If someone were to think that Large Port was full of kind-hearted town’s folk they would be misguided. Most people of Large Port are God fearing and superstitious. But most people didn’t hear about that, what they heard about were the merchants. A lot of the merchants there were very well known and fair. Many of them worked hard to keep a good reputation for the Port so that more merchants would visit with that particular port. So far they have had business enough for all. Large Port had many great merchants, but there were some that stood out. One such place was Cablin James and Son.
They traded and sold parts for ships; ropes, sails, and rigging if you wanted anything for a ship they had it. Once they had a royal ship come into port and ask for rigging from them. It was a very big deal for Large Port. No one actually saw the royal, and no one was told which royal, but they heard the ship had a Duchess on it.
Currently Cablin Sel James II was sitting in the front room of the shop going over the books. They were up 35% from last year, which really annoyed Sel because they were up 10% the year prior. People would wonder why he would be annoyed by this; it should be a good thing. But since Sel’s son had been working with him they had been going up at least 5% each year.
Sel sighed and ran his fingers through his thick brown hair. “I have to admit, that boy’s good.” He muttered under his breath. Suddenly Cablin Sel James III came into the room from the back carrying a large folded sail. It was amazing that he could carry one by himself.
“Where do you want this father?”Cablin asked coming through the door at a weird angle. Sweat was dripping down his face and soaking into the cloth that covered from the bridge of his nose all to the way to his chin leaving his stormy grey eyes and forehead exposed.
His father gave him a quick glance with the same stormy grey eyes, then pointed over at a pile of already folded sails. “Just put it over with the others.” Cablin didn’t move. “What is it now?” he asked slamming his thick fist down on the table.
Cablin stood his ground looking at his father, licking his lips, and thinking. After a moment of thought he answered. “Father, don’t you think it would be better to put it with the rest of the supplies that Mr. Smith ordered? He will be here tomorrow, and we still don’t have all of his supplies ready. Maybe we should work on that before the end of the day?”
Sel looked up with a strained look on his face. With a wave of his hand Sel motioned over to the empty box. “Do as you like. I have some papers to finish,” he lied. With a smile, that couldn’t be seen, Cablin nodded to his father as he headed for the box.
Cablin loved to work, and he worked hard. No one really knew the reason why, only him and his heart shared that secret. He rushed around the shop looking for all of the rigging needed and measuring out the rope. A few times he would call to his father. One time he called over saying that they were almost out of their special mix of wax for the railings. Every time Cablin said something, Sel would make the same sound out of his nose that sounded like he was too bored to say, “Uh-huh.”
Soon the box was full to bursting with of all of Mr. Smith’s items. Sel stretched his arms and looked at the outside. “Well we best get something to eat. It’s nearly lunch time. I’ll go down to the store and get us some bread and-“
Before he could finish the sentence Cablin butted in very rudely. “Please father may I go!” He realized that he had just cut off his father so he humbled himself. “I mean, you’ve been working so hard. You should be resting, not going down nearly to the docks to get bread and cheese. So why don’t you relax and I’ll go to Sathin Goods and get us some lunch?.”
Sel contemplated this for an instant before agreeing to it. “But don’t forget to get the white cheese. Don’t take off your mask, and for heaven’s sake hurry boy!”
Cablin smiled that could only be seen from the crinkling of his eyes as he started to take off his work apron. “Yes father, I know.” He was halfway out the door when his father called him back.
“Now boy,” his father said looking him straight in the eye. “Don’t be thinking that I don’t know why you always go to that shop. Just don’t get your hopes up, things are different for you. You’re cursed.”
Everything about Cablin seemed to fall. In a very somber voice he replied. “Yes Father … I know.” He closed the door slowly and stood outside it for a moment. His hand reached up and touched something below his nose. He sighed and started on his way. The closer he got to the shop the happier he seemed to become. He ignored the people who rushed out of his way, he ignored the stares, and he ignored the whispering. It was hard, but all that time he kept thinking, “I get to talk to her.”
Finally Cablin stopped outside a humble looking shop called Sathin Goods. Smiling as he went in he looked around the shop. Inside was a line of people; a mother with her two children, an older gentleman, and the man currently ordering. The mother turned to see who had come in. Her eyes became saucers and she hurried her children out of the shop, crossing herself as she did. The older gentleman who had heard the mother dropped his cane and began backing up quickly until he bumped into a counter. He inched his way along the counter until he reached the door. With all the commotion of course the man ordering looked around and also saw Cablin. He turned back to the counter. “No this is fine.” He said grabbing all of his food. “Here take this, keep it, keep it all!” And he ran out of the shop dropping an apple.
Cablin picked up the cane and the apple and moved up to the counter guiltily as he looked at Mr. Sathin who smiled at him. “I’ll go get her,” he said moving towards a door to the back. He was a tall friendly man with white hair and a mustache who always had a smile on his face. Cablin couldn’t think of a time when he wasn’t smiling. He placed the cane and the apple on the counter as he waited.
Before Mr. Sathin could get to the door Mrs. Sathin came out. She looked around the room and her brown eyes went from surprise to fury. She didn’t say anything, she simply glared at Cablin. Suddenly she turned around throwing her hands in the air and muttering, “Every time he comes in here, EVERY TIME!”
Luckily her ranting caused the person that he was waiting for to come out, Anne. To Cablin, Anne was the most perfect girl in the world. She had hair the color of wheat and eyes that looked like the sky on a summer morning. Her neck was long and elegant that had a necklace with a stone from the sea on it. But that wasn’t the reason why she was perfect in Cablin’s eyes. Anne was perfect because of how she acted. She was loving, sweet, and she cared about everyone. And everyone included him.
She was the only person Cablin ever met that didn’t flinch at his sight, didn’t call him the devil’s son. Anne was a good person, with a good heart, and the way she was smiling at Cablin now, made his heart melt.
Anne strolled up to the counter and with a sweet smile asked, “What can I get for you Cablin?”
Cablin’s heart was beating so fast he hardly could hear her. He could hardly speak, but somehow managed to make words come out of his mouth. “I would like a loaf of bread and some white cheese, please.” Anne nodded and got the said items, but like always she grabbed one thing more, a pastry. “I can’t except this.” He said for what must be the hundredth time.
“It’s on the house.” Anne replied with the same smile and words that she had used a hundred times. She cocked an eyebrow. “But you will have to take your mask off to eat it, you know?”
Cablin gave her a nervous chuckle as he paid for his things. “Take the apple too.” Mr. Sathin piped in from the corner of the room. “It’s already been paid for anyway.” Cablin grabbed the apple and backed away, not wanting to take his eyes off Anne.
Unfortunately he finally reached the door. “Thank you Miss Anne, Mr. Sathin.”
“You’re welcome … Mr. Cablin.” She mocked. With those words Cablin unwillingly stepped out of the door.
As soon as the door closed and the welcome bell jingled Mrs. Sathin started at it, yelling at Anne about giving ‘that boy’ another free pastry. Mrs. Sathin liked to yell at Anne because of ‘that boy’ a lot, and Cablin felt bad for her. But she had said on many occasions that she didn’t mind her mother’s yelling, she still wanted to see him. So Cablin went as much as he could to see her.
When he got back to the shop the first thing that happened was that his father asked him why he had taken so long. The next thing that happened was that Cablin opened the cloth that was keeping the food together. As he did a small piece of paper fell out of it, he picked it up and read, “Meet me at the usual place tonight.” Cablin smiled and, after his father told him to hurry up, continued to get the food ready.
The rest of the day went slowly because of his excitement of that night. It seemed like God himself was punishing him for even thinking that he deserved the chance to be happy. But finally the day was done and he could finally go home.
As soon as he walked in the door his mother came running towards him, “Oh my baby’s home! How was work? Did you have lunch? I’m so sorry I didn’t have one made for you this morning. I’ll make sure you have it tomorrow. Oh, you’re going to suffocate with that mask on. Take it off won’t you? No one can see you in here.” It always amazed Cablin how his mother could say all those words without drawing breath, and how she could still say that last bit with pity in her eyes.
Cablin tried to pull away from his mother. “I’m fine, everything’s fine. You shouldn’t worry yourself so.” Everyone said that Cablin appeared most like his mother. She was a little shorter than him, but she had the same slimness. They both had honey colored hair that was wavy, but the waves were more apparent in the mother’s hair. They had the same round eye, but unfortunately her eyes were a rich brown color while his were storm grey like his father’s.
At his mother’s request, although he didn’t want to do it, Cablin was about to take off his mask when his father stopped him. “It’s warm outside and I want the windows open.” He lied. “We don’t want people in the street to be startled.” Cablin silently thanked the Lord.
Whenever he had his mask off in his house his father would turn huffy and not speak to him and his mother would treat him tenderly like a child.
Cablin nodded and half smiled at his mother. “It’s okay Mother, Father’s right. We don’t want the neighbors to throw holy water at the house again.” His mother looked angry, but nodded her head.
They sat down and had a nice clam dish before going to their rooms. As soon as Cablin was sure that they were asleep he snuck out of his room and down to the beach. The city was quiet except for the tavern with a few drunken men outside. Even though it was so silent Cablin still clung to the shadows and kept his feet from hitting the ground too hard.
When he got to the docks instead of following the trail down to the beach he walked along a small cliff on the side of an old house. On the other side was a forest which Cablin quickly entered. After maneuvering a few trees he found the path that led down to the beach on the other side of the rocks making a barrier between the sandy shore and the shore with rocky beach. Not many people came over there, especially not at night.
Cablin made his way carefully down to the beach. Anne wasn’t there yet so he waited on a large rock sticking out of the ground. It wasn’t a long wait, for as soon as he had rested himself on the rock she came sliding down the cliff and jumped at the last foot onto the beach. She smiled at him as she walked up, Cablin’s heart beat so fast being this close to her. “Cablin,” she said sweetly as she put her arms around his neck. “You know I don’t like you wearing the mask around me.” She began undoing the knots keeping the fabric in place.
As Anne pulled the mask away it was revealed what was hidden underneath was the reason everyone despised him, why people crossed themselves when he walked by, and why they stood away from him when in church.
Cablin had a lip hair, a grotesque deformity that singled him out as the son of the devil. When he was born he had a split in his lip. The midwife sewed it up as quickly as she could but his mouth had a permanent sneer to it, his teeth always showed through a split at the end. It also gave his a chilling crooked smile that no one got to see because he always wore that cloth in public. He gave Anne a nervous crooked smile and she smiled back at him lovingly.
“See?” Anne said smiling, putting her hand on his cheek. Cablin closed his eyes and leaned into it. She just kept on smiling. As they sat in the rocks watching the waves in the night they were silent. Anne looked over at Cablin and broke the silence. “Cablin, when will you ask my father to marry? It’s been nearly a month now. I’m sick of us not being together.”
Cablin sighed. “I told you already Anne; I will ask him after I have the money for a decent house. Besides,” he looked over at her. “Your mother scares me.” They both laughed at the would be joke if she didn’t scare everyone.
“But seriously,” Anne said moving closer to him. “My father will give you the money for the house from my dowry. My father loves you and will definitely say yes. All you have to do is ask. So why are you so hesitant?”
Anne’s eyes were big and convincing but Cablin looked away. “I want to be able to provide for my family, on my own, with no help.”
With a smile Anne made Cablin look at her. “You can provide for a family. You make more than enough to do that. But houses are expensive and you sometimes need a little help. And there’s nothing wrong with that.” Cablin didn’t look convinced. “Fine I’ll wait. You’ve been saving up for three months now. How close are you to getting a house?”
“Not very,” Cablin muttered looking away.
Anne looked confused. “What do you mean you’re not that close? You’ve been saving for three months! Where did all that money go? I know you had a lot saved up.” Her eyes got large with worry and concern. “You didn’t get robbed did you?”
“No, nothing like that.” Cablin said sheepishly. “I had to buy a ring …” Anne’s whole face brightened at those words.
Anne couldn’t hold herself back; she tackled him into the rocks, hugging him closely. “Oh Cablin, I’m so happy! Do you have it with you? Can I see it?”
Cablin slowly rose from the rocky shore and smiled at her nervously. “I don’t have it with me, but it’s nothing to get excited about. It’s just a cheap ring.”
“Whether it is tin or gold, it doesn’t matter to me. Because I love you and want to be with you for the rest of our lives.” Anne said smiling at him. “Ask my father tomorrow, please.” Anne begged.
“I can’t.” Cablin looked away. “I’m afraid he’ll say no. I couldn’t stand it if he said no.”
“Cablin, listen,” Anne stood up and looked him in the face. “I love you, and I know you love me too, but you have to stop being so afraid of everything. You deserve to be happy, just like everyone else. If you don’t fight for what you love, then what is the point of life? God put you on this Earth to make a difference. But you can’t make a difference if you’re scared of everything all the time.”
Anne smiled lovingly and looked Cablin straight in the eye. “Cablin, promise me you will ask my father tomorrow, alright?”
Cablin gave her an unsure smile and dropped his head. “Alright,” he said standing up and wiping the sand off of him. “I’ll talk with him tomorrow.”
Anne smiled and crossed her arms from the cold. “Good,” she announced. “Do you want to go first or shall I?” she asked.
“You go first.” Cablin said continuing to brush himself off. Anne smiled and began climbing up the sand cliff.
When she left, Cablin stood up with a very serious look on his face. Anne was right, he was afraid. He was afraid that her father would say no. He was afraid that no one would accept him. He was afraid that he would never be happy.
Anne was also right about another thing. He needed to fight for what he loved, and he loved her. So he needed to fight for her, even if that meant having to ask her father for something impossible, to be happy, because Anne made him happy.
After a moment Cablin sighed and started up the same way he came down. Silent as a shadow he snuck up to his house then into his room. No one ever knew he was gone, as far as Cablin knew.