From my new novel, Grace and the Secret Vault (Ottawa Baico, 2917, ISBN 978 1772 160 925, $20) To purchase a copy contact email@example.com or
Grace spied a motor launch that reminded her of the Goodwill, the twenty-five foot gas-powered boat owned by the Methodist Church. When her father was still a Methodist minister, he used it to travel from the Landing to other communities on the coast and on Howe Sound. She'd loved it when Father invited the whole family to come along with him on a Sunday. How refreshing, to be out on the water, to lean back, close her eyes and feel the wind and salt spray in her hair!
She remembered one trip when her reverie was interrupted by a "Hey!" from Charles. Opening her eyes, she looked where her brother was pointing.
"Porpoises!" he'd cried, and sure enough, these black and grey sea creatures with white underbellies were frolicking in the waves. All the children craned their heads to look except for Howard, asleep on Mother's lap.
Then they'd heard a chug and a snort - not the sound of any sea creature they knew, but the Goodwill's motor conking out. Either the Goodwill hadn't been in the best repair, or Father hadn't been skilled in operating it. This wasn't the first time it had quit.
As Father started fiddling with the motor, Charles got a mischievous look on his face. Softly he began singing, "Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream." Mother glared at him, but of course the younger boys, Ralph and Bruce joined in.
"Stop that!" Father barked in his strongest pulpit voice.
"Hush, children." Mother's quiet tone meant business. The song faded.
Grace and Belva shaded their eyes and looked around, ready to wave if another boat came into sight. Father tried the motor again. It sputtered but did not catch.
"We're going to be late. The congregation will go home," Belva whispered. She began nibbling her fingernails.
"The motor is just flooded, that's all," Grace said softly. "We'll wait a while and try it again and it will go. Let's see who can think of the most hymns involving boats and the sea."
"Will Your Anchor Hold Through the Storms of Life?" Belva said.
"Jesus, Saviour, pilot me, over life's tempestuous sea," Charles added.
"Throw Out the Lifeline," said Ralph.
Grace glanced at Mother. Her eyes twinkled and her mouth twitched. Against her, young Howard breathed softly in sleep.
"Look. Look there!" Ralph pointed. Sure enough, a motor boat skimmed into view.
"You children stay put!" their father ordered. Carefully he stood up, took off his hat and waved it.
"It's coming," Grace breathed. "Help is on the way."
The motor boat grew ever larger until it was alongside the Goodwill. A Salish fisherman waved at them.
"Trouble?" he asked.
"It's the motor," Father said. "Can you help us?"
"Sure. I'll tow you to shore."