The story describes the narrator walking along the beach early one morning in the pre-dawn twilight, when he sees a man picking up a starfish on the sand and throwing it into the sea. The narrator is observant and subtle, but skeptical. He has the last word, a pessimistic conclusion.
Excerpts from “The Star Thrower” by Loren Eiseley
“ In a pool of sand and silt a starfish had thrust its arms up stiffly and was holding its body away from the stifling mud.
“It’s still alive,” I ventured.
“Yes,” he said, and with a quick yet gentle movement he picked up the star and spun it over my head and far out into the sea. It sunk in a burst of spume, and the waters roared once more.
…”There are not many who come this far,” I said, groping in a sudden embarrassment for words. “Do you collect?”
“Only like this,” he said softly, gesturing amidst the wreckage of the shore. “And only for the living.” He stooped again, oblivious of my curiosity, and skipped another star neatly across the water. “The stars,” he said, “throw well. One can help them.”
…”I do not collect,” I said uncomfortably, the wind beating at my garments. “Neither the living nor the dead. I gave it up a long time ago. Death is the only successful collector.”