By Pat Boulton 

The gentle swish of water as it flowed down the river bumped Rory’s creaking bows against the side of the bank.

Poor old Rory rowboat was showing signs of wear and neglect, as it had been left tied to a post, for a long time. Now, it bumped up and down all day and every day by the side of the river.

Rory rowboat used to be a busy little boat; it would take people back and forth across the river, or take them for a ride along the river. Rory’s proud owner, a strong young man, would hold firmly onto two oars, and safely steer the boat.

As time went by, the strong young man stopped coming to see his rowboat, and he no longer used Rory to ferry people across or down the river.

It wasn’t long before Rory knew the reason why. All the people that Rory’s owner used to take for rides in the rowboat were now whizzing past in noisy big boats, which made the river swell as they came past, and almost turned Rory upside down many a time.

Rory felt sad and upset, to see that one of the big noisy motor boats was being steered, by none other than his owner, the big strong young man.

The strong young man was shouting over the noise of the engine, and pointing to Rory, telling his passengers, “You see that little wooden rowboat over there, I used to take people for rides in that, but its old now, and people much prefer to ride in the motor boats.”

SWOOSH, SWOOSH, went the water as it went past, covering Rory with water, making it sink and them pop up again. All the people on the big motor boat laughed at the sight of the little rowboat popping up out of the river.

Nobody is ever going to want to ride in me again, Rory, thought. I will just stay here and bob about in the water, until I just fall apart. Rory felt so sad, and unwanted.

Poor old Rory, the days and nights passed, and no one even looked at him as they walked along the river bank. The constant banging on the side of the river bank was breaking up the little wooden rowboat, and big holes were beginning to appear.

Then, one day, just as Rory was beginning to think that he would soon break up and sink to the bottom of the river, he heard a child’s voice. “Dad, come and look at this little boat,” a young boy shouted. The young boy’s dad came running over to where the boy was standing and took hold of his arm. “Come back from the edge of the river bank, or you will fall into the river.” “But look, dad,” Rory said, pointing to the side of the little boat. “The little boat has my name painted on the side of it. LOOK, LOOK, dad, can you see the name Rory?” “So it has,” answered his dad, sounding as surprised as the little boy. “I wish it was my little boat,” the little boy Rory, said longingly.

Rory and his dad both stood in silence for a while. Rory wishing he could own the little boat, and his dad, wondered why someone could leave the boat to fall apart in the river, and not take care of it. “I won’t make any promises, but, I will try and find out who owns the rowing boat, and why it has been left in the water to rot away.”

Rory’s dad patted his son’s head, and suggested they make their way home. Rory’s dad made endless phone calls, trying to find out who owned ‘Rory, the little old rowboat’, but in the end Rory had to go to bed, still not knowing who the owner was. The next morning, Rory was up early, and raced down the stairs, to find out if his dad had found the owner, only to find that his dad had already left for work. As he made his way into the kitchen for his breakfast, his mum called out that there was a note for him on the kitchen table. It was his dad’s writing. It read, in big letters. HAVE FOUND THE OWNER, GOING TO SEE HIM AFTER WORK. It seemed a very long day, until his dad came home from work. At long last, Rory heard his dad’s key turn in the door and he ran to meet him.

The glum look on his dad’s face didn’t look very promising, but, before Rory had a chance to say anything, his dad suddenly gave a big smile, and said, “Rory the little rowboat is ours now. The owner doesn’t want the little boat anymore.” The next few weeks were so busy for Rory and his dad. They first had to get help to take the little old rowboat out of the water, and find a dry place to do all the repairs and paint the boat, making sure that the name RORY, was painted again in bright colours on the side of the boat.

At long last ‘Rory the little old rowboat’, was ready to go back into the water on the river. It wasn’t long before they were taking passengers across the river, and on trips up and down the river. There wasn’t just one Rory, who was happy, but two Rorys, because ‘Rory the little rowboat’, was very happy too. The little boat had a new owner, who would look after it now.