Tarzan's Tripes Forever, and Other Feghoots

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A Tall Ship Tale #27: The Hex Files

Category: alt.callahans, Puns, Rated G

The wonderful series of improbable tales of H.M.S. Legume by Paul de Anguera continues.


“Tea – Earl Gray,” the Frenchman commanded a small panel set into the wall. Presently it slid open, and a teapot was handed to him from the kitchen on the other side. Napoleon Bon-Aperitif refreshed the First Mate’s cup, then his own. He returned the pot, then thrust his hand into the front of his jacket as was his habit. “So, your most welcome visit was inspired by a painting?” he repeated curiously.

“It was so uncanny,” the First Mate reminisced, “To see your portrait on display there in the middle of the town of Elvas!”

“The fish-loving people of Elvas are among my cannery’s best customers,” he noted. “But, in consideration of my business, I beg you not to use that word!”

“Spooky, then,” the officer amended. “But I believe things like that don’t happen by chance, and that’s why I came back to Cannes to visit you!”

Napoleon gazed at him intently. “No, I dare say, not by chance! An American frigate was here yesterday, also in pursuit of the, ah, occult. The U.S.S. Groundpea, Captain Blight, as I recall. He’s gotten it into his head that the Egyptian pyramids were built by aliens — or perhaps by gods, which from our point of view would be much the same thing! He aims to be the first to find proof of this theory and set it before all mankind.”

“Why, those ungrateful renegades! The nation which did that would become leaders of the world!” the First Mate cried. “We must get there before the Americans!” And this is how the H.M.S. Legume and the U.S.S. Groundpea came to race each other down the length of the Mediterranean for an otherworldly prize.

It was a hard-fought race, for the former British colonies built the largest, fastest frigates in the world, and the Groundpea had a head start. Owen Anatu led a gun crew along the windward side, running out cannons so their weight would counterbalance the force of the wind. Emma Talligeist organized the topmen to spray the sails continuously from the deck pump so no wind could leak through their fabric. Almo Sather and some like-minded seamen tied a strong rope to the stern rail and heaved on it again and again, reasoning that if the ship’s stern could just be brought forward a bit, why then so should the rest of it. Soon their efforts were rewarded by the sight of the Groundpea’s sails on the horizon. But, just as they were catching up to the Americans, an immense round shadow drifted across the ship.

“What is it?” the sailors wondered, shading their eyes and peering upward. A huge circular object — perhaps a craft of the pyramid builders themselves? — was intercepting their course and descending rapidly. Emblazoned on its glistening carapace were the words

OMAHA STATE FAIR

“A balloonist — how remarkable!” the Boatswain said airily. Beneath the balloon dangled a basket whose occupant seemed to be in some distress. It blundered into the mizzen-mast and spilled its passenger onto the quarter-deck.

Emma helped the older, elegantly-dressed man to sit up; curious crewmen gathered around. He sagged with fatigue and kept slipping into delirium. “… The great and terrible … bring me her broomstick! … Doctor of Thinkology … and for you, my tin friend, a testimonial! …” he muttered.

The First Mate glanced impatiently from the idle sailors to the Groundpea and back. The Americans were drawing ahead again. Finally he burst out,

“Damn the torpid Oz — full speed ahead!”

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