Tarzan's Tripes Forever, and Other Feghoots

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A Tall Ship Tale #65: Look, Ma — No Hans

Category: alt.callahans, Puns, Rated G

Paul DeAnguera continues his epic.

Captain Quid wrinkled his sloped brow in puzzlment. “If the Brotherhood is out to destroy Taoism, how can we stop them? Do you know any Taoists we could ask?”

“It’s a fatalistic philosophy. A Taoist would probably advise you not to bother,” Professor Peabody pointed out.

“Then, we need advice from someone of a different persuasion!”

“There was a very wise Confucian whom we might ask for advice. Toward the end of the Han dynasty, Wang Mang was so acclaimed for his wisdom that, when political enemies forced him into retirement, hundreds of Confucian scholars petitioned for his return. In 8 AD they persuaded him to overthrow the Han government and declare himself the new emperor.”

“Then Wang is our man. Call the First Mate,” the Captain directed. “Tell him to get the anchor crew together and meet me in the hold.”

Deep in the wooden bowels of the H.M.S.Legume, they gathered uneasily around the looming, ponderously ticking chronomotor. Its filigreed brass second, minute and hour hands traversed their various dials. Below them, the pointer of the hastily-added year dial quivered at 1152 AD. The kalpa dial’s needle was rock-steady, as if it were merely painted on top of its billion-year markings, and Peabody fervently hoped it would always be so.

The Professor was the only one who was comfortable with this strange equipment. He slipped a yellow Pickett slide rule out of its holster, worked it back and forth a bit and studied the result. Then he applied a tape measure to the cable which extended from a capstan to a slot in the chronomotor’s base. “fifteen feet five inches should do it,” he told them, marking the cable with a piece of chalk. The sailors took their places around the capstan. Now “Ears” Sargon, the nipper, came forward. Although he never spoke his gestures were remarkably clear. Respectfully he opened the front of the chronomotor, revealing the cable passing within dwindling into a misty void which seemed too vast to be contained in the cabinet or even the ship. Ears bowed and gestured toward the opening in mock invitation.

The First Mate called for some slack, tossed a loop over a nearby bollard and released the capstan; it creaked with the strain of the millennia which separated the Legume from its time-anchor. “Brace yourselves!” he called; but too late. While the sailors stumbled at the capstan, current events lifted the ship; the cable snaked across the deck to catch Ears by one boot, and dragged him toward the chronomotor’s awful maw! Just as he was about to become history, he yanked his foot part-way out of the boot. At that moment the cable went taut against the bollard, smashing the entrapped boot, and stopped.

Ears, of course, said not a word, but he wiped his brow most emphatically. The First Mate did so too, adding:

“A hitch in time saves mime!”

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