Before the coast of Mur was out of sight Perian’s hands were beginning to rub raw again, in spite of the heavy gauntlets Thurlo had fashioned for him out of an old leather jerkin. And his shoulders ached and his breath was laboured and he felt every year of his age weighing heavy on his back. He rowed on until noon, and under the pale silvery sun shipped the oars and rested, letting the tide take him while he ate and drank of the supplies Thurlo had packed. There was spiced wine, poured hot into its earthenware jug, which had then been plugged and laid in a lined basket, so that some warmth remained in it. This simple pleasure cheered Perian greatly, and he bent to his oars again more readily. Mur was well out of his sight now, and he had to rely on the sun as a guide to his direction. When dark came down, he would have to pray for a clear sky and hope he remembered all Ilo had taught him of star-craft. He had to pause now and again out of sheer weariness. No terns came to his aid this time, although he did see one magnificent bird, a great albatross that glided low over the waves across his stern, so that he cried aloud in wonder at its beauty. He envied it its rapid progress across the sea that dragged against his heavy oars.

The day faded into dusk and dusk into dark until Perian was labouring under a sharp black sky. Still there was no sign of any island or of an end to the journey. Yet an end came.



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