The Non-Life of Riley - Chapter-Twenty-one

Kingwell By Kingwell, 8th Nov 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Fantasy

I return to Newfoundland and find that there are many changes in the lives of my sons.

Moving Up In Society

How long had I spent in meditation? The thought struck me like a thunderbolt as soon as I was alert enough to remember my family in Newfoundland. I was suddenly anxious about Patrick John and hoped that he hadn’t drowned in my absence. The fact was I had no idea of how long I’d been reflecting, it could have been five weeks or five years but I knew that I must find out immediately. A nanosecond later I was relieved to find my eldest grandson asleep in his bed where any eleven year old should be at 1AM. Later that morning I would discover that Patrick John would celebrate his twelfth birthday in just two weeks. There had been many changes while I was away and I was happy to see that everyone was well, including three granddaughters and a grandson that I hadn’t met before. My sons were no longer fishermen but fish buyers and exporters with a large general store to boot. The firm registered in London as Riley Brothers Limited was now the largest dealer in fish and fish products in St. John’s. Pleased as I was to see the family move up in the mercantile world, it nevertheless posed its own problems.  

Merchants

I had seen enough to know that the only life worth living is one of service. I knew too that money and prestige can often bring haughtiness and cause one to look on others as beneath them. Merchants were rarely trusted by those who worked for them or the fishermen who sold them their catch. Most felt they were being cheated since they were uneducated and therefore an easy prey. I knew that while this was often the case it wasn’t always true and hoped that my sons might be an exception to the rule. I decided to look around, listen to the workers and be an unseen guest at their weekly meetings. Until now I hadn’t realized the extent of the enterprise in fact was shocked to find that the business employed more than 60 men during the height of the fishing season and also owned four ships. Fishermen from all around the area were anxious to sell their catch to the Riley brothers. I spent some time looking around the general store which employed one man and two women. The office was at the rear of the building and it was here that I found Eric and Tom both engaged in updating the company’s ledgers and discussing Eric’s semi-annual trip to London next month. Tom, as it seems was usually the case, was concerned about his ability to keep the office running smoothly while Eric was away.

Employees

John and Sam, who wanted nothing to do with the office, supervised the men working outside. The company owned two wharfs and two large fish flakes, which consisted of a horizontal framework of small poles covered with spruce boughs and supported by upright poles, the air having free access beneath. Here the cod were spread out to bleach in the sun and air after having been cured inside under a heavy spreading of salt. As I watched the men working, I noted most appeared content and that the youngest and strongest were assigned the heavier tasks while the eldest were given easier work. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon everyone had a five minute break, when they could move around, chat, or get a drink from the nearby water barrel. There was a cook house and the men had a half hour for dinner, which was the midday meal. About a dozen men slept in the bunkhouse and ate supper, as the evening meal was called, at the cook house. The remainder of the men returned home at the end of the day’s work. 

Helping The Less Fortunate

All four of my sons had very fine large houses, and appeared to get along well as did their wives. I spent some time in each house and played with the two that were still babies. While at Eric’s house I was delighted to learn that Ann had been teaching twelve children from the neighbourhood whose parents could not afford to send them to school. Classes were held in the large living room for two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week. It was clear that Ann loved the work as she talked excitedly of how well the children were doing. Eric smiled and asked her to make a list of any books she would need and he would purchase them while in London. Although it was clear that they were doing well financially, I was happy to see that they so willingly gave of their time to help the less fortunate among them.
As all prepared to retire for the night I felt satisfied with what I’d seen so far and decided to relax under a nearby tree and chat with the insects that had come to the surface now that nightfall was here.
To Be Continued - See Chapter Twenty-Two


See also Chapter Twenty


Chapter Nineteen
Read from the Beginning - See Chapter One

Tags

Babies, Boy, Employees, Family, Friends, Grandchildren, Granddaughters, Grandsons, Kingwell, London, Merchants, Teacher, Teaching, Twelfth Birthday

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author avatar Kingwell
I am 75 years old and retired.I like writing short stories, poetry as well other articles of interest.

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Comments

author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
11th Nov 2014 (#)

Awesome post!

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author avatar Kingwell
11th Nov 2014 (#)

Thanks Friend.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
12th Nov 2014 (#)

Non - life is not bad after all, can seamlessly blend with all - so what am I waiting for? Thanks Kingwell for giving us hope - siva

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author avatar Kingwell
12th Nov 2014 (#)

Thank you Siva.

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28th Sep 2017 (#)

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