"Arr, Who goes there?" growled Fred.
"'s me, Matt of the Lady Anne," said a lanky sailor. "And this here's Will of the Wisp. How goes it?"
Fred gestured at the stove. "Try it and see." Will and Matt tasted Fred's cooking and quickly returned the tastes to the skillet from whence they came.
"Is it that bad?"
"Do promenading poodles piss on posts?" Will scoured out his mouth with a dried herring. "You should be flogged, you warthog's whelp."
Fred snarled. "Well, your mother wears army boots!"
"Me mum was a good Navy man!" roared the outraged Will, leaping to throttle Fred. Matt managed to get between the two men. His struggle to prevent them from keelhauling each other was interrupted by a politely modulated cough.
"Pardon me, worthy sons of the salt, but it seems you are in a muddle."
The sailors froze and stared down at the diminutive stranger.
"Gorblimey, it's a cat!" said Fred.
"A cat in a mask and cape!" added Matt.
"A TALKING cat in a mask and cape!" agreed Will.
The cat winced. "I am not just any talking cat in a mask and cape," he proclaimed. "I am GalleyCat! Nautical chef extraordinaire! GalleyCat, the Kraken of cuisine! The Scylla of souffle! The Poseidon of pastry! Tell me, O ocean-going wretches, what seems to be the trouble?"
"It's like this," Fred whined. "The Admiral's going to be in port this afternoon, and our captains have invited him to dinner. Only our cooks won't cook, see?"
"The Wisp's cook says his bunion aches," offered Will.
"And the Lady Anne's cook is off hunting the Snark."
"And the Pelican's cook is out stalking Bat Segundo."
"Ah," said GalleyCat. "Courage! I shall whip you up a feast that no Admiral or Emperor could resist! Sirens have sung the praises of my culinary prowess, and my escargot recipe has been the subject of a six-year campaign of espionage by the greatest chefs of Paris!"
As Matt and Will groveled thankfully, Fred remained standing. "'Ere," he demanded. "What's in it for you?"
GalleyCat looked pained. "My dear fellow, I do it for my art. We artists thrive on adulation. What good is being a chef unless I can perform? Ah, the roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd..." The cat's nostrils twitched. "More of the latter than the former, in this case."
Matt cuffed Fred. "Hush. How can we help, GalleyCat?"
"Drop everything and give me ten...books," said the cat. "I like to read while my famous Braised Terrapin Supreme simmers to perfection."
"Books?" said Matt. "We got none..."
"Surely there is a library in the port? Proceed thence, with all haste."
Eventually, the sailors returned to the ship, their arms filled with tomes.
The kitchen was empty. Empty of dried herring. Empty of smoked salmon. Empty of pickled octopus. Fred swore.
"Where's the chef?" asked Will anxiously.
Fred spat on the deck. "That was no chef," he said. "That was a cat burglar!"
oh dear dog, not just a story, but a story in two scenes in under 500 words.
Miss Snark is in awe.
Scoring to come