1803, Austen Spoof, creative writing, jane Austen, Master And Commander, Mermaids, Napoleonic Wars, Parodies, Pirate Stories, Pirates, Regency, Regency Fiction, Regency period, Sailors, short stories, Splash
The 31st of August, The Year Of Our Lord 1803.
I stood upon that rock strewn reef aside of my Captain. Filled, as I was, with an uncommon sense of foreboding, all thoughts of the siren, so very lately discovered, driven from my head. I followed his fixed gaze and cast my own, Eastward to that point. My eyes were met with the sight many a sailor fears. A frigate, as large as our own HMS Forsaken approaching us; and hoisted atop it’s great mast were flying the colours of the pirates’ flag.
That black banner with it’s accursed skull and crossed bones plainly struck fear into the heart of Captain Quaid for his countenance paled to the exact hue of our vessel’s white sails, and it was in a voice that showed a great want of composure that he turned to the assembled men and cried.
“Pirates, ho! Pirates, picaroons! And they have set their course for this very place. They are approaching!”
There was uproar amongst the crew, above one turned to the comfort of the Rum flask, kept about their persons. The perturbation was not only on account of the brutal band of brigands presently advancing upon us; nor the fact that we currently stood upon a strange isle, so very wholly unarmed that in a skirmish we would prove as useful as ladies; but also because our ship, which lay anchored a small distance from the shore, was still sans a mast. Thus we were trapped.
Amid the nervous seizures and the hysteria that gripped the men, it as concluded by the captain and an officer (Confess, I cannot recall which for my own nerves were in some agitation) that the most prudent course of action was to return to the HMS Forsaken, for there at least we could defend our souls against the pirates.
I was upon the very brink of turning to rejoin the men as they fled back from whence we had come when I recalled the siren. Still she sat upon that rock, quite as still as though she were carved from the very finest marble, but her eyes turned upon us with a semblance of perplexed curiosity upon her beauteous features. The creature was plainly in the utmost confusion as to the cause of our great disquiet.
As I considered the mighty, menacious, ship that drew ever closer, I swiftly concluded that we ought not so very decidedly abandon a creature so rare and paradisiacal as this siren, when pirates were so very close at hand. For what if they were to find her. I sought out my captain.
“Captain I am of the opinion that we ought not, so very decidedly abandon a creature so rare and paradisiacal as this siren, when pirates are so very close at hand. For what if they were to find her?”
“Upon my word you are right Mr Matelot!” Spake he. “If these Picaroons were to have fortune equal to ours in discovering this mythical damsel they would indubitably take her for a prize and claim the untold riches she would bring for themselves. Make haste, bring her hither.”
While it was not the pecuniary rewards that disquieted me, rather what her fate in the hands of such ruffians would be, I was above all things glad that the captain had acquiesced to include her among our party.
“Messrs Thomas, Roberts, Smith and Burns, come hither pray!” I vociferated across the coastal expanse, summoning those I believed most capable of aiding me. “We must make haste and fashion a sedan chaise upon which we can carry her.” Whence I had given the men exact directions I bowed low to the maiden of the sea and, apologising forthwith for addressing her so very directly, endeavoured to explicate our scheme.
It soon became apparent, however that the siren could number among her accomplishments not one word of English. Nor Spanish or indeed any of the tongues I had any knowledge of. I could not converse with her. Seeing my trouble Mr Roberts stepped forth and spake.
“Doth any man among us have a lace fan? For she may be acquainted with the flutterings of those items as a mean of communication, as so very many young ladies of society do.” Said he.
I rounded upon the fellow and addressed him in tones which were exactly calculated to convey my displeasure at his idiocy.
“Roberts! Your unaccountable foolishness is unfathomable! For when do you suppose that this creature has been presented with the chance to be among society, or indeed in possession of a lace fan?!”
I dismissed him from my sight, and approaching the maiden once more, I embarked upon an animated performance of an elaborate series of movements of both the arms and legs, with which I intended to communicate our plan.
By and by it seemed I succeeded, for when we aided her onto the chaise, something she accomplished with surprising elegance for one so wholly sans legs, her composure was quite unshaken. Indeed had I been better acquainted with her I am sure I would have known her to be quite delighted by the scheme. It was, therefore, thus that we proceeded across the foreshore with the siren in agreeable recumbence upon the sedan chair.
It was not long afore we reached the HMS Forsaken, and having secured the siren’s comfort as pleasingly as the imminent arrival of pirates would allow, we hastened to our posts and made ready the weapons. An unnatural silence of apprehensive anxiousness fell across the decks as we surveyed the horizon. The Pirates vessel was advancing now with such shocking speed that many amongst us believed them to be driven by cursed winds, for the ship sailed as though the very devil were at their heels.
Such a notion did little to reassure those in possession of a certain nervous frailty. And I believe a good deal of rum was being being consumed as we stood all about upon our own broken vessel, escape an impossibility. We had no choice but to engage in hostilities.
With sentiments of increasing trepidation we came to understand that the ship was larger than the Forsaken and the odds for our continued survival were not at all favourable.
The Captain began to issue orders.
“Make ready the canons!” Cried he, as that execrable ship which certainly carried nought but dishonourably barbarous sea dogs did advent upon the very brink of our canon’s range. Captain Quaid glanced through his telescope once again, then, with so little warning it bordered upon incivility; “Hold fast!” Spake he.
“Hold fast!” Spake I, addressing the lower ranks, though what formidable opposition the pirates had put forth to prevent us firing was indecipherable. “Captain,” continued I, ” this is unaccountable, we ought fire while we yet have the advantage!”
“Nay Matelot.” Returned he. “Take out your scope and cast your eye Eastward.”
I did as he bade and through my own scope I saw that, hung as boldly as their own fearsome colours, was the white flag of surrender.
“They be yielding to us!” Called Frank with a forceful gee that seemed better suited to a young lady who’s hand has lately been sought out by a duke. “Those deuced sons of churls be the very essence of pusillanimity! They are nought but accursed cowardly caitiffs!”
Cheers of “Hazzar!” flew once more from the crew and young Frank danced a hornpipe thrice across the deck. Yet as they continued to sail toward the isle it became apparent that their promptitude in capitulation, was due to the fortuitous fact that their ship was so severely damaged that it was sinking with uncommon haste. Indeed, by the time they had drifted along side the HMS Forsaken the boat had lost another three feet in height.
“Hold off from your jubilations gentlemen.” Was Quaid’s entreaty. “For these blackguards may yet prove themselves capable of devious falsehood, and mean to take our ship!”
I knew that the captain spoke nought but veracity, for I am sure, gentlemen of the Admiralty, that we are all familiar with the tale of the HMS Ingenuous, God rest their souls.
Therefore it was the utmost readiness that we waited our breath quite baited; and when the pirates’ vessel drew even with ours we eagerly advanced afore they could so much incline their hats.
We boarded their ship in a swift, yet refined manner, that displayed our figures to their best advantage. Capturing all who sailed on her, with remarkable little inconvenience to ourselves. It would seem that Frank was indeed correct in the above recorded assertions, that they were poltroons capable of great cowardice, for even their captain (if captain he could be called, his hat was dreadfully small) was gracious in his defeat.
As sailors in His Majesty’s service we are duty bound to execute pirates. However we found ourselves to be in a felicitous humour on account of the discovery of the siren, thus we found ourselves inclined to act in accord with the conduct of gentlemen of a merciful disposition. We were soon decided upon simply binding the picaroons to the trees and abandoning them upon the isle.
September the 2nd, The year of our Lord1803.
Unfortunately as we had yet to replace our mast and gather what supplies the isle afforded, we have been forced to endure the Pirates society for above two days afore we can bid our final farewell to this place. While such disagreeable company was sure to be detrimental to our spirits it had the advantage of aiding our own departure, for the carpenters were quite settled upon the notion that we ought simply take the pirates mast for our own.
Frank took it upon himself to guard the prisoners, despite the fact that this was rendered wholly unnecessary by the exceedingly expedient manner in which we had bound them to the trees. However I believe young Frank was desirous of indulging in his favourite sport, Admonish the Churl. T’was a simple frolic which involved gambolling, in a manner most reminiscent of the hornpipe, all about our captives whilst casting defamatory affronts and curses at them in a tuneful fashion.
While the carpenters worked to affix the mast and construct the creature’s cask, I diverted myself by diverting the siren’s attentions in showing her the finer pieces of treasure retrieved from the pirates’ ship. Like many ladies, she displayed a positive propensity toward the admiration and I learned she was partial to both rubies and emeralds. While she does not speak, we have over these past eight and forty hours, grown to understand each other. In truth I believe there is very little that cannot be happily communicated by the waving of one’s arms and legs.
September the 3rd, The year of our Lord 1803.
At long last the ship is ready. Today we sail.