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Rolfin's Orb
Book 10 - Argentina – Tanzanite
Chapter 2

         After eating such a big meal, they fell asleep quickly in their cots. None of them felt the waves carry the empty cargo ship out to sea.

          Midnight came and Fiona stirred. Her eyes opened when she felt her stomach lurch. She lay in silence feeling the boat go up and down like a roller coaster ride. That’s odd. Waves this big don’t usually come into the harbor area. She climbed out of bed and staggered to the port hole. Everything was black. Rain pelted against the window. She rubbed it clean with her hand, but still couldn’t see anything. I don’t see the lights in town and I could when I went to bed. When the ship went down into a trough, her stomach tickled. That was not normal. Something’s going on. I’ll go upstairs and find out. She slipped on her clothes and boots and opened the door.  On her tiptoes she moved down the corridor, being tossed to the left and to the right, slamming into the walls. She couldn’t hear the engines running. This is very mysterious. It feels like we’re out on the open sea, yet it’s too quiet. And why would the ship have left dock knowing we were on board.

          Suddenly the engines roared into life. A horn blared and a siren went off, filling the ship with ear piercing screeches. Within seconds Callum, Jimmy and Elspet bounded from their cabins. They saw Fiona standing there completely dressed.

          “What’s going on, Fiona?” Jimmy rushed towards her. “Why is the siren going off? Is there a fire”

          “I don’t know. The ship is rocking back and forth. I’ll go up and talk to the captain. You guys get dressed. You look silly standing there in your underwear.” Fiona chuckled.

          “Yikes!” Callum blushed and then Jimmy and Elspet realized they were half naked and ran back into their cabins, embarrassed.

The only way up was by climbing the white painted metal ladder. Fiona gripped the handrails so tight that her knuckles turned white. The ship’s movement threatened to throw her off at any second. When she reached the top she had to pull herself up onto the next level. Her hands went into icy water. Once she had her balance she noticed water rushing inside through the bottom of the door. That does not look good. What’s with all the water? I’ll go out and have a look. When she pulled the door open, a blast of frigid air rolled in along with a wall of icy salt water, drenching Fiona from head to toe and carrying her across the hold. Amid a cacophony of her own screams, her head knocked on the metal wall and she fell into unconsciousness.

The sea water poured inside until one of the crew, Allinus Cambiera, pushed the door shut and then he spotted Fiona lying on the other side of the room. He struggled through the churning water, picked her up carried her to the closest cabin, the captain’s, and laid her on the bed. He tied a belt around her and ran off to find the doctor. A doctor came and sat with her while Allinus, went in search of Fiona’s friends.

Elspet, Callum and Jimmy met in the corridor. “Where’s Fiona? She was right, there is something going on. We’re moving. You can hear the engine.” Jimmy had to balance himself so he wouldn’t fall.

Just then Allinus slid down the railing of the ladder, stopping in front of them. He mumbled something in Spanish. None of them understood a word he said.  He tried and tried again, but they were dumbfounded. Finally he grabbed Jimmy’s hands and pointed to the ladder.

“He wants us to follow him. He must know where Fiona is.” Jimmy led the way. “Hold on tight. There’s a lot of water on these metal rungs. They’re very slippery.”

When they reached the next level they stood and gawked. Freezing sea water rushed about their ankles. “This isn’t supposed to happen, is it, Jimmy? Ships this big aren’t supposed to be full of water, are they?” Elspet grabbed his arm and held on as the sloshing water spilled from side to side with the rolling of the ship. “My feet are frozen and my shoes are drenched. They’ll never be dry again.”

“Let’s follow this man and see if we can find Fiona.” Jimmy pulled Elspet and Callum along. “Hold onto my waist.” The boat continued to roll violently, making it impossible to walk without holding onto a railing on the wall.

Allinus threw the captain’s door open and the others pushed their way inside. He closed the door behind him to keep the warmth in.

“Fiona!” Elspet stepped over to her. “Fiona, wake up. What happened to her? Is she alive?”

“At least someone put some dry clothes on her. Where did they come from?” Callum touched the pants. He saw her wet clothes, shoes and socks piled on the ground at the bottom of the bunk.

“One of the crewmen is a small man. We borrowed some of his clothes,” Allinus said.

The door opened and the captain stepped into the tiny cabin. “What seems to be the problem?”

“Oh good, you speak English. This is my friend, Fiona. What happened to her?” Elspet stood and faced the uniformed man.

“I am Captain Vito Navarro. The Lucky Lady is my ship.” He rambled in Spanish to Allinus, who gestured with his hands as he spoke frantically. “My crewman tells me the young lady opened one of the outer doors. For your future information, only crew members are allowed such tasks. The doors were closed for a reason. You see, a strange incident has developed. We were docked in Ushuaia, planning to load the ship with cargo in the morning. Everyone was asleep, preparing for the busy morning. I cannot explain what has happened, but somehow the anchor was raised and we floated out of the harbor into the sea. This has never happened before and I find it most unusual and disturbing. I suspect sabotage. Did one of you touch anything up top in the control room?”

Jimmy spoke for the others. “We went straight to bed after supper. I doubt if any of us know where the control room of a ship is. I, for one, have no idea.”

“We wouldn’t know how to use any of the controls anyway. We’re just kids and Jimmy has never been on a ship like this before,” Elspet said, angry and insulted at being suspected.

“I had to ask, you understand. We are in a rather precarious position at this time. We are currently nearing Cape Horn.”

“Cape Horn? We can’t do that! We can’t go there!” Elspet shrieked. “Everybody’s ships sink when they go around Cape Horn. We’ll die.”

“Young lady, not all ships sink. I’ve passed around Cape Horn many times and as you can see, I am still here. Sailors have been doing it for hundreds of years. I must admit, however, that we are in a storm with treacherous waves. In all my years of being a captain, I’ve never seen waves of this size. All of my crew is fighting to regain control of the ship. It is a difficult situation. We will head back to Ushuaia as soon as we can. I think it is best if you all go back to your cabins.” Captain Navarro turned to leave and stopped. “I’m sorry for the danger I have put you in. I will get to the bottom of this, I promise you that.”

“We’ll stay right here if you don’t mind, with Fiona. Once she’s awake, we’ll take her back to the cabin.” Jimmy stood straight and faced the captain, who nodded in approval.

Elspet bent back over Fiona. “Wake up. Wake up, Fiona. You can make the storm stop. You’ve got power.”

Eventually Elspet gave up. The three of them took off their wet socks and shoes and hung them on knobs to dry. The captain had a small heater in his room. The three of them sat on the cold metal floor, their backs leaning against the small cot and their icy feet near the heater, waiting for Fiona to regain consciousness. The storm continued to rage outside. Many times they had to hold Fiona so she wouldn’t roll out of the bed. Callum became desperately ill with seasickness and spent several hours leaning over the sink. Elspet was queasy, as was Jimmy, but neither as sick as Callum.

 It was early afternoon when Fiona stirred. Elspet jumped up. “She’s awake.” Elspet sat on the bed. “Fiona, wake up. Oh, thank goodness you’re alive. You’ve got to control the sea or we’re going to die.”

Fiona opened both her eyes and saw them standing around her. “What’s going on?” She tried to sit up. “Ouch, I have a headache.” She closed her eyes and lay back down.

“You hit your head on the wall. You’ll be fine. The ship’s doctor just came in and gave you an injection and the pain should subside soon.” Jimmy comforted her and took her hand.

“I remember water. The door. The ladder. The ship? Are we at sea?” Fiona slid her back against the pillows.

“I think we are encountering our fist trap. Somehow the anchor was raised in the night and the ship floated into the sea. We’re near Cape Horn right now in a horrible storm. Callum is as sick as a dog and I don’t feel much better.” Elspet covered her mouth, fighting back the urge to vomit.

“You do look rather green, both of you. I hope Callum will be all right.” Fiona looked for him. “Callum, are you all right?”

The boy couldn’t speak. He moaned and threw up. “I want to die.”

“I guess that means he’s not all right,” Fiona said.

“Fiona, you’ve got to make the storm stop. You have powers. You can control the sea. Make it calm so we can get back to Ushuaia. I don’t want to die down at the bottom of the world in icy cold water. They’d never find our bodies and we’d probably end up being washed ashore in Antarctica and eaten by a bunch of hungry polar bears.” Elspet wiped a tear away.

Jimmy shook his head. “Really, Elspet. Don’t you think you’re being a drama queen?”

Callum snorted and chuckled, even though he felt so ill. “Good one, Jimmy.”

“Thank you. Fiona taught me that. I’m quite proud of my abilities to pick up the modern language.” Jimmy grinned.

Elspet scowled. “I am not a drama queen. For your information, I am a little bit stressed here.”

Fiona stood slowly. “Stop fighting.” She swayed to the side. “Oh boy. I feel dizzy.”

“We all do. The ship is rolling. There have been a few times I thought we’d tip right over and go under.” Jimmy’s brow furrowed with worry.

“I saw a movie once where a boat capsized and turned all the way over and the people had to make their way to the bottom of the boat. Most people died. I don’t want that to happen to us. Please, Fiona, use your magic powers.” Elspet sobbed.

“Hasn’t the captain managed to get the ship back in his power yet?” Fiona held onto the door.

“He’s doing his best. The waves are going over the top of the ship. I can hear them sloshing across the deck. We’re going back and forth; back and forth,” Jimmy said.

“Jimmy, please don’t say that.” Callum moaned and was sick again.

Fiona held onto the door frame and stepped into the corridor. Other crewmen rushed past on their way to their posts. She closed her eyes and thought about the sea. I command you to calm down and be gentle waves and I command the rain to cease and the sun to appear. Stay this way until we are safely back in Ushuaia. Fiona took a deep breath and tried not to think of her headache. “Now, let’s see if this worked.” She stood still, waiting for the ship to stop rolling. Within a minute it ceased. Fiona smiled. “I think it’s safe to go up on deck now. Jimmy, please help Callum. The fresh sea air will do him good.” She looked at their feet. “Where are your shoes and socks?” Jimmy pointed to the still dripping wet items. “Stay here. I’ll get one of the crew to bring some dry things for you.”

A few moments later a crew member returned with some clean, dry shoes and socks for them. Callum, Jimmy and Elspet came outside and stood at the rail with Fiona. She glanced down at their feet, relieved to see they had dry clothing on.

Elspet patted Fiona’s hand. “You know, Fiona, I’m sure glad you have those magical powers. Life is easier when you are around. Now that the storm has stopped, it’s almost pretty here. The sea is black and deep and the rocks look scary and dangerous. They’re everywhere between here and the beach. No wonder there were tons of shipwrecks.” Elspet saw a bird. “Oh look, it’s an albatross. Jimmy, do you want to learn to take photos with the camera now?”

“That would be wonderful.” Jimmy took the camera. “The first thing I do is turn it on; then I aim it at whatever I want to take a picture of and push this button; am I right?”

“Yes, but make sure your arm doesn’t move or the photo will be blurry.” Elspet pretended to hold a camera to her eyes.

Jimmy pushed the button. “Got it. I took a photo of that bird. It was right in the middle of the square. Cool.” He winked at Elspet.

Several petrels and skuas flew toward the ship. Callum spoke. “We’re on our way. Birds only fly a certain distance from land.

The captain and a few of his crew came out onto the deck. “Miss Fiona, it’s good to see you up and about. We’ve had a stroke of good luck. The storm died suddenly. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Most unusual. They say having a female on board is bad luck, but as usual, those old seaman’s tales are wrong. You’ve brought us fine weather.”

“You have no idea how true that is,” Callum whispered to Jimmy, who was busy taking more photos. Callum looked up at him. “You’re having far too much fun with that, Jimmy.” He shook his head and went for a walk around the ship.

“How long until we’re back in Ushuaia?” Fiona put her hand over her eyes to guard from the now blaring sun.

“I’d say about three hours. Our engines are running smoothly and we’re under way. With seas this calm, we’ll make good time. Never have I seen the sea looking like a sheet of glass like this, at least not here in this part of the world.” Captain Navarro shook his head. “Amazing. Almost like magic.” He took a few deep breaths of the sea air. “Why don’t you all join me in my private dining room for a meal.  We’re in luck. My personal chef is on board and he can cook up a meal to die for. Oh, and keep your eyes open. You might see some orcas.”

“That would be so cool,” Fiona said. “We’ll be there for supper tonight. What time and where?”

“Come in two hours. Go to my cabin when it’s time and Rico will bring you to my dining room.”

“You speak such good English. There is hardly a trace of Spanish. Are you from Ushuaia?” Jimmy cleared his throat.

“I wasn’t born here, no. I am from Buenos Aires. My grandfather is German and my mother is Argentinean. I get my good looks from her.” With that he tipped his captain’s hat and went back into the ship.

“Do you know what Tierra del Fuego means?” Callum came back and stopped next to Fiona and the others.

“I know. It means Earth of the Fire.”

“Cheater, Fiona. You know all the languages. I wanted Elspet to guess.” Callum pouted.

Fiona felt a breeze blow through her hair. “Do you smell that? I smell flowers. Uncle Angus traveled a lot and he told me that when he went to Capetown, South Africa, he could smell the honeysuckle as the ship sailed in. I don’t think it is honeysuckle, but I smell something sweet.”

The others sniffed the air. “I smell it. I didn’t think flowers could grow in a place that is as windswept as this. We’ll have to ask when we get back to town,” Elspet said.

“They must have meadows of wildflowers. It is spring here and I did see some tiny flowers in bloom. I think they were fuchsia and cape jasmine,” Callum said.

Nobody said anything else, so they walked around the deck. “The sea is so calm. Is that a fin?” Jimmy pointed at something sticking out of the water.

The others looked. “It is! It’s either a very large dolphin or a killer whale. Orca. That would be so cool to see one,” Elspet said.

They were watching the fin when something leaped out of the water and fell with a splash in front of them. “It’s an orca!” Fiona nudged Jimmy. “Take some photos.”

It jumped up over and over again and soon Jimmy ran out of film.

“That’s all right, Jimmy. The rest of the film is in the cabin. We’ll put a new roll in later. We’ll just have to stand here and watch without taking photos.” Elspet shrugged her shoulder.

“Wow! That is so cool. Look how big the splash is,” Callum said.

After an hour the whale stopped performing and disappeared. They headed to their cabins to get ready and then when it was time, they made their way to the captain’s cabin. As expected, Rico was waiting for them in the corridor. Fiona spoke to him in Spanish and he escorted them to the Captain’s private dining room. A large wooden table, delicately carved with designs of orcas, polar bears, seals and penguins, sat in the center of the room. It had a rim around the edge to stop dishes from falling off in rough weather. A dozen chairs stood around it; the one at the top clearly the captain’s chair. It was wider than the others and padded with blue cushions. Lampposts stood in each corner, with pink Venetian glass lamps, causing a pinkish glow in the room. Paintings decorated the walls; most were of whaling vessels and other ships in stormy seas.

“Whoa. This if fancy. Who eats here?” Callum gawked.

“Me and my guests,” the captain said. “Why don’t you sit and nibble on these strawberries.” He pushed a glass bowl over to Callum. “They’re wild, but delicious. They grow just outside of Ushuaia. I pay someone to grow them for me. I cannot travel without my strawberries. I have a passion for them.” He took a bite from one and red juice ran down his chin.

“Captain, how do we get to the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego?” Fiona used a moment of silence to ask.

“That question came out of nowhere, Miss Fiona.  I’ll answer that for you. You’re in luck. There is a train that takes you right down there. It’s a short trip and quite enjoyable. I’ve never done it myself, but have heard from others. You can ride motorcycles down there, for most of the journey. Why do you ask?” The captain bit into another strawberry.

“I thought it would be fun to go there,” Fiona said. “Who wouldn’t want to go to the end of the world since we’re so close?”

“What are you children doing down here at the bottom of the world anyway? You’re Scottish, aren’t you? It’s odd to have three children traveling with a man who isn’t you father.” Captain Navarro eyed Jimmy suspiciously.

“He’s our uncle. Fiona, Elspet and I are cousins. We’re from Scotland. Jimmy is one of our uncles and he’s from London. He volunteered to come with us. We’re at a curious age and anyway, we wanted to come here.” Callum didn’t know what else to say.

“Would you want to take three children on a trip?” Fiona grinned and took Jimmy’s hand. “I think it’s great that he was willing to come with us. Thanks, Uncle Jimmy.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.

“That’s fine, young ones. You needn’t explain. It’s obvious you love your uncle. While we’re waiting for the first course, let me tell you a bit about this area. There used to be a tribe of Indians who lived here. They were known by several different names; Yagans, Yamana, or the Canoe Indians. The last one of their kind died in 1977. Ushuaia attracted all sorts of people. There was a gold rush that didn’t turn out so well for most. Pirates, conquistadors, missionaries, scientists and the curious settled here; or simply people who wanted to get away from civilization. Many still come. The town has tripled in size over the last thirty years. I remember when there were only a few houses scattered about and no hotels at all. We have skiing in the winter, actually most of the year long and there are many camp sites and fishing spots.”

“That’s interesting, Captain Navarro. I suppose with the need for oil and natural gas more people came to live. I hear there is a rich supply of copper and you’ve got a lot of sheep.” Elspet had heard some of the crew talking earlier that day.

“You’re well informed, Miss Elspet. Not only do we have sheep, but we’re overrun with rabbits. A long time ago someone brought some on their ship and let them go; they multiplied into the millions. We can’t get rid of them.” Captain Navarro laughed. “They do make a good meal. I have rabbit for supper at least twice a week.”

“Do you have other animals besides rabbits?” Callum asked as the door opened.

“Ah, our first course is here. Please, eat some of this soup. It is simply delicious and made with the finest herbs. It will warm you up too. Thank you, Rico. Give our thanks to Gibaldi.” Rico nodded. The captain looked at Fiona. “Gibaldi is my chef. Michel cooks for the crew. Gibaldi cooks for my tastes alone. He knows me and what I enjoy. I had him prepare something special for you all tonight. I hope you will enjoy every bite.”

They ate their soup in silence until the captain answered Callum’s question. “Ah, Callum. Animals. There are seal, walrus, beaver, reindeer, duck, geese and fox. I’m sure there are other animals that live in the peat bogs, but those are the ones I know of. We do have a penguin rookery too. Perhaps you’ll have a chance to go and visit.”

Rico brought in the main course.

“Ah, I see we’re being blessed with rabbit tonight.” The captain waved Rico over. He served the roasted rabbit with mushrooms, hot fresh bread, sliced tomatoes and baked potatoes, cut in half and drenched in butter and garlic. When they finished, Rico carried in a huge cake. It was three layers high, dark chocolate with a thick layer of chocolate icing. Tiny blue whales had been piped from colored icing around the top of the cake.

“Whales! That’s cool.” Elspet pulled the camera out of her pocket. “Is it all right, Captain, if I take a photo of the cake? I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

The captain laughed. “Of course. Take photos of anything you’d like. Are you a photographer, Miss Elspet?”

“She’s an artiste,” Callum said, being sure to pronounce it the French way. “She draws and paints and is pretty good. She loves taking photos too and is teaching Jimmy, I mean Uncle Jimmy, to take photos.”

“An artist? What do you think of my paintings, Miss Elspet?”

She stood and went from painting to painting. “I think they’re good. I don’t like to paint with oils. I’m more into watercolor and I don’t do ocean scenes either, but I do think they’re well done.”

“Ah. Perhaps you can paint something for me. I will hang it in here, so that I may remember you always and the time you spent on my ship.” The captain removed his hat and bowed to Elspet.

“Sure. I can do that. I’ll mail it to you here and you can get it when you sail back here next visit,” Elspet said, honored to have been asked such a request.

By the time they’d finished eating and talking with the captain about his adventures sailing around the world, the ship was ready to dock. Captain Navarro excused himself and Fiona, Callum, Elspet and Jimmy headed back on deck to watch the docking.

After the anchor had dropped and the ropes tied up, Captain Navarro walked towards them. “I have found you a room in town at one of my friend’s home. His wife is amazing and they have rooms for you all. Please accept this as a gift for bringing such luck and good weather to the Lucky Lady and my crew. You may send the watercolor painting to the Xinbal’s home. They are my good friends and will make sure I receive it. I bid you all adios.” He bowed and walked down the gangplank, disappearing into a small building.

Rico escorted them to Gomez Xinbal’s home and then, after a wave, hurried back to the ship. Gomez and his wife, Rosa, welcomed them. With no desire or need to eat, they went right to their rooms and fell asleep, glad to be on solid land once again.

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