Our old friend Colin Leslie Beadon was once a sailor – and so is fully qualified to tell some tales. How much is fact, how much is wishful thinking? That’s something we’ll leave for Colin to explain in the comment section.
Meanwhile, we bring you…
Captain Giovanni’s daughter
by Colin Leslie Beadon
Down around the south Atlantic the huge albatross stay with me day and night, floating like huge ghostly shadows. The seas are full of groups of penguins and seals, and porpoise jump along in thousands, and the ocean breathes, like the breathing of the very earth, and the ship rises and falls, slowly, on the Earth’s huge bosom.
Into all this stepped Anna, the captain’s vixen-haired daughter, tanned, deep gold like I am, except her tan came from her race. I was on the bridge wing the first time I saw her. She stepped into the wheelhouse, and ignored me. I saw her, flaxen hair to her waist, talking to the second mate. Even then I could see she was attractive, and she knew it and knew how to twist a man’s guts with her firm enticingly potent form, a form that eats away at youth and makes youth toss and turn in his bunk. She was about my own age, I was sure, maybe a year younger. This was the first we had seen of her, perhaps she had taken a few days to get over seasickness, some people take longer than others on big liners with their slow sluggish motion.
Yet she did not ignore me later. I was out on the port wing, and she came out and spoke to me. Her eyes were a strange wolf grey, the wind played with her hair, her small strong hands gripped the spray dodger so she could pull herself high enough on tiptoe to look over the top. She asked me about the crow’s nest up on the foremast, and what the view was like from up there. And I told her it was where I would be if the weather was clear, as you could see a lot further out to sea.
I felt, right away she knew I liked her company. I would get those long melting looks that seemed to search my soul from her dimpled round face, the high Latin cheek bones, her more than perfect skin, the full supreme lips and starlet Italian nose. She was an alive sculpture off the walls of a Roman amphitheatre, her body nubile, potent, painfully desirable.
“Do you like me coming out here ? she asked. Do you think the mate will mind ?
“It may make him jealous, I should think,” I replied. “He might send me up the crow’s nest, so there’d be no competition on the bridge.”
“Do you think he would do that?”
“Probably. Or he would have me changed onto the deck crew, so I’d not see much of you.”
This she pondered for some moments. “Oh well then. Maybe I’d need to ask my father— to have you back ?”
“Please don’t do that. He and the mate would start watching us like hawks. And I’d love to see you. We are not supposed to speak to passengers on deck, you see. I don’t really know why.”
“I’m hardly a passenger,” she puffed, “and I am not very obedient, my father says.” She turned, and glanced at me over her shoulder, smiled, “I’m going to have to cover our tracks, aren’t I?” , she raised her eyebrows. “I must go back and pay the officer some attention.”
I watched her walk away — glide would be more like it. I would not sleep much from now on. She would be in my every thought. She would dance on the compass binnacle, and take control of my dreams.
On afternoon watch, when the mate was in the chart room and I was on the helm, she would steal up behind me and place her arms around my waist, and I could feel her full breasts on my back. My stomach would go tight like a knot, and my beast start to spread its head like a viper. The ship would go off course as I lost the ability to read the compass, and the mate would shout at me from the chart room, ‘Where do you think we are going, Lad.” He could not see us, but he could see the compass repeater at the chart desk.
They were balmy nights with huge star glows, the slow south Atlantic rise and fall of the ship. After my hour on the helm, the mate would send me up in the foremast crow’s nest. I really liked it up there and just had to remember to ring the ‘watch’ on the ships bell. This was done to remind the mate I was not sleeping and keeping a sharp lookout.
The passengers usually had a dance going on, and I could hear the music, and knew Anna would have been there sporting herself off. But it was like the third night of the balmy starlit weather, and I had just wrung the two o’clock four bells, then I heard a knocking below the crow’s nest at my feet. Perplexed, I stepped one side to open the hatch to see who it was; and here comes Anna, up, into my arms in a soft feathery dressing gown, her perfume sending my heart rocking painfully.
Anna did not keep the gown on for long. We were swept into a profound agony, a deluge of what was for me, ‘The First time’. All she said, kissing me in my ear, “I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep.”
Somehow I remembered to ring the 2.30 a.m. five bells, and we both plunged ahead with the first blending of youth under the most romantic conditions. At one stage the floodlight on the wing of the bridge turned on, and swept across,…. And I just remembered to raise one hand so the mate would be assured I was very much awake, though he was unaware the precise circumstances. Strangely, the spot light then kept searching the decks below us for some minutes.
Another half hour of splendour went by, and I was about to ring 6 bells for 3 a.m. when there was another knocking on the hatch below our feet. It stopped us both dead. And then came Captain Giovanni’s gruff voice where he stood on the mast ladder, his head just inches below us.
“Now Open Up. Open the hatch.”