Story for the Day: Gubbins
Richard "Dizzard" Gubbins is a magnificent coward. The legendary pirate who once sailed the Dremmwel was known for being a daring fool, and his folly brought him to the ship of Lord Danaco Divelima, which unfortunately brought about his demise as a ruffian of the seas. It was his own fault really, as he attacked Danaco's ship without provocation, and while he could have made his apologies and sailed happily on, his desire for revenge against Divelima exposed him for the palliard he was and ruined his marine empire.
The pirate Gubbins-- rather Dizzard, or the forged Swillets-- was a shortnecked, hunskit man, his face all over hisipid and birsed, his jaw low and foolish, his mouth rife with kags, his eyes downturned and drooping, his mouth agape and sagging, his chin bucculent, his head large and macrotous, his forehead wide and wrined, his stature undersized and abdominous, his shoulders withered and slumped, his limbs stout, his expression prodigiously stupid, his complexion bemired, his hands lardaceous and sullied. He dressed in a captain’s costume entirely too small for him, his waistcoat tucked in the crease above his stomach, his waist sash wilting round his hips, his breeches tattered and torn, his striped socks pulled over his knees, his boots cracked and untongued. He sounded as preposterous as he seemed: his esses wheepled through the embrasure in his teeth, his dees slottered against his palate, his heighches forgotten amidst the wreck of his sialioquent speech. He shuffled forward, stepping down from the plank, his foot falling with a lumbering plod. “Wha?” said he, his dry lips parting only to emit the forced sound, the corners of his mouth decorated with spittle, his brow wreathed in sweat, his glabrous head garnished with patches of dust. Here was indeed a gubbins from beginning to end, and Danaco could not but sneer at the repugnant prospect.
“Gubbins,” said the captain, approaching the pirate with a cautious step, “is that you?”
“A’ course its me! Who else would Aw be?”
Rannig thought this a particularly poignant question and hummed in deliberation as he considered the answer, while Damson and Danaco exchanged a look and Bartleby pulled his hat over his ears.
“Certainly,” said the captain, “I cannot think anybody should like to be you other than you, but you should rather like to be the you that you were years ago when I met you. You are more underhung and your jowels tread far more southward than I remember.”
“Aw look the same as Aw awlways did, Divelima, yewe auld dog.”
“Well,” the captain fleered, “I cannot say I am older than you are in years, Gubbins. If I am, the sea has done well for me where it has only besmirched you.”
“I don’t think he knows that word, boss,” said Rannig, in an audible whisper. “He’s tryin’ to work out what besmirch means in his head. I can hear him.”
“That’s enough outta yewe, giant,” Gubbins demanded. “Aw know it’s meant to be insulteen.”
Rannig’s eyes darted warily about, and then, lifting his hand to screen his words yet still in sufflation, “Still think he doesn’t know what it means, boss.”
“Oh, very well. How else shall I put it? In the years you’ve been from home, Gubbins, the ocean breezes have not been generous. You are looking rather stunted, and you are certainly looking a great deal less wholesome than when I saw you last. Too much of the ale, I think.”
“No,” Gubbins humphed. “Aw don’t like ale much mawself.”
“Ha!” Bartleby laughed, “that is a vicious lie as ever I heard one. I can smell you from here, sir, and I am upwind of you. When you boarded, I was attacked by the scent of a moldering brewery, and now the stench has graduated to a festering malt. You have not had ale as much as you have had excessive amounts of scrumpy. The feff of fetid apples swathes you nearly as much as the gnats do.”
Gubbins was about to oppose such a claim when a cloud of gnats drifted into his view and he was forced to wave them away.”Well, at least Aw don’t smell of awld books.”
“Books are a thing that man should smell of. The more he smell of dust and vellum and crumbling parchment, the more intelligent he is likely to be.”
“Yewer a bit musty.”
“That is the aroma of sense. Learn it well, if you can learn anything at all. The smell of you is almost as bad as the sight. What in the name of flothery have you got on?”
“He doesn’t know what flothery means either, Bartleby,” the giant said, in a timid hush.
“Aw don’t ‘ave to know what it means to know that the auld man is ‘avin’ a laugh at me. Awm weareen maw daily attire, ‘owever yewe may like it,” Gubbins pronounced. “Yewe’re the one weareen a smock.”
The old man’s eye blazed. “A smock, sir?” he sibilated. “A smock?” his voice raising in pitch. “This, sir,” gesturing toward his nightdress, “is a brushed velvet surcoat, meant for evening wear or sleep attire. It is not a smock, to be sullied and slung over chairs and bedposts. This surcoat is meant to be sat in before the comforts of an evening fire, to be beeking in warmth and glorying in the glow of the amber light, with a book in one hand and a mulled brandy in the other. Your attire, sir, is fit only for a dustman.”
Searching shamefully about, Gubbins was sorry that he had ever dared to point out the old man’s style of dress, and beginning to regret that he had ever risked his health to cross the perilous gangplank at all if this be all his welcome.
“There is purpose in a man’s raiment, sir,” Bartleby added, with most answerable dignity. “A shifter such as you, sir, haingles and horbgorbles about in whatever he is pretending to wear. I, sir, was forced into imprudence and onto this deck, that I might gleefully burn your ship—which I have done, and it was mighty delightful—and therefore will not be accused of indecency. I do not pretend to be as trimmed as I should be for this time of the morning, but I am certainly not so suggilated as you, sir. What a scraping scamp! Have you no decency at all, displaying yourselves as though you were on the gad, showing us your inexpressibles?”
Gubbins’ nose curled. “Maw wha?”
“Your underthings, sir,” the old man shouted, pointing at a hole in the pirate’s breeches at the inseam of the upper thigh.
The pirate’s face floddered and he looked down at himself bemused, more confused than he was shamed of his accidental exhibition. “But if they’re inexpressible,” said he, scratching his head, “then why did yewe mention ‘em?”
Bartleby nearly ate his hat. “I have done. It is of no use to explain the modes of civility to you. I am turning my face from you. Paying you any more attention will cause my brain to dissolve. I will look at Rannig instead. The boy might want in sense, but he has the good scruples to dress judiciously.”
“I think, sir,” said Damson, with a demure hem, “that we are being somewhat unfeeling to the poor man.”
“You cannot say that the fellow does not deserve it, sir knight,” said the captain.
“Well, no, sir, but he is our guest, is he not, sir?”
“Very well. I will do Gubbins the credit of saying he looks exactly how a murdering maudring pirate ought to look.”
“You ought to be improved with a ferocious moustache, and you do have a wizened gravity about you, but you do wear your waistsash so villainously that I cannot excuse you there.”
Gubbins’ shoulders wilted. “Aw know Aw ain’t a fair-lookeen fella, but Aw don’t deserve to be demeaned.”
“Rannig finds you miserably amusing to look at,” said Danaco, glancing back at the giant to find him giggling to himself over the large hole in the pirate’s breeches.
“Sorry for laughin’, pirate,” Rannig chortled to himself, “but ye got scorch marks on ye.”
Gubbins snurled and endeavoured to cover the hole with his hands. “No laugheen,” he asserted. “Maw breeches caught fire.”
“Come, Gubbins,” said the captain. “I’m sure there are days where you don’t despair of being a tolerable-looking lout.”
“’Tis not maw fault,” Gubbins moaned. “Maw mum didn’t teach me no better.”
“I should say not with a double negative like that,” said Bartleby. “You should be fortunate to read, I suppose. The woman didn’t even take the pains to instruct you as to how to speak intelligibly. Hardly befitting a captain at all.”
“Don’t be after maw mum like that. It’s unbecomeen to mock maw mum.”
“Yes,” said the captain, with some repentance, “it is very ill-bred, my old friend, especially when the poor woman had to deal with Gubbins as a son.”
“Tha’s roight,” Gubbins demanded, and then realizing that was not intended as a compliment said, “Owe…Aw see. Yewe didn’t mean it that way. So, that’s wha’ this is, eh? Yewe’re gonna mock me to deaff. Well, Aw ain’t gonnu ‘ave it. Don’t talk about maw mum, don’t insult me, and don’t cawll me Gubbins.”
“And what else are you to be called?”
Gubbins twiddled his fingers. “Maw mum used to call me Richard,” he said quietly.
“Richard the fishmonger,” Danaco laughed. “Yes, that does very well for you. Although I might simply call you coward.”
“Awm no coward,” Gubbins humphed.
“Oh, no? You attacked my ship from afar, and threw your crew and your lady at me while you hid behind a mast.”
“Where is maw lady?” asked Gubbins, looking about the deck. “Where’d yewe put ‘er? What ‘ave yewe done with maw apple dumpleen? Did yewe kill ‘er?”
“I should have done, if only to spare her from the prospect of possibly being beneath you in the evening. Such a perfect creature must have been let go, for you are the same as ever you were: busy snupping every treasure that comes in your way without any idea how of how to properply appreciate it, and here you had a callicombe of a woman, and you treated her ill, neglected her, and pushed her over a plank to have another man have his way with her. You, Dizzard, deserve that name, you hapless knave. Your lady is gone, sir, sailed away to shore and lost to you forever.”
Gubbins hung his head. “Aw loved ‘er, y’know,” he said, in deep despondance. “Aw did. Aw ‘ave a ‘eart, though Awm not in touch with maw feeleens. Aw only couldn’t tell ‘er that Aw loved ‘er, but Aw knew it in ‘ere,” pointing to his chest.