Written by Sir John M——, from his own journals.
The Third Day.
NOTHING WORTH RECORDING happened today. The weather was clear and hot, and most of us had the sense to remain in the shade. Toward evening, however, a cool breeze from the west brought many of us over to the starboard promenade. I happened to meet Lady Darkwood, who was out walking with another lady. She asked forgiveness for her husband’s behavior the previous evening. I told her that I always enjoyed her husband’s conversation (which was not strictly true) and that I wished only that I might have heard more of her own (which would have made the evening more bearable).
More Henricus tonight, and then early to bed.
The Fourth Day.
Storms last night, and more storms throughout the day; and yet in spite of high seas, no motion at all was perceptible on our Leviathan. After one of the storms I took a brief walk on the promenade. Scarcely anyone was out, but I did meet Lady Darkwood again. We spoke a few words of pleasant conversation until the next storm chased us indoors to our several habitations.
The Fifth Day: How the Awful Pirates of Tobermantle Boarded and Looted Our Leviathan.
The grayish light of a cloudy dawn revealed a ship of some sort to the east of us; and as the morning grew lighter, the ship grew nearer. We knew that we were entering waters infested with pirates, but we had flattered ourselves that the size of our vessel would deter even the most desperate pirates. We were mistaken. The ship closed in on us; hooks suddenly appeared on the rail of our port promenade; and with fantastic speed a dozen pirates suddenly leaped on the deck, their swords drawn.
Certainly there was no hope of their defeating the entire armed force of our Leviathan—a circumstance of which they must have been well aware, since they immediately seized hostages. As the attack was made very near my house, I happened to be on hand, and I decided that it would be best if I were to exercise my diplomatic functions at once without waiting for instructions from the Duke.
“What is the purpose of this intrusion?” I demanded. It was best, I thought, to let them see that we had no fear of them.
One of the pirates stepped forward. He was a large man with an unkempt black beard, and he was dressed rather more showily than the others. “Have you not heard of us, then?” he asked me.
“We have heard that there are lawless pirates in these waters,” I said with what I hoped was an icy glare.
“Well, my good man, you have heard correctly!” And he laughed a laugh that was like a bellow. “We are the awful Pirates of Tobermantle, and these are our waters you’re passing through.”
I have never found it useful to prolong a confrontation. “State your demands, then,” I said, supposing that their demands would be such as we could in no wise meet.
“Just to start with,” the pirate king responded with a hungry grin, “this little trinket has caught my eye.” He greedily fondled a bejeweled clasp belonging to one of the hostages.
“I see,” I said coldly. “And I suppose you want—”
“I’ll give you a hundred crowns for it,” the pirate king declared.
“I beg your pardon—?”
“A hundred fifty, then.”
The conversation had taken such an unexpected turn that I was momentarily struck dumb. But here the owner of the clasp spoke up. “Absurd! The ruby alone is worth that.”
“Two hundred fifty, then,” the pirate continued. Meanwhile, a number of the other pirates had also opened negotiations for the purchase of various items from the hostages and some of the bystanders.
It was not long before the word began to spread that the awful Pirates of Tobermantle were offering ready money for articles of small value. For it must be said that they were very poor traders. Soon quite a number of ambitious persons had gathered around the pirates, and those who succeeded in pushing their way through the crowd often managed to unload worthless trinkets for remarkably generous prices.
For two or three hours the pirates negotiated; then at last the pirate king sent for me (for I had long since given up watching the curious spectacle).
“Well, friend,” he said when I arrived, “we’ve done our looting for the day, so it’s time for us to let the hostages go and be on our way. And, mind you, there will be no reprisals—do you understand me? Any action taken against us will be punished by an attack even more ruthless than the one you have witnessed today.”
I assured the pirate king that we understood him perfectly, and on that condition he directed the others to set the hostages free. Then the pirates loaded their purchases into their little ship, took a friendly leave of us, and sailed away.
Later I was informed that the Duke, having been told about the morning’s events, was very pleased with my conduct, which I suppose was gratifying.
As the afternoon wore on, there was some grumbling from those, especially among the merchants, who had not been able to trade with the pirates. It was their opinion that we should pursue the pirates and so provoke the threatened second attack. Our Leviathan, however, is not well adapted to such a pursuit, and I do not believe that the Duke will consent to an alteration in our course.
I have finished Henricus tonight, and I found many of his conclusions disagreeable. Tomorrow night I think I shall begin Bonsecours’ Voyages of the Ancients, which seems more appropriate to my current situation.