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Lucifer 陈佳怡 190110422

Chapter One

 "You've got too much luggage. Drop them so I can get you on board."

 "But this is valuable knowledge saved by the teacher, priceless --"

 "Throw it away, or you're out."


 As the ship rocked from side to side with the rumble of cannons and the roar of fire, Papa collapsed on the deck, drenched in seawater and salt, ready to cry. He felt that he ought to jump in with the scrolls and sedges floating in the surf, but whenever he tried to do so, the bloody image of the teacher's death would immediately come to his mind, making the timid library apprentice's limbs sicken with the cruel reality, which was that he had no nerve to die.

 "Coward." Far below the mast the bearded captain spatted.

 "Maybe we should have thrown the coward into the sea and brought a more useful man out of Hell."

 But after all, the ship, the Lisbon Spring, had set sail and would never return to the port it had just left -- and everyone, including the captain, looked into the distance at the city that was being swallowed up in blood and bloodshed and prayed in their hearts. But piety could not stop the Ottomans, who had rushed to the pier to slaughter, and blood turned the whole sea of Marmara pale with scarlet.

 On May 29, 1453, the Millennium city of Constantinople fell, bringing to an end the Byzantine Empire.

Chapter Two

 "You haven't eaten for three days. Swallow this quickly."

 "I have a headache and can't eat......"

 "It's not pity. The ship's supplies are limited, and those who can't help must go into sea for their own good -- are you sure you won't eat it?"

 Papa managed to open his eyes in the fever and felt the acid in his stomach turn up as he looked at the bitter salt fish and water in his hands. But he knew that the woman was not joking with him, so he shoved the salted fish down his throat and swallowed the vomit that was almost pouring out.

 "Well, when you've finished, take your mops and go and sweep the deck with the gang -- that's an added favor for a piece of trash like you.

 Crap, crap... Where do you get the confidence to call people crap all the time?

 He got up to work, muttering to himself, but the woman kicked him in the buttocks so hard that he almost fell on his back.

 "Look at your eyes. Don't think I don't know what's going on in your stupid head! The Lisbon-Spring is my father's ship, and even if I have only one arm left, my lost arm is more useful than such a wretch as you are!"

 Papa could not understand how he had offended Charlotte, the mad woman who was the captain's daughter and who had never cared about the refugees, and who, of all things, was annoyed most by himself. Papa had suffered much from her from his first day onboard.

 At that time, he was still in grief of his teacher's death. He could not have moved a foot if the teacher had not forced him to flee to the dock before his death. For a moment, at least, he was convinced that sending back to Europe what he had salvaged from the great library for his teachers was his goal in life, but now, he felt ashamed of himself.

 What is the use of a librarian’s apprentice without books? He couldn't figure it out. The reason he was still alive was that he didn't have the courage to die.

 "Is that so? Then go and die first."

 Then he lay on the deck like a salt-fish about to dry, and who knows how Charlotte heard the self-complaining murmur, and without a word, she threw him into the sea with his feet bound -- and though he would be hauled up in three minutes, it was not pleasant to drink a belly full of salt water.

 "You know what Death is? If you get it, then take up your tools like everyone else, and do what you can. It's a shame."

 Papa could not resist, and at least the ship was his saviour -- though he could not have spoken that aloud. He was obedient and worked; his bond with the woman grew and grew deeper and deeper, no doubt, during the long escape.

 The Lisbon Spring, as its name implies, had been bound for Lisbon, but now it had to flee with all that it could carry. Fortunately, the Mediterranean has been as smooth as a bathtub for thousands of years, and if all went well, they could eventually escape.

 "If all goes well."

 It was the captain's most frequent uttering of Portuguese, and Papa knew what it meant, but he always found it disquieting that it was supposed to be a sign of approval. But his head had been groggy from seasickness and dysentery since he had been on board, and he had never had a chance to think of what was wrong.

 Fortunately, after some days, the Lisbon Spring reached Malta without incident. The survivors on the ship could not help crying for joy when they saw the white cross flag flying in the corner of the castle.

 "So, Captain, what the hell are you doing? We're safe now. Why don't you let us leave?"

 Papa, who had been trembling in the lower hold, was so bewildered by the noise on the deck that he had to get up to see what had happened. Contrary to what most people expected, the captain alone disembarked and negotiated, and they were reluctantly allowed to berth and resupply on the condition that all remained on board and left the ship as soon as the resupplying was completed.

 "The Eastern Mediterranean is still in the hands of the Ottoman navy, and the Maltese have no choice but to do so, for Christ's sake. There's nothing to complain about; just do it!"

 The captain told his men to carry on board food and water as fast as they could, and to not even bother with the rigging or timber. But the refugees did not care. They gathered in groups and blocked the busy sailors. The argument escalated into a quarrel, which eventually turned into a fight. The refugees were no match for the able-bodied sailors and were beaten bloody. Even Papa, a spectator, was afflicted. And it was Charlotte, with only one arm, who struck him. After a few punches, Papa swore that he would never dare to answer back when she called him "trash" again. Compared to the woman's strength, the weak library apprentice was an unweaned lamb, beaten and not even respected.

 " It took only got a few punches to scare you like this. You are too dirty for me to touch." Charlotte kicked him out of the bottom of the cabin away from the fighting men.

 The bloody teacher in his head made his legs tremble and dare not to move again. The old man was still muttering to himself as he was dying. “Knowledge... Treasure... Pass on..." He nodded desperately, but the moment they were on board, the captain threw them into the sea.

 Teacher, should I have been buried with the book for you? But your apprentice is a coward.

 At last he could not help crying, but at that moment the hatch opened with a crash, and the refugees and sailors, who had been fighting furiously before, rolled and crawled into the cabin, oblivious to the fact that they had been enemies a few minutes before.

 Even inside, the deafening noise shook the flimsy boards, and the cry of Charlotte's alarm from the deck reached the boy's ears with a clarity that was unmistakable.

 "Sail! Sail! The Ottoman navy is coming!"

Chapter Three

 The Lisbon Spring was forced to flee with its empty store-houses under a cloud of gunfire, after a short and hasty attempt to refresh their supplies had been interrupted.

 Papa emerged stealthily from the lower hold and immediately recoiled in horror at the cannon balls flying overhead. So close was the great fleet that he did not need to look out over the horizon to see it; Papa could clearly see the high horns of the Arabian galleon and the flying spinnaker. Charlotte was climbing down from the mast-head, covered in blood, with the watchman at her back, mangled by a grape bomb, cried, "Turn, turn!"

 The sailor at the helm did his best. Charlotte spat in a low voice, and then noticed the frightened heads at her feet. "Just roll the trash back to the bottom and stay out of the way!"

 Papa's head sank. After all, he was a "piece of junk" -- and could do nothing but get in the way.

He thought he was going to die; the Ottoman’s ship would catch up in time. He thought hard of how to escape the nightmare that was coming, again, machetes, blood, but he could only weep and fall on the ground and die unsatisfied. The same surge and spasm of intestines and stomach, in front of the Charlotte, his trembling hold of the ship's rail, spit to the thread.

 The girl's wrinkled brow and eyes were full of disgust, but when the sound of a cannon shook everyone, the disgust somehow melted away and was replaced by imperceptible sympathy.

 "What Father did was incomprehensible. For such a worthless thing as you, when you had quarreled with the knights in Malta, you'd have to get off the ship -- or else be just one more dead body which would sooner or later have to be thrown into the sea. What's the use of taking you aboard?"

 Papa heartily agreed with Charlotte. After all, "Trash is despised, but it is much happier than a corpse." But there is no remedy for regret, and it would have been better to slip off in the dark, but now it was too late.

 Fire, tumult, in his self-pity, there were volleys of cannonballs which tore the Lisbon Spring’s sails, burnt canvas, and drug a cloud of flame and smoke that swept over the shattering deck. His first reaction was to sink down.

 Fortunately, he picked up his eyes and looked, "Hey, damned woman... ...Charlotte?"

 The girl did not spare to answer him because she was carrying burnt sails with teeth clenched, fire roasting the skin of her backbone. The young girl, with her remaining arm, rolled up the remaining rigging, and then quickly ran a few steps to throw the burning wreckage into the sea. Amazingly, it seemed as if the fire did not leave any marks on her body. But how was that possible?

 The heart of the youth suddenly gave a beat.

 As the sailors clamoured for spare sails, Papa would dare not to say a word more; he looked up at the trim four-horned sails on the mast with a sudden rush of unquenched longing. Although it was his first time at sea, the great Library of Constantine, where he had grown up, had never been short of knowledge of ships. He managed to climb on deck with both hands and tear off a corner of his robe to make sure that the wind was holding steady for a long time. Even "Trash" also wants to live!

 "Rubbish, are you disobedient?" Charlotte noticed the boy's defiance and drew her sword out of its sheath, pressing closer and closer. "We are turning frequently, and if you don't want to be thrown overboard, go back to the cabin! If you want to die, jump into the sea yourself. Don't drag everyone down with you!"

 "Don't turn any more... We'll be caught up! The Ottomans are getting closer!"

 "We're a nimble little boat, and turning is our only advantage. Otherwise, we'll run straight into their cannons!"

 "Just run straight up against the cannons, as you say."

 "Don't make things worse if you don't understand! You want us all to fall into the sea and feed the fish!"

"I have read that on an afternoon of steady winds, the Ottoman's spinnaker had the advantage of being flexible, capable even of crosswinds, but could not have caught the ship's four sails in a straight line... Just a little longer and they won't win!"

 "Ships can't beat you, cannonballs can! What if we are hit?

 "Then we will be hit! We have to take a risk, or sooner or later we will be caught and dragged into the night when the wind changes, and there will be no last chance of escape! Or do you call me trash all day but only fail to be better when it comes down to the crunch?"


 "The coward is right, Charlotte." The girl was stopped by the captain, who had fainted from his injury. " Adjust course and tie up the rigging, and we'll head southwest!"

 "But Father --"

 "Turn! Stop tossing the wheel, and run with the sail full! Everyone take shelter from the shelling! If you're unlucky enough to get hit by a shell, at least be ready for it!"

They did not know how many days and nights they had drifted in the sea; the days of marine scuffles finally came to an end in a few patches of sunlight. Though, the ship was in tatters, as Papa had expected. Thanked to a luckier wind and a more flexible hull, the Lisbon Spring post at last left the dense masts of the Ottoman fleet behind the horizon. With rapturous shouts, the sailors, liberated from endless strain and fatigue, were at the same time relieved by the leisurely cries of the gulls and the cozy warmth of the sea breeze and were squalling wildly on the deck, shouting, "Captain! We need a party!"

 "Thank God. I feel the same way." The captain, lying in the bow and crossing himself, looked up, gasping with relief, made a careful inventory of his fellow passengers, and confirmed that none had fallen into the sea and disappeared.

 After all, god has given him enough kindness and compassion to his fellow countrymen. Don't judge a book by its cover. The captain acted as good man.

 Perhaps from the excitement of adrenaline and the pride of being put to good use, Papa felt that his mind had been at last fully awake, and in his curiosity, he glanced from side to side, only to see Charlotte sprawled out on the deck as dirty as himself, and snickered, "Ah, are you laughing at me now?"

 "Shut up, though I must admit you did happen to make a useful suggestion, but how can I, who am too busy to change, be compared with you, who cowers in the cabin! It would be better to keep your mouth shut and do more work, at least, if you had time to gossip."

 “But I've come in handy!”

"Talking is no use!"

 But the exhausted woman didn’t seem as wild and hateful as she used to be......Or was it an illusion? Though her mouth was still disdainful, the contempt in her eyes seemed to have dissipated a great deal, to be replaced by scarcely perceptible paradox of admiration and disapproval.

 She was still disgusted, but at least more competitive than contemptuous; because of this, there was a new confidence and strength in his limbs, even a sort of elation.

 But, unlike the despair of his teacher's utter impotence when he died, he could feel in his chest that something had come back to life that he had thought had long since died -- perhaps, after all, he should struggle again.

 "Work, eh? I'll just do it!"

 Perhaps overwhelmed by the exultation of a survivor, he shook his fist at Charlotte and replied, "Not just with words, if they can be used...... Don't ever call me crap again!"

 Twice in succession had his life lost its meaning with the death of his teacher and the abandonment of his books, and for the third time at least he, a coward, could not be despised by a woman.

Chapter Four

 True to his word, from that day on Papa really began to learn to be a sailor, not because of the threats of violence and abuse from the crew as before, but from his heart. Now that he had taken the lead, the other refugees began to put aside the bad blood they had had with the crew during the fight and to accept whatever work they would get from the captain. The spring of the Lisbon Spring-ship seemed to have come at last, and all of them believed that they would be lucky enough to survive.

 "Don't stop; don't look down, climb!” In the steaming warmth of the Mediterranean in the hot sun, Papa hung awkwardly on the edge of the rope net, his head down, like a monkey caught in a vine. This was Charlotte’s devilish specially training on the seventh day, the original “devil.” While he never gave up, he thought of returning to his mother or following his teacher into death as his muscles flayed and screamed as never before.

The "sea" is a synonym for "hell;" If sailors can't handle "hell" from the start then they had no qualification to be on this ship.

 "Can't stand this? You surely were loud enough when you said you can be useful?" Charlotte seemed happier than she had been in a long time, and Papa was clearly more interesting to her than any sailor, so that the "training" that had been a chore now seemed to be a daily source of pleasure. Seeing that he was demonstrably already there, she laughed while she ready to rope net cut, "Although this is for you the practice of old things, but it wastes precious materials, so honestly accept punishment for me!”

 "What punishment.... No, wait! Don't! Don't! I can't --"

 Aware of the impending doom, Papa fought back, but before "I can't swim" burst out of his throat, he tumbled into the water with the old rope net. He took a few large gulps of water and his plea gave way to an angry howl, "I won't let you get away with this, mad woman --"

 There were still thousands of angry words in his heart, but as the sea choked into his throat, all the complaints were bottled up. Gradually, even a minimum breath could not be maintained before he fainted.

 In his trance, he seemed to go back to a long time ago, when the glorious and eternal Byzantine city was as calm and secure as ever, when he followed the teacher walking in the bustling market as children ran by their side with a gust of free and happy wind. He could not help but feel some envy as he stopped to watch them, but was hit by the teacher, who told him to study great knowledge; this was the crystallization of the wisdom of predecessors.

 "But what is the wisdom of these men to me?" He felt his head, which was still swollen and painful. "The Predecessors left a lot of great knowledge, and then they all died, only to embarrass us wretches with little marks that hurt our eyes."

 Then the teacher would glare at him with anger and rant. Exactly what he said, he could already not remember. But no matter, the old teacher had loved him very much, but he had never thought that one day he would really no longer hear those scoldings......

 "Hey......Are you really dead? Now, wake up......"

 “Men who earn their living at sea, but cannot swim, are certainly rubbish! Waste! Big waste!"

 Papa thought this was wrong. He had no need to earn his living at sea and was not waste. Well, there had been a time when he had a horrible feeling of self-loathing, but things had changed, and at least he should not be called "little waste."

 This unhappiness sustained him in recovering his consciousness from the fainting chaos, but he could not say it again in the face of the maiden's confusion and anxiety. God forbid that the water should be salty as well as the tears, so long as he pressed his lips then no one would see that he had really cried. On the wet deck, with Charlotte's hair still tied up in the seaweed that had been torn off, it was easy to tell who had saved him -- a fellow whose face was streaked with dried salt and blood, and whose voyage was no easy task for the proud old sailor.

 Papa's chest ribs hurt, and Charlotte, as if she had finally made up her mind, put his head up on her lap, her only hand on his nostril. The next step was to kiss his lips, but Papa's choking cough marred the mood.

 "So it is, isn't it? A tough life."

 Papa had expected Charlotte to curse him in a mixture of shame and anger -- the capital as he had seen so many aristocratic maidens in a grand mansion -- but it turned out to be surprisingly neat.

 "From tomorrow the devil's training will be changed to swimming. If you can't practice this, there's no use learning more. There is the sea!"

 "It's...... In this way?" Papa couldn't believe it. Oh, my god, is this the crazy woman who used to curse trash and throw him into the sea with his feet tied up?

 "How else?" Charlotte sighed, unconsciously touching the broken scar on her left arm. "Still a waste, but you've lived on a ship for so long. We did not bring you out of a ruined city to throw your precious life into the sea for nothing.”

Charlotte dropped him, silently walking away. Papa was clutching his chest in the gentle sea breeze.

 Yeah... Why haven't I realized it so far?

 Even at the beginning, the "mad woman" in his eyes never tried to give up on the life of any refugee, including himself, amid all the dangers.

 The golden afterglow seemed to cover everything with a delightful layer of broken gold. The boy stretched out and suddenly felt that if it were not for the loss of his teacher and his cherished books, the free and unhurried life of a sailor would seem to be not bad.

 But he did not know if it was his own imagination, but there was a sting in his back in the pleasure and ease of the moment--he felt as if someone was watching him silently, malicious and sinister.

Chapter Five

The sea wind was warm and the gulls sang in the sky -- it had been a humid summer in the Mediterranean.

 For several days, the Lisbon-Spring sailed in a direction uncommonly contrary to the wind. Papa, still languishing under the devil's training, could still see instinctively that something was wrong, "Why do we have to fight so hard against the wind? The Mediterranean meets ports in every direction.

 "Don't try to put the blame on Father. Thanks to your good advice we escaped; the Ottoman navy could not overtake us. But we are deep into Barbary pirate territory. Don't you know what the name means?"

 There was no need to indulge in such wry mockery, for Papa's face had turned pale.

 Papa had never set foot outside Constantinople before he fled, spending almost his entire life in the great library. But even so, the Barbary pirate's reputation was enough to keep any child crying in the middle of the night.

Though Charlotte said it all, she patted Papa soothingly on the shoulder -- so used to the boy's exertions that she occasionally gave her encouragement in this way. "There is no danger. If only we can get our muscles in check a little sooner, Europe will be just around the corner, since the Mediterranean is only a few miles away. Look... We're in Sicily? Italy; home Europa!"

 In the ebb of the tide, the gulls in the sky chattered in leisure. News of impending deliverance had spread, and more and more jubilant refugees poured out of the dirty, crowded hold and cried wildly on the deck. Papa would have reacted in the same way had it not been for Charlotte's usual fierce beatings, but he was a little different now -- his once powerless hands were growing a little puffy, and his pale skin was a dark and firm tan, burnished by the sun and the sea breeze.

Night. The bright moon in the sky twinkled, gentle as the teacher’s gaze.

Sometimes he wanted to cry, knowing that he would never see it again. The teacher asked him to spread the knowledge of the books, but he had turned around and threw them into the sea just for the sake of his own life. One day he would die; how could he face the teacher then?

 Then Charlotte would tell him that though books can never be saved forever, there was at least the residue of "great knowledge" left in his brain, and this residue was enough to save a boatload of lives from death.’’

 At least after hearing her words, he could sleep more comfortably that night, though he knew it was a temporary relief.

 But these will all be memories soon. The horizon was getting closer and closer. Their lives would never intersect again.

 "Sicily is no bigger than an island; how can the coastline be so long?’’

 As if in response to the boy's doubts, he saw glimmering mast-heads from behind the water. The shouts of the refugees were hushed, and everyone's eyes were wide open and trembling with fear.

 Somewhere along the Mediterranean Sea, nobody noticed that the wind was turning with the seasons, and the Lisbon Spring was slipping into North Africa.

 But how was that possible? By now, the person at the helm was the authority that any crew member would least doubt--the captain. The captain.

Chapter Six

 The truth was so simple, so obvious, but the refugees, who had been struggling like dogs, were unable to think.

 The Lisbon Spring-ship, which had ventured to the fallen city of a thousand years on commission, was obliged to leave it empty-handed.

 That's why the captain was so compassionate as to take as many refugees as he could, not even allowing any extra luggage to make room; that is why he refused to listen to the negotiations with the Knight of the Hospital, only to pass on in his name a false order that no one should be allowed to disembark; that is why, after fleeing the Ottoman navy, he carefully counted the number of refugees he had saved, even though he had never previously concealed his indifference to them.

 The purpose of all this behaviour was obvious--Get away from the boy, Charlotte. They have arrived at the station."

 The leader of the pirates climbed up the gangway with his men laughing loudly. The captain went to meet them with a big smile on his face. "There are four ships full of healthy things; they have all survived, and they'll fetch a good price. Where's my share?"

 For a moment, as if it took some time to understand the strange language, the leader shook hands with the captain cheerfully, and then snapped his fingers at the men behind him. The subordinate looked at the gold coins and the chains in his left and right hands, shrugged his shoulders, and handed him one of them.

 "You, this is yours," in not very fluent Portuguese.

 The captain's face suddenly changed, and the pirates, who had been laughing, also turned ferocious and drew swords.

 Charlotte's reaction was decisive -- before any of the pirates could do anything, she cried and leapt from the mast-head and swept like a vulture, "Hold on... Damn pirates, let Father go!

 Almost at the same moment, the leader of the pirates pulled out his cutlass and cut the captain's chest effortlessly. Blood gushed out, and he fell down like a leaky sack, his eyes wide open, as if in disbelief at what had happened to him.

 "Captain, even if you've dealt with gold before, you've laid your only cards too clearly before pirates. You'd be better off as a slave in Cairo than commanding a ship."

 He suddenly felt as if he had returned to war-torn Constantinople, between swords, blood spatter, man bluster, and the roar of the dying, struggling, and crying. A lot of people were dying; there were more people being dragged onto the deck. He saw Charlotte, with her blood-red eyes, in a fight with the pirate chief, and with one arm she drove him back.

 Calm down. Calm down.

 The July headwind had carried them to the halls of North Africa, which meant that he could return to European home with a fair wind.

 The men at the mast-heads and rigging felt the vibrations of the current immediately and understood Papa's thoughts. The Lisbon Spring was big enough to push aside the pirate ship's blockade, squeezing their broken board heading the deep oceans. More and more pirates fell unsteadily over the side of the ship, and only the strongest pirates remained, but he lost his strength, and his derision changed from insolence to alarm, "No, it is impossible... No man can kill me! ''

 Before the words were out, Charlotte's head scarf had been cut by the man's sharp blade, and her hair was black and fluffy. "I'm not a man."

 The dagger blade cut through the chest as the man's mouth sprayed blood foam, a face of incredulous surprise staggered back a few steps and rolled over into the sea.

 As the Lisbon Spring-sail sped away from the coast under high sails; the pirates' oars could no longer catch up. Even so, few survivors cheered; the crew and the refugees had finally lost any trust in each other. Instead of ending the crisis, it had become more serious.

The scene reminded Papa of Constantinople;before the Ottomans attacked the city, the garrison was already falling apart.

 But one night, the lamps and torches had suddenly come ablaze, lighting up one corner of the deck as brightly as day.

 "Charlotte... the traitor's daughter!

 The sailors in the darkness surrounded Papa. The chief officer's face was grim. "You betrayed us too, didn't you? "

 As the embattled seamen began to press forward, Papa knew that danger lay ahead and shouted, "Stop!"

 Heavy clouds and strong winds. A dull thud occasionally appeared on the vault of heaven, a ghastly color of blood. The salty air was like sticky mud, and when swallowed, it blocked the breath.

 A storm was coming.

Chapter Seven

"What are you trying to say?" The mutineers had tied their ropes tight. "Speak quickly. We have no patience to wait."

 Papa took a deep breath and begged not to be interrupted.

 "You all know why we became refugees... At least we would have a chance to wait for reinforcements -- if we'd won, the world would be a different place. Look at this ship; even if there is no more food and water, at least we are still on the Mediterranean Sea, so calm down and think carefully. She's young. She's never betrayed you. Why not give her a chance? Perhaps, in time, she will be more trustworthy than the old captain."

 "Well... The sailors frowned thoughtfully, and Papa felt a little closer to success. ''Surely not so long ago we were friends, were we not? And all you have left is a broken ship --"

"Don't call her the Lisbon Spring!" Charlotte said. "Besides..."

 Papa tried again, but a deafening thunderbolt flashed across the sky, its afterpulse turning into a blinding flash of lightning, splitting the mainmast.

 "Maybe God is warning... What do you think?"

 God evidently had no intention of stopping there. Thunder and lightning came and went, wind and waves surged up, and the dark sea seemed suddenly to become a gaping, devouring whirlpool; everyone turned pale with fear.

 "Untie me! Pull in the sails at once, then lower down all the remaining mast and drain the lower hold! If you don't want to feed the fish!"

 The ship, which had long been short of supplies and repairs, could no longer withstand such a fierce storm. It was unmanageable, like a sampan on the verge of breaking apart, and the storm drove the ship involuntarily round and round. As time went on, day and night became unstable, and it was a wearisomely day, especially as the ship drifted hopelessly by the edge of a narrow strait in a tempest and looked at the bright lights but could not call for help.

 Land was within easy reach, but even that step, the Lisboa could not take.

 And to make matters worse, Charlotte had a fever.

 "I already know where we've just passed, and that's the body to prove it."

 Papa took the hot towel from her forehead and threw it back into the sink at his feet. "Don't talk nonsense. You need more rest."

 "Believe me, it can't be wrong; my body hasn't cheated me in years... This is what I'll look like the minute I leave the Mediterranean..."

 "We're going to die... There is only death."

 "Don't despair. Why do you think so? It doesn't look anything like you did before. Who the hell is a loser?"

 But no matter how he shouted, he could not call back the girl. Charlotte's face was flushed, and she fell into a deep coma.

 "She's right, young man."

 A weary hand fell on Papa's shoulder; it was the first mate who had led the rebellion.

 When Charlotte was a child, the captain had taken an adventurous leave of the peace of the Mediterranean. During that voyage, Charlotte had been attacked by a shark, although she finally escaped at the cost of an arm, but since then, whenever the ship left the Mediterranean, she would fall into this fever of convulsions.

In the storm clouds, there was nothing anyone could do but wait.

 And that was for three months.

 Many of the crew became sick, too, not to mention the refugees, and almost every night and every day Papa saw sailors struggling to throw dead bodies out of portholes -- as he sometimes did himself. Everyone had been pushed to the edge of collapse. And just at this moment, the sky finally cleared up.

 "Well, first mate... How long will the ship have fresh water?"

 "That's all right. A month or two is all right.

 "Where's the food?"

 "Not counting corpses; the only way we can survive is by fishing."

 "And the hull and keel?"

 "I won’t be surprised when they fall apart. So tell me, young man, where in the world are we?"

Papa gave a wry smile and tapped the edge of the chart-covered table with his fingertips. ''Here... No, probably here."

 "You can't even find the chart with your eyes?"

 "No, where we are is not marked at all on the charted boundaries.".

 It was the mythical end of the world, near the middle of a vast expanse of water that would later be called the Atlantic, out of reach of all continents, with only great cliffs awaiting innocent victims.

Chapter eight

"We can't go back to Europe... To tell the truth, the wind would not hold up, and in the present condition of the ship, every tiller and every sail makes me feel as if I were laughing and talking with the devil. If God had given us the kind of luck to return to Europe in that case, Constantinople would not have fallen at all."

 The light was dim, and Papa and the mate had spent the whole night arguing in Charlotte's room, and felt smoke rising from their heads.

 "Then what should I do? Let this ship just drift west until we all fall into hell together? No, I'd rather die on my way home than live to feed the devil!"

 "But then you must have other plans?" Charlotte, who had been listening with closed eyes, opened her eyes. "Is there yet another 'great knowledge', little apprentice, in the great library, that will save us from the sea of misery?"

 "In fact, there is." Papa heaved a sigh, spread out the chart again, and drew a thick oblique line in the direction of the current wind with his pencil.

 "Well said, I haven't had enough to live on," gasped Charlotte, "But what do you mean? Are we really going to hell?"

 "No, the wind is fair. We may find a new continent in less than a month... In the library, the domineering Norse guards of Constantinople had kept the crude manuscripts of their ancestors, and in my curiosity, I had read that a pirate ancestor named Leif Eriksson had found, farther west than Greenland, a land larger than Europe, which he called Vinland. Time passed and no one remembered his discovery; only I from the pile of old papers dug out this secret... The master was right, and so are you, Charlotte. Even if you lose your books, just keep your head. Sooner or later, great knowledge will come in handy."

 She looked again at the determined boy. "Well... I'm not gonna say you're trash anymore. You're good... Maybe you're better than us, and your teacher would be proud of you."

 "Well, it makes me feel wicked to think so. Thank you." Time had passed, Papa at this time was not a lost dog, he had experienced too much and faced too much. Although he did not realize it, now the young eyebrows had already become resolute, inadvertently revealing a long span between life and death.

 "So come and be our navigator, and lead men to life."

 This was a real surprise to the boy, but both Charlotte and the mate looked serious now.

 "I... Can I really?"

 "Why not? You're not a loser anymore... You are as good a seaman as anyone. Don't you have the teacher's great knowledge? Believe in us and take us to the land of legend; we’ll all live together."

 Even if the chance was only one in ten, but as long as he was not a waste, everyone would want to live, whether for the spread of great knowledge or for their own precious life.

 Since he was not a waste, he could no longer escape.

Chapter nine

 The Lisbon Spring returned to Lisbon in the spring of 1454 AD.

 Despite its ugly appearance, its body covered with layers of patches made from unknown and bizarre timber, it had finally returned.

 A rare thing about the ship was the presence of a gallant, one-armed woman captain. But even less common were the passengers, unkempt people with typical Greek faces, returning in a distinctly different direction from their native land.

 Inquisitive people asked, but no one knew what they had went through-not that they had anything to hide. After all, the story was so absurd that every Christian who still believed in God would dismiss it as a joke about a madman.

 Who would believe that a woman with only one arm would have the courage to fight a shark once again, with fever and illness, down to the bottom of the sea and even take the opportunity to get over the old fear of being far away from the Mediterranean?

 Who would believe that a seafaring man who looked no more than a boy could, with only rudimentary charts and instruments, steer his ship safely back from the winds and storms of the devil's mouth, or even discover vast new continents far away?

 Who would believe that, after suffering from untold sufferings, there was really a person in the world who can come across thousands of difficulties, from a powerless coward to grow up to become a brave and confident hero?

 But even if no one believed it, the seafarer recorded all the adventures that could be recorded, passed on along with the other "great knowledge" inherited from his teacher. And was led, some forty years later, by another bold young man, out of the ruins of the Renaissance, on the way to a new era. In the end, he got his wish and not only changed the fate of everyone in the world, but also made his name remembered by the whole world.

 His name was Christopher Columbus.

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