Coverdale, Tyndale, King James

The first one ashore was Captain Miles Coverdale, a man all too aware that he shared his name with the first translator of the Bible into English.

The second man ashore was Corporal William Tyndale, who had absolutely no idea that he shared his name with the first man to translate the Bible into English from the original Greek and Hebrew.

The third ashore was Cornet James Version, known to all and sundry as“King” James Version.

As dawn broke, the Captain, the Corporal and the Cornet stood, panting and brine-drenched, on the glittering sands. They took their firearms from the rubber sacks in which they had carried them ashore, and cocked them. Yonder, in the trees and bushes, savages could be lurking. This was an uncharted land, the first they had spotted from the periscope of their submarine in all their months at sea, months that would turn to years, for the submarine was on a five-year mission, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no submarine manned by a Captain and a Corporal and a Cornet had gone before.

There was a sudden rustling in the trees and bushes beyond the shoreline sands. Instinctively, Captain Miles Coverdale aimed his ray gun and fired. It was his way, to shoot at the first sign of movement and worry about the consequences later. That was why he was the Captain. As the foliage burst into flames, he pranced forward, taking further blasts, signalling for the Corporal and the Cornet to follow him.

Above, in the sky, birds shrieked.

Just before they reached the burning trees and bushes, a figure stepped out to confront them, a figure unlike any they had seen before. It was indubitably a man, but what manner of man? His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion, and his straight black lips. The Captain was in no doubt.

“Watch out, men!”, he cried, “This is one of those savages I warned you about!”

“Shall we kill it immediately, in cold blood?” asked the Corporal.

“Wait, I think it is about to grunt some unholy savage babbling,” said the Cornet.

And indeed, the strange figure held up a hand as if in greeting, and shook charred leaves and twigs from its hair, and its watery eyes fixed the trio of submariners in a mesmeric gaze. Its voice, when at last it spoke, was booming and monotonous, empty of human expression and lacking any variation in tone or cadence.

“Bibite unusquisque aquam cisternae suae donec veniam et tollam vos,” it said.

“Crikey! What was all that about?” asked the Corporal.

“If I am not mistaken,” said the Captain, “It is speaking Latin. It said something along the lines of ‘Drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern, until I come and take you away’”.

“Actually,” said Cornet “King” James Version, “Now you mention it, I am quite thirsty. Permission to glug from my cistern, Captain?”

Captain Miles Coverdale assessed the situation in a twinkling, as he had been trained to do back at Captaincy Training School. While keeping a beady eye on the savage, he commanded his men to take the cisterns from their satchels and to glug away. Mid-glug, the Cornet had a sudden thought, and piped up.

“Captain,” he said, “The savage said that when we had drunk each from his own cistern he was going to take us away. Where do you think he’s going to take us to?”

But even as he spoke, the savage came lumbering forward, and it swept the three of them up, and it carried them off into the trees and the bushes, they were swept away, they were swept away and gone. Birds continued to shriek in the sky, and the glittering sands were again deserted as before, and just offshore the submarine lay bobbing on the water, and waves crashed over it, and as the years passed it rusted and broke in pieces and one by one the pieces sank to the bottom of the sea, and became nooks for crabs and lobsters and other beings of the deep, and no trace was ever found of the Captain and the Corporal and the Cornet.

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