Astra Log Day 9 - On this day... (back in time?)

Jeremy & Sally Paul
Tue 4 Dec 2007 16:51

On this day…..


Tuesday, 4th December 1807


Captain Jock Awful rubbed his eyes and surveyed the oak-panelled interior of the master cabin of Her Majesty’s frigate Vexatious. The great grandfather clock that watched over him was softly striking two. He must have nodded, for it seemed for a moment that he had been transported from the quarter deck of his beloved 55-gunner, which even then was making all sail under Admiralty orders for the West Indies.


Instead of the sturdy lines of his faithful vessel, built of finest English oak by the master carpenters of Bucklers Hard, he had thought he saw about him a cabin of smooth material, white like marble!...In place of his blue Captain’s jacket, hung over the back of his favourite dining chair, he had noticed a costume of bright yellow hanging from a peg, with strange fastenings and a hood. And rather than his well-worn Admiralty chart, spread out over the navigating table, why, he had seen that same chart in a sort of glass, for all the world like a mirror on the cabin wall. Above him now, instead of the three dozen ratings who were even now scrambling up the rigging, a single enormous mast  with not a ratline in sight -  and wonder of wonders, a wheel steering a course on its own! 


Flying before the mast of this strange, sloop-like vessel was the most ill-shapen sail he had ever set eyes on. “God help me!” exclaimed Jock aloud in spite of himself, “Any sailmaker presenting me with such an abortion could expect a sound flogging! “


The Master of Her Majesty’s frigate Vexatious shook his head and looked about him once more. There, everything was as it had been before. On the table, amongst the remains of dinner, was the overturned decanter of the ship’s best Burgundy that, earlier that evening, he and his bosom friend Stephen Cablecutter, the ship’s surgeon, had drained to the dregs. Over there in the far corner of the cabin where he had flung it, was the biography of that rogue Cochrane, who seemed to have copied all his best ideas, like the one with the lantern in the barrel. The scoundrel! And – ah yes – faintly on his ears came the sound of that crazed lieutenant in the storeroom, still trying to get his B major arpeggios in tune on that cracked violin.


But his newly-regained peace of mind was shattered by a loud hammering at the cabin door. It was the Master of The Watch. “God save you Sir, crow’s nest has sighted one hundred and seventy-six sails on the horizon in hot pursuit!”


Patrick O’Blogg (maybe Paul h. is suffering from a bit too much sun while day dreaming back in time on the foredeck?)