Royal Sea Port, London

Seagulls shrieked loudly in the gray, misty sky as hundreds of sea travelers rushed to and fro on the dock. Cold raindrops fell from above. Out of the mist, an old ship with the letters “Queen Elizebeth” in faded paint neared the dock slowly.

“Take her in slow and steady, lads! She’s getting fragile in her old days!” shouted the ship’s captain, a man with a bushy gray mustache. His face was lined and weather-beaten and a long black pipe dangling from his mouth.

With a loud groaning noise as the wood holding her together creaked in complaint, the Queen Elizabeth scraped against the dock and came to an unsteady halt. A ramp was lowered and the captain disembarked with his crew.

“She still holdin’ up, Captain?” asked a wizened old man with a bald head and missing teeth, holding an armful of papers containing the complete manifest of each ship coming and leaving the port.

“She’s doing the same as we are, Martin.” The captain let out a bubble of black smoke from the end of his pipe as he looked over his aging ship. “Old and falling apart, but still kicking.”

“That’s good to hear, but I’ve received orders to have her docked permanently, Captain.” The man named Martin fell into step with the captain and they made their way past the throngs of travelers and headed for the building where the captains lodged.

“I’ll hear of no such thing! Queen Elizabeth isn’t ready for retirement.”

“I understand that you are sentimental about the ol’ ship, but she’s just not safe enough anymore. Take a look at my paper here. See? The safety inspector found so many holes on the lower deck it’s a wonder she hasn’t sunk already!”

“She’s not done for, Martin and I’d appreciate if you’d rip that paper up and throw it over the dock.”

The two men pushed the door open to the captain’s lodgings and entered a dimly lit mess hall where a handful of weary, water-drenched men were sipping mugs of ale as two large fireplaces roared nearby.

“Wish I could, but quite frankly I can’t.”

The captain sat down at a log table and wrapped his cold hands around a steaming mug of black tea.


“Because it’s dangerous to sail the Queen Elizabeth and I don’t want to hear about your death the next time you leave for another voyage. The ship stays here and that’s the final word.”

Martin limped away toward the exit.


Martin stopped and turned his head around.


“Give me one last trip with her. We’re scheduled to leave in two hours. I promise it’ll be my last voyage on her decks.”

Martin sighed. “Well, where are you off to, then?”

“The port of Acco.”



(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 734)