The lost ship

Story of how the crew of the Prospero got revenge on Capt John 'Mad Jack' Andrew

The lost ship

Standing looking out across Satlburn bay, I could see what I thought was the sea mist rolling in, with the rip tides and shallow beach, Satburn  is a death trap for unknowing seamen, as it is so easy to go aground on the shallows.

‘Not again.’ I muttered as I looked at the mist.

It appeared to thickening into the same grey, cloying fog that had hid the ghosts of the past last week, as they had chased the smugglers ashore.

‘It can’t be happening again.’ I muttered thinking nobody was in earshot.

‘Aye laddie, it is,’ came  the voice from behind me. ‘Surely it is, we call them smuggling fogs, because the cling to the shoreline, and only a true seaman from the area, or someone desperate, would try to get to land in them.’

Vaguely in the mists, I could make out the shape of a vessel approaching the headland.

‘If I am not wrong, isn’t that the Prospero heading ashore.’

‘No, lad, you are right, she is coming in.’

‘Story is she was lost at sea in a storm, only John Andrew survived.’

‘That was his version, to hide the truth.’

‘What did happen then ?’

As I watched the mist, the Prospero came closer inland, still wide of the headland point and in full sail.

Then there was a terrible wrenching sound, as she hit the hidden rocks and keeled over, men were trying to get to the boats, and above all else one man stood taller.

‘Mad Jack’ as he was known, stood on the gunnels and shouted to the crew:

‘Any man that follows me will be killed.’

Knowing his crazy reputation, the crew stayed still, even though they out numbered him, they had seen him take 4 or 5 men down at a time in a fight, and were not keen to risk their lives.

As John Andrew aka ‘Mad Jack’ leapt for the only boat, and made for land, a gun fired on the ship, and a crewman fell to the floor.

‘Right lads, we can’t chase him down but we will catch him one day.’ Mason Friggett, the Prosperos’ mate said.

  ‘John Andrew, may you and you your family be cursed by the Ship Inn, and may your spirits never leave the house.’ Richard Jacklin, the coxswain yelled at the back of the rowing boat.

The mist clearing, I could just make out the shapes of men climbing the rocks on the headland and coming around the point.

Misty shrouds were now moving towards the inn, engulfing the whole bay.

  ‘What is happening now ?’ I asked.

  ‘History is folding, in the mists, and you are getting a chance to see the real John Andrew.’

  ‘Andrew, we want is ours.’ called one voice.

Another yelled:

‘If you don’t give it to us, we’ll take it by force this time.’

A voice from the inn yelled:

‘Simon Maggins, you always were a hothead, you cannot get me.’

‘This time John Andrew, we are prepared for your treachery.’

‘Jacklin, might have known, you would be here, never did trust you.’

There was an unearthly roar as the Prospero let off a broadside, the four cannons fired, although landing short of the target, the cannonballs had the desired effect, not only unsettling Andrew for a short while, but adding to the mists with a powdery haze, that hid the men, as they crept up the pebbled beach.

The windows were rocked and cracked by the shockwaves, as the men opened fire at the front, where Andrew was holding ground, firing at will but with deadly accuracy, one shot caught Andrew in the shoulder, and spun him to the floor.

‘Right, get him.’ shouted Jacklin.

The crew rushed forward and dragged the bleeding and severely wounded Andrew from the house.

‘Where is our share of all the loot, Andrew ?’ asked Maggins.

‘Everything is tied in to the house now, and you cannot get it.’ Andrew laughed.

‘Right men, we can’t have the money he owes, so we’ll take it out of him.’ called Friggett. ‘Rope him  up, and we’ll take him on the Prospero.’

Remembering his strength, Jacklin made sure Andrew was only semi-conscious as the crew tied him up, and dragged him to the boat, heading out to sea, and the Prospero.

‘Okay me hearties, we’ll keel haul him then.’ Friggett yelled, as one length of rope was handed to young Paul Marler, as he swam under the Prospero, in a short while emerging smiling.

The crew tied both arms to the ends of the rope, as they pushed Andrew to the gunnels, and hurled their  injured former captain overboard..

‘Heave to lads.’ called Maggins, ‘don’t want us to be outdone by him dieing on us.’

The laughter I heard was like an evil wind going over bones of the long dead.

I watched both in amazement at this cruel punishment; which involved the man been dragged under the keel of the ship, barely able to breathe; and in horror, as Andrew seemed to be still breathing, despite the gunshot wounds, and the keel-hauling.

I guessed the crew were counting on his immense strength to get him through, as part of the punishment.

Barely breathing, he was dragged out the last time. Untied and sent ashore in his boat, it hit the pebbles, and tipped him onto the beach.

‘Right lads, set her sails for the seas, we have had our day finally.’ Friggett called.

Turning to query what had gone on, all I saw was a whiff of pipe smoke, as the old sailor disappeared.

Seeing my puzzlement, one gent said:

‘That were Paul Marler, you were talking to then.’

The End

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