This past Sunday, September 19, was International Talk Like a Pirate Day. And I forgot about it. What an opportunity I missed! I was teaching Sunday school, and I told the story about how Theodore Parker didn’t kill the turtle, and learned to listen to his Conscience. But I could have told the same story in pirate talk:
Arr, ye scurvy little swabs, listen to what I have t’ tell ye….
Once upon a time thar lived a little lad named Theodore Parker. He was born a landlubber who lived on a farm in Lexin’ton, Massachusetts. His granddaddy had been one o’ th’ rebels who started the Revolutionary War, by shootin’ at the Redcoats (the scurvy dogs) on Lexin’ton Green. Ev’ry mornin’ when he was drinkin’ his grog, he could look up at his grandaddy’s musket hangin’ over the fireplace.
One fine day, Theodore’s father took ‘im to a distant place on th’ farm, then sent ‘im back alone. The little lad saw a turtle sunnin’ itself, and like the good little pirate he was, he raised up his stick. “Ah me beauty,” says he, “you’re dead meat.” But then he heard a voice, sayin’ to him, “Avast there, ye little bilge rat! Belay that! Shiver me timbers! ‘Tis wrong to strike that turtle!”
“Aye aye, sir!” says Theodore, an’ put down his stick, an’ ran smartly home to his mother to tell her the story. “Mother,” says he, “a voice told me not to strike the little turtle. What was that voice?”
“Sink me!” she ejaculated. “”Tis a dangerous voice, that. Some call it th’ Conscience, and some call it th’ Voice of God in th’ Soul. ‘Twill try t’ hornswoggle ye out of bein’ a pirate. Next time ye hear that voice, heave to, come about, an’ run as fast as ye can down wind. Set yer topgallants if ye can, for if that voice gets alongside ye, ’twill fire a broadside that’ll clear your decks. Nay, my lad, if ’tis a pirate you’d like to be, if ’tis the booty ye’d like to take, if ye want to feel the doubloons and pieces o’ eight running through yer fingers some day, IGNORE THAT VOICE!”
“So if it comes agin,” said little Theodore, “I’m t’ give it th’ black spot?”
“Aye, me bucko,” said she, roarin’ with laughter, “that’s the spirit! Next time yer Conscience comes, send it t’ Davey Jones’ locker! Put it in a hempen halter an’ hang it from the yardarm!” Mrs. Pirate Parker gave her little lad a tankard o’ grog to buck him up, and then she gave him a stout belayin’ pin an’ sent him back to kill that turtle.
An’ that’s the story of how little Theodore learned t’ ignore his Conscience. When Theodore became a grown man, he had long since stopped listenin’ to his Conscience,an’ he became one o’ th’ Transcendentalist scallywags, scourge o’ th’ respectable Unitarians, terror of th’ liberal theologians. Ah, he was a fine one he was, you may lay to that!
An’ that’s me story, my little hearties. Be ye like Theodore Parker. Ignore yer Conscience, so ye can grow up t’ be a theological Pirate like him. Arrr!