“If you are frightened Leech-ni-monti*, you are welcome to hide in the baggage with the rat,” Prudence called to Kurga. She had to shout because the wind had risen to such a pitch, they were no longer ‘before’ it but getting dragged along by it as it rushed past. The boat, heeled over at a crazy angle, wobbling and wiggling through the sand as it tottered on only one skid at times, threatened to throw anything not tied down overboard where it would so quickly fall behind and be buried by the sand that Prudence had made it very clear she would not even attempt to stop and recover anything or anyone so unlucky.
“I’m fine,” he said, though he never turned his head from straight forward and it was doubtful she heard him with his headscarf wrapped so firmly around his face and neck.
‘Even through his robes, goggles and scarves, he looks sick,” Ch’Voga thought, ‘I’m glad he’s on the down-slope side of the boat.’ Ch’Voga looked up-slope, to the port side outrigger where Prudence sat, hanging by the lines and leaning as far back as she could to counter the boat’s desire to capsize. He caught her eye and motioned to come out to her. She shrugged. He stood and worked his way out, careful but not overly so.
“You seem at ease, given our circumstances,” she remarked when he had sat down beside her on what would normally be the side of the skid, if the boat were sitting level. He couldn’t see the ground side of the boat, it was just a blur of flying debris but his mind told him he was some forty feet in the air, perched with no more concern than a bird upon a tree branch, his feet dangling in space. “Have you some divine assurance, holy man?”
“No. Nothing divine. A demonic urge to throw myself overboard perhaps. Prudence, I want to apologize for all the trouble I have caused you. I have been a fool.”
“Yes you have but you have always been. I expect nothing less from you. So it is my own fault for underestimating how much you had grown.”
“Your compassion, as usual, moves one to tears and stirs the emotion.” He lapsed silent. After a time he said, “Your friend, Jacques, he seems to care about you very much.”
“Is that a question? Are you surprised someone does?”
“He seemed concerned for your safety and that you might not head for shelter.”
“Look ahead,” she said. He did. “What do you see?”
“How far can you see?”
“I have no idea.”
“Can you see the front of the boat?”
“Can you see past the front of the boat?”
“Not with any certainty.”
“At this speed, what do you think rocks would do to the front of the boat? How much warning would you have?”
“I take your point.”
“Do you? You think me arrogant and “pig-headed” as he does. No one thinks I know what I’m doing. No one thinks I’m good enough.”
“Who do you need to think you are good enough, Prudy?”
“Who do you?” she sneered.
(* coin counter, money lover)