..............................Tales of Hyrkon: TRAVELERS FESTIVAL
Chapter TEN

I  wake  early, on the last day of our travelers circus. Dreams of  acrobats and flutists  have roiled my sleep  for so I have begun to think of it, a mummers and musicians and acrobats display of physical and social virtue.  Bard brazen, yet  in wisdom collected about one fire, Sophias jester. A man strives till he fails. I think of my tutors scoff that succeeding with a womans body assures nothing, even concerning the woman.  Yet dreamy I expect it will   ease escape … the strong arm, and  steady breath of a warm woman beside me and a full purse of coins.  Would Artyphon scoff at the joining of such ideas … the Corinthian woman would not!

So peace slides away;  instead I am heavy with dreams remembered, nightmares of the Kings command and  warrior spear thrust. Shivering I rise  standing bare footed and strip off my sleep tunic. It's Egyptian cotton; Artyphon says my sailors hemp shirt scratches her breasts.  My sister in law Isocleas hand loomed the shirt, as a gift and for a sisters love. How she lashed me acid tongued for refusing first one, then another free womans love.  Lovely siur what family would I build around her?  Oak logs glow in the firepit;  flatbread  warms while  an alepot simmers.  Zeus beard  adventures end  with sunrise … before  Helios  flashes  through our window,  I am thinking to  observe morning stars.  As the sun promises day   Jupiter and Arcturus will fall  brightly in the west.  But I come second off our sleeping mat.  Ice frosted  water splashes my face.  Artyphon  sees to my freshly washed loincloth, then   pulls me to the cold stone  floor  she wearing only a kilt and an elastic silk band.

“You will do as I say and move as I move,” she says, “or you will pay for your wickedness, die young and leave me to the cold hands of a  boneless Tyrian lecher.”

Very well …  wickedness … I follow her  squirming performance.  The exercise regimen  would endanger a squid!  Her  Mede tutor had brought  disciplined torture from  ice_covered  southern mountains, whose people   I am sure they are a hard people,  generous with ideas and frugal with their own bodies.  Wrenching leg from waist, what must they do for pleasure?  Brahmin's she calls them and stories broadly to remove my ignorance.  Visiting  Brahmins  cost a voyage the entire length of the Erythraean  Sea,   then  paddling a pillars-breath log canoe up  a cobra and  alligator-infested river ending in a weeks climb over  saw-toothed ice-festering ridges.  And Artyphon says they have no love for northern, woman stealing deep-grass herders or for the Hittites who are a very stable and profoundly inflexible people.  But, I judge the mountain people so beloved of Artyphon little better. They diet on rice and tea and beans and goat-curd.  They will kill neither ox nor cobra and prefer their daughters become whores rather than become wise … or wealthy … or a farm-girl who feeds the earth, tricks wild long-horn sheep into milking  and bakes bread.  They fear only the snow-cats, leopards by their spotted skins and will kill one should it attack Brahmin young.  My quick prayer to Dianna blessed the truth:  when you start sleeping with a  barbarian woman you learn lots.

Arthyphons  insane exercise ritual  tore  muscles from my back  and broke  my bones and stretching my arm from its socket  begged it return.  When she had finished  nearly killing me she said  though exhausted I would not die before she did. I enter her swiftly and she yields all pleasure to herself.  We  take quiet for the goddess, then  eat and drink lightly before the fire. Even she is breathless untangling her bones. “Injustice triumphs  if a  man dies before his woman, she trained to his pleasure   as  you hold  duty as law.” Logs sparked on the firepit  warming  oat bread and a bucket of ale. Much too early for her sophism ….  that was her point and I laughed!

Artyphon  refills my amphora of  ale.  “The King is pleased,” she remarks with eyes lowered to avoid mine.   Zeus beard had I become again a rope-boy? I nearly asked when she had spoken to him, a question she would have taken as a leather lash-stroke to her back.  “And if  my bones are jumped so entangled  any outrage may be defended ….?” She coos.  My  firefly, my wit, my sea-nymph. We shower cold  using rough sea-sponges and there at least a sailor can  show a woman how little mercy the flow of water entails.

Dawn breakfast  followed the  German custom, for those who traded the savages of roast pig and apples and nutbread, all washed in  vile ferments of potatoes and beets.  Rudely ended. While a few long lost companions were first discovered,  many  travelers had  greeted Auge wide awake, and left  Aminias villa  before sunrise.  Very informal even for sailor boyos none thinking to disturb the gallant chosen by Aminias for a last sail.

We came down from the villa by a commerce route with carts,  horses, paved roads and travelers inns beside every spring.  Cheap talk held that we came down wiser.  The queen so taken with the blond-hair warrior those two nights ago  now rode  her painted mare beside his fourteen hands tall black Arabian. They shared a small guard and  sporting women servants.  A handsome pair I thought whom men would see justice in serving. He wore her green silk veil  bound in a knot to his leather shoulder plates;  she had his dirk belted to a silver torque about her girdle.  Brazen!  Fearless and mindless of wagging tongues the queen  had  taken him as  public consort. Puddles of dust surrounded her little van so different from the platform where she decreed the fortunes of states or the marble alter where she bore the entire weight of nature.

I recognized Artyphons boundless curiosity for the mans dirk at her loins, so stunning that she rode over to the pair and cut-out the Queen to a small green pasture. While their horses grazed they whispered ear-to-ear broken only by womans knowing laughter and separated with sisters kisses. She'll never hold him,” proclaimed Artyphon galloping near and leaning over her saddle toward me. Her hand  pressed against the side of my face then giving  the bit to her Sicilian galloped off on a dusty side trail.

Jealousy indeed, as the Kings women latter accused, or  did Artyphon  sense  fading Aphrodites  growing wickedness?  Surely Hera punishes women of flesh  who defied her, but Queen Mary was more like Aphrodite herself, dissembling in small ways while living a broader truth.  Was it really like that I wondered thinking back to the night when Artyphon and I became lovers?  Damme … the earth moves and Crete falls that any man can understand.  But, should the goddess speak to one person  … anyway, I am looking about the riders near me.  Where  has Artyphon vanished?

Over I say. Yes, this gift of travelers. Bits of blue seascape arise between hills and soon crew  appear as if horses were dolphin.   NaziBu , chief tillerman and Drest  a carpenter  and  fellow desert Elemite taken to sea  lead a company of  Belisama  troupers to  meet our van.  “Greeting Captain and all 's well that crosses the  seamans palm.  Drunk, whoring and  bargaining ivory for jade,”  they offer with the pride of a natural trader. Then more seriously, “Olive-wood pins for the rowers benches and witches moss for burns.”

“Jade indeed!  Where is their mine?”

“Underwater, Cap'n,” says Teutor, best of the swimmers.  “Local  pearl divers found the vein leading out from a cliff. Scrapping  barnacles off our  hull,  I found we could match them. At  thirty  cubits they don't get many chisel-blows before  they need to surface . The dog-fish too  are prowling for clam-eaters and will  take a diver  like as not.

One diver always has to be a spearman and the results aren't so pretty.”  He chuckles smartly. “There's two-dozen fists under the Captains  hatch. None's the wiser.”

“But, the divers are,” I chide.” Drest coughs and says nothing.  Then … “The Belisama  without barnacles .. she still floats above the water … and has company?”

“Fewer than before, Capt'an. A straggle of Latium galleys, two  masted Tyrion  biremes and one near sunk from Sidon. A big Egyptian schooner has the harbors west end to itself  with a fleet of  slim tunny  busses; I didn't think the Egyptians ate tunny!”

“Not sea people in disguise, they may be? Some of ours picking Lokis plate!  Have they come to shore?”

A lightening stroke flashed far out on the  northern horizon … and faded soundless. Finding himself  Drest quickly replies. “To shore, never. They trade row back and forth to the schooner,  some say exchanging bronze ax heads, but scrawny might they ever be they threaten noone.  Well for them to stay  far from the Belisama! Bottom scraped clean, strakes painted and trim as Diannas girdle, with the sails-seams pitched and a new sprityard.” Sheepishly he retells ...”twenty whores Sar were hangin' from  it  ta see how many nekked could they be and they was fatter than we expected!”

“And have these fat whores ripped out the oarsmens hammocks, “ laughs Artyphon her pony  suddenly reappearing at my horses flank. Seeing  me about to shout Artyphon feeds me a sesame cake. “They should be vanished like witches when your captain arrives.”

“Aye madam, we believe they shall be,” Drest manages and their van turns and darts away down the hillside.

Not us. And very well for it  as  risk is valued much less at a travels end  so none gallop the open cliffsides.  Our road curled and switch-backed around every ravine; older Sicily as if throwing us off rose above in deserted or crumbled manse, villa , citadel, hewed and ravaged rock keep  or at the worst just smoking mouths of caves from which men in skins shook spears and cursed us in unknown languages to powerless gods.

Terror really,  a Medusa older than me, older than  Minos, older than Aphrodite ….  none will say yet with every bend and steep  and bridging the  bite of salt air became sharper growing the power of youth. I don't think of myself as young, yet looking up and above at  the failed old pillars … what must they have thought?  Elete and Acte had finished tossing Helios yellow ball  through the afternoon before the Panormous  quay and  Belisama come into view.  Did I expect joy?  What a spyders-nest the landside had become, with  mended shrouds hung between trees and skeins of rope newly pleated  and set for waxing  stretched between cross-bars.  Sails unfurled too and green  tar stropping mended seams.  Smells of pitch and tar, bees-wax and  and new-sawed wood wound their way  up from the quays. Rope-boys  caught sight of us first and set to halloowing!   Very well … they had been put to watch lest too many  ship-mates be discovered bound with  too many whores while the Capitan crashes the party unannounced!   Newly steamed barrel-wood awaited local brewers of ale. Life at sea begins afresh.

Belisama rolled  to the northern swell,  bow and stern bound at  deep-water anchor.  Yards and top- masts had been stepped down, and the hull rode safely three bow-lengths from the nearest dock.  Yet I laughed at the brazen invaders! Fleets of oared cutters  packed with women fled the Belisama  as I got close enough to see what mates hand occupied what ass while those same rowers returned

ceder barrels of  smoked herring.  Rails of brown salted and cured, smoked and de-boned sole replaced pink bare ass  on the gangway. Men should have been flogged … Zeus beard it is a wonderful thing to sail.

“Yo  thar , Cap'n Sar it's good to ber seein yer , but can  yer belly be fulr?”

“Belay that gob! Have all those women signed on for the crew?”

“Beggins the cap'ns pardon … they ah … given the warm heat in this harbor they were hired on  to  scrub must and moss  from the storm-sails …  Sur.”

“Bakk! That hire will come out of the mast-mens pay. I presume the sails are scrubbed spotless.”

“Oh yes Sar no women could clean out  parts of a ship like those women.”

I could be serious no longer and  my Lieutenants intervened – to my rescue –  by a quay-side fire-pit roasting two whole lambs.  Stories of the fabled villa were told and dis-believed .. so everything was told and more  of flaming unicorns and from the sky vampirish bare-breasted waifs. All in all while the wine-bowls circled.   So we ate and drank till  my tongue growing prudent  ignored sailor boyos straggling  to the quay and remained tied to the gray bands of clouds circling from the Latin mainland.

All that  night and the following day we loaded.  Our physician required  trading  eight bricks of Gaulish bees-wax  much coddled by our rope-weavers for two silver vials of willow-bark ferment of which north Sicily produces the best. Besides chandlers stores  Belisama  carried  in trade three-hundred  maple  barrels of Marsaii fish ferment, eight-hundred clay jars of pickled  carrots , forty pigs quartered and salted,  the various horns of iron and copper,  bronze and tin a trader must value against the odds as they are precious as a virgin daughter in isolated villages,  twelve oak  casks  of Sicilian white wine, forty barrels of brine olives  and twelve- hundred gold  bars of weight in Egyptian deben,  thus  balancing each a loaf of bread, and fit  to the hull bottom against the keel as ballast.

Fabulous as a princes ransom it was  Artyphons gold in this way,  or I should say her task that when the sweating mules had appeared at the quay she rode with two guard captains  fronting  the caravan.  I had missed her. Camels, donkeys and horses … drivers bellowed and beat them, raw guards-squad rode behind avoiding the mule-shit.  A factor of  Egyptian dress rode strideful behind  Artyphon and produced a  parchment  sheet  swearing  my good faith delivery.

We unhorse beside two barrels of olive oil and lay the parchment upon them.  She said simply. “Sign here and  put your  mark under the gold scrolling.” The paper took an inked imprint from my traders badge.

Parchment is as expensive and rare  as a for'ard slave with both ears. “Is that scroll a code, broken up as boxes with dots?” She says nothing, making a game of it.  Two can play. “Delivery of what,  jade dilldoes for the whores of Rhodes?  What am I signing for?”


She spoke without threat or promise of a long expected task.  Hers … now mine. “Thirty mules and twenty camels!”  NaziBu beside me had an abacus calculating. “Enough weight to change the ships trim.” That was the least of a wealthy kingdoms fortune. “Who is responsible for transport? Who owns the gold?”

Artyphon patted dry my seal and tucked it into an oiled leather pouch.  “Until now I am responsible for it. Until you deliver it to the Hyrkon treasury you are now responsible.”

“Would you see me thrust through with a pike, impaled if I fail?”

Amusement fails her. “Would that my master shared his failures as well as success with his servant.  I would see  that gold  travel no farther than Hyrkon.”

“Would you now,” I joke. Her toy simpering  I forgive. “Hyrkon, eh where we go directly.”  I scruff on a day-old beard. “My dear Artyphon am I also now the mule?  What trader risks his life and ship and reputation for a product of unknown origin and uncertain end? Who paid this gold to whom for what service?”

“First-hand I know nothing, but gossip abounds in the  servants quarters.”  Artyphon lowered her veil. “It is said … the gold belongs to a magical Chamois, the value being  a blood price  paid by the hetaera for  an illicit lover not slain.”

“Illicit … a blasphemy to the gods?  What then,  a faun perhaps descended on a careless nymph,” I say slyly, “but a fawn...? ”

Artyphon snapped. “Discredit as you will. It is said for those creatures dear to Artemis  that pursuit is taken the same as willing surrender.”

“Which means exactly what?”  I laugh. “Surely an animal may not own gold, and only a fiend would wish to mate with a wild  beast? And even assuming such an outrage why  in justice should Aminias bear the bride-price? ”

Artyphons eyes search mine. “Hyrkon will hold the value in trust. I know nothing  else of the story.”

She was strutting behind me,  pouting. “As if gold were your only problem.”

A sour face escaped me. “I believe this golden venture  carries a small number.”

“I know it not.”

“Artyphon grasps the sheeps belly,”  spoke NaziBu cleverly. He  had contented himself  crafting a three faced calf talis of poppy and saffron stems, the flowers as faces now quizzed me. “Sar,  you just calculated  the number of gold and its value and large values they are.”

“It's nothing,” I said, but Artyphon broke in. “We speak philosophy, referring to the ultimate tempers of the gods.  When men first wrote, they counted. All agree. So we have number. But long before writing, when the ancients first spoke of their feeling, they counted! So the mages say, all we do has a number.”

“And the number of this creature,” quizzed NaziBu lighting fire to his twisted talis, flashing it to a spearpoint of flame and wand of fragrant orange smoke?

“Ah yes, fire and smoke. Some high desert wizards  claim a  rising smoke column changes its number every instant like colors in a rainbow though perceived by  mind only.”

“Known only to Cybelles honored blind scribes,” Artyphon huffed. She turned on me.  “Do we play more childrens games, or begin to study. Hyrkon awaits! You go before the Trade Council the day after we arrive.”

Such secrets deserve better, even when  hearing cannot imagine; I was angry. “Foolish me, for believing only the King knows that .. He and I.” I turned , grasped her wrist and pulled her against me. “Not your plan  my dearest firefly to steal  a step on the Phoenician?” I squeezed her waist cruelly which she forebear  with  breathless determination. “They can hardly allow us to trade ferments without risk and nothing will ply the trade like our Belisama.”

Returning her breath she stammered, “you just hope the plan is mine …. We will practice questioning between here and Hyrkon, especially those personal prods I expect from  Memns the Carthage factor. ”

“Memns... he tans camel-hides and whose mother runs a whorehouse in Ithaca?”

“Ashur is Council chair this cycle and will sponsor Memns motions as needed. Ashur is Syrian  you know,  a money-changer and  Assyrian king Ashur-Dans  natural son by a Byblos heterae.  He is  married to Memns sister Lemta … a beautiful desert vixen I hear ...” Artyphon turned her head up watching the Kings banner ripple eastward. “The Council will test, to its own ends. Minos will not desert you, but we barely have time  to prepare thrust for thrust.”

Much later as Helios greeted Poseidon  Boreas cast his evening breath , seamist rising  and a linen tunic allowed  chills overdue to  cover me.  “This sealskin,” Artyphon suggests tossing and smoothing the cape over my shoulders. “And what is this you write. It's not the ships log and not the bastard Egyptian of the Trade Council. Don't hump your shoulder so, to hide … I know the old Minoan. You have not a lover beside me to spill your heart … I know what the palace women think of me. But your heart has promised itself. So if not Eros warm letter, then … what's this …  ' ravening  seaborn Etruscians soak blood from their brothers breasts as they thrust and parry between  shattered hulls  …'  my dearest Alcibiades surely you describe not the sea battle off Sardinia? Or by Cybelles favor you are writing a bards poem, a paeon creating gore and heroes, gods favor and hells wrathe  as ye make one fabulous word after another.  Did your tutor teach  thus, that fables not pottery and oil and ferment will be your fame? Dear lover and master and star of my moon the goddess has struck you.”  She turns a page. “Aminias baring her right breast and thigh sweeps  burning men before her as a dragon sweeps away spearmen ..'.   but dear master she was all, but invisible during daylight hours and at night hopscotched like a stone upon water.”

“I  extend and imagine thus and so.”

“Who will read .. thus and so. None …  none , but me!”

In truth I relish the  barding, the reliving for I trust my eyes less than the second sight of my heart.  I do not wish to explain,  finding  one part more honest than the formal ships log.  Artyphon has wrapped her arms around my back, clinging like  morning glory vines, blue and warm  to a  cold white marble post. “Too warm.” I  protest, closing the ledger and returning it to an oilskin case,  and thence a teak box beside the ships log.  Still shivering,   I hang  the vest from a ratline,  till  sunset calls it down.  Yet chills had covered my chest and arms. “And I would have said “Sealskin my love ...” Our Ocelot screams at a cloying gull.

“Love … love,” mocking. Artyphons eyes avoiding mine. “Am I a piece of

bards tale you have written?”  Her voice like clouds on a windswept sky. “Love love … so may a master bind his  powerless slave with no loss to himself.”

“So may a mistress bind her lover as faire Kelpie  binds her rider? Restless yet untutored he happens upon her beauty.”   That desperate moment on the rock cliff,  strength withering when  the ravine had opened flower bright and then the chamois... I sought the name … yes, Ardbenna … and clutched my memory for the face.   Love was that tangle … love before love. Yet I am  no country simpleton born away by  a  mystics smoke-puff  or   Scythian savage  confounded by carnival tricks.  “All choice is loss my dear Artyphon. Even the gods sorrowed when man reached for the light. Are you not my own? Have I not captured you along a stream of life?”

Against my chest she has gripped strongly without shame, as a wife might feel shame to submit in public. I laugh... what is private aboard a ship?  What is human is reasonable and what meaning might the world have without humans?  Thoughts tumble as we prepare to up-anchor.   Minos had chosen to sail earlier with the Queen of Byzantium eighty-oared galley and there was talk of  shared weapons trade with tribes of the  infinite northern grass-lands.

“A strange coupling,” I suggest to Artyphon, “as  regardless your warning the  Carian  warrior has sailed off  with the Queen.  May her keel bend a mighty oak?” I scrabble a hashpipe from my vest and light a  stale fuming plug.  “Can  Mary of Genoa  please Minos in wisdom as  she, ravished,  had  served the warriors flesh?”

“Catch me from what stream  and mount as you will,” Artyphon snaps, “the water mare only feigns ravish.”  Her eyes narrow, angry or hurt or full of womans worry. “You will not drown in my love … swear that … swear that ...”  She has been thinking afar while the Belisama slips into the far sea. But, she must stiffen as any woman. “What have I said? Body or mind men know nothing of pleasure,” Artyphon  hissed,  “either womans or their own”,  and coddling the straps on her own vest shared my pipe and said no more.

Such womans pain; her eyes wash over me ,  warm ripples near a beach then retreat to a smooth  deep sea of anguish; wisdom advised silence.  Our ships cat, a Rhodian ocelot much pampered  by a hardened crew , but sensing change had retreated to its cage beneath the tiller.  I did not busy about a watch that needed no interference, but stood to the quarter-deck plating  Artyphons hair  as she read through wax tablet manifests and vellum promisaries.  Sums made and summaries written to  wet clay tablets. Our blacksmith would later bake them. Groaning pawls marked anchor chains coming  up through the hawse, and stay-sails  were thrown  at  the down-mountain sweep of wind.  Yet I did think on fair breasted  Kelpie and men must have heard me speak the word. The  Scottish yew mainmast wedge stored below must have struck the cord, for the oarsmen beneath the drumbeat took up the love paeon.

                       Round shouldered Kelpie splined of ironwood

           Spire of Dwr,  stiff knee Poocah

           Thrust us above the green mountain

High breasted Belisama. Receive the  thrust of our

sail dear goddess born of man, carry us on.

From sprityard to bilge boyos echo the song. I wonder which forge of Hades poured out that tune, and which anvil hammered it smooth?  Voices and drum resound; happenstance, but for Zephyrus wise and gentle paired with fair Dysis.  As no captain may order our future arises, a gift sylph like

Panormus harbor releasing us.  Evening falls tacking across the gentle west wind till we  gained Ercte, swinging west with a crisp night  wind four points over the starboard bow.  In the star strewn east Vega rising.   Main-sail  reefed, staysails flashing in and out  till we gained the point of the harbor.  And freed of land we sacrifice the phoenix dove, released from the stern only on wing to be smitten through the breast  by a fire arrow. Brief in flame, as her suffering not ours  her burning feathers die in the swells.

Artyphons  back has come flush against my chest.  Brazen yes, she  is  both  barbarian colt and human  woman;  real  enough for a trader to  slight chamois gold. Well is that not the abstract part of me speaking …  creatures may inhabit the earth that are greater than men.  Yet a man  is no mere tool, no gods toy  and I wondered what  traders gift Minos had given me?  The golden coins occupied the entire lowest level of  Belisamas  hold. No  modern king in this  crossing of fates twenty-five-hundred years after  Minos had first traded with Pharaohs Thebes and five-hundred years after the gods sent fire to the same Minoan throne  could demand such a ransom.  What had been offered?  Who could afford a rejection? What  favor and for whom  had Minos done it?

Evening advanced as did  Belisamas  escape from Panormus harbor. It's not so simple as  hair flying to the wind  shouting “all abaft” and throwing spritsails over the bow.  Such stories are for the bards rainy evenings, fruit-bowls and lyres, lovely girls dancing …   calloused feet scamper the deck and skilled hands find shrouds and lines, clews and knots and pulleys;  all boyos  busy  themselves accepting a wind more  northing than east, coaxing its uncertain pull   before we crossed over our bow.   More than a league we coaxed.    Then  main mastmen pulled us about, casting a bow-wave  between Arcturus and Jupiter. We fell away  to the east   far enough to wear steadily  north  following Saturn while it floats above the western horizon. We plot a course  fearing not  the night sea or  gloomy rock teeth and  hungry jaws  farther about the western point of Marsalas. All that  striving and torch flames still stood-out clearly on the quay, yet eventually we  leave her a lonely  dim maid growing smaller.

Leave a hundred ports, and  callouses grow deeper and smoother. “Orders, Captain,” Rusa beside me.

Rusa, my first officer, bronze from the sea as well as from family old when the fires and ash destroyed the  Cretan empire and bloody when the Myceneii longboats came calling with their forests of iron spear points.  A steady man,  should the sea take me he commands. “Play with the mizzen reef, Rusa,” I say. “If the wind backs,  square up the yard. We won't flutter the canvas on a peaceful night. Carry on,” I say  softening thoughts  so I am without the commanders orders, captains  muster and  masters control … all such vetting of Belisamas right trappings, men going to sea without bark or yap  and Artyphon stretched against me caught such.

She is looking  north-east,  away from me, out to  a star-fortuned sea where Venus still brightens the sky, yet her lips might be at my throat.   “Shipwright, trader, admiral … kings arm and fortunes master my true love. Fear surely not, but  has  arrogance  caught you out  at  voyages  beginning?”

Firefly! How can she do that, speak away from and  sound into me at the same instant?  Arrogance? I think of it: Hyrkon, Cyprus, Heraklitus ...  gathered in my chest to the kings cold honor.  “Hush ...” I cannot speak.

Mast-men bare feet thunder on deck and hoary paws strain up the shrouds.  There's hot ale for both watches, especially at the straying out from shore; exhausted men fall into sleep, and  as Altair rose we find  the sturdy larboard breeze. Rusa  sends his canvas masters into the yards and calls  out  sail from the binnacle.  “Spanker, there me boyos, jiffy it out. There's a sheet, now steady steady,” as Panormus fell into our silver stern trace.

“Roll out the stay-sail Kalicrates , pitch … pitch by damme it catches the wind.”  The foremast stay-sails  billow out,   pitching   over the  cautiously reefed  main ,  and   then  shouldering a bow-wave  rail-over as our main-sail  bellied fat. “Belly it out Teutor,” Kykodemes called loudly, “let the pregnant bitch have her whelp!”

Night watch has taken to the top-gallant and sprityards. “Cibias, the damned  tillar-bolt's sheared.”

Vexed, I am called to the tiller;  the top copper bolt has  shattered, broken through, wobbling the tillar-shaft .  Roping that  redwood shaft  we slave like fiends,  keeping the bow pitched upright while  swelling and pounding a fire-hardened  oak-peg into place.  The stern-race  stumbles, then draws  taut as Clothos  spinning silk  moon showered by its light  brashly  set a proud wave-throwing bow. We  sight directly under  Altair  and, so closing on Sicily western race, its spinning winds and fierce rocks  and then  beyond making for the long reach  east toward Hyrkon.