The Boy and the Sea Dragon
Chapter Forty Four
Days later, they made harbor at Mikitaya, a major harbor cityh on Cinga, with no further incident. Captain Esiada gave the crew shore leave after all the cargo was unloaded. He gave them their pay. He kept four crew men behind. They were to help with the next task on the ship.
Captain Esiada had two of the crewmen bring a trunk to his room. He had them set it just outside of Zuangeng’s room. He said, “Zuangeng, your future is not with the Serikua. I have someone for you to meet. Put some clothes on.”
Zuangeng got a white short sleeve shirt, blue pants and brown shoes on. Captain Esiada and the crewmen helped Zuangeng pack all his loose belongings in the trunk.
Zuangeng found his goggles. He said, “I had forgotten all about these.”
Captain Esiada, then, said, “Are you the thief they’re looking for?”
Zuangeng said, “Sorry, Esiada. I am afraid so.”
Captain Esiada said, “Please, don’t ever steal, again! I do not want to see you in jail!”
Zuangeng said, “Yes, sir.”
Everything was packed. Captain Esiada had the crewmen carry the trunk and chest off the ship. They set them on the dock. They stood guard.
Captain Esiada and Zuangeng walked to get a horse drawn carriage. They rode the carriage back. The crewmen loaded the trunk and chest into the back of the carriage. Captain Esiada paid them. He gave them their shore leave. He set up repairs on the Serikua.
Captain Esiada and Zuangeng climbed aboard the carriage. Zuangeng sat on the right. Captain Esiada picked up the reigns. He drove the carriage on the streets of the dockyard. They entered the business district. They traveled along a street into the residential district. He drove through the residential streets They came to the city’s inland edge. They traveled in silence.
Captain Esiada drove to a country dirt road. They rode along it. Zuangeng looked on both sides of the road. It was lined with barb wire. Grass lined the road and wire. On the other side of the wire were fields of unfamiliar plants.
They came upon a lane on the left. It was lined on both sides by bushes. Stretching along both sides of the lane was a barb-wire fence. Shadows covered the lane. The sun was low in the western sky.
Captain Esiada steered onto the lane. They traveled along it. The lines of bushes only went half way along the lane. Near the lane’s end, a two story red bricked, moderately sized house appeared. Some farm hands attended to duties in the front yard. They stopped when they saw the carriage approaching.
One farm hand entered the house. He found the woman of the house in the kitchen. She was just starting to prepare the evening meal. He said, “Ma’am, there is a carriage approaching. It looks like Captain Esiada in it.”
She said, “Thank you. I’ll go out to greet him.”
He said, “Someone I have never seen before appears to be with him.”
They exited the front door. She stood on the concrete porch. She watched the carriage.
The carriage turned left. It stopped in front of the house. It was parallel with the porch. The right side of the carriage faced the house. Captain Esiada wrapped the reigns around a post in the front corner. A farm hand grabbed and held the horse’s bridle. Captain Esiada got off. Another farm hand helped Zuangeng off.
The woman walked off the porch. She walked around the horse. She ran her hand over the horse’s nose. She greeted Captain Esiada. She spoke Cingalia, “Evening my dear Esiada. Welcome. You’re in time for supper. I was just beginning the preparations. What is the cause of our pleasure of your company?”
Captain Esiada spoke Cingalia, too, “Hello, my dear Dianea. Is it not enough for me to come? Erungano, you and I have a particular matter to discuss.”
Dianea said, “Erungano is out in the fields at the present. I don’t expect him back until suppertime. You and I could discuss it while I cook. Please, come in.”
They walked around toward the house. She spied Zuangeng. He had been standing there, silent. He had listened to their conversation. She said, “And who, pray tell, is this fine young man?”
Captain Esiada said, “This is your nephew, Zuangeng. He is the son of your sister, Mikela. Zuangeng, this is your Aunt Dianea.”
Dianea said, “Pleased to finally meet you, Zuangeng. Welcome to my farm. Please, join us and come in.”
She turned to the farm hand holding the bridle. She said, “Take the horse and carriage to the barn. Bed the horse inside. Leave the carriage outside.”
Captain Esiada said, “Before he does, we have some luggage to take off.”
Dianea said, “Take it off. Set it on the porch for now.”
The luggage was unloaded. It was placed on the porch on the door’s right. The horse and carriage were taken away. Captain Esiada, Dianea and Zuangeng entered the house into the living room.
A boy and girl came in. They stopped. They stared at Zuangeng. Zuangeng stared in turn. They were taller and apparently older then he was. Their hair were black. The boy’s hair was shorter. He could even see the boy’s ears. The girl’s hair was as long as his own, below the shoulder blades.
Dianea saw them. She said to them, “This is your cousin, Zuangeng.”
She walked behind the children. She out a hand on the boy’s shoulder. She said, “Zuangeng, this is your cousin, Ayonia.”
She removed her hand from Ayonia’s shoulder. She put a hand on the girl’s shoulder. She said, “This is your other cousin, Bofinea.”
She continued, “You two take Zuangeng outside. Show him the farm. Esiada and I have something to discuss.”
“Yes, Mom,” they chorused. The three kids disappeared.
Dianea said, “Come into the kitchen. We can talk while I work.”
They walked into the kitchen. She continued the preparations. Captain Esiada helped. She said, “What is it you want to discuss? Is it something we can help you with?”
Captain Esaida said, “It is Zuangeng. He is the reason for this visit.”
Dianea said, “Why is it that I have not met him before?”
Captain Esiada said, “He has been living with me on the Serikua since his birth. Mikela died after his birth. I’ve been raising him since. Trade has been brisk the last six years. It has hardly given me much time on shore. Now, the ship has suffered damage. It is in dock for repairs. This gives me more time to spend ashore.”
“So, Zuangeng is six years old, now,” she asked.
He said, “Yes. I feel that it is time for him to settle down. It is time for him to receive an education.”
“So, what you are saying is that you want us to take him in? You want us to send him to school,” she asked.
He said, “Yes, pretty much in a nutshell. That is pretty much what I want for him. I believe that this is best for him.”
“I would love to take him. However, I need to discuss it with Erungano, my husband. Why don’t you stay for supper?” she offered.
“Be glad to. We can discuss it further afterward,” he said.
Captain Esiada entered the dining room. He set the table for six people.
The three children went out the back door. They were on a wood porch. To the door’s right, hung a bell. A few yards from the porch was a chain link fence. A path led from the porch to a gate in the fence. They followed the path to the gate.
Ayonia opened the gate. They walked through. He closed the gate behind them. They walked the path past a red wood barn on their right. They continues on past the henhouse.
About five yards later, they came to an area of grass fenced in with barb wire. They stopped at the nearest fence. They looked in. A horned bull was grazing. Ayonis looked at Zuangeng. A look of curiosity was on Zuangeng’s face. Ayonia said, “Zuangeng, have you ever seen a bull before?”
Zuangeng said, “No. This is the first time I’ve been on a farm.”
Ayonia said, “Until you can hande one, stay away from them, especially by yourself. They can be dangerous, even, deadly, if not handled properly.”
They continued on. They past fields of different crops. One field was a pasture. Cows were grazing there. They came to a pond. The water was muddy. Bofinea said, “Zuangeng, we like to swim here. Do you swim?”
Zuangeng said, “Esiada likes to say I’ve been swimming since birth.”
She said, “Sometime, we’ll bring you here to swim. Now, we need to head back.”
They returned toward the house. They stopped at the barn. To the left of the barn door was the carriage, horseless. The door was partly open. They entered the barn. Zuangeng looked around. To his left were stalls. Five stalls had horses in them, one per stall. There was a man forking hay into the fifth stall. To his right, on the wall hung saddles and tackle for the horses. Past them were various farming equipment.
Zuangeng walked to the saddles. He looked them over. He turned. He said, “Ayonia, what are these?”
Ayonia walked to him. Zuangeng turned back to the saddles. Ayonia said, “These are saddles. We put them on the backs of the horses. We use them to ride the horses. Ever been on a horse before?”
Zuangeng said, “No. Only horses I am familiar with are used to pull carriages.”
Bofinea had walked to Zuangeng’s other side. She said, “One of these days, we’ll teach you to ride one.”
The man saw them. He had finished his chores. He walked up to the kids. The taller two kids, he recognized. The shorter boy was unfamiliar to him. The man said, “Who is this stranger you brought with you?”
Ayonia said, “Dad, this is Zuangeng. Mom says he’s our cousin.”
The man said, “Welcome, Zuangeng. If so, then, I’m your Uncle Erungano.”
They heard a bell outside the barn. Erungano said, “That is the supper bell, Zuangeng. It’s time to go in.”
They left the barn. Erungano closed the door.
Supper was almost ready. Dianea exited to the porch. She rang the loud bell. The three kids and Erungano came to the porch. Dianea said, “Almost suppertime! Wash your hands.”
They entered the house. Ayonia and Bofinia led Zuangeng to a washroom. They washed their hands and faces. Erungano walked to another one. He washed his face. He scrubbed his hands to clean them.
They sat at the table. Captain Esiada and Dianea brought the food. They set it on the table. They sat. Everybody ate and talked.
After supper, the kids exited the house to play. The adults sat in the living room. They drank sake. Captain Esiada made his proposal to Erungano.
Erungano looked at Dianea. She nodded her OK. He turned to Captain Esiada. He said, “We would love for Zuangeng to stay with us. We have a spare room for him. We will make sure he gets a proper education.”
Captain Esiada said, “I will be in port for a few days. The Serikua is under repairs. I, also, need to negotiate some cargo for the next voyage.”
Erungano offered, “We have another spare bedroom. You’re welcome to stay with us in the mean time.”
Captain Esiada said, “I appreciate the offer. I will accept it. This will give me more time with Zuangeng as he adapts to the farm. We have a trunk and chest with Zuangeng’s clothes and toys on the front porch.”
Erungano said, “I will take care of it.”
He exited the back door. He walked to the farm hand barracks. It was located at the far left back corner of the back yard. Some of the farm hands were outside. They were playing with the three kids. Erungano selected four farm hands to help. They walked, with the three kids in tow, to the front of the house. The kids were curious as to what was happening.
They arrived at the front porch. The farm hands picked up the trunk and chest. Erungano led them into the house. Ayonia closed the door behind them.
Erugano led the procession up the stairs. They turned right. They walked to the end of the hallway. They entered a room on the left. The men laid the trunk and chest on the floor next to the bed.
They exited the room. They walked downstairs. The farm hands exited the house. They walked back to their barracks.
The kids followed Erungano into the living room. Zuangeng walked to Captain Esiada. He put his hands on Captain Esiada’s thighs. He leaned forward. He looked up to Captain Esiada’s face. He said, “Esiada, why were my stuff taken upstairs to that bedroom?”
Captain Esiada looked at Zuangeng. He said, “You are staying and living here. It is time for you to settle down. It will soon be school time. You will be going to school. You will learn things that you will need for your future.”
Zuangeng said, “Like what?”
Erungano said, “How to read and write, add and subtract, to name a few things.”
Zuangeng said, “Will I ever see you again?”
“Yes. I’ll be coming to visit whenever I can. I’ll be here while the Serikua is being repaired,” Captain Esiada assured him.
Erungano added, “When school is not in session during the summertime, you can spend time with him on the Serikua. Consider your time on the farm and in school to be a new adventure.”
Later, Dianea helped Zuangeng settle into his new bedroom. Together, they made his new bed. She prepared a bedroom for Captain Esiada. Captain Esiada spent the night at the farm.
The next morning, they had breakfast. Captain Esiada and the children rode to the docks. Captain Esiada checked on the repairs. He gave Ayonia and Bofinea a tour of the Serikua. He gathered and packed some clothes.
During the repairs, Captain Esiada spent time on the farm. He helped around the farm. Occasionally, he rode into town. Sometimes, the kids, especially Zuangeng, accompanied him. Zuangeng wanted to spend as much time with him as he could. Captain Esiada spent that time negotiating new cargo for the next voyage. He kept tabs on the repairs.
It took about a week for the repairs to be completed. Finally, the Serikua was repaired, cleaned and repainted.
Captain Esiada gathered his crew. He found some new members to replace those that remained on shore or shipped with other captains. The new cargo was loaded onto the ship.
Captain Esiada bade his farewell on the farm. Zuangeng watched, with tears in his eyes, Captain Esiada leave on the carriage. He waved to Captain Esiada from the entrance to the front yard. He watched as the carriage disappeared. He returned to the house.
Dianea hugged and held him for comfort. She assured him that he’ll see Captain Esiada, again.
Captain Esiada and crew boarded the Serikua. They met at the stern. Captain Esiada said, “We are ready for departure.”
There was some murmuring among some of the crew. Iyoseching said, “I do believe I speak for the crew who knew him. Where is Zuangeng? Why is he not with us?”
Captain Esiada said, “We will be voyaging without him. He is staying behind with some relatives. Prepare to cast off.”
Iyoseching said, “We will miss him.”
Captain Esiada said, “Don’t worry. He will voyage with us now and then. Just not on this one. Dismissed.”
The crew dispersed. They went to work preparing the ship for departure.