|Fezzik, tear his arms off.|
At the end of The Princess Bride, Westley says to Inigo, "You'd make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts!" Here are the many adventures of the new captain of the Revenge! Read on!
A Great Captain, On the Other Hand ...
The booty would have to wait. In mid-(silent)-celebration we noticed the fog lifting.
“Get us out of here!” I hissed to Shya, who hurriedly got the crew busy raising sails and securing the longboat. Suddenly we had two compelling reasons to be here: Fezzik and gold. I watched as the captain joined the crew at work, having given the helm to Dauchkin.
The Revenge was soon chasing the retreating fog. Safely back in it half an hour later, we relaxed a little. The crew gathered in the galley to discuss the gold.
Captain Montoya had the coins displayed on the table. They were from Gilder, and at least fifty years old.
“Get your ledger out, Paloni,” he ordered. “The longboat crew just earned a raise. And so has our good Domingo here,” he motioned towards the young crewman, who looked as proud as a schoolboy. “Anyone who can see through deception with that kind of ease is indispensable.
“Now—” He leaned forward; the crew leaned in too. Their new captain had their complete attention. “How do we free my friend Fezzik and that gold?”
“If it comes to one or the other …” I began.
“We’re not leaving Fezzik in that hole,” he declared.
“Understood,” I returned. I shouldn’t have questioned his priorities. This was a different captain from the rest.
“We’ll need double our resources to get both,” said the bosun. “Double the manpower, and probably double the time, if not triple.”
“Your man on the inside … what’s his name again?” asked Captain Montoya.
“Bacco,” I answered.
“Bacco. Does he know of the gold, you think?”
“I don’t think anyone knows of the gold,” answered Marcell ahead of me. “Bacco’s bright, but he’s not a soothsayer!”
“He’s a prison overlord, you say?”
“Pay well, overlord?”
We caught his drift right away.
“I don’t know, Captain,” I said. The crew had caught on too. They looked at each other uncertainly. “Bacco is as devious as he is bright. Telling him too soon would be very chancy. If it came to us or the gold, he’d choose …”
“The gold,” I said, along with five or six others, including Marcell.
Captain Montoya glanced around. He took his time, as if plumbing us for courage.
“Captain Westley and Fezzik and I deceived the guards at Humperdinck’s Castle,” he said. “If it worked once, it will work again.”
“What do you propose, Captain?” asked Marcell.
You could hear a pin drop.
The captain gave a determined smile. “I don’t know yet. I need a plan …”
Much later I knocked on his door. I couldn’t sleep. I needed to talk to him—before morning.
I didn’t want to disturb him, and I spent at least half an hour wringing my hands about it. But, I reasoned, as First Mate it’s my duty to keep the captain focused and grounded. That was my rationale for knocking past 2 a.m.
At first there was no noise. He was probably asleep. I could see lamplight peeking out the bottom of the door, however, and that emboldened me to knock again.
“Come in, Paloni,” I heard.
I opened the door.
He was sitting at his desk, pen in hand.
“I do not have the gift for strategy!” he murmured unhappily. “I need … I need the Man in Black! I need Captain Westley!”
He slammed the pen on the papers and dropped his head into his hands.
He looked up. “What are you doing up so late?”
“I couldn’t sleep. I … I have concerns about … well, I can see you do, too …”
He appeared confused.
“Your plan, sir,” I offered. “I have concerns about it.”
He stared at me, then motioned for me to sit. I did. He poured himself some moscatel and offered me a glass, which I took with thanks.
“I don’t have one,” he said hopelessly after a gulp.
It occurred to me that I hadn’t gotten around to mentioning Captain Westley’s letter. I excused myself to Captain Montoya’s puzzlement, hurried back to my quarters where I retrieved it, then back to his. I handed it to him, and he read it.
He sighed and set it down on the papers he’d been scribbling on.
“I … I have no gift for strategy, Paloni,” he repeated. “Captain Westley … in truth, he was the one who planned our castle onslaught. He was our leader, not me. He talked me up in this letter.”
His gaze was one of great frustration and guilt.
“After our victory tonight finding that gold, I was certain I could be the next Dread Pirate Roberts. I was certain! Now … I have no gift for strategy, Paloni!” He gave me a helpless stare. “Tell me. Were the other captains as great a strategist as Captain Westley?”
I didn’t know how to answer him. They were all great strategists. I didn’t want to depress him more.
“Yes,” I said honestly after a moment of indecision. I watched his face fall even more. I did not want to lie to him, and I did not want to sugarcoat the truth, either. A good captain recognizes his strengths and his weaknesses. A great captain, on the other hand …
“You have good people crewing this boat,” I said. “The other captains, yes, they were marvelous strategists. But to a man they were elitists. The crew were cogs to help them achieve their aims, nothing more. That included, with all due respect, Captain Westley. And that was his, and their, weakness, one I’m not so certain they’d be willing to recognize as such.”
He watched me, his face a mask of fatigue and grim determination.
“This crew,” I went on, “I’ve never seen a crew respond more quickly to a new captain before. I do not lie or exaggerate, sir. They are invested in the success of the Revenge’s mission. The Revenge’s,” I emphasized, and shut up. I wanted him to get it on his own.
At first I didn’t think he did. He dropped his gaze to his plans and stared dispiritedly at them for a long moment. But then he looked up. A slow smile creased his face.
“You are saying that … that if I have no gift for strategy, then someone else on this ship might. Is that what you are saying, Paloni?”
“Or many someones. Yes, that is precisely what I am saying, Captain. That is your gift: the ability to lead and inspire men. And if I may be so bold, I daresay it is a much greater gift than being a mere strategist.”
He lifted Westley’s letter, read it again.
“November is still almost five months off,” he observed. He glanced at me.
“Are you saying you want to go to
“Not without Fezzik,” he said. Without fatigue he added, “And not without that gold!”
“I am captain of the Revenge,” he told the crew, who had gathered at first light in the galley by his order. “I am your captain. You have been patient with me. And you have helped me. You have taught me. For these things I am eternally grateful.”
He gave a low, solemn bow. The galley was completely silent.
He glanced at me.
“I have no gift for strategy. I do not tell you this to gain your pity. I tell you because—” another glance—“a captain should be honest with his crew. Upon my word, I will always be honest with you. I have no gift for strategy. But I have you. And I am willing to bet that more than one of you has the gift of strategy.”
He slammed his fist on the table. Everyone jumped.
“My friend Fezzik is in that prison. He has no gift for strategy either. But he is my friend and I will not lot him rot in there! I need a strategy. I need all of you to help me think of one.”
He shook his head. “I will not make it an order. I ask you as one person to another. Help me free Fezzik, and help us get that gold!”
He stood up straight and crossed his arms. His crew stared at him as though they were going into battle.
One of the great things about being part of a crew is the camaraderie that develops. The men and women of the Revenge felt it then as surely as I did. All at once they rose and cheered. I did, too.