Tarzan's Tripes Forever, and Other Feghoots

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A Tall Ship Tale #51: Roast Beast

Category: alt.callahans, Puns, Rated G

By Paul de Anguera


“Before we begin this demonstration, I would like to thank Doctor Talligeist for suggesting a most promising modification to the chronometer,” Professor Cornelius Peabody told the bemused officers. The First Mate glanced at Emma, then looked curiously at the large clock which occupied the professor’s workshop in a corner of the hold. It made peculiar noises, and he was glad it was not on his bedside table.

“You’ll recall that the precise timekeeping which is a necessity for navigation, and which is the product of this machine, was interrupted by the act of winding it,” Peabody continued. “The spring could not power the clock during the time it was being wound. I say ‘was’ because that is no longer the case! Observe carefully.” He produced an ornate brass key from his waistcoat and raised it dramatically. The First Mate watched him fit it into a socket in the chronometer’s case, then immediately withdraw it and put it away again. The clock’s annoying clacking and whirring noises continued unabated, and its three hands continued to crawl across their respective dials. The audience regarded the clock in puzzled silence for a moment.

“I thought you were going to wind the thing?” the First Mate demanded.

“And so I did!” Professor Peabody responded. “But, to avoid interrupting its working, I have arranged to wind it in no time!” He smiled proudly and drew a breath to elaborate; only to be interrupted by a commotion topside. The First Mate ran to the quarter-deck to discover that the coast of Syria had mysteriously vanished from sight. The H.M.S. Legume was proceeding down a wide seaway which had somehow taken its place. Suddenly a huge head emerged from the water on a snakelike neck. Reptilian eyes surveyed the frigate’s deck avidly, but any thoughts of dining upon its occupants were interrupted by a bang from the crow’s nest swivel-gun. With an offended, deep-throated honk the creature disappeared into the waves. The First Mate jumped at a sudden grip on his shoulder, and turned to see the snoutlike face of Professor Peabody at his side.

“That was a plesiosaur, of the Jurassic era” he said, “And I must point out that either he or we are in the wrong time!”

The First Mate extended his telescope and scanned the shore. “We are, I’m afraid! Syria is not a wasteland of swamps and giant ferns, and there are entirely too many dinosaurs about. I wonder how we got here?”

“No time to waste,” Peabody speculated. The ship approached the strange shore and turned into the wind. Sir Hillary Throckmorton-Shillingsworth III appeared on the main- deck, formed a shore party and launched the longboat. All the telescopes on the ship anxiously watched its progress. The men beached the boat and some disappeared into the jungle. There was a distant crackle of musket fire; then they emerged running. They heaved something into the boat and hurriedly returned to the ship.

“This is definitely not Syria,” he reported. “But at least we’ll have something different for dinner!”

It was with great anticipation that the ship’s officers gathered around the table in the great stern cabin that evening. Presently, the cook and his helper carried in an enormous platter on which a porcine monster lay in a bed of parsley with a roasted pumpkin in its mouth. Professor Peabody carved it with interest.

“Tell me, Professor; what is it we are eating?” asked Captain Quid.

“It seems to be a kind of artiodactyl, or seven-toed mammal,” Peabody responded, “A precursor of the wild boar or pig. Which is remarkable, because they’ve always been considered a product of the Eocene period — yet, here we have it!”

The First Mate chewed a piece thoughtfully, then asked:

“Jurassic pork?”

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