A Tall Ship Tale #24: A Boy Named Siu

The continuation by the very creative Paul de Anguera, but you knew that.

Captain Quid purchased the Buddhist colony’s entire store of olives. As the First Mate entered the great stern cabin, he thought he recognized a crafty, acquisitive look on his superior officer’s face. “We can’t use all those olives,” he observed. “What are you going to do with them? Have you figured out some way to make money with them?”

The Captain grinned triumphantly and thumped the chart with a hairy forefinger. The First Mate peered at it:


As the men lowered bales of olives into the hold, Almo Sather kept glancing at the shore. He jumped guiltily when the Boatswain interrupted him. “Meet Siu Purgh Lu,” he said, introducing the elderly, alert-looking little Zen Master. “He’ll be joining us for the trip to Pisa. He’s from the Buddhist colony.”

“Oh!,” said Almo in disappointment. “I thought it was a nud — erm, a nuTRITIOUS cargo we’re loading! The olives, I mean,” he explained. Blushing, he caught his foot in a ringbolt and toppled into the main hatch with a squishing sound.

As the H.M.S. Legume rounded the “boot” of Italy, Siu Lu studied its docking equipment with interest. Because the frigate was capable of flying over land, Ian Vilcorus the blacksmith had supplemented the usual anchors with devices for making the ship fast to trees, cliffs and buildings. These included grapples for rough terrain and bits which could be drilled into vertical surfaces to create a secure moorage. Each of them ended in a round protrusion not unlike that of a trailer hitch; this matched a coupling which Ian had installed at the end of the anchor cable. The Zen Master wished to make himself useful, so he volunteered to clean and organize the equipment.

Now the ship was ascending the Arno River to Pisa. There was quite a lot of cargo to transfer, so Captain Quid ordered the steersman to pull the flying lever and sail into the center of the city. Shortly he selected a tall, cylindrical tower to dock against. As the final approach began, the blacksmith turned to his new assistant and said,

“Standard orb bit, Mr. Siu Lu.”

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