FC: written and illustrated by Alexander Glass
2: Copyright 1995 by Alexander E. Glass All rights reserved
3: to Cathy and for Cathy to Ruthie
4: The little steamboat was the littlest boat in her convoy.
5: Playing in their wakes, the little boat was always falling behind the other boats. Then, driving her little engines, she would catch them up.
6: Until one day, the ocean grew angry! In the face of the storm the boats grew tired and were cast apart.
7: Outside the wake of its mother ship, a small boat cannot sail on such a sea.
8: Her engines awash, lost and alone, the little boat floundered. Then, a gentle light beconed in the distance. "Come." Between the rocks, the little boat came.
9: An old lighthouse stood astride the rocks; bowed before the storm, buffeted by the waves. Her golden smile touched the little boat's drawn face. | "I am alone," said the boat. "I know," said the lighthouse. "Stay with me." "I am afraid," said the little boat. "I know," said the lighthouse. "Come and I will keep you safe." "I am lost," said the little boat. "I have found you," said the lighthouse.
10: Led by the light into the sheltering harbor, the little boat saw the lighthouse more clearly: leaning... aging... shining... As the lighthouse leaned toward the little boat, the ground on which she stood crumbled and a little washed into the ocean. But the lighthouse smiled and her light danced in the golden band atop the little boat's stack.
11: The little boat stayed and grew stronger. But often, adrift in the harbor, she wondered on her convoy. And felt alone. But the lighthouse smiled... and waited... and was there.
12: And some nights, when the little boat was afraid and could not sleep... | ...the lighthouse would take her fear. | Then all night the lighthouse would lead the litte boat about the harbor. And her laughter filled the harbor... and the rooms of the lighthouse.
13: When the little boat finally tired out, the lighthouse would dim her light and watch over her as she slept. | And as she would lean out, a bit more of the shore would crumble and wash away. | But a lighthouse knows that is what the ground is for and so she would glow a little more warmly.
14: Whenever a storm came, and the little boat cringed in the hallows of the cliffs, the lighthouse stood fast and beckoned to her.
15: Slowly, a little at a time, the little boat would venture out into rougher and rougher waters. Slowlly, she learned to slide between the rocks, darting easily from the grasping waves. | As she taught, the lighthouse swelled with pride at the little boat's joy. But in a golden place, a little sadness grew.
16: She would tell the little boat her stories. Sometimes the little boat would listen to the stories, but sometimes she would just listen to the sound of the lighthouse's voice. Or to her laugh. | "Your light is so beautiful," the little boat would suddenly say. "You have gold inside of you!" And the lighthouse would laugh. | "You have gold too little boat," the lighthouse would always answer. And the little boat would giggle. "Noooo. It comes from you!" | Then the lighthouse would smile quietly. "It is inside you too, little boat. But you must tend to it, my love, to stay gold." "I will," the little boat would always promise. | 13
17: As the days went by, the little boat ventured farther... | ...and farther away from the watchful lighthouse. | Some days she would sail out of sight. | 14
18: and faster as she came near the familiar cove and the waiting light. | She always came back! Steaming faster...
19: Then one day, the little boat did leave, rounding the cliffs with the golden light from the harbor bright in the band on her stack. | And years passed by.
20: She navigated the strange and wonderful waterways of the worl. | She worked the treacherous harbors of the Northeast. | She played amidst the rocky atolls of exotic islands.
21: And one night she knew: | It was time to go home.
22: She nudged the lighthouse gently and the old caretaker awoke. She smiled as the little boat's light flooded into her. "I am tired, little boat," said the lighthouse weakly. "I know," said the little boat. "I will hold you up." "I need to go soon," said the lighthouse. "I know," said the little boat. "I will stay with you." "I'm scared," said the lighthouse. "I will keep you safe," said the little boat. The lighthouse smiled and slept through the night, and the little ship watched over her.
23: The little boat slipped between the familiar rocks. The lighthouse slept. | The little boat sailed into the shade of the lighthouse. | So close was she now to the waters that the little boat could rub against her.
24: The next day other boats came. There were many whom the lighthouse had taught to sail and who had sailed away. Now the lighthouse would go. The lighthouse knew the way; she had shown the boats for so long. But the boats had come to help her remember. As she slipped between the rocks and under the waves, the little boat drew close and warmed herself in the shadow of the lighthouse one final time.
25: For a long time the little boat let her tears mingle with the waves of the harbor -- lit from below. Slowly, the last light faded away 'till only a reflection of the little boat's golden band was left.
26: As she steamed from the harbor of her youth, the little boat's engines swelled with the love and loving of her lighthouse. The light from her band cast a golden path back to the setting sun. And she remembered.
27: "I will miss you," smiled the little boat. "And I will keep you safe."
28: Nothing long remains on a seascape, but the storm tossed seascapes of my life are littered with frozen memories of you.
29: Sacred is the harbor that shelters. Holy the light that guides.
31: About the author... When he's not drawing pictures or writing books, Mr. Glass teaches elementary school, travels all over the world to visit his friends and drives a really cool car. He lives in New York.