Chapter 6

After an orderly march from Elbow Harbor Elementary, down Elbow Street, with a sharp right turn on Cargo Point Road, Miss Parsnip came to a halt in front of the Main entrance to the Crunch & Barley Breakfast Factory and blew several blasts on her sailor’s whistle.

“Ahoy!” she said. “Are all my groups on deck? Cutthroats, Rogues, Peglegs, Swabbies? All here? That’s shipshape! Let’s go in and see if our tourguide is ready for us!”

But there, framed in the doorway as Miss Parsnip pulled it open, was Mrs. Pink, clicking a high heel on the floor in a rapid staccato beat.

“I’m sorry to say, there won’t be tours today,” said Mrs. Pink, her tone clipped and snooty.

Miss Parsnip looked understandably perplexed. “That can’t be the case,” she said. “We’re officially signed up. All the proper phone calls were made.”

“Be that as it may,” replied Mrs. Pink, as if that settled the matter once and for all.

“Oh,” said Miss Parsnip, seeming uncertain about what she should do next. “Oh. I see.”

Intending to get the attention of her students and their chaperones, Miss Parsnip blew her whistle. Miss Parsnip was an excellent teacher who rarely forgot anything, but at this moment she did. She forgot that two toots meant “attention,” and three toots meant “forward mateys.” Miss Parsnip blew three toots. And before she could add four toots, (meaning “change of plans,”) the twenty fifth-graders of Elbow Harbor Elementary poured through the doorway like water gushing from a broken dam.

“Mr. Green!” called Mrs. Pink irately as she tried not to get swept away in the tide of ten year olds. “Mr. Brown! This is a very poor day for a tour group, do you not agree?”

“Thar’s NO SUCH THING as a poor day for tourin’ on a vessel o’mine!” came a booming voice from the top of a short flight of stairs.

Mr. Arg strode toward the now very disorganized mob of students, and doffed his feathered hat.

“That,” whispered Fay to Franny, “is my Dad’s boss. Mr. Arg.”

“And are the wee folk whisperin’ because they want a mop,” drawled Mr. Arg fixing his right eye on Fay, “or are ya’ so excited that the willies are eatin’ holes in the part of yer head that knows manners?”

“Sorry sir,” said Fay.

Franny merely quivered.

“But Mr. Arg,” cut in Mrs. Pink, pushing Judy Fipple aside to confront him. “Our meeting. Our important meeting!”

“CAN’T YA’ SEE,” began Mr. Arg in a roar that dwindled to a growl, “that I’m showing me factory to a group of little children? Alrighty then, who’s in charge here?”

“I am,” said Miss Parsnip stepping forward as Mrs. Pink stood gaping. “I’m the teacher, Arlene Parsnip.”

“You’re in charge?” said Mr. Arg.

“Yes,” said Miss Parsnip.

“No ma’am,” said Mr. Arg with a swagger and tip of his hat. “This here’s my factory…and I’M in charge.”

Fay had never seen Miss Parsnip blush so red before, and she tried not to giggle.

“MR. ARG!” said Mrs. Pink. “I’ll will be reporting this!”

“Report any bloody thing ya’ want, scurvy wench,” snarled Mr. Arg before turning to the school group. “And now a tour,” he said, “the likes o’which you swabbies have never seen before.”

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