The next piece of my childhood writing that I'd like to share is an important work entitled "Captain Bandorf's Treasure". The significance of this item is evident in the story's binding (the "two-staple" method common to the era), the full-color, laminated cover, and the illuminated letter at the start of the first sentence. These lavish features suggest there was at least one earlier draft of the manuscript, but alas, prior versions are no longer extant. While the work is undated, the artifact is believed to have originated in the fourth grade, making it contemporary with the previous entries. For the time period, this is a lengthy story, filling eight pages (four double-sided sheets).
As a qualifier to the number of pages, I think it's time to address the absurdly large paragraph indents, which can also be seen in photos of the Flutterina story. These empty spaces stretch from a third to half of the way across the line, often increasing over the course of a story. I recall that there was a rule about how many fingers to place on the paper as a guideline for indentation. Either the number stipulated was excessive, or I had really large fingers as a child.
Anyway, please enjoy the exciting quest for Captain Bandorf's Treasure. After the stunning conclusion, I'll offer some comments on the story.
"Captain Bandorf's Treasure"
It was a cold, windy, rainy night in England during the time of Queen Elizabeth the First. Jackie Maple was shivering in her cold bed, cuddling with her little sister Amy. The fire had gone out long ago, and there was no moonlight.
The Maples lived on the English countryside, in a village where everyone was poor. Jackie lived with her sister Amy, her mother, and her grandfather. Jackie had shoulder-length brownish-gold hair and brown eyes. She was ten years old. Her sister Amy was eight years old, with long, wavy blonde hair and blue eyes. Their mother had short black hair that curled at the edges and soft, light blue eyes. Jackie's grandfather had a gray beard, but his head was bald. His blue eyes had a twinkle to them that made them look so kind that no one was afraid of him.
Suddenly Jackie heard a knock at the door. "Jackie, let me in!"
Amy sat up in bed. "Ghosts!" she cried.
"No it isn't. It's Anne!" yelled Jackie. She slid out of bed and opened the door.
There stood her next-door neighbor and best friend Anne Denver. Anne had long, straight, jet-black hair and blue eyes.
Anne hurried inside. Behind her came her St. Bernard, Paddycake.
"You and your mother must come to my house immeadiately [sic]," she said. "My mother is very ill."
"Mother, wake up!" cried Jackie.
"Huh? What?" said Mrs. Maple, half awake.
"Anne's mother is sick!" yelled Jackie.
Mrs. Maple jumped up, pulled on her coat, grabbed some blankets [and] medical supplies, and ran out the door. Jackie and Anne followed.
"Jackie, Anne. Wait," said Grandfather. "Amy dear, would you please go instead? I have to tell Jackie and Anne something."
"All right," said Amy slowly. She got out of bed, put on her coat, and left.
"What do you want to tell us Grandfather?" asked Jackie.
"Do you promise you won't tell a soul?" he asked.
Anne and Jackie promised.
"Will you believe me no matter how crazy it sounds?" asked Grandfather.
"Yes," they answered.
"Let me make a fire first," said Anne.
When the fire was blazing, Anne and Jackie sat down.
"Begin your story please," said Jackie.
"Once, long, long ago," began Grandfather, "there was a sea captain called Captain Bandorf. Once on a voyage he found a treasure in India, but he wanted no one to know, for he was a very selfish man. So when he returned to his home in Scotland, he hid it.
"When Bandorf died he became a ghost. He haunts the house to this day. So does an evil witch named Sacora. Sacora has a dog named Liemouth. He always tells you exactly the opposite of the truth."
Jackie jumped up. "We have to find the treasure!"
The next morning Anne and Jackie set off with Paddycake. After half an hour they came upon a sign.
"Rushing Rocky River," read Jackie aloud. "Cross at your own risk."
"Well here's my own risk," said Anne bravely. "I'll cross at it. Come on."
"Wait!" cried Jackie in alarm. "We'll cross, but not just like that. Find somewhere safer."
"Here's somewhere," said Anne. She pointed to a place that had rocks all the way across.
"That looks okay," said Jackie. "Be careful. It's probably slippery."
So they started across. First Anne, then Paddycake, then Jackie.
Suddenly Anne slipped. "Help! Jackie! Paddycake! Somebody! Help!"
"Hold on, Anne!" cried Jackie. She lay down on the rock and stuck out her legs. "Grab my feet, Anne."
Anne did, and Jackie pulled her back on the rock. They made it to the other side of the river without falling in again. As the three of them sat on the bank of the river, Paddycake began to bark.
"What's wrong Paddycake?" asked Anne.
Suddenly a large, skinny black dog appeared.
"Who on earth is that?" asked Jackie to no-one in particular.
"I am not Liemouth," answered the dog in a dignified way.
Jackie got excited. "That must be Liemouth, like Grandfather said. And I have a great idea."
"Are you magic?" asked Jackie.
"No," said Liemouth shortly.
"Then don't make us dry."
Suddenly Jackie, Anne, and Paddycake were no longer wet from the river.
"Now I see," said Anne. "He does the opposite of what you say."
Jackie said, "Don't use your magic to lead us to Sacora."
Suddenly the four of them were in a house with an ugly witch staring at them.
"Is that Sacora?"
"Don't make her disappear forever."
Suddenly Sacora was gone.
"Look," cried Anne.
Jackie looked, and saw a big chest, being guarded by a ghost.
"How do we make the ghost disappear?" inquired Anne.
"Don't make it look in the mirror," said Liemouth. A mirror appeared in Anne's hands.
She shoved it in front of the ghost. The mirror and the ghost disappeared.
Jackie and Anne opened the treasure chest. It was filled with riches. Liemouth suddenly became a beautiful collie, and Jackie and Anne found themselves, with the dogs and the treasure, in Queen Elizabeth's throne room.
"You have found the treasure!" exclaimed Queen Elizabeth. "I will adopt you, and with your families you will live in the palace."
And so it was. And Liemouth was no longer Liemouth. He was ..... Truth.
I have so many thoughts.
→ This is historical fiction, which isn't a genre I worked in often during my early years. You can see that my extensive knowledge of the time of Queen Elizabeth I includes the fact that people lived in villages and were poor (and cold).
→ The bulk of first page is taken up with describing the hair and eye color of each character. I have since come around to the belief that this is not the most important information to know about a character (though a survey of popular literature suggests this may be a minority opinion). It's curious that Jackie, Amy, and their mother all have such different coloring. We aren't told the characteristics of the absent (dead?) father, but I speculate that he is either blond with brown eyes for genetic logic, or red-headed and green-eyed for maximum variety.
→ Good to know that nobody was ever afraid of the grandfather, but mentioning it for no apparent reason is a little disturbing.
→ Amy wakes up and imagines ghosts. That would be some nice foreshadowing, if I had any faith that there was logic to the construction of this story.
→ Poor Anne's ill mother! I hope that she recovers, or at least is ever given another moment's thought in this story!
→ "Huh? What?" is Mrs. Maple's sole bit of dialogue. In the movie version, the role will be played with a perfect line reading by Hilary Swank.
→ So let me get this straight: Grandfather knows this astounding information about a treasure, and he decides that the very best moment to reveal it is while preventing a girl from returning to her very ill mother? By the way, I notice that Anne has black hair and blue eyes, just like Jackie's mother. Maybe there's a more relevant mystery that Grandfather could shed light on at this time.
→ Grandfather starts his tale on page 4, almost halfway through the story. Nothing that happens before that has any bearing on the plot.
→ Where exactly are Jackie, Anne, and Paddycake setting off to? Is the English countryside a half hour walk from Scotland? Or are they just counting on getting magicked the rest of the way?
→ I seem to have grown more comfortable with endangering characters since the first Flutterina story. Anne is in peril here for a good five or six lines.
→ Liemouth not only has to tell you the opposite of the truth, he also has to do the opposite of what you tell him? I call foul. Plus, worst sidekick ever (unlike the awesome Lying Cat).
→ "How do we make the ghost disappear?" Why don't you use the exact same trick you just used with the witch? And remind me, why are both a witch and a ghost involved in this situation?
→ Convenient that in all the time since long, long ago, nobody else went out looking for this treasure, which is so easy to find that two ten-year-olds accomplished it with a minimum of adventure.
→ You know this is an exciting story because it uses the word "suddenly" seven times.
→ It's good that Queen Elizabeth is going to adopt the girls, given all the doubt about their parentage.
→ I can't get over the last sentence.
Good Stuff Out There:
→ Janice Hardy covers the difficult topic of What to Do When You Need to Cut a Major Part of Your Novel: "Plot events should flow from one to the next. Things should feel inevitable, not forced. If you're banging your head on the keyboard to fit the pieces together, that's not a good sign. Sometimes we get the best plots from trying to make two ends meets, but if you're working too hard to make it work, it's probably not working."