There is a moment in the life of every lucky man when all that can go well does, when the wind is abaft the beam and steady and warm and the ocean a bathe in sensuality. At such a time, with a good ship working beneath him the strength and sanctuary of true love may cradle his very soul and buoy him beyond that is tedious and common. Such was the case for Sir Edmund Roberts, gentleman naturalist and Sea Maiden questor when late in life he fell into a relationship with the beautiful captain Constance Daphne Fitzwillie. Old Gnarly Dan was moved to observe that “While she ain’t often enough much of a cruise we’s signed on for, onst in a while we gets a good leg. An’ when a gob does, he’d best enjoy ’er; they’s dregs what will follow soon enough.”
Sir Edmund thrived in a fog of glorious grace as he and captain Constance Daphne drifted from their respective wharves of self absorbed solitude. Every night her heart and body was his and every day they were captain and charterer once more. There was no familiarity on the hallowed quarterdeck; Sir Edmund dared to neither cross her stern nor bow until Constance Daphne was in her quarters where the heavy mantle of responsibility slipped from her shoulders, past her magnificent chest and onto the floor (followed immediately by less magisterial articles of clothing. And there, for a time, the two reveled in the privacy (if a skylight and an enraptured crew could be allowed to expand that definition) of their nocturnal adventures.
But as Gnarly Dan predicted, the dregs did follow: brought on by a damsel in distress. “Old Bubo” was the first to sight her, bobbing just at the horizon in a launch, a ragged sail flapping idly and she began chased around the small vessel by another castaway. By the time the Baci closed the distance a drama had unfolded. It appears she, semi clad, was chasing a uniformed gent, she armed with a belaying pin and he in a panic to avoid her wild swings. At last within hailing range he turned to the approaching ship and called out, “Prepare!” or “Beware!” or some such ejaculation, until she smote him squarely on the head. He staggered a step to the side and tumbled across the gunnel and into the drink.
Post traumatic interrogation was made academic when a triangular fin raced to the floating form and then cruised by the Baci’s bow, a protruding ankle and boot giving the fish the unsettling appearance of a man savoring his pipe following a good meal. The damsel was recovered and her story of abduction believed in reverse of the listener’s mastery of lust over logic, for her account was, top to bottom, bilge. The only question for the savvy was “if she be ‘Nasty’ or ‘Naughty’” for she was clearly either the pirate vixen Naughty Natalie or her lethal twin, Nasty Natalie, that distinction separating the amorously accomplished and insatiable from one similarly inclined but who proffered torture as an appetizer and homicide as an aperitif.
And while it provided endless hours of speculation , Sir Edmund took advantage of the weatherly calm to continue his search for Sea Maidens. In the company of foretop man Berlinni and the old salt, Gnarly Dan, he sighted his 22nd Sea Maiden, she clearly pregnant and drifting silently by Halley’s patented diving apparatus. “It’d be the birth of Venus!” Berlinni exclaimed, and before Gnarly Dan could repeat his previous lecture on pregnancy under the sea, Sir Edmund interrupted. “Yes my good man, her hair has lost its color with her impregnation. Yes, it will return to its natural sate after she gives birth. And yes, she will spend the duration of her pregnancy savoring said state and looking beautiful for ‘they believes, under the sea what she be at her most beauteous’ etc, etc. Now be a good sort and shut up.” It was cruel but had the desired effect: All watched in silence.
Sir Edmund’s journal reads:
Saw our second pregnant Sea Maiden. She healthy and quite attractive. “Venus”
July 10, 1833