Monday, July 23, 2007


[N.B. Your humble author begs you forgive the slight delay in delivering this episode. She blames the difficulty of extricating herself from the company of some piratical types whose nautical expertise was necessary for the composition of this narrative.]

In the burst of noise that suddenly and cacophonously surrounded them, Alice wished with all her heart that she had not awakened from her dream. In it, she was surrounded by a bevy of admirers, chief of which was the elusive Kit Barrington, whose fine head of hair and gentle manner charmed her exceedingly. There was such a crowd that Arthur Boylett was quite lost at the back, jumping up occasionally to get a glimpse of her beauty but otherwise quite unable to approach.

This was just as Alice wished.

Although the parlour seemed to have become surprisingly drafty, Alice chose to ignore this fact. She also ignored the increasing din from what appeared to be Mr. Radley dropping large rocks into a very large bucket and Mrs. Perkins pummeling the walls with a very large and somewhat sinister rattan carpet beater. Desperately she clung to the dream even as Lizzie in both dream and reality began to shake her shoulder gently, yet insistently.

How horrible to awake to the chaos of the pirate attack! How infinitely worse to know that no such throng of admirers surrounded her at present. When she heard herself begging Lizzie to say it was all dream, that she might return to the phantasy of her slumber, Alice felt a small measure of shame as well as a much larger one of disappointment.

“What a burden I have been!” she thought and vowed once more to be a better person and to help her dear cousin to bear the trials to which they had been subjected. This was a solemn vow that might last minutes altogether.

With horror, the two young women stared out the newly-fashioned porthole to see the grappling hooks settle into any nook where they might find purchase. Several went high in the rigging and only a few were cut by the flashing swords of the crew. Within a short time, pirates of all sorts began to swing over to the deck of the Demeter.

Look! There three black-clad devils hopped onto the deck, spinning left and right to parry the blows of the sailors. Each carried a short dagger as well as his blade. One had a pistol tucked in his belt, another had a club hanging from his.

There! On the prow, another pair of marauders grappled with the Demeter’s stalwart crew. Blades flashed and alarming sprays of blood filled the air as the rugged pirates battered back Captain Bellamy’s sailors. The clink and clack of the weapons rang out through the air and the two cousins cowered in their cabin. What was to become of them?

As if to seal their fate like a barrel of Caribbean rum, they heard a shrill whistle and a hearty laugh. It was Black Ethel! She leaped across the short distance between the ships and landed on the deck, both swords drawn and a broad smile on her face. A gold tooth glittered in the lantern light as she roared with laughter. “Where are you, Captain Sam? We have a little matter to settle here on deck!”

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