Letter #1 – A Ship’s Captain

May 29th, 1851

Dear Tiberius,

A home should bring about feelings of security, warmth, and protection. To most people (especially where you are in that desolate mountain town you call home) when you say “home,” they immediately think of a house. A house equals safety in the common man’s eyes to put it in more rudimentary terms. So then, I ask you, my dear Tiberius, if a house is safety to the common man, then what is the sea? I will tell you. The sea is danger, the unknown, uncertainty, and fear to the common man. But then, do you not consider me a common man? Yes. I know you do. Yet, I find more comfort on the sea than I ever have in a house. So, for all intents and purposes, let us say that a home, to me, is the gentle sway of a ship at sea. That is what gives me the greatest sense of security, warmth, and protection. It is the houses high up on their hills in mountain towns such as yours that give me the overwhelming feeling of fear, danger, uncertainty, and the unknown. Hard to believe I’ve been at sea now for over two years and it has been twice as long since I’ve visited the cottage in which you and I were born and raised.  Though we are brothers, do you not find it strange that we should be so different? But that is the way of the world, I imagine. In my two years at sea, I have beheld wonders only whispered about by the imaginative tongues of the travelling storytellers. I’ve also witnessed a few indecent tragedies. Just last week, we found another crewman with strange lesions on his eyes and unnatural color of skin. I tell you Tiberius, though you will think me mad, the dead crewman’s skin was as green as blade of grass in the early summer. That makes three strange deaths in these two years, all of them in similar fashion. Ackerman Stultz was the first, then Warsaw Hunnigton, and now Chase McGannon. All of them outstanding crewman, God rest their souls. The ship’s doctor reports it was a form of sun poisoning conducive to regions of the tropics and around the equator. Lord knows we have seen our fair share of both. How strange it is that the same luminary body which is responsible for giving life can also destroy it in such vicious and queer ways. You must understand, Tiberius, these men’s faces were not ones of a serene passing. On the contrary. The three crewman who died all died with faces of frozen fear and horrific surprise. Their mouths were twisted in such a way as though they were in mid-scream as their last breath stole out of them. Except Warsaw Hunnigton. The whole bottom half of his jaw was torn off and lost to the sea. It was no surprise seeing as how long the body had been left to rot before we found it. Nearly two weeks, according to the doctor. The poor fool must have gone delirious once the sun poisoning set in and crawled into the bow of the ship through a passage I thought only wide enough for a rat to fit through. I’ve been rambling on about these grotesque tragedies for far too long. You must understand though, such tragedies weigh heavy on a man’s mind. Especially when that man is the captain of his first ship such as myself. Oh how my mind can drift from time to time. But what do you expect? I’m on the sea! Bully! There’s a bit of sea-faring humor for you. I’ve nearly forgotten to mention the name of my ship. She is called the Salty Beggar. I know, she does not sound as grandiose and the HMS Beagle, carrying about loon scientist such as the Darwin fellow. What, with a name like Salty Beggar, you probably think her to be more suited for the scrap yard or perhaps, worse still, a ship in league with persons of piracy! I assure you, dear brother, she is a simple merchant ship and simple merchandise is what we ship. The vessel itself is called a Bergantina. She is medium sized, equipped with 25 guns (God forbid we ever have to use them), five officers, a doctor, a chaplain, and 137 crewman minus the three that have lost their lives over the past two years. We are currently in port off the coast of the Bermuda Islands and will be shipping out again in one week for the Orient. I promise I will write more so do not be alarmed if you receive a bundle of correspondence in the post from time to time. I can only mail letters when in a port of harbor you see. Give my love to your wife and newborn son. I hope this letter finds you in good health and the graces of God.


Edgar P. Wright

Captain of the Salty Beggar

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