“Westward from the Davis Straight ‘tis there ‘twas said to lie. The sea route to the Orient for which so many died.” So we had sailed due West from
that warm spring day. Few of the men aboard for this voyage truly heeded the warnings we’d given of the horrors of the voyage ahead. The very air before us was like to congeal and shatter about the bowsprit as our adventuresome sails make first entrance into the virgin northern waters untouched by any but ourselves the year previous. Soon they would learn the truth of the voyage and see the hardship of real cold. Before long they would see how the rime on the deck must be scraped continually else the ship should freeze to the spot and there stay till the thaw should chance to free her. Bristol
Our captain, great hero of
, Martin Frobisher stands atop the rearcastle peering out into the clear northern skies past the jib boom. He raised his hands to the height of his shoulders and smiled. “We come for you Anian Straights.” He challenged, “We shall soon be upon you and we, brave men of England England, will take your jewels for our queen and pass beyond to the lands of Cathay securing our place in history. Every man here has pledged his life and hazarded his body to this purpose and you, savage land, shall give us our immortality!”
“Beggin’ yer pardon cap’n but isn’t the passage in the west?” This is our good bosun John T. Hawser.
“Of course it is John. Wherefore else would I address the horizon?”
“Only You’re not looking West. We’re still tacking out. That be North by Northwest.” He pointed out, gesturing past the jib boom. The gallant captain made a face causing his beard to stick out funnily.
“Very well.” He turned sharply to the left and shook his fist at the horizon. “You heard me.” Then the bold hero pointed his finger threateningly and manfully declared. “All the stuff I just said.” With that he turned to Hawser and, ceding the bridge, he headed below to “check the maps.”
The sailing was smooth out past the Isle of Man and into the
Irish Sea. We stopped at Londonderry to lade on final supplies for the passage across the North Atlantic to the Labrador Sea.
By July we had sighted
Labrador and turned North once again to make for the mouth of the passage. This was the first time turning to the northward since leaving the safe waters around dear . Here in the savage waters around this godless land any thing may come to pass and the curses of great men may be remembered. England
As evening fell lights played across the horizon and as the men chuffed through the ice on their beards and scraped the planks a magic air blanketed the ship. The men on the stanchions paused in pushing the bergs from our hull and our captain, swathed in esqimaux furs, looked up from his wine and his astrolabe.
“John!” He called for the hardy bosun.
“John, do you hear that music?” John sniffed instead of answering. He sniffed his way straight to the captain’s goblet.
“Cap’n. Where did you get this wine? It’s not from the tub what went septic is it.”
“Don’t be a fool, no wine can harm my steely mind” John took a sip of the liquid in question and turned to spit it out. “Do not spit out my good wine, John. That is captain’s wine.” The bosun made an uncomfortable noise as the wine burned slowly at his cheeks. Seeing that the captain was not going to budge he swallowed with a grimace.
“Cap’n that wine’s gone off. Cabin boy’s still laid up from having a thimbleful last week. Now I’m sure we’re both to be joining him.”
“Belay that mess about wine, John. Honestly, I am far more concerned about this music. Is someone fool enough to play a flute in the arctic? They’re lips’ll stick and they’ll have to wait for… never mind. It’s foolish.”
“Well, now you mention it, there is a sort of music about but not like any flute I ever heard. It’s comin’ from outside.” The lights in the sky grew brighter as the pair moved to the rear door to look out.
The captain tells me at that moment a whip of blue light cracked out from the sky above and caught the two in its blinding flash. The following is his account of why we found the pair of them in the water several hours later.