Off the coast of Java
Onboard the Lorelei Lee
O God of Grace and Glory, we come before you this day in memory of our fallen shipmate. In your boundless compassion, console those of us who are left behind to mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on Earth until by your call we are united with those who have gone before, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Eternal Father whose arm doth sometimes calm the restless wave, and whose mighty arm doth at other times whip the sea into an angry froth, please accept into your loving arms the soul of our lost mate who in your greater wisdom you saw fit to take. We commend unto your divine presence our beloved comrade . . .
My name is Jacky Faber and I am—by the grace of God, of Neptune, and of all the lesser gods—Owner and Captain of the Lorelei Lee, possibly the most beautiful brigantine bark ever to sail the seven seas. I am once again back in command of that fine ship. I am in my lovely cabin and my bottom is pressed back in its favorite chair at the head of my fine table, and grouped about that table are many of my dearest friends.
I’ve a glass of fine wine in my fist and my dearly beloved James Emerson Fletcher sits here beside me, his hand in mine. Oh, Jaimy, finally!
I am supremely happy.
Now a drop of Nelson’s blood would not do us any harm,
No, a drop of Nelson’s blood would not do us any harm . . .
Things are getting a mite rowdy here on the Lorelei Lee as we lift our glasses and bellow out the words to the song. My ship has been sailing in company with the Cerberus and HMS Dart back up the Strait of Malacca, with Sumatra to port and the Malay Archipelago to starboard, having left Australia, and all its meager charms, far behind.
Most of those in this northerly bound fleet had been condemned to servitude in the penal colony in New South Wales, but we managed, through various mutinies, battles, and some very welcome help from God, luck, and a Chinese pirate, to wriggle free of those bonds, and for that we are eternally grateful. I am, anyway.
Were we guilty of those crimes for which we were transported to the other side of the world? Well, the Irish lads were guilty mostly of merely being Irish. My own dear Jaimy Fletcher, former Lieutenant in His Majesty’s Royal Navy and now in the eyes of that Service a vile pirate captain, was mainly guilty of merely being associated with me, false witness being brought against his good name.
My own guilt? Well, I’ll let others decide that, but I won’t stick around and wait for their decision. Oh, I suppose when I stand before the Pearly Gates, I’ll have a few things to answer for, but I’d rather have God judge me and my actions than be judged by the King’s ministers, who have not been all that kind in their treatment of my poor self. I do hope God will be more merciful than King George has proven to be.