Revised June 2002
By Carol Foss
AOh, yeah, well I still think it's creepy,@ Kowalski slapped his cards on the table. He was already in a sour mood. Seaview=s undisputed Poker champ was having a bad night, and the current expedition wasn=t helping matters.
"You still sore about getting chewed out by the Skipper?" Patterson asked. ACan't say I blame him. It's not like you to be so distracted. What gives?"
@Okay, okay, so I goofed. But it wasn't that close."
"An iceberg's an iceberg."
"We're in the North Atlantic for Pete's sake! Of course there're icebergs, it was just another blip."
"Some blip. Skipper's taken out the flying sub to investigate, up close and personal."
"That's another thing. Why would he be so damn interested in a hunk of ice?"
" 'Cause the thing profiles really wierd. I saw the reading."
"Man, I don't like this. At all."
"Yes, Lee," Nelson responded to Crane's visual report from the flying sub, "it's an amazing find. The position is marked and I'll get things rolling on this end. Make another sweep to get some more underwater footage."
"Maybe you'd like to tell Edith, isn't she involved with some historical society? She might be interested."
"That's rather doubtful. Martime phenomenom is not her cup of tea. Dead people, yes, but an old shipwreck?"
"But it's trapped in the iceberg!"
"Ice floe actually from these readings...okay Lee, I'll let her know all aobut it. Thanks for thinking of her."
AWell, it's certainly is weird, Harry dear," Edith Nelson said via the videophone in Admiral Harriman Nelson's cabin.
AThe floe descends about 300 feet in places, 500 in others; that=s where the wreck 's trapped in the ice. Looks like a Spanish galleon from what we can see of it protruding in places. Too bad we can't just raise her and sail her home,@ Nelson laughed and his sister joined in.
ADo you think you can spend some time out here on your next vacation? I miss you, besides, I need you to scare all my suitors away.@
AYou should really consider at least one of them.@
AYou=re sure you=ll be okay with this latest venture? It seems kind of dangerous to me.@
AI=ll only be monitoring the dive teams, so rest easy. I=ll be nice and warm aboard Seaview. Everyone else will do all the work,@ he smiled. AThough, if it weren't so blasted cold out there, I'd be tempted. Don=t worry. I=ll be a good boy and just supervise things.@
AWill there be a problem getting volunteers?@
ANone whatsoever. In fact Lee will lead the first hands-on investigation."
"Well tell him to be careful! I mean...well..."
"I know what you mean pumpkin."
"I wish he did, and don't you tell him I said that! Well, bye Harry."
"Bye sis, end transmission."
ASki's been verbally reprimanded Chief," Crane said as he studied some printouts in his cabin, "but I want you to insure that something like that doesn't happen again.@
"You can count on me sir."
"I know I can Chief. Oh, tell Ski he's going to be on the dive team, the first one as my diving buddy."
"I'd also like him to lead some of the later teams when we cut the galleon out. See to it. Full check out all procedures for these conditions."
AEnjoying the view Chip?@ Nelson asked of Chip Morton, standing in the observation nose, as Ski set up the coffee percolator. He'd voluntered on his off time but it was a lame excuse to see the thing everyone was talking about now that Seaview had a front row seat.
AWell, I have to agree with you there. Looks a bit like a crystal dreamworld doesn't it. I wish everyone could see this. But how the devil did a galleon get trapped in an ice floe?@
AExcuse me sirs," Sharkey intruded, " but I need to check Kowalski out on the special dive procedures. Skipper=s orders. You=re going to be his diving buddy.@
AI don=t understand Chief,@ Morton said. "I thought Ski was on corrective action. He's not allowed any special assignments."
"The Skipper said he wanted him just the same. So, by your leave sir, I need to go through some special review procedures with this lughead here."
"Very well," Morton said, "and Ski, just because the Captain wants you on the team, don't think you're out of the doghouse.Understood?"
AAnd so, ladies and gentlemen," the TV reporter droned," we=re here with Miss Edith Nelson to observe with you, the viewers, live, the preliminary examination of the shipwreck. Miss Nelson, did your brother tell you just how he plans to release the galleon? We understand most of it is trapped inside the mountain of ice.@
AWell, he didn=t tell me exactly how, but he does think it=s possible. And it=s an ice floe, but I=m afraid I don=t see much difference,@ Edith laughed.
AWhat's the plan of attack?@
AWell, diving teams, using special depth, temperature, and pressure equipment will swim alongside, and under the area where the ship is trapped. Some of it isnt' and they may be able to go inside part of it. They=ll be using camera robotics and surveillance scanners on their wetsuits. Then Harry will be able to determine just how to go about cutting the ship away without it being damaged.. There=s a real danger to the divers as well. It's pretty cold and deep and will have to use the special pressure gear.@
"They're all volunteers? "
"I'm not sure, but I do know that Lee Crane will lead the first exploration team.@
AHas he any previous arctic and deep diving experience?@
AHe=s Seaview's Captain, so I should think he can handle it,@ she laughed heartily.
Gotcha, Nelson grinned, delighted with Edith=s role as hostess and liaison with the TV special. Stupid reporters. Haven=t they done any homework?
AAll set Admiral, "Sharkey relayed over the PA. "The dive team alpha is checked out and ready to go."
AVery well, Chief. Sparks, connect me to the live wire....Edith, we=re all set. Our nose and sail cameras will give you an outside view while the robocams will be turned on as soon the team reaches the coordinates. So you can mix and match your pictures as you like. I=ve also set the audio, so you=ll be able to listen in. Wish us luck.@
The press was calling it the show of the century. Already messages of congratulations were pouring in. And it had been a perfect dive. Flawless.
AAdmiral? You got another stack of >bravo=s and >well-done=s', Lee smiled as he entered Nelson=s cabin and sat on the edge of his desk, drying his still wet hair,"so, when do we chop her out?@
AI still need to calculate all the necessary lazer point coordinates. I think we'll need a few more inspection dives first. By the way, well done, Lee.@
"Thank you sir, though for awhile I thought Sharkey would object for having Ski on the team,@ Lee chuckled. "He may be on reprimand, but he's also one of the best divers aboard... will you televise things tomarrow as well?@
AHmm? I'm not sure. I'm not sure TV viewers will want their favorite shows pre-emted again. Same inspection team Lee?@
AI think it might be better to have an entire new group. Less confidence, but more caution. I think we=re all a little too puffed up from all the excitement. I know I am.@
APick your men.@
AAlready have,@ Lee handed Nelson the list.
AYou can=t be serious!@ Nelson gasped as he read the list.
AI can=t think of a team I=d rather send out. I=ll take your place in control. Just make sure you wear your long-johns, I wouldn=t want little sister to worry unduly. Speaking of little sister, I understand she handled things pretty well.@
AShe sure did. I=m glad I have it all on tape. For her children.@
AChildren? Since when is she interested in children? Cats, yes, but children, well, I doubt if she=s even considered the possibility of marriage and children. Wait a minute, that last charities convention.... The one where she was amost mobbed by all those sychophants. She's not actually interested in any of them?@ Lee asked, irritated.
AShe=s a big girl Lee, and has a right to a litttle romance.@
ABut...but...she=s too...she=s too...oh she can=t honestly like any of them!"
AWhy ever not?@Nelson spoke quietly, AJust because you don't seem to be too interested in her, doesn't mean nobody else isn't. You know Lee, I am a little dissapointed that you two never really hit it off...."
"But we hit it off just fine. We're friends, Admiral. Good friends."
"Lee, I don't think that's the type of friendship my sister thinks of when she's all alone and the moon is full."
"But we've never thought about becoming anything more than..."
" Lee," Nelson interupted, "I think the operative word here is 'you', not 'her'. Now, why don=t you go to the observation nose and think about it awhile," Nelson stifled a grin at Crane=s look of utter astonishment. It was apparent Lee had never actually pondered the reality of the situation regarding Edith. Not that his sister had waxed glowing of Crane, but even an old bachelor like Nelson could tell she was more than attracted to him, and Crane to her, even if he didn't quite really realize it, until now.
The cutting away of the galleon was easier than expected after Nelson's initial inspection. It took several more dive teams working in rotation and more than a few days. After it had been totally broken away from the ice floe, sections of the craft that were iced-filled were slowly being thawed out by the warmer sea water and flamed torches. And now, it would only take time for the air pumps and air bags to finally float the small craft. It had been a surprise to everyone when Kowalski's team dragged aboard an irregular chunk of ice they'd found just inside the aft section that had protruded from it's icy prison.
AWhat is it?@Sharkey asked.
AWell, I=m not sure, Chief, but," Ski removed his tanks, Abut I think it=s a man.@
AAnd so, ladies and gentlemen, not only has the >Angelique= been freed from her ice prison after 500 years, but one of her sailor=s has been found as well, trapped in ice. The body has been taken to the sickbay aboard Seaview where it can thaw out 'without leaving too much of a mess,' according the the chief petty officer. Edith Nelson has joined Seaview after a flight in her brother's fabulous flying sub and has promised further reports from the submarine. Meanwhile, libraries around the world are trying to find out everything they can about the ship, meanwhile in other news...@
With a motion of his hand, Chip ordered the monitor turned off as he turned to his guest. AWell, what do you think Miss Nelson?Are we up to snuff as archeologists or what?@
AThat, Commander Morton, is for the Association to decide,@ she replied, tapping her finger on his chest.
APlaying the temptress again Edith?@ Nelson strode into the control room. ABe careful, Chip, she=s broken many a heart.@
AHarry! That=s not a very nice thing to say,@ she teased, Aeven if it=s true.@
AAt least you admit it.@
AMe? Not on your life, big brother. How can I have actually broken any heart if I haven=t even...@
AThat a hint?@
AI think you should leave Commander Morton to his duties. Besides, the ice is almost thawed away enough to see some of the body=s features. Unless you=re squeamish.@
AAfter years of putting up with all your frightful experiments while you were on shore leave? Really, Harry!"
AShall we to sickbay, sister mine?@ It was good to have invited Edith aboard. But it was hard for him to ignore the roving glances of his crew toward her. Even in a baggy sweater and jeans, there was no mistaking her as a crewman. A lone woman aboard a sub full of hot blooded men. Good thing he was the boss. No-one had better even think of trying anything! Crane would make sure of it as well, he was certain.
AWhat is it Chief?@ Crane asked, glancing up over the stack of documents on his desk. In the light of his cabin, Sharkey looked ragged.
AUh, I think you=d better come down to sickbay, sir.@
AWhat is it?@
AJust...please come sir.@
AYeah, well I=m tellin= ya. I was there!" Ski insisted, as he had a slice of hot apple pie," The ice was melted away, and he...@
ASo the guy=s a look-alike," Patterson replied, "Lots of people look alike. Remember when I met that guy in Scotland? Stood us side by side, they did. Almost twins. But no relation. It=s just a quirk, Ski, so relax."
Lee=s gasp was audible, but Nelson and Doctor Jamison were too busy to acknowledge his presence. The medical machinery was blinking and the EKG was steady, if slow. The ice-man... was alive.
AAnd so, ladies and gentlemen, we have been able to find out a little more about the galleon Angelique. Stolen from the Spanish, she was used for everything from freighting cargo, engaging in the spice trade and piracy. In fact, her last Captain, known as 'Harlequin the Hairy' because of his long scragely hair and beard, had a price on his head, and not just for piracy. Apparently he was also accused of harlotry, arson, and get this, even singing to pigs! He enjoyed a few years of raiding ships and seacoast villages until suddenly the Angelique was no longer seen, and presumed lost. Do you have anything else, Ed?@
AYes, as a matter of fact, reseachers found an old 'wanted dead or alive' poster in the Bank of England vaults, of all places, with a bag of gold dating from 1467! In addition a collector of antiques claims to have an oil painting of a pirate long claimed to be that of Captain Harlequin. There will be a showing in New York, and we=ll be sure to show you the auction=s coverage. We=d show you the portrait now, but it=s already in transit.@
AWell, ladies and gentlemen, we=ll be sure to keep you posted as to further details of the Angelique and her crew as they come to us. Good evening, and >yo ho ho= to you all,@ Evelyn concluded.
AActually, >yo ho ho= was never used by any pirate and nobody was ever made to walk the plank. That=s all fiction.@
AAhh, matey, but are you sure?@
The newsteam dissolved into laugher as the station went on to the next program amid a subdued crew aboard Seaview.
AWell, he=s alive Dr. Whitman,@ Nelson turned up the focus on his cabin=s video phone, A I=m sorry but we had no choice but to begin cryogenic thawing. As an expert in the field, if still theoretical, I=d like you to come aboard to examine him.@
AI=m glad you did something, Admiral! It=s the find of a lifetime! I=ll be waiting for your flying sub as you requested,@ the voluptuos blonde relayed. "I take it I'll have seperate accomodations from your stalwart crew?"
"They've already been warned to leave you alone. You'll be in an adjoining cabin with my sister...Oh, if the ice man wakes up before you get here, what do we do?@
AAsk him his name! You know, if we=re lucky he may just be the notorious Harlequin the Hairy!@
AHarlequin the Hairy, the pirate...Admiral, it's been all over the news.@
AWell, I, uh...@
AForget it Admiral , I=ll let you go. We don=t want your guest to wake up all alone, now do we?@ Dr. Whitman broke the connection.
ASo Chip, " the Captain ordered, "make sure there=s an armed guard posted inside and outside sickbay. If he wakes up, he could be a problem.@
AC=mon, Lee, the guy=s got to be brain dead! All those years in the deep freeze? His brain's nothing but mush."
AI'm not so sure. I also know that he shouldn=t have regained a pulse all by himself, but he did. I=m uneasy about this. He could be anyone, a pirate, a prisoner, even just a sailor... but I don=t know, I have a strange feeling about this man.@
AThat=s just because it's all over the boat that he looks like you. But it=s not like you to be superstious.@
AI=m not. But I=d be foolish not to take certain precautions. And if he does wake and he=s from the 15th century, what do you suppose he=ll do? Fear can make anyone dangerous. Soggy brain or not.@
AHave we told the press?@
AI hope not. But if Angela Whitman=s leaked it or the Admiral=s made it public, we=ll just have to deal with it. Everyone on their toes. When should the flying sub arrive?@
AAbout 20 minutes.Weren=t you kind of smitten with Angela Whitman once? What happened?@
Crane did not respond... verbally.
ABrrrr. I know when not to butt in > mon capitan. Especially when you use your > shut up before I kill you= glare," Chip chuckled and exited.
Dr. Whitman held two handkerChiefs to her nose as she made her preliminary inspection of the ice man. APeeyooo! Is that stench from the sea or is it him?@
AProbably both. I=ve sent his clothing to be decontaminated and but I haven=t managed to clean him up yet,@ Doctor Jamison anwered.
AVital=s normal, including brain scan. That=s a good.@ Dr. Whitman read the instruments, then turned to the patient, A Just look at those scars! And that musculature! What a fine specimen! Even if he is rather hairy. No, Jamie, don't cut or shave any of it off."
"But some of the stench could be from his hair and beard, it's a tangled matted mess."
"Yes yes, we'll deal with it later. I certainly wouldn't want to wake up from a kind of coma and find my head shaved."
"You could take a DNA sample for scientific studies from a clipping though.@
ADr. Whitman," Nelson called her over, " perhaps you=d care to check these scann tapes on the thawing, do you actually think he=ll be able to remember anything?@
AI don=t see why not, if there's no substantial brain damage, but we won=t know anything until he...@
She was suddenly still, so was Jamison. Nelson turned, and there, on the drip table, the ice man was awake. Immediately, Nelson approached, and just as quickly, the ice man sat up and tried to stand, but just as suddenly braced against the table for support as his trembling body fought him. But he showed no sign of fear or embarrassment despite his nakedness. Just curiosity. Especially toward Dr. Whitman. He roved his eyes over her, appraising her with an almost knowing leer.
Typical hot blooded pirate. Nelson thought, but just as quickly changed his mind as he was given the once over himself. Then, maybe not. AI=m Admiral Nelson, you=re aboard the Seaview,@ Nelson spoke as he handed the ice man a robe. AWe mean you no harm. Now, who are you?@
AWhat >ave ye done to me boat?@
AIt's badly damaged. We cut it out of the ice, "Dr. Whitman approached.
AIce? What ice? Or >ave I been taken by a mermaid to her lair and am havin= a grand dream?" His arms shook as he donned the robe with help from Jamison," AI ask ye agin' , what >ave ye done with me boat?@
AI=ll be happy to tell you everything I know, but first, your name?@
ASome calls me Hairy," he flicked his long mass of tangled hair,"some calls me Harlequin, up to you. She your lass?@ he indicated Dr. Whitman. AHow much then? How much for a roll in the hay with her, eh?@
AThere will be no..er....rolls in the hay while you=re aboard,@ Nelson said firmly, A now go with doctor Jamison here to get cleaned up. Jamie, plenty of disinfectant soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and... mouthwash.@
ALook, I=m telling you, the guy's horny as hell!@ Frank almost whispered."And that Whitman dame's not what you think either. She's no cold fish. She turned red as a beet when she saw the guy standing there, stark naked, making a pass at her. I=m telling you, she=s interested, and he knows it.@
AAnd so ladies and gentlemen, it has been confirmed that a man frozen inside the galleon has revived! Always a theory and never proven until now, man can be frozen and thawed out without apparent brain damage! At least hopefully. Further tests and examinations have been scheduled in New York, and ongoing tests have already begun aboard Seaview. As for the ice man=s identity, it has not been confirmed, although he may very well be the notorious Captain Harlequin.@
AYes, and here is the portrait. Well now, isn't that ghastly. He really lives up to his name of Hairy, doesn't he?@ Evelyn asked. "That hair and beard must be down to his waist."
AWhat=s that? Nelson has us on a tie in? Admiral Nelson, are you linked up?@
AYes. Right here in my cabin, with Dr. Whitman and Captain Harlequin." Nelson motioned to the pirate to join him in front of the monitor. While washed, and in a blue jumpsuit, his hair and beard were still a tangled mess, no comb or brush aboard had managed to tame them.
AThis here's a magic mirror! I'm speakin' with fallen angels so I am!@
AEr..Captain Harlequin," Evelyn asked," we're quite human, I realize it must be unerving. Many advances of science have been made...now, Captain, we all want to know, how did you loose your ship?@
AMe own stupidity lass! Me own stupidity! Tis a sad tale. And now I=m told, no-one else is left for the telling of it, with me own crew, all dead now and lying in a bundle of bones at the bottom of the sea, or spent as fish fodder, or a meal for a shark or two. But I=ll not bore ye with the details. The good Admiral here has promised me I=ll not be put to the block or the rack or hung. But tell me lass, be ye spoke for? Ye be a fair and buxom maid, and I=m a lonely sailor long without...@
AExcuse me, but our line seems to be shorting out,@ Nelson quickly interrupted, A I=ll get back to you,@ Nelson broke the connection.
AWhat are ye so upset aboot Admiral? I did nothing but invite the lass to me bed. You=re a sailor, man! I'm proud of my virility! Surley you and your own crew be of yours as well?@
AAdmiral,@ Dr. Whitman interrupted, ACaptain Harlequin comes from a different time. Customs and mor=es were very different. Perhaps I should explain some of ours?@she quickly eased the pirate out of Nelson=s cabin.
AHe looks so much like you, it=s....spooky,@Edith said accross from Lee in his cabin.
AI want you to stay away from him. He=s dangerous.@
AI=ve had every man aboard offer me his hand of chivilry against the pirate. Harry's bad enough, Chip's offered me a bodyguard, and now you too!@
ALook, Ediee, you=re a guest aboard and you can do anything you like but only within reason. And reason says for you to stay away from the brute. He's a sex crazed maniac for all we know. You're aware of how he looked at Angela, what he said to her and to the reporter.@
AReally Lee, I think you're taking things way out of proportion. Maybe he's just horny."
"Perhaps I am being overcautious, but I don't want you to take any risks."
"I can take care of myself...you know, Lee, you really could be his twin, maybe you should consider growing a beard. Very distingquished you know. If it's not all disheveled like his, though...@ she grinned.
"Well, he is rather...attractive, in his own mangy way. So unrefined, so...."
"Lecherous is the word I'd use, and I think you and Angela should keep away from him....and as Captain of this boat I could make that an order."
AExcuse me sir,@ Kowalski entered the cabin's open door, A but Captain Harlequin wants to meet you....@ he hesitated.
AWhat is it Ski?@ Crane asked.
AIt=s just....the guy=s...well...he..he complains about everything and everyone. >The boat's too clean, we smell like washwater, there=s no gold aboard, we act like a bunch of geldings when there's two women aboard...and he says the Captain=s got to be as weak as a girl to command such a ship.@
AJust ignore it, Ski,@Lee sighed. AIt wasn=t unusual for pirates to be...uh...over-sexed and arrogant. Don=t take it personally. I=m going to have a little talk with him. Tell him I'll be right up."
"And you," Lee rose and returned this attention to Edith, "just remember what I said?"
"Methinks you worry too much Sir Lancelot."
AAdmiral@ Dr. Jamison motioned Nelson to his office, A I don=t think there will be a problem with any contagion. But I did find this,@ Jamison handed Nelson two reports.
AThis the pirate=s DNA. I put it into our data file for the record. But the computer brought up this other file as a cross reference."
AThere has to be some mistake! The odds are....@
AShould I tell Lee?@
AI don't think you have a choice."
With a nod by Crane, Dr. Whitman, the guard, and a few other persons withdrew from the wardroom to wait outside.
AI=m Seaview's Captain. Lee Crane. What=s your name?@
"This is devil's work!@ Harlequin stood, his mouth agape at the image across from him.
ANo,@Lee replied cooly, Amany people look alike. Now, look, Harlequin or whoever you are, I want you to control your thoughts and your mouth regarding my passengers and crew, or you=ll spend all of your time aboard in the brig. Do I make myself clear?@
AWhat harm is it tellin' yer crew what I think? And me passions be me own business!@
AWhile you=re aboard, you will refrain from any attempt at indulging yourself.@
ABut I burn!"
"Live with it."
"This century's daft! Mayhap you're simply jealous of a real man.@
AUnless you agree to curb your roving eye, you will be spending all your time aboard behind bars. Is that clear?@
ATis clear. Unfair, but clear. Very well, I=ll no tempt yer strange ways.@
"Good," Crane rose and turned to go.
AWait, laddie!@ he grabbed Crane=s arm suddenly, AYe be wearin= me ring!@
AMe ring! Me ring! Tis mine! Given me by me father from all of his line down. How then did ye come by it? Took it from me boat did ye? Bit of a prirate yeself are ye?@
AI took nothing from your boat and for your information, I=ve had this ring since I was born,@Crane replied, indignant.
AOh we are proud, aren=t we matey. But tis me ring just the same!@
AMr. Morton,@ Lee spoke into a mike, A please come down to the wardroom ."
ACommander Morton is our executive officer...our first mate. He=ll point out certain areas of the boat where it's been agreed you can walk about freely. Then he'll instruct you on table manners. Our President is coming aboard to meet you and I don't want him to regret it."
AWell, ladies and gentelmen, the small galleon is floating, aided by air bags inside and out, along with specially designed floatation devises. We=ve been advised, that Seaview may begin the towing of the Angelique soon. There have also been some unsubstantiated rumors that Harlequin has a lookalike aboard. In fact, Seaview's Captain, Commander Lee Crane, except the Captain is clean shaven and has a military haircut.@
AI wonder if they could be related?@
AHarlequin is rumored to have sired a great many offspring....@
ASo Captain Crane could be some kind a great great grandson to the whatever generation of sorts?@
AA very remote possibly, but he could also be a side relation, sharing a common gene with another ancestor, but it could very likely simply be a case of a ringer. It=s not altogether that uncommon. We're all supposed to have a twin someplace.@
AWell, this is one salvage operation that will be for the books.@
AIt certainly will. That=s all for now, folks. Good night.@
AWell, I don=t know what all the fuss is about," Angela applied some lipstick,"so he=s amorous. He=s a man. What's he said to you?@
AHe said I was a >wholesome virginal looking wench=, just the thing for a...@
ALonely sailor long without..@ Angela interupted, and both women began to laugh. AWell, don't worry, hon. It's all over the boat that nobody had better even try to tamper with your affections, or they=ll have big brother and the Captain to deal with personally."
"My love life is my own business, big brother or not. As for the Captain, well, I don't know why he'd even be interested,"she sighed.
"Are you blind dearie? Crane may not be the dream date I thought he would be, but even I can tell he likes you. A lot. Maybe even more."
"First I ever heard of it," Edith pouted.
The President was sipping his champagne as he waited with Admiral Nelson, Commander Morton, and Captain Harlequin for Seaview=s Captain to finish up a few details and join them in the observation nose. The small table was set with fine linen but the dishware was standard. Only the drinks were any indication of Seaview=s civilian status.
President Baker scowled, ADamnit, you=re his boss, Nelson. Let=s sit down and eat!@
AFor a man of this >ere power you talk aboot, have ye no respect for the ship=s Captain? I may not like the lad, and thinks he's short on wits, but he=s the Captain nonetheless, and king or no, you=d do well to remember it!@ Harlequin threatened.
"Sorry I'm late," Crane said as he strode down the spiral steps.
AYou took long enough."
As Captain of the craft, Lee nodded to the corpsman to pour the sparkling water into the goblets. Dinner had begun.
AAnd so, ladies and gentlemen, at this very hour, Captain Harlequin is sitting down to dinner with the President aboard Seaview. Just about every world leader has tried to arrange a meeting with the celebritiy, and scientists are scrambling as each wants to be the first to study the man.@
AAnd today in the British Parliament, a bill was presented to formally clear Captain Harlequin of his crimes. I wonder if the Bank of England will honor any demand for a reward? Who would get it anyway, Captain Crane who found the galleon, Admiral Nelson who owns Seaview and the flying sub, or the crewman, named Kowalski who actually saw the odd block of ice the pirate was trapped in?@
"That's an interesting quesiton, viewers may call us with their choices as to who would be entitled to reward money, if any should be given. Good Night."
AAnd so I says to me first mate, it be a devil of a storm, come to bewitch us! And afore we even had a chance to react to >er, he twas swept into a great wave, cold and purple, as me boat went almost over on her side. I managed to claw me way below to git some of me treasures afore she was sure to go under. Then , sudden, it was, I twas smashed to the deck by a wall of water sudden broke into me cabin and try as I might I had no strengh to fight the wieght of the sea as it took me last breath.
True enough, methoughts we=d fallen off the edge of the earth! And now I here tell, this land you say yer from is on the other side of the sea. But ye no be part of England, though ye speak her tongue, nor Spain, nor France, nor any other civil nation under the sun. So how tis it that ye have folk from all sorts, as I=ve here seen aboard this strange craft? Or is this a devil craft and I be doomed to wander amoungst such fair wenches as this here Angela and Edith without so much as a by- your- leave to chart me own course from the Captain?@
AI don't understand,@ the President said.
" I have the freedom of the boat as long as I steer clear of certain marked places, and have the blasted guard with me. I'm a sailor, I can understand that. But to keep me hands off the Captain's wenches? Ye Highness, I=m a lonely sailor sir, and long without certain comforts. What harm would it do if they be willin' to share me bed?@
AOrder,discipline and decency aboard would be compromised," Crane replied.
AOh, there >e goes again! All aboot order and sin and usin= all those big words! As if I don=t >ave enough trouble with your bastard English. Well, I know why he don=t want me to indulge meself!@
AAnd why=s that?@ Dr. Whitman asked.
"He's jealous of my virilty," he took a swig of wine, "or," he snorted," his equipment's lackin'. Mine, I assure you,"he leaned toward Angela, "is primed and rarin' to be put to the test."
AYou forget yourself,@ Lee spoke coldly,"You're are a guest aboard this ship and as such you will be treated accordingly. But remember this, I'm Captain of this vessel, and you will not tamper with the ladie's affections while you=re aboard."
AOh, aye. You=ll lock me in yer brig, so ye=ve said enough. Over and over again! But I still says you=re no but a pirate yeself! Tis me ring he has! He claims it his from babehood, but I tell ye that=s me ring he wears!@
ACaptain," Nelson tried to soothe the waters,"Lee's worn that ring for many years. I even have photographs, that's a type of picture, to prove it. Your ring must simply look the same. As you both do.@
AAye, and perhaps yer boat is a work of the devil like I said afore and I'm doomed to perdition! And ye might be a devil's rogue as well! But if not, Crane's a thief nonetheles!"
Dr. Whitman interupted before Crane could react, ALee, Captain Harlequin can=t be held responsible for the ideas and fears of his own century. Just think how terrified each of us would feel, if we awoke to a different century.@
"Surely Captain," the President spoke, "he's no crewman of yours, certainly he has a right to ask either of these ladies for a date? We're not living in the dark ages."
"You heard him! It's not a date he wants! And I can't believe that either Edith or Angela would agree to an impromtu 'roll in the hay'. And certainly not aboard Seaview."
"Speak for yourself Captain," Whitman rose, " I'll take 'Quinn up on his offer. If the idea offends you, think of it as scientific research."
"I"m sorry, I can't allow it," Crane rose.
"What are you going to do, Lee? Lock us both in the brig? Don't worry, we can't rock this boat. Tell him, Mr. President, surely you can approve. We're both over 21."
"This is not an official government trip. Crane is still in command. It's his decision. But how about it Nelson, it's your boat, what do you think? I might not like the idea personally, but..."
"I stand with Crane. "
"Sorry Dr. Whitman," the President said,"You two will just have to cool it until you're ashore."
"Then goodnight!" Angela rose,"and 'Quinn's right, Lee's definitely lacking!"
"Angela!" Edith gasped.
"You'd do better with a monk!"Whitman stomped out of the nose.
"What did she mean Lee?" Edith asked,"you and she didn't actually...Oh, Lee, how could you!" Edith vacated the nose leaving a silent Crane, a red faced Nelson, a politically correct President, and a pleased priate.
AAre you sure?@ Crane asked Doctor Jamison in his cabin a few hours later, A Are you absolutely sure?@
AI=m sorry Captain. I=m 100 percent certain. The DNA proves it. This is no simple coincidence.You and Harlequin are related. Closely related. I even ran addtional tests, just to make sure.@
AThat=s all I need,@ Lee spoke sourly.
AProblems, skipper?@Doctor Jamison asked gently.AYou have a couple of hours?@ Lee grinned. AEverybody that's anybody wants Angelique will sail to New York under her own power, which is just about the most assinine idea yet. Angela calls her pirate pal 'Quinny' now. Edith is angry, and now I find I=m actually related to the pirate.... So, just how closely are we related?@
AYou=re not going to like this, Lee.@
AHe=s an ancestor. I haven=t figured the generation yet. How did you come by the ring he keeps on and on about?A
"My mother gave it to me. That's all I know."
"Hmm. Perhaps it is his ring, and was just passed on down."
"Well, okay, maybe. But I still don=t trust him. I don=t trust him at all.@
AShould I make your relationship public?@
AGo ahead, it's the truth.@
ANow wait a minute!@ Lee argued, as he joined the President and Nelson for a a late night snack in the Wardroom,"none of us are qualified to sail a tall ship!@
ABut you=ve sailed tall ships before, just tell your men what to do.@
ALook, Mr. President, It doesn=t work that way! It's an acquired skill! Why is it so damn important to sail Angelique to New York? Why not just tow her as planned?"
ANelson, convince him!@
ALook, Bob, I=d love to see Angelique under sail, but Lee=s right. Men could be lost, and maybe even Angelique as well. You need a fully qualified team to sail a craft like that.@
AI always figured Crane kissed your ass, but I never thought you kissed his! Lily livered cowards, just as Captain Harlequin said.@
ADon=t you ever say anything like that again.@Lee said slowly, menacing, fire in his eyes. A Apologize or so help me, I=ll kick you off my boat, President or not.@
AAre you going to let him get away with this, Nelson?@
AAs a >lily livered= coward, I don=t have much now choice do I?@ Nelson replied cooly.
AOh, hell, Harry! I didn=t= mean it like that. I=m sorry. I just want the boat to sail so much, I just ...I=m sorry Harry,@ the President brushed his clothes and sighed at a loss for words.
AVery well. I=m willing to forget this entire incident, Lee?@
AIncident forgotten,@ Crane replied," Good night."
AYe mean Crane=s me own offshoot?@ Harlequin asked Doc Jamison next morning in sickbay, A Me own flesh and blood? Oh tell me it=s no true!@
AI=m afraid I can=t.@
AOhhhh,@ Harlequin buried his head in his hands. AOf all people! Cursed with a milksop of a man from me own loins!@
AYou should be proud to have Captain Crane as a descendant."
AProud? Of what?@ he spat.
AYou forget yourself. The Captain's saved our lives more times than I can remember. And sir, you=d still be in the deep freeze as well if it weren't for him."
"It's apparent you like the boy, but I don't have to! Tis a disgrace, so it is! The shame of it! Havin' a descendant so...so...gelded!"
ASo Captain,@ Harlequin leaned on Crane=s desk, A the good doctor tells me yer me offshoot. Well now, will ye give me permission to sit meself down in this >ere grand cabin of yer=s or no?@
AWhy should I?@ Crane glared up at his pirate ancestor.
ABecause I be kin, like it or no, and if that=s no good enough reason, then because you be the Captain of this here ship, and I come to ye with a proposition!@
AAnd just what is this proposition?@
AAh, now to business," Harlequin scrapped a chair forward and sat," firstly that ye let me skipper me boat to this here New York of yours and secondly that ye reconsider ta' give me the Angela wench for to bed, and thirdly, that ye give me back me ring!@
"Take it!" Lee ripped it off his finger and flung it on the desk. AWhat is it? Why are you looking at me like that?@
AAhh. I sees it now. Ye have her eyes. I even named me boat after her, ungrateful lass. She was a fair maid, no mistake.@ Harlequin leaned back, arms behind his head, A I stole her from the nunnery. Don't look at me like that. She 'twerent no nun! They all put their daughters in nunneries, so they did. To protect them from the likes of me. Ha! No wall built will keep me from exploitin= the merchandise! Ah, she were lovely. Very lovely, good teeth too. Hair long and wavy, down to her feet. Saved her from me crew so I did, while they be all ashore a drinkin= pilagin=, and explorin= that night, though she didn't come to me bed all that willingly."
Lee stood in horror.
"Aye, you have her eyes, lad,"he smirked.
AHas no-one told ye, is no good to talk such a way to yer elders. Especially yer kith and kin.@
"I despise you. But you'll not skipper your ship to New York. She'd break apart, and while that would be of no great loss to me, it would to the Admiral and his friends. Your ship is going to arrive in New York with no further damage with or without your cooperation. What Angela agrees to when you're ashore is her own business, but not here, not aboard Seaview, can't you get that through your thick skull? Now get out of my cabin.@
AIn further news," the reporter said, " the British library=s found an interesting document which seems to indicate how Angelique got her name.. The story claims he saw the girl Angelique with a group of frightened villagers taking refuge in a convent, barged in, and dragged her away by her long tresses.@
AWell, I wonder if it became a love match. After all, if he named the ship for her.@
AWe=ll just have to wait until Captain Harlequin tells us. I=m really looking forward to the interview planned in New York. I understand the British Crown plans on sending a representative to speak with him as well. Strange, isn=t it, in his own century, feared as a terrible criminal, now in this century, treated like a hero or celebrity. Strange world.@
AMany thanks, Riley lad," Harlequin twanged the guitar,"Not a mandolin, but it'll do in a pinch. How's that there now. Tune's come down to me from me grandfather. What think ye? Tis a sweet haunting tune, be it not?@
AWhat=s the matter Riley, you look like you=ve seen a ghost?@Patterson asked.
AIt=s the same tune the skipper was humming last month! Awsome.@
AI=m sorry, Captain Harlequin, the craft is just too unstable,@ Nelson paced in the observation nose, A It will be difficult enough just to keep her steady. And the timber is already saturated, and far too pliable. The only thing keeping her afloat are the airbags. It would not be a good idea to put her under sail; the outrig motors we=ve attached will move her fast enough, believe me,@ Nelson tried to be sympathetic.
AYou=re using big words again and I have no idea what yer talkin= aboot.@
AYou want her to get to New York in one piece, don't you?@
AAll I know is that you want to keep >er for yeself!@
ASir,@ Nelson tried to remain composed, AAngelique is your property and I assure you these steps are necessary.@
AOh, excuse me," Edith entered the nose, " I didn=t know you were busy.@
ANot at all lass. Not at all, set yeself down and join us in a swig o=rum!@ Harlequin raised his glass and smiled at the girl, his eyes sparkling. ATell me lass, why not ye be spoke for? Such a lovely lass as yeself. What=s the matter with your lads Nelson?@
AExcuse me Admiral,@ Lee approached the nose, A but the President's back at the White House. Riley wants to know if he can stay over until morning for the weather to clear for the flying sub's return trip."
"I don't see why not. No, don't bother Lee, I'll speak to him in the radio shack. I=ll be right back Edie, have lunch with me?@ Nelson asked.
AOf course, Harry,@ Edith gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek and was about to exit when Harlequin grabbed her arm.
AAhh. What a lovely wench ye be, @ he spoke loudly enough for all to hear. "I fear I don=t know how long I be able to control meself when I see such a lovely maid!@
AThat's enough!@ Crane exploded.
AI be not fondlin= her! I left that to ye, ye twit, deprivin= meself of the pleasure! Well, Captain, let=s ask the lass what she wants! Does she want a real man, or a cloistered monk like ye?@
Crane's blow didn't really take Harlequin by surprise and the pirate was ready for him with a return punch of equal strength. The brawl began in earnest. Morton, Nelson and those men not on station jumped to to pull the two from each other.
"Stop it!" Nelson shouted, "Stop it, both of you! Grown men acting like a couple of bulls in a china shop! Edith, go to your cabin. You=re too much of a disturbing influence. You=re not in trouble. But they are. I might just decide to lock them both in the brig!@
AWell dearie,@ Angela paced her cabin, flinging things about angrily. A You didn=t have to encourage him!@
AI didn=t do anything!@
AYou didn=t have to! Just being there, flaunting your sweet purity! Of course he couldn=t help himself! @
ANow look Angela. 'Quinn can hardly be really interested in you if he came on to me."
AOh, I know some of it=s a real scam, but you didn't have to wheedle into the picture! And you think the gallant Captain was defending your honor? Hah. Only his ego. I know all about Crane! He was the perfect gentleman when we dated. Lovely words. Candlelight. A simple little kiss or two, maybe a little more, but that=s all. He didn=t try anything further. Even got me home by midnight. What a doormat!@
AStop it! Just stop it! Lee=s wonderful! Just because he has morals....@
AWell luv, if you want to take the vow of celibacy, you just go ahead. I don=t think Crane has the guts to be a real man. Or Quinn's right. You ought to call him 'can't- do- it Crane.' @
AYou disgust me! Lee's a good, brave and utterly marvelous!@
AAnd Harlequin=s a brute, okay, but he=s good in bed! Damn good! Yes, we busted orders! Right here under their stuck up noses. We may even marry.@
Before Edith could respond, the door flung open. Crane stood there, freshly showered, in a crisply ironed uniform, shaved, his well trimmed hair still wet. He motioned Angela to leave, then closed and locked the door after her.
ALee, what is it?@
Crane said nothing and stared at Edith.
ALee?@ Edith had never known Lee at a loss for words.
He approached her and held out his arms. She ran into them and rested her head against his shoulder. He stroked her hair, letting it fall between his fingers.
AWell, the gallant Captain Crane, what's the matter, did Edith kick you out?@ Angela said sarcastically as she walked down the corridor.
AWhat do you mean? I=m just on my way to see her...@ Then the implication hit. AThe bastard!"
"Lee! What are you doing? @ Edith asked, confused, as the man grabbed her hair, forced her head back, and pushed her against the bulkhead.
AI'm not Lee, but I=ll do in a pinch. Ahh. Lovely wench.'Twill do ye no good to scream. Angelique tried, so she did, but no-one came to her rescue, no-one at all,@ he laughed.
"Edith?! Edith?! Crane shouted, out of breath from his run to her cabin. Fumbling in his frustrations and hearing her stifled screams, he dropped his master=s key. AShit!" Finally managing to fling the door open, he barged in. Within seconds the two men were at each other's throats. With a sudden move Harlequin managed to knock Crane down with a blow to the solar plexus. Gasping for breath, Lee used his legs to kick out at his aggressor without luck.
"I likes a brawl now and then, but ye be way out of practice!" Harlequin laughed.
Crane lunged for the pirate's legs and knocked him off balance. Now the two fought and writhed on the deck, each getting in many telling blows upon each other.
Edith, crying and shaking with fear, managed to pull herself into a corner of the small cabin as security arrived, alerted by Angela. It was with difficulty that they manged to separate the two men. Angela quickly knelt by Edith and whispered to her. Edith shook her head with a quick 'no' .
"She's okay, just scared," Angela relayed.
AUh, who=s who Chief?@Kowalski asked, looking from one man to the other.
"Lock him in the brig," one of the Crane's ordered.
"He's lying. I'm Crane!" the other shouted.
It was impossible to tell the two apart.
"Well? Who's who?" Nelson asked.
Each Crane stood, arms behind their backs, handcuffed, and held by two security teams at gunpoint in sickbay.
"I told you I'm Crane! Where's Edith?"
"No he's not, I am! Is she okay?"
"I'm not going to believe either of you," Nelson said, " till I have proof, go ahead Doc."
Doc and Frank partially removed their captive's shirts to their wrists.
"This one," Doc indicated," is Harlequin. We charted the chest scars, but I'd still recognise them. Dr. Whitman, do you concur?"
"Well, unless someone gave Lee the same hickey I gave 'Quinn the other day, I'm positive too."
AAnd so ladies and gentlemen, it appears as though Captain Harlequin has outstayed his welcome aboard Seaview. Rumor has it that he actually tried to attack Edith Nelson, and is in the brig, but details are sketchy."
AWill this change plans for Angelique and Harlequin=s scheduled interviews and the scientific studies?@
AAs an archeological find, both Angelique and Harlequin are undisputedly valuable, but he may find himself not quite the popular celebrity he was.@
AAre you sure you=re all right Ediee?@ Lee spoke quietly as they both sat in the observation nose.
"Angela fusses about me enough. She=s mad at Harlequin because she feels betrayed, and guilty for saying some unpleasant things to me earlier. And Jaime and Harry treat me as if I can break, so please, not you too,@ she sighed. A I=m just tired,@ she turned to look at him, A I=m surprised Jaimie let you out of sickbay,@ she touched Lee's face, "I gather you have some pertty heavy bruises."
AOh, I=m pretty good at sneaking out...just kidding... Ediee?@
AHmmm?@Edith leaned back into her chair, looking out at the undersea view.
AEdith, I...I=ve had a lot of time to think. I..@
Edith=s scream as the ship lurched sideways and was thrown into darkness, did not drown out the klaxton ringing as the Seaview was jarred sharply and sent into a nose dive. Lee grabbed her and dragged her to the plot table where they could both hang on to the side rails. Grabbing a mike, he was just about to call out when the lights came back on, the ship leveled, and reports immediately started to come in. Seeing everything in order and Chip=s handling of things eased Edith=s mind right away. But not Lee=s.
AWhich frame burst?@Lee asked.
AA-4 through B-10 breeched, holding. All hands accounted for, except compartment B-9. It had to be sealed off.@
ADamn!@ Lee raced out of the control room.
AWell, Chief?@ Crane asked of Sharkey, drenched and busy giving orders to the small group of men just outside a large sealed hatch.
"There was just no time to get to him before we had to seal it.@
AVery well. Begin internal shoring up. I'll join the dive team to check outside.@
ASo, Harlequin is trapped? He'll die?@ Edith asked Angela from the relative safetly of the deserted wardroom.
AI=m afraid so, Damn it, I know what he tried to do to you, but I don't want him to die!"
"They'll think of something Angela. They have to."
ANelson clicked the mike again, A Damage control , report.@ Nelson clicked again, AControl room to Captain Crane, report.@
AControl Room?@ Patterson=s voice came over the PA from his diving mouthpiece. ADiving crew one, the skipper said it's hopeless to patch things up from outside, but hes still going to the breech to see if can get into the brig to see if he can get the prisoner out, if he's still alive. That hole's really jagged....I'm following him in. It=s really bad. Lots of debris and sparking wires...looks like a main busted and exploded. In the next compartment, it's a lot worse. Skipper=s got the brig open. He=s shoving his air hose into Harlequin's mouth and taping his nose closed....I don=t see any bubbles. He's gonna have to buddy breathe....okay, we=re going through though the...hey! Skipper!Skipper! I=m okay now, I got kind of tangled up in some wires. He had to use a knife....we=re coming out now, okay, were= out....alongside.....we=re at the hatch. Coming aboard. @
ALee, it=s no use!@ Doc Jamison knelt by Crane in the missile room, who was furiously pounding the pirate=s chest and breathing into his mouth.
ALeave me alone!@ Lee shoved Jamison away, AC=mon you bastard!@Lee shouted at the pirate, trying in vain to resuscitate the man. A I may hate your guts but I won=t let you die! Not on my boat!@ Lee continued his efforts, pounding, breathing, pounding, breathing. Jamison reluctantly intervened with the elecroshock equipment, but to no avail. Crane refused to give up and continued to press Harlequin=s chest and breathe into his nose and mouth,A What=s the matter? You a coward? Fight, man, fight!@
Nelson finally put his hand on Lee=s shoulder. Crane looked up, seeing Nelson=s look of pity. But it only made him whack Harlequin on the face and in the stomach, anything to get a response. Breathing into his mouth, one last time, Lee finally stopped, defeated.
A sudden rush of water gurgled from Harlquin=s lips and he gasped. He began to breathe. Jamison was with him immediately. But the pirate did not sir, nor regain consciousness as he was taken to sickbay.
AAnd there, ladies and gentlemen is the Angelique, accompanied by Seaview, entering New York Harbor. We=ve also been informed that Captain Harlequin who was rescued from the brink of death by Seaview's Captain, will remain aboard Seaview until his escort arrives to officially welcome him, or arrest him. We have had no further word from Seaview if Miss Nelson will make any formal charges. And now in other news..."
ADocking secure, sir,@ Morton reported to Crane, in the observation nose with Nelson, Angela, and Edith.
AVery well Chip, inform Harlequ...@
AI=d like t=talk with ye, Captain,@ Harlequin approached, two guards at his side.
Crane nodded at the guards who stepped back.
AWell?@ Lee asked as Harlequin sat down opposite him.
ACaptain...laddie....they tell me ye saved me life. Be it true?@
AI simply pulled you out of the brig.@
AYe did more than that. Rescued me from me watery grave and breathed the life back in me...why? Tis no secret that ye hates me.@
AHarlequin,@ Lee tried to compose himself, A I believe in life, even in those persons that disgust me, though there may be a spark of goodness in you somewhere.@
AAhhh,@ Harlequin rose and leaned his hand on the nose window.AWell, I guess I be goin= ashore now in this here New York. They don't know what they're going to do with me yet. Yon missy hasn't mede up her mind yet, though I told her I'd no be trying to get her to me bed again unless she be willin'. Here,@ Harlequin removed his ring. A Take it, it's still mine, but ...you=re a good and noble man Lee Crane... even if ye are a twit.@
Lee hesitated, but accepted the ring back and put it on.
AI say farewell to ye then, Lee. All this time aboard and I never called ye by your given name. As for yer other name, it must be a proud one, plastered all over the lavatory fixtures throughout the boat! Good way to keep your crew in line, no doubt... after all, we be blood relations!@ he laughed, gave a mock salute, and joined the escort assigned to him and climbed up the control room stairs and stepped into a strange new world outside.
AWell, it was quite an adventure Lee,@ Edith spoke softy, entering his cabin.
AOne for the books, Lee finished writing in the log, Afound (1) rapscallion pirate, delivered same.... Edith, I've had a lot of time to think and ...@
AOh, good, you=re both here,@ Nelson interupted, entering the room. A I=m granting a two day shore leave for all non-essential personnel, but I have a problem.@
AYes sir?@ Lee asked as Nelson sat on the edge of the desk.
AWell, as you know, I accepted that charity invitation in Washington, but I completely forgot about another engagement, and I just can=t get out of it. But the institute depends on having a representative there, our image you know, funding prospects, etc. I know you hate these affairs, perhaps you=d consider going in my place?@
ANo problem sir.@
ASplendid. Oh, blast, I almost forgot. The dinner reservations were for two...Edith! Why don=t you go along. It=ll be good for you. A little relaxation and good company.@
AGood company? Harry, you know I hate social climbing hotheads! And look at me! And my hair! I haven=t seen a real hairdresser since I=ve been aboard!@
AWhat=s the matter with your hair? It looks fine to me.@
AI can=t show up in blue jeans!@
ASharkey can take you to any dress shop you like, and you can be outfitted and back here in a couple of hours,@ Nelson said. A You'd really be doing me a favor.@
AYou=re impossible, do you know that?@ she laughed.
AOh, by the way, Lee. I=m afraid it=s formal. I=m sorry. I know how much you hate dress whites.@
AI=ll survive sir.@
" Good, the flying sub's back and will be ready when you are. Riley will pilot her, seems he wants some extra flight time."
After enduring a boring speeches, boring chatter and boring food, despite the glamourous setting, Lee was finally able to take Edith aside near the quickly filling dance floor. AEdith, I...@
AExcuse me Captain Crane! You are Captain Crane aren=t you. My, what a tale you must have to tell, please, you must meet some of my friends,@ the society matron dragged him away as Edith was just a quickly swept off to the dance floor by an beribboned diplomat.
It was difficult for Crane to get away politely. Enduring the continuous chatter and the barely disguised looks of lust mixed with matronly concern, Lee was fighting a loosing battle. Crane managed to catch a glimpse or two of Edith being swirled around the dance floor by a brigade of brass, diplomats, aristocrats and even a waiter or two. He didn't like all those empty attentions gigolos and sycophants kept bestowing on her. Finally managing to extricate himself from his own fans, he stepped in front of her present dancing partner and took her away to the relative quiet of the punch table, already being cleared.
AExcuse me, Commander Crane?@ the Marine aide interupted, A Admial Nelson called and informed us that needed the flying sub back to show to the mayor of New York . He didn't want to bother you such a piffling little trip, he called it, so he's reserved a place for you both to stay the night at the Chandelier Hotel here in Washington. But the Hotel called our receptionist and said there was a mixup, and only one room=s avialable. One of you will have to bunk on the sofa. They hope you won=t be too disspointed. Oh, he's also arranged a limo for you. It'll waiting for you whenever you like.@
Finally, the couple managed to extricate themselves from the last lingering guests.
AOh, Lee this is terrible! Bored silly then stuck at that glamourpuss place! Harry knows I don't like super plush stuff.@
AWell, at least there' ll be a roof over your head,@ Lee noted the rain. ADriver, after you drop Miss Nelson off, you can take me to the YMCA.@
ANo good fella, they=re packed. Looks like you=re stuck,@the driver said, smirking to himself.
ADon=t worry Lee. You don=t have to protect my virture. I trust you.@
AAhh. But do I trust myself?@ Lee grinned, then again serious, A Edith, I...@
AWell, sir, I could drop you off at the Salvation Army. They=re booked up too, but they got plenty of spare blankets they could give you and an umbrella to keep th..@
AShut up!@Lee shouted, AEdith? I ...I=ve been trying to...there's something that kind of been bugging me...I mean...I had no idea how I really felt until....until Harliquin tried to hurt you...and...well...I mean..."
"Lee you're making no kind of sense."
"I guess not...it's kind of hard to put into words...Ediee, will you marry me?"
AWhen?@she wrapped her arms around him.
AUh...how about tonight?@
AOh, Lee! I thought you'd never ask. I was getting worried I'd be an old maid.@
ADriver, do you know where we can get married?@
AIt=s two o= clock in the morning ? Are you that desperate?@
AIs there a place?@Edith asked sweetly. "I don't want him to change his mind."
AWell, the mayor was at that windig of the President=s, maybe he=s still up.@
AStep on it.@
AAre you sure?@ the hotel manager asked, incredulously, on the phone. AYes, yes. I see. An emergency. I=m dialing the room now sir. No sir, there=s no answer. Why yes, they checked in about four hours ago. Upset? Why no sir, they were quite exhilerated actually, and pleased with the accomodation, I=m told. I can leave your message in their box. Commander and Mrs. Crane. What? Commander and Mrs. Lee Crane. It=s right here on the register. Why yes it=s official. Just what are you implying? The mayor himself performed the ceremony. A very small wedding, I understand, his wife and their drivers as witnesses. But a true love match from what I=ve observed. Yes. I see. The emergency has resolved itself. Perhaps a wake up call? I wouln't advise but I can arrange it and...No? Very well. Goodnight sir.@
Admiral Nelson hung up, poured himself a drink, ran a hand through his hair and laughed in sheer relief. He=d been worried sick with the increasing levels of guilt preying on his deception. He hadn't even offered to show off the flying sub.And then there was the call from the President offering accomodations for both at the white house.
Just staying in the same hotel would have been enough. He=d only wanted them to think about it, becoming more than friends, not to take the plunge of a more intimate relationship as an act of obligation. But fate had apparently intervened. No luggage! I=ll have some sent, or maybe I should just wait for them to call. That=s it. Wait for them to call. Well, little sister was a married woman now, he thought, and Lee was her husband. She couldn=t do any better and neither could he. Nelson raised another glass in a silent toast.
AHmm? Yes Lee?@
AI=m sorry it took so long to admit to myself how I felt," he brushed a strand of her hair away from her face as they rested on the red satin sheets." I love you more than life itself.@
AAbout time,@ she teased and ran her fingers through his hair.
AYou know, Harlequin was right about one thing.@
AYou=re a bonny, bonny lass and I=m a lonely sailor long without...Hey!" he exclaimed as she whacked him with a pillow.
AThe next time you see a ship of some kind stuck in an iceberg or icefloe or whatever, promise me you'll leave it alone?"
"Mhhmm. That depends."
"On big brother."
"Oh you're both imposssible. Did Harry ever figure out how that stupid boat got stuck in an ice floe anyway?"
"Nope. Not yet anyway, but he's working on it," Lee yawned.
"I'm not sleepy yet....and," she grinned, "I=m a fair and buxom lass long without....ohhhh, Lee."
Note: 'Blood Relation' original version appeared in Silent Running # 3.