Tom and Elisabeth on board the Black Leopard
Below the decks they went, past black cannons with their barrels poking out of gun ports towards the town, past coils of rope, and boxes of cannon balls, and stacks of muskets, and bundles of cutlasses, and barrels of gunpowder, and flagons of spiced wine, and flagons of Sherry, and flagons of Madeira, and flagons and flagons and flagons and flagons of Rum, and down steep ladders, and along narrow passage ways, and past the ship’s galley with its greasy grinning cook, the fat smug cat, and the rich smells of pirate’s dinners being prepared. And beside the galley was a notice stuck to the wall with a dagger:
Wednesday 18th September
Stolen small bits and pieces of pie and meat paste
and toast and fresh fruit and stuff like that.
Choice of stolen big chunks of grub found in larders
prepared to your taste either lightly fried, medium fried, or fried to a crisp.
(Boiled beef and carrots tomorrow when we’ve found
and killed the beef and dug the carrots up)
For the Vegetarian:
Maxistrony Soup – Great big lumps of potato with
garlic, and whole leeks with garlic, and huge onions
with garlic, and cabbages (with garlic), and whole garlic cloves,
stolen from the greengrocer’s warehouse
(cook has the keys) with extra garlic and salt to taste.
Potatoes – chips fried thin or thick. (Subject to Cook’s rum intake)
(NOT ‘fries’ – real chips, and no ‘Regular’ or ‘King Size’ portions,
Small, Medium, or large helpings only)
More potatoes – Boiled.
Some more potatoes – mashed with onions and garlic.
Almost Fresh Bread Rolls (The baker got away).
All sorts of fruit and sweet things that the
cook found while still sober, with lashings of rum.
(Fresh milk and cream may be available tomorrow if we
find some cows today when looking for the beef)
(There may also be a wine list when we’ve cleaned out the town cellars.)
THE CAPTAIN’S TABLE
Fruits de Mare
Lobscouse au Gratin
Froise a la Scabbard
Dishes of the day:
Panado and Sippets
Les Vins – The Captain’s Claret and Shandygaff
‘Porridge?’ Exclaimed Elisabeth.
‘Always has a spoonful of porridge at the end of his dinner does Sir Jasper. He reckons whatever other rubbish he’s had to eat the porridge will keep it quiet during the night. Most particular he is about his diet.’
Through the ship they went until they came at last to Spud’s dungeon.
This was a small room at the stern of the ship right under the Captain’s stateroom, and next to Spud’s cabin.
Tom felt that if had to be in a prison, then this was really rather a nice one. It had its own tiny portholes, too small to escape from, but through which the lively comings and goings between the ship and the shore could be seen, and it had great thick beams in the ceiling, and its own fitted chest that served as a table, and double bunks with boards that you could pull up and peg in place to stop you falling out when the ship was at sea.
‘It’s even better than the Professor’s trailer.’ said Tom before Elisabeth could stop him.
‘Who’s this Professor, then ?’ asked Spud.
‘Oh, just someone we know,’ said Elisabeth innocently. ‘He’s miles and miles and miles and miles away from here. Are you going to show us your cabin Spud?’
Once inside Spud’s quarters they knew that they would not go short of food.
There were tins and tins of canned goodies, and boxes and boxes of fruit and preserves. There were bunches of bananas and bags of oranges, and a spicy smelling smoked ham hanging from the ceiling. There were big glass bottles of sweets, and tubs of salt pork, and jars of pickled onions, and crocks full of pressed meats and honey and cheeses and crystalised fruits.
‘There now, me hearties,’ said Spud proudly. ‘Never seen the likes of this, have ‘ee I’ll be bound ? Not ‘cept Christmastide maybe. Here we are, young ‘un.’ he continued, picking up Tom and sitting him on the cabin table. ‘You try one of old Spud’s Maracaibo mouthfuls – there’s real sweetmeats for you. And for you, young missy – have a lick at these – sugared almonds and apricots, all the way from Zanzibar.’
‘It’s not easy to eat when your hands are tied.’ said Elisabeth (although Tom seemed to be managing quite well.)
Spud beamed at them both and rubbed his hands together. ‘Now then, me dearios, I don’t like you to have your hands tied up like this. But then, two sparky young shavers like you could be trouble I reckons. And if you do a bunk I’ll be for it – Sir Jasper ain’t a-going to stand for any more escapers, damn me for a capstan if he will. So, there’s only one thing for it, if you agree…’
‘What’s that Mr Spud?’ asked Tom. ‘I would rather like to have my hands untied, if I may.’
‘Well, matey, do you know what ‘parole’ is then?’
‘No.’ said Tom
‘I do.’ said Elisabeth. ‘It’s when you’re a prisoner and the enemy trusts you when you say that you won’t run away.’
‘Well, pot me for grogbottle, but that’s exactly it, young Lisa. That’s what I’d like for you, my dears. What do you say? Can old Spud trust you, or will you scarper off and leave me to hang from the yardarm with me neck stretched and me eyes popping?’
‘Oh no!’ said Tom. ‘We wouldn’t let that happen to you, would we?’
‘Of course not.’ said Elisabeth firmly. ‘If we gave you our word you could trust us. Even if you did call me ‘Lisa.’
‘Suppose I calls you ‘Betty’ then?’ suggested Spud.
‘I’d rather you didn’t.’
‘Well then – er – how about ‘Beth’ ? Or maybe ‘Eliza’? Often hear that sort of name aboard when we’re in a pirate port.’
‘I’d prefer ‘Elisabeth’.’
‘Spud sighed. ‘Women,’ he said. ‘They will have their way, won’t they, young Tom? Righty ho, – ‘Elisabeth’ it is then, your ladyship – here’s my hand on it.’
Spud untied their hands and they very formally shook hands with him and promised not to escape.
‘Reckon it’s well past your tea time.’ he said. ‘Will you give me hand then, Miss Elisabeth? We’ll get the kettle on, and how about frying up some sausages? And what do you say to some mushrooms and bacon and onions and tomatoes? Poaching a few eggs maybe? And rustling up hot toast and creamy butter and honey and cake and whatever else you fancies…?’
Author of Dangerous Chimes, read more about Michael Macauley over here.