You wonder about
the money and where it is going to come from. You look at your child and
suddenly he seems to be eating too much. Even the dog and cat...glutting
But you catch
yourself at these thoughts. You nurse a certain unspeakable dread behind
baleful eyes which you arrange like forlorn olives in the Peter Loire manner.
Similar eyes—expressing withdrawn hope interchangeably with shattered
dreams—have been used to great effect beneath elms, in simple rock gardens and
in old, rather ornate elevators of a kind once found in New York hotels.
Somehow—and let me be the first to confess this—they just didn't come off among
the English muffins and Smucker's marmalade jars.
My wife said,
"Why don't you give him a call?"
I remarked that a
telephone chat never hurt anybody, then whirled the dial with my
The owner of the
boat possessed a certain gift for meticulous description. He started with the
hull, rigging and general equipage, then went on to lay out the cabin from
companionway to forepeak. It had been built with meticulous attention to
Herreshoff's plans: white oak frames, double planked longleaf yellow pine
bottom, white cedar side and mahogany joinery. The mast trucks and lee-board
fittings had been made by L. Francis himself in his Marblehead workshop.
I wondered if I
would be able to bear to go up to see it, what with the child and the pets
eating like there was no tomorrow, not to mention my wife's Sibylline remarks
flung at me like cracking toothpicks over the marmalade. I decided to have a
I met the owner
at Matheson Hammock, where his boat, still bearing its Marblehead trailboards,
stood out among the sailing Clorox bottles like a sore thumb. The sails were
neatly hidden in covers and the halyards tapped lightly on the two raked white
masts. In a way quite different from my three-sheets-of-plywood dinghy, the
Meadow Lark was the acme of simplicity. Save the ignition system of the
auxiliary engine, the boat was devoid of electrical wiring. The cabin lights
were oil; so were the running and riding lights. I agonized over that cabin
with its bowed, coach roof and chaste white paint. And under the cockpit sole
and the floorboards of the cabin the bilge was sweet and dry, bearing that
final distinction of a well-planked hull: cobwebs.
and a near-perfect capability for imagining disaster kept me from a prompt
decision. The boat owner quite understood and lent me Herreshoff's plans for
I went back to
Key West to make up my mind. My home had achieved the atmosphere of an
isolation booth on a quiz show. I spoke to my family as though from behind a
thick plate of glass.