Tarzan's Tripes Forever, and Other Feghoots

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A Tall Ship Tale #53: Shiva Me Timbers

Category: alt.callahans, Puns, Rated G

Paul DeAnguera’s tale continues.


The dreadful Jurassic night surrounding the H.M.S. Legume faded, to be replaced by a fertile plain. A placid river curved across it, and the filigreed towers of a walled city stood at the river’s bank. Billows of pale dust rose from a road near where the frigate was hovering as excited crowds streamed toward the town by cart and by foot. Clearly some momentous event was in the making.

“Planned that,” Captain Quid boasted as he and the rest of the string quartet emerged from the stern cabin.

“Where are we?” gasped Almo Sather in relief.

“Don’t know,” the Captain replied, “But you shouldn’t be doing that here.”

“We’re in ancient India,” Sir Hillary stated, for he had made an extensive study of the east. “And if I’m not mistaken, that city is either Firuzabad, or Jahanpanah, or Delhi, or possibly Sher Shahi.” The sailors dropped a rope ladder and climbed down to the ground. As they approached the road, they noticed a disturbance at a stall selling banners to the passers-by. A man whose robes bespoke some importance and a soldier in a turban were arguing with the vendor.

“I paid you a thousand pieces of money for a banner to honor the prince!” the nobleman shouted. “And now I have decided what I want it to say! ‘All of the people of the city welcome Gotama the enlightened one, whose fabulous aura proclaims to the world that he has seized mighty truths from Mara himself under the Bo tree at Bodhi Gaya!'”

“But, I can’t do it!” wailed the vendor to the soldier. “Look at this banner,” he demanded, holding up a pole with a little crosspiece at the top from which a narrow, elaborately fringed cloth dangled. “It cannot possibly say all that!”

“Perhaps we could agree on a compromise?” suggested the soldier, resting wearily on his spear. “How about ‘The city welcomes Gotama, whose enlightenment blazes forth!'”

The nobleman put a jeweled hand to his chin to consider this, but the vendor made a dismissive gesture. “Even that won’t fit!” he asserted.

At this point the First Mate broke into the argument. “Gentlemen! Any ad-man will tell you that the emotional impact of a statement is inversely proportional to the size and number of the words with which it is constructed!”

“You mean, shorter is better?” the nobleman asked.

“That is exactly my point,” the First Mate confirmed, “And for an author to compose his work within the constraints of a very restricted space is a most efficacious discipline and has much to recommend it!”

“So write it on a matchbook, eh?” the nobleman concluded. “All right, then.” He thought for a moment and proclaimed:

“Halo, Delhi!”

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