Thursday, November 22, 2007

Time to Spare

Mark Twain wrote the ‘Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’, in which he poses questions to the reader, perhaps with tongue in cheek, or rather more seriously he makes statements about the characters within his novel which in turn may challenge the reader in his own experiences. He describes an episode when Huck and Jim spent a day hidden ashore while en passage down the Mississippi on a log raft. They were having an unaccustomed period of relaxation when Huck read stories to ‘learn’ Jim in the ways of Kings and how they spend their time.

The story goes as follows:

I read considerable to Jim about kings, and dukes, and earls, and such, and how gaudy they dressed, and how much style they put on, and called each other your majesty, and your grace, and your lordship, and so on, ‘stead of mister; and Jim’s eyes bugged out, and he was interested.

He says:

‘I didn’t know dey was so many un um. I hain’t hearn ‘bout none un um, skasely, but ole King Sollermun, onless you counts dem kings dat’s in a pack er k’yards. How much do a king git?’

‘Git? I says; why, they get a thousand dollars a month if they want; everything belongs to them.’

‘Aint dat gay? En what dey got to do, Huck?’

‘They don’t do nothing! Why, how you talk. They just set around.’

‘No – is dat so?’

‘Of course it is. They just set around. Except maybe when there’s a war; then they go to war. But other times they just lazy around; or go hawking – just hawking ………’

The retiree often remarks that he is busier than when he worked to earn a living, but for some there is little to do and they feel like dying of boredom; they are as kings with time on their hands and no wars to fight, but the retired yachtsman looks forward to the new season when the days lengthen and he’ll be reunited with his yacht upon the oceans; meanwhile, his faithful vessel needs maintaining while he dreams of future adventures, and to make those a reality he studies the charts, the almanac and the tide tables. His imagination paints scenarios of luxuriant bays with sandy beaches, purple mountains forming far horizons; white horses skipping on the wave tops; green fields rolling to the sea shore and darkened glades running in valleys to the water’s edge; broad sand dunes and granite cliffs; muddy creeks; gulls, guillemots, plovers, Arctic skuas, heron, dunlin and even the perky puffin with his red, white and blue bill.

The retired yachtsman with time to spare is far richer than any king. He does not laze around with nothing to do; neither does he look for wars to relieve his boredom; instead, he dreams of fresh mackerel straight from the pan!

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