Storytime with Stidmama

Chapter Fifty Six

Written offline on 30 September, 2006

It wasn't long before the sounds of frantic splashing had died down, and Pancho and Sebastian had found their way closer to those who remained.

Of the bosun and his whip, there was no sign. Nor of the large man who had helped capture Sebastian. The Captain had managed to float (of course) and the first mate, and several others... they clustered together as the water calmed, and birds began to fly overhead again. The ship's dog paddled up, exhausted, and was pushed onto the hatch.

A bit of seaweed drifted by, then a bit of wood, and then a shoal of minnows sparkled and chased around them near their knees. A large tortoise swam past, barnacles on its flippers, ignoring the strange and sad assemblage of scrap lumber and men. And a gull landed with a splash behind Sebastian.

The dog barked and scared it further away, but it kept circling, and soon the men were laughing that it seemed to be Sebastian's personal attendant.

The sky was turning to pink as the sound of waves lapping caught Pancho's attention.

“Hey!” shouted Pancho, “over there! Over there, waves on shore!”

Hopefully, then ecstatically, the men began to kick toward the sound.

The gull paddled nearby and Sebastian felt a stone under foot. One by one, the men got a foothold and lurched toward the beach.

And they were ashore.

The sky was dark red and they were chilled, but they were ashore. Soon a pile of wood was blocking the breeze off the ocean, and the men were sheltering as best they could in their wet clothes.

The gull perched on a boulder at the water's edge and stared fitfully out to sea as the men fell asleep.

Sebastian was rocking back and forth, back and forth. The poop deck under him rolling gently with the surge of the ocean. It was cold, the breeze was pushing faster than the sails could carry the ship and he struggled to sit up, to change position. He pulled his jacket tighter around him and huddled by the pile of anchor rope.

The ship's dog lay at his side, dreaming, his paws twitching and little noises huffing out as he ran over fields, chasing not rats, but rabbits.

Pancho was at home, he could hear his mother in the kitchen, and smelled the corn pancakes on the stone griddle. The rooster was crowing, and he snuggled down in the cot, pulling the blanket under his chin.

The captain was sitting at a table by a roaring fire, toasting the wench on his lap sloppily... ale running down his arm as he waved the flagon back and forth.

And it was morning.

The dog was sniffing around near some beach grasses and the men were walking along the beach when Sebastian sat up, weary and disoriented.

Pancho was knee-deep in the water, trying to catch the crabs that scuttled along just below the foam.

The seagull was on its perch, still watching... when it noticed Sebastian, it lazily lifted off and drifted out to sea.

And a large dark bird flew overhead, following the coast line.

Sebastian looked around and stood up, surveying the situation. The land was wide and flat, with a few trees he didn't recognize at a distance beyond the sea grasses.

He pulled off his jacket and left it lying on the pile on the beach.

The sun was already warm, and he was hungry. It was time to find how he could help.