Excerpt from Native Silver


     The lap of calm waves upon the side of the ship was the only sound that starry night. The exhausted crew was asleep below, the sail down, the oars in.
      The glow of my solitary lantern held away the night, but for only the reach of an arm before it was eaten up by the darkness of the measureless ocean.
 It was the thinnest planks of wood beneath my feet—a bit of wood and a handful of nails holding me up from the vastness.
      So quiet.
      The stars told the story. To leeward they were hidden behind a wall of clouds as black as the sea. My ears wrung still from the howl of its winds and the crack of canvas. My hands stung from the pull of the ropes, and my arms and legs were numb from the oars.
      The storm had threatened us most of the day, a slow soaker with big rolling waves. We had nearly made it to the shelter of the coast before we were forced to turn and ride out the dreadful storm. We were off course—somewhere near the shoals and patrolling ships.
Of our sister ship there was no sign.
      A crab swam lazily by on its side—or was it wounded perhaps? I was not sure which.
      The helmsman came up to take his turn on watch, and I went down to find what sleep I could before the dawn.