A Tall Ship Tale #52: Going For Baroque

After an extended pause, we return to Paul DeAnguera’s epic series of puns, A Tall Ship Tale. We’ll be adding the remaining episode of this series over the next few months.

The sea trial of Professor Peabody’s chronometer had certainly gone badly awry, the crew of the frigate H.M.S. Legume agreed as they crossed the Tethys Sea 150 million years ago. The eating was good in the Jurassic era, but the duty was hard; for the ship had been cleared for action ever since sighting the first plesiosaur, and the strain was starting to tell on everyone. “Almo Sather has peed in the forecastle again,” it whined.

“Oh, put a sock in it,” the First Mate growled, then looked intently at the passing shore. “Gunner, put a round in front of that tyrannosaurus. There’s a rip tide here and he’s got to learn not to wade out so far!”

These being strange waters, the Legume sought the shelter of a low headland and dropped anchor as the sun set. As an additional precaution, the First Mate pulled the flying lever, engaging the ship’s unique GAG levitation system. “There’s nothing like 20 feet of altitude to keep vermin out of the ship,” he remarked to Sir Hillary as he passed on his way to the stern cabin with his violin.. Once a week, the Legume’s musically-inclined officers met with Captain Quid to play quartets. Owen Anatu soon followed with his viola. Last of all came Emma Talligeist, the ship’s Transylvanian doctor, who hefted her cello without difficulty. Presently there emerged from the starboard gallery the lively opening notes of one of the Captain’s favorites, the Brandenburg Concerto Number 3. Professor Peabody, attracted by the music, joined the First Mate by the rail.

“Have you thought of a way to return us to our own time, Professor?” the First Mate asked hopefully.

“Not yet! But I’m working on a strategy,” Peabody answered. “A pun landed us here, so perhaps another equally powerful pun will let us escape. If I could only think of it!”

“How about ‘No time like the present?'”

“I’m afraid not, Lieutenant. It was my winding the chronometer in no time that got us into this mess!”

“Well, then, how about ‘There’s snow place like home?’ We could sail to the north pole and…”

“Humph. Around an unknown continent that’s thronging with monsters? Do you know whether the north pole has any snow these days — or even where it is? And after that we’d end up in a world that only resembles ours, in some parallel universe.”

“Then, there’s only one thing left to do,” the First Mate concluded reluctantly.

“What’s that?”


“Don’t be ridiculous,” Peabody said sadly. There’s no one here to help us!”

“I don’t mean someone here. They’re watching us on the bar screen in Callahan’s. The greatest punsters in the world are there. One of them is bound to think of a way!”

“You’re right. HELP US! HELP!” The two desperate voices made an odd counterpoint to the soaring violins and the dinosaurs’ mournful gronking in the deepening Jurassic night.

“This is almost too easy,” says one of the patrons. “At least one of the crew members is actually a spy. Is this not so?”

“Yes, but why is this relevant?” asks another patron.

“If he manages to communicate to his employer whatever secrets he has learned…. How many people are on HMS Legume at this moment?”

“Which moment? the other patron asks smugly. “This moment in Callahans, or that moment on HMS Legume?”

“Don’t be smart,” snaps the first patron. “How many people are on HMS Legume?”
The assembled patrons look through the X-window and begin to count, “One… two… three… four… five… six… seven… eight! There are eight people on HMS Legume.”

“You have forgotten something,” says the first patron.

The other patrons are silent for a moment, and then Bill says, “There are only eight people above the waterline, but we’ve forgotten about the sea snail… what was its name?… you know… AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAZE OF 8-D PUNS! Do you all remember? I say that any sentient being who can contemplate a pun is a person. And the snail is hanging ‘on’ Legume’s bottom. So there are -nine- people on the ship.”

The patrons groan in unison: “TIME-TRAVELLING SPY TELLS ALL!


The tinkling piano music, which usually covers Callahan’s like wallpaper, pauses. The piano stool squeaks as Fast Eddy revolves to face the television behind the bar. He nods appreciatively to Bill and says “Didja hear what’s playin’ in the captain’s cabin while dose two clowns fish for red herring upstairs? It’s a safe bet dat ship is goin’…

“…Bach to the future!”

He essays a riff from A Musical Offering, adding “And I could play dat stuff too, if you was high class.”

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