I was not always Nigel Harold Wittington the Third, Esquire. Years ago, I was but a boy… Nigel Harold Wittington the Third, cabin boy. It was my first chance to go to sea and I was more than ready to go. The sea is in the Wittington blood going back to Elias Palfrey Wittington the Drowned, Simenon Hafthot Wittington the Blind, and even Machius Jollypot Wittington the Maimed.
While I was lecturing crewmen far older than myself in the basic skills of seamanship, we came in sight of an enemy vessel. Battle was to be joined and my place was the gun deck. It was my duty to run powder from the Powder Room up to the gun crews so the great ship could keep up its prodigious rate of fire.
To some, the Gun Deck is Hell on Earth with the violence, ear-splitting bangs, and sizzling hot metal, but I’d dreamed of this moment. Then the ship shook with a lucky shot from the enemy and I saw one of the gun crews was thrown and dazed or dead. Their gun port was much larger now and ragged. The cannon had been lit but had not fired.
Seizing my first of many chances to be the hero of the day, I ran to the gun with a fresh taper, put my head to the gun to line it up, went to touch the taper to the fire hole and…
When I woke up in the Surgeon’s sick ward, my head felt like… well, it had been slammed by something very big. My hearing was gone in my right ear but it was a small price to pay. My shot had sunk the enemy ship! (or so I was told by the men from the Gun Deck who saw my heroism)