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A Story a Day #6: Isak Dinesen



February 11th, 2020

"The Sailor-Boy's Tale"

Isak Dinesen


As the title suggest, a sailor boy is out at sea. He notices a falcon caught in the mast's net and climbs up to release it. When the ship docks, he meets a young girl who catches his eye and agrees to meet her the next evening for a kiss. The next evening, a drunk Russian man tries to stop him from leaving and he stabs him to get away. He meets the girl and they kiss, but he is on the run from the people searching for the man who killed their friend. He takes refuge with this older woman who agrees to hide him. She cuts her thumb to when the other men arrive to make it look like the blood and knife are hers. She then reveals that she is the falcon that the boy saved on the ship from earlier and is repaying him for his good deed.


I have never heard of the Danish author before reading this story so it is always a pleasure to discover new authors. I am not totally familiar with sea narratives being that most of the things I read take place in the Midwest. However, it does remind me of the poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" which also details of a sailor and a bird. It appears that birds are a key symbol to sailors and their relationship with different types of birds can represent a variety of different themes and metaphors.


I thought this story was an interesting tale of karma because the boy receives helps because of his earlier good deed, but does not appear to be punished for the killing of a man. The story does not describe whether or not he eventually has consequences for that action or not.

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