Friday, August 15, 2008

Crippled and Wary

The sail, probably four leagues off, assumed a course more or less parallel to that of the limping Pharaon, wavering slightly first towards and then away from the crippled sloop. The hull and lower masts of the lateen-sailed vessel remained below the horizon for over two hours, during which time it gained steadily on the Pharaon, drawing nearly abreast of it on their common northerly course.

Just before yielding the weather gauge, the trailing ship took a broad reach onto a starboard tack, halving the distance between the ships in an hour. Coming well into spyglass view, the approaching ship was revealed to be a chebec flying Scandalusian colours and showing 6 guns on its bearing gundeck.

Captain Correteaux, taking the air with the Cardinal on the quarterdeck when the ship came fully into view, lowered his spyglass with a relaxing grip. "Hein, a fellow storm petrel who seems to have had a better of the storm? Coming to render aid? Nonetheless, we must not seem completely helpless..." Reflecting a moment, he shouted out to the boatswain's mate, "Barsanio, clear the decks, and clew up the mainsail. Helm, bring us two points to port."

To the Cardinal, Correteaux volunteered his first unsolicited aside, "We cannot outrun anything in our current state, but we can at least keep our broadsides bearing to make sure our new amis remain, hmm, respectful."

Troublingly, the chebec soon tacked sharply to the east, tracking behind the Pharaon, and out from under the view of the Pharaon's port gunports. Cardinal Maximilian solicited the use of Correteaux's spyglass. Recalling the rather extensive correspondence with which he had engaged with nearly the entire Iberian episcopate during the preparations for the papal conclave, his Eminence paused a moment upon spotting the ensign trailing from the chebec.

"Captain, is it not the case, that the Scandalusian naval ensign, like the other royal standards, was altered by his Highness Joern Carlos XI? I believe the necklace of the Order of the Holy Sudarium was removed from the royal seal after l'Affaire de la Parure Noverrese? This ship seems to be flying the old ensign."

The captain pondered a moment. "Barsanio, beat the men to quarters!"


Capt Bill said...

I've noticed you have not posted anything on your own site in over a month. Have you considered carrying on this story line there?

ColCampbell50 said...

Could we be seeing some Barbary pirates entering our imagi-world of Uropa? Might make things interesting for the Mediterranean based states.


Gallia said...

Good story. Thank you.

A J Matthews said...

As a long-time admirer of Patrick O'Brien, I enjoy these stories too.

tradgardmastare said...

I'll echo the Patrick O'Brian comment , as a fan , too.
Keep up the good work...