The Seafarer | By: Joe McManus | | Category: Short Story - Love Bookmark and Share

The Seafarer

The Seafarer As the craftsman brought out his tools for the day, others said, that no matter how long it would take, he always took great skill in his creations. Today would be no different. As the material was hauled to the work site, you could see that gleam come to his eyes as if this job was to be special. Each section was placed on the workbench according to its fit and worked down to exactness. All the while his hands were made busy with the work before him. He couldn’t help letting his mind wander of the days when he sailed on that two master. The seas usually were not fit for man nor beast. But still he loved the adventure of it all. Now the uniqueness of this fine piece of workmanship would be no different than all of the others that he had built with those strong bare hands of his. His great passion has always been with the sea and the fine ships that sailed the oceans of the world. Many hours were to be put into the crafting of this vessel. He would spend every waking moment, laboring to complete this one on time. As the hours dragged on and the sweat poured from his brow, the sections were finally ready to begin the assembly. He took a rag from the box and wiped those hands that have created so many of the others. He wanted make sure that no foreign substance would cause anything to go wrong when the time came to assemble. Everything had to be perfect with no chance of making a mistake. The blueprints were traced over again and again, just to make sure that all was ready. Everything looked good and the assembly began. While his hands were busy, he thought of his own seafarer days when he battled against the elements of nature and the forces of the winds. The times when after a long haul, the schooner would drop the anchor in the lagoon of some islands where the palm trees swayed in the breeze. Where the waters were clear and the color of aqua blue. One could see a hundred feet down to the bottom of harbor. Every kind and color of fish that one could imagine. All the islands in the tropics were like that. And the native people were friendly to all that stopped in. Nothing like a cool one while propped up against a palm with the shade of its leaves hanging over your head keeping off the rays. The keel was laid with the struts in place to hold the up coming hull and all other material that would be put in place as the work progressed. At this time of construction, all assembly must be with great care, as everything had to be in proper alignment. There could be no mistakes or she would not run true. As he started the assembly, he found that his hands were not as steady as they once were. It was then that he realized he was just getting too old to be building these fine craft that he had done so many years before. He sat down on the chair and rested for a moment, just to collect his thoughts. But it wasn’t getting any better for him and he felt afraid that he would not be able to finish this one on time. All progress stopped! As he rose from the chair he knew that he could not go any further at this time. His big hands started to tremble as he steadied himself at the bench. There was a stick leaning on the end of the bench that he got hold of to help him make it home. The trek was hard as he stumbled and fell, then got back on his feet. The path led a long the cliff that over looked that wonderful sea, but tonight the eyes would not let him drink in the beauty. This can’t be happening. How will he be able to finish on time? The wife was standing at the door when he came down the path. She had seen him through the window in the kitchen and knew something was wrong. She rushed out to help him into the house and sat him on the bed. By this time he had started to sweat and his hands were shaking again. The woman went for a pan of water while he took off his clothes. She was right there and began giving a sponge bath to cool him down. He closed his eyes, but all he could think of was the promise he had made and the time was running out. He fell to sleep as his wife called the Doctor. It was a long ways from town that the doctor had to travel because the old man and his wife lived out on the cove. But then that was the way they liked it all these years. Always near the sea and the salt air. The beautiful sunsets and birds, the wonderful birds. The doctor stayed with them throughout the night, caring for the old man and the next morning knew what the problem was. “You must slow down” he told the old man “and you must see to it that he does” he told the wife. “Oh you know how he gets when he’s building another one,” she said. “He’s got a time limit and he won’t slow down”. “He must,” said the Doctor, “at least rest for a couple of days”. With only three weeks left, two days was all he could afford, then he was back at the old barn and on the job. He cleared his head and sat down to read over again the blue prints, so as not to make a mistake. He knew that this would be his last one. It had to be very special. He worked hard the next several days, putting the craft together. All the while using the greatest of care. On the keel went the assembly of the hull, then all the fasteners. In the next few days came the deck, the winches, and the rails. Oh there was so much to do and the time was running out, the day was near. Tomorrow, the first mast, But he remembered what the doctor had said, so he made his way down the path to the house to rest. The next morning he followed the path up to the barn, while taking in a good view of the ocean and the waves cresting on the beach below. He went to work just as soon as he entered the barn, no time to waste. Up went the first mast, hoisted by hand. Once he had it stable, he went right at the second one. When the second was stabled, he started stringing the rigging. There were so many things to do for a vessel of this size. But then everything takes time when you must do it right the first time. He was tired so he went back down the path. Maybe he can finish tomorrow. The next morning the wife got up early to get his breakfast, knowing that he would want to get started. But he was already gone to the barn. One day left to finish the work, must be ready, he kept telling himself. As he busied himself with the task at hand, he didn’t hear his wife come in. It startled him when she said, “I brought your breakfast up to you cause I knew that you would not take the time yourself”. He turned to her and thanked her with a kiss on the cheek, then returned to the work. She knew that to stand there and have a conversation would be fruitless, so she returned to the house. Now came the hard part when one works by their self. The sails had to fit to each of the designated places according to the plans. As each was different, none would fit anywhere than in its own place. With foresails, topsails, mains, aft sails and so on, it takes a while to rig. By the time he had finished this task, it was getting dark outside. He hurried along as fast as he dared, so as not to make any mistakes. The hour was late but the hard work was done. All that there was left to do is the painting. This took the rest of the night and at 0530, it was completed. He went down the path to the house. As he did, he looked out at the sea once more and realized it was his last. That morning the sun rose to bring on a beautiful day. He had finished on time and by the time they got here, he thought, the paint would be dry. He had stayed awake all night working, but didn’t feel a bit tired because he knew that the new owner would be pleased. It was late afternoon when the caravan of cars began making their way out on the long spit to the cove. One by one they passed by the old stone gateway that led through the stone fence. Up the road to the house, they came. You could see the excitement in everyone’s face as they climbed out of the cars. This was to be a big day, especially for the one who he had worked so hard. As the families gathered in the big house, shaking hands and all those hugs, from out of the crowd the one appeared. The grandson, who was eleven years old today, had a smile on his face as he turned and saw his grandpa. He ran over and gave grandpa a hug. Then he said “Grandpa I love it when you tell the stories of your days on those sailing ships. Could you tell me another?” “No” he said, “I don’t need to tell a story today, because today is your special day and because it is, you must follow me”. The grandson looked at this old man and knew that there must be something good waiting for him, so he took grandpa by the hand as they walked up the path. The rest of the family followed close behind. The barn doors where swung open. Then the old man leaned down to the boy and said “It’s for you son, Happy Birthday”. The young lad walked into the barn by himself while the rest of the family stood in silence. Before him stood a fully rigged British Brigantine with ten pure white sails and all the flags and pennants flying in the light breeze. He couldn’t believe his own eyes at what he saw. There before him stood the most beautiful ship he had ever seen in his life. It stood four feet from the keel to the top of the forward mast and was six and a half feet long from the bowsprit to the stern. It was painted a light brown with gold trim and on the stern, her name had been painted in gold. It read “ The Seafarer”. The lad turned back and ran to his grandpa and grabbed him in the biggest hug, then said, “ I love you grandpa”. “ I know son,” said the old man as a tear fell from his eye. Joseph Marvin McManus 12 March 1995

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