Tuesday, April 9, 2013

OLD FRIENDS SINCE THE GOOD SHIP WELCOME ....... A Vampire and His Enemy.. 4/09/13

The Maxwell family had a legend... about a strange soul who traveled with them when they first crossed over to the New World.  The first Maxwell, in America, at least, sailed with the Lord Protector himself on the good ship Welcome. Those on board were Quakers, members of The Society of Friends and gentlemen of worth in Britain, though hampered by their faith. For that reason, these plain people braved the Atlantic, secure in the expectation of good lives beyond the sundown. 

But there were always whispers. Stories about cargo brought on by night and stowed in the dark, deep hold. Some said a rich pirate, traveling incognito, sought freedom and solace as a gentleman farmer, far from the gallows at Tyburn. Others named Jews fleeing Inquisitional fires in Portugal, though distrustful of spies and collaborators among Jacobite   strongholds in the ever shifting English capital. Few knew the truth... not all of it anyway. Captain Greenway was sworn to secrecy and also the recipient of a potent drug, sealed in a small, carved bottle. Cinnabar, I believe it was. And destined for a sickly child in Portsmouth. 

Now a young son born to the Maxwells loved the sea. And while other's laid curled in their berths, or huddled on a chill, wet, slippery deck, this junior Ulysses made friends with the ship and looked into each dark nook and cranny. There were glass beads destined for aboriginal chieftains. And casks of nails, more dear than rubies in the rough wilderness lying ahead. But beyond all that, buried far below the rest, was a casket roughly five cubits long , three cubits wide and two cubits high. The oaken exterior sealed in black pitch and bound by iron bands. No label named its contents. No smell its secrets told. 

But the boy lay down upon it. And there in the dim bowels, he slept, rocked by the waves, though calmed by something else. He had strange dreams and saw foreign places. He heard whispered tales in other tongues.  

Later at supper he told them, speaking of a cultured young man in the hold. And when they asked the captain if such a passenger existed, he denied it. After that, when they lit lanterns and clambered down below, no such soul was found. Though Tomas de Macabea, also known as Jonathon, was with them, safely entombed in an old Spanish chest and hidden amongst the bilge. 

The Maxwell boy never returned to the hold. They watched him and kept him close. His mother taught him letters. His father spoke of God. The seamen watched the sky and he watched with them. 

Ten weeks to cross the sea... that's how long it took. Gray days and cold nights wrapped in rough woolens down below. Salt beef and hard tack. Weak beer and stale water. Perhaps some sour cabbage. Perhaps some hymns and psalms

Thus did a vampire cross the sea..... And the Maxwells always knew it.....

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