DISCLAIMER: If you recognize it, I don't own it.

After that, everything seemed to happen at once. Averell and Phineas spent a night in the jail before being loaded into a stagecoach and sent back east to be put on trial. When their papers were searched for evidence, the people discovered a map which showed the outlines of the silver mine. It was beneath more than just the town, it was the largest in the territory. "Worth an untold amount, to be sure," the President said when he was told. "You may have all which is located within your city limits. Even that will make you very rich indeed."

There was no doubt in most minds that Senator Winters would be found guilty. All his property, including the railroad, would be passed to his heir. "That being you, Miss Jennifer," the company lawyer said when he came to sort it all out.

As the blood drained from Jenny's face, Wechsler placed a hand on her shoulder. "Perhaps Miss Vinters would like an assistant to oversee zis business for her? At least until she comes of age?"

"I'm not sure if — "

"Yes!" Jenny exclaimed. "Yes, I would like that very much."

Then came the matter of finding a guardian for the girls. "It will take a while," the authorities were saying, "seeing as they have no living relatives — "

"I'll take 'em in," Hedley said. "Y'know, if they're okay with it."

The girls said that they were, and so it was done.

After an evening of deliberation, the townspeople announced to Albino Pirate and the rest of the crew that they had agreed upon a proper reward for them: all the silver they could carry from the mine. "You're the reason we even have it. It's the least we can do."

Now here they all were. The pirates had found their ship and brought it to town, and the captain was eagerly calculating the maximum number of barrels he could fit inside. The people were helping load them into the hold, Marvin was trying to eat Wechsler's blueprint for a track-laying machine, and the children were standing with Hedley on his porch watching it all. "Will you go back to Blood Island after this?" Jenny asked Albino Pirate.

He nodded. "Captain will want to show this to everyone."

"Maybe you can come back sometime!" Beatrice chirped.

"Maybe I will."

"Come on, lad!" the captain shouted. "It's your turn to man the crows' nest!"

"Best o' luck to ya, boy," Hedley said, tipping his hat.

"Haf a safe voyage, mein kleiner Freund!"

"We're going to miss you!"

"Yes," Jenny added. "We all are."

Albino Pirate hugged them, and they watched as he hurried up the gangplank and disappeared into the boat.

Looking up, Beatrice saw that her sister's smile had already faded. "Are you alright, Jenny?"

"I'm fine enough..." As she watched the last barrels being loaded, Jenny noticed that one of them was still open and empty. "...Beatrice?" she asked, kneeling down. "I want you to be very good for me. Can you do that?"

"Yes, but why?"

"There's something very important that I have to do, and it might be a very long time before we see each other again. Do you understand?"

"...I think so."

"Good," she said, smiling and hugging her sister. "Mr. Hedley, I'm going to need some straw and a lid for that barrel."

Hedley nodded knowingly. "Whatever you say, Princess."

The Pirate Captain breathed in the salty sea air and whistled a shanty as he strolled across the deck of the Pirate Ship. "Good to be back, isn't it, lad?" he asked Albino Pirate, who was sitting at the stern.

"Yes, sir," he answered halfheartedly.

"We're all quite proud of you, you know. Thought we'd have a Ham Night to celebrate. Doesn't that sound nice?"

The boy smiled and nodded.

"There's that grin of yours!" the captain said, clapping him on the shoulder. "Now, I need you to go take some inventory. Make it quick!"

Albino Pirate let his glumness reappear as he dropped into the hold and began to count the tightly packed barrels of silver. One, two, three...what were his other friends doing right now? And why was that barrel moving? He watched as it pushed itself off the top of a stack, fell onto its side and rolled across the floor to his feet. "Why won't you open...?"

"...Miss Jenny?"

A force from inside the barrel pushed the lid off, and out she tumbled. "Just a little lightheaded, that's all."

"What are you doing here?" he asked as he helped her up.

"It seemed like a good idea," she answered, picking straw out of her hair. "I wanted to be sure I got on board."

"Lad?" they heard the captain call out. "Is everything alright down there?" He and the others entered the hold and stopped short at the sight of Jenny.

"I've come to join your crew, sir," she said, straightening herself up.

"Er...I didn't get the impression that you were much of a pirate, miss."

"I'm not much of what I used to be, either, and I'd rather not go back to it. I know a bit of fighting. I can earn my keep, I promise you that."

The captain was still trying to process what was going on. "Are you quite sure...?"


"...Well," he finally said, "I see no reason why you can't come along. Are we all in agreement?"

The others nodded, Albino Pirate most enthusiastically of all.

"Then welcome aboard! Number Two, remind me to set out an extra place for tonight. How'd you like a tour? The hold's not the greatest first impression..."

The boat continued its voyage to Blood Island, its crew failing to notice a certain bison swimming along behind them.

|~| The End |~|

Wow. I'm having a hard time believing it's finally done. All that planning, all that buildup, and now it's finally done. I actually feel a bit empty inside now...

On a happier note, I'd like to thank all my friends who have followed me on this ride. I have to plan out the next story and school's going to start in a few weeks, so it may be a while before the adventures continue. Until then, happy trails, y'all. -puts on Stetson and rides off into sunset-

~ A. Kingsleigh