Jonathan’s Wish (An Adventure Novel)
(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)
Book Three, Chapter Four, Part Ten
One never ever knows the moments that really count, until we’ve either seized them or watched helplessly as they sailed past us, and so it was with Maestyg, Jonathan and Sammy. The longboat continued to flounder aimlessly while riding low in the swells and dips of the sea, hidden and disguised within the shadowy troughs of darkened waves – revealing nothing of itself voluntarily to the crew of the tall sailing ship that was rapidly approaching from the southwest, with its sails filled with favorable breezes. Timing is everything, or so the saying goes, but not if time itself is unrecognizable to those who are counting on it, and so it was for the unconscious sailors of the shattered longboat drifting aimlessly within the Trade Winds Current.
Maestyg and Jonathan lay there across their respective benches, comfortably riding the rising and falling swells, completely unaware of their surroundings as if already transformed into the ghosts they had feared to come across. Sammy slept curled up in the ship’s bow as only dogs can, wrapped in dreams of chasing rabbits on the Spencer Family Farm in times that were far better than these. While better off physically than either Maestyg or Jonathan was, even Sammy was beginning to fade away into a shadow of himself. This was as sad an outcome as possible for an adventure that had shown such promise, but one that had not been properly thought through even from the beginning. Yet, when do adventures abide by the desired outcomes of their participants? Never – for adventures pledge their loyalty to only chance, probability and fate…
As the tall sailing ship approached the drifting longboat, this was the moment that would change everything, or nothing at all. The sailing ship was a fast sailing, highly maneuverable, and lightly armed ship of the Corvette Class, riding the strong current and prevailing winds in haste back to its home port of Aberon in the Kingdom of Arwyall, before the expanding ice from the north filled the sea lanes. This was the last overseas run of the trading season for the Wrexham, and Captain Amlwch had dangerously overstayed his return while acquiring his cargo – now having to race back to port, so as to not get trapped in the flows of migrating ice.
If there had been a time to catch the attention of such a magnificent ship it was now, yet Maestyg and Jonathan were oblivious to how near and yet how far away their potential rescue was to them, unable to do anything but fade into the transparency of timeless dreams. The tall ship was almost upon them now, but none of its crew were manning the gunwales or lookout stations for low riding, distressed longboats within the shadows of the troughs and endless swells. In fact, Captain Amlwch and his chief navigator were gathered around the charts spread out over tables below deck in the Captain’s quarters, tracking the speed and timing of their return trip home still some weeks away. They worried about the early arrival of the first great northern storm they had just weathered, and its implications for the early movement of ice into the shipping lanes blocking their transit home.
Perhaps it had been the end of a dream, one where the rabbit had gotten away for the umpteenth time that had roused Sammy, but whatever the cause, he lifted his head and saw the Corvette bearing down on them at a high rate of speed, just off their port side. The tall ship was going to pass by them in its haste within a stone’s throw, yet no one had or would see them wallowing helplessly in the swells, for their attention was focused solely on the first ice of the season. Sammy alerted to the significance of what was passing directly beside them, and began barking as he had never barked before – both as a warning to Maestyg and Jonathan, but also to frighten off what he perceived to be a threat to their survival – for the ship’s wake alone would swamp and sink them at such close quarters.
Neither Maestyg or Jonathan stirred from Sammy’s barking, as they were themselves fading into transparency beyond dreams. Sammy kept up his barking until he had no energy remaining, and collapsed to the bottom of the ship’s hull. It was only afterwards that the First Officer blew his whistle with the signal to slacken the sails, and then turned hard to port circling back towards the sound he heard of a dog barking at sea. Captain Amlwch wondered what madness was occurring topside, and charged up the stairs to confront what was happening as the sails slackened and the Wrexham reversed course. Such a delay could put the entire crew, cargo and ship at risk, for becoming entrapped in the early sea ice would be their demise, and Captain Amlwch was determined to find out what was at the bottom of this outrageous and willful action conducted by his First Officer…
(End of Chapter Four)