The Tale of a Fateful Trip Pt. 4: 1967 (R)
I talk to her when she comes. Tell her what she needs and how its going to be and she knows it. She never answers but I know shes listening. She lingers. It chose her for me – it wants her to stay. Where does she think shes going.
Prof. Roy Hinkley’s journal. 2/13/67
At last. The pontoon is fitted and the resin shellac (while not as watertight as one would wish) has dried and tested well. The mast is raised and rigged. All in all a sturdy if crude ship that I have dubbed (tongue very much in cheek) the “Beagle II.” Mary Ann didn’t get the joke even after I explained the reference but she smiled anyway.
This afternoon we took her out for her maiden voyage and the craft does well. My concerns on managing the swells and breakers close to the reefs were laid to rest as, using only the rough-hewn oars of our manufacture, Mary Ann and I were able to ride them out. It supports our weight plus that of our supplies and radio and the pontoon does a fine job balancing the craft and absorbing the shock of the buffeting waves. My admiration for the engineering genius of those ancient Polynesian sailors knows no bounds.
The final (and, perhaps, most ethically questionable) obstacle in our way is the acquisition of the Skipper’s charts and sextant. Mary Ann has agreed to retrieve these tomorrow morning while Grumby fishes. Once she has them, we will meet at the beach where the canoe is currently staked down.
In mere hours the two of us will bid this island and its self-proclaimed ruler an overdue farewell. A great adventure and, if I am true to the task, a return to the 20th century awaits us. I will dream tonight of crisp, starched sheets, cotton underwear, coffee with four sugars and chicken Marsala.
Prof. Roy Hinkley’s journal. 2/14/67
Gone. I don’t understand how The smell should have told me but I thought – it seemed like just another morning – a breakfast fire. But the smoke was coming from the wrong area.
She wasn’t there. I ran for the beach but Mary Ann wasn’t to be seen. Just the boat. Just what was left of the boat. A long black scorch, nothing more than a burned-out fire log still crackling and blazing orange in places. It would have taken hours to burn it down like this. While I slept. Nearly a year’s labor, all my hopes gone. All gone except for the sail, ripped from the mast and laid out on the sand before the ship like a welcome mat. And painted on the sail in sticky, dried pig’s blood, “NOBODY LEAVES.” I was numb, I was sick, I got physically sick as I stood there. I dropped to my knees in the sand and vomit and I cried. I’m still crying. And Mary Ann, where
I don’t know why I’m still writing.
I sought him out, not an hour ago, back at the old camp. And he was there, stretched out on his vine mesh hammock, grinning at me, his face still smudged from the fire he set. The sight of him enraged me to an extent I would hardly have believed myself capable. He didn’t rise, just said, “You get my message?” I caught a glimpse of Mary Ann peering out of the hut that was once hers and Ginger’s, an expression of shame, perhaps, on her face. I called out to her, but it was Grumby who answered.
He said she didn’t need to respond to me, that she had “come to her senses” about where she belonged. He said that instead of “committing suicide” by setting sail with me, she chose to stay in “our paradise” with him. She would serve us all and provide us with strong children to keep the island alive. It was “what the island wants.” He just kept spouting this madness until I could bear it no longer.