“Are you sure this is where the pirates keep their treasure?” Grigg asked for the hundredth
time since we’d started digging. “I’ve been a pirate for a while and I haven’t seen anyone
I smiled and reassured him. “Yes. I’m sure. I’ve been at Renaissance Village longer than
you. They only come here once in a while. Trust me. This is the best way to become the
He grumbled a little more but he kept digging into the side of the hill that overlooked Mirror
Lake. It was too early for the sun to be up. We’d brought a few lanterns to light our way. This
was going to be the best prank ever! The pirates wouldn’t expect it. I couldn’t wait to see
Rafe’s face when he realized the treasure was gone.
I’d been coming to the Renaissance Faire Village and Marketplace since I was in college. It
was my favorite place to be. Everything was different here. When I walked the cobblestone
streets, I was walking them with Galileo, wild horseman, Robin Hood and the monks from the
Order of the Sheaf. It was exciting. When I went home to the University of South Carolina in
Columbia, I was just existing.
“Hit something here,” Grigg said with a grunt as the shovel impacted something hard. “I think
we have it, Jessie!”
My heart beat faster. This was it! Twenty years of pirate treasure. No telling what was in it. I
couldn’t wait to see.
“Give me a hand,” Grigg said, throwing down his shovel. “We should’ve brought Bart with us.
He could’ve lifted this thing with one hand.”
While it was true that Bart was a strong armed, giant of a man, he wasn’t into pranks. “No,
he wouldn’t have approved. He’s too serious. Move over a little so I can get in there too.”
“What’s going on up here?” It was my lover and the Village Bailiff, Chase Manhattan.
Great! Now we’d never see what was in the chest.
“Not much,” I lied, turning my back to the exposed pirate chest. “What are you doing back so
soon? I thought you had to help with catching one of the camels in Sherwood Forest.”
“Hey, Bailiff,” Grigg greeted him. “Just hanging out, enjoying the morning.”
Chase’s handsome face was skeptical, even in the dim lantern light. “Either you’re up here,
hanging out with my lady in the middle of the night or you’re looking for pirate treasure.
Which would that be?”
Grigg looked up at Chase’s broad shoulders. Chase was a head taller than him and a master
swordsman, besides being the administrator of vegetable justice for the Village.
“I’m looking for pirate treasure,” Grigg admitted.
“Not hanging out with your lady in the middle of the night, believe me. She wanted to do this
to prank Rafe. I’m just here to take over as king of the pirates.”
“That’s what I thought.” Chase frowned at me. At least I think it was a frown. It was hard to
say. By the tone of his voice, it was a frown.
“What?” I demanded in an outraged voice. “Rafe tipped me into a trashcan yesterday. A
trashcan! I think that entitles me to one prank.”
“He did it because you pushed him into Mirror Lake,” Chase reminded me. “When will the
“When I have justice,” I replied. “Like when I steal his treasure.”
“We already dug it up, Bailiff,” Grigg argued in his old cop voice. He’d been an officer before
he’d gone rogue and joined the Village after being sent here to work undercover. “We should
have a look anyway.”
Grigg winked at me. I knew he had a plan because he doesn’t like me that way.
I agreed with him. “We could at least have a look, Chase. We deserve that much.”
“All right,” Chase said finally. “A look. No souvenirs.”
It was still another twenty minutes before the chest was free of the sand and grass that held
it in the hill. By then, Grigg and I were both sweating. Chase sat back watching us but didn’t
offer to help.
“Hope you’re having fun,” I said between panting. “You could’ve made this faster.”
“I could have,” he agreed. “But I don’t care what’s inside.”
He knew something. I could tell. There was probably less in the chest than I’d anticipated.
“Okay. One more pull,” Grigg said. “That should get it.”
“What’s the plan?” I whispered when I was close to him, our hands on the old, rotting chest.
“I take something that proves I got the chest out anyway,” he muttered, glancing at Chase.
“That gives me something I can hold over Rafe.”
“Sounds good,” I said, not sure what I was going to get out of it now.
Grigg was right. One last pull and it was out. The wood was covered with maggots and coffin
bugs. I tried my best not to touch more of it than I had to.
Grigg didn’t care. He wrapped his hands and arms around it and heaved, pulling the cover
off and squinting inside. “What is that?” he asked in a non-Grigg-the-pirate voice.
There was no doubt about it. Those were human bones in the chest. They were yellowed
with age and crawling with bugs. Ugh!
Chase got to his feet and peered inside. “I believe they call those bones, my friends. It looks
like we're keeping the treasure out after all.”