Fiction: Wrecked on a Barren Island. “Short Kids Story.”

Malek Sherif

A Legal Disclaimer for a Fictional Story: This is a work of fiction and cannot be presented as fact. Unless otherwise indicated, all the names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents in this book are either the product of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Wrecked on a barren islandSimon Berger/pexels

Over the next ten or twelve days, we kept heading south, eating very cheaply because our food was running out and only going to shore when we had to.

There were two options for me here: I could try to reach the Gambia or Senegal Rivers and hope to connect with a European ship; or I might risk my life and try to reach the islands, where I was sure to be met by slaves. In other words, I staked my entire fortune on meeting a ship or dying on this cape or those islands, and that was the only thing I could count on.

It wasn't until about 10 days later that I realized the land was populated; we spotted individuals standing on the coast and staring at us in two or three locations as we passed by; they were likewise fairly dark and naked. At one time, I remember thinking, "I was thinking about it, but my higher counselor Xury warned me not to." Instead of pulling in far away from the beach, I drew closer so that I could speak with them face-to-face.

Xury told me that only one of the men had a long, thin stick in his hand, which he said was a lance, and that he could throw it a long way with great accuracy. I kept my distance and used sign language to talk to them. They told me to stop my boat, and when I did, they would bring me some meat.

We were willing to accept what they brought, but how we were going to get it was the next point of contention, because I was afraid to approach them on land, and they were equally afraid of us. So I lowered my sails and lay by, and two of them ran up into the country and returned in less than half an hour with some dried flesh and some corn, the products of their country.

When we saw the two mighty creatures coming from the mountains toward the sea, one pursuing the other (as we took it) with great fury, we made signs of thanks to them; for an opportunity to do so wonderfully presented itself right then; for while we were lying by the shore, they came, the male pursuing the female, or whether they were pursuing each other for sport or rage, we could not tell.

It wasn't until one of the creatures came closer to our boat than I expected that I realized I was prepared; I had loaded my gun and ordered Xury to do the same for the other two, so I was ready to go at any moment. However, they didn't try to attack any of the negroes; instead, they jumped into the water and swam around, as if they were there for their amusement.

When he got into range, I fired and shot him in the head; he immediately dropped into the water, but he rose and plunged up and down as if he were fighting for his life. He quickly made it to the beach, but he died just before he reached it.

As soon as they realized that the beast had been killed by my rifle and sank into the water and that I had signaled them to come ashore, these miserable animals took to heart. They rushed to the beach and started searching for it; some of them were even ready to die for fear. He washed up on the strand when I observed his blood smeared over the sea.

The blacks helped carry him in and discovered a fascinating leopard that was spotted and fine to an admirable degree. They put up their hands in awe as they wondered what I had used to kill him.

The second thing, startled by the gunshot and the brightness of the musket, swam up to the mountains, and I had no idea what it was at such a distance. I learned immediately that the blacks were eager to get their hands on this creature's meat, so I offered it up to them as a favor, which they gratefully accepted when I made the appropriate gestures. Even though they didn't have a knife, they were able to remove his skin with a sharpened piece of wood just as easily and quickly as we could have done.

That's what I said when they offered to share part of the flesh, but they made signs for the skin and brought me a lot more of their offers that I accepted even though I didn't understand them. To get some water, I made signs for them and put one of my jars out to them, twisting the bottom upward to signal that it was empty and that I wanted it to be filled up. They quickly summoned their friends, and two ladies arrived with a large earthen vessel that had been burned in the sun, as I assumed. They laid it down in front of me, as they had previously, and I sent Xury ashore with my jars, which I filled to the brim. The ladies and males were both nude.

To make this point clear, I maintained a huge outpost in the water for eleven days till I observed the land stretch out a long way into the sea, at a distance of four or five leagues ahead of me; and since the sea was calm, I was able to make this point. In the end, after doubling the point at around two leagues from land, it was quite clear to me that this was the Cape of Verde, and those islands were dubbed the Cape of Verde Islands from that point forth. The problem was that they were far apart, and I wasn't sure what the best course of action would be if I were caught in a gust of wind.

When the youngster suddenly screamed out, "Master, master, a ship with a sail!" When I came inside the cabin and sat down, Xury said, "Master, master!" He was scared out of his wits, fearing that we were being pursued by his master's ships, but I knew we were too far away to be in danger. I hurried out of the cabin and instantly realized that the ship was a Portuguese ship and that it was going towards the coast of Guinea, where Africans were being brought in from the Atlantic Ocean. It was quickly apparent to me that they were on a different route, and I swung out to sea as far as I could, deciding to talk with them as soon as possible, even though they had no intention of approaching the beach.

After I had crowded to the fullest and was beginning to despair, they, it appears, observed through their glasses that it was a European boat, which they assumed to be from a wrecked ship, and so they shortened sail to allow me to get up to them. My confidence was bolstered by this, and with the assistance of my patron's ancient, I sent a distress signal and fired a pistol, both of which were seen by them; they reported seeing the smoke but not hearing the gunshot. They generously took me to them and laid them by for me, and within three hours, I had come up with them.

It took some time for them to understand what I was saying, but finally, a Scotch sailor on board cried out to me, and I replied to him, telling them that I was an Englishman who had escaped slavery from the Moors at Sal-lee. They immediately invited me on board, and very graciously accepted my belongings.

As a thank you for saving me from what I considered to be a hopeless situation, I immediately offered the captain of the ship everything I had, but he generously told me he would not take anything from me and that everything I had would be delivered safely to me when I arrived in the Brazils. I rescued your life on no other condition than that I would be happy to be saved myself, and it may be my fate to be saved the same way.'

For another thing, he said, "If I take away all of your possessions, you will starve to death in the faraway land of the Brazils." And then I just take away the life that I have given you. " I will take you there in charity, and those items will assist to finance your sustenance and your return trip home," he adds to "Seignior Inglese" (Mr. English-man).

When it came time to perform, he was just as gracious as he had been in his proposal. He instructed the sailors not to touch anything I owned, then took everything into his own hands and returned everything to me with a detailed inventory so that I could keep it, down to my three clay jars.

My boat was excellent, and when he saw it, he offered to purchase it from me for his ship's use and inquired as to the price I'd be willing to accept. So, I told him that because he had been so generous to me in everything else, I couldn't make any offers on the boat's price but would instead leave it entirely in his hands.

He then told me that when I got to Brazil, he would give me an eighth-piece-of-eight bill and would make up the difference if anyone offered him a higher price for the boat. The captain also offered me sixty additional pieces of eight for my kid Xury, which I declined since I didn't want to sell the poor lad's liberty after he had helped me so dutifully obtain my own. It wasn't until I explained my reasoning to the captain and offered him a compromise that he agreed to let the youngster go.

My arrival in All Saints Bay, or the Bay of All Saints, was around twenty-two days after we set sail from the coast of Brazil. And now that I'd been freed from the most horrible circumstance possible, I had to ponder what I should do with the rest of my life.

He gave me twenty ducats and forty ducats for the leopard's skin and lion skin, which I had in my boat, and he made sure that everything I had on board the ship was delivered to me on time; he also bought the case of bottles and two of my guns; in other words, I made a lot of money.

Not long after I arrived, I was sent to the home of a decent, upright guy with an INGENIO, as the locals call it (that is, a plantation and a sugar-house). I spent some time with him and learned about sugar production, and I decided that if I could acquire a license to settle in the area, I would become a sugar planter like them. I also decided to find a method to bring my money, which I had left in London, back to me while I was there. With the help of a "note of naturalization," I was able to buy the land I needed to start a plantation and colony and make plans for the animals I wanted to bring from England.

My next-door neighbor, Wells, was also Portuguese from Lisbon, although he was born in England to English parents. Because his property was just next to mine, we had a lot of fun together. For approximately two years, my stock and his were both low, so we both cultivated mostly for food. However, as our numbers grew and our property was more organized, we cultivated tobacco in the third year and prepared each of our huge plots of land for the next year's cane planting. But we both needed help, and I realized that I had made a mistake by splitting up with my son, Xury.

Sadly, it was no big surprise to me that I was unable to accomplish anything well. I had no choice but to keep going: I'd gotten myself into a job that was completely unrelated to my talents and interests and for which I'd given up my father's home and ignored all of his wise advice.

My father told me to stay at home if I was going to continue on this path. If I had listened to him, I could have done it in England with my friends instead of going 5,000 miles away to do it among strangers and savages in a wilderness far enough away that I wouldn't have hurt myself. I often told myself, "I could have done this just as well in England with my family and friends as I have done it 5,000 miles away among strangers and savages."

I used to see my situation in this way with the deepest sadness. I used to joke that I lived like a man stranded on a deserted island with no one but himself. And yet-and how should all men reflect-when they compare their current circumstances with others that are worse, Heaven may force them to make the exchange, and be convinced of their former happiness by experience. I say how just it has been that the truly solitary life I reflected on, on an island of utter desolation, should be my lot, who had so often unjustly compared it with the life I then led, in which I was surrounded by friends and family. I say how just it has been.

When I told the captain of the ship that took me to see that I still had a small number of goods in London, he gave me some friendly and sincere advice. He had been there for almost three months getting his cargo ready and restocking, so when he heard that, he told me:

When I return to Lisbon, I will bring you the fruits of your labor, God willing, in the form of goods appropriate to this country and letters to the person who has your money in London. But because things can change and bad things can happen to anyone, I want you to give me oaths and a written promise. You should also tell the person who has your money in London to send your belongings to Lisbon to the people I tell them to and in the goods that are right for this country.

It seemed like the best thing to do, so I wrote letters to the woman with whom I had left my money and a request to the Portuguese captain, as he had asked since his advice was so good and kind.

When the Portuguese captain came to Lisbon, some of the English merchants there found a way to send over not only the order but also a full account of my story to a merchant in Locarno. When the English captain's widow read it, she was moved to tears and wrote back, "It was a great pleasure to read about your adventures."

The London merchant sent the English goods the captain had requested directly to him in Lisbon, where they were safely delivered to me in Brazil. Among them were a variety of tools, ironwork, and utensils that I needed for my plantation but hadn't thought to ask for (because I was too young in my business to think of them).

When I got this shipment, I thought I'd hit the jackpot, and my steward, the captain, had already spent the five pounds that my friend had sent him as a gift for himself to buy and bring me a servant who was bound to serve me for six years and wouldn't take anything other than a small amount of tobacco, which I told him was mine.

I had more than four times the value of my first cargo, and I was now infinitely ahead of my poor neighbor in the advancement of my plantation because my goods were all English manufactures, such as clothes, stuff, baize, and other things especially valuable and desirable in the country; I found means to sell them at a very great advantage.

As is frequently the case, our greatest misfortune comes as a direct result of our most exploited wealth. The following year, I had a great deal of success on my plantation: I grew fifty great rolls of tobacco on my land—more than I had sold to my neighbors for necessities; and these fifty rolls, each weighing more than a hundred pounds, were well cured and stored away for the return of the Lisbon fleet.

As my business and wealth grew, my head began to be filled with projects and undertakings that were beyond my reach; these are, in fact, often the downfall of the wealthy and ambitious. My father told me to live a quiet, retired life, and he said that the middle part of life is full of happiness. But I had other things to look forward to, and I was still going to be the cause of all my troubles. I was going to make my mistakes worse and think more about myself, which is what I should have done when I was in trouble.

Similarly to my earlier decision to leave my parents' home, I couldn't rest until I left my new plantation and the prosperous life I had imagined for myself, only to pursue an impulsive and excessive desire to rise above the limitations of the situation. And so, I plunged once more into the pit of human misery that no man has ever experienced, or perhaps could be consistent with life and a state of well-being.

Therefore, to get to the specifics of this section of my narrative, I'll go through it step-by-step. The fact that I've been in Brazil for almost four years and am thriving and prospering on my plantation, that I've made friends and acquaintances with my fellow planters and merchants at the port of St. Salvador, and that I've frequently discussed my two trips to the coast of Guinea and the methods of trading with the negroes with them, is what you might expect.

When I talked about these things, they paid special attention to the part about buying negroes, which was a trade that wasn't common yet and could only be done with the permission of the kings of Spain and Portugal. This meant that necroes were hard to get and cost a lot because there weren't enough of them.

The next morning, after a night of conversation with some merchants and planters, three of them came to me and made a secret proposal to me: they wanted to build a ship for Guinea; they had all of the plantations I had, and they were ready to go. They enjoined me to secrecy, and then explained that they had all of the plantations I had, and they were ready to go.

It would have been a reasonable offer if it had been made to someone who hadn't already set up their settlement and had a lot of money. But I was already set up and all I had to do was send for the last hundred pounds from England. Who in that time and with that little money could do anything?

My father's wise words were lost on me when I was a child; therefore, I was unable to hold back when the opportunity presented itself. In a nutshell, I informed them that if they agreed to watch after my plantation while I was away and to give it to whomever I instructed if I had a miscarriage, I would go with all my heart.

To this end, they all agreed to do so and put their promises in writing or signed agreements to do so. I also made a will that left my plantation and belongings to the captain of the ship that saved my life as my universal heir. However, I told him that he had to give half of the crop to him and the other half to England, just as I had written in my will.

To summarize, I took great care to protect my belongings and the health of my plantation. If I had been half as smart as I should have been, I would have never left such a promising project, giving up all the possible views of a successful situation, to go on a sea voyage, which has all the usual risks, not to mention the reasons I should have known I would have bad luck.

My travel partners had already finished getting ready for the trip, so I had to get on the ship at an ungodly hour on September 1, 1659—the same day I left my parents in Hull eight years earlier—to rebel against their authority and be a fool for my good.

In addition to the ship's master, his son, and me, the ship's crew included six guns and fourteen other men. Except for the toys we needed for our blacksmith's trade, we had no significant amount of cargo on board, except for a few little items like looking glasses, scissors, and hatchets.

Upon my arrival, we set sail the same day to reach the African coast at ten or twelve degrees north latitude, which, it seems, was the standard course of action in those days. All along our coast, the weather was pleasant and just a little too hot, until we reached the height of Cape St. Augustino, where we lost sight of land and set our course for Fernando de Noronha, which we left behind on the east side of the island chain.

When a severe tornado or hurricane swept us completely out of sight, we had been at seven degrees twenty-two minutes northern latitude at the time of our final sighting. There was no way for us to do anything except sit back and let fate and the fury of the winds take us where they wanted us to go for 12 days straight. I don't need to say that I expected every day to be swallowed up; nor, indeed, did anybody on the ship expect to survive.

As the storm raged, one of our men succumbed to the effects of the climate, and a man and a child were swept overboard. The master made an observation as best he could and discovered that he was at about eleven degrees north latitude but that he was twenty-two degrees west of Cape St. Augustino; so he found himself on the north coast of Guiana, or the north part of Brazil, and he began to consult with me as to what course he should take.

It wasn't an option for us, and we decided to set off for Barbados, which would take us around fifteen days' sail, while we couldn't possibly make the journey to the Caribbean Islands.

When I came up with this plan for a new path, I planned to reach some of our English islands, where I was hoping for some respite. But our journey had already been set in stone when, at a latitude of 12 degrees 18 minutes, a second storm hit, carrying us away with the same ferocity westward and putting us so far out of the way of human commerce that, even if we had made it to safety at sea,

We were in such distress that one of our men cried out, 'Land!' early in the morning, and we ran out of the cabin to see where we were, only to find that our ship had hit a sandbar and the sea broke over her in a way that we feared would have killed us all, and we were rushed back into our cabins to protect ourselves from the storm.

Anyone who has never been in a situation like this can't begin to imagine what it's like to be a man in such a situation. None of us had a clue where we were or how far we had traveled, and we had no idea whether the place we were on was an island, the mainland, or both. Even though the wind was less ferocious than it had been initially, we could not expect to keep the ship intact for more than a few minutes unless the winds suddenly changed direction.

There was little or nothing left to do in this world, so we sat there, staring at each other, anticipating death at any minute, and preparing for the hereafter as a result. The only consolation we had was the fact that the ship had not yet broken apart, and that the ship's master reported that the wind had begun to abate.

Our situation was dire, and there was little we could do except think about how to save ourselves as best we could. Even though we believed that the wind had calmed a bit, the ship had hit the sand and was stuck there, making it impossible for us to move her off. As soon as the storm hit, we had an inflatable boat at the back of the ship, but it was either submerged or blown away. No one could have been saved from her. We had a second boat on board, but we weren't sure how to get it into the ocean. No time for dispute, however; we were certain that the ship would capsize at any moment, and some even said she was already broken.

Our ship's mate took hold of the boat in this distress and, with the help of the rest of the crew, slung it over our ship's side; then, with all eleven of us in the boat, we let go and surrendered to God's mercy and the wild sea; for even though there was a significant decrease in storm force, it was still a dangerously high sea, which the Dutch call "DEN WILD ZEE," or "Wild Sea."

And now our situation was very dire; we could all see that the waters had risen to such a height that the boat could no longer float and that we would all perish. When it came to constructing a sail, neither we nor anyone else on board could do so; so we worked at the oar toward the shore, though with heavy hearts, like men going to be executed; for we all knew that when the boat came near the shore, she would be smashed to pieces by the breach of the sea. Even so, when the wind pushed us towards the beach, we hastened our demise by tugging as hard as we could towards land. We made a sincere commitment to God.

We had no idea what the beach was made of, whether it was rock or sand, steep or shallow. At this point, our only hope was to locate a river or harbor where we could run our boat in or go under the shelter of the land and perhaps find calm water. But we couldn't discover any such place. But nothing like this materialized, and as we got closer to the beach, the land began to seem much more terrifying than the water had before.

Finally, we arrived at the COUP DE GRACE after we had traveled roughly two-thirds of the distance we had estimated by rowing or driving. In the blink of an eye, the boat was overturned, and we had no time to exclaim, "Oh God!" given that in a couple of seconds we were all swept away.

I can't put into words the disorientation I felt when I fell into the water. Even though I could swim well, I couldn't free myself from the waves long enough to take a breath, until the wave had carried me a long way to the shore before exhausting itself and returning to leave me almost dry on the land, but half-dead from the water I had taken in.

Even though I was close to the mainland, my mental focus was on getting to land as quickly as possible before another wave came and swept me away. However, I soon realized that I could not avoid the sea, which was chasing me like a ferocious enemy with which I had no means or strength to contend: my business was at stake.

In a split second, I was buried twenty or thirty feet under the water and driven toward the coast by a huge force and speed. Yet I regained my breath and continued to swim forward with all my might. While holding my breath, I was about to pass out when, to my instant relief, my head and hands shot up above the surface of the water; while it was only two seconds, it eased me considerably, gave me air, and gave me fresh courage.

When the water started to recede, I pushed myself forward against the waves and felt solid ground under my feet again, even though I had been submerged for a long time. Once the water had gone down enough for me to get my bearings again, I ran as fast as I could back to the beach. As for the sea's wrath, which came rushing in again and raised me and carried me ahead as before, despite the shore’s flatness, this did not deliver me.

When the sea hurried me along as before, it threw me against a rock and knocked me unconscious and helpless. The blow to my side and breast knocked my breath out of my body, and if it hadn't returned immediately, I would have been strangled in the water. Fortunately, I survived, and I'm glad it didn't come to that.

Because I was closer to land, the waves weren't as high as they had been, so I held on for dear life. When the wave passed, I was still close enough to the shore that the next wave didn't swallow me whole and carry me away. On my next run, I made it to the mainland, where I clambered up the shore's cliffs and sat down on the grass, free from danger and completely out of the way.

I started to look up and praise God for saving my life in a situation where there had previously been little reason for optimism. It's impossible to describe the ecstasies and transports of the soul when it's saved from the grave, and I don't think it's surprising that they bring a surgeon with the reprieve, so that the surprise may not be ruined.

because unexpected pleasures and sorrows might be confusing at first. As I walked along the shore, I lifted my hands in the air and pondered the fact that I was the only survivor of my comrades who had perished in the water. I made several gestures and motions that I cannot describe while contemplating the fact that I was the only survivor of my comrades who had perished in the water. In any case, I lost track of them and never stumbled across any trace of them again.

At first, I couldn't see the wrecked ship because of the huge waves and foam, but then I realized, "Oh, Lord! How could I get to the shore?" By the time I started to look around, the comfort of my situation had worn off, and I quickly realized that, in a word, I was afraid.

As a result of the rain, I had no clothes to change into, no food or drink to eat or drink, and no prospect for survival but death or being devoured by wild beasts. Moreover, I had no weapon, either to hunt and kill any creature for my sustenance or to defend myself against any other creature that might wish to do the same.

I was in a desperate situation, and my only hope of survival was that I would be saved. My only possessions were a knife, a tobacco pipe, and a little container of tobacco. All of my supplies were gone, and I was in so much mental turmoil that I raced about like a lunatic for a bit. Since night fell, I started to wonder whether there were any voracious monsters in that land, as they are usually out in the open at night looking for victims.

As a last resort, I decided to climb an enormous bushy tree that looked like a fir but was covered in thorns that grew nearby, where I would spend the night contemplating how I would die since I had no hope for the future. My first step was to go about a mile from the coast in search of fresh water to drink, which I was delighted to discover.

After drinking and stuffing my mouth with some tobacco to keep hunger at bay, I made my way to the tree and climbed up into it, hoping to avoid falling out if I fell asleep. I went to my room because I was tired and fell asleep right away. I slept as well as I could have while I was tired, and I woke up feeling more refreshed than I had ever felt in a similar situation before.

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With over a decade of writing stories for the local paper, Malek Sherif has a uniquely friendly voice that shines through in his newest collection of children's stories, which explores the importance we place on the legacy.

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