A Seagull, A Mouse and Matt Pollock
A Retelling of the Defeat of the Spanish Armada
by Daniel Bacon, Dan Koonzt, Dan Seibert, and Matt White
09 March 2012
Chapter One: It’s All Over but the Shouting
“Red sauce?” Wadsworth nudged the ketchup bowl towards Fernando. They both sat, picking at a few French fries that had been tossed aside onto one of the docks of the French harbour. Fernando pushed it back in disgust,
“No thanks, I’ve seen enough blood for one day.” Wadsworth glanced at Fernando in surprise, but quickly returned to his small fried feast. He was a long gangly seagull, English in origin, and seemed tired from the day’s flight. Fernando barely touched his share of their dinner, but just seemed to stare off into the distance. He was a small Spanish mouse, usually bursting with energy and always trying to prove himself. But as the orange glow of the setting sun streaked across the sky that late afternoon, the little mouse was not his usual self.
Wadsworth ventured again at conversation with the discontented rodent,
“By the way, why is your fur so dishevelled?” Fernando was grooming himself picking a piece of seaweed off of his ear and dropping it into the ocean. At Wadsworth’s question, he sat up in a tantrum,
“It was that loco pescado! That crazy fish swallowed me whole, spat me on this shore, and swam off again…loco, loco.” Wadsworth nearly choked on the fry at which he was pecking.
“Well that’s odd of any fish to conduct himself in such a way. Most fish would not even come near to desiring to eat a mouse. Are you okay?” At just that moment, a pollock fish popped out of the water.
“Hey you there,” cried the pollock. “My name is Matt Pollock, sorry for not introducing myself to you earlier. When was the last time you had a bath? I mean seriously!” Fernando jumped back, surprised to see the exact same fish that had swallowed him earlier.
“It’s that loco fish! I ought to flay you into twenty pieces…” Fernando continued berating Matt, who all the while remained relatively emotionless. Wadsworth, sick of the turn of conversation, interrupted Fernando’s now unintelligible rant.
“All right guys can’t we all just get along what’s wrong with you two? You look like you’ve just been through a barney. Gosh my ears hurt!” Matt looked sympathetically towards Fernando and gave an explanation for his actions,
“Take it easy my little friend. I was watching all the bodies of lifeless men sinking to the ocean floor,” he paused in a moment of silence for these dead souls. He began again, “and I didn’t want to see the same fate come to you.” Silence lingered uncomfortably until Wadsworth said the only thing that came to mind.
“What a selfless act! A friend indeed…” Fernando didn’t hear it though, and he and Matt began to bicker all the more. Suddenly, a look of surprise crossed Wadsworth’s face. He slowly raised his head from the French fry he had returned to, beginning to glare at the two other animals in front of him. “Wait…where were you gentlemen? It crosses my mind that I was watching these same happenings.”
Matt burst out, “well what above God’s blue seas, did you see?”
Chapter Two: A Bird’s Eye View
“Well,” Wadsworth began to reply, “I was following a small fleet of English ships that seemed to be rather perturbed about some foul injustice going on in the south east. As I pursued, the men were all the more anxious to fly like the wind to catch something or somebody. It was not till the 30th of July that I saw an opposing fleet of ships that I would not even qualify to call a fleet but rather an amazing armada, flying the flag of Spain!
As I approached the Spanish armada I was full of curiosity and had a great desire to view these fine vessels with a closer encounter. With the wind rushing beneath my wings, I swooped downward. The ships were too many to count and were much, much bigger than any English ship I have ever seen before. I saw many men on these ships, not all of whom were dressed as sailors; many were dressed as if ready for hand to hand combat, holding close-range weaponry. As I continued to fly through, I heard cries and concerns that came undoubtedly from the English fleet to the north. I heard sudden gunfire coming from the English fleet from a good long distance away and decided it might be a good idea to take my leave to the safety in the skies.
I viewed fantastic feats of strategy over the course of several days between the English and the Spanish. I saw the English ships much smaller, quicker and more agile than the giant Spanish galleys. They would sail just close enough to the Spanish to fire a few long range shots, and then sprint away to safety. It was as if the English were teasing their rivals with candy, only to yank it from their grasp.
The Spanish on the other hand never shot quite as far – they could not do so, nor did they want to. I remember seeing the Spanish’ true strategy only once, for they rarely lured in the English close enough. This time, a poor English vessel neared too close, and the Spanish ship pounced. Men armed with close range weaponry suddenly filled the deck of the monstrous ship, silently waiting for their time to attack. Not only this, but a certain drenching of their own decks also occurred. Either they were a rather thirsty bunch, or the Spanish were cautious of catching fire, which was certainly to be present on the English ship once the fighting commenced. So then that great ship turned, and shot two grappling hooks at the English ship. One shot came from the front of their ship, striking and clamping on to the front of the English vessel. The other did likewise, only from the back. The Spanish ship, like a spider, held its prey in its grasp. Then, like venom injected into it, the Spanish soldiers poured onto the English deck. I remember wishing wings for those Englishmen, for flight to skies was their only hope for survival.
Now, on August 6th, I found the Spanish Armada located just off the coast of Calais in France.
I flew high above for two days, taking a nap every so often on the English ship Triumpth. Being exhausted from my activity, I slept through much of the happenings during the night of the 7th turning over to the 8th. As I learned in the morning, the English fleet had taken some smaller ships, loaded them with wood, set them aflame and directed them towards the anchored Spanish ships. This would explain the panic that I awoke to that morning! The Armada was in chaos seeking to get further north in the channel.
The English seemed to have the upper wing on the Armada as they chased them up the French border. The day finally did come when the sky was so full of smoke from the cannon fire that I had to make many trips upwind just to catch my breath. You must understand that the cannon fire was rather abrasive to my throat. But I often returned to the battle just off the coast of Gravelines, France. As I did, I noticed several things begin to unfold. First, was the convoy of the Spanish Armada regrouping attempting to make a final attempt on the coast of England. Second, I saw the English not giving up on their conquest of protecting their virgin lands. As the English would move in on the Spanish they would gather speed and zoom by with the greatest of ease taking many shots at the hulls of the slough and backed up the Armada. It was comical, at times, to hear the Spanish jeering and taunting the English towards them; only for the English to sail gracefully by–each pass inflicting greater damage on their overconfident adversaries. I could tell the fighting men on the Spanish ships were eager and ready to attempt to board the English ships. Maybe they liked the English ships and their simple construction but speedy character.
After many hours of constant battle, none of which looked good for the Spanish, I felt a fast switch in the direction of the winds. It came to the delight of the Spanish Armada which made quick use of the wind to sail north through the channel. The Spanish continued to use the gusts to make a timely escape up the coast as the English followed close behind. It almost seemed like their escort was booting them out of the channel!
That was when I came to the conclusion that all this flying was making me quite hungry. Thus I decided to take such a golden opportunity to find food in France and what better food to find in France than the unparalleled taste of French fries! Then that’s when I met you fine chaps.”
Chapter 3: A Mouse’s Tale
A moment of silence fell over the three animals. They were trying to drink in the vast amount of detail Wadsworth had provided. Matt spoke up first, “Well, I say my feathered friend, that’s a tale from the heavens indeed!” Fernando was next to chime in,
“Si, Señor Wadsworth,” he began solemnly, “I do believe I witnessed the same events as you
have just described!”
“Oh, do tell your tale of it then,” Matt urged him on, “Do tell it.” Fernando bowed his head
ever so slightly to the fish, still not wanting to call him a friend, but willing to grant the request. He then
peered up at Wadsworth, who said,
“Speak up, chap. You’ve given me your ear, and I’ll give you mine.” With that, Fernando looked off into the distance. The sun, seemingly red with passion after overhearing the bird’s story, has just touched the horizon. Fernando began,
“Well I was just enjoying my afternoon munch of biscuits, when the day started off with a shout from the deck ‘All hands on deck!’” And with that Fernando had captured his audience’ attention. He continued, “I sprung up out of my hole to look around at the ship. The fierce blue and red coloured flag arose on the other side. ‘And so it begins,’ exclaimed one of the generals, as I quickly was distracted by a passing cannon ball. I skittered across the ship to find out where we were, and as I entered the map room I saw something my eyes have never seen before. The map lying before me made an estimation of about 130 ships to the rear and ready to go with near 17,000 military people on board, too. As I marvelled sitting on the table I saw a burst of shattered wood fly by my tail and stick into the opposite wall, ‘Yikes! Too close! Too close!’ I exclaimed. I then decided I would be better off waiting out the night on the bottom of the ship. Countless – and sleepless – hours later I glanced towards the people on the ship many of whom were already diseased or paralysed severely. I thought to myself that this is not going to be an easy battle.
The next day I came across a couple of the first mates. I listened into the conversation and to my horror I heard that the Duke of Parma, who we had been scheduled to pick up off the coast of France, was 25 miles away. It was then that we realized that they were not going to come to our aid in time.
That day was full of loud noises that gave me such a headache. Cannons were constantly fired, people were screaming in the continual confusion of battle, and the sheer hustle and bustle of it all led me to the deck to where I could get some air and see again the face of battle. As I reached to top deck
I saw men bandaged and bleeding but still working to keep the ship afloat. I heard men yelling ‘We
must get out of Gravelines!’ I didn’t know what to think, the sheer overwhelming damage that was being contributed to my ship was too much for me to watch. I saw other ships with our flag go down to the depths, never to be seen again. The day’s events forced me to pray to mother Mary to save me and my ship. No sooner had I finished my gallant prayer that I heard a noise louder than the rest – and with it, I was flung into the air! A cannon ball had hit just below deck and had knocked me overboard! As I hit the water I quickly surfaced and realized I had no means of getting back to my ship. Furthermore, I was not near close enough to the shore to place hope in my little legs to swim me there. For a few moments, I tried to keep my head above water, gasping for air. Soon, though, I had no more energy. I began to sink, just like the Spanish around me. I can remember counting down ‘3…2…1…’ Then all went dark.”
Chapter 4: A Fishy Ending
With the ending of Fernando’s account, Wadsworth was plain shocked. “I just never knew.”
“Knew what?” Fernando asked.
“I had been flying so high above it all, I never understood…I mean I just cannot feel what you felt, Fernando. I had been so removed from the guns, the smoke, the death. I never realized what it meant to those men to go through such an event!”
“Yes,” Fernando replied, “It was not easy for those men. They died for their country!”
“I feel I ought to share some particulars, too, my friends,” Matt said. Wadsworth, still shocked, nodded in agreement.
“Do tell, my friend, do tell.”
“I first watched in awe as many a great bow floated in a wide swath across the surface of the water as if they were dancing in an ancient and long rehearsed ceremony. My awe was quickly turned to grief and horror as I watched men sink into the ocean their blood creating a cloud of life about them. The stronger ones swam and flailed in a panic to escape the waters cold clutches. I floated stunned as I witnessed many young men sink into oblivion below me–motionless, resistless, lifeless. Separated from my school, who had long since fled these God forsaken waters, I had no choice but to watch in solemn terror as the ocean around me quickly became a graveyard of ship and man alike.
It seemed like days passed as I swam among the dead, vainly searching for signs of life, though I wasn’t sure what I would have done if I had found it. Suddenly I saw it, a mouse struggling to stay
above the water. I saw the energy drain from his limbs–defeated, he sank. A renewed vigour filled my whole being, and I knew that if I could save this one soul I would not have lived in vain, and so I shot towards him with every fibre of my being and in an instant the mouse was in my mouth. His coarse hairs were covered in the soaked dust and debris from the overworld, in less than a minute I was at the surface scanning for the nearest shoreline, I opened my mouth for a brief moment and then plunged back into the ocean head straight towards the reef. I raced up the shore and spat the half conscience mouse into the shallow water. I’m only glad he had enough strength to move further inland.
Chapter 5: The Shouting is Over Too
“Ah-Ha!” Fernando shouted, “I see your motive in swallowing me now, and I thank you for such selflessness. I therefore conclude that next year when the time of lent has come I will not eat any fish. By this I will show my gratitude.” Matt Pollock seemed to be somewhat thrilled and somewhat concerned to think that this mouse was a consumer of his race. But before Matt could comment he was interrupted by Wadsworth, who was attempting to be very optimistic,
“Amazing!” exclaimed Wadsworth, “Absolutely amazing! We all have seen so much in these past several days and I must say I believe myself to be very thankful to have come to meet you here. It seems to me that this meeting is by the providence of God. I must say I feel very faint hearted for just enjoying the sights of the battle without taking into full account of the damage and death that is occurring beneath me. I must say I am very thankful to have you both alive and well and to be able to call you my friends.”
Fernando chimed in with gratitude in his voice, “Well I am very thankful for my new found fish friend who saved my life, and for you fine seagull who gave me understanding as to what was going on all around me in the battle. I no doubt would have spent many nights awake wondering how it was that the opposing ships had such an upper hand. It obviously was a discouragement from God that we were not to invade England. Even though this means it will still be a Protestant nation, God bless the queen.”
Then Matt finally revealed his thoughts, mostly because he felt obligated, but also because he did desire to thank Fernando for the opportunity to save him: “I was viewing only death and destruction
and could not see the good of any such battle. So I am very happy to be given the opportunity to be able to finally do something besides watch.” The fish then stopped, looked at Fernando, and said, “What are you going to do now? You are miles away from home with an armada badly damaged sailing
away, and you have no place to go? I would offer for you to stay with me but I would have to first suggest you grow some gills.”
Wadsworth with excitement in his voice cut in before Fernando could answer: “I would be happy to fly you to Spain Fernando! I don’t see any reason for Matt to have all the joy in saving your life and I fly off and do nothing.”
Fernando with tears in his little brown eyes said with almost a broken whisper, “I don’t know what to say?” Matt said quietly,
“A ‘yes’ would do.” Fernando looked at his friends and said,
“Then I accept to your offer. To have such fine friends as these is a gift from God.”
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Fernández-Armesto, Felipe. The Spanish Armada. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Johnson, Paul. Elizabeth I; a Biography. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1974. Print.
Lee, Robert E. “The Spanish Armada Overview I.” UW Faculty Web Server. Web. 08 Mar. 2012.<http://faculty.washington.edu/rel2/geog100-UW/Scenarios/The_Spanish_Armada_Overview_I.html>.
Mattingly, Garrett. The Armada. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1959. Print. Simkin, John. “The Spanish Armada.” Spartacus Educational. Web. 19 Feb. 2012. <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TUDarmada.htm>.
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