But don’t go telling Adam he’s a narcissist. He may well be the biggest diva since Maria Callas, but we can’t afford to upset him. He does valuable work round here”.

“He’d be flabbergasted to hear you say that!” said Hillyard.

“Hot chocolate coming through”, said Joby, carrying two jugs into the room and setting them carefully on the table. Bengo followed close behind with a large plate of rock cakes.

“These cakes are for everyone except Bardin”, he said “As he doesn’t like them”.

“Since when?” said Hillyard.

“Take no notice of him, he’s being a berk”, said Bardin.

“I wonder who I caught it from!” said Bengo.

“Oh put that damn book away, Finia”, said Bardin “It’s enough to start a diplomatic incident”.

“That’s what I said”, said Julian.

“For a bunch who claim they have no time for astrology”, said Finia “You lot seem to have been discussing it virtually all the morning!”

“It must be this spiritual retreat”, said Hillyard “It’s addling our brains”.

“Well get used to it, there is more of it to come”, said Bardin “Toppy has barely made any in-roads on the chalkboard”.

“Perhaps we should have classes in astrology”, said Hillyard “As part of the spiritual retreat”.

“Not if the past few hours are anything to go by!” said Joby.

Rumble practically leapt down the quarterdeck steps and bounded into the dining-room.

“Now what?” said Joby.

“Come topside at once”, Rumble directed at everybody “There’s something strange on one of the rocks out in the ocean, you must see it!”

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