Authors: S. K. Sheridan
Davina Dupree Puzzles a Pirate
Third in the Egmont School Series
S K Sheridan
For my mother and Gethin
Happy New Year, Diary!
I’ve been high up in the sky for about an hour now and I have to say I’m feeling extremely
. Guess what? I’m not on a normal passenger plane, oh no, this little beauty happens to be a private jet owned by my school, Egmont Exclusive Boarding School for Girls. Before we were lifted up to the door in a velvet lined portable lift, I saw the outside of the jet shimmering in the sunshine. It was a really striking pearly-grey colour and I mentioned this to our headmistress, Mrs Fairchild, who is also on board (together with Mr Fossil the geography teacher, our housemistress Mrs Pumpernickle and the rest of the first years), and she said the jet is coated in platinum. Maybe that helps it fly well or something.
Apparently our landing destination is a private runway next to The Bay of Silver Shells, and is about two hours away from our school by plane. Mrs Fairchild says the runway and the bay are both owned by her good friend, the Duke of Westchester. He’s going to kindly let us borrow one of his yachts to use for the main part of our school trip, which is moored just off the Beach of Golden Sands. This is the bit I’m looking forward to most because I’ve never been on a boat before, let alone a yacht. I’ve bought some paper bags with me, just in case I feel sick. I’m one of those people who likes to be prepared for pretty much anything.
Trust Egmont to take us on such an exotic school visit. We’re not just popping to a museum for the day, or visiting an art gallery or a farm. Oh
, we get whisked off by jet and yacht to Ni Island for a week, which I think is a sand island in the Celestian Sea. The plan, according to a letter we were all given last term, is to stay in luxury tents and study rare animal and plant species. I’m not complaining, I wouldn’t swap this life for the world, but sometimes it all seems a bit unbelievable.
This time last year I was living at home in our mansion with just my adorable old nanny, Carrie Whepple, for company. And I wasn’t at an expensive private school at that point, I went to Brickhill Primary, just round the corner from my mansion because my parents said it was most convenient. My parents have never really got the hang of parenting and say they sometimes actually FORGET they have a daughter when they’re working away. Totally
To be honest, it was VERY upsetting when Carrie said she was retiring because of her arthritis and I was even more shocked when my mother announced they were sending me to boarding school. I told my part time parents I didn’t want to go but they didn’t listen and plonked me in Egmont without further ado before rushing off round the world again. I say part time because they’re hardly ever at home due to their terribly important, secretive jobs. I suspect they work for the Secret Service and I have asked them about it but they say they can’t tell me for my own safety. Now, though, I’m actually GLAD they sent me to Egmont because I’ve had such an exciting time so far, plus I now have a best friend, Arabella. She’s asleep at the moment, I can see her red curls flopping over the side of her enormous chair. She keeps making random snoring noises, it’s really
I was at home for the Christmas holidays and Carrie came out of retirement long enough to look after me. We were having the best roast lunch, tucking into a juicy chicken, mouthwatering roast potatoes, herby stuffing, green beans and Carrie’s secret recipe gravy, when there was a roaring sound outside. I ran to the window and saw my ridiculous parents swoop down on to our runway (we have one in the back garden, my parents own quite a lot of land) in their plane. They burst through the back door with arms full of presents, air kissed Carrie and I before nicking some of our potatoes. I think they must have stayed for a whole twenty-five minutes before my mother said, ‘Must dash darling, so lovely to see you. We need to be in Delhi by eight, can’t explain why,’ then my father ruffled my hair and before I’d even finished my mouthful they’d swept out again and zoomed off up into the sky. Incredible. And I bet that’s the last of them I’ll see for at least half a year. I don’t mind too much though as Carrie says I’m like a granddaughter to her. She knitted me a lovely scarf for Christmas which I’m wearing at the moment. It is the middle of winter, after all. Hmm, I hope there are heaters in our luxury tents or we’ll all freeze to death! I’m sure Mrs Fairchild will have thought of that, she’s good at getting details right.
It’s amazing inside the jet. There are thirty of us first years all together, and we all have enormous armchairs to sit in that fold back into beds if you press a button on the arm. Arabella must have fallen asleep before she figured that out but to be honest I’m not surprised, we did have to get up at four this morning to make it to the plane on time. It was parked on the school runway, which is squashed next to the tennis courts. Most of the girls’ parents own planes of some sort, mine dropped me off in their private jet last term. Arabella’s don’t though, they picked her up at the end of term in a red sports car which the mean girls, Clarice and Cleo, said was so old it was illegal but I thought it looked very nice.
I can’t wait to see what The Bay of Silver Shells looks like. Mr Fossil gave us all new digital cameras before we left, so we can record all the animal and plant species we find. I’ve got mine ready in my bag, I’m going to take pictures of the bay as the plane begins its descent.
Right, Diary, I’m going to get some shut eye now although I’m SO
I don’t know whether I’ll be able to...
I have to tell you that at the moment I’m sitting at a silver table on the Duke of Westchester’s veranda, looking out over the pearly waters of the Bay of Silver Shells. It certainly lives up to its name because on the Beach of Golden Sands that runs round the side of the bay there are clumps of silvery shells that have been shimmering in the setting sun. Imagine looking out over this half-moon of water every day, with its misty surface, rocks, waterfalls, floating lotus flowers and jumping fish – how totally relaxing. It even smells divine, all sort of salty and smoky: yumsters.
There’s a GIGANTIC blue, white and silver yacht moored in the middle of the bay which Mrs Fairchild says we’ll all be boarding after dinner tonight, which is obviously
. Its name, “Neptune”, is painted neatly on one side in swirly whirly writing, with pictures of elegant dolphins surrounding the words.
Arabella’s sitting next to me, talking loudly to her mum on her new waterproof phone. Mrs Pumpernickle handed them out to everyone yesterday just before we got off the private jet, mine’s shimmery purple with small shells set into the back. So
The only slightly unfortunate thing is that the Duke of Westchester had to go away on business a few days ago and has left his butler, Mr Snap, in charge of our trip. Mrs Fairchild feels a bit put out as the Duke is one of her oldest friends and she said it would have been
so thoughtful of him to actually let her know he wasn’t going to be there. I’ve never seen her frown so much before, she’s usually so dizzy and smiley. But Mrs Pumpernickle said we had to troop on and concentrate on the school trip and that it was nice of the Duke to lend us his yacht in the first place, so Mrs Fairchild starting smiling again, although she did look rather distracted.
Ooh I have to go now Diary, Mr Snap just came out to say dinner is ready. I wonder what we’re having?
The Middle of the Night, Tuesday, 6
Ahoy there, Diary!
Guess what? I’m actually sailing out to sea in the Duke of Westchester’s yacht, Neptune! I ate rather a lot at dinner time, (to be honest I couldn’t help it, the seafood platter was SO
), and now my tummy’s feeling ever so slightly queasy because of the up and down motions of the waves. Never mind, I’m sure I’ll adjust to the nautical way of life soon.
So basically what happened was: after our seafood feast, Mr Snap gave us a talk about our voyage, wearing his smart butler’s uniform that consists of a white shirt, black tie, grey waistcoat, black jacket, shoes and trousers and white gloves. Mr Fossil was standing next to him drinking in every word and I’m sure dribble actually came out of his mouth at one point. Honestly, I don’t think I know ANYONE as obsessed with nature as Mr Fossil.
Mr Snap explained in his EXTREMELY well-to-do accent that we were to be accompanied on to ‘Neptune’ by himself and our teachers, after being ferried across the bay to the yacht in little rowing boats. He said we had to choose partners to share a cabin with, so Arabella and I chose each other at once. I haven’t warmed to Mr Snap yet, I’m not really sure why. When I spoke to Arabella about this she said maybe it was because when his mouth smiled his eyes didn’t. It could be that, or it could be because he has a cold sort of atmosphere about him, but maybe that’s how all butlers are supposed to be for professional reasons? Or it could be that his eyes are like black holes, or that his accent keeps slipping and he forgets to say his “h’s” or that he has a menacing, hulking walk. Oh for goodness sake I must give him a chance, poor man, he’s probably such a sweetie really.
Anyway, an hour or so after his speech we set off to the yacht in darkness, although it wasn’t properly dark as Mr Snap turned on all the outside lights that cover the Duke of Westchester’s mansion and they looked so pretty reflected in the sea. I only got splashed a few times as Mr Snap rowed us across the bay, he’s certainly very strong, we were shooting along ever so fast. Unfortunately we had to share the boat with the most annoying girls in the world, Clarice and Cleo, who kept screaming every time a spray of water touched them, SO
. One thing’s for sure, its ABSOLUTELY FREEZING outside in January! I’m glad we were all told to pack our faux fur coats, I’m still wearing mine now even though we just undressed into our pyjamas.
Arabella and I have such a nice cabin. It has two ‘berths’, which is what you call beds on ships apparently, and three portholes across one wall so we can look out and survey the sea. The whole room is decorated with deep blue, purple and silver furnishings, with intricate paintings of anchors and shells all around the tops of the walls. I stood and looked out for a few minutes but the waves were so choppy I was nearly sick so now I’m sitting on my berth, which feels much safer. Arabella’s still staring out of a porthole though, she keeps whooping every time she sees a big wave, crazy girl.
Right Diary, I’m going to get some sleep now as it sounds like we have a super busy day ahead of us tomorrow.
What an utter drama, Diary!
Gosh, I wasn’t expecting such an eventful morning, that’s for sure. Basically, Arabella and I had just finished a rather
breakfast in the mess room, (which Mr Fossil says you always call dining areas on boats which is strange because the mess room here is really tidy), of fried shrimps on seeded toast with tropical juice to drink, when Cleo screamed REALLY loudly. As she does this several times a day no one took much notice. I noticed that on the table next to us, Mrs Pumpernickle sighed, rolled her eyes and buttered her fourth slice of toast and Mrs Fairchild, looking EXTREMELY innocent, got out her IPod and put on her headphones. Mr Fossil, who hadn’t even touched his breakfast because he was bent over, engrossed in a book about rare birds, didn’t even look up.
But when Melody, who was standing next to Cleo looking out of one of the six, large, mess room portholes, also screamed then burst into tears, the teachers jumped up to find out what was going on. They probably think, like me, that Melody’s a sensible sort of girl who wouldn’t act like that unless it was really necessary.
Mrs Fairchild got to the porthole first and after she’d looked out she gasped and her hand flew to her mouth. At that point obviously me and Arabella just HAD to find out what was going on so we ran over together with most of the other girls in the mess room. I managed to get a look out of the porthole before a crowd of five girls shoved me out of the way but it was enough time to see what was causing all the fuss. An old fashioned looking boat with three masts was following us and from each mast black and white Jolly Roger flags rippled in the breeze, the skull and crossbones signs large enough for us all to see.
‘Pirates!’ Melody sobbed. ‘Mrs Fairchild, what are we going to do? My parents said you sent round a letter in the Christmas holidays assuring everyone that the Police Department of the Seven Seas had the pirating problem under control?’
‘I did, my dear, I did,’ Mrs Fairchild’s mouth twitched at the corners and I’m sure I heard her whisper, ‘Just wait until I get my hands on those rotters’, under her breath.
‘Mrs Pumpernickle?’ She trilled in her prettiest voice, turning round. ‘Could you please pop up on deck and tell Mr Snap that a change of direction maybe temporarily required due to a pirating situation?’