The Boy and the Sea Dragon
A few more days of stop and go flying went past. Xianjeng spotted a large island ahead. As they approached it, he spotted a harbor city. There were boats of different kinds from row boats to large sailing ships. Some boats were docked. Other boats were out on the water. He descended toward the city. Zuangeng dared to look at where they were. He had never seen the city from that height. He thought he recognized it.
Xianjeng glided low over the water. A spray of water trailed behind him. He landed in the water a few yards from the shore. He folded his wings.
Zuangeng freed himself. He sat up. Xianjeng turned his head. He said, “I don’t know where we are.”
“If I recognize it, this is Amberstond,” Zuangeng said.
Xianjeng said, “This is as far as I am taking you, Zuangeng. From here, you are on your own. I hope, you have a good life from now on.”
“Will we meet again, Xianjeng,” Zuangeng asked, disappointed.
“That is something nobody can predict,” Xianjeng said.
“Can you stay? I hate to part with you,” Zuangeng said.
Xianjeng said, “No! You are now with your kind. I do not belong here. I belong in the ocean. I must go back to the sea. You need to join with other humans.”
Zuangeng said, “May I go with you?”
Xianjeng said, “No! You need to join with other humans.”
Zuangeng stood up on Xianjeng’s back. With tears in his eyes, he gave the dragon’s neck a hug. He said, “Bye, I love you. I’m going to miss you.”
“Bye, I’ll miss you, too. It’s time for you to go,” Xianjeng said.
Zuangeng turned to the right. He walked to the side. He dove into the water. He swam away from the dragon a few feet. He turned around. He tread water. With more tears in his eyes, he waved to Xianjeng. Xianjeng flapped his right wing as if to wave back.
Zuangeng continued to tread water. He watched Xianjeng disappear under water. Zuangeng was alone in the water. He remained, looking out to sea. He had a hopeful longing to find the Serikua, his home.
Eventually, Zuangeng turned toward the shore. The shore was lined with wharves. Ships were docked at some. He breast-stroked until he encountered a small red row boat crossing his path. He stopped. He tread water. He looked at the boat. There were two boys in it. One was rowing.
The boy just riding saw Zuangeng in the water. He said, “There is someone in the water to your left.”
The rower looked to his left. He scanned the water. He saw a head bobbing in the water. He stopped rowing. He left the blades in the water. He held the oars. The boat drifted. They watched.
Zuangeng continued swimming. He swam toward the boat. He reached it. He righted himself. He reached up and grabbed the gunwale. He pulled himself up. He looked at the boys. They were teenagers. They had light skin and brown hair. They wore shorts and shoes.
“Can I catch a ride,” Zuangeng asked in Dragonese. The boys just looked at him. He thought that they did not understand him.
He tried it in Cingalia, “Ceang ikala cateapa nga rilenga?”
“Walke ben haj gezaade,” the rider asked the rower.
“Ik dounet wetaam,” the rower admitted shrugging his shoulders.
“Ah?” Zuangeng said. He decided that he was going nowhere with this. He let go of the gunwale. He sank into the water. He swam around the oar and the stern of the boat. He swam toward the wharves. He swam for about a foot.
The boys watched him. The rower said, “The water is quite deep here. Maybe, we ought to help him.”
The rider said, “Looks like he’s heading for the wharves. He may drown before he gets there. Let’s help him.”
The rower lifted the blades out of the water. Water ran off the blades as they left the water. He swung the oars over the gunwales. The blades dripped water. He placed the blades in the boat.
Suddenly, Zuangeng heard a loud, “Hey!” from the boat. He stopped swimming. He turned around to face the boat. The two boys were waving him back. He swam back to the boat. He grabbed the gunwale. He pulled himself back up. The boys helped him into the boat. He went to the bow and sat facing the boys. He raised his goggles. He looked at the boys. They were taller than he was. The boys looked at him. He wore no clothes.
“Taarwil hib ju koomin nour,” the rider asked him.
Captain Esiada had taken him ashore here a number of times. One day when Zuangeng was four, the Serikua pulled into dock at Amberstond. Zuangeng stood at the starboard bow railing. He wore a pair of brown pants, nothing else. He watched the Serikua pull into dock. The main course sail was the only sail still unfurled. He watched the men on the wharf tie the ship to it.
Captain Esiada stood beside him. After the ship was secured, he looked at Zuangeng. He said, “Zuangeng, you’re coming with me. We’re going ashore.”
The gangplank was extended to the dock. The gate was opened. They walked down the gangplank to the dock.
They walked along the dock to the shore. They came to a cobblestone paved road running across the wharves. The sun was shining brightly. Zuangeng could feel the heat of the cobblestones on his bare feet. They crossed the road to the dock office. They entered the office.
They walked to a counter. Captain picked Zuangeng up. He sat him on the counter. Zuangeng’s lower legs and feet hung from the counter. Zuangeng twisted around so he could watch the proceedings.
Captain Esiada said to the clerk standing behind the counter, “Ik gegund rakkon intut dukkin. Ik hibbon sommegi vrocht ain antlodin.”
“Let me see the papers,” the clerk said.
Captain Esiada handed the papers to the clerk. The clerk looked over the papers. He said, “That will be seventy five in docking fees and fifty an hour labor.”
Captain Esiada paid the docking fee. He signed some papers the clerk gave him to sign. He picked Zuangeng up off the counter. He set the boy on his feet on the floor. They exited the office.
They walked back to the ship. Some dock workers showed up. They helped unload cargo destined for the country. The cargo was delivered to the warehouse. It was inspected.
Zuangeng stayed with Captain Esiada. They walked back to the office. Captain Esiada received a new manifest and his payment minus the labor. They returned to the ship. The new cargo was loaded. Zuangeng never did bother to learn a single word. He saw no reason to learn.
The rider said, “Walke ben ju naam?”
Zuangeng said, “Ikala donaka kinala amiaku langea.”
The rower got an idea. His eyes opened wide. He smiled. He put his right hand on his bare chest. He said, “Petra.”
The rider got the idea. He, too, put his right hand on his own chest. He said, “Hans.”
Zuangeng put his own right hand on his own chest. He said, “Zuangeng.”
Petra pointed to the open ocean. He made a sweeping motion with his arm. He pointed to Zuangeng. He pointed two fingers down. He moved the fingers back and forth. Again, he made a sweeping motion at the sea. As he did that, he said, “Taarwil hib ju koomin noar?”
Zuangeng saw a single masted sailboat. He pointed at it. Petra and Hans looked where he was pointing. Zuangeng said, “Ang Serikua.”
“Taarwil tir ju gegaan,” Petra asked. He made another sweeping motion. He did it over his head. He made a full circle. He made the walking motion with his fingers. Once more, He pointed at Zuangeng.
Zuangeng just pointed to the island. Petra picked up the oars. He dipped the blades in the water. He rowed toward an empty pier. They came along side it. Petra held the starboard oar up along the boat’s side. Hans grabbed the pier. Zuangeng stood up. He climbed the ladder onto the pier. Both boys said, “Goid gilok!”
Petra pointed at his shorts. He added, “Kragin semnage klideng aan vrislatan.”
Hans shoved the boat off from the pier. Petra rowed backward. Zuangeng stood on the pier, watching them. The boat cleared the pier. Petra turned the boat around. The boys turned toward Zuangeng. They waved to him. Zuangeng waved back. Petra continued to row away. Zuangeng watched for a while.
Zuangeng turned around to face inland. He walked toward shore. He came to the end of the pier. He stopped to look around.
A three masted schooner was docked at the next pier to his right. Fully dressed men were unloading freight from the ship. An asphalt road ran past the ship. It ran down a row of piers as far as the eye could see. Some piers were occupied. He looked to his left. He saw the same thing. Wood buildings stood across the road.
He looked left again. A clipper was docked at one pier. It had the same configuration and color as the Serikua. All the sails were furled. He walked toward the ship. He hoped he was finally back home. He came to the ship. He looked at the bow. The name was made with inlaid silver. He recognized the ship as the ‘Dilewar’.
Men were loading it with cargo. They saw him. They stopped working. They looked at him. One of the crew was on deck at the bow. He looked down at him. He recognized the boy. He spoke Cingalia, “Zuangeng, what are you doing here? You should be on the Serikua.”
Zuangeng looked up at the man. He recognized him. He spoke Cingalia, his native language, “Oh! Hi, Alexi. I got swept off the ship. I’m here looking for the Serikua.”
“It hasn’t arrived yet,” Alexi said.
The foreman heard the conversation. HE did not know what was said. Few of the men around the Dilewar knew Cingalia. The foreman saw the men standing, not working. He spoke the same language that Petra and Hans used. He yelled, “Back to work!”
He saw Zuangeng standing there. He said, “Bewigin op!”
Zuangeng stood there looking at the foreman. He could not comprehend what the foreman said. The foreman walked up to Zuangeng. He grabbed the boy by the shoulders. He turned him around. He pushed the boy. The foreman repeated, “Bewigin op!”
Zuangeng got the hint. He crossed the road. He turned around. He looked toward the ship. The men had gone back to loading the ship. The foreman was standing there. He watched the boy. He had his hands on his hips. The corners of his mouth were down. His eyebrows were furrowed.
Zuangeng turned left. He walked along the building. He had an uneasy feeling that the foreman was still watching. He walked to the end of the building. He turned left. He walked down the end of the building.