The seas were high. Water dashed mightily over the bow of The Odyssey. From the open cockpit, Rich watched puffy white clouds crowd the sky as if eagerly looking in a candy store window at Rich and his adventures.
“I have met so many good people,” Rich smiled to himself. “If only I could assemble them in a room and let them enjoy their goodness. My pleasure would be just to watch them. God must take pleasure in good people.”
He closed his eyes and envisioned all the good people he had known, starting from Ohio and all the way to Reao.
“What about the bad ones?” Rich thought. “My people would overwhelm them with goodness. They would be shamed into changing. There was good in them all. If another time and different circumstances, who knows? If evil rests in the heart of all good, can not good rest in the heart of bad?”
Rich grabbed the sextant and took a reading. He climbed below and calculated his location. He thought about how much time he wanted to sail. “No more than three days,” he thought. He walked the protractor across the map on his heading. “Fakahina,” he said. “I should be there tomorrow.”
On a hook above the chart desk, the pouch of pearls hung and swayed by a drawstring. He removed the pouch from the hook and reached inside. He removed one, about the size of a walnut. “Good God! How much would this be worth?”
Rich laughed. “Men, women, children risk their lives for these things. What a screwed up world we live in that people will steal, kill, cheat, and risk all for oyster snot. Where did it all go wrong? I know, it’s the other guy, but who sets the rules? Who established the market value on life and happiness? Who decides who is wise? Who decides who is pretty? Is there some sort of committee or a secret panel? Every day they sit and change or reaffirm the value of everything. What is the standard value from which all things are measured? Is it merely whatever the market will bear? Is one life more valuable than another?”
“All I know is that somewhere during my travels I must go to Auckland and find Jean’s daughter and hand these over to her. And at that point, her life will be forever changed. That’s a tremendous undertaking. I will give them to her and leave, even before I read her eyes. I don’t want to know. Because, I will know at first glance, whether they will enhance her life or demean it. I just don’t want to carry that with me.”
“Wealth and power do that. I don’t know of a person who has been made better by wealth or power.”
“These pearls would do just as well at the bottom of the sea, just like those counterfeit plates. What is even more amazing is that men would die and kill for those counterfeit plates I tossed into the sea. At least the pearls are real.”
Rich held the pearl between his thumb and middle finger to a glint of light through the porthole. He rolled it around and examined it with interest. “Oyster snot.”