CHAPTER SEVEN – Poking the Eye of the Storm with a Tiny Boat

Gruel gripped the side of the boat so hard his knuckles turned purple. He didn’t know the exact shade of purple because of all the twenty-foot waves and gale-force winds and deafening thunder and sideways rain hammering against his face.

“Batten down the hatches”, shouted Pegleg Pete as he struggled to keep standing while the boat rocked in the storm.

Gruel struggled to hear him. He could see his mouth move but could only hear the ocean colliding with the boat. He tried to shout louder than the storm.

“What did you say?”

“I said batten down the hatches. And we’re almost at the beam ends, quick, hard-up on the port side.”

Gruel raised a wet eyebrow. “I didn’t understand anything you just said.”

“Quit your yapping. Run to the bow and change that half-hitch into a reef knot, hand over fist.”

“What?”

“I really should have taught you how to sail for the past two weeks instead of shooting birds and telling stories.”

Before he could reply with a sarcastic comment the boat smashed against a jagged rock. They were both flung into the air. Gruel managed to grab the rigging and steady himself. He looked around but couldn’t see Pete. Crawling on his hands and knees he managed to reach the side and looked out.

“Pete”, yelled Gruel.

“Over here, kid.”

Gruel spotted him in the water. The waves were carrying him away further and further from the boat. There was no way of saving him.

“If I don’t make it”, shouted Pegleg Pete, “remember this.”

Gruel did his best to listen as the storm grew louder. He knew that, if he was going to tell him where the treasure of Portobello was buried, now was that time. He prepared himself and listened intently as to not miss it.

“Don’t let my rats drown”.

Then a thirty-foot wave swallowed Pete whole. He was gone.

The ship violently shook as it hit more rocks and Gruel whacked his head against the mast and blacked out.

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