Gandhi Quiz


Sid And The Pirates 2

That morning, Mr. Doyle and Sid sailed in a big fishing boat, with two cabins and a wide even deck that gave them a clear view of the sea and the islands that dotted the coast.. The mist though was thick and Syed looked worried when it did not lift even an hour or so after they had set out.
Mr. Doyle still coughed and as Sid settled him down in the cabin, and pulled a rug over his knees, he showed him the map and pointed out the island they must look out for.
'Ava is one of the richest kingdoms in Asia,' he spoke in a low tone, 'and the British want it because of its fine rubber and timber. And they don't want the French coming too close.. The pirates too will want to get him..''
His voice trailed off and Sid realized Mr. Doyle had dozed off.
'It will take us three hours at the most,' said Syed, who was at the wheel himself, to reach Cox's Bazaar. 'I understand it is an island close by that Mr. Doyle's looking for. His informant spoke a dialect around those parts. I am just worried we might miss it because of the mist, but we have to be careful.'
Sid nodded. He was worried now about Mr. Doyle. He wondered what it was that he had wanted to tell him.
'I understand Rahim has been a nuisance of late...'.
There was something in the way Syed said that, and the way he looked at Sid, that puzzled him; almost as if there was something more he wanted to say.
But evidently he changed his mind. He was indeed more worried now. The wind that blew in from the east was absent. Usually it appeared in the morning and the sailors could make their forecasts from that, but the mist didn't lift, and the heat only built up. Sid knew the rowers on deck were worried too. He could tell from the way they looked repeatedly up at the clouds. He saw the golden drops of sweat on the rowers' necks and hands. The sound of the oars was fast and furious.
Syed looked grim. There were returning boats they saw now, and the fishermen stood up and shouted out warnings, 'It is a bad time to be out, something in the very stillness of the waters. Can't you feel it?'
And one old fisherman cried out, 'Be well, Syed. It looks the storms will strike early this year.'
'Then someone else spoke up. He spoke in a language very different and too fast, but Sid did catch the word, "Ava'
It did make Syed turn pale though, and he cast a worried look at Mr. Doyle inside the cabin, before he shook his head. The fishing boat had powerful sails but the storm could unleash ferocious damage. Their only hope was to get as quickly as they could to the islands around Cox Bazaar.
Sid assisted Syed at the wheel for the humidity was high and everyone was tiring much too fast. 'We must be alert,' said Syed, and his voice was hoarse and very stressed, ' I know some of the pirate islands. Mr. Doyle speaks their language. Keep as close to the land, there is sure to be a storm soon.
Then because he couldn't hold back things any more, Syed said, 'The prince is already in some danger. The pirates have managed to get him. Mr. Doyle looks unwell. Do you think...?' His voice trailed off as he looked at Sid. And Sid nodded, gulping his fear down. He knew the eastern dialect too, a version of Arakanese spoken down the coast. He raised his chin, suddenly more resolute. He couldn't let Mr. Doyle down, and it was his moment to prove himself.
When the ship came up, so silently beside their own boat, everyone was taken by surprise. Ten, eleven men jumped abroad and among them was a tall handsome narrow eyed man.
'So do you have a message from the governor?' he asked, and no one said a word. Syed who had his hands tied behind his back stared sullenly at the floor. He was pretending not to understand.
'We do not mean any harm. We just want to carry on the diamond trade that we did, when Ava was free. The king of Nepal, the prince of Persia, they all want it. The British want to regulate it.'
When no one answered and inside in the cabin, Mr. Doyle lay fast asleep, now delirious with fever, the pirate captain strode around on deck and asked in a menacingly quiet voice, 'And so are the British scared to even talk to us pirates?"
Barely had he spoken, they saw the darkening of the horizon, a darkness that was advancing too rapidly. 'We must make for the islands,' said Syed urgently, the storm could be upon us very soon. And it's changing direction too, very fast.'
It was a fast and furious race then. Sid helped at the oars. He heard nothing but the sweep of the dark waters below him, the panting of the men around, and the terrible heaving of the boat as the first rains reached them. The surf from the other boat rose high and struck him repeatedly on the face.
The pirate captain was impressed by his skills, as they neared the islands not a moment too late.
'You are quite a master sailor. And you don't look like one of them anyway.'
That was what Sid had always been told. He with his wavy golden hair, blue eyes was always going to be different, though his skin now was bronzed from all the time he had spent under the harsh tropical sun.

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