September the 3rd, the year of our lord 1803.
We ‘wayed anchor these four hours since and have left that isle and it’s shallows behind us. We were, one and all, monstrous glad to flee that place, which for all it’s exoticism and paradisiacal splendour had the air of the cell where one awaits the gallows. There is little so disagreeable to able sailors than being trapped upon distant shores.
I believe that Messrs Smith and Burns had set our new course, one which would deliver us to our fellow frigates so that we might rejoin the Navy’s endeavours to defeat that rapscallion, Napoleon. We were sailing now with considerable speed as the winds were in our favour and seemed quite set upon hastening our advance.
Quite how Captain Quaid came to know the desired coordinates for reunification with our Admiral I know not; but he is, after all, the Captain and thus must be wholly certain in his certainty that he is correct.
I can see little upon the horizon to cause me any concern, the skies are of a hue one commonly associates with an elegant duchess’ eyes, the wind of the kind perfectly calculated to propel a vessel at great speed sans causing alarm to it’s crew. I can, therefore, foresee no matters worthy of report.
September the 6th, the year of our lord 1803.
Nought has changed. We continue to sail forth. Long may it be ever thus.
September the 18th, The Year Of Our Lord 1803.
Precious little has occurred these past dozen days, at least nothing to amuse or entertain, thus I have refrained from writing in this logbook. We sail onward now, much as we ever did.
For my part I have had little interest in such trivial concerns as sailing, my duties on deck held few charm now and I have spend the generality of my waking hours below deck with the Siren.
As I had been so fortunate as to find her, it had been deemed fitting, by all amongst my companions, that I should enjoy the double fortune of giving up my own quarters for her. And I had done so almost willingly. The apartment had been hastily altered to make it more suited to the tastes of a lady. We had fashioned some window dressings from some muslin stuff the captain had in his possession. I feel it judicious, gentlemen of the admiralty, to mention here that t’was for the making of underthings. However there was sufficient enough a bolt of fabric to mean she was able to sew for herself a gown, which though it savoured far too strongly of the French style to be considered beautiful, shewed her figure to it’s finest advantage.
The handsome carved cask, the carpenters had been so good as to create, had been filled with the ocean’s waters, seashells and beauteous coloured florae; and now stood in one corner of my chamber. However for a creature of the sea she seemed to show little interest in returning to the waters. Indeed she displayed a positive inclination toward recumbency upon a chaise.
September 19th, The Year Of Our Lord 1803.
T’was, as it so oft is, a Wednesday evening, and I decided I would enquire about a game of whist with the siren, for she had mastered the rules of picket with a surprisingly hasty zeal.
Mr Roberts and I had descended from the decks, where we had been taking the air, and perambulated towards her quarters. As it is wholly inconvenient for her to join us for a turn about the deck, on account of her fins, we deemed it prudent to ensure that pleasing diversions were brought to her.
As we approached we heard a commotion from beyond the chamber door. We ceased our approach and listened a moment. They were, Robert Roberts and I are in compete agreement, the distinctive sounds of a lady hastening to conceal any industrious activity and arrange herself in order to convey an impression of elegant idleness. Yet how they came to be was quite unfathomable. Upon knocking we were invited in by her silence.
She did not seem out of spirits, and though her eyes held the brilliance of recent exertion and she seemed to suffer more than a little discomposed agitation she was still upon the very same chaise whence we had left her. Yet once within the parlour the wellspring of the sounds was quite forgotten for she soon regained sufficient composure to win three hands together at cards. She was indubitably delighted by her victory for the stakes of our wagers were elevated indeed, and she soon accrued a large collection of trinkets.
September 20th, The Year Of Our Lord 1803.
I and many of the gentlemen of better rank upon the HMS Forsaken, have dedicated an abundant number of hours to the study of the siren in an attempt to better understand this unfathomable creature. Thus far we have deduced the following; she will acquiesce to eat fish only when cooked in a refined dish and accompanied by an uncommon plurality of dainties and condiments. She seems to have a peculiar partiality for sweetbreads. This propensity for foodstuffs more usually enjoyed by a gouty earl, meant that the cook was scarcely at leisure to be anywhere but his pantry.
Though she had yet to acquaint herself with that most useful accomplishment, speech, she was a great reader and frequently enjoyed perusing the collection of three volume novels that accompanied me upon my sea journeys. We had also made the happy realisation that she was well versed in parlour games, and soon many a pleasant evening party was got up in this manner. She seems to enjoy company enormously and is a gracious, if mute, host. Despite our current inability to converse I have, over this past fortnight, grown to understand that we have a great deal in common. Indeed I would venture so far as to say that we as one upon every particular.
As I vociferated this notion to Mr Roberts while we dined upon a surprisingly lavish breakfast. His brow became greatly furrowed, and he replied. “But Sir, not only is she an etherial maiden of the sea, but she is also entirely sans speech, thus we cannot expect to know her true character.”
“Cannot expect to know her true character?” Repeated I in tones of ill concealed disbelief. ” Fie Sir, she is not so very different from to the young ladies of refined London society. And as to her want of elocution; what is that to me? For tis a truth universally acknowledged that conversing with a woman is not necessary to know her qualities. To be sure I know of above one and twenty couples who had scarce spoke two words together afore knowing themselves to be quite in love.” Said I with feeling.
But hither our conversing was interrupted by young Frank (Do not be alarmed, gentlemen of the admiralty, we have not parted thus far with convention to permit a powder monkey such as Frank to dine with the officers, he was merely in our presence to serve the wine).
“Mr Roberts, I know not what you were about last night Sir.” Said he in tones far too impudent to be considered polite. “You scared me to the deuce, I’ve no shame in tellin’ you. All that accursed and feculent dancin’ as though ye were possessed by the devil himself, and wailin’ in the manner of a damned stuffed pig!”
“Master Gibbons;” Roberts addressed the urchin. “Of what do you speak?”
“You Sir. Your deuced frolicin’ all over the wretched decks, not seven hours since!” Replied Frank.
“Gibbons, I know not of what you speak, I have never cavorted thus. Furthermore I was in my quarters last night, kept there by a peculiar malaise of the spirits. I can assure I did not quit my room. You talk nought but blether and nonsense boy.” Roberts was all indignant rebuttals.
“Son of a churl!” Frank cursed beneath his breath afore countering his superior thus; “Aye Sir. You mean to call me out as a damned fool liar, I know what I saw, and I saw ye, sure as I see ye now. Caperin’ and friskin about like a lady who cares not if her reputation be damned to the devil. And as to your singin’, if singin’ it be called for it was like no sea chanty I’ve ever heard, I’ll grant you it be damned out of character, so I put it down to the deuced grip of inebriation. Does peculiar things to a mans soul, does the intoxicating liquor. So I’ve took the liberty of watering down your wine, Sir.” And the diminutive and insolent Frank concluded his speech by producing a decanter of weak wine as proudly as though he presented a young duchess with an elegant and expensive token of ardent adoration.
The hue of Roberts’ visage altered until it was of a red quite equal to the wine, and it was in tones that spake plainly of vexed slight that he said; “Master Gibbons your are quite the young wretch, now pray attend to this …”
Though quite what Frank ought attend to we did not discover for at that very moment a cry rang down from the crow’s nest.
“Ship! Ship Hoy! Bearin’ the French colours! Ship hoy!”
The captain, pausing only long enough to finish both his glass of port and the three subsequent breakfast courses, rose to his feet and spake with admirable authority for such an early hour; “Gentlemen, to your your posts. All hands on deck. Make ready the weapons!”
To be continued …