The Cruise Of The Spun-Glass Ship
The Man-Next-Door came into the room
where the boy in the Wheel-Chair sat.
He grinned at the boy and the boy grinned back
as they started their hour's chat.
"Which hand will You have?" said the Man-Next-Door,
"The left hand or the right,
For one is empty and one is full?"
The boy laughed with delight.
His small, thin face grew rosy bright
as he pondered the problem well,
The right or the left, the empty or full?
Only his choice could tell.
"I'll take them both," he laughed at last
and his voice was a joyous skip;
The Man-Next-Door held out his hand
and gave him...a spun-glass ship.
A spun-glass ship as frail as smoke
but, oh, so gallant and trim
With ropes and spars all set to sail
to the edge of the sky's far rim.
"Now, where shall we go?" said the Man-Next-Door
as he spread a world-wide map,
"To Borneo or the Lands of Snow or the tiny Isle of Yap?
For You are the Captain; I'm the Crew,
and we sail wherever You say,
To the Arctic Seas or the Caribbean or to distant Buzzard's Bay."
"Oh wait ! I know where I want to go,"
the Boy-in-the-Wheel-Chair said,
"To Christmas Isle for a little while.
It's in a book I read."
So they rode away on the spun-glass ship
with dreams for wind in the sails,
While the one man crew told the Captain Bold
many exciting tales
Until it seemed that they more than dreamed
under the magic spell
Of the land where it's Christmas all year long...
and Fourth of July as well.
They sailed to Hither, and Thither, and Yon,
to the North and the South and the West,
But of all the world it was Christmas Isle
that the Captain loved the best.
And the boy forgot the dull wheel-chair
and the ever present pain
As they made the trip in the spun-glass ship
in storm and sun and rain.
But the kindly eyes of the Man-Next-Door
were filled with anxious fears
And his cheery grin was a mask to hide
the ache of unshed tears
For he saw too well how the Captain Bold
grew wearier every day
And how his laugh was a wistful smile
as their dream-ship sailed away.
He came one day to the quiet room
and called his "Ship Ahoy!"
But his voice was hushed as his quick glance fell
on the face of the wheel-chair boy.
For the small thin face was white and still...
but clutched in the frail hand's grip
With it's sails all set for another cruise
was the gallant spun-glass ship.
"Bon voyage," said the Man-Next-Door,
"You've sailed without your Crew.
Oh, Captain, may the winds be kind
and the skies be ever blue.
May the final trip of the spun-glass ship
ride swift with the ocean's swell
To the land where it's Christmas all year long...
and Fourth of July, as well."
written in 1937