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FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn

Amos 14 Jan 02 - 05:54 PM
Clinton Hammond 14 Jan 02 - 06:47 PM
Gareth 14 Jan 02 - 07:29 PM
Lonesome EJ 14 Jan 02 - 07:46 PM
Amos 14 Jan 02 - 09:35 PM
Lonesome EJ 14 Jan 02 - 11:34 PM
katlaughing 15 Jan 02 - 12:53 AM
JenEllen 15 Jan 02 - 12:53 AM
JenEllen 15 Jan 02 - 01:55 AM
Mudlark 15 Jan 02 - 04:11 AM
Dave the Gnome 15 Jan 02 - 05:51 AM
MMario 15 Jan 02 - 08:52 AM
Amos 15 Jan 02 - 09:16 AM
Peter T. 15 Jan 02 - 09:35 AM
MMario 15 Jan 02 - 09:45 AM
Amos 15 Jan 02 - 10:14 AM
Lonesome EJ 15 Jan 02 - 12:33 PM
Peg 15 Jan 02 - 01:31 PM
JenEllen 15 Jan 02 - 02:26 PM
Peter T. 15 Jan 02 - 02:43 PM
Gareth 15 Jan 02 - 03:08 PM
Amos 15 Jan 02 - 03:38 PM
Lonesome EJ 15 Jan 02 - 03:45 PM
Gareth 15 Jan 02 - 03:50 PM
MMario 15 Jan 02 - 04:14 PM
Lonesome EJ 15 Jan 02 - 04:16 PM
Gareth 15 Jan 02 - 04:31 PM
Gareth 15 Jan 02 - 05:08 PM
katlaughing 15 Jan 02 - 05:16 PM
Dave the Gnome 15 Jan 02 - 05:23 PM
Amos 15 Jan 02 - 05:41 PM
JenEllen 15 Jan 02 - 06:06 PM
katlaughing 15 Jan 02 - 06:18 PM
Gareth 15 Jan 02 - 06:34 PM
Gareth 15 Jan 02 - 06:57 PM
Dave the Gnome 15 Jan 02 - 07:00 PM
Gareth 15 Jan 02 - 07:19 PM
JenEllen 15 Jan 02 - 07:28 PM
Amos 15 Jan 02 - 08:16 PM
Amos 15 Jan 02 - 08:21 PM
Lonesome EJ 16 Jan 02 - 01:07 AM
Amos 16 Jan 02 - 10:04 AM
Lonesome EJ 16 Jan 02 - 02:03 PM
katlaughing 16 Jan 02 - 02:12 PM
Gareth 16 Jan 02 - 03:10 PM
Amos 16 Jan 02 - 04:34 PM
Dave the Gnome 16 Jan 02 - 05:47 PM
Amos 16 Jan 02 - 05:55 PM
Lonesome EJ 16 Jan 02 - 07:08 PM
JenEllen 16 Jan 02 - 07:35 PM
Amos 16 Jan 02 - 08:22 PM
Peter T. 16 Jan 02 - 08:36 PM
Amos 16 Jan 02 - 08:37 PM
JenEllen 17 Jan 02 - 02:01 AM
Amos 17 Jan 02 - 09:22 AM
Lonesome EJ 17 Jan 02 - 02:22 PM
JenEllen 17 Jan 02 - 03:23 PM
Lonesome EJ 17 Jan 02 - 03:43 PM
Charley Noble 17 Jan 02 - 04:12 PM
Gareth 17 Jan 02 - 06:41 PM
JenEllen 17 Jan 02 - 07:00 PM
katlaughing 17 Jan 02 - 07:11 PM
katlaughing 17 Jan 02 - 07:31 PM
Lonesome EJ 17 Jan 02 - 08:38 PM
Amos 17 Jan 02 - 09:18 PM
katlaughing 17 Jan 02 - 09:29 PM
JenEllen 18 Jan 02 - 01:39 AM
JenEllen 18 Jan 02 - 03:05 AM
Amos 19 Jan 02 - 01:13 PM
Amos 19 Jan 02 - 03:08 PM
Gareth 19 Jan 02 - 06:39 PM
Gareth 19 Jan 02 - 07:27 PM
katlaughing 19 Jan 02 - 09:40 PM
Amos 19 Jan 02 - 10:53 PM
Gareth 20 Jan 02 - 08:38 AM
katlaughing 20 Jan 02 - 10:36 AM
Amos 20 Jan 02 - 12:03 PM
Amos 21 Jan 02 - 02:19 PM
Amos 21 Jan 02 - 09:47 PM
Amos 22 Jan 02 - 11:17 AM
Amos 23 Jan 02 - 01:32 PM
Lonesome EJ 23 Jan 02 - 04:03 PM
Amos 24 Jan 02 - 09:10 AM
Lonesome EJ 24 Jan 02 - 04:17 PM
Amos 24 Jan 02 - 05:59 PM
Lonesome EJ 24 Jan 02 - 06:23 PM
Amos 24 Jan 02 - 06:52 PM
JenEllen 24 Jan 02 - 11:17 PM
Amos 25 Jan 02 - 12:20 AM
Lonesome EJ 25 Jan 02 - 12:27 PM
Amos 25 Jan 02 - 04:18 PM
Lonesome EJ 26 Jan 02 - 12:45 PM
Lonesome EJ 26 Jan 02 - 01:10 PM
Amos 26 Jan 02 - 01:22 PM
katlaughing 26 Jan 02 - 01:26 PM
Amos 26 Jan 02 - 02:16 PM
katlaughing 26 Jan 02 - 02:28 PM
Gareth 26 Jan 02 - 04:42 PM
Amos 26 Jan 02 - 04:58 PM
Amos 26 Jan 02 - 05:53 PM
katlaughing 19 Sep 09 - 04:53 PM
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Subject: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 14 Jan 02 - 05:54 PM

There was a day, long back, when the Unicorn was new and the floors were laid down smelling of freshly adzed oak and sweat, rather than stale beer, smoke and fetid urine. A place was born then, into times that called for a cheap alehouse to spring into being, to turn shillings on wiry seamen in the hour of England's blazing birth.

Strange times, they were -- reason was rising in the house of Commerce, new continents had appeared for the bold to savor, the sextant was highest of technologies, and the national spirit was straight out of the foc's'le head. The rawest edges of life were always near, but the notions of popular luxury were crystallizing like forms in fog; the brotherhood of humankind was looming as a remote notion of possible value.

Magic flowers of an unleashed language singing were everywhere, they bloomed in the very alleys, and there was a sense of nation, of tribal hugeness that has survived unto this hour. Every month saw new timbers rising by the Mother river, new docks and vessels to tie to them, small and huge, appearing as miracles of plain tar, plain fir, plain rope, oak, hemp and salt tack suddenly combined in an overwhelming burst of organized magic, sent down the splintering rollers to the Thames in towering, mystic, nautical visions of power and of hope.

And, too, there was madness, both in ones and in gangs, the madness of churches, lost women, and terrified soldiers, and the far-flung madness of the displaced. This, too, spread wildly and drove men many times to sea in a search for reason; and often, accompanied them there.

In such a search, accompanied by such madness, does this tale begin....


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 14 Jan 02 - 06:47 PM

Sounds like someone has been reading the Thieves World Anthology a bit there... ;-)

The origin of the Vulgar Unicorn maybe???

Heh!


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 14 Jan 02 - 07:29 PM

The "Unicorn" arose from the mud and marshes of the Medway, a watering hole for the fishermen,smugelers (often the same) and shipwrights, labourers and dockyard clerks on the slipways at Upnor, across the Medway from the main Dockyard at Chatham on St Mary's Island.

Built with Timber filtched out of the stacks at Upnor and Chatham. Put together with bolts quietly forged in the smithies of St Marys Island, and payed with Admiraty issue tar and paint, lost from His Majesty's Dockyard.

The "Unicorn" appeared, nobody saw this tavern built, it arrived on day. Fresh and complete with the aroma of best cordage, stockholm tar, tobacco, best Kentish Hops and pervading it old blended Jamacia Rhumbullion. (tho to be fair there was always a hint, just a hint, of fair Brandy fron Nantes. Brought over by the free trading Gentlemen).

Glowering over the little Village of Upnor was the Castle, it old 32 pounders, and the traditional Black Flag a reminder of the fate that should envelope any invader who left the London River and sought thier luck up river to Chatham.

The "Restoration", carrier of our blessed Charles the Second, from his exile in the low countries, lay off Upnor, refit over, Guns on board at Chatham's Gun Wharf, bread, salt beef and pork and beer in her hold, awaiting the turn of the tide to venture down river to the Black Stakes where she would take on her powder.

Inside the "Unicorn" a parcel of trusted seamen and Jollies were drinkin, at liberty till low water ( for no pilot or master worth his rating would attempt to take a 64 gun ship down the Medway, with its shoals, and twists, on an ebbing tide) and drinking a fond farewell to old England,

Where were they bound for, they had loaded stores for 4 months at sea.

The West Indies ? Where Morgan was Govenor and at the throats of the Dons ? A cruise in the North Sea to remind the Hollanders and French whose Ocean they Cruised in ? Or to Tangiers or Tripoli ? Africa's famed shores to remind the Corsairs to leave the Union Flag alone ?

Inconsequential snatches of song arose.

Into this cavern of a Tavern crept a 12 year old boy. ragged clothes, a starved waif, escaping from the Work House and seeking adventure.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 14 Jan 02 - 07:46 PM

:>}


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 14 Jan 02 - 09:35 PM

May, 1568
Ballocks of the Unicorn, Thameside, London

"Ehh, It were 'awkins it were!! Tha wuz in it togither, did ye not ken that, ye git? 'im and that cousin of his, young Drake went off, Spanish Americay, trading they would, ruiles or no ruiles, and spit in the eye of rulemakers, sez them two. They mustve had six good ships when they made Saint Jooan, all full uv goods and sich. Lost 'em all but two, so it goes, an' they called it rank treachery by the Spanish, tha' did!! Or! Or!! Wot'd they expeck from that lot, I'd like ta know??? Or! Or!!!!! An' yung Drake swears all over town he'll wring it out o' the Spanish hide an the Court not mekkit oop to them!! Or!! Fer trusting a Spanish crew, the King should 'ang im, not pie 'im, I sez!!!"

The speaker, a rowdy and weathered soul in a leather jerkin and a large patch over one eye, threw the rest of his ale down the hatch and drew several coppers out of his boodle to slap down on the rough-surfaced oak table. He rose and turned, and nearly tumbled over the small ragged wide-eyed creature who had been creeping in amonbg the drinkers at the Ballocks of the Unicorn. The small boy scuttled back under the nearest shelter -- another crudely fashioned table--and stared out, open-mouthed and silent as a fish.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 14 Jan 02 - 11:34 PM

Richard Jones grinned at the old salt who sputtered and mumbled a curse and slouched over by the fire grate to warm his mitts. It was May, true, but the breath of Winter was still on the air, the morning rain had been hard and chill. The floor of the Ballocks of the Unicorn was covered in mud, and as each patron came or went, a chilly gust had entered. The old salt was said to have been a pirate himself, to have spilled the blood of men, both honest and treacherous, on the emerald seas of the Spanish Main. Pluckrose was the old cobber's name. Emmett Pluckrose, though no man could muster the imagination necessary to visualize the cirumstance in which the old sea dog might indulge in such a delicate operation as his surname might suggest.

Jones caught sight of the motley boy cowering under a table and staring gape-mouthed at old Pluckrose. The lad and his clothes were of the same shade as the mud on the floor, his thin arms and legs too long for the trousers and shirt he wore. The boy, in a quick, animal-like manner, suddenly lunged from under the table and took a crust of bread from the pewter plate of a seaman who was nodding under the weight of many ales. He had retreated beneath the table to savor his spoils, when his eyes looked up to see Jones smiling at him. The boy's feral eyes at first showed suspicion, but Jones allayed this by slowly raising an index finger to his lips. As the boy ate his bread, Jones' eyes took on a far away look, his lips a quizzical twist. Then he suddenly slapped the table and he shouted "Lily! Lily, I have it!" At this shout a buxom serving wench put down her pitcher and came to stand sweetly by his table. Jones cleared his throat and said

My Lily is the fairest flower of white
That ever on Old England's shore didst bloom
In all the world there be no fairer sight

Than Lily in the corner of my room
And when she deigns to open up her petals
No rose nor pansy but doth hang in shame
For ivory she is and not the baser metals
And red her lips, and hot as any flame!

With this the girl pulled Jones to her ample bosom, and the several seamen in the tavern cheered and raised their flagons in toast. She kissed him, leaving a red mark on his mouth, and then brought him another mug of ale and a pasty which she avowed "I made me'self!" Jones raised the pie, but caught the lad staring at his bounty. The sailor then broke the pasty in half, and patted the seat beside him. The boy crept slowly up to the table, gingerly took the half of pasty and smiled as he took a bite. "Another ale, Lil!" said the sailor. He stuck out his hand and said "Richard Jones. Sailor and Welshman." The boy took his hand and said "Benjamin Bragg...Englishman." Jones raised his ale. "Then God save the Queen," he grinned, "randy red-head that she is."


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 12:53 AM

(Bravo!)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: JenEllen
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 12:53 AM

As night fell, the Unicorn filled to overflowing. At a small table in the back, a group of sailors played the age-old game of telling tales for beer. Tonight, as on many nights before, they entertained each other with tales of love. They had just finished wiping their eyes and stifling the laughter that accompanied the Greek's tale of a misplaced sheep, when a young ruddy-faced man leaned solemnly across the table and said: "Caruso, aye mate, tell 'em your story..." The Italian rested his arms on the table, and sighed.

"The truest love I have ever known? Well, my friends, it was never mine to know. It belonged to two young people in my village: Vincenzo and Gianetta. Their story had all of the things we have mentioned before, well, perhaps not the sheep, but I will spare you the details of outraged family and fortune.

I saw the lovely Gianetta just twice in my lifetime. The first, a fine spring day in the plaza as I strolled along with my friend Vincenzo. We walked through the market, and at once, he grabbed my arm and whispered: "It is she!" I turned to look, and saw only this girl, not so pretty, but the air around her held such a light. When she saw us and smiled in our direction, I knew: it was she.

Early the next season, God saw Vincenzo and I board to sail with diMarco on the Marza." At this, many of the sailors around the table shifted in their seats, they knew this tale all too well. "We sailed for a year or more before the English caught us. In that year, Vincenzo worked without complaint-- his hands growing new calluses to cover those he'd held from tilling the land near our village. He gratefully traded the fresh food and air of our native Italy for all the foul things that can be found in the hold of a ship. On night watches he would sing us to sleep with songs of his lovely Gianetta: the sun and smell of grass in her hair, the wine of her lips... as the year drew on, we all began to claim Gianetta as our own." Caruso paused to take a drink. The men at the table were lost in thoughts of their own Gianettas, Janes, and Marys, but slowly their attention returned to Caruso.

"April that year, I had led a party ashore near Gibraltar to get fresh water. As the ship was anchored, Captain Thornton pulled alongside the Marza--we saw the firefight from our place on shore. We saw the English sink the Marza. No one survived.

When I saw Gianetta the second time, I had all but forgotten her. A further year at sea had washed my memory clean. But, as I found myself at home and in that same plaza--I saw her. She saw me as well, and despite how I had changed, my face black as any Moor, she recognized me. She smiled so sweetly and walked towards me. I was lost. All I could say to her was "He died bravely."

She made a sound, it was like the gates of Hell opening up to swallow yet another soul, and she fell upon me. She beat me until I tasted the salt of my own blood, and then she hit me again. One of her brothers reached us, and pried her off of me, but still she howled. The poor brother carried her off over his shoulder and out of the plaza. I never saw her again."

The table remained quite for a moment more before the Greek asked him: "What happened to her?"
Caruso shrugged slowly and replied: "I heard that she had been taken home and locked in her rooms. She braided a rope from her wedding linens and hung herself. When I heard this, I went to port and signed on to the first ship that would take me. If those were the torments of the land, I would take my chances at sea."

Caruso finished his beer and overturned the cup onto the table. The rest of the sailors followed suit, as did all of the men within earshot of the back table. Lily walked slowly by and placed a full 'winners pint' in front of Caruso. She placed her hand on his shoulder and softly said: "Aye, you've earned it tonight, mate."


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: JenEllen
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 01:55 AM

Bertoli stood at the railing of the Dominazione as it sailed swiftly into the harbour. His arms folded, he leaned on the railing and squinted blindly into the dark town before him. The dream had woke him again that day, such a silly driving thing that crept from his sleep into his waking hours. It was always the same:

He sat in the shade, looking into the clearing from his secure place in the trees. She sat there in the clearing, white dress shining in the summer sun, drawing on some small scrap of paper and oblivious to the approaching man. The man slid in beside her, laughing as he startled her. She laughed too. The two cooed like young lovers will, and Bertoli, even from his dream-distance, could hear them clearly:
"Let me see, cara," said the man, snatching the drawings from the woman, who didn't put up enough of a fight to save them. "Silly little things," he said, rifling through the pages, and giving the girl a quick kiss on the cheek, "Much like you in that respect.." he smiled, and she smiled too.
A moment passed, and the young woman's face darkened as she turned to face him. "Caruso tells me you are leaving too. You cannot do this to me, can you?"
"Is there any other way, my dear one? Your father will never allow us to be married when I have no money, and the fastest way for me to get money is to sail with diMarco. Two years, and I will have enough saved to buy a little vineyard. We will be happy." He pulled a piece of grass and balanced it in his teeth as he looked at her. She stared at the ground and the beginnings of a tear perched on her lashes. He quickly added: "That is, unless I find some lovely native girl in the islands..."
The young woman gasped in a shock that quickly melted into laughter. "Oh, you and your native women will be very happy, I am sure..."
"Well, diMarco tells me that the women in those islands all walk around with no clothes on....but, I am almost certain that if you could be induced to such behaviour, I might be inclined to stay... right... here..."
The young woman blushed fiercely, and rolled to her knees to run. The man caught her easily and the two sank into the grass.

The ship came to rest, pulling back on her mooring ropes and groaning just a touch. Bertoli groaned with her, shaking himself out of his daydream and trotting down the plank to shore. After a brief discussion with a man on the docks, he headed for the sign that boldly proclaimed Unicorn.

No one noticed him as he walked in the door. He quickly cast about, and seeing a pretty barmaid, walked towards her. The barmaid sized the stranger up quickly, handsome bloke, and his clothing and soft leather boots spoke of some amount of money, but anyone could tell by their condition that that money was a long way off by now.
"I am looking for an English pig." Bertoli spoke in heavily accented English.
The barmaid laughed heartily as she waved her arm, "Take your pick, dearie!"

Bertoli, looking somewhat confused, took a pint and a seat near the door. As Lily walked back to the bar, a sailor grabbed her arm. "I've seen that crazy son of a whore before, Lil. Bit a man's nose clean off in a barfight in Portugal. He's not kidding. Always the same with the English pig too... Makes a man glad to be Welsh!" The sailor and Lily burst into uproarious laughter, as Bertoli intently watched both the room and the door.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Mudlark
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 04:11 AM

(Listening with rapt attention, faraway look in my eye...)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 05:51 AM

The door burst open and all conversation stopped as the huge newcomer glared at the revellers. His shaven head glistened in the feeble light given off by the tallow dips as it swayed back and forth surveying the tables and the faces of the men that sat at them.

The scar running from left temple to chin distorted the wicked smile that appeared, but the black eyes held no mirth in them. Only malice.

"Bragg!" he bellowed. "Bragg, get yer arse over here for a lesson yer won't forget in a hurry."

He slapped the heavy cudgel against his palm as he strode to the table where the lad cowered, knowing his escape route to be blocked. The stranger raised the staff and stretched to grab young Bragg by the hair but before he reached him an iron grip seized the thick wrist.

The burly stranger looked down at the wiry frame that had stopped him and was about to bring the cudgel down hard but something in the eyes of the Welshman told him to be wary.

"What in hells name are you playing at, friend?" He growled. The last word becoming a threat rather than an endearment.

"Oh, I just want to know why such a powerful and handsome fellow as yourself would need to prove his manhood by beating a lad who can barely defend himself?"

"None of your damn business. Now let me do my duty and no-one need get hurt." Came the snapped reply.

"I'm making it my business, friend.", retorted Jones, employing the same greeting as his adversary. "I asked a question. Now what is your quarrel with the lad?"

The stranger seemed to relax but Jones kept the grip firmly on his left wrist. Again the twisted smile of the stranger didn't match the vicious glower of the eyes.

"Well, it's like this, me little mucker." The voice went from bellowing to smarmy all in one easy movement. "The lad there belongs to me master. He's a bad lot right enough. Runs off all the time from where the master treats all his lads fair and square. This one don't deserve no pity at all, 'cause he even steals from the hand that feeds him. Don'thcher yer little bastard..."

The last phrase was emphasised with venom as the big man pulled his left arm rapidly back and swung the club towards the Welshman's skull. But Jones was quicker. Before the cudgel was anywhere near he had released his opponent's wrist, ducked under the swinging club and brought a savage knee into the big mans groin. The burly stranger doubled up but did not go down. Jones pushed the lad behind him and squared off to the big man.

"Don't you worry none about the lad stealing." he stated calmly. "I will look after him now."

The black eyes glared from the crouched position. A voice called "Look out!". The club fell to the ground and steel flashed as the stranger, recovering remarkably quickly straightened. The wicked blade sped straight for Jones's throat but again the wiry Welshman was too quick. In a blur his own blade buried itself into the heavy midrif of the aggressor.

The stranger looked puzzled and his mouth worked open and closed like a fish, as if wanting to say something. The long knife dropped from his fingers as his hands went to the hole where his belly should be. He raised his hands and looked at the blood covering them before opening his mouth once more and falling slowly to the ground.

A deathly hush came over the tavern. Then pandemonium as everyone tried to leave at once. One or two fascinated strangers and the innkeeper looked as Lily went to her man.

"Richard, my Richard." She sobbed. "What have you done? He was Lord Cartons warden. And Carlton is a favourite of the Queens. You'll surely be hanged for this."

"Worry not your pretty head, Lil." Whispered Jones with false confidence. "I couldn't watch while a bully like that beat a lad without knowing why, could I? Besides, my seafaring days aren't over yet. I've a mind to see the deep oceans once more before I settle."

Seeing the disappointment in Lilys eyes he added, "I'll let you know where I land. Keep your spirits up, girl. I'll be warming your feet again in no time."

He turned to the lad, who was still stood wide eyed and open mouthed behind him. "Well, Benjamin Bragg, Englishman. Looks like we are both fugitives now. How do you fancy a bit of seafaring?"

The lads shock turned to a huge grin as the tousled head bobbed up and down so rapidly it looked like it would come off.

"Right, that's it then." Stated Richard, grabbing his kit bag from under the table. "Let's be off. Keep the bed warm for me won't you Lil, dear. See you soon."

Lily could find no words as the pair stepped out of the door, peering furtively left and right before stepping into the darkness beyond. It was only when the silence filled the gap that Richard had left that she finally managed a wave and a whispered "Fare you well, Richard Jones. Be safe me love." Then the tears began.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: MMario
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 08:52 AM


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 09:16 AM

(Holy moly, guys!! I'm shorting out my keyboard here!)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 09:35 AM

Could the harbourmaster affirm what century this tale is taking place in? We seem to be in 1567, 1670, and the 1720's. Just wondering....

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: MMario
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 09:45 AM

Evidently the Prong of the Unicorn is a precurser to the Inn Between the Worlds or the Mudcat Tavern.

It's in all three centuries (plus a few more).

what are they teaching youngsters these days? don't they recognize an unstable hyper-dimensional cross-continuim portal anymore?


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 10:14 AM

It is the early years of Elizabeth I. Queen Bess has kicked off the economic revival and Drake is still an entrepreneur, although that is soon to change. There may be sections from other points in time that have a bearing on this tale; but theUnicorn is a stable port for this era.

Radkin Holloway
Harbormaster
City of London


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 12:33 PM

Several hundred yards from the Tavern, a mill stream crossed the quayside road, and Richard Jones and his charge found a clump of gorse bushes that shrouded it. Jones quickly rinsed the knife and his hands in the flowing water, then stripped off his shirt to wash the blood from the sleeve. "I'm sorry to cause trouble Mr Jones. He's deserved it, though," said Benjamin Bragg. Jones hushed the boy, then said softly "maybe he did, Ben. That doesn't make his killing set any easier with me." Jones wrung the shirt out and, shivering, put it back on. At this moment, two men in hauberks bearing the Arms of London sprinted by toward the Unicorn. "They'll be after me. Time for some quick action. Where are your Mum and Da, Ben?" The boy hung his head. "Got none. There's only me sister Tess, and her husband don't want me around."

"Englisman!" a voice called in a loud whisper. Jones spun to see the Italian sailor from the Tavern. "Quickly! Come with me!" Jones stood, undecided, then said "why should I trust you?" The Italian smiled. "You have my permission to kill me if I prove untrustworthy," and he gave an exaggerated bow."Now...quickly!"

Jones and his young charge followed Bertoli across the road and through the clutter of a warehouse yard, then among a milling crowd near a departing Man'oWar, and finally to a quay where stood a black-hulled three-master, the Gallant. Supplies for a long voyage were being loaded aboard, and a rather devious lot of crewmen were making ready. A row of cannon glinted at the gunwale hatches. "She's a privateer," said Jones. "Aye," said Bertoli," and bound for the Carib Sea on the next tide."


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Peg
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 01:31 PM

wow!

Great stuff.

I may try my hand at it later.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: JenEllen
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 02:26 PM

Bertoli led Jones and the boy along the waterfront, and up the flimsy boards to the Gallant. The questionable crew didn't raise a head from their work as the 3 passed and entered the forward cabin.

When they entered the cabin, Jones instinctively shielded the boy's eyes from the sight before them. Bertoli followed their eyes and shrugged apologetically, leaning over the woman sprawled in sleep on the bunk, "Flora....Wake up..." The drowsy woman opened her eyes and arms to Bertoli, who kissed her affectionately and told her to get up. "Take this boy to the galley and see him fed, si?" The young woman yawned and took the young boy's hand.

"Now, Jones is it?" Bertoli asked politely, motioning Jones to the seat across the table from him. "Would you like a dry shirt?" Richard shook his head 'no', only somewhat nervously. Bertoli yawned and removed a small daggar from his boot, and began turning it end over end on the table before them. As the Italian played at boredom, Jones began to scan the papers on the table before him. Letters with cracked seals, timetables, shipping notes and worn maps. "Ah, those...." sighed Bertoli. "This one," he said, grabbing a map of the coast of Africa, "this one is from a dead Englishman. This one is from another dead Englishman...as is this one as well..." Bertoli leaned back in his chair, smiled, and cattily toyed with his knife once again.

"Are you going to kill me?" asked Jones, warily.
Bertoli let out a barking laugh and tossed the daggar skyward, where it lodged point-deep in a ceiling timber, "Why, English? Do you have something I want?" His eyes flashed for a moment then became rather somber. "No, sailor. Non trovo pace, ma non faccio di guerra..." Jones looked at him uncomfortably, and Bertoli patiently continued. "Ah yes, the English... Let me see if I can remember...:
"I find no peace, and yet I make no war:
and fear, and hope: and burn, and I am ice:
and fly above the sky, and fall to earth,
and clutch at nothing, and embrace the world.
One imprisons me, who neither frees nor jails me,
nor keeps me to herself nor slips the noose:
and Love does not destroy me, and does not loose me,
wishes me not to live, but does not remove my bar.
I see without eyes, and have no tongue, but cry
and long to perish, yet I beg for aid:
and hold myself in hate, and love another.
I feed on sadness, laughing weep:
death and life displease me equally:
and I am in this state, lady, because of you."

"A woman?" replied Jones.
"One could say that.." Bertoli smiled. He casually took off the scarf from about his neck, flashing Jones a quick view of a ragged scar that ran completely around his neck. "I tried to kill myself many times to save her. Hanging, the poisons, I even tried to shoot myself with a gun! The gun refused to fire, of course, but I have made my peace. If God himself cannot suffer me to die, then I cannot suffer the English pig Thornton to live." Bertoli stood up and gave the dagger in the timber above him a freeing yank. "The rest of this...." he waved to the scattered tresures around him, "..it is all childs play. I am passing time until I can loose the lifeblood of the English pig. The treasures, who cares? Do you want them? I may take them into the ocean and dump them all, but the pig will have no glory."


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 02:43 PM

Once, when we were out, to say the God's truth, poaching, and were upon the verge of being taken, though we outran the wind, my brother roared out into the night – "Is this not fine, Judith, for how else would we know how it fareth with the hare?" Such is my brother, and beloved of me, though there is pain in the knowing that he hath pathways and advantages untreadable by me, or all of our sex, save only Her Majesty, who is fast becoming a law unto herself since she is become the law almost, and of other ladies only the richest of the land, such as the Countess of Pembroke. Nor do I hold it against my brother, no, for he hath since we two came almost as one from the womb cherished and upheld me, even to his peril: I lay to his account one such occasion when, as was our practice, he would rush from his schooling, and like some desperate seeker after treasure who has found a golden hoard, spread out before me for our joint sweetness rifts of Ovid and Horace, new realms of Latin hard conned and memorized by him so that he could in turn teach me, and, again, as was our practice, we hid ourselves in a corner of the house away from all others; but on this day we were of a sudden confronted by two manservants, and hauled up before our longsuffering father who inquired, his face black as storm, as to what we were occupied about, and William replied that he was teaching me, and our father said, to what purpose? And he replied, To any purpose she chooseth, she hath an excellent wit that withereth from lack of watering. And he outfaced our father, though another portion of his being suffered manfully for his insolence.

When my brother married, to his unhappy cost, and fled from schoolmastering into that realm wherein he is beginning to emulate the late comet in the firmament, what had been a vast empire of imagining shrank back into a walnutshell of a town, and I was left caring for little, except our parents, who soon thereafter were taken by the plague; which left house and land to myself (my brother having little interest at that time in returning to our town, in part because of his termagent wife), but even that soon palled, in especial case because our house became a sort of market day week round, as bumpkin suitors from the villages and towns round about got wind of opportunity. So dreary were all prospects that I came to a determination to change my horizons, and further, recollecting many a comedy by Plautus and Terence, and having at hand a copy of that excellent play, La Calandria, first performed at the court of Urbino to great acclaim in the time of Castiglione, wherein the humour and pathos depended upon the determination of the lady in the play to disguise herself as a boy, I resolved to undertake the same, to pass beyond the irksome chains of convention. This was all the easier because my features and figure were, though not uncomely – at least such was the report among the rustics who lived in hope, though they had little to compare me with, beyond Sarah, the innkeeper's daughter, who was a comely springe to catch woodcocks if there ever were such – of a boyish cast. I had also, from my brother's earliest days as a player in the touring company, been adept at disguise and paint.

And so it was that, having left our home in the hands of a trusted family friend, and with a warning message to my brother that he might expect me a se'nnight upon urgent business, I, Judith Shakespeare, now Jude Shakespeare, set out upon the open road towards the lodestone, the cynosure of all eyes in our kingdom, London.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 03:08 PM

( The time lines merge - A quick staccato of the Dr Who theme)

"Well yunker", quothe the Gunner of the "Restoration", "What be you a looking for ?"

"If you please sir - I want to go to Sea !"

A chorus of guffaws, and comments about the Golden Bolt arose from the multitude. The Gunner silenced them with a stare, and a significant thwack of his starting cane on the tavern table. " To sea is it - does the thought of Scurvey, Shot and Storm, Salt Meat, and maggoty bread not frighten you ?"

"No sir, even a pound of maggoty bread, is better than the gaurdians allow us in the Poor House, and Storm and Shot is a better hope than the Gallows"

The Gunner laughed, the powder marks under his beard rippled in the lantern light " Well younker, we can always fit another nipper on board. Oh you'l carry shot and powder, nip the cable to the messenger, and climb the rigging like the best of them. And if you survive - Well we'l make a Seaman of you."

The boy's face lit up - The hope of better food than his present lot - of possible fame, and possible fortune, were within his grasp "Thank you sir, oh thank you !

In a mellowed mood the Gunner sank his quart " Well younker what be your name ?"

"Sammy, Sammy Hood sir."

"Sammy Hood eh! maybe when your a famous admiral they name a Line of Battle ship after you."

The Gunner orderd a platter of Bread and Cheese, Here Sammy, you look as if you need to get youn self outside of that - Now take station on me till the tide turns, and old Amos, Master Gunner of the "Restoration" will tell you the tale of another yunker who came aboard at the turning of the tide. Of Benjamin Bragg and how he helped deafeat the Dons in the years of our good Queen Bess"

Insert the Dr Who theme music again


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 03:38 PM

LOL!! Gareth, put that time machine up!! You'll have us skating all over the continuum!!

A.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 03:45 PM

"Into the wind, Mr Lambert, and heave to," growled the tall Captain, and Lambert shouted the order. The ship was small, shallow-keeled, but boasted a wealth of canvas. And she was heavily armed. The ship creaked silently to rest, the water in the small cove as still as a pond. Around them, turquoise sea alternated with dark patches of coral. Behind them, the Sun blazed down upon the crystal-white sand of a deserted beach. "Keep her bow- out, Lambert." The Captain strode to the bowsprit and kneeled there, spyglass to his eye. "Time, Lambert." The First Mate studied the rude chronometer he carried. "Ten minutes after the hour of two, Sir." The Captain lowered his glass, and through a grim smile said "she's right on time."

Against the horizon, a large merchant vessel could be seen making way to the East. "It's the Contessa D'Albina," said the Captain. "She's unescorted. Either she carries nothing of value, or she's on a short leg from Hispanola to Jamaica and she's sacrificed safety for speed. She seems low in the water, Lambert'" and then more loudly "up sails and at her!"

In a moment, the British ship was in full sail and closing on the Spanish Merchantman."When in range, give her a bow shot Mr Lambert," said the Captain. The first shot struck the Merchantman at the rudder, and she immediately turned helplessly into the wind. Her flank crept slowly around, and the hatches were pulled from over her smooth-bore cannons. "Stay aft of her, Lambert. We can pick her apart at our leisure." A second shot from the English bow-cannon exploded into the aft cabin and cries of anguish and panic were heard. The Captain grimly smiled again. "Tell Porter to switch to heated shot and pour on til she strikes colors." The stern of the Contessa was roaring in flame by the time she ran up the white flag. The English ship was drawn up alongside, and, with some effort, the fire was extinguished. The Spanish Captain was brought aboard, and he bowed and presented his sword to the English Captain, who dismissed him. The Captain called Lambert to him. "Mr Lambert, pick a crew of our best men. I'll take the Spaniard galley from here. Have you inspected her cargo?" Lambert smiled. "Gold, Captain. Mexican bouillion fresh from Montezuma's mines." The Captain's face broke into a broad smile. "Excellent! Tell the men the good news. Then take our warship and deposit the Spaniards on the island." Lambert stammered "it's..uncharted..deserted..." The Captain lost his smile. "Give them three days food and water. God Himself would do no more. Now go and carry out your orders."

"Aye aye Captain Thornton," said the Mate.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 03:50 PM

Mexican Fish Soup ??

Gareth


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: MMario
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 04:14 PM

worth its weight in saffron!


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 04:16 PM

Oh yeah? Stand by for a broadside!

er...bullion, boullion, ah the hell with it.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 04:31 PM

Master Gunner Amos filled his tankard, the platter of Bread and Cheese was as clean and empty as an polished salver.

"Ay young Benji and his seadaddy Jones went onboard a Letter of Marque. I dare say it was in a hurry to avoid the Tyburn Jig" ...........

Caruso hailed a passing waterman "Ahoy there, put us on the 'Gallant'. Coins changed hands, deft strokes with the scull sped the little boat across the London River. A black, bull like ballding corpse wallowed aimlessly on the tide, the gulls already gathering for the feast. Jones looked at it and spat Unshriven the remains of lord Cartons Warden bobbed down towards Gravesend. When the Unicorn wanted a secret kept, the Thames was as good as the Lethe.

The wherry came under the mainchains of the 'Gallant'. First Caruso, then Jones sprang for the chains and scambled on board. Benji hessitated then jumped, tattood hands grasped his wrist and swung him up and over the bulwark on to the deck.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 05:08 PM

The gallant sped down the river bound for the Channel and to join with Drakes on an expedition expedition to the Main. A letter of Marque, and Counter Margue in the Captains Chest.

Ostensibly to take damages to the value of the betrayed San Juan trading expedition. In fact to plunder, there was no peace beyond the Popes line.

Letters or not this would not save this mecenary band from the Inquisition hould they fail. Backed by the Cecils, The Hatton familly, and it was rumoured the Queen herself.

The race built ship put in to Plymouth as a rondeyvous (sic).........

Gunner Amos stretched, the combination of Malt Hops and good company was making him feel indulgent. Sammy sat opened mouthed at his feet, drinking in the tale of daring do

"Well younker, Drake - 'El Draco' himself learn't his seamanship on the Medway" Amos pointed out past the open tavern shutters. You see that distant spire away beyond Gillingham Strond"

"Yes, thats Upchurch Church, but whats that with Drake - He were a Devon man, or so they sing"

" Aye, a Devon man he was, and a Devon Man he were, and his drum sits in Buckfastlie hard by Plymouth Town - but his father, the Priest, had to flee Devon in Bloody Mary's reign, what with him being married and that. And the good Bishop of Rochester gave him a living - Rector of Upchurch. Yes we learn't how to harry the Dons on the Medway."

"And what happend to Benji and Robert Jones ? ", asked Sammy anxious for this tale to continue.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 05:16 PM

(I'm confused. Weren't Ben and Jones already on the Gallant taken there by Bertoli?)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 05:23 PM

Jones sat bolt upright at the mention of the name. "Thornton you say?"

"Si, si" responded Bertoli, his face alight with passion. "You know the dog? Tell me, where is he, where can I find him, what do you.."

In his excitement Bertoli had grabbed the collars of the shirt recently lent to Jones. Jones Stared hard into the fiery eyes of the Italian sailor and Bertoli ceased his rantings.

"Forgive me, forgive me my guest. What must you think of our Latin hospitality?" He released Richard and took a deep breath, fighting to regain his composure. "But you seem to recognise the name...?"

"Yes indeed," responded the Welshman, "that is the name of the man who ruined our village and all but destroyed my family." He looked glassily into space as his tale began.

"You see, our good Queen chose to replace any who were not, shall we say, favoured. My Fathers halls amidst the green valleys of my own lands oft resounded with the voices of our huntsmen and foresters. But the songs were of Wales and the great Glendower. They were but echoes of a great past, before the English tyrants took our hills. By what means I do not know but word reached London and when I was but twelve years old and English lord came riding into out yards. He was made welcome as we welcome all travellers but he would have no meat, take no wine. He simply unrolled a scroll and began to read. I understood a little, but not all. Oh, I understood the language but not the meanings. My father began to shake and shout with rage. Then the soldiers appeared at the gate. They took my father and brother away in irons. I was, apparantly, too insignificant to pose a threat. I waited, out of sight in the shadows while the barbarians sacked the great hall. Finally, when they dragged my mother screaming from the house I ran to her side and threw myself at the man commanding them."

"He was a little taken aback but as the soldiers grasped my arms he laughed. 'What a delight. A little rebel. Well, young rebel, we do not fight children in a real country. But I will teach you a lesson.' He drew his slim sword and let the tip hover round my heart. My breath stuck in my throat and I think my legs would have let me down had two burly knaves not been holding me. Then he stopped and grinned. 'Remember me, boy' he smirked. 'Remember your betters. I am Lord Thornton and that name will haunt you forever.' With that he trust the blade through my shoulder. and I passed out"

The cabin was tense with Bertoli and young Bragg hanging on every word. Richard felt the tension in him ease as Bertoli began to speak."

"Well, well my English friend. What then?"

"Not English. Never English. I am Welsh" snapped Jones. "But I will forgive you the once. I never saw my father and brother again. What happened to them I know not. I was left to fend for myself and beg for scraps from the kitchens. My mother was left a broken woman. I saw my home, my halls, my beloved land ravaged by the invaders. I went to sea two years later and have never been back since. But I always dreamed of returning and putting evertything right. I never did of course and now probably never will."

"But what you know of Thornton?" asked Bertoli, becoming agitated once again.

"I heard he left our village when the food and wine ran out and the women bored him. Took a commission in the Queens navy. If I had been on his ship I probably would have slit his throat, but no such luck. I do not know where he is now."

"Excuse me sirs" piped up a thin voice from the back of the cabin. "Is this any good". Young Bragg held out a package he had previously concealed in his ragged shirt. "This is why I ran away. I stole this thinking it was gold, but it was just papers. I can't read much but don't that name on the front say Thonton?"

Both men went to snatch the package at once. The Italian reached it first. "Orders for Captain Thornton. Sealed by the offices of Queen Elizabeth the First. To be delivered to the adressee in person by Lord Craven as soon as passage on a warship is available."

"No wonder they were after you lad." said Jones. "What's it say Bertoli?"

The seal was broken already so the Italian had no trouble releasing the documents. "let us see..." he mused, a smile appearing on his cunning face.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 05:41 PM

All hands, d'ye hear there? Keep the thread traceable in event and character or ye'll be bleeding on the foredeck with a cat to complain to! 'at'll teach ye not to study what's in the wake!

Radkin Holloway
Harbormaster
City of London


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: JenEllen
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 06:06 PM

*Going under the impression that Bertoli/Flora/Jones/Bragg/Caruso are all on Gallant???* Il Canzone:

The Gallant sailed under cover of darkness, the ship silent save one sad voice coming from the nightwatch:
Ay, lo ha lasciato elogiare la mia signora quale amo:
Paragonarla unto il giglio ed è aumentato..

Bertoli rose, left Flora asleep in bed, and ventured out onto the deck. As his thoughts returned to the Gallant he noticed a figure standing by the mast. "Chi è là?? Ah. Mister Jones, you decided to take your chances with the Gallant? Would I be correct in assuming that your little boy is here as well?" Jones nodded. "Fair enough," Bertoli replied, "there is work for all."
Como l' oro ed i gioielli più ricchi dell' uomo sa.
Hanno amato l' auto, essendo amore per lei, devono più santo risultare.

The two men stood looking out over the dark sea when Bertoli spoke again: "Mister Jones, you realize you may die tomorrow? Do not smile, I make no jokes. Part of the papers your boy had stolen? Letters from Lord Cecil himself, by word of the Queen, that gives full amnesty to English who seek to steal Spanish gold from Phillip. If Thornton knows this, he will be ruthless. Many will die.
Nay, lo ha lasciato dire ancor più dell' io ha detto;
Nessun uomo potrebbe pensare i pensieri bassi che hanno osservato su lei

Jones faced the sea and took a deep breath before asking: "Do you miss him so terribly to risk all this?"
Bertoli's voice had a steely edge in the darkness when he replied: "Mister Jones, there are many things you do not know. The men on this ship will inform you of the things you need to do to keep your head attached to your body, but I will tell you one thing, Thornton owes me my one chance at happiness. He will die.
Se si diletta il thee non, il cuore thy deve errare.
Nessuno sguardo su lei, i suoi pensieri di sfida dell' uomo che sono base


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 06:18 PM

Flora rolled over in a languid mass of bedsheets, reaching out for Bertoli, only to find she was all alone. Heaving a sigh replete with satisfaction and sly mirth, she closed her eyes and went back to dreaming...of her new lover, the Italian.....I've never 'ad the likes of 'im before, she thought..remembering her first time with someone other than a country bumpkin whom she abhored. Not for nothing had she journeyed to Londontown and found herself aboard a pirate ship bound for the exotic lands of the Caribbean. Just as the dream got better, her hand automatically closed around the small dagger at her wrist...just in case anyone else thought to sample of bit of the "Captain's" wares.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 06:34 PM

As best I understand it

Bertoli and Flora were last seen at Deptford in the vicinity of the "Unicorns Prong"

Caruso, Jones and Ben boaded the 'Gallant'

Thornton was Captain of the 'Gallant' which is variously, a Commisioned Warship, a letter of Marque (Privateer), and Pirate.

Well folks you look after the charecters I'll look after the history. ( Well me and the Tardis)

Gareth

" Sink me the ship, Master Gunner,
Sink her, split her in twain,
Better to fall into the hands of God,
Than into the hands of Spain.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 06:57 PM

Westward Westward Ho! Landsend sank beneath the horizon, a dark blur marked the Scilly Isles to leeward, as the 'Gallant' made her offing clear of Ushant 35 leagues to the South East. The sailing master ceased humming "SPANISH LADIES backwards. "Why is he singing that Chanty Backwards? " asked Benji. "Dieu" snorted Jones, " He's rembering his course back to the Main"

"Is Mr Lambert very fond of Spanish Ladies ?" asked Benji with a knowing smile. " Oh Eye, particular to those laden with Gold and Jewells - Treasure ships they are, the wealth of the Americas to fund the Don's wars in the Low Countries".

Aboard the Pelican Drake was fixing his position on the chart. " Ah I'll be glad when sombody invents an accurate Chronometer and we can tell our longtitude. But merry there, we are near as bye across the line. Any sail is the enemy. Remember lads, see if the Dons are servile, thier Ladies civil, and see if their Priests can swim"

The scar of San Juan was etched upon his memory.

The Trade wind blew, it reminded Drake and Thorneton of other expeditions, taking Black Ivory fron the Gold Coast to sell upon the Main.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 07:00 PM

Nah - Bertoli (and his strumpet, Flora)is on the Gallant with Jones and Bragg - Dunno where Caruso is but I'll listen for the singing.

Ahhh - no - put the cat back in the bag cap'n...

I'll be happy to let a better man than me sort the threads out - Amos? Are you there? I'm off tomorrow so can't keep up;-)

DtG


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 07:19 PM

In far Purto Rico the sentry walked his beat upon the ramparts of Morro Castle. Brest plate and helmet quietly exhausting him in the heat.

Risking the torments of the Church he cursed the God who made this land, and posted him there to protect Phillips Treasury. In the bay two laden galleys lay, awaiting an escort to convoy the Flota back to Cadiz. The Culverines and Bombards of the Castle heated gently in the sun.

Not that they served much purpose, the gunners manning the artillery had suffered much from the Yellow Jack, "el vomita negro" Scarcely one in ten had survived. Morro Castle was an empty shell ready for the plucking.

His musketoon lay heavey on his shoulder, his rapier irritated his thigh under his hose.

He glanced out to sea, three white squares brested the horizon.

"A sail, three sails", he cried to the watchroom, "Inform the Captain, it must be the escort."


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: JenEllen
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 07:28 PM

Well Amos, I dunno about 'peerless'...and I'm certainly not a better man than that DtG.. *g*
But here goes:

14-01-02 1929: Benjamin Bragg enters the Unicorn
14-01-02 2334: Richard Jones in Unicorn hooks up with Bragg
15-01-02 0053: Caruso tells tale of Vincenzo and Gianetta
15-01-02 0155: Bertoli sails in on Dominazione and goes to Unicorn
15-01-02 0555: Jones kills Carlton's warden in Unicorn and takes off with Bragg
15-01-02 1233: Jones/Bragg meet up with Bertoli and see the Gallant
15-01-02 1426: Jones/Bragg/Bertoli on the Gallant: Jones/Bertoli talk, Bragg/Flora walk
15-01-02 1443: Jude Shakespeare heads for London
15-01-02 1545: Thornton/Lambert and English take the Contessa
15-01-02 1631: Caruso/Jones/Bragg board the Gallant
15-01-02 1723: Jones/Bertoli/Bragg discuss Thornton: Bragg has stolen papers
15-01-02 1806: Bertoli/Jones/Flora/Bragg/Caruso sailing on Gallant

Then somewhere shortly after 6pm Mudcat time, the shit hit the fan. Anyone up for a little game called 'continuity'? LOL (Followed shortly thereafter with Mexican Kestrel Gumbo...)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 08:16 PM

Thanks Jen.

1. Thornton is master of a pirate currently plundering in warm waters, last victim a Spanish vessel carrying Spanish gold to Spain (Carribean, not Pacific). This is NOT the Gallant. It is actually potentially a privateer except that Thornton's letters of marque have been stolen.

2. The Gallant currently possesses her own letters of Marque against Spain. She is thus privateer, not pirate, by the hand of the Queen. She has cleared the bar and is heading down Channel past the Scillies, past Ushaw, and someone said she was aiming to join Drake and Hawkins (who have made a very accelerated job of deciding to wreak their vengeance on the treacherous Spaniards who cost them their capital).

3. Both the beautiful Italians created by Jen are on the Gallant and her tale is well begun. As she heads south, the May airs become warmer, the sun traces color into the faces of the pale-as-eels English aboard her, and things are definitely looking up, although how they propose to replenish their comfort remains to be seen!

Harbormaster


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 15 Jan 02 - 08:21 PM

(Gareth, you've put Thornton aside of Drake, it seems, on the Pelican, although Thornton was Master last time he was described. Mind thy course, a point on either side...events take time and follow one another, y'see...LOL!)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 01:07 AM

(man, am I glad you're the Harbormaster, and not me, Amos! Thornton, the heartless bastard, is an independent Captain, last seen sailing east in command of the captured Spanish Galleon)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 10:04 AM

August, 1568
Ballocks of the Unicorn, Thameside, London

The sour smell of chamberpots old and full began to fade as the evening breeze tumbled up river through the open doors and shutters of the tavern. The day's sweat forgotten, wanderers, laborers, sailors and confidence tricksters wandered the streets and the dark, promising dreams of the London waterfront. The future of all unknown adventure sometimes hangs on such an evening, and for some, it meets its makers in a dark and smoky tavern such as Ballocks of the Unicorn. Meadpots and alemugs, crude platters of bread crusts and the leavings of beef slabs, puddles of accident and the dangerous muscled forms of sailors without masters littered the large lower room, where the hum of talk rattled against the walls in a bumbling and mysterious rhythm of noise, carried by smoke and imagination.

A tall form appeared in the entry, a long cloak thrown back and worn but still sturdy boots, a shadowed face with a trim beard, and a large shape at his side which proved, as he strode in from the dark toward a free table, to be a stout but graceful lute, obviously well-traveled and well-used and even, if such a word were known to men of this kidney, well-loved.

The stranger stretched his long form around a crude chair, his long legs unfolding into the dappling taper light, and accepted a mug gratefully from Lily. He noticed her youthful features and ample superstructure affectionately, and noticed as well that her face showed lines of care much too pronounced for so young and promising a wench.

"Lily, is it? Well, dear Lily, and such you are, a Lily of the Valley, you need a song for your heart, which you are clearly using for carrying something heavy. Not fit for so young a lass to use her heart so. So, then, God willing, here's the very one."

He picked up the lute, tinkered with it briefly, and filled the room with a soft and gentle baritone which flowed through the conversations like fresh water, leaving quiet affections in stilly admiration in its wake.

Do you happen to know
Of a young maid in need
Of a sweetheart? Here's one
Who is anxious to plead,
It's a shame that a handsome
Young fellow like me
Should be left while the nightingale
Sings in the tree!
'Tis a shame that a handsome young fellow like me
Should be left while the nightingale sings in the tree...

In the wood and the meadow
Beneath the bright moon
Every lad and his lass makes
The most of the June
The world's gone -wooing
Excepting of me!
And the nightingale sings
To his mate in the tree,
The world's gone a wooing, excepting of me!
And the nightingale sings to his mate in the tree.

The time it goes fast,
Thee is none I can spare!
And the nightingale's song
Will soon die on the air.
Don't you think, dearest Lily,
You'd better agree,
To make love while the nightingale
Sings in the tree?
Don't you think, dearest Lily, you had better agree
To make love while the nightingale sings in the tree!


A murmur of approval and good sentiment rustled through the listening tables in the flickeringhalf-light as the song finished. Flushing prettily, the waitress awarded the bard with a second pint, and a smile which warmed even in a sultry summer night.

None noticed, in the moment as the song faded, a thin brown-eyed lad, of full fair feature and slender form, slip through the door and sidle through the shadows to the tavern bar, and hold a whispered conversation with the plump middle-aged woman, the hostler's wife, presiding there.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 02:03 PM

The Gallant took on fresh water and fruit at the Canary Islands. Jones was the only crewman allowed ashore by Bertoli, his job to supervise the procuring and loading of new supplies. For each consignment received, he penned the name "Richard Fluellen". He stopped at The Parrot Tree, a pub frequented by the British sailors who passed through the port. He had been there several years before, but was pleased that he recognized no one there. He finished his ale and paid, turning over in his mind the fact that his face and name might soon be known in the port, a reward offered for his apprehension for murder. His hand rose unconsciously to the black bristle that was sprouting on his chin. He had never been a man to sport a beard, and the ladies had often expressed their admiration for his boyish face, but he was unlikely to see a woman for a long time. And as Richard Fluellen, he would wear his hair and beard as long as a Spaniard's.

Jones ambled down the beach toward the Gallant. The loading had ceased, the tide had crested, and Bertoli would want to make way soon. The plam trees gave a sudden roar in a freshening eastern breeze, and Jones noticed a dark cloud bank advancing. He hurried step and was soon aboard. Caruso cast off the remaining line, and the sails were raised and snapped taut against the rising wind. "We are in for a blow!" shouted Caruso.

Behind them, the island was lit golden by the sinking sun, standing out in sharp contrast against the blue-black bank of weather behind it. Sections of anvil-shaped cloud were suddenly illumined by flashes of lightning. The sea had begun to roll in eight-foot combers, the ship to take on a plunging gait. The wind strengthened by the minute, and men were sent scrambling up the masts to reef sail, Jones among them. "Take the boy with you!" Bertoli ordered. Jones glanced at the lad, already wide-eyed with terror at confronting his first storm at sea, and placed his hand on his shoulder. "I'll stay with you, Ben, so don't worry yourself! Now...off with your shoes!" The boy's shaking hands removed his shoes. "Now, up the rope ladder. You first, Ben." The boy gripped the rope and swung his body out over the foaming sea, clinging there momentarily as the ship rose, then crashed down spraying him with spindrift. "Look up, Ben!" shouted Jones. "Keep your eye on the spar!" Dutifully, Ben took a deep breath and began to climb quickly up the slick, wet hemp. Half-way up, a huge gust of wind struck the ship and she heeled severely to port, and again Ben stopped, looking down in terror at Jones and the deck far below. "GO BOY!" shouted the Welshman.

At last, they reached the swaying topsail spar and Jones shouted "follow me!" and scrambled out along the sail, standing on the single rope footing. Ben froze, staring at the deck forty five feet below, at the tiny figures of men moving frantically about. The mast top was swaying in huge lurching arcs, lightning flashing all around, the air full of a cannonade of thunder. "Come on Lad!" shouted Jones as he pulled at the reef lines. At last, Ben was beside him, shivering, wide-eyed, but following Jones' lead as he pulled at line and sail. "Good lad" murmured the Welshman "brave, good lad."


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 02:12 PM

(Ah....wonderful)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 03:10 PM

Fast Forward

The squall faded into the distance. Up the ratlines when our gallent crew, this time to shake out the reefs and speed down the wind running free.

Ben was growing more acustomed to the hieghts of the mast.

Not all was well, in the squall the 'Pelican' had parted commpany.

"Fire 3 guns to leaward Master Gunner - The sound of a cannon might bring Drake into sight"

The drum rolled - a signal for the Gun Crews to close up for action. In the confusion Ben sprinted down to the Magazine. The serge curtains parted A gunners mate thrust a powder box into Bens arms. He ran up the compainion way into the waist. "Here boy!", a hairy guner grabed the box and ladeled scoops of black powder in to a Cannon. Four stought seamen heaved on the tackle and thrust the cannon uo to the gun port. A sprinkling of fine dust from a horn, Jones pulled Ben away clear of the fierce recoil, the Gunner leant overand swept the slowmatch onto the loose powder.

Oh such a roar, it seemed it never ended, white smoke billowed away to leeward. In the heart of it an incandesent flame. Bens eyes watered, the sulphur reek clawed at his throat. The Breeching ropes twanged as they brought the cannon to a stop. Twice this was repeated.

"Still " shrilled the Bosons call. " Right lads " cried Thorneton " Listen for a reply."

They listened and listened again but no echoing reply came over the Sea.

The 'Gallant' was on her own, venturing into the Spanish Sea.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 04:34 PM

Thirty lashes and a PM, for ignoring the wake, young Gareth!!

Harbormaster


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 05:47 PM

Yes please Joe Clone - well, it was late...;-)

Thanks in advance. I'll stand you gulpers next time the bosun lets us splice the mainbrace!

DtG

No problem, DtG
not sure I want to ask what "gulpers" are, though?*g*
- el joeclone -


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 05:55 PM

We don't get the collywobbles out of our spacetime continuum, the mainbrace will do worse'n splice. It'll ruddy splinter from the matrix stresses!! And I don't think the Elizabethan-era sailor was much of one for damage control. I'm putting the flux generator in irons below, herewith and henceforth. Another offense will see a corpse at the yard; stand forewarned, ye scurvy mudlarks! Or you'll be wearing the t'g'llnt halliard for your troubles, as a necklace.

Harbormaster


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 07:08 PM

Aye aye, Cap.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: JenEllen
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 07:35 PM

By evening, the seas had calmed somewhat, and the black wall of clouds stretched far to the horizon. Jones took the nightwatch, and young Ben sat beside him, furiously tying and untying knots in a length of rope that Jones had given him to practice with, when a voice startled them both from their thoughts: "Fine work tonight, young Ben." spoke Bertoli, casually taking his seat on the stairs and resting his elbows on his knees, "Either very brave or very stupid, eh, Signore Jones? Nah, not so stupid," Bertoli laughed, "You will make a fine sailor."

The three sat a moment longer when Bertoli spoke again: "Mister Jones, however, is failing in his duties..." Jones and Bragg looked curiously towards the Captain and he continued with a mischievous glint in his eye: "You have been on board the Gallant many nights, have you ever heard an evenings watch pass without song?" Jones looked increasingly uncomfortable, but he had some idea that this Bertoli was a madman and used to getting his own way. He cleared his throat and thought a moment before cautiously singing:
Ar lan y môr mae rhosys chochion
Ar lan y môr mae lilis gwynion
Ar lan y môr mae 'nghariad inne
Yn cysgu'r nos a choddi'r bore.

Bertoli laughed softly, "Such a strangled tongue. Tell me then, what it is?"
Jones thought a moment and replied: "Beside the sea there are red roses, beside the sea are lovely lilies too, beside the sea where my sweetheart lives, she sleeps at night and wakes in the day...."
"Very fine," whispered the Captain, rising to leave. He regained his voice and barked: "You may continue..."

Jones started again, with young Ben watching intently as Bertoli returned to his cabin:
Ar lan y môr mae carreg wastad
Lle bum yn siarad gair âm cariad
Oddeutu hon fe dyf y lili
Ac ambell sbrigyn o rosmari.
Llawn yw'r môr o swnd a chegryn
Llawn yw'r wy o wyn a melyn
Llawn yw'r coed o ddail a blode
Llawn o gariad merch wyf inne.

Below decks, Caruso was having his own troubles, and they had little to do with song. He had seen the Captain in the storm, his rain-soaked hair plastered to his face and his windblown collar revealing the milk-white scar at his throat, and at that moment Caruso knew that this was no sea-captain. He made the sign of the cross. They were all going to die.
Later he made cautious inquiries to the rest of the crew, but they were ignorant to the point of belligerence. "Wha'? The Cap'n? I've sailed with this lot for going on two years now. Ask any man on board, you sail with Gianni Bertoli, your belly and your glass are never wanting." "You 'ave any problems, mate, you take it up with the Captain. You can be fed to the sharks, but I'm going to go home wif'me pockets full." Caruso climbed into his bunk that night, but he did not sleep.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 08:22 PM

Thaddeus Ladd Thornton groaned in his sleep and tossed fitfully, his beef-like shoulders slamming into the inner wall of the dank, creaking hull. His unrest was not light -- he was far under, but of peace knew nothing. His real brow beaded with a jaundiced sweat, while his innervision squinted against the glaring sun of high noon on an endless stretch of Mediterranean water between the Gulf of Lyons to the nor'west and the cruel sands of Tunis far to the sou'east; it was strange and dream like water, salt and harsh, glaring under the sun in a ghostly and menacing way, not with the warm pronmise of real seas at rest, but more as though the water itself were a whisper of death. Across the water, far to larboard, he saw shapes drifting easily, and in the strange way of dreaming could see at once their details and nature as though close, while still impossibly far on the cramped foclse head of some small, nonexistant vessel. Here were the screaming women from a Shropshire village who had implored him with tears, whose dresses he had torn off in simple spite. Here was a proud Spanish lady, the wife of some falutin grandee, no mistake, whom he had watched crumble to her death in the wreckage of the Countess of Albion's sterncastles, her bloody torso tumbling throug the wrecked mullions of the shattered stern glass to join the frenzied sharks in a dance of raw transmigration and blood. Here was the fainting pallor of a young man he had once skewered through the shoulder for daring to challenge him; there was a portly and harmless miller he had ordered sliced asunder for lack of sufficient respect in bowing to him as he rode by on the King's business. The forms danced lightly on the dead surface of the strangely liut sea, swirling and pointing and staring in his direction; and each time ne looked otward his distant position at the rail of the far small vessel, that one face loomed until it seemed to be staring him eye-to-eye, shivering the meaty dank leftovers of his rotten soul. He knew, in the dreamer's way, that he was on a fated vessel, knew her name --Gallant--although he had never crossed the path of any such vessel in the fleshly world -- and knew that she was doomed, and he with her, in ways that only the mystery of the undreamed future dream could reveal; he could not know. He could only wait for the doom of the tale to unfold and draw him up, and this he knew certainly....

There was a splintering crash and a scream of protesting timber, a huge thud shuddering the very frames between which he slept, and he was slammed into wakefulness, gasping, nearly crashing his own skull against the overhead of the finely appointed bunk in which he lay. He looked around, saw the fresh woodwork, the scarfed timbers, the planked over stern glass, and wiped th ebeaded sweat from his brow with a gasp of recognition. He was safe on the purloined Contessa de Albion, he was in command, and his fate was his own to command; he had the strength to do it, and it was his own, and for witness he had only to look at the quailing carpenter and his mate, who had just dropped a large timber with which they were planning to repair the lower transom, and in dropping it had crushed a small hand-crafted chest which once must have held a Spanish lady's treasures or kerchiefs, looted since. The carpenter began muttering obeisant apologies. Thornton silenced him with a sneer. He looked around the stern cabin, satisfied.

There was no doom. There was no Gallant He, Thornton, was the master again. And he smiled a terrifying smile and cuffed the carpenter's mate.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 08:36 PM

Certain it was, at the moment when the carbuncular smell of London began to pierce the nostrils, that I was overtaken on the road by three merchants, who were jolly enough companions for the nonce, and one of whom, Mr. Trevelyan by name, was honoured above the rest for his breadth of knowledge (as well as by the comfortableness of his breadth of seat), for he had been in Portogal, and down the Afric' coast in a slaver as far as the Great Bight, which he proclaimed as the end of the earth whatever the mapmen might soon declare. When they enquired as to my destination, it transpired that they too had hopes of passing the night at the same north tavern, before breasting the waves of the City, and so it unfolded. As we entered the tavern area in the early dusklight -- a storied inn encircling a common central space attained through an entranceway -- by the greatest of chances, it also happened that a company of players (not my brother's, but some in deadly competition thereunto) were engaged in a late afternoon's undertaking of "Dido and Aeneas", which play appeared to be a stichwork of various poetic and dramatic enterprises by an unknown hand of dubious quality. Notwithstanding this, we entered into the scene upon almost our cue (had we been but Carthaginian spies), and witnessed the lighting of the torches, the hanging down from every opening and hatch of patron and hostellier, and general awe tempered with occasional tumult from a quarrel here, a fretting horse there, and the burble of controversy over which player was the most striking or the most ripe for hanging. Such was the Rose in the early days.

It was during the interminable passing of Dido, who -- as one of our boon companion merchants remarked -- was so long about it that one might at any moment expect her descendant Hannibal upon an elephant to snuff out the threatening pyre with its vast feet or a stream from its proboscis -- that we rose to leave, and as I accosted the servant with a miscalculated bill to our cost, Mr. Trevelyan, eying me close, turned my way as we passed back towards our chambers, and said: "Mr. Shakespeare, from your person and your gaze, I am bound to proclaim that you are in search of the widest of horizons" -- to which I nodded assent -- "and there is no such horizon as the sea, which may indeed be considered all horizon." I again nodded assent. "Mr. Shakespeare, I mean to cast and cask in the Canaries within the month, and were you of a like enterprise, young though you are, I am in search of a lad with a head for figuring." I thanked him for his kind consideration, that I could neither say what I would or would not do until I had spoken with my brother, and then as my way was in those days, with a foolish tongue in my head, I asked him whether he had not sons in fact or in mind, since he was of a robust age, to swell out his corporation. His face darkened, and he then said that he had had a son, dead in the Azores from a knife, and that to say truth he was seeking more than good Canary wine on this voyage. And then he said no more for the night. We travelled together at dawning into the city, and parted at the Aldgate, the three of them to the waterside, and I eagerly to Cheapside.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 16 Jan 02 - 08:37 PM

Oh mudelf, hear my plea and end the italics after the vessel's name Gallant, above! Many thanks.

A.

Thornton's real location is now estimated to be somewhere in the wide stretch of the Med east of the Baleares and south of the Gulf of Lyons. Drake has been blown west into open seas beyond Gibralter by the gale, and may be scouting for Spanish sail far to the west of the Canaries. Who knows. And whether these twisted trails of fate will cross agian, dear reader, remains to be discovered.

Radkin Holloway
Harbormaster
Admiralty House, London

mudelf?! mudelf?! *bg*
that's
- el joeclone -
to you, dear Harbourmaster!
Glad to be of service! *bg*


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: JenEllen
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 02:01 AM

A good hour before the sun's first light struck the Gallant, Caruso took leave of his bunk and set out topside for what he told himself was a search for fresh air. Deep in thought, he paced the deck repeatedly until a voice brought him from his reverie.
"Non dormendo, fratello mio?"

Caruso spun to see the Captain leaning against the masthead. The captains casual stance, paired with the eerie pre-dawn glow, made the hairs on the back of Caruso's neck stand on end. "Gatto e ratto," he thought to himself, "and I am most certainly not the cat..." "Si, Captain," he spoke aloud, "the air to clear my head..."

"Your head must hold many questions," said Bertoli "that is, if the mumblings I hear from the crew are any indication..."
"Captain, prego, I am but a simple sailor.."
"Oh, si, molto semplice. This is why you incite my crew with your stories?" Bertoli's black eyes flashed menacingly.
"Then you deny them, sir?"
Bertoli took a threatening step towards Caruso and hissed "I deny nothing."

The two stood a moment, sizing each other up, before Caruso painfully averted his gaze and sighed. "Signora, you are mad."
"Ah, something else I do not deny!" Bertoli cried. "Do you want to know the surest way to drive a woman insano? Have a stranger tell her that her love is cold and dead at the bottom of the sea! Have her family lock her away like the guasto herself, until the truth of it breaks her spirit. Have her try to end her own life time and again, only to have her tormented soul refused by its very creator.. Then, you must also add to this repeated stories, glorious tales of the murdering bastard pig killing others, stealing other lives from love...Then you will have just a portion of my madness, signore."

"Dear lady.." offered Caruso
Bertoli set upon him in an instant: "How dare you? Pity me? You have no idea....qui...take this pistola...shoot me."
"Signora.."
"Do it!" Bertoli barked. When Caruso only returned a rightfully terrified look, Bertoli snatched the gun from his hands and pointed it at his own head. Several pulls of the trigger resulted in dry clicks, and in a rage, the captain of the Gallant turned the barrel of the gun towards the heavens, pulled the trigger, and it discharged freely in a flash of light. Bertoli hung his head and let the pistol fall to the deck, "You see, my friend? I am forever to live, forever to be a step behind the English pig, and forever to suffer for it."

The sound of the gunfire had drawn a scrambling crew now to the deck. Bertoli waved them away with a genuinely kind "Un incidente, my friends....no fear." before turning to face Caruso again. "You, signore...You have the choice.... I cannot let you return to land and tell the stories you have been telling on my ship, you understand? If Thornton should hear? Well enough. So, your choice is this; you may stay aboard the Gallant as a friend and compatriot, share in the bounty as the rest of the crew does, or you may die here today and rest at the bottom of the sea until God calls you to his side. I give you until the sun rises to make your decision." With this, Gianetta Bertoli spun on her heel and went below decks. Caruso resumed his pacing, on increasingly shaky legs, until the sun crept over the horizon.

Shortly after sunrise, the crew of the Gallant gathered on deck, where Captain Bertoli addressed them: "Ah, my good friends.... The air after the storm, she is so clear, I rose this morning and I smelled her. Do you know what I smelled?" Various rumblings rose from the crew, and Bertoli continued: "I smelled the faintest trace of pig shit." The crew erupted into raucous laughter, which died away gradually under the captains waving hands. "Enough, enough...Today, we run the guns. I want the utmost speed when we reach Thornton. There is not a moment to waste in battle, my friends. And you..." Bertoli crouched and now addressed Benjamin, "can you run as well as you climb?" The boy nodded, smiling, and the captain continued "Then you will run powder to the guns. Be quick!"

Caruso and Jones then exchanged a dark look that was not lost on Gianetta Bertoli. "And you, Signore Caruso? Will you be so kind as to man the wheel this fine morning?"
The silence that fell on the deck was broken only by the creaking ship, as the crew, man by man, turned to face Caruso. The Italian called forth every ounce of bravery in his body to quell his fears, and answered "Aye, Captain."


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 09:22 AM

(Signora? Holy moly!!! That means Flora is a courtesan from a Greek island a few hundred miles east of here, Lesbos by name, and the raving piratical captain is a fellow student of Sappho, Lesbian Pirate Queen!! Dang!! Just don't let the word of this come back to the Harbormaster. He's a little oldfashioned....)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 02:22 PM

Jones stood at the wheel, a light northeast breeze at his right shoulder, the sails pulling steadily with a following sea. He could feel the hull below him rushing on the surface of the water, the ship feeling incredibly light and responsive. The Gallant had entered the eastern Carribean, and the water had changed hue from deep blue to a light aqua, shaded with turquoise and emerald. It was hot, and many of the men had taken to dousing themselves with buckets of seawater as they swabbed the deck. Other men were engaged in fitting out the cannon, and Jones watched young Bragg assisting a gun crew as they cleaned and polished the salt accumulation from a 12 pounder. The boy was smiling and laughing with the men, and Jones noticed that the gaunt look had vanished. The boy's face had fleshed out, the arms gaining muscle as he helped strain the gun back into position. The life suited him, just as it had suited Richard Jones. Hard work, food poor but in plenty, sun and rain, sea and fellowship, all these held the essence of life for Jones. It occurred to him that he was, despite everything, quite a happy man.

My Lily is the fairest of the flowers
That I could watch her blossom by the hour
And I would pluck her from that tiresome soil

Jones paused, concentration etched on his brow. Then he smiled again.

For the Lily of the Valley should not toil! A burst of laughter greeted him from the foot of the mainmast. Bertoli said "I thought poesy came naturally to the Welsh. For you it is a bit like chopping wood." The Captain came to stand by his left shoulder, saying "it's a fine day Jones. Keep her headed due west until we see a headland to Nor'west that resembles a camel's back. Then we will set a course just to leeward of that headland." Jones said "how do you know we will find Thornton here. These are uncharted waters." Bertoli replied "I have a copy of a manifest filed with Queen Elizabeth. You will find Thornton's own charts in it, for he has in his possession stolen Spanish maps of this sea showing the secret routes of the treasure ships. He has been recently in these very waters." Their conversation was interrupted by a shout from the crow's nest. "Smoke, Captain! A signal fire to the north. Bertoli scrambled to the ratline, mounting some twenty feet up, and then sighting through his glass. "Aye," Bertoli said. "'Tis a signal fire! Set course for the smoke plume!" The crew scrambled to the sheets as Jones spun the wheel. Bertoli descended to the deck, and as the Captain did so, Jones was struck by the fine shape of the captain's legs, trousers rolled to the knee.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: JenEllen
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 03:23 PM

"The pig is close, my friends!" Bertoli shouted into the wind as the sailors scrambled on the deck. The captain gave Jones a solid thump on the shoulder and laughed heartily. "Today may be the day!" Then turning to the crew on the deck once again, and taking a lungful of salt air, the captain bellowed "Il Fangoso!! For Flora!!"

Below them on the deck, one of the Italian sailors raised his head and began to sing:
"C'e la luna mezzo mare
Mamma mia me maritari,
Figghia mia, a cu te dari
Mamma mia pensaci tu."

To which the crew replied:
"O Mamma, piscia fritta baccala
O Mamma piscia fritta baccala."

The crew continued on with their work, as Bertoli laughed and jokingly explained to Jones the song as it unfolded: "From the mother to the young girl: If you dream of the barber, you must want your love sharp like like the razor. If you dream of the cabinet maker, you must want your sex on a flat plane. If you dream of the shoemaker, you must want to be 'hammered'. If you dream of the farmer, you must want to be 'plowed', and if you dream of the butcher, then it must be sausage that you are after! Ah-ha! My Flora? She loves this song!"

"Si ci dugnu lu babberi
Iddu va, Iddu veni
'u rasolu manu teni.
Si ci pigghia la fantasia
Mi rasulia la figghia mia.
(O Mamma..)

Si ci dugnu falignami
Iddu va, iddu veni
'u chianuzzu manu teni
Si ci pigghia la fantasia
Mi chiannuzulia la figghia mia
(O Mamma...)

Si ci dugnu lu scapparu
Iddu va, iddu veni
'u matteddu manu teni.
Si ci pigghia la fantasia
Mi matteddia la figghia mia.
(O Mamma...)

Si ci dugnu zuppunaro
Iddu va, iddu veni
'u zappuni manu teni.
Si ci pigghia la fantasia
Mi zappunia la figghia mia.
(O Mamma...)

Si ci dugnu macillaiu
Iddu va, iddu veni
La sasizza manu teni.
Si ci pigghia la fantasia
Mi sasizzia la figghia mia.
(O Mamma...)

Jones smiled and watched young Ben heartily joining the others, his young voice sending his "Oh Mamma's" to the wind as the smoke plume on the island grew ever nearer.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 03:43 PM

The Gallant lowered a boat, and it slowly made its way to the figure standing alone on the beach. Bertoli and his men splashed ashore and the man approached. He was clad in a fine blue and white uniform, complete with epaulettes and sword belt, but the costume was filthy and tattered. The man stood at sharp attention, and bowed his head to Bertoli. "My name is Captain Raoul Ramirez-Garcia," he said thickly. "The rest of my crew are hiding in the trees. They fear you will kill them." Bertoli bowed in return and said "they need not fear that." Ramirez-Garcia turned and motioned. A dozen ragged men, some leaning on others for help in walking, emerged from the jungle. "You were shipwrecked?" asked Bertoli. "No," responded the Spaniard, "we were set ashore here one month ago after our ship was captured by one of your pirate captains. We have had no water, other than rain we have collected, for two weeks now. Four of my men have died. We were left very little to sustain us by your Captain Thornton."

Bertoli's eye flashed at the name. "You are saved, Captain Ramirez-Garcia," said Bertoli. "Ben, bring the cask of water." The boy brought them the container and the men drank greedily. "Now, you will come aboard the Gallant, and you will be fed and clothed. All ships that fly the English Flag are not murderers, as you will see. Perhaps you will assist me in hunting down the men who marooned you." For the first time, Ramirez-Garcia smiled. "Gladly!" he said.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 04:12 PM

How am I supposed to get any real work done?;~)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 06:41 PM


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: JenEllen
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 07:00 PM

Evening fell, and the Gallant left the sunset behind her as she turned, made a broad loop around the island that was the Spaniard's prison, and headed once again for deep water.

Jones and Caruso sat together on the broad deck, mending a torn sail. Jones thought to himself that if he'd seen the boy gather his health on this vessel, he had also seen the bandy Italian lose his. The man was pale and looked as if at any minute, he expected the sky to fall in on him. They sat quietly until Caruso raised his head from his work and concernedly asked Jones: "The boy? Where is the boy?"
"Ben? Down below getting a lesson in map-reading from the Captain, I expect..."
Caruso made the sign of the cross over himself and muttered "Dio mio, protegge il bambino" before looking over both shoulders and leaning towards Jones to whisper "Bertoli is no sea captain..."

In the Captain's cabin, Bertoli and Ben sat at a cramped table surrounded by maps and the smell of tallow candles.
"You see? If this length is a day's fair travel, and you want to go from here to say...here? How long then?"
Ben cautiously measured the distance and proudly proclaimed: "Three days."
"And your heading, young captain?"
"Nor' noreast."
Bertoli smiled and chuckled lightly. "Correct, young sir, and I predict that if you keep on this heading, some day you will have a Gallant of your own."

The boy beamed and returned to his maps as Flora entered the cabin. Bertoli turned to her and shrugged "Eh?" to which Flora smilingly replied "The scurvy dogs are alive and well, Captain."
"And fed?"
"The cook and I will see to it." she kissed Bertoli on the cheek and hustled from the room in a flurry of skirts.

Bertoli's glance returned to the table to find Ben Bragg blushing to the soles of his boots. "Ah, the spell of sweet Flora! You are fond of her too, I see.."
"She wrapped up me hands--when the ropes cut me-- she's a nice lady."
"Si," said Bertoli, thoughtfully, "A nice lady."
"I can see why you'd marry her."
"Marry?" Bertoli laughed "Oh, clever boy! I did not marry her-- she came to me in England. She had killed a man who attacked her, him being rich and she being poor, well, she would have hanged for certain. After all this time, we are affectionate, si, we give each other what we need to survive, but above all, she is my confidante. I can tell her anything..."
"Like me and Mister Jones."
"Si, exactly." Bertoli thought a moment and spoke: "A question then, clever one. Who do you suppose is Signore Caruso's confidante?"
Ben looked at the captain, quite puzzled, and answered "I don't know."

The sail and needle rested motionless in Richard Jones' hands as he sat back and absorbed the ridiculous tale that Caruso had told him. "You must be out of your mind, mate." He then shook his head and went back to his work. "It makes no sense at all....what about the rest of the crew then?"
"All under the witch's spell."
Jones stood up and rolled the sail as he sternly looked at Caruso. "Be careful, with talk like that..."
"I will be very careful." replied a dreamy Caruso "I have God on my side, and I can wait."


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 07:11 PM

Flora shivered with excitement as she listened to the men do her Captain's bidding, singing that lovely song just for her! They ahd added to the ranks and she heard the new voices blending in. She threw the bedcovers off, sat up and, bending her head over her legs, grabbed her long, dark hair and began braiding it. As she raised her head, she coiled the braid on top and pinned it. All the while, she was humming along with the sailors, blushing at the thought of last night with her Captain. Like nothing she'd ever had before!

Quickly dressing in discarded men's clothes, she grabbed her dagger, tucked it into her waistband and left the cabin. The bright sun made her squint, but a breeze softened the harshness of its heat. Oh, Gianette?! she cried, I am ready to help you with the klling of that bastard, Thornton! But, first...a kiss, mi amor.... she smiled with a knowing look of promise and as the Captain strode over to her.

kat


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 07:31 PM

(whoops...I had not seen your posting, Jenellen, when I concocted the latest for Flora. Will mend her ways and get the bread baked, veggies chopped right quick!**BG**)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 08:38 PM

Captain Raoul Ramirez-Garcia, lately commander of the Contessa D'Albino, admired his reflection in the cabin mirror. Bertoli had had his uniform cleaned and dried in the tropic sun, and delivered to hang on his door as he slept. Dinner would be in one hour, the two Captains to dine together along with the mate Caruso, the Welsman, and Flora, undoubtedly to recount tales of storms and battles across the seven seas. Bertoli was a true man's man; Ramirez-Garcia could see that immediately. The Italian had that clarity of eye and directness of expression that marked, as the Spanish said, "a man who does". Even the presence of Flora bore this out. Bertoli must be a man of prodigious appetite, to violate sailing tradition by bringing a woman aboard. Not that Ramirez-Garcia would not be inclined to do the same, were the Admiralty inclined to turn a blind eye. And despite Bertoli's rough exterior, Ramirez-Garcia slyly detected the aura of noble birth. This was a man who had forsaken privelege in order to prove his manhood in high adventure, much as the Spanish Captain, youngest son of Count of Andalusia, had done himself. Yes, that must be the source of the strange attraction that Raoul felt for the Italian. He affected an arch look in the mirror, then removed his dagger in order to trim the tips of his moustache. He sheathed his knife, and then patted the pocket of his coat. There, within, safely guarded during a month marooned, was a pint of excellent Dry Sherry. He would arrive early, so that he and Bertoli might share a friendly cup.

The Spanish Captain passed Flora as he walked to the Captain's cabin, and was informed that the Captain was just finished indulging in that rarest of ship-board luxuries, a warm, freshwater bath. "Perhaps I should return later..." started the Spaniard, but Flora said "don't be foolish Capitan Raoul. Captain Bertoli would relish a nice sherry so soon after a relaxing bath. Garcia-Ramirez bowed as Flora took her leave, then knocked softly at the door. "Come in" called the Captain, and the Spaniard entered with a flourish and a deep bow. He then elevated his face, saying "good evening Captain Bert..." And here he froze, an apoplectic expression on his face, his mouth working spasmodically. The Italian, fresh from the bath, stood naked, fingers covering mouth less in shame than amusement. "But...dios y Madre Maria!..I must..." The Spaniard's face was now flushed crimson as he backed away, knocking his head on the oaken door. He staggered out on to the deck, loosening the collar of his silk shirt and gasping, as the whispering crew craned to see his face.

"Don't forget, dinner in one hour!" called Bertoli through the hatch. "Yes!" responded the Spaniard, his voice strangled. "Yes, my...your....yes, Captain!"


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 09:18 PM

(ROTFLMAO, Mister EJ!! Hop to, Cookie-me-lad, and, double that man's grog!! He's well worth it!!

Harbormaster)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: katlaughing
Date: 17 Jan 02 - 09:29 PM

(LMAO, as well, LeeJ!!)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: JenEllen
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 01:39 AM

(a true man's man....I LOVE IT! LOL)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: JenEllen
Date: 18 Jan 02 - 03:05 AM

(aside, this was the best I could do seeing as I've laughed myself sick... ta Leej, finely done)

Some moments later, the scarcely composed Captain Ramirez-Garcia walked, dreamlike, to the Captain's Mess. When he reached the door, he found it guarded by a large Spaniard he knew was not of his crew, for the man's facial features were horribly scarred, with one eye milky-white. "A man you do not forget easily" he thought to himself. The Spaniard's one black eye scrutinized the Captain harshly, then opened the door to the dining hall. When Ramirez-Garcia entered, he found Captain Bertoli leaning far back in her chair, pensive, her small feet crossed on the table, her hair knotted low on her neck and her hands across her chest, fingertips together in wide prayer. When his presence registered, she kicked her feet off the table in a fluid motion, and rose to greet him.
"Captain!" she said kindly, motioning towards the two empty glasses on the table, "I hope you will forgive my impudence, but I heard tell of a fine Spanish sherry on board? Are you quite well? Your head? How is she feeling?"

Ramirez-Garcia took a protective step back, shielding himself from Bertoli by standing on the other side of the table, and glaring at her like the embodiment of wounded pride. "Signore," Bertoli spoke softly. "An apology is in order, I believe. My Flora, she is fond of the jokes...What can I tell you? I thought you were she returning, and my laughter was only due to my own shock, and certainly not to any amusement at your discomfort." Bertoli bowed low, and when she rose, the Spaniard's pride, although bruised, was somewhat restored. "Please, Captain, may we share a drink?"

With a Spaniard's flourish, the Captain retrieved his pint of sherry and poured two glasses. He handed one to Bertoli, and she motioned him to a chair near the head of the table. "Captain, I am most interested in hearing how you came to be on that island. Anything you can tell me to aid my pursuit of Thornton would be most appreciated."
"Signo..uh...Captain," Ramirez-Garcia stammered, faltering only long enough to see the intensity of Bertoli's face. He quickly gathered himself and explained the circumstances of their capture and the implausible cruelty with which his men were left stranded on the island. For a moment he fancied himself home again, regaling a fine lady with tales of battle, then he saw the cold fire brewing in the Italian's face, and he reminded himself that this was no parlour story told for amusement, this was war.

"And you, Senora?" Ramirez-Garcia relaxed slightly, the pleasant audience and the sherry warming his blood, "Captain y Captain, why does this Thornton offend you so?"
Bertoli's face grew dark as she looked at the Spaniard: "He stole from me, and I will stop at nothing to find him. That is all you need to know." Ramirez-Garcia shrugged and smiled, and Bertoli fiercely continued "I will stop at nothing, and I will not be stopped, do you hear me? The small matter of my sex has no bearing, and what thoughts you have on that subject, you will keep to yourself, is that clear?" The threatening tone of her voice brought Ramirez-Garcia to attention as Bertoli leaned low across the table and whispered, "Did you happen to see the gentleman waiting just outside the door? He would be hard to miss. I found him in your Cadiz, you know. On the docks... Catching rats in his teeth for the amusement of drunken Spaniards. A word from me and that man will break you in half, provided he doesn't chew you in half first."

"Senora, you cannot think that I..."
"Not you, no. He is there because of threat from another, but I tell you only so when you meet God in heaven, you cannot tell him that you weren't warned."
At this, a sharp knock from the door and Bertoli warmly called "Enter!" The Spaniard opened the door and the dinner guests filed in to take their places at the table.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 01:13 PM

In late summer, an hour before dawn, the winds began combing the endless mane of deep waters of the Carribean coast of Central America. By sunrise they had stepped higher, littering the broad waters with endless writhing whitecaps dancing under gray and lowhung clouds. From the deck of the Pelican, you could see nothing but gray skies, surly seas, and the endless litter of bone white waves, as though the infinite dead souls below the deep waters had risen up in a mad and reckless saraband, discarding their bones to the upper world in wild abandon.

Scudding before the wind, the round-waisted caravel took the running seas on her quarter, rising and falling with unfailing grace to the fevered caresses of her tireless lover, the Spanish ocean. The light softened from gloom to gray, and the wind countered by hardening to Force 5, whipping long-toothed combers across the rollingback of the sea. Gripping the edge of the doorwayfrom the Captain's quarters beneath the poopdeck, a groggy, broadshouldered Englishman made his way to the helm station aft of the mizzen and stood surveying the heeling, rolling movement of his vessel. The whipping caresses of a high breeze at sea brought the light back into his eyes, and he grinned with a ferocious delight as the canting deck was briefly deluged in a cloud of spray from the galloping prow as another rising wave astern raised the vessel and pitched her nose down into its own passing trough.

"There's land just yon, over that horizon", he said to the tired quartmaster wrestling with the large wheel. "I can smell it. We're just forty miles off the beaches this morning, Jamison. And ten miles north of the Plate, by God. We'll see those muletrains freed of their burdens before this summer is out, mark my words. My oath on it!!"

"Aye, Cap'n", Jamison replied, leaning into the helm as another stern sea lifted the ship and tried to make it change course dramatically.

"When you raise the horizon, Jamison, bring her northly, to nor' noreast. More of a beam, but we'll suffer it. We have work to do before our presence here is made known."

"Nor'noreast, aye!", replied Jamison, as the Captain turned to return to his quarters and map table. "Count on it, Cap'n Drake".


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 03:08 PM

September, 1568
Ballocks of the Unicorn, Thameside, London

..and they sailed upon the Lowland, Low....
They sailed upon the Lowland Sea!!!

So his messmates drew him up, but upon the deck he died
And they wrapped him in his hammock, which was so fair and wide,
And lowered him verboard, and he drifted with the tide
'Til he sank beneath the Lowland, Lowland, Low!!
He sank beneath the Lowland Sea!

A middling crowd rustled with nods and hammered flagons in appreciation of the fading song, and the troubadour accepted his pint with a warm smile to the beauty of the maid, Lily. She leaned over to kiss his cheek, affecting a warmth she felt only for another, but duty-bound she did it with grace and no-one detected the truth in he rheart. As she blocked the sight of him from the tables, she slipped a rough envelope of parchment from her superlative bodice and slid it beneath his cloak, whispering fiercely in his ear. "Missus said...Spanish....Drake....and bishops of Spain are.....". The troubadour nodded gravely, swung up his lute to cover the front of his body, and tucked the large envelope further in, nesting it in his waistband.

Satisfied with his discretion, he tossed the rest of the pint down, stood bowing to the hosteler's wife and company assembled, and strode lightly to the open door, disappearing into the warm thick air of late summer on the steaming Thames waterfront. The drinkers and the hucksters turned to more worldly affairs, and the rumble of ale-fueled chatter in the ripe air of the Unicorm rose to its usual chaotic volume.

He noticed, but did not change his stride, when a lithe, thin lad with large brown eyes uncrooked himself from a nearby doorway and traipsed the muddy street in his wake.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 06:39 PM

Ahhh! a return historical accuracy - Well done Amos !

Gareth


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 07:27 PM

The 'Pelican' danced to the tune of the waves, on the quarter deck drake and his sailing master were taking the height of the sun with the backstaves.

They retreated to the Cabin to plot the latitude.

"Well" said the Master, " If the Dons have charted the town correctly, then she's just on our Lee"

" Theres a moon tonight, we'll approach after dark."

"Approach a lee shore in this weather !!!", the Master was not happy at the thought. - But orders were orders, Drake was in command, and insubordination, well that was a dance at the end of the yard arm.

The moon had risen, the Pelican crept in , the leadsmen swinging for thier life - 7, no 6 fathoms, the shore was shoalling, the white line of the surf grew nearer.

"Helm a weather", a pause, the Ship swung into the wind, "Let go the fo'c'stle ! - Then Back the Sails".

The anchor splashed, the cable ran out, and the backed sails began to force the Pelican sternwards. The nipped cable dug the flukes in to the sea bed.

The Pelican was at anchor, off the Spanish Main.

*********************************

Drake paused, and wiped the sweat off his brow, privatley he would have prefered a jug of good Kentish Ale at the Unicorn. The ambush was in place, this was the trail the Dons would bring the treasure down. All that remained was to execute the plot.

He was very happy that his information and timing was correct. Two minor spanish officials and thier priest had talked. Reluctantly, but independantly, the trio had screamed out the information.

There was no danger that they would give a warning, he had let the local natives take their revenge on the representatives of the colonial power.

There was a jugling of mule harnesses, noises in the distance. A so called advance guard came into sight. Not a care in the word. Drake doubted that they realised there was an English ship within a thousand Leagues.

The 'Conquistadors' own carelessness was their own death warrent.

The killing was over, Drake and his band were maters of the trail, and the laden mules.

"Carefull with them uniforms lads," he warned the gleeful sailors, " Nor much blood on them, youv'e got to pass for Dagoes later"


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 09:40 PM

(aside - Gareth, not picking on you, but if we're to go for historical accuracy, I've a reference which says "Dago" didn't come into use until 1832, fwiw.:->)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 19 Jan 02 - 10:53 PM

(Ah well, for all that we got the dates of Drake's marauding the silver trains of Spain out by a few years too.) (This is going to be terribly embarassing to the Queen, i'n'it? I'm sure the Spanish court will be sending missives of outrage.)

A


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 08:38 AM

Amos - For some unaccountable reason, Her Majesty had a way of ignoring spanish protests - to the extent of giving the Dutch Privateers (The Sea Beggers) sanctuary, and supplies in the Downs and Dover.

With the Spanish Government of Phillip being militarily occupied with the revolt in the Low Countries, and the pressure from the Turks and Corsairs - minor (by spanish standards) raids in the Carribean were a nusciance only.

I can not prove it off hand but I would lay a small bet that losses of specie in transit from the Main to Cadiz were higher from "Perils of the Sea" than the actions of Drake etc.

Kat, you may be right, if so for "Dagoe's" read "Don" !!

I would be interested in your source - could it be anything to to with the Spanish Settlements in California - Sorry Drake's "New Albion" ??

Gareth


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: katlaughing
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 10:36 AM

{Nothing so specific, Gareth. Just the online dictionary which I use for quick reference. If I get time, I will see if my granddad's old set from 1906 has it with dates etc.)

(Not used to this many asides in a story thread!*bg* Let's just have some fun and not worry too much about the rest of it, eh?)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 20 Jan 02 - 12:03 PM

The windswept rain pattered on high windows in a richlyappointed office high above the cobblestones, and the fading warmth of an early September day gave way to a faint promise of colder times and dark skies. The troubador brushed the rainwater from his cloak as he strode up the wide curving staircase and murmured quietly to the sharp-nosed and wrinkled sea-dog, retired, holding watch outside the high broad doors.

"Evening, Jedidiah", said the broad and lanky shadow by the fireplace. "Thank you for coming."

"The honor is all mine, Sir Thomas," he replied. "I am as concerned as any Englishman would be at the path these events are taking. We should not befuddle our thinking with unfounded optimism about Phillip. He is unreliable, tempermental, and Catholic, conceited and prone to outbursts of rage in his personal life. Nor should we be misled about the potential he has for causing endless trouble for England. If France plays its cards the wrong way, Phillip will have enough of a naval force next year to completely overwhelm us. Elizabeth refuses to worry about the matter, and is ignoring protestations from the court of Spain demanding Drake's life in payment for his arrogant invasions of their territory. "

"Yes, Jedidiah," replied the older man. "I gathered as much from your highly valuable intelligence. But I think I may have a way to sway the heart of our over-ptimistic Queen into taking Phillip a little more seriously. We can't afford to antagonize Spain any further than we have; and Drake's head would serve nicely as a palliative, don't you think? Let me explain what I believe we have to do...."

The two men spoke long by the warm fire; but as with all pleasant places and times, the hour came when the troubadour again found himself facing the dark skies and chilled mists of a late London night. As he strode down the cobblestone toward Cheapside, any stranger would have notice that he was unusually pale, even for an Englishman.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 02:19 PM

In the cross-chop, the last laden shallow draft pinnace came up alongside the Pelican with a little more way on than needed and slammed roughly into the ships broad side before secure under the jury rigged gantry. Rubbing their hands together to take off the chill of the dawn winds, the hands on the quarter deck heaved in and swung the large burlap-wrapped flats from the pinnace up to the rail and over, steadying the gantry head with staying pressure on the steering ropes.

The gangboss called "Way, 'nuff, lads!!" and the tackle paid out depositing the large flat on the deck, where other hands heaved it to the hatches and storage deep below, neatly laid out centrally. As they lifted the flat from the decks their muscles bulged with effort. It was plain the packages contained something much denser than ship's stores or fine linens.

From the rail of the high poop, the Captain watch the final lighting with satisafaction.

"Strap 'em down well, laddies!", he called out. "With theblessings of God, if the Queen keeps her hold on the throne until we retrun to England, you'll be rich men when we clear Sheerness, buckos. Her heart may be one place, but our silver will whistle it up handsome!"

The crude laughter of men with their eyes on money floated up to him in rejoinder. As the last rough ingot was swung down into the hold, Francis Drake nodded happily, showing his teeth in grim satisfaction which thibnly disguised his inner elation.

One night on the hook, and a straight run for England before the alarms of the violated Dons to shoreward could bring heavy Spanish sail down on his flanks. Come dawn, they were bound for the Scillies....


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 21 Jan 02 - 09:47 PM

Thornton stared at the course he had laid out from the Azores southeasterly to the Florida straits. He knew if Spanish gold was to be had, their most vulnerable time would be rounding those many small islands and finding their way out to the seep Atlantic for the long run home to Cadiz. One way or another, he would use his Spanish hull and captured flag to wreak havoc and wrest riches from the hands of the Dons. Failing that, with a Spanish flag, he could overwhelm English merchants and their cargo might do him just as well, providing he left enough corpses behind to ensure silence.

He glanced out the rebuilt stern ports at the light cross winds and calculated speed. If they could make good 6 knots they would be off the Floridas in a few weeks. He grinned and felt a rising rush of pure malice rising in him, and slammed his ham-sized fist down hard on the chart table, grinning evilly into the evening.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 22 Jan 02 - 11:17 AM

Ok, ok -- southwesterly -- so my head was upside down reading the chart. So?

A


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 23 Jan 02 - 01:32 PM

"Heave her away, and lash her!!". The crude mud-covered anchor swung clear of the water and an agile hand scampered down onto the dolphin-striker to lever the heavy flukes into the grip of a tackle.

"South by West, Jamison. Make those tophands keep their eyes sharp. One reef in this hull and you will make lifelong enemies of the lot of us. Hear me now??"

"Aye, Cap'n! ALOFT THERE!! And look sharp!!"

"Send the boy after me in four hours. We'll be veering easterly around then, depending on our headway."

"Count on it, Captain!"

The Pelican swung her blunt nose away from the friendly onshore breezes, and firmly reined in by Jamison, leaned over and took a bone in her teeth, bound home.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 23 Jan 02 - 04:03 PM

Thornton's galleon was on a fast run. The natural bearing of the Trade Winds were enhanced by a series of Easterly gales that swept over and past the Contessa D'Albino. The ship was lightly ballasted by the remnant of the mexican gold Thornton had captured weeks before. He had decided to maximize his profit by not returning to England, where the Queen would only claim the ship and the lion's share of the booty, and instead had sold the gold in the port of Marseilles. He had also deposited his small man'o war there, and taken on additional cannon. Now he was headed back to the Caribbean, and flying the Union Jack, although he had King Phillip's flag close at hand. He was pretty sure the crew of the Contessa had perished on the desert island, and therefore the Spanish ship would be thought missing, not captured. He had a fair chance of approaching and taking any galleon he encountered by pure deceit. Thornton was prepared for any eventuality.

It was early morning, and Thornton was scanning the horizons. They were nearing the Spanish shipping lanes, and he was alert for prey. The sun was just above the line of the sea behind him, when the orange beams illuminated a sail to north east. "Bear on that sail, Lambert!" Thornton barked. The Contessa took an oblique approach. Whatever she was, the ship was crowding on sail on her north easterly reach. Thornton at last decried the banner flapping at her mast. "She's British," said Thornton. "Looks to be a Privateer. She goes heavily, Lambert." The mate grinned and said "perhaps she's been lucky, Captain." Thornton continued to squint through the scope and responded "aye. Perhaps she has been lucky. If so, that all ends soon." He snapped shut the telescope.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 24 Jan 02 - 09:10 AM

Hard-pressed on the back of a fading gale the Gallant strained in a fist of hard wind, cold spray and dark night, tearing over black water like a possessed creature.

In the first dog watch, the bos'n had suggested reducing sail. It was his fourth such suggestion, and he made it timidly. For the fourth time, the wild-eyed Captain had snapped rudely at him in the cabin doorway, and refused. She paced, stopping now and then to hold on to a stanchion or the massive table as a particularly hard wave threatened to turn the stout overworked ship on her beam ends.

But she knew her ship, and she knew the water, and she knew that somewhere over the horizon was the English pig. The protest of timbers and hull would not stay her. There was vengeance in her blood, and blood in her eye, and sweet satisfaction on mind. Damn the sea!! Damn the wind!! Press on! Avanti!!


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 24 Jan 02 - 04:17 PM

Drake was napping when the knock came on his cabin door. "Damn your eyes, Jamison! I said wake me in four hours, didn't I?" Jamison blushed crimson and replied "Captain, a ship is approaching. She's a Spanish merchantman, but outfitted for war, and she flies the Union Jack!" Drake vigorously rubbed his eyes with the back of his knuckles and said "where away?" Jamison pointed, saying "if the Captain looks to starboard she is no more than 2 miles off." Drake moved quickly to the bay window that graced the cabin's bulkhead and grimaced at the approaching Contessa. He mumbled to himself "too well armed to out-gun...too much canvas to outrun.." then louder "precede me to the deck, Mr Jamison, and see the crew is armed."

Thornton peered at the English ship and laughed out loud. "Why it's Drake!" he shouted. Lambert said "yes, sir, The Pelican. What shall we do?" Thornton laughed again. "What do you mean, Lambert? We'll do what any seaman would do when he comes upon his countrymen in hostile waters. We shall have a friendly chat. I'll be happy to see that infamous card-cheat."

The Contessa was soon in hailing distance, and she wheeled over to a northeast reach just off the Pelican's starboard beam. Leaning over the rail, Thornton placed the horn to his lips and shouted "Ahoy The Pelican! Ahoy Captain Drake!" A short, stocky man soon appeared near the Pelican's rail and replied "who hails us?"

"Captain Thornton, Francis! Aboard the Contessa D'Albino, late Spanish ship-of-the-line, now British Privateer!"

"Congratulations, Sydney! They always told me you'd make something of yourself. It appears I've lost a bet!"

"Aha! Well, Francis, if you are in a losing mood, then we shall have a game of cards forthwith!"

"Delightful suggestion, Sydney, but I simply don't have the time to dally!"

"Nonsense, Captain Drake! Or do you have something you wish to conceal from the Queen's Navy?" Thornton turned to Lambert and said "un-hatch and prepare the cannon." He again raised the horn, as the clatter of hatches and the rumble of rolling guns came from below. "I'm afraid, Francis, I really must insist! Shorten sail, sir, and lay by!"

Drake's fist were clenched as he turned to Jamison and growled "damn all! Shorten sail Mr Jamison."


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 24 Jan 02 - 05:59 PM

Ach! The villanous rogue!! The blood boils!!!


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 24 Jan 02 - 06:23 PM

Before Lambert could give the order, Drake gripped the mate's shoulder to the point of pain, and through clenched teeth commanded "wait! What does the Spaniard draw, d'ye think?" Lambert quickly surveyed the Contessa with startled eyes, and said "12 feet, Captain, maybe more." Drake suddenly grinned, saying "yes. And we draw 7 feet, perhaps 9 with the gold aboard. Are the guns ready?" Lambert nodded."Then fire all starboard guns, put her hard a-port, and crowd sail to run with the wind."

"She'll soon catch us up, Captain!"

"Not before three miles, Lambert. And there lies Guana Pass Shoals. If we have our luck with us, Thornton will fetch up before we do."

"But surely no harm can come from meeting with him, sir? We have the Queen's protection."

"Sir, the man is a blackguard and a cut-throat and would kill us all without a thought for the Queen or her protection...now execute my order."

Lambert swallowed hard, then shouted for the Gunner's Mate. "Malone," said Lambert, "when I give the order 'hard a port', I want you to fire immediate the starboard guns. Understand? Ready your crew, sir."

Across the water, Thornton's voice was heard again. "Now Captain Drake! Shorten sail!"

"HARD A-PORT!!" shouted Lambert, and the words had barely left his lips when the Pelican's cannon erupted. The wood of the Contessa's bulkhead exploded in a shower of fragments, and the howl of wounded men was heard. The Pelican heeled sharply and had presented her stern before the Contessa could respond with a six-cannon broadside. Four of the shots skipped wide across the sea, but two took off the aft rail and smashed through Drake's cannon. In the confusion, it was some time before the Contessa could come about to pursue Drake. "Ready bow-cannon!" shouted Thornton, then he leaned across the rail, spittle flying as he screamed "YOU TREACHEROUS BASTARD!"


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 24 Jan 02 - 06:52 PM

LOL!!! Well turned, Francis!! Well done, LEJ!!! ROTFLMAO!!


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: JenEllen
Date: 24 Jan 02 - 11:17 PM

Gianetta Bertoli stirred quietly in her bunk, her body one solid mass of ache and soreness. 'So dry' she thought to herself. Softly, she mumbled "Water, prego", and slowly opened her eyes. The hulking Spaniard and Jones sat on either side of the captain's small table, and Jones grabbed for the water pitcher almost mechanically. He started when he realized that the voice he'd heard had indeed come from the captain, and both he and the Spaniard moved swiftly to her side.
"Gracias al Dio..." cried the Spaniard "You wake!"
Jones handed her the small cup of water, and as she reached for it she felt a sharp pain travel down the left side of her body. She gasped, and steadying herself, and then took the cup with her right hand. Jones looked concernedly on as her hand traveled a wobbling arc to her mouth. As she swallowed the warm water, the memory of the pain came flooding back.

***************************

The disastrous dinner party. She had made a tenuous peace with the Spanish Captain, and the others had entered. Flora, in all her finery, Jones, looking as if a cloud were tied to his head, and Caruso....the Italian had glared at her fiercely upon entering the room, and managed somehow to continue to do so for the entire evening. Their feeble attempts at lively conversation were continually thwarted by the little man's sharp tongue. They finally resigned themselves to drinking large amounts of wine and listening to the Spanish Captain tell stories of bravado on the high seas. Flora, for her part, was enchanted, as the rest sat numbed by the grape.

It was shortly after this that Bertoli wandered back to her cabin, followed closely by the giant Spaniard, and breathing the night air in huge gulps in an attempt to clear the fuzziness in her skull. She went inside and brought out various maps and charts from a small chest in the corner of the room. She laid them on the table and sat down to wait.
Shortly after, a knock came to her cabin door and she bid 'enter'. The Spaniard opened the door and glared hatefully at Richard Jones as he walked past him and into the captain's quarters.
"Signore Jones, I thank you very much for seeing me at this late hour. You must be very tired?"
Jones shrugged noncommittally and looked cautiously around the room, "No Flora?" he asked.
Bertoli laughed softly and said: "The fair flower was quite taken with our Spanish guest...I think it will be well on morning before we see her again, eh?"

"But she's..... and he's...." Jones stammered.
"Signore Jones, Flora is her own woman. And besides, the Captain has something to offer her that I could never possess..." By this point the lingering effects of the wine had severely affected Gianetta, and to illustrate her point about the Spanish captain, she hooked her finger over her lip in a shadow of a mustache, and wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. Then yawning loudly, she put her hand back to loosen the tie on her hair, and she roughly shook her head. As the soft curls fell down around her shoulders, Richard Jones looked at her face in the lamplight and realized the horrible situation he had gotten himself into.

Bertoli saw his shocked expression and tiredly waved her hand, "Yes, Signore. The stories are true. I assumed that you would know already, and not have to suffer the same shock as our Spanish guest? The shock of seeing a daughter of the devil fresh from her bath?" Jones couldn't help but quickly balance the pros and cons of a situation like that, then blushing to the soles of his boots, he stared at the floor as the captain sternly continued: "You and the boy are as safe on this ship as on any that sail the seas, you have my word on that... What I need from you, is help with this.." and she gestured to the maps scattered on the table. "If you were the English pig, where would you run to?"

Jones took a step towards the table and quickly answered: "I've thought about this, and forgive me, but hear me out...With what the Spanish Captain told us tonight, the Contessa is full and riding sluggish, I think Thornton would be heading home to cash in, rather than risk waiting." He gracefully traced his finger along the map, marking the route of the Gallant, "If it were up to meself, I would continue in the lines, maybe pick up whatever vessels I could along the way, then back again." His finger rested lightly on the faint lines marking the Guana Pass Shoals, and he paused to look up at the captain.
"You are fairly certain then?" she asked thoughtfully
Jones grinned playfully and answered: "If you want to know all about English pigs, ask a Welshman, that's what I've always heard anyhow.."

Richard Jones saw the smile crossing Gianetta's face at the same time he saw the door burst open behind her. In almost dream-like slowness, he saw Caruso enter, pistol raised, and closely followed behind by the Spaniard. Caruso saw Bertoli, raised his pistol, and fired just as the Spaniard swung his cudgel. Jones couldn't be sure if it was the Spaniard's attack, Bertoli's whirling around to see the door, or just the fact that Caruso was a horrible marksman, but the shot hit the captain in her shoulder and she howled in what sounded more like anger than pain.
Caruso lay unconscious on the floor, and the Spaniard stood over him, ready to hit him again should he so much as blink.

Gianetta Bertoli clasped her right hand over her left shoulder and let fury have it's way. "Sporco parassita! Traditore! In culo alla balena!! Odioso zuccone!!" She stepped around the table and stood over the body of Caruso on the floor. She gave him a solid kick to the ribs and hissed "Put....this...man....in irons" and then fainted dead away. She managed to do this none too gracefully as well, hitting her head on the table as she fell.

**************************

The much relieved Spaniard rose to spread the news to the crew, and loudly slammed the door behind him as he went. Gianetta sighed and handed Jones the water glass. "Where is that man?"
"Down below, in irons, just as you said." Jones answered. "Paolo hauled him there just after."
"Then you...?" Bertoli looked down at herself and protectively pulled the blanket up to her chin.
Jones turned various shades of scarlet, but to his credit he solidly looked his captain in the eye as he answered: "Aye.....The shot passed clear enough, but you took a knock on the way down. Flora, Paolo and meself have been mostly waiting."
"Where are we?"
"Not terribly far from the Guana Pass Shoals.."
"And that was your decision, I am assuming?"
"Aye." Jones replied, this time without a trace of embarrassment.
Bertoli returned the glance, hoping the Welshman was right, and said to him: "Pass me my clothes."


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 25 Jan 02 - 12:20 AM

O, saints and high waters, what a marvel!!!

Beautiful. Thanks.

A.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 25 Jan 02 - 12:27 PM

The Pelican scudded in the freshening breeze, and a voice rang down from the masthead..."Shoals Ahead!" Drake had been watching the Contessa close the gap behind him, but now he sprinted to the fore-mast and scrambled up the ratlines, shouting "Jamison! Stay by the mast for my direction!" As he reached the crow's nest, Drake heard a report from astern, and twisted around to see a puff from Thornton's bow cannon, and see the shot splash into a curling wave just behind the Pelican. They were nearly in range, but the rolling 4-foot waves were playing hell with the gunner's aim.

Ahead, Drake saw the deep blue ocean water suddenly lighten to bright green. This green water extended in a seven-mile long, yet quite narrow spit that crossed their path. Toward the center of the spit, Drake could clearly see the tide flowing almost like a long waterfall from the shallower to the deeper part of the shoal. To the left of this waterfall, the slightly deeper shoal area was a darker emerald shade. Drake would have to choose his path carefully. The Pelican must lead the Contessa well into the shoal before striking bottom. Were the Pelican to fetch up quickly, with Thornton still able to maneuver in deep water... well, Drake didn't want to think about the easy target practice he would afford to his pursuer.

Another bang was heard from astern, this time the shot whining past the Pelican to skip across the surface of the sea. "Two degrees to port, Mr Jamison!" shouted Drake. Jamison repeated the words, and the ship nosed off slightly. Drake looked down at the broad wake behind his ship, and saw that it was white-shaded with stirred sand.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 25 Jan 02 - 04:18 PM

"Madam, you know I am both loyal and devoted; you misconstrue my words painfully..."

"Give me none of your sauce, Cecil; if you care to keep your tongue my advice is to hold it firm."

"There are murmurings, Madam, that Philip is considering arming your sister Queen to the North and assualting our shores from North and South at one time."

"Mary wouldn't field an army if they screwed her first, Cecil. If Phillip thinks he can muster any muscle out of her tired skin he has worse taste in women than I have heard."

"Well, Madam, as you say, of course. But the fact that you dispatched troops to the aid of the Zuider Zee rebels against his rule has irked him to the point that I fear he will bear no further offense. "

"Well, Cecil, what of it? I can not grieve for Philip's ire . We both have larger work to do than that, you will agree."

The advisor was perspiring in spite of the cool evening air that seeped around the window hangings. He mopped his brow delicately with a pale-white lace-trimmed kerchief, and restored it to its place in his sleeve.

"Madam, we need to provide some token that we are willing to cooperate and maintain businesslike relations between ourselves and Spain. Philip is particularly aggrieved at the plundering that has been allowed of late in the Spanish seas south and west of Dominica. He is practically purple with rage over the attacks on Morro Bay. We have heard rumours that Hawkins, with whom you invested in the African trading scheme, has thrown his lot in with Drake and is aiming to force the Spanish merchant fleet to make up to him the vessels he lost in San Juan. He would be much appeased, I am sure, Madame, if these rogues were sacrificed to his anger."

"Hawkins made me fair profit, which I turned to England's good. Why should I surrender him to Phillip??"

"If he weds his strength to Mary, you may regret not giving his something, My Lady — a jot, a tiddle, to acknowledge he is also of royal standing...?"

"And you suggest....?"

"And you wish to save the Hawkins adventurer, let Drake be capsized in Philip's wake. It will suffice to palliate his fever handsomely, and will mean little to you. An adventurer more or less...."

"Thank you, Cecil. Your council, as always, is well conceived. I shall let you know of a decision soon. A fortnight at the longest, and we will decide on Philip's "palliation" as you call it. It may be our cousin and servant Francis Drake is less the priceless and indispensable Captain than he thinks, 't is clear."

She swept out of the room, not deeming to say good night, and remained sullen and silent while her chambermaids undressed her. She held silently still while they gowned her in soft night robes, and turned down her covers, and looked to the position of the water glass and the thunder jug. Everything was perfect. They bade their Queen good night, and received a curt nod for the courtesies.

Elizabeth Regina, Queen of all England, slowly slipped beneath the silken sheets of the Royal Bed, pulled up the bed clothes and turned her cheek onto the wide goose down pillow. Long into the night, slow tears came rolling down, and would not be stayed.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 26 Jan 02 - 12:45 PM

Thornton stood at the bow as the bow-cannon cracked off another shot which also ran wide of the mark. "Damn it man! Can you not shoot straight!" The cringing gunner reloaded as Thornton called to the mate "he leads us into the shoals, Lambert! Can we stay abeam of him in the deeper water?" Lambert shook his head and replied "in truth I know not. These shoals are uncharted, Captain! But the water looks some deeper to port!"

"Can the Pelican pass through these shoals, Lambert?"

"I can't say, but she has shallower draft than we do."

Thornton stood frowning for a second, then shouted "steer off 10 degrees to port then!"

***

Aboard the Pelican, Drake called out his commands..."Starboard three degrees...Steady..." Then Jamison called up to him "Captain! The Contessa falls off to port, sir!" Drake turned to peer over his left shoulder and he grinned. "Then we must find our way through to starboard, Mr Jamison!" Drake surveyed the patchwork hues of blue and green that lay before them. He thought he might perceive a vague line of deeper water that angled away to the northeast, but to reach it, the Pelican would have to cross a very shallow bar. He had seconds to consider the route before it would be too late. "20 degrees Starboard, Jamison!"

The ship headed over and approached the sandbar. Drake held his breath. Suddenly, the Pelican lurched and shivered down her length. Drake felt the mast rattle and keel forward under him. A low rumble shook the deck like an earthquake and most of the crew were thrown down. "Damn!" Drake shouted. "Port, Jamison!" but the ship failed to respond. They were hard aground. Drake commanded "reef sail!" The strain of strong wind was threatening to bring the masts down. Men scrambled up the ratlines to execute the order. "Leave the fore-sails full!" Drake said as he came down from the masthead. He ran to the port rail. There was the Contessa. She had shortened sail and was approaching cautiously.

"Jamison!" Drake said, "lower a boat. Take the anchor and sink it 100 feet to northeast. We'll pull up to it and free ourselves if we can." A shot was then heard from the Contessa. She had presented her beam to the Pelican and fired one of her cannon. The shot fell short.

"Hurry, Jamison," said Drake. "He's finding his range."


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 26 Jan 02 - 01:10 PM

(damn it, I can't keep the mates" names straight! Jamison is Drake's first mate, Lambert is Thornton's. Can you fix it Kat?)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 26 Jan 02 - 01:22 PM

Fix what you will, your time is running short. I am trembling in my boots here!


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Jan 02 - 01:26 PM

(Amos, isn't it Elizabeth Regina, much as she may have wanted the balls to go with "Rex?":-)


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 26 Jan 02 - 02:16 PM

(Quite so. If any Joe Clone of the Royal Website would be willin, I would see it switched to match her phsyical gender, not her capabilities! :>) (Duck and cover!! Dive, dive!!))....)

A


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Jan 02 - 02:28 PM

el joeclone to the rescue o'both o'youse...let me know if I got any of it further mixed up, eh? LOL


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Gareth
Date: 26 Jan 02 - 04:42 PM

The crew of the Pelican strained at the capstan, the bosuns starter cracked on the straining backs, the warp to the kedge went bar tight.

The Pelican lay imobile. "lightn'er mate" cried Drake, "start the water casks and pump her dry".

The Pelican moved, bumping over the bar.

"Bring her round, Fire as you will"

12 round shot whistled over towards the Contessa.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 26 Jan 02 - 04:58 PM

It was the sound that reached them first, oddly enoughy. It seemed at first like promising thunder, but the weather was wrong for it. Benjamin Bragg, Englishman, a browned and toughened version of the wide-eyed white thing that had joined ship on the Thames, clung to the mast balancing on a small footrest just below the t'galant lifts near the top of the mast. He strained toward the sound, staring hard in the semitropical light, stared across the horizon from port to starboard and back, dreaming of a ten shilling bonus promised to the first hand to catch site of the Contessa de Albion or her despised master.

The roll of the sea and the constant force of a strong reeze put a rhythm in his heart that made him feel bigger than life, more alive than the wind, as though he was dancing with the world and writing the song as he went. Suddenly, as a slight shift in the wind came upon them, he saw an array of tiny objects suddenly standing out from the horizon line.

Soon, blinking and swallowing with exxcitement, he leaned down toward the deck, hanging from the stay, and sang out: "Helloooo the deck!!! Sail Ho!! Two vessels broad on the port bow!! Two saaaiiil!!"

He watched the scattering of the tiny forms on the long deck far below as the import of his message was taken in and acted on. He could the tiny form of Bertolini waving her arms ,issuing commands and disposing of hands in a rapid fire manner, and he felt a little warmth at the thought that she seemed to be fully possessed of her faculties.

Somehow, he knew he would be earning those ten shillings this day. He turned his attention back to the far reaches of blue water all around him, grinning happily.


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: Amos
Date: 26 Jan 02 - 05:53 PM

This bloody seadog's tale is continued in Part Two. Please turn to that thread for your continued, breathless, heart-racing enjoyment.

Radkin Holloway
Harbormaster
City of London


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Subject: RE: FICTION: Under the Sign of the Unicorn
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 04:53 PM

What fun this was!


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