Book 2 | Chapter 52 | Broken Craft
Vandhiyathevan stood on the deck and looked up at the sky. He was now convinced that he was going to die here, and very soon. The tip of the mast was glowing like a match stick in the dark of the night. It was a sight to behold. The fire on the mast lit the ship beautifully in the pitch dark of the night.
He suddenly got a glimpse of something else on the horizon. Was it a ship? Was it sailing towards him? It definitely looked like one. Oh God! Your miracles know no bounds. Was it for this reason that you lit up the mast of this ship? Through the dark, Vandhiyathevan could make out the tiger flag on the ship.
It was Parthibendran’s ship. The expert sailors had managed to keep the ship afloat through the gale. They had lowered the sails and anchored appropriately on and off. The captain was confident that he would be able to steer through the gale. The only thing that he was afraid of, was running into another craft. That might be disastrous to both.
Another bolt of lightning lit the sky. And right in front of them was a ship with its mast burning. In that light, the Prince could see a lone man standing next to the mast.
“Aha, it is my friend, that courageous Vallavarayan.”
The Prince had tears in his eyes.
“I want two strong oarsmen with me. Who among you are with me?”
Parthibendran objected, “Sire, what is it that you are trying to do? You are the Prince. It is not for you to do these things. We will send our sailors. You stay here.”
The Prince would have none of it. He jumped into one of the small boats. Two strong oarsmen jumped in. The Prince cut the ropes that bound the boat to the ship, and it fell into the water. The oarsmen rowed hard. The waves tossed the boat into the air.
“Vandhiyatheva – jump into the water.”
The fire on the mast was half way down. He had seen the ship. He had seen the small boat launch out and row towards him. He could not see or hear the Prince though. He just stood there, not knowing what to do.
The Prince took another impulsive decision. He took one end of a long rope, tied it around his waist, and jumped into the water. The water was rough. He swam as hard as he could towards the ship. Half way through, Samudra-Rajan came to his rescue. A large wave lifted him high and lobbed him right onto the ship’s deck. The Prince and Vandhiyathevan looked at each other with tears in their eyes, and embraced.
“Hold on to me. We will make it back together.”
They jumped back into the water. The two oarsmen now stopped rowing, and started hauling in the rope. Slowly and steadily, working against the waves, the Prince and Vandhiyathevan moved towards the boat. It was not an easy task to board the boat. Once aboard, the two oarsmen rowed hard towards their ship. They had to get back to their ship before the burning ship drowned. A drowning ship brings more turbulence in the water than any storm. The swirling water currents have the capability to swallow anything in its wake.
But, before they could reach their ship, the burning ship sank… and there was darkness all around!
The Prince looked hard, but could not find Parthibendran’s ship. The boat and the ship had drifted too far apart. The wind had stopped. The rain stopped too. The waves were still raging.
All of a sudden, the Prince saw a large object heading straight towards their boat. It was a part of the mast that had not burned. It was too late. The mast ripped the boat into shreds.
“Vandhiyatheva, do not worry. Hold on to the mast. The mast is more stable than the boat we were in.”