The HMS Ballymore
The week passed quickly. The swans had some sailing experience and took
the boat out for three evening test cruises. They would be crewing it
for the Midsummer’s Eve presentation. All went well. Some minor
adjustments were made, and the HMS Ballymore was ready her debut.
On Midsummer’s Eve, everyone had gathered at the community park, on the
south shore of the island. The park had a pavilion and large
recreational area. It was used frequently for events. By noon it was
Today, of course, the main attraction was the HMS Ballymore. The
residents were eager to see their new boat. Some had caught glimpses of
it, but this would be the real presentation. Everyone was chattering and
moving about when Bartholomew moved to the pavilion stage. The animals
took their seats and quieted down.
“Good afternoon everybody, and welcome to our annual Midsummer’s Eve
picnic. This event has probably been going on for as long as Ballymore
has existed. We are all part of this rich history. Today’s big event
will be the presentation of the HMS Ballymore. Before that, though, I
have something to tell you that might be an even bigger event for
A murmur went through the crowd as they were not expecting a surprise.
Bartholomew continued, “Earlier this month, Petunia Porcupine came to me
with an old letter that was found buried near her cottage.”
He held up the letter.
“I would like to read it to you now.”
Then, he read the letter but omitted the sentence regarding the location
of the box. The animals began talking among themselves, but they weren’t
sure what to make of the letter. Bartholomew held up his wings, and
again, they quieted.
“Cyrus Owl and the residents of Ballymore of 1801 have had the foresight
and generosity to contact us from the distant past. We are very
privileged to have found this letter. In it, Cyrus has expressed his
concern that the values that made Ballymore a special place to live may
be lost. It is 1891 now, ninety years later, and we have not lost those
Then, the crowd stood and cheered Bartholomew. They remained standing as
“Thank you very much. It is good to be reminded of them. Together, we
will solve the puzzle and locate the gift that has awaited us for so
long. We will begin the hunt soon. Now, let’s enjoy this wonderful day.
Your new boat will be here directly.”
The crowd clapped and cheered again. Then, they jumped onto the stage
and surrounded Bartholomew. He ushered them towards the dock as he
answered numerous questions.
Stoddard and Sean flew off to the boat to prepare. She was anchored at
the northwest end of the island.
About one-half hour later, Brie Bluebird brought a message for
Bartholomew. The boat was on its way and should be there in about
He told the waiting crowd, “Fifteen minutes to go!”
Everyone stood on the dock or shoreline, looking to their right, and
trying to be the first to spot the boat. They were silent with
anticipation and expectation. The boat would come around the west end of
the island about one-quarter mile away. The bluebirds flew out over the
water a short distance and had the best view.
The weather was warm with partly cloudy skies and a slight breeze from
the west. There were only small waves on the pond.
About ten minutes later, Branna shouted, “They’re coming, I can see
The crowd leaned forward in anticipation.
“There she is!” yelled Birk.
First, the shiny, black bow cleared the trees. Quickly, the dark red
sails followed, and the crowd broke into a roar. Silently and so
smoothly the HMS Ballymore glided slowly through the water. Her large
sails rippled slightly in the breeze. At the top of the mast, flew a
dark red pennant with the single name “Ballymore” lettered on it. The
rails and sails were trimmed with decorative gold bunting.
Sean was standing at attention near the mast. Stoddard, also at
attention, was at the tiller. They wore long, dark red capes specially
made for the event by Rhonda Rabbit.
Just when they thought it couldn’t get any better, it did!
Branna was still hovering out over the water. She yelled, “Something
else is coming!”
If it was possible, the crowd looked even harder but saw nothing. Then,
a buzzing sound was heard, and it grew progressively louder.
The crowd let out a gasp, and several “Oh my’s” were heard.
Trailing the boat, but drawing closer, was a squadron of about one
hundred bumblebees lined up in the familiar V-shaped formation, which
geese use. At the head of the V, was their queen. The formation was
about five feet above the boat. Within seconds a second V-formation
appeared behind the first and then a third and a fourth. Each group was
led by their queen. The crowd clapped and cheered even louder in
The queen leading the first V lined herself up directly over the mast.
Each following formation of bumblebees was ten feet behind the group in
front. They matched the speed of the boat exactly and maintained perfect
The procession approached the dock about thirty feet off-shore. The boat
went past by about three hundred feet and then executed a smooth U-turn.
The bees did the same. The buzzing sound, from the four hundred
bumblebees, was now quite impressive.
The procession had one additional element to it, but no one noticed.
Following the boat underwater was a large dark shape. It was Sam
The boat docked. Sean jumped off and secured it. The crowd, still
cheering, gathered around.
The bumblebees stopped and briefly held position over the water. They
then began to move off in the direction they had come, still in
formation. When the crowd realised they were leaving, they gave them
another appreciative ovation. The bees continued to head west. The
buzzing faded, and eventually they were out of sight.
There is only one word that does justice to what had just occurred:
Bartholomew had to admit, to himself, that he was pretty impressed. For
a moment he was overcome with emotion, which was rare for him.
Bartholomew raised his wings to briefly quiet the crowd. “You see what
we can accomplish when we work together. His voice quivered a little.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to present to you, your new boat, the
HMS Ballymore. Isn’t she beautiful!”
The crowd roared and then began yelling “Bart, Bart, Bart.”
That embarrassed Bartholomew, and he blushed.
As the animals climbed all over the boat, he managed to slip through
them and made it to a picnic table on the pavilion. Grenby had also
escaped the overflowing dock and soon joined him.
“I’m not much for crowds either,” said Grenby. “I do congratulate you,
Bartholomew. You’ve done a superb job.”
“Thank you, but everybody deserves the credit. This a perfect example of
Ballymore cooperation,” responded Bartholomew.
“Yes, that’s true,” agreed Grenby. “I think I’ll go grab my favorite
morsels while ‘Ballymore cooperation' is focused on the boat.”
He headed for the food tables.
“I’ll be there soon,” yelled Bartholomew.
Bartholomew was thinking about the letter when Dr. Brigit approached.
“Hello, Bart. This is a great day for Ballymore.”
“Yes, it is,” responded Bartholomew. “The boat will be an important
asset. Soon, we will start sailing classes, if you are interested.”
“I certainly might be. It sounds like fun,” answered Brigit.
After pausing, he suggested, “How about some food.”
They smiled at each other and walked to the tables.
When a significant event happened in Ballymore, at least one painting
was made by the frogs. The frogs had brought their canvases, paints, and
brushes and were ready.
Farley Frog had given considerable thought as to how to paint the event.
The scene included the boat, the crowd, and the bees. It was a very wide
scene, so he settled on a multiple canvas concept. Three canvases were
be placed side-by-side. Each canvas would cover one-third of the scene.
He, his wife, and daughter would each paint one canvas. Since they had
the same painting style, it would look as if one artist had done all
three paintings. This was the first time they would be using this
With Bartholomew’s help, Farley gathered everyone and arranged them to
create a most pleasing composition. It took one hour for the artists to
complete three nice sketches. Of course, the bees had already left. They
and other details would be added later. Farley thanked everyone for
their cooperation. The animals quickly scattered with half running for
the food. The other half went back to the boat.
For the rest of the day, everyone enjoyed the food and games and the
boat rides. Many said it was the best Midsummer’s Eve they could