Telling Tales 60
The man by the fire looked on in admiration as the man at the prow of the flying boat reeled the structure in, arm-length by arm-length, downward toward the beach. At the rear of the craft, his companion banged a series wooden squares, each of which lessened the ship’s riotous noise. As she struck the squares, he saw that wide, gaping square holes in the side and the bottom of the boat slammed shut with a WHOOSH and the boat would sink that much lower toward the waves.
The young man pulled on the rope, fastened at the beach-side to what looked like a large tree stump, complete with roots. Three more of the same things hung from the other corners of the boat. Eventually, all of the holes were shut and the surf SPLASHED around them as the boat struck the water. “Amazing!” said the man again. He had seen boats in his day, but never one that flew upon the air, drinking in the air and soaring across the sky. “Fantastic!”
Now that it was closer, he could see that the slats forming the sides were roughly hewn of green lumber. “I’m no carpenter,” he thought, “but even I can recognize a masterpiece when I see one. I bet there’s not a single nail to be had.”
The young man who leapt out of the front was handsome, in a pale sort of way. Even tanned as he was under the near sun at the heights they must be flying, the man by the fire recognized a faded northerner when he saw one. His dark hair was long and roughly cut. His hands were broad, calloused yellow and scarred white, and his clothing bore the hallmarks of having been fine and durable, once upon a time. The woman at the rear of the craft was his equal in worn dress and able deed, for she leapt into the water on the other side of the boat and each of them took one of the massive ropes attached to the tree stumps, and together they heaved the boat up the shore far enough where it was not likely to be pulled back out to sea.
They spared the man a polite greeting, then the young woman clambered back to the deck and the young man picked up one of the two anchors on the beach. He was quite strong, if the size of that whorled and polished wood was any gauge. He hefted it over his shoulder and strode toward a tree at the far edge of the shore, where he wrapped the anchor around the trunk once, two, three times. As he returned to the sand to do the same with the second anchor and another tree, the woman was winding some kind of winch, drawing in the two anchors that had fallen from the rear of the craft. Only when the boat was safely moored on the shore did they stop before him.
“Welcome, welcome!” he said. “I’m sure you must be hungry.”
“Well…” said the young woman, another northerner by the look of her, though equally dark from the sun, her long hair pulled back into a long, windswept braid.
“Well…” said the young man.
“Nonsense,” scoffed the man, sitting back down. “I can hear your stomachs from here. There is no standing on ceremony here on this island. It’s just you, me, my net, and the fish. Why don’t you tell me where you come from and where you’re going and where on earth you found that marvelous boat.”