On a torn paper decal fastened to a weathered, rusting trunk, there are clues: British. And partial words that would be Cabin and Berth. In all likelihood its owner (owners, if we prefer a romantic story line) were going somewhere by ship. But there is no name, no FROM or TO penciled above Port of Landing.
We assume their trip was to be a very long one—the trunk is too formidable for anything less—and occurred many decades ago, for no one shepherds trunks like these now. When a negative thought intrudes—what if their voyage never happened, canceled by unfortunate circumstances?—it’s quickly discarded. This was real. And recalling our own recent adventures—listening to honest laughter passed around a table with sticky toffee pudding in a country pub, the civilised clinking of fine china and silverware meeting over tea in Bath, the songs of unfamiliar birds as we walked in Yorkshire and the Lakes, while cars passed on the wrong side of the road at every turn—we’re certain they had an unforgettable time together.
“Four hoarse blasts of a ship’s whistle still raise
the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping.”
—John Steinbeck, in Travels With Charley