The Kings Coat | Chapter 19 of 27 - Part: 1 of 16

Author: Dewey Lambdin | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 2583 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter 10

There were many strange and awful dreams that bothered him as he swam in the delirium of a raging fever. He and Mrs. Hillwood romped in the maintop while Marines threw buckets of seawater on them by the numbers and Captain Osmonde called the pace with a fugleman’s cane. Tad toasted cheese on burning sails for him and asked if he wanted his shoes blacked. Keith Ashburn and Shirke bought him a half-dozen bottles of claret, but he couldn’t drink with them, for their heads were skulls with clacking jaws and the wine ran down their chests like black ink.

Lieutenant Harm and Mr. Pilchard and Margaret Haymer danced together, comparing wounds. His sister Belinda was a figurehead on a ship of the line, and the sailors fondled her bare breasts as they sat on the beakhead rails to relieve themselves. Chapman hopped one-legged down the Strand with a beautiful young girl in a blue gown in search of a bookseller’s, and he could not catch them no matter how hard he ran. Sir Hugo and Sir Richard Slade chased him down an endless work gangway, waving their pricks at him.

He found himself flying low across sparkling wavetops with a crowd of pelicans who knew how to do spherical trigonometry in their heads, and he jeered with them at the seagulls, who had to use slates. Captain Bales was served at dinner by a nude Lady Cantner with an apple in her mouth. Alan was made post, but his ship was a hundred fathoms down off Nevis, and the wind kept shifting all about the compass. Kenyon and some admiral stood together in full uniform but no breeches and told him what a brute he was to harm the French, who were only two inches tall and crawled all over him. He was in a cart on his way to Tyburn to be hanged, and with his jeering friends telling him to die game, there was an elfin face framed in honey gold ringlets staring up at him and telling him to keep his wig on straight, while a fiddler did a bad rendition of “Portsmouth Lass” and Claghorne and seaman Crouch shoved on the capstan bars, and some very ugly old woman sold poking sticks to the gentry who wished to have at him.

He dreamed he had Yellow Jack and had turned the color of a Quarantine flag, all his hair falling out in his eyes, and a beautiful young girl tenderly bathed his face, softly saying “you sonofabitching bastard” over and over, and he had an erection because her eyes were the color of the ocean in a shallow island harbor, and Cassius rang a tiny silver bell so everyone could come and marvel.

Then there was a dream of a cool room, dim and quiet and still, with some kind of bars slanting one wall, and that one lasted for a while. The walls looked like plaster instead of the lathed partitions of a ship, and there might have been pictures on the walls but they were hard to make out because there seemed to be some kind of fog about him.

I’m in a house, he told himself dreamily, after pondering it a long time. I’m in bed in a house. So what happens after that? Slow sort of dream, compared to the others …

He could not move but he could blink and shift his vision to discover what seemed to be two sets of louvered doors on one wall at the foot of the bed he occupied. The light from outside was what was making the bar patterns on the wall.

They are not prison bars, he decided, shifting his eyes to a closer vantage of his body. He could see his arms on the sheets, so Boggs had not cut anything off. He tried to raise his arm but it would not move, and he sighed as he realized he had little control over this dream. He tried to shift a leg, and felt cool linen pressing down lightly all over him. I am in bed, in a house, nude, and not in jail. Lots of possibilities to this … hmm.

It was such a pleasant prospect that he dreamed he went right back to sleep to mull things over. When he dreamed that he awoke, it was much lighter. Then he saw that the fog about him was an insect net of very fine gauze around his bed, that the louvered doors led to some sort of veranda or patio. This time, he could move a hand and reach down to feel his groin. Yep, still got my wedding tackle. Nice room. Nice furnishings. Too good for a debtors’ prison, and it’s too quiet for a hospital. It was cool, and a hint of breeze came through those louvered doors, bringing the sound of surging waves on a beach, and he didn’t think it was Brighton. There was a decided salt-and-iodine tang to that breeze, and it was so bright beyond the louvers that he thought he might be somewhere in the tropics, maybe the West Indies.

His mouth fell open and a foetid odor rushed out. He tried to make words but all that came out was “gracck.” But he thought, with a joy that was almost sexual, My God! I’m alive!

He looked at his hands and his arms against the cool white linen sheet, and saw that he was a lot more yellow than he remembered.

I survived Yellow Jack, he crowed silently, almost weeping in happiness. I’m as yellow as a quince but I’m alive!

He listened to his heart beat, took deep breaths and rejoiced to the sound of air rushing in and out. The taste in his mouth was positively vile, but he thought it nice to be able to taste anything.

There was a sound to his right. A door was being opened, a swish of clothing could be heard. He caught a flash of white cloth and thought it might be some sort of mop-squeezer. But he saw that elfin face that was so incredibly young and lovely, those bright blue eyes and the honey gold hair set in ringlets, and he was afraid that he had seen her somewhere before … being hanged or something? If she were here, was he really alive? Was she some tantalizing angel or devil? Did he have his wig on straight?

She crossed to the double doors and threw the first set open. A flood of painfully brilliant sunlight exploded into the room. The second set opened, and he blinked in pain, until he could make out a bar of cerulean blue framed by intensely green bushes, bright green grass and the hint of dune-grass and sandy soil beyond the green. Was that a ship out there, a three-masted Indiaman? The girl took a moment to stand in the second door, arms still holding the doors apart like a figure on a crucifix in some Romish church.

Once his eyes had adjusted and been blinked clean of tears he could surmise that it was early morning, for there was a hint of sun just at the top of the door, and the girl was silhouetted against the bright light. She must have been wearing a morning gown instead of a more formal sack-gown, and without stays or corset, because he could see how slim her back was through the fabric, how tiny her waist, how slim her hips, almost like a boy’s but for the gentle continuation to the curve of her behind.

With the doors open the breeze hit him with a gentle rush, and it was cool and clean, heavy with tropical flowers, the astringent tang of deep ocean that came to him as lustily as the steam from a smoking joint of meat. He could hear birds singing, birds he did not recognize.

The girl still stood against the light, and he could see that her shoulders were not too broad. She had long legs, slim thighs that left a gap between them at her cleft, shapely calves and trim ankles. She turned and did something in the shadows on tiptoe, and he could see how full and high her young breasts were above a flat belly, how snug and trim her buttocks were. Then she stepped out of the light into the shadows, and a bird was singing quite loudly.

There was another rustle of cloth in the room, and he shifted his eyes to that direction. He saw an incredibly ugly woman in a mobcap and morning gown. She bore something with her. Where had he seen her before, selling something at Tyburn or Bedlam? She brought something forward; long, thin, made of wood and … Poking stick! I’M DEAD!

“Hanggankk,” he said, eyes wide in fright, and the woman gave out a harpy’s shriek and disappeared in a twinkling.

“Mister Lewrie,” the woman said, reappearing with a glass of something in her hand. “You spoke! Lucy, he spoke!”

“I heard him, yes, thank God, oh thank God,” a young voice cried.

“Agghk,” he went on, his heart pounding hard enough to shake the bed. The woman’s shriek, and the sight of that broom handle he had thought was a poking stick had nearly frightened him out of what few wits he still possessed. And he had not made much inventory yet as to that.

Hands were there to lift him up in bed and pile pillows behind him until he was almost sitting up. A black maid appeared to help out. A glass was thrust under his nose and he opened his sticky lips to accept whatever was offered. It was water: not stale ship’s water, but fresh and sparkling clear water, and he gulped it down greedily, hoping to sluice away the vile taste in his mouth. He wasn’t much for water if one could get beer or ale or wine, but at the moment he thought the water a marvelous discovery.

“Thank you. Thank you,” he rasped, licking his dry lips.

“We feared the fever had curdled your brains, Mister Lewrie.”

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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