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Chapter 94
When we reached land, Mexico to be exact, I was so weakI barely had the strength to be happy about it. We had greatdifficulty landing. The lifeboat nearly capsized in the surf. Istreamed the sea anchors – what was left of them – full opento keep us perpendicular to the waves, and I tripped them assoon as we began riding a crest. In this way, streaming andtripping the anchors, we surfed in to shore. It was dangerous.
But we caught one wave at just the right point and it carriedus a great distance, past the high, collapsing walls of water. Itripped the anchors a last time and we were pushed in therest of the way. The boat hissed to a halt against the sand.
I let myself down the side. I was afraid to let go, afraid thatso close to deliverance, in two feet of water, I would drown. Ilooked ahead to see how far I had to go. The glance gave meone of my last images of Richard Parker, for at that precisemoment he jumped over me. I saw his body, so immeasurablyvital, stretched in the air above me, a fleeting, furred rainbow.
He landed in the water, his back legs splayed, his tail high, andfrom there, in a few hops, he reached the beach. He went tothe left, his paws gouging the wet sand, but changed his mindand spun around. He passed directly in front of me on hisway to the right. He didn't look at me. He ran a hundredyards or so along the shore before turning in. His gait wasclumsy and uncoordinated. He fell several times. At the edge ofthe jungle, he stopped. I was certain he would turn my way.
He would look at me. He would flatten his ears. He wouldgrowl. In some such way, he would conclude our relationship.
He did nothing of the sort. He only looked fixedly into thejungle. Then Richard Parker, companion of my torment, awful,fierce thing that kept me alive, moved forward and disappearedforever from my life.
I struggled to shore and fell upon the sand. I looked about.
I was truly alone, orphaned not only of my family, but now ofRichard Parker, and nearly, I thought, of God. Of course, Iwasn't. This beach, so soft, firm and vast, was like the cheekof God, and somewhere two eyes were glittering with pleasureand a mouth was smiling at having me there.
After some hours a member of my own species found me.
He left and returned with a group. They were six or seven.
They came up to me with their hands covering their nosesand mouths. I wondered what was wrong with them. Theyspoke to me in a strange tongue. They pulled the lifeboat ontothe sand. They carried me away. The one piece of turtle meatI had brought from the boat they wrenched from my handand threw away.
I wept like a child. It was not because I was overcome athaving survived my ordeal, t............
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