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What the Gunner Said

An Interactive and Bihemispheric Tale of the Sea

(* signifies a new contribution)


*Gunner, Mr Day

*, walked aft

*and before Pullings' horrified gaze

*crossed to the holy windward side of the quarterdeck where Captain Aubrey stood

*, calculating a few quick haversines

*that would allow him to gage

*whether the dear Surprise, under reefed fore and main topsails, was indeed about to open Cook's vast, great Moreton Bay

* on Baffin Island. Mr Day was an old Surprise, but this was coming it pretty high, pretty high indeed. Jack cast a distracted eye on the

gunner's grizzled

*, surely uncommonly grizzled, almost frosted, nose hairs and made an effort to concentrate on what the poor man was, through chattering teeth, attempting to tell him of his days in the Greenland whale fishery while reflecting thankfully that he himself was wearing Stephen's rational knitted garment as a protection against the penetrating subtropical cold.

* "Yes, Mr Day?" said Jack, brushing sloth slough off his brown sleeve.

"Why, sir," cried Day, evidently shaking from more than just cold,

"It's them

*...", but Jack was never to know what the Gunner was to say for the Petty Officer froze where he stood, all the while pointing mutely to

where the sun was crawling, crawling 10 degrees above the far Southern horizon.

"Red hell and death!" cried Jack. "Babbington, light me along those charts you've been keeping... Babbington? BABBINGTON! God damn him for a fornicating sloth! Begging your pardon" , this to the paresseux who stirred almost imperceptibly in the mizzen rigging to utter a despairing wail.

* "Good day to you now, Jack" said Stephen, discretely removing his magnets from the binnacle where the covetous, curious sloth had secreted them. As Jack watched, the needle swung fully round, the charts for New Holland suddenly fit with their surroundings and a comfortable warm glow spread though his limbs. Babbington's Newfoundland lapped at the melting frost. A currawong sang.

"...vampires," sputtered the gunner, "playing with those f--ing magnets, sir. They oughtn't to be allowed on deck. Mrs Day never countenanced no wampires on deck."

If discerning readers can detect more than one hand at work in this appalling yarn and pathetic attempts to bring the next contributor up all standing we would not be a bit surprised (Oh, ha! ha!)

© 1998 The Horrible Old Leopards