Dirigible

So there was this guy, see. And he had a small dirigible and he flew it often over that place. People would look up and smile and wave always hopeful that someday he would begin to offer them rides in it.
So when he flew over main street, thousands of faces looked up at him and cheered.
Eventually he did begin to offer rides, usually in exchange for some other small favor. Merle Johnson brought him a pie once and got a ride. Melinda Pomegranate helped him take down his laundry from the clothesline once and got a ride. The biggest favor he ever accepted in return for a ride in his dirigible was a collection of 180 massive beautiful leather bound blank books, with intricately marbled covers filled with beautiful handmade paper from the Amalfi coast in Italy.
When he received those books he was so happy that he cried.
In the dirigible, he had a small desk and above the desk was a long shelf where he kept the books.
He took to keeping a bottle of nut brown ink in one desk drawer, and also kept a small collection of pen holders and nibs in a small box there. Often when he was in the air, he would take down one of the journals and sit looking out the window at the beautiful landscape below, and he would sketch the hills, valleys and rivers as he went by them.
One day, someone gave him a lovely set of watercolors, in exchange for a ride.
With the watercolors, he began to color in the images he had sketched, although the first group he did this with he could not vouch for the accuracy of colors, seeing as he’d had to paint from memory but later images were made in full color on the spot and the more he sketched the better he became at understanding the colors he saw and how to express them accurately.
A few years after he obtained the dirigible, he made an announcement to the people in his town.
“As much as I love living and flying with you all,” he said, “I feel that I must begin to see other parts of the world.”
Then he explained that he fully intended to be gone for a very long time, but also that he fully intended to return, with paintings and stories and memories to share with his townsfolk.
“I would like one, or perhaps two people to travel with me. I will teach these companions how to fly the dirigible. We will all live on board for the duration of our trip, and I will of course pay these companions for their time and furnish them with food and anything else they should need while we travel together. “
There were two teenagers – Mabel and Silvester who volunteered to help him in his journeys.
They traveled far and wide, first keeping within the boundaries of their homeland, but eventually venturing further north even to the pole, where vast expanses of ice passed beneath them. They went to all the other continents and to as many nations and states as they could access. There were a few remote locations where they could not travel, but the saw most of the world, both from the high views of the dirigible, and from the ground, for they landed daily and slept and ate frequently among the people wherever they were.
This traveling continued for nearly three years.
One day, they were in Rome, and he drew the coliseum. Another time he drew lions in Africa, some sleeping in trees, others as they brought down prey, others still as they frolicked and played along the banks of a long green river.
One day, they attended a festival of dirigibles, and that day they were among hundreds of other flyers in the sky over a beautiful desert city, with minarets and gleaming pools and tall cellphone towers.
One day, they landed in India and found themselves engulfed by a festival in which people pelted each other with pellets full of powdered pigments. The air was an exciting cloud of color and motion, and joy was everywhere around them. Silvester said that Holi was the best thing he’d ever experienced. “Even better,” he said, “Than flying.”
And Mabel’s favorite stop was the three days they spent in northern Mexico watching the migration of the monarch butterflies. Even at their high traveling height they found butterflies on the dirigible both inside and out. But on the ground, they found themselves covered with the orange insects.
Finally, as is always the case with journeys and voyages, they found themselves drawn back to their home.
The journey back was slow and not nearly as easy as the adventure had been because, after three years of mild air, they found it necessary to navigate through many storms during the journey back.
By this time of course both Mabel and Silvester had become adept at piloting and navigating their dirigible, but still the weather delayed them. It took an additional year in flight to bring them back to the old river and the beautiful brick buildings of their home town.
Everybody in the town was overjoyed to see the three return, and they were hungry for tales of distant lands. They were also of course hungry to fly again as there had been no dirigible in the area since the three left.
Mabel and Silvester were married just a few days after their return and the pilot made a gift to them of the dirigible, and all of the empty books that remained on the shelf, although he removed the ones he had filled with drawings and writing to his own home – as well as one final empty volume, to fill up with accounts of his last years.
Mabel and Silvester took many people on many journeys, some close to home, some very far, to mysterious places of magic and intrigue.
It is remarkable that during the lives of the pilot and of Mabel and Silvester, the world was entirely at peace. It was a period of nearly a decade altogether where there was not a single armed conflict anywhere on the planet.
In the end, all 180 of the massive books that had been given to the pilot were filled with stories and drawings and colored paintings and that collection is now called “The Decade of Peace”. In these modern times when so few people remember any time without war, they are much revered.

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