So in a grey cold wind Perian walked down to the shore next morning, a small bundle on his back. At the sea’s edge he spotted the bent figure of the old man he was seeking, a solitary fellow who lived in a hut among the marram-dunes and made his living by fishing a little from his sturdy home-built rowing boat and by scavenging along the shore for any useful bits and pieces cast up by the sea. His name was Ral.

“Hello there!” called Perian. His voice was carried off by the wind to mingle with the gulls’ cries. Ral did not hear until Perian was almost beside him. Then he straightened up from his searching of the sand, turned slowly, and stared silently at his visitor.

“Good morning,” offered Perian.

“Bad. Nothing on the tideline.”

“Oh. I’m sorry. I wish you better fortune from the next tide. I was wondering …”

“Ah. So I hear. Answer’s no.”


“No. I won’t cross that channel this time of year. Not for no money.”

“Oh. Oh. Well, do you know anyone who would?”

“No. Nor no other boat strong enough neither.”

“But – but I must go. As soon as may be. I must.”

Ral spat into the sand at Perian’s feet, wrinkled up his face, sighed, scratched his head and said,



“How much gold you got?”

“Gold? About fifty pieces, I think. Why?”

Ral gestured up the beach to where his boat lay.

“Sell her to you then. Fifty. Take it or leave it.”



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