Tarzan's Tripes Forever, and Other Feghoots

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A Tall Ship Tale #18: Cybele Disobedience

Category: alt.callahans, Puns, Rated G

This continues the shaggy tale by Paul de Anguera.


The H.M.S. Legume trolled the Sea of Crete fruitlessly. Not only was the crew risking scurvy, but they couldn’t catch anything — or anybody, for the goddess Cybele’s bottle lure had been meant to attract a mysterious sunken person. As they approached Crete, Emma hailed the deck from the crow’s nest. “Look, somebody! Knosos!”

“Somebody knows us?” The First Mate said, startled. “Then it would be rude not to stop and pay a visit!” So the Legume dropped anchor and a party rowed ashore. The First Mate took the lead; Almo Sather and the Unix Kernel, Sanders, filled out the team.

Almo was despondent, thinking of the perfectly good bottle he had seen going overboard during the trolling operation. He tramped along the sandy beach behind the rest of the party, looking idly for pretty stones. Something in the breakers sparkled; it was a green bottle. Almo waded out to get it, pulled out the cork with practiced ease, wiped the neck on his shirt to show that he was after all a civilized fellow, and lifted the bottle to his lips. He waited for a bit, but nothing came out. He was just wondering whether it would be worth waiting for a byte when a large black hand dropped gently on his shoulder.

“Although I hesitate to interrupt such evidently urgent business, I really cannot forbear any longer from asking: would you please, very kindly, take my house out of your mouth?” rumbled a deep and courteous voice. Almo glanced up to see a tall black man looking solicitously down at him. He wore bulging pantaloons, and his broad shoulders strained against his richly-embroidered vest. A wiry beard, gold earrings and jeweled turban completed his outfit. Almo clutched the bottle protectively.

“Salvage rights!” he exclaimed. “If you wanted your house wine you should have finished it when you had the chance!”

“I was referring to my abode; for I am the slave of the bottle and must grant…”

“Yes, I’ve had days like that too!” Almo sympathized.

“To be sure, Master” the black man said consolingly. “But while you possess this bottle, I must grant…”

“I wish you wouldn’t call me ‘master!'” Almo objected. “I don’t deserve it! You see, I’m afraid of heights, and so I avoid going up the masts unless they order me to.”

“Granted — er, comrade! But if I might offer my humble advice, you should be more careful…”

“I wish you wouldn’t talk so much!” said Almo. He looked at the bottle sadly. “And I wish this bottle weren’t empty!” But then he discovered he’d made a mistake and it wasn’t. In a much happier mood, he strolled along the beach to rejoin Sanders and the First Mate, followed by his new companion. Since there seemed to be plenty of house wine after all, he offered them each a drink. The First Mate was just raising the bottle to take a swig when Cybele appeared on the sand before them.

“Just what I’ve been looking for! I’ll take that, thank you very much!” she snapped, reaching for the bottle.

“I wish you wouldn’t,” said the First Mate, holding it away. “I haven’t had my turn yet!”

Cybele stared, baffled, at her own hand as it returned to her side. She glared at the newcomer; he gestured apologetically.

“I see,” she observed. “Well, I shall be going, then! But I leave you with this curse: May you live to grow old. _Very_ old!”

Smiles crossed the faces of her listeners, followed by an irregular series of frowns as each worked out the consequences of the curse at his own speed. At length the First Mate responded, “Then, after that, I suppose we’ll all become pirates?”

Cybele looked startled. “How could you, a mere mortal, know that?” she inquired. The First Mate shrugged and explained,

“Age before booty!”

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