Previously the S. S. Twit sank. Our heroine went over the side of ship.
A gush of wind lifted our heroine’s skirt and took her upward. Below and behind Marye, the ship was going down, down, down, and it was not coming back up. There was yelling and screaming and gnashing of teeth and splashing of feet. The hull was rolling over. The poop deck was pooping all over the water and crashing into the sea. The monster was sucking everyone and everything underwater.
Further and further out to sea, Lady P. P. flew, her skirt buoying her above the water. The ship receded into the distance. Then the wind went calm.
Ksplash! She hit the water. Down, down, down, down into the deep she went, and down, down, down she went some more, her skirt dragging her deeper. She struggled desperately with the cloth. Finally, it was off, then she swam upward toward air.
Marye’s head popped out of the water and she found herself doing the breast stroke. One of her arms went in front of the other, then the other arm reached out and went down into the sea, pulling her toward what she hoped was the coastline.
If there had been a candidate to swim the English Channel in those days, it would have been her ladyship. She was that good of a swimmer. Swim, swim, swim. That’s all she did in her high school years. There were times her mother said that Mary-Mary Smith was no daughter of hers. She was really a fish, and one day she would find a tail at the end of her legs, not feet. So, if anyone could swim the Mediterranean and hit land, it was Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott.
As she swam, she speculated that it was possible that she was the only one who survived the dark cloud and the sinking of the S. S. Twit. The Twit had twittered its last twit and gone down into the sea, never to be seen again, and there was no getting over that. She started to cry. A long, hard, uncontrollable cry.
All those people one moment breathing, dancing, conversing, eating, singing, playing, bopping, now buried in a grave of water. What a waste. A terrible waste. Sgt Mack Truck of the United States Gyrenes, Studdley Duddley, the Stud from Texas who wanted to play Studdley Poke Her, the Captain Pedro Emmanuel Montoya Henandez Gabriel Garcia de Toledo San Cristobel y Mendoza Cantabria, the internationally famous Tootles “The Tootler” Tootle Lou and her buddies in the The Tootles International Orchestra. She mourned them all. Even Crepe Suzette. Even Smythie Smathers. And she especially mourned her Pippy. He might have been a Pipsqueak, but he could have been the One True Love she had been searching for.
One hundred and fifty passengers and the Tao had blown up in their faces. Some had gone splat, some had simply gone. They were to be no more. They were to be ghosts to follow her for the rest of her life. She would never escape that. One hour, two hours, three passed of grieving before her ladyship managed to control her emotions. How she had saved herself she did not know. But she had, and it was good to be alive.
On she swam, a long, hard slog ahead of her. But she slogged the slog and she swam the long swim. Onward and onward she drove herself, hoping she was driving herself toward some shore. Only one thing passed through her thoughts. Please, some land please, and thank you and soon. She could have used a compass. A map. Google Earth. A gps system. If only she had had an iPhone, it would have been really nice. Anything to give her hope that she was somewhere near.
North her ladyship swam, the cool Mediterranean night embracing her. There were times when she stopped, taking a few minutes to float, and she looked out at the sea around her and marveled at the miracle of it all. She had survived, and she felt at one with her surroundings.
She had come further than she had ever expected. She survived her mother always harping, always haranguing. Her mother forced her to marry some old fuddy duddy of a British lord. She came to like him, possibly even love him. Then he died. And in a bowl of soup of all things. She suffered through the months following his death, trying to see through the fog of her grief what direction she was to take. She took the Orient Express. She survived Mata Hari’s attempt on her young life.
The British ambassador in Istanbul had not believed her and shoved her off to his little flunky, Nyles Chowder Rucket, who wouldn’t come out from behind his little desk in his very small closet for hell or high water. She was American, you know, and she had survived the humiliation of that experience. She had met and dallied with Dilly O’Jones, her boyfriend from Brooklyn Heights. It was dissatisfying but she had realized she was too a real woman. All she needed was not just any man but a real man.
On board the S. S. Twit, she resisted the Captain’s Bed of Captain Pedro Emmanuel . When she thought of him, all she could think of was what a roller coaster of a name he had. She had been taken for a ride by the English oilman Smythie Smathers of the Royal Beeswax and Petroleum Jelly Corporation of East Potterdom and his little French tart, Crepe Suzette. She had lost her new German friend, the Bavarian gentleman’s gentleman Pipsqueak Pimplesquat. Though short and monocled, Pippy had been a perfect gentleman. Unlike some. They had developed a very close partnership dancing the light fantastic fantastically. They had come very close to a close encounter of the bodily kind.
She had survived all this so she knew she would survive anything that came her way no matter what the Fates had in store. After all, she was her father’s daughter, Mary-Mary Smith, Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott of Haggismarshe.
She drew in a long deep breath and she swam on.
Next week: There’s s a rumble in the jungle.