The Honorable Delbert Featherstonehaugh, third lieutenant of HMS Imperturbable poured over the ship’s roster of officers and men. His eyes darted from name to name in an effort to devise the ultimate cricket side for the upcoming game.
"What in God’s name was I thinking when I volunteered to captain the ship’s cricket team?" Delbert asked his friend, LT Jack Aubrey, the ship’s fourth lieutenant.
"I believe, Del," replied Jack, "that you didn’t."
"I didn’t? Well then, my mistake," said Delbert, flinging down the list.
Jack replied, "What I meant was you were appointed as the ship’s cricket captain."
Delbert stopped and hung his head, then slowly turned back to the table. "Alright," he replied. "Let’s be at it then."
Deep in the middle watch he reviewed the list for one last time. "…and to round out the side we have AB John Whitsoever; Seaman Dick Codpiece; little Tace Underspoon, Boy 3d Class; Foretopman Henry Evans; and Volunteer Ricky Kahn. I think that will take care of the team, with couple to spare."
The next day found Delbert up and about with the idlers, calling out for his team. Jack helped him round up the last of them, before they all headed for shore in the blue cutter.
When they reached the beach the team fell into line (a somewhat haphazard and non-linear sailorish type of line), and marched (actually wandered), up the slope to the cleared green where they would play their match. Delbert called to Jack, "I will take care of things here while you speak with the officials. By the time you return we will be ready."
Upon his return to the Imperturbable’s team, a downcast Jack informed his friend, "The port admiral is here with his family."
"His entire family? Even his two daughters?" asked Delbert, incredulously.
"I am afraid so," replied Jack. "What is worse, is that we have to assign someone to watch them."
"Blast and damn!" exclaimed Delbert with more volatility than normal.
"What’s wrong?" asked Jack.
"We already have a problem because Volunteer Kahn refuses to play because of some religious reasons."
After a moment of thought Delbert's eyes sparkled, and he said, "I have an idea. Here is what we will do." And he made the applicable changes to the team roster and showed it to Jack.
Jack reviewed the changes and said, "I agree, Hank Evans for little girls, but why is Tace the lad in for Kahn, Del?"
© 2005 Dave Runyon