The Journey of the little red boat - by George Smith
Once upon a time there was a little red boat
that lived on a river, near the coast of Maine.
The little red boat was happy.
She belonged to a very nice family,
who kept her tied to their dock.
From the dock,
she could watch everything
that was happening on the river.
There were lobster boats
with lobstermen hauling their lobster traps,
motorboats full of people going for a boat ride,
and sailboats being pushed by the wind.
Sometimes, the family that owned the little red boat
climbed into her and rowed out to their sailboat.
They tied her behind the sailboat,
and as they sailed,
the little red boat followed.
The little red boat liked to go sailing,
because she could see other parts of the river,
far from her dock.
The sailboat and the little red boat were good friends.
After many years,
the family sold the sailboat,
and the new owners took it away.
But the new owners did not take the little red boat.
They already had a boat of their own.
The family did not need the little red boat,
so they left her tied to the dock, day after day.
No one came to visit her. She felt sad, lonely,
unwanted, and not important at all.
One summer, the rain poured down
and the winds blew for several days.
The little red boat filled with water, almost to the top of her seats.
She became so heavy that the rope that tied her to the dock
could not hold her anymore - and it broke.
Then the wind blew the little red boat away from the dock.
The tide was going out toward the ocean,
and helped the wind push the little red boat
down the river, away from her home.
The little red boat was afraid.
She had never been out on the river alone.
She had always been safely attached to the sailboat,
and the sailboat, and the family,
made sure that the little red boat was safe.
But this time, she was alone,
and there was no one to protect her.
Although the rain had stopped,
it was cloudy and cold, and there was no sun.
Suddenly, the little red boat felt a hard bump on her side,
as the wind blew her onto a rock.
"Help, help!!" said the little red boat.
But the rock said, "Go away,
stop bumping me, you are too heavy!!"
And the wind and tide
blew the little red boat away from the rock.
As the little red boat drifted down the river,
she came to a place
where several sailboats were anchored.
The sailboats were white and shiny, and very pretty.
The little red boat was happy when she saw the sailboats.
Surely they would let her stay there and sleep,
and protect her until her family found her.
But as the little red boat drifted toward the sailboats,
they shouted, "Go away!!
You are going to bump us and scratch our paint!! Go away."
The little red boat was very sad.
The wind blew harder, and the little red boat drifted
further down the river - scared, sad and alone.
As the little red boat floated down the river,
she saw a rock. Sitting on the rock was a seal.
The little red boat said, "I am alone and afraid.
Please Mr. Seal, swim with me and keep me company.
In a few hours it will be dark and I will not be able to see at all."
But the seal said, "I cannot stay with you.
I am hungry and I must find some fish to eat. Sorry."
And he swam away.
Some black sea birds, called cormorants,
were standing on another rock in the river.
As the little red boat drifted toward them,
she became more and more excited.
Surely they would let her stay with them until morning,
so she would have someone to talk to.
But, it was dark, and the black sea birds
thought the little red boat was a monster.
They squawked to each other to fly away. "But I am a lost boat, not a monster," cried the little red boat.
But it was too late. The cormorants had flown away.
After all this, the little red boat became very sad and started to cry.
She said to herself, "The wind and the tide
will push me down the river and into the ocean.
The big waves will come over my sides and fill me with water.
I will sink to the bottom and no one will ever find me."
She cried and cried. Finally she was so tired, she fell asleep.
But the little red boat was lucky. She drifted to a cove
between an island and the shore that was
sheltered from the wind and the tide.
The wind stopped blowing, and the water became calm,
and the little red boat was safe now.
She slept all night, until the sun came up in the morning.
On the shore of the cove was a pretty white house,
with a long green front lawn.
A grandpa and grandma lived in the house.
In the summer, their granddaughter, Grace
came from Massachusetts to stay with them
until school started in the fall.
Grace loved to visit grandma and grandpa.
They played games at the kitchen table and on the front lawn.
Grace loved to walk down the lawn to the cove,
sit on the dock and dangle her feet in the cool water.
She loved to climb over the rocks, looking for little crabs and fish
trapped in pools of water - left there as the tide went out.
She wished grandpa had a boat so they could go fishing,
or row across the cove to the island to pick flowers.
But he didn't have one, so Grace stayed on the shore.
One morning Grace woke up early, and tiptoed quietly to the kitchen.
Shhh!! - grandpa and grandma were still asleep.
When Grace reached the kitchen, she did what she always did first -
looked out the window at the long green lawn and the cove.
But this morning, there was a surprise waiting for her.
In the cove something red was floating.
Can you see it? Can you guess what it is?
Grace thought it looked like a boat,
but she wasn't sure - it was far away.
She ran down the lawn for a better look, and yes, it was a boat!!
It was a little red boat.
There was no one in it,
and it was drifting slowly toward grandpa's dock.
It must be lost, Grace thought.
If we don't catch it, it might float past the dock, out into the river,
and all the way to the ocean where no one will find it.
I must do something!!
Grace ran back to the house, and into her grandpa's room.
In a loud and excited voice she said: "Grandpa, grandpa, wake up!!
There's a boat near our dock, and it's empty.
We need to go and catch it!!"
Grandpa rubbed his eyes and sat up in bed.
Grandma opened her eyes too.
Grandpa quickly pulled on his shirt, pants and shoes
and ran to the dock with Grace.
Grandpa lay on his stomach and reached as far as he could.
He grabbed the side of the little red boat as she was floating by,
and pulled her to the dock.
"This boat looks as if she is lost. She's full of water.
No one has bailed her out for days - and look, her rope is broken.
I wonder whose boat she is?"grandpa said.
"She's mine, she's mine," shouted Grace. "She came here all by herself to be with me.
I'll take care of her. She's mine!!"
The little red boat smiled.
She was so happy to be rescued, and even happier
when she heard Grace say, "She's mine."
A new home would be so nice,
with Grace to love and care for her.
Then grandpa said,"Grace, the little red boat
must belong to someone. The storm must have broken her rope
and the wind and tide brought her here.
She is not our boat. We must find her owner and give her back."
Grandpa pulled the little red boat up on the shore.
He turned her on her side so all the water ran out,
and the little red boat felt much better.
Grandpa tied her to the dock,
and carefully looked for the owner's name.
But there was no name.
Over the next few days, grandpa called people
on the telephone trying to find the owner - but
no one was missing a little red boat.
Grace asked grandpa to help her take care of the little red boat.
They washed the inside and outside, until she was clean,
and grandpa borrowed some oars from a friend.
They had fun in the little red boat.
Sometimes they rowed her across the cove
to the island to pick flowers.
Sometimes they sat in her and fished in the cove.
Every day when Grace woke up,
she ran to the dock to hug the little red boat
and say, "Good morning!!"
Every evening, after dinner,
as the sun was going down,
Grace ran to the dock to hug the little red boat again,
and say, "Good night!!"
One day, the owner of the little red boat called grandpa,
and asked to come to grandpa's house to pick up his boat.
Grandpa and Grace met him at the dock.
He looked at the little red boat and said, "Yes, this is my little red
boat. The storm must have taken her away."
He noticed how clean the little red boat was,
and how nice she looked. Grandpa said that Grace
had found the boat, and helped him clean her.
The owner asked Grace if she liked the little red boat.
The little red boat waited anxiously to hear what Grace would say.
If Grace said yes, maybe the owner
would let Grace and grandpa keep her.
Grace did not say anything to the owner at first.
She was hoping the same thing as the little red boat - maybe
the owner would let her and grandpa keep the little red boat.
Finally she said,"I really like the little red boat.
We have been fishing in her, and we rowed her to the island
to pick flowers. She is my friend. I like her very much."
The owner stood very quietly, thinking for a few minutes
Then he said, "I think the little red boat would be very happy here.
I don't need her anymore, and it looks like you will
take good care of her. Would you like to have the little red boat?"
Grandpa looked at Grace and smiled, and Grace smiled,
then she laughed, then she shouted, "Yes!! I would
love to have the little red boat. Thank you, thank you!!"
Grace and the little red boat were very happy.
The next day, Grace and grandpa painted the little red boat
with a new coat of red paint. They bought new oars
and painted them white. They painted the seats white too.
And on the back of the boat, they painted a name.
Can you guess what they named the little red boat?
They named her Little Grace.
Grace and Little Grace were together every day,
rowing and fishing. When the end of the summer came,
grandpa took pictures of Little Grace so Grace could
show her class at school and her friends back home.
She promised Little Grace that she would come back
every summer to see her, and she did, for years and years.
Each summer, after Grace went home to Worcester,
grandpa and his friends carried Little Grace to the barn and left her
there for the winter, sheltered from the snow, sleet and rain.
Little Grace missed Grace, but she was not lonely.
There was a very old boat in the barn
that could not be used anymore.
The very old boat and Little Grace became friends
and talked to each other every day.
There were birds nesting in the barn. A raccoon lived there too.
They talked to each other all through the winter.
The little barn was very noisy.
The little red boat was very happy.
The years passed, and Grace grew up. She went to high school,
then to college, but she still came to Maine to visit
grandpa and grandma and the little red boat.
Grandpa and grandma used the little red boat too.
In a few more years, Grace married, and had her own children.
She brought them to Maine in the summer and they played
with the little red boat. They loved her too, just like Grace did.
Would you like to have a little red boat to play with?
Would you clean it and paint it and hug it?
Would you make the little red boat happy?
Maybe someday you can have a little red boat too.