Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Enemy of the Gods 30

Some days later they set sail on a merchant ship bound for Joppa. A few other passengers rode with them: A Nabataean trader who liked to talk of how much wealth he had back home, a trio of Jewish men who stood out by the tassels on their robes, and an official from Rome who made great effort to ignore everyone but the captain. Nicholas and his uncle passed the days talking of the sights they might see in Palestina. His uncle carried their money in a leather pouch about his neck and it worried Nicholas. The Nabataean seemed friendly enough, chatting about the sights he’d seen in Palestina, but the Jews drew his suspicion. They kept only to themselves and when he tried to pick up a conversation with them, they said, “We’d prefer you left us alone.” More than once he caught them eyeing his uncle. He couldn’t tell if they were glaring at his robe, white with a red fringe, which could have identified him as a Christiani overseer; or if they were gazing at his money pouch. He tried passing on his father’s advice to not be so conspicuous in carrying the money, but his uncle refused, insisting it was safest about his neck.

Early on the third day, the captain informed them that he expected to make it to port the next day, but just as the sun was starting to warm the deck, the wind began to whip up and dark clouds rolled in to cover the sun. Soon, rain poured down and the sailors directed the seven passengers beneath the deck as they scurried to adjust the sails against the unexpected storm. The men spread out below, grouping in their own corners.

For hours, the waves rocked the ship and rain hissed across the deck above. Old Nicholas began to feel sick from the motion. Young Nicholas had him crouch down against a bulwark and close his eyes. He felt a bit queasy himself. He’d seen some rough seas in the last few years, but not closed up below deck. He wished he could go up into the rain where at least he could breathe fresh air and see the next wave coming, but he could not leave his uncle sick, especially not with the money pouch.

The captain came down and announced, “The winds are too strong. We will have to let them drive us where they may. They appear to be from the north, so that should bring us to port in Egypt where we can sit it out.”

As the captain left, Young Nicholas sighed. “So much for making Joppa on the morrow.”

Old Nicholas muttered with closed eyes, “We can pray.”

Click here to go to beginning of the book

No comments: