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Chapter 12 Voyage

 He had hidden his boat in a cave on the side of a great rocky headland, Cloud Cape it was called by the villagers nearby, one of whom gave them a bowl of fish stew for their supper. They made their way down the cliffs to the beach in the last light of the gray day. The cave was a narrow crack that went back into the rock for about thirty feet; its sandy floor was damp, for it lay just above the high-tide mark. Its opening was visible from sea, and Ged said they should not light a fire lest the night-fishermen out in their small craft along shore should see it and be curious. So they lay miserably on the sand, which seemed so soft between the fingers and was rock-hard to the tired body. And Tenar listened to the sea, a few yards below the cave mouth, crashing and sucking and booming on the rocks, and the thunder of it down the beach eastward for miles. Over and over and over it made the same sounds, yet never quite the same. It never rested. On all the shores of all the lands in all the world, it heaved itself in these unresting waves, and never ceased, and never was still. The desert, the mountains: they stood still. They did not cry out forever in a great, dull voice. The sea spoke forever, but its language was foreign to her. She did not understand.
 In the first gray light, when the tide was low, she roused from uneasy sleep and saw the wizard go out of the cave. She watched him walk, barefoot and with belted cloak, on the black-haired rocks below, seeking something. He came back, darkening the cave as he entered. "Here," he said, holding out a handful of wet, hideous things like purple rocks and orange lips.
 "What are they?"
 "Mussels, off the rocks. And those two are oysters, even better. Look- like this." With the little dagger from her keyring, which she had lent him up in the mountains, he opened a shell and ate the orange mussel with seawater as its sauce.
 "You don't even cook it? You ate it alive!"
 She would not look at him while he, shamefaced but undeterred, went on opening and eating the shellfish one by one.
 When he was done, he went back into the cave to the boat, which lay prow forward, kept from the sand by several long driftwood logs. Tenar had looked at the boat the night before, mistrustfully and without comprehension. It was much larger than she had thought boats were, three times her own length. It was full of objects she did not know the use of, and it looked dangerous. On either side of its nose (which is what she called the prow) an eye was painted; and in her halfsleep she had constantly felt the boat staring at her.
 Ged rummaged about inside it a moment and came back with something: a packet of hard bread, well wrapped to keep dry. He offered her a large piece.
 "I'm not hungry."
 He looked into her sullen face.
 He put the bread away, wrapping it as before, and then sat down in the mouth of the cave. "About two hours till the tide's back in," he said. "Then we can go. You had a restless night, why don't you sleep now."
 "I'm not sleepy."
 He made no answer. He sat there, in profile to her, cross-legged in the dark arch of rocks; the shining heave and movement of the sea was beyond him as she watched him from deeper in the cave. He did not move. He was still as the rocks themselves. Stillness spread out from him, like rings from a stone dropped in water. His silence became not absence of speech, but a thing in itself, like the silence of the desert,
 After a long time Tenar got up and came to the mouth of the cave. He did not move. She looked down at his face. It was as if cast in copper-rigid, the dark eyes not shut, but looking down, the mouth serene.
 He was as far beyond her as the sea.
 Where was he now, on what way of the spirit did he walk? She could never follow him.
 He had made her follow him. He had called her by her name, and she had come crouching to his hand, as the little wild desert rabbit had come to him out of the dark. And now that he had the ring, now that the Tombs were in ruin and their priestess forsworn forever, now he didn't need her, and went away where she could not follow. He would not stay with her. He had fooled her, and would leave her desolate.
 She reached down and with one swift gesture plucked from his belt the little steel dagger she had given him. He moved no more than a robbed statue.
 The dagger blade was only four inches long, sharp on one side; it was the miniature of a sacrificial knife. It was part of the garments of the Priestess of the Tombs, who must wear it along with the ring of keys, and a belt of horsehair, and other items some of which had no known purpose. She had never used the dagger for anything, except that in one of the dances performed at dark of the moon she would throw and catch it before the Throne. She had liked that dance; it was a wild one, with no music but the drumming of her own feet. She had used to cut her fingers, practicing it, till she got the trick of catching the knife handle every time. The little blade was sharp enough to cut a finger to the bone, or to cut the arteries of a throat. She would serve her Masters still, though they had betrayed her and forsaken her. They would guide and drive her hand in the last act of darkness. They would accept the sacrifice.
 She turned upon the man, the knife held back in her right hand behind her hip. As she did so he raised his face slowly and looked at her. He had the look of one come from a long way off, one who has seen terrible things. His face was calm but full of pain. As he gazed up at her and seemed to see her more and more clearly, his expression cleared. At last he said, "Tenar," as if in greeting, and reached up his hand to touch the band of pierced and carven silver on her wrist. He did this as if reassuring himself, trustingly. He did not pay attention to the dagger in her hand. He looked away, at the waves, which heaved deep over the rocks below, and said with effort, "It's time... Time we were going."
 At the sound of his voice the fury left her. She was afraid.
 "You'll leave them behind, Tenar. You're going free now," he said, getting up with sudden vigor. He stretched, and belted his cloak tight again. "Give me a hand with the boat. She's up on logs, for rollers. That's it, push... again. There, there, enough. Now be ready to hop in when I say `hop.' This is a tricky place to launch from- once more. There! In you go!"-and leaping in after her, he caught her as she overbalanced, sat her down in the bottom of the boat, braced his legs wide, and standing to the oars sent the boat shooting out on an ebb wave over the rocks, out past the roaring foam-drenched head of the cape, and so to sea.
 He shipped the oars when they were well away from shoal water, and stepped the mast. The boat looked very small, now that she was inside it and the sea was outside it.
 He put up the sail. All the gear had a look of long, hard use, though the dull red sail was patched with great care and the boat was as clean and trim as could be. They were like their master: they had gone far, and had not been treated gently.
 "Now," he said, "now we're away, now we're clear, we're clean gone, Tenar. Do you feel it?"
 She did feel it. A dark hand had let go its lifelong hold upon her heart. But she did not feel joy, as she had in the mountains. She put her head down in her arms and cried, and her cheeks were salt and wet. She cried for the waste of her years in bondage to a useless evil. She wept in pain, because she was free.
 What she had begun to learn was the weight of liberty. Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake. It is not easy. It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one. The road goes upward towards the light; but the laden traveler may never reach the end of it.
 Ged let her cry, and said no word of comfort; nor when she was done with tears and sat looking back towards the low blue land of Atuan, did he speak. His face was stern and alert, as if he were alone; he saw to the sail and the steering, quick and silent, looking always ahead.
 In the afternoon he pointed rightward of the sun, towards which they now sailed. "That is Karego-At," he said, and Tenar following his gesture saw the distant loom of hills like clouds, the great island of the Godking. Atuan was out of sight behind them. Her heart was very heavy. The sun beat in her eyes like a hammer of gold.
 Supper was dry bread, and dried smoked fish, which tasted vile to Tenar, and water from the boat's cask, which Ged had filled at a stream on Cloud Cape beach the evening before. The winter night came down soon and cold upon the sea. Far off to northward they saw for a while the tiny glitter of lights, yellow firelight in distant villages on the shore of Karego-At. These vanished in a haze that rose up from the ocean, and they were alone in the starless night over deep water.
 She had curled up in the stern; Ged lay down in the prow, with the water cask for a pillow. The boat moved on steadily, the low swells slapping her sides a little, though the wind was only a faint breath from the south. Out here, away from the rocky shores, the sea too was silent; only as it touched the boat did it whisper............

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