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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 Caribbees

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."

Don Blanding written in 1937