Chapters 1–5

Shipwrecked and blinded from a torpedo attack, Phillip must conquer his prejudices when his only companion is an elderly West Indian man named Timothy.

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Explore the Words

definitions & notes
only words

  1. crude

    not refined or processed
    Then they blew up six of our small lake tankers, the tubby ones that still bring
    crude oil from Lake Maracaibo to the refinery, Curagaosche Petroleum Maatschappij, to be made into gasoline, kerosene, and diesel oil.
  2. galleon

    a large square-rigged sailing ship with three or more masts
    Or sometimes we’d pretend we were the Dutch going out on raids against Spanish
  3. schooner

    sailing vessel used in former times
    Of course, they were only the tattered-sailed native
    schooners from Venezuela, Aruba, or Bonaire coming in with bananas, oranges, papayas, melons, and vegetables.
  4. appeal

    request earnestly; ask for aid or protection
    The radio was on, and a voice said that fifty-six men had died on the lake tankers that were blown up and that the governor of the Netherlands’ West Indies had
    appealed to Washington for help.
  5. aviation

    the art of operating aircraft
    Late in the afternoon, my father, whose name was also Phillip—Phillip Enright—returned home from the refinery where he was working on the program to increase production of
    aviation gas.
  6. leeward

    on the side away from the wind
    I loved the old fort, and the schooners, the Ruyterkade market with the noisy chickens and squealing pigs, the black people shouting; I loved the koenoekoe with its giant cactus; the divi-divi trees, their odd branches all on the
    leeward side of the trunk; the beautiful sandy beach at Westpunt.
  7. refuse

    show unwillingness towards
    The next morning my father said that the Chinese crews on the lake tankers that shuttled crude oil across the sand bars at Maracaibo had
    refused to sail without naval escorts.
  8. depend

    be contingent upon
    The people had been very proud that the little islands of Aruba and Curasao were now among the most important islands in the world; that victory or defeat
    depended on them.
  9. mutiny

    open rebellion against constituted authority
    They were angry with the Chinese crews, and on the third day, my father said that
    mutiny charges had been placed against them.
  10. ballast

    any heavy material used to stabilize a ship or airship
    The big tankers from the United States or England always carried fresh water to us in
    ballast, and then it was distilled again so that we could drink it.
  11. aft

    near or toward the stern of a ship or tail of an airplane
    She had machine guns fore and
    aft, one of the few armed ships in the harbor.
  12. vanish

    become invisible or unnoticeable
    The Empire Tern had
    vanished in a wall of red flames, and black smoke was beginning to boil into the sky.
  13. clench

    squeeze together tightly
    Father was smiling and very gay but when the Hato’s whistle blasted out three times, meaning it was time to go, he said good-by to us between
    clenched teeth.
  14. abandon

    leave behind empty; move out of
    She helped me put on my life jacket, then put hers on, saying, “Now, remember everything that we were told about
    abandoning ship.”
  15. steward

    the ship's officer who is in charge of dining arrangements
    We were thrown against the cabin door, which the
    steward had warned us not to lock because it might become jammed.
  16. ignite

    cause to start burning
    Tins of lubricating oil in the afterholds had
    ignited and were exploding, but the ones forward had not been exposed to the fire.
  17. welt

    a raised mark on the skin
    He had a big
    welt, like a scar, on his left cheek.
  18. latitude

    angular distance between the equator and a parallel line
    As to our veree location, I mus’ guess we are somewhar roun d’cays, somewhar mebbe fifteen
    latitude an’ eighty long.
  19. despair

    abandon hope; lose heart
    He said, “Do not be
    despair, young bahss. Someone will fin’ us.
  20. lull

    make calm or still
    After a bit,
    lulled by the bobbing of the raft and by the soft, pleasant sounds of the sea against the oil barrel floats, I went to sleep again.
  21. outrageous

    greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderation
    He said, “I knew a Phillip who feesh out of St. Jawn, but an
    outrageous mahn he was.”
  22. parched

    dried out by heat or excessive exposure to sunlight
    My lips were
    parched and my throat was dry.
  23. defiantly

    in a rebellious manner
    I said
    defiantly, “A schooner will find us. And my father has ships out looking for us.”
  24. clammy

    unpleasantly cool and humid
    They were stiff from salt and felt
  25. recollection

    the process of remembering
    “I 'ave no
    recollection o’ anythin' cept dese islan’s. Tis pure outrageous, but I do not remember anythin’ 'bout a place called Afreca.”
  26. grope

    search blindly or uncertainly
    His eyes
    groped through the darkness for mine.
  27. unbearable

    incapable of being put up with
    The pain in my head was almost
    unbearable now, and I remember moaning.
  28. drone

    make a monotonous low dull sound
    The faint
    drone of the aircraft seemed closer now.
  29. douse

    put out, as of a candle or a light
    After a moment of silence, I heard the sizzle of the water as Timothy
    doused the torch.
  30. dishearten

    take away the enthusiasm of
    “Do not be
    dishearten, young bahss. Today, we will be foun, to be true.”
Created on September 25, 2014
(updated September 4, 2018)