The old man hardly breathes and tastes blood in his mouth. He knows he had been defeated. Although more sharks come during the night to scrounge some of the leftovers, the old man does not care. He only concentrates on steering towards home. The skiff, still strong despite the long journey, sails well without the great weight beside it. He steers
into the current, and begins to see the lights on the beaches - it is only a matter of time before he reaches home. He thinks about what beat him: "Nothing," he said aloud. "I went out too far."
As he sailed into the harbor, the old man noticed that the small town was still asleep. He pulls the boat onto the shore, then takes down the mast, furls the sail, and ties them together. Shouldering the mast, he first feels the extent of his exhaustion. He falls to the ground under the weight of the mast, but eventually pulls himself back to his feet. Inside his shack, he leans the mast against the wall. After a drink from a bottle of water, he lies down on the bed, pulls the blanket over himself, and sleeps face down on the newspapers, with his arms straight and the palms of his hands up.
In the morning, the boy comes to the shack to find the old man still breathing. But the sight of his hands makes the boy cry and he runs down the road to get the old man some coffee. Many of the fishermen stood beside the skiff, looking at what was lashed beside it - the great fish measured eighteen feet from nose to tail. When the old man finally wakes, Manolin is at his side with the coffee. The boy informs the old man that they had searched for him with planes and the coast guard. He asks Santiago what he wants done with the great fish's head and spear, and the old man offers the spear to the boy, which he gladly accepts, and the head for sale. The boy says that they will fish together from now on, regardless of his parents' wishes. Although he says the boy should not fish with him because he has no luck, Santiago's first instructions are to make an unbreakable killing lance to have on board at all times to ward off sharks that defeated him. He tells the boy that he had spat something strange during the night and felt something broken in his chest. The boy promises to get medication for his hands and other ailments, as well as the papers from the time the old man was gone. After telling Santiago to get well fast so that he can learn everything from him, the boy leaves briefly to get food, crying again as he walks down the coral rock road.
Outside, two tourists spot the long white spine with a huge tail at the end from the Terrace and ask the waiter what it is. "Tiburon," the waiter said. "Eshark." But before he has a chance to explain what had happened, the woman turns to her male companion, saying that she did not know sharks had such beautifully formed tails. Up the road, the old man was sleeping again on his face, while the boy sat watching him. He was dreaming about the lions.
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