One after the other they filed up the gangplank and were led down some narrow steps that took them to the bottom of the ship. They stopped in a musty, dark, damp room, and the door closed loudly behind them. Anna did not like the situation one bit, and felt a shiver run down her spine. With her hands now freed from the rope, Anna began making her way around the cramped room, in hopes of finding Philip. She had to know how he was doing and what he thought of this dreadful place!
She finally located him in a corner and sat down beside him. "Philip, what are we going to do now? Where do you think we are headed?"
"I don't know any more than you do, Anna. All we can do is pray. We are at the mercy of these men and have no choice but to go along with them. Remember what Paul had to go through. He was often in worse places than this. And Jesus, He had to endure extreme pain and suffering. Do we think we should go through any less than they did?"
"I know. I'm sorry for complaining. It's just hard to keep my chin up in a place like this."
"Nothing is impossible with Christ. Keep up the faith! Perfect love casteth out fear!"
For days they remained cooped up in the dark room, not knowing where they were headed. Twice a day a sailor came down with a skimpy meal for them to share, and they all drank out of the barrel of water by the door. Most of the time they felt seasick anyway, so the food was especially unappealing to the captives. The Lord was their strength through it all and they sang and quoted Scriptures to help pass the dark hours.
As if things were not bad enough, a storm decided to blow in and began violently rocking the ship. The teens were thrown around the room, and Anna felt someone crash into her.
"Is that you, Anna?" A weak voice asked.
Anna recognized May's voice. "Yes, May, it is me. Hold on as best you can!"
"I can't take much more of this! I have never been very strong and this is taking a lot out of me." She rolled away as another large wave rocked the ship.
"Dear God, save us all!" Anna desperately prayed.
When the storm finally settled down, the room was a mess. The water barrel had cracked and the fresh water was now mixed in with the salt water on the floor. Andy, one of the other teens, was lying on the floor near the door when the it suddenly opened and Greenhart entered the room. The door clunked Any in the head and he groaned as he scooted away from the door.
Greenhart looked at them in disgust. "I see you had quite the party in here! And your water barrel is empty. No more for you unless you repair it. Are any of you hungry?"
He smiled as he heard the groans. Sea sickness had hit strong during the storm and nobody felt like eating. He turned to go, but Anna stopped him by calling his name.
"Captain, may I ask a question?"
He turned around sharply. "What is it?"
"Sir, would allow us to go up to the deck, maybe a few at a time, so we could get some fresh air? We would be willing to work for you, like scrub the deck or something if that would help you out."
"You don't like your quarters?" he asked. "Are you trying to get me to be nice?"
"I am not thinking about myself, sir. I am mainly thinking about May here. She is not doing very well and could use a breath of fresh air."
"I will think on it." Captain Greenhart said and shut the door behind him.
It was not much later when a sailor came down and ordered May and Andy outside. They came back a few hours later and two more were allowed to go up to the deck. From then on, the trip was not so dreary and boring because they had something to look forward to, even if meant having to do some work. Color returned to May's face and after a few days of this, she softened to the truth of the Gospel and even asked the Lord to come live in her heart. It was a happy moment for everyone.
Anna was mopping the deck when she heard the cry, "Land Ho!" Andy, who was bringing over a fresh bucket of water paused when he heard the sailor's cry. "Do you think this terrible nightmare will end now?" he asked Anna as he set the bucket down.
"Lord willing," she answered. "It seems like we have been on this ship forever!"
"This prison, you mean? I have been keeping track of the days and I figure we have been on here for over thirty days."
"It should be April 30th - my mom's birthday than," Anna gazed out at the sea, and saw a little tiny speck on the horizon that must have been the land. "I sure do miss my parents."
"I know, we all miss our families. But there is nothing we can do. I just wish there was some way to tell them that we are okay. I pray every day that God will give them the peace they need while we are gone."
They continued to work in silence. Anna knew it would not be long before they were sent below again and she wanted to take in every moment in the fresh air that she could. When they were finished, Greenhart came over to examine their work.
"I must admit that you Christians sure do a good job. Don't take that as a compliment though and think you are going to get out of your punishment!"
Anna frowned. "You mean there is more to come?"
"Well, of course! You didn't think this "fun" boat ride was your punishment, did you? This was just the beginning!" He turned to a sailor awaiting his orders. "Anchor the ship when we are 1/2 mile from the island, and then bring the prisoners up to me. "
"Aye, aye, sir!" he saluted and went his way.
Anna and Andy waited by the railing of the ship until it was anchored and all the other teens were brought up to the deck. Anna had not realized how filthy and ratty they had all become until she saw her friends standing in a row. She put her grubby hand to her hair and grimaced. She must look a fright too!
"Well, now, are you stinking Christians ready to get cleaned up? Sailors, help me with these kids!"
Anna watched, puzzled about what was going to happen next. A sinking feeling started in the pit of her stomach...they weren't going to throw them in, were they? Her fears came true as she watched Greenhart lift May over the side and she disappeared with a shriek over the railing. Unable to make her feet move, Anna stared in horror as one after the other was thrown into the water below. Rough arms grabbed her shoulders and she struggled weakly to get away, but was soon under the cold water, fighting her way to the surface so she could breath again. When she finally came up, she heard Greenhart's evil laugh as fourteen people splashed around in the water, desperate to stay afloat. With the stronger ones helping the weaker ones, they all began making their way to the land that still looked so far away.
"Happy swimming!" Greenhart called back at them as the ship turned around and began making its journey back the way it had come. "Don't let the sharks bite!"
Anna was tiring quickly, trying to help keep May's head above the water. "Keep going, May, together we can do this!"
"No, Anna, let me go. I don't want to fight anymore. I am so tired."
"Oh, no, May. I will not let you go. God will give us both the strength to get to the island."
The sun had just set when the weary group stumbled upon dry ground. Cold and hungry, Anna lay in a heap and watched the sky change from blue, to orange, and pink. If she had been at home lying on the lawn with her mom and dad, her thoughts would have been different. For now, she just thanked the Lord for getting them to land safe and sound.
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