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The Secret

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Ghostship1

The old woman's boat.

Out on the ocean, in a moldy wooden ship with a tattered sail and rusty connectors, there lives an old woman. At night, you can see her through the window. Well, you can't exactly see her, but you know she's there; the shadow of her rocking chair is visible through the window, cast against the floor as she has her meat supper and knits.

She is a very kind and social woman, offering her hospitality for the night to each and every passing sailor. When a fellow anchors his ship and walks over the plank, she leads him straight into the living room and instructs him to make himself comfortable. In passing, they exchange occupations, and she may chance to inform him that she is a collector. Inevitably, as he follows her across the deck and inside, he always asks her, "Of what?"

Her answer is always the same: "It's a secret." She grins, then enters the kitchen to shovel meat into the oven with a large wooden spoon.

As she and the sailor sit at the table together, drinking ale as the oven hums, the somewhat dizzy sailor begins to speak of his life at sea. Lots of fish to be caught, treasures to be found. The old lady sits and listens, eyeing the sailor as though to size him up. She pours him more ale as necessary.

As the oven begins to smell of well-cooked meat, she turns it off and shovels meat onto two plates. She sets one in front of the sailor and the other in front of herself, then takes a single bite. The sailor heartily shovels meat into his mouth.

"My," the sailor will say, "this is delicious. What sort of meat is it?" He pauses and pokes at it with the wooden fork.

"It's a secret," says the old woman with a wink.

The sailor finishes his meal and prepares himself for bed. Later, lying therein, enveloped by the covers, he blows out the lamp and turns his face into the cool pillow. The sound of rain and waves outside reassures him that the sea is watching over him.

Dozens of folks have boarded that old ship, but no one's ever left. Some say they see the boats of the sailors float on unmanned every morning into the horizon.

Where do the sailors go? Well, that's a secret.

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