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Let’s meet Jeremiah …
Jeremiah, itinerant sailor, had not worked in a couple of weeks and was getting restless. That last voyage was a long one, and he was enjoying laying about in the harbor town, soaking up the sun, reminiscing with other waterfront drifters about faraway places and close calls, whistling at the pretty girls running their errands.
Now and then he would pull out the fiddle battered and tarnished by years at sea, and strike up an old tune from the hills of his birthplace.
But he was, indeed, restless. The ground was too stable under his feet, too firm. He was missing the rolling of the waves and the far horizon in every direction. The clean, sharp crack of a lightning bolt on the open sea, where there was nothing to echo its boom back to you. The storms that would drive your boat in howling winds, toss you like March winds rip last year’s leaves from the shore-bound oaks and throw them to the heavens, storms that left you becalmed and exhausted without a whisper of air to cool your sweat. Life on the sea. He loved it.
He suddenly realized that the mole over there, poking its head up at the edge of the field where the wharf ended in a jumble of rotten timbers and discarded iron fittings, had not moved in quite some time. And in fact, had been looking at him for about that long. Waiting for him to leave? So it could… do what? Come up on the boardwalk? No grubs up here! He eased back into the creaky rocking chair, settled his feet more comfortably on the rail, and decided he could be as patient as a mole. They would just see who could wait the longest. He had nothing else to do, and this bit of driftwood still needed some whittlin’ before it was complete.
A couple of big boys came running along the wharf, whacking things with a stick and pushing each other back and forth. Just rowdy play on a sunny morning, he thought. Brought back memories.
“Hey, look at that! Let’s get him!” One of the boys had seen the mole, and ran to knock him back underground.
Jeremiah’s word stopped the boys cold. They stared at him, not having noticed him back in the shade of the awning over the old sailmaker’s shop. “He’s my friend,” he murmured as an afterthought.
They looked in disbelief, and the bigger one decided he didn’t care what this drifter thought. He could whack this lanky sailor next, if he interfered with their fun. The boy turned back to the mole that still watched from the edge of the field, and lifted the stick for a good swing. A long, straight blade flew into his path and stuck in the timber at his feet.
“Ain’t gonna tell you again.”
The boy turned squarely towards him.
“You gonna cross me for a rodent? A stinking mole?”
Jeremiah looked over at the mole, and began taking a liking to the little creature. There it was, standing its ground, looking right back at him.
Yes, apparently he was.