There is a Bemelmans flavor to this story of a Dutch artist who devoted his life to providing for a future that would permit him to retire and become the kind of artist he envisioned. One is given the boyhood years of hope and passion and ambition when life as a seaman seemed meaningless unless he could also draw and paint... and then one is transferred to the goal of his dreams:- a houseboat planned to meet his every want, an anchorage on the Seine in the heart of Paris, and freedom to paint, in his declining years. And what happens? There is no longer life in his painting; it is dead and meaningless -- it says nothing. He thinks he can isolate himself, but the bums of the Paris riverbanks find him an easy target. Even a dog, frightened and bandaged, finds refuge on his boat. The story here rises to its climax- and the lonely disappointed seaman-turned-artist discovers a mission- to give the dog (a runaway from the Pasteur Institute) security and happiness for its final moments. There's a fantastic quality to the windup-and a postlude that brings a touch of happy ending to a life of frustration. Only once before -- in The Little Ark -did de Hartog blend fantasy and realism as he does here.