Hood's Swashbucklin' Ship's Log
Reflections on Times Past
Captain Samuel Hood
Chapter Four - Home Port - Portsmouth
"And don't come back! You'll never work in this township again you little trollop! I should have you keel hauled! AAARRRGGGHHH!!!"
Sorry about that outburst but Miss Higby was not totally honest on her previous employment record. She stated that she had taken residence and main house keeping responsibilities the past two years with one Admiral von Helsing. Well, I might be three sheets to the wind, a bit slow these days and slightly senile, but I happen to know that the good Admiral was placed in Goodwin's Hospital some four years prior! If my memory serves me correctly, I believe that von Helsing got a serious case of Malaria and an uncared for case of the dripping whipper. Fun to get but a terrible way to go.
Let's see now. I was about to tell you of my first homecoming. I remember that the Raisonnable moved through the outermost inlet to Portsmouth Harbor at approximately 0900 hours, slowly making our way past the numerous ships of the line now anchored in the calm waters of the inlet. The date was the 29th day of October, 1772. Only a few more days until the witching hour of the 31st day and a day that I much revel in. It didn't cross my mind until now, that two years had passed since Senor Davee snatched my youth from me and sent me on this wondrous journey. God bless Master Bates.
As we moved slowly to our berth which was situated on our port side, I noticed a group of young ladies gathered at the dock, playfully showing their knickers to the skin starved men on deck. As the women would raise their many layered skirts, exposing their finely laced legs underneath, the men would howl with delight and speak loudly of the dire things that were to happen to them later that night. One Seaman Goffwick actually fell overboard and was nearly crushed betwixt the ships hull and the pier stands. But we promptly fished him out and sent him below to dry out. No need getting a case of the croup and being laid low during the impending shore leave.
As we secured the stations and tied the ship to its' moorings, a message was passed to the crew that the past months payments would be paid at 1400 hours. Report to the Purser! What a wonderful thing to hear.
As we lined up outside the Pursers Office, Lt. Blackwood, Lt. Berry and the newly promoted Lieutenant's, Ships Doctor Lt. Gould and Second Deck Lt. Fremantle took me aside and told me of their plans for our first night in port. They, along with Lt. Hardy, Lt. Cochrane and Master Bates were to meet at the Dog and Pony Pub at 1800 hours. And they asked me to appear at that hour and join them in the celebration of our homecoming. They stated that, as I was now officially promoted to Midshipman, the time had come to drink with the Officers of the Wooden Walls. As I was so excited to simply be going home to see my family, it did not dawn on me of what news Lt. Blackwood had just told me. Midshipman! I was going to be an officer of the Royal Navy!
Arrrrgggghhh…. remembering that moment makes my winkie stand tall with pride and brings a slight tear to my eye. Although I would be promoted many times in my illustrious career, that moment in time will always stand out as one of the finest. Think I'll have a drink of this new Cognac that I purchased at Smith's this very morning. Hmmm…. very good indeed. Whew, that will put the starch in yer sails real quick.
Now, that evening, I arrived at the Dog and Pony at precisely 1800 hours. As I stepped inside, I immediately approached the bar keep and asked that their finest table be set for the officers soon to appear. While waiting for the others, I decided to tip a few double jiggers of the keeps finest rum. Bon Rottgut I believe it was. I still drink the swill to this very day. As eyed the goings on in the pub, I reminded myself that my first order of the evening was to keep the officers in drink and continued merriment.
Moving on to that evening. The night started out slowly, but as the crew got potted, the evening began to gain much momentum. I sat and watched as Lt. Fremantle showed the ladies his huge sword and the prowess he demonstrates so well. But I was most intrigued by the actions of our Lt. Hardy. As everyone was caught up in the fun and frivolity of the moment, Lt Hardy began to pin trinkets and baubles to the ladies dresses. Why, I had never seen such a thing! And the ladies all reveled in this activity and clamored for more. Was I witnessing the beginning of a tradition? I believed so. And as the pinning of jewelry and the slinging of beads continued, a cry came out from the back of the room, a shrieking cry that got everyone's attention. "So us yer boobies! So us yer boobies! No trinkets unless you drop the top. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!"
Well, we all being officers and gentlemen all, we were quite astounded at this request. But the most astounding thing was that they did it! These wonderful wenches actually did it! My god, a new drinking activity had just been born!
I must tell you that I had to meet the gentlman who yelled that now famous command. As I made my way to the back of the room, all the time stepping over the drunk sailors, who had succumbed to too much ale and rum, I noticed an officer slumped over what appeared to be a plate of rib roast and sliced potatoes. Stopping to his right side I said to him "Sir, what might be your officers name and ship? I must know so I can chronicle the incident that you just initiated".
The officer raised his head, stopping for a moment to allow his eyes to focus. Finally, his eyes met mine and he said with a rum laden, crooked little smile, "My fine young Midshipman, you are addressing Captain Bligh. Captain Bligh of the HMS Bounty".
My god! I was standing in front of the Royal Navy's roughest, toughest Captain to ever sail the seven seas. As I gained my composure, I asked the fine Captain, "Sir, do you know what you did when you asked the ladies to show us their boobies?
Captain Bligh responded "AAARRRGGGHH!!! Hell yes I know what I did. I've been doing this in ports-o-call all over the world. It's nothing new to me." All over the world? My god! A true innovator of the truest term.
Oh drat! There's the door bell. Blasted! I was just getting to the best parts.
Ok! I'm coming, I coming!
As I open the door, I realize that it is none other than Miss Potter. She has come back with her hat in hand, asking that I take her back into my employment.
"Well, Miss Potter, it's nice to see you again" Come inside and let's talk.
Be sure to read the next gripping installment of naval combat and debauchery in Chapter Five "Miss Potter Comes Home".