« May 2007 | Main | July 2007 »

June 15

Go West, Young Man (?!)

The good news: our ship's captain is in fact a extraordinary sailor. We made the equator in fewer days than I have ever known a ship to take.

The bad news: we are sailing West.

After much consideration, I brought my worries to Captain Araoz yesterday, just before we stopped to revictual, as I had begun to notice that the we started our day with the sun behind us, and slightly to port, and finished bearing nearly straight into it. He said little more than "confia en me," and then proudly produced a book:


Pulling a carefully folded leaf whence it had been tucked into the book's middle, he flourished the following map at me:
indicating through gestures and what little of his native tongue my Latin allowed me that, thankfully, he was going to continue with the overall mission as planned, despite his backers having missed the tide, but also that he considered the Straits of Magellan to be a short cut.

Factually he is correct, but jumping off the Dover cliffs is also, factually, a far quicker way to the water's edge than walking the path; rarely does either short cut leave one in few enough pieces to enjoy the time saved.

June 14


Current Mood: Anxious
Listening to: ‘Rise up! Rise up! The Pope!’ by S. Fagan

I neglected to mention in my previous post that we have yet to hear from Patrick. Following our release, Jack and I were welcomed home with a letter dated to the day of our incarceration that was filled with such a degree of invective that Jack blushed and threw it to the ground. I have no great grasp of ships and their workings but I hope to receive a letter shortly that summarizes the expedition thus far.

At a loss

The Absence of Patrick has made the fellowship between Jack and I….trying…to say the least. Like proper gentlemen, we still get on after a few (say six to seven) drinks but I was surprised to find that Patrick was a salve on a relationship that at the best of times can be described as fractious. A few examples of how Patrick kept the peace between his more volatile friends. A. Jack and I once hired a woman with no arms to work at the Crimson Unicorn. We let Patrick know that we had purchased him a “special treat” and sent him on his way. To his credit, he said the experience was quite interesting from a “scientific perspective.” B. He also remained in good spirits after Jack and I broke into his specimen room and filled his bathwater with the leeches he had so tenderly raised. C. Best of all is the time that all three of us took a daytrip to the local menagerie to see the exotic creatures brought from overseas. Now Apes seem to have a natural aversion to Patrick, much like the relationship between dogs and cats. Jack and undid the lock to the cage of one of the larger brutes, and then invited Patrick to take a closer look and perhaps explain what was remarkable about the beast. Truly, for the next few moments, when the beast had Patrick clasped between its paws, brought Jack and I pleasure that I fear we will be bereft of for the totality of the summer.

June 13

The King of London's Vermin

I made two very solemn promises to myself a little over a year ago.

1) I would never set foot upon a boat again.
2) I would avoid the gaol.

Unfortunately, I was only able to hold to one of these promises.

As with most events that lay beyond my power of influence, the blame lies solely with Jack. Resolute in his attempt to break the first of my vows, Jack took me to the Griffin shortly before our departure. Despite deep protestations that it would not do to appear drunk and dissolute the next morning, Jack proceeded in pouring a liberal amount of ale down his gullet and proceeded to make two statements.

1) That the sailors aboard our ship could use a bit of that “papish organization” by which I understood him to be calling the Holy Father a stern and cruel taskmaster.
2) That we might set ourselves up as Kings of India, as the savages had not ever seen an individual of Jack’s brilliance and breeding.

The problem with these two statements is that Jack mentioned the “Pope” and quickly followed by breathing the word “King.” Some fellows next to us immediately made the drunken connection of one word to the other and by the next morning I found myself sleeping amongst the largest and most resolute of London’s rats. 

June 10


You will gather from the title of this post that I have not left for the Indies as promised – though, lest you think that this is but a small deviation from a grander plan, I should observe that our ship has left without us. But you will want to know how we ended up in our pitiable situation, and – racked with concern for our well-being as you must be – how we are faring at the present moment. The answer to the latter question is "not very well at all, thank you very much", and the answer to the former is rather more complicated. To wit:

On the 28th of May, the day before our intended departure, Patrick retired to bed and Sean and I headed for the Griffin, ostensibly to celebrate our last day in England – though it was my intention to ply the Irishman with so much liquor that he would finally give over his superstitious reluctance to set foot aboard a ship (a fear which he failed to inform us of until two days before we were set to leave). Some hours, several pints, and two public houses later, we found ourselves in an area of London that I have not often frequented, at a place called The George and Dragon. Our conversation had turned to Papists, and the relevant part of it proceeded as follows:

Sean: [slurring badly and humming to himself] The pope, the pope, the pope the pope, the pope.
Me: [patiently, but with genuine concern] Sean, my friend, please come to your senses – or at the very least sing about something less incendiary.
Sean: [grinning as if he were the greatest wit in the world] The pope, the pope's our only hope!

At this point, I became very anxious, and I could sense other patrons of the inn pricking up their ears and turning their wary eyes in our direction, but in my attempt to head Sean off at the pass, I made a blunder that significantly worsened our situation:

Me: [in a strained whisper] It is high time we left. [And louder] Come on. Up, Sean. Rise up.
Sean: [mimicking me at the top of his voice] Rise up, rise up! The pope! The pope! The pope!

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, I knew we were in trouble. All eyes turned to us, and there was a general clamour and confusion, through which I could hear someone shouting "Papist conspirators! Arrest them!" and the next thing I knew, we were being bundled into a cart headed for a prison cell.

I am not yet ready to speak of the horrors that I endured over the next seven days, which were rendered almost unbearable by Sean's insistence on singing Irish drinking songs to "keep our spirits up," but, relieved as I am to have been released with a fine for public drunkenness, the damage that has been done is irrevocable. With Sean and I stranded in England, our entire venture in the Indies now rests on Patrick's resourcefulness and creativity – which is like saying that I have entrusted my entire estate to the cat and am hoping for the best.

June 3

Missed the Boat!!!

We have left without Sean and Jack.

The tide was running, we had to weigh anchor, and they were no where to be found. I may have made a mortal enemy in the first mate as I pleaded with him to delay a few more minutes as I sent scouts to every pub, brothel, theater and bawdy house either has ever been known to frequent. Nothing.

We have stopped to take on outbound cargo in Portugal, and I have sent word with an inbound merchantman to see if they can journey over land some how to rejoin us, perhaps on the far side of the Cape. But I have little hope of seeing them before our return.

Bloody fools.