What Christie really liked was stories.
She got that from her grandfather, who was currently sat in his usual spot in the big armchair, in front of the fire, reading a newspaper. Propped up against the wall beside him stood his gnarly old cane. Christie stared at it a while, then turned to her grandfather.
“Grandpa, why do you walk with a cane?” she asked him. He lowered his newspaper slightly, and looked over his glasses at her, with a hint of a smile on his face and a gleam in his eye. Christie knew the look well; it was story time.
“Well, you see sweetheart, I wasn’t always the doddery old man you know me to be. I was once an adventurer. I travelled all over the world looking for new and exciting journeys to take that would lead me where I least expected them to.”
Christie listened intently. Grandpa always told the best stories, and she could tell that today was going to be no exception.
“I was a young man, sailing across the sea as part of the crew on a small ship transporting a grand jewel back to England – the Wimueko. This jewel was priceless, so of course we had to guard it with our lives.
“All was going well until one fateful day. We had been suffering from a lack of wind, so had been rowing all morning. Rowing a ship, even a small one, is very hard work, so as you can imagine we had to stop for a rest. It was at this moment, when our guard was down, that we were suddenly ambushed by pirates! We rushed to arm ourselves, but the pirates were too quick. They had us surrounded. We were only a small crew, so they tied us to the mast of the ship. Then the captain arrived.
“Captain Ferdinand was the most feared pirate in them days. I recognised him at once by the scar across his nose, and the fact that he had different coloured eyes. One was a watery blue, but the other was a deep, dark black. There was evil in that eye.”
Christie shuffled closer to her grandfather’s feet. “What did you do Grandpa?”
“I did what any brave adventurer would do with something under his protection.” He leaned over his knees, close to Christie’s face, and whispered dramatically, “I challenged him to a duel!”
Leaning back in his chair so that he could gesture wildly with his arms, he continued with his story.
“There was just the two of us, circling each other, cutlasses in hand. All the other pirates gathered round to cheer on their captain, waiting for bloodshed. My blood. The fight began and we slashed at each other, high and low, jabbing and slicing, parrying and blocking. Just as one of us got the upper hand, the other would push back and level the playing field. It was a tremendous battle.
“Eventually, I got Captain Ferdinand cornered and pinned to the floor. The battle was won, and I was the champion. I stood over him and told him to leave and never come back! The pirates began leaving our ship, the captain following last. We thought we were safe, but at the last moment, the dirty rotten pirate turned and sliced at my leg, then left laughing on his ship.
The cut went deep, and became infected on the way home, but luckily the wind was on our side and we made a swift journey back. My leg was treated, but I have walked with a limp ever since.”
At this point, Christie’s grandmother poked her head through the door, announcing that dinner was ready. Christie jumped up and grabbed the cane for her grandfather then watched as he lumbered his way into the kitchen. As much as she loved hearing her grandfather’s stories, Christie also had a thirst to know the truth. Walking over to her grandmother, she whispered to her so that her grandfather didn’t hear, “what really happened to his leg Grandma?”
Christie’s grandmother looked over at her husband, then back to her granddaughter.
“Well,” she whispered back. “When he was a boy, he thought he could fly, so he tried to jump off the roof.”