Ellis awoke to waves slapping the side of their tiny lifeboat. The sun, low in the horizon, marked the end of the fifth day since the Millie had capsized. Shaking off his sun-baked nap, he wrapped the bows of his spectacles around his ears and stared at his manservant Niles. The insolent bastard was chewing.
“What pray tell are you eating?”
“T’was left over from my lunch ration, milord”
“What was left over?”
“Herring or beef?”
Of course the beef. There were only two beef rations left, but seven of the insufferable herring, so by all means one should naturally go on eating beef.
“Niles, perhaps we should focus on conserving what we have left of land animal meals, as we are surrounded by an ocean of sea creatures.”
“We’ve nothing to catch them with, milord.”
Indeed not. Attempts at makeshift netting had ended with both of them losing their underthings to a poorly constructed square knot. In retrospect, it may have been better for Ellis to listen to Niles on that account. The man did know his way around an ascot.
“Between the two of us we’ll come up with something I’m sure. If not, there’s bound to be land any day now. All boats end ashore eventually.”
“If you say so, sir.”
“Perhaps another round of rowing would put us closer to our goal.”
“Aren’t you afraid it’s futile, sir?”
There had been some difference of opinion as to the correct course, but Ellis was confident of his decision. Although, they should have hit land yesterday.
“Nonsense. Why I bet we even now we can see land in one form or another. Binoculars, please.”
“Do you mean these, milord?”
So yes, they were opera glasses, but in these circumstances changing nomenclature to be appropriate with one’s situation helped a great deal with one’s outlook. Ellis would have a chat with Niles about his poor attitude when this was over.
Ellis stood, peering through tiny lenses at an endless horizon of water in all directions.
“Hmmm. We may, as of yet, be a few days out.”
“Is that something, sir?”
Ellis scanned the horizon to where Niles was pointing.
“What do you see?”
“A schooner’s mast.”
“Where, man, where?”
Ellis saw nothing. Niles had ended the last two discourses without the proper moniker. Once could be overlooked, but twice was just plain disrespectful.
Ellis turned, intent on chastising the man, but instead met with Niles swinging oar. It caught him squarely on the forehead, knocking him unconscious and into the water.
Niles picked up the spectacles that had fallen from Ellis’s face and dropped them over the side, then reached into the ration locker for a can of kippered beef.
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James A. Miller
During the day, James A. Miller works as an Electrical Engineer in Madison WI. At night, he spends time with his family and does his best to come up with fun and creative fiction. He is a first reader for Allegory e-zine and member of the Codex writer’s group. He also has two cats but will resist the urge to say anything cute or witty about them here. James blogs at https://breakingintothecraft..