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A boy who lives on an island has always been afraid of the sea. When the entire population is evacuated from the island, an accident leaves him behind where he survives for three years alone.
Thomas can't remember a moment in his young life when he was not afraid of the sea. Even the volcano is not as frightening. Yet it is the sea that washes him down the coast a way and a wave that deposits his unconscious body into the mouth of a gulch where searchers do not find him. The overturned boat is righted, the search is called off, and his parents are forced onto the ship that takes the islanders to England for three years, thinking Thomas is dead.
After seeing a boat party return to shoot dogs that might kill off the island livestock, Thomas determines not to reveal himself in order to protect his dog from the same fate. Thus, he take on the task of surviving until the islanders return--if the islanders return.
This is a work of fiction occurring during a historical event. In 1961, Tristan da Cunha Island with its small population of hardy souls, is rocked by quakes proving the geological description of the volcano as extinct quite wrong. Huge stone columns broke away from the 2000 foot cliffs behind the village, rolling dangerously close to the houses. Then a new cone rose nearby. It was time to go. Small boats ferried them out to a passing ship and they were taken to England where they remained until, after three years, they insisted on returning.
Thomas' story begins during the evacuation when he hears someone still on shore shout that they should kill the dogs to protect their livestock. Thomas jumps up and overturns the boat. The rough ocean waves and current carry him away. When his disappearance is discovered, a search doesn't find him and it has been so long he is surely drowned, and the volcano is threatening--so the grieving parents are made to go thinking their son is dead.
I have historical information about a few small parties come to the island for scientific research--as well as to shoot the dogs. Thomas refuses to reveal his presence, hiding from them to protect his dog, Binka. He uses the resources of the island to survive alone (except for Binka and his donkey Shag) for three years. Imagine the surprise when the islanders return to find a grownup Thomas and all he has done in their absence.
I was always afraid of the sea.
From the moment I was born, the sound of the sea growling around the shores of the island has been in my ears. I feared it when a storm caused waves to leap against the high cliffs and I feared it when long, slow swells beat steadily on the beach. I tried to hide my fear, but in the settlement everyone knows you well. My mother only spoke of it once.
“Aye, Thomas,” she said. “You come from a long line of seamen, but there’s never a drop of seawater in your veins.” Her eyes looked sad when she said it.
My father asked me once to join him in the fishing dinghy. It was a thing most boys wanted more than anything. But I found an excuse for not going. My father knew my secret then.
The other boys knew at once, and their taunts drove me away from them. Binka, my black and white sheepdog, and a little gray donkey named Shag became my best friends. I made my life happy by ignoring the sea as much as possible. Living on an island only eight miles around made that difficult, though.
Then a new fear came into my life, and this time it was shared by everyone on the island. The volcano, thought to be dead for thousands and thousands of years, woke up.
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