Chap. 12 – New Arrivals

Barnaby ran with his hands covering his head for fear the storm woman might rain down upon him an unknown wrath from above.  He weaved in and out, not sticking to a straight course to make hitting him more difficult.

He didn’t dare make an attempt to look over his shoulder to see if the “evil” thing pursued him.  To turn would slow him down and to see it, whatever it may be, might cause him to fall.  Once in the dirt he would either be overtaken or would lack the will through sheer terror to stand once again and run.  He thus put his legs on auto pilot and willed them to mechanically flee.

Barnaby’s greed and selfishness angered him.  He had entered the woods in search of only a story but within mere seconds the possibility of riches overcame him.  Within seconds he became no different than all the others who had entered the woods in search of gold before him and the storm woman was watching.

Her appearance above the trees must have always coincided with an individual’s credible attempt to retrieve the gold.  In Barnaby’s case, he knew right where it rested and could have uncovered it in a few hours.  Why she protected it Barnaby could not figure but for the moment he did not care.  At the moment he valued his life more than any treasure.

He fled back towards White’s creek and the beach.  After having come from that direction, he knew he would not get lost and he knew to where he could flee.  Even in this short amount of time however the trees appeared different as though the smaller ones had already grown and when he arrived on the beach, all evidence of his foot steps had vanished.  He breathed so hard he did not realize the storm woman’s screeching wail had stopped.

He turned slowly, afraid he might see her above the trees staring at him with menacing eyes but she had vanished.  He heard nothing and not even a leaf stirred.  All had become so quiet that he could his heartbeat thumping in his ears.

Barnaby sat down in the sand trembling with fear, his eyes darting in every direction as they looked for a new threat to emerge.  He took deep breaths to calm himself, but he still shook.  He had felt naked and vulnerable running through the woods like a scared child while the Storm Woman floated above him.  Where did she go he wondered?  Why did she disappear?  He kept scanning his surroundings wondering if she might burst from the shadow of the woods or the thick of the marsh with a blood curdling cry.

No occurrence he had witnessed thus far had shaken his courage to so great an extent.  He didn’t know whether to stand and prepare for flight or sit and try to avoid detection.  His emotions ran wild and he couldn’t formulate a sound decision in his head.  He looked upward with dread.  He saw nothing and he sensed perhaps that scaring him away satisfied her.  She would not return unless he sought out the treasure again.  That’s what he hoped for at least but he knew she watched from the darkness.

He surveyed his surroundings.  Here on the beach he felt he could stay out of trouble for a few minutes and at least see anyone at a distance who might try to sneak up on him.  He looked at the sky and though he felt the time period had shifted forward, the moon had not shed any weight.  Either the history unfolding in these woods had no power over the atmosphere above or every past act in these woods occurred during a full moon within its own period.

The boy’s body he pulled from the bay as well as all the others that floated ashore were gone and Barnaby wondered what had become of them in their time?  Were they left for the scavengers or given a decent burial?  Did the piratical sailors even deserve  such charity?  After witnessing their vile conduct in the woods, Barnaby would have to say “no”.

He felt sorry for Mary as she wept over the death of her husband William but Barnaby frowned when he thought of all the husbands she may have killed during her life of piracy.  Did she not receive just punishment for their deaths?

The gentle breeze soothed Barnaby and he speculated whether he should wait out the night on the peaceful beach until morning.  A skeletal soldier had attacked him, two pirates had shot at him, and a screaming apparition above the trees howled at him.  He had experienced more terror in the past hour than he had encountered his whole life.

He lay back on the cool sand, not caring too much about getting it in his hair, and stared at the stars.  He wanted the night to end and thought about sleeping to make it go quicker, but he worried he might wake up with a sword in his chest or to find himself buried up to his neck in the sand.  He sat up and decided it best not to get too comfortable for fear of falling asleep.

He cocked his ear.  “Shh!” he ordered his heart.

The sweet, comforting sound of harp music floated off the water.  It’s not over he thought.

The music was faint but unmistakable and as he tip-toed down to the water, he could hear it more clearly.  A large wooden ship emerged in the moonlight at least one hundred fifty feet in length with three large masts.  The ship slowed as it approached the beach and came to a halt at the mouth of White’s creek around one hundred yards from the shore.  The harp music stopped and Barnaby could hear a man barking orders in English though he didn’t believe the English made galleons of this size.

Barnaby retreated from the shoreline and took cover behind a sand dune.  A cloud drifted in front of the moon and all light vanished.  Barnaby squinted but he could see nothing though he did hear the splash of what he assumed was an anchor.  The captain yelled orders for many more minutes but in the darkness Barnaby could not determine what the men were doing on the ship or why they had arrived off the shores of Haven beach.

He turned around behind him every so often because he feared the skeletal Spanish soldier might suddenly appear from out of no where and attack him for doing nothing more than lying on the sand.  He could not figure the soldier’s identity but he guessed a brave man would not have fled at the mere sound of a breaking stick.  Those types of people tended to attack first and ask questions later, which was probably why he attacked the tent with such ferociousness.  He had no courage to ask questions.

The moon begin to creep out from its hiding place and once again illuminate the beach.  Barnaby eagerly looked for the ship to see it now anchored in the spot Barnaby last saw it.  A few lanterns sparked to life; no doubt to provide light for the deck hands he could see tending to various ropes about the vessel.

A small row boat with four men slithered to shore.  Barnaby’s heart sunk and his stomach tightened.  In the dark, he had not seen them disembark from the galleon and did not hear their oars in the water.  His night time adventure continued.

They skidded onto the shore only forty feet from Barnaby’s dune.  Three of the men jumped out while the fourth remained sitting in the front with his back to the beach.  The three men pulled the boat a little further onto ground then yanked the other man out of the boat and onto the shore.

Barnaby could tell right away the man’s hands were bound and he hoped this man too would not share the same fate as Mary and William.  He began to understand that pirates, at least the ones he had so far encountered, were much like their ill reputed reputations.

The short, thin man quivered though this could not be from the cold as the humidity felt like a warm wash cloth pressed on the forehead.  His feet were bare, he wore trousers extending just below his knee, and his shirt had no sleeves.  He wore a bandana wrapped around his head and on his back he carried a small sack.

The other three men wore waist coats similar to Edward and Christopher’s but these men also wore tri-corn hats with boots.  The man bound looked like a common pirate while these others were dressed as naval officers, possibly from Spain which might explain the Spanish galleon off which they came but not the English they spoke.

Not surprisingly, all four men were shorter than Barnaby.  Most people in this time were not provided the vitamins and nutrition of today’s children and the fact they turned to piracy in the first place probably indicated they were poor and may not have eaten well in their formative years.  As pirates they had worse food options; salted pork and stale biscuits if good fortune shined on them.  Most food on the ships grew moldy or became infested with weevils or roaches.  Fresh fruit was a rarity, though Barnaby guessed the Caribbean pirates who landed on local islands had it a little better.

Two of the men grabbed the prisoner’s arms.

“Lead the way,” growled one of the pirates, “and make haste.  The Spanish will be lookin fer their ship and Captain wants to sail before dawn.”

The bound man nodded in the direction of the woods without speaking a word.

One of the other pirates pulled his knife and stuck it to the prisoner’s throat.  “Don’t ye be leading us all over these woods either.  If the sun comes up and we’re not holdin booty in our hands, than our orders are to bleed ye in there.  Understand?”

The prisoner whimpered, “Aye.”

“Let’s just take him in the woods and kill him and tell the captain he be lyin about the treasure,” suggested the third pirate.  “The Spanish will be coming fer their ship soon.  We need to flee while the night will still hide us.”  The man began to cough a loud, hollow, cough.

“If anything does us in it will be yer hacking and wheezing,” growled one of the men.  “They can hear you all the way in Ocacroke.”

The pirate with the knife laughed then removed it from the prisoner’s throat and stuck it under his belt.  The prisoner too laughed but not for humor’s sake but for his life.

“Lead the way and you’d better hope we find something,” he growled to the captive man.

“No torches?  How am I supposed to find it in the dark?”  His voice shook.  His life depended on them finding the treasure and they were handicapping him with no light.

“Captain doesn’t want us settin the woods on fire.  Then the Spanish will knows were here,” replied one of the other sailors.  “Ye better hope yer memory is good.”

Barnaby now understood the situation clearly.  These men were either pirates or privateers that had captured a Spanish galleon.  There wasn’t much distinction between privateering and all out piracy.  Privateering basically meant you had the permission from your government to raid other country’s ships so in a sense one was legally allowed to be a pirate.  This in no way meant the men behaved any more civilized.

Why these pirates had dressed themselves as the Spanish they raided, Barnaby couldn’t guess, and he didn’t know why they had yet another pirate as prisoner or what existed in the trees they thought this man could find.

He contemplated following them but hesitated.  Why go looking for trouble he thought but then he quickly rationalized trouble had a way of finding him.  No matter where he went whether it be in the woods or on the beach, he always had an unwelcome encounter.  Was he any safer here on the beach than he would be following his enemies?  Probably he admitted, but the beach presently had not story.  He would follow these new ghosts at a distance and determine why they were there.

As he walked he thought of Jules and wondered how she might react.  Would she scold his foolishness yet admire his daring?  He wished she could see him now regardless.

The pirates entered the woods in the same spot from where Barnaby recently exited when fleeing the storm woman.

“Where is this treasure hidden?” one of the pirates grumbled.

“My grandfather told me it is in the woods,” the prisoner almost stuttered fearing he might be beaten if he didn’t produce it.

“Where in the woods?” the pirate snapped and placed his hand on his dagger.

“I d-d-don’t know for sure,” the man stumbled on his words, “he told me he buried it on a small hill under two holly trees and a large pine tree one hundred and fifty paces from a pond.”

“What kind of dullard is your grandfather to go buryin treasure in the dirt?” laughed another pirate.  “It doesn’t do him much good in the ground.”

“Maybe we should take all the treasure we stole from the Spaniards and bury it on the beach,” laughed the third pirate.

“Sounds like too much work,” coughed the last pirate, “if we really want to be rid of it, let’s throw it over board.  Why end there?  Let’s just blow up our new ship while were at it!”

All three pirates roared with laughter at the prisoner’s expense.

Barnaby had heard Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island popularized the myth of buried treasure and though it’s not impossible that through the history of piracy a pirate never buried his treasure, they rarely did so.  Pirates were in constant danger from diseases running rampant aboard their vessels, governments seeking their capture, and Mother Nature.  They lived so few years that they generally spent their earnings quickly.  There could be no tomorrow.

The idea of burying treasure probably did make about as much sense to these pirates as sinking one’s own ship and yet Barnaby had witnessed such a burial earlier.

Once the laughter faded the pirate with the cough began to wheeze and gag and fell to the ground to catch his breath.

Barnaby ducked behind a tree because he knew the others would stop and turn.

The pirate on the ground hacked and hacked and then sat back on his knees, took a deep crackly breath, and wiped his glistening chin.

The two standing pirates looked at each other fearfully and covered their mouths.

“You’ve got consumption,” one blurted out.

The pirate on the ground didn’t want to hear it.

“Take care of yer tongue, I do not,” he whispered.

“When have you last eaten?” the other pirate asked taking notice of his shipmate’s condition.  “You look skeletal!”

“That’s not your business!  What’s there to eat anyway other than pickled eggs and furry biscuits?  I will be good in a moment.”

“We don’t have many moments if were going to dig up this treasure before dawn.  If we don’t make it back to the ship, Cap’n will leave us.”

“Quit yer worrying ye dog!  Go on without me if ye must but if ye should find me lyin here on yer return, pick me up and take me back even if ye have to kill the prisoner to do so.”

“We aren’t leaving ye,” one pirate said frustrated.  “But we haven’t much time.”

After a few minutes more the sickly pirate regained some of his strength and began trekking through the woods once again.  Where they headed was clear and if forced to show them, Barnaby could have taken them to the buried treasure in mere minutes.   They had to rely on the memory of their prisoner though, and so they staggered through the pale moonlight until they found the pond in the center of the woods.  They then set off in counting out 150 paces from the pond but the prisoner could not remember if the map said one-hundred fifty paces to the South or to the West and so the four split into two groups and began counting.

Unfortunately they couldn’t agree on the proper length of a pace and so one group went much further in one direction than the other group would have.  An argument ensued until the diseased pirate once again started to cough and so without further discussion, they left him sitting at the pond and continued counting out steps as they were eager to remove themselves from his presence.

Finally they got so tired of counting and re-counting that they began to roam about the woods looking for a spot matching the prisoner’s description as described to him by his grandfather.

Barnaby sat hidden under the shadow of a low hanging holly branch a good twenty yards from the location of the buried treasure and waited for them to find it.  The sick pirate lay on his side but Barnaby couldn’t determine if he slept or not.  The other pirates stated the sick pirate had consumption a word Barnaby did not recognize, though by the way they covered their mouths it was an illness they thought contagious and did not want to catch.

“On what ship did ye grandfather sail?” one of the pirates called out to the prisoner.

“The Sea Eagle or maybe it was Sea Sparrow.  A bird’s name it had,” he shouted.

The pirate laughed.  “Eagle sounds better than sparrow.  What was his name and how did he come upon this treasure?”

“I knew him as Christopher Wren but he said he changed his last name so as not to get caught.  The treasure according to him belonged to Charles II.”

“So why didn’t he ever come back and get this treasure?” the other pirate asked still skeptical over why any pirate would bury their money.

“A storm sunk the ship and he was hurt real bad.  A Dutch merchant ship picked him up but he was unable to come back here.  He has always been lame since I knew him.”

Barnaby realized about whom this prisoner spoke.  It had to be Christopher the pirate who only an hour earlier buried the very treasure which they sought!  The same man who chased him through the marsh and onto the beach.  It had to be him!  He was the only man other than Edward who knew the whereabouts of the buried treasure and Edward died when their ship sunk in the storm to which the prisoner referred.

Amazing Barnaby thought!  Christopher evidently told the tale to his grandson though Barnaby figured he may have conveniently omitted the part about killing two people and burying their bodies with the treasure.

“What about here?” one of the pirates called.  Barnaby peered around his tree and saw the pirate had indeed come close to the spot where Christopher and Edward buried the treasure.  Not much more than an hour ago there sat a hole but now it looked as though fifty years had passed.

The prisoner and the pirate who guarded him walked over to the other pirate and looked around.

They examined the distance between the pond and the two holly trees and determined the location best resembled the description than any other spot.  The sickly pirate lying near the pond climbed to his feet and stumbled towards them.

They removed the long sack tied around the prisoner’s neck and pulled out crude looking shovels that perhaps weren’t shovels at all but rather contraptions the sailors had created on the ship.  In reality why would a sailor need to bring a real shovel to sea?  There wasn’t much use for digging aboard a ship.

One handed the shovel to the prisoner, “Start digging!”

The pirate who handed him the shovel picked up the other and joined him.  He looked at the other pirate who stood nearby doing nothing and mumbled.

“We should have brought more shovels.”

He barely uttered those words when the wail of the storm woman cracked open the chests of every man present and rained down horror into their hearts.

The men cowered and looked skyward.  The shadowy figure of the woman floated above the trees and wailed at the sea.  She did not look directly at them but all knew why she had appeared.

“These woods are cursed!” shouted the pirate holding the shovel.  He threw it down and covered his ears.  “You’ve taken us to a cursed treasure!”

The prisoner looked in fear at the pirates as he thought they might kill him at any moment.

“We must flee,” shouted the other pirate, “lest hell hath our souls!”

The two pirates turned and ran back towards the ship.  The prisoner watched his captors flee and knew he could escape but sensed evil in the cold wind rushing through the trees.  Shaken with terror he chased after the two pirates deciding it best to be a prisoner than suffer the wrath of this wailing banshee.

The third, disease ridden pirate tried to follow but he collapsed after making it only a dozen yards back towards the beach.  His fleeing shipmates never looked back nor did they acknowledge the desperate calls from their fallen friend which were immersed within the echoing cries of the storm woman.

Barnaby waited for the pirates to pass then ran back towards the beach behind them understanding they would not hear his footsteps over the sound of the screeching storm woman.  He jumped over the body of the sick pirate and glanced back at him.  The man’s arm stretched towards the beach and his face rested in the dirt.  He remained motionless.

Barnaby considered stopping but the Storm Woman’s cries became fiercer and the sick feeling of impending death that he felt charging through the woods earlier, gripped him once more.  So he chose to save himself rather than a man he believed already dead.

He gained ground on the weak prisoner so he slowed as to not overtake him.  The prisoner exited the woods then broke right towards the row boat.  He disappeared from Barnaby’s view.

Barnaby pulled back to a light jog and took cover behind a dune at the mouth of the woods.  Darkness lingered on the beach but he could still tell the pirates who were  mere seconds ahead of him had vanished.  He saw no sign of their row boat either but the galleon, still present, had drawn its anchor and sailed many yards from shore.  A loan lantern flickered still on the aft end of the boat.

While he watched the galleon head out to sea the light disappeared and the ship all but vanished from sight.

The storm woman stopped screaming as she had before when Barnaby left the treasure and he sighed with relief, feeling he had dodged yet another bullet.  He turned to make sure she had vanished but to his horror, in the dark sky, her haunting apparition continued floating in front of the moon.

She hovered with her arms and legs outstretched and her dark dress billowing in the wind.  She eclipsed the moon and cast her darkness over the beach and sea.  She no longer cried but she continued to scowl at the galleon as it departed.

Barnaby remained motionless too afraid to even breath.  He did not want her to notice him lying in the sand seventy feet beneath her.  She paid him no attention but maintained her focus on the galleon’s hasty escape.

Barnaby wanted to turn over and check its progress but he wagered he could not see the ship in this darkness and he didn’t want his movement to catch the corner of her eyes.

Abruptly the woman began to shout again.  Barnaby jumped and covered his ears.  What anger powered the ferocity spewing forth from this woman?  He dared not look at her while she screamed for fear his heart might die.  Then as suddenly as she started, she stopped.  Barnaby opened his eyes and saw she had vanished revealing the pale moon.  He flipped over to try and catch one last glimpse of the galleon.

Yes there she is he thought but to his amazement, she had company.  The storm woman’s disappearance revealed the presence of two other galleons on the bay.  Each had hid in the dark while the pirates, unaware of their existence, began to pass between them at a distance of about thirty yards on each side.  Once the woman disappeared and the moon shed her shadow, the two similar Spanish Galleons were revealed to the pirate’s terror.

Fire burst from the galleons’ cannons and began splintering the stolen pirate ship.  The pirate captain had no chance.  He had no cannons at the ready to return fire and his only hope was to survive the onslaught long enough to pass between the two ships and make his escape.  The two attacking ships were pointed at the beach and would have to turn to pursue.  This should give the pirates a formidable lead, but they had first to survive.

Barnaby saw the small bursts of flame jump from the galleon’s cannons and moments later heard the repeated, loud “booms” as the sound reached him over and over.

The wind disappeared like a man over a cliff, and the pirate galleon slowed to a pitiful crawl.  The Spanish galleons hammered it with dozens of cannon blasts whose sounds impacted the air like thunderclaps.

The spectacular but brief confrontation horrified him.  What despair must the fleeing pirates be experiencing aboard their stolen ship?  To feel the crippling panic as they fled from the ghostly apparition of a woman darkening the sky and shattering it with her horrific wail; to feel the hopeful relief after she vanished only to discover a breath later she had revealed to them their doom.

Two skulking vessels, every bit as large as theirs, loomed with dreadful intentions, both prepared to unleash death and destruction on a simple spoken command from their captains.  Did the pirate crew hold their breath, did they utter a profanity, did any think to say a prayer when they turned their heads to see not one but two vessels of war ready to usher in their deaths?

Cannonballs ripped through them from both sides and mounting any type of offense seemed futile.  The pirate captain’s hopes for escaping died with the wind.   All hands had been so pre-occupied with escaping the storm woman that none were available and ready to return fire.  The battle would not last long enough for them to even make it below deck.  What did the crew do then, Barnaby wondered?  Did they jump overboard or did they do what good they could with their tiny pistols and go down with the ship?    The booms from the cannons and the screams from the wounded spread terror through the men like fire through dry brush.  They had little hope to escape.  Their lives were over and as they ran without sight through the smoke much as they had done through life, did any of them consider what hell might await them in death?

Barnaby guessed there were at least fifty men aboard the pirate vessel and he doubted any would survive to feel the cold comfort of treasure again.

Could the Storm woman’s revealing of the moon at the very moment the pirate ship nearly sneaked past the two galleons in the dark be coincidence or did she orchestrate the pirate’s destruction for disturbing her treasure?  Did she drive the pirates off the island right towards the Spanish who laid waiting in the dark?

Smoke so choked the horizon he saw only hazy outlines of the ships and he could not tell if the pirate’s galleon still lived or if she had sunk.

He walked down to the shore, turning every so often to check the sky for the menacing storm woman, and gazed through the darkness.  The ships were gone; vanished to where ever ghosts go when they’ve played their role.

The bodies began rolling in immediately as they had earlier when a storm destroyed the first pirate vessel.  The sight, even if these men were full of evil and treachery, struck him with melancholy  What human could dare say the sight of death lifted their spirits?

The pirate prisoner whose Grandfather had chased Barnaby earlier in the night drifted in first.  As he watched the body float onto the sand, he remembered Mary’s curse towards Edward, Christopher and their families.  Was this grandson a victim of her words?  Could dying women posses such power that they could curse a family and all their descendants?

He walked down the shore, examining the bodies from a distance.  Many of the corpses were horribly disfigured and missed limbs.  Barnaby felt compelled not to study them further out of respect for their new deformities.  He knew he was acting silly but he felt it impolite to stare at their disfigurement when they were helpless to turn away.

Others were intact and he could see their pockets stuffed with coins.  They fled the fight to avoid injury and jumped over board with as much booty as they could carry in hopes they could make the swim to land.  This greed ruined them.  The gold at that moment had less value than brick.  They drowned shortly after diving into the water trading their lives for the slim possibility of wealth.

One pirate, not more than five and a half feet tall, laid half in and half out of the water while the waves lapped softly over his waist.  His eyes remained open, and as Barnaby moved around him, he found he could not escape his eerie gaze much in the same way the eyes of a portrait always seem to find you in every corner of a room.

He knelt down next to the man to examine him further and tried his best to ignore the dead stare burrowing into his head.  A spark of excitement fluttered within him when he saw resting beneath the man’s left hand, three inches under the water, two shiny coins.  He found the pirate’s lifeless stare upon him unsettling so he pulled the soft, bloated eye lids down, and with a sigh nudged his head in the other direction.

“Sorry,” he said to the corpse.  “I won’t take them with me.  I just want to see it.”

With an icky feeling, he rinsed his hands in the water and wiped them dry on his clothes.

Barnaby reached in to examine one of the coins.  As this was not the Storm woman’s treasure but that stolen from the Spanish, he didn’t feel threatened.  He lifted a coin out of the water but the coin disintegrated and ran through his hands like gold paint.

Surprised and flustered, he reached in to grab another but tested its strength beneath the surface before pulling it out.  It felt hard and solid the way a coin should.  He turned it over under the water with both hands to examine its markings, but his body provided too much shadow.  Once again he brought it forth from the water but as before the coin disintegrated between his fingers.  The coins were simply a ghostly illusion much like the men and they would soon disappear as would the bodies of their pirate captors.

Barnaby stood and continued to walk near the water’s edge.  He made his way around what looked to be an old pirate lying on a wooden slab of the ship.  The man appeared old but who could tell in this light especially after near death had ravaged his body.  He could easily be only about forty or forty-five.  As he passed he thought he heard the creaking of wood and turned quickly to see the pirate struggling to balance himself on one elbow as he reached out to Barnaby with his other arm.

Barnaby ran to him quickly and without thinking grabbed his hand.

The man fell to his back exhausted but continued holding Barnaby with his wiry muscular arms.  His head was bare except for a bit of hair over his ears and the sun had bronzed his skin.

“What is your name sir?” he asked weakly.

“I am Barnaby.”

The man smiled.  “You are a Christian?”

“Yes.”

“Can you save me?” he asked.

Barnaby looked over the man’s body with despair and insecurity.  He looked to be well intact but he could be bleeding under his clothes or internally.  He did not know how to save this man nor could he save a man long gone to the grave.

“I’m s-sorry, I’m not a doctor,” Barnaby stammered feeling terrible he could do nothing for him.

The man closed his eyes, smiled, and shook his head slowly as though to do it any harder might cause him more pain.  “No,” he replied hoarsely, “not physically, spiritually?”

Barnaby leaned back a little with realization.  “You wish to be saved; as in through Jesus Christ?” he asked clarifying the man’s wishes.

The pirate nodded gently.  “I don’t have much time.  I feel the fires of hell nipping at my feet.”  He swallowed hard from fear, “I don’t want to spend eternity in agony.”  He leaned towards Barnaby and grabbed his shoulder with his free hand.  Barnaby winced slightly from the strength of the man’s grip but did not shrug off his death hold.  “Please don’t let me die a sinner!” the man pleaded.

“I’m not a priest or a minister, I don’t think I can save you,” Barnaby replied apologetically.  He had never tried to save anyone spiritually before and did not possess the confidence to do it properly.  This man’s soul was on the line, an eternity of hell, and those things he would not relinquish to his incompetence.  “But you can, you can save yourself,” Barnaby assured him.  “You don’t need me at all.”

The pirate looked at him confused.  “What are you talking about?”

Barnaby grabbed the man’s arm that held his shoulder and squeezed it tightly.  He knew the man hadn’t long to live so he spoke quickly and with urgency.  “I can’t make you believe in Jesus at least we don’t have the time but if you do believe in him, you have to ask him into your heart.”

“I do, I do believe in him!” the pirate answered desperately with a hint of craziness in his eyes that faded as quickly as it emerged.

“You have to repent then!” Barnaby exclaimed as the pirate’s eyes began to close and his grip on Barnaby’s shoulder weakened.

“No!” Barnaby grabbed the man’s hand and held it in place.  “Don’t go!  You have to repent of your sins!”

The man slumped and his head fell into the sand.

Barnaby pushed him onto his back and shook him gently at first then more vigorously when he didn’t wake.  “Wake up!”  He slapped the man on his face; a small price for him to pay to avoid the pits of Hades, but he didn’t stir.  “C’mon damnit!” Barnaby shouted.  The man lay dead and where he went Barnaby feared to consider.

Advertisements