Today on Tales from the Crow’s Nest it is my pleasure to present to you the story of Daphne Tart N Sweet, First Mate of The Nautilus.
Daphne is a multi talented member of The Colorado Rogues. First Mate of the Nautilus, she has won over many a sailor with her winning smile, and quick wit. Please enjoy the story of :
Daphne Tart N Sweet: First Mate of the Nautilus
Photo By: Chris Gilstrap
I am Daphne TartNSweet. I was born in County Cork, Ireland, the daughter of modest but loving parents. My da was fond o’ music and drink, and not necessarily in that order. My mam met him in the county hall where they was having a rousing session, and fell in love with his playing as much as his face. They were young and foolish, and married soon. Some would say t’was suspect the speed with which I appeared and made whispers behind their hands.
Their marriage was like a piecrust; easily made, and easily broken. After concocting stories of my da’s untimely demise, my mam found herself in want of work and struck out to the fields, leaving me in the care of a strange old woman, who looked different and spoke with the tongue of a foreigner. My nan, (who I later learned was from Spain) told me exciting tales of oversea journeys and lands far away, instilling in me a great desire to see more of the world than my green isle and stony fielded future. I spent the first 5 years of my life happy at the hearth.
By a stroke of fate, my mam was promoted to be the housemistress of our towns only well-off family, and there met the Steward, whose heart she captured easily with her fair face, able mind and sharp wit. Over the next few years, they courted and married. My life would ne’er be the same. From famine to feast overnight. We moved into a large respectable home on the outskirts of town and settled into our new life.
As the years passed, it became apparent that me and my mam’s husband were bound to interact as oil and water, with the mix getting slicker the taller I got. By the summer of my fourteenth year, interactions between me and him and were taut to the breaking point. One evening after we had traded blows verbal and physical, I overheard the folks speaking of sending me off to convent, so I ran away.
I was blessed with my real da’s voice and penchant for music, so I busked my way to Dublin. Over the next 10 years, I discovered that his love for music wasn’t the only thing I inherited, and danced with the Mistress O’ Whiskey until I found myself on the doorstep of the bowery brothel. That time was hard and the lessons were a bitter, but necessary tincture. I was one of the ‘parlour girls’ who brought men in with a flash of smile, a flash of knickers, and a promise. I knew it was only a matter of time before I was ‘promoted’ to a chamber girl, where that promise was fulfilled if the caller had the bankers blessing. I promised myself that I would not go down that path.
I began singing in the parlour to entertain the clientele and was noticed by the Osteler, a man that upon first meeting I found to be unbearably cocksure, but with time, I softened my gaze. He vowed to lift me from the quagmire and turn my life around. Being naïve, I agreed to marry, but soon found that his idea of a better life was a far cry from my own. In a heated argument late one night, he advanced on me with fists raised in fury, and I slew him. I buried him in the garden under the moonlight and covered his absence with the tale of a pregnant mistress in Munster. It wasn’t till after his terrible ‘accident’ that I’d found he’d left me with child.
I headed for the docks, where I stowed aboard The Goode Ship Mourning Glory , and hid my femaleness under rough breechcloth and short hair until my burgeoning belly made trickery nigh impossible. I was discovered by Captain DeVallier and his wife Jeanette. They were kind folk who took a shine to me and through their tutelage, I learned to crew, fight, and sail, courting the harsh mistress o’ the sea and seeing faraway lands and peoples until the call of The Celt thundered above the beckon of her salty voice. So I left the land of Dragonspine and returned to Dublin once again with Ayslynn the Dreamer, the child I had borne whilst aboard.
Shortly thereafter, I met a man named Bardkin in a pub where I was working. We drank the evening away and traded songs and stories. Now I’ve been told I have a large voice for such a small mouth, and ne’er thought I’d meet one who was louder than me, but Bardkin could give me a run for my ploughman’s notes. You’d a thought we were reuniting and not just meeting fer the first time, but sometimes folk are like that. You just know you’ve known them before, and you welcome them with open arms.
We decided to throw our lot in together and formed a band, taking the name of his old act, The River Wynde. We performed throughout the countryside for two years, earning a modest income, drinking some fine mead and making good music. After a while we realized that as a band, we were missing something, and put the call to the universe to aid us in filling this need. We chanced to hear of a couple who had retired from the gypsy road. Strings and Sasha. As luck would have it, they were in search of a band to join, and so we decided to meet. We played reels, ballads and whirling jigs. It was magical, that first time we four made music.
During this time, I met one of Bardkin’s dear friends, a striking woman by the name of Traveler Hawk. Behind the fence of a traveling fair, Miss Hawk and I would steal behind the scenes and sing together, culminating in me inviting her to perform onstage with us. She was powerful shy at first, but you just knew there was something brilliant inside her waiting to be set free. I hear tales of Captain Hawk starting a band of her own and pleasing the masses with her enchanting melodies, and it makes my heart smile.
After a few years more playing the local taverns and faires, I got to be fast friends with a rowdy group of pubcrawlers and discovered that they were pirates who had vowed to drink all the gold they had hoarded, and so took up residence at The Pirates Pub! Captain Full Moon of the Rising, loved the music we made so much, he invited me onboard as his bard. At that time I’d found I was once again blessed with child, and being that my own family had turned their backs on me, I readily accepted, and I met her crew. Among them were Sachiko, her First Mate, Merlot, her scribe and Boutz, an able crew member. I discovered that there were ships of this fleet that were on the ocean, that my dear ‘mate Bardkin was a crewmember of one vessel called the Raging St. Mae and that my other dear friend Traveler was her Captain! It seems I was destined to be involved with this group. The Captain’s and crews, my new brothers and sisters, supported me through a long and trying pregnancy that year. And that fall we all welcomed Ava. Captain Moon christened her Blue Moon, saying babies that sweet only come along once in a blue moon. He also welcomed Ayslynn with open arms and dubbed her New Moon, for she holds the moon in her hand, even when it isn’t visible to the naked eye.
After a time, I heard tales in the pub of a ship that had been in a terrific battle, and in the course of her sinking, the souls of her crew brought the Japanese ship that had defeated it back to port, whereupon Captain Moon gifted her to his First Mate, and made Sachiko Zetsumei her Captain. It was a proud and wonderful day when Captain Moon introduced Captain Zetsumei and her fine vessel, The Koumori. Three cheers for the Purple and Black.
Captain Zetsumei, accounting for how deftly I handled drunken patrons at the pub, knowing of my years sailing, my thirst for adventure, and the secret I had confided to her, made me her Quartermaster. I loved my new crew and my home vessel. We had many adventures, our first year was truly a thing of beauty to behold. The winds were steady, the chop was calm, and stars were out. Now I was the one who cracked the whip.
I sailed with The Koumori as her Quartermaster for a year and three-quarter, until my first Captain, Captain Moon sent an urgent message that stated he needed me back aboard the Rising. I had given my oath when I departed that all he need do was beckon and I would answer his call, and true to my word, I returned to the crew I began with on the Rising and took my place as her Coxun where I remained for three fortnights before being promoted to Bosun.
After a time on board as Bosun, Captain Moon made the decision to retire, whereupon his First Mate was voted by the crew of the Rising into her new Captain. When Lorrance Ohm was promoted, he gave me the honour and privilege of making me his First Mate. We sailed with pride, integrity and a lust for fun and adventure.
Our first year was trying and more difficult than any of us could have imagined. I grew increasingly worried over my Captain’s health and waning energy when he announced that he was taking a sabbatical and seeking a skilled surgeon to remedy his ailing health. He took his leave and made me her acting-Captain until he had healed, and also ordered me to have the ship completely refit and made sea-worthy once again, for after over a decade of languishing in port, she was in dire need of a carpenter’s kiss. Upon his return, we were to set sail. He mended quickly and returned sooner than expected to a beautifully redone ship and an eager crew.
We weighed anchor on the morning of December 29th and left the Harbour on a calm sea. I was excited and giddy to be out on the open waters once again. We sailed joyously for a few brilliant hours, our hearts light and our heads buzzing with the thought of holds to plunder and coffers to refill, until we came headlong into a terrible storm. Though I will admit I try not to be as superstitious as many on the ocean, it seemed that our ship, our livelihood and sanctuary on the waves, was not responding as she should have. I pride myself on being more empathetic than your average cutthroat, and I swear the hesitancy was coming from The Rising herself.
I placed my hands on her trusted wooden wheel and was jolted with the vision of the night sky with a thousand winking stars dotting the inky stillness. Hanging in the distance in the center of it all was a clear and bright full moon. The vision continued and though my eyes were open on deck, all I could see was the calm and gentle night-scape. The sounds of tense hollers from the crew, howling wind and whipping sheets were replaced by a gentle keening wail, a sound full of piteous despair and longing. As quickly as it had begun, the vision ended, leaving me a bit dizzy and struggling for footing on this plane. I shook of the effects of the trance and went to find my Captain.
We gathered all the other officers and went to Ohm’s quarters, where I relayed my strange vision and we parsed out what it meant. The ship we were upon was still connected to her former Captain and her melancholy was the reason we were battling not only the storm, but the vessel herself. Without the efforts of our ship behind us, we were doomed to The Locker and we all knew it.
Captain Ohm crossed the cozy but finely appointed room, his boot heels clicking on the well-made planks muffling only as he crossed the lush throw rug in front of the heavily decorated trunk that held his personal possessions. Withdrawing a well-loved weather beaten tome, he turned to us and bid each of us present to open our hearts and minds. He reasoned that because love and all of its aspects, positive and negative, were what had us in our quandary, that logically, love and its wild and magical properties would be our only saving grace.
We performed a ritual to request an audience with the Ruler of The Sea. We were found worthy and granted reprieve from the pounding surf and shrieking winds of watery dissent. We emerged stronger, wiser, and more determined than ever before.
All my life I have been given great opportunities to grow and challenge myself. To choose strength, integrity and love when other seemingly easier options presented themselves. Now I know, without doubt, I am nestled safe in the bosom of perfection. I am a humble student of the multi-verse. I am The Naultilus.