By: Hope Covey
As dawn approached, Esmeralda made her way down to the docks where the Destiny was anchored. Rough-looking sailors moved about in the early morning, carrying heavy cargo onto the ship. Esmeralda crouched behind a large crate as she watched them.
Suddenly, she felt a strong hand on her shoulder. Esmeralda spun around, finding herself face-to-face with the captain of the Destiny, who she had spoken to the previous night.
“Caspian,” the captain said.
A shiver ran down Esmeralda’s back. The captain looked much more fierce and tough than he had in the shadows last night. His black, greasy hair hung down to his shoulders; he had a scar running across his right cheek; bristly whiskers covered his face; and he smelled wretched, as if he hadn’t had a bath in years. Fastened to his thick belt was a glimmering cutlass.
“Come aboard the Destiny,” he said, motioning to the ship. “She will be your new home for the next few months…” he paused for a moment, “…Caspian.”
Esmeralda nodded, her head pounding. “Yes, Capt’n.”
The captain walked toward the ship with Esmeralda following behind. As the sailors glared at her, Esmeralda’s heart pounded wildly. She kept her hand on her right hip, where she had hidden a sharp dagger underneath her clothes.
“We’ll be sailing along the coast, stopping at ports to drop off most of the cargo. Then we’ll be heading out of this harbour to the high seas. We have some business to do out there.”
What business? Esmeralda wondered. What could they possibly be planning to do in the middle of the ocean?
“Caspian.” The captain interrupted her thoughts as they boarded the ship. “Meet the Destiny.”
Esmeralda had to admit; it was an impressive boat with a polished wooden figurehead on the front of the ship and three large masts and huge sails.
“Capt’n!” one of the sailors called. “The cargo is loaded; we’re ready to go.”
“Then pull in the anchor!” the captain roared.
Six sailors reeled in the heavy iron anchor; the Destiny began to drift away from the dock. The sails were lowered, and they began to sail away. Esmeralda watched land get farther and farther away. Tears welled up in her eyes as she wondered if she would ever see her mother again.
Raucous laughter startled her back to the present. I must find Caspian, she thought determinedly.
“Caspian!” cried the captain.
“Yes, Capt’n?” Esmeralda answered quickly.
“I want you to swab the decks.”
“You’ll find a mop and bucket down there, first door on the left.” He pointed to a door that lead down to the crew’s quarters, captain’s cabin, kitchen and lavatory. “And make it snappy!”Esmeralda hurried below the deck, down the small stairwell. She opened the door of the little supply closet and retrieved the mop and bucket. As she shut the door, Esmeralda dashed up the steps to the main deck and began to mop the floors.
As afternoon approached, the Destiny sailed out of the harbour and into the ocean.
“Salted pork and biscuits!” one short, mean-looking sailor shouted at Esmeralda. “You want some?”
“Here!” he tossed her a cloth napkin with her meal wrapped in it.
Esmeralda moved away from the crowd of sailors who were swarming around the man passing out food. She sat down in a small space between two barrels, away from all the noise, and began to eat her small meal. The food tasted plain and a bit stale, but Esmeralda was hungry and devoured it quickly.
Esmeralda sat in silence, staring at the dark thunderclouds forming west of the ship. A storm could mean they’d be delayed several hours, or days, if they were thrown off course. Lightening flashed in the distance; thunder boomed a moment later.
“Caspian!” the captain bellowed. “Caspian!”
Esmeralda quickly dashed to where the captain was standing at the bow of the ship.
“I want you to assist Jackson and Hank in getting the remaining crates and barrels into the cargo hole. Looks like we’ve got a storm heading this way.”
Esmeralda nodded. Jackson and Hank each picked up a barrel and carefully transported them to the cargo hole. Esmeralda tried to push a heavy wooden crate, but it wouldn’t budge. A very young sailor sauntered up to her. He had to be at least sixteen or seventeen, dark-haired, and brown-eyed. He was wearing a filthy shirt tucked into a pair of grimy pants. He stared down at Esmeralda, watching her struggle.
“I- can- do it- myself,” she grunted.
“You the new cabin boy?” he asked.
“Uh-huh.” Esmeralda gave up trying and stood up to her full height. She was slightly taller than the other boy.
“What’s your name?” he asked, stepping over the crate to help her.
Esmeralda was silent. She didn’t want to reveal anything else about herself, fearing that Asher would find out she wasn’t really who she said she was.
Asher pushed the crate to the edge of the cargo hole, and bent over and shouted down to Hank and Jackson,
“Another crate up here for you to take down.”
Esmeralda felt a raindrop splatter on her arm. Thunderclouds were covering the sky as far as she could see. Rain began to quickly fall from the sky, and the waves began to get violent and rough. The crew rushed about, tying up ropes and putting away the remaining cargo. The waves grew taller and beat against the side of the Destiny. Esmeralda grabbed the rail and held onto it tightly, her face pale with fear. The ship rose and fell; the motion made Esmeralda feel nauseous. Her head began to spin, and the next few seconds were only a blur. She was fighting to stay conscious.
“The Destiny has sprung a leak!” somebody shouted. “Abandon ship!”Then Esmeralda blacked out....
(Karalyn, you may start Chapter Four when ready)