The good ship H.M.S. Baci breasted aside long rolling swells as she sailed from the Japan Isles then along the Kuril Islands to the Russian mainland, the Kamchatka Peninsula her goal. Heading north in the spring was a heartbreak to captain and crew alike. As they put aside their lighter clothing tempers were tested as the temperatures sank, the evenings and nights worst. They rigged their cold weather gear and moved angrily, directing cruel glances toward Sir Edmund. “Ain’t His Honor what has at climb about on frozen spars,” Old Bubo muttered. “Won’t be no warmth to be had fer those what serves before the mast!” Leaky Phil countered as he blew on his hands, all while clinging to his masthead perch with his knees and elbows. The only sailor who didn’t seem to notice was the reformed pirate Jack Scratch; his kitten and new puppy snuggled into his hammock with him every time he was not on watch. He had named them both, taking the captain’s heart when she begun calling the fuzzy kitten Connie, and further moving the old salt Gnarly Dan when he scratched the puppy’s little neck and called him Danny. (Sir Edmund did huff a time or two, his last comment being, “Edmund would have been a fine hound’s name.”) One afternoon in a rare moment of clam, the naturalist roused out of his diving bell from the hold once more, first repairing several damaged staves and cracked leathern hoses before it was swayed out and lowered into the cold ocean. But the waters were remarkably free of aquatic life, leaving Sir Edmund confused and concerned. It wasn’t until they sailed to the mainland proper that they sighted their ninth Sea Maiden and Sea Master couple, the sea creatures, of course, entwined. “One would think they have nothing better to occupy their time,” the naturalist noted, adding, “Rather on the lazy side, truth be known.” Gnarly Dan, for the first time in years, held his tongue, simply shaking his head in sad disbelief. He did finally mutter something about a ‘silver spoon’, but Sir Edmund, if he heard, did not comment. The couple drifted by the bell, awash in affection and oblivious to those in Halley’s patented diving apparatus.
Sir Edmund’s journal reads:
Another couple! They were in the throes of enjoying one another. Not a particularly productive species. No undersea factories; that much is certain. Must query how they would fair if the purity of their environment were spoiled.
Maidenus leisurus “Leslie”
Maximus leisurus – Both remarkably fit. Handsome. Preoccupied.
June 11, 1835