my companions and I came to a large body of water. it stretched to the horizon, but looked very placid.
“how are we to cross this?” i asked.
“i do not know,” griselda replied. “i was expecting rivers, with ferrymen to carry us across them. but this looks like a great lake, or perhaps a sea. alas, perhaps we will never cross the great continent and make contact with dr eusebus. i had so set my heart on sitting at his feet and drinking in his wisdom.”
“and there is not a breath of air on the sea.” dee pointed out. “even if we had a boat.”
“i have a boat,” a voice behind us said.
we turned around and beheld a skinny little fellow, clad only in a loincloth and a white turban, with what looked like a board under his arm. he had apparently been sleeping, or hiding, behind a rock we had passed on our approach to the water.
“greetings,” the little fellow announced. “i am badboy the sailor, whose renown mayhave reached you, though that is so much applesauce. i overheard your conversation, and you are right, there is no wind to carry a boat, nor has there been for as long as i have been here, which is going on seven years.”
“you said you had a boat?” dee asked him.
“yes, i do.” he took the board from under his arm. it indeed had a little sail attached flatly to it , which could be raised to make a craft capable of carrying himself.
“i thought you meant a boat which could carry al of us across,” dee sighed.
“did i say that? but look here, i have another suggestion. just a suggestion, mind you.”
“and what might that be?” griselda asked him.
“that fellow there,” he pointed to me. “i perceive, with my razor sharp senses, honed by centuries of wandering the planet, that he has what appears to be some sort of living creature coiled in his basket. is it not so, my man?”
“indeed it is,” i replied, not much caring for the tone of his voice. “it is a python, one under the spell of a powerful magician.” i did not add that i lived to break the spell and restore her to her true beautiful self.
“excellent. such a creature might be useful in a method to get us all across the desert and into the great city.”
“she was herself a sorceress of great beauty of power,” i heard myself say, although i had not wished to.
the self-styled sailor smiled. “better and better. may i see her, please.”
“yes, abad,” my companions all urged me. “let desdemona out, and let us all see what she can do.”
at that moment a lone cloud passed over the sun, and i had a feeling of terrible foreboding.
but what could i do? the hand of fate was upon me.
i took the basket off my back and placed it in the ground.
desdemoma slithered out, and without waiting for any instructions from the little sailor, approached the edge of the water…
and in a single gulp, swallowed the whole of the lake, leaving a vast expanse of sand, interspersed by patches of marsh, and some terrible looking mossy trees…
but this contributed only a liittle to the astonishment we felt, for desdemomna herself had been restored to herself - and was even more radiantly beautiful than anything i had imagined.
i was too stunned to speak, but griselda simply turned to the sailor and said, “thank you, sir. we greatly appreciate your efforts on our behalf.”
“it was nothing , madam,” he smiled. “ i was only the poor instrument, and spectator.”
“oh, but we owe you everything!” desdemona exclaimed. “everything!”
thus was my doom sealed.