There was a drum roll.
Eric's father lifted the sheet covering the hulking mass.
He rolled his eyes. A statue. What a great gift, dad, he thought. But from the expression of the Prince, he was delighted.
Prince Filbert took a step forward to examine his effigy. Eric had to admit, the sculpture did resemble the plump, blond Prince. Their clothes certainly matched. Of course, they weren't exactly the same, but Eric couldn't tell the difference between any of those costly royal garments.
He was, in fact, wearing sensible sailor clothes. A clean shirt, fitting black trousers, and nice, sturdy boots. He looked very experienced, even though he wasn't. He had just met his father, the Prince's caretaker, whom without, he wouldn't have been able to travel onboard the Prince's Royal 18th Birthday Party.
Eric remembered the first day he met his father. Right after his mother died… Her last words were, in fact, instructions on how to locate "Mr. Grimsby". And when Eric introduced himself! Well, was Grimsby surprised! But Grimsby took to Eric, and Eric took tot Grimsby.
But what a gift!
Eric raised his head to see the first of the fireworks, imported, as Grimsby was pointing out to the Prince, from China. When he looked back down, Eric spotted Filbert's dog, Todd, a huge, slobbering sheepdog. Eric took out his harmonica and played a little tune which Todd danced to. Filbert despised the dog, and Eric now kept the dog with him, in his little apartment in the castle.
"Eric," came the crackling voice of his father, "put that thing down."
Eric obeyed, and with much dismay, Todd stopped dancing.
Grimsby was walking towards them. "You do have a gift of music, that for sure," he laughed. "In fact you have that in common with the Prince. He serenades the Princess of Gloucester to sleep all the time."
Eric groaned. He was up to it again.
"Dad… I've told you, hundreds of times, that I'm just not interested in anyone right now. I'm not ready to be interested."
"Humph!" snorted Grimsby. "Well, by the time you're my age and don't have a wife, you'll be wishing you took me advice." Grimsby started to walk away.
"Wait," Eric inserted. "I promise I'll find someone, someone out there."
More fireworks, thought Eric. Once glance at Grimsby told him that there were no more fireworks. That was lightening, and, judging by the smell of smoke, the ship had gotten in its way.
Shouts of fear mingled with those of courage. Eric helped unload the life boats and filed everyone into them, including Todd. Eric then got into a boat himself, and all were safe…
Eric heard a big SPLASH and looked into the waves. Prince Filbert had jumped out of his boat. He was trying to rescue his statue, which had remained on the burning ship. His Royal Highness, however, had forgotten one major detail. He couldn't swim. And Eric could.
So the sailor jumped out of his own boat to save the sinking heir.
Eric grabbed hold of him, but the Prince yelled, "No, no! I want the statue!" and broke free.
Filbert swam a couple feet and Eric followed until Eric saw him drown under. Eric went under the waves to try to retrieve the Prince, but he couldn't be found. He thought he saw the faint glimmer of green scales, maybe some sea monster had eaten the Prince. And if that were true, there was no reason for Eric to stay in the water, so he swam back to his life boat.
"Did, did you find him?" chattered Grimsby.
"Uh, uh, no…" Eric was gasping for air.
"Oh heavens, no! I promised his parents I would protect him! Oh no!"
Eric sighed. The rest of the trip home would be like this. Poor Filbert. Poor Grimsby.