Panther and Topcat had some lovely hats from their friend Annette the hat maker. After they had rescued her from the mob in Paris in 1793 and set her up in a hat shop in Montreal; she had prospered greatly, by 1807 she had several hat shops and had branched off to making clothing. Topcat decided that he would sail back in time once more to see her and outfit his crew members with new uniforms.
Annette was quite happy to see them for her it had been almost 14 years. She could not comprehend that for the crew it was only a matter of months.
Topcat explained what he wanted to Annette. She replied that she would make the hats and uniforms for them for free if they would bring back her wayward husband Pierre De Rosia (she had married her second cousin who had the same surname.) Pierre had gone to New Orleans several months before to buy cotton needed for their business and he had not returned. "He is worthless and shiftless, but I love him." Annette said. Her cat Duchat accompanied the Catavenger.

Commander Snowball

The crew set sail down the coast running the American flag up the flagpole. They had been previously flying the Union Jack . Using false colors is an old pirate trick and one thats a hanging offense in most times and places.
The Catavenger had not gone very far before two British warships sailed up beside it. They hailed the Catavenger and ordered it to lower its masts and receive a boarding party.
"We are flying American colors. Why do they want to board us - there is no war between America and England now is there?" commander Snowball asked.
"Press gangs, they want to take our crew." Topcat replied. It was common practice for the British warships in that day an age to send out press gangs and shanghai sailors right in American territorial waters.
"And they call us pirates!" Panther commented in anger.
Topcat ordered the stars and bars lowered and his own black flag raised. Instead of backing off the ships sailed closer. They were soon joined by yet another ship. We were surrounded, through his spyglass Captain Topcat could see the commodore of the ships order the cannons to get ready to fire. I the mere human known as Shel , the cat's butler was hiding below deck peeking out a porthole quivering in fear the Catavenger was outnumbered three to one we seemed doomed!

Firstmate Panther

The Commodore started to give the order to fire and got smaller and smaller until he disappeared. I then looked at the other ships; one by one the officers on them got smaller. Without their direction the crews gave up. I was still astounded, (my usual state ) when Panther entered carrying a glass jar containing tiny figures. Topcat followed grinning.
"I thought you had returned that shrinking ray?" I asked in confusion while looking at the figures in the jar. "We did," Captain Topcat replied. "However Spott liked it so much he studied it and took pictures before we took it back and he made his own. It's not as small and has a few bugs, but it works."
"One of the bugs;" Topcat said laughing and pointing at the jar, "is that, unlike the original the effect wears off." "That means that you can't keep them as pets Shel," Panther added.
The British officers were let out of the jar and began to grow before our eyes. They started to protest their treatment but something about the glint in Captain Topcat's one green eye stopped them. The officers and crew were set off on a deserted bit of coastline. Many of the crew members thanked Topcat for releasing them for they hated the harsh discipline of the British ships. Prize crews were put aboard the captured ships. The Catavenger now followed by Topcat's newly acquired little fleet sailed once more.
DuChat said that he knew someone in the area of New Orleans where they could sell the ships. The Catavenger followed by it's little fleet sailed to Grande Terre, an island in Barataria Bay where they meet that infamous pirate Jean Lafitte. "Remember," DuChat said "he prefers to be called a privateer not a pirate!"
To that Topcat replied, "don't we all?"
Once on the island Lafitte greated Topcat and company as old friends, although they had never met their reputation had preceded them. Topcat was in a hurry to dispose of the British ships and gave LaFitte a good deal in their purchase. This put the corsair captain LaFitte in an expansive mood and thus later over drinks (Catnip tea for Topcat). He told Topcat, Pierre was with; "that fool Aaron Burr."
Topcat gave Lafitte some advice. "You have a good thing going. You and I both know nothing good lasts forever though. If you ever need a new base of operations you may wish to try Galveston Island I don't think anyone will bug you there for awhile."
Topcat and company begged off staying the night for the chase was now on. They were after Aaron Burr. The captain Topcat asked around and was told he should look for Burr in Alabama. Alabama however is a big place. What few clues the Catavenger crew had seemed to run out soon as did the navigatable waterways.

Topcat hard at work

Soon they found themselves becalmed in a lagoon. A very large tree lizard called to them. "Hey what are you cats looking for?"
"We are looking for Aaron Burr and company." Topcat called over.
"Oh that is easy, I will tell you but I do have one condition. No I do not want your treasure." He said seeing Panther's venomous look. "It is quite simple, I am sick of this swamp and being teased by the alligators. I wish to join your crew." Topcat tried not to show it but he was delighted. The Catavenger is always looking for new crew. So the large lizard introduced himself as Paco and immediately joined them, (lizards travel light.)
Paco urged them to leave the ship since Burr and company were only a few miles from away having passed the lizard only a short while before. "We better hurry though, there has been a patrol looking for them." The green one said. Topcat, Panther, commander Snowball along with Duchat and a few crew members thus ran through the swamplands following Paco the lizard.

/ Topcat by the fire light

The intrepid cats and their new reptilian friend caught up with Burr's small party just as they were setting up camp. They could immediately see that Pierre was in a daze. "Just follow my cues then grab him." Topcat said. The cats asked if they could share the campfire, as they talked Topcat became more and more insulting to Burr. Aaron Burr was soon livid with rage. "I believe you are trying to provoke me into a duel! If I was'nt such an old man I do believe I would challenge you to one!" He shouted at Topcat.
"I am an old cat myself but not a coward such as you seem to be." The cat captain retorted. "But I do still have cat reflexes which would prevent you from back shooting me like you did Hamilton. Not only are you a coward but you are a landsman and a witch, You bewitch poor fools such as Pierre."
"You go to far you ruffian alleycat! I will challenge you. As soon as it is morning and light enough to shoot then we may precede!" The former Vice President Burr said.
"I accept," Topcat said. "The challenged has the right to choose his own weapon. I choose swords. We can fight by firelight right here right now. If you haven't a sword of your own you may borrow one from one of my crew members." Captain Topcat drew his own sword and did not really give Burr the chance to back down. Topcat was in his rights, the Code Duello does stipulate that the challenged party has the choice of weapons. Indeed it was his entire strategy to provoke Burr into making the challenge. Although Topcat is a excellent pistol shot, his preferred weapon is the sword.
Given no choice Burr took up a sword and wildly charged Topcat. Topcat easily ducked the clumsy blow, feinted, twisted around and caught the edge of Burr's sword in such a way that it popped out of his hands. Before Burr could even react Topcat ran arouand and hit him a mighty blow with the flat of his sword across his backside.
"That's for Alexander," Topcat said. Burr went down stunned face first onto the ground. Seeing this the Catavenger crew quickly grabbed Pierre and joined by Topcat and Paco the lizard they left the campsite fading into the darkness and returned to the Catavenger. The soldiers from Fort Stoddard found Burr the next day still lying on his face in the dust. They neglected to see the ten dollar bill Captain Topcat had left there.
Once away from Burr's influence Pierre quickly regained his senses. They made a brief stop in Louisiana to conduct the cotton buying which was the point of Pierre's original trip there, (before he got caught up in Burr's mad schemes,) the Brigantine Catavenger then sailed back to Annette, the cat's friend with a load of cotton, (paid for by the sale of the captured ships since Pierre had lost the money he was supposed to use for its purchase.) They delivered the cotton and the wayward Pierre and in return received hats and uniforms for all the crew. Annette was so confident that they would succeed in returning Pierre that she had most of the uniforms already made. She did have to make a special one for the crew's new found green friend, the lizard Paco.
"All's well that ends well." I said, showing the story I had typed up to some of the crew.
"It would be, Shel, except Snowball seems upset." Panther said. "Why is that my little friend?" Shel continued turning to Snowball for the answer.

"I am sure you remember when we went back to Louisiana, we stopped to fish by the Bowie farm. That nice little boy Jimmy lent us the poles. I think when I skinned the fish we caught I lost my new knife." Snowball replied. "I know I can get another knife. It's just that Jimmy is a little kid. I hope he does'nt hurt himself or someone if he found that big knife." "Oh I shouldn't worry, he is a tough frontier boy, probably he has been around knives." Paco the lizard said. Panther nodded in agreement. Of course I, the human called Shel had to naively add my two cents worth and say. "I am sure it will really make no difference if Jim Bowie found that knife . . . "

Note: Paco the lizard and and his friend the wonder kitty have since moved on to join the crew of two great children.

Sail on to the next tale - HUNGRY HEARTS ( & TUMMIES )

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