The ship had been on the journey for about a month, and had weathered storms and rough seas. Captain Hannibal developed an unusually close relationship with Manni and Jalani, and even with Tamar. This had never happened before and he tried to deny it even existed. The first week in June, the skies became more ominous, the seas rougher than had been experienced since leaving the coast of Africa. Manni and Jalani became very frightened, but they knew that Captain Hannibal was a well-seasoned and experienced sailor and he would guide the ship through this storm also. Jalani went to the main mast and climbed to the Crow’s nest to get a better look at the storm. Manni busied himself cleaning in the Captain’s cabin, trying to keep his mind off the approaching storm. Tamar came by the Captain’s cabin, worried about the storm, but Manni assured her that Captain Hannibal would take care of them and they would weather the storm. A while later, the Captain came into the cabin and looking around asked Manni, “where is Jalani?” Manni turned to look at the Captain and replied, “He was going up on the deck to get a better look at the storm.” The Captain tensed, turned and ran from the cabin. Manni and Tamar followed him, thinking Jalani was in trouble for going onto the deck. When they exited onto the deck, the wind was unbelievably strong and the rain felt like being pelted with rocks. Manni stayed next to the door, Tamar inside, as the Captain ran, fighting the strong winds and rain, to find Jalani. When he reached the main mast, he could hardly see. He tried to look up to see the crow’s nest, but the wind driven rain was limiting his view. The Captain began to climb the main mast, calling out to Jalani, struggling harder against the wind and the driving rain. The Captain looked up. The crow’s nest was gone. He cried out loudly, “Jalani.”
The storm raged through the night, but the next morning, the clouds were clearing and the sun rose above the horizon. . The Captain called for the Mate to come to his cabin. He instructed the Mate to take care of the cleanup and to get the ship back on course. He closed the door and remained in the cabin for several days, not even allowing Manni to enter, and refused all food. The Captain stayed in the cabin alone. He asked the First Mate to bring him several bottles of rum. He had to somehow ease the pain he felt. Manni would sit on the deck, looking up to where the crow’s nest should be, and thinking of Jalani. The Mate had some of the slaves in the hold to gather the bodies of those who had drowned during the storm, and throw them overboard. In addition to Jalani, two other crewmembers had also perished in the storm.
Tamar would stand outside the door to the Captain’s quarters, talking to him, singing to him, but he never responded to her. Several days passed, and the Captain emerged from the cabin, never mentioning Jalani to Manni. Tamar was outside the door, when he came out, and the Captain, never saying a word, hugged her.
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Genre – Historical fiction
Rating – PG
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