A Merry Frigate Christmas
by Lori


Christmas Eve - 10 am - Portsmouth Dock

Captain Pellew had so graciously bought a 30-foot tall Christmas tree the
night before and now it was standing on the quarter deck undecorated.
Hornblower, Kennedy, and Clayton came trudging up the companionway from
the deck below, carrying multicolored Christmas balls in piles towering over
their heads. Archie had red, blue, and garland hanging around his neck, which
he tripped on once or twice.
After the three midshipmen piled and piled the boxes of Christmas balls,
Lieutenant Bracegirdle arrived on deck, tripping over the extremely long
strand of lights he had tangled around himself.
"Uh, Mr. Bracegirdle. I'd be careful with those lights if I were you.
Don't want to electrocute yourself." Clayton warned. Bracegirdle untangled
himself and took off his hat to reveal his hair sticking straight and tall.
The three midshipmen stared at the lieutenant a moment. Clayton swallowed
hard and said, "Uh, never mind. Forget it."
"Styles!" Hornblower called a few minutes later.
"Sir?"
"I believe the other midshipman are coming aboard with tonight's and
tomorrow night's feast. Will you go and inspect that please?"
"AYE AYE SIR!" And Styles bounded off towards the pantry.

"Right, someone grab the ladder! We're going to decorate this tree!"
Horatio ordered. Archie's eyes got wide. "Uh, Horatio?"
"Yes, Archie? What is it?"
"Um, we don't have a ladder."
"What do you mean we don't have a ladder?! This is a ship!"
"Well, I guess someone forgot to put one on this ship!"
There were a few moments of silence. "Oh, for crying out loud!" Horatio
complained. Clayton turned to him. "I don't suppose we could improvise." He
stated.
"Improvise?" Horatio asked.

10:30 am

"Right! Good thinking, Clayton!" Hornblower commented as he watched the
other officers and crew hang on the sail ropes with a smile on his face. They
were lowering themselves down alongside the tree like Tom Cruise in Mission:
Impossible.
"Yeah, I come up with the idea, he gets to stay down there and watch it!
God, I hate it when he takes charge like this!" Clayton complained to himself
as he hung 15 feet in the air, hanging gold Christmas balls.
Archie was on the opposite side, hanging the blue ones, being VERY
careful not to look down.

11:25 am

Now, the balls were hung on the tree with care. All the three midshipman
needed to figure out now was how to get the garland and lights on the tree.
They stood on the deck and thought for a moment.
Then, some strange guy walked by. Archie recognized him and called, "Hey!
Crocodile Dundee!" The man turned and said, "How are ya, mate?"
"It a bit of a problem. Would you by any chance have the whatchamacallit
with you?"
"My boomerang?"
"Yeah!"
"It's in my Outback Sport Utility Wagon. I'll go get for ya." And Dundee
trotted off.
"You know him Archie?" Horatio asked. Archie turned to his friend,
laughing sheepishly. "Daytime TV."
A few minutes later, Dundee came back and handed the boomerang over to
Archie. "Thank you ever so much." Said Archie.
"Don't mention it. Cheers mate!" and Dundee was off in a puff of smoke.
"What an odd fellow." Clayton commented.
"Yeah, I'm beginning to worry about the sanity of this country." Horatio
also commented, and the two men joined Archie; who was now tying the garland
around one end of the boomerang the lights on the other. "Watch and learn
little boy." He said. Archie flung the contraption at the tree, it circled
it, planting the lights and garland on the tree branches neatly.
Clayton and Hornblower stared at the finished product open mouthed.
Kennedy trotted off to see if there was anything else that needed to be
done. He thought of something and headed below again.
10 minutes later, Archie came back up on deck with a tree topper in hand,
which was a regular ol' star. He stopped and began to laugh a little when he
saw Horatio and Clayton still standing open-mouthed.
When they came back to reality, Archie approached them. "Horatio, the
star needs to be placed on the top. Any suggestions on how we might do that?"
he asked him. The three midshipmen thought for a few moments, AGAIN.
Then, a few moments later, Mr. Bracegirdle walked by. Fortunately his
hair had returned to its natural state.
The three midshipmen saw Bracegirdle and glanced at each other.


11:35 am

The four men were now standing at the base of the massive fir tree.
Mr. Bracegirdle took a deep breath, took the star from Archie's hand and
said, "If I'm not back in five minutes, send a banana creme pie up after me."
He then began the long ascent to the treetop.
The three midshipmen stepped back to watch their senior officer; the tree
swaying and rustling as the Lieutenant climbed up.

10 minutes later, Bracegirdle's upper body popped put from the peak of
the tree and he mounted the blasted star.
On the deck below, Archie, Horatio, and Clayton whistled and cheered.
On the treetop, Bracegirdle raised his hands in the air and cheered for
himself. Which wasn't such a smart idea because only seconds later, the
lieutenant lost his footing and disappeared back into the green depths of the
decorated tree. Few minutes later, Bracegirdle reappeared and hit the deck
with a thud; followed by a pile of fir needles. He poked his head out of the
green, prickly pile and spat a few drops of tree sap out of his mouth.

***********************************
Sunset

The Indefatigable sailed away from Portsmouth dock; heading towards the
reddish, golden sky of the unknown.

8:30 PM - The Kitchen

The Indy's cook (forgive me, I forget his name!) was now preparing one of
the many 30 pound turkey's for the Christmas Eve feast. He was cramming the
stuffing inside the turkey. When he pulled his hand back out he noticed that
the leather bracelet he had been wearing was missing. The cook searched the
floor, on the table next to the turkey, no where in sight was the bracelet.
Then, he realized that he had probably lost his bracelet inside the turkey!
So, he took out his pocket flashlight and searched inside the turkey. Not
finding it that way, he began taking the stuffing out of the dead bird and
back into the bowl. Still, he couldn't find his bracelet. There was only one
way left. The cook stuffed his head inside the turkey.
The cook's assistant arrived to the mess area that was just outside the
kitchen and began to set the many tables.
In the kitchen, the cook stood upright frantically, the turkey now stuck
on his head, hearing his assistant outside.
"Got the turkey on?" the assistant asked. There was a muffled "yeah."
"Would you like a glass of wine?" The cook asked.
"Sure! If you're having one."
"Well, I might." Was the cooks muffled answer.
The cook searched through the kitchen blindly for something that he could get
the turkey off his head with. Not finding anything, he entered the mess area
quietly and searched there. Finally, he found a saw. He held the saw tightly
in his hand, looking like he was about to murder his assistant. His assistant
turned to head for the kitchen when he saw the cook standing in front of him
with a saw in hand and a turkey on his head. He bellowed in fright.

8:40 PM

Now, the cook was lying on the floor, his head buried under a pile of
chairs. The assistant was pulling the cooks legs, trying to get his head free
of the turkey. That wasn't working. The two of them moved upward and stood at
the stern rail. The assistant went and got a cannon ball, tied a string
around it and bounded back to the cook. He tied the other end of the string
around the turkey and dropped the ball over the side. The cook went flying
forward and was stopped by the rail; the turkey popped off his head. He
righted himself and inside his mouth was his leather bracelet.
In the cabin below there, Captain Pellew was sitting at his table facing
the window, writing in his leather bound journal.

Captain Pellew's Journal - December 24,
1793 - 8:45 PM

Tonight is Christmas Eve. The sea is calm and the air is crisp and cool.
This festive holiday season is when I miss my dear wife, Emily, the most. I
could almost see her standing here with me; her auburn hair falling
gracefully over her soft shoulders. But, things aren't so bad. The men are
singing Christmas Carols; the feast is cooking in the kitchen below; turkey's
are flying by the window Ä - Wait a minute, turkey's flying by the window??

Pellew shot up from his seat and stomped out his cabin, down the passage,
and into the midshipman's mess. "Mr. Hornblower!"

Clayton was sitting in the corner, playing a festive tune on his fiddle.
Most of the men were dancing along with the music, except for the ones that
were drunk. Like Archie and Horatio. What they were doing wrestling with each
other when they were drunk we will never know.
"Mr. Hornblower!" Pellew repeated. Horatio heard the call this time and
stood up.
"Captain Pellooo!" When Horatio said this, he over exaggerated his 'P'
and accidentally spit in his captain's face. "Come and join uth in the
fethtivites of the Chrithmath thethon." (Translation: Come and join us in the
festivities of the Christmas season.)
"Very well, but before I do anything, I demand an explanation!"
"Explanathon thir?"
"I want to know why there was turkey flying by my cabin window!"
"Turkeyeeth?"
"Yes! Turkeyeeth! Er Ä turkey."
Horatio looked at the man in front of him like his captain was insane.
But, all he could do was burst into uncontrollable laughter and crumpled to
the floor. Archie joined the group and asked Horatio, "Whath tho funny?"
"The captain thays he thaw a turkeyeeth fly by hith cabin window!"
Horatio explained between laughs.
"A turkeyeeth thir?" Archie asked. Pellew nodded. Archie then burst into
uncontrollable laughter and crumpled to the floor beside his friend.
Pellew sighed. Then he said to himself, "Hey, Christmas only comes once a
year!" and he was handed a mug of ale by a passing midshipman.

Christmas morning - 6 am

Well, it finally came. Christmas morning! And what a morning it was.
In the midshipman's mess, no one bothered to get up to sleep in their
hammocks, so they just slept where they fell.
Near the center of the room laid Archie and Horatio. Horatio lay with his
head on Archie's shoulder, his arm stretched across his friend's chest,
snoring loudly, drool forming at the corner of his mouth.
When he awoke, he blinked several times in the dim light of the room. He
sat up, Archie next to him rolled over. Horatio stood up and trudged forward
heading for the door. But, he tripped over a sleeping someone and fell to the
floor with a thud.
Archie now awoke, rubbed his eyes, and stood. Seeing Horatio trying to
get up again, he trudged over to help his friend. "Horatio? What are you
doing up so early?" he asked in a whisper. "I wanted to get up on deck before
anyone else did." Horatio replied with a sly smile. Archie grinned back.
The two men tiptoed the rest of the way and eventually made it to their
destination.
There they saw the largest pile of Christmas wrapped gifts they had ever
seen in their entire lives.
"PRESENTS!" They both shouted and they dove into the pile of boxes.

And what did they receive that morning? No one knows! They never emerged from
that pile until the 10am breakfast!

 

The End