Mind… the raft was ample for my newly diminished stature (How one keeps shrinking here, I remarked to myself), and appeared to be a great circular ring of white. Strange, I said to myself. I don’t remember taking sugar. But the ring of white stayed despite my questioning, and I for one was glad for its obstinence.
“Makes one rather lonely,” I said after a fashion, half hoping my raft would join me in conversation. “In the middle of this great sea of tea without another soul to talk to.” But despite my tender pleas, the raft said nothing, and I was forced to float friendless and alone.
Just as I began to nod off to sleep (something one usually does while rocking back and forth on an ocean of tea), I heard something. “By jove!” the voice said. “I do believe we’ve got a straggler!”
“So we have!” I heard another voice say. “Why, so we have!”
“Reel him in, boys!” the first voice said. “No good him staying out there all night!”
“Eye, eye, Captain!” the second voice said, and at once I heard a splash in the tea next to me, and some bits bounced onto my face. “Sorry, your honor!” the second voice said. “Pull it back, boys, and try it again!”
This time I felt something strike the little raft, and I felt a jerk as if a line had been pulled taunt. “Now, bring him in, boys!” the second voice said. “Careful now. Not sure how long he’s been out here. Don’t wanna startle his system!” But startled or no, I felt each and every pull on the line, and soon my little raft and my little person were safe upon that little shore.
I awoke to voices saying, “Get him food and drink! Quickly, now! He’s awake!” Someone else cried out, “A blanket will do!” and then I heard the sound of feet scuffling on sand, then up rock, and finally out of ear shot.
“Careful, gov’ner, you’ve been out for a while. That’s it. Easy now.” It was the second voice, and as I opened my eyes (blinking hard, and wiping them with the back of my hand to remove remnants of tea), I saw him for the first time.
He was, human like me – so very different from my previous encounters with the odd characters of this world – and he wore a navy blue and white striped shirt that ran the length of his arms. Covering his straggly blonde hair was a red wool cap (the likes of which you would wear in the deepest of snows), and his eyes were blue like the ocean, not stained brown like the color of tea. “Careful, gov’ner, you’ve had quite a ride!”
He was kneeling down at my right side, with his left hand placed gently under my head. “Sit up. There you go. The boys have gone for a bite and a blanket for you. Need anything else?”
“Tea,” I said, most ironically.
“Not sure what you mean by that,” the second voiced man said. “Never heard of ‘tea,’ before. I’ll see what we can do. Still, you’re talking and that’s something!” he finished with a smile. I completed my quest to sit up on the sand and instinctively rubbed my head. “Took quite a spill I’m guessing, gov’ner,” he said. “It’ll all come back to you in time.” And with that, he left me alone to go check on the provisions.
It was a curious place I now found myself in. It was dark and misty, like the harbor at night. And I wasn’t at all surprised to see a lighthouse perched up upon the rocky cliff to the right of my person. It was a traditional lighthouse (as most are), and had an alternating color pattern of red, then white, and finally black. The roof was a sort of pitched cone, and the light illuminating from its window was a soft, warm yellow. I had no idea what had fully transpired (myself still a little groggy from my most recent dousing of tea), but something told me that I had eluded that diabolical doorknob, and freedom was once more firmly in my grasp.
But grasping had failed me recently, so I steadied myself for this new found adventure. Come then, I said to myself, looking down at my hands. Let us lift from this sand and shake free our sea legs.
It was all well and good to tell my hands to do that, but it was my legs that needed convincing. Come then, I now said to them. Your master begs you stand. But my obstinate legs were as troublesome as that knob, and soon the buckling came to my knees.
“Too soon, gov’ner,” a voice behind me said. “Best wait ’til the strength comes back.” And I was obliged to take it as wisdom and sit myself back down upon the grit and grain of the shore.
“Where am I?” I began once the sitting was attained.
“Where?” the voice asked. “Why, gov’ner! You’re thirty knots north of Davey Jones’ locker, and a good way inland, I’d reckon!” I found it impossible to disagree with him (whoever he was), but still, his answer less than sufficed.
“I see,” I replied, trying to grasp my wits about me. “But where exactly am I?”
“Why, gov’ner,” he said with a twinkle in his voice, “don’t you know?” And with that (and a wink, I am sure), the cockneyed voice left, and I found myself once more alone. And as I sat on that granulated landscape, my eyes began to swish back and forth with the washing of the waves… not unlike the rocking of a little raft…. And soon the tone of the tea and the sugar of the sea lulled me into its depths. And as my eyelids crashed onto the shores of unconsciousness, I leaned myself back upon the grains… and drifted off to sleep…