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It was a lovely morning, HMS Surprise slipped slowly though the gentle Pacific swell with a light quartering breeze wafting her slowly westwards. Captain Jack Aubrey paced the quarterdeck in his usual manner turning exactly on the bright shiny ring bolt, polished by his boot sole rather than Killick who restricted himself to the captain's silver plate and best uniform.
Just then, the last grains of sand passed through the half hourglass, the quartermaster turned it and called to the marine, "Strike three bells".

Almost as the last stroke was dying away, a scruffy small man emerged from below rasping his unshaven chin. "Why there you are Stephen," cried Jack, "Did you finish the coffee?"
"Jesus, Mary and Joseph," mumbled the doctor "Dare I ask For Whom the Bell Tolls?" "Why doctor, it tolls for all of us." replied the captain.

Just then, the lookout at the fore topmast cross trees cried out loudly "Land Ho!". "Whereaway?" cried Jack. "Fine on the starboard bow." replied the lookout. "It looks like a cloud on the horizon." "No, man, it is an island." muttered Stephen quietly. "Are you done?" asked Jack, "would you like to set foot on this island?". Stephen stared at him. "Are you serious, Jack?" he asked in a stunned manner, "You would permit me a chance to go ashore, perhaps find some new specimens?"
"Well, yes, and we could determine its location more accurately, for there is no island on our charts in this location. It would serve both our purposes, we need more water and perhaps coconuts too. I have Great Expectations that the stop will be beneficial for the men's health too."

The captain's words recalled the doctor to his mission to the quarterdeck. "Captain, I beg to report that there are several men who have reported to me with a fever. They are shivering and shaking and they are all shook up." "Dear Lord, is it contagious?" asked Jack. "I cannot say" replied the doctor, "but I have tried to keep them apart from the rest of the crew. But it is a hard task in a crowded ship."
"That makes our landing even more urgent," replied the captain. Turning to the officer of the watch, a very silent lieutenant Skinner, he ordered the course altered slightly to starboard to close with the land.
"Report as we approach with more detail of the layout of the island and whether there may be a reef off the land. Call me if there is any change. Come doctor, let us go and see your patients and perhaps try some of that cure-all coffee that Killick brews."

The captain and the doctor headed down the companionway...

Meanwhile, in the sick bay, Albert Quinan and Faster Doudle felt sufficiently well to be companionably drinking and gambling. Their tipple was a strange beverage obtained from a Mexican crewmate.

In the intense excitement of throwing two sixes, Quinan knocked over the bottle, smashing it to pieces. "You had better get Tequila Mopping, Bert," said Doudle. "Otherwise, we'll cop it something cruel if the doctor finds out."

Quinan cleared up the mess with a handy swab, carefully wrapping up the broken glass in his handkerchief and pocketing it. Just as he finished, the captain and doctor's voices could be heard approaching. As they swept in, Doudle, with an intense feeling of déjà vu, grabbed the playing pieces and put them in his mouth.

"Ah, Doudle," said the doctor. "How are you getting along?"

Doudle swallowed painfully. "Prime, sir, prime," he replied.

"That's a fine Pair of Dice Lost," muttered Quinan, sotto voce.

Jack surveyed the sick bay. Outside of the clearly recovering Quinan and Doudle (although Doudle, for some reason, appeared to be choking on something), there were six other men lying motionless, sweating and feverish in their misery.

"Good news, men, we have sighted land!" Jack said cheerfully. "Soon you will all be basking in comfort on a palmy beach until you are recovered." He turned aside to Stephen and said, sotto voce, "Three men in a boat, I think, to avoid contact with the oarsmen. We must not let this spread to the rest of the crew."

Stephen nodded in agreement. "I shall bleed them all forthwith. It can only do them good—that and a blue pill."

Jack resumed his station on the quarterdeck, and not two hours later, Surprise was nosing her way through a wide channel into a placid lagoon. The island rejoiced in a wide, white-sand beach, and the glimmer of fresh water showed through the curved trunks of the palm trees. Brightly-colored birds darted through the tangled vegetation.

Stephen appeared at Jack's elbow. "The men are ready to go ashore," he said, all the while greedily staring at the tropical bounty before his eyes. "I am with child to be on the beach," he said. "The Lepidoptera! The Coleoptera! And I long to see a swiftlet!" He peered over the rail. "And observe the blue lagoon, and the creatures living there!" His pale cheeks flushed with anticipation.

Jack held up a hand. "I beg you, Doctor, be prudent." He pointed. "Sharks." A shadow glided beneath the crystal water not a biscuit throw distant.

"Stuff! I shall take a small hammer and if accosted, rap the creature smartly on the nose."

Jack shook his head. "I must insist, Stephen. Stay in a boat and do not go wading, or worse, swimming. I shall have Bonden row you about the lagoon."

There was a flurry of activity at the stern. The sick men had staggered on deck and were awaiting transport. To add to the confusion, the large hairy dog that belonged to one of the mids frolicked amongst them, tripping one, who sat down heavily to a chorus of insults and laughter.

"I must go and supervise my patients," Stephen said, and made his way aft. "Ho there! Three men in a boat, hear me, well apart from each other and the crew!" He glared at the hairy creature who was now enthusiastically licking the face of the fallen man. "Not to mention the dog! Take him ashore and let him expend his energy there."


Several days later Jack cut a forbidding sight as he was rowed ashore. His stern, worried countenance changed to one of delight as a ragged figure emerged from the treeline and picked his way through the wrack to the beach.

"Why Stephen, there you are! Apart from a little sunburn you are unharmed, I find. I regret extremely that the storm forced us to slip our moorings and escape the lee shore under a scrap of sail. It was a fearsome blow. The lookout was struck by a flying coconut miles from shore, shortly before I remembered that we do not normally post a lookout in such conditions."

"Indeed it was A Night to Remember. When we were finally able to creep from our miserable shelter and saw that you had Gone With the Wind, it seemed that you may be some time."

"We had a sad time of it beating our way back to windward. But tell me of the men."

"Close observation has revealed the invariable course of the malady, though its name is unknown to me. In the first stadium, the victim starts itching like a man on a fuzzy tree. Though he feels otherwise sound, messmates report his actin' wild as a bug. In the second stadium, the hands are shaky and the knees are weak, to the point where he can't seem to stand on his own two feet. In his mind he is a little mixed up, but feels fine. If left untreated, the disease progresses to the third and final stadium. The patient lapses into a solitary consciousness as his tongue gets tied when he tries to speak. Then there is the inevitable insides shakin' like a leaf on a tree, and death."

"'If left untreated' ... so there is a cure?"

"There's only one cure: buttercup, of which happily this island is blessed with an abundance. All the men are recovering. It was touch and go with Lieutenant Skinner, though the buttercup was found to answer just in time."

"Excellent, Skinner. I hope I find you well?" said Jack.

"Here come old flattop, he come grooving up slowly, he got joo-joo eyeball..."

"Almost in time," said Stephen. "But the men's convalescence allowed me to begin a survey of the island's wonders. I have observed the bearded ladybird and the coelacanth. I have beheld an anomalous onychophoran, roaring majestically from the treetops at his subjects, and not one but two species of brachiating hedgehog. Such papers I shall write to the Society."

"Truly it sounds like The Land That Time Forgot," said Jack, but now we must

set to mapping this island and in particular its shoreline with all the accuracy we can muster. I shall take most of the crew back onto the dear Surprise and embark on a circuit of the island. I have observed a few sheltered bays as well as some dangerous shoals, and if other ships should ever have occasion to visit this place, they would be better off knowing about them. What about you, Stephen? If you prefer, I can give you leave to explore the interior for a few more days, if you promise me, on your honour, to meet me here in five days' time. I will leave some of the men with you, if you like. What do you say?"
"There is still much to be discovered here that it would take much longer than five days to do it justice. Truly, this is a Treasure Island! But I see I must once again bow to the inevitable duty of the service. Do not think me ungrateful, Jack, I will use the five days you promised me to the utmost. We will make our little camp here by the beautiful blue lagoon, whence we will strike out into the interior once more. I promise I shall be here on your return."
"Very well," said Jack, "I shall leave Skinner with you. It seems to me that even after the buttercup, he could to with a bit more rest. And a few of the men as well. Now Skinner, you will make sure that the doctor is packed up and ready to go when we return, won't you?
"I'll be sittin' on the dock of the bay, watchin' the tide roll away," said Skinner.
"Er, yes. Quite. Well then. I hope you find some more of your hedgehogs. Goodbye!"
When Jack returned five days later, after a most successful voyage round the island, he looked through his glass as they approached the lagoon where they were to pick up the doctor, Skinner and the men who had stayed with them.
"I hope he hasn't forgotten," Jack murmured to himself. "I can see Skinner sitting there, and there's Quinan as well – cutting the most peculiar capers on the beach, too, What can he be about?"
Quinan was indeed running up and down, jumping and waving his arms. He seemed to be hollering something, and finally the Surprise came close enough for Jack to hear what it was.
"The doctor!" shouted Quinan. "He's gone – Kidnapped!"

"How can that be?" asked jack. "We searched the island and did not find any inhabitants, friendly or otherwise."
"It was while the doctor was away exploring in the jungle to the south, sir," Quinan. "When he didn't return, we followed his trail and found a glade where the undergrowth was trodden down and there was an obvious struggle."

"Aye, sir," added Skinner, "You could see that there had been a fight, but we saw no blood, we hope the doctor was unharmed" "Apart from being seized by possible cannibals, you mean" thundered Jack.
Before setting out on the search, Jack sent the boat back to the ship and requested that as many officers and crew as were available should come ashore to follow the party as they searched the jungle.

After following a broad path into the jungle, they found the bushes and trees growing more densely and the path becoming narrower. All of sudden the trees opened up into a clearing.
"It was here, sir", whispered Skinner.
Jack examined the ground and saw the trampled undergrowth. Obviously there seemed to have been a struggle, then in one damper part he noticed a large paw print. "It looks like a giant cat's paw, a tiger or perhaps a leopard or lion."

They cast around and soon found other traces of the large cat accompanied by the bare feet of humans. "There must be inhabitants on the island, I am surprised we did not find them in the survey we undertook", thought Jack to himself. "I am glad I asked the other officers to come ashore, we may need them if the locals prove to be numerous and hostile."

By now the daylight was fading and the sky darkened. In the mighty jungle, beneath the thick canopy of trees, it was quiet and even darker. Jack hoped that he could not only follow the trail, but the following party of officers would also see where they had gone.

Just then they heard a rhythmic chanting start up, not too far away. They moved even more carefully towards the sound and soon reached the edge of a clearing. In the centre of the open space, they saw Stephen, tied to a stake with alarge fire lighting the scene. In front of him paced an enormous lion accompanied by a strangely dressed woman, off to the side was a small group of men chanting "A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh, a-wimoweh,...". The woman was now dancing and singing weirdly in front of Stephen. She waved a club before him and the lion suddenly lay down.
"The lion sleeps tonight," muttered Jack. "No," said Skinner, "You can't hide those lion eyes, its smile is a thin disguise. I thought by now you's realise, it can't hide those lion eyes."
Just then a loud hallooing came from another part of the clearing and five naval officers, brandishing swords and pistols rushed. "Oh no," cried Jack, "It's The Lion, The Witch and the Wardroom!...

The wardroom prevailed and the doctor was rescued. Stephen stood next to a cage on the waist, which now held the lion. "Such gallant, deserving officers to have captured this valuable beast so," he remarked to himself.

Stephen's thoughts were interrupted by a confused bellowing. It was the larboard watch, chanting in voices loud enough to reach the masthead. A watch-versus-watch singing competition had been declared, to encourage the hands. It was being judged by Bornemann, the yeoman of the sheets. Unfortunately, he had received thumping bribes of grog from both sides and was in no position to officiate.

Bornemann tumbled over and was now lying in a heap. The big cat started roaring in disapproval.

"What with the deck lion and fall of the yeoman umpire," thought Stephen, "this contest doesn't stand a chance."

However, Bornemann rose to his feet and gamely continued on with his judging duties. The enthusiastic but off-key singing continued (alas, Jack had not taken on his men on the basis of their euterpian abilities). Stephen mused that even the recently-fevered men were participating.

Suddenly a man erupted from below and staggered towards the quarterdeck. He pointed at Stephen and giggled, "I see a little silhouetto of a man!" (for indeed, the sun was lowering directly behind Stephen's meagre frame.)

The singing came to a screeching halt.

The man's attention switched to Jack, and to the company's collective horror, he entered the Sacred Space and embraced the Captain. "Scaramouche! Scaramouche!" He smiled coyly. "Will you do the fandango?" and held up his arms in an invitation to dance.

"Doctor!" Jack roared, disentangling himself from the now-gyrating seaman. "I fear the fever has returned!" Coming to the realization that he was now contaminated with the loathsome disease, Jack stripped off his coat, kicked off his shoes, and dived over the railing into the lagoon to cleanse himself (and escape any further amorous attentions).

Mr. Pullings jumped into the fray, organizing men to capture the raving man (now strangely talking to his unseen mother about having killed a man), lowering a boat to collect the captain before a shark noticed his presence in the glistening blue water, and another boat to take the captive to the beach for recovery.

Stephen hurried to his sickbay to collect his medical supplies, only recently brought back aboard. Over his shoulder he called, "Mr. Pullings, quickly!" He pointed to the horizon, where a bank of ominous clouds were building up. "Another storm approaches."

The smallest mid, a tiny child of ten, blanched. "Thunderbolts and lightning, very, very frightening me," he whispered to his pet rat, who was peering cautiously out of the mid's capacious pocket at all the chaos on deck.

"This miller no doubt senses the falling of the glass and is disturbed by the tumult on deck. You will not let him go?" Stephen said. The child (and, charmingly, the rat) shook his head.

"Do not fear the Storm, boy. The captain will see us through, as he has done many a time."

Thirty-five drops of the alcoholic tincture of laudanum calmed the agitated seaman. Stephen then went below so as not to be in the way of Pullings's preparations for the weather to come.

Entering the cabin, Stephen greeted his new potto, a gift sent by Christine to accompany her fiancée on this voyage in lieu of her heart. "Sure, it is the equal of the original in warmth and tender affection, though not, one hopes, in possessing a tail and dense fur," he mused.

Across his desk were strewn preliminary notes and sketches of the island's curiosities and in particular outlines of some tracks left by the lions in the beach sand. Stephen's intention was to publish an informal record of his findings to various friends, scientific acquaintances and followers of his work in natural philosophy.

Just then came the cry, "Call for the Doctor! He will not wish to miss this."

Stephen left the Hairy Potto and the Half-Blogged Prints and went on deck. He was greeted by several of the officers and men beaming at the sight of the opaque, lowering, sky-filling cloud now astonishingly split in two to reveal the Lost Horizon. The Surprise threw out a fine bow wave as the freshening breeze carried them through this cloud gap toward the setting sun, exactly in the direction they wished to travel.

"It's The Perfect Storm, grinned Kaminski, a grizzled old fo'c'sle hand, with the peculiar freedom of disaster averted.

For a long time the ship glided along with no variation in its course, with the unwavering cloud rising on either side, as if they were travelling through a rather fluffy gorge. The longer this went on, the more a sense of unreality spread through the crew, and they hardly uttered a word as they went about their business. It was deadly quiet – the only sounds were the splashing of the bow wave, the noises from the rigging and the bell, and even those appeared curiously muffled.
The sun, which they kept steadily in front of them, sank lower and lower, but just before it disappeared below the horizon –
"Land ho!" came the cry from the top.
"Where away?"
"Why, straight ahead! Can't see anywhere else."
It was true. On both sides of the ship the banks of cloud still loomed, and the fog had closed behind them as well. But, as Jack ascertained with his telescope now, ahead a landmass was just becoming visible above the horizon. As they came closer, he could make out more details. A small island, it seemed, with dense green forest and a bare, cone-shaped mountain in the centre.
Jack turned to his friend, who had borrowed the glass and was eagerly surveying the jungle.
"What do you say to another expedition, Stephen? It seems to me that this is yet another wholly uncharted island, and there would be time for you to hunt for a few woodlice while we conduct our survey."
"Oh, I should like it of all things," replied Stephen, "I have looked at the lush vegetation, the lofty palms, and what I take to be mangroves. I have Great Expectations of its flora and fauna – its bats, its lemurs, perhaps even a nondescript bird or two."
"I have in mind to ascend to the mountaintop and survey the whole place from its Wuthering Heights," added Jack.
Some of the more superstitious crew members however seemed to have grave reservations about the new island, which had appeared so propitiously right in front of them. Bornemann was heard to mumble: "I have this terrible feeling of déjà-vu", when all of a sudden the banks of fog between which they had been travelling closed in front of the Surprise, hiding the island from view.

"Heave to", ordered the captain, "We will await the clearing of this fog before approaching The Unknown Shore". The crew worked quickly and soon the ship lay almost dead in the water. All through the night and into the next morning, the mysterious fog persisted. About six bells of the forenoon watch, the sky cleared astern of them.
"Sail ho! Fine on the larboard stern." cried the lookout. The officer of the watch, Lieutenant Burnfield, sent a message to the cabin where Jack and Stephen were about to set to on another musical adventure.
"Doctor No chance of us completing this piece, duty calls. Commented the Captain as he headed for the companionway."
"She is a frigate, Captain," reported Burnfield, a man from Devizes and usually known as Moonraker, "With a somewhat unusual sail plan."
Jack put his best Dolland telescope to his eye and stared at the approaching ship. She looks like she is From Russia with lovely lines." he remarked to Stephen who had joined him on the quarterdeck, "It must be. Oh... oh... seven years since we last saw a Russian ship".
"Do you recall, that Russian, Golovnin, he commanded a sloop Diana, we met in Simonstown when you were campaigning against Mauritius", replied Stephen.
As the Russian frigate drew near, they heard a hail in pure English accents. "Permission to come aboard?". The Russians lowered a boat in a rather chaotic but nonetheless efficient manner with more shouting than would be expected in the Royal Navy and an elegant man in civilian dress was rowed across. He mounted the ship's side easily and saluted the quarterdeck as he stepped on to the ship.
"My name is Bond, James Bond", he said.
"Welcome aboard Mr Bond." replied Jack, "Would you care for some refreshment in my cabin?". "Delighted, sir, and may your surgeon, Dr Maturin, join us too as I believe we have many acquaintances in common."
Down in the cabin, Mr Bond looked carefully around, "Can we speak without being overheard, sir?". "Yes but only if we talk quietly. Would you like sugar in your coffee?".
"Please, but shaken, not stirred" replied Bond. Stephen sat up sharply, he recognised the code phrase used by those On His Majesty's Secret Service to identify themselves to fellow agents.
"Mr Bond'" said Stephen "Do you have news for us?"
"Yes, but it is For Your Eyes Only. Have you heard of el hombre de la pistol dorada? He is the ruler of a mysterious uncharted island somewhere in these parts".
"The Man with the Golden Gun? Yes, a cruel tyrant I understand. I believe our lookout spotted the island just last night but is lost in this peculiar mist."" said Jack.
"Just so," replied Bond, "He is cruel and powerful, but I have discovered his secret. His gun is disguised as an artificial Goldfinger which shoots a special Thunderball. Your task, Captain, should you choose to accept it ...


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