THE LIFE LINE

by Lisa Pynes


On an early spring morning the passengers aboard the ship "C. Worthy" were enjoying the warm breeze that surrounded them. The women and children were in the play area on deck, taking advantage of the kind weather.

Almost a full week had passed since anyone but the men had been allowed on deck, for the treacherous weather they had all been forced to endure was most violent and dangerous. But endure they did, for when they reached the Americas the long journey would well be worth the hardships. Once there, they would be reunited with other family and friends aboard the ship sailing with the "C. Worthy".

Those who eagerly embarked on this journey did so for many reasons, hopes of religious freedom, to be reunited with their families who came on earlier voyages, or to simply begin new life in a virgin country which was said to be full of prosperity and opportunities.

More than three weeks had passed since the ships had set sail from England. Her Captain predicted only two more days until they would reach the Americas.

"Perhaps the weather will remain calm," half-thought, half-prayed Anna, who was watching her young son Ian, who was playing with the other children on deck. Ian was obviously feeling much better now, Anna noticed. His pale cheeks were beginning to glow again with color, and his deep blue eyes sparkled like the glistening waves.

Leaving Ian in the care of another mother, Anna went below to help prepare the only meal of the day. Today, as many others, would bring chowder soup, full of large chunks of fish, as most of the days since rationing began to preserve their dwindling food supply.

Later that evening as Ian lay his head on his mothers lap to rest, he asked her to tell him about his father once again. "Is he in Heaven mother?" Ian asked sadly. "I'm sure he is, my dear child", Anna whispered soothingly.

"Is that where we are going, are we on our way to heaven to meet father?" Ian explained to Anna that he had asked Thomas, a young man on the ship, what it would be like in America. Thomas had replied, "just like heaven!"

After coaxing weary little Ian to sleep, with a prayer and a song, Anna lay thinking about the new life she and her son would share in this strange New America, as she finally gave her thoughts a rest and drifted off into an uneasy sleep.

Dreams haunted Anna this night, dreams of the life that was once hers not so long ago, dreams which were actually memories of a time when her husband was alive and her family was complete. This was not the first time since his death, some three years ago, that Anna had dreamt of him. Once again, she stood in the doorway with young Ian in her arms and watched her man ride past her and into the road, stopping momentarily to gaze upon his beautiful wife and baby boy. But this time he would not return. She would never again look upon is solemn face . . .

Anna sprang from the makeshift bed, eyes wide with terror, and heart pounding. She awoke just in time to hear a horrible crash, like an explosion, an awful quake. As she pulled Ian to his feet , the side of the ship began collapsing and a great wall of water came rushing inside. Struggling against the powerful water Anna held fast to the ladder which led above the deck, Ian with his arms locked about her neck, fleeing the raging water and leaving the muffled screams of panic behind her.

Above deck Anna found the men in a frenzy. The "C. Worthy's" sister ship had already come as close as possible and the men were attempting to stretch a rope and pulley between the two. For the water was so rough and torrid swing. She gripped the small trembling child and held him close until they were aboard the sister ship.

When the empty swing raced back across their life line, Thomas carried Anna to the rope and held her limp body tightly to his wide and muscular chest as they descended across the turbulent sea. Thomas had hoped for some time that his destiny might be with this lovely, brave English woman and her towheaded, inquisitive little boy. Holding fastly to Anna, Thomas feared the ship they were departing from would tip completely over, letting the rope fall and casting them into the angry sea.

At last they reached the other ship, the men lifted the seemingly lifeless body of the woman from Thomas' protective arms . . . Anna awoke just in time to look back helplessly as the "C.Worthy" swayed one last time and rolled upon her side. End of the journey for the ship and her remaining voyagers . . .

As the radiant morning sun rose over the tranquil but dominant sea, a sea scattered with not only the remains of the "C.Worthy", but the hopes and dreams of many as they continued their journey on . . .to their New world.


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The Life Line, 14 September 1999