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Title: At the Black Rocks
Author: Rand, Edward A. (Edward Augustus), 1837-1903
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "At the Black Rocks" ***

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[Illustration: Cover]



[Illustration: "’Shove hard, but sing easy.’"  _Page 33_]



                           AT THE BLACK ROCKS


                         BY REV. EDWARD A. RAND



                           LONDON, EDINBURGH,
                          DUBLIN, AND NEW YORK
                             THOMAS NELSON
                                AND SONS



                                CONTENTS

      I. Was he worth Saving?
     II. Caught on the Bar
    III. Did the Schooner come back?
     IV. What was he here for?
      V. The Lighthouse
     VI. Fog
    VII. The Camp at the Nub
   VIII. Visitors
     IX. That open Book
      X. The Christmas Gift
     XI. At Shipton again
    XII. On which side Victory?
   XIII. What to do next
    XIV. Guests at the Lighthouse
     XV. The Storm Gathering
    XVI. The Storm Striking
   XVII. Thomas Trafton, Detective
  XVIII. Into a Trap
    XIX. A Place to Stop



                          AT THE BLACK ROCKS.



                                   I.

                         _WAS HE WORTH SAVING?_


"I might try," squeaked a diminutive boy, whose dark eyes had an
unfortunate twist.

"Ye-s-s, Bartie," said his grandmother doubtfully, looking out of the
window upon the water wrinkled by the rising wind.

"Wouldn’t be much wuss," observed Bartholomew’s grandfather, leaning
forward in his old red arm-chair and steadily eying a failing fire as if
arguing this matter with the embers.  Then he added, "You could take the
small boat."

"Yes," said Bart eagerly.  "I could scull, you know; and if the doctor
wasn’t there when I got there, I could tell ’em you didn’t feel well,
and he might come when he could."

"That will do, if he don’t put it off too long," observed the old man,
shaking his head at the fire as if the two had now settled the matter
between them. "Yes, you might try."

Bartie now went out to try.  Very soon he wished he had not made the
trial.  Granny Trafton saw him step into the small boat moored by the
shore, and then his wiry little arms began to work an oar in the stern
of the boat.  "Gran’sir Trafton," as he was called, came also to the
window, and looked out upon the diminutive figure wriggling in the
little boat.

"He will get back in an hour," observed Gran’sir Trafton.

"Ought to be," said Granny Trafton.

It is a wonder that Bartie ever came back at all. He was the very boy to
meet with some kind of an accident.  Somehow mishaps came to him
readily.  If any boy had a tumble, it was likely to be Bartie Trafton.
If measles slyly stole into town to be caught by somebody, Bartie
Trafton was sure to be one catcher. In a home that was cramped by
poverty--his father at sea the greater fraction of the time, and the
other fraction at home drunk--this under-sized, timid, shrinking boy
seemed as continually destined for trouble as the Hudson for the sea.

"I don’t amount to much," was an idea that burdened his small brain, and
the community agreed with him.  If the public had seen him sculling
Gran’sir Trafton’s small boat that day, it would have prophesied ill
before very long.  The public just then and there upon the river was
very limited in quantity.  It consisted of two fishermen wearily pulling
against tide a boat-load of dried cod-fish, a boy fishing from a rock
that projected boldly and heavily into the water, and several boys
playing on the deck of an old schooner which was anchored off the shore,
and had been reached by means of a raft.

The fishermen pulled wearily on.  The boys on the schooner deck ran and
shouted at their play.  The young fisherman’s line dangled down from the
crown of the big shore-rock.  The small sculler out in Gran’sir
Trafton’s small boat busily worked his oar.  Bart did not see a black
spar-buoy thrusting its big arm out of the water, held up as a kind of
menace, in the very course Bart was taking.  How could Bart see it?  His
face was turned up river, and the buoy was in the very opposite quarter,
not more than twenty feet from the bow of the boat Bart was working
forward with all his small amount of muscle.  A person is not likely to
see through the back of his head.  Closer came the boat to the buoy.
Did not its ugly black arm, amid the green, swirling water, tremble as
if making an angry, violent threat?  Who was this small boy invading the
neighbourhood where the buoy reigned as if an outstretched sceptre?  On
sculled innocent Bartholomew, the threatening arm shaking violently in
his very pathway, and suddenly--whack-k!  The boat struck, threatened to
upset, and did upset--Bart!  He could swim.  After all the unlucky falls
he had had into the water, it would have been strange if he had not
learned something about this element; but he had reached a place in the
river where the out-going current ran with strength, and took one not
landward but seaward.  How long could he keep above water--that timid,
shrinking face appealing for pity to every spectator?  The boys on the
deck of the old schooner soon saw the empty dory floating past, and they
now caught also the cry for help from the pitiful face of the panting
swimmer--a cry that amid their loud play they had not heard before.

"O Dick," said one of the younger boys, "there’s a fellow overboard, and
there’s his boat!  Quick!"

At this sharp warning every one looked up.  Then they rushed to the
schooner’s rail and looked over. Yes: there was the white face in the
water; there was the drifting boat.

The boy addressed as Dick was the leader of the party.  His black,
staring eyes, and his profusion of black, curly hair, would have
attracted attention anywhere.  His eyes now sparkled anew, and he tossed
back his bushy curls, exclaiming,--

"Boys, to the rescue!  Attention!  Man the _Great Emperor_."

"Throw this rope," was a suggestion made by another boy, seizing a rope
lying on the deck.  A rope did not move Dick’s imagination so powerfully
as the _Great Emperor_.  The rope was not nearly so daring as the raft,
though it would have given speedy and sufficient help.

"To the rescue!" rang out Dick’s voice.  "Not in a rush!  Ho, there!
Orderly, men!"

Strutting forward with a blustering air, Dick led his rescue-band to the
_Great Emperor_, which at the impulse of every rocking little wave
thumped against the schooner’s hull.  The band of rescuers went down
upon the raft with more of a tumble than was agreeable to Captain Dick
of the _Great Emperor_.  Dick concluded that there was too much of a
crew to dexterously manage the raft in the swift voyage that must now be
made.  Several would-be heroes were sent back disappointed to the
schooner, and they proceeded, when too late, to cast the rope which had
been ignominiously spurned.  It splashed the water in vain. Bartie tried
to reach it; but it was like Tantalus in the fable striving to pluck the
grapes beyond his grasp.

"Cast off!" Dick was now shouting excitedly, pompously.  "Pull with a
will for the shipwrecked mariner!" was his second order.

This meant to use two poles in poling and paddling, as might be more
advantageous.

In the meantime the boy fisherman on the rock had been operating
energetically though quietly.  He had seen the catastrophe, and had not
ceased to watch the little fellow who was struggling with the current
somewhere between the schooner and the shore.  Bartie had aimed to reach
the shore, and the distance was not great; but just in this place the
current ran with swiftness and power, and the little fellow’s strength
was failing him.  He had given several shrieks for help, but it seemed
as if he had been doing that thing all through life; and as the world
outside of gran’sir and granny had not paid much attention to his
appeals, would the world do it now?  Bart had almost come to the
conclusion that it would be easier to sink than to struggle, when he
heard a noise in the water and close at hand.  Was it the _Great
Emperor_?  No; its deck was still the scene of an impressive
demonstration of getting ready to do something.  The noise heard by Bart
had been made by the boy fisherman, who, stripping off his jacket,
kicking off his boots, and sending his stockings after them, had thrown
himself into the water, and was making energetic headway toward Bart.
It was good swimming--that of some one who had both skill and strength
on his side.

"Bartie!" he shouted.

What a world of hope opened before Bartie at the sound of that voice!

"Here!  here!  Put your hands on my shoulders, not round my neck, you
know.  There! that is it. Now swim.  We’ll fetch her."

Fetch what?  It was a pretty difficult thing to say definitely what that
indefinite "her" might mean. The current was still strong.  Bart’s
rescuer, if alone, could have gained the shore again; but could he bring
the rescued?  Bart’s face, pitiful and pale, projected just above the
water, and as his wet hair fell back upon his forehead his countenance
looked like that of a half-drowned kitten.

A third party on the river, that of the fishermen in their cod-laden
boat moving slowly up river and hugging the shore for the sake of help
from the eddies, had now become conscious that something was going on.

"What’s that a-hollerin’?" asked one of the men, Dan Eaton, reversing
his head.

"Trouble enough!" exclaimed Bill Bagley, who had also taken a look
ahead.  "Pull, Bill!"

"Put for them two boys, Dan! one is a-helpin’ t’other."

The boat began to advance as if the dead cod-fish had become live ones
and were lending their strength to the oarsmen.

"Good!" thought the rescuer in the water, who saw between him and the
far-off, level, misty sky-line a boat and the backs of two fishermen.
"Hold on there!" he said encouragingly to Bartie; "there’s a boat
coming!"

The help did not arrive any too soon.  Bartie’s hands were resting
lightly on his rescuer’s shoulders, and he was arguing if he could not
throw his arms around the neck of his beloved object, whether it might
not be well to relinquish his feeble, tired hold altogether, and drop
back into the soft, yielding depths of the water all about him; such an
easy bed to lie down in!  Life had given him so many hard berths.  This
seemed a relief.

"Ho, there you are!" shouted Dan, as the boat came up.  He seized
Bartie, while Bill Bagley gripped the other boy, and both Bartie and his
companion were hauled into the boat, rather roughly, and somewhat after
the fashion of cod-fish, but effectually.

"Now, Dan, let us pull for that cove and land our cargo!" said Bill.
"You boys can walk home?  We have got to go to the other side and take
our fish to town."

"Oh yes," said the rescuer.

"I--I--can--walk!" exclaimed the shivering Bartie.

"Ah, youngster, you came pretty near not walking ag’in if it hadn’t been
for t’other chap."

This made Bartie feel at first very sober, and then he looked very
grateful as he turned toward his rescuers and said,--

"I--thank--you all.  I--I--I’ll do as--much for you--some time."

"Will ye?" replied Bill Bagley with a grin.  "Really, I hope we shan’t
be in that fix where you’ll have to."

"See there!" exclaimed Dan.  "There’s the boat adrift!"

The Trafton boat was leisurely floating down the stream.  Bart had
forgotten all about this craft.  A frightened look shadowed his face.

"Don’t you worry, Johnny!" said Bill Bagley kindly. "We will land you,
and then go a’ter your craft."

"But I promised gran’sir to go for the doctor."

"Dr. Peters?"

"Yes."

"Wall, Dan and I are goin’ near the old man’s, and we’ll send him
over.--Won’t we, Dan?"

"And I’ll bring your boat up to your landing," said his young rescuer to
Bart.  "So you go right home and get warm and don’t worry."

A thankful look, like sunshine out of a dark cloud, broke out of Bart’s
black eyes, and he shrank closer to the sympathetic breast on which he
leaned.

"I’ll do as much for you," he whispered to the boy fisherman.

"That’s all right, Bartie," replied his rescuer.

"See here!" now inquired Dan.  "What are those spoonies up to?  Where
are they a-goin’, I wonder, on that raft?  To Afriky?"

"Guess that craft’s got to be picked up too.  She’s a-makin’ for the sea
in spite of all their polin’," said Bill.

The _Great Emperor_ was indeed moving seaward. Captain Dick was
frantically ordering his crew to "pull her round;" but like sovereigns
generally, the _Great Emperor_ had a mind of its own, and would not be
"pulled round."  Deliberately the raft was making headway for the open
sea, and possibly "Afriky."  It might be a conspiracy on the part of
wind and tide to aid in this wilful attempt of the raft; but if a
conspiracy, it was no secret.  The tide was openly pressing against the
raft with its broad blue shoulders, and the wind openly blew against the
boys, as if they were so much canvas spread for its filling.

"What you up to, fellers?" shouted Dick to Dab and John Richards, who
managed one of the poles. "Bring her round and head her for the shore!"

"We can’t," said John pettishly.

"Can’t!" replied Dick in scorn.  "Why can’t you? Tell me!  Then we will
spend the night on the sea.--  You pull, Jimmy."

"Can’t!" said Jimmy Davis nervously.  "She--she--won’t turn--and--"

Here his pole slipped out of its hole and down he tumbled on the raft,
his pole falling into the water.

[Illustration: "Down he tumbled on the raft, his pole falling into the
water."  _Page 16_]

"Oh dear!" shrieked Dick.  "What a set!  There goes that oar!  Reach
after it, Dab!"

Dab already was beating the water furiously with his pole in his efforts
to reach that "oar" now adrift. It was all in vain.  The conspiracy to
take them all to sea and there let them spend the chilly night had
spread to the very equipments of the _Great Emperor_.

"Catch me on a raft ag’in!" whimpered John Richards.

"Catch me on one with you!" replied Dick fiercely. "Might have got that
boy if you had pulled, and now those other folks have got him."

"’Those other folks’ are coming after us!" observed Dab Richards.

"Oh dear!" groaned the humiliated Dick.  "Make believe pull up river."

"I won’t!" said John Richards.

"Pull so that they may think that we don’t need them.  Now!" urged Dick.

"I won’t!" declared Dab.

Jimmy Davis also was going to say, "I won’t;" but he remembered that his
pole was in the water, and refrained.  He looked rebellious, though he
said nothing.

There was now not only a conspiracy among the elements, but a mutiny
among the crew.  Dick sulked.

"Let her drift!" he said.  "I don’t care!"

"She won’t drift long!" remarked Dab sarcastically. "The _Great
Emperor_, that started to pick up somebody, is now going to be picked up
by somebody."

Yes, the fishermen were pulling out from the shore. They picked up the
boat, attached it to their own craft, and then laboriously rowed for the
vessel in the hands of conspirators without and mutineers within.

"Where you chaps bound?" shouted Dan.

"Bound for the bottom of the sea," said Dick grimly.

"We’ll stave that off," said Bill.  "Here, take this rope!  Now, we must
try to git you ashore."

It was rather a queer tug-boat that did the towing---a fisherman’s dory
in which, sandwich fashion, alternated piles of codfish and oarsmen
rowing; Bill, Dan, and Bart’s rescuer.  It was a singular fleet also
that was towed ashore--the _Great Emperor_ and Gran’sir Trafton’s boat.

"Who is that boy rowing with those fishermen?" wondered Dick.  "Can it
be--"

Then he concluded it could not be.

Again he guessed.  "Must be--"

Then he declared it was somebody else.

Finally, when this strange fleet had been beached, Dick shouted out,
"That you, Dave Fletcher?"

"Nobody else," answered Bart’s rescuer, advancing. "I have been nodding
to you, but I guess you didn’t know who it was; and I don’t wonder--the
way I look after my bath.  Haven’t got on the whole of my rig yet.  How
is Dick Pray?"

The two shook hands warmly.

"I haven’t seen you for some time, Dave.  I have been from home a while,
going to school and so on. I am stopping at my cousin’s, Sam Whittles,
just now."

"And I have been here only a few days, visiting at my uncle’s, Ferguson
Berry."

"All right.  We will see each other again then. I’ll leave the old raft
here and come for it when the tide is going up river."

"And I am going to get the doctor.  Oh no, come to think of it, these
men will get him for that little fellow’s folks--the one we picked up,
you know."

"We?  You, rather.  You did first-rate.  Well, who was that little
shaver?"

"I heard somebody call him Bartie.  That’s for Bartholomew, I guess."

"Oh, it’s ’Mew,’" explained Dab.  "Bartholo*mew*; and they say ’Mew’ for
short--’Little Mew.’"

"His face looked like a kitten’s there in the water," said Dick, "and he
mewed pitifully.  I’ve heard of him.  Sort of a slim thing.  Well, may
sound sort of heartless, but I guess some folks would say he is hardly
worth the saving.  Oh, you’re off, are you?"

"Yes," said one of the two fishermen who were now pushing their boat off
from shore.  "We must get to town with our fish as soon as we can."

"Well, friends, I am much obliged to you," said Dick Pray.

"So am I! so am I!" said several others.

"Count me in too," exclaimed Dave Fletcher. "Might not have been here
without you.--Give ’em three cheers, boys!"

Amid the huzzahs echoing over the waters, the fishermen, smiling and
bowing, rowed off.

"Many thanks, boys, if you will help me to turn Bart’s boat over and get
the water out.  I must row it up to the rock where the rest of my
clothes are, and then we might all go along together.  We can pick up
the fellows on the schooner."

The remnant of Captain Dick’s crew on board the schooner gladly
abandoned it when Gran’sir Trafton’s boat came along, and all journeyed
in company up the river.

And where was Little Mew?  He went home only to be scolded by gran’sir
because he had not brought the doctor, and because he had somehow got
into the water somewhere.  Granny was not at home, and Little Mew dared
not tell the whole story.  He was sent upstairs to change his clothes
and stay there till granny got home.

"Gran’sir don’t know I haven’t got another shift," whined Little Mew.
"Got to get these wet things off, anyhow."

He removed them and then crept into bed.  It was dark when granny
returned.

From the window at the head of his bed Bartie watched the sun go down,
and then he saw the white stars come into the sky.

About that time the evening breeze began to breathe heavily; and was
that the reason why the stars, blossom-like, opened their fair, delicate
petals, even as they say the wind-flowers of spring open when the wind
begins to blow?

"They don’t seem to amount to much--just like me," thought Bartie; and
having thus come into harmony with the world’s opinion of himself, he
closed his eyes, like an anemone shutting its petals, and went to sleep.

Don’t stars amount to much?  They would be missed if, some night, people
looking up should learn that they had gone for ever.

And granny coming home, having learned elsewhere the full story of
Little Mew’s exposure to an awful peril, went upstairs, and, candle in
hand, looked down on the motherless child in bed fast asleep.

"Poor little boy!" she murmured.  "I should miss him if he was gone.
Yes, I should terribly."

She wiped her eyes, and then tucked up Bartie for the night.



                                  II.

                          _CAUGHT ON THE BAR._


Dave Fletcher and Dick Pray were boys who had grown up in the same town,
but from the same soil had come two very different productions. They
were unlike in their personal appearance.  Dick Pray would come down the
street throwing his head to right and left, scattering sharp, eager
glances from his restless black eyes, and swinging his hands.

"Somebody is coming," people would be very likely to say.

Dave Fletcher had a quiet, unobtrusive, straight-forward way of walking.
Dick was quite a handsome youth; but the person that Dave Fletcher saw
in the glass was ordinary in feature, with pleasant, honest eyes of
blue, and hair--was it brown or black?

Dave sometimes wished it were browner or blacker, and not "a
go-between," as he had told his mother.

Dave and Dick were not as yet trying to make their own way; but they
were between fifteen and sixteen, and knew that they must soon be
stirring for themselves.

They had already begun to intimate how they would stir in after life.

Dave had a quiet, resolute way.  There was no pretence or bluster in his
methods.  In a modest but manly fashion he went ahead and did the thing
while Dick was talking about it, and perhaps magnifying its difficulty,
that inferentially his courage and pluck in attempting it might be
magnified.  Dick’s way of strutting down-street illustrated his methods
and manners.  There was a great deal of bluster in him. Nobody was more
daring than he in his purposes, but for the quiet doing of the thing
that Dick dared, Dave was the boy.  Somehow Dick had received the idea
that the world is to be carried by a display of strength rather than its
actual use; that men must be impressed by brag and noise.  Thus
overpowered by a sensational manifestation they would be plastic to your
hands, whatever you might wish to mould them into.  Dick did not
hesitate to attack any fort, scale any mountain, or cross any sea--with
his tongue. When it came to the using of some other kind of motive
power--legs for instance--he might be readily outstripped by another.
Among the boys at Shipton he had made quite a stir at first.  His
bluster and brag made a sensation, until the boys began to find out that
it was often wind and not substance in Dick’s bragging; and they were
now estimating him at his true value.  Dave Fletcher was little known to
any of them save small Bartholomew Trafton; but Dave’s modest, efficient
style of action they had seen in the saving of Little Mew, and they were
destined to witness it in another impending catastrophe.

"Uncle Ferguson, who owns that old schooner off in the river?" asked
Dave one day, as he was eating his way through a generous pile of Aunt
Nancy’s fritters.  It was the craft to which had been tied the _Great
Emperor_.

"Why, David?"

"Because some of us boys want to go there and stay a night or two.  We
take our provisions with us, and each one a couple of blankets, and so
on, and we can be as comfortable on the schooner as can be. Would you
and Aunt Nancy mind if we went?"

"Mind if you went?  No; I don’t know as I do.--What do you say, Nancy?"

Uncle Ferguson was a middle-aged man, with ruddy complexion and two blue
eyes that almost shut and then twinkled like stars when he looked at
you.

Aunt Nancy was a plain, sober woman, with sharp, thin features, and
bleached eyes of blue.

"Don’t know as I mind," declared Aunt Nancy. "If you don’t git into the
water and drown, you know."

"Oh, that’s all right," said the nephew.

"Only you must see the owner of the schooner," advised the uncle.

"The owner?"

"Yes; Squire Sylvester.  He is very particular about anything he owns."

"Oh, I didn’t know the thing had an owner," said Dave, laughing.  "It
seems to lie there in the stream doing nothing.  The boys didn’t say
anything about an owner."

"Squire Sylvester is very particular," asserted Uncle Ferguson.  "He got
his property hard, and looks after it."

"Yes, he is very pertickerler," added Aunt Nancy.

"Well, we will see him by all means.  We boys--"

"Didn’t think; that is it, David.  Now, when I was a boy we always asked
about things," said Uncle Ferguson.

"Well, husband, boys is boys, in them days and these days.  I remember
your mother used to say her five boys used to cut up and--"

"Well," replied Uncle Ferguson, rising from the table, "this won’t feed
the cows; and I must be a-goin’.  I would see Sylvester, David."

"All right, uncle."

Dave announced his intention to Dick half-an-hour later.

"Well, go, if you want to.  We fellows were not going to say anything to
anybody.  Who would be the wiser?  The thing lies in the river, knocking
around in the tide, and seems to say, ’Come and use me, anybody that
wants to.’"

"If we owned the schooner we would prefer to have it asked for, if she
was going to be turned into a boarding-house for a day or two."

"I suppose it would be safer to ask.  If we didn’t ask, and the owner
should come down the river sailing and see us, wouldn’t there be music?"

"We will save the music, Dick.  I will just ask him."

As Dave neared Squire Sylvester’s office he could see that individual
through the window.  He was a man about fifty years old, his features
expressing much force of character, his sharp brown eyes looking very
intently at any one with whom he might be conversing.  Dave hesitated at
the door a moment, and then summoning courage he lifted the latch of the
office door and entered.

"Good-day, sir."

The squire nodded his head abruptly and then sharply eyed the boy before
him.

"We boys, sir--"

"Who are you?" asked the squire curtly.

"David Fletcher.  I am visiting at my uncle’s, Ferguson Berry."

"Humph!  Yes, I know him."

"We boys, sir, wanted to know if you would let us--"

"What boys?"

"Oh, Jimmy Davis, John Richards--"

"I know those."

"Dick Pray---"

"Pray?"

"He is visiting his cousin, Samuel Whittles."

"Oh yes; I’ve seen him in the post-office.  Curly-haired boy; struts as
if he owned all Shipton."

"Just so."

"Well?"

"John Richards’s brother--that is all.  We want to know if you will let
us stay out in the old schooner for a while.  We will try to be
particular and not harm the vessel."

"How long shall you want to be gone?"

"Oh, two or three days and nights."

"Humph!  Well, you can’t have any fire on board. Got a boat?"

"Yes, sir."

"Of course, for you can’t wade out to her.  Put it out there on purpose
so folks couldn’t paddle and wade out to her, such as tramps, you know.
Well, if you have a boat you can cook on shore."

"Yes, sir."

"You may have a lantern at night.  No objection to that."

"We will remember."

"All right, then."

"Oh, thank you!  Good-day, sir."

"Good-day."

The squire’s sharp brown eyes followed Dave as he went out of the door,
and then watched him as he tripped down the street laughing and
whistling.

"Like all young chaps--full of fun.  Rather like that boy."

Dave announced the result of the conference to several boys anxiously
waiting for him round the corner.

"Got it?" asked Dick Pray.

"Yes; tell us what he said," inquired Dab Richards.

The boys pressed eagerly up to Dave, who announced the successful issue
of his application.  A burden of painful anxiety dropped from each pair
of shoulders, and the boys separated to collect their "traps," promising
to meet at Long Wharf, where a boat awaited them.  Did ever any craft
make a happier, more successful voyage, when the boat received its load
two hours later and was then pushed off?

"Everything splendid, boys!" said Dick.  "Won’t we have a time while we
are gone, and won’t we come back in triumph?"

The return!  How little any of the party anticipated the kind of return
that would end their adventure!

"There’s the schooner!" shouted Dave.  "I can read her name on the
stern--_RELENTLESS_.  Letters somewhat dim."

"She is anchored good," said Dab Richards.  "Got her cable out."

"Anchor at the bottom of it, I suppose," conjectured Jimmy Davis.

"We will find out, boys, won’t we?  We will just hoist her a bit, as the
sailors say, and see what she carries," said Dick, in a low tone.

"Nonsense!" said Dave.  "Sylvester has our word for good behaviour."

"Oh, don’t you worry!" said Dick, in a jesting tone.  "Let’s see!  Shall
we make our boat fast round there?  Where shall it be?"

The best mooring was found for the boat, and then a ladder with hooks on
one end was attached to the vessel’s rail, and up sprang the boys
eagerly.

The _Relentless_ was an old fishing-schooner.  She had been stripped of
her canvas, and portions of her rigging had been removed.  There were
the masts, though, still to suggest those trips to distant
fishing-grounds, when the winds had filled the canvas and sent the
_Relentless_ like an arrow shot from one curving billow to another.
There was the galley, empty now of its stove, and showing to any
investigator only a rusty pan in one corner; but the wind humming round
its bit of rusty funnel told a story of many a savoury dish cooked for a
hardy, hungry crew.  And the little cabin, so still now, save when a
hungry rat softly scampered across its floor, had been a good corner of
retreat to many when heavy seas wet the deck on stormy nights and sent
the spray flying up into the rigging.

The boys transferred their cargo of bedding and eatables to the deck,
and then scattered to ramble through the cabin or descend into the dark,
musty hold.  They came together again, and lugged their baggage into the
cabin, save the dishes and eatables, which were stowed away on shelves.

"This is just splendid, Dick!" declared Dave, leaning over the vessel’s
rail.  "It is going to sea without having the fuss of it."

"That’s so, Dave.  You don’t have any sea-sickness, any blistering your
hands with handling ropes, any taking in sail--"

"Oh, it’s huge, Dick.  Now you want to divide up the work."

"Not going to have any; all going to have a good time."

"But who’s going to cook, and bring water, and--"

"Oh, I see!  Forgot that."

A division of work was finally pronounced sensible. Dave became "cook,"
Jimmy Davis was elected "water-boy," Dick took charge of the sleeping
arrangements, and the brothers Richards were constituted table-waiters
and dish-washers--"without pay," Dave prudently added.  All that day, up
to twilight, life in the old fishing-schooner was smooth and happy as
the music of a marriage-bell.  Dave’s cooking was adjudged "splendid,"
and between meals there were spells of story-telling, of games like
hide-and-seek about the ancient hull, and of fishing from the deck,
though there sometimes seemed to be more fishermen than fish.

At twilight most of the boys were seated in the stern of the vessel,
looking out to sea and watching the light fade out of the heavens and
the warm sunset glow steal away from the waters.

"There’s the light starting up in the lighthouse near the bar," said Dab
Richards.

Yes, Toby Tolman, keeper of the light at the harbour’s mouth, and not
far from a dangerous bar, ever changing and yet never going, had kindled
a star in the tall lantern as the western clouds dropped their gay
extinguisher on the sun’s dwindling candle. Between the boys and the
outside, dusky surface of ocean water stretched a line of whitest foam,
where the waves broke on the bar.

"Getting chilly," said Dave.  "Hadn’t we better go into the cabin and
light our lantern?"

"Guess Dick is looking after that," said Jimmy.

No; Dick was looking after--meddling, rather, with something else.  He
had whispered to John Richards, "Come here, John," and then led him to
the bow of the vessel.

"See here, Johnny."

"What is it, Dick?"

"Wouldn’t it be nice to see this old ark move?"

"Move! what for?"

"Oh, I’ve got tired of seeing it in one place."

"Why, what do you mean?  How?"

"Why, just have it go on a little voyage, you know."

"Voyage?"

"You booby, can’t you understand?"

"Understand?  No," replied John good-naturedly. "Don’t see how we can
have a voyage without sails, and the masts are bare as bean-poles when
there ain’t any beans on ’em."

"Oh, you’re thick-headed.  Don’t you see this anchor?"

"Don’t see any.  I suppose there is one somewhere--covered up, you know,
down on the bed of the river."

"Only water covers it, and it could be raised, and we could have a sail
without any sails."

"Come on!" said John, who was the very boy for any kind of an adventure.
"But," he prudently added, "how could we stop?"

"Drop the anchor again.  Why, we could stop any time."

"So we could."

"We could sail, say a hundred feet to-night--tide would drift us
down--and then we could drop anchor; and to-morrow, when the tide ran up
river, we could sail back again and drop anchor, just where we were
before."

"We could keep a-going, couldn’t we, Dickie?"

"Certainly.  I don’t know but we could go quarter of a mile and then
back again.  We should have, of course, to go with the tide; but the
anchor would regulate us."

"So we could.  Just the thing.  Let’s try it. Shall I tell the fellers?"

"No; let’s surprise ’em."

"But they’ll hear us."

"No; they are quarrelling about something, and they won’t notice
anything we do here."

"But how can you manage the anchor?"

"Raise it."

"But how raise it?"

"Johnny, I believe you have lost your mind since coming here.  What is
this I have got my hand on?"

"The capstan."

Dick here laid his hand on a battered old capstan, around which how many
hardy seamen had tramped singing "Reuben Ranzo" or some other roaring
song of the sea.

"Don’t you know how this works?"

"Not exactly."

"I will tell you.  You see this bar?"

Dick with his foot kicked a battered but stout bar lying at the foot of
the capstan.

"There! one end of the cable to which the anchor is hitched goes round
this capstan, you see.  Now, if I stick this bar into that hole in the
capstan and shove her round--I mean the bar--the capstan will go round
too, and that will wind up that cable and draw on the anchor.  Don’t you
see?"

"Yes, I see."

"Well, now we are ready.  I will sing something like real sailors."

"The boys will hear us."

"No: they are fighting away; they won’t notice."

It was a tongue-fight, but that may be as absorbing as a fist-fight.

"You know ’Reuben Ranzo’?"

"Yes."

"Well, sing in a whisper and pull."

The bar was inserted into the capstan, and the boys, as they shoved on
the bar, sang softly,--

    "O poor Reuben Ranzo!
    Ranzo, boys, Ranzo!"


"That’s the chorus, Johnny.  Sing the other part. Shove hard but sing
easy."

    "Oh, Reuben was no sailor.
    _Chorus_--O poor Reuben Ranzo!
    Ranzo, boys, Ranzo!
    O poor Reuben Ranzo!
    Ranzo, boys, Ranzo!"


"Sing another verse, Johnny.  That shove just took up the slack-line,
and the next will pull on the anchor.  Hun-now, Johnny!  You’re a real
good sailor.  Sing easy, but shove."

    "He shipped on board of a whaler.
    _Chorus_--O poor Reuben Ranzo!
    Ranzo, boys, Ranzo!
    O poor Reuben Ranzo!
    Ranzo, boys, Ranzo!"


The last tug at the bar came hard, but the boys took it as an
encouraging sign that the anchor too was coming.  They were not
mistaken.  Another minute, and Johnny eagerly exclaimed,--

"Dick, I do believe she’s going!"

"Good!  That’s so.  I knew ’Reuben Ranzo’ would bring her."

Yes, the _Relentless_ had relented before the fascinating persuasion of
"Reuben Ranzo," and without a murmur of resistance was softly slipping
through the dark sea water.

"Can you stop her any time, Dick?" asked Johnny in tones a bit alarmed.

"Easy.  Just let the anchor slip back again, you know."

"Shan’t we tell the boys?"

"Wait a moment.  We want to surprise ’em. They’ll find it out pretty
soon."

The boys at the stern had been discussing a subject so eagerly that
every one had lost his temper, and when that is lost it may not be found
again in a moment.  It was like starting the _Relentless_--a thing quite
easily done; but as for stopping her--however, I will not anticipate.
The boys were quarrelling about a light on shore, and wondering why that
illumination was started so early, when it did not seem dark enough for
a home light.  In the course of the discussion a second light, not far
from the first, came into view.  Over this the controversy waxed hotter
than ever, and led to much being said of which all felt heartily
ashamed.

No one heard the creak of the capstan-bar at the bow or the devoted
wooing of the _Relentless_ by the fascinating "Reuben Ranzo."

"That’s funny," said Dave, after a while.  "One of those lights has
gone.  They have been approaching one another, I have noticed.  Look
here, fellers: I believe this old elephant is moving!"

"She is," exclaimed Jimmy Davis.

They all turned and looked toward the bow.  The figures there were
growing dim in the thickening twilight, but they could see Dick and
Johnny waving their hats, and of course they could plainly hear them
shout, "Hurrah! hurrah!"

"What’s the matter?" cried Dave, rushing across the deck.

"Having a sail," said Dick.

"And without a sail too," cried Johnny triumphantly.

"What do you mean?" asked Dab.

"Why, we just hoisted the anchor, and the tide is taking us along,"
replied Dick.  The party at the stern did not know how to take this
announcement.

"But," said Dave, advancing toward the capstan, and remembering his
promise to Squire Sylvester that he would be "particular," "we are
adrift, man!"

"Oh, we can stop any time--just drop the anchor--and the next tide will
drift us back where we were before."

"Y-e-s," said Dave, but reluctantly, "if we don’t get in water too deep
for our anchor.  I like fun, Dick, but--"

"Oh, well," replied Dick angrily, "we will stop her now if you think we
need to be so fussy.--Just let her go, Johnny."

Johnny, however, did not understand how to "let her go."  It seemed to
him and the others as if "she" were already going.

"Oh, well, I can show you, if you all are ignorant," said Dick
confidently.  "Just shove on this bar--help, won’t you?--and then knock
up that ratchet that keeps the capstan from slipping back--there!"

The weight of the anchor now drew on the capstan, and round it spun,
creaking and groaning, liberating all the cable that had been wound upon
it; but when every inch of cable had been paid out, what then?

"There!  The anchor must be on bottom, and she holds!" shouted Dick in
triumph.

"No--she--don’t," replied Dab.  "We are in deep water, and adrift."

"Can’t be," asserted Dick.  "All that cable paid out!"

Dick leaned over the vessel’s rail and tried to pierce the shadows on
the water and see if he could detect any movement.
"Don’t--see--anything that looks like moving, boys.  Surely the anchor
holds her," he said, in a very subdued way.

"Dick, see that rock on the shore?" asked Dave.

A ledge, big, shadowy, could be made out.

"Now, boys, keep your eyes on that two or three minutes and see if we
stay abreast of it," was Dave’s proposed test.

Five pairs of eyes were strained, watching the ledge; but if there had
been five hundred, they would not have seen any proof that the vessel
was stationary.

The ledge was stationary, but the _Relentless_--

"Well," said Dick, scratching his head, "I don’t think we need worry.
We--we--"

"Can drift," said Dab scornfully.

"It is of no use to cry over spilled milk," said Dave, in a tone meant
to assure others.  "Let’s make the best of it, now it’s done, and get
some fun out of it if we can.  All aboard for--Patagonia!"

"Good for you," whispered Dick.  "The others are chicken-hearted.  We
shall come out of it all right; though I wish the schooner’s rudder
worked, and we might steer her."

The rudder was damaged and would not work.

"Say, boys, we might tow her into shallow water!" suggested Dave.  "Come
on, come on!  Let’s have some fun.  And see--there’s the moon!"

Yes, there was a moon rising above the eastern waters, shooting a long,
tremulous arrow of light across the sea.  The boys’ spirits rose with
the moon, and as the light strengthened, their surroundings--the
harbour, the lighthouse near the bar, the shores on either hand--were
not so indistinct.

"Not so bad," said Dick in a low tone to Dab. "There’s our boat, you
know.  We can get into that and let this old wreck go.  We can get
ashore.  We will have a lot of fun out of this."

The situation was delightful, as Dick continued to paint its
attractions.  They could have a "lot of fun" out of the schooner, and at
the same time abandon the source of it when that failed them.  Dave
talked differently.

"Come, boys, we must try to get the old hulk ashore," he said.  "I
believe in staying by this piece of property long as we got permission
to use it; but we will make the best of our situation.  All hands into
the boat to tow the schooner into shallow water!"

The boys responded with a happy shout, and climbed over the vessel’s
side, descending by the ladder that still clung to the rail.

"What have we got to tow with?" asked Jimmy Davis.

"That is a conundrum!" replied Dave.  "Didn’t think of that!"

"May find something on the deck," suggested Dick.

A hunt was made, but no rope could be found.

"Boys, we have got to tow with the boat’s painter; it’s all we have
got," said Dave, in a disgusted tone. This rope was about ten feet long.
It was attached to the schooner’s bow, and how those small arms did
strain on the oars and strive to coax the _Relentless_ into shoal water!

"Give us a sailor’s song, Dick," said Jimmy Davis.

"I will, boys, when I get my breath," replied Dick, puffing after his
late efforts and wiping the sweat from his brow.  "I’ll start ’Reuben
Ranzo.’"

The boys sang with a will, and their voices made a fine chorus.

"Reuben" had been able to coax the schooner away from her moorings, but
he could not win her back.

True to her name, she obstinately drifted on.

"Don’t you know anything else?" inquired Dave.

"I know ’Haul the Bow-line.’"

"Give us that, Dick."

"I’ll start you on the words, boys,--

    ’Haul the bow-line, Kitty is my darling;
    Haul the bow-line, the bow-line haul.’

Sing and pull, boys."

The boys sang and the boys pulled, and there was a fierce straining on
that bow-line; but no soft words about "Kitty" had any effect on the
_Relentless_.  It seemed as if this obdurate creature were moved by an
ugly jealousy of "Kitty," and drifted on and on.

"It’s of no use!" declared Dick.  "I move we untie our rope and go
ashore and let the old thing go. We have done what we could to get
ashore."

He did not say that he had done what he could to get the _Relentless_
adrift, and had fully succeeded. Dave did not twit him with the fact,
but he was not ready to abandon the schooner.

Some of the boys murmured regrets about their "things."  They did not
want to forsake these.

"Well, boys," said Dick, with a boastful air, "I’ll get you out of the
scrape somehow.  We might go on deck again, and hold a council of war
and talk the situation over."

Any change was welcomed, and the boys scrambled on deck again.  Dick was
the last of the climbing column.

"Hand that painter up here and I’ll make it fast," said Dave.  "Then
come up and we will talk matters over."

"Oh!" said Dick, who was half-way up the ladder, "I forgot to bring that
rope up."

He descended the ladder and reached out his foot to touch the boat, but
he could not find it!  When he had left the boat, a minute ago, he gave
it unintentionally a parting kick, and--and--alas!  The boat was now too
far from the schooner’s side to be reached by Dick’s foot.

"Get something!" he gasped.  "Bring a--pole--and--get that boat!"

The boys scattered in every direction to find a--they did not know what,
that in some way they might reach after and capture that escaping boat.
Their excitement was intense but fruitless.  There were now two vessels
adrift--a schooner and a dory--serenely floating in the still but strong
current, steadily moving seaward, and the moonlight that had been
welcomed only revealed to them more plainly the mortifying situation of
the party.

"Ridiculous!" exclaimed Dick.

Most of the boys looked very sober.  Dave put his hands in his pockets
and whistled.

"Well, boys, don’t you worry!  I’ll get you out of this in good fashion
yet," cried Dick.  "We can’t go far to sea, and then the tide will bring
us back again in the morning."

"Far to sea!" said Dab mockingly.  "There’s the lighthouse on the left,
and it looks to me as if we should hit the bar!"

The bar!  The boys started.  At the mouth of the river the sand brought
down from the yielding shores would accumulate, and it formed a bar
whose size and shape would annually change, but the obstacle itself
never disappeared.  There it stretched in the navigator’s way, seriously
narrowing the channel; and of how many catastrophes that "bar" had been
the occasion!  The breakers above were soft and white, and the sand
below was yielding and crumbling; and yet just there how many vessels
had been tripped up by that foot of sand thrust out into the harbour!
The boys laughed and tried to be jolly, but no one liked the situation.
It was a very picturesque scene,--the moonlight silvering the sea, the
calmly-moving schooner and boat, that lighthouse like a tall, stately
candlestick lifting its quiet light; but, for all that, there was the
bar!  Either the night-wind was growing very chilly, or the boys
shivered for another reason.

"Don’t worry, fellows," said Dick, putting as much courage as possible
into his voice.  "When this old thing hits, you see, we shan’t drift
right on to the bar, but our anchor will catch somewhere on this side.
That will hold us.  I can swim, and I’ll just drop into the sea and make
for the light and get Toby Tolman’s boat, and come and bring you off."

He then proceeded to hum "Reuben Ranzo;" but nobody liked to sing it,
and Dick executed a solo for this unappreciative audience.

"How--how deep is the water inside the bar?" said chattering Jimmy
Davis.  He felt the cold night-air, and he shook as if he had an ague
fit.

"Pretty deep," solemnly remarked Dab Richards.

The musical hum by the famous soloist, Dick Pray, ceased; only the
breakers on the bar made their music.

Dick began to doubt seriously the advisability of dropping into that
deep gulf reputed to be inside the bar.  It was now not very far to the
lighthouse, and the surf on the bar whitened in the moonlight and fell
in a hushed, drowsy monotone.  People by the shore may be hushed by this
lullaby of the ocean, but to those boys there was nothing drowsy in its
sound; it was very startling.

"I--I--I--" said Jimmy.

"What is it, Jimmy?" asked Dave.

Jimmy did feel like wishing aloud that he could be at home, but he
concluded to say nothing about it. Steadily did the _Relentless_ drift
toward that snow-line in the dark sea.

"Almost there!" cried Dave.

"May strike any moment!" shouted Dab.

Yes, nearer, nearer, nearer, came the _Relentless_ to that foaming bar.
The boat had already arrived there, and Dave saw it resting quietly on
its sandy bed.  Did he notice a glistening strip of sand beyond the
surf?  He had heard some one in Shipton say that at very low tide there
was no water on portions of the bar.  This fact set him to thinking
about his possible action.  It now seemed to him as if the distance
between the stern of the vessel and the bar could not be more than a
hundred feet.  The bow of the vessel pointed up river.  She was going
"stern on."  How would it strike--forcibly, easily?

[Illustration: "Nearer and nearer came the ’_Relentless_’ to that
foaming bar."  _Page 43_]]

"Ninety feet now!" thought Dave.  "Will the shock upset her, pitch us
out, or what?"

Sixty feet now!

"The bar looks sort of ugly!" remarked Johnny Richards.

Thirty feet now!

"Wish I was in bed!" thought Jimmy Davis.

Twenty feet now!

Had the schooner halted?  The boys clustered in the bow and looked
anxiously over to the bar.

"Boys, she holds, I do believe," said Dave.

"All right!" shouted Dick--"all right!  The anchor holds!"

It did seem an innocent, all-right situation: just the quiet sea, the
musically-rolling surf along the bar, the stately lighthouse at the
left, and that schooner quietly halting in the harbour.

"Now, boys," exclaimed Dick, "we can--"

"I thought you were going to swim to the lighthouse?" observed Dab.

"Oh, that won’t be necessary now," replied Dick. "We are just masters of
the situation.  The moment the tide turns we can weigh anchor and drift
back again just as easy!  Be in our old quarters by morning, and nobody
know the difference.  Old Sylvester himself might come down the river,
and he would find everything all right.  Ha! ha!"

Dick’s confidence was contagious, and when he proposed "Haul the
Bow-line," his companions sang with him, and sang with a will.  How the
notes echoed over the sea!  Such a queer place to be singing in!

"Mr. Toby Tolman," said Dick, facing the lighthouse, "we propose to wake
you up!  Let him have a rouser.  Give him ’Reuben Ranzo!’"

While they were administering a "rouser" to Mr. Toby Tolman, somebody at
the stern was dropping into the sea.  He had stripped himself for his
swim, and now struck out boldly for the bar.  Reaching its uncovered
sands he ran along to the boat, lying on the channel side of the bar and
not that of the lighthouse, leaped into the boat, and, shoving off,
rowed round to the bow of the schooner.  There was a pause in the
singing, and Dick Pray was saying, "This place makes you think of
mermen," when Dab Richards, looking over the vessel’s side, said, "Ugh!
if there isn’t one now!"

"Where--where?" asked Johnny.

"Ship ahoy!" shouted Dave from the boat.  "How many days out?  Where you
bound?  Short of provisions?"

"Three cheers for this shipwrecked mariner just arrived!" cried Dab.
And the hurrahs went up triumphantly in the moonlight.  Dave threw up to
the boys the much-desired painter, and the runaway boat was securely
fastened.

"There, Dave!" said Dick, as he welcomed on deck the merman: "I was just
going after that thing myself, just thinking of jumping into the water,
but you got ahead of me.  Somehow, I hate to leave this old craft."

"I expect," said Dab Richards, a boy with short, stubby black hair and
blue eyes, and lips that easily twisted in scorn, "we shall have such
hard work to get Dick away from this concern that we shall have to bring
a police-officer, arrest, and lug him off that way."

"Shouldn’t wonder," replied Dick.  "Couldn’t be persuaded to abandon
this dear old tub."

"Well, boys, I’m going to the lighthouse as soon as I’m dressed," said
Dave.

There was a hubbub of inquiries and comments.

"What for?" asked Dick.  "Ain’t we all right?"

"I hope so; but I want to keep all right.  I want to ask the
light-keeper--"

"But all we have got to do is to pull up anchor when the tide comes, and
drift back."

"Oh yes; we can drift back, but where?  We can’t steer the schooner.  We
don’t know what currents may lay hold of her and take her where we don’t
want to go.  There are some rocks with an ugly name."

"’Sharks’ Fins!’" said Jimmy.  "Booh!"

"What if we ran on to them?" said Dave.  "We had better go and ask Toby
Tolman’s opinion.  He may suggest something--tell us of some good way to
get out of this scrape.  He knows the harbour, the currents, the tides,
and so on.  Any way, it won’t do any harm to speak to him.  I won’t
bother anybody to go with me.  Stay here and make yourselves
comfortable; I will dress and shove off."

When Dave had dressed and returned, he found every boy in the boat.
Dick Pray was the first that had entered.

"Hullo!" shouted Dave.  "All here, are you? That’s good.  The more the
merrier."

"Dave, we loved you so much we couldn’t leave you," asserted Dick.

"We will have a good time," said Dave.  "All ready!  Shove off!  Bound
for the lighthouse!"

The old schooner was left to its own reflections in the sober moonlight,
and the boat slowly crept over the quiet waters to the tall lighthouse
tower.



                                  III.

                     _DID THE SCHOONER COME BACK?_


Mr. Toby Tolman sat in the snug little kitchen of the lighthouse tower.
He was alone, but the clock ticked on the wall, and the kettle purred
contentedly on the stove.  Music and company in those sounds.

The light-keeper had just visited the lantern, had seen that the lamp
was burning satisfactorily, had looked out on the wide sea to detect, if
possible, any sign of fog, had "felt of the wind," as he termed it, but
did not discover any hint of rough weather. Having pronounced all things
satisfactory, he had come down to the kitchen to read awhile in his
Bible. The gray-haired keeper loved his Bible.  It was a companion to
him when lonely, a pillow of rest when his soul was weary with cares, a
lamp of guidance when he was uncertain about the way for his feet, a
high, strong rock of refuge when sorrows hunted his soul.

"I just love my Bible," he said.

He had reason to say it.  What book can match it?

As he sat contentedly reading its beautiful promises, he caught the
sound of singing.

"Some fishermen going home," he said, and read on.  After a while he
heard the sound of a vigorous pounding on the lighthouse door.

"Why, why!" he exclaimed in amazement, "what is that?"

He rose and hastily descended the stair-way leading to the entrance of
the lighthouse.  To gain admission to the lighthouse, one first passed
through the fog-signal tower.  The lighthouse proper was built of stone;
the other tower was of iron.  They rose side by side.  A covered
passage-way five feet long connected the two towers, and entrance from
the outside was first through the fog-signal tower.  The foundation of
each tower was a stubborn ledge that the sea would cover at high-water,
and it was now necessary to have all doors beyond the reach of the
roughly-grasping breakers.  Otherwise they would have unpleasantly
pressed for admittance, and might have gained it.  The entrance to the
fog-signal tower was about twenty feet above the summit of the ledge,
and from the door dropped a ladder closely fastened to the tower’s red
wall.  Around the door was a railed platform of iron, and through a hole
in the platform a person stepped down upon the rounds of the ladder.
Toby Tolman seized a lantern, and crossing the passage-way connecting
the two towers, entered the fog-signal tower, and so gained the
entrance.  Just above the threshold of the door he saw the head and
shoulders of a boy standing on the ladder.

"Why! who’s this, at this time of night?" said Toby.

"Good-evening, sir.  Excuse me, but I wanted to ask you something."

It was Dave Fletcher.

"Any trouble?"

"Well, yes."

"Come in, come in!  Don’t be bashful.  Lighthouses are for folks in
trouble."

"Thank you."

When Dave had climbed into the tower Dick Fray’s curly head appeared.

"Oh, any more of you?" asked the keeper.  "Bring him along."

"Good-evening," said Dick.

Then Jimmy Davis thrust up his head.

"Oh, another?" asked Toby.  "How many?"

"Not through yet, Mr. Tolman," said Dave, laughing.

Johnny Richards stuck up his grinning face above the threshold.

"Any more?" said the light-keeper.

And this inquiry Dab Richards answered in person, relieving the ladder
of its last load.

"Why, why! wasn’t expecting this!  All castaways?"

"Pretty near it, Mr. Tolman," said Dick.

"Come up into the kitchen, and then let us have your story, boys."

They followed the light-keeper into the kitchen, so warm, so cheerfully
lighted.

In the boat Dick Pray had been very bold, and said he would go ahead and
"beard the lion in his den;" but when at the foot of the lighthouse, he
concluded he would silently allow Dave to precede him. The warmth of the
kitchen thawed out Dick’s tongue, and now that he was inside he kept a
part of his word, and made an explanation to the light-keeper. He stated
that they had had permission to "picnic" on the schooner, had--had--"got
adrift"--somehow--and were caught on the bar, and the question was what
to do.

"Perhaps you can advise us still further," explained Dave.  "One
suggestion is that when the tide turns we pull up anchor and drift back
with the tide."

"Anchor?" asked Mr. Toby Tolman.  "I thought you went on because you
couldn’t help it.  Didn’t know you dropped anchor there."

Dick blushed and cleared his throat.

"The schooner was anchored, but," said Dick, choking a little,
"we--we--got--got--into water too deep for our anchor, and kept on
drifting till the anchor caught in the bar."

"Oh!" said the light-keeper, who now saw a little deeper into the
mystery, though all was not clear to him yet.  "What will you do now?
It is a good rule generally, when you don’t know which way to move, not
to move.  Now, if you pull up anchor and let the next tide take you
back, there is no telling where it will take you.  Some bad rocks in our
harbour as well as a lot of sand.  ’Sharks’ Fins’ you know about. An
ugly place.  Now let me think a moment."

The light-keeper in deep thought walked up and down the floor, while the
five boys clustered about the stove like bees flocking to a flaming
hollyhock.

"See here: I advise this.  Don’t trouble that anchor to-night.  The sea
is quiet.  No harm will be done the schooner, and her anchor has
probably got a good grip on some rocks down below, and the tide won’t
start her.  A tug will bring down a new schooner from Shipton to-morrow,
and I will signal to the cap’n, and you can get him to tow you back.
What say?" asked the keeper.  "’Twill cost something."

"That plan looks sensible," said Dave.  "I will give my share of the
expense."

Dick looked down in silence.  He wanted to get back without any exposure
of his fault.  The tug meant exposure, for the world outside would know
it. The tide as motive power, drifting the schooner back, would tell no
tales if the schooner went to the right place.  There would, however, be
danger of collision with rocks, and then the bill of expense would be
greater and the exposure more mortifying.  He scratched his head and
hesitated, but finally assented to the tug-boat plan, and so did the
other boys.

"Very well, then," said the keeper, "make yourselves at home, and I’ll
do all I can to make you comfortable."

What, stay there?  Did he mean it?  He meant a night of comfort in the
lighthouse.

What a night that was!

"I wouldn’t have missed it for twenty pounds," Johnny Richards said to
those at home.

And the breakfast!  It was without parallel.  The schooner was held by
its anchor inside the bar, and the boys in the morning visited their
provision-baskets, and brought off such a heap of delicacies that the
light-keeper declared it to be the "most satisfyin’ meal" he had ever
had inside those stone walls.

About nine o’clock he said, "Now, boys, I expect the tug-boat will be
down with that schooner.  When the cap’n of the tug-boat has carried her
through the channel, I will signal to him--he and I have an
understanding about it--and he will come round and tow you up, I don’t
doubt.  You might be a-watching for her smoke."

Soon Dab Richards, looking up the harbour, cried out, "Smoke! she’s
coming!"

Yes, there was the tug-boat, throwing up a column of black smoke from
her chimney, and behind her were the freshly-painted hull, and new,
clean rigging of the lately launched schooner.  The boys, save Dave,
went to the _Relentless_, as the light-keeper said he would fix
everything with the tug-boat, "make a bargain, and so on," and Dave
could hear the terms and accept them for the party if he wished.  The
light-keeper had also promised in his own boat to put Dave aboard the
tug.

But what other tug-boat was it the boys on the _Relentless_ saw steaming
down the harbour?  They stood in the bow and watched her approach.

"She looks as if she were going to run into us," declared Dick.

"She certainly is pointing this way," thought Johnny.

"Our friends may be alarmed for us," was Dab’s suggestion.

This could not be, the other boys thought, and they dismissed it as a
teasing remark by Dab.  And yet the tug-boat was coming toward them like
an arrow feathered with black smoke and shot out by a strong arm.

"It is certainly coming toward us," cried Dick in alarm.  Who was it his
black eyes detected among the people leaning over the rail of the
nearing tug-boat?

He looked again.

He took a third look.

"Boys," he shouted, "put!"

How rapidly he rushed for a hatchway, descending an old ladder still in
place and leading into the schooner’s hold!  Fear is catching.  Had Dick
seen a policeman sent out in a special tug to hunt up the boys and
secure the vessel?  Johnny Richards flew after Dick.  Jimmy Davis
followed Johnny.  Dab was quickly at the heels of Jimmy.  Down into the
dark, smelling hold, stumbling over the keelson, splashing into the
bilge water, and frightening the rats, hurried the still more frightened
boys.

"Who was it, Dick?" asked Dab.

"Keep still boys; don’t say anything."

"Can’t you tell his name?" whispered Johnny.

There it was, down in the dark, that Dick whispered the fearful name.
When the tug-boat, the _Leopard_, carrying Dave neared the schooner, the
captain said, "You have another tug there.  It is the _Panther_."

The _Leopard_ hated the _Panther_, and would gladly have clawed it out
of shape and sunk it.

"I don’t understand why the _Panther_ is there," said Dave; "I really
don’t know what it means."

"You see," said the master of the _Leopard_ fiercely, "if that other
boat is a-goin’ to do the job, let her do it (he will probably cheat
you).  I can’t fool away my time.  The _Sally Jane_ is waitin’ up stream
to be towed down, and I would like to get the job."

"We will soon find out what it means, sir.  Just put me alongside the
schooner."

"I will put my boat there, and you can jump out."

Who was it that Dave saw on the schooner’s deck? Dave trembled at the
prospect.  He could imagine what was coming, and it came.

"Here, young man, what have you been up to?  A precious set of young
rascals to be running off with my property.  I thought you said you
would be particular.  The state prison is none too good for you," said
this unexpected and gruff personage.

"Squire Sylvester," replied Dave with dignity, "just wait before you
condemn after that fashion; wait till you get the facts.  I did try to
be particular.  I don’t think it was intended when it was done; boys
don’t think, you know--"

"When what was done?"

"Why, the anchor lifted--weighed--"

"Anchor lifted!" growled Squire Sylvester.  "What for?"

"Just to see it move, and have a little ride, I think."

"Have a little sail!  Didn’t you know, sir, it was exposing property to
have a little sail?"

Here the squire silently levelled a stout red forefinger at this
opprobrious wretch, this villain, this thief, this robber on the high
seas, this--with what else did that finger mean to label David Fletcher?

"But the anchor was dropped again, and it was thought, sir, that
it--that it would stop--"

"And the vessel did not stop!  Might have guessed that, I should say.
You got into deep water."

"We were going to hire the _Leopard_ to tow it back, and any damages
would have been paid.  I am very sorry--"

"No apologies, young man.  What’s done is done. I have got a tug-boat to
take the vessel back."

"And you don’t want me?" here shouted the captain of the _Leopard_.

"Of course not," muttered the captain of the _Panther_, showing some
white teeth in derision.

"I don’t know anything about you," said Squire Sylvester to the captain
of the _Leopard_; "this other party may settle with you."

"I’ll pay any bill," said Dave to the _Leopard_, whose steam was
escaping in a low growl.

"Can’t waste any more time," snarled the _Leopard_. He rang the
signal-bell to the engineer, and off went his tug.

"Well, where are your companions?" said Squire Sylvester to Dave.--"O
Giles," he added to the _Panther_, "you may start up your boat if you
have made fast to the schooner."

"Weigh the anchor fust, sir."

"Oh yes, Giles."

The anchor weighed, the _Panther_ then sneezed, splashed, frothed, and
the _Relentless_ followed it.  Squire Sylvester declared that he must
find the other runaways; that they must be on board the schooner, and he
would hunt for them.  He discovered them down in the hold, and out of
the shadows crawled four sheepish, mortified hide-aways.

And so back to its moorings went the old schooner.

Back to his office went Squire Sylvester, mad with others, and mad with
himself because mad with others.

Back to their homes went a shabby picnic party, and after them came a
bill for the expense of the _Relentless’s_ return trip.  It costs
something in this life to find out that the thing easily started may not
be the thing easily stopped.



                                  IV.

                        _WHAT WAS HE HERE FOR?_


Bartie Trafton, _alias_ Little Mew, was crouching behind a clump of
hollyhocks in a little garden fronting the Trafton home.  It was a
favourite place of retreat when things went poorly with Little Mew.
They had certainly gone unsatisfactorily one day not long after the sail
that was not a sail.  He had perpetrated a blunder that had brought out
from Gran’sir Trafton the encouraging remark that he did not see what
the boy was in this world for.  Bartie had retreated to the hollyhock
clump to think the situation over.  He was ten years old, and life did
have a hard look to Little Mew.  He never supposed that his father cared
much for him.  When the father was ashore he was drunk; when he came to
his senses, and was sober, then he went to sea.  Bart sometimes wondered
if his mother thought of him and knew how he was situated.

"She’s up in heaven," thought Bart among the hollyhocks, and to Bart
heaven was somewhere among the soft, white clouds, floating like the
wings of big gulls far above the tops of the elms that overhung the roof
of the house and looked down upon this poor little unfortunate.  If
earth brought so little happiness, because bringing so little
usefulness, then why was Bart on the earth at all?

"I don’t see," he murmured.

The question was a puzzle to him.  He was still looking up when he heard
the voice of somebody calling.

"It is somebody at the fence," he said.  It was a musical voice, and
Bart wondered if his mother wouldn’t call that way.  He turned; and what
a sweet face he saw at the fence!--a young lady with sparkling eyes of
hazel, fair complexion, and cheeks that prettily dimpled when she
laughed.  He surely thought it must be his mother grown young and come
back to earth again. There was some difference between that face, so
picturesquely bordered with its summer hat, and the puzzled, irregular
features under the old, ragged straw hat that Bart wore.

"Are you the little fellow I heard about that got into the water one
day?" asked the young lady.

"Yes’m," said Bart, pleased to be noticed because he had been in the
water, while thankful to be out of it.

"Well, I’m getting up a Sunday-school class, and I should like very much
to have you in it.  Would you like to come?"

"Yes’m," said Bart eagerly, "if--if granny and gran’sir would let me."

"Where are they?  You let me ask them."

"She’s got a lot of tunes in her voice," thought Bart, eagerly leading
the young lady into the presence of granny and gran’sir.

They were in a flutter at the advent of so much beauty and grace, and
gave a ready permission.

"Now, Bartie--that is your name, I believe--"

"Yes’m."

"I shall expect you next Sunday down at that brick church, Grace Church,
just on the corner of Front Street."

"I know where it is."

"And one thing more.  Do you suppose you could get anybody else to
come?" asked the young lady.

"I’ll try."

"That’s right.  Do so.  Good-bye."

"Good-bye."

Bart was puzzled to know whom to solicit for the Sunday school.
Gran’sir was so much interested in the young lady that Bart concluded
gran’sir would be willing to go if asked and if well enough; but Bart
concluded that gran’sir was too old, and he said nothing.  Sunday
itself, on his way to the church, Bart saw a recruit.  It was Dave
Fletcher.

"Oh, you will go with me, won’t you?  I haven’t anybody yet," he said
eagerly.

"What do you mean?" replied the wondering Dave.

"Oh, go to Sunday school with me.  I said I would try to bring some
one."

Dave smiled, and Bart interpreted the smile as one half of an assent.

"Oh, do go!  I said I would try.  And she’s real pretty."

"Who? your teacher?"

"Yes."

"Well, that is an inducement.  But I am only going to be here a Sunday
or two.  My visit is almost over."

"Oh, well, it would please teacher."

Dave smiled again, and this Bart interpreted as the other half of the
assent desired.

"Oh, I am so glad!  I’ll tell you where it is."

"W-e-l-l!  It won’t do any harm.  I can go as visitor, and I suppose it
would please my family--"

"Family?"

"My father and mother and sister, if they should know I had visited the
Sunday school.  Come along! We don’t want to be late, you know.  I’ll be
visitor, and perhaps they will want me to make a speech at the school.
Ha! ha!"

Bart pulled Dave eagerly into the entry of the church, and then looked
through the open door into the room where he knew the Sunday school met;
for Bart had been a visitor once in that very same place.

"Oh, I see teacher," thought Bart, spying his friend in a seat not far
from the door.  Her back was turned toward him, but he had not forgotten
the pretty summer hat with its fluttering ribbons of blue. Dave, with a
smile, followed the little fellow, who was timorously conveying his
prize to the waiting young lady.  She looked up as Bart exclaimed,
"Here, teacher!  I’ve got one."

[Illustration: "’Here, teacher!  I’ve got a recruit.’"  _Page 63._]

"Why, Dave," she exclaimed, "where did you come from?"

"Annie--this you?" he said.  The two began to laugh.  Bart in surprise
looked at them.

"This is my sister, Bart," explained Dave.  "Ha! ha!"

That beautiful young lady and the big boy who had saved him sister and
brother?  He might have guessed such a friend as Dave would have such a
sister as this nice young lady.  She was visiting at Uncle Ferguson’s.

"You see, Dave, when I began my visit I did not expect to teach while
here; but I met the minister, Mr. Porter, and he said he wished I would
start another class for him in his Sunday school and teach it while
here, and I could not say no; and went to work, and have been picking up
my class.  I didn’t happen to tell you."

The Rev. Charles Porter, at this time the clergyman at Grace Church, was
an old friend of the Fletcher family.  Meeting Annie in the streets of
Shipton, and knowing what valuable material there was in the young lady,
he desired to set her to work at once; and when her stay in town might
be over, he could, as he said, "find a teacher, somebody to continue to
open the furrow that she had started."

Dave enjoyed the situation.

"I will play that I am superintendent, Annie, and have come to inspect
your class, and will sit here while you teach."

"I don’t know about allowing you to stay here, sir, unless you become a
member of the class and answer my questions, Dave."

Annie was relieved of the presence of this inspector; for a gentleman at
the head of a class opposite, noticing a big boy among Annie’s flock of
little fellows, kindly invited Dave to sit with his older lads.

"I am Mr. Tolman," said the gentleman.  "Make yourself at home among the
boys."

"Thank you, sir," said Dave; and his sister, with a roguish smile, bowed
him out of her class.

That Sunday was an eventful day to Little Mew. It was pleasant any way
to be near this young lady, who seemed to him to be some beautiful being
from a sphere above the human kind in which he moved. And then Bart was
interested in the subject Annie presented.  She talked about heaven and
its people. She talked about God; but she did not make him that far-off
being that Bart thought he must be, so that the louder people prayed the
quicker they would bring him.  She told how near he was, all about us,
so that we could seem to hear his voice in the pleasant wind, and feel
his touch in the soft, warm sunshine.

"But--but," said Bart, "he seems to be behind a curtain.  I don’t see
him."

And then the teacher, her voice to Bart’s ear playing a sweeter tune
than ever, told how God took away the curtain; how he came in the Lord
Jesus Christ; that the Saviour was the divine expression of God’s love;
and men could see that love going about their streets, coming into their
homes, healing their sick, and then hanging on the cross that the world
might be brought to God.  Bart had been told all this before, but
somehow it never got so near him.

"What she says somehow gets into me," thought Bart, looking up into the
teacher’s face.  He thought he would like to ask her one question when
he was alone with her.  The school was dismissed, and Bart lingered that
he might walk away with the teacher.

"Could I ask you about something?" he said, trotting at her side and
lifting his queer, oldish face towards her.

"Certainly; ask all the questions you want.  I can’t say that I can
answer them, but there’s no harm in asking them."

"Well, what am I in this world for?"

He said it so abruptly that it amused Annie.

"What are you in this world for?"

"Yes’m.  I don’t seem to amount to much."

Bart eagerly watched the face above him, that had suddenly grown
serious; for Annie was thinking of the little fellow’s home--of its
unattractiveness, of the two old people there that seemed so
uninteresting, especially the grandfather, who, as Annie recalled him,
seemed to be only a compound of a whining voice, a gloomy face, a bad
cough, and a clumsy cane. Then she recalled the slighting way in which
she heard people speak of this odd little fellow, who seemed to be a
figure out of place in life’s problem; one who seemed to run into life’s
misfortunes, not waiting that they might run into him--one ill-adjusted
and awry.  Well, what should she say?  She thought in silence.  Then she
stopped him, and looked down into his face.

Bart never forgot it.  It was as if all of heaven’s beautiful angels she
had told about that day were looking at him through her face, and all of
heaven’s beautiful voices were speaking in her tones.

"Bart," she said, "the great reason why you are in this world is
because--God loves you."

What?  He wanted to think that over.

"Because what?" he said.

"Why, Bart," she said, "God is a Father--a great, dear Father."

Bart began to think he was; but he had been getting his idea of God
through gran’sir’s style of religion, and God seemed more like a judge
or a big police-officer--catching up people and always marching them off
to punishment.

"God is a great, dear Father," the tuneful voice was saying, "and he
wants somebody to love him; and the more people he makes, the more there
are to love him, or should be, and so he made you.  But oh, if we don’t
love him, it disappoints and grieves him!"

"Does it?" said Bart, thoughtfully, soberly.

"When you are at home--alone, upstairs--you tell God how you feel about
it, just as you would tell your mother--"

"Or teacher," thought Bart.

"As you would tell your mother if she were on the earth."

That day, all alone hi his diminutive chamber, kneeling by a little bed
whose clothing was all too scanty in cold weather, a boy told God he
wanted to love him.  When Bart rose from his knees he said to himself,
"Now, I must try to love other people."

He went downstairs.  Gran’sir was lying on a hard old lounge, making
believe that he was trying to read his Bible, and at the same time he
was very sleepy.  Bart hesitated, and then said,--

"Gran’sir, don’t you--you--want me to get you a pillow and put under
your head?"

"Oh, that’s a nice little boy!" said the weary old grandfather, when his
head dropped on the soft pillow now covering the hard arm of the lounge.

"And, gran’sir, I ain’t much on readin’; but perhaps, if you’d let me, I
might read something, you know."

"Oh, that’s a dear little feller," said gran’sir, closing his eyes, so
old and tired.  He had been trying to read about Jacob and the angels at
Beth-el; but the lounge was so tough that the feature of the story
gran’sir seemed to appreciate most sensibly was that Jacob slept on a
pillow of stones.  I can’t say how much of the story, as Bart read it,
gran’sir heard that day, for he was soon as much lost to the outside
world as tired Jacob was.  He had, though, a beautiful dream, he
afterwards told granny.  Yes; in his sleep he seemed to see the ladder
with its shining, silver rounds, climbing the sky, and on them were so
many angels, oh, so many angels!

"And, granny," whispered gran’sir, "I was a little startled, for one of
them angels seemed to have Bartie’s face.  I hope nothin’ is goin’ to
happen, for I am beginnin’ to think we should miss that little chap ever
so much."



                                   V.

                           _THE LIGHTHOUSE._


"You say this is your last Sunday at Shipton. Sorry!  We shall miss you
in the class," said Dave’s new Sunday-school acquaintance, Mr. Tolman.

"Thank you, sir," replied Dave; "but as this is only my second Sunday in
your class, you won’t miss me much."

"Oh yes, we shall.  See here, David.  There is going to be some company
at my house to-morrow night.  Bring your sister round to tea."

Dave and Annie were at Mr. Tolman’s the evening of the next day; and who
was it Dave saw trying to shrink into one corner?  A stout, fat man,
altogether too big for the corner.

"He looks natural," thought Dave.

At this point the man saw Dave.  He had been looking very lonely, but
his face now brightened as if he had suddenly seen an old and valued
acquaintance.

"Think you don’t remember me!" he said, advancing toward Dave, and
extending a large brown hand shaped something like a flounder.  Dave
thought at once of a lighthouse, a sand-bar, and an old schooner halting
on the bar.

"Oh, the light-keeper, Mr. Tolman!" cried Dave. "You here?"

"It is my uncle from Black Rocks," said the younger Mr. Tolman, stepping
up to this party of two.  "Uncle Toby doesn’t get off very often from
the light, and we thought he ought to have a little vacation, and come
and see his relatives."

"My nephew James is very good," said Mr. Toby Tolman.  "The last time I
saw you," he added, addressing Dave, "I put you on board that tug-boat."

Dave dropped his head.

"Oh, you needn’t be ashamed of that affair.  I didn’t think at the time
you could be the cause of the mischief, and I’ve been told since who it
was that was to blame for it."

Dave raised his head.

"Fact is I’ve been a-thinking of you.  Want a job, young man?"

"Me, sir?  I expect to go home to-morrow."

"Got to return for anything special?"

"Well, my visit is out."

"Nothing special to call you home?"

"Oh, I help father, and go to school when there is one."

"Well," said the old light-keeper, fixing his eyes on the boy, "how
should you like to help to keep a lighthouse for three weeks?"

"Me?" said Dave eagerly.

"Yes, you.  You know I have an assistant, Timothy Waters.  He wants to
be off on a vacation for three weeks, and I must have somebody to take
his place. I want somebody who can work in there, sort of spry and
handy.  Now, I think you would do.  How should you like it?"

"When do you want to know?"

"The last of this week."

"I will go home to-morrow and talk it over with the folks, and I can get
you an answer by day after to-morrow."

"Yes, that will do."

Dave went home, obtained the consent of his parents, and the boat that
brought Timothy Waters to Shipton to begin his vacation took back to the
lighthouse Dave Fletcher and his trunk.  It was the light-keeper, Mr.
Toby Tolman, who brought the former assistant to Shipton, and then
accompanied Dave to Black Rocks.  It was a mild summer day. The wind
seemed too lazy to blow, and the sea too lazy to roll.  There were faint
little puffs of air at intervals, and along the bar and the shore the
low surf turned slowly over as if weary.  The light-tower and its red
annex the fog-signal tower rose up out of one sea of blue into another
of gold, and then above this sea of sunshine rolled another of blue
again, where the white-sailed clouds seemed to be all becalmed.  It was
low tide, and the light-keeper’s dory brushed against the exposed masses
of the ledge, weed-matted and brown, on which the lighthouse rested.

"This looks like home to me," said the keeper, when they had climbed the
ladder and gained the door in the fog-signal tower.  When they entered
the light-tower the keeper detained Dave and said, "I want to tell you
something about my home here on the rocks.  There, this tower is about
seventy feet high.  It is built as strong as they can make stone
masonry.  This is the first room.  We keep various stores here.  Do you
see this?"

Mr. Tolman with his foot tapped a round iron cover in the floor and then
raised it.

"Down here is the tank where we keep our fresh water."

The iron cover went down with a dull slam; and then he pointed out
various stores in the room--vegetables, wood, coal, and a quantity of
hand-grenades (glass flasks filled with a chemical, to be used in
putting out fires).

"How thick are the walls here, Mr. Tolman?"

"Four feet here of stone, solid; and then there is an inner wall of
brick, foot and a half thick.  Now we will go up into the kitchen.  You
saw those hand-grenades of ours.  Precious little here that will burn.
You see the stairways from room to room are of iron, and then every
floor has an iron deck covered with hard pine.  Ah, my fire is still
in!"

Yes, the kitchen stove had guarded well its fire, and the heat of the
room was tempered by a mild, cool draught of air that came through an
opened window from the flashing sea without.  Besides a softly-cushioned
rocking-chair near the stove, there were three chairs ranged near a
small dining-room table, and their language was, "You will find a
welcome here."  Clock, looking-glass, cupboard, lamp-shelf, and other
conveniences were in the room.

"Let’s take a peep at the next room," said the keeper.

Again they climbed an iron staircase, and reached a bedroom.  Besides a
single bed, there were a clothes-closet, three green chairs, a green
stand, a gilt-framed looking-glass, and on the wall several pictures of
sea-life.  The floor was covered with oil-cloth, and directly before the
bed was a rag mat that had a very domestic look.

"There--this is my room; and now we will go up into the assistant’s,
your quarters.  We will bring up your trunk directly," said the keeper.
This room was furnished like the keeper’s, only it had two chairs, and
before the bed was a strip of woollen carpet.

"I can put my trunk anywhere, I suppose, Mr. Tolman?"

"Anywhere you please."

"Mother gave me a few pictures, too, that she said I could stick up, to
make it look homelike."

"Just what I like to have you do.  Now for the watch-room."

This was at the head of another iron stairway, and held a small table, a
library-case, a green chest, two chairs, and a closet for the keeping of
curtains that might be used in the lantern, and other useful apparatus.

"This room is where we can sit and watch the lantern," explained the
keeper.

"And what is this?" asked Dave, pointing at a weight that hung down from
the ceiling.

"That weight?  It is a part of the machinery that turns round the lens
in the lantern.  Now, let us go up into the lantern."

The lantern was a circular room.  The walls were of iron, up to the
height of three feet, and cased with wood, and then there was a
succession of big panes of the clearest glass, making a broad window
that extended about all the lantern.  In the centre was a lens of "the
fourth order," shaped like a cone, and consisting of very strong
magnifying prisms of glass. Within this lens was a kerosene-lamp.

"There!" said Mr. Tolman; "all this tower of stone, all the arrangements
of the place, all the serving of the keeper and his assistant, all the
doing by day and the watching by night, is just to keep that little lamp
a-going.  Put out the lamp at night, and you might just as well send the
keepers home and tear down the lighthouse."

"It is not so big a lamp as I supposed."

"No; that is a small lamp for so big a light as folks outside see.  It
is this lens that does the work of magnifying."

"Can I step outside, sir?  I wanted to when we were down here that
night, but we did not have so good a chance for looking about."

"Oh yes."

Outside of the lantern was a "deck," about six feet broad, and
compassing the lantern.  It was a shelf of stone covered with iron.

"Good view here," said the keeper.

"Yes; nothing to hide the prospect," replied Dave. "There is Shipton up
beyond the harbour, and there is the sea in the other direction."

Only sea, sea, sea, to north, south, east--one wide, restless play of
blue water.

"The wind must blow up here sometimes, Mr. Tolman."

"Blow!  That is a mild word for it; and in winter it is cold.  It is no
warm job when we have to scrape the snow and ice off the lantern.  Folks
outside must see, and it is our place to let them see."

When the keeper and Dave returned to the kitchen, preparations for
dinner were started, and then Mr. Tolman said, "We have a few minutes to
spare, and I guess we will take up our boat."

"Take it up?"

"Well, if it should promise to be a quiet day I could moor it near the
light; but, of course, in rough weather, when everything is tumbling
round the rocks, I had better have it h’isted into a safe place. I’ll
show you."

"Isn’t it going to be quiet?" asked Dave eagerly. "I’d like to see a
storm out here."

"Better see it than feel it, I tell ye.  I don’t know but that it will
be fair," said the keeper, at the door of the fog-signal tower, looking
out upon the water, while a light breeze gently lifted and dropped the
thin gray locks on his brow.  "May be fair, but still--still--I don’t
know.  A bit hazy in the no’th-east."

"Oh, if it would storm!" said Dave enthusiastically.

The keeper smiled at his eagerness, and said: "I think you’ll have your
wish before you get through; and it’s a tough place out here in a storm,
the wind howling round the light, the big breakers thundering and
smashing along the bar, the spray flying up to the lantern, or, if there
is a fog, the old fog-horn screeching dismally.  What do you think of
it?  That don’t suit you, does it?"

"Oh, splendidly!"

"Well, we will get the boat up.  You see we have ’tackle and falls’
right here at the door, rigged overhead, you see, and we can get up
’most anything. If you will go down and make the boat fast, we will then
raise her."

Dave descended, attached the boat at her stern and bows to the suspended
tackle, and returned to the keeper’s side.  Then they pulled on the
ropes.  The boat came readily up, and hung opposite the door of the
fog-signal tower.

"Now we are all right," declared Dave.  "This is a fortress where we
have a boat, and can go off if we wish, but no enemy can get to us."

All this increased the keeper’s pleasure in witnessing the eagerness of
Dave.  At dinner the keeper rehearsed his duties, and added,--

"May not seem as if there was much to be done, but to keep everything in
good condition it takes some time, and then there may be fogs--oh my!"

This made Dave, of course, none the less anxious to hear the big
breakers booming against the lighthouse, and as an accompaniment the
fog-horn moaning hoarsely.  The keeper gave Dave his course of duties
during the day; and while they despatched dinner he told Dave also about
a heavy storm just "ten years ago that very day."  And this only fired
up Dave’s anxiety to see what the keeper termed "a howler."

"Don’t you feel lonely here sometimes, sir?"

"Well, we get used to almost everything.  I am only lonely when my
assistant is away; and if I am occupied, then loneliness don’t bother me
much.  I am generally pretty busy.  By sunrise my light must be out in
the lantern.  I must make a trip upstairs for that, any way.  Then there
is breakfast.  People’s appetites are apt to be pretty good out here,
and sometimes it is no small job just to do the cooking. I believe in
living well--in having plenty to eat, and in having a variety.  After
breakfast, first thing, Timothy and I have prayers--same as folks do at
home, you know.  Then we look after the lantern. That takes time--to
trim the lamp, keep the lens clean, and see that the windows of the
lantern are polished bright.  Then in the forenoon I do my
baking--bread, cake, and so on.  Well, if the fog should set in, that
would upset other arrangements, and we must watch the fog-signal.  Oh,
there is a lot to be done! Noon comes before one knows it.  In the
afternoon I like to get a little time to read; but then it may be foggy,
or one must go to town, or perhaps the town may come to us.  I have a
good many visitors in summer-time.  That makes a pleasant change."

"How do you manage at night?"

"We relieve one another.  One is on watch till twelve, and the other
takes his turn till sunrise.  I will make it as easy for you as I can,
and--"

"Oh, I can stand it."

"Well, we will see.  But speaking about daytime, one must make up then
for the sleep he loses at night. So you see the hours are filled up.  I
read in the night considerable.  I am going to propose one thing. You
will find some valuable books up in the library-case in the watch-room.
I want you to select one and read it.  I have been astonished to see how
much I could read by keeping at it sort of steady, as we say; giving
myself a stint perhaps every day, and sticking to it.  Hadn’t you better
try it?"

"I think I will."

Dave noticed that the light-keeper was very particular to have prayers
each morning directly after breakfast, and then at some other time
during the day he would be likely to be bending over his Bible. It was
an impressive sight.  The ocean might be rolling the heavy breakers
across the bar as if driving heavy, white-headed battering-rams toward
the land. Against the tower itself the ponderous billows would throw
themselves, and sweep in a crashing torrent between the light and
fog-signal towers.  Within, in the sheltered kitchen, the light-keeper
would sit at his table bending over his Bible, his countenance at rest
as the shadow of God’s great protecting promises fell over him.



                                  VI.

                                 _FOG._


"Here are some letters for you," said the light-keeper, returning from
Shipton one noon and handing Dave a package of letters.

"This is a funny-looking one," thought Dave.  "It is not written, but
printed.  Somebody sent it that did not know how to write.  Let me see
what it says:--


"’DEAR DAVIE I THOUGHT I WOULD WRITE YOU A LITTLE AND SAY I AM WELL AND
HOPE YOU ARE GRANSIR IS BETTER BECAUSE I READ TO HIM HE SAYS I LIKE MY
TEACHER SHE IS YOUR SISTER SHE SAYS SHE MAY TAKE ME TO THE LIGHTHOUSE
AND I WOULD LIKE TO COME I SHALL PRAY FOR YOU WHEN THE STORMS COME AND
EVERY DAY YOUR TRUE FRIEND

"’BARTHOLOMEW TRAFTON.’"


Dave was so much pleased with this communication that he read it to the
light-keeper.

"Dave, I wish you would invite your sister and her friends to come down
here.  Ask those boys who were with you in the schooner."

"That would be pleasant.  Thank you."

"I will try to make it interesting for them."

"Oh, I wish you would do one thing."

"What is that?"

"Tell us what you know about lighthouses."

"Well, let me think.  There is one thing I could do.  I have in my
drawer an account of lighthouses I have written off at spare moments,
just to keep me busy, you know, and I could read that."

"I think we would all like that very much."

"All right; let us plan for a visit."

"I think you have had some visitors since you have been here that you
did not plan for."

"Yes, indeed; and they may come any time, just as your party surprised
me.  Sometimes, though near me, they may not get to me.  I was saying
the first day you came here it was the tenth anniversary of a great
storm.  It was a foreign vessel, a Norwegian bark.  The vessel struck on
the bar--"

"Couldn’t they see the light?"

"The fog was very thick, so that they couldn’t have got much warning
from the light.  The first thing to do now in a fog, of course, is to
start the signal.  But we had none then--only an old bell I used to
strike; but when the wind was to south’ard it carried away from the bar
the sound of the bell.  This was a southerly storm, and such storms are
not likely to be long, but they may blow very hard while they do last. I
heard the storm roaring through the night; and when I looked out in the
morning, there was this vessel just on the bar!  Oh, what a tumult she
was in!  Such a raging of the waves all around that vessel!  I always go
off to the help of people if I can reach them; but there was no reaching
that vessel with a boat.  Yes, I could see them and they could see me in
the morning, when the fog lifted, but there was no getting from one to
the other.  I could see them clinging to the rigging, hanging there as
long as the waves would let them.  I would watch some immense sea--and
they roll up big in a storm, I tell ye--come rushing at the vessel,
rolling over it, completely burying the deck.  After such seas some one
would be missing. I never want to see that sight again.  There they were
dying, and I couldn’t get anywhere near them! The vessel did not break
up at once.  She was there the next day, and I went to her, and others
went, but we found nobody aboard.  I think they saved part of her cargo;
but the waves pounded her up fearfully, and carried off many things of
her cargo.  One by one they came ashore.  It did touch me one day, when
I was down on the rocks fishing, near the lighthouse at low tide, to see
something floating on the water. ’Why, that is a box,’ I said.  We are
all curious, you know, and I wondered what was in that box.  I went to
the lighthouse, got a long pole, and reached the box and brought it
ashore.  I’ll show it to you if you would like to see it."

"I would, very much."

"I have always kept it here, for it seems to belong to the lighthouse
rather than anywhere else.  Here it is."

He went to the closet in the kitchen, and reaching up to the highest
shelf, took down a box of sandalwood.  It was an elaborately carved
piece of work, and had served among the articles for a lady’s toilet.
When the light-keeper opened it Dave saw two handkerchiefs, a
hair-brush, a comb, and there was also a man’s picture.  Dave looked
with interest at this relic washed up out of the buried secrets of the
sea, and still keeping its own secret there in the light-keeper’s
kitchen.

"Did you ever get any clue to the ownership of this, Mr. Tolman?" asked
Dave.

"Let me tell you of one strange thing that happened about a year ago.
One night I was very sure I heard a cry out on the bar.  The waves make
so much noise that it is hard to hear anybody if they do shout; but
sometimes when the sea is still you can hear a call. Said I to Waters,
’Timothy, I hear a hollering.’  Said he, ’I think I hear it myself.  Let
us go to the door and listen.’  We were both in the kitchen, you know.
’Twas the fore part of the evening, though dark.  Sure enough, at the
door we could hear somebody shout. ’Timothy,’ said I, ’that is a plain
case.  Let’s launch the boat.’  So off we put.  The person kept
hollering and we kept rowing.  There on the bar we found a man.  Crazy
he acted, and he couldn’t tell much about himself--how he got there, or
where his boat was. He was not sober.  On our way to the light what
should we run into but a boat.  ’Here is the rest of him,’ whispered
Timothy.  We took him and his boat to the light.  How we got him up the
ladder I don’t know, but we tied a rope round him, and drew him, and
shoved him, and somehow got him into the lighthouse.  The next morning
he was entirely sober.  Of course he was very much ashamed, but he could
not give any account of himself, only that he had been in a boat and had
trouble.  Well, for some reason I had that box down from the shelf that
morning he left, and I had been looking at it.  He saw it.  He started
as if the box had struck him.  He stepped up to it softly, looked into
it, and said, with an amazed look as I ever saw on a person,
’Where--where--did you get it?’  ’It floated from a wreck off here.’
’Anybody ever claim it?’  ’Never,’ I said;  ’but I am ready to give it
up to any claimant.’  ’Well,’ said he, ’if anybody comes and claims it,
you give it up; but if not, don’t part with it till you hear from me.’
I asked him what he meant; but he would make no explanation, only
repeating his request.  He was very grateful for what we had done, and I
took the liberty to say in a proper way that he must take warning, or he
would be wrecked on a bar where there would be no saving.  He burst into
tears, thanked me, said he knew he was a great fool, and left in his
boat.  We watched him, and saw him row to a vessel lying at anchor in
the harbour.  Then we guessed he had been ashore the day before in the
ship’s boat, and got into mischief.  I told Timothy we would find out
about the vessel; but a fog came up and kept us here.  She slipped out
to sea as much a stranger as ever.  Fishermen afterwards told us it was
a vessel that ran in for shelter.

"From that day to this I have never heard about the man.  Sometimes I
think it was a foreigner; again I fancy it is somebody at Shipton, but I
could not say.  I am there very little to know about people; and Timothy
couldn’t tell about it.  He don’t belong to Shipton.  There is the box.
Pretty, isn’t it?"

Dave nodded a yes.

"Mr. Tolman, could you tell the man if you should see him again?" asked
Dave.

"Could I?  yes, indeed."

"How did he look?  What was the colour of his hair, his eyes; and how
was he dressed?"

"Now--you will think it strange--I can’t tell any of his features or
what clothes he wore, and yet if I should see him I don’t believe I
should miss him.  I could tell him by the look of his eyes--a look that
somehow appealed to me--a look without hope.  Often when at night I see
the froth on the bar in the moonlight, I seem to hear that man calling
to me, and I take it as a sign that he is still in a worse fix than if
on the bar.  It is an awful curse, rum, and I am a sworn foe to it."

Here the light-keeper placed the sandal-wood box again on its shelf, and
Dave turned to look out of the window near the kitchen table.

"See here, Mr. Tolman; what’s that?"

"Where?"

"Floating and curling over that point!"

"Can’t you guess?"

"Looks like fog!  Yes, I can see now plainly. Oh, can we start up the
fog-signal?"

"Wait a while.  When the fog is so thick that you can’t see Breakers
P’int, then we start the fog-signal. That is the sign in that direction.
On the other side of the lighthouse it is Jones’s Neck that must be
hidden.  I guess both the P’int and the Neck will be covered this time.
I must start the fire in the engine and have everything ready, at any
rate.  Let us go into the fog-signal tower."

Dave was delighted.

"I suppose, Mr. Tolman, people like to hear the signal?"

"Yes, if in a fog.  They want to know which way to go.  Even fishermen
about here, who are supposed to know the way about the harbour, may be
bothered by the fog; but people just off for pleasure may be bothered a
good deal."

"See here!  Isn’t the fog lifting round Jones’s Neck, Mr. Tolman?"

Dave was looking out of a window in the tower, and Mr. Tolman joined
him.

"You are right; and Breakers P’int is clear too. We will hold on then,
have everything ready, you know, for the fog may shut down suddenly."

Dave continued to look out of the window.

"Coming again!" he cried to the light-keeper, who had kept up his fires
in the engine-room, but had gone for a few minutes to the kitchen.  "Fog
is round Breakers Point and Jones’s Neck!"

Yes: like an immense gray sponge the mist had once more advanced, wiping
out the vessels slowly sailing into harbour, the far outlying points of
land, and now erased an islet called the Nub, mingling all in one
confusing cloud.

"All right," said the light-keeper; "we will start the signal."

There was the driving of a stout piston; there was the stirring of a big
wheel; there was the movement of other machinery; and there was
finally--"What a noise overhead!" thought the listening Dave.  It seemed
as if five thousand bees all buzzing at once, twenty-five thousand
crickets all shrilly piping at once, and fifty thousand wood-sawyers all
sawing at once, had combined their noises and were forcing all through
the flaming fog-trumpet above. For ten seconds Dave held his fingers in
his ears. Then there was a blessed stillness, save as the play of the
machinery interrupted it.

"What do you think of that?" asked Mr. Tolman, grinning broadly.  "Some
lung power left in it yet."

"Lung power!  They can hear that down to the Cape of Good Hope.  One is
enough for both sides of the ocean."

"Want another?  Time is ’most up.  Here she goes!"

She went.

"Toot--buzz--boom--whiz--fizz-z-z--bim-m-m-m!"

Among the breakers tumbling on the sandy shores, along the face of
weather-beaten island-edges, down amid the waves and up in the clouds
echoed the sharp, strong, fog-piercing, ear-cutting blast.  And wherever
it went it said, "Of fog I warn-n-n-n-n!" for ten seconds.

In one of the intervals of rest Dave remarked, "Now that must be kept up
as long as the fog lasts?"

"Of course."

"Doesn’t it get tiresome?"

"Well, that’s how you take it.  I was told of a lighthouse where the
signal was going twenty-one days."

"Day after day!  Just think of it!"

"Well, there is this side of it: off on the water there is somebody
bewildered by the mist, perplexed day after day, it may be, and they
catch the sound of the signal.  Oh, ain’t that good news?  That’s what
makes me contented at it.  I have sometimes wished I was a musician, and
could please others by my playing; but I tell you I have stood by this
old engine dark, rainy, foggy nights, and oh, I have been so happy
starting up and sending out this old whistle. There it is!"

"Toot--buzz--boom--whiz--bim-m-m-m!"

"Somebody heard that, you may believe, and somebody, too, more pleased
than if I had been a whole band of music, and had sent out just the
sweetest tune."

The light-keeper stood by the tugging engine and wiped the perspiration
from his brow, and his big, rosy face was as happy as that of a
school-boy going off on a long vacation.

"Hark! what is that?  Sounds like a bell," said Dave.

"It is the bell-buoy at Sunk Rock.  We only hear that when the wind is
blowing off the sea."

"Didn’t hear it before."

"Wind hasn’t been just right to hear it loud.  I have caught it since
you came; but then I am used to its sound, and can tell it easily."

"I must see it."

"Oh, we shall have a chance, I guess."

The fog-signal had been shrieking away an hour, and Dave heard another
sound.

"That isn’t a bell I hear now," he said.

"Well, no; that’s a hollering."

Was it a cry from the lighthouse tower or a cry outside of it? a cry
from what quarter?  Dave looked out of a window near him.  He could see
only fog above and waves below.

"I will go down to the door and try to see who or what it is," said
Dave, "for there is that cry again."

He descended to the door of the tower and looked down through the hole
in the platform.  Then he saw a dory tossing in the water that now
flowed all about the tower, swashing against its iron walls.  There was
a boy in the boat.  He was not looking up, but clinging to a rope
stretched for purposes of mooring from the tower to a sunken rock forty
feet away. Steadying his boat by this rope, he was waiting for some
response to his repeated calls.

"Hullo, there!" shouted Dave.

The boy looked up, still grasping the rope.

"That you, Dave?"

"Yes.  That you, Dick?  Where did you come from?"

"Yes, Dick Pray, and nobody else."

"Won’t you come up?"

"Well, yes, I should like to, but the water is uneasy.  Can’t get out of
my boat."

"Hold on; I will come down and help you."  He stepped within the tower
and reported, "Mr. Tolman, this fog has brought somebody."

"Don’t wonder at it.  Give him any help he needs."

"I want a short rope."

"There’s one hanging on that nail."

Dave took the rope, went to the door of the tower, and descended the
ladder.

"Here, Dick!  Take your painter and tie it to that mooring-rope,
allowing enough slack to bring your boat almost to the tower and yet not
touch it. There! if that length isn’t right you can try it again.  Now
catch this rope and make fast to the stern there.  So!  That’s it!  Now
I’ll pull you in."

Dave drew on his end of the rope, and pulled Dick’s boat so near the
ladder that Dick could spring to it, and yet the boat itself was left to
swing in the waves while it could not strike the tower.

"I’ll just make fast my end of the rope, Dick, and we will go up the
ladder."

"All right.  Glad to get out of that old boat and go up with you."

"Why, where under the sun and moon have you been?"

"Me?  Been camping out on the Nub."

"You haven’t!"

"But I have."

"That your tent over there?"

"Mine and Sam Whittles’s."

"Tolman and I noticed it to-day for the first time. How long have you
been there?"

"Long enough to eat you or Toby Tolman--you may draw lots for the
honour--if you don’t give me some food."

"Oh, we will soon give you that.  Among other things I will give you
some fish.  Got some splendid cunners, and I will divide with you."

"Good!  I could eat ’em raw.  Hungry as a shark. Sam is hungrier.  I
don’t know as he will wait for me, but throw himself into the water and
go after the fish himself."

"O Dickie, we will make you feel like a new being.  Come in and see
Tolman.  He is a splendid old fellow.  Come in this way."

The boys went up into the engine-room.

"An old acquaintance, Mr. Tolman," said Dave.

"I see, I see," replied the light-keeper, recognizing Dick as one of the
schooner party.

"Whiz--bim--fizz--"

"It sounded splendid out at Shag Rocks," shouted Dick to the
light-keeper.

"You been there?" inquired Mr. Tolman.

"Yes; and this old fog came up and confused me, and I didn’t know where
I was, and I heard the signal and I put for it," said Dick.

"Out there fishing?"

"Yes, sir; or--I wanted to fish, but didn’t catch a fin."

"Shag Rocks you went to?"

"Yes, sir; two ledges with a strip of sand between them."

"Oh, those are ’Spectacle Rocks,’ as the fishermen say.  They look like
a pair of spectacles.  You wouldn’t catch much there.  Shag Rocks are to
the nor’ard."

"Well, I’m willing they should stay there."

"Next time, you come here.  Splendid chance off this very ledge; Black
Rocks, as we call them."

"That would be wise, I think."

"Well, make yourself at home.--Dave, you give him something to eat."

"I thought I would let him have some of those cunners to take with him."

"So do, but give him something now.--And you don’t want to go back in
this fog?"

"Well, I’d rather have clear weather if I have got to find the Nub,"
said Dick.

The fog, though, refused to clear up that day, and Dick remained all
night.

"I pity Sam," he told Dave; "but he has got a teapot, and he must live
on that till morning.  I’ll give him a surprise to-morrow, I tell you.
I will throw my line into the water off these rocks here, and carry to
camp a string of fish worth having.  I’ll open Sam’s eyes for him."

Dick, though, overslept his intended hour of rising. It was Dave who
came rushing into the assistant-keeper’s room, where Dick had been
sleeping, and he cried, "Dick, Dick! there is a furious shouting for
you.  Two men and a young fellow are down in a boat at the foot of the
tower, and want you."

"I’ll be there directly," said Dick, springing out of his bed.  He
dressed quickly, and rushed down to the door of the signal-tower.
Looking below, he exclaimed, "That you, Sam Whittles?"

"Yes.  Where have you been?  Didn’t sleep a wink last night.  Thought
you were drowned and everything else.  Got these two fishermen who came
along to pull me here in their boat.  Come, boy, come home!"

"Fury!" said Dick in his thoughts.  "Won’t--won’t you come up?" he asked
aloud.  "I was going to surprise you, take you some fish, and so on."

"Fish!" said Sam contemptuously; "these men will sell it to me by the
acre."

"Squar mile, ef he wants it," said one of these piscatory individuals,
looking up and grinning.

"Won’t you all come up?" asked Dave Fletcher.

"Can’t, thank you," said Sam.  "Just throw that Jonah overboard, and we
will go home."

"Jonah" said it was "too bad," and stole down the ladder, feeling worse
than on the day he returned in the runaway schooner.



                                  VII.

                         _THE CAMP AT THE NUB._


Two days later the light-keeper gave Dave a holiday, that he might spend
a day at the Nub.  Dick Pray came after him, and as he rowed off from
the lighthouse he called out to the keeper, who stood in the tower door,
"Don’t worry about your assistant.  I will bring him home after dinner.
Get here by four."

The keeper nodded his head.  He said to himself, "May be; but if I don’t
see a boat starting off from the Nub by a quarter of four, I shan’t
leave it to you to bring him, but go myself for him.  You are great on
what you are going to do; I like the kind that does."

It was a pleasant boat-ride to the Nub.

"Welcome!" shouted several young men in chorus as Dick’s dory neared the
shore of the Nub.  They stood on a broad, flat stone, for which the
rock-weed had woven a brown mat, and on the crown of the ledge behind
them rose a tent tipped with a dirty flag.

"Hurrah!" responded Dick.

"Hurrah!" shouted Dave.

"I thought, Dick," said Dave, "only Sam Whittles was here."

"Oh, these fellers came down last night.  Just to spend a couple of
days, you know."

"Who are they?"

"Oh, Jimmy Dawes, I believe, and there’s Steve Pettigrew and a Keese
Junkins."

Dave’s feelings of like and dislike were very quick in their operation,
and he now said to himself, "Don’t fancy those specimens!"

They were showily rather than tastefully dressed, strutted about with a
self-important air, and their talk was loud, coarse, and slangy.

"Who is that little fellow?" asked Dave, noticing a small boy in the
rear of the tent.

"Oh, that is a kind of servant they brought down with them.  He came
down, and waits on them just for his board.  He is a queer chap, and
makes fun for us all.  We call him Dovey.  Don’t know what his real name
is.  Splendid place here for camp!"

"Tolman doesn’t like it; says you can’t get on or off easy."

"O Dave, Tolman is an old fogey.  But here we are."

The boat was bumping against the landing-rock, and Dick and Dave
disembarked amid a chorus of "How are ye?" "Step ashore!" and other
friendly salutations.  So cordial were these that Dave’s dislike was put
to sleep, and he said to himself, "They are pleasant.  Good-hearted, I
daresay."

The tent within was an assortment of bedding, camp-chests, old clothes,
and provisions, all mixed up in great confusion.  Dave thought the
outside of the tent would be more agreeable than the inside, which was
clouded with tobacco smoke.  He took a seat without, and looked off upon
the sea.  It was a vivid summer day.  All the colouring of nature was
very bright and sharp.  The sky was very blue; the clouds were very
white; the water was very dark, and the foam of the breakers white as
the flakes scattered by the storms of January.  Dick and the others were
discussing plans for dinner.  As Dave sat alone, watching the white
sails slowly drifting across the distant sea, a light hand was laid on
his shoulder by some one who had stepped up behind him.  It was not a
big, coarse hand, but a gentle pressure such as a child might make.

"Oh, it is the boy Dick told about," thought Dave; "it’s that Dovey."
He looked up, and to his surprise there was Little Mew!

"Why, Bartie, you down here?" exclaimed Dave, turning and looking with
interest at the small, twisted features of Bartholomew Trafton.

"Yes; and I am glad to see you.  Did you get my letter?"

Bart had seated himself beside Dave, and rested his hand on Dave’s knee
as if he were a little boat gladly tying up to a friendly pier.

[Illustration: "Bart seated himself beside Dave and rested his hand on
his knee."  _Page 97_.]]

"Yes, I got your letter, and it was a very nice one. There is a party,
too, coming down to the lighthouse, and I thought you might be in it.
My sister will be one, I expect."

"Teacher?"

"Yes; and Mr. James Tolman, my teacher when I was in the school, is
going to bring them."

"Oh, I wish I could go.  I don’t like it here."

As he spoke he turned his head and looked about as if to make sure that
no one heard him save Dave.

"Well, how did you come here?"

"Reese Junkins," said Bartie, again looking back. "He lives near us.  He
came to the house and told gran’sir and granny they wanted a boy to go
with them and just wait in the tent, and he would look after me, and I
might like it.  But I don’t like it."

Here if his eyes had been straight, and Dave had followed their glance,
he would have noticed that Bartie was looking at a basket of bottles
near a rear corner of the tent.

"I don’t like to be with such people; they make too much noise."

He bravely concealed the fact that they made fun of him, though his soul
was vexed and torn by their unkind jokes.

"Well, you know Dick."

"Yes; but he has forgotten me.  He only saw me that day."

That day meant the time of the rescue from the water.  Dave looked into
the face turned trustingly toward his own.

"Don’t you worry, Bartie; I will look after you."

The boy looked up so gratefully, and the hand on Dave’s knee pressed
harder.  The little boat rejoiced to have found such good moorings.

                                  ――――

About half-past three Dave said to Dick, "I think I must be going, if
you can row me across.  You know I said I would be back by four, and I
shall be needed at the light."

"All right," replied Dick.

"Going?" called out Sam.  "Don’t hurry."

"Thank you; but I think I must be starting," said Dave.

"Don’t go!"

This last was a timid, pitiful voice.

Dave turned, and there was Little Mew.

"Oh, I must go, Bartie.  You see I said I would go back this afternoon,
and the keeper will look for me at the light."

"Oh take me!" he begged aside.

"You really want to go--really, Bartie?"

"Oh yes; I’ll ask them."

Bart turned to Dick and Sam, and asked if he could go to the lighthouse.

"We have no objection," they said.

"Very well," said Dave, who saw the place was a prison for the little
fellow.

But what did it mean that Steve, Billy, and Reese leaned against the
boat, and looked sullen as a fog-bank on the horizon?

"You can’t have this boat!" muttered Steve.

"But it’s one I borrowed," shouted Dick angrily. "Hands off!  This
fellow is my company, and he shall be treated as he ought to be."

"We will row him over ourselves in the morning, or--or--maybe--we will
spill him out half-way across.  Ha! ha!"

Billy’s tone was sarcastic and offensive.

"No, you won’t!" said Dave, who, indignant beyond the power to quietly
state his feeling, had remained silent.  "Somebody’s coming after me."

"What?" said Reese in amazement, looking toward Black Rocks.

"Who’s a-coming?"

They all looked off and saw a dory advancing from the direction of the
lighthouse.

"That’s Tolman, the light-keeper!" explained Dick.

"Who cares for Tolman, the light-keeper?--Boy," said Billy Dawes,
turning to Dave and shaking a dirty fist insultingly, "we don’t want
anything to do with you."

"You may be glad to have my help," replied Dave.

"No help from babies.  Remember that," said Billy.

Dave’s face was red with wrath.  What would he do?  He was in no danger,
for close at hand was Toby Tolman, a champion of no mean size, and the
rowdies stupidly gazed at him rowing his boat with all the ease of a
strong, skilled oarsman.

"All ready!" exclaimed Dave, advancing to meet the light-keeper’s boat.
"Good-bye, Dick."

"Oh--oh--take me!" sobbed Bart.

"What does that booby want?" asked Reese.

"He wants to go to the lighthouse," explained Sam.

"Well, let him go," replied Reese.  "He has been a bother ever since he
came."

With what joy Bart’s small legs wriggled over the side of the keeper’s
dory!

"This little fellow, in whom I am interested, wants to go, if you will
let him," said Dave to the light-keeper; "and he can go to Shipton with
the party expecting to come down, you know, to visit us."

"All right; and tumble in yourself, Dave."

"Here I am!" replied Dave.  "Let me push off!"

Toby Tolman’s boat was quickly rising and falling with the sea that
rocked about the Nub, and the departure was watched in an amazed,
ignoble silence by the three rowdies leaning against Dick’s boat.

"I am so much obliged to you for coming," said Dave to the keeper,
"though I did not mean to trouble you.  Things were rather squally at
the Nub, and you came just in time.  I will tell you about it."

When Dave had given his story, the light-keeper, resting on his oars,
exclaimed, "There!  I guessed as much.  I didn’t feel easy about you.
That Dick is a well-meaning boy, I don’t doubt; but when I found out
that Sam Whittles was with him, I guessed what kind of a camp they would
have at the Nub, and it seems my guess was about right.--And this little
lamb?"

Bart’s eyes brightened at this pitying title; the appellatives bestowed
upon him had generally been of a different nature.

It was a happy party that went into the lighthouse after the trip from
the Nub.

"Oh, isn’t this nice!" cried Bart, as he entered the kitchen.  The sense
of peaceful, safe seclusion, the warm fire in the kitchen stove, above
all, the protecting friends near him, made the place seem like--Bart
whispered to himself what he thought it must be like--"heaven!"

When he thought of the Nub he shuddered.

What a happy boy it was that tumbled into the bed where the keeper told
him he could sleep that night!  Dave added to his happiness by an
acknowledgment made.  "Bartie," he whispered.

"What, Davie?"

"I owe you a good deal for stopping me at the dinner at the Nub."

"Stopping you?"

"When I didn’t think, and lifted that glass, you know."

"Oh, but you wouldn’t have touched it."

"If you had not been there, Bart, I don’t know what might have
happened."

"Oh, I am sure you would have come out all right," shouted confidently
this diminutive mentor.  And yet as he was falling asleep that night,
hushed by the sound of the waves musically breaking against the walls of
the lighthouse, a thought came to him and steeped his soul in comfort,
that as Dave might have yielded, he--just Little Mew--might have been of
some use, and so not for nought had God sent into the world this puny
little fellow.



                                 VIII.

                              _VISITORS._


Into the kitchen of the old lighthouse they came trooping the next
day--Annie Fletcher, with all her winning vivacity; Jimmy Davis and his
sister Belle, Dab and John Richards, and May Tolman, with her black,
lustrous eyes, in which diamonds seemed to be dissolving continually (so
Dave thought).  May Tolman was the light-keeper’s granddaughter.  Then
there was Mr. James Tolman, who came as skipper of the sail-boat
bringing the party.  Dave and Bart joined them at the door of the
fog-signal tower; and to what a scampering, laughing, singing, and
shouting did the gray stone walls listen as this flock of young people
hurried in!  Behind all was the gray-haired keeper; but no heart was
lighter than his that day. Unobserved he went to a window through which
blew the cool, sweet, strong air from the sea, and he silently thanked
God for the gift of youth renewed that day in his own soul and lifting
him on wings, so that he too wanted to sing and shout, to race up and
down the iron stairs, to clap his hands jubilantly, as from the parapet
around the lantern he saw the breakers foam below and the white
sea-gulls soar up and then down on strong, steady wing.

"Yes, bless God, I am still young--and ever shall be," thought the old
light-keeper.  Ah, he had renewed his youth long ago at the fountains of
spiritual life, in the drinking of whose waters the soul becomes
perennial in a new sense.

"Now, what shall I do for all these young folks?" he said to himself.
"I will certainly do whatever I can."

He showed them the lighthouse from storeroom to lantern, and then he
carried them into the engine-room of the fog-signal tower and explained
all the machinery there.

"_If_--if--we could only hear one toot!" exclaimed Annie Fletcher.

"Maybe the fog will come," replied Toby Tolman.

"Oh, if it would!" said Annie; and--it didn’t.

"Too bad," everybody said.

"What else can I do?" wondered the light-keeper. Dave reminded him of
one thing.

"Oh yes," the keeper replied.  "Well, get them all together in the
kitchen."

There clustered, the keeper told them, if they would excuse it, he would
by request read them something about lighthouses.

"Don’t expect much, though," he warned them, as he lifted his spectacles
and adjusted them to his sight. "I have written this off at different
times, perhaps in the evening when I have been watching, or in a storm
when I could catch a little rest from work, or when I felt a bit lonely
and wanted something to occupy me.  I won’t read all I have got, only
what I think will interest.  I first speak of ancient lighthouses."

Hemming vigorously several times, blushing modestly behind his
spectacles in the consciousness that the world was summoning him forth
to be a lecturer, he then began:--

"I suppose the first lighthouses were very simple--that is, they were
not lighthouses at all, but men just built big fires and kept them
burning at points along an ugly shore, or to show where a harbour was.
Not long ago I was looking at a picture of a lighthouse doing work in
our day and generation in Eastern Asia.  It looked like a structure of
wood.  It probably had on top a hearth of some kind of earth, for there
a fire was burning away.  Not far off was the water.  That looked
primitive.

"If one turns to Rollin’s ’Ancient History,’ he will find in the first
volume an interesting account of an old lighthouse, and it was so
wonderful they called it one of the seven wonders of the world.  It was
built by order of Ptolemy Philadelphus, and he laid out eight hundred
talents on it.  One estimate of the value of this sum would bring it
pretty well up to £180,000.  As it stood on an island called Pharos,
near Alexandria, the tower had the name of the island. That has given a
name to like towers.  In French, I am told, the word _phare_ means
’lighthouse.’  In Spanish, _faro_ means ’lighthouse.’  In English, too,
when we say a pharos, we know, or ought to know, what it means.  I can
see how useful this old lighthouse may have been.  On its top a fire was
kindled.  Alexandria was in Egypt, and the city is standing to-day, as
we all know.  It had at that time a very extensive trade, and as the
sea-coast there is a dangerous one, it was very important that the ships
should have some guide at night.  I can seem to see the old craft of
those days plodding along, the sailors wondering which way to go, when
lo, on Pharos’s lofty tower blazes a fire to tell them their course.

"The architect of this tower was Sostratus, and there was an inscription
on the tower said to have read this way: ’Sostratus, the Cnidian, son of
Dexiphanes, to the protecting deities, for the use of sea-faring
people.’  His master, Ptolemy Philadelphus, was thought to have been
very generous because he allowed the putting of Sostratus’s name in
place of his own.  But Sostratus’s name seems to have been put there by
a trick, and it was finally found out. Sostratus cut in the marble this
inscription that had his name; but what did he do but cover it with
plaster! In the lime he traced the name of the king.  How pleased
Ptolemy must have been to see his name there! The lime, though, crumbled
finally, and the king’s name crumbled with it, and the tricky
architect’s inscription came out into notice.  This lighthouse was built
about three hundred years before Christ.

"In later years the tower of Dover Castle was used as a lighthouse.  It
was called Caesar’s Altar.  Great fires of logs were kept burning on the
top.  This was before the time of the Conquest, so called in English
history.  Then at the end of the sixteenth century a famous lighthouse a
hundred and ninety-seven feet high was built at the mouth of the Garonne
in France.

"About fourteen miles off Plymouth are the Eddystone Rocks.  They are
very much exposed to south-western seas.  One light-builder was
Winstanley, and he was at his work four seasons, finishing in 1698.  The
lighthouse was eighty feet high.  Made stouter and carried higher
afterward, it was almost a hundred and twenty feet high.  It stood until
November 20, 1703.  A very fierce blow of wind occurred then, and the
tower was wrecked by the storm.  Two grave mistakes were made.  Its
shape was a polygon, and not circular.  Waves like to have corners to
butt against, and these should therefore be avoided.  It was highly
ornamented for a lighthouse, and ornaments are what winds and waves are
fond of.  It gives them a chance to get a good grip on a building and
bring it down.--In 1706 one Rudyerd thought he would try his hand, and
he did much better.  The tower was built principally of oak; yet when
finished it stood for forty-six years, fire bringing it down in 1755.
Its form commended it, for it was like the frustum of a cone, circular,
and was without fancy work for the waves to take hold of.--In 1756
Smeaton began to build at Eddystone his famous tower.  He was the first
engineer who built a sea-tower of masonry and dovetailed the joints.
The stones averaged a ton in weight.  He reduced the diameter of the
tower at a small height above the rock.  He reasoned about the
resemblance of a tower exposed to the surf and an oak tree that faces
the wind.  That has been shown not to be good reasoning; and looking at
the shape of his tower, I should say the idea would not stand fire--or
in this case water; for if at a small distance above the rock you reduce
the diameter of the tower very much, it gives the waves a good chance to
crowd down on the sides of the tower.  However, Smeaton’s tower stood a
good many years.  Its very weight enabled it to offer great resistance
to the waves, and weight is one thing we must secure hi a tower,
avoiding ornament and all silly gingerbread work.  In 1882 a new tower
was built in place of Smeaton’s."

The light-keeper then gave some details of our lighthouse service.  His
paper deeply interested his auditors.

Subsequently Annie Fletcher asked, "What is that ringing like the sound
of a little church-bell?"

"Then your ears were quick enough to catch it?" replied the keeper.
"The window, too, is up, and so you could hear it.  That is a bell-buoy
at a bad ledge off in the sea."

"A bell-buoy?" asked Annie.

"Yes.  It is a frame from whose top is suspended a bell.  The bell is
fixed, while the tongue, of course, is movable.  The buoy floats on the
water--fastened, you know, to the rocks beneath; and as the waves move
the buoy the bell moves with it, and rings also--like a cradle rocking!"

"The buoy is the cradle, and the bell is the baby in it," suggested
Dave.

"And waves are the mother’s hand rocking the cradle," added May Tolman.

"Mother’s hand--that is, the ocean--is pretty rough out there
sometimes," said the light-keeper.  "In a storm, when the wind brings
the sound this way, the baby cries pretty loud."

"It squalls," declared Dave.

"I’d like to see that bell-buoy," said Johnny Richards.

"Should you?" replied the keeper.  "Well, the sea is smooth, and we can
all go easily in two boats.--James, you manage one, and I’ll cap’n the
other.  It won’t take more than twenty minutes to row there."

The two boats now commenced their journey.

The two boats from the lighthouse were quickly at the bell-buoy.  It was
a bell hung in a frame, which was swung by the waves.  It was an object
of deep interest to the visitors, and they lingered about it, and then
rowed back to the lighthouse.



                                  IX.

                           _THAT OPEN BOOK._


Toby Tolman, keeper of the light at Black Rocks, sat by the kitchen
stove in this lighthouse on the frothing, stony rim of the sea.  He
liked the seclusion of this kitchen in the strong rock tower. He liked
to hear the steady beating of the clock--"tick, tick, tick, tick."  He
liked the feeling, too, of the warm fire, and especially on this cool,
windy day. True it was August, but then the wind was blowing from the
north-west as if from an ice-floe up in Alaska, and the air was chilly.
As he glanced out of either of the two windows--the deep recessed
windows in the kitchen--he saw a cold, angry sea broken up into little
waves, each seeming to carry a white snow-flake of the size of the crest
of the wave.  The distant ships, too, had a cold look, as if they also
were snowflakes.

"A cool day," thought the light-keeper; "and the fire feels good."

While he was in the kitchen Dave was up in the watch-room, hunting in
the little library for a history he meant to read, in accordance with a
plan suggested by the keeper, "a little every day, and to keep at it."

Mr. Tolman had a book in his lap--"The best book in the world," he said
to himself.  It was his big-print Bible, and especially did he rejoice
in that sense of protection, its promises give on days like this, when
he heard the wind rushing and storming at the window, suggestive of the
wild tempests that might blow any hour.

Just this moment the keeper was not reading.  He was thinking, and the
Bible was the occasion of his meditation about Dave Fletcher.

"I don’t see Dave reading his Bible much," he said to himself; "and I
don’t believe he cares very much about prayer--acts that way, at any
rate.  I should like to help him; but how?"

He called Dave before his mind, this brown-haired, blue-eyed boy, with
his quiet manners and methods, but, as the keeper put it, "loaded with a
lot of grit."

"Yes, I should like to help that boy," continued the keeper in his
thoughts.  "I would like to influence him to be a Christian; but how, I
wonder?  He is one of that kind of self-reliant chaps you feel that he
had rather find out a thing himself than be told of it.  He doesn’t want
me, I know, to tell him all the time about his duty, and yet--yet--I
should like to influence him, and I wonder how?"

Of course, there was one’s example first of all.

"Try to do what I can here," thought the keeper. "I might speak to him,
though I don’t want to run the thing into the ground.  Well, I shall be
guided."

The thought came to him, "Now there is a bit of a thing I can do which
certainly won’t do harm."

The thought was just to leave his Bible open on the kitchen table.

"Perhaps he may see a verse," thought the keeper, "and it will set him
to thinking."

After that on the table would lie the keeper’s Bible turned back to some
impressive chapter.  Dave would have been uneasy if in contact with some
styles of religion, but such a kindly natured, sunny, generous, and
tolerant soul as Toby Tolman he could not find disagreeable.  Toby’s
religion was never obtrusive, never unpleasantly in the way of people;
though always prominent, out in open sight, it was the prominence of the
sunshine, of a bird’s happy singing, of nature on a spring morning.
Dave felt it, but he was a silent lad over important subjects.  He was
different from his sister Annie.  If her soul were stirred by any
profound emotion, she must in some way give expression to it.  Dave,
though, would look very serious and continue silent.  His mother, who
knew him so well, said that Dave felt most when he said the least, and
the hours of his greatest stillness were to her the surest signs of an
intense activity within.

"Dave is fullest when he seems to be emptiest," Mrs. Fletcher would say.
Because now-a-days at the light he would often have long seasons of
silence, was it any sign of mental occupation?

"I don’t think I understand that boy yet," was Toby Tolman’s thought.
"He is thinking about something, I know."

It was a day near the close of Dave’s stay at the lighthouse that the
keeper said in the morning,--"Beautiful day!  Everything just as calm!
It seems as if it would stay so always, but it won’t."

How the sea might rock and roar in twenty-four hours!  The lighthouse
was very peaceful.  The morning’s work was despatched promptly, and the
tower was very quiet.  With any rocking, roaring sea would come a change
in the life of the tower.  There would be hurrying feet, and the
fog-signal would shriek out its sharp, piercing warning.

The flow of life in nature, though, out on the sea, up in the sky, was
undisturbed all that day, and in the tower of the fog-signal the
machinery stirred not, while the light breeze playing around the mouth
of the fog-trumpets aroused no answering blast.  It was peaceful on the
sea and in the tower.  And yet in the light-keeper’s own bosom it seemed
that afternoon as if an ocean tempest had been evoked and was suddenly
raging.  About three Dave, who chanced to be in the storeroom of the
tower, heard a voice outside.

"There’s some one down at the foot of the ladder," thought Dave.  "I
will see who it is."

He went to the door of the signal-tower and looked down.

"Ho! that you, Timothy?  Coming back?" said Dave.

Down in a boat lightly resting on the smooth, glassy water was Toby
Tolman’s assistant, Timothy Waters. Dave knew that Timothy was coming
back very soon, and he thought that Timothy might have concluded to
anticipate the date appointed for his return and resume work now.

"Not just yet," replied Timothy.  "Get the cap’n soon as you can.  I
won’t come up.  Spry, please."

The keeper was quickly at the door.

"What’s wanted, Timothy?  Coming up, are you not?"

"Wish I could, cap’n, but I want to take you to town.  Your--is--very--"

The sea heaved just then sufficiently to disturb the speaker’s balance
and also to interfere with his message.  There he stood, trying to
steady himself by the help of the mooring-rope and then looking up
again.

"What?  who?" asked the keeper.

"Why, your granddarter May, cap’n," replied Timothy.  "She is very sick.
They don’t know that she will live.  She has been begging to see you,
and if you could come a few hours I will get you back again all right
afterwards."

"I will be with you right off."  The keeper turned to Dave: "You heard
that.  It’s ugly news.  Now if I go, can’t you light up and watch till
half-past eight? I’ll be back, sure.  Don’t worry.  It will be a quiet
night; no sign just yet of any change in the weather."

"Oh yes, Mr. Tolman; that is all right.  You go. I would if I were you.
I will look after things.  I can handle them."

"I think you can; and I shall be obleeged to you. My, my! this is
sudden.  Wasn’t looking for May’s sickness."

He was quickly in the boat with Timothy Waters; and then Dave watched
the two men pulling stoutly on their oars and making quick progress
landward. The boat turned the corner of a bluff projecting into the
harbour and disappeared.  Dave stepped back into the lighthouse, and sat
down beside the kitchen stove.  It was very peaceful there.  The clock
ticked as usual on the wall; and on the table, lying open, as if laid
down a moment ago by the keeper, was his Bible.  Dave glanced at the
opened pages a moment.  As his eyes slipped down the line of verses he
noticed such assurances as these:--

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under
the shadow of the Almighty.... Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror
by night.... For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee
in all thy ways.  They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash
thy foot against a stone."

He lingered a moment looking at these passages, and then turned away.

"I will go upstairs," he said, "into the lantern, and make sure that
everything is ready for the lighting at sunset.  That’s sudden about May
Tolman," he began to reflect.  "Why, I seem to see her going up and down
these stairs the day she was here, so full of life."

He could hear her voice; he could see her black, glowing eyes, that had
a peculiar fascination for Dave.

"Sorry," he said.  "That’s real sudden.  Things do happen quick in this
life sometimes."

Dave felt unusually sober that day.  If he had told all his thoughts to
any one, he would have confessed to a singular soberness of feeling for
some time.

He had been shut up for several weeks with a man whose religion, without
any pretence, any show, and any peculiarities, controlled his life, and
came prominently to the surface in everything.  Dave felt his sister’s
religious influence at home; but there were influences interfering with
it and partly neutralizing it.  Dave Fletcher’s mother was too busy, she
assured herself, to attend to religion; and Dave’s father declared--also
to himself--that he did not "feel the need of it."  "I am as good as my
neighbours; and I guess that will do," he said.  He quoted in his
thoughts Dave’s lack of interest, saying, "There is Dave, good boy; and
he takes his father’s view of things."

But here at the lighthouse Dave declared that he was "cornered."  Here
was a simple, humble, unselfish life living in communion with his
heavenly Father, bringing that presence down to that lonely tower in the
sea, and filling it, and surrounding the boy who was the light-keeper’s
companion.  No neutralizing associations here.

"It sets me to thinking," declared Dave, as he climbed the successive
stairways to the lantern the afternoon of the keeper’s absence.  "And
May Tolman’s sickness--that is sudden.  Nothing is certain. Well, we
must just look after matters right around us.  One can’t give his
thoughts to all these possibilities of accident.  I’ll just remember
that I am a keeper of a lighthouse."

Keeper of a lighthouse!  The moment he uttered this thought to himself
there settled down upon his shoulders a new and serious weight of
responsibility. He began to realize that for several hours he must carry
the burden of a keeper’s duties.  He must look after the fog-signal, if
a dusky veil of mist should suddenly be dropped from the sky and curtain
off both the sea and the land.  If there should be any accident upon the
sea in the neighbourhood of the lighthouse, where the keeper might be
expected to give any aid, Dave must render that help.  When night came,
or sunset rather, he must light the lamp in the lantern, and he must
watch it, and see that for the sake of the many vessels upon the sea
this light burned with steady lustre.  Upon just a boy’s shoulders how
heavy a care seemed to be pressing down!

"I can stand it," he said, in pride and confidence. The very pressure of
the responsibility aroused within him a corresponding measure of
strength.  However, it did not lessen the shadow of that sober thinking
in which he often walked nowadays.

"I’ll take that history I am reading," he said on his return from the
lantern, "and get over a good number of pages to-day."

He read until supper-time, but somehow his thoughts did not seem to stay
on his book.  They were like birds on the telegraph wires along the
railroad track--flying off and then alighting again, only to lift their
wings and beat the air in another flight.

"A long afternoon!" he said finally, laying down his book.  "I am glad
it is tea-time."

How lonely the kitchen began to seem!  The rattle of his knife and fork,
the clink of his spoon, the occasional clatter of dishes, usually such
pleasant sounds to a hungry man, now sounded lonely and harsh.

"Don’t like eating by myself," declared Dave. "Glad tea is over.  Wonder
when Mr. Tolman will be here?"  He looked at the clock and said, "I
believe he thought he should be back by half-past eight.  I wonder how
May Tolman is getting along. Poor girl!"

The sun seemed that night a longer time than usual in setting, as if it
were an invalid, and there must be a very deliberate and lengthy
bundling up in yellow blankets.

"At last the sun is about going down," said Dave. He was now up in the
lantern, match in hand.  He looked off through the broad windows of
glass upon the surface of the sea, growing calmer and more shining in
the west; but in the east its lustre had faded out, and there was a
great expanse of dull, heavy, lead-like shades.  Two fishing-boats were
creeping into harbour.  The surf on the bar rolled lazily, as if it
would like to go to sleep, even as the sun.  A schooner was creeping
along the channel, its sails hanging in loose, flapping folds.

"There goes the sun!" thought Dave, watching the disappearance of the
last embers of its fires below a blue hill.  He turned with relief to
the lamp, removed its chimney, kindled its wick, replaced the chimney,
and then carefully adjusted the flame.

"There--that is done!  Now do your duty, and burn all right," was Dave’s
direction.  Rising, he looked away, and saw that in other lighthouses
their keepers had kindled guiding tapers, burning slender and silvery in
the still lingering daylight.

"Everything here is all right, I believe," said Dave, looking about the
lantern.  "Holloa! what is that up there in the corner?  A cobweb?
Guess I must take it down.  Don’t want the window to have that thing up
there.  Can’t reach it.  I will get a little box down in the watch-room.
That will elevate me."

When he had brought the box, standing on it he saw that the web was on
the outside of the lantern, and he went without to remove the film from
the glass.

"There!" he said, reaching up to the corner of the window as he stood on
the box.  "Come down here. Don’t have cobwebs on the windows of this
lantern."

He now turned about, and chanced to face the tall red pipes projecting
from the roof of the signal-tower with their trumpet-shaped mouths.

"Is one of those pipes damaged?" wondered Dave. "Afraid so.  I must take
a sharper look at that."

At the foot of the railing of the parapet he placed the box, and from
that elevation, leaning his arms on the railing, inspected as closely as
he could the fog-signal.  This parapet for timorous people was an ugly
spot.  When the wind blew hard it was not easy to maintain one’s footing
outside the lantern. One could cling to the railing, which was firm, but
it consisted only of an iron bar resting on upright iron rods three feet
apart.  There was no danger of a fence-break, but the gaps between the
iron rods were wide and ugly, and if one should chance to drop on the
smooth stone floor and just tip a little--over--toward--the--edge--ugh!
One did not like to think of that fall down--down--into the sea--perhaps
upon the Black Rocks when the tide was out. Toby Tolman had told Dave
that for a long time he did not care to go near the rail about the
lantern and stand there a while, as it made him "nervous;’ but he had
ceased to be a "land-lubber," and could now face, sailor-like in
confidence, any quarter of the sea and sky, just clinging to that little
rail.  Dave had felt pleased with his steadiness of nerve when he found
he could look over that rail and then down upon the whirling sea without
very much trepidation.

"Shouldn’t like to have a dizzy fit when I was looking over," he said.
"No danger, though."

He repeated this as he now stood on the box planted at the foot of one
of the iron supports of the rail, and continuing to rest his arms on the
rail, inspected closely, as already said, the fog-signal.  Suddenly his
arms slipped, and over the horrible edge of that narrow little railing
he found himself going. Sometimes we compress years into moments
apparently. We go back, we go forward, we gather it all up into the
thought of a very brief now.  But oh, how vivid!--like all the electric
force in a great mass of cloud concentrated in one dazzling, blinding
lightning-stroke. As Dave felt that his body was sliding over that rail,
he seemed to realize where he had been in the past.  He thought of his
parents--his home--Uncle Ferguson at Shipton--how it was that he came to
the lighthouse, and then he seemed to realize vividly his situation
there in the lighthouse: that he was there as the responsible keeper
just then; that the safety of many vessels at sea all relied on the
thoroughness of his watch; and yet he was sliding over that rail, going
down toward the waves, the rocks--he dared not look toward them!  He
could see only this one thing between him and death: beneath his hands
was an iron support of the railing. There was no other object he could
grasp for three feet on each side of him.  It is true there was the
granite rim of this lantern-deck, so called sometimes, but he could not
grasp it.  His hands would slide over it.  Just that iron stanchion was
his hope, and as he was sinking down he convulsively clutched at it,
caught it, clung to it--shutting his eyes as if blinded.  He dared not
look anywhere until he felt that his grasp was sure, and then he somehow
worked himself back, up, over the railing, and the whole of his body was
on the lantern-deck again.  He crawled into the lantern, shut the door,
and threw himself on the floor weak as a baby.

"Horrible!" was his one word.  There he lay thinking.  What if he had
gone down into that yawning pit of the sea!  When would they have found
his body?  Horrible! horrible!  When he was steady enough he slowly
crept down the stairs. He entered the kitchen.  It had seemed as if
everything threatened to fall when he was in danger of going down into
the sea--lantern, watch-room, lighthouse--all into the merciless sea.
But here was the kitchen.  No change here.  It was so quiet, so restful.
A lamp burned on the table.  The fire murmured in the stove.  The clock
sang its cheerful little tune of a single note.  And there was the old
light-keeper’s Bible.  It still lay open, its pages shining in the
lamp-light, and there were the promises of the psalm Dave had already
noticed.  What did it say?  "They shall bear thee up in their hands,
lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."

Dave started.  Up on the high lantern-deck had any mighty angel stepped
between him and death, lifting him back on the floor of stone?  Who
could say it was not so?  Dave sat down in a chair, and then bowed his
head and rested it on the table. Here was God, the kindest, dearest
being in the universe, Dave’s great Father, from whose arms he had been
turning away, trying to avoid them; and now, up on the lofty parapet,
they had been held out, restraining him, saving him.

"Oh, I can’t go on this way any longer," thought Dave.  "And I _won’t_,
either!  If God will only have me--will only--"

He fell on his knees.  What he whispered to God he never could recall.
He only knew that he felt very sorry that he had been neglecting
God--pushing away the arms reached out to him and feeling after him.  He
murmured something about gratitude, something about forgiveness.  Then
he was conscious of a surrender, of sliding down--not into a horrible
pit from the lighthouse parapet, but into arms tender yet strong, that
went about him, that bore him up, that held him.  How long he stayed
there he knew not.  Some time he arose, and went upstairs to see if the
lantern were all right.  Its light burned steadily, vividly, hopefully.
He looked out on the lantern-deck. There was the box still on the floor.
With a shudder he took it in and went downstairs again.  Then he prayed
once more, and said aloud the words, "They shall bear thee up in their
hands, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."  He was so
thankful for this night’s deliverance, so sorry for his forgetfulness of
God in the long past!  He rose to read again.  He heard a step at last
in the passage-way between the fog-signal tower and the lighthouse,--a
heavy, echoing step, now in the tank-room, then on the stairway to the
kitchen.

Dave sprang up to meet the keeper, and he held the lamp in the shadowy
stairway.

"Glad to see you, Mr. Tolman."

"Same to you.  Here I am, all right, you see. Glad I went."

"How is May?"

"Better.  Yes, thank God, she is better.  There was a sudden change, and
the doctor has hope.  She has been in a pretty hard place, but I think
she is out of it."

"Good!  That’s the way I feel myself."

"What!"  The light-keeper looked at Dave for an explanation, but Dave
was silent.  He could not tell everything at once, or even a little
to-night.  The keeper went to the table, saying to himself, "He meant
May when he said that.  Ah!" he thought, "my book is turned round.
Guess Dave has been reading this.  Good!  I thought he would get to it
some time."

That was a very peaceful night whose hush was on the great sea, on the
surf gently rolling along the bar, and in the lighthouse tower.  The
deepest peace was in Dave Fletcher’s soul.

Dave’s stay at the lighthouse was exceedingly brief after this event in
his life.

"I am really sorry to have you go," said Toby Tolman the day that Dave
left.  "I shall miss you. I will take you up to town, as Timothy has
come back."

Dave received his pay from Timothy, for whom he had acted as substitute,
and then with the keeper left the lighthouse.

The journey to Shipton over, Dave quickly walked to Uncle Ferguson’s,
and was welcomed warmly.



                                   X.

                         _THE CHRISTMAS GIFT._


Christmas was approaching--Christmas with its white fields, and its
skies that seem to part like the opening of doors in a big blue wall,
and from it issue the sweet songs of the Bethlehem angels. Still more
acceptable is it when our souls seem to open like doors that fly apart,
and out to our neighbour and all souls everywhere go assurances of peace
and good-will.

To Dave Fletcher and Dick Pray Christmas meant an end of school-days and
a return home.

"You will come and see us ’fore you go," was Bart Trafton’s meek request
to Dick and Dave when he met them in the street.  Dick made the first
call, just three days before Christmas.  Things did not have a festival
appearance in the Trafton home that day.  Gran’sir was lying on a lounge
not far from the fire, and his cough was shaking him harder than ever.
Bart, just before Dick’s call, had been down on the shore of the river
to see if the last tide had remembered the poor, and deposited any more
drift on the beach.  He brought back only a puny armful, and this armful
he divided between the oven and the fire, the first half to dry and be
ready to start up the flames which the other half would be quite sure to
put down and almost put out.  Granny had been calling at a neighbour’s,
to borrow timidly a little tea, and met Dick just outside the door of
the Trafton home.  Such a difference as there was between youth with its
ruddy cheeks and bright eyes, between plenty with its cheerful and
contented spirit, and poor old Granny Trafton!

"Bartie wanted me to call," said Dick.

"Come in, come in," said granny, hospitably.  "We’re poor folks, but
we’re glad to see people."

When Dick went away he said to himself, "’Poor folks,’--they’re all
that.  I wish something could be done for them."

Dave made his call, and he left the house saying, "Something must be
done."

The two callers met in the street the day of Dave’s call, and the same
thought was in their minds.

"Dick, see here.  Those Traftons are real poor," said Dave.  "I wonder
if we couldn’t get them a little something for Christmas."

"Dave, that very thought was in my mind, and I wanted to speak of it.
Come on.  It’s done."

Hardly done; but that was Dick’s way, and when a soul may be timid and
discouraged, that confident, self-assured style in another is very
strengthening.

"Let’s see.  There is no other way than to go right round and ask our
friends.  I know they will give something, Dick."

"Hold on, hold on, Dave.  That is a slow way, Let’s make a dash and
capture the enemy at once.  I will pick out some millionaire--"

Here Dick turned round as if to see which "millionaire" he would select
from all of Shipton’s wealthy residents.

"Yes," he continued; "I will look after that.  Don’t you give yourself a
moment of uneasiness on that score.  I will pick out some rich fellow,
tell him what he ought to do, and bag the game on the spot. There!"

Dave laughed.  He knew Dick’s style thoroughly. At the same time it did
give one like Dave, who shrank from begging, new courage to have Dick
talk so boldly.

"Let’s see, Dick.  It is now Monday.  We might meet on Wednesday at your
cousin’s store, and find out how we stand, and send our things to the
Traftons on Wednesday afternoon; and Christmas is on Thursday, you
know."

"Dave, don’t worry about the wherewithal."  Here Dick, with a very
solemn air of assurance, looked Dave steadily in the eye.  "I purpose to
bag a millionaire and make him do his duty, Dave Fletcher."

The two friends laughed, shook hands, and separated.  Dave listened as
he was about turning a corner of the street, for he heard somebody
whistling. It was Dick whistling, in a loud, bold, cheery way.

"Well," thought Dave, "I’ll make a beginning now. I will speak to Aunt
Nancy soon as I get home."

Aunt Nancy was stoning raisins in preparation for a Christmas baking.

"Will I give something to the Traftons?  Oh, certainly.  I expect a good
warm blanket would be just the thing for gran’sir, and I’ll give that as
my share.  _My_ share, remember.  Your uncle must give his mite.  I tell
ye, David," said Aunt Nancy in a whisper, "your uncle has some
first-class Baldwins down in the cellar.  Just touch him upon those."

"I will, aunt, thank you."

And next, would the home of James Tolman give anything?

"Pies and potatoes; you can count on us for some of both kinds," said
Mrs. Tolman.

The next place was the home of the light-keeper, Toby Tolman, when
ashore.  His wife was dead, and a widowed daughter and her only child,
May, lived in his house.  He preferred to keep up the home, although
personally there but a very little of the time.

"Should we like to give anything?  Of course," said the keeper’s
daughter; "that is what Christmas is for.  Only last week I heard father
say we could give some wood off our pile, for he calculated we had more
than enough to carry us through the winter."

"Don’t you let young folks help?" asked a silvery voice, sending at Dave
an arch look out of two penetrating black eyes.  "You must not think I
am an invalid and past helping, if I was so sick last summer. Now I can
just go round in the neighbourhood and get together some eatables, I
know, and perhaps clothing that might do for Bart."

"That would be splendid," said Dave, stirred deeply by those black eyes,
and wishing that in every house visited he was the individual of whom
May Tolman would solicit.

When Dave brought these donations into one collection, he found not only
the blanket for gran’sir but a shawl for granny.  There also were
clothes for Bart, and any amount of things for the Christmas dinner.

The next point was how to get them taken up to the Traftons.  For the
clothing and eatables Dave borrowed Uncle Ferguson’s cart, but for the
wood only James Tolman’s waggon would answer.  That procession of two
teams, the waggon and the cart, had a Christmas look that would have
been recognized anywhere.

"Whoa-a-a!" shouted Dave, as the procession neared the boot and shoe
shop kept by Dick’s cousin Sam. Dick was behind the counter waiting on a
customer. As he saw Dave entering he ran his hand through his hair in a
nervous, despairing style, but said nothing until the customer had left.

"There, Dave, it is too bad, but--but--whose are those teams out in the
street?"

"Just things I picked up."

"And the wood?"

"Going to the same place."

"That’s good.  Then I don’t feel so bad."

"Well, anything you find, good, you know, for Christmas, why, send it
along."

"I shouldn’t wonder, though, if--if--it might be too late now; but--you
have got something--if--I should be too late--and I do believe I am too
late. Sorry.  Glad, though, I put you up to it.  I knew you would attend
to it."

With a triumphant wave of his hand, as if he were permitting Dave to
drive off with a donation that Dick Pray had gathered, he accompanied
Dave to the door and then retreated to the counter.

"If that isn’t Dick Pray all over!" said Dave.

It would be difficult to tell the feelings of joy occasioned in the
Trafton home by those gifts.

"Davie," said Bart, "I had a dream last night, and I guess it is
a-comin’ true.  I thought I saw that ladder that Jacob had a look at,
you know, when the angels were a-goin’ up and down, and comin’ down they
had bundles in their arms."

Dave entered the house, bringing in bundle after bundle.  Bart thought
the angels looked somewhat like that.

"Hadn’t you better try this shawl?" said Dave to granny, who looked cold
and purple.  And would gran’sir be willing to be wrapped in the blanket?
The thin, worn consumptive responded with a glad smile, and said in a
whisper that he hadn’t been so comfortable since he was sick.  And the
wood--how it set that old stove to shaking and laughing and glowing till
its front seemed like a jolly face full of sparkling eyes!  That is one
good result coming from a stove cracked everywhere in front.

Granny told the minister, Mr. Potter, two days after, how all this
generosity affected gran’sir.

"Why, sir, it made him just heavenly!  He cried and laughed--it was so
good to be warm, you know. And he’s softened so, sir.  I think it begun
when Bartie begun to read the Bible to him, and it has been a-keepin’
on, sir, a-softenin’, sir--don’t scold, you know, or be harsh-like.
I--I--I--"  Here granny buried her face in her apron and cried.  "I’m
afraid--sir--may be--he won’t live--long--he’s--softened so--sir--he
has."

It was nothing wonderful.  Like the warm breath of the spring on the
chilled and torpid flowers, arousing them into the activity of bud and
blossom time, the thoughtful kindness of God’s creatures brought God
nigh to gran’sir; brought the breath of his benediction to gran’sir’s
soul, and gave him a new life.

"God has been so good--he draws me," gran’sir said to granny an early
day in January.  "It is--like he’s callin’ me--and--I guess I’ll go."

His going was so peaceful that to say when it was would be like marking
the spot where the current crosses the line between the river and the
ocean; and yet his soul did cross from time, so short and river-like,
into the broad and boundless ocean of eternity. People said it would be
as well for the comfort of granny and Little Mew, and even better, for
gran’sir they declared to be exacting.  They did not know how it was.
Granny and Little Mew felt that they were the exacting ones, for they
wanted gran’sir to stay.  Little Mew’s soul was clouded by the shadow of
a thought that by the death of gran’sir his mission in this world was
very much abridged.  He was tempted to wonder again for what God had
sent a little fellow like him into this world.



                                  XI.

                          _AT SHIPTON AGAIN._


"Nothing for me?"

"Nothing."

"Sure?"

"Well--"

The postmistress, in response to Dave Fletcher’s anxious inquiry, looked
again at a package of letters she had been handling.

"Oh yes, here is something!  I didn’t see it the first time.  Beg
pardon."

"All right.  I wasn’t really expecting anything, but it is so long since
I have had a letter that I was kind of hungry for one."

Dave took his letter from the postmistress and walked away.

"Postmarked Shipton!" said Dave, looking at the envelope.  "Don’t seem
to know the address.  Let’s break that and see what it says."

He glanced down at the name with which the letter closed.

"James Tolman; what does he want?" wondered Dave.  He then returned to
the first line and began to read:--


"DEAR DAVID,--I have not forgotten that you were in my Sunday-school
class when in Shipton, and I felt that I knew you well enough to ask you
to take this into consideration, whether you wouldn’t like to come and
be my clerk.  I am in the ship-chandlery business, and have two clerks.
One of them is going away, and may leave me for good.  I have promised
to keep his place open for him three months.  At the end of that time he
may come back.  Now, if I ask you to come for three months, I know--"


Dave crumpled the letter in his hand, thrust it into his pocket, and
springing into his waggon, cried, "Get up there, Jimmy!  Don’t know that
you and I will be travelling this road together much longer. Get up
there!"

"Jimmy" was urged at an unusual rate over the road, and pricked up his
ears in astonishment as his master cried, "Faster, faster!"

"There, mother!" said Dave, when he entered the Fletcher kitchen; "just
what I wanted has happened."

"What is that?" replied Mrs. Fletcher.

"Read this, mother, and you will see."

"For three months, Dave, and perhaps no longer, it means."

"Oh, well, it will be a stepping-stone to something, if I have to leave
it.  Just get started in Shipton and I can go it."

"But you haven’t read about the pay, Dave."

"Well, mother, the fact is I like the place--I mean Shipton.  I love to
be near the salt water and where I can see the ships--"

"And the lighthouse--"

"Yes."

"And May Tolman," sang out a voice from the adjoining sitting-room, and
Annie Fletcher appeared at the kitchen door, asking, "How is it, Dave?"

Dave felt it to be the wisest course to keep still and blush.

In a few days he was ready to start for Shipton. He called one evening
to see some of his old acquaintances, and the next day started for
Shipton.

On arriving he reported for duty at the shop of "James Tolman,
Ship-chandler."  He was now eighteen, and he felt that active life was
beginning in earnest.  The shop was an old one, and before James
Tolman’s business days it had been kept by his father. It was packed
with all kinds of goods available for ship-furnishings.  As one opened
the door a scent of tar issued, strong enough to make the most
thorough-going old salt say, "This seems like home."  There were coils
of rope of every size ranged on either side of the passage-way.  There
were capstans and anchors and blocks and ring-bolts.  There were all
kinds of shining tin and copper ware for the cook’s galley.  There were
compasses, and ship-lanterns, and speaking-trumpets, and sheath-knives,
and suits of oiled clothing, and slouching "tarpaulins."  On stormy
days, when Dave from the back windows could see that the waves in the
river had stuck in their crests saucy feathers of foam, it seemed to him
as if he heard the coils of rope creak in the store and the suits of
sailors’ clothing rustle; and what wonder if some old salt had waddled
forward in one of those stiff suits, and, seizing a trumpet, cried in
ringing tones to the pots and kettles hanging from the brown, dusty
beams, "Furl your top-sails."  It was a pleasure to Dave when an old
Shipton sea-captain might heave in sight on stormy days, and, entering
the shop, take a seat by the crackling fire and tell of gales round Cape
Horn or in the Bay of Biscay.

"I believe I am cut out for this business," said Dave.

His former Shipton acquaintances were glad to see him back.  Dick Pray
for six months had been in town, a clerk in his cousin’s shop.  He now
came to bring his congratulations to Dave.

"Glad to see you, Dave," he said.

"Thanks, Dick.  How is business?"

"Oh, booming! booming!"

All business that Dick’s magnificent abilities came in contact with
either had "boomed," or was "booming," or would "boom" very soon.  No
tame word was fit to describe Dick’s business ventures.

And the boy who came shyly, timidly after Dick was--Bart Trafton.

"You well, Bartie?" asked Dave.

"Oh, better!"

"Why?"

"Because you’ve got back," said the caller, with snapping eyes.

"That’s encouraging.  And granny, is she well?"

"Oh yes, when--"

He did not finish.  If he had completed his sentence, he would have said
"when father isn’t at home."

The same day two other people were in the shop whom Dave had met
previously, though he did not recognize them at once.  There stood
before the counter a rather tall man, wearing a tall hat and closely
muffled about the face, for the day was one of cold blasts of storm.

"I want a good ship’s lantern," said the customer.

"Yes, sir," replied Dave, ranging before the man an array of lantern
goods.

"You have come to be clerk?" asked the man.

Dave looked up more carefully, and saw that the man wore spectacles.

"Yes, sir," replied Dave.

The man inquired the price of the lanterns, selected one, and went out.

"Halloo! he has given me twopence too much!" exclaimed Dave.

"That doesn’t matter," said a man who was watching through a window in
the door the storm driving without.

"Oh yes, it does," murmured Dave.--"Johnny!" he called aloud to a
younger clerk in the counting-room, "just look after things a moment
while I go out."

Johnny came out into the shop, and Dave seized his cap and ran after the
customer.  The latter was a fast walker, and was hurrying round a corner
of the street when Dave overtook him.

"See here, sir!  A mistake in the change.  I counted it, and you gave me
too much."

"Oh--ah!  Thank you!  I see you don’t know me."

The man slipped down a scarf wrapped about his face, took off his
spectacles, and there was--somebody, but Dave could not say who.

"Not so rough up here as down at the bar--in a schooner, say."

"O--Squire Sylvester!"

"That’s it.  I think I was too rough with you that day, for I found out
afterward you had nothing to do with it."

"Oh, well, sir--I--"

"I just wanted to say that, and am glad you think enough of another
man’s property, though only two-pence, to chase after him and give it to
him."

Then the tall man tramped on.

"It shows," thought Dave, "that he hasn’t forgotten what happened some
time ago, and I suppose he had been wanting to say what he got off to
me.  I don’t harbour it against you, Squire Sylvester.  When a man’s
property has been run off with, it would be a wonder if he didn’t say
something."

When Dave returned to the store the man at the door still stood there,
looking out through the little window.

"I think I know that chap’s face," thought Dave, "but I really can’t say
who it is."

The man was disposed to talk.  "Did you catch the squire?" he asked.

"Oh yes."

"Did he take the twopence?"

"Oh yes."

"Catch him not take it!  The squire would hold on to a halfpenny till it
cankered if he could possibly git along without spendin’ it.  I don’t
believe in worryin’ yourself about sich people."

"Twopence didn’t seem much, but then it wasn’t mine."

"I see you don’t mean to be rich?"

"I mean to be honest."

"And die poor?"

"That doesn’t follow."

"Oh, it does ’em good--these rich fellers--to lose a little now and
then."

"But they ought not to lose it if we have it and it is theirs."

"Oh, you are too honest.  Say, I see you don’t know me."

"Well, yes, I ought to know your face."

"I’ve let my whiskers grow.  I didn’t have any the last time you saw me.
Cut all these off," said the man, lifting a big beard, "and it would
make a big difference.  Don’t you remember Timothy Waters, at the
lighthouse?"

"Why, yes.  You Timothy?"

"Yes."

"And are you at the light now?"

"Just the same."

"How is Mr. Tolman?"

"Holdin’ on.  Oh, he likes it!  You must come and see us."

Having given this invitation, Timothy left the store. Dave watched him
as he moved down the street, turning at last into a little lane leading
down to the wharves.  Then he thought of Timothy rowing his dory down
the river, tossing on the uneasy tide, battling his way forward until he
halted at the foot of a great gray-stone tower in the sea.  Looking up
at the doorway of the tower, Dave saw the keeper’s familiar face.



                                  XII.

                        _ON WHICH SIDE VICTORY?_


"Well, how goes the temperance fight, Dave?" asked Dick one day.

"We are pushing it.  We have organized our society, and are going to
hold meetings."

"The fight," as Dick called it, was conducted on the principles of
peace; but if peaceable it was not sleepy.  A series of meetings of
various kinds had been carefully planned, and of these one was a young
people’s meeting.  All the exercises, like speaking and singing, were to
be conducted by Shipton’s youth. Bart expected to have a humble part in
this meeting, and say a few Scripture verses bearing on the sin of
liquor-drinking.  His father was at home, and Bart did wish that in some
way he could be persuaded to go to this meeting.  There did not seem to
be much prospect of his attendance.  One day he received a mortifying
check to his course.  Having drunk up all his money at the public-house,
he was roughly turned out of doors.  This time he realized the disgrace
of his situation; and the next morning, to granny’s astonishment, he did
not visit the saloon. To her still greater surprise, he did not leave
the house all day.  He even sawed and cut some wood for the fire.  This
was deservedly ranked as a wonder in the history of the man.  When Bart
returned at night his father was upstairs, "lying down," granny
reported.

"Ain’t that queer, granny?" whispered Bart.

"I haven’t known anything like it, Bartie.  He’s been cuttin’ more wood
this afternoon.  P’raps he is sick."

Not sick, but mortified and penniless.  To such people publicity is not
attractive.

"I don’t know what it is," said granny, "but Miss Perkins says she hearn
there has been trouble down in the saloon."

Miss Perkins was a gossip with a news-bag that seemed to have the depth
and roominess of the Atlantic.

"Awful place, ain’t it, granny, where they sell rum?"

Granny turned on him--turned quickly, fiercely.

"Bartholomew!"

She rarely addressed him that way.  When she did she meant something
serious.  Bart’s timorous face shrank before her sharp, fierce gaze.

"Bartholomew, I want you to promise never to sell rum.  Put your hand on
this Bible!"

"Oh, I--I never will sell."

"And you won’t drink it?  Promise!"

"Never!"

It was like Hamilcar of Carthage taking his son Hannibal to the altar,
and there making him swear eternal hatred to Rome.  Then Bart went
softly out of the room.

Into some refuge he desired to steal, tell God that he, Little Mew, was
weak; that he wanted to be taken care of; that he did wish to get help
somehow for his father--help to be better--and he wanted to remember
granny.  Up over the steep, narrow, worn stairway he stole into his
little bedroom, that, small and humble, had yet been a precious refuge
to him, and his bed had been a boat bearing him away across waters of
forgetfulness of poverty and hunger to the restful isle of dreams.  If
he could only forget now! He could pray, and if prayer does not make
forgetful it makes restful.  He leaned against his bed and told all his
trouble to God--told him of his desire for his father, how much he
wished God would make his father a new heart; how he wanted help for
himself, that he might be kind and patient.  It was touching to hear his
boyish outcries, as kneeling he pleaded for one so weak, so lost, as his
father.  Then he went downstairs again.  The moment his feet were heard
on the stairs, Bart’s father, who had been lying in the dark on the side
of the bed nearest to the wall, arose, sighed, and went down also.  Bart
was standing in the little entry leading to the kitchen.

"Bart--I--want to be--"  The father stopped.

It was not so much anything he said, for he said nothing definite, but
it was his tone that encouraged Bart, and he listened eagerly.

"I want to be a good father to you, Bart; God knows I do."

What?  Bart had never heard such language before from this parent with
agitated voice and frame.  Bart caught instantly at a hope that had just
begun to take shape.  Would his father go to the temperance meeting with
him?

"Father, your ship, they say, won’t sail to-morrow; and if it don’t,
will you go to the temperance meeting with me to-morrow night?"

"Bartholomew, if my ship don’t sail, then I will go with you."

He turned and went upstairs again.

"O Bart," exclaimed granny, "let us pray that God will keep the winds
off shore and not let Thomas’s ship get to sea!"

The next day the winds still were unfavourable, and Bart and granny
looked at one another with happier faces than they had been carrying
ever since Thomas Trafton’s return.

"Granny, the wind is not fair yet," Bart would exclaim, after eying the
vane on the nearest church steeple.  Granny would then take her turn,
and go out, her apron thrown over her head, and watch the vane. At last
they could say, "The ship won’t go to-night."

When ever before had that vane been watched to see if it indicated a
wind that would keep Thomas Trafton at home?

"Hear me say my verses once more," Bart whispered to his grandmother;
and assured that his contribution to the evening’s exercises was in
readiness, he went with his father to the temperance meeting.  Bart’s
place was among the speakers, and they filled several pews, their
bright, hopeful faces lifted above the railings of the pews like flowers
above the garden-bed. Bart’s father was in the rear of the church.  Bart
was afraid to leave him at that distant, unguarded point; but he had
promised Bart faithfully to stay, and not go out.  Was ever any
attendant at a meeting in a more discouraged, helpless mood than Thomas
Trafton?  He had been thinking, somewhat as he was accustomed to think
when off at sea and away from temptation, that never again would he
touch liquor; but could he keep his resolution if he made one?  He felt
burdened with a weighty desire, burdened with a sense of shame, burdened
with a conviction of weakness, burdened every way and always.

The meeting began.  Mr. James Tolman conducted it, but only to call the
names of those participating in it.  The recitations were varied.
Several had quite pretentious speeches, and others gave only a modest
extract from some appeal in poetry or prose.  There were those who
simply had Bible verses, and in this section Bart Trafton had a place.
His verses were on the sin of intemperance.  When his turn was reached
he came to the platform quite readily, and then turned toward the
audience.  He looked once, saw great, bewildering rows of faces, and all
his courage left him.  He could not look again at those hundreds of
staring eyes.  He dropped his head, blushed, and every idea he had taken
with him to the platform seemed hopelessly to have left him.  Like
birds, those verses had flown away, and how could he possibly call them
back from that sudden flight?  However, he did catch one bird.  He could
think of one word--"Wine!"  He resolved to begin with that.  A decoy
bird will sometimes bring a flock about it, and if he said that one word
he might think of the others. "Wine--" he screamed.  Then he waited for
the rest of the flock.  He shrieked again, "Wine!"  Once more,
"W-w-wine!"

People were now smiling to see that timorous, blushing, stammering lad
on the platform, and some of the children broke out into an embarrassing
titter. Bart, turned in helpless confusion to Mr. Tolman.

"Forgot it," he whispered,

"Say something," said Mr. Tolman, in an encouraging tone.

Something?  What would it, could it be?  Bart gave one timid glance at
the tittering, gaping rows before him, and feeling that he must say
something, gave the first words that came into his mind.  Annie Fletcher
had taught them to him.  Bart’s voice was sharp and high, and it pierced
all the space between Thomas Trafton and the platform, and the father
plainly heard the boy.

"’Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and
lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is
easy, and my burden is light.’"

Some of the people wondered what that had to do with intemperance.
Thomas Trafton did not wonder. He heard nothing else.  He did not notice
whether Bart stayed on the platform or left it; he did not notice who
followed Bart; he heard only those verses.  The pew was an old one, and
when improvements had been made in the church, this pew was not touched,
but, being so far away from notice, was left undisturbed in all its odd
and antique furnishings. Thomas Trafton never forgot the exact place
where he sat and heard through his son’s voice this short gospel that
came down from God’s lofty throne of love.  He would in later days come
to this old pew and gladly occupy it and recall this night of the
temperance meeting.  He would hear again the invitation given in his
boy’s piercing voice, and again would be repeated, though not as
vividly, his experience that night; for he had an experience.  It seemed
to him as if while sitting there burdened and weary, yet willing,
longing to find relief, One came to him,--One who had in his brow the
print of thorns, and in his side the mark of a spear, and in his feet
the scar of driven nails.  Thomas Trafton met his Saviour there, and
into peace and strength came the soul of the once drunkard.

Not long after this the west wind blew, its strong wings beating fast
and sweeping Thomas Trafton’s vessel far away to sea.  Very few knew of
his surrender to God, which brought a victory over his appetite.  The
minister of the church, Mr. Potter, knew, and Dave Fletcher knew.



                                 XIII.

                           _WHAT TO DO NEXT._


When Dave Fletcher became a clerk with Mr. Tolman, he knew he was taking
the place of another who might come back in three months, and back he
did come.

"Sorry, David, I haven’t a place for you," said Mr. Tolman.

"Well," replied Dave, "if there isn’t a place here I must find one
elsewhere."

But where?  He knew that his father did not need him at home, as he had
already made plans for all needed farm-work.

"I don’t want to go home and be just a burden, hanging round," reflected
Dave.  "Then I must find work here."

He talked over the situation with Dick Pray.

"What would I do, Dave?  Well," said Dick, putting his hands deep down
in his pockets, "I should advertise and--wait."

"I mean to advertise, but I think I had better stir round also."

"Just as well to say you want something--say it loud and strong, you
know--and then let others ask what is wanted."

Dick did like to sound a trumpet, giving as loud a blast as possible,
and then let the world run up and see what "Lord Dick" wanted.

"Oh, I shall advertise, and stir round also, though I don’t just fancy
it, and I can’t say what will come from it."

And what did come the first day?

Nothing.

The second day?

Nothing.

The third day?

Nothing.

"It is getting to be fearfully tiresome," said Dave the fourth day.  "I
have inquired in all directions, but I can’t seem to hear of anything.
Oh dear!  I shall always know after this how to pity folks out of work.
Well, I suppose I must keep at it.  If I stop, I shall surely get
nothing; if I keep at it, I may be successful. Here goes for Squire
Sylvester, though I don’t know why I should ask him."

He mounted the steps leading to the door of Squire Sylvester’s office,
and hesitatingly entered that impressive business sanctum.  Squire
Sylvester was standing at his desk biting the end of a lead-pencil, and
studying the columns of figures on the paper before him.

"Squire Sylvester, do--do--you know of any vacant situation in
business?" asked Dave.

The squire looked up.

"Humph!  Nothing to do?"

"Can’t find it, sir."

"Well, I wish I could find somebody to work for me."

"Have you anything?" asked Dave eagerly, thinking how nice it would be
to occupy a desk in the squire’s office and assist in the management of
such business enterprises as the building of ships or the sailing of
them.

"I have been trying to find somebody to cut up some wood for me and stow
it away, but I can’t get hold of any unoccupied talent."

Dave’s countenance dropped.  It went up again, though.

"It will pay a week’s board, maybe," he said to himself.

"I--I’ll take that job, sir.  I know how to swing an axe, and I’d rather
be doing that than go loafing about."

"Good!  I thought there was some stuff in you worth having."

Dave disregarded this compliment, and asked, "When shall I go to work?"

"Any time.  Saw is behind the chopping-block in my shed, hung on a nail,
or ought to be; and axe, I guess, is keeping the company of the block."

"I will begin to-day.  There will be a comfort in knowing I am doing
something."

"That is a good spirit, young man; and let me assure you if you stick to
that style of doing things, some day you will be able to take comfort--a
lot of it."

The squire went to the window of the office when Dave had left, and
watched him cross the street in the direction of the squire’s home.

"I like that young chap," murmured the squire.

Dave found the house of his employer, left word at the door that he was
sent to look after the wood, and went into the shed.

"Here is the chopping-block, and there is the axe, and the saw is all
right.  I will take my tools outdoors, where my wood is," said Dave.

It was a day in early spring.  Snow still clung to the corners of
gardens, and hid away under the bushes, and lay thick on the shaded side
of buildings.  The sun, though, was strengthening its fires every day,
and had coaxed a few bluebirds to come north, and say that warm weather
had surely started from its southern home, and would be here in due
season, though a bit delayed, perhaps.  Two hours later, Dave’s axe was
striking music out of the pieces of wood the saw had first played a tune
on; and it is that kind of music that helps a man to feel independent
and self-reliant, contented and cheerful.

"Hollo! that you?" sang out a voice.  "How are you, old man?"

Dave looked up, and saw Dick Pray nodding over the fence.

"The old man has found work, you see," replied Dave.

"None of that sort for me," sang out Dick.

In about half-an-hour another voice was calling to him across the garden
fence.  This was not the flexible, smooth, rounded voice of youth
addressing Dave, but there were the tones of an old man.  There was a
world of friendship, though, in this old man’s salutation, "How d’ye do?
how d’ye do?"

Dave turned toward it, and there was the old light-keeper, Toby Tolman.

"May I come in?" asked the light-keeper, approaching the gate.

"Oh yes, sir, do!  Glad to see you."

The light-keeper came up the gravelled walk, approached the pile, and
said, "How much more of a job have you got?"

"Oh, a couple of days."

"Well, then, do you want another?"

"Yes, sir.  But how did you know I was here?"

"May, my granddaughter, knew, and she told me. I was at the house, you
see.  My job for you is to go to the lighthouse and be my assistant.
She told me, and I said to myself, ’There’s the man for me!’"

"You don’t mean it!  Why, where’s Timothy Waters?"

"Got all through."

"His time up?"

"Well, he went before he wanted to.  Wasn’t just particular in reckoning
what belonged to others."

Dave recalled at once the little affair about the two pennies.

"Who’s at the light now, Mr. Tolman?"

"Oh, an old hand, who is just piecing me out at this time when I need
help.  He leaves day after to-morrow.  Now, come!  I’m up here trying to
look somebody up to be my assistant.  Can’t bring it about at once; but
if you’ll go and stay a while I think you’ll get the berth, and I don’t
know of anybody I’d like better to have."

"And I should like to come, too, and I will, just as soon as I finish
this job."

"Maybe the squire would let you off now."

"I daresay."

"I’d like to take you back with me to-day."

"And I’d like to go, but I’d better finish up."

"You’re right, on second thought.  The squire wouldn’t hesitate a
moment, I venture to say; but then people sometimes grant us favours
when at the same time they say to themselves, ’I wish they hadn’t asked
me.’  You stay and finish your job."

The second day after this the task was completed, the saw going to its
place on the nail behind the chopping-block, and the axe finding
quarters near by.

"There!" said the squire: "I don’t know that I ever paid for a job with
greater satisfaction."

He was handling a roll of bills as he said this, and handed one of these
to Dave.

"It is too much, sir."

"Oh no.  That was a peculiar pile of wood, and it took a peculiar kind
of merit to get the better of it. For ordinary wood," said the squire,
his eyes blinking, "I should only pay an ordinary price; but this wood
was something more than ordinary, and of course the price goes up.  When
I can do you a favour, you let me know."

That day toward sunset a dory was gently tossing at the foot of the
lighthouse on Black Rocks.

"Hollo!" shouted Dave, looking up from the boat and aiming his voice at
the door above.

"Oh, that you?" asked the light-keeper, quickly appearing in the doorway
and looking down.  "My man will be here in a jiffy and go home in your
boat, as we fixed it, you know."

Dave exchanged the boat for the lighthouse, and the retiring assistant
quit the lighthouse for the boat, then rowing to his home.  Dave heard
that night the wind humming about the lantern, saw the friendly rays
beckoning from other lighthouses, heard the wash of the waves around the
gray tower of stone, and felt that he had reached a home.



                                  XIV.

                      _GUESTS AT THE LIGHTHOUSE._


In a month Dave Fletcher was established at the light on Black Rocks as
assistant-keeper--a position that would bring him a far handsomer salary
than could any present clerkship at Shipton.  This berth was not secured
without a struggle by Dave’s friends, as several candidates were willing
to take the duties and profits of the place.

"You’ve got the place, though others wanted it," said the keeper,
returning from town one day and wiping his round, red face with his
handkerchief. "News came to-day.  I don’t know but you would have lost
it, but they say a friend of yours interceded and told them up and down
you must have it any way."

"Who was it?"

"Somebody that said he had seen you run a saw and knew you could run a
lighthouse.  That’s what folks tell me he said."

"Oh, Squire Sylvester!"

"Yes.  Queer feller; but he isn’t all growl, though he does look like
it, maybe."

Some time after this there were visitors at the light. One was expected,
the other was not.  The first was Bart Trafton, brought by the
light-keeper one soft, sunny April day.  Bart was very much interested
in the lantern.

[Illustration: "Bart was very much interested in the lantern of the
lighthouse."  _Page 159_]

"Can I go up with you and see the lantern?" he asked.

"Oh yes," said Dave, leading Bart up the iron stairway that mounted from
room to room.

"There!" said Bart, looking round on the glass windows enclosing the
lantern and the lamp in its centre: "I think this is a dreadful
interestin’ place."

"I think so too, Bart."

"And what I think is interestin’ is that lamp in the centre.  Why,
granny uses a lamp that, it seems to me, is no bigger than that, but it
can’t throw anywhere near such a light as that.  I saw your light last
night."

"You did? where?"

"From the hill behind our house.  I went up there and saw it."

"I did not know that.  Then we could signal to one another."

"Signal?"

"Yes, this way.  Supposing, now, I should hang a lantern out on the side
of the lighthouse toward the land, toward your home, and you could see
it: you might take it as a sign that I wanted--well--we will say--a
doctor."

"I think I could see it with father’s spy-glass; it is real powerful.
Say, will you try it to-morrow night?  You hang it out, and I will take
father’s spy-glass and see if I can make out anything.  Then I will send
you word by the mail.  You don’t think it is too far from our house to
the light?"

"Too far to see? oh no.  Now, I said a man might want a doctor here.  I
have often thought if one of us was sick--and you know the keeper is
getting old--and if the other couldn’t get off to bring a doctor, it
might be a very serious thing for the sick man."

"Well, if you are in trouble and will hang out a light, and I see it, I
will tell the people, and they will get to you."

Dave thought no more of this, but silently said, "I wonder if I haven’t
something else interesting to show the boy!  Yes, I have got it."

He went down from the lantern to the kitchen, and took from its shelf
the strange box of sandal-wood, whose story Dave already knew.

The light-keeper now repeated to Bart the tale of the drifting relic.
He held it to his ear.  Did the boy think it was a shell--that it would
murmur a song of wave and cloud and the broad sunshine sweeping down on
lonely surf-washed ledges?

"It won’t talk," said the light-keeper, beaming on him.

Bart shook his head.

"I wish it would talk," thought the keeper.  "It might tell about that
man whom we picked up and brought into the light, and who seemed to know
something about it.  I wonder if he will ever call for it!"

He spoke of it to Dave afterward.  The two were up on the lantern-deck
at sunset looking off upon the sea.  The water was still and glassy.  It
was heaving gently, as if with the dying day it too was dying, but
feebly pulsating with life.  One vast surface of shining gray, it
gradually darkened till it was a mass of shadows across which were drawn
the lines of white surf cresting the ledges.

"Several vessels in the harbour," said Dave.

"Yes: they have been coming down from Shipton this afternoon; but the
wind has all died away, and they seem to have made up their mind to
anchor there to-night.  It is getting cool.  Perhaps we had better go
down," said the keeper, shrugging his shoulders. While within the
lantern he glanced at the lamp, and then descended to the kitchen.
Without the twilight deepened.  Out of the gloom towered the lighthouse,
bearing aloft its guiding, warning rays.  The keeper was in the kitchen,
trimming an old lantern which had done him much faithful service.  That
small visitor, Bart, had gone with Dave up into the lantern, anxious to
see the working of the lamp.

The keeper lighted his lantern, and then started for the fog-signal
tower.  He was descending the stairs, when he heard a cry outside of the
lighthouse.

"Somebody at the foot of the ladder, I guess, wants me," concluded the
keeper, "and I will go to the door and see who it is."

He went to the door, lantern in hand, and looked down.

"Hollo, there!" sang out a man from the shadows below.  "Shall I come
up?"

"Ay, ay!" responded the keeper.  "Low water down there, isn’t it, so you
can come up the ladder?"

"I guess so.  I will make fast and try the ladder."

The keeper heard the steps of somebody on the ladder, and then a man’s
form wriggled up through the hole in the platform outside the door.

"I get up with less trouble to you than I did the last time I was here,"
said the man.

The keeper looked at him.

"Ho! this you?" he asked.

"Nobody else."

It was the man who one day, when intoxicated, had been rescued from the
bar, and the next morning had shown singular interest in the little box
of sandalwood.

"Come up!" said the keeper, leading the man to the kitchen.

"I have been some time coming, haven’t I?"

"Better late than never.  Always glad to see people. Take that chair
before the fire, and make yourself at home.  I did not know as I should
ever see you again.  You are a Shipton man?" asked the keeper bluntly.

"Yes, I belong to Shipton; but then I am off about all the time.  I
think I have seen you on the street there."

"I was thinking myself I had seen you, but I couldn’t say when, except
that time you were at the lighthouse."

"Have you got that box now?"

"Oh yes.  Here it is.  Nobody has come to claim it."

He took the box down from its shelf and placed it on the table.

The keeper’s companion said, "Now I will tell you the story about that
box, and this letter, too, will confirm it."

As he spoke he took a letter from his pocket and opened it.

"The man who wrote that was an old shipmate, Grant Williams, a warm
friend, and faithful too.  He knew I had a weakness, and used to say he
was afraid his shipmate would get into the breakers.  He sent me a
letter from a foreign port; here it is.  You look at it.  You will see
that he gave me some good advice. He laid it all down like a chart; but
I was a poor hand to steer by it.  ’I expect to sail for Shipton in a
Norwegian bark,’ he wrote (I think he was born in Norway himself, but
had been a long time in America), ’and I am going to get and bring my
old shipmate a present of a box of sandal-wood, and I shall pack a few
keepsakes into it.  I will put my picture in, just to make it seem all
the more like a present from me. I will put your initials and mine on
the under side of the box.  I will leave it at Shipton with your father
if you are not there.  And now don’t forget this: it is to be a reminder
of my desire that you should let liquor alone.  When you see it, think
of an old shipmate, and look at my face you will find in the box.’  The
first time I saw the box was that morning after the night you found me
in a state that was no credit to the one found.  I knew the ship had
been wrecked, and only that, and when I saw the face of my old shipmate,
and knew that he had been lost on the bar where I came pretty near
losing my own life through what he warned me against, I--I--felt it.  I
didn’t see how I could take the box until I was in a condition to give
some promise, you know, that I would be a better man; and now I hope I
am, God being my helper."

"Well, I think it is plain proof that you are the one whom the man
Williams meant, and the owner of this box, if those are your initials on
the bottom--if--"

The keeper was about to ask the man for his name, but the sound of a
light step tripping downstairs arrested their conversation, and both
turned toward the stairway.

It was Bart Trafton.  He looked up, stopped, started forward, and
exclaimed, "Why, father!"

"This you, Bart?" said Thomas Trafton.  "How came you here?--My boy, Mr.
Tolman.  My vessel is off there in the stream, and while waiting for the
wind I just rowed over."

There they stood, side by side, Bart and his father, while the keeper
was rising to hand the box to Thomas Trafton.  The lighthouse kitchen
never presented a more interesting scene than that of the reformed
sailor in the presence of his oft-abused child, taking into his hands
this gift, that had survived a wrecking storm, to be not only a pledge
of the friendship of the dead, but to the living a stimulus to
right-doing and a warning against wrong.

Thomas Trafton rowed back to the vessel that night.  Bart was carried to
town the next day.  Bart reached home at sundown, and first told granny
about the affair of the box as far as he had been able to pick up the
threads of the details and weave them into a story; then he asked,
"Where is father’s spy-glass?"

"Behind the clock, Bartie," said granny.  "What do you want it for?"

"Just to look off," he said, seizing the glass and bearing it out-doors.
Granny followed him into the yard and there halted; for Bart was going
farther, already bestriding the fence.

"Where is that boy going?" wondered granny.

"Bartie!" she called aloud, "it is a-gittin’ too late to see things
clear."

He was now mounting a hill beyond the yard.

"Back in a moment, granny!" he shouted.

She soon saw his figure standing out, clear and distinct, against the
western sky, and he was elevating the glass.

"Too soon to see anything yet," he said, when he returned.

"Where you lookin’, child?"

"Off to the lighthouse."

"They haven’t more than lighted her up."

"I know it.  I was too early."

"You want to see the light?  You won’t have to take a glass for that;
you just wait."

"I want to see something else.  You come with me, granny, when I go
again."

"Sakes, child, what you up to?"

Later two figures crept up the hill, one carrying a spy-glass.

"There, granny!" said the bearer of the glass. "Now you look off to the
light at Black Rocks, and right under it see if you can’t see another
light--a little one."

"La, child," declared granny, vainly looking through the glass, "I can’t
see nothin’.  This thing pokes out what there is there."

"Eh? can’t you, granny?" replied Bart, levelling the glass toward the
harbour.  "I see the light. And--and--I think--I see a--something else
underneath. Seems like a little star under a moon."

The next day this was dropped in the post-office:--


"DEAR DAVE,--I saw your lantern, I know.  Did you hang it out?  Your
friend, BART."


Dave answered this in person within a week.

"I’m having a holiday," he said to granny--"off for a day--and thought I
would call.  I want you, please, to say for me to Bart I got his note,
and that I did hang out my lantern the night that he looked for it."

"Now, did you ever see sich a boy?  He has been up every night to look
for that lantern, and he says he feels easier if he don’t see it."

"You tell him not to worry.  We are very comfortable.  A person might
live there a century and nothing happen to them."

Notwithstanding this assertion about the safety of century-serving
keepers, Bart would sometimes steal out in the dark and climb the bare,
lonely hill.  Then he would search the black horizon.

"There’s the reg’lar light," he would say, "but I don’t see anything
more.  All right!"



                                  XV.

                         _THE STORM GATHERING._


There was a tongue of land not far from the lighthouse known as "Pudding
Point."  How long the water-trip to it might be depended upon the state
of the tide.  In the immediate vicinity of the lighthouse there was, in
the direction of this Pudding Point, such an accumulation of sandy
ridges that at low-water the voyage was only a quarter of a mile. At
high tide all the yellow flats were covered, and an oarsman must pull
his boat across half-a-mile of water to go from the light to the point.
Sometimes Dave had occasion to visit Pudding Point.  A few houses were
there, and they might be able to supply an article needed at the light,
and that would save a trip to Shipton.  One sunny morning Dave had rowed
over from the light, and was drawing his boat up the sands, when he
noticed a familiar figure striding along a ridge beyond the beach.  It
was a person of handsome carriage, and one well aware of it.

"I should know that form anywhere," said Dave. "Hollo, Dick!" he
shouted.

Dick Pray came running down a sandy slope and gave Dave his hand.

"I am trying to hunt up Thomas Trafton," said Dave.  "I believe he has a
fish-house around here, hasn’t he?"

"You’ll find him on that ledge a little way back."

Dave hunted up the fish-house--a black, weather-beaten box.  Thomas
Trafton was spreading fish on the long fish-flakes in the rear of his
humble quarters.

"That you, Dave?" asked the fisherman.  "I thought I saw you down on the
shore a half-hour ago."

"I was over at the light half-an-hour ago."

"Then it was Timothy Waters."

"How so?"

"Don’t you know that if one takes a back view of you and Timothy,
although he is really older than you by half-a-dozen years, it wouldn’t
be easy to tell you apart?  Let me see.  You are twenty-one?"

"So they say at home."

"Timothy is twenty-seven at least.’

"And I look like Timothy?"

"Rear view only, and I can only tell it is him if in walking he throws
his arms out.  You never do that."

"I am not anxious to resemble Timothy Waters. I thought he was at sea."

"Off and on.  He is now, I suppose, in that craft off in the stream."

"The _Relentless_?"

"That’s the one.  I know I am glad to be out of her.  My health improved
steadily after quitting her.  I am going to be at home, fishing, this
season."

"How do they all do at home?"

"Oh, comfortable."

"Bart is getting to be a big boy, isn’t he?"

"Yes, he is.  He thinks a good deal of you.  Now, you know that habit he
got into once--"

"What was that?"

"Of taking my spy-glass and going out to look at the lighthouse at
night--"

"To see if I had hung out a lantern because we were disabled--by
sickness, you know, or something of the kind?"

"That is it.  Well, his granny says he hasn’t wholly dropped it now.
She will see him go out, and when he comes back she will say,
’Anything?’  ’Nothing,’ he will say."

"Oh, I guess there never will be any need of his looking."

"No, I s’pose not; but it shows his interest."

"Yes; I am thankful for that.--Well, let us have a fish to broil; have
come out for that."

Dave received his fish, paid for it, and very soon turned away, striding
off energetically in the direction of his boat.

When Dave returned to the lighthouse, the tide, gradually dropping, had
uncovered the rocky foundations, and the water was playing with the
fringes of seaweed all about the rocks.

"How gracefully that seaweed rises and falls!  Those curves of its
motion are very delicate.--Hollo! what is that?" he asked.

Looking at the foundations, he saw in a crevice a little object that was
not a lump of rock-weed or a rock, and what was it?

"A pocket-book!" said Dave, leaning out of his boat and picking up this
relic tightly wedged between the stones.  "I’ll look at that when I get
up into the kitchen."

Reaching the kitchen, he hastily opened the pocket-book, noticed that it
was empty, and then placed it to dry on a shelf.  It was very peaceful
in the kitchen, and the stove purred and the clock ticked contentedly
and quietly as ever.  But where was the light-keeper? his assistant
wondered.

"Upstairs probably," was the thought in reply; and yet this
consideration, reasonable as it might seem at the moment, did not
dispose of the question wholly. True, in a lighthouse, where one might
say if a man were not downstairs he must be upstairs, that he could not
be "out in the yard" or "in the cellar," Dave’s conclusion seemed to be
correct.  He felt, however, a peculiar sense of loneliness.  If Dave
were a person given to moods, if he were likely to be sombre, he might
have said it was only a fancy; but for one of his temperament that was
unusual.  Dave with reason had been somewhat worried about his
principal.  Toby Tolman was growing old.  It had been in certain
quarters openly said that he was too old for his position.  He had been
such an efficient keeper, and he had as his assistant a man so valuable,
that no one cared to make an effort to remove him from his position.
The person who would probably be benefited by any change, and would be
invited to take charge of the light, was David Fletcher, and he would
not move, for that reason, against his kind old friend.  Dave had worked
all the harder to fill up any deficiencies on the part of his principal,
and the principal would doubtless have been invited to step out if his
assistant had not worked so hard to keep him in.  Often Dave noticed an
indisposition in the light-keeper to attend to that fraction of the
duties of the place falling to him, and Dave rightly attributed the
indisposition to inability.  During the watch-hours belonging to the
keeper his assistant had sometimes found him asleep, and when the
rest-hours belonging to the keeper arrived, he would unduly prolong his
sleep in the morning, and neglect duties to which he had hitherto given
prompt attention.  Dave also noticed that Mr. Tolman lingered at an
unusual length over his Bible. It would be an exceedingly good sign if
it could be said of many people that they spent twice as much time as
previously with their Bibles; but when a man usually giving to this
habit an hour and a half may take three hours, neglecting other daily
duties, there may be occasion for inquiry into the change.  The
light-keeper did not himself notice this peculiarity about to be
mentioned, and yet any one seeing the passages read would have
appreciated it.  The keeper now found unusual comfort in the psalms that
spoke of God as a hiding-place, a refuge, a high tower.  Was he like the
mariner who sees the storm pressing him closely and hastens to find the
harbour where he can let fall each straining sail, like the tired bird
that drops its wings because it has found its nest?

Dave had other reason for worry.  There were in circulation mysterious
stories that everything in the administration of the lighthouse at Black
Rocks was not satisfactory.  There were sly whisperings that goods
belonging to Government were given out to others by the keepers, but
when, where, and why, nobody said.  There was only the repeated story of
a mysterious disappearance of Government property. Several friends of
Dave tried to catch and hold these rumours.  Catch them they did, but
hold them they could not.  They were like birds that you may think are
yours, but when you turn them into a room, lo, they fly out of an open
window in the opposite direction.

Thomas Trafton was very indignant.

"Look here!" he said with a reddened face to a fisherman repeating some
of these charges, "who told you that?"

"Almost everybody."

"Name one."

"Well, Timothy Waters was one."

"Timothy Waters, a man that had trouble at the light!  You wait before
you believe the story."

"But others have said the same thing."

"Well, wait; I am going to track these stories to their start."

Thomas Trafton imagined that he was a hunter, and like one following up
the trail of an animal, he endeavoured to track these slanders back to
their den. Sometimes he would follow the accusations back to Timothy
Waters, and then somebody else would be found to assert them, and so the
trail would start away again.  Amid the multitude of tracks, but without
evidence of their origin, this hunter from the Trafton family was
bewildered.  He mentioned the affair to Dave, feeling that here was an
innocent person whom others were attacking, and yet he might be entirely
ignorant of the assault.

"I--I--don’t want to make you uneasy, but I feel friendly more than you
can imagine," said Thomas, "and I thought you ought to know about the
stories that are going round."

"Oh, I suppose people are always talking.  Life would be dreadful dull
if there wasn’t something to talk about; and if I save the world from
dulness I may flatter myself that I am doing some good."

"Oh, but it isn’t just gossip."

"Isn’t?" replied Dave, taking a hint from Thomas

Trafton’s significant look more than from any language. "What is it
then?"

"Now, I don’t believe it, mind ye.  I try to stop it, but it is like
trying to stop a sand-piper on the beach without a gun.  Running after
it don’t bring it."

"Well, what is it?  I know you wouldn’t believe anything unfair, but I
am bothered to know what it is."

"Why--and I thought you had better know it--they say things belonging to
Government are given out from the lighthouse: ’misappropriated’--I
believe that is the word."

"Long word!  Well, who says it?" asked Dave sternly.

"Oh, I’m sorry to say I’ve heard a good many tell it who ought to know
better."

"It is all a lie!  Misappropriation!  That good man Toby Tolman--as if
he would do such a thing! Why, any one with a head might know better.
Toby never would do it!"

"Of course he wouldn’t, nor you neither.  That is not the p’int, but how
to stop ’em?"

Dave was silent.  Then he broke out,--

"Who has mentioned it?"

Thomas mentioned the fisherman he had recently confronted and rebuked.
Then he added,--

"I have tried to run the story down to its hole.  It don’t seem to start
with him, for he says somebody told him, and--"

"Who is that?"

"Timothy Waters."

"Indeed!"

"Now, I want to know how to stop the story."

"You let me think it over, Thomas.  I am much obliged to you."

"I am real sorry to tell you," replied Thomas, "but I thought you ought
to know of it, and I’ll stand by you and Toby to--the last."

This conversation was only three days before Dave’s visit to Pudding
Point.  Thomas had said if anything new turned up he would report to
Dave.  "Nothing," he had said to Dave during that call at the
fish-house, looking significantly at him.

"I understand," replied Dave, "and I have nothing. All I can do is to
grin and bear it."

To suit the act to the sentiment, he gave a smile with compressed lips.
It was a rather grim smile.

Dave was thinking of the unpleasant subject continually.  What added to
his burden was the conviction that he did not think it would be wise to
tell his principal, for he suspected--and he judged rightly--that it
would do no good, that it would only grieve the light-keeper, and that
this burden of grief he was not just then in a condition to easily
carry.

"I am acting for two," he said to himself, "and that makes it all the
harder.  If it were just one, just myself, I could seem to tell what to
do; but I think it would do an injury to the old man to tell him now;
and what shall I do?  I guess I must take the advice of that psalm to
myself."

He had in mind the close of the twenty-seventh psalm, read the night
before: "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen
thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."  And this was Dave’s comment on
the verse: "I can rest on that promise.  I was not aware when a man
didn’t know what to do, which way to turn, that this psalm could help
and rest one like that."

So Dave, like many pilgrims perplexed and tired, came to the shadow of
the mountain-promises of God. and there comforted his soul in the
assurance that God thought of him, loved him, and would strengthen him.
He needed this comfort when he returned to the lighthouse, after his
visit to Thomas Trafton’s fish-house, and missed the keeper.

"I will go upstairs to find him," he said.

How hard and heavy was the sound of his footsteps as he ascended the
first flight of stairs leading from the kitchen!  Dave went up as if he
were carrying a burden.  He pushed open the door at the head of the
stairway and looked into the keeper’s room, anxiously and yet timidly,
as if desirous to find him and yet afraid.

"Ah, there he is," thought Dave.

He was lying on his bed, his eyes closed.

"Is he asleep?" wondered Dave.  He stepped to the bed.

"Yes, he must be asleep.  Shall I speak to him?"

He hesitated.  He wanted to wake him and make sure that an ugly
suspicion was without foundation.

He watched the old man’s breast, and saw a movement there as of a
pulsation of the heart.  He held his hand before the keeper’s mouth.

"Yes, I feel his warm breath.  It must be sleep, and yet--"

He paused.  He did not like to express in language what he could not
help in thought.

"I will not disturb him," he finally said, "for it may be only just
sleep.  I will wait, any way, till after dinner."

Deferring and still suspecting, he went downstairs. The kitchen had not
changed, and yet it seemed a different place.  The clock and the fire
now made discordant noises.  The sunshine that fell through the window
and rested on the floor seemed not so much to bring the light as to show
how empty and comfortless the place was.  He felt lonelier than ever,
this man that people outside suspected of theft, who was cut off from
the sympathy of the man suspected with him.  He was like one of the
ledges in the sea, so isolated, so much by itself, upon which the waves
beat without mercy, without rest.  In that hour what society, sympathy,
strength, he found in the psalms!--a face to smile upon him, a voice to
cheer, and a hand to uplift.



                                  XVI.

                         _THE STORM STRIKING._


After dinner Dave mounted the stairway leading to the keeper’s room.

"Still sleeping," thought Dave, lingering on the threshold and
hesitating to go forward.  He advanced, though, in a moment, for he was
startled at the keeper’s appearance.  It was like an intermittent stupor
rather than the continued unconsciousness of sleep.  Dave touched the
keeper, and he found the temperature to be that of a high fever.  At
times the old light-keeper would start and open his eyes, and when Dave
left the room to search the pantry for some simple remedy on the
medicine-shelf, he found on his return that his patient had left his bed
and was standing by the narrow window in the thick stone walls.  He
murmured something about "storm," about the "light," and suffered Dave
to lead him back to bed.

"I must look out how I leave him again," thought Dave; and yet how could
he manage the case alone?

"I must have help," he said, "and soon as I have a chance I must hang a
signal out at the door. Perhaps some one will call, and I’ll wait before
showing the signal."

Nobody came.  Why should they come because suspecting any trouble?  The
afternoon was pleasant. The sea broke gently upon the stone walls of the
lighthouse, and the sun shed its quiet glow like some benediction of
peace upon the sea.  It was the very afternoon when a spectator would be
likely to conclude that the lighthouse was in no need of help.

"I’ll go now," at last concluded Dave.  "He is asleep; his fever is
running lower.  I will step to the door of the signal-tower, and throw
out a white sheet there, and somebody may see it."

Nobody came, and yet here was a man who might be dangerously sick.  At
the hour of sunset he ran up to the lantern and lighted the lamp.  He
quickly descended, saying to himself, "How glad I am that it is not
foggy!  So much to be thankful for!  How could I start that signal!  But
it won’t do to try to get through the night in this fashion.  What, what
can I do?"

The twilight thickened; the shadows trailed longer, broader, and darker
folds across the sea.  Dave sat alone with the sick man, who moaned as
if in pain.

"I have it!" he suddenly exclaimed, recalling what Thomas Trafton told
him.  "I can do one thing more. I’ll hang the lantern out from the
tower; maybe Bart will possibly see it."

Watching his chance when the keeper was less uneasy, he ran downstairs,
lighted a lantern, and then suspended it outside a window on the
landward side of the tower.  The cool air of the sea blew refreshingly
on his heated face as he leaned out.

"The air feels good; but I can’t stop here," said Dave, hurrying away
and returning to the keeper’s room.  "There!  I have done all I could,
and now--"

There came to him again the words of the psalmist, "Wait on the Lord: be
of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on
the Lord."

He could rest on that promise.  He was beginning to find out what God
could be in the time of trouble. Friends might fail him; on every side
there might be an emptiness, a loneliness.  All about him settled the
presence of God, filling up this solitude, this waste, this night.  He
could lean on God and--wait. Others might suspect his integrity.  He
knew he was not guilty, and he welcomed the thought of God’s
knowledge--that God saw to the bottom of his heart, and into the depths
of his life, and God knew he was innocent.  Yes, he could wait.

That evening Thomas Trafton, his old mother, and Bart sat around the
little table of pine on which the kitchen lamp had been placed.  The
father was telling where he had been that day and whom he had seen.

"Dave Fletcher was down at the fish-house to-day. He spoke, Bart, of
your looking through the spy-glass, but he did not think it necessary."

"Did he speak of it?" said Bart eagerly.  "I have a great mind to--"

"To go out?" asked his father--"to go out and see?  Oh, nonsense!  No
more need of it than my going to Australia."

"Oh, let him go if he wants to," pleaded the grandmother; and the father
assented.

Bart reached up to the spy-glass resting on a shelf, took it down, and
seizing his hat also, hurried outdoors.  He was going through the yard,
when he saw somebody stealing away from a shed in the rear of the house.

"Why, if that don’t look like Dave Fletcher himself!" thought Bart.
"Dave Fletcher!" he shouted.

Whoever it was--and the form certainly did resemble Dave’s--he made no
reply, but hurried through the yard down into the street.

"Somebody else, I suppose!" murmured Bart. "Wonder what he wanted!
Perhaps it was one of the fishermen who wanted to leave something for
father.  Can’t stop to see now."

He hurried to the top of the hill, raised his glass, and pointed it
toward the lighthouse.

"Father!" he said, appearing the next minute in the kitchen, and
speaking hurriedly, "oh--oh--come here! and you--granny--and see if--"

He said no more, for this was sufficient to startle his auditors, and
all three hastened up the hill.

"You didn’t see a second light at the lighthouse?" asked the father.

"Yes, I did," replied Bart; "I know I did."

"Guess you were mistaken," suggested granny.

"No, I wasn’t; you just look and see your--yourself."

Granny could not see anything except a hazy glow where the lighthouse
might be supposed to stand.

"Can’t say I saw even that as well as I wanted to," she confessed to
herself.

Thomas Trafton’s keen eyes, though, detected a bright little star under
the light in the lantern of the sea-tower, and exclaimed, "No doubt
about it! Afraid there’s trouble there, and--"

"Could take our boat, father," said Bart eagerly, who had been already
planning for this emergency, "and pick up a doctor; for that is what the
signal must mean after what Dave told me, you know, and--and--"

"We will go right off," said Thomas Trafton, in his quick, decided way.

As they were rowing across the river to obtain the services of Dr.
Peters, Bart thought of the time, half-a-dozen years ago, when his quest
for the physician ended in a river-bath.

"Dave Fletcher did a good thing for me then," thought Bart, "and I will
stand by him now."

How he bent to his oars and made them bend in their turn!  It was a
pleasure to be of some use in the world.

It was that evening that the light-keeper came back for a moment to
consciousness, and looking steadily at Dave, said in a very serious tone
of voice, "How long have I been lying here?"

"Oh, only since morning," replied his nurse, delighted to hear his
voice.  "Now, you be quiet and tell me if you want anything--any
medicine you take when you are sick this way."

Here the keeper’s thoughts wandered again.  He talked about the fog that
was coming, and a craft that was caught on the bar, and then, looking at
Dave steadily, said in a hesitating way, "Hadn’t you better--put
it--back--Dave?"

"Put back what, sir?"

"What you--took?  Let me--as a--friend--advise you."

"Took?"

The keeper lifted himself on his elbow and looked all around, as if
trying to find something.

"David, don’t hide it!"

Then the keeper fell back upon his bed, and murmuring a few words
indistinctly, he was lost again in a stupor.  He was no sooner quiet
than his assistant’s quick ear caught the sound of steps and voices down
in the signal-tower; for all the doors this summer evening were open
between the keeper’s room and the platform at the entrance of the
lighthouse. It was the arrival of Thomas Trafton’s party, and Dr. Peters
was a member of it.  If Dave felt that its coming was like the reaching
out of a hand that lifted him up and strengthened him, the words of the
keeper were like a hand smiting him down.

What did Toby Tolman mean?



                                 XVII.

                      _THOMAS TRAFTON, DETECTIVE._


"Well!" said Dr. Peters, after a night of careful watching of the
light-keeper’s symptoms. He was a tall, elderly gentleman, with a very
smooth, melodious voice, its tones seeming to have been dipped in syrup.

He began again,--

"Well, Mr. Fletcher, I think Mr. Tolman will recover from this.  We
shall get him through."  And when he spoke, Dr. Peters waved his hands
as if he had already disposed of this case and now passed it out of
sight.

"However, Mr. Fletcher, the case will need careful watching, and you had
better take charge of it, unless his daughter might come down to relieve
you."

"Possibly his granddaughter," thought Dave.

"I don’t think we can ever rely on Toby Tolman’s resuming his old duties
here--might do a little something, you know--and you had better get
Thomas Trafton or some trusty man to help you.  When will the inspector
be here?"

"Our lighthouse inspector, Captain Sinclair, doctor?"

"Yes."

"In about a fortnight, perhaps sooner.  The steamer that brings supplies
for the lighthouse will soon be here, and Captain Sinclair will come in
her, I think."

"The inspector, to look after matters?"

"Yes, sir.  Of course I shall report what you say about the keeper to
headquarters at once."

"I would.  It is very important.  And when Captain Sinclair comes, let
me know, please."

"I will, sir."

"Of course it is necessary that things should be inspected.  I am glad
he is coming.  Well to be careful."

"What does he mean?" wondered Dave.  "Has he got hold of those stories
about misappropriation? Well, when Captain Sinclair comes I hope he will
sift things to the bottom.  I am not afraid of an investigation."

Dave took satisfaction in the consciousness of his integrity; still it
was not pleasant to be suspected. It was Toby Tolman’s mysterious
language, indicating that he too held Dave in some kind of suspicion,
which troubled Dave painfully.  The day after Dr. Peters’s visit the
light-keeper again referred to this mystery.  He roused himself into a
state of seeming consciousness, and then relapsed.  Again he awoke. He
looked around him and fastened his eyes on the top of a clothes-press in
the room.

"What do you want, sir?  Anything there that you want to put on?" asked
Dave.

The keeper shook his head.  Pointing at the top of the press, he said,
"Dave, I would put it back."

"What do you mean?  I don’t understand you."

The keeper, though, was gone again, murmuring about the tide, which he
said was very late, and when would it come in?  He had been awake long
enough to cruelly wound Dave once more.

Bart Trafton had gone home with Dr. Peters, rowing him to town in the
same dory that brought him to the light the night before.  In two days
Bart was down again.  As he sat in the kitchen eating some apple-pie
offered him by his father, he said, "Father, I found something in our
shed."

"What was it, Bart?"

Laying down his lunch, Bart drew out of a package a chronometer.

"Found that in the shed?" asked the surprised father.

"Yes, on a shelf."

"Why, Bart, this has got the letters of our lighthouse on it.  Must have
come from here.  And in our shed!  How did it get there?  I must show
this to Dave," said Thomas Trafton.

"Hush-sh!" exclaimed Dave, when his assistant entered the room; "Toby is
trying to get some sleep."

"See here!" said Thomas, in low tones.  "Must show you something."

"I never saw it before," replied Dave, handling the chronometer.  "It
belongs here, though.  There are the initials.  Where did you get it?"

A stir among the bedclothes arrested the attention of the two men.  Toby
Tolman had opened his eyes, and was looking at them.  Something he saw
must have pleased him, for he smiled.

"That is right, Dave.  I am glad you brought it back.  I would put it
up."

"Where?" asked the astonished Dave, anxious to lay hold of any clue to a
serious mystery.

"Up there."

He pointed at the top of the clothes-press.  The press was not a tall
one.  Dave standing on tiptoe could reach to its top, and he now laid
the watch there.

"Is that right?" asked Dave.

The keeper nodded his head, and then closed his eyes, his face wearing a
satisfied expression foreign to it all through his sickness.

"Is not that queer?" whispered Dave.  "Some mystery that is too deep for
me."

He beckoned Thomas and Bart out of the room, and then followed them
downstairs.

"Now, how do you explain that?" asked Dave, as the three clustered about
the stove, whose heat that day was acceptable, for the air was chilly
and the wind was a prophet of storm.

"Don’t know," said Thomas.

"I’d give this old pocket-book full of silver," declared Dave, "to have
that thing cleared up.  It takes a load off my mind, I tell you.  The
old man has been harping on the fact that I took something, and he has
been looking toward that old clothes-press in such a strange way.  I
didn’t know anything was up there. Did you see how he acted, smiled
about it?"

"Where did you get this pocket-book?" asked Thomas.

"The day that Toby was taken sick I picked it up among the rocks here.
I had been over at your fish-house, and found it when I was coming back.
Been in the water, you see."

"Here are some letters on it--T.W."

"That means Tobias Winkley or--"

"Thomas Winkley.  Can’t prove it to be Thomas Trafton; and if you could
no money is in it.  ’T.W.,’ that is Timothy Watson."

"Or Timothy Waters."

"Yes; Timothy Waters, or anything that would go with those initials.
Toby Tolman wouldn’t go."

"Now I must go upstairs again to be with my patient."

Dave Fletcher’s heart was lighter as he went upstairs again, but the
burden now lightening on his shoulders seemed to be transferred to those
of Thomas Trafton.

"Don’t understand this!" he exclaimed.  "Where is Bart?  Bart!"

There was no response to this call, and the father went downstairs into
the storeroom to hunt up Bart.

"Nobody here.  I’ll go into the signal-tower," said Thomas; and up in
the engine-room, looking soberly out of a window fronting the breakers
on the bar, stood Bart.

"You here, Bart?  What are you doing here?"

"Thinking," said the boy gloomily.

"What makes you so sober, Bart?"

"Don’t like to have folks suspected."

"Neither do I.  That old thing was found in our shed, but I don’t know
anything about it."

It relieved Bart to hear his father’s stout assertion of innocence, but
his burdens had not all dropped.

"You know they talk about Dave, father."

"Well, you don’t believe it?"

How could Bart consent to take Dave Fletcher down from that high
pedestal to which he had elevated him?  How could he believe that his
marble statue was after all only common clay, and even of an inferior
earth?

"I won’t believe it till it is proved," said Bart stoutly, "nor of you
either, father."

This relieved Thomas Trafton.

"Bart, you see if I don’t turn this rascally thing over and get at the
truth!  I’ll find the mischief-maker; yes, I will."

Thomas Trafton was by nature a detective.  He put himself on the trail
of this mystery, and if a trained hound he could not have followed the
track more keenly and resolutely.  He announced his purpose to Dave, and
the latter would ask him occasionally if he had any clue.

"I am at work on it, still running.  The scent is good, and I have
something of a trail.  I’ll tell you when I get through," was one reply
he made.



                                 XVIII.

                             _INTO A TRAP._


"Cap’n Sinclair!" called out a voice.  The man projecting the voice
stood up in a boat rocking gently in the harbour.  The man addressed
stood in a small black steamer, the _Spitfire_, employed in conveying
supplies to the lighthouses.  He leaned over the steamer’s rail and
asked, "What is it?"

"I suppose you remember me, Timothy Waters?"

"Oh, that you, Waters?"

"Yes.  Could I see you?"

"Here I am."

Captain Sinclair was a middle-aged man, rather stout, wearing a
moustache, and flashing a friendly look out of his brown eyes.

"I don’t think I was fairly treated," said Timothy, "when I lost my
place in the lighthouse, and I wanted to make some explanations.
Besides me, you may have heard the stories all round about the goods
they are wasting at the light?"

"Well, I have heard something," said the captain impatiently.  "Somebody
wrote to me about it, but he wasn’t man enough to sign his name.  May
have been a woman, for all I know."

"If you’d let me come aboard--"

"Oh, you can come aboard; but I won’t be here long.  I must go into the
light, and the steamer is going off--at once.  Just row over to the
lighthouse, and I’ll talk with you there."

Timothy turned away and shrugged his shoulders. He said to himself, "I
don’t want to go in there. However, I think I saw Trafton and that
Fletcher rowin’ off.  I can stand the old man."  He turned to the
captain and said in a fawning tone, "All right, cap’n.  I want you to
have your say about it."

When Captain Sinclair and Timothy entered the kitchen of the lighthouse,
to the surprise of Timothy he saw Trafton and Dave Fletcher.  They had
"rowed off," and had also rowed back.  Timothy was so unprepared for
their appearance that he would have allowed the opportunity for
presenting his cause to slip by unimproved.  Dave Fletcher, though, was
ready to begin at once, and did so.

"Captain Sinclair, be seated, please, and the rest of you.  When you
were here yesterday I called your attention to certain charges made
against Mr. Tolman and myself that--"

"Oh yes, I remember; and here is a letter full of them somebody sent to
me, but they were too cowardly to add any name.  Let me have the
light-book.  That will give me some of last year’s records."

Timothy was looking on in apparent unconcern, but really in
bewilderment, and wondering when his turn would come.  He began to
address the inspector.

"Cap’n--"

Thomas was ahead of him, and by this time had said three words to
Timothy’s one,--

"Cap’n Sinclair, I--Cap’n Sinclair, I have something to say.  I think
the author of all this trouble is here.  He"--pointing a finger at
Timothy--"came to this lighthouse, took a chronometer, carried it to
Shipton, left it in my shed--"

[Illustration: "’Cap’n Sinclair, the author of all this trouble sits
there.’"  _Page 195_]]

This torrent of charges, so unexpected, swept away the statements
Timothy had prepared for Captain Sinclair.  He attempted to stem the
torrent, and cried, "It is easy to say you know, cap’n"--Timothy tried
to be very bland, restraining his temper--"easy to say you know--"

"I can say that he came to this lighthouse," Thomas broke out again,
"and when the keeper was lyin’ sick on his bed--asleep, as he thought,
is my guess--he took a chronometer--"

Timothy, who had been curbing his temper, now threw away all reins.

"Where is the keeper?" he asked stormily.  "I don’t believe he can say
that."

"Oh, he is upstairs, and well enough to see us. The doctor says he is
doing well.  And walk up, gentlemen," said Dave, "walk up!"

Bart was reading to the old man, who was seated in a rocking-chair near
his bed.  The company almost filled the little room, but the
light-keeper bade them welcome.

"Mr. Tolman," said Thomas, "won’t you tell Cap’n Sinclair what you told
me about the taking of the chronometer?"

"Oh yes," said the old light-keeper slowly.  "I was feeling very sick,
so much so that I concluded to lie down.  I s’pose I was lying with my
eyes ’most shut, when I heard a step and saw a man come in, and he
looked at me, and then he stood on a chair, examined the top of that
clothes-press, and took down a chronometer--an old thing, but it might
be fixed up.  The man thought I was asleep, and I didn’t see his face,
only it seemed to me as if he had whiskers, and when he stood on a chair
to reach the chronometer he looked--standing with his back to me---as if
it was Dave Fletcher.  Well, I was that weak I couldn’t speak, and my
visitor went off, supposing, I daresay, that I was asleep.  Well, I kept
it on my mind, forgetting the whiskers, that it was Dave, and I charged
him with it.  Sorry I did--"

"Well," said Timothy fiercely, "why wasn’t it Fletcher?  It is about
time that innocent chap should do something."

"He says--Mr. Tolman says," observed Captain Sinclair, "that you and
Fletcher look alike."

"Wall," bawled Timothy, "why couldn’t it have been Fletcher much as me,
don’t you see?  Come you--you feller--you stand by this clothes-press
and reach up, and let’s see how you look."

"This ’feller’ is ready," said Dave, going to the clothes-press and
reaching to its top.

"And here I am.  Why ain’t it him?" asked Timothy, also standing by the
press and reaching up.

"They do look alike when their backs are turned toward us," observed
Captain Sinclair.

"Only the keeper said the one he saw had whiskers, and there are
Timothy’s," remarked Thomas.

Dave wore only a moustache.  Thomas’s remark called the attention of
everybody to Timothy’s whiskers, projecting like wings from his cheeks.
These wings were red, but their colour was not as vivid as that of
Timothy’s face.

"Besides," continued Thomas, "Dave wasn’t here. He can prove an alibi.
He was over at Pudding P’int; came to get a fish from me."

"Why," said Timothy indignantly, "I was--two miles away."

"I saw you round the shore myself; and here is your pocket-book that
Dave found at the foot of the light-tower that very morning."

Timothy opened his eyes, swelled up his cheeks, puffed, declared he
didn’t see how that was, "and--and--"

Here Bart interrupted his stammering, and said,--

"And I saw you up at our shed that evening.  I thought it was Dave
Fletcher, taking a back view; but when I called ’Dave!’ there was no
answer to it;--and, Dave, you’d speak if I called, wouldn’t you?"

"I think I would."

"This other person that looked like you didn’t say a word."

Timothy puffed and protested and denied, growing redder and redder.

"See here, Waters," said Captain Sinclair: "I have been looking at the
lighthouse records last year, and I have hunted up places where you have
written, and the style is like this in the letter I received--that
anonymous one--about the charges against the keepers in the lighthouse.
You come up into the room above with me."

Stuttering in his confusion, still asserting his innocence, blushing, he
stumbled up the stairway, and then alone with Captain Sinclair he was
urged to make a clean breast of it.

"Yes," said the captain, "tell the whole story; for there is enough
against you to shut you up in quarters of stone, and it won’t be a
lighthouse."

Timothy was startled by this.  He broke down, and made a full confession
to the inspector.



                                  XIX.

                           _A PLACE TO STOP._


Here is a place to bring into a harbour our story drifting on like a
boat.  Dave Fletcher was appointed keeper of the light at Black Rocks,
and Thomas Trafton became his assistant.  Bart, though, said he
considered himself to be second assistant, and should fit himself as
rapidly as possible for a keeper. He wanted, he added, to be as useful
as he could be--an idea that never forsook him since the old days of his
career as Little Mew.  Dick Pray went on in the old style, full of plans
and projects, stirred by an intense ambition to do some big thing, but
impatient of the little things necessary to the execution of the whole.
Always ready to dare, he was as uniformly averse to the doing of the
hard work that might be demanded.

Toby Tolman took up his quarters in his old home ashore.  As he could
not go where Dave was, he said he thought Dave ought to come to him as
often as possible.  Dave promised to do all in his power, and as a
pledge of his sincerity he married the light-keeper’s granddaughter,
black-eyed, bright-eyed May Tolman.  She lived under Toby Tolman’s roof;
and as Dave improved every opportunity to visit the grand-daughter, he
was able to fulfil his promise made to the grandfather.



                                THE END.



                                  ――――



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