The ship pitched and rolled in the roiling seas. Maria gulped as she was prodded down the gangplank at sword-point.
"It's not personal," said Gideon, one of her self-appointed executioners, "you've brought disrepute to the whole band, and we simply can't have that in these tough times."
Maria shuffled a little further along, whimpering, at a couple of too-enthusiastic jabs from the cutlass. She could see the edge, now. The sea was cold, cruel, churning - were those sharks?
"We told you, Maria! We can't have pirates in the band!" said Michael, absently loading and checking his brace of flintlock pistols. "I mean, honestly, Maria - piracy? What were you thinking?"
The crowd, gathered to watch the spectacle, agreed lustily.
"Yes, everyone hates pirates!" said the man who called himself Grant, feeding his parrot a biscuit, "and they especially hate conmen!"
"Piracy is immoral and wrong," said Jeremy, shifting his eyepatch from one eye to the other.
"So you have to walk the plank! The plank! A watery grave for you! A-ha!" yelled Wee Mad Iain, doing a cartwheel and soiling himself vigorously. The rest of the crowd shuffled aside from him.
Maria had reached the end of the plank, now. All that was left was the plunge. Frantic, she cast about for friendly faces in the crowd, but there were none. Never before had she seen such a rum band of coves, rogues and looters, she thought. But maybe there was a final chance. Maybe the captain...?
"I support you unreservedly!" called a voice from somewhere, far away from the thronging crowd. "Now be a dear and fuck off into the drink, won't you?"
Well, thanks a lot, thought Maria as she jumped.
The ship had sailed on. Maria was paddling comfortably. The water was lovely, as it happened, warm, calm, and not at all fatal. The boys had even been good enough to throw down a chest laden with drinks, sandwiches, and not a little cash after her. And any minute now...
"Wotcher!" said a friendly dolphin.
"Um, hello," replied Maria, "are you my ride?"
"I am!" said the dolphin, "hang on to my back and we'll have you at Paradise Island in a jiffy. The boys told me to tell you they'd probably swing by in a couple of months, and to enjoy the facilities as much as you like in the meantime."
"Yippee!" said Maria, who very much enjoyed using things provided for her as much as she liked, and grabbed on to the dolphin.