BBW Lady Luck - by Marlow

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Marlow

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(38, 3 of 4)

The last echo of the broadside faded. By the dim light of their battle-lanterns seamen began the process of reloading their cannons, working with silent, practiced precision.

Above on the maindeck, the ship’s boats were being lowered over the side. A rabble of seamen, marines, mercenaries, and volunteers gathered to finish their preparations and wish each other well. They loaded their pistols, they cleaned their cutlasses, they slung their muskets over their shoulders, and slipped knives into their stockings.

“You be careful out there, now, Joe,” muttered the old foretopman. “And mind you bring back that knife of mine. It was a gift from my Mrs.”

“Which you ain’t got a Mrs., mate. You thieved this knife from the woman in Bridgetown what sold them little pies.”

“Aye, she were too busy eating her own wares to notice, cor. What a fine, plump…ho, make a lane there! Officer coming through.” They stepped reverently aside as their commander emerged from the billowing gunsmoke. And she needed a rather wide lane.

Adelaide tromped past, her boots falling heavily on Tryphena’s creaking timbers. She had donned the best approximation of an officer’s uniform that could be compelled to fit her frame: thin white pantaloons, a matching moleskin waistcoat with a standing collar, the regulation blue wool jacket with its laced lapels and gleaming brass buttons, and Captain Muir’s own bicorn hat.

The hat was the only article that wasn’t strained to its limits and even it seemed to only highlight the rotundity of Adelaide’s face. The trousers were so snug around her thighs that glimpses of skin were already visible along the seams and, as their waistband couldn’t be fastened, they were held up only by a rather courageous belt. The jacket pinched her arms terribly; its buttons and their respective lapels could never see one another across the broad expanse of her chest and stomach, much less hope to ever close. With some clever tailoring the waistcoat had been induced to remain fastened, but for all its added circumference it remained quite short. She wore no blouse beneath, fearing the equatorial heat, and the overtaxed vest showed off a great deal of bosom and all the belly that couldn’t be tucked into her trousers.

She presented an unmistakable figure and as she huffed her way onto the quarterdeck every officer turned to salute her.

“Certainly whets the appetite,” she chortled, over the noise of the gun-crews.

Calder made room for her at the binnacle. “I think we had them entirely by surprise. There was some scuffle outside the battery that seemed to be taking up their attention…a lucky stroke for us.”

“Not for long,” observed the doctor, pointing. Lights flitted about in the fort.

“I can keep up the barrage from our broadsides, but once they get to their defenses, we’re done for. Those ships in the anchorage will start firing back at any moment. And the artillery-pieces in the fort will make quick work of us.”

“Then we must storm it at once!” declared Colonel Rafaga. “I shall land my men there, behind the storeship, and proceed up the hill. Forward, for her ladyship’s glory!”

“And I will take my party into the anchorage,” blurted Captain Brise, elbowing past the Colonel. “We’ll cut out the prize-ships and turn their guns on the frigate. A whole assortment of treats for her ladyship!”

The bearded whaler puffed out his chest. “My boys and I can land at the beach. Rally any prisoners we can find and head inland. I’m sure she could use more hands.”

Mr. Boreas pulled on his hat. “And I’ll lead the Company-men around to the far side. We’ll make a landing at that second settlement. It’ll be a feast of spoils.”

“Take aim!” piped Mr. Irving’s voice from below.

Adelaide gave the men a resolute smile. “Bon courage, messieurs.”

The second broadside began. Shot soared across the bay and crashed against the walls of the fort; one errant ball snapped the flagstaff. Dirt and splinters burst up and men dove for cover. Part of the palisade toppled over.

New guns began to roar in reply. Trimalchio’s ports opened and the pirates scrambled to fire back at Tryphena with a ragged volley. The men on the captured sloop tugged frantically at their anchor cable to turn the ship around enough to bring their broadside to bear. After a few desperate minutes the gunners in the fort finally gathered themselves enough to ready their pieces and the awful blast of a 32-pounder shook the air. Plumes of frothing water erupted between the boats as they raced for shore.

The one-eyed whaler howled and hurled another pirate out of his way, clearing the path downhill. Captain Muir led Zephyra and the other prisoners behind the shelter of a low ridge and turned to fend off pursuers with his pistol.

Aubert’s voice called through the darkness. “To the beach, you bloated fools! They mean to land!”

The prisoners raced along the ridge, ducking as another round of cannonfire roared. As they reached the edge of the village they could head the crackle of muskets from the harbor.

The off-duty pirates were rushing from their huts in droves, pulling on shirts and breeches and fumbling with their weapons. Seeing the prisoners, they formed into a haphazard line and cocked their muskets.

“Oh, for all love,” groaned Muir. “To the lagoon!”

They scattered, darting behind trees and between buildings. Zephyra squeezed between two stacks of barrels and as her abdomen slid across the wood she realized, with an unexpected tinge of regret, just how much weight she’d lost.

“Listen,” she assured her aching stomach, “if we somehow survive this, I promise I’ll never let you be empty again.”
 

Marlow

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The pirates gathered their dumbfounded mates and gave chase. More screaming and gunfire resounded from the bay, joined by the clashing of cutlasses and the splintering of wood. Lights made their way uphill toward the fort. One of the ships was ablaze; pillars of smoke clouded the night sky.

The prisoners sprinted out from the village gate and splashed into the lagoon. The harpooneer found an overturned rowboat at the water’s edge and overturned it with a straining heave. As the others piled in, Muir glanced back in time to duck a pistol-shot.

The horde of pirates stormed out from the gate. Another handful had formed up to their right. Between them marched Captain Aubert. He threw aside his smoking pistol and charged.

Muir drew his cutlass and stepped up to meet him. They collided with a flurry of steel, ankle-deep in the lagoon. The pirates lined up along the shore, aiming a volley at the prisoners. The whalers hurled themselves into the water and the harpooneer hauled Zephyra over the side. They took cover behind the rowboat as the pirates fired.

She grabbed his arm and pointed. More boats were pulling across the lagoon. “The ferries,” she hissed. “The officers’ guards.”

The captains dueled their way along the strand, shoving and spinning one another away from the shore and into the darkness, lit only by the sparks of one cutlass meeting the other. Zephyra shouted into the night, but they were gone.

The whole world turned a sudden orange. A volcanic blast shook the sand beneath them and the warmth of a distant, intense heat flew through the night air.

Zephyra glanced up over the boat. A column of flame leapt into the sky from atop the hill. The fort’s powder-magazine had exploded.

The sounds of musket-fire and swordplay ceased. The shouting of orders fell silent. As the thunder began to dissipate, everyone’s shocked eardrums could hear a new sound drifting over the island: a wave of cheering.

Seamen and marines poured in from the harbor, surrounding the pirates before another shot could be fired. The pirates around the rowboat threw down their weapons and threw up their hands.

Zephyra turned; the other boats approaching from behind were full of British soldiers. A familiar face beamed at her from the nearest boat’s bow.

“Boreas,” she choked, wading over. “Oh, Boreas, you fat, stupid, wonderful malaka—”

He flopped gracelessly from the boat and splashed toward her. They met chest-deep with a tearful embrace while the soldiers landed and filed out.

“Outrageous!” wailed Mrs. Adams. “I am a sovereign! I will be treated—”

“Out of the boat, ma’am,” sighed a corporal.

She slapped him. “A queen does not wade.”

“You’re supposed to carry her,” explained Mr. Allen, in an apologetic whisper.

“Excuse me, mate,” said the one-eyed whaler. He gave Mrs. Adams a bow and shoved her over the side.

“You perfidious—” She writhed and sputtered in the water. “When my husband—”

“That’s enough, Georgia,” begged Captain Adams.

“Never! I am your queen! I am the highest, the greatest, the…biggest…” She fell still. “…oh.”

A regal woman a hundred pounds heavier than Mrs. Adams waddled out from the crowd of seamen, her face glistening with sweat in the firelight. Her waistcoat had ridden up even further during the journey over and the belt had all but surrendered, displaying her deep navel and the enormous paunch that swayed below it. Her neckfat bulged against her collar with each heaving breath and the underarm seams of her jacket had split.

Adelaide paused to exhale—the walk from beach to lagoon was surprisingly strenuous after months at sea—and creased her chins to glance down at Mrs. Adams. She said nothing, only giving her a small smile, and continued on to meet Zephyra.

“Addie, bless me, what have you done? How did…how…”

She wrapped Zephyra in a plush hug. “Zephyra, I am so sorry. This is all my fault. Are you hurt? Are you alright?”

The maid squeezed her pudgy hand. “I’m fine. Only…only very hungry.”

“I didn’t want to say anything,” Boreas admitted, eying her reduced frame.

“Not for long, though. I’m about to have a very, very satisfying dinner.” She grinned down at Mrs. Adams. “And this woman is going to hand-feed me every last bite.”

Midshipman Irving sprinted over and collided blindly with Adelaide. Fortunately he was a quarter her weight and she barely registered the impact. “Your ladyship,” he panted, “the American ship’s struck her colors. The sloop is burnt and we’ve retaken the whalers. The island and all the prizes are…yours…er, your ladyship?”

She murmured a vague thanks and shuffled away. Irving backed up and stared. Captain Brise, carrying several swords and a bundled flag, and Colonel Rafaga, singed and covered in soot, joined the midshipman in watching Adelaide’s bulk wobble down the beach.

Her eyes were fixed on a pair of figures trudging out from the shadows: Captain Muir, dragging Aubert by the collar.

A new cheer went up. A squad of marines hurried over to take the Frenchman away, clapping him in irons. Muir looked wearily at the two swords in his hand and tossed them aside. He wiped his brow, glanced up, and nearly fell as he saw Adelaide. He breathed her name and rushed forward.

“Mon capitaine,” she squealed, kissing him. Tall though he was, his narrow form all but disappeared within her embrace. She pulled the hat from her head and returned it to his, blinking through her tears. “Mon capitaine, mon prix, mon coeur.”
 

DaveTheBrave

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I suppose to earn a fortune is better than to be an heiress of one. What fortunate end to a daring set of events!

Amazing writing!
 

stevita

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YESSSS!!! From the BEGINNING I have been shipping Addie with the captain! And she's fatter than ever, I love that for her! This has been such an adventure! I hope this isn't the end...I want to see Adelaide and Captain Muir sail off into the sunset and Boreas fatten Zephyra back up again!
 
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Marlow

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Chapter 39


May, 1814 – Manila


The wide, welcoming embrace of the bay beneath Mount Mariveles sheltered what seemed thousands of craft. Gigs and cutters and pilot-boats and bangka flitted between ships and the sprawling waterfront, full of smiling faces and waving hands. The harbor was even fuller than usual: in addition to the local balangay, the Chinese junks, the Spanish tradeships, and the British East Indiamen, Manila Bay was now host to a sizable American man-of-war, several overladen whaleships, and the battered, barely-floating remains of a Royal Navy frigate.

She had once been HMS Tryphena and the name could still be read on her cracked sternpiece, but little of her could be recognized as a warship. The sound of turning pumps echoed from her at all hours and water trickled endlessly from her scuppers. Her frame was held together by several lengths of cable wrapped around her hull. In many places her bulkheads were more patch than timber and an eighteen-pound ball was still embedded in the stump of her foremast. The topmasts had been struck down on deck, men were unloading her surviving guns, and even the figurehead had been removed from her prow.

No one raised a single complaint about the labor of keeping her afloat. Tryphena’s achievements were known to everyone in port and word of her was quickly spreading beyond. She had fought an American heavy frigate, several armed prizes, and a land-battery, all at once, and had won. She was invincible, she was unconquerable, she was unsinkable: she was damned lucky.

“I would never have thought it possible,” mused Captain Muir, gazing down at her from the window of a hillside villa.

Adelaide’s voice floated in from the bedroom. “Have they decided?”

“And then some. A group of merchants in town have offered to fund a full refit. Apparently rumors of the pirates’ activities had stirred something of a panic here. They’re very impressed and they’re very grateful to know the shipping lanes are open again.”

“They do seem very grateful,” she agreed, through a mouthful of what sounded like rice-cake. “These rooms they’ve put us in are so lovely. So big! The bed is so soft under me and…did I mention? I had a bath this morning and the basin was big enough for two of me! I should tell Zephyra. Have you seen her? Or Mr. Boreas?”

“Not since we left the tavern.” Muir turned away from the window and poked at an orchid, sunning itself on a nearby table. The sitting room was filled with orchids of all kinds and colors, reflected by several gilt-framed mirrors.

“Oh. Oh! Of course.” She giggled and, a moment later, broke into her ringing, relieved laugh, a laugh he hadn’t heard in far too long. “What an appetite she’s developed! La grasse matinée for Zephyra. But she has earned it, no?”

“Without a doubt.” He crossed to a table and tapped his hat against the edge, glancing with some awe at the quantity of breakfast plates stacked atop it. “Hopefully she’ll have gotten over her, ah, 'gueule de bois' by evening. The commandant has promised quite an event.”

Adelaide’s beaming face appeared in the doorway. “Mon capitaine, you have been practicing.”

Even the few inches of her that appeared behind the cracked bedroom door made him lose his breath. She had sailed in the safer Trimalchio while he and Calder had battled to keep Tryphena above water and aside from a few meals, meals in crowded halls where everyone shoved past one another to meet her, he had been able to see very little of her.

He bowed. “Of course, madame. Evidently the new owner of the ship I captain is a Frenchwoman. I must be entirely at her service.”

“And where do you intend to take her?”

“Nowhere, for a time,” he admitted. “These will be slow repairs.”

“I won’t complain about that. It might be nice to sit still awhile.” The bedroom door closed. He heard her weight settle on the edge of the mattress and the sliding of a hairbrush. “As long as it’s safe to sit still here. You don’t think they’ll send anyone to arrest me?”

“Not yet, at least. We’ve given those papers we took from Mr. Allen to the consulate. They, too, are very grateful for your actions. I’m sure they’ll argue over it for months, but for the moment you have been placed under my, well, under my guard. I’m afraid you are stuck with me.”

The brush paused. “As someone well acquainted with being stuck, this is a pleasant sentence.”

“And once Tryphena is sound again, I would propose we make our way back to England. I owe it to the men to see them safely home, along with their prize. And from there, well, you’ll have the whole terraqueous globe ahead of you and a fair share of profit to spend.”

“Profit?”

“As owner, you’re lawfully entitled to a share of the prize-money. And what’s more, our new merchant friends have also offered us freight for the passage home. You’ll be owed a portion of the value of any commercial cargo carried. Between Tryphena and Trimalchio, we should be able to carry a great deal.”

“We will be heavy-laden, then, you would say?”

“Wondrously so. It will be a slow voyage, though. It’s your decision, being owner, but I would recommend we follow the trade-fleets west, stopping frequently to allow the ship a respite.”

“How I sympathize with her.” He heard her lurch back to her feet, the floorboards creaking underfoot. “Mon capitaine, thank you for making all these arrangements. I only hope your Navy will let me keep you.”

He watched the door. “Madame…Adelaide, what you’ve done for me, for my ship…I am yours whether they allow it or not. I always have been, from the moment you floated out of the night.” The heavy footsteps neared and he straightened, fidgeting with his hat.

The door swung fully open. “Benedict,” she began, but her voice faltered and she could only smile; a smile filled with relief, consolation, and genuine, unconcealed, unconstrained affection.

Her hair tumbled down around her wide, dimpled face. She wore only a silk robe, snug over her plump shoulders and though she clasped it shut over her chest it fell open across her belly. Even as empty—relatively empty—as her stomach was, it sagged forward with an irrepressible roundness, its stretchmarked crease a pleased grin and its lower roll wobbling with every giddy breath. Her flanks filled the doorway.

Captain Muir swallowed, blinked, and nearly dropped his hat, but then grew suddenly calm. He set the hat on a nearby table and stepped out around the largest of the orchids. “I thought you were dressing for your gala.”

“There is plenty of time.” She leaned back against the doorframe. “I should warn you, mon capitaine…I intend to conduct myself very irresponsibly this evening.”

“I am warned.”

“And you have warned the commandant’s kitchen-staff?”

He stepped closer. “They’ve heard the rumors about you and are very, very eager to impress.”

“You may want to have some of the crew ready to haul me out, when it is over.”

He set a hand on her forearm. “There will be no shortage of volunteers for the task.”

She let go of the robe and took his hand, tilting face up to his. “And then—”

“Adelaide,” he realized, looking down in terror. “Your…where are your diamonds? What’s happened?”

Her neck was bare, but she grinned. “Benedict, how did you imagine I bought your ship?”

His face paled. “No.”

“Yes. Yes, for all love. I made a great scene at the auction. No one in all Batavia dared to outbid Madame de Ville-Chanceuse.”

“But…they were everything to you…”

She glanced down, smiled, and kissed him. “I have bought a better treasure.”

He brushed back her hair.

“Now, will you come help me work up an appetite for tonight?”

“Adelaide, with all my heart.”

They kissed, leaning against one another and twisting into the bedroom. Her robe fell away and her hands slid up to unbutton his waistcoat and untie his clubbed hair. His jacket slid to the floor, followed by the vest, and then the thin, weathered old shirt. His fingertips sank into the flesh of her wobbling upper arms and reached to squeeze the rolls of her lower back.

They stumbled together toward the bed, her entire form bouncing and rippling with each step. She fell back and pulled him with her, too heavy to be resisted. Something in the bedframe cracked, but neither heard it. As she stretched her arms overhead, her swollen paunch sloshed up like a wave crashing on shore and flowed back to meet him as he climbed over her. His hand danced over her bulging contours, down the slope from her belly, and over her splayed chest. Everywhere he touched, he sank into her. Her thick feet tensed and her pudgy hand seized his shoulder. Soon he was all but submerged in a vast, oceanic softness.
 

Marlow

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Tryphena and her prize departed two months later to great ceremony, cheered by every ship she passed. She’d been rebuilt from the knees out, her masts had been re-stepped, her copper had been replaced, her timbers had been resealed and repainted, and her bow was adorned with a new figurehead. The sculpture now portrayed a huge cornucopia, overflowing with delicacies. The carpenter had refused another figure of Adelaide—there wasn’t enough wood in Manila to properly compass her ladyship, he pleaded—but had crafted an elaborate new sternpiece instead, featuring an array of plates, glasses, bottles, bowls, forks, and spoons.

The ship departed with only a few parcels of freight, her belly nearly empty, but the merchants provided a pile of letters and accounts for contacts throughout the east’s richest tradeports. Under a fresh, gleaming new suit of canvas, she set sail.

Captain Muir walked the quarterdeck in a new uniform and the men grinned at his every command. A very relieved Lieutenant Calder returned to his usual premier’s duties. Captain Brise followed in Trimalchio as prize-master and the two ships danced playfully together across the South China Sea. Adelaide and Zephyra lounged on Tryphena’s forecastle, sunning themselves and snacking, their every request waited on by a hundred grateful and adoring seamen.

It was a sea crowded with traffic and by now it seemed every ship they met had heard their tales. More often than not the frigates were obliged to lie-to in the evening to be entertained aboard some galleon, Indiaman, or junk. The interruptions made for a slow passage, but a pleasant one, as the grateful merchants insisted on meeting and treating the famous Lady Luck and she, in turn, insisted that her ships’ crews enjoyed rewards of their own.

The Tryphenas heard every rendition of their own story, more elaborate and incredible each time. Zephyra was fascinated to learn that she was, in fact, an irresistible demonic seductress whose blasphemous sorceries had mesmerized half the pirates into fighting the other. Captain Muir was variously a giant or a ghost. Adelaide managed to be both a deadly Amazon warrior-queen and a blubbery sea-monster able to swallow men whole. Despite all the claims and expectations, not one of their hosts seemed disappointed by the very human guests that came aboard. Laughter and singing rang to the horizon every night. Adelaide and Zephyra would be happily and helplessly satiated by the time they were rowed back.

Word reached Macau ahead of their arrival. Tryphena and Trimalchio were greeted with rich fanfare from the Portuguese traders, who hadn’t suffered from the piracy but had been swept up in the associated panic. Zephyra answered their welcome with what strains she could remember of the song she’d heard long ago in the Broken Belt, unaware of its wildly inappropriate meaning until it was too late. But it only improved her reputation and the wharf was soon lined with the area’s handsomest bachelors. She gave Boreas a wink as she went over the side and he could only laugh.

Their stories had reached and fascinated several of the imperial elites. Gifts arrived, jewelry and the finest silks ever to tough Adelaide’s skin, enough to fashion a dress for her and two for Zephyra. The women were carted about in their new finery, roving from one great house to another. Gazing out on the sunlit harbor they were treated to heaping dishes of minced pork in molasses and soy sauce, topped with enormous, sizzling fried eggs. They enjoyed chili shrimp and stir-fried crab. They ate egg tarts, almond cakes, and mango pudding until the sun was gone and the harbor shone with the city’s lights. They tittered like schoolgirls when a gentleman invited them back for fat tea.

The ships eventually made sail again in the very amicable and generous company of the British China fleet, now with a little more cargo in their holds. More gifts and more tradegoods had found their way aboard; more delicacies and fine wines found their way into the private stores of Tryphena’s new owner. As the seamen returned to their routines, she and Zephyra returned to lounging on the deck, massaging their gurgling stomachs under a brilliant sun. They marveled at the lush islands and towering rocks of the Western Archipelago.

Captain Muir and his crew of now very seasoned mariners had no trouble with the dangerous waters there, nor in the narrows and shallows of the Straits of Johor. Even so, they breathed a relieved sigh when they finally picked up their moorings in the port of Malacca.

Here Adelaide and Zephyra found themselves not only welcomed, but treated like royalty. Still more gifts arrived, along with more fascinated travelers. They toured the old city from its vast trading complex on the river to the breathtaking opulence of its Sultanate Palace. Adelaide breathed heavily enough already and her genuinely awed gasp was deep gratification to her hosts.

She was obliged again, between courses of laksa and chicken satay, to tell her tale and was heard with rapt attention. It had first seemed to her that the interest was all polite, self-serving flattery, the way she had been treated when she was presumed wealthy. But everyone she now met had heard enough of the gossip to know that she was not only a peasant, but likely a criminal. And still they were unfailingly kind.

“You must understand,” an old woman assured her after a long dinner, “legend is worth so much more.” Adelaide pondered this quietly as she bit into a large, rough, pod-like fruit full of custard.

Indeed, after Tryphena had crossed the Bay of Bengal some time later, she found that what she’d feared most from her past seemed to matter little now. The ships put into Madras, sailing straight into a Royal Navy dockyard full of officials and marines who could have arrested her at any moment, but she was instead invited aboard one ship after another to dine with their commanders.

Boreas had a dozen friends in the East India and brought her and Zephyra for visits and parties in town. Zephyra hung on his arm and accepted every treat he offered, all restraint long forgotten.

They dined on tamarind curries with lamb and red sorrel. They tried every manner of hot and spicy pickle. They gorged themselves on sweet rolls and fried dumplings. They ventured, at a slow waddle, out of the British quarter and sat watching the thousands of birds in all their resplendent colors migrating through the marshlands. Exhausted and famished and grinning, Adelaide returned to Tryphena and wrapped herself around Captain Muir.

Now they ventured out into the Indian Ocean itself for true blue-water sailing, returned to the eternal, comforting rhythm of life at sea: bells, watches, quarters, drills, swabbing the decks, trimming the sails, splicing cables, caulking seams, and the succession of meals, meals, meals. Now, though, it was an infinitely less lonely cycle. Adelaide led Zephyra through her duties as an able—if slow-moving—seaman, teaching her the knots and the proper ways to swab and even sending her to trice the puddings athwart the starboard gumbrils, which set the men rolling with laughter. Zephyra reddened and glared, but Adelaide won her friendship back with a much more factual (and exceedingly large) sago pudding.

The faded, curled portrait still hanging in the galley became unrecognizable. The ship sat a little lower in the water as her cargo hold grew a little fuller with every stop on her route.

At Mauritius they found a celebration underway. The news had just reached the island that Bonaparte was in flight before coalition forces. Both the French and British in port, weary of the endless fighting, danced in the streets. The arrival of Tryphena and the heroes aboard only added to their elation.

Adelaide and Zephyra were at once caught up in the atmosphere. United in a moment of catharsis, the whole island became a continuous, increasingly raucous party. Decorum disappeared. After long, extravagant dinners the women joined the crew and the locals in the taverns and the jubilation spilled from one night into the next, into the next. The procession drained cellars of wine, they flooded tankards with rum, and they poured arrack into sloshing stomachs. They were insensibly bloated and drunk for days on end and thrown out of one pub after another.

At the end of the week, long after the rest of the town had nursed their hangovers and gone back to their lives, Adelaide and Zephyra were finally discovered in the attic of a backwater brothel, in each other’s pudgy arms. They clothes they’d left in were never found.

In the days afterward, back at sea, they blushed groggily at one another. Sometimes after supper, as they massaged their distended bellies on the forecastle, the were seen holding hands. Muir and Boreas often brough drinks and desserts and, after gazing awhile at the expanse of stars, the couples would make their weaving way back to their cabins. The sails filled with southern winds and the ships forged onward, despite an onset of unpleasant weather.
 

Marlow

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They rented rooms ashore in Cape Town once they arrived. Trimalchio had been roughly handled by the last storm off Agulhas and needed a few weeks of work. The delay suited everyone just fine and afforded the officers and crews of both ships a great deal of liberty time ashore.

Now the ladies could try out several varieties of creams and fermented milks one day and an assortment of dried sausages and prized local brews the next. They raided bakeries for an astonishing quantity of koeksisters and herzoggie. Adelaide discovered a large, delicious kind of pumpkin, giggling at her own resemblance. Zephyra had to apologize for so harshly judging Adelaide’s time in Brazil when she discovered South African beef, perfectly seasoned and bursting with juices. She was frequently carted back to the rooms perfectly stuffed and bursting with joy.

The rooms themselves began to take on a less welcome reputation, though. The city’s elites were all pleased to entertain Adelaide and hear her celebrated tales, but they were less and less pleased to hear the rumors coming from her lodgings. Captain Muir, in staying with her and that known seductress, was hardly comporting himself like an officer. And that Boreas fellow seemed a certain rake.

When a debauched heiress cited the Madame de Ville-Chanceuse as an idol worthy of imitation, her family erupted in a tantrum of letters. The officials wrung their hands, but the captains were encouraged, as delicately as possible, with the added encouragement of more valuable freight, to make sail again sooner than later.

Trimalchio’s repairs were completed not a moment too soon. Now it was Adelaide’s turn to repay a considerable debt by guiding an amorous, thoroughly besotted Zephyra through the streets after a bacchanal, heaving her into Tryphena’s boat just ahead of the guards.

The ships rounded the Cape and turned their heads north for a long journey up the Atlantic. It was slow going now, their holds overstuffed with cargo from all across the east.

Adelaide had changed, too, in ways that escaped no one’s attention. She had, for a while, been keeping to many of the duties she’d taken on as part of the crew, turning up for occasional watches, lending her weight to heaving at the capstan and cables, and helping with the endless maintenance of the ship. But lately she was growing too corpulent and too idle even for many of these tasks and found herself increasingly watching from the quarterdeck as the work went on without her. Even the climb from one deck to another often warranted a rest. Sometimes the simple effort of standing in place when the sea cut up rough could leave her winded. The carpenter had already widened her cabin’s doorframe and repaired her cot twice; now he was asked to extend the bulkheads again, to somehow create more space in an already crowded berth.

More concerning, though, was a distinct change in mood. She was often somber now and that heart-lifting laugh was heard less and less frequently. She frowned at the map as Captain Muir updated his charts and when on deck seemed to prefer gazing astern than ahead.

She fidgeted and looked down whenever anyone mentioned ‘home.’ And they mentioned it often, now: the Tryphenas hadn’t seen England in over three years. There were letters to write, there were gifts to prepare, and there were stories to tell. Adelaide spent more time shut up in the cabin and the further north they traveled, the less often she was seen on deck.

When they put into Madeira, she didn’t go ashore at all, even for the promised dinners. Zephyra found her snoring behind the table in the great-cabin, hands clasped over her belly, chair broken beneath her. Adelaide had been eating for hours, the steward revealed, filling herself with nothing fancier than salt pork, ship’s biscuit, and grog. She refused to move. And when Zephyra later returned from the entertainments in town, now plenty bloated and tipsy herself, she found Adelaide gorging again.

With a wince and long groan, Zephyra sat her own growing frame next to Adelaide’s and leaned her head on her friend’s plush shoulder. Both stomachs let out a plaintive whine.

“Addie…I could still be a chambermaid. I could still be in that dark little room, eating crumbs and gristle instead of…” She stifled a belch. “…instead of all the scabbard fillet and passionfruit pudding in Funchal.”

“It…it was good?”

“It was all good, Addie. What a blessing you are.”

“I wish I could do more.”

Zephyra tensed with a sharp breath. “Oof. Well, you could rub my belly, then, I guess.”

Adelaide emerged on deck late one night as Tryphena crossed the Bay of Biscay. Leaning her bulk against the starboard rail, she could just make out the looming shadow of the rocky Breton shore.

Captain Muir wrapped his arms around her, or at least as far around as could be reached. “I love you,” he said, after a long quiet.

“I love you,” she replied, leaning her head back against him and shutting her eyes. “I’ve made up my mind.”

“Have you? About what?”

“About after. Once everyone else has gone home. There are places I’d like to go.”
 

DaveTheBrave

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This has become my favorite wg story of all time. The writing style captivates you to the time and place, the adventure has been splendid, and the way hundreds of pounds and many years have been woven into specific historical events and meals and places is spectacular.
 

Marlow

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Chapter 40


November, 1815 – Paris


The city of light shined as brilliantly as ever it had. Luminaries and transparencies twinkled and glimmered in the streets under a starlit night and every window was warmly aglow. Ribbons still littered the streets and the songs resonating from the taverns and hotels and salons and clubs were unanimously joyful.

After a final hundred days of panic and a bloody clash of wills at Waterloo, the tyrant had surrendered at last and the empire was at its end. The armies of half a dozen nations still marched through Paris, even months after the fighting, as a watchful occupying force. No one yet knew the consequences of the defeat and could only speculate how the powers of Europe would try to restore their balance. There was a King again and dignitaries were already drawing up designs for the treaty in their back rooms.

But for the moment, no one in the streets of any nation much cared. There was only one universal feeling in the air. A quarter-century of desperate warfare was at an end. The future and philosophy could wait. Today there was peace.

The nobles restored to France were thanking their coalition benefactors with an endless series of increasingly lavish balls. Paris became a playground for the wealthy again. Anyone with money was welcome to spend it. There was no more skulking and scheming, only conspicuous displays of opulence. The chateaus were once again a place to be seen.

Coaches and carriages lined the streets outside the great manors, delivering countless guests from across the continent, eager to drag themselves nearer to the royal family’s favor. The flags of the Bourbons and the ancient dynasties of Europe who’d supported them hung from the columns. The older rules of precedence had returned. So had many of the fashions.

“It pains me to say it,” sighed Mr. Boreas, stepping out of his coach and eyeing the other guests, “but the corset looks to be coming back in style.”

Zephyra reached out a hand to be helped down. “Too bad. I’ll have to be unfashionable in that regard. There isn’t a corset made that’s keeping this in.”

She had kept her promise. The woman who stepped out into the line of guests was every bit of three hundred pounds, squeezed into the sheer fabrics on an empire gown. She was exceedingly topheavy and Boreas suppressed a wince as she leaned against him; as much as her bosom swelled and sagged, cleavage stretching nearly to her waist, her belly had finally overtaken it, bulging out and hanging down over her narrow hips. Her face seemed nearly as round, her cheeks enormously plump and her chin swaddled in a thick cushion of smooth, wobbling flesh.

“My dear, I hope nothing ever keeps that in.”

“You and your flattery. Oh, bless me.” She gaped at the towering marble steps that led to the house. “Give me a moment, first.”

“Of course. I’ll ask if there’s an easier entrance. But just remember the drinks and desserts and delights that await you at the top.”

“Oh, I remember. And…other things.”

“What’s afoot?”

She swallowed. “I saw the guest-list. The Torcias are in town and planning to attend.”

“Ah. They were the owners of the palazzo you served back in Malta, yes?”

“And now a few other houses there, I hear. Business has been good. The mistress of the house was the sort that loved to look down her skinny little nose at…well…” Zephyra fidgeted with the ribbon knotted beneath her bosom. Several soldiers nearby turned to watch. “There’s only one thing for it, I suppose.”

Boreas took her arm. “And what’s that?”

“I believe you and I should enjoy a foolishly large dinner and all the desserts we can handle, guzzle all the wine they'll bring us, and start losing clothing. We didn’t buy our way into polite society to be polite, after all.”

“I’ll drink to that.” He grinned and waved at the steps. “Shall we ascend?”

They waddled on. Mrs. Torcia, glancing down through an open window, brought her present conversation to an abrupt end with a gasped “Corpo di Bacco,” and ran to find her husband.

The soldiers turned back to the street. Some commotion had arisen near the back of the line as a new carriage arrived. Someone was shouting “C’est elle! C’est sa voiture!” and onlookers of all kinds were rushing to gather round.
 

Marlow

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(40, concluded)

At the center of the mob was a grand, open-air carriage driven by a British naval officer. Behind Captain Muir lounged Adelaide, greeting the crowd with much more patience and gregariousness and giving genuine, warming smiles to all faces whether familiar or strange.

At forty-nine stone, being as wide as she was in the midsection and hips, she took up the whole bench of the carriage. A loose-fitting gown cascaded down the immense slope of her figure and though it fell to her shins a pale, quaggy roll of her belly-fat hung even lower, peeking out from between her splayed legs. When she leaned forward, which was rare, it nearly brushed the floor of the carriage. The dress was white as sailcloth and with the assortment of bright red and blue ribbons and cords slung from her shoulders she was coming dangerously close to resembling the now forbidden revolutionary tricolor. The soldiers traded a nervous glance.

A young man offered her a bouquet of lilies. She wouldn’t lean far enough over to receive them, but another kind hand passed them up. She accepted the flowers with profuse thanks and perched them atop her bulk, where she could properly admire them without having to look around herself. The flesh of her arms, as she drew them up, flattened against her flanks and sagged to her waist.

“Madame,” called a French seaman, “is it true you cut out a first-rate ship of the line from under the guns in Toulon?”

“What? No,” she scoffed. “That sounds like far too much dashing about. Can you imagine? No, no. It takes enough effort just to get down from the carriage. Mon dieu, they sway me on and off Tryphena with the boat-tackles. I did enjoy a first-rate cut of beef in Toulon, though.”

A svelte young aristocratic woman put up her hand. “Is it true you seduced the Count of Thalia?”

“No, not yet. How is his kitchen?”

Another man pushed his way forward. “Is it true you kidnapped the Livonian governors’ private pastry chef?”

“Certainly not. The man simply wouldn’t let us leave Riga without him. And it’s lovely to see you, Mr. van Adem. Do call on the ship sometime. She’s moored at Rouen at the moment and it’s just short walk from the pier to a lovely little confectioner’s…a very short walk, thankfully.”

A pudgy hand shot up from the back. “Is it true the chocolatiers have banned you from setting foot in Switzerland again?”

“No, of course not.”

“Love,” said Captain Muir.

“Oh, wait, yes. That one’s true. It was quite a lot of chocolate.”

Her loud, ringing, unmistakable laugh joined with theirs. It was a little heartier and deeper than it had once been, but was all the more jubilant and entirely infectious. Even the soldiers smiled and, in the gardens of the chateau, several heads couldn’t help but turn. Her chins and cheeks quivered.

“You’ve come to join us tonight, we hope?” asked Lord Windham, stepping out. Behind him, a pair of rather plump chestnut-haired twins eyed Adelaide with awe.

She shifted to turn and smile back, her paunch swinging pendulously between her ankles. The carriage’s axles creaked. “Not this evening, I’m afraid. I only wanted to stop by to see off a good friend.”

“But the banquet promises to be divine,” protested one of the twins, her mouth already watering.

“You know just how to tempt me.” And indeed, her stomach rumbled loudly enough for all to hear. Those closest to the carriage fancied they could see the gown’s fabric shudder. “But the captain and I have business in the country. Dear friends, you’ll have to indulge on my behalf. Don’t let a single belly leave this place unsatisfied, or I shall hear of it!” They cheered.

“Business in the country?” asked the young man. “But all you need is right here!”

“You’re right, of course, but the Lady Luck Maritime Trading Company needs its contacts and signatures and so forth. And more importantly, there’s a small pie-shop in the Vendée where I intend to spend an irresponsible amount of money.” She patted her stomach for emphasis, to the crowd’s approval. Her arm jiggled as much as her paunch. “Now, go on, friends. Go in and eat your fill. We have a long journey ahead and need to join my baggage train and change coaches and so forth. It can all be quite a load to carry.”

The soldiers nodded. They recognized artillery-horses when the saw them. The woman weighed as much as a small Gribeauval cannon.

The crowd slowly dispersed and filtered back toward the house. The party grew louder. Adelaide watched them with a pleased smile, absently caressing the side of her stomach. “It is not the France I left,” she mused.

“Do you think it will stay so?” wondered Captain Muir. “All this new hatred for the revolution and its ideas. I’m sure the king means to drag everything back to the old ways.”

She set the lilies on her chest. “Do you remember the chateau I told you about? The one that overlooked my little town…I would deliver fruit and sneak around the back to try to watch the rich people at their parties…oh, how I wished to be them.”

“I remember.”

“I was there that last night…the night the gendarmes arrived. They came to punish our area for some plot they’d heard about…who knows if it was even real. But they came into the chateau and were arresting people and breaking everything. I had sneaked all the way into the upper halls and I was so afraid. I hid inside a little cabinet, this little closet within a closet…and it was full of the most beautiful gems and jewelry. I waited in there all night and all the next day while the soldiers took everything else they could find. I heard them talking about the Royal Navy blockade off the coast. I hid there until they set the fire. And then I grabbed that diamond necklace and I ran. I ran for days until I found the sea and saw…and saw your light out there.”

He reached back to take her hand.

“Benedict, I wouldn’t fit in that closet anymore. These people may think whatever they want and may try to make things what they were, to shove everything back into its proper place, but the world has grown. And it is not done.”

“I believe you’re right. What do you say to seeing some more of it?”

Her smile slowly returned. “I should like that of all things.”

He turned and tutted at the horses. The carriage lurched, sending a ripple across her expanse. They veered out from the line of coaches and paraded up the street, waving to friendly faces on both sides.

Adelaide pulled her gown up, exposing the wobbling belly-roll between her legs, then her navel and its deep fold between her knees, and finally the rounded breadth of her stomach’s upper swell, wide enough to rest on her flabby thighs no matter how far she spread them. She let her whole paunch breathe, naked and tingling, in the cool night air, watching it gleam beneath the glow of the city’s innumerable lights. All around them everyone was singing. The aromas of a thousand meals floated through the streets; sweet, savory, inviting, and irrepressibly free.

--
 

Marlow

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Some Historical Notes


I’d like to thank you all for coming along with me on this. As much fun as I’ve had with our circumnavigation, I recognize that there were a lot of maintops and forecourses here on a forum that should be about muffin-tops and main courses. But I felt that the story should be as devoted to its context as to its content. This period of history represents a flourishing of many ideas very relevant to all of us at Dimensions: self-determination, individual expression, freedom of identity, the celebration of the body. It seemed important that the setting for Adelaide’s story be as, uh, fleshed out as her.

Adelaide’s journey is intended to be unusual and sensational, but not entirely impossible. In many ways her adventures aren’t even completely unprecedented. Despite the seaman’s stigma about having a woman aboard, there are countless tales of women on navy vessels. Zephyra’s description of boats full of often very organized sex-workers rowing out to greet ships putting into harbor is taken from contemporary accounts. It was technically against regulations, but captains preferred to ignore the rules in this case, as a ship full of companions kept their seamen from going ashore and running away at the first opportunity.

It wasn’t uncommon to see a few women aboard even after the ship set sail, either. Warrant officers and sometimes captains (as we see in the case of Captain Adams) could bring their wives along for long voyages, or, often, their mistresses: many notable captains were themselves known to use their time at sea or in foreign ports as an opportunity to carry on celebrated affairs. Diplomatic envoys and passengers could be put aboard men-of-war dispatched to remote stations. There are also, of course, numerous instances of women dressing as men in order to serve in the navies on both sides of the war and becoming folk-heroes in doing so. Adelaide gets to experience all these roles by the time she finishes her circumnavigation.

Her rise to celebrity status is also not without precedent. Her journey is intended to reflect the experience of many other women of the period who, despite enduring considerable hardships, were able to turn charm, intelligence, determination, and opportunism into fortune and fame. Amy Lyon, the daughter of a blacksmith, became a household name as Lady Hamilton. Rose Tascher de La Pagerie became Empress Joséphine. And Pauline Fourés, a milliner, married a soldier and disguised herself as a Chasseur to follow him on the French Army’s campaign to Egypt. There, she became a mistress to some general named Napoleon Bonaparte and lived a life of ‘great excess.’ She not only survived the subsequent chaos, but returned to France, married a wealthy government official, and lived a lavish salon life in Paris. She traveled to both Russia and South America, made a fortune for herself selling tropical wood, and outlived most of the more famed characters of her day.

The idea that Adelaide might fairly easily invent a title and pass herself off as noble might be pushing it, but I think with some luck (which she rarely lacks) it could have been faked for a short time. French nobility was already pretty convoluted before the revolution confused matters. And in the years leading up to the start of our story Napoleon’s regime had been creating a new imperial nobility. There were also plenty of ad-hoc titles with made-up names running around in most European countries at this point. John Jervis got to be Earl of St. Vincent and Horatio Nelson accumulated several invented titles. Caroline Bonaparte, the Queen of Naples, fled to Austria after Waterloo and re-titled herself Countess of ‘Lipona’ (as an anagram of Napoli). A peasant claiming or impersonating nobility, though, was certainly a punishable criminal act, as we see in the case of Francina Broese Gunningh.

Adelaide’s pretense of being a royalist seems to sell fairly well. She’s picked up off Douarnenez and mentions the Vendée, both areas famed for resisting the revolution. They had risen up in the early years and continued to be a hotbed for dissidents long after. Adelaide probably speaks with a Poitevin-Saintongeais accent, which would remind any Englishmen who’d supported these uprisings of fellow counter-revolutionaries.
 

Marlow

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(Notes, continued)

The ship she finds off Douarnenez, our dear Tryphena, is modeled after HMS Cerberus, a frigate built in 1794 and active during the years of the story. Her dimensions and armament are unchanged, though I imagine her figurehead was a little different. Cerberus was a similarly well-traveled ship, serving in the Channel, the Baltic, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean, enjoying impressive success and considerable prize-money. She was, like Tryphena, sold out of the service in 1814 as the wars wound to a close. Cerberus fetched 2800 pounds at auction; Adelaide may have overpaid a bit.

The action Tryphena misses out on in the opening chapters is the Battle of the Basque roads. The men are understandably disappointed, but, given the mess it was and the years of litigation that followed it, are probably better off having sailed past. Valletta seems to have been a very pleasant destination, though, as presented, its location and cosmopolitan population made it a prime target for gossip and espionage.

I have tried to portray the cuisines Adelaide enjoys there, and elsewhere, as authentically as possible, though there are a few anachronistic dishes included in some of the court feasts for, well, flavor. I made a similar effort to present an accurate naval diet, which didn’t need much embellishment. A British seaman’s rations could average over 5000 calories a day, featuring mostly red meat, fat, carbohydrates, plenty of alcohol, and so, so much salt. It served as excellent fuel for a sleepless, brutal, labor-intensive lifestyle, but would surely have affected the frame of Adelaide, a former starvation victim now splitting her time between relaxing and partying.

The fashions described are also intended to be relatively accurate to the period, though probably with much less success. I have tried to follow the general trend from the neoclassical wet-drapery of the Revolution to the elaborate Empire gowns, as fashion became such a focal point for the period’s advancements in self-expression and freedom of identity—and the appreciation of curvaceous figures. Much of Adelaide’s early wardrobe is lifted from contemporary sources, but as she outgrows her peers the later outfits are more speculation.

Hermes Allen’s artistic preoccupation with portraying a popular woman as a classic or mythological figure, however, is certainly reflective of the time. Lady Hamilton’s ‘attitudes’ are a famous example. I should note that while the ‘Marianne’ character was popular during the revolution and empire, the iconic painting of “Liberty Leading the People” parodied in Chapter 25 wasn’t actually painted until 1830.

The action at Lissa in Chapter 12 is, naturally, the Battle of Lissa, in which three British frigates and a sloop repelled a force of six French and Venetian frigates and took control of the Adriatic. Tryphena replaces her historical counterpart Cerberus at the rear of the line and likewise finds herself fighting with two opponents at once. Two of the Venetian ships were captured and the French flagship was destroyed, but the rest fled, so I’m not sure what ship Tryphena tows into Valletta nor which one Captain Aubert is supposed to have commanded.

Aubert’s later command, Sophrosyne, is modeled after the French 50-gun Vengeance, a ship likewise captured in a frigate-duel in the Caribbean. The action in Chapter 22 is a combination of Hebrus’ chase of Étoile, Blanche’s fight with Guerriere, and Nymph’s boarding of Cleopatre.

Trimalchio is based very loosely on Essex (USS Essex, which inspired The Far Side of the World, as opposed to Whaleship Essex, which inspired Moby Dick). Unlike her historical counterpart, she seems to be more of a commissioned privateer than a naval man-of-war. American ships of the period were usually named after cities or some exceedingly patriotic symbol, so Trimalchio is either a privately-owned ship hired by the navy or maybe one of the ships captured from France in the Quasi-War.

Either way, her mission to the Pacific reflects that of USS Essex, who also rounded Cape Horn with the intent of capturing whaleships and disrupting a critical part of the British economy. She enjoyed some success, capturing 12 ships and taking 360 prisoners, and panicked many of the Pacific merchant ports, but was pursued and eventually captured by HMS Phoebe at the Battle of Valparaiso. Of the twelve prizes, none actually made it to the United States: some were unsalable and burned, some were sent to England with prisoners, and the rest were simply recaptured by the British Navy.

Tryphena has a little more trouble in her pursuit than Phoebe. Details of her struggles rounding the Horn and crossing the Pacific are taken from the accounts of Centurion and Wager.

Trimalchio’s scheme to establish a fortified island base is taken from Essex’s unfulfilled secondary goal—colonizing the Marquesas—and recalls Britain’s own Commodore Anson ferrying artillery-pieces into the Pacific during his campaign against the Spanish in 1740. Trimalchio instead bases herself at “Île Chanceuse.” I have tentatively located this as Nikumaroro, an uninhabited atoll in the Phoenix Islands (thought to be one of the most likely places for the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and home to a large population of robber-crabs). The island in the story is a little larger than in reality and I have made its harbor much more accessible.

The climactic action in Chapter 38 is invented, but incorporates elements from several landing operations earlier in the wars, including some of Cerberus’ own daring raids. Zephyra and Captain Muir leading a prisoners’ mutiny recalls one of Essex’s prizes, whose prisoners recaptured their ship and sailed it to Australia. As for the landing being headed by a thirty-something-stone woman in an ill-fitting naval officer’s uniform….who knows?

Speaking of stones, most measurements still varied pretty wildly in this period (though the French Revolution was busy instituting a strange concept called the “metric system” in its territories). A stone of beef was eight pounds in London, but twelve pounds in Hertfordshire, and sixteen pounds in Scotland. For the sake of the story I’ve been using the fourteen pounds that became standard in 1835.

Adelaide is at about 49 stone in our epilogue, because she started at 7 and I liked the square number. Knowing her, though, she probably isn’t stopping there. For 1815, her weight puts her in some elite company. Records aren’t great, but we know of few people reaching sizes like hers in this period or any before. William Ball and Edward Bright are listed as eclipsing 40 and 47 stone in the 18th in 19th centuries. And this forum is already familiar with Daniel Lambert, who reached 52 stone 11 pounds in 1809 and was a subject of considerable public fascination.

A woman in 1815 of Adelaide’s size, in a Europe that was rediscovering the body as a celebration of self-expression, and a traveler of her renown, in a Europe enamored with mythologized naval exploits, would have, I feel, enjoyed superstar status. And it is a very pleasant thought to add to this crucial junction in history a person with bounteous resources, a compassionate disposition, a traveler’s perspective, and a genuine love for sharing the joys in life.








 

Marlow

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After the Credits


Captain Aubert squinted at the sunset. The cool sea-breeze fluttered what remained of his jacket and gentle evening waves swirled around his bare feet. A precocious crab scuttled around his feet, as well, and after a few feints reached forward to pinch at his ankle.

Aubert hissed and twisted away, preparing to kick it. But he saw that it was backed up by a hundred more crabs, easing onto the sand and glaring at him, and decided to surrender. That corner of the beach would be theirs for the night. Adjusting his weathered hat, he sulked back through the brush to the lagoon.

“Aubert!” called a haughty voice. “We were just looking for you.”

Mrs. Adams reclined on a straining wicker chair at the edge of the lagoon, her pudgy feet tapping at the water. Captain Adams snored beside her on the sand. The mix of palm fronds and sailcloth scraps that made up their clothing had been discarded and they lay naked and bloated like a pair of beached whales.

“Is everything alright?” asked Aubert, making his way over.

“Oh, everything’s wonderful, as always. I only wondered if you might bring us a snack. And a drink.” She lolled back. “And if you would help rub some oil…I have trouble reaching and the Admiral has fallen asleep again. I think he ate too much. Oh, and more of those fruits.”

Aubert stared up and sighed. “Yes, your highness.”

--

Thanks everyone for reading and for all your wonderful feedback throughout the year. Happy sailing!
 
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mal57

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Just fantastic in all ways, my dream WG/fatfic. Thanks and congratulations for all the obvious work, care, and talent that went into this.
 

DaveTheBrave

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Thank you for the notes actually—its fun to understand the level of thinking compiled to make this story.

“Adelaide’s journey is intended to be unusual and sensational, but not entirely impossible” is precisely how the story felt. You layered in the best of all fronts, let the story play out over a long enough timeline that both the plot and weight gain seemed actually plausible, and wrapped it in rich descriptions and contemporary curiosities that are somehow even more interesting now as they were 200 years ago.

This was an ambitious concept that only made it through due to its clever, confident captain. Well done Marlow!
 

Abalyn

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The amount of effort that's obviously gone into this is completely nuts. I started on a new serialized story a while ago and quickly let it fade away due to quarantine brain (still hoping to return to it at some point)—the fact that you were able to keep this going over a literal year of upheaval, and not only that but have it be consistently well-plotted, sexy, and entertaining, is a little bit of a miracle?

Thanks so much for the great work as usual, but not just as usual—the scale of this is above and beyond anything you've ever done before. Congratulations on a roaring success. (And double thanks for being one of the reasons I finally watched and fell head over heels for Master and Commander last year!)
 

HacksawJD

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I’ve been a fan of your work for some time now, and I am always amazed by the depth that your stories have. The characters are fully established and the stories are not neglected in service to weight gain aspect. I am simply astounded to see all the research that you put into this grand adventure. I look forward to your next epic.
 

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