Chapter Thirty- Six
I dried my clothes near the bonfire which the old man had made. Trembling, I sat behind him, at last embracing the warmth of the raging fire.
“So, you will just sit behind me the whole way?” The old man asked.
“I don’t want you to see my face,”
“Is it ugly?” The old man attempted to turn his head towards me.
“Turn your gaze forward!” I angrily exclaimed, pressing my spyglass against his head.
“Ok, ok! I won’t look, but are you not wearing a mask? Every thief should have one.”
“I am not a thief- I simply asked for a ride to the nearest po-“
“Yes, yes, of course, but you hide. You hide behind me, which means that you hide something?”
I stayed silent for a moment, adjusting my spyglass, whilst gazing at the crackling fire over the old man’s shoulder.
“You were right, I hide my hideous face from you. I am ashamed of it,”
“Oh, don’t mind young man, I’m used to seeing-“
As the man turned, I quickly rested my spyglass back on his head, silencing him instantly. This silence lasted for quite some time, before the old man at last, broke his reticence.
“What are you running from?”
“What?” I uttered in confusion.
“What- are you running from?”
I scooted a bit to the right, to catch more heat from the fire. “What would make you think I am running from something?”
“Your voice,” the old man calmly answered, “it sounds- tired.”
His words had that wisdom which many elders possessed. His faint smile and wrinkled eyes made it seem as if he had never felt distress, or any form of bewilderment.
“The hour is late; I just need some shut eye-“
“No- it’s not that kind of tiredness; yours is different.” the old man interrupted.
“Oh, really?” I sarcastically replied.
“What is your name?” the old man asked as he poked the fire.
I halted for a moment, contemplating whether I should tell him.
“Peter…” I stuttered.
“Just Peter?” The old man asked with a smirk.
“Yes,” tripping over my words, I murmured, “no last name.”
“That’s odd, people usually have last names.”
“Well, I don’t!” I raised my voice with irritation.
“Ok, ok, have it your way, Peter.” The old man lay on his side and covered himself with a shabby blanket.
I gazed down at the old man, picking at the spyglass and listening to the waves crash against the rock, gazing at the mist as it sparkled in the star filled sky.
“And your name?” I inquired.
The old man stayed silent before faintly uttering through his cover. “Peter.”
To this, I sighed and lay down, gazing up at the sky, peering through the spyglass at the clusters of stars.
I had no urge to dream this time. Assessing my current predicament, I should have wanted to dream(,) and daze off into those green, flower filled pastures, but I did not feel like it. I only wanted to gaze at the sky and listen to the fire crackle. I only wanted to simply empty my mind.
The following morning, we continued to ride toward the port. The path was heavily rutted, and the carriage shook unmercifully. One of the barrels persistently slid toward me and I had to hold it with my leg, constantly pushing it back in its place.
“Having some trouble back there?” Peter asked.
“I’m fine, you just keep your eyes on the road.”
Peter stayed silent then and I once again pushed the barrel back and sighed in discomfort.
“Are you an explorer?” Peter inquired, breaking the silence.
“No,” I answered
“So, you live here?”
I exhaled and pushed the barrel once more, wedging it in between the other two.
“I hear by your accent that you are not from here.” Peter added.
“Well, good for you.” I angrily replied.
Peter leaned on his seat and turned his horses to the right.
“To what land are you sailing?”
I halted for a moment, before answering. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” Peter asked in confusion.
“What if I don’t want to tell you?”
“Then you could refuse or tell me it was none of my business.”
“If you were polite, you would have asked for a ride.” Peter smirked.
His words silenced me for a while, but not for long.
“I don’t trust you.”
“In this land, trusting a stranger might save your life.” Peter argued.
“Well, where I come from, trusting strangers could cost you your life.”
“Maybe the problem is with the people,” Peter cackled. “Maybe your mistrust of people is the issue, not the people themselves.”
“I find that hard to believe.”
“Why so?” Peter asked.
“It’s in the nature of people to manipulate and take advantage of the good in other people.”
Peter smiled, as if he had predicted my answer.
“You know, I lived my whole life believing in that. Especially when my son left home.”
I sighed and lay back against the barrels as Peter’s words went through one ear and came out the other.
“When my son went away, I was left alone in the house, just me and my old horse Patrick-“
“Why did he leave?” I asked with little enthusiasm.
“Your son, why did he leave?”
Peter’s faint smile left him, as he bowed his head and answered.
“He was a drunk and made the mistakes that drunks make.”
“That mistake being?”
“A drunken mistake.” Peter deflected.
“Perhaps you’re better off without him.” I suggested.
“Oh, I said the same thing. I hated him for his deeds, until he came back-“
“He had a family; a wife and two beautiful children,” Peter hesitated, “and I closed the door in his face.”
“Why?” I asked, utterly puzzled.
“It was pride. I had to be right even when the world screamed that I was wrong.”
I stayed silent, staring through the mold-covered barrels.
“I regretted my actions, and changed, but no matter how hard I tried he never spoke to me.” Peter smiled as he stared at the town.
“Is that the port?” I asked, whilst standing up to take a better view.
“It is.” Peter cheerfully answered.
Battling my pride, I stood behind Peter with awkward silence.
“I’m sorry about your son.” I offered, bowing my head.
“We learn from our mistakes.” Peter answered with a sad smile.
As we entered the heart of this seaside town, I looked at the many grand ships which anchored at the bay.
“Which one sails to the new world?” I asked.
“Oh, I think it’s that big one, next to the steamship.” Peter pointed.
Quickly I turned to exit the carriage, but then halted. Closing my eyes and clenching my teeth I turned my head towards Peter and swallowed my pride.
“Do you need- anything, money, food-? “
“No,” Peter cackled, “Go ahead, young man. Sail while the sun is still high.”
As I jumped out of the carriage, Peter quickly rode away.
The town was quite eccentric, with a grand market in the middle. The town smelled like salt and there were the remains of fish strewn throughout the streets.
Approaching the ship which Peter had pointed out to me, I hesitated to board.
The crew of the ship hastily rushed past me with wooden boxes and crates. I firmly gripped my satchel and gazed up at the ship’s colossal sails. Sighing in relief, I made my way up the wooden ship’s ramp.
The small town began to fade as the ship transported me away. All the old memories came rushing back to me in a great wave. My chest felt tight. Ignoring my unwanted emotions, I turned my back and entered the captains chamber.