Howell Davis was the gentleman pirate. A Welshman during the Golden Age, he went on the account in 1718 off the coast of Africa. He made for New Providence, but by then Woodes Rogers had cleaned up the place. He signed aboard Rogers' own Buck and led a mutiny. Davis soon established his modus operandi, one not of cannon fire but of craft and wile. Working the rich waters off of Africa, Davis would pose as a privateer or a pirate hunter, work quickly into the good graces of a local governor, and then give the word to his waiting crew to pillage and plunder. This approach worked well for some time. Davis gained larger and larger ships and sailed for a while with the French pirate La Bouche. Unfortunately, after a while Davis' reputation preceded him. When Davis reached Príncipe, the trap had been set. Davis and a group of his men were ambushed. Davis' protegee, the perhaps even more famous Bartholomew Roberts, avenged his fallen captain by bombarding the town.
Howell Davis was a Maine Coon. In late July 2007, Zanne learned from her job that "Howie" had been left after a move and was about to be turned into a barn cat with no people. Being cat people, we couldn't let that happen. So we brought him into our house, and Zanne discovered Howell Davis as a pirate and gave him his new name. Like all cats, he gained names over time. He was the "Commodore." He was "Mr. Moisty," because when he was getting petted (or, rather, jowled) and feeling loved he would start drooling. He was also sometimes, simply, "The Dude."
Howell was with us for what might best be called an easy retirement. By story, he was once a great koi hunter. In our house, Howell mostly kept to himself, or rather to us, in the upstairs bedroom. For a long time his favorite thing was "chest:" When I got in bed, I would lay on my back, and he would climb aboard for more jowl rubbing, purring until I fell off to sleep. But he was old. After a while, it became very apparent that he had gone blind. He still got around and started living more by touch and sound; he developed a close relationship with my subwoofer. After a few rather scary episodes, we took him to the vet, and he was diagnosed with diabetes. Zanne, at home with Howell, gave and received an incredible amount of love with The Dude. He was big, curly, soft, and utterly...gentle. It is hard to put into words. Howie was the most big-hearted cat I have ever known.
At 5:30 this morning, we found Howie lying on the floor, half in the bathroom, doing little more than breathing hard. We brought him onto the bed and held him until the end. We wrapped him in a blanket, and Zanne held him as I dug a grave in the backyard. He was laid to rest with roses, my old Lakota medicine bundle, and a single doubloon.
Here's a shot of rum and a cup of tears for the greatest pirate I have ever known, and one of my dearest friends.