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Reflections in a Rippled Pool

                              by Lynne Charles

"What's the matter, lad ? Dinna ye hear me ? I told ye ta get onta the ropes !"

"Yessir ! Aye, sir !"

The blond-haired youth turned and sprinted away down the deck. He took his place beside Karl and shifted his weight as he grabbed the coarse, burly coil.

"Where were you ?"

"I'm sorry. I was on the far end of the deck."

"Didn't you know that the captain ordered stations ?"

The boy made no reply, but strained harder against the pull of the sails. Finally, the wind ebbed and the struggling men could relax. The next watch displaced the bone-weary sailors, and they returned to their bunks to get some much-needed rest. The boy slid exhausted into his bed. In truth, he had not even known any orders had been given. He had been searching desperately for a future, any future. The boy sank into a fitful sleep.

Jacques LeRart looked up from the old log he was reading. Then, he turned to an entry towards the center of the manuscript.

The blond youth knocked nervously on the captain's door.

"Captain Lockland ?" The boy waited anxiously until he heard a gruff voice asking him to enter.

"You wanted to see me, sir ?"

"Sit down, lad. I want ta talk ta ye."

The boy sat down on a wooden chair across from his captain.

"Jacques, lad, I've taen a likin' ta ye. Ye remind me o' me back when I was a lad. Ye know I dinna got nae relatives. I be a sailor all these thirty years. When I die, I want me ship in good hands. Lad, I want ye ta have the ship. Ye are bein' me first Mate onwards. I'll teach ye ta run the ship, and when we next dock, she's all yer own."

"But, sir, you  can't do that ! You can't give up your ship !"

"Dinna argue wi' me, lad! The ship belongs ta ye now !"

The light in the cabin was beginning to dim. LeRart closed the log and put it gently away in his footlocker. Snuffing out the candle, he climbed into his bunk, and settled for the night. Soon, he began to doze, dreaming of his early years as a sailor.

The tiny cabin was filled to overflowing with the men, watching hopelessly the labored breathing of their captain. Summoning a measure of strength, Captain Lockland ordered everyone out of the cabin, save Jacques and two other aides.

"Lads, Jacques is the captain o' the REBELLION now. Ye'll obey him just like ye did me."

He turned toward Jacques and said,"Lad, bury me at sea in the mornin'. Take care o' the ol' ship for me."

The youth nodded solemnly, though he wondered if he would have the wisdom to do so. Lockland beckoned to him and pulled him down to his face.

"I give ye me stren'th, lad. Hold me hand."

Jacques took the proffered hand and held it tightly in both of his own. Lockland tried to say something, and Jacques leaned forward to hear his words.

I . . . love ye, lad."

As tears streamed down the boy's face, the captain's grip loosened, and his hand fell heavily on his chest.

"No !" screamed Jacques.

LeRart was sitting straight up in his bunk, covered with sweat. He lit the candle on the desk, and got out of bed. He unlocked his footlocker and retrieved the old manuscript. Written on the cover was: Personal Log, Captain L.R. Lockland. LeRart opened the cover to read the poem his captain had inscribed:

Reflections in a Rippled Pool

The mysteries of life are locked in a pool.

Stones skipped, and rocks dropped in mark the passage of time.

If a person examines the pool, he sees only ripples in the water,

And not the water itself.

Distortions of life in rippled waters,

Recorded as memories in the mind.

Reality is fantasy, and fantasy reality,

When only distortions appear.

Life is its memories.

Reflections in a rippled pool, truth in life.

LeRart silently closed the book.

 © 1984, 

L. Charles, D. Conrad, A. Duncan, Enad the Great, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft

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