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Night Whispers

By Anne-Laure Barberis, apprentice from France

If you listen carefully, you’ll hear them. In the middle of the night, barely audible above the sound of waves crashing on the ship and wind howling in the stays, I heard them. Very faintly at first, then, as my ear grew accustomed to the voices, I could make out the words they were saying.

– “It hurts! I’m tired to be shaken up in every direction. Make it stop!” would whine the wooden block of the inner jib sheet, also called widow-maker. “Inner Jib! Inner Jib! Lower yourself down!”

– “And how would I do that? Do you think I like it any more than you do? I am stretched to the utmost in a really uncomfortable position, and I can’t wait until this is over” replied the inner jib.

– “Well, at least you two can move”, went the anchor, “I am tied on the bow so tightly I feel the ropes will leave marks on my steel! And when I’ll be untied it will only be to be buried in some disgusting mud in the middle of jellyfishes!”

– “Hahaha!” said the bobstay grimly. “Just be happy of what you’ve got. Would you like to be in my place? I have the weight of all the rigging resting upon my chain; should I fail everything and every one of you will crash down on deck! And I never have any rest! Night or day I have to keep the tension on this chain, and this is an exhausting job, believe me!”

Out of nowhere, a very high-pitched and child-like voice spoke:

– “Why I am so low? Why am I always so low? I wanna go to the top! I wanna climb the mast and see the wonders of the world! Let me climb to the top!” After looking around for some time, I was finally able to discover
where the voice came from.

– “Don’t you dare open your mouth, you stupid piece of line”, replied the fore course, without so much as a glance to the frail ratline, the second lowest one on the starboard fore shrouds. “We don’t even need you, and if you ask me, we would be much better without you and your never-ending complaints. Climb to the top! Am I asking to climb to the top?”.

The fore course then settled in a majestic silence. She seemed to be quite happy with her job – and with herself. She stood tall and proud, her belly full of wind, looking at the horizon with such intensity that for sure, she could see things that others could not.

– “But I want to climb to the top!” whispered the ratline, just for himself.

Suddenly an anxious warning was heard:

– “Be quiet, all of you!” shouted the black and red capstan, “someone’s coming!”

Sure enough, footsteps were approaching. And all fell dead silence again.

But if you wait long enough, if you listen hard enough, you might hear them in the night…

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