The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

Chapter Twenty

Market Mayhem

One day, Zuangeng and Petra went out together. The sun was shining brightly. Wind blew gently. White puffy clouds floated by. They left shadows on the ground.

Zuangeng  failed to disguise himself. He still wore shoulder length straight blond hair. It waved in the wind.

They went to the marketplace near the docks.

The marketplace was in an open area. It contained stalls and stands. Various items from shoes and clothing to various foods were sold.

Petra carried a basket with him. He was doing some shopping for some things they needed. Zuangeng was just tagging along.

Zuangeng looked around them. Some people were out about. They were likewise shopping. Merchants stood in the stalls or behind the stands. Some were busy with customers. Some of the people looked at them. He heard snatches of conversations. Some of them he understood; but, not all.

A mime distracted Zuangeng. Zuangeng stopped and watched. The mime wore black shoes and tight fitting black pants. He wore a black and white horizontally striped shirt. He wore white gloves on his hands. He wore short cropped black hair. His face was painted white with black lips.

He performed in a clearing among the stalls and stands. He made no sound as mimes do. He had no props with him. Some people watched him.

The mime stood facing Zuangeng. The mime’s arms were out and slightly bent in front of him. His hands were up with the palms out. He moved his hands to his left. Zuangeng thought that the mime was feeling an invisible wall. The mime moved to his left a few feet. He turned left as if he had encountered a corner. He continued a few more feet.

He seemed to encounter a ladder. Zuangeng saw no ladder. The mime curved his fingers as if around a rung. He stepped as if on the bottom rung. He moved his hands and feet up and down like he was climbing the ladder. Zuangeng did not see him leave the ground. The mime turned around as if he was going over the top. He moved his hands and feet as if he was climbing down another ladder.

He took another stance. His hands were out in front of him. The right one was in front of the left. They were clenched as if they were holding a horizontal rope. He crouched down. His right foot was ahead of the left one. He leaned back. He moved his hands toward him as if he was pulling the rope. His hands stopped. He rocked his body back and forth. Zuangeng got the impression that the mime was in a tug of war against somebody else. The mime suddenly leaned forward as if he had lost. His left foot left the ground. He straightened his fingers. He seemed to be releasing the rope. He fell on his hands and right knee. His left leg was stretched out. He laid on his stomach.

He rolled over onto his left side. He raised his head up. He moved his left arm under his head. He bent the arm up. He cradled his head on his hand. His left leg was straight. His right leg was bent over it. His right arm was resting on his side. The elbow was bent. He stayed that way for a short while.

He got back on his feet. He bent his knees. He lowered his body. Zuangeng thought that the mime was sitting in a chair. There was no chair. The mime was in the proper position. He rested his right elbow on his leg. He raised his right lower arm. He leaned forward. He rest his chin on the fist. The left arm rested across his lap. He seemed to be in deep thought. He remained like this for a moment.

He raised his head. His eyes were wide open. His mouth was open in a grin. He raised his right hand up. The index finger pointed up. He continued his performance.

Zuangeng had enough of watching. He turned to the right. Petra was gone. Zuangeng looked around himself. Petra was nowhere to be seen. Zuangeng called out loudly, “Petra!”

He got no response. He walked around looking for Petra. He would occasionally call out, “Petra!”

Xianjeng continued gaining altitude. He wanted to get as high as he could. He got above the clouds. He found a tail wind. He flew as fast as possible. It took days of continuous flight. He never took a break even to eat.

He descended as he approached the island. He found the city where he left Zuangeng. He flew low over it. He searched for the boy.

Zuangeng came to the food section edge. He heard a voice from the left. He turned to face the voice’s source. Three men stood several stalls away. He recognized the middle man. The man was the fruit merchant he stole from. The man recognized him as well. The man was pointing at him. The man yelled, “Look, there’s the thief! Let’s get him! Let’s kill him!”

The three men ran toward Zuangeng. Zuangeng let out a loud, earsplitting scream. People turned to see what was happening. Zuangeng  twirled back around and ran. He screamed as he ran, “Petra! Help!”

He heard the rapid thumping of heavy booted footsteps and yelling behind him. He ran among the food stalls. He weaved around some of them.

People reached out to stop him. He saw the grasping hands. He dodged them. Some people tried to block him. He found a way to evade the blockades. He continued screaming, “Petra!”

A constable patrolled the area. He heard the commotion. He jogged toward the source. A crowd was heading toward one spot. The constable pushed his way through the crowd. He spotted Zuangeng. He blew his whistle. He chased Zuangeng. He tried to catch the boy before anybody else.

Zuangeng heard the whistle. He turned his head to the right. The constable tried to reach for him. Zuangeng turned left to evade capture. The crowd tried to block him. Zuangeng evaded the blockade.

Petra stood before a fruit stand. He eyed the fruit. The fruit was mango. The fruit was native to the islands of Cinga Archipelago. The fruit was imported from there. Petra thought that Zuangeng would like some. He turned his head to the left and down. He wanted to ask Zuangeng . Zuangeng was not there. Petra looked around, no Zuangeng. He yelled, “Zuangeng!”

There was no reply. Petra retraced his steps. He looked for the boy. He heard some commotion. Out of the din, he heard a high pitched scream. The scream said, “Petra!”

He knew that voice. He realized that Zuangeng was in trouble. He dropped his load. He ran toward the commotion.

A man got too close to Zuangeng. He tried to catch him. His right leg got in the way. The right foot was in front of him and Zuangeng.

Zuangeng tripped on the foot. He went staggering. He tried to keep on his feet. He totally lost his footing. He crashed into a vegetable stand. The stand flipped over onto its side. The vegetables fell on the ground. He somersaulted over the stand.

Petra arrived on the scene. He was in time to witness what ensued next.

A large shadow crossed over the scene. Zuangeng somersaulted into another vegetable stand. He hit the stand’s legs. The stand toppled toward him. He quickly twisted around. He rolled the other way on the ground. He tried to avoid the falling stand. The stand hit the ground. It barely missed him. The vegetables from the stand fell on top of him.

Zuangeng started to get up. The people nearest him rushed to reach him. They never did reach him.

Xianjeng found Zuangeng falling over the first vegetable stand. An angry mob approached Zuangeng. Xianjeng flew as fast as he could toward the ocean. He skimmed over the water. He had his mouth open in the water. He gulped the water as he flew. He took off again. He returned to the scene.

The mob of angry people were converging on Zuangeng. Xianjeng circled around. He flew along the front of the mob. He shot water along the ground in front of the mob. They stopped. They looked up. They pointed at him. They murmured among themselves.

Xianjeng circled back around. He watched Zuangeng struggle to get up. The mob started to converge on the boy, again. Xianjeng landed over Zuangeng. He faced the crowd. He blocked the crowd’s access to Zuangeng.

Zuangeng started to get up. He noticed that he was in a shadow. He hit his head on an obstacle. He lifted his right hand. He touched the obstacle. It felt hard and rough. It seemed to have ridges. He looked up to see what it was. It was a dragon’s chest. He got down on his hands and knees. He crawled out from under the dragon.

He got up on his feet. He stood behind the dragon’s left front leg. He peered around the leg’s outside. He looked toward the dragon’s front. A line of angry people stood there. They yelled at the dragon. They waved fists at him. They yelled, “Get out of the way, stupid dragon! We want that boy! We must get that boy!”

Zuangeng looked to his left. He spotted Petra. Petra looked at him and the dragon.

Xianjeng, finally, had enough. He let out a loud roar. It drowned out the crowd. He roared in their language, “Quiet!”

The crowd went silent. Xianjeng said, “What is going on here? Why are you after this boy?”

The constable stepped out of the crowd. He angrily said, “He is a thief! We kill thieves in this country! You have no right to keep him from us!”

Petra stepped up to the dragon. He said, “That is true, dragon.”

He turned to the constable. He said to him, “However, he is just a child and a stranger! He has yet to live his life! My father has said that this law is unjust. I agree with him, this time. It needs to be changed!”

The constable sternly said, “The law is the law, Petra! He needs to pay for what he did!”

Petra declared, “It should not be by death! Not at his age! He has the same right to grow up like us! Every child does!”

The constable retorted, “Go into politics. Change the law if you think it needs changing, Petra!”

Xianjeng said, “It does not matter! You are not getting him! He has an appointment elsewhere! He is coming with me!”

Zuangeng looked at them all. He understood that he was the center of the dispute.

Xianjeng turned his head to look at Zuangeng. Zuangeng gave a half nervous smile. Xianjeng spoke Cingalia, “Come out here. I need to see you better, Zuangeng.”

Zuangeng hesitated. The smile turned into a frown. Fear appeared on his face. Xianjeng said, “Don’t worry. You’re under my protection.”

Zuangeng tentatively stepped out from behind Xianjeng’s leg. Petra walked up to him. He said, “What does the dragon want? What did he say to you?”

“He wants me to go out in front of him,” Zuangeng said nervously.

“Come up with me. I’ll protect you,” Petra urged him He got on Zuangeng’s left.  He reached his right arm across Zuangeng’s right back. He put his right hand on Zuangeng’s right shoulder. They walked together to Xianjeng’s front. The crowd glowered at them. Xianjeng moved his head to follow them. They moved away from him.

They got as far as about half of Xianjeng’s neck length. Xianjeng said to Petra, “That’s good enough.”

He spoke Cingalia to Zuangeng, :Is what I hear about you true? That you are a thief?”

“I’m afraid so,” Zuangeng admitted in the local language.

“Ah! I see you learned another language,” Xianjeng spoke the local language.

“Yes, I had to,” Zuangeng said.

Xianjeng, once again spoke Cingalia, “Zuangeng, I need you to go with me. There is a very important someone who needs to see you.”

Zuangeng said hopefully in Cingalia, “You found the Serikua? You’re taking me home?”

He further said in Cingalia, “Why are we speaking Cingalia?”

Xianjeng said, again, in Cingalia, “What we are discussing is our business, nobody else’s No. It is someone else very important, though.”

Petra could not understand their conversation. By the tone of their voices and what the dragon said earlier, Petra felt that they were talking about leaving. He said, “You can stay with us, Zuangeng. We’ll protect you from ‘them’!”

He emphasized the word ‘them’; while, looking at the crowd. The constable said, “Petra! You are treading dangerous ground there! I can arrest you for harboring a fugitive!”

Petra said, “You won’t! I am protecting the boy from an unjust law! And you know it!”

Zuangeng looked at all of them foe a while longer. He turned to Petra and Xianjeng. He pointed to the dragon. He spoke to Petra, “This is Xianjeng. He has taken care of me. He brought me here.”

He pointed to Petra. He told Xianjeng, “This is Petra. He and his family took care of me since I arrived.”

Petra said, “We know this dragon by another name.”

Xianjeng said, “I go by many names. It depends on what country I’m in and the language.”

Zuangeng continued, “Sorry, Petra. I’m going with the dragon. I will not risk your freedom for my sake. I want to get back to the Serikua. Maybe, this way, I can get home faster.”

“Well, if you ever decide to come back, you have a home with us,” Petra said.

“You’d be better off without those clothes where we are going,” Xianjeng said.

Zuangeng took his clothes off. He handed them to Petra. the constable said, “That’s another charge of indecent exposure against you, Zuangeng!”

Zuangeng just glowered at the constable. He turned back to Petra. He said, “Please, keep these for me. I may come back some day. I may need them.”

Petra took the clothes. He said, “Sure. Remember, if you ever return, you have a home.”

Xianjeng laid down on his belly. Zuangeng and Petra hugged each other. Zuangeng said, “Thank you. I love you like a brother. Tell the others good bye for me. Tell them that I love them, too.”

Petra said, “We love you, too. Good bye. Be sure to come and visit some time.”

“I will,” Zuangeng said.

The constable said, “I will be looking for your return!”

Zuangeng climbed on Xianjeng’s left front leg. He climbed onto Xianjeng’s back with Petra’s help. He heard the angry mob protest. They said things like: “Give him to us!”; “You have no right to take him from us!” and “We demand justice!”

Petra yelled, “Zuangeng, try to find a way to let us know how you are doing.”

Zuangeng said, “Petra, thank you for everything. Tell your family the same. I’ll try to let you know how things are.”

He laid on his stomach. He wedged his feet between fins. He held onto two more fins. Xianjeng stood in a crouching posture. Zuangeng and Petra exchanged waves. Petra stood back a few paces. The mob’s protest seemed to have become a chant.

Xianjeng spread his wings out. Petra stepped further back to avoid the sing. Xianjeng held his wings up. He jumped up, front feet first. His mighty legs pushed him high into the air. He flapped his wings. He flew off. He turned toward the ocean.

The people continued chanting. They stopped when the dragon was out of sight. Petra was silent. He watched them fly out of sight. Zuangeng’s clothes were in his arms.

Petra walked back to where he dropped the basket. He picked it up. He picked up the spilled items. He picked up Zuangeng’s clothes. He finished shopping. He walked home. He told everybody what happened and was said.

 

The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

Chapter Nineteen

Cerqu de Saeltana

Note: Saeltana is spelled with a ‘ over the first a

One day, Gunthar came home. He found the boys in the den. All three were playing cards at a table. Gunthar walked up next to Zuangeng. He stopped. He placed his right hand on the back of the chair Zuangeng was sitting in. He placed his left hand on the table. He looked at Zuangeng’s hand. Zuangeng turned his head to the left and up to see Gunthar. Gunthar turned his head to the right to look at Zuangeng. Gunthar said, “Have you ever been to a circus before, Zuangeng?”

“What’s a circus,” Zuangeng asked puzzled.

Zuangeng looked at Petra when he said, “A circus is a group of people doing stunts and acts to entertain people.”

Gunthar said, “One has come to town. I got some tickets. It will be here for seven days.”

“It will be a wonderful experience for you, Zuangeng,” Hans said.

“When do we go,” Zuangeng asked.

Gunthar said, “We go, tomorrow. This is going to be exciting, Zuangeng’s first circus.”

The next day, Petra walked out. He got another horse drawn buggy. When he returned, they got in. Gunthar locked the door before he got in. Petra drove the buggy. He drove over several streets until they came to the edge of town. He drove down a dirt road.

Zuangeng looked to his left. He saw some red and white vertically striped tents appear. They came to another dirt road on their left. They turned left onto the road. Petra drove down the road. They came to a grassy area where other buggies and horses were parked.

In front of them, they saw a cluster of small tents. Beyond the tents was a rather large one. This tent’s top was higher than the small tent’s  tops.

Petra drove the buggy up to one end of a hitching post. They got out. Petra walked to the post. He lashed the reigns to the post’s horizontal bar.

They walked onto the grounds. They walked toward the large tent. Zuangeng looked around them. A large number of small tents surrounded the large one. At one far corner of the grounds to his right was a cluster of wagons.

People were heading to the large tent. Elves walked around on errands or attending to tasks. A few elves stood together talking in their elvish tongue. Other elves were heading to the large tent. They were dressed in gaudy outfits, including fake wings and masks.

Zuangeng  pointed to the elves heading to the tent. He asked Gunthar, “Who are those elves?”

Gunthar answered, “They are performers. They are the ones we came to watch.”

Zuangeng watched as the elves entered the tent at a different location from the one they were heading for.

They had to stand in a line at the entrance. Gunthar got the tickets out and held them. Zuangeng looked to the line’s front end. A small shack stood beside the line. An elf stood in it. Zuangeng watched as the elftook one ticket, tore it in uneven halves, handed the larger half back and kept the smaller half. The line kept moving. They kept getting closer.

They came to the elf. Gunthar gave him the tickets. The elf greeted him with, “Hello, Gunthar. Four tickets this time?”

Gunthar said, “Yes, Estevano. (Note: the name is spelled with umlauts over the a and o) We have a new member to the party.”

Estevano leaned over the counter and looked down. He saw a boy with brown skin and black hair. Zuangeng had changed his hair color. He looked up at Estevano. He saw an elf with fair skin and brown hair. Estevano said, “Now, who do we have here? He seems not to appear as his true self.”

Gunthar pursed his lips. He held one finger to his lips. Estevano muttered some spell. Nobody else could hear their conversation. Gunthar replied, “This is Zuangeng. Yes, this isn’t how he actually looks like. This is his first time to any circus.”

Estevano said, “Got into a little trouble earlier, hence, the disguise, Eh? Well, your secret is safe with me. Well, I hope you enjoy the show.”

He muttered another spell reversing the previous one.

Gunthar  and his party entered the tent. Zuangeng looked around himself. Seats were on platforms going up the walls around the tent. There were only two gaps at the entrances. Two tall poles stood at each tent end. They reached high into the air. He looked up. The poles supported the tent top. A platform went across the poles at each end. Two beams ran end to end, one to each pair of poles. Long ropes hung from each beam close to each end. A metal rod was tied to the bottom end of each pair of ropes. Two ropes stretched end to end.

Zuangeng looked back down. Gunthar stood beside him. He told Zuangeng, “It’s time for us to take our seats.”

Zuangeng followed Gunthar to their seats. The seats were five tiers up from the ground. He looked over the floor from his seat. The floor was dirt. Wood strips stretched across the floor. They were curved to form three connected circles.

Everybody were finally seated. Zuangeng looked around. Almost every seat was occupied.

The ringmaster came out to the middle of the floor. He had long blue hair. He wore a pair of black pants and a white shirt. Around his neck and hanging down the front of his shirt was a black tie. He wore a blue jacket. The jacket front and sides went to his waist. The back had two tails that went to his knees. Both front edges had a red stripe running the whole length. A tall black hat with a red band around the bottom sat on his head. The hat top was flat. His right hand held a black stick with a black leather strap hanging from the top tip.

He stopped in the middle of the floor. He took his hat off. He held it in his left hand. It was tucked right side up between his arm and body. He spoke in a loud voice and the island’s language. Gunthar had taught Zuangeng their language. Zuangeng understood some of what the ringmaster said. What he could not, Gunthar translated into Dragonese.

The ringmaster yelled, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Welcome to Cerqu de Saeltana. We are here this fine afternoon to entertain you. We hope you will enjoy your stay.”

He burst into song. He sang the anthem of the circus. All the performers came out on the ground. Three elves led the procession. Each one carried a pole with a flag at the top. The right elf carried the local country’s flag. The middle elf carried the local island’s flag. The left elf carried the circus’s flag. Some performers came on foot. The others came on wheeled contrivances.  They paraded around the ground. They waved to the audience. They made one full circle.

The flag bearers marched to the middle of the tent. They stopped in front of the ringmaster. The bearer of the country’s national flag stood in front. The bearers of the other two flags held back. All the performers stood outside the rings. They were at attention, facing the flags. The audience stood. The ringmaster sang the country’s national anthem. The audience sat at the end. The flag bearers led the performers off the ground. The show began.

Zuangeng watched mesmerized, open mouthed and eyes wide open. He watched the elves perform in different acts and death defying stunts. elves in gaudy costumes and masks danced and pranced across and around the ground. Some elves somersaulted or cartwheeled.

He looked up. He watched elves on the swings. Two of them hung upside down. They tossed an elf or two between them. The tossed elves somersaulted in mid air. Sometimes, they clapped each other’s hand as they passed each other. The act came to an end. The tossed elves fell toward the ground. They fell horizontally, arms spread out. When they neared the ground, they turned right side up. They floated to the ground. They gently landed on their feet. They bowed, turned around and scampered off. The swinging elves fell headfirst. They landed the same way.

Two elves walked in opposite directions across the two ropes. They used only their arms for balance. They turned around at the opposite ends. They walked back across. They stopped midway.  They twisted their bodies to face each other. They folded their arms. One arm crossed the stomach. The other arm crossed the small of the back. They bowed to each other. They were back upright. They scampered the rest of the way.

An elf was at the end further from Zuangeng. The elf wore a gaudy costume. Spread wings were on his back. He wore a bird mask. He climbed the ladder to the platform. He stood on the platform. Zuangeng heard a drum roll as the elf prepared to jump. He walked to the platform’s edge. He squatted down. He leaned forward. He stretched his arms over his head. The drum roll ended with a final crashing bang. The elf dove off the platform. He fell head first for a few feet. His arms remained over his head. He leveled off. He flew horizontally to the midpoint. He went upright. He spun as he shot straight up. He flew around the tent. He did spins, loops and tumbles. He landed lightly on his feet on the ground. He bowed and pranced off.

Two elves were on unicycles. They were on opposite ends, one on each rope across the tent. They faced each other. They used their arms for balance. They cycled toward each other. They met in the middle. They stopped and clasped hands together. Together, they cycled back and forth several times. They ended in the middle and separated. They cycled to the opposite ends. The end opposite of each elf was lowered. This created a slope. Each elf cycled up and down the ropes.

Sometimes, the high acts were accompanied with acts on the ground. Zuangeng was busy going from one act to the other. There was no safety equipment anywhere. There was not one mishap during the whole show.

The show came to an end. All the performers came out, again. They paraded around the grounds. The flag bearers led the procession. The ringmaster stood in the middle. He sang a song of farewell. He turned around in a complete circle and waved.

At the end of the song, the audience stood up. They exited the tent. Gunthar and entourage walked to the buggy. Petra gave the reigns to Gunthar. He was the last to get in. He took the reigns. He drove them home.

Hans asked Zuangeng, “What did you think of the circus? Did you enjoy it?”

“It was fantastic! It was fun to watch,”  Zuangeng said in enthusiastically.

Hans said, “Some circuses have animal acts as well.”

Zuangeng could hardly stop talking about his experience all the way home. They listened to him. Gunthar twisted in his seat to watch him. Petra kept his eyes on the road.

They arrived home. Everybody but Petra got off and entered the house. Petra returned the horse and buggy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

Chapter Eighteen

A Boat Ride

All four were down at the wharves. They walked down the road running by them. Zuangeng kept looking at the ships they passed. They came to the last ship. The next pier was vacant. There was no Serikua.

Zuangeng looked at the vacant pier. He raised his head to look beyond it. He left the group and headed toward the pier. He walked out to the pierhead. He stopped and stood there, gazing out to the sea.

Gunthar noticed the boy was missing. He looked around. He found him on the pier. He turned and headed for him. Hans and Petra followed. Gunthar came to Zuangeng’s left. He gazed out to the for a while.

He turned to look at Zuangeng. Zuangeng had a look of despair and frustration mixed. Tears started to swell in the boy’s eyes. Gunthar said, “What’s wrong? Are you missing home and the ship?”

Zuangeng said with a tinge of sadness, “I wish I could be on the Serikua on the ocean. It has been my home since I can remember. Nowhere else, have I known to be home.”

Gunthar said, “I wish I could help you there. At least, you get part of your wish. At least, you’ll be on the ocean. We’ll be taking my sailboat out on the sea. We’ll be sailing along the coast. You’ll see more of our island. As long as you stay with us, consider our home yours.”

Zuangeng said, “Thank you.”

They continued looking out to the sea in silence. It was a beautiful day for a trip in a sailboat. The sky was a brilliant blue. The sun was shining bright. Light reflected off the ripples in the water. There were some white, wispy cirrus clouds. A light wind blew inland.

After a while, Gunthar said, “It’s time for us to continue on to the boat.”

They turned around. They walked off the pier. They turned right. They continued down the road. They passed a section of clear sandy beach. It stretched form the pier they had just left to the first of a new set of piers. Boats, not ships, docked at these piers.

Zuangeng looked to the right. He watched water wash ashore and retreat.

They came to the first pier. A sailboat was tied to the pierhead. They walked to the pier. They walked to the boat. Zuangeng looked at it. The hull was painted blue outside. The bow was covered by a varnished mahogany slatted deck. It went just past where the mast would be. The deck continued along both gunwales toward the stern deck, forming an open cockpit.

The single mast and boom were flat, lengthwise, across the boat’s middle. Three cables ran along the mast. Zuangeng thought of them as the stays. One end of each was tied to what he thought was the top.

They climbed into the cockpit. Petra stood on the bow deck. Hans and Gunthar unlashed the mast and boom. They grabbed the mast. They picked it up. Petra bent down and grabbed the forestay. Hans and Gunthar raised the mast. Petra pulled on the forestay, walking toward the bow. When the mast was upright, Petra knelt down. He clipped the stay to a plate at the bow. He walked back to the cockpit. Gunthar held the mast up. Petra and Hans clipped the other two stays to plates on either side of the boat. Gunthar let go of the mast.

Hans and Gunthar picked up the boom. They carried it aft. They lined it up with the mast. Petra pulled a pin out of the bracket on the mast. Petra guided the boom bracket in the mast bracket. He replaced the pin. He clipped the pin in place at the bottom.

Below the bow deck at the cockpit edge, there was a wall. The wall had a sliding door. Petra knelt down. He opened the door. He pulled out two triangular sails. He closed the door. He took the larger of the two sails. Hans and Petra unfolded it. Petra clipped one corner to the boom by the mast. Hans clipped the other corner to the boom’s aft end. Petra clipped the third corner to the sail’s halyard. Gunthar clipped the sheet to the boom’s aft end.

Petra took the smaller of the two sails. He and Hans unfolded it. Petra got on the bow deck. He took one corner of the sail to the bow. He clipped the corner to the same plate as the forestay. Hans clipped the jib sheet to the second corner. He clipped the third corner to the jib halyard.

Petra untied the bow painter from the dock. He coiled and secured it. He walked back to the cockpit. Everybody sat on the port gunwale. Petra was near the bow. Gunthar was near the stern. Zuangeng sat beside Petra. Hans sat beside Gunthar. Gunthar untied the stern painter form the dock. He coiled and stowed it. Petra pushe the boat along the dock. At the end of the dock, he gave a final hard push. Gunthar steered the boat to port. Petra hoisted the sails. He grabbed the jib sheet. Gunthar grabbed the main sheet and the tiller.

They pulled on the sheets. The sails tightened and caught the breeze. The boat moved forward. They pulled on the sheets some more. The boat picked up speed. The bow rose on the waves. It slapped the water when it came down. Water sprayed form the impact.

They pulled on the sheets more. The boat picked up more speed. The port side rose. Everybody leaned back.

Zuangeng turned his head toward the shore. He watched the shore go by. Further up, were houses.

Gunthar steered the boat further from the shore. They came to some one hundred foot cliffs. Gunthar steered further from the cliffs to avoid hidden obstacles. They adjusted the sails.

The coastline curved around to the left. Gunthar steered the boat to port. They continued following the coastline.

The cliffs soon became sandy beach. Further up the coast was a large pile of sand. It curved up to about fifty feet. Hans saw Zuangeng gawking at it. He said, “That is a sand dune.”

Grass was growing on the top of the dune. The bare sand sloped down to the beach. They past it, leaving it behind.

Further up the coast, there were fences lining the inner edge of the sand. Various plants grew on the other side of the fences. Some were tall. Houses were scattered near the plants. Hans said, “Those are farms. They produce the food we eat.”

About an hour later, Gunthar said, “Coming about!”

They got down into the cockpit. Gunthar turned the tiller. The boat swung around to starboard. They ducked under as the boom swung to the other side. The jib did likewise. They got on the other side of the boat. Gunthar and Petra pulled on the sheets. The boat tilted to port. They sat on the starboard gunwale. They leaned back.

They returned to the harbor. They docked the boat in the same slot as before. Petra lowered the sails. He unclipped the halyards. He unclipped the jib from the sheet and the bow. Hans and he folded the sail. Petra unclipped the main sail from the boom near the mast. Gunthar unclipped the main sheet from the boom. He unclipped the sail from the boom. Petra and Hans folded the main sail. Petra stowed the sails away. Gunthar and Hans held the boom. Petra unclipped the boom from the mast. Gunthar and Hans laid the boom aside. Gunthar, Hans and Petra lowered the mast. They lined the mast and boom beside each other. They lashed them down. Zuangeng stood on the dock, watching them. They went home.

 

The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

Chapter Seventeen

The Library and Lake

Gunthar and Petra left the house for the shop, the next morning. Hans stayed home with Zuangeng. He showed him the rest of the house. He used some scissors to cut all of Zuangeng’s nails. He finished with clippers and file.

The last room they entered was the library. Two gas lamp chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Hans lit both of them. Zuangeng looked around the room. Cases lined two walls. They contained shelves of books, both fictional and nonfictional. In the far wall were large windows. Five cases of books and magazines sat in the middle of the floor. The floor was polished cedar slats. Tables with chairs were scattered around the room. Some cushioned chairs sat in one corner. Another low glass topped rectangular table sat in the middle of these chairs. It had some magazines and a couple of books on top.

They spent the better part of the day here. Hans found the book he had been reading. It was on the table surrounded by the cushion chairs. He picked it up. He sat in a cushioned chair. He opened the book to the bookmark. He read.

Zuangeng roamed the library. He looked at the books. He pulled some out. He leafed through them. He put them back. He found some picture books. He took them to a nearby table. He knelt on a chair. He looked through the books. He looked for some more. He found several picture books on sea life. He took them to a different table. He got engrossed in them.

He found a picture story book. He became interested in it. He carried the book to Hans. The book was written in Hans’ language. He asked Hans, through his hands, to read to him. Hans put his book down. He took Zuangeng’s book. Zuangeng sat in his lap. He leaned against Hans. Hans read the book to Zuangeng. Zuangeng followed the story through the pictures. Hans would pause to identify elements of the pictures for Zuangeng.Hans had Zuangeng repeat the words several times.

Gunthar and Petra returned home that evening. They found Hans and Zuangeng in the den. They were playing chess. Gunthar said, surprised, “I didn’t know you played chess, Zuangeng!”

“I’ve played many a game on the Serikua. Esiada and Iyoseching have taught me well,” Zuangeng replied.

“He’s beating me,” Hans said. Zuangeng eventually check mated Hans.

A day later was a beautiful day for a picnic. The sun was shining brightly. The blue sky had some wispy cirrus clouds. Gunthar and Petra went out for a while. Hans stayed home with Zuangeng. He rummaged through the old clothing in the attic. He found a day outfit for Zuangeng. Zuangeng changed from the night clothes he had been wearing all this time to the new outfit. He wore the shoes he had stolen before.

They went into the kitchen. Together, they made some sandwiches. Hans made up a picnic basket.

Petra drove a horse drawn buggy back. Gunthar rode beside him. Petra parked in front of the door. Petra stayed with the buggy; while, Gunthar walked inside.

Hans and Zuangeng were heading his way. Hans carried the basket. Zuangeng carried his goggles in his right hand. Gunthar asked Hans, “Is everything ready?”

“Everything is ready,” Hans replied. They walked outside. Gunthar turned around. He locked the door. Hans and Zuangeng continued on to the buggy. Gunthar caught up with them half way there.

They reached the buggy. Zuangeng saw it and hesitated. The benches were covered with red velvet cloth. Gunthar noticed the hesitation. He said, “Zuangeng, never seen one of these before?”

Zuangeng replied, “Yes, I’ve seen them before. Never been on one, though. I’m used to walking.”

“You’ll enjoy it,” Gunthar reassured him. He helped Zuangeng into the buggy’s back seat. Zuangeng slid to the far side. Hans set the basket on the floorboard beside Zuangeng. He got in the back seat. Gunthar got in the front seat by Petra. Petra flicked the reins. The horse took off pulling the buggy.

Petra drove down the street until they were out of town. Nobody was outside. Petra turned right onto a dirt road that led to a lake. Zuangeng turned around to look behind them. Dirt floated in the air behind them.

They arrived at the lake. It was surrounded by sand and grass. A rectangular table with benches sat on the grass. The legs of the table and benches were concrete. The top and seats were weathered oak. It had been there for some time. Petra unhitched the horse so it could graze. Gunthar and Hans set up the picnic at the table. Zuangeng watched them. Petra took a pitcher to a hand pump set in the ground. He pumped filtered lake water into the pitcher. He filled cups with the water. Zuangeng held onto his goggles. They sat at the table. Zuangeng set his goggles on the bench next to him. The sandwiches were distributed. Hans had made some potato salad a while ago. Some of it was put on plates. They ate.

They got ready to swim. Gunthar, Petra and Hans stripped down to their swimming suits. They had been wearing them under their clothes. Zuangeng, on the other hand, stripped completely. Gunthar watched him. He said, “You’re going swimming like that? What happened to the suit we gave you?”

Zuangeng said, “Yea. What’s wrong with that? I usually swim naked. I’m used to going around the ship naked. I forgot to bring the suit.”

Gunthar said, “I don’t know about your country; but, in this country, we do not go naked. Next time, wear the suit.”

They put their clothes on the table. Zuangeng picked up his goggles. He carried them with him. They walked down to the shore. Zuangeng looked at the water. He commented, “It’s brown instead of greenish blue like the ocean.”

Gunthar explained, “The lake is not as deep as the ocean. The lake bed is mud. Some of it gets stirred into the water. It’s safe to swim in. Just don’t drink it.”

“The sea is safe to swim in as long as you stay close to the ship or shore. Like you said of this water, don’t drink sea water. I heard it’s too salty,” Zuangeng said. He put his goggles on over his eyes. A gentle wind blew. He looked out over the lake as they waded. Small waves flowed in the water. They swam for several hours. The Von Davildaas watched Zuangeng. Zuangeng swam different strokes. He floated on his back for a while. He swam underwater as well. Gunthar commented, “I’ve seen six year olds swim before.. None of them compare to you. You swim pretty well for a six year old.”

“I’ve been swimming in the ocean ever since I can remember. This is the first time, I’ve swam in water that wasn’t the ocean,” Zuangeng said.

“The ocean is pretty deep, isn’t it? Aren’t they worried about you swimming in it,” Gunthar asked.

“Yes, deeper than any human can go. They were worried at first. They have become accustomed to it, though. Besides, I never swim alone anyway. We usually stayed near the ship,” Zuangeng said.

“That’s very wise. That’s one thing I taught the boys. Never swim alone. You never know if you’ll need help,” Gunthar said.

They swam a while longer. They got out. They dried themselves off with the towels they brought. They got dressed. Petra got the horse. He hitched it to the buggy. Hans repacked the basket. Gunthar folded the towels. Zuangeng took his goggles off. They climbed into the buggy. Petra drove them home. Petra returned the horse and buggy. Everybody else stayed home.

The next day, Zuangeng was by himself in the library. He perused the shelves. He looked for a picture book. He found one that had a strange design on the binder. It had some letters on it. He could not read it. It seemed to beckon him to look in it. He pulled it out. He carried it in both hands to a table. He put the book down on the table. He knelt in the chair in front of it. He looked at the cover. The same design and letters adorned it. The design was of a stylized pentagram. Inside the pentagram were lines forming a five point star. Inside the spaces were of objects of different designs.

He opened the book. He leafed through the pages. They had strange pictures and writing on them.

He came to a particularly interesting page. It had drawings of objects. Some had arrows between them, pointing to one object. Again, there was strange writing.

He was studying it when Gunthar walked in. Gunthar saw him. He walked up to the boy. He looked down at the page. A shadow came over the page. Zuangeng raised his head. He turned it around. He found Gunthar looking over his right shoulder. He pointed to the page. He said, “What is this?”

Gunthar moved to Zuangeng’s left side. He reached down with his left hand. He took a hold of the cover and pages. He placed his right hand on the page. He flipped the cover over. He looked at the cover. He reopened the book. He said, “That is a book on magic. You should not be looking at it at your age!”

Zuangeng thought that he sounded a little upset. He said out of curiosity, “What is on this page?”

Gunthar said, “Those are spells of transformation.”

“Why shouldn’t I be looking at this book? I can’t read,” Zuangeng said defensively.

“This book is for older, more mature, responsible people who can understand magic and its consequences,” Gunthar esplained.

“Teach me these spells. I want to learn to transform myself. When I was with the dragon, there were times when I wished I could transform myself into something more suitable to water,” Zuangeng pleaded.

“I am loathe to teach you any kind of magic. You’re too young to understand the magic and what you are doing,” Gunthar said.

“Just these spells, please. I’ll be careful,” Zuangeng pleaded.

Gunthar sighed. He warned him, “Any other spells you may learn will have to wait until you are much older!”

“All right, all right! I just want to learn the transformation spells anyway,” Zuangeng promised.

Gunthar said, “There are basically two spells. You need both. There are derivatives of the spells. I will teach you the basic spells. There are certain rules you must adhere to. That is for all spells.

“In this case, the first rule is:

“You can not change the size and weight of the object you are transforming. If you do, you’ll upset the balance of nature. To upset the balance is inviting trouble.

“Rule two:

“You can not change a living object into a non-living object. If you do, you kill it. That includes yourself.

“Rule three:

“You can not change an animal into a plant. If you do, you, also, kill it. Even the plant would be dead.

“Rule four:

“You can not change a non-living object into a living one. If you try to, the living object will be dead.

“You need to practice on inanimate objects before you do anything living. Don’t practice without one of us with you!”

“Yes, sir,” Zuangeng said.

Gunthar said, “The two spells I’ll teach you go hand in hand. The first spell transform an object into something else. The other spell transform it back to its original form. Now, listen carefully. Repeat what I say.”

Gunthar said the words to the two spells. Zuangeng repeated them. Gunthar further said, “When you want to change on object, think of or imagine what you want it to change into. You do not need to if you change it back to its original form. Now, watch.”

Gunthar gave him a demonstration. He got a small book. He set it on the table. He said, “I will turn this book into a cube and back.”

Gunthar said the first spell. The book became a cube. He said the second spell. The book returned. He had Zuangeng practice the words first before using them. After practicing for a while, Gunthar said, “If you learn any more spells, you will need to learn to read. It’s lunch time, now. We’ll continue after we eat.”

They exited the library. They walked to the kitchen. Petra and Hans were already getting something to eat. Gunthar got something for Zuangeng and himself. While they ate, Gunthar said, “Petra, Hans, Zuangeng is learning the spell of transformation. I want you two to be with him when I can’t when he practices.”

The boys nodded. For days, Zuangeng practiced the two spells. He was always in the presence of Gunthar, Petra or Hans. They repeated the rules to Zuangeng. When he finally got to try it on himself, they only allowed small, subtle changes. He got good enough that Gunthar allowed him to use them to disguise himself when he went out.