A fisherman lived in a cottage by the sea. His daughter was his only companion. She loved him dearly, and cared for him as only a daughter could. One evening, after a hard day of fishing, he decided to go into the village and visit his friends.
“I’ve a mind to down a pint or two,” he told her.
The way into the village ran narrow along the cliffs, high above the thrashing billows of the sea. Knowing her father’s ways, as well as her own, his daughter begged him to stay. She had long feared that one day he would drink too much, as he usually did, stumble along the narrow path, and fall onto the rocky shore below.
“Stay here with me, dear father, and we will read together from the wisdom of Solomon, as we used to do when I was but a girl.”
“Nay, daughter, dear,” he replied. “I will go.”
“Father, do not go. The way is steep and narrow, and fraught with danger.”
“Nay daughter, dear. I know the way well.”
“Father, do not go. You will likely shame yourself yet again before the village.”
“Nay, daughter, dear. For I count the mayor and the magistrate among my friends. They wait for me even now.”
“Father, do not go. You will shame yourself before the church.”
“Nay, daughter, dear. For I count the deacon among my friends. He waits for me even now.”
“Father, do not go. For my sake, if no other.” Tears flooded her eyes and flowed down her face.
“Nay, daughter. I do no harm to myself, to you, nor nobody else. You know my ways. ‘Tis aught but the way of men. I am as I was bairn. My friends are waiting to receive me.”
“Father, do not go. For if you do, I will not be here when you return. I cannot bear any longer to watch you go, and wait here, fearing that one day you will fall into the sea and never return.”
“Your heart has turned cold, my daughter. Just like your mother’s before you. I will go, and let that be the end of it.”
With that, he placed his hat upon his head, took up his walking stick, and out the door and down the crooked path he went.
That night she waited, as she always did, on the cliffs by the sea, holding a lantern high in the darkness, so her father could find his way home. But soon, a terrible storm swept in from the sea. The rain and wind snuffed out the lantern, and she returned to the cottage.
The next day, after the storm cleared, the people of the village found the fisherman’s body at the foot of the cliffs, among the rocks where the sea washed ashore. After a day of mourning, his friends laid him to rest.
“We loved him well, but alas his own daughter loved him not,” they said to each other, their heads wagging with their tongues.
The fisherman’s daughter had vanished and was nowhere to be found, never to be seen again in that part of the land. But every year, early in the morning on that same day, a wreath of wildflowers would appear on the steps to the cottage. And in the midst of the wreath, a spent candle, left burning through the night.
–Dedicated to Anna Grace Michael, and her undying devotion to her craft.