5 Times Second Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte Addressed Me By Name And Told Me He Was Going To Marry My Mom
by John Hartnell
I recently went on an Arctic expedition with my younger brother aboard the HMS Erebus. It was a lot of fun until I met the crew, and even more fun until I met an untimely end that would baffle scientists, anthropologists, and an overinvested populace. There are a lot of officers on the expedition who lead sledge parties and give orders until you get frozen in the ice and, although most of these high-ranking crewmen are wonderful to interact with-provided you remember your respective ranks! Wouldn't want to be charged with insubordination-as you come face to face with your mortality, there was a Second Lieutenant named Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte who started acting a bit odd throughout the expedition. He would address me by name (far from uncommon!) and tell me about how he was going to marry my mom. He did that five times...
1. The Time Second Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte First Made Eye Contact With Me
A few short days before we left port in Greenhithe, I was boarding HMS Erebus with the other able-bodied seamen, and Second Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte was doing his preprogrammed speech welcoming us aboard. Lt. Le Vesconte said “I sure hope we brought enough snacks!” in a jolly tone, which made us all laugh. Then, he turned and looked me right in the eyes and said, “I’m going to marry your mom, John Jartnell Hartnell.” I had not yet told him my name, nor given him my papers, which made his knowledge of my identity quite jarring. Then, Lt. Le Vesconte leaned in real close to my face, which I’m pretty sure he was not supposed to do, what with decorum and all, and he said, “Call me ‘Mr. Mom,’ John. I’m going to be your mom’s groom at her wedding.” Before he could say anything else, I pushed my way down the hatch to stow my things and hopefully enjoy the magic of HMS Erebus.
2. The Time Second Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte Kept Talking About How Long The Wedding Would Take When He Married My Mom
Being on HMS Erebus was so fun that I decided to enjoy the few hours I had to myself one Sunday afternoon. Technically, that leisure time was to be spent considering Captain Sir John Franklin's earlier sermon about David slaying Goliath, or pursuing other means of Christian self-improvement such as darning my socks or climbing in the rigging. Instead, I was listening to the other ABs talk about Jacko the monkey and her fine set of pants until Second Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte approached me. He started to say, “Commander Fitzjames has a bit of a benjo planned for us tonight” but about halfway through the line he trailed off, turned around, and said, “Welcome back, John. I’m going to marry your widowed mom and the wedding is going to take forever. We will be wed in St. Mary Magdalene Church in Gillingham where you were baptised. Everyone’s going to talk so slow and your mom and I are going to kiss 100 times. Your mom is going to get down on her knees and thank Christ for making her wedding to Erebus's Second Lieutenant, Henry T. D. Le Vesconte take so long.” I tried to tell Lt. Le Vesconte that I didn’t want that to happen, but he appeared to have vanished into thin air, a remarkable feat for a man of his stature.
3. The Time Second Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte Told Me That He Was Going To Wear My Clothes When He Married My Mom
I had decided not to court danger aboard HMS Erebus when I wasn’t working anymore, but then I remembered how much fun I had hanging out with the rest of the crew and went to the galley. I was sitting with Misters Weekes and Morfin, who were discussing woodcarving and John Torrington, who I will admit was beginning to look rather unwell though I do not wish to be uncharitable. I was hoping Second Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte would just eat snacks and be French, but instead, he poked his head through the doorway in the middle of our conversation and said, “Your mom is my fiancée, John. I’m going to wear your shirts and your pants when I marry your mom. I'm even going to wear your brother's shirt overtop your shirt when I wed your mom. Your mom’s going to wear her best dress and we’re going to be bonded eternally in the eyes of Christ. Enjoy the rest of the expedition, John.” After he left, I told the expedition’s commander, Captain Sir John Franklin what had happened. He just said, “that sounds bad.” But he didn’t do anything.
4. The Time Second Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte’s Voice Came Out Of My Brother, Tom
I just couldn’t stay away from causing a ruckus aboard HMS Erebus, so I went exploring the ship. My younger brother, Tom is also on the expedition with me. He mostly babbles about his Arduous Task as an Avatar of the Grim Reaper and the Awful Fate that Shall Befall Us as a Curse For Man's Hubris and the fact of his being handsome. One time, when I was sitting with my brother, Tom, he stopped talking, swivelled to face me, and said in Lt. Le Vesconte’s voice “John, it’s me. It’s Second Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte. I’m going to marry the ever-loving shit out of your widowed mom. Listen. Listen to me, John. Our wedding will not have any refreshments for you. Guests can drink one cup of room-temperature water they must keep in their pants pockets, and will be allowed exactly three gulps of lead-laced veal cutlet tomato. But you will not be allowed to eat or drink anything, even if you try to sneak in a snack or take someone else's pocket water, I will know if you do. Once I marry your mom, I’m going to become a huge part of your life. Have fun on the expedition.” Then my brother Tom’s voice returned to normal and told me to put a thumb in it when I was looking at him oddly. I do not want to attend a wedding where there is no food for me, especially since the fox said it was also going to be very long.
5. The Time A Hallucination Of My Mom Appeared Next To Second Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte
I promised myself I would stop getting into mischief, but shortly after New Years’ Eve in 1846, I found myself very nearly dead and had begun to hallucinate. When I hallucinated Second Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte, he was standing next to a hallucination of my mother as I left her back in Gillingham, which waved and smiled at me as she moved back and forth in repetitious motion. Everything else on the ship stopped, which hadn’t happened before. Granted we were trapped in pack ice off the coast of Beechey Island, but an eerie stillness overcame the ship, time hung in the air as everything came to a halt. The hallucination of Second Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte started saying things like, “Hello, John. Your mom and I are going to be each other’s spouses,” and, “You’ll have to watch me marry your mom through the window of the church because you’re not allowed inside, John. I'm going to make a sign that says 'John Hartnell banned from the marriage of Second Lieutenant Henry Thomas Dundas Le Vesconte and Sarah Hartnell (née Friar)' and the sign will have a very unflattering and but nonetheless recognizable caricature of you below the words.” Then the hallucination of my mom said, “I love marrying Lt. Le Vesconte more than I love having an eldest son!” and then she burst into flames. As my body finally lurched forward on this slow road to death and I floated away from this horrific scene, Lt. Le Vesconte called after me, “I’ll see you and your real mom at the wedding, John!” I tried to call back, “Please don’t do this!” but my voice was drowned out the fact that I was dying and my organs were shutting down