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Michele pulled her shawl tightly around her shoulders as she stood alone on the windy deck. The massive clipper ship was slowly gaining speed as it cut through the waters of the bay heading for open sea where white caps danced on the waves.
The old sea captain paced slowly through the cargo area near the bow. With one thumb hooked in his vest pocket, his other hand held a pipe to his mouth. His furrowed brow expressed a look of concern as he eyed the wooden crates. He mumbled math calculations as he approached the last stack. Then he stopped and shook his head with a frown.
“Is there a problem captain?” Michele called out as she gracefully stepped across the deck towards him.
He glanced at her and nodded towards the boxes. “Any of these yours miss?”
She stopped in front of him and folded her hands. “Well, yes, four of them, to be exact. Why, is there a problem? “
He stood up straight and took a long toke from his pipe. “Too many.”
“Too many… what do you mean?”
“You don’t travel these waters much do ye?”
“Well, no. It’s my first time; but it’s my understanding that passengers are allowed five crates holding no more than a hundred pounds each. I certainly haven’t exceeded that.”
He nodded slowly. “That’s right, and in fair weather, that would be fine. But not today.”
He looked off into the horizon and motioned his weathered hand towards the darkening sky. “See that? … storms-a-brewin." He took a long deep sniff of the moist air. “Smell that?...smells like rain.” Michele sniffed the air as if sampling a new taste for the first time. She waited a moment and sniffed again, and then stared at him with a puzzled look. “I don’t smell anything.”
“It doesn’t matter,” he retorted. “If this storm is what I think it is, we’ll have to lighten the load and some of these boxes will have to go.”
“What do you mean, go?”
“Overboard. We’ll have to give ‘em a toss. So you might want to think about what you really need and what you can do without. “
She whined with dismay. “But these are my valuables. I can’t let any of them go.”
“You might have no choice,” he said gruffly. “When we’re in the midst of the storm, you’ll realize these things aren’t all that important. Take my word for it.”
“But this ship is so big. Surely it can withstand the mightiest of storms.”
“Most storms, it can, but not all storms. You see, it doesn’t matter how big a ship is, there’ll always be a storm fierce enough to raise the waves so high and wide that no ship can endure it. Why, I’ve been so tossed and turned at times it had me thinking it was the end for me and everyone else on board. It’s a frightening thing to have a mountain of water come crashing down on you.”
He looked at the sky. “The weather is finicky and has a mind of its own, ya know, especially in these parts at this time of year. The wind blows one way, then without warning, it will change course. A lot like the storms in life, ya know.” He looked at her and nodded his head. “That’s why I always pray. It’s good to be close to the Almighty. He’s the only one who can quell the raging storms in our lives.” He smacked his hand on a crate. “Ya need to think through your possessions in these boxes, decide what’s worth keeping and what you can do without.”
Michele looked around at the boxes, grieving the thought of parting with the precious acquisitions: ten silk gowns, designed in France, made just for her, her husband’s array of fine wool suits, custom tailored in England just for him, shoes and slippers made by gifted cobblers in Germany, hats and scarves, bags and bobbles. Tears began to flow down her cheeks.
“Now, now,” the captain offered in a comforting tone. “Remember, the Lord hears our prayers. Maybe if you ask Him, He’ll calm the storm. Jesus calmed the sea ya know,” he added with a wink.
Taking the captain’s wise words to heart, she looked to the sky as a strong gust blew against her. Her long dark hair whipped in the wind around her head as she spoke. "Dear Lord, will you please calm this raging sea?"
Then He answered…
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