Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sisters of the Sea Dolphenia

Copyright (c) 2016 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.

By R. Peterson

Pollyanna Nottingham squealed with delight as she slid gracefully down a rope from a wooden platform nested high on the aft mast. She handed a stolen metatarsal telescope, finely-crafted in Rotterdam, to Loretta. “We’ve got the bloody buggers now,” she giggled. “Their rudder is blasted to stove-wood and they’re at the mercy of the wind and waves.”
Loretta DuPont swept the expensive magnifier across the shimmering horizon and focused on the crippled merchant ship floundering in rolling seas. The smoking Handel listed to port as it twisted violently in circles, a shattered foremast tangling her bow. No white flag had been raised on the main mast. “We’ll have half the crew board her with a Jolly Boat and muskets,” Loretta ordered. “I dare not bring our magic lady alongside that churning wreckage or she’ll have us both in tatters.”
Fiorella and the stout sisters Penny and Renny were rolling a heavy chase gun across the pitched deck hoping to get another long-range shot. ‘I don’t see any bilge rats polishing the Fleut’s boards with their knees,” The peering woman said as she adjusted the barrel. “Perhaps they need another storm of falling timber to show we’re serious.”
“Send a wedding-ball across the gun walls as a greeting,” Loretta told her.
Loretta watched as her former chamber maid, now an almost three-hundred pound ship’s gunner, tampered powder and two four-pound cannon-balls connected by chain into the long barreled deck-gun.
Fire roared from the starboard cannon seconds before a hastily-rigged lateen sail on the Handel flew skyward and flames erupted below. A minute later, amidst scurrying activity on the helpless vessel, a white flag fluttered high on the Dutch ship’s main mast as the forty-four women pirates of the Sea Witch cheered.

            Twenty-two heavily armed women swept aboard the listing merchant ship from a Jacob's ladder hung over the leeboard side. The heavily bearded captain of the Handel stomped on his beaver-fur hat trimmed with silver lace when he saw the female pirates. "Vloek de winden als wij nog niet door een stelletje rokken genomen!" (Curse the winds if we haven’t been taken by a bunch of skirts!) he bellowed.
            “Vloek de winden … vloek de winden!” Polly mocked him as she climbed into the ship’s rigging with a brace of pistols aimed down at the men. “You were out-sailed and outgunned … Bless the wind! Don’t you mutts ever bath? This ship smells like a floating chamber pot!”
“Easy does it, lads. A new mast or two and you’ll be on your way. No real damage!” Loretta spoke to the captive crew. “A blade held in the hand of a woman cuts just as quickly as a man’s,” She assured the red-faced captain as she separated a bag filled with gold coins along with his trousers from his bulging waistline. Several of the humiliated crew members snickered at their captain’s distress even as they glared at the swarming women, obviously looking for a chance to turn the tables.
Alison Drescher stared at the portly captain’s now bare and very hairy legs, and at his scowling face. She walked down the double line of men who had surrendered, slicing each belt with a saber and laughing as their pants also fell to the deck. “What the hell is it you’re hauling aboard this rotting tub?” She pinched her nose as she walked toward the cargo hatch. “Ga niet naar beneden er!” the captain bellowed in obvious terror as Alison went below. Moments later, her delighted voice carried from below. “Here kitty kitty kitty.”
Suddenly gunfire and clouds of reeking stench rose from the open hull causing several women to retch and all to cover their faces.
            “Driehonderd caged-Mephitidae, bound for the Parfumfabrieken (perfume factories) of Paris,” the captain moaned in the language of his captors. “Their beschermende olie (exotic oils) have an uncommon value. Your cannons have agitated a few individuals and their ongenoegen (outrage) is apparent.”
            “The lastage (cargo area) is filled with pulents! (skunks)” a dripping Alison screamed as she vaulted up the stairs onto the deck.
            “The beasts are secured in cages, are they not?” Loretta choked, her eyes burning.
            “They were,” Alison bent over the side-rail gagging, “in one large cage. It was hard to see in the dark and dinge. I’m afraid I broke the door when I forced the lock.”
It looks like half the Royal Navy has been lured here by the smell,” Polly shouted pointing to the horizon as she slid down a halyard.
Three British war ships appeared on the horizon bearing down on the party just as a battalion of violent white-backed monsters streamed onto the upper deck with their tails raised.
“When you make your report, your ship was ravaged by that stinker Radge MacLagan the Aberdeen scourge of the seven seas and his cutthroat crew,” Loretta told the furious captain as she held her nose amidst the raging tumult, “otherwise you’re sure to lose your commission … along with your sense of smell.”
Loretta and Polly both dove over the side. The other women were already in the water swimming frantically toward the Sea Witch and towing the Jolly Boat loaded with discarded muskets and bags of tainted booty behind them.
            “I feel terrible about this,” Polly tried to wash her face as she paddled the water. The sound of screams and splashing water came from behind as the Dutch crew abandoned their ravaged ship. “That poor Dutch captain is finished on the seas and will have to learn a new profession.”
            “It’s just as well,” Loretta replied as she swam alongside. “I’m sure the British will burn his ship rather than tow it to port.”


The Sea Witch had hoisted all sails and was well on its way by the time they stopped to retrieve Loretta, Polly and the others. “You were aware of British ships approaching.” Loretta was pleased with her former handmaid’s actions.
            “How could we miss them,” Fiorella said helping to raise the jolly boat out of the water. The three Royal Navy ships Polly had spied earlier were now seven, and coming on briskly from two directions. “Not much loot for a freighter,” she commented when she lifted the bags of coins from the boat. “The hull must have been empty.”
            “Oh it was full enough,” Polly said with a grin.
            “But you would have turned your nose up at the treasure,” Loretta laughed.
The Sea Witch was under full sail with a good wind but the pursuing fleet was not stopping. Loretta was worried as she adjusted the telescope for a closer look. At the rate the British ships were gaining, the Sea Witch would be within cannon range in a matter of minutes. She caught a glimpse of a furious Jean Molyneux, her former intended, arguing with officers on the deck of the nearest enemy vessel while a crew readied deck guns and fired torches. Not only had she jilted the wealthy merchant but she had stolen his ship. “Throw everything over the side that doesn’t catch wind, cut flesh, or make a big bang,” she ordered her crew.
            “Surely not the treasure!” Alison moaned. “We’ve got half the taxes of Castile in our hull!”
            “A room full of gilded necklaces will not hide rope burns on your neck,” Loretta told her. “But leave the gold for last. Let’s try to keep our heads.”
Fiorella, Penny and Renny hoisted a large iron cooking stove from below deck and shoved it over the side along with a cannon whose barrel had exploded during an earlier skirmish. The ship rode higher in the water and they picked up speed.
They were sailing into the sun and there was at least five-hundred gallons of whale oil in the cargo hold. Polly drilled a hole in the top of each keg brought to the stern, secured them to each other with lengths of rope,  and Alison stuffed a burning rag into each hole just before they were set adrift in the wake. “Please let their hulls be as dry as desert bones and their lookouts as drunk as tavern worms,” Polly closed her eyes and prayed. “And a legion of angels with bows and lightning bolts wouldn’t hurt either!”
Loretta watched through the scope as the first burning keg collided with the prow of a swift moving British warship and shattered, but without spreading fire. The ship’s pilot veered hard to port to try to avoid the other barrels but the lines pulled them into the hull. Three barrels broke open, but still the flames did not take. An extraordinarily high wave lifted the last barrel high and broke it across the gun-walls spreading oil across the deck. Seconds later, black smoke billowed into the air. Loretta looked again through the scope to see a cursing Jean Molyneux stomping about the flames. It was enough to slow the pursuers, but not for long.


Delightful cries came from the ship’s prow. Polly had crawled to the far end of the bow sprit and was trying to touch the noses of a group of dolphins, racing along with the vessel and arching playfully high out of the water. “I believe if I threw them a hawser they would tow us,” the tiny nymphet giggled.
Unfriendly thunder sounded in the distance and a second later a cannon ball hurdled across the deck just missing the main mast, splintering a binnacle, and shattering the ship’s compass, much to the consternation of Margaret Waldheim, the ship’s navigator. An un-laden frigate, high out of the water and just skimming the surface waves was closing fast. “What I wouldn’t give for another twenty barrels of whale oil,” Fiorella moaned as she helped Penny, Renny and Maggie roll a deck gun to the stern.
Loretta glanced toward the prow. Polly had filled a bucket with sardines and was feeding the bow riding mammals now surrounding both sides of the ship. Loretta decided to let her have her moment of joy. The way things were looking, this voyage was apt to end badly. Fiorella had just tamped a twelve-pound ball into a powder charge sealed with wadding when another ball blasted deck planks and destroyed half the stern rigging. The aft-mast sails fluttered useless in the wind. A dazed Fiorella and a dozen women crew members strained to upright the heavy gun now laying on its side.
Loretta supervised the loading of muskets as Fiorella prepared once again to fire the cannon. “We won’t be taken easy,” the entire crew agreed.
The former lady in waiting used precious minutes adjusting the gun sights. “Let his Majesty’s Royal Navy get any closer … and they’ll ram the barrel!” a flustered Alison insisted.
Fiorella’s attention to detail paid off. The charge blasted into the port side of the frigate’s bow leaving a gaping hole that gulped water as it broke into each wave. The pursuing ship fell back much to the agonized cries of its crew but was soon replaced by two heavily-armed ships of the line now gaining on the crippled Sea Witch due to her reduced sailing capability.


“I don’t think they’ll blow us out of the water,” Loretta said, staring at the seventy-gun warships. “If it’s any consolation, Jean Molyneux obviously wants his ship back intact and looks forward to our public execution.”
“I think my angels want us to follow them!” Polly called from the bow sprit. Loretta, Alison and Maggie walked to the front of the ship, welcoming the distraction as a second gun was being readied on the aft deck. The small group of dolphins had now become a multitude. Hundreds of the mammals leaped from the water on all sides of the ship, turning ninety-degrees into the wind and then coming back when the Sea Witch failed to respond. “We can’t sail into the wind,” Loretta sighed. “Even with our aft sails intact we’d be lucky to make a third our speed.”
“Our new friends will help us!” Polly insisted. “Watch our speed increase when the angels return!” One of Maggie’s young navigation assistants tossed a log tied to a long rope into the sea and counted knots placed at regular intervals in the rope sliding through her fingers as she stared at a clock and the line played out from the stern. “We gain at least three knots per minute when the dolphins are with us … and lose them when they veer off.”
Another blast came from directly behind and a flaming ball passed close enough to scorch the hairs on Loretta’s neck. “What have we got to lose?” she cried to Alison who had seized the ship’s wheel. “Follow the flying fins into the wind … and God help us all!”


 The crew lowered all the sails as the ship turned into a growing breeze. Surprisingly the Sea Witch began to pull away from the English war ships. Hundreds of dolphins appeared to lift the heavy ship almost out of the water and transport it across the waves and into a now brisk wind with surprising speed. Alison gasped as she pointed to a fleet of dark funnel clouds appearing on the horizon, complete with rumbling cannon and lightning flashes directly in their path. “It’s a water spout the size of London, with spears of light and an updraft strong enough to bring even Neptune himself up from the depths.”
The British ships had not given up the chase, they had trimmed their sails and were tacking into the wind. Still the Sea Witch was escaping.
Fiorella couldn’t resist giving Jean Molyneux and his Royal Navy friends one last parting shot, firing a special, hollow, fused-ball filled with gunpowder, pitch, sulfur and Venetian turpentine. The resulting explosion on the deck of the floundering frigate spread flames high into the ships rigging igniting several sails.
The crew of the Sea Witch were at the mercy of the approaching storm and the legions of dolphins transporting them to who knows where. With the sails lowered and the ships wheel spinning with the thrashing fins, the crew clustered on deck to ride out the storm. Polly who was obviously under a Cetacean spell, began to sing  and all the other voices aboard ship soon followed.

The Song of Dolphenia

Led away from battles deep, from which destruction wasn’t born.
Into a tempest day of night, where sun was ever scorned.
Beneath the waves by tail and fin, the water-winds do blow.
And spin the arms of octopus, for compass headings go.
Stand the seas and rap her waves, the ocean’s ready-door.
No tailor sent to sew the seams, of the mighty forty-four.
Through darkness dim and oar-less glide, the savage mothers stow.
And sing a song of merriment, to fearsome things below.
With fife and float the carriage speeds, with sea-horses endless chatter.
And delivers calm to all who seek, an endless ever after.
Sail the seas and lift her waves, the ocean’s dirty-floor.
No children sent to guide the schemes, of the mighty forty-four.
Wake to night and sleep at dawn, the world twists upside down.
To catch the moon out dancing, in a raining wedding gown.
Gold and silver, wishing shells, a treasure to behold.
A voyage to the last of days, that never will be told.
Sail the seas and rap her waves, the ocean’s ever more.
No lovers sent to guide the dreams, of the mighty forty-four.

The darkness was total and empty of compassion. Currents of soggy gale circled the ship, lifting whales, worms and sand from the treacherous depths of despair. It was no longer clear if the ship lingered above or below the waves. The crew of the Sea Witch clung to the mast posts as the sea raged in final desperate agony. “I never regretted a moment of this roguish life!” Polly strained to make her voice heard above the roar of the wind. “To end it all now, would not diminish a single splendor from my memory.”
“We are and were sisters to the very end,” Alison agreed. “The bottom of the sea chills my heart far less than the end of a judge’s rope.”
Amazingly the dolphins still circled the ship, thrashing so close together they looked like grey links in an enormous herringbone chain.
Then as suddenly as it began, the waterspout dissolved with a hissing breath of storm. A flock of lightning bolts disappeared over the horizon like migrating geese. The Sea Witch glided across waters as smooth as glass, reflecting with mirror-like accuracy the colors of sunlight passing through prisms of hope and salvation. The dolphins were pulling in earnest now, no longer leaping playfully from the water.
Volcanic mountains appeared on the horizon then forests, beaches and finally a sheltered harbor ringed by cascading cliff-streams and waterfalls. Polly’s aquatic angels halted in the lagoon and began to leap continually from the water. So joyous was their chatter than every crew members face erupted in a smile. “It’s as if they are trying to speak to us,” Polly gasped. At that moment, a lone figure dove from cliffs on the far side of the shallow lake. The newcomer swam with fins and tail but the head was very human as it surfaced in the water next to the ship. “Welcome to Dolphenia,” the creature said.


Thank you dear reader; You are the reason I write. I hope you enjoyed this tale. For my 1st. female pirate adventure please purchase my volume of 14 short stories called CRAYON MONSTERS

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