The crew of the ‘Wandrin’ Penguin’ knew that Captain Lorst was in a foul sou’-wester of a temper. Squirrel Trelawney had just run screaming from the cabin and was now sitting at the top of the main-mast throwing hazelnuts at anything that moved.
Bosun Higgs approached the Captain’s cabin with obvious trepidation and tapped gently on the oak frame.
“WOT!” shouted Lorst.
Higgs pushed open the door and peered in. “Evryfing orl rite, Cap’n?”
“No it ain’t,” spat the Captain. “Luke at this!” He threw a tattered copy of PlayBilge at Higgs.
The Bosun sat himself down in a comfy chair and put his feet up. “Fanks, Cap’n.” He unfolded the centre pages and made a growling noise at the artistic depiction of Big Brenda McTavish (Miss February).
“Not the pikchures,” said Lorst heatedly, “Oi dunt buy it fer the pikchures, oi buy it fer the artickles.” He reached over and turned the pages, poking at one with a grubby finger. “Ere’s wun abaht Titles ‘at are been given ter Captins. Luke at ‘em. Gettin’ ‘emselves all gentrified wiv highfalutin’ hoity-toity la-di-da names.” He raised himself onto his tiptoes and pirouetted across the floor. “Ooooh, luke at me, ain’t I porsh?” He turned and slammed his fist onto the table, thrusting his face towards Higgs. “An’ yer knows how they do it?” he spat.
Higgs wiped his face and shrugged. “Munny? Blackmail?”
“No! Hits chust fer sayin’ foive thowsin wurds. Foive thowsin!
” He snatched the magazine from Higgs’ hands and riffled through the pages. “Dey rite wun wurd – loik dis Wurd Asso…shee…ay…shun Game, Dey say wun werd, wun wurd
foive thowsin times. Strike me rollicks!”
He threw his arms wide and indicated a teetering pile of PlayBilge back-issues.
“Deres over sivventeen hunnerd ‘n’ fifty pages of dat rubbish! Wudyer believe it, sum ov ‘em just sez ‘Yaaargh’!”
“So, wot’s yer problem, Cap’n?” asked Higgs.
Lorst stamped his foot on the deck. “Oi wanna Title!” he whinged. “Now luke, ‘eres orl tha letters ‘at oi bin sendin’ ter the magaseen.” He scattered a handful of papers onto the chart table. “Oi bin tellin’ ‘em abaht me advenchures, see? Oi reckin ‘ats more an a thowsin wurds – mus’ be. Count ‘em fer me, ‘iggs.”
Cap’n Lorst paced up and down the cabin impatiently whilst Higgs traced his finger over the writing, mumbling to himself as he counted. “Over sevvin thowsin it is, Cap’n.”
“YAAARGH! See! Wot did oi tell yer?” Lorst angrily drew out his flintlock and fired a shot into the bulkhead. Splinters fell around their heads through a pall of gunpowder smoke. Several of the crew could be heard jumping overboard.
“Rite! Grab that quill. Send ‘em a letter sayin’ at oi wanna Title. Oi ‘as me reesins as follers,
Wun, Oi is andsum an’ artikerlit,
Two, Oi is a gude riter – much better ‘an that ole Black Bert or Planky,
Free, Oi is of a plessant naycher, and
Fower, Oi ‘ave lotser weppins an’ oi knows wear thee Editor lives.
Yors fayferly, Lorst
P.S. Summat loike ‘Protector of the Holey Towel’ wud dew noicely, fanks.
P.P.S. Oi’ve put der munny in the ‘ollow tree as instruktid.”