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Feb 22, 2016
The Coral Oars
By J. C. Mathas
The Coral Oars
All rights reserved including those of translation. This book, or parts thereof, may not be
reproduced in any form without permission of the copyright owners.
Published in Canada
By Bravs Index
Library and Archives Canada
Canadian ISBN Agency
395 Wellington, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N4
E-mail: [email protected]
This Book Is Dedicated To
Loredana Catherine Goren
My Mentor, My Inspiration, My Friend
Did you know, adventurous reader, that before God created people, or animals, or even
the very stars in the sky, He first created the sea? This is true! Man was given dominion over all
creation, including the sea, but when man first did evil, something happened: the sea became a
mysterious and sometimes savage thing, suddenly blanketed with rippling curls like a flock of
lambs, suddenly fierce as a herd of wild boars thrusting up their frothy tusks to gore the skies.
Men have learned to respect the sea; only the brave or foolish ever dare venture far from the
shore but those that do bring back tales that become the stuff of legend. This is where our story
begins, a story about a young woman who was swept up in the quest of the Coral Oars and who
saved the world by braving the sea.
Once upon a time, when the horizon was the beginning of all possible dreams, in a
cottage near the sea, there lived a little girl with long, brown, wavy hair and light, blue eyes.
The little girls name was Loredana and she lived with her aunt on a beach. Her aunt was a very busy person, an artist of sorts, who did wonderful paintings and so had little time for Loredana.
Loredana took to rearing herself, spending most of her time on the beach, gathering shells and
building castles in the sand. Some days she would sit for hours, watching the rolling waves
pound the cliffs, but she did not mind; she was happy and she never thought about her
loneliness. The sea, the ships and all the ocean life kept her company. And that is how
Loredana spent her days and the days turned into months and the months turned into years and
Loredana became a young woman. Then her aunt wished to leave in order to discover new and
beautiful places to paint, but Loredana dearly loved the beach. After trying to convince her
many times, Loredanas aunt finally gave up and leaving the cottage to Loredana she went abroad. Loredana was truly alone.
One warm eve brought with it a terrible storm, a storm so fearsome that none living
could remember its like. Loredana watched the storm brew; heavy clouds gathered and scudded
over the sea. As they approached the shore, they began to curl and flex, becoming great angry,
black puffs. It was a strange storm; there was so much lightning that it looked as if it was
raining thunderbolts and strange lights darted through the clouds and reflected off the jumping
waves. The ocean seemed to boil. Loredana returned to her house. She closed all the window
shutters, just in time to keep out the wind and rain and went to bed, hugging her sheets close
and listening to the raging sea outside. She watched the slats in the shutters glow white with the
storms fury until she fell asleep. Loredana awoke the next morning very excited for storms always stirred up the ocean
depths and brought forth many treasures. She loved to race outside to greet the sunrise and
watch the clouds and then to discover what wondrous things might have been left by the tides.
And what treasures she sometimes found! Treasures like exotic tangles of seaweed torn from
the ocean floor, five-armed starfish, wobbly puddles of jellyfish, and the flat sand dollars that
the sailors had shown her bore the wounds of Our Risen Lord. In the tide pools could be found
all sorts of crabs, minnows, shellfish and sometimes bigger fish that had been forgotten there
by the sea. Above all, Loredana loved the pieces of driftwood that came to her beach. She
longed to ask them where they had come from and what they had seen during their travels upon
the sea, but they had no voices, and so she sat on their smooth, warped sides, kneading the sand
with her toes, and daydreamed.
A most curious sight greeted Loredana when she opened her window shutters this
morning: the sea was calm, as still as a mirror, without even a ripple upon it. Even the loud
gulls stood quietly on the beach; she could not spy a single one flying over the water or
bobbing on its surface, and this struck her as being very odd indeed. For many days this strange
calm continued; no fish jumped, no seabirds called, and no wind blew.
Then, one day, when Loredana opened her shutters, she saw a most peculiar thing: a
small, wizened man all by himself sitting in a boat upon the beach. Loredana quickly threw her
robe about her pajamas and raced outside to see what it could mean. The man watched her
come; he was ancient beyond years, his skin leathery from the sun, but his eyes were clear, and
as blue as the ocean.
"Come no closer!" The old man called when she was quite near.
"Please sir," Loredana said quite breathlessly, "but why is the sea so still? And who are
you, and why do you sit upon the beach in your boat?"
My name is Phaelon; I am the ancient seafarer of the oceans. I am the keeper of the tides, for it is I who wield the Coral Oars!
Loredana suddenly felt very shy, for the man sounded terribly important, and she
curtsied as her aunt had taught her to when meeting such important people.
The man gave her a kindly smile but quickly became serious again, I have come to these shores seeking help from the world of men!
Oh! cried Loredana, Then you must paddle further on to the south, to the village where there are many fishermen and even some sailors! I am the only one that lives on this
beach! The old man looked disappointed. Is that so? he asked. Well, I must wait for my
dolphin she has faithfully towed my boat for many days and nights to reach these shores and has just now gone off to find some fish to eat.
Would you like some breakfast while you wait? asked Loredana, being very polite. Thank you, but I am not hungry. Many centuries have passed since I have eaten
anything. The old man became thoughtful, In fact, I cannot remember if I have ever eaten anything at all! But I wouldnt mind a little conversation Im quite starved for it, and it has been a long time since I have spoken with anyone! Loredana smiled, for she too liked a good conversation, and very few people ever came
by to visit, Will you not come inside then? I would like that very much, but I cannot leave my boat! the old man replied. Not at all? asked Loredana in surprise. No. It is my prison; I am bound within it until the end of time! Loredana thought this very peculiar, but she kept this thought to herself. Well then,
she said, I will fetch my own breakfast and join you here on the beach! and running into her house Loredana quickly reappeared with some bread and marmalade.
You are very polite! What is your name, child? the old man asked. Loredana made sure to finish her mouthful before replying, My name is Loredana. Loredana! That is a very beautiful name! Thank you! Loredana smiled, I think so too! Well Loredana, do you really not know why the sea lies so still? No, Phaelon, I do not understand it.
What? Do you not know the history of this world? Have you not been attentive to your studies?
Loredana admitted that she had not, but only because she had been too poor to go to
school, The only teacher I have ever had is the sea! she explained to the old man. Ah! the old mans face softened, A very fine teacher, as full of wisdom as it is of salt! Come child, tell me what the sea has taught you! Then Loredana told the old man the many things she had learned, beginning with the
serious things like life and death. And then she spoke of rainbows and storms, and of how the
sky and sea discussed with each other as to what they were going to do on the morrow, and
how the waves and wind guided the fishermen to those fish that were to be caught on that day,
and of the family matters of whales, and the habits of crustaceans, and the boasting of gulls,
and on and on until the old man was laughing and clapped his calloused hands in delight.
Why, you are a scholar! Surely, if the king knew that such a bright and beautiful young woman lived in his realm, he would summon her to his court!
Loredana blushed, Perhaps, but there has been no king here for many years! No king? the old man cried in alarm, What has happened? How is there no king
here? Is this not the world of men? Yes, yes! But many years ago so my aunt told me when I was just a baby, the king
and queen were lost while returning from a visit to the foreign lands on the other side of the
ocean. Even as they neared the shore, a storm struck and their ship was dashed against the cliffs
beneath their castle. The king and queen perished, as well as their son who was then only an
infant. But who rules the kingdom now? the old man asked. The lords of the late king, but they grow old and are not strong; the many dangers of
the land steadily weak