All posts tagged A Tall Ship Tale

A series of punishing stories by Paul DeAnguera. These were originally published on alt.callahans.

The Song of Quid

“And now if I may I’ll play a little banjo tune,” Paul says pluckily. He plays the “Beverly Hillbillies” theme song and sings:

Let me tell yawl a story about Captain Quid,
how he went to sea, and all the things he did.
Writing in his log as he was leaning on the rail
A train came along and when he saw it he fail

(Overboard, that is.)
(In the sink, and in the drink.)

He hadn’t finished writing up the day’s overview,
And so the crafty Quid had a backlog, too.
He tied his logs together with six foot notes
That he got by playing a tune on his float.

(Piccolo actually.)
(Cut them to size by playing sharp.)

Quid was wet and tired and about half beat.
He peered through his telescope for critters fit to eat.
He looked toward an island and said “Son of a gun!
I think I just …

… spied a robin, son!”

“Haw, haw, haw!”

**Smashes the banjo and jumps on it.**

(Well, it worked for The Who.)

To read in order, start from the last page.

A Tall Ship Tale #90: The Final Voyage

The epic conclusion of Paul DeAnguera’s punishing tale.

As the H.M.S. Legume plowed across the Atlantic rollers, Captain Quid worked feverishly at the chart pinned to his star board. He took a sighting with his sextant, and marked an X on his chart. With a grimace, he reached for a secondary sextant; same thing. But the wizened old sea captain did not give up so easily. He grabbed another sextant, and kept at it until he got a “Maximum of … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #89: Signs Of The Thames

Paul DeAnguera’s epic puns continue.

Tenderly, with every respect due to great warriors from greater, the crew of the H.M.S. Legume conveyed defeated punster Hugo Phirst and the other Americans back across the Chesapeake to the U.S.S. Groundpea. “Shock and bleeding at the ears,” Emma Talligeist advised the American ship’s doctor. “Also several concussions from smacking their own foreheads.” They made the invalids as comfortable as they could. Then Emma returned and the Legume aimed its bowsprit toward the Atlantic. … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #88: Seven Jeers in Tibet

From Paul DeAnguera.

The unexpected American counter-attack had devastated the British champion. Gasping and bleeding from the ears, the stupefied First Mate shook his head helplessly when urged to retake the stage. “Pull down your union jack, then,” Captain Blight ordered, “And form a line by the starboard rail, prisoners of war!”

“Wait!” called a voice, and a distinguished looking Chinese man in an embroidered red silk robe stepped onto the main hatch cover. It was Wang Mang, able seaman … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #87: Things Could Be Verse

The continuation of Paul DeAnguera’s epic.

For a while it looked as if the British champion had won the day. But at length Hugo Phirst staggered up from his circle of Yankee handlers. Waving away any further assistance, he walked unsteadily across the H.M.S. Legume’s main deck to the hatch cover and stepped up onto it to deliver the American reply to the First Mate’s attack:


There was a Beggar in the company
That Geoffrey never spoke of; nor … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #86: Now Hair This

More from Paul DeAnguera.

The combined crews of the H.M.S. Legume and the U.S.S. Groundpea thought their dueling champions had done each other about equal damage so far. But now the First Mate stepped up on the main hatch cover to unleash one of his deadliest rounds:


Once upon a time there lived a girl whose powers of speech were legendary. She could win any argument, any debate, and any election with a speech that was masterful and compelling, … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #85: Son of a Gun

Another story from Paul DeAnguera.

Having failed to change the course of the War of 1812, the H.M.S. Legume fled down the Potomac to Chesapeake Bay — only to find the way to the Atlantic blocked by her nemesis, the U.S.S. Groundpea. Through their brass telescopes, the officers on the quarter-deck studied the enemy frigate uneasily. She had changed somewhat since they had last seen the Groundpea in Giza, a large black tube now stood up from the main deck.… Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #84: Burning Down The House

Paul Anguera continues his tale.

With the year dial of its chronomotor restored to 1812, the flying frigate H.M.S. Legume now proceeded across-country to the enemy capital. Drifting northward from the tidal basin, the ship cast a monstrous shadow over the memorial to the treasonous signers of the Declaration of Independence, the Society of the D.A.R. Library and the Zero Milestone. They heard musketfire in the distance, and saw Redcoats slipping through the rush-hour traffic on E Street. “What’s that … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #83: Turning the Tables

Another entry from Paul DeAnguera.

“That business in Jamaica was a terrible trial,” the First Mate said to Captain Quid, luxuriating in his ability to use the letter “A” again. They were standing on the quarter-deck of the H.M.S. Legume by the starboard rail, watching the Mississippi shoreline drift past.

“Mentioning trials, we’ve got to arrange a trial for Sir Hillary before he escapes again.”

“Good idea. But where would we get a judge?”

“We can do better than a … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #82: The Full Montego

Paul DeAnguera nears the end of his epic.

The First Officer noted his chief posed morosely in the coolness under the jib on the H.M.S. Legume’s port bow. “You seem troubled, sir,” he offered.

“Do you know why we’ve come to the West Indies?” Quid suddenly inquired.

“For the birds,” he recited, “for whose subtle drug-like pheromones the Chinese would pup… pup… would give much gold!”

“But the risk?” he growled.

“Only the loss of one vowel, sir,” sighed the … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #81: Hooked on Phoenix

Another punishing episode from Paul DeAnguera.

One morning some 120 years ago, the little town of Phoenix climbed out of its collective beds, glanced out its windows and shouted for joy. “Rain at last!” For a huge shadow lay across the thirsty desert. But when they looked up and saw that it was just a flying square-rigger, the smiles changed to curses and many fists were shaken at the wooden ship in the sky.

So Acting Sheriff Jack Swilling was … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #80: Isthmus Be The Place

The eightieth episode from Paul DeAnguera.

As the H.M.S. Legume approached South America, Emma peered eastward from the crow’s nest. “How are you doing up there?” the First Mate called impatiently.

“Chile!” she called out, not attending to him.

“Do you want your astrakhan?” he asked.

“Camana!” she shouted, which might have led to a misunderstanding. But at this point there was a general outcry as land came into view from the frigate’s deck. Soon they dropped anchor outside of … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #79: A Rouened Woman

Paul DeAnguera’s story continues.

“Now, you might suppose that crossing the Pacific would be really boring,” the First Mate told Wang Mang as they descended from the maindeck. “But don’t worry! This ship was built for long crossings. Have you noticed how tall this stairway is?” Wang Mang nodded.

“The shipyard that laid the H.M.S. Legume’s keel had never built a frigate before, and they underestimated the time required. They built their way diligently upward, but at length they realized … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #78: Maiden Japan

Paul DeAnguera continues.

Upon reaching the island kingdom of Japan, the frigate H.M.S. Legume docked at Aji Marine for repairs and the crew went on liberty. “Now I want you men to be careful out there,” the First Mate warned. “This is a nice town but it has a wild side. The Red Lantern district is particularly notorious for trouble!” But despite his warnings the men were intrigued by the chance to meet some geishas, renowned for their skill at … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #77: Confucian to Our Enemies

Another entry from Paul DeAnguera.

The time-traveling sailors were dismayed to be so royally welcomed by Wang Mang, for this made their mission to repair history all the more disagreeable. Conversation petered out and they nursed their cold tea miserably. Finally the First Mate decided he had to come out with it.

“During our last visit I mentioned that we are visitors from the future,” he reminded the Emperor.

Wang Mang smiled and nodded. “So you did! But that was … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #76: Drawing A Blank

Paul DeAnguera continues the story.

Not long afterwards, Lao-tzu presented Captain Quid with his re-created “Book of Taoist Virtues.” Now the H.M.S. Legume was ready to repair the damage to history which Sir Hillary Throckmorton-Shillingsworth III had caused by burning the only copy of the book that was the foundation of Taoist philosophy.

“But how should we distribute it?” Peabody asked. The sailors scratched their heads as they pondered this question. But they got no ideas — only dandruff flakes … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #75: Grueling Punishment

We enter the back stretch of Paul DeAnguera’s punny epic.

The monastery’s gate-keeper ushered the H.M.S. Legume’s officers into the scriptorium. “Here we transcribe manuscripts for the courts of the Indian kingdoms,” he told them. They paused to watch an elderly monk. He was working by the light of an immense candle which had attached itself, barnacle-like, to his desk by its drippings. He bent over a curling sheet of vellum, painstakingly ornamenting a capital.

“What’s this book about?” the … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #74: It’s a Tzu Out There

Paul DeAnguera’s tale continues.

Captain Quid was chagrined to learn that the monks of the Brotherhood had gone back in time not to destroy but to protect the only copy of Lao-tzu’s Taoist Book of Virtue, and that Sir Hillary Throckmorton-Shillingsworth III of his own crew had burned it. He apologized effusively to the monks, restored the time-traveling pinnace to them and waved a sad farewell.

“We always knew that Sir Hillary was a secret agent, but we never asked … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #73: A Burning Issue

Yet another episode from Paul DeAnguera.

On the snowy quarter-deck, the steersman pulled the flying lever, activating the H.M.S. Legume’s special GAG levitation system. Shutters on the bottom of the hull rumbled apart to reveal a portrait of President Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior, James G. Watt. The water of the Yangtze River surged back, and soon the entire planet edged away from that dreadful apparition, leaving the ship behind it in the air.

“Hands to the braces! Set course … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #72: Oh You Echidna

Another punish episode from Paul DeAnguera.

Sir Hillary’s away-team was encountering difficulties in its search for Lao-tsu. The snow in the Tibetan canyons had become so deep that they sank up to their thighs with every third step. “There’s a corral full of animals ahead,” Owen Anatu called from his advance position in the fog.

“Just what we need!” Sir Hillary said. “Let’s see if we could ride any of them.”

First he tried to mount a lama. But it … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #71: Aye, Robe Bought

More from Paul DeAnguera.

High in a Tibetan mountain pass, snug inside her snowbound log cabin, Mrs. Jong was leafing through “The Book of Taoist Virtue,” which Lao-tzu had written for her as a parting gift.

“‘The more there are laws, the more there will be thieves,'”* she read by the flickering firelight. A sudden pounding on the door interrupted Ma Jong’s musing over this puzzle. As a warden, she was obliged to admit any travelers who needed shelter. Opening … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #70: Simon Says

Another punish episode from Paul DeAnguera.

Anxious to learn more about Brotherhood technology, Captain Quid, Professor Peabody and the First Mate were investigating the captured pinnace. The spy Cilantro had stolen it from the captain in Chapter 3. Then the Brotherhood, a secretive revolutionary cult whose members were all named Isaac, had modified it for use in their forays into time. What was their purpose? What damage had they done to history? The H.M.S. Legume’s officers were about to find … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #69: Yellow Snow

Another episode from Paul DeAnguera’s epic.

By means of its unique GAG levitation system, the H.M.S. Legume followed the Yangtze River upstream across the Tibetan border into the Daxuc Mountains. Here, steep canyons topped by snowbound crags were shrouded in fog. “Wait — I see something!” Emma cried from the crow’s nest.

“What is it?” the First Mate bellowed up from the maindeck.

“It’s yellow, flat and diamond-shaped, and about 10 feet up from the ground,” she called down. An … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #68: Chou Time

Another episode from Paul DeAnguera.

“China had a feudal system much like Europe’s, only about a thousand years earlier,” Peabody commented as he led the Legume’s officers through the Chou dynasty’s palace in Loyang in the sixth century BC. “That depressed-looking fellow by the tapestry controls the Aral Lake region; he’s the Duke of Aral.” They exchanged bows with the gentleman and passed under a carved archway into the next chamber.

“And this man has devised a universal addressing system … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #67: A Man For Awl Seasons

Paul DeAnguera continues.

Captain Quid paced the H.M.S. Legume’s gundeck, glancing at his watch; the drill was not going well. The embarrassed crew wrestled a massive gun-carriage away from its port, their feet slipping on the deck. Almo Sather rammed gunpowder and wadding into the cannon’s mouth, and Owen Anatu heaved a ball in after them. Then they shoved it back to the gunport again. By this time the deck was so slippery from spills and sweat that they were … Read the rest...

A Tall Ship Tale #66: I Ching For A Change

Paul continues.

A slight course correction effected the H.M.S. Legume’s materialization in the Yellow River near Changan early in the first century. The chronomotor’s year-dial quivered at 23 AD. “I hope this is right,” Professor Peabody grumbled, thumping it soundly with a hairy hand.

“What’s the problem? Any time during the Hsin dynasty will do,” the First Mate reassured him.

“That’s just the trouble,” Peabody explained. “Wang Mang’s Confucian-ocracy was not very successful. His Hsin dynasty lasted for only fourteen … Read the rest...