The lowly young landlubber who’d been caught doing unquestionable acts for which the captain would not share was inching towards the end of the plank and closer to his fate. His hands were tethered behind his back, he was blindfolded and his bare feet took the tiniest of steps. Even he knew his fate was sealed, there would be no changing the captain’s mind for when a captain and crew had made up their mind the decision was final.
“Walk ye filthy scoundrel.” The pirate captain order.
Although he’d never had the reason to force any of his own crew to walk the plank it was something he’d seen many a time under the captaincy of Morgan. It was that first hand witnessing that had lead the captain to his own improved method of walking the plank. Not only would this landlubber walk the plank but in one swift and easy motion, aided by the forward momentum of the ship, the scoundrel would be dragged under the ship.
Keelhauling was something that had been a part of the pirate world for as long as there had been pirates but to truly keelhaul a person was difficult. Ropes had to be secure from either side of the ship to ensure the scoundrel was pulled tightly against the keel and not just the hull. Sending a person off one side of the ship made that difficult.
During his years as second in charge to Morgan the good captain devised a much easier method of keelhauling. Off the bow, ropes tethered to the victim and draped down either side of the ship, when the victim hit the water four crew man, two on either side gunwale, pulled in the ropes dragging the body directly to the keel. It was a quick, easy and with the body left tethered for hours on end it was definitely a final death, suitable only for the filthiest of filthy, the dirtiest of dirty and the lowest of low.
“Send ‘im down t’ th’ depths below.” The captain called, ordering Horatio Rapscallion to nudge the landlubber along the plank faster with the tip of his sword. “From thar he shall be dragged under th’ ship, he’s definitely in fer a hell o’ a trip.”
As the traitor felt the tip of Horatio’s sword prick into his back he took another step, only slightly bigger than the previous one. A second jab and the traitors feet scuffed their way along the plank, one slow inch after another trying to feel for the end of the plank with his toes. He knew it was pointless, there would be no mercy, no escape, no freedom, but he still could make it happen quickly.
The third jab of Horatio’s sword was harder than the first two, harder enough to rip into the traitor’s clothes and draw blood. But blood and holey clothes were the least of his worries given that his feet had all but reached the end of the plank and he had no choice but to take the final scuffled step. The air was filled with the sounds of a blood curdling scream the moment the traitor realised there was nothing under his last step, a scream that did not stop until there was a splash below and the man’s mouth was filled with sea water.
He hit the water with flailing legs but it was not enough to break his fall and he dropped into the water almost like a pin. His head was under and his mouth full of salty water before he knew what was happening. Those of the crew standing at the front of ship and those aboard the Revenge, which had crept slightly ahead of the Privateer, who could see the man fall cheered loudly as his body dropped, a cheer that was shared by every man of both crews before his head was completely submerged. To an outsider such a outpouring of glee could be considered barbaric, even sadistic but the crew, even the greenhorns, knew that the fair captain would not have taken the path he did without reason and they accepted that even if they were not privvy to the reason.
With the slow forward momentum of the ship the scoundrel, underwater and unable to help himself and was dragged underneath the ship. At the same time four men yanked hard on the ropes draped over the gunwales, they pulled hand over hand dragging the thick ropes out of the water and onto the ship. How long the traitor was able to hold his breath could not be known but it would make little difference for death was his only outcome.
Although the traitor was not a large man the resistance his dead weight provided against the movement of the ship and it’s surrounding waters was immense and the four pirates struggled to drag the ropes tight, but within a minute they had it done.
As four pirates who had dragged the ropes up from the water stepped back and took a well deserved breath two other pirates, one each side, tied the ropes off on cleats completing the keelhauling. At the same time four barrels were being brought up from the lower decks of both ships at the good captain’s request. While the barrels were cracked, tankards appeared, one for every member on board, the first poured on each ship would of course go to the captains but every pirate would be sated before the barrels ran out.
When ever crew member stood on the decks holding a tankard the captain took his position. He stood on the navigation deck of his ship and called out in a loud voice which could be heard on both ships.
“Death be too go fer this lowly landlubber. Let sharks dine upon th’ rotten scoundrel’s flesh. Let Davy Jones loot his soul.” A cheer roared across both ships. “In return fer our deeds ‘n as a reward fer keelhaulin’ this filthy landlubber ye be rewarded wit’ one more mug o’ that Famous Ol’ Spiced. Drink up me hearties!”
Tankards were raised and tankards were clanged together as splashes of that Famous Ol’ Spiced was toasted out of the mugs. Then almost immediately every crew member lowered their tankard to their mouth and gulped down the entire contents in one swoop.
Previous Pirate story here.