It was noon when Professor Robert Goodwin gave the order for the VS Rosanne 7 to surface, and amidst the constant blue of the sea, Elsie was of course the first person to emerge from the hatch. Smiling, and stretching her arms towards the sky, she acted as though she had been holding her breath for a week, and was overcome with joy. This was the first time since commencing her voyage that Elsie had been outside. Above the Rosanne, where the hatch was located, was a large oval-shaped platform with a guard-rail all about. The rest of the Rosanne stretched seventy meters exactly from stem to stern.
It was a wonderful day to be outside, and leaning against the metal rail, Elsie gazed blissfully over the ocean, which now possessed a certain enchanting serenity that she had never quite known before. This far out to sea the waves that swirled by took on a frighteningly dark shade of blue, and the ocean, all at once, became a mystery. Elsie was not afraid of the sea, although she did notice that when the clouds passed overhead, the water below seemed to be almost black.
It was by the guard-rail that Professor Goodwin found her standing shortly afterwards, and there they spoke for a while. “You remind me of your father,” he was saying. “Yes, the way you stare over the sea like that with the world in your eyes. You are indeed the daughter of Theodore Heartwing in that respect. I’m finally beginning to see your ulterior motive!”
“I don’t have an ulterior motive,” she said, defensively.
“Why, of course you do. The reason you’re here right now is the same reason why you’ve been staring out at the sea, wondering what you might find if you sailed beyond that horizon.” Elsie smiled but remained silent, until the professor said, “I don’t doubt the love you bear for your brother, but I know your family, Miss Heartwing, trust me, adventure is in your blood.”
Elsie turned towards him. “And what about you, professor?”
He seemed bemused. “Me? Ha! Perhaps once, but I’m afraid those days have left me.” His gaze became distant. “I’ve seen enough horizons to last me two lifetimes, but now I’m old, and the world has far too much noise in it for my liking.” He took a deep breath, taking in the sea air. “Let me give you some advice: if ever you go looking for trouble, don’t be surprised when you find it. Adventure comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes, oh yes, and it’s often the small adventures that are most precious to us.”
Afterwards, as their conversation drifted, Elsie felt the need to inquire as to what exactly the professor was researching. “Your research, and this investigation, it wouldn’t have anything to do with those missing ships, would it?” She couldn’t think of anything else so classified that would be worth the professor’s time.
In answer, the professor chuckled, and said, “Oh no, my dear, my work is of a different nature. I am, chiefly, just a biologist after all, and that’s one mystery I’d rather not trouble myself with.”
“So what are you doing, then?”
But then the hatch behind them opened up and Herschel Adams popped out. There was a sense of urgency to his voice. “Professor, I’m afraid you’re needed in the map room.”
Goodwin glanced at Mr. Adams, and then at Elsie, and then back at Adams, and patting Elsie on the shoulder he left her alone atop the Rosanne, and she returned to staring over at the horizon.ns 126.96.36.199da2