No Pirates Nowadays: A Short Story

No Pirates Nowadays: A Short Story
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A classic tale of nautical adventure from the author of the acclaimed Aubrey/Maturin series, now published in eBook for the very first time to commemorate the Patrick O’Brian centenary.As their schooner inches through the dense yellow fog of the northern Pacific, Ross is beginning to regret agreeing to Sullivan's latest plan. Their search for the island of Sakhalien, to hunt for precious sea-otters, is leading them nowhere. The appearance of a fellow ship should be cause to lift their mood, yet the captain and swarthy Malay crew of the Santa Maria leave Ross feeling all the more uneasy. But when their paths cross once again it is Sullivan's nephew, Derrick, who has good cause to doubt that there are no pirates nowadays.First published under a pseudonym, this classic tale of nautical adventure will thrill every fan of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series of Napoleonic sagas. Together with 'Noughts and Crosses' and 'Two's Company', it is also a captivating companion story to his novel, THE ROAD TO SAMARCAND, which also features Derrick, Sullivan and Ross.

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Patrick O’Brian

No Pirates Nowadays

A Short Story

Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd

77–85 Fulham Palace Road

Hammersmith, London W6 8JB

First published in Great Britain by Oxford University Press 1940

Copyright © The Estate of the late Patrick O’Brian CBE 1940

Cover layout design © HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 2014

Cover image ©

Patrick O’Brian asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

A catalogue copy of this book is available from the British Library.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

Source ISBN: 9780008112936

Ebook Edition © December 2014 ISBN: 9780008112929

Version: 2014-11-19


‘Speaking of furs,’ said Sullivan, fanning himself with a folded palm-leaf, ‘did I ever tell you of that Japanese cook I met while you were in Batavia?’

‘We were not speaking of furs in the first place, and what has a Japanese cook got to do with them, anyhow?’ asked Ross, leaning back against his camel saddle. The big Scot was too hot to fan himself.

Sullivan stretched his tall, lean body, and yawned. ‘It was just an idea that passed across my mind,’ he said.

‘Not one of your ideas for making money?’ asked Ross suspiciously.

‘Well, as a matter of fact –’

‘Ha! I was afraid of that. Now listen: you can take your idea and bury it. You’ll have plenty of time to dig a nice deep hole before this Kaid of yours turns up with the money.’

‘Arrah, don’t let that be worrying your Scotch soul, my boyo –’

‘Scots, please,’ interrupted Ross; ‘and you listen to me. Quite apart from the fact that we’ll never see our guns or our money again, I’m sick of this beastly oasis, and I’m tired of dates for breakfast, lunch, and tea, with half a peck of sand for dinner. We’re sailormen, and we ought to earn our living on the sea, not sitting by a puddle in a desert a thousand miles from the nearest port. So just you get it into your teak head, Sullivan that I dislike the sound of your voice when you talk about ideas.’

A little before moonrise the same night, five white mehari camels hunkered down at the oasis.

‘Salaam, Kaid,’ said Sullivan, greeting the Arab.

‘Salaam aleikum, Effendi,’ replied the Kaid, touching his head and heart. They exchanged a few remarks, and then, apparently as an afterthought, the Kaid mentioned that he had some money. His men brought leather bags and a rug. The Kaid rung the coins out on to the rug one by one, while Sullivan, knowing the breeding of the desert, affected not to count them.

Next day, as Sullivan and Ross travelled across the desert on the thoroughbred trotting camels that the Kaid had left as a present, the Irishman settled himself comfortably, and said, ‘I don’t want to rub it in, my good man, but if I were not a gentleman and the descendant of ancient Irish kings, I should say that there was something in my ideas.’

‘Mphm,’ replied Ross. For a long while they rode in silence.

‘Ay,’ said Ross, at last. More by luck than good management, though. We ought to stick to the sea.’

‘Very true: now this idea of mine would be entirely on the sea.’

‘Then you’d better tell me about it. You’ll surely burst if you don’t.’

‘It was like this, then. Yamamoto, the cook I was telling you about, went down with pneumonia out beyond Medicine Hat, and I looked after him. He had been a sailor most of his time – he came from one of the northern Japanese islands – and a little before he died, he told me of an island way beyond Saghalien where the sea otters breed: he was more than half Ainu, and his totem was the sea otter, so he had never made use of the knowledge, but he passed it on to me, as a sort of payment for looking after him.’

‘Sea otters, eh? The fur is more valuable than ermine.’

‘Yes. Next to chinchilla it’s the rarest fur in the world. My idea is that we go and get some. We have got the capital now for a boat, and I have got a good many more details – that’s just the bare outline.’

‘What, go to Saghalien because of the babbling of a delirious Japanese cook? Blethering foolishness. Those parts are very poorly charted: and how do you know he was really talking about sea otters, anyway? It was probably a moribund seal that his cousin’s wife’s brother-in-law saw. Tush! Stuff! If you find me wandering about in those latitudes calling “Puss-puss-puss” to imaginary sea otters, you can call me a yellow-belly.’

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