Chapter 5. Greenland
Captain's log, November Third.
We have arrived at the whaling port of Nanortalik. The crew has begun unloading a portion of Mr. Lachlan's hemp and acquiring provisions for our second leg of our journey. Rumours and speculation abound amongst them regarding the occurrence on the evening of October 31st, though no one has directly approached me regarding the matter. Mr. Lachlan's demeanor has been quite subdued since then, as has Lieutenant Walker's. The good doctor seems nonplussed and has been carrying on per usual, and has expressed a need to go ashore to 'stretch his legs and do some shopping'. A rotation has been drawn up by the XO for crew wanting some shore leave, and so we plan on staying over until an impending weather feature has passed.
Our hosts have been very accommodating, and a few expressed interest in coming aboard for a tour of sorts, as they have expressed their admiration for the lines of the Alexander. I acquiesced to their requests in hopes to strengthen relations.
"Cap'n suh, Ensign Meriwether reports the ship is listing to port two degrees" reported Walker. "Puhhaps we should send a team below to readjust ouh ballast? Mistauh Lachlan's hemp shipmint was heaviah then we recunned, ah 'spose, and may have shifted."
"Very well," Langhorne relpied, "See to it, Lieutenant." Walker saluted and walked away shouting at some of the deck hands, "Look livelah men, we ah goin' below! You theh! Fetch up some lanterns and make the way cleah to the ballast bay!"
Langhorne looked out over the railing to the small town. On the beaches were laid out great beasts of the sea, the many men flensing the carcasses, butchers with carts scattered about, and rows of great trypots simmering the blubber down for the precious oil. 'There seems no end to the row upon row of whales ashore', he thought to himself. The harbour was teeming with activity as well, small craft going to and fro, from ship to shore, some ship to ship. Larger ships than the Alexander were present, some seem to dwarf Langhorne's. Flags of many nations were represented too. After a while he noticed a small craft approaching. Langhorne waved, and one man waved back. As they closed the distance, the man shouted up to Langhorne, "Permission to come aboard!?!"
Langhorne cupped his hands around his mouth. "Permission granted!" Then turned to one of the crew mending sheets, "You there! Prepare to accept guests. Run out the plank!"
"Aye, aye captain," the crewman replied and called to a few others to assist. As the boat pulled alongside, the gangway was extended down. The small craft heaved to and tied off while the lead man scurried up to Langhorne.
"Would you be Mister Langhorne," the man asked. Langhorne raised an eyebrow and smiled. "No", he replied, "That would be be my father. I am Captain Langhorne, master and commander of this vessel. And who might you be?" extending his right hand.
"I am Governor Thorsen, Governor and Harbormaster, 'Captain'," with which he produced some papers, consulted them and continued," I have spoken with a Mister Lachlan regarding his shipment, and according to his documents there are further items on board that will not be unloaded here, is this so?" Langhorne nodded and began to reply, where the Governor interrupted and continued, "And this balance of cargo is tobacco?"
"Yes," Langhorne answered quickly, "I believe Mr. Lachlan has a full manifest of his property that is onboard."
The governor peered up from his paperwork, "So 'captain', do you not also have a manifest regarding all items on this vessel?"
"Indeed I do," Langhorne replied, "Would you care to join me in my cabin so we may go over it together?" motioning behind him. Thorsen nodded and pushed past Langhorne towards the cabin, then turned, "Well?"
Langhorne proceeded the rude guest across the deck, when bursting forth from below came Walker and the crewmen, pale and fervently crossing themselves. Indeed, they almost ran the captain and governor over in their haste. Walker began with, "Good Lawd, Cap'n!...." where Langhorne interrupted him, "Ah, good, Lieutenant Walker! Let me introduce you to our host, Governor Thorsen. He is here to check on us and unsure we have our documents in order. It was kind of him to come aboard today, yes?"
Walker looked wildly about, then at Langhorne, who was staring intently at Walker, then at Thorsen. Quickly composing himself, he saluted the governor. "Welcome aboard suh! Thank you suh! Then looked at Langhorne and asked, "A word, Cap'n suh?"
"We were on our way to my cabin to go over the ship's manifest, Lieutenant, "said Langhorne. Walker grabbed Langhorne's arm. "Please suh, a moment?" Langhorne turned to his guest. "Will my First Officer be able to assist you with this Mister Thorsen? A captain's duties are ever present."
Thorsen glared at Langhorne. "Governor Thorsen, thank you very much. Oh, I suppose your first officer will be as competent as you in showing me papers." Langhorne shouted out to Adams, who was on the wheel deck, his eyes never leaving Thorsen's. "XO, front and center!"
Adams shot down to where the group was, approaching Thorsen from behind, and saluted. Langhorne smiled to Thorsen and motioned to Adams. "This is my second in command, Senior Lieutenant Adams. Adams, the Governor is here to check our manifests, I want you to show them to him and answer any questions regarding the manifests. If there is anything else he requires refer him back to me. Thank you."
Thorsen turned around to meet Adams and took several steps back, in doing so stepped on Walker's feet and almost fell. "Good Lord!" he exclaimed, with which Adams said, smiling, "No worries, Meestah Gov'nah sir, I and I geet dat reaction moe often den you tink. Dis weh, sir," motioning towards the captain's cabin. Thorsen tentatively followed Adams.
When they were a good distance away, Walker leaned into Langhorne, and hissed, "Suh, we found Chef." He is in thuh verah stern of the ballast stow."
Langhorne straightened sharply. "Alive?"
Walker shook his head. " No suh, he's quite passed on suh. It's a terrible saht suh. It'sa terrible saht. He cut his ahms suh, 'n blead himseff drah. Thuh smell too suh, it's bad. He had these in his leff hand suh, and thuh knife that did the deed in his raht," as he passed several folded papers to Langhorne. "That one on top, suh, I think you should read that in privaht." Langhorne looked at Walker, then at the cabin with his 'guest' going over paperwork.
"I'll be on the foredeck, lieutenant, see that I'm not disturbed," he said and made his way forward. As he went, the other crewmen with Walker were visibly shaken and talking amongst themselves. Langhorne turned to Walker. "Lieutenant, see to it those men are given a ration of spirits and sent to their quarters until our guest has departed. Now!"
As Walker saw to the men, Langhorne stood on the bow and opened up the bloody letter.
"I, Archibald Tanner, with great regret and sorrow, offer this letter to my frend and captin, Samule Langhorn, to God, and thoz whom I have ronged in my life. In my time of learning to read and rite, the holly book has tot me about what a good person is. I am not a good person, so I remove myself from being the berdun I am and go to my jujmint before God. My stuff can go to whoo wants it. I do not need it any more. Forgive me."
Langhorne's eyes began to tear up. He knew that Chef had been going through some hard times dealing with his past, but not to the extent of suicide. 'Perhaps he is a better place now,' he thought to himself. 'Rest easy Chef, rest easy'. He looked back to the main deck, and saw Adams pointing at Langhorne on the bow, apparently directing the Harbormaster to him. Langhorne went down to meet his guest and caught him at the gangplank.
"I trust everything is in order, Governor?" he said. Thorsen looked bored and replied, "I suppose so, 'captain'. Your manifests of Mr. Lachlan's property match his."
"So, very good then, sir," Langhorne said, extending his hand again. Thorsen looked at Langhorne's hand, then up at Langhorne. "Do not be dismissive with me, 'captain'. We are not finished here. I wish to examine the cargo. I noticed while approaching your vessel your craft is canted to your port side. Had you not noticed?" Thorsen looked at the sky and concluded, "Now is as good a time as any for an inspection. Shall we?"
DUN DUN DUUUNNNNNN!
So fellow BoB'ers, you have your answer. Chef killed himself over his guilty past, no longer able to bear his conscience.
Timbo made the correct guess and had good reasoning behind it! Congratulations Timbo!!!
Thanks for playing, and tolerating my rather long winded composition!