Arthur of Pax Island (Autumn Writing Challenge Final Days)

Written by David Holdsworth

With help from Imagine Forest
For an Autumn Writing Challenge
Autumn can be a time of sorrow and even death, but can also be a time of beauty and hope. This short story explores this theme.
“The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go.” – Unknown 
It was Autumn, and there was a great storm at sea. One could hear nothing but the swell of the wild oceans and the great feared beasts beneath.
The air was filled with black smoke. The water was strewn with broken mast parts and pieces of timber which the winds had knocked from the ship.
Many people had been lost, and many more had been wounded.
The ship had caught fire. The beames were breaking out from below. The deck was all ablaze.
The people who were left made haste to launch a small boat.
They leapt into it and rowed swiftly away.
Any other place was safer now than on board that burning ship with a cargo of gun powder headed for the New World.
But the captain’s child, young Arthur, still stood upon the deck.
The flames were almost all around him now, but he would not stir from his post.
His fierce Captain had bidden him to stand there, and like a good sailor he had been taught always to obey.
He trusted in his Captains word and believed that when the right time came he would tell him to go.
He saw the people jump into the boat. He heard them call to him to come.
He shook his head. “When Captain bids me, I will go,” he said.
And now the flames were diving up the masts. The sails were all ablaze. It was only a matter of time before the cargo would blow.
The fire blew hot behind him. It scorched his back.
It was before him, behind him and all around him. “O Captain!” He cried, “may I not go now? The people have all left the ship. Is it not time that we too should leave it?”
He did not know that his Captain was lying in the burning cabin below, that a sword pierced his very heart, that his great Captain had been struck dead at the very beginning of the fire by mutunious men. He died as he had lived: by the sword. It was him who had accidentally started this terrible fire sword fighting with his comrades. If the ship didn’t blow now it would surely run aground in this the storm of the era. No one was at the wheel. One spark from a falling lamp was all it took to set this beautiful ship ablaze.
The lad listened to hear an answer in the mist and smoke. “Speak louder, my Captain! Daddy?” He cried.
“I cannot hear what you say.”
Above the roaring of the flames, above the crashing of the giant waves, above the booming of the calls from the rescue boat, he fancied that his Captain’s voice came faintly to him through the scorching air. “I am here. Speak once again!” He gasped.
But what is that? A great flash of light fills the air; clouds of smoke shoot quickly upward to the sky; and- “Boom!” Oh, what a terrific sound! Louder than giant Canons, louder than the roar of all the wild oceans this fateful night!
The air quivers; the sea itself trembles; the sky is black. The blazing ship is seen no more. There was indeed powder in the hold!
A long time ago a great chief, whose name was Eagle, wrote a poem about this brave lad, called Brave Arthur.
“The lad stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled; The flame that lit the wreck
Shone round him o’er the dead.
“Yet bold and stuborn he stood, As born to rule the storm.
A creature of firey blood,
A proud though childlike form.”
Far in the highlands of the great forest, nestling amid windy mountains lay a coloured tipee. It was almost as colourful as the beautiful trees and leaves that were now falling constantly.
Here one of the survivors lived with the good old Chief for 7 years, to be given and taught healing.
Every autumn she sent for a girl from the village that was further down the mountainside. One year, as Arthur and Eagle were in a cabin closer to the bottom (on account of high winds) this girl brought a dear little kitten, which she had carried on her shoulder for many a mile across the countryside.
It was a poor little thing, its mother had died; but the girl, who was mute, had brought it up on warm new milk, which the treasurer had given her from community supplies. This young lady was known as Whisper to the tribe below. A well loved member of this tribal community that consisted of natives, rescued souls from the sea, Quakers and freed slaves all living in scattered tents, caves and cabins across the mountain and forests.
When whisper brought the kitten young Arthur at once named him Hope. For that day beautiful Whisper, who he adored, brought him a happiness he thought he could never find again. The kitten was so gentle and shy, just like he had become since the terrible explosion that had almost taken his life. How he had survived was a mystery. One story had it that a mermaid or dolphin had pushed his lifeless body to shore. Another was that angels had plucked him from the very depths and set him on dry land. Whatever the case as if raised from the dead the lad now ministered among this group. A copy of one of the gospels was the only possession he had left. Some how that too had survived the baptism of literal fire and water.
His new pet quickly got tame, roaming about and following him and young Whisper on quiet contemplative walks. The two were sure to become wed. It was clear even at this early stage that they were meant for each other.
Hope knew Sunday quite well, and never attempted to go to Meeting with them except once. No one minded. The traditional older Quakers were just happy to see a nice young couple in their midst. The younger ones were equally delighted.
Of course, Hope grew into a big cat, as she was more a wild cat than a domestic cat. The healer, Chief Eagle, offered to take Hope and put her amongst her own kind when the time was right. But, every Autumn she returned. She too had found a place in the tribe and community of Pax Island.
“The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go.” – Unknown
~ The End ~

Yellow (Autumn Writing Challenge Day 2)

My favourite colour is yellow, with an autumn orange and a sky blue being close seconds. I guess the reason why yellow is a meaningful colour to me is connected to a childhood memory of going to nursery with mum holding a yellow toothbrush and yellow cup on a ‘bring your favourite colour day.’ I had decided and proclaimed at a young age that yellow was “my favourite.” 

On another level I like brightness and I like Autumn colours. Yellow, orange and blue are all colours of my favourite time of year. 

Yellow is also often associated with the concept of light and light in a spiritual sense is something from within. But, even more so something that eminates and illuminates from Jesus the light of the world. May His light fill our hearts this day and always. Amen.