William Shatner’s A Twist in the Tale – Plot Synopsis: The Pirate
“The days of curses and magicians are over. The days of fearsome pirates are done, and yet … maybe there is still some magic in the air, excitement and danger in the seas, deep with secrets … ”
The Craig family have always taken their annual holidays at the beach, in their quaint, much-loved Seaview Cottage. But this year things are poised to change for Sarah (11) and her brothers Peter (14) and Jack (16). Their father has lost his business, and unless the children can come up with a solution, they will lose the second home which has always meant so much to them.
Peter and Jack have long grown out of digging for buried treasure, which is the only plan Sarah can come up with for restoring the family fortunes. Sarah is used to being the butt of her older brothers’ jokes: when she really does make a find, she is not surprised that they won’t pay her or it any attention. But there’s something very special about this particular piece of jetsam. What Sarah has unearthed is a silver salver – valuable in itself, but far more importantly, containing the spirit of James Pierrepoint, pirate.
Pierrepoint wants Sarah to find the key to release him from the four-hundred-year-old curse that has kept him prisoner. But the man who cast the curse originally is still very much around. The infamous Dr. Dee, Elizabethan alchemist and sorcerer, is posing in the town as an antique-dealer. He displays a sinister interest in both Sarah and the salver – for Dee he doesn’t want this particular antique going anywhere …
At first a frightening and ghoulish figure, Pierrepoint warms to Sarah. He twice saves members of her family from danger – her brothers from a rockslide, her mother Sylvia from a car accident – for as Dr. Dee tells her, “Things were a little muddled when the curse was made. Flashes of the future, nods and whispers about the past as well …” Four hundred years ago Pierrepoint marooned a relative of Dr. Dee’s on a desert island. His punishment is to remain forever trapped in the salver, condemned to a waking death of never-ending cold and never-ending fever – unless the curse can be lifted … but how can Sarah find the key?
Pierrepoint shows Sarah one last vision: a little boy hurt and lost. When the search parties of the community fail to find him, and she cannot convince her family of what she saw in the salver, Sarah sets out, in desperation, to consult with Dr. Dee. Dee tells her the salver has one wish, and one wish only, for the person who finds it. Sarah is faced with a terrible choice: she can use the wish to find the little boy; she can save the cottage she and her brothers love so much by asking Pierrepoint to tell her where the accumulated treasure of his career of piracy is hidden; or she can set Pierrepoint himself free.
If Pierrepoint has used his “flashes of the future” to help Sarah, surely she has an obligation to do what she can to help him in return? But the life of a child is at stake …
It is the final irony, that in doing what Dee had never expected her to do and using her one wish for someone other than herself – apparently dashing both her own and Pierrepoint’s dearest hopes in the process – that Sarah unwittingly unlocks the curse and sets Pierrepoint free. The key to the curse had always been an unselfish wish – and for four hundred years that one twist had been enough to keep Pierrepoint prisoner.
Weary but content, Sarah throws the salver back into the sea and turns to say goodbye for the last time to the irascible old pirate – but he has gone forever. The only clue that he was ever there at all is what he has left her: a torn, ancient map … to buried treasure.