X marks the spot
By John Fewings
A band of pirates miss out on buried treasure because they can't accept
the cabin boy's explanation of how simple it is to find.
This sketch seeks to highlight the importance of accepting the gospel
in its simplicity, without unnecessary theological complications.)
CAP'N DAVY (One-legged [?] pirate captain)
DEAD-EYE DAI (A Welsh pirate with an eye-patch)
MAD MICK (A kind of "bovver-boy" pirate)
CABIN BOY (whom the Captain always calls "Jim-lad" but whose actual
name is Christopher)
Traditional pirate attire; can be simply achieved with the use of brightly
coloured bandanas, gold ear-rings, knotted shirts, tattoos. If possible,
the Captain should wear a frock-coat and a three-cornered hat. A stuffed
parrot (or other bird?) on his shoulder would add to the comic effect.
(SCENE: A deserted island with a pair of palm-trees. There is a pile of
"sand" centre-front (a sand-coloured piece of cloth in a loose heap would
(ENTER Captain Davy.)
CAPTAIN: Ahar! We be here at last. Five long months we've been at sea,
looking for this 'ere island. Now we can start looking for the treasure.
Where's that scurvy crew o' mine?
(ENTER Dead-eye Dai and Mad Mick.)
CAPTAIN: Ahar! It's Dead-eye Dai ...
DAI: I've beached the boats, look you.
MICK: And I've booted the beach. Now I'm looking for a tourist to mug!
CAPTAIN: ... and Mad Mick.
(ENTER the cabin-boy, laden down with a coil of rope, a pick-axe, numerous
spades, gardenforks, etc.)
CAPTAIN: Ah, Jim-lad.
CABIN BOY: (aside, to audience) My name's Christopher.
CAPTAIN: Now we're all assembled, let's get on with the business.
DAI: Order! Order!
CAPTAIN: Thank-you, Dai.
NICK: Shall I nut 'im for you, Captain Davy?
CAPTAIN: (reaching inside coat to bring out faded map) We have
this 'ere treasure map what was given me by Old Jake as he lay &-dying,
his throat cut by a fanatical, piratical outlaw.
NICK: I thought it was me what done 'im in, Cap'n.
CAPTAIN: Inscribed around the edge of this 'ere map is a piece of doggerel.
NICK: (reaching for map) Never mind, Cap'n. I'll clean it off for you.
CAPTAIN: It says:- (rotates map to read verse)
I'll give you a clue, but not a lot,
Dig two feet down, X marks the spot."
DAI: It's not exactly Dylan Thornas.
CAPTAIN: Gather round me hearties! Listen here. These words have a
very deep significance. 'Cos I 'appen to know that Old Jake, what buried
this treasure ... (pauses for effect) ... had a wooden leg.
NICK: (profoundly) Very deep, Cap'n. (stupidly) About how deep would
CAPTAIN: Well, not two feet down, that's for certain.
'Cos with a wooden leg he didn't have two feet!
DAI: Speaking for myself, and I confess I find it hard to speak
for anyone else, not being a ventriloquist, I don't mind telling you; I
don't think it makes any difference where you dig. What matters is that
you are sincere in
your digging. We can all find treasure, in a manner of speaking, if
we dig with commitment, look you.
CABIN BOY: That doesn't make sense.
DAI: Ah, but you see; the treasure is not in the finding
... but in the digging. Where we dig is of no consequence. Some may prefer
the rigorous discipline of pick-axing rock; others would rather languish
in the sheltered clime of a sun-kissed sandy beach. What's important is
not where ... but how. Sincerity ... that's the thing.
MICK: If he keeps prattling on, I'm going to be digging something for
'im ... six feet long and six feet deep! And I mean that most sincerely,
CAPTAIN: Avast! Let's stay hearty, shipmates!
MICK: Look 'ere, Captain, I don't believe there is any treasure.
CABIN BOY: But what about the map?
MICK: And what about it? It's just an invention to keep us pirates
off the high seas doing what we ought to be doing: cutting throats walking
planks ... looting ... shooting ... pillaging ...
CABIN BOY: I believe the map.
CAPTAIN: Good on yer, Jim-lad.
CABIN BOY: (despairingly) Christopher's a nice name.
DAI: But there's no cross on it, you see. So it obviously means that
you can put your own cross wherever you like.
CABIN BOY: Perhaps there was a cross on it and it got rubbed off.
DAI: Think on it, lad. Why use a cross? Because it's made up of two
lines. Two lines representing two divergent points of view. But they come
together, look you, signifying that there is truth in all points of view.
So, you see, we are not actually looking for a cross: the cross is just
a symbol ...
(As DAI rambles on. The CAPTAIN tries to interrupt him.)
CAPTAIN: Dai ... Dai ... Dedd-eye Dai.
MICK: I'll name that tune in five! (proceeds to sincr) "Di-di-dead-eye-di
... (etc)" (to the tune of Greensleeves.)
CAPTAIN: Jim-lad. Allow your cap'n to enlighten you with his wisdom.
You see, a sea-dog like myself learns a good deal over the years. That
X on the map prob'ly don't mean an X in real life. What it prob'ly means
is some other shape, like an X, but not an X. So if we waste our time looking
for X's we're never gonna find that there treasure.
CABIN BOY: So what should we be looking for, Captain?
CAPTAIN: Ahar, Jim-lad. You listen to this old salt and I'll tell 'ee.
What letter is like an X though it's not an X? Tell me that.
CABIN BOY: Y?
CAPTAIN: Don't ask why. Just tell me.
CABIN BOY: A Y, Captain. A Y is a bit like an X
CAPTAIN: Think again Jim-lad
CABIN BOY: A V.
CABIN BOY: A K?
CABIN BOY: W?
CAPTAIN: Wrong again, lad. Listen here. (conspiratorially) What we
should be looking for ... is a Q. Right then! All hands spread out and
look for a Q.
(They mill around a little, looking. The cabin boy looks despairing
and puzzled. As if by accident, all characters come to stand in a line,
all facing stage left.)
MICK: I've found it Cap'n. (dances jubilantly) I've found the
Q. I've found the Q.
CAPTAIN: Where? I can't see it.
MICK: Right here, Cap'n. You're at the head of the queue, and
I'm here at the end of the queue, so the treasure must be right here, underneath
our feet all the time. (The Captain hits him.)
CABIN BOY: Look, Captain! There on the sand! Where the shadows of the
palm-trees fall. It's a cross!
CAPTAIN: Aarh! That's as may be ... but, mark my words, it's not as
simple as that.
CABIN BOY: Captain' Look' Here in the sand. (He bends down to pick
p a large wooden cross.) Just where the shadows cross. It's a cross! X
marks the spot!
(There is a moment of suspense as the others look to the Captain. A
smile crosses his face, then he bursts into laughter. Mick and Dai join
in the hearty laughter.)
CAPTAIN: Never mind Jim-lad. You can't help being young. But take it
from your old cap'n; you've a lot to learn yet.
CABIN BOY: But, Captain, it's a cross! Just like it says.
CAPTAIN: Arrh! It be that an' all. But where were it, lad?
CABIN BOY: Just here, Captain. Just under the sand, held in place with
a piece of rock.
CAPTAIN: As easy as that, huh? Well, I've been hunting treasure now
these past forty years an' I ain't never found no treasure that easy.
DAI: That's because you haven't found any treasure at all.
CAPTAIN: (glares) Mark my words. If the treasure was that easy to find
it would have been found by now. It ain't even worth the digging. Come
on, crew! This has been a wasted journey.
(The Captain, Mick and Dai turn and leave, singing an appropriate little
ditty. "Fifteen men on a dead man's chest, yo-ho-ho an' a bottle of coke!")
(The cabin-boy kneels in the sand and begins to dig. He quickly discovers
a sparkling necklace and a golden crown.)
CABIN BOY: (calling after the departing crew) Captain! Captain!
(From offstage .... "Ho-ho-ho and the boy is a fool!")
(The cabin boy stuffs the jewels inside his shirt, shrugs his shoulders
and reaches down into the sand for another handful.)
© Copyright John Fewings, all rights reserved.
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are
not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange
for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and
for what purpose the play is performed. He may be contacted at: 50 Howdale Road,
Hull, HU8 9JZ, UK. Email: