On a cold and stormy day a small sail boat overturns and a lone occupant falls into the wild and dangerous sea. With waves crashing over her, a woman struggles, desperate to keep her head above water. As time passes she finds herself growing weaker and less inclined to keep trying.
On the horizon another little boat faces down the storm to make its way toward the tiring swimmer. The boat arrives just as the woman is sinking beneath the waves. The rescuer reaches over the side of his boat and grabs the exhausted swimmer. The woman flails at her rescuer as if she doesn’t want his help. Grabbing the woman, he heaves her into the boat, secures her and covers her with a blanket. Only then does he take hold of both oars and begin the long hard journey back to shore.
The woman lies in the boat shivering with cold. She’s almost unconscious. Her rescuer shouts encouraging words to her over the roar of the wind. The rescuer knows how important it is to keep the woman from falling into a sleep from which she might never wake. His concern for her present well-being is equal to his effort to get her to the safety of shore.
As he rows, the rescuer looks at the sailboat overturned by the storm. He knows the make of the boat is seaworthy. He knows the boat came with a Manual that gives all the advice and instruction needed to weather any storm. The rescuer wonders why the boat overturned. He notices that the young woman isn’t wearing a life preserver. He wonders if she’s new to sailing. Whatever the case, the rescuer knows he must speak encouraging words to the young woman. He’ll question her later.
After a while the rescued woman begins to feel somewhat better. She sits up a little and raises her voice above the wind to thank her rescuer. It pleases the rescuer that his passenger doesn’t take his help for granted. As the woman thinks more about what happened, about what she’s lost, she begins to cry. As he rows the rescuer tries to encourage her.
When the storm becomes less fierce, from time to time the rescuer is able to stop rowing to rest. The young woman is now a little warmer and much less frightened. The Rescuer asks her questions about how and why she ended up in the water.
The young woman responds well to the questions. She admits that she’d neglected to service her boat as often as was needful. She also admits that she seldom read the Manual. Then, with a sign and a degree of humility, she confesses she neglected to take some of the basic precautions in case of a storm. After all, she went on, she’d been boating plenty of times before and was known as a capable and knowledgeable sailor.
The rescuer can see the scare of almost drowning has upset her greatly. For her sake the rescuer wants to know she feels bad enough to change her thinking and change her ways. He wonders if she is willing to gain understanding and prevent a repeat of this day’s averted tragedy. He asks he some more questions.
At first the woman submits to the questions because she is grateful her rescuer came to her assistance. However, when the rescuer persists in his line of questioning the woman becomes annoyed. He keeps asking her the same questions over and over again. Such as, why did she neglect to service her boat? Why did she neglect to read the Manual? Somewhat miffed the woman doesn’t believe her rescuer has the right to keep probing her so pointedly. He is making her feel as if the storm is her fault. After all, she admitted her mistake, said she was sorry and thanked him for rescuing her. What more does he want? She sniffs with annoyance at his insensitivity.
The rescuer realizes that his questions upset his passenger. Even so, he continues his line of questioning. He knows that she is sorry she almost drowned. He knows that she is sorry she caused him inconvenience. He knows even more so that she doesn’t understand at all why she neglected her boat. Without understanding she is bound to repeat this day over and over again. He knows she needs to understand the Manual applies to her, not just to others. Without such an understanding her future looks dim indeed, so the rescuer presses his passenger for answers.
The woman sits up straight, tilts her chin in defiance and looks with hostility at her rescuer. She tells him in no uncertain terms that his questioning is in serious breach of good manners. She remarks that his attitude toward her is one of criticism and condescension. She is not going to tolerate it any further. Coming to her aid does not give him the right to treat her with such disrespect. Now that she’s rested, if necessary she’ll swim to shore without his help.
The rescuer observes his passenger without further comment and continues rowing. The woman is uncomfortable in his presence, but, she no longer unhappy. He has stopped pressing her with the questions that hint at her mistakes and failings. For now she is willing to remain where she is. After all, she thinks to herself, no one is perfect, least of all her rescuer. His obvious lack of compassion is a flaw on his part. She feels bad enough about what happened – there is no need for him to make an issue of it. Oh, what an ordeal, she thinks, if only it could be over!
When the rescuer’s boat pulls up to the dock, everyone who saw the woman’s boat capsize rush over to help her. Strangers are even kindly and all offer help and sympathy. They pat the woman’s hand, listen to her complaints and offer her tea and cookies. The woman starts to feel better and smiles her approval, grateful for all their ministrations. She briefly turns to look back at her rescuer with a sharp disapproving look. Meaning, this is how people should treat each other. After which the woman turns again to praise and thank all the nice people for their caring ways.
The people on the dock help the woman up the ramp toward her warm and comfortable home. Much to her delight she notices that someone found her boat and towed it back to the harbor. She can again look forward to sailing over the bright blue waters she so loves. The woman thinks a moment of her rescuer, but, dismisses an impulse to invite him to go sailing with her. Why, he’d be such a bore always telling her what to do and how to do it. She grimaces at the thought. Without a another backward glance she walks away from her rescuer.
Watching the woman, the rescuer shakes his head and turns his boat around. He rows away, no longer needed or wanted. There comes a time when the rescuer is no longer found in these parts.