Smee worked his way down the rigging back to the deck. It was rough, dangerous work in the storm. The wind clutched at him and tried to drag him off, but Smee clung tightly with three limbs at all times, and soon made it to bottom. He was weary. The storm had been on them for hours and showed no signs of abating. He muscles called for him to rest, but he knew the Cap’m was counting on him to do his part.
And after all, his life depended on it.
Smee had no idea how long they sailed. Each minute was its own. His life become concentrated in the one moment. Get the task done. Pull the line, fasten this, secure that. Each moment was a lifetime and a lifetime of moments followed each other in procession. Smee could no longer feel his arms or fingers, numbed from the unceasing work.
It could have been hours or days when the storm finally wore itself out. The cold was left, and a hard wind and stinging rain, but the Fury was no longer in danger of capsizing from minute to minute. Smee took a moment to look around and take stock.
In the storm’s worst moments, he couldn’t see the starboard rail from the port side. Now he could see a little beyond it. It was night, he could see. Which night he still didn’t know. He sat heavily on the deck, exhausted.
“On your feet, men,” the Cap’m shouted. Smee snapped too quickly as he could. He was certain it was considerably slower than it should have been. Apparently, they were not allowed to rest yet.
“The danger’s not over. Get me a new sail on that mast. Bruce, find out where we are and chart a course west.”
Bruce was visibly surprised. “Due west, Cap’m? But that’s just open sea!”
“I know,” was the only response. “It’s also our only hope.”