A Tall Ship Tale: #19: Demon Rum’s Smarter Brother

Paul de Anguera’s shaggy tale continues.

The goddess Cybele abruptly disappeared, leaving the four men staring at the empty beach. The First Mate took a drink, thought a minute, and turned to the dusky newcomer. “You know, a big fellow like you could look really handsome in an outfit like this!” He gestured at himself and Almo, for the Legume’s Purser had just issued them new uniforms. His listener’s eyelids dropped disdainfully; clearly, he was not impressed. But the First Mate was not giving up yet. “I wish you’d join our crew!” he burst out.

Surprisingly, this time the man nodded solemnly. He would have liked to point out certain advantages to which the First Mate’s possession of the bottle entitled him, but he was constrained by his previous master’s wish regarding conversation. “Good!” said the First Mate, pulling out the ship’s roster. “So tell me, who are you?”

“A daemon,” he replied in a deep voice.

The First Mate wrote: A. DAYMAN. “And what do you do?” He asked.

“I am a djinn,” the daemon replied.

The First Mate crossed out what he had written, and substituted: JIM A. DAYMAN.

“How old are you?”

“About 3,000 years.” The First Mate glanced up in annoyance; Jim Dayman added “I sleep a lot.”

“Yes, of course. Well! We’re due back at the ship,” the First Mate said, putting the roster away. He glanced around for the rest of his party. Kernel Sanders was nearby, but Almo Sather was out of sight. “Where’s Almo?” he asked.

“He went behind that tree. I’ll get him,” Sanders volunteered. He did not return.

After a minute, the First Mate said “Jim, would you go see what’s taking them so long?” Jim nodded and stepped behind the tree. After another minute, the First Mate snorted with impatience and started for the tree himself.

Some time later, in the great stern cabin of the H.M.S. Legume, Quid wrote in the Captain’s log:

“STARBOARD DATE 1313.5: Wind from the northwest, heavy swell. Kernel Sanders missing. First Mate and Seaman Almo Sather…”

He paused to check a list which the Purser had submitted, then reluctantly completed the entry:

“…AWOL in ship’s clothing.”

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