“I wonder what Shem, Ham and Japheth are doing today? We never see much of them now. How many sons has Japheth now; seven at last count! And four boys for Ham? And Shem's hands are full with his five. All making a fresh start since the flood...
“How do you top an act like we’ve been through? All those animals, birds and insects stacked into the ark, with room for exercise and food storage. It was amazing how God led us through that whole experience, though I still can’t work our why he wouldn’t let me knock off those flies and mosquitoes. Surely I’d have another place in history as a great benefactor if I’d managed that one; but life sure is quiet…”
Noah was frustrated. He’d always been ahead of his time. It wasn’t raining when God told him the ark; in fact nobody then knew what rain was. Over the hundred years the job had taken him he’d heard all the Noah jokes. He chuckled ashe recalled the satirical interview with somebody claiming to be from Who’s Zoo? And animal rights activists had protested about his corralling animals together, away from their natural habitat.
Where were the jokers and the activists now? They had surely discovered the limits of their ability to tread water…
But that was then and this is now, he thought. Some wags might later say: “That Noah, he was the greatest businessman in history; you know he floated his company while the rest of the world was in liquidation!” But how do get over your peak, when you feel well enough to live for another three hundred years or more?
Suddenly he snapped his fingers and leapt out of his chair. ”I’ve got it!” he shouted to his wife. “What an opportunity; and I’d never realised how simple it could be!” She gaped as he ran out into the ark, and quickly re-emerged with his ax and his saw.
He was gone for the rest of the day, and for all the next. In fact Mrs Noah hardly saw him except for a rushed breakfast and a late supper each day for a month. “He’s looking fitter than most men would be at six hundred; it must be all that exercise. But he’s a good man, and way ahead of his time,” she reassured herself, as the house stayed emptier – and quieter - than she could have ever expected.
The quietness evaporated late one afternoon, as Noah returned with several groaning oxen and braying asses harnessed together, pulling a mountain of branches. From then on, Noah returned several times a day with these beasts loaded almost beyond their endurance-level.
Noah started trimming the branches and gathering the scraps for firewood, with the biggest hunks heaped up into a bonfire and, before another month was out, he had amassed a huge stack of neatly-dressed lumber.
“I won’t ask,” she thought, “because he’s always ahead of his time.” But she was still curious, as now Noah began taking the lumber into the ark, where any quietness was shattered by constant sawing and hammering. Finally, when the stack was gone, he invited her inside to see his handiwork.
She was amazed to see that there were now more than twenty decks in place of the original three, and she dared to ask why. He swept past that question and countered with one of his own: “Remember how it kept all that water out?”
“Yes,” she replied, “and I remember the smells as well!”
“Well now it’s going to keep a lot of water in!”
He started diverting local streams and still-undrained flood waters, which he collected and syphoned into the ark; until several weeks later they could hear the water lapping at the top deck. “One more thing, and we’ll be set up for life!” he declared.
He invited his sons and their sons for a special man-to-man bonding time: carp-fishing. For another three weeks the nest was no longer empty, as each day’s catch of carp was tipped into the ark.
Noah kept his secret from his family, and it died with him. For tragically no-one placed any orders with him; yet again he was too far ahead of his time.
In fact, it was only last century that everyone realised that he had built the world’s first multi-level carp ark!
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