10 October 1683
We attended Mass and received blessings from an Anglican priest the morning of the tenth, and then went about with the final work to set sail. But we watched the sky cautiously, as there was darkness on the horizon that we knew not to trust. The captain, intending us to drive east, now looked in that same direction with hesitation. When it became clear there was a storm brewing, we braced for impact. By the time we knew the storm was too much for us to leave port, it was nearly too late.
We scrambled to safety as best we could, pushing out from the docks a bit to ride out the storm on deeper water. But it beat us hard, and I heard the ship fighting to stay together. We all prayed for safety, but then I heard a familiar voice cutting through the gale. It was Ingrid, I knew it sure as anything, and I found myself stricken with the thought that she was out there in this, probably crying out for help, and here I was hiding away in a ship! So I made to the deck and fought against the wind and the rain, trying my best to reach her. She must have been close, I knew that, for her voice to ring so clear in my ears.
But as I listened, I realized that she wasn’t crying, or calling for help. She was singing. It was soft and sweet, like a lullaby, fit to soothe the fiercest rage in a man’s heart. And as the lightning strike lit up the shore, I saw her on the edge of the water, facing me. It was just us, the two of us across the water from each other, separated by a storm. I was fighting the storm with everything I had and trying to get as close to her as I could, while she just stood there, singing her song. I stopped, and stood bolt upright, and listened. It was only then I realized the wind seemed to be breathing, in time with her. And the rain was falling into a beat with the song. And all of creation, in that moment, seemed like it was built for her, and guided by her, and I swear I lost sight of the clouds and the lightning and the waves as I stared at her, and she smiled as she sang.
And I felt the pull of the song, how it really was a lullaby, but not for a baby, and not for a man. The storm slowed, then came to rest. The sea took its slumber, and the black clouds drifted away, slowly moving west. For my part, I dove right into that sea and I swam as hard as I ever had, tearing up to my feet as soon as the land was close enough and splashing through the surf until I held her in my arms and pulled her close. We stood there for some time, her arms around me and mine around her, both of us soaked from the rain and the sea, just happy to know the other was safe. When finally we pulled back enough to talk, I asked what had happened.
“I couldn’t,” she told me plainly, “I couldn’t let the storm take you. I had to calm it.” As I thanked her, I heard the sound of oars slapping water, and when Ingrid and I turned I found my captain and two ship-mates in a boat drawing near.
“What’s the meaning of this?” he asked me, and I couldn’t well deny that I had disobeyed his orders in breaking rank, and sure as hell I’d jumped into the sea at the first sign of calm. These were grounds for leaving me ashore, and I knew that, but the thought hadn’t even occurred to me until he asked me to explain myself. So that’s what I did, and Ingrid confirmed that she had saved us. She told us it was secret, that she hadn’t been telling anyone what she could do, but she had to help us. Well, that captain knew a good thing when he saw it, and she was invited to prove her claim. So she sang again, and the waves rose and beat against the shore in time with her, and when she stopped, so did they. My captain, he said to her, he said, “you’re not meant for dry land,” and that was probably the most true thing he ever did say. So she was invited aboard, to keep us safe and give us good travels, and she agreed.
You should’ve seen the look on those boys’ faces when they saw her on the deck, and the way those faces fell when they knew she was only interested in one man on that ship. Not a single one of them looked at me the same way again after that, either.