Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)
(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)
Book Three, Chapter Three, Part Seven
Jonathan thought he couldn’t run anymore, and was about to collapse on the rocky beach if it hadn’t been for Maestyg grabbing his arm and helping to support him as he ran. Jonathan’s backpack was heavily laden with smoked fish, water flasks, and gold and silver coins, while his footsteps were uncertain on the slippery rocks and pebbles. His strength was zapped from spending days on reduced rations on the dark staircase, and from their having already traveled for hours at this point. Maestyg’s encouragement fueled Jonathan’s second wind though, and he somehow found a way to keep going.
The sailboats weren’t far off now, and he was able to count nine of them in a row on the beach as they approached. Each was nosed into the beach with its anchor extended in front to catch on the rocks, with some 20 feet or so separating each boat in the line. These single-masted sailboats were constructed of wooden planked hulls, open from bow to stern, with all the framing boards plainly visible inside each hull. Their lowered sails were loosely gathered, and their dual external centerboards were pulled above the waterline while beached. Each boat had what looked to be five sets of oars tucked away inside the approximately 25 foot long hulls.
The closer they got to the boats, the larger the sailboats loomed ahead on the beach. These weren’t some novice class training sailboats, but single-masted longboats, big enough to carry about 15 men each, with either one or two men manning each set of oars. Maestyg realized that there was no way that Jonathan could maneuver such a boat by himself, but it was their only hope. Without managing to somehow sail away from the island, there was nothing to prevent the guards from capturing him and taking him deep inside the fortress – and if that were to happen, all hope would vanish of ever seeing him again…
As they closed in on the line of beached sailboats, Maestyg’s invisible tribe pulled ahead of where Jonathan and Maestyg were now lagging behind, with only Sammy able to maintain their pace up the beach. The only way Jonathan even knew the tribe was still with them, was because he could see the stones on the beach moving ahead of them from each member of the tribe’s invisible footsteps pushing against them, along with their huffing and puffing from the exertion of their efforts of carrying the provisions. At this point, there were still no guards to be seen, but it wasn’t yet plain to them what the boy and his dog were after, was to take one of their sailboats to escape from the island. Once that point was made clear, the guards were bound to come racing out of their tunnels to prevent them from leaving.
The tribe ahead acted in unison, as Jonathan saw their combined efforts in the shifting rocks around the first sailboat in the line as he and Maestyg pulled up the rear. The anchor was first placed into the bow, while the hull was pushed back into the sea with some effort. Once the hull was floating, the sounds of the provisions being placed into it were clearly heard. The hull sank a little lower into the water from the bags of cargo loaded into it, which became visible again once positioned in the hull. Invisible hands began unfurling the main and jib sails, and hoisting them up the single spar to the top – each sail completely limp in the still air. Still others were pushing the bow around to point out to sea, while Maestyg picked up Sammy and placed him into the boat’s hull at the stern saying, “Climb aboard and take the middle set of oars, Jonathan, and start rowing for all you’re worth – the guards are running onto the beach!”