Two Crows were sitting on a tree branch discussing tactics for cheating a scarecrow when all of a sudden a mysterious wooden cart landed (or stumbled and crashed) in the field next to them. After the initial shock the wisest of the Crows remarked
“What is?” Replied his not so wise friend.
“Look, old Barry the scarecrow is distracted by that cart, now’s our chance to sneak past!”
“Lovely!” Said the not so wise Crow “...you first.”
“He who dares always wins” Said the other as he flew off into the neighbouring field.
When the Jacks had recovered from the rather ‘heavy landing’ and brushed themselves down they surveyed the surrounding area. They were in a field, that was for sure. But that’s all that was for sure. Behind them there was only more field and a scarecrow, beyond this there was a forest that looked dense and uninviting. To the north there were faint signs of life, smoke rising thinly from what must have been chimneys and further north they could see a big blue wobbly, shimmering mass that could only be the sea. This was the way they decided to go. As they started walking, Old Jack whistling an annoying tune that Young Jack thought would become increasingly bothersome they were stopped by a sudden shouting.
“OI!!! Get lost you pesky Crows!!” The voice to their rear screamed frantically. When they looked around they were amazed to find that it was the Scarecrow who was shouting at 2 cheeky Crows that had tried to get past. Thinking that this was some sort of clever machine or piece of magic they went to investigate. When they got close to it the Scarecrow slowly lowered his gaze from the Crows to them and said:
“What do you want?” In an angry and agitated voice.
“You’re alive??” Asked Old Jack, jumping backwards in astonishment.
“Obviously...” came the reply, as though Old Jack had just pointed out the fact that the sky was blue.
“Ohhhh, you poor thing” exclaimed Old Jack. “Though I guess you’re used to being a Scarecrow and don’t know what you’re missing by not been able to move.” He added thoughtfully.
“What a ridiculous thing to say! Do you think I was born like this?” Asked the Scarecrow in sheer disbelief.
“You mean you weren’t? Then how did you become one then?” Asked Young Jack confusedly.
“I was turned into one...obviously; you really do ask the silliest questions you know.” The Scarecrow was beginning to annoy Young Jack; in fact he was starting to imagine a situation in which the scarecrow was turned into his current state by a dark magician, for been so annoying.
“Turned into one by a dark magician?” Asked Old Jack who must have being thinking the same thing.
“No!” Answered the Scarecrow, who was looking extremely annoyed as well. “By the Mayor of course.”
“Erm...” Said young Jack “but why would the Mayor do that?”
“OK, you’re quite clearly not from around here, so let me explain things to you” Said the Scarecrow wisely. “In Silchester, that’s the name of this town, Silchester, when you commit a crime you receive a punishment that fits it. My crime was especially bad...”
“OOOOO!! What did you do?” Interrupted Old Jack, much to everybody’s annoyance. (Except the 2 Crows, who were now tucking into the farmer’s crops greedily and praying for the conversation to go on until they had their fill).
“Well if you didn’t interrupt me I was going to explain! In Silchester we rely heavily on the crops we farm, they are our main source of food. Every year the pesky pirates would come and try to steal our crops because they were too lazy and drunk to farm their own. They were never successful though, in many years of trying, because they couldn’t get through our defences! But one day it was my responsibility to guard the great wall before the beach. During the night the Pirates startled me and I accidently set off the ‘Great Catapult of Doom’ and killed them all! Every single one!”
“Surely that solved all of your troubles then! Serves them right.” Said Young Jack confidently.
“Foolish boy!” Replied the Scarecrow harshly “even you must know that people are even more trouble when they’re dead!”
“But how can that be?” Young Jack asked in a shaky voice, dreading a certain answer.
“Ghosts! Of course.” That was the answer he was dreading. “Once they died and became ghosts they could just walk through the city walls, float through the town, steal our crops and then just march off with them. All of this was my fault and because I lost the crops I’m doomed to be a Scarecrow until I can do my job properly and stop the pirates from taking them.” Suddenly he burst into tears and started wailing horribly “Ohhhh it’s horrible! They come every year and mock me and thank me for helping them, telling me I’ll be doomed to watch them take the crops for all of eternity! And my poor daughter! She misses me ever so much, she comes to cut my hair and trim my beard sometimes, bless her. Although sometimes it would be nice to have hair that is long so it goes in front of my eyes and I don’t have to watch the pirates win...Ohhh nothing goes my way, all my life it has been the same!!! That’s why my wife left me, ohh it’s all so much...”
“Maybe we can help.” Said Old Jack to shut the Scarecrow up.
“OK, great, you just have to help me stop the ghost pirates stealing the crops. Thanks then, bye.” It was amazing how quickly the Scarecrow recovered from crying, Young Jack was starting to think maybe it was all an act to trick them into helping. And it wasn’t a task he was looking forward to. Pirates were one thing, but ghost pirates?