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Sunday, March 14, 2004

As You Start on Your Journey to Ithaca...

At last the drunken carousing subsided. Troy had fallen, and the weary, hung-over mariners were ready to return to home and hearth.

Kevan, the great tactician, looked over his ship, the SS Odyssey, and the crafts of the others. His was full of hungry, unruly sailors who would surely consume all the food on the ship before it hit its next port. But they would learn to pull their weight, all of them -- in time. For now, Kevan thought craftily, he would resupply on the windy plains of Troy, filling his ship so full it might make it to Ithaca before the other ships could even bypass Ismarus.

So he thought. But looking at his ship again, he noticed something... odd. Somehow, in all the excitement after the battle, its moorings had come loose, and the improperly-docked Odyssey was sailing off into the wine-dark sea without him! Swearing like the sailor he was, Kevan plunged after the ship. He was barely fast enough to be caught up by his observant crew, hauled from the sea like a wet dog.

But these were not the last of Kevan's troubles, for no sooner had Troy disappeared from the horizon when a horrible whirlpool appeared off the prow of the Odyssey! The great tactician knew the whirlpool for what it was -- the monster Charybdis, come to swallow up the ship and everyone on it. With regret he ordered his men to throw food off the ship into the monster's vortex, sating its appetite and lightening the load. At long last the beaten Odyssey escaped, its crew (not least its captain) badly shaken.

Charybdis' comrade-in-arms, the six-headed beast Scylla, was prowling the area as well. It happened not upon the beleaguered Odyssey, but instead upon the SS Calypso, a tiny craft captained by long-suffering Truman Capote. Capote saw the dark shape coming and called for his men to come to arms, but to no avail! Scylla snatched Truman Capote from the ship in one of its heads, and would surely have devoured him had another of its heads not gotten caught in the ship's steerage, causing the beast to yowl in pain, hurl Truman Capote to the deck, and retreat to rethink its plan of attack. Capote's small crew tended to their unconscious leader as best they could, but without his guiding hand their efforts to sail for Ithaca were all but ineffectual.

Only great-hearted Dunam, captain of the SS Eriphyle, saw his ship escape misfortune. His crew sailed proudly on, sunset to starboard, knowing that they would soon see Ithaca again.