A Swashbuckling, Romantic Adventure
by: Ted Anthony Roberts
I Approach the Buffoon, But Then Something Happens!
After about an hour of extreme basic lessons from the worn out sea captain, I felt assured of my new found talent. Yes, talent, as it would be assumed by the over-zealous thinking of youth! Even though the captain did tell me to immediately find his first mate to return the sword to him, I did intentionally keep it a little longer, hoping to settle my differences with that lace-filled buffoon before doing so. Upon this idea, of which I whole-heartedly entertained myself with – imagining with my every step toward him that I was running the insolent fellow through with the first mate’s sword, I did quicken my pace to try to find him. Tucking the sword into my belt, so as to appear non-threatening to the other passengers, I then proceeded into the dining hall of the ship, which was the last place I had seen them go into, and hoping that they would still be there.
Upon my entrance, the first sight that I was met with was a rather small, dimly lit room, with a few tables scattered about. At first, my scan of the area was fixed upon the few couples who were dancing to the two or three instruments that were humming out a tune that all the courtiers were familiar with in ....London..... But my man was not there, so my scan quickly moved to the tables, and, yes, there he was, with his insolent smile embedded upon his face! Oh, how I wanted to remove that sarcastic-looking grimace with my . . . I mean, with the first mate’s sword!
I took a step into the room, where I found myself making a quick stop! I did not notice that sitting across from him was the beautiful young lady, of whom I had but briefly met a little over an hour before, and who was gazing at the moon just as I. Ah, what a rare gem she was! But why was she sitting at the table with that insolent man? Honestly, why would she even want to associate with him at all? Seeing as he was probably her brother, I might be able to see, out of family necessity, of course, that she would sit with him. If he were my brother, however, I don’t know if I could stomach the man’s presence, even if the saying was true that blood is thicker than water! And if the worst case scenario could even be possible that he might be courting her (perish the thought!), then certainly her brains had departed her senses just as far as north is from south.
However, I mustn’t keep thinking of her beauty at a time like this, when my honor was at stake! For there was always a possibility that the girl, by that time, might bethought me a huge coward; that is, of course, if that rotten gentleman had told her anything - and that would just never do! So, at this conclusion, I continued my advancement toward my determined destination, gripping tightly the pommel of the first mate’s sword. Surely, the buffoon would regret the day that he ever spoke to me in such a manner as he did – should that not be so?
As I approached their table, I stood directly beside the two of them, having one hand upon the pommel of the sword, and my other fisted hand was resting upon my side. I opened my mouth, and I quickly prepared a fitting speech, ready to address it toward this loathsome sight, when suddenly a passenger came running into the dining hall, screaming at the top of his lungs: “A ship has been spotted off the star-board bow! This could mean trouble.”
At this, everyone in the entire dining hall rushed out, heading toward the star-board bow, hoping to catch a glimpse of the sighted ship. Yes, everyone left out, except me – I, who was still standing in that same ridiculous position that I had been standing in for the past five seconds: that was, with one fisted-hand still upon my hip, one hand still on the pommel of the sword, and my mouth was still wide open, ready to speak to that rotten gentleman who was no longer there. And not only he, but neither the beautiful girl, nor any other passenger who had been sitting or dancing in the dining hall . . . in fact, it was so dead quiet in there, that even the creaking of the ship’s boards could be considered loud at that time!
So I took my ridiculous-looking self slowly out of the dining hall to join the others at the star-board bow, who were all anxiously gazing at the other ship with gripping anticipation of what she could be. Of course, I was so upset, that I could care less at that moment what is going on with that other ship.
As I nonchalantly leaned upon the banister, and after I squeezed through the thick crowd to get there, I began to look at nothing in particular – not even at the other ship. I was letting my gaze float from passenger to passenger, while I was set in deep thought. But suddenly I saw, staring directly at me, that beautiful girl, who had a delightful smile embedded upon her face. I was so taken aback with that sweet gesture that I froze, not knowing how to respond. I was, however, able to break free from my spell, and I started to return her smile with one of my own. But just as quickly, though, as my frown turned upside down into that sparkling grin, it returned to its frowning state once more, for my view of that beautiful girl had been obscured suddenly from sight by the leaning forward form of her buffoon friend, which purposefully came in-between our gaze. And then all I could see, instead of the sweet good natured countenance, was a strong and hateful frown, which was directed right at me from my most hated adversary!
But before anything else could happen, I received a tap upon my shoulder. Jumping slightly, for the tap had given me a start, I quickly spun around to face a smiling first mate, who was laughing slightly because he had made me jump so.
“I need my sword back, please.” said he to me, still smiling.
“Oh, sure.” I replied, quickly handing it back to him. It was very obvious that I wasn’t going to need it anyway at that time to settle my fury with that terrible man.
It was now getting close to either nine or ten in the evening, and it was really dark upon the ocean, and only the form of the other ship could barely be seen in the distance, being lightly clothed upon by the moonlight; these things I started to observe, deciding to go ahead and avert my attention to the newest happenings - seeing that I could do nothing about the other anyway. These events about this other ship approaching actually lasted the rest of the night, and through to the early morning hours. Surely, she must be rather large, like a Galleon, for it seemed to approach us with a very slow speed.
As it neared about three in the morning, the watchman up in the crow’s nest, which was nestled just above two massive sheets of canvas (a part of our sails), kept hollering that the other ship’s flag still could not be seen in the darkness through his looking-glass telescope, even though the other ship was in greater visible sight than it had been previously, and was getting closer to our vessel. Throughout these slow hours I could hear some of the ladies crying, saying that they were going to be killed by Pirates, and the men were busy in their duties of comforting, assuring them that such would not be the case. Now, this whole scene continued through the entire morning hours, as more passengers awoke, joining the late-niters upon the main deck, and who all hovered near the edge, trying their best to make out the ever approaching ship – for it, indeed, was coming closer and closer by every approaching hour. As all that was going on, while trying to work through the ruckus that all this was causing on board, the old sea captain was trying his best to give orders to his crewmen, just in case of an emergency.
As six in the morning had approached, the nightly darkness was beginning to fade, and the sun was starting to make his appearance on the opposite side of the ocean. Leaning forward even more, the crewman up in the crow’s nest began to shout heartedly, “She’s waving an English flag!”
At this announcement, all on board shouted a cry of relief; a cry which, no doubt, could have been heard by the occupants of the approaching ship. However, I was not in voice with the others; not because I was still mad, mind you – no! – for that had all but ceased within me by that time, but it was instead upon a suspicion, for I had wondered if it may be no more than a trick from the other ship, as Pirates sometimes were noted to do: that is, to hide their true colors until there could be no escape from any victims that they may run upon. But I believe that the only other person on board who slightly shared my feelings concerning this matter was the old sea captain, whom I could hear in the distance saying things like: “It doesn’t matter, you stay your post!” and: “Tend your duty, you are a member of this crew, so stay your ground!”
As the other ship approached within canon range, most of our crew was thinking that the Englishmen on board the mysterious ship wanted to board us for some political reason, but some of our passengers noted that they merely wanted to greet us, which I thought would be a rather silly reason. My thoughts were quite the contrary to these, hearing of all types of sea battles in the past, I still felt that there was something wrong here.
The mood on our ship had drastically changed since the other ship was first sighted earlier that morning. No longer were some of the women crying, and neither were there gloomy looks upon some of the men’s faces. Instead, people were actually laughing, and having conversations concerning if they may actually know some of the passengers on the other ship. I myself kept looking up at the crewman perched high up in the crow’s nest, for his gaze seemed unmovable since he first spotted the ship earlier in the morning. I figured that by this time, since we came into canon range (as I just mentioned) that he would be describing the activity that was happening on board the mysterious vessel. After all, there was enough light by then for him to be able to see something going on there. But nay a word was being said by him, and the looking glass seemed to be permanently stuck to his eye. Surely, something was wrong, for he should have spoken of something by now.
“Ho!” he finally yelled. “I am beginning to see some activity on board the other ship.”
At his words, all on board our ship had stopped their talking and walking about to hear the news. Even the old sea captain stopped his activities with the crew members to listen in.
“What’s this I see?” he continued, high above, and in a slightly agitated voice. All of us strained our ears to hear.
Quickly pulling the glass away from his eye, his gaze then turned to find the captain. “They are taking down their flag!” he yelled to him.
All on board, including myself, ran back to the edge of the ship once again to have a look. Sure enough, the glorious English colors were quickly taken down, as could be seen in the not too far off distance, and we all held our breath!
Suddenly, there arose cries and shrieks from our ship, as the unmistakable image of the black flag of skull and cross-bones defiantly replaced the more gentle sight of a much friendlier flag. And as an almost eerie mechanical response to our cries and wailings that had filled the morning air around us, a war-like roar rose from the other ship, as the crewmen of the Pirate vessel were now visible, and were raising their weapons up, so that we could see them, and fear!