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It was a monster gale, out of season, that swooped out of the night with no warning. The sail snagged and tore as we pulled it down and the crew struggled at the oars to keep us pointing into waves that seemed to come from multiple directions, like a cat to22ying with a rat. We lost Old Hermes first, he was at the rudder when the storm came up and he was still shouting warnings and orders and curses when a wave lifted him out and over the side. He was never easy to get along with, anyway, always trying to tell us about doing things the Greek way by which he meant the right way. He was an ugly old pus and the boys never gave him a moment’s thought.
We were carrying wheat west to Tarshish in a guaranteed trouble-free cash in the pouch run. No trouble in that month on that route since my grandfather’s time. Someone had ticked off somebody’s gods, and the captain was going to find them and send them after Hermes with his own hands. He lunged from man to man on the rolling deck confronting each one.