The screams of the sea birds were the only things that Smoke could point to as disquieting, a break to the peace of the day. Smoke and Gospels sat high on the island above the place, Gospels had explained, where the boat from the abbey would put in.
Smoke was excited to be off the little pinnacle of rock, a hungry prison in all but company. He sat with his new friend Gospels and hid his excitement in deference to his friend’s discomfort at facing his brethren. It would be awkward in a way that he knew something about, other people’s expectations.
And yet, as much as he would like to be appropriately somber for his friend, he was delighted with the day, freshening wind, wind whipped cloud torn to reveal bright sunshine, a day to sail, a day to delight a man like he had always been. Smoke inhaled the salt freshness of it, “Oh Gospels, this is a day to be on the water.”
Gospels sighed, “God is good.”
Smoke chuckled at his friend’s inscrutability. Was the sigh impatience, discouragement, awe, sarcasm, praise? Smoke didn’t know, but he was happy and couldn’t keep it to himself. “You know the worst part of my youth was existing in a stinking port city knowing all the while that I was born for the sea.”
“hmm, I too was raised in a city by the sea. I rather liked the scent of it though.”
“Oh yes, a Northern port city no doubt. I did not mean to insult. And too, it may have been the parts of the city I frequented that stank, not the city itself.”
Gospels laughed, “I’m sorry. I was just. . . . . .my mind was elsewhere.”
Smoke let things lay. His new friend was used to solitude, not just as a hermit, but in his life before he took to his coracle. Smoke was brimming with questions and conversation, yet he knew that he would get no pearls from the oyster. Well, that might not be a good analogy.
It was exciting to think that these monks were literate. His pattern had often been to seek knowledge when he gave up on a life, cut ties to business and family, and lost himself. Perhaps this time, more than others, he felt the need to know. He had been so near to knowing nothing ever again. Nothing like a good death to bring back the zest for life. So he would build a new life, and for this one as for all his others, he would seek knowledge, he would plan, and then he would live.
He inhaled the salt freshness, “I’ve been to your city, I didn’t know there was an abbey. I might have visited your library if I’d known.”
“The abbey had been half a century before the Navigators even came. Six monks in a coracle ran aground in the bay and that full two hundreds of years agone.”
“I thought you said you were a Navigator.”
“I was of that people. But I’m not quite that old.” Gospels laughed again. He seemed a bit more merry, as if his mind had come to some resolve or comfort as they sat there in the sun. “The abbey came before the Navigators, but I, a Navigator, came to the abbey in a boat.”