a Marianna, Epilogue of Lee A. Wood s Novel, Fero

Copyrite `95.

SafeSurf Rated Adults Only

FERO

A novel
by
LEE A. WOOD

* * * * * * * * * *

Ship at sea, in a storm, breaking up
Author's note: Picture, courtesy of `FLORIDA'S FABULOUS TREASURES'

* EPILOGUE *

A sideways gust of wind, despite the efforts of the two helmsmen manning the tiller, caused the vessel to veer across the face of the wave. The Marianna heeled over so far that the keel nearly came out of the water.

Everyone on board was thrown across whichever deck they were on. Two members of the crew on the main deck went overboard. One had nothing to hang onto and the other, although able to grab a marlin spike as he went over the side, was unable to retain his grip. Neither had very far to fall before they hit the surface of the water.

The first began choking on a mouthful of saltwater and slipped below the surface forever. The other, having experienced falling overboard before, began to immediately swim towards the ship. As the ship began to right itself a small surge of water pushed him up the side and he was able to grasp the brail from the foresail.

A cross wave washed over the ship filling the main sail with water instead of wind and the ship started to settle back on her side.

A sailor, clinging for his life to the mainyard managed to remove a dirk from his belt and began to cut through the vang at the end. The weight of the water parted the rope before he was all the way through and the yard arm twisted, spilling the water from the sail. The falling water swept away the sailor who was still clinging to the brail.

Though the main course was now empty the weight of the water in the upper sails was too much for the mast. The sudden twist of the yard caused the mast, with a report like thunder, to shatter, near the deck.

The loss of the top weight allowed the valiant ship to begin to right herself. The broken mast and its yard arms were being whipped, by the wind, against the other masts, tearing the sails and breaking their yardarms.

Clinging desperately, crew members, with knives and hatchets, tried to crawl along the still steeply canting deck to cut the brails that held the broken mast hostage. The wind, while hampering, was also helping them as it tore loose some lines and broke others. One rope, as it was being cut, parted and, with a snap like a bullwhip, cracked back, nearly decapitating the sailor who had been cutting it.

Putting both hands to the slash that appeared across his face he let go of his precarious hold and was immediately blown overboard by the fierce wind.

The ship had slowly climbed to the crest of a huge wave and was open to the tempest. Within seconds the few ropes that still held the main mast parted and the structure disappeared over the bow, taking with it the foremast and its sails.

Most of the brails that held the mizzen mast were broken and the mast was twisting badly. The ship was still listing badly to port as the cargo in the holds had shifted. Water was pouring in through the hole in the deck where the foremast had been.

The captain knew that his ship would never make it up the next hill of water. As the Marianna began to glide down to the bottom of the trough he gave orders to abandon ship. With the high walls of water protecting them from the worst of the winds, they would attempt to get the ship's boats over the leeward side.

Some of the crew tried to climb the deck to the starboard boats. Others took the easier route and slid to the one remaining boat on the port side.

No sooner had they lowered it to the water than the wind smashed it to matchsticks against the hull of the Marianna.

Two boats remained, on the starboard side. While one was being lowered, before boarding, the other was being filled before being lowered.

The boat closest to the main cabin was easiest to get to and was quickly lowered over the side. It was just as quickly filled. Sailors that were already on deck climbed into it as soon as they had it lowered. The remaining seats were also taken up with sailors as they were able to get across the steeply canting deck easier than inexperienced passengers.

A surge of water lifted the boat. As the lines went slack the sailors unhooked the blocks from the bow and stern. The same surge carried the boat away from the side of the Marianna.

The Captain gave orders that the remaining boat was to be reserved for women and children. This wasn't asking a lot as there were very few passengers aboard. As the Marianna took on more water, and settled deeper into the sea, the deck became more level making it easier for people to get to the forward boat.

Sailors taking the outside seats to man the oars helped the lady passengers in. The last seat was taken by a man who drew a pistol and forced his way aboard. Threatening the sailors with his weapon he demanded that they shove off.

Trevor, bracing himself with one hand on the railing, grasped the man by the throat. "The Captain said this boat is for women and children". To his surprise the man swung the pistol and at point blank range, fired, "She's not a woman. She's a nigger".

Trevor had expected the move but not the shot. Staggered by the bullet entering his abdomen below the rib cage he maintained his hold on the man's throat. Regaining his balance, he lifted the man out of the boat and threw him overboard. Leaning back he guided Liza over the side and into the seat. A sailor handed Liza the baby.

Trevor removed his heavy wool coat, wrapping it around Liza's shoulders and over the baby. Ripping open his shirt, which was crimson from the wound in his side, he removed his money belt and handed it to Liza. He tried to tell her that it was for the baby but the wind whipped his words away.

In unison the Captain, at the stern of the boat, and a sailor, at the bow, with cutlasses, sliced the ropes holding the boat as a surge pulled it away from the side. Within minutes the sailors had their oars locked and were pulling away from the ship.

The two ship's boats slowly pulled up the face of the next wave as the Marianna settled deeper. With the extra weight, of water, in her holds, the one remaining mast, with its tattered sail, was unable to move her up the rising wall of sea.

Staggering from the wind, and his wound, Trevor managed to make it back to the cabin without going overboard. His side was numb and the pain hadn't reached his brain yet but he felt cold without his coat. Inside the cabin he dug out the huge buffalo coat that he had brought with him then staggered back to the deck.

The two ship's boats topped the crest and slid down into the next trough. As they were gliding down the back of the wave, the sailors beginning to erect sails, the face of the wave was passing over the Marianna, ending her valiant effort to stay afloat.

THE END

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