Saturday, 2 August 2014

Captain Tory

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (Chris Van Allsburg) is a collection of fascinating sketches with each one having a title and 'caption'. They provide great inspiration for writing. Here is one I have attempted.

Captain Tory

He swung his lantern three times and slowly the schooner appeared.
August 5th was one of those quiet summer days when no one's around and there's nothing to do. Hadley Cuirc had spent the morning kicking stones along the quay and watching the boats coming and going and was set on doing the same after lunch. However, as he trudged slowly beside the river in the general direction of home, he saw a man in a long, dark coat and sailor's cap, standing and staring out over the water. Hadley stopped and, being of an inquisitive nature, called out, "What are you looking at?"
     He expected the man to jump in surprise or to ignore him, being so preoccupied. Instead, and without turning around, the man gave a quiet reply.
     "My schooner, young man. My beautiful schooner."
     Hadley was perplexed. Not by the sailor, nor by his manner: there were often odd men around the town. What confused Hadley was the lack of any such vessel, there was not so much as a dingy on this section of the river at that moment. Carefully he stepped across the grass to where the man was stood, in case he was missing something, but the water was clearly deserted.
     "What schooner?"
     "You don't see it," replied the man. It was not really a question, more a statement, but Hadley felt that he aught to clarify.
     "No, I don't see any boats."
     The man turned towards him and Hadley noticed for the first time that he held a lantern that glimmered faintly in the noonday sun.
     "Then you'll be thinking I'm mad," said the man in a low, gruff voice, "but Ol' Captain Tory ain't mad, he's not even half mad. Young man, you come back here at midnight tonight, and I'll show you I'm not mad."
     By this point Hadley had decided he didn't want to hear any more, being quite sure the old man was perfectly mad, and he began to edge away.
     "Midnight, remember," said Captain Tory.
     "Yes, Sir," said Hadley, to show that he'd heard, before he turned and skipped into a run that took him all the way home.

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