By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Adventures of Billy Topsail
Author: Duncan, Norman, 1871-1916
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 "The Adventures of Billy Topsail" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

available by Internet Archive (https://archive.org)

      Images of the original pages are available through
      Internet Archive. See


       *       *       *       *       *



_Second Edition_

The Mother

    A Novelette of New York Life. 12mo, cloth, $1.25, de
    Luxe, $2.00 net.

    "Another book quite unlike 'Dr. Luke' in environment,
    but very like it in its intuitive understandings of the
    natures of the lowly and obscure . . . holds the reader
    spellbound."--_Nashville American._

_Twenty-fifth Thousand_

Doctor Luke of the Labrador

    12mo, cloth, $1.50.

    "Norman Duncan has fulfilled all that was expected
    of him in this story; it established him beyond
    question as one of the strong masters of the present
    day."--_Brooklyn Eagle._

_Fourth Edition_

Dr. Grenfell's Parish

    Illustrated. Cloth, $1.00 net.

    "He tells vividly and picturesquely many of the things
    done by Dr. Grenfell and his associates. They have
    a distinct literary tone. It is splendid, heroic
    work that Dr. Grenfell and his fellows are doing as
    missionaries of humanity and civilization in a field
    that is painfully near home."--_N. Y. Sun._


       *       *       *       *       *





Author of "Doctor Luke of The Labrador,"
"The Mother," "Dr. Grenfell's Parish"



New York  Chicago  Toronto
Fleming H. Revell Company
London and Edinburgh

Copyright, 1906, by
Fleming H. Revell Company

New York: 158 Fifth Avenue
Chicago: 80 Wabash Avenue
Toronto: 27 Richmond Street, W.
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street

              _J. K._

    _To the editors of the "Youth's Companion" the author's
    thanks are due for the permission to reprint much of
    the contents of this book._

_To the Boy who Reads the Book_

YOU must not be surprised because the adventures of Billy Topsail and
a few of his friends fill this book. If _all_ the adventures of these
real boys were written the record would fill many books. This is not
hard to explain. The British Colony of Newfoundland lies to the north
of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and to the east of the Canadian Labrador.
It is so situated that the inhabitants may not escape adventures.
On the map, it looks bleak and far away and inhospitable--a lonely
island, outlying in the stormy water of the Atlantic. Indeed, it is
all that. The interior is a vast wilderness--a waste place. The folk
are fishermen all. They live on the coast, in little harbours, remote,
widely scattered, not connected by roads; communication is only by way
of the sea. They are hospitable, fearless, tender, simple, willing for
toil; and, surely, little else can be said of a people. Long, long ago,
their forbears first strayed up that forbidding shore in chase of the
fish; and the succeeding generations, though such men as we are, have
there lived their lives, apart from the world's comforts and delights
as we know them. The land is barren; sustenance is from the sea, which
is moody and cold and gray: thus life in that far place has many perils
and deprivations and toilsome duties. The boys of the outports are like
English-speaking boys the world over. They are merry or not, brave or
not, kind or not, as boys go; but it may be that they are somewhat
merrier and braver and kinder than boys to whom self-reliance and
physical courage are less needful. At any rate, they have adventures,
every one of them; and that is not surprising--for the conditions of
life are such that every Newfoundland lad intimately knows hardship and
peril at an age when the boys of the cities still grasp a hand when
they cross the street.

                                                        N. D.

New York, _September, 1906_.


  CHAPTER I                                                          11

  In which young Billy Topsail of Ruddy Cove puts out to his first
      adventure with his dog in the bow of the punt.

  CHAPTER II                                                         19

  Concerning the behaviour of Billy Topsail and his dog in the
      water when the _Never Give Up_ went to the bottom, and
      closing with an apology and a wag of the tail.

  CHAPTER III                                                        26

  Describing the haunts and habits of devil-fish and informing
      the reader of Billy Topsail's determination to make a
      capture at all hazards.

  CHAPTER IV                                                         34

  Recounting the adventure of the giant squid of Chain Tickle,
      in which the punt gets in the grip of a gigantic tentacle
      and Billy Topsail strikes with an axe.

  CHAPTER V                                                          44

  On the face of the cliff: Wherein Billy Topsail gets lost
      in a perilous place and sits down to recover his

  CHAPTER VI                                                         52

  In which Billy Topsail loses his nerve. Wherein, also, the
      wings of gulls seem to brush past.

  CHAPTER VII                                                        59

  In which Billy Topsail hears the fur trader's story of a
      jigger and a cake of ice in the wind.

  CHAPTER VIII                                                        69

  In the offshore gale: In which Billy Topsail goes seal
      hunting and is swept to sea with the floe.

  CHAPTER IX                                                          78

  In which old Tom Topsail burns his punt and Billy wanders in
      the night and three lives hang on a change of wind.

  CHAPTER X                                                           86

  How Billy Topsail's friend Bobby Lot joined fortunes with
      Eli Zitt and whether or not he proved worthy of the

  CHAPTER XI      93

  Bobby Lot learns to swim and Eli Zitt shows amazing courage
      and self-possession and strength.

  CHAPTER XII                                                       104

  Containing the surprising adventure of Eli Zitt's little
      partner on the way back from Fortune Harbour, in which
      a Newfoundland dog displays a saving intelligence.

  CHAPTER XIII                                                      116

  In which Billy Topsail sets sail for the Labrador, the
      _Rescue_ strikes an iceberg, and Billy is commanded to
      pump for his life.

  CHAPTER XIV                                                       123

  Faithfully narrating the amazing experiences of a
      Newfoundland schooner and describing Billy Topsail's
      conduct in a sinking boat.

  CHAPTER XV                                                        131

  In which the Ruddy Cove doctor tells Billy Topsail and
      a stranger how he came to learn that the longest way
      'round is sometimes the shortest way home.

  CHAPTER XVI                                                       142

  Describing how Billy Topsail set out for Ruddy Cove with
      Her Majesty's Mail and met with catastrophe.

  CHAPTER XVII                                                      151

  Billy Topsail wrings out his clothes and finds himself
      cut off from shore by thirty yards of heaving ice.

  CHAPTER XVIII                                                     159

  In which Billy Topsail joins the whaler _Viking_ and a
      school is sighted.

  CHAPTER XIX                                                       164

  In which the chase is kept up and the captain promises
      himself a kill.

  CHAPTER XX                                                        172

  The mate of the fin-back whale rises for the last time,
      with a blood-red sunset beyond, and Billy Topsail
      says, "Too bad!"

  CHAPTER XXI                                                       176

  In which Billy Topsail goes fishing in earnest. Concerning,
      also, Feather's Folly of the Devil's Teeth, Mary
      Robinson, and the wreck of the _Fish Killer_.

  CHAPTER XXII                                                      184

  The crew of the _Fish Killer_ finds refuge on an iceberg
      and discovers greater safety elsewhere, after which
      the cook is mistaken for a fool, but puts the crew
      to shame.

  CHAPTER XXIII                                                     196

  In which the clerk of the trader _Tax_ yarns of a madman
      in the cabin.

  CHAPTER XXIV                                                      208

  In which a pirate's cave grows interesting, and two young
      members of the Ethnological and Antiquarian Club of
      St. John's, undertake an adventure under the guidance
      of Billy Topsail.

  CHAPTER XXV                                                       216

  In which there is a landslide at Little Tickle Basin and
      something of great interest and peculiar value is
      discovered in the cave.

  CHAPTER XXVI                                                      223

  In which Billy Topsail determines to go to the ice in the
      spring of the year, and young Archibald Armstrong of
      St. John's is permitted to set out upon an adventure
      which promises to be perilous and profitable.

  CHAPTER XXVII                                                     231

  While Billy Topsail is about his own business Archie
      Armstrong stands on the bridge of the _Dictator_ and
      Captain Hand orders "Full speed ahead!" on the stroke
      of twelve.

  CHAPTER XXVIII                                                    238

  In which Archie Armstrong falls in with Bill o' Burnt Bay
      and Billy Topsail of Ruddy Cove, and makes a speech.

  CHAPTER XXIX                                                      246

  Billy Topsail is shipped upon conditions, and the
      _Dictator_, in a rising gale, is caught in a field of
      drift ice, with a growler to leeward.

  CHAPTER XXX                                                       255

  In which Archie Armstrong and Billy Topsail have an exciting
      encounter with a big dog hood, and, at the sound of
      alarm, leave the issue in doubt, while the ice goes
      abroad and the enemy goes swimming.

  CHAPTER XXXI                                                      264

  The _Dictator_ charges an ice pan and loses a main topmast.

  CHAPTER XXXII                                                     272

  In which seals are sighted and Archie Armstrong has a
      narrow chance in the crow's-nest.

  CHAPTER XXXIII                                                    279

  The ice runs red, and, in storm and dusk, Tim Tuttle
      brews a pot o' trouble for Captain Hand, while Billy
      Topsail observes the operation.

  CHAPTER XXXIV                                                     287

  In which Tim Tuttle's shaft flies straight for the mark.
      The crews of the _Dictator_ and _Lucky Star_ declare
      war, and Captain Hand is threatened with the shame of
      dishonour, while young Billy Topsail, who has the
      solution of the difficulty, is in the hold of the ship.

  CHAPTER XXXV                                                      296

  In which the issue is determined.

  CHAPTER XXXVI                                                     302

  It appears that the courage and strength of the son of a
      colonial knight are to be tried. The hunters are caught
      in a great storm.

  CHAPTER XXXVII                                                    308

  In which the men are lost, the _Dictator_ is nipped and
      Captain Hand sobs, "Poor Sir Archibald!"

  CHAPTER XXXVIII                                                   317

  And last: In which wind and snow and cold have their way
      and death lands on the floe. Billy Topsail gives
      himself to a gust of wind, and Archie Armstrong finds
      peril and hardship stern teachers. Concerning, also,
      a new sloop, a fore-an'-after and a tailor's lay figure.



      THE ICE TO SOFTEN THEM                                    _Title_

  BILLY RAISED HIS HAND AS IF TO STRIKE HIM                        20

  THEN LIKE A FLASH IT SHOT TOWARDS THE BOAT                       38

  "JUMPED LIKE A STAG FOR THE SECOND PAN"                          62

  BILLY STAGGERED INTO THE CIRCLE OF LIGHT                         82

  "SHE'S LOST," HE THOUGHT. "LOST WITH ALL HANDS"                 126

  "MY LITTLE LAD'S WONDERFUL SICK. COME QUICK!"                   132

  "IT IS A DEAD W'ALE!"                                           174

  HE WAS NEAR THE END OF THE SIXTEENTH VERSE                      245

  THEN HE ADVANCED UPON THE BOY                                   261


  "WE'RE SAVED!" SAID BILL                                        326

    The publishers acknowledge the courtesy of _The
    Youth's Companion_ and _Outing_ for the use of various
    illustrations appearing originally in these periodicals.



  _In Which Young Billy Topsail of Ruddy Cove Puts Out to
      His First Adventure with His Dog in the Bow of the

FROM the very beginning it was inevitable that Billy Topsail should
have adventures. He was a fisherman's son, born at Ruddy Cove, which
is a fishing harbour on the bleak northeast coast of Newfoundland; and
there was nothing else for it. All Newfoundland boys have adventures;
but not all Newfoundland boys survive them. And there came, in the
course of the day's work and play, to Billy Topsail, many adventures.
The first--the first real adventure in which Billy Topsail was
abandoned to his own wit and strength--came by reason of a gust of wind
and his own dog. It was not strange that a gust of wind should overturn
Billy Topsail's punt; but that old Skipper should turn troublesome in
the thick of the mess was an event the most unexpected. . . .

       *       *       *       *       *

Skipper was a Newfoundland dog, born of reputable parents at Back Arm
and decently bred in Ruddy Cove. He had black hair, short, straight and
wiry--the curly-haired breed has failed on the Island--and broad, ample
shoulders, which his forbears had transmitted to him from generations
of hauling wood.

He was heavy, awkward and ugly, resembling somewhat a great
draft-horse. But he pulled with a will, fended for himself, and within
the knowledge of men had never stolen a fish; so he had a high place
in the hearts of all the people of the Cove, and a safe one in their

"Skipper! Skipper! Here, b'y!"

The ringing call, in the voice of Billy Topsail, never failed to bring
the dog from the kitchen with an eager rush, when the snow lay deep on
the rocks, and all the paths of the wilderness were ready for the sled.
He stood stock-still for the harness, and at the first "Hi, b'y! Gee up
there!" he bounded away with a wagging tail and a glad bark. It was as
if nothing pleased him so much on a frosty morning as the prospect of a
hard day's work.

If the call came in summer-time when Skipper was dozing in the cool
shadow of a flake--a platform of boughs for drying fish--he scrambled
to his feet, took his clog[1] in his mouth and ran, all a-quiver for
what might come, to where young Billy waited. If the clog were taken
off, as it was almost sure to be, it meant sport in the water. Then
Skipper would paw the ground and whine until the stick was flung out
for him. But best of all he loved to dive for stones.

At the peep of many a day, too, he went out in the punt to the
fishing-grounds with Billy Topsail, and there kept the lad good company
all the day long. It was because he sat on the little cuddy in the bow,
as if keeping a lookout ahead, that he was called Skipper.

"Sure, 'tis a clever dog, that!" was Billy's boast. "He would save
life--that dog would!"

This was proved beyond doubt when little Isaiah Tommy Goodman toddled
over the wharf-head, where he had been playing with a squid. Isaiah
Tommy was four years old, and would surely have been drowned had not
Skipper strolled down the wharf just at that moment.

Skipper was obedient to the instinct of all Newfoundland dogs to
drag the sons of men from the water. He plunged in and caught Isaiah
Tommy by the collar of his pinafore. Still following his instinct, he
kept the child's head above water with powerful strokes of his fore
paws while he towed him to shore. Then the outcry which Isaiah Tommy
immediately set up brought his mother to complete the rescue.

For this deed Skipper was petted for a day and a half, and fed with
fried caplin and salt pork, to his evident gratification. No doubt he
was persuaded that he had acted worthily. However that be, he continued
in merry moods, in affectionate behaviour, in honesty--although the
fish were even then drying on the flakes, all exposed--and he carried
his clog like a hero.

"Skipper," Billy Topsail would ejaculate, "you _do_ be a clever dog!"

       *       *       *       *       *

One day in the spring of the year, when high winds spring suddenly
from the land, Billy Topsail was fishing from the punt, the _Never
Give Up_, over the shallows off Molly's Head. It was "fish weather,"
as the Ruddy Cove men say--gray, cold and misty. The harbour entrance
lay two miles to the southwest. The bluffs which marked it were hardly
discernible, for the mist hung thick off the shore. Four punts and a
skiff were bobbing half a mile farther out to sea, their crews fishing
with hook and line over the side. Thicker weather threatened and the
day was near spent.

"'Tis time to be off home, b'y," said Billy to the dog. "'Tis getting
thick in the sou'west."

Skipper stretched himself and wagged his tail. He had no word to say,
but Billy, who, like all fishermen in remote places, had formed the
habit of talking to himself, supplied the answer.

"'Tis that, Billy, b'y," said he. "The punt's as much as one hand can
manage in a fair wind. An' 'tis a dead beat to the harbour now."

Then Billy said a word for himself. "We'll put in for ballast. The
punt's too light for a gale."

He sculled the punt to the little cove by the Head, and there loaded
her with rocks. Her sails, mainsail and tiny jib, were spread, and she
was pointed for Grassy Island, on the first leg of her beat into the
wind. By this time two other punts were under way, and the sails of
the skiff were fluttering as her crew prepared to beat home for the
night. The _Never Give Up_ was ahead of the fleet, and held her lead in
such fine fashion as made Billy Topsail's heart swell with pride.

The wind had gained in force. It was sweeping down from the hills in
gusts. Now it fell to a breeze, and again it came swiftly with angry
strength. Nor could its advance be perceived, for the sea was choppy
and the bluffs shielded the inshore waters.

"We'll fetch the harbour on the next tack," Billy muttered to Skipper,
who was whining in the bow.

He put the steering oar hard alee to bring the punt about. A gust
caught the sails. The boat heeled before it, and her gunwale was under
water before Billy could make a move to save her. The wind forced her
down, pressing heavily upon the canvas.

"Easy!" screamed Billy.

But the ballast of the _Never Give Up_ shifted, and she toppled over.
Boy and dog were thrown into the sea--the one aft, the other forward.
Billy dived deep to escape entanglement with the rigging of the boat.
He had long ago learned the lesson that presence of mind wins half the
fight in perilous emergencies. The coward miserably perishes where the
brave man survives. With his courage leaping to meet his predicament,
he struck out for windward and rose to the surface.

He looked about for the punt. She had been heavily weighted with
ballast, and he feared for her. What was he to do if she had been too
heavily weighted? Even as he looked she sank. She had righted under
water; the tip of the mast was the last he saw of her.

The sea--cold, fretful, vast--lay all about him. The coast was half
a mile to windward; the punts, out to sea, were laboriously beating
towards him, and could make no greater speed. He had to choose between
the punts and the rocks.

A whine--with a strange note in it--attracted his attention. The big
dog had caught sight of him, and was beating the water in a frantic
effort to approach quickly. But the dog had never whined like that

"Hi, Skipper!" Billy called. "Steady, b'y! Steady!"

Billy took off his boots as fast as he could. The dog was coming
nearer, still whining strangely, and madly pawing the water. Billy was
mystified. What possessed the dog? It was as if he had been seized
with a fit of terror. Was he afraid of drowning? His eyes were fairly
flaring. Such a light had never been in them before.

In the instant he had for speculation the boy lifted himself high in
the water and looked intently into the dog's eyes. It was terror he
saw in them; there could be no doubt about that, he thought. The dog
was afraid for his life. At once Billy was filled with dread. He could
not crush the feeling down. Afraid of Skipper--the old, affectionate
Skipper--his own dog, which he had reared from a puppy! It was absurd.

But he _was_ afraid, nevertheless--and he was desperately afraid.

"Back, b'y!" he cried. "Get back, sir!"


[1] In Newfoundland the law requires that all dogs shall be clogged as
a precaution against their killing sheep and goats which run wild. The
clog is in the form of a billet of wood, weighing at least seven and a
half pounds, and tied to the dog's neck.


  _Concerning the Behaviour of Billy Topsail and His Dog in
      the Water When the Never Give Up Went to the Bottom,
      and Closing With an Apology and a Wag of the Tail_

IT chanced that Billy Topsail was a strong swimmer. He had learned to
swim where the water is cold--cold, often, as the icebergs stranded in
the harbour can make it. The water was bitter cold now; but he did not
fear it; nor did he doubt that he could accomplish the long swim which
lay before him. It was the unaccountable behaviour of the dog which
disturbed him--his failure in obedience, which could not be explained.
The dog was now within three yards, and excited past all reason.

"Back, sir!" Billy screamed. "Get back with you!"

Skipper was not deterred by the command. He did not so much as
hesitate. Billy raised his hand as if to strike him--a threatening
gesture which had sent Skipper home with his tail between his legs many
a time. But it had no effect now.

"Get back!" Billy screamed again.

It was plain that the dog was not to be bidden. Billy threw himself on
his back, supported himself with his hands and kicked at the dog with
his feet.


Skipper was blinded by the splashing. He whined and held back. Then
blindly he came again. Billy moved slowly from him, head foremost,
still churning the water with his feet. But, swimming thus, he was
no match for the dog. With his head thrown back to escape the blows,
Skipper forged after him. He was struck in the jaws, in the throat,
and again in the jaws. But he pawed on, taking every blow without
complaint, and gaining inch by inch. Soon he was so close that the lad
could no longer move his feet freely. Then the dog chanced to catch one
foot with his paw, and forced it under. Billy could not beat him off.

No longer opposed, the dog crept up--paw over paw, forcing the boy's
body lower and lower. His object was clear to Billy. Skipper, frenzied
by terror, the boy thought, would try to save himself by climbing on
his shoulders.

"Skipper!" he cried. "You'll drown me! Get back!"

The futility of attempting to command obedience from a crazy dog
struck Billy Topsail with force. He must act otherwise, and that
quickly, if he were to escape. There seemed to be but one thing to do.
He took a long breath and let himself sink--down--down--as deep as he
dared. Down--down--until he retained breath sufficient but to strike to
the right and rise again.

The dog--as it was made known later--rose as high as he could force
himself, and looked about in every direction, with his mouth open and
his ears rigidly cocked. He gave two sharp barks, like sobs, and a
long, mournful whine. Then, as if acting upon sudden thought, he dived.

For a moment nothing was to be seen of either boy or dog. There was
nothing but a choppy sea in that place. Men who were watching thought
that both had followed the _Never Give Up_ to the bottom.

In the momentary respite under water Billy perceived that his situation
was desperate. He would rise, he was sure, but only to renew the
struggle. How long he could keep the dog off he could not tell. Until
the punts came down to his aid? He thought not.

He came to the surface prepared to dive again. But Skipper had
disappeared. An ejaculation of thanksgiving was yet on the boy's lips
when the dog's black head rose and moved swiftly towards him. Billy had
a start of ten yards--or something more.

He turned on his side and set off at top speed. There was no better
swimmer among the lads of the harbour. Was he a match for a powerful
Newfoundland dog? It was soon evident that he was not.

Skipper gained rapidly. Billy felt a paw strike his foot. He put more
strength into his strokes. Next the paw struck the calf of his leg.
The dog was upon him now--pawing his back. Billy could not sustain the
weight. To escape, that he might take up the fight in another way, he
dived again.

The dog was waiting when Billy came up--waiting eagerly, on the alert
to continue the chase.

"Skipper, old fellow--good old dog!" Billy called in a soothing voice.
"Steady, sir! Down, sir--back!"

The dog was not to be deceived. He came, by turns whining and gasping.
He was more excited, more determined, than ever. Billy waited for him.
The fight was to be face to face. The boy had determined to keep him
off with his hands until strength failed--to drown him if he could.
All love for the dog had gone out of his heart. The weeks of close and
merry companionship, of romps and rambles and sport, were forgotten.
Billy was fighting for life. So he waited without pity, hoping only
that his strength might last until he had conquered.

When the dog was within reach Billy struck him in the face. A snarl and
an angry snap were the result.

Rage seemed suddenly to possess the dog. He held back for a moment,
growling fiercely, and then attacked with a rush. Billy fought as best
he could, trying to clutch his enemy by the neck and to force his head
beneath the waves. The effort was vain; the dog eluded his grasp and
renewed the attack. In another moment he had laid his heavy paws on the
boy's shoulders.

The weight was too much for Billy. Down he went; freed himself, and
struggled to the surface, gasping for breath. It appeared to him now
that he had but a moment to live. He felt his self-possession going
from him--and at that moment his ears caught the sound of a voice.

"Put your arm----"

The voice seemed to come from far away. Before the sentence was
completed, the dog's paws were again on Billy's shoulders and the water
stopped the boy's hearing. What were they calling to him? The thought
that some helping hand was near inspired him. With this new courage to
aid, he dived for the third time. The voice was nearer--clearer--when
he came up, and he heard every word.

"Put your arm around his neck!" one man cried.

"Catch him by the scruff of the neck!" cried another.

Billy's self-possession returned. He would follow this direction.
Skipper swam anxiously to him. It may be that he wondered what this
new attitude meant. It may be that he hoped reason had returned to the
boy--that at last he would allow himself to be saved. Billy caught the
dog by the scruff of the neck when he was within arm's length. Skipper
wagged his tail and turned about.

There was a brief pause, during which the faithful old dog determined
upon the direction he would take. He espied the punts, which had borne
down with all speed. Towards them he swam, and there was something
of pride in his mighty strokes, something of exultation in his whine.
Billy struck out with his free hand, and soon boy and dog were pulled
over the side of the nearest punt.

Through it all, as Billy now knew, the dog had only wanted to save him.

       *       *       *       *       *

That night Billy Topsail took Skipper aside for a long and confidential
talk. "Skipper," said he, "I beg your pardon. You see, I didn't know
what 'twas you wanted. I'm sorry I ever had a hard thought against you,
and I'm sorry I tried to drown you. When I thought you only wanted to
save yourself, 'twas Billy Topsail you were thinking of. When I thought
you wanted to climb atop of me, 'twas my collar you wanted to catch.
When I thought you wanted to bite me, 'twas a scolding you were giving
me for my foolishness. Skipper, b'y, honest, I beg your pardon. Next
time I'll know that all a Newfoundland dog wants is half a chance to
tow me ashore. And I'll give him a whole chance. But, Skipper, don't
you think you might have given me a chance to do something for myself?"

At which Skipper wagged his tail.


  _Describing the Haunts and Habits of Devil-Fish and
      Informing the Reader of Billy Topsail's Determination
      to Make a Capture at all Hazards_

WHEN the Minister of Justice for the colony of Newfoundland went away
from Ruddy Cove by the bay steamer, he chanced to leave an American
magazine at the home of Billy Topsail's father, where he had passed the
night. The magazine contained an illustrated article on the gigantic
species of cephalopods[2] popularly known as devil-fish.

Billy Topsail did not know what a cephalopod was; but he did know a
squid when he saw its picture, for Ruddy Cove is a fishing harbour, and
he had caught many a thousand for bait. So when he found that to the
lay mind a squid and a cephalopod were one and the same, save in size,
he read the long article from beginning to end, doing the best he could
with the strange, long words.

So interested was he that he read it again; and by that time he had
learned enough to surprise him, even to terrify him, notwithstanding
the writer's assurance that the power and ferocity of the creatures had
generally been exaggerated.

He was a lad of sound common sense. He had never wholly doubted the
tales of desperate encounters with devil-fish, told in the harbour
these many years; for the various descriptions of how the long,
slimy arms had curled about the punts had rung too true to be quite
disbelieved; but he had considered them somewhat less credible than
certain wild yarns of shipwreck, and somewhat more credible than the
bedtime stories of mermaids which the grandmothers told the children of
the place.

Here, however, in plain print, was described the capture of a giant
squid in a bay which lay beyond a point of land that Billy could see
from the window.

That afternoon Billy put out in his leaky old punt to "jig" squid for
bait. He was so disgusted with the punt--so ashamed of the squat,
weather-worn, rotten cast-off--that he wished heartily for a new one
all the way to the grounds. The loss of the _Never Give Up_ had brought
him to humiliating depths.

But when he had once joined the little fleet of boats, he cheerfully
threw his grapnel into Bobby Lot's punt and beckoned Bobby aboard.
Then, as together they drew the writhing-armed, squirting little squids
from the water, he told of the "big squids" which lurked in the deep
water beyond the harbour; and all the time Bobby opened his eyes wider
and wider.

"Is they just like squids?" Bobby asked.

"But bigger," answered Billy. "Their bodies is so big as hogsheads.
Their arms is thirty-five feet long."

Bobby picked a squid from the heap in the bottom of the boat. It had
instinctively turned from a reddish-brown to a livid green, the colour
of sea-water; indeed, had it been in the water, its enemy would have
had hard work to see it.

He handled it gingerly; but the ugly little creature managed somehow to
twine its slender arms about his hand, and swiftly to take hold with a
dozen cup-like suckers. The boy uttered an exclamation of disgust, and
shook it off. Then he shuddered, laughed at himself, shuddered again. A
moment later he chose a dead squid for examination.

"Leave us look at it close," said he. "Then we'll know what a real
devil-fish is like. Sure, I've been wantin' to know that for a long,
long time."

They observed the long, cylindrical body, flabby and cold, with the
broad, flap-like tail attached. The head was repulsively ugly--perhaps
because of the eyes, which were disproportionately large, brilliant,
and, in the live squid, ferocious.

A group of arms--two long, slender, tentacular arms, and eight
shorter, thicker ones--projected from the region of the mouth, which,
indeed, was set in the centre of the ring they formed at the roots.
They were equipped with innumerable little suckers, were flexible and
active, and as long as the head, body and tail put together.

Closer examination revealed that there was a horny beak, like a
parrot's, in the mouth, and that on the under side of the head was a
curious tube-like structure.

"Oh, that's his squirter!" Billy explained. "When he wants to back up
he points that forward, and squirts out water so hard as he can; and
when he wants to go ahead he points it backward, and does the same
thing. That's where his ink comes from, too, when he wants to make the
water so dirty nobody can see him."

"What does he do with his beak?"

"When he gets his food in his arms he bites out pieces with his beak.
He hasn't any teeth; but he's got something just as good--a tongue like
a rasp."

"I wouldn't like to be cotched by a squid as big as a hogshead," Bobby
remarked, timidly.

"Hut!" said Billy, grimly. "He'd make short work o' _you_! Why, b'y,
they weighs half a ton apiece! I isn't much afraid, though," he added.
"They're only squid. Afore I read about them in the book I used to
think they was worse than they is--terrible ghostlike things. But
they're no worse than squids, only bigger, and----"

"They're bad enough for _me_," Bobby interrupted.

"And," Billy concluded, "they only comes up in the night or when
they're sore wounded and dyin'."

"I'm not goin' out at night, if I can help it," said Bobby, with a
canny shake of the head.

"If they was a big squid come up the harbour to your house," said
Billy, after a pause, "and got close to the rock, he could put one o'
they two long arms in your bedroom window, and----"

"'Tis in the attic!"

"Never mind that. He could put it in the window and feel around for
your bed, and twist that arm around you, and----"

"I'd cut it off!"

"Anyhow, that's how long they is. And if he knowed you was there, and
wanted you, he could get you. But I'm not so sure that he _would_ want
you. He couldn't see you, anyhow; and if he could, he'd rather have a
good fat salmon."

Bobby shuddered as he looked at the tiny squid in his hand, and thought
of the dreadful possibilities in one a thousand times as big.

"You leave them alone, and they'll leave you alone," Billy went on.
"But if you once make them mad, they can dart their arms out like
lightning. 'Tis time to get, then!"

"I'm goin' to keep an axe in my punt after this," said Bobby, "and if I
sees an arm slippin' out of the water----"

"'Tis as big as your thigh!" cried Billy.

"Never mind. If I sees it I'll be able to cut it off."

"If I sees one," said Billy, "I'm goin' to cotch it. It said in the
book that they was worth a lot to some people. And if I can sell mine
I'm goin' to have a new punt."

But although Bobby Lot and Billy Topsail kept a sharp lookout for giant
squids wherever they went, they were not rewarded. There was not so
much as a sign of one. By and by, so bold did they become, they hunted
for one in the twilight of summer days, even daring to pry into the
deepest coves and holes in the Ruddy Cove rocks.

Notwithstanding the ridicule he had to meet, Bobby never ventured out
in the punt without a sharp axe. He could not tell what time he would
need it, he said; and thus he formed the habit of making sure that it
was in its place before casting off from the wharf.

As autumn drew near they found other things to think of; the big squids
passed out of mind altogether.

"Wonderful queer," Billy said, long afterwards, "how things happen when
you isn't expectin' them!"


[2] "The early literature of natural history has, from very remote
times, contained allusions to huge species of cephalopods, often
accompanied by more or less fabulous and usually exaggerated
descriptions of the creatures. . . . The description of the 'poulpe,'
or devil-fish, by Victor Hugo, in 'Toilers of the Sea,' with which so
many readers are familiar, is quite as fabulous and unreal as any of
the earlier accounts, and even more bizarre. . . . Special attention
has only recently been called to the frequent occurrence of these 'big
squids,' as our fishermen call them, in the waters of Newfoundland and
the adjacent coasts. . . . I have been informed by many other fishermen
that the 'big squids' are occasionally taken on the Grand Banks and
used for bait. Nearly all the specimens hitherto taken appear to have
been more or less disabled when first observed, otherwise they probably
would not appear at the surface in the daytime. From the fact that
they have mostly come ashore in the night, I infer that they inhabit
chiefly the very deep and cold fiords of Newfoundland, and come to
the surface only in the night."--From the "Report on the Cephalopods
of the Northeastern Coast of America," by A. E. Verrill. Extracted
from a report of the Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries, issued by the
Government Printing Office at Washington. In this report twenty-five
specimens of the large species taken in Newfoundland are described in


  _Recounting the Adventure of the Giant Squid of Chain
      Tickle, in Which the Punt Gets in the Grip of a
      Gigantic Tentacle and Billy Topsail Strikes With an

ONE day late in September--it was near evening of a gray day--Billy
Topsail and Bobby Lot were returning in Bobby's punt from Birds' Nest
Islands, whither they had gone to hunt a group of seals, reported
to have taken up a temporary residence there. They had a mighty,
muzzle-loading, flintlock gun; and they were so delighted with the
noise it made that they had exhausted their scanty provision of powder
and lead long before the seals were in sight.

They had taken the shortest way home. It lay past Chain Hole, a small,
landlocked basin, very deep, with a narrow entrance, which was shallow
at low tide. The entrance opened into a broad bay, and was called Chain

"What's that in the tickle?" Billy exclaimed, as they were rowing past.

It was a black object, apparently floating quietly on the surface of
the water. The boys gazed at it for a long time, but could make nothing
of it. They were completely puzzled.

"'Tis a small bit o' wreck, I'm thinkin'," said Bobby. "Leave us row
close and see."

"Maybe 'tis a capsized punt."

When they were within about thirty yards of the object they lay on
their oars. For some unaccountable reason they did not care to venture
nearer. Twilight was then fast approaching. The light was already
beginning to fail.

"'Tis a wonderful queer thing!" Billy muttered, his curiosity getting
the better of him. "Row ahead, Bobby. We'll go alongside."

"They's something movin' on it!" Bobby whispered, as he let his oars
fall in the water. "Look! They's two queer, big, round spots on it--big
as plates."

Billy thought he saw the whole object move. He watched it closely. It
_did_ stir! It was some living thing, then. But what? A whale?

A long, snakelike arm was lifted out of the water. It swayed this way
and that, darted here and there, and fell back with a splash. The
moving spots, now plainly gigantic eyes, glittered.

"'Tis the devil-fish!" screamed Bobby.

Another arm was lifted up, then a third and a fourth and a fifth. The
monster began to lash the water--faster and yet more furiously--until
the tickle was heaving and frothy, and the whole neighbourhood was in
an uproar.

"Pull! Pull!" cried Bobby.

Billy, too, was in a panic. They turned the head of the punt and pulled
with all their might. The water swirled in the wake of the boat.
Perceiving, however, that the squid made no effort to follow, they got
the better of their fright Then they lay on their oars to watch the

They wondered why it still lay in the tickle, why it so furiously
lashed the water with its arms and great tail. It was Bobby who solved
the mystery.

"'Tis aground," said he.

That was evidently the situation. The squid had been caught in the
shallow tickle when the tide, which ran swiftly at that point, was
on the ebb. The boys took courage. Their curiosity still further
emboldened them. So once more they turned the punt about and pulled
cautiously towards the tickle.

There was less light than before, but still sufficient to disclose the
baleful eyes and writhing arms of the squid when the boat was yet a
safe distance away. One by one the arms fell back into the water, as if
from exhaustion; slowly the beating of the tail subsided. After a time
all sound and motion ceased. The boys waited for some further sign of
life, but none came. The squid was still, as if dead.

"Sure, he's dead now," said Billy. "Leave us pull close up."

"Oh, no, b'y! He's but makin' believe."

But Billy thought otherwise. "I wants that squid," he said, in a dogged
way, "and I'm goin' to have him. I'll sell him and get a new punt."

Bobby protested in vain. Nothing would content Billy Topsail but the
possession of the big squid's body. Bobby pointed out that if the long,
powerful arms were once laid on the boat there would be no escape. He
recalled to Billy the harbour story of the horrible death of Zachariah
North, who, as report said, had been pursued, captured and pulled under
water by a devil-fish in Gander Bay.[3]

It was all to no purpose, however, for Billy obstinately declared that
he would make sure of the squid before the tide turned. He admitted
a slight risk, but he wanted a new punt, and he was willing to risk
something to obtain it.


He proposed to put Bobby ashore, and approach the squid alone; but
Bobby would not listen. Two hands might be needed in the boat, he said.
What if the squid were alive, after all? What if it laid hold of the
punt? In that event, two hands would surely be needed.

"I'll go," he said. "But leave us pull slow. And if we sees so much as
a wink of his eye we'll pull away."

They rowed nearer, with great caution. Billy was in the bow of the
boat. It was he who had the axe. Bobby, seated amidships, faced the
bow. It was he who did the rowing.

The squid was quiet. There was not a sign of life about it. Billy
estimated the length of its body, from the beak to the point of the
tail, as twenty feet, the circumference as "the size of a hogshead."
Its tentacular arms, he determined, must be at least thirty-five feet
long; and when the boat came within that distance he shuddered.

"Is you sure he's dead?" Bobby whispered, weakly.

"I don't know!" Billy answered, in a gasp. "I thinks so."

Bobby dropped the oars and stepped to the bow of the punt. The boat
lost way and came to a stop within twenty feet of the squid. Still
there was no sign of life.

The boys stared at the great, still body, lying quiet in the gathering
dusk and haze. Neither seemed to feel the slight trembling of the boat
that might have warned them. Not a word was spoken until Billy, in a
whisper, directed Bobby to pull the boat a few feet nearer.

"But we're movin' already," he added, in a puzzled way.

The boat was very slowly approaching the squid. The motion was hardly
perceptible, but it was real.

"'Tis queer!" said Bobby.

He turned to take up the oars. What he saw lying over the port gunwale
of the boat made him gasp, grip Billy's wrist and utter a scream of

"We're cotched!"

The squid had fastened one of its tentacles to the punt. The other was
poised above the stern, ready to fall and fix its suckers. The onward
movement of the punt was explained.

Billy knew the danger, but he was not so terrified as to be incapable
of action. He was about to spring to the stem to strike off the
tentacle that already lay over the gunwale; but as he looked down to
choose his step he saw that one of the eight powerful arms was slowly
creeping over the starboard bow.

He struck at that arm with all his might, missed, wrenched the axe from
the gunwale, and struck true. The mutilated arm was withdrawn. Billy
leaped to the stern, vaguely conscious in passing that another arm was
creeping from the water. He severed the first tentacle with one blow.
When he turned to strike the second it had disappeared; so, too, had
the second arm. The boat seemed to be free, but it was still within

In the meantime the squid had awakened to furious activity. It was
lashing the water with arms and tail, angrily snapping its great beak
and ejecting streams of black water from its siphon-tube. The water was
violently agitated and covered with a black froth.

In this the creature manifested fear and distress. Had it not been
aground it would have backed swiftly into the deep water of the basin.
But, as if finding itself at bay, it lifted its uninjured tentacle high
above the boat. Billy made ready to strike.

By this time Bobby had mastered his terror. While Billy stood with
uplifted axe, his eyes fixed on the waving tentacle overhead, Billy
heaved mightily on the oars. The boat slowly drew away from that highly
dangerous neighbourhood. In a moment it was beyond reach of the arms,
but still, apparently, within reach of the tentacle. The tentacle was
withdrawn a short distance; then like a flash it shot towards the boat,
writhing as it came.

Billy struck blindly--and struck nothing. The tentacle had fallen
short. The boat was out of danger!

       *       *       *       *       *

But still Billy Topsail was determined to have the body of the squid.
Notwithstanding Bobby's pleading and protestation, he would not abandon
his purpose. He was only the more grimly bent on achieving it. Bobby
would not hear of again approaching nearer than the boat then floated,
nor did Billy think it advisable. But it occurred to Bobby that they
might land, and approach the squid from behind. If they could draw near
enough, he said, they could cast the grapnel on the squid's back, and
moor it to a tree ashore.

"Sure," he said, excitedly, "you can pick up a squid from behind, and
it can't touch you with its arms! It won't be able to see us, and it
won't be able to reach us."

So they landed. Billy carried the grapnel, which was attached to twelve
fathoms of line. It had six prongs, and each prong was barbed.

A low cliff at the edge of the tickle favoured the plan. The squid lay
below, and some twenty feet out from the rock. It was merely a question
of whether or not Billy was strong enough to throw the grapnel so far.
They tied the end of the line to a stout shrub. Billy cast the grapnel,
and it was a strong, true cast. The iron fell fair on the squid's back.
It was a capture.

"That means a new punt for me," said Billy, quietly. "The tide'll not
carry _that_ devil-fish away."

"And now," Bobby pleaded, "leave us make haste home, for 'tis growin'
wonderful dark--and--and there might be another somewhere."

So that is how one of the largest specimens of _Architeuthis
princeps_--enumerated in Prof. John Adam Wright's latest monograph on
the cephalopods of North America as the "Chain Tickle specimen"--was
captured. And that is how Billy Topsail fairly won a new punt; for when
Doctor Marvey, the curator of the Public Museum at St. John's--who is
deeply interested in the study of the giant squids--came to Ruddy Cove
to make photographs and take measurements, in response to a message
from Billy's father, he rewarded the lad.


[3] Stories of this kind, of which there are many, are doubted by the
authorities, who have found it impossible to authenticate a single
instance of unprovoked attack.


  _On the Face of the Cliff: Wherein Billy Topsail Gets
      Lost in a Perilous Place and Sits Down to Recover His

IN summer, when there chanced to be no fish, or when no bait was to
be had, and the fish were not to be jigged, Billy Topsail had idle
time, which he was not slow to improve for his own amusement. Often
he wandered on the cliffs and heads near the harbour--not always for
gulls' eggs: sometimes for sheer love of the sky and space and sunlit
air. Once, being bound for Breakheart Head, to watch the waves beat on
the rocks below, he came across old Arch Butt.

"Wonderful sea outside," said the old fisherman. "Wonderful sea, Billy.
'Tis as big a tumble as ever I seed stirred up in a night."

"An' you'll not be takin' the punt t' the grounds?" Billy asked, in

"I'm not able, lad. 'Tis too much for any paddle-punt. Sure, the sea's
breakin' right across the tickle. 'Tis so much as a man's life is worth
t' try t' run out."

"Isn't you got a salmon net off Shag Rock?"

"I is that," Arch answered; "an' I'm wantin' bad t' get to it. 'Tis set
off the point of Shag Rock, an' I'm thinkin' the sea will wreck it, for
'tis a wonderful tumble, indeed. 'Tis like I'll not be able t' get out
afore to-morrow mornin', but I'm hopin' I will."

"An' I hopes you may, Skipper Arch," said Billy.

It was a fine wish, born of the fresh breeze and brightness of the
day--a word let drop from a heart full of good feeling for all the
world: nothing more. Yet within a few hours Billy Topsail's life hung
upon the possibility of its fulfillment.

"Ay," he repeated, "I hopes you may."

Billy Topsail followed the rocky road to the Bath Tub, climbed the
Lookout, and descended the rough declivity beyond to the edge of the
sea, meanwhile lifted to a joyous mood by the sunlight and wind and
cloudless sky. Indeed, he was not sorry he had come; the grim cliffs
and the jagged masses of rock lying at their feet--the thunder and
froth where sea met rock--the breaking, flashing water to seaward;
all this delighted him then, and were not soon forgotten. Best of
all, the third submerged rock off Shag Cliff--the rock they call the
Tombstone--was breaking; the greater waves there leaped into the air
in fountains of froth.

"I 'low I'll get closer t' the Tombstone," thought he.

Thus he was led along the coast to the foot of Shag Cliff. It was a
hard climb, in which hands and feet were both concerned. There were
chasms to leap, sharp points to round, great rocks to scale, narrow
ledges to pass over on the toes of his boots; and all the while the
breakers were crashing and foaming below him, and now and again
splashing him with spray.

Had the day been drear, it may be he would not have ventured so far;
but the sun was out, the day long, the gulls quietly soaring over the
sea, and on he went, giving no thought whatever to his return.

Once under the cliff, he ventured farther. Detached from it, there lies
Nanny's Rock, which must long ago have fallen from above; the breakers
surrounded but did not sweep it when they rose and broke.

His wish to lie there in the sunshine, with the blue sky above him and
the noise of the water in his ears, led him to dash across the dripping
space between when the wave fell back, even though he must scramble
out of the way of the returning water.

In a few minutes he was deep in an enchanting day-dream, which, to his
subsequent peril, soon changed to sleep.

The tide was rising. A few drops of spray, falling upon his face from a
great breaker, awoke him. On the instant he was wide awake and looking
desperately about. Then he laughed to think that the breakers were
reaching for him--that they would have had him fast in the trap had he
slept much longer; for, in a glance, he thought he had made sure that
his escape from the rock was not yet cut off. But his laugh was touched
with some embarrassment when he found, upon trial, that the sea had
blocked the path by which he had reached the foot of Shag Cliff.

"I must go 'tother way," he thought.

There was no other way; to right and to left the sea was breaking
against overhanging juts of rock. He could pass from jut to jut, but he
could round neither.

"Sure, I'll be late for dinner," he thought; "an' dad won't like it."

It was all very well to exclaim vexatiously, but he was forced to
abandon the hope of returning by way of the foot of the cliffs. The
tide had cut him off.

"I'll scale Shag Cliff," he determined.

He was not alarmed; the situation was awkward, but it promised the
excitement of an adventure, and for a time he was rather glad that he
had fallen asleep. To scale the two hundred feet of Shag Cliff--that
was something to achieve! His father would say that he was "narvy," and
forget that he had kept him from his dinner. Scale Shag Cliff, by all

He knew well enough that he had but to seek higher ground and wait for
the tide to fall, if he wanted an unexciting return; but it pleased him
to make believe that his situation was desperate--that the rising water
would overwhelm him if he did not escape over the brow of the cliff: an
indulgence which his imagination did not need half an hour later. When
he looked up, however, to choose a path of ascent, he found that, from
where he stood, close against the cliff at the base, there seemed to be
no path at all.

"I 'low I'll have t' go back t' Nanny's Rock for a better squint," he
told himself.

Back to Nanny's Rock he went, at no small risk, for the occasional
flow of foam, which had cut it off from the mainland when first he
crossed, had swollen to a strait of some depth and strength. He must
make the leap, but he dreaded it. There was a moment of terror when his
foot slipped, and he came near falling back into the very claws of the
breaker which followed him; on that account, perhaps, his survey of
the face of the cliff was a hurried one, and his return to safe ground
precipitate and somewhat flurried.

He had seen enough, however, to persuade him that the ascent would be
comparatively easy for at least a hundred feet, and that, for the rest
of the way, it would not, probably, be much more difficult.

In point of fact, he knew nothing whatever of what lay beyond the first
hundred feet. But the element of probability, or rather improbability,
did not disconcert him. He could at least make a start.

If you have ever climbed about a rocky sea-coast, you will know
that an ascent may be comparatively simple where a descent is quite
impracticable; you will know that the unwary may of a sudden reach
a point where to continue the climb is a nauseating necessity.
There are times when one regrets the courage that led him into his
difficulty--the courage or the carelessness, as the case may be.

Experience had long ago taught Billy Topsail that; but the lesson had
not been severe--there had been no gulf behind him; the whip of life or
death had not urged him on. Indeed, he had never attempted a climb of
such height and ugly possibilities in the way of blind leads as Shag
Cliff, else possibly he should not have made the start with a sense of
adventure so inspiring.

Up he went--up and still up, his cheeks glowing, his nerves pleasurably
tingling! Up--up and still up, until he could hear the whiz of gulls'
wings near him, and the feeling of space below began to try his nerves.
At last he stopped to rest and look about. Down deep lay the breakers,
so far off, it seemed, that he marvelled he could hear the roar and
crash so distinctly.

"An' they says 'tis a hundred feet!" thought he. "Hut! 'Tis two hundred
if 'tis an inch. An' I isn't but half way up!"

Beyond that point his difficulties began. The cliff was bolder; it was
almost bare of those little ledges and crevices and projections upon
which the cliff-climber depends for handhold and foothold. Moreover,
the path was interrupted from time to time by sheer or overhanging
rock. When he came to these impassable places, of course, he turned to
right or left, content with his progress if only he mounted higher and
higher. Thus he strayed far off the path he had picked out from Nanny's
Rock; indeed, he was climbing blindly, a thoughtless course, for--had
he but stopped to think--there was no knowing that the cliff did not
overhang at the end of the way he had taken.

Meanwhile, time was passing. He had climbed with such caution, retraced
his steps, changed his course so often that noon was long past. So when
next he came to a roomy ledge he sat down to rest before proceeding

"Wonderful queer!" he thought, after a look about. "But where is I?"

It was a puzzling question. The cliff, projecting below him, cut off
his view of the breakers; and the rock above, which came to an end in
blue sky, was of course unfamiliar. At what part of Shag Rock he then
was he could not tell.


  _In Which Billy Topsail Loses His Nerve. Wherein, also,
      the Wings of Gulls Seem to Brush Past_

"WONDERFUL queer!" thought Billy Topsail. "Lost on a cliff! 'Tis the
queerest thing I ever knowed."

But that was Billy's case.

"I 'low," he concluded, at last, "that I'd better be goin' up instead
o' down."

It did not appear that he would be unable to go down; the way up was
the shorter way, that was all. Nevertheless, his feeling of security
was pretty well shaken when he again began to climb. His grip was
tighter, his shrinking from the depths stronger and more frequent; in
fact, he hugged the rock more than was good for him.

He knew the symptom for an alarming one--it turned him faint when first
he recognized it--and he tried to fix his attention upon the effort to
climb higher. But now and again the fear of the space behind and below
would creep in. Reason told him that the better part was to return;
but he was in no condition to listen to reason. His whole desire--it
was fast becoming frantic--was to crawl over the brow of the cliff and
be safe.

But where was the brow of the cliff? It seemed to him that he had
climbed a thousand feet.

A few minutes later he caught sight of a shrub; then he knew that he
was within a few feet of the end of the climb. The shrub--a stunted
spruce, which he had good reason to remember--was to his right, peeping
round a projection of rock.

He was then on a ledge, with good foothold and good handhold; and a way
of return to the shore lay open to him. By craning his neck he made out
that if he could pass that projection he would reach shelving, broken
rock, and be safe. Then he studied the face of the rocks between--a
space of some six feet.

There was foothold there, midway, but he shrank from attempting to
reach it. He had never thought in his life to try so perilous a
passage. A survey of the course of a body falling from that point was
almost more than he could support. Nevertheless, strange as it may
seem, the waving shrub tempted him to risk something more to end his
suspense. He summoned courage enough to stretch out his right foot and
search with his right hand for a hold.

Unfortunately, he found both--a ledge for his foot and a crevice for
his fingers.

He drew himself over. It took courage and strength, for it was a long
stretch. Had he been cramped for room, had he not been free to move
at the starting-point, he could not have managed it. But there he
was--both feet on a ledge as wide as his feet were long, both hands
with a comfortable grip on solid rock. He shuffled along until he came
to the end of the ledge.

His last obstacle now lay before him. He must round the projection
which divided him from the broken, shelving rock beyond. Had he
foreseen the slightest difficulty he would not have gone so far. So,
with confidence, he sought a foothold for his right foot--a crevice for
the fingers of his right hand.

And he tried again, with confidence unshaken; again, with patience;
again, with rising fear. There was no hold; the passage was
impracticable. There was nothing for it but to return.

So he shuffled back to the other end of the ledge. Then, keenly
regretting the necessity of return, he sought a foothold for his left
foot--a crevice for the fingers of his left hand. He tried again, in
some wonder; again, with a rush of fear; again, in abject terror.

To his horror, he found that he could not return. From the narrow ledge
it was impossible to pass to the wider, although it had been possible
to pass from the wider to the narrow. For an instant he was on the
point of toppling back; but he let his body fall forward against the
face of the cliff, and there he rested, gripping the rock with both
hands until the faintness passed.

The situation was quite plain to him. He was standing on a ledge, as
wide as his feet were long, some two or three hundred feet above the
sea; his face was to the cliff, and he could neither sit down nor turn
round. There he must stand until--who could tell? In what way could
relief come to him? Who was to see? Who could hear his cries for help?
No fishermen were on the grounds--no punts were out of the harbour; the
sea was too high for that, as he had been told.

There was only one answer to his question. He must stand until--he

"Yes," he was courageous enough to admit calmly, "I 'low I got t' go."

That once admitted, his terror of that space behind and below in some
measure departed. The sun was still shining; the sky--as he knew, for
he could catch a glimpse of it on each side--was still blue. But soon
he began to think of the night; then his terror returned--not of the
present moment, but of the hours of darkness approaching.

Could he endure until night? He thought not. His position was awkward.
Surely his strength would wear out--his hands weaken, although the
strain upon them was slight; his legs give way.

Of course he followed the natural impulse to cling to his life as long
as he could. Thus, while the afternoon dragged along and the dusk
approached, he stood on the face of the cliff, waiting for the moment
when his weakening strength would fail and he would fall to his death.

"In an hour," he thought; soon it was, "In half an hour."

Before that last half-hour had passed he felt something brush past
his back. It frightened him. What was it? Again he felt it. Again it
startled and frightened him. Then he felt it no more for a time, and he
was glad of that. He was too dull, perhaps, to dwell upon the mystery
of that touch. It passed from his mind. Soon he felt it for the third
time. Was it a wing? He wondered, too, if he had not heard a voice; for
it seemed to him that some one had hailed him.

When next he heard the sound, he knew that his name had been called.
He looked up. A rope was hanging over the brow of the cliff, sweeping
slowly towards him. He could see it, although the light was failing.
When it came near he extended his right hand behind him and caught it,
then gave it a tug, in signal to those above that the search was ended.
Painfully, slowly, for his situation was none too secure, he encircled
his waist with that stout rope, lashed it fast, shouted, "Haul away!"
and fainted.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Billy Topsail came to his senses, it was to find himself lying
on the moss, with old Arch, the skipper, leaning over him, and half a
dozen fishermen gathered round.

"So you did get out to the salmon net?" he muttered.

"Aye," said Arch; "'twas I that seed you hangin' there. Sure, if I
hadn't had my net set off Shag Rock, and if I hadn't got through the
tickle to see if 'twas all right, and if----"

Billy shuddered.


  _In Which Billy Topsail Hears the Fur Trader's Story of a
      Jigger and a Cake of Ice in the Wind_

"WOULDN'T think I'd been born on Cherry Hill, would you, now?" said the
man with the fur cap.

The stranger had been landed at Ruddy Cove from Fortune Harbour. He
had been in the far north, he said; and he was now waiting for the
mail-boat to take him south. Billy Topsail and the lads of Ruddy Cove
cocked their ears for a yarn.

"Fact!" said he, with a nod. "That's where I was born and bred. And do
you know how I come to be away up here? No? Well, I'm a fur trader. I'm
the man that bought the skin of that silver fox last winter for thirty
dollars and sold it for two hundred and fifty. I'd rather be the man
that bought it from me and sold it in London for six hundred. But I'm

"And you're bound for home, now?" the old skipper asked.

"Yes," he drawled. "I'm bound home for New York to see the folks. I've
been away six years, and came nearer to leaving my bones up here in the
north last spring than ever I did before. I've done some travelling in
my time. You can take me at my word; I have."

The trader laughed uproariously. He was in a voluble mood. The old
skipper knew that he needed but little encouragement to tell the story
of his escape.

"It makes me think about that old riddle of the corked bottle," he
said. "Ever hear it? This is it: If you had a bottle of ginger ale, how
would you get the stuff out without breaking the bottle or drawing the
cork? Can you answer that?"

"The answer doesn't strike me," said the skipper.

"That's just it," the trader burst out. "The way to do it doesn't
'strike you.' But if you had the bottle in your hands now and wanted
the ginger ale, it would 'strike' you fast enough to push the cork
in. Well, that was my case. You think of yourself on a little pan of
ice, drifting straight out to sea with a strong offshore wind, water
all round you and no paddle--just think of yourself in that case,
and a way of getting ashore might not 'strike' you. But once you're
there--once you're right on that pan of ice, with the hand of death on
your collar--you'll think like lightning of all the things you can do.
Yes, that was my case."

The listeners said nothing to interrupt the stocky, hard-featured,
ill-clad little man while he mused.

"'Don't you be fool enough to try to cross the bay this evening,' says
I to myself," he went on.

"But I'm a hundred-mile man, and I'd gone my hundred miles. I can
carry grub on my back to last me just that far; and my grub was out.
From what I knew of winds and ice, I judged that the ice would be
four or five miles out to sea by dawn of the next day. So I didn't
start out with the idea that the trip would be as easy as a promenade
over Brooklyn Bridge of a moonlight night. Oh, no! I knew what I was
doing. But it was a question of taking the risk or dragging myself into
the settlement at Racquet Harbour in three days' time as lean as a
car-horse from starvation. You see, it was forty miles round that bay
and four across; and--my grub was out. Many a man loses his life in
these parts by looking at the question in just that way.


"'Oh, no!' says I to myself. 'You'd much better take your chance of
starving, and walk round.'

"It wasn't in human nature, though, to do it. Not when I knew that
there was grub and a warm fire waiting for me at Racquet Harbour. Says
I, 'I'll take the long chance and stand to win.' Don't you run away
with the idea that the ice was a level field stretching from shore to
shore, fitting the rocks, and kept as neat as a baseball diamond. It
wasn't. Some day in the winter the wind had jammed the bay full of big
rough chunks--they call them pans in this country--and the frost had
stuck them all together. When the spring came, of course the sun began
to melt that glue, and the whole floe was just ready to fall apart when
I had the bad luck to make the coast. I was a day too late. I knew it.
And I knew that the offshore wind would sweep the ice to sea the minute
it broke up.

"I made the first hundred yards in ten minutes; the second in fifteen
more. In half an hour I'd made half a mile. The ice was rough enough
and flimsy enough to take the nerve out of any man. But that wasn't the
worst; the worst was that there were hundreds of holes covered with
a thin crust of snow--all right to look at, but treacherous. I knew
that if I made the mistake of stepping on a crust instead of solid ice,
I'd go through and down.

"I had four otter skins, some martens and ten fine fox skins in the
pack on my back. To do anything in the water with that handicap was
too much for me. So I wasn't at all particular about making time until
I found that the night would catch me if I didn't wag along a little

"No, sir!" the trader said. "I didn't want to be caught out there in
the dark.

"By good luck, I struck some big pans about half-way over. Then I took
to a dog-trot, and left the yards behind me in a way that cheered me
up. Just before dusk I got near enough to the other side to feel proud
of myself, and I began to think of what a fool I'd have been if I'd
taken the shore route. A minute later I changed my mind. I felt the
pack moving! Well, in a flash I said good-bye to Cherry Hill and the
boys. Not many men are caught twice in a place like that. They never
have the second chance.

"There I was, aboard a rotten floe and bound out to the big, lonely
ocean at the rate of four miles an hour.

"'Oh, you might as well get ready to go, Jim,' thinks I. But I didn't
give up. I loped along shoreward in a way that didn't take snow crust
or air-holes into account. And I made the edge of the floe before the
black hours of the night had come.

"There was a couple of hundred yards of cold water between me and the

"'This is the time you think more of your life than your fur,' thinks I.

"There was a stray pan or two--little rafts of things--lying off the
edge of the floe; and beyond them, scattered between the shore and me,
half a dozen other pans were floating. How to get from one to the other
was the puzzle. They were fifty or sixty yards apart, most of them,
and I had no paddle. It was foolish to think of making a shift with my
jacket for a sail; the wind was out, not in, and I had no rudder.

"What had I? Nothing that I could think of. It didn't _strike_ me, as
you say. I wish it had.

"'Anyhow,' says I to myself, 'I'll get as far as I can.'

"It was a short leap from the floe to the first pan. I made it easily.
The second pan was farther off, but I thought I could jump the water
between. So I took off my pack and threw it on the ice beside me. It
almost broke my heart to do it, for I'd walked five hundred miles in
the dead of winter for that fur; I'd been nearly starved and frozen,
and I'd paid out hard-earned money. I put down my pack, took a short
run, and jumped like a stag for the second pan.

"I landed on the spot I'd picked out. I can't complain of missing the
mark, but instead of stopping there, I shot clear through and down into
the water.

"Surprised? I was worse than that. I was dead scared. For a minute I
thought I was going to rise under the ice and drown right there.

"How it happened I don't know; but I came up between the pans, and
struck out for the one I'd left. I got to the pan, all right, and
climbed aboard. There I was, on a little pan of ice, beyond reach of
the floe and leaving the shore behind me, and cold and pretty well

"There's the riddle of the corked bottle," said the trader,
interrupting his narrative. "Now how do I happen to be sitting here?"

"I'm sure I can't tell," said the skipper.

"No more you should," said he, "for you don't know what I carried in my
pack. But you see I had the bottle in my hands, and I wanted the ginger
ale bad; so I thought fast and hard.

"It struck me that I might do something with my line and jigger.[4]
Don't you see the chance the barbed steel hooks and the forty fathom of
line gave me? When I thought of that jigger I felt just like the man
who is told to push the cork in when he can't draw it out. I'd got back
to the pan where I'd thrown down my pack, you know; so there was the
jigger, right at hand.

"It was getting dark by this time--getting dark fast, and the pans were
drifting farther and farther apart.

"It was easy to hook the jigger in the nearest pan and draw my pan over
to it; for that pan was five times the weight of the one I was on. The
one beyond was about the same size; they came together at the half-way
point. Of course this took time. I could hardly see the shore then, and
it struck me that I might not be able to find it at all, when I came
near enough to cast my jigger for it.

"About fifty yards off was a big pan. I swung the jigger round and
round and suddenly let the line shoot through my fingers. When I hauled
it in the jigger came too, for it hadn't taken hold. That made me feel
bad. I felt worse when it came back the second time. But I'm not one of
the kind that gives up. I kept right on casting that jigger until it
landed in the right spot.

"My pan crossed over as I hauled in the line. That was all right; but
there was no pan between me and the shore.

"'All up!' thinks I.

"It was dark. I could see neither pan nor shore. Before long I couldn't
see a thing in the pitchy blackness.

"All the time I could feel the pan humping along towards the open sea.
I didn't know how far off the shore was. I was in doubt about just
where it was.

"'Is this pan turning round?' thinks I. Well, I couldn't tell; but I
thought I'd take a flier at hooking a rock or a tree with the jigger.

"The jigger didn't take hold. I tried a dozen times, and every time I
heard it splash the water. But I kept on trying--and would have kept
on till morning if I'd needed to. You can take me at my word, I'm not
the kind of fool that gives up--I've been in too many tight places for
that. So, at last, I gave the jigger a fling that landed it somewhere
where it held fast; but whether ice or shore I couldn't tell. If shore,
all right; if ice, all wrong; and that's all I could do about it.

"'Now,' thinks I, as I began to haul in, 'it all depends on the fishing
line. Will it break, or won't it?'

"It didn't. So the next morning, with my pack on my back, I tramped
round the point to Racquet Harbour."

"What was it?" was Billy Topsail's foolish question. "Shore or ice?"

"If it hadn't been shore," said the trader, "I wouldn't be here."


[4] A jigger is a lead fish, about three inches long, which spreads
into two large barbed hooks at one end; the other end is attached to
about forty fathoms of stout line. Jiggers are used to jerk fish from
the water where there is no bait.


  _In the Offshore Gale: In Which Billy Topsail Goes Seal
      Hunting and is Swept to Sea With the Floe_

WHAT befell old Tom Topsail and his crew came in the course of the
day's work. Fishermen and seal-hunters, such as the folk of Ruddy Cove,
may not wait for favourable weather; when the fish are running, they
must fish; when the seals are on the drift-ice offshore in the spring,
they must hunt.

So on that lowering day, when the seals were sighted by the watch on
Lookout Head, it was a mere matter of course that the men of the place
should set out to the hunt.

"I s'pose," Tom Topsail drawled, "that we'd best get under way."

Bill Watt, his mate, scanned the sky in the northeast. It was heavy,
cold and leaden; fluffy gray towards the zenith, and black where the
clouds met the barren hills.

"I s'pose," said he, catching Topsail's drawl, "that 'twill snow afore

"Oh, aye," was the slow reply, "I s'pose 'twill."

Again Bill Watt faced the sullen sky. He felt that the supreme danger
threatened--snow with wind.

"I s'pose," he said, "that 'twill blow, too."

"Oh, aye," Topsail replied, indifferently, "snow 'n' blow. We'll know
what 'twill do when it begins," he added. "Billy, b'y!" he shouted.

In response Billy Topsail came bounding down the rocky path from the
cottage. He was stout for his age, with broad shoulders, long thick
arms and large hands. There was a boy's flush of expectation on his
face, and the flash of a boy's delight in his eyes. He was willing for

"Bill an' me'll take the rodney," Topsail drawled. "I s'pose you
might's well fetch the punt, an' we'll send you back with the first

"Hooray!" cried Billy; and with that he waved his cap and sped back up
the hill.

"Fetch your gaff, lad!" Topsail called after him. "Make haste! There's
Joshua Rideout with his sail up. 'Tis time we was off."

"Looks more'n ever like snow," Bill Watt observed, while they waited.
"I'm thinkin' _'twill_ snow."

"Oh, maybe 'twon't," said Topsail, optimistic in a lazy way.

The ice-floe was two miles or more off the coast; thence it stretched
to the horizon--a vast, rough, blinding white field, formed of detached
fragments. Some of the "pans" were acres in size; others were not big
enough to bear the weight of a man; all were floating free, rising and
falling with the ground swell.

The wind was light, the sea quiet, the sky thinly overcast. Had it not
been for the threat of heavy weather in the northeast, it would have
been an ideal day for the hunt. The punt and the rodney, the latter
far in the lead, ran quietly out from the harbour, with their little
sails all spread. From the punt Billy Topsail could soon see the small,
scattered pack of seals--black dots against the white of the ice.

When the rodney made the field, the punts of the harbour fleet had
disappeared in the winding lanes of open water that led through
the floe. Tom Topsail was late. The nearer seals were all marked
by the hunters who had already landed. The rodney would have to be
taken farther in than the most venturesome hunter had yet dared to
go--perilously far into the midst of the shifting pans.

The risk of sudden wind--the risk that the heavy fragments would "pack"
and "nip" the boat--had to be taken if seals were to be killed.

"We got to go right in, Bill," said Topsail, as he furled the rodney's

"I s'pose," was Watt's reply, with a backward glance to the northeast.
"An' Billy?"

"'Tis not wise to take un in," Topsail answered, hastily. "We'll have
un bide here."

Billy was hailed, and, to his great disappointment, warned to keep
beyond the edge of the floe. Then the rodney shot into the lane, with
Topsail and Bill Watt rowing like mad. She was soon lost to sight.
Billy shipped his sail and paddled to the edge of the ice, to wait, as
patiently as might be, for the reappearance of the rodney.

Patience soon gave way to impatience, impatience to anxiety, anxiety to
great fear for the lives of his father and the mate, for the offshore
gale was driving up; the blue-black clouds were already high and rising

At last there came an ominous puff of wind. It swept over the sea from
the coast, whipping up little waves in its course--frothy little waves,
that hissed. Heavy flakes of snow began to fall. As the wind rose they
fell faster, and came driving, swirling with it.

With the fall of the first flakes the harbour fleet came pell-mell from
the floe. Not a man among them but wished himself in a sheltered place.
Sails were raised in haste, warnings were shouted; then off went the
boats, beating up to harbour with all sail set.

"Make sail, lad!" old Elisha Bull shouted to Billy, as his punt swung

Billy shook his head. "I'll beat back with father!" he cried.

"You'll lose yourself!" Elisha screamed, as a last warning, before his
punt carried him out of hail.

But Billy still hung at the edge of the ice. His father had said, "Bide
here till we come out," and "bide" there he would.

He kept watch for the rodney, but no rodney came. Minute after minute
flew by. He hesitated. Was it not his duty to beat home? There was
still the fair chance that he might be able to make the harbour. Did
he not owe a duty to his mother--to himself?

But a crashing noise from the floe brought him instantly to a decision.
He knew what that noise meant. The ice was feeling the force of the
wind. It would pack and move out to sea. The lane by which the rodney
had entered then slowly closed.

In horror Billy watched the great pans swing together. There was now
no escape for the boat. The strong probability was that she would be
crushed to splinters by the crowding of the ice; that indeed she had
already been crushed; that the men were either drowned or cast away on
the floe.

At once the lad's duty was plain to him. He must stay where he was. If
his father and Bill Watt managed to get to the edge of the ice afoot,
who else was to take them off?

The ice was moving out to sea, Billy knew. The pans were crunching,
grinding, ever more noisily. But he let the punt drift as near as he
dared, and so followed the pack towards the open, keeping watch, ever
more hopelessly, for the black forms of the two men.

Soon, so fast did the sea rise, so wild was the wind, his own danger
was very great. The ice was like a rocky shore to leeward. He began to
fear that he would be wrecked.

Time and again the punt was nearly swamped, but Billy dared not drop
the oars to bail. There was something more. His arms, stout and
seasoned though they were, were giving out. It would not long be
possible to keep the boat off the ice. He determined to land on the

But the sea was breaking on the ice dead to leeward. It was impossible
to make a landing there, so with great caution he paddled to the right,
seeking a projecting point, behind which he might find shelter. At last
he came to a cove. It narrowed to a long, winding arm, which apparently
extended some distance into the floe.

There he found quiet water. He landed without difficulty at a point
where the arm was no more than a few yards wide. Dusk was then
approaching. The wind was bitterly cold, and the snow was thick and

It would not be safe, he knew, to leave the boat in the water, for at
any moment the shifting pans might close and crush it. He tried to lift
it out of the water, but his strength was not sufficient. He managed
to get the bow on the ice; that was all.

"I'll just have to leave it," he thought. "I'll just have to trust that
'twill not be nipped."

Near by there was a hummock of ice. He sought the lee of it, and there,
protected from the wind, he sat down to wait.

Often, when the men were spinning yarns in the cottages of Ruddy Cove
of a winter night, he had listened, open-mouthed, to the tales of
seal-hunters who had been cast away. Now he was himself drifting out to
sea. He had no fire, no food, no shelter but a hummock of ice. He had
the bitterness of the night to pass through--the hunger of to-morrow to

"But sure," he muttered, with characteristic hopefulness, "I've a boat,
an' many a man has been cast away without one."

He thought he had better make another effort to haul the boat on the
ice. Some movement of the pack might close the arm where it floated. So
he stumbled towards the place.

He stared round in amazement and alarm; then he uttered a cry of
terror. The open water had disappeared.

"She's been nipped!" he sobbed. "She's been nipped--nipped to
splinters! I've lost meself!"

Night came fast. An hour before, so dense was the storm, nothing had
been visible sixty paces away; now nothing was to be seen anywhere.
Where was the rodney? Had his father and Bill Watt escaped from the
floe by some new opening? Were they safe at home? Were they still on
the floe? He called their names. The swish of the storm, the cracking
and crunching of the ice as the wind swept it on--that was all that he

For a long time he sat in dull despair. He hoped no longer.

By and by, when it was deep night, something occurred to distract him.
He caught sight of a crimson glow, flaring and fading. It seemed to be
in the sky, now far off, now near at hand. He started up.

"What's that?" he muttered.


  _In Which Old Tom Topsail Burns His Punt and Billy
      Wanders in the Night and Three Lives Hang on a Change
      of the Wind_

MEANWHILE, under the powerful strokes of old Tom Topsail and Bill Watt,
the rodney had followed the open leads into the heart of the floe. From
time to time Watt muttered a warning; but the spirit of the hunt fully
possessed Tom, and his only cry was, "Push on! Push on!"

Seal after seal escaped, while the sky darkened. He was only the more
determined not to go back empty-handed.

"I tells you," Watt objected, "we'll not get out. There's the wind now.
And snow, man--snow!"

The warning was not to be disregarded. Topsail thought no more about
seals. The storm was fairly upon them. His only concern was to escape
from the floe. He was glad, indeed, that Billy had not followed them.
He had that, at least, to be thankful for.

They turned the boat. Bending to the oars, they followed the lane by
which they had entered. Confusion came with the wind and the snow. The
lay of the pans seemed to have changed. It was changing every moment,
as they perceived.

"Tom," gasped Watt, at last, "we're caught! 'Tis a blind lead we're in."

That was true; the lane had closed. They must seek another exit. So
they turned the boat and followed the next lane that opened. It, too,
was blocked.

They tried another, selected at random. In that blinding storm no
choice was possible. Again disappointment; the lane narrowed to a
point. They were nearly exhausted now, but they turned instantly to
seek another way. That way was not to be found. The lane had closed
behind them.

"Trapped!" muttered Watt.

"Aye, lad," Topsail said, solemnly, "trapped!"

They rested on their oars. Ice was on every hand. They stared into each
other's eyes.

Then, for the second time, Watt ran his glance over the shores of the
lake in which they floated. He started, then pointed in the direction
from which they had come. Topsail needed no word of explanation.
The ice was closing in. The pressure of the pack beyond would soon
obliterate the lake. They rowed desperately for the nearest shore.

The ice was rapidly closing in. In such cases, as they knew, it often
closed with a sudden rush at the end, crushing some pan which for a
moment had held it in check.

When the boat struck the ice Watt jumped ashore with the painter.
Topsail, leaping from seat to seat, followed instantly. At that moment
there was a loud crack, like a clap of thunder. It was followed by a
crunching noise.

"It's comin'!" screamed Topsail.

"Heave away!"

They caught the bow, lifted it out of the water, and with a united
effort slowly hauled it out of harm's way. A moment later there was no
sign of open water.

"Thank God!" gasped Topsail.

By this time the storm was a blizzard. The men had no shelter, and they
were afraid to venture far from the boat in search of it. Neither
would permit the other to stumble over the rough ice, chancing its
pitfalls, for neither cared to be lost from the other.

Now they sat silent in the lee of the upturned boat, with the snow
swirling about them; again they ran madly back and forth; yet again
they swung their arms and stamped their feet. At last, do what they
would, they shivered all the time. Then they sat quietly down.

"I'm wonderful glad Billy is safe home," Watt observed.

"I wisht I was sure o' that," said Topsail. "It looks bad for us, Bill,
lad. The ice is drivin' out fast, an' I'm thinkin' 'twill blow steady
for a day. It looks wonderful bad for us, an' I'd feel--easier in me
mind--about the lad's mother--if I knowed he was safe home."

Late in the night Topsail turned to Watt. He had to nudge him to get
his attention. "It's awful cold, Bill," he said. "We got the boat, lad.
Eh? We got the boat."

"No, no, Tom! Not yet! We'd be sure doomed without the boat."

Half an hour passed. Again Topsail roused Watt.

"We're doomed if we don't," he said. "We can't stand it till mornin',
lad. We can't wait no longer."


Watt blundered to his feet. Without a word he fumbled in the snow until
he found what he sought. It was the axe. He handed it to Topsail.

"Do it, Tom!" he said, thickly. "I'm near gone."

Topsail attacked the boat. It was like murder, he thought. He struck
blow after blow, blindly, viciously; gathered the splinters, made a
little heap of them and set them afire. The fire blazed brightly. Soon
it was roaring. The ice all around was lighted up. Above, the snow
reflected the lurid glow.

Warmth and a cheerful light put life in the men. They crept as close to
the fire as they could. Reason would shut out hope altogether, but hope
came to them. Might not the storm abate? Might not the wind change?
Might not they be picked up? In this strain they talked for a long
time; and meanwhile they added the fuel, splinter by splinter.

"Father! 'Tis _you_!"

Topsail leaped to his feet and stared.

"'Tis Billy!" cried Watt.

Billy staggered into the circle of light. He stared stupidly at the
fire. Then he tottered a step or two nearer, and stood swaying; and
again he stared at the fire in a stupid way.

"I seed the fire!" he mumbled. "The punt's nipped, sir--an' I seed the
fire--an' crawled over the ice. 'Twas hard to find you."

Tom Topsail and Bill Watt understood. They, too, had travelled rough
ice in a blizzard, and they understood.

Billy was wet to the waist. That meant that, blinded by the snow or
deceived by the night, he had slipped through some opening in the ice,
some crack or hole. The bare thought of that lonely peril was enough to
make the older men shudder. But they asked him no questions. They led
him to the fire, prodigally replenished it, and sat him down between
them. By and by he was so far recovered that he was able to support his
father's argument that the wind had not changed.

"Oh, well," replied Watt, doggedly, "you can say what you likes; but I
tells you that the wind's veered to the south. 'Twould not surprise me
if the pack was drivin' Cape Wonder way."

"No, no, Bill," said Topsail sadly; "there's been no change. We're
drivin' straight out. When the wind drops the pack'll go to pieces, an'

Thus the argument was continued, intermittently, until near dawn. Of a
sudden, then, they heard a low, far-off rumble. It was a significant,
terrifying noise. It ran towards them, increasing in volume. It was
like the bumping that runs through a freight-train when the engine
comes to a sudden stop.

The pack trembled. There was then a fearful confusion of grinding,
crashing sounds. Everywhere the ice was heaving and turning. The
smaller pans were crushed; many of the greater ones were forced on end;
some were lifted bodily out of the water, and fell back in fragments,
broken by their own weight. On all sides were noise and awful upheaval.
The great pan upon which the seal-hunters had landed was tipped
up--up--up--until it was like the side of a steep hill. There it
rested. Then came silence.

Bill Watt was right: the wind had changed; the pack had grounded on
Cape Wonder. The three men from Ruddy Cove walked ashore in the morning.

Billy was the first to run up to the house. He went through the door
like a gale of wind.

"We're safe, mother!" he shouted.

"I'm glad, dear," said his mother, quietly. "Breakfast is ready."

When Billy was older he learned the trick his mother had long ago
mastered--to betray no excitement, whatever the situation.


  _How Billy Topsail's Friend Bobby Lot Joined Fortunes
      With Eli Zitt and Whether or Not he Proved Worthy of
      the Partnership_

RUDDY COVE called Eli Zitt a "hard" man. In Newfoundland, that means
"hardy"--not "bad." Eli was gruff-voiced, lowering-eyed, unkempt,
big; he could swim with the dogs, outdare all the reckless spirits of
the Cove with the punt in a gale, bare his broad breast to the winter
winds, travel the ice wet or dry, shoulder a barrel of flour; he was a
sturdy, fearless giant, was Eli Zitt, of Ruddy Cove. And for this the
Cove very properly called him a "hard" man.

When Josiah Lot, his partner, put out to sea and never came back--an
offshore gale had the guilt of that deed--Eli scowled more than ever
and said a deal less.

"He'll be feelin' bad about Josiah," said the Cove.

Which may have been true. However, Eli took care of Josiah's widow and
son. The son was Bobby Lot, with whom, subsequently, Billy Topsail
shared the adventure of the giant squid of Chain Tickle. The Cove
laughed with delight to observe Eli Zitt's attachment to the lad. The
big fellow seemed to be quite unable to pass the child without patting
him on the back; and sometimes, so exuberant was his affection, the
pats were of such a character that Bobby lost his breath. Whereupon,
Eli would chuckle the harder, mutter odd endearments, and stride off on
his way.

"He'll be likin' that lad pretty well," said the Cove. "Nar a doubt,
they'll be partners."

And it came to pass as the Cove surmised; but much sooner than the
Cove expected. Josiah Lot's widow died when Bobby was eleven years
old. When the little gathering at the graveyard in the shelter of
Great Hill dispersed, Eli took the lad out in the punt--far out to the
quiet fishing grounds, where they could be alone. It was a glowing
evening--red and gold in the western sky. The sea was heaving gently,
and the face of the waters was unruffled.

"Bobby, b'y!" Eli whispered. "Bobby, lad! Does you hear me? Don't cry
no more!"

"Ay, Eli," sobbed Bobby. "I'll cry no more."

But he kept on crying, just the same, for he could not stop; and Eli
looked away--very quickly--to the glowing sunset clouds. Can't _you_
tell why?

"Bobby," he said, turning, at last, to the lad, "us'll be partners--you
an' me."

Bobby sobbed harder than ever.

"Won't us, lad?"

Eli laid his great hand on Bobby's shoulder. Then Bobby took his fists
out of his eyes and looked up into Eli's compassionate face.

"Ay, Eli," he said, "us'll be partners--jus' you an' me."

From that out, they _were_ partners; and Bobby Lot was known in the
Cove as the foster son of Eli Zitt. They lived together in Eli's
cottage by the tickle cove, where Eli had lived alone, since, many
years before, _his_ mother had left _him_ to face the world for
himself. The salmon net, the herring seine, the punt, the flake,
the stage--these they held in common; and they went to the grounds
together, where they fished the long days through, good friends, good
partners. The Cove said that they were very happy; and, as always, the
Cove was right.

One night Eli came ashore from a trading schooner that had put in in
the morning, smiling broadly as he entered the kitchen. He laid his
hand on the table, palm down.

"They's a gift for you under that paw, lad," he said.

"For me, Eli!" cried Bobby.

"Ay, lad--for my partner!"

Bobby stared curiously at the big hand. He wondered what it covered.
"What is it, Eli?" he asked. "Come, show me!"

Eli lifted the hand, and gazed at Bobby, grinning, the while,
with delight. It was a jack-knife--a stout knife, three-bladed,
horn-handled, big, serviceable; just the knife for a fisher lad. Bobby
picked it up, but said never a word, for his delight overcame him.

"You're wonderful good t' me, Eli," he said, at last looking up with
glistening eyes. "You're _wonderful_ good t' me!"

Eli put his arm around the boy. "You're a good partner, lad," he said.
"You're a wonderful good partner!"

Bobby was proud of that.

       *       *       *       *       *

They put the salmon net out in the spring. The ice was still lingering
offshore. The west wind carried it out; the east wind swept it in:
variable winds kept pans and bergs drifting hither and thither, and no
man could tell where next the ice would go. Now, the sea was clear,
from the shore to the jagged, glistening white line, off near the
horizon; next day--the day after--and the pack was grinding against the
coast rocks. Men had to keep watch to save the nets from destruction.

The partners' net was moored off Break-heart Point. It was a good
berth, but a rough one; when the wind was in the northeast, the waters
off the point were choppy and covered with sheets of foam from the

"'Tis too rough t' haul the salmon net," said Eli, one day. "I'll be
goin' over the hills for a sack o' flour. An' you'll be a good b'y 'til
I gets back?"

"Oh, ay, sir!" said Bobby Lot.

It was a rough day: the wind was blowing from the north, a freshening,
gusty breeze, cold and misty; off to sea, the sky was leaden,
threatening, and overhead dark clouds were driving low and swift with
the wind; the water was choppy--rippling black under the squalls. The
ice was drifting alongshore, well out from the coast; there was a berg
and the wreck of a berg of Arctic ice and many a pan from the bays and
harbours of the coast.

With the wind continuing in the north, the ice would drift harmlessly
past. But the wind changed. In the afternoon it freshened and veered to
the east. At four o'clock it was half a gale, blowing inshore.

"I'll just be goin' out the tickle t' have a look at that ice," thought
Bobby. "'Tis like it'll come ashore."

He looked the punt over very carefully before setting out. It was wise,
he thought, to prepare to take her out into the gale, whether or not
he must go. He saw to it that the thole-pins were tight and strong,
that the bail-bucket was in its place, that the running gear was fit
for heavy strain. The wind was then fluttering the harbour water and
screaming on the hilltops; and he could hear the sea breaking on the
tickle rocks. He rowed down the harbour to the mouth of the tickle,
whence he commanded a view of the coast, north and south.

The ice was drifting towards Break-heart Point. It would destroy the
salmon net within the hour, he perceived--sweep over it, tear it
from its moorings, bruise it against the rocks. Bobby knew, in a
moment, that his duty was to put out from the sheltered harbour to the
wind-swept, breaking open, where the spume was flying and the heave and
fret of the sea threatened destruction to the little punt. Were he true
man and good partner he would save the net!

"He've been good t' me," he thought. "Ay, Eli 've been wonderful good
t' me. I'll be true partner t' him!"


  _Bobby Lot Learns to Swim and Eli Zitt Shows Amazing
      Courage and Self-possession and Strength_

WHEN, returning over the hills, Eli Zitt came to the Knob o'
Break-heart, he saw his own punt staggering through the gray waves
towards the net off the point--tossing with the sea and reeling under
the gusty wind--with his little partner in the stern. The boat was
between the ice and the breakers. The space of open water was fast
narrowing; only a few minutes more and the ice would strike the rocks.
Eli dropped on his knees, then and there, and prayed God to save the

"O Lard, save my lad!" he cried. "O Lard, save my wee lad!"

He saw the punt draw near the first mooring; saw Bobby loose the sheet,
and let the brown sail flutter like a flag in the wind; saw him leap to
the bow, and lean over, with a knife in his hand, while the boat tossed
in the lop, shipping water every moment; saw him stagger amidships,
bail like mad, snatch up the oars, pull to the second mooring and cut
the last net-rope; saw him leap from seat to seat to the stem, grasp
the tiller, haul taut the sheet, and stand off to the open sea.

"Clever Bobby!" he screamed, wildly excited. "Clever lad! My partner,
my little partner!"

But the wind carried the cry away. Bobby did not hear--did not know,
even, that his partner had been a spectator of his brave faithfulness.
He was beating out, to make sea-room for the run with the wind to
harbour; and the boat was dipping her gunwale in a way that kept every
faculty alert to keep her afloat. Eli watched him until he rounded and
stood in for the tickle. Then the man sighed happily and went home.

"Us'll grapple for that net the morrow," he said, when Bobby came in.

Bobby opened his eyes. "Aye?" he said. "'Tis safe on the bottom. I
thought I'd best cut it adrift t' save it."

"I seed you," said Eli, "from the Knob. 'Twas well done, lad! You're a
true partner."

"The knife come in handy," said Bobby, smiling. "'Tis a good knife."

"Aye," said Eli, with a shake of the head. "I bought un for a good one."

And that was all.

       *       *       *       *       *

Eli set about rearing young Bobby in a fashion as wise as he knew. He
exposed the lad to wet and weather, as judiciously as he could, to
make him hardy; he took him to sea in high winds, to fix his courage
and teach him to sail; he taught him the weather signs, the fish-lore
of the coast, the "marks" for the fishing grounds, the whereabouts of
shallows and reefs and currents; he took him to church and sent him to
Sunday-school. And he taught him to swim.

On the fine days of that summer, when there were no fish to be caught,
the man and the lad went together to the Wash-tub--a deep, little cove
of the sea, clear, quiet, bottomed with smooth rock and sheltered from
the wind by high cliffs; but cold--almost as cold as ice-water. Here
Bobby delighted to watch Eli dive, leap from the cliff, float on his
back, swim far out to sea; here he gazed with admiration on the man's
rugged body--broad shoulders, bulging muscles, great arms and legs. And
here, too, he learned to swim.

When the warmest summer days were gone, Bobby could paddle about
the Wash-tub in promising fashion. He was confident when Eli was at
hand--sure, then, that he could keep afloat. But he was not yet sure
enough of his power when Eli had gone on the long swim to sea. Eli said
that he had done well; and Bobby, himself, often said that he could
swim a deal better than a stone. In an emergency, both agreed, Bobby's
new accomplishment would be sure to serve him well.

"Sure, if the punt turned over," Bobby innocently boasted, "I'd be able
t' swim 'til you righted her."

That was to be proved.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Eli, b'y," said old James Blunt, one day in the fall of the year, "do
you take my new dory t' the grounds t'-day. Sure, I'd like t' know how
you likes it."

Old James had built his boat after a south-coast model. She was a dory,
a flat-bottomed craft, as distinguished from a punt, which has a round
bottom and keel. He was proud of her, but somewhat timid; and he wanted
Eli's opinion of her quality.

"'Tis a queer lookin' thing!" said Eli. "But me an' my partner'll try
she, James, just for luck."

That afternoon a fall gale caught the dory on the Farthest Grounds--far
out beyond the Wolf's Teeth Reef. It came from the shore so suddenly
that Eli could not escape it. So it was a beat to harbour, with the
wind and sea rising fast. Off the Valley, which is half a mile from the
narrows, a gust came out between the hills--came strong and swift. It
heeled the dory over--still over--down--down until the water poured in
over the gunwale. Eli let go the main-sheet, expecting the sail to fall
away from the wind and thus ease the boat. But the line caught in the
block. Down went the dory--still down. And of a sudden it capsized.

When Bobby came to the surface, he began frantically to splash the
water, momentarily losing strength, breath and self-possession. Eli
was waiting for him, with head and shoulders out of the water, like an
eager dog as he waits for the stick his master is about to throw. He
swam close; but hung off for a moment--until, indeed, he perceived that
Bobby would never of himself regain his self-possession--for he did not
want the boy to be too soon beholden to him for aid. Then he slipped
his hand under Bobby's breast and buoyed him up.

"Partner!" he said, quietly. "Partner!"

Bobby's panic-stricken struggles at once ceased; for he had been used
to giving instant obedience to Eli's commands. He looked in Eli's
dripping face.

"Easy, partner," said Eli, still quietly. "Strike out, now."

Bobby smiled, and struck out, as directed. In a moment he was swimming
at Eli's side.

"Take it easy, lad," Eli continued. "Just take it easy while I rights
the boat. It's all right. I'll have you aboard in a jiffy. Is you--is
you--all right, Bobby?"

"Aye," Bobby gasped.

Eli waited for a moment longer. He was loath to leave the boy to take
care of himself. Until then he had not known how large a place in his
heart his little partner filled, how much he had come to depend upon
him for all those things which make life worth while. He had not known,
indeed, how far away from the old, lonely life the lad had led him. So
he waited for a moment longer, watching Bobby. Then he swam to the
overturned dory, where, after an anxious glance towards the lad, he
dived to cut away the gear--and dived again, and yet again; watching
Bobby all the time he was at the surface for breath.

The gear cut away, the mast pulled from its socket, Eli righted the
boat. It takes a strong man and clever swimmer to do that; but Eli was
clever in the water, and strong anywhere. Moreover, it was a trick he
had learned.

"Come, Bobby, b'y!" he called.

Bobby swam towards the boat. Eli swam to meet him, and helped him over
the last few yards of choppy sea, for the lad was almost exhausted.
Bobby laid a hand on the bow of the dory. Then Eli pulled off one of
his long boots, and swam to the stern, where he began cautiously to
bail the boat. When she was light enough in the water, he helped Bobby
aboard, and Bobby bailed her dry.

"Ha, lad!" Eli ejaculated, with a grin that made his face shine. "You
is safe aboard. How is you, b'y?"

"Tired, Eli," Bobby answered.

"You bide quiet where you is," said Eli. "I'll find the paddles; an'
I'll soon have you home."

Eli's great concern had been to get the boy out of the water. He had
cared for little else than that--to get him out of the reach of the
sea. And now he was confronted by the problem of making harbour. The
boat was slowly drifting out with the wind; the dusk was approaching;
and every moment it was growing more difficult to swim in the choppy
sea. It took him a long time to find the paddles.

"Steady the boat, Bobby," he said, when the boy had taken the paddles
into the dory. "I'm comin' aboard."

Eli attempted to board the dory over the bow. She was tossing about in
a choppy sea; and he was not used to her ways. Had she been a punt--his
punt--he would have been aboard in a trice. But she was not his
punt--not a punt, at all; she was a new boat, a dory, a flat-bottomed
craft; he was not used to her ways. Bobby tried desperately to steady
her while Eli lifted himself out of the water.

"Take care, Eli!" he screamed. "She'll be over!"

Eli got his knee on the gunwale--no more than that. A wave tipped the
boat; she lurched; she capsized. And again Eli waited for Bobby to
come to the surface of the water; again buoyed him up; again gave him
courage; again helped him to the boat; again bailed the boat--this time
with one of Bobby's boots--and again helped Bobby aboard.

"I'm wonderful tired, Eli," said Bobby, when the paddles were handed
over the side for the second time. "I'm fair' done out."

"'Twill be over soon, lad. I'll have you home by the kitchen fire in
half an hour. Come, now, partner! Steady the boat. I'll try again."

Even more cautiously Eli attempted to clamber aboard. Inch by inch he
raised himself out of the water. When the greater waves ran under the
boat, he paused; when she rode on an even keel, he came faster. Inch by
inch, humouring the cranky boat all the time, he lifted his right leg.
But he could not get aboard. Again, when his knee was on the gunwale,
the dory capsized.

For the third time the little partner was helped aboard and given a
boot with which to bail. His strength was then near gone. He threw
water over the side until he could no longer lift his arms.

"Eli," he gasped, "I can do no more!"

Eli put his hand on the bow, as though about to attempt to clamber
aboard again. But he withdrew it.

"Bobby, b'y," he said, "could you not manage t' pull a bit with the
paddles. I'll swim alongside."

Bobby stared stupidly at him.

Again Eli put his hand on the bow. He was in terror of losing Bobby's
life. Never before had he known such dread and fear. He did not dare
risk overturning the boat again; for he knew that Bobby would not
survive for the fourth time. What could he do? He could not get aboard,
and Bobby could not row. How was he to get the boy ashore? His hand
touched the painter--the long rope by which the boat was moored to the
stage. That gave him an idea: he would tow the boat ashore!

So he took the rope in his teeth, and struck out for the tickle to the

       *       *       *       *       *

"'Twas a close call, b'y," said Eli, when he and Bobby sat by the
kitchen fire.

"Ay, Eli; 'twas a close call."

"A _wonderful_ close call!" Eli repeated, grinning. "The closest I ever

"An' 'twas too bad," said Bobby, "t' lose the gear."

Eli laughed.

"What you laughin' at?" Bobby asked.

"I brought ashore something better than the gear."

"The dory?"

"No, b'y!" Eli roared. "My little partner!"


  _Containing the Surprising Adventure of Eli Zitt's
      Little Partner on the Way Back from Fortune Harbour,
      in Which a Newfoundland Dog Displays a Saving

BOBBY LOT, Eli Zitt's little partner, left his dog at home when he set
out for Fortune Harbour in Eli's punt. He thought it better for the
dog. He liked company, well enough, did Bobby; but he loved his dog.
Why expose the lazy, fat, old fellow, with his shaky legs and broken
teeth, to an attack in force by the pack of a strange harbour?

The old dog's fighting days were over. He had been a mighty, masterful
beast in his prime; and he had scarred too many generations of the
Ruddy Cove pack to be molested now as he waddled about the roads and
coves where his strength and courage had been proved. But the dogs of
Fortune Harbour knew nothing of the deeds he had done; and an air of
dignity, a snarl and a show of yellow teeth would not be sufficient to
discourage the yelping onset.

"They'd kill him," thought the master.

So the lad determined to leave his dog at home, and it was well for him
that he did.

"Go back, Bruce!" he cried, as he pushed out from Eli Zitt's wharf-head.

But Bruce slipped into the water from the rocks, and swam after the
boat, a beseeching look in the eyes which age had glazed and shot with
blood. He was not used to being left at home when Bobby pushed out in
the punt.

"Go home, b'y!" cried Bobby, lifting an oar.

The threatening gesture was too much for Bruce. He raised himself in
the water and whined, then wheeled about and paddled for shore.

"Good dog!" Bobby called after him.

In response, the water in the wake of the dog was violently agitated.
He was wagging his tail. Thus he signified a cheerful acquiescence.

"He'll be wonderin' why he've been sent back," thought Bobby. "'Tis too
bad we can't tell dogs things like that."

       *       *       *       *       *

Bobby had a message for Sammy Tompkins. It was about the great run of
cod at Good Luck Tickles, the news of which had reached Ruddy Cove that
morning. But old Sammy was on the Black Fly fishing grounds when the
lad got to Fortune Harbour. It was growing dark when he got in for the
night. So Bobby chanced to be late starting home.

The wind had fallen away to a breathless calm; the sky was thickly
overcast, and a thin mist lay between the gloomy clouds and the sea's
long, black ground-swell. Bobby had not pulled through four of the six
miles before sea and sky and rocky coast were melted into one vast,
deep shadow, except where, near at hand, the bolder headlands were to
be distinguished by one who knew them well.

"I wonder," Bobby thought, "if I'll get home before mornin'. 'Tis hard
t' say. I might have t' lie out here all night. Sure, I hope it gets no

He rowed on towards Ruddy Cove, taking new bearings from time to time
as the deeper shadows of the headlands loomed out of the dark of the
night. Thus, he followed the coast, making with great caution for the
narrow entrance to the inner harbour, which invariably was hard to find
at night or in the fog.

The sea was breaking against the rocks. The noise was loud in Bobby's
ears, and served to guide him at such times as the headlands were
indistinguishable from the clouds. His progress was slow and cautious;
for he knew the dangers of the way he must take.

There was a line of submerged rocks--The Wrecker, Old Moll and
Deep Down--lying out from Iron Head, directly in his path. That
neighbourhood was a neighbourhood of danger. When the lad caught sight
of the strange outline of Iron Head, he swerved the bow of the boat to
sea and paddled out. He wanted to make sure of rounding Deep Down, the
outermost rock--of giving it a wide berth.

But the night and the noise of the breakers confused him. He could not
tell whether or not he had gone far enough. At length he decided that
he must be safely beyond the rock. But where was Deep Down? Often he
paused to turn and look ahead. Every glance he cast was more anxious
than the one before. He was getting nervous.

"'Tis hard t' tell if the sea is breakin' on Deep Down," he said to
himself. "Sure, it must be, though."

It was important to know that. Sometimes only the larger swells curl
and break as they roll over Deep Down. Bobby knew that just such a sea
was running then. Had it been daylight, the green colour and the slight
lifting of the water would have warned him of the whereabouts of that
dangerous reef. But it was night; the spray, as the wave was broken and
flung into the air, and the swish and the patter, as the water fell
back, were the signs he was on the lookout for.

If, then, the waves broke only at long intervals, the punt might at any
moment be lifted and overturned. It might even then be floating over
the rock. Bobby's heart beat faster when the greater swells slipped
under the boat. Would they break beneath him? Would they break near
at hand? He paddled slowly. It was better to be cautious, he thought,
until he had Deep Down located. So he listened and looked as he paddled

At last he heard the significant swish and patter. He flashed about to
look ahead. But he was too late. The spray had fallen and disappeared.

"'Tis somewheres near," he thought, "and 'tis breakin'. But whether t'
port or starboard, I don't know."

Again--and apparently from another quarter--he heard the noise of
a breaking wave. He turned in time to catch sight of a gleam of
phosphorescence off the port bow.

"If that's Deep Down," he thought, "I'm safe. But if 'tis Old Moll or
The Wrecker, I'm somewheres over Deep Down. I wisht I knowed which it

What was it? The Wrecker, Old Moll or Deep Down? Which one of the three
rocks that lay in a line off Iron Head?

"I wisht I knowed," Bobby muttered, as he bent anew to the oars.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the meantime, old Sol Sludge, of Becky Sharpe's cove, which lies
beyond Iron Head, had started for Ruddy Cove by the goat paths to
tell Skipper John Matthews that he would take a berth in the schooner
_Rescue_ when she got back from the Labrador.

He had a candle-lantern to light the way. When he had crossed the Head
and was bound down the valley to meet the Ruddy Cove road, he heard a
cry for help. It came from the sea, with a soft southwest wind which
had sprung up--a sharp "Help! Help!" ringing out of the darkness again
and again. Old Sol listened stupidly, until, as from exhaustion, the
cries turned hoarse and weak.

"Now, I wonder who's out there," the dull old fellow thought. "It
sounded like a woman's voice. Sure, it may be the spirit o' Mary Rutt.
She was drowned off Iron Head."

Nevertheless, he made haste to Ruddy Cove--all the haste his old legs
and dim sight would permit--and told the folk that he had heard the cry
of a spirit drift in from the sea off Iron Head. But nobody believed

Who was in the water off Iron Head? was the question that passed from
cottage to cottage. Was it Billy Topsail? No; for Billy told the folk
in person that he had come in from the grounds at twilight. Was it
Josiah Seaworthy? No; for Josiah's wife said that he had gone by way of
Crooked Tickle to Burnt Harbour.

Who was it? Had Eli Zitt's little partner got back from Fortune
Harbour? When Eli Zitt heard of that cry for help he knew that Bobby's
punt had been overturned on one of the Iron Head rocks. Like a woman's
voice? That surely was Bobby's--that clear, full voice. So he called
for a crew to man the skiff, and in five minutes he was ready to push

Old Bruce jumped aboard.

"Get out with you!" said Bill Watt, aiming a kick at him by the light
of the lantern.

"Sc-ctt!" cried old Tom Topsail.

But Bruce was a practiced stowaway. He slunk forward, and found a
refuge under the bow seat.

"Push off, lads!" Eli shouted. "Give way!"

In ten minutes the skiff had passed from the harbour to the sea. Eli
Zitt, who worked the scull oar, turned her bow towards the Iron Head
rocks. It was dark; but he had fished those waters from boyhood, and he
knew the way, daylight or dark.

Dark it was, indeed! How was Bobby to be found in that great shadow? He
was a water-dog, was Bobby; but there was a limit to his endurance, and
half an hour at least had passed since old Sol Sludge had heard his cry
for help.

A long search meant failure. He must be found soon or he would not be
found at all. On went the boat, the water curling from her bows and
swirling in her wake. The phosphorescence flashed and glowed as the
oars were struck deep and lifted.

"He'll be swimmin' in," Bill Watt panted, when the skiff had covered
half the distance to Deep Down. "They's no place for him t' land with
this sea on. We ought t' meet him hereabouts."

"If he's afloat," Topsail added.

"Oh, he's afloat yet," Eli said, confidently. "He's a strong swimmer,
that lad is."

"I'm thinkin' he'll be nearer shore," said Bill Watt.

"No, no! He's further out an' on."

"Bobby!" Topsail shouted. "Oh, Bobby!"

There was no reply. For a moment the rowers lifted their oars from the
water. Silence was all about--from the boat to the shore rocks, where
the waves were breaking. The cries for help had ceased.

"Gone down," Bill Watt muttered.

The men gave way again. Again they paused to call Bobby's name, and to
listen, with anxious hearts, for some far-off, answering cry. Again
they gave way. Again they called and called, but heard no answer.

"Gone down," Bill Watt repeated.

"Give way, lads!" cried Eli. "He's further out."

Old Bruce came out from hiding. He crawled to the stern seat and
sniffed to windward. Then, with his nose pointed astern, he began to

"Shut up, you!" Topsail exclaimed.

But Bruce could not be quieted--not even after Topsail's boot had
caught him in the side and brought a sharp howl of pain. Still he
sniffed to windward and barked.

"Throw him over," said Bill Watt. "We'll not be able t' hear Bobby."

"Oh, if 'twas only light!" Eli groaned, not heeding Watt.

But it was dark. The water was covered with deepest shadow. Only the
breakers and the black outline of Iron Head could be seen. Bobby might
be swimming near at hand but too far off to send an audible shout for


If a cry in answer had gone up, the barking of the dog drowned it. The
dog must be quieted.

"Push the brute over!" said Watt.

Watt himself dropped his oar and stepped to the stern. He took Bruce
unaware and tumbled him into the water. The old dog made no protest. He
whined eagerly and swam out from the boat--a straight course astern.

"Now, what did he do that for?" mused Watt.

"That's queer," said Topsail.

Eli looked deep into the night. The dog left a luminous wake. Beyond,
in the direction the dog had taken, the man caught sight of a
phosphorescent glow. Watt saw it at the same moment.

"What's that?" said he. "They's fiery water, back there!"

"Man," cried Eli, "the dog knowed! Sure, it must be Bobby, swimmin'
up, an' too beat out t' cry. Fetch her about, lads. We're on the wrong
course. Haste! He'll not be able t' last much longer."

Eli was right. The dog _had_ known. It was Bobby. When they picked him
up he was too much exhausted to speak. It was afterwards learned that
he had mistaken the spray of the Old Moll breaker for Deep Down and had
been turned over by the outer rock when he thought himself safe. He had
heard the call of his name, and had seen the lantern of the rescuing
skiff, as it drew near; but, long before, he had worn his voice out
with screaming for help, and could make no answer. He had heard the
barking of Bruce, too; had known its significance, and had wondered
whether or not the dog would be understood. But all that he could say,
when they lifted him aboard--and that in a hoarse, weak whisper--was:


At that moment the crew heard a piteous whine near at hand. It was Bill
Watt who pulled the exhausted old dog over the gunwale.

"Good dog!" said he.

And so said they all.


  _In Which Billy Topsail Sets Sail for the Labrador, the
      Rescue Strikes an Iceberg, and Billy is Commanded to
      Pump for His Life_

IT was early in the spring--a time of changeable weather when, in
the northern seas, the peril of drift-ice, bergs, snow, wind and the
dark must sometimes be met with short warning. The schooner _Rescue_,
seventy tons, Job Small, master, had supplied the half-starved Labrador
fishermen with flour and pork, and was bound back to Ruddy Cove, in
ballast, to load provisions and shop goods for the straits trade.

Billy Topsail was aboard. "I 'low, dad," he had said to his father,
when the skipper of the _Rescue_ received the Government commission to
proceed North with supplies, "that I'd like t' _see_ the Labrador."

"You'll see it many a time, lad," his father had replied, "afore you're
done with it."

"An' Skipper Job," Billy had persisted, "says he'll take me."

The end of it was that Billy was shipped.

The _Rescue_ had rounded the cape at dawn, with all sails set, even
to her topmast-staysail, which the Newfoundlanders call the "Tommy
Dancer"; but now, with the night coming down, she was laboriously
beating into a head wind under jib and reefed mainsail.

"I'm fair ashamed t' have the canvas off her," said Skipper Job, after
a long look to windward. "'Tis no more than a switch, an' we're clewed
up for a snorter."

"They's no one t' see, sir," said the cook. "That's good; an' sure I
hopes that nothin' heaves in sight t' shame us."

"Leave us shake the reef out o' the mains'l, sir, an' give her the
fores'l," said the first hand.

"We're not in haste, b'y," the skipper replied. "She's doin' well as
she is. We'll not make harbour this night, an' I've no mind t' be in
the neighbourhood o' the Break-heart Rocks afore mornin'. Let her bide."

The weather thickened. With the night came a storm of snow in heavy
flakes, which the wind swept over the deck in clouds. There was nothing
to relieve the inky darkness. The schooner reeled forth and back on the
port and starboard tacks, beating her way south as blind as a bat.
There was no rest for the crew. The skipper was at the wheel, the first
hand on the lookout forward, the cook and the two other hands standing
by on deck for emergencies.

So far as the wind, the sea and the drift-ice were concerned, the
danger was slight, for the _Rescue_ was stoutly built; but the sea
was strewn with vast fields and mountains of Arctic ice,--the glacier
icebergs which drift out of the north in the spring--and in their
proximity, in their great mass and changing position, lay a dreadful

"Sure, I wisht you could chart icebergs," said the skipper to the cook.
"But," he added, anxiously, "you can't. They moves so fast an' so
peculiar that--that--well, I wisht they didn't."

"I wisht they wasn't none," said the cook.

"Ay, lad," said the skipper. "But they might be a wonderful big one
sixty fathom dead ahead at this minute. We couldn't see it if they was."

"I hopes they isn't, sir," said the cook, with a shiver.

The snow ceased before morning; but at the peep of dawn a thick fog
came up with the wind, and when the light came it added nothing to the
range of vision from the bow. The night had been black; the dawn was
gray. It was so thick that the man at the wheel could not see beyond
the foremast. The lookout was lost in the fog ahead. Eyes were now of
no more use than in the depths of a cloudy night.

But the schooner had weathered the night; and when the first light of
day broke in the east, Skipper Job gave the wheel to the second hand,
and went below with the cook to have a cup of tea.

"I've no mind t' lose her," said he, "so I'll leave her bowl along
under short sail. If we strike, 'twill be so much the easier."

"'Twould be a sad pity t' lose her," said the cook, "when you've got
her so near paid for."

"Ay, that's it," said the skipper.

The _Rescue_ had been built for young Skipper Job, after Skipper Job's
own model, by the Ruddy Cove trader. The trader was to share in the
voyages--whether for Labrador fish or in the Shore trade--until she was
paid for. Then she would belong to Skipper Job--to the young skipper,
who had married the parson's daughter, and now had a boy of his own for
whom to plan and dream.

That was the spring of his energy and caution--that little boy, who
could no more than toddle over the kitchen floor and gurgle a greeting
to the lithe young fellow who bounded up the path to catch him in his
arms. The schooner was the fortune of the lad and the mother; and she
was now all so nearly Job's own that another voyage or two--a mere four
months--might see the last dollar of the obligation paid over.

"No," Skipper Job repeated, absently, when he had thought of the
toddler and the tender, smiling mother, "I've no mind t' lose this here

Job dreamed of the lad while he sipped his tea. They must make a parson
of him, if he had the call, the skipper thought; or a doctor, perhaps.
Whatever, that baby must never follow the sea. No, no! He must never
know the hardship and anxiety of such a night as that just past. He
must be----

A scream of warning broke into the dream:


Skipper Job heard the fall of the feet of a man leaping back from the
bow. There was meaning in the step, in the haste and length of the
leaps--the imminence of a collision with the ice.

"All hands!"

The skipper had no more than leaped to his feet when there was a
stunning crash overhead, followed on the instant by a shock that
stopped the schooner dead and made her quiver from stem to stern. The
bowsprit was rammed into the forecastle, the deck planks were ripped
up, the upper works of the bows were crushed in, the cook's pots and
pans were tumbled about, the lamp was broken and extinguished. Job was
thrown from his feet.

When he recovered, it was to the horror of this darkness and
confusion--to a second crash and shock, to screams and trampling
overhead, and to a rain of blows upon the deck. He cried to the cook to
follow him on deck, and felt his way in mad haste to the ladder; but
there he stopped, of a sudden, with his foot on the lowest step, for
the cook had made no reply.

"Cook, b'y!" he shouted.

There was no answer. It was apparent that the man had been killed or
desperately injured. The skipper knew the danger of delay. They had
struck ice; the berg might overturn, some massive peak might topple
over, the ship might fill and sink. But, as a matter of course, and
with no thought of himself as a hero, he turned and made a groping
search for the cook, until he found the poor fellow lying unconscious
among his own pots and pans. Thence he carried him to the deck, and
stretched him out on the fore hatch, with the foreboom and sail to
protect him from the fragments of ice, which fell as in a shower each
time the schooner struck the berg.

Billy Topsail caught the skipper by the arm in a strong grip.

"We're lost!" he cried.

The roaring wind, the hiss of the seas, the shock and wreck, the
sudden, dreadful peril, had thrown the lad into a panic. The skipper
perceived his distress, and acted promptly to restore him to his

"Leave me free!" he shouted, with a scowl.

But Billy tightened his grip on the skipper's arm, and sobbed and
whined. The skipper knocked him down with a blow on the breast; then
jerked him to his feet and pointed to the pump.

"Pump for your life!" he commanded, knowing well that what poor Billy
needed was work, of whatever kind, to give him back his courage.


  _Faithfully Narrating the Amazing Experiences of a
      Newfoundland Schooner and Describing Billy Topsail's
      Conduct in a Sinking Boat_

THE deck of the _Rescue_ was now littered with wreckage and casks.
Splinters of the jib-boom, all tangled with the standing rigging, lay
upon the forward deck. The maintopmast had snapped off, and hung from
the mainmast in a tangle of wire and rope. They had already cut the
mainsail halyards, and the big sail lay upon the boom, on the port
side, in disarrayed folds.

The bows were high out of the water, as if the ship had run up a steep,
submerged shelf of ice; and the seas, which the wind of the night had
raised, from time to time broke over the stern. It was impossible,
however, to determine the general situation of the schooner. The fog
was too thick for that, and the day had not yet fully broken. All that
was revealed, in a glance about, was that upon one hand lay a waste of
breaking water, and upon the other a dull white mass, lifting itself
into the mist.

"'Tis bad, lads," said the skipper, when the first and second hands had
joined him under the mainmast shrouds.

"She's lost," said the first.

"We'll be takin' t' the boat," said the second.

"I'm not so sure that she's lost," said the skipper. "Whatever, we'll
not take t' the boat till we have to."

The first and second hands exchanged a glance, and together looked at
the boat. The swift glance and look were a danger-signal to the skipper.

"Does you hear me?" he shouted, his voice ringing out above the wash of
the waves and the noise of the wind. "We'll not leave her. Take a spell
at the pump, both o' you!"

For a moment the skipper's authority was in doubt. The men wavered.
A repetition of the command, however, with clenched fists ready to
enforce it, decided them. They relieved young Billy.

"Is the water gainin', b'y?" said the skipper to the lad.

Billy looked up steadily. The fright had left his eyes. He had
recovered his self-possession.

"No, sir," he said, quietly. "'Tis gettin' less all the while."

At that moment the ship lurched slightly and slid off the shelf. The
skipper shouted an order to raise the foresail, and ran aft to take
the wheel. But the fall of the topmast had so tangled the rigging
and jammed the gaff and boom that before the crew could remove the
unconscious cook and lift the sail, the wind had turned the schooner
and was driving her stern foremost, as it appeared, on the ice.

The skipper, from his station at the wheel, calmly observed the nearing
berg, and gave the schooner up for lost. There was no time to raise
the sail--no room for beating out of danger. He saw, too, that if she
struck with force, the quarter-boat, which was swinging from davits
astern, would be crushed to splinters.

"She's lost!" he thought. "Lost with all hands!"

Nearer approach, however, disclosed the strange fact that there was a
break in the ice. When the schooner was still a few fathoms nearer, it
was observed that the great berg was in reality composed of two masses
of ice, with a narrow strait leading between them.

The light was now stronger, and the fog had somewhat thinned; it was
possible to distinguish shadowy outlines--to see that great cliffs of
ice descended on each side of the passage to the water's edge. Still
deeper in the mist it was lighter, as if the strait indeed led directly
through the berg to the open sea beyond. The crew was gathered aft,
breathlessly awaiting the schooner's fate, helpless to fend or aid; and
the cook was lying on the roof of the cabin, where they had laid him
down, revived in part, and desperately struggling to recover his senses.


"Lads," said the skipper, at last, "the Lord has the schooner in His
hands. They's a way through the ice. He's guidin' her into it, but
whether He'll save us or not, He only knows."

The _Rescue_ drifted fairly into the passage, which was irregular, but
in no part less than twice the width of the vessel. She was swept on,
swinging from side to side, striking her bow here and her stern there;
and with every shock fragments of rotten ice fell in a shower from

How soon one might strike one of their number down, no man knew. How
soon some great mass, now poised in the mist, might be dislodged
and crush the schooner in its fall, no man knew. How soon the towering
cliffs might swing together and grind the ship to splinters, no man
could tell. Were these masses of ice connected deep down under water?
Or were they floating free?

There were no answers to these questions. On went the schooner, stern
foremost, slipping ever nearer to the open.[5]

"Skipper, sir," the first hand pleaded, "leave us launch the
quarter-boat an' pull out. 'Tis--'tis--too horrible here."

"Ay, lads, if you will," was the reply.

It was then discovered that a block of ice had fallen in the boat at
the bows, and sprung the planking. She was too leaky to launch; there
was nothing for it but to wait.

"We'll calk those leaks as best we can," said the skipper. "They's no
tellin' what might----"

The stern struck a projection, and the bow swung round and lodged
on the other side. The schooner was jammed in the passage, almost
broadside to the wind. They made a shift at calking the leaks with rags
and a square of oiled canvas. At all hazards the schooner must be

"We must get her off quick, lads!" the skipper cried. "Come, now, who's
going with me in the boat t' tow?"

"I, sir," said young Billy, stepping forward eagerly.

"I, sir," said the first hand.

"So it is," said the skipper. "Andy, Tom, when we hauls her bow off, do
you stand here with a gaff an' push. Lower away that boat, now! Billy,
do you fetch a bucket for bailin'."

The boat was launched with great difficulty from her place in the
stern davits. She began at once to fill, for the calking had been ill
done, and she was sadly damaged. It took courage to leap into her from
the taffrail, leaky as she was, and tossing about; but there was a
desperate sort of courage in the hearts of the men who had volunteered,
and they leaped, one by one.

Billy fell to bailing, and the skipper and the first hand rowed forward
to catch the line. The line once caught and made fast, they pulled out
with might and main.

"She's fillin' fast, sir!" Billy gasped.

"Bail, b'y, bail!"

The tow-rope was now taut. The skipper and the first hand pulled
with such strength that each stroke of an oar made a hissing little

"'Tis gainin' on me fast, sir," said Billy.

"Give way! Give way!" cried the skipper.

The bow of the schooner swung round inch by inch--so slowly that the
sinking of the boat seemed inevitable.

"She'll sink, sir!" said Billy, in alarm, but still bailing steadily.

"Pull! Pull!"

When the schooner was once more in her old position--stern foremost,
and driving slowly through the passage--the water was within an inch
of the seats of the boat, which was now heavy and almost unmanageable.
Twenty fathoms of water lay between the boat and the bow of the

"She's goin' down, sir!" said Billy.

"Cast lines!" the skipper shouted to those aboard.

Water curled over the gunwales. The boat stopped dead, and wavered, on
the point of sinking. Two lines came whizzing towards her, uncoiling in
their flight. The one was caught by the first hand, who threw himself
into the water and was hauled aboard. Billy and the skipper caught the
other. With its help and a few strong strokes they made the bow chains
and clambered to the deck.

"She's drivin' finely," said the skipper, when he had looked around.
"Stand by, there, an' be ready with the fores'l! We'll soon be through."

It was true enough; in a few minutes the schooner had safely drifted
through the passage, and was making off from the berg under a reefed
foresail, while the mist cleared and the sun shone out, and the peaks
and cliffs of the island of ice, far astern, shone and glistened. And
three days later the young skipper bounded up the path at Ruddy Cove,
and the little toddler whom he loved was at the kitchen door to greet


[5] At this point it may be of interest to the reader to know that the
incident is true.


  _In Which the Ruddy Cove Doctor Tells Billy Topsail and
      a Stranger How He Came to Learn that the Longest Way
      'Round is Sometimes the Shortest Way Home_

IT was a quiet evening--twilight: with the harbour water unruffled, and
the colours of the afterglow fast fading from the sky. Billy Topsail
and the doctor and a stranger sat by the surgery door, watching the
boats come in from the sea, and their talk had been of the common
dangers of that life.

"It was a very narrow escape," said the doctor.

"Crossing the harbour!" the stranger exclaimed. "Why, 'tis not two
hundred yards!"

"'Twas my narrowest escape--and 'twas all because of Billy Topsail."

"Along o' _me_!" cried Billy.

"Ay," said the doctor; "'twas all along o' you. Some years ago," he
continued, "when you were a toddler in pinafores, you were taken
suddenly ill. It was a warm day in the spring of the year. The ice was
still in the harbour, locked in by the rocks at the narrows, though
the snow had all melted from the hills, and green things were shooting
from the earth in the gardens. The weather had been fine for a week,"
the doctor continued, addressing the stranger, "Day by day the harbour
ice had grown more unsafe, until, when Billy was taken ill, only the
daring ventured to cross upon it.


"Billy's father came rushing into the surgery in a pitiable state of
grief and fright. I knew when I first caught sight of his face that
Billy was ill.

"'Doctor,' said he, 'my little lad's wonderful sick. Come quick!'

"'Can we cross by the ice?' I asked.

"'I've come by that way,' said he. ''Tis safe enough t' risk. Make
haste, doctor, sir! Make haste!'

"'Lead the way!' said I.

"He led so cleverly that we crossed without once sounding the ice. It
was a zigzag way--a long, winding course--and I knew the day after,
though I was too intent upon the matter in hand to perceive it at the
moment, that only his experience and acquaintance with the condition of
the ice made the passage possible. After midnight, when my situation
was one of extreme peril, I realized that the way had been neither safe
for me, who followed, nor easy for the man who led.

"'My boy is dying, doctor!' said the mother, when we entered the house.
'Oh, save him!'

"My sympathy for the child and his parents,--they loved that lad--no
less than a certain professional interest which takes hold of a young
physician in such cases, kept me at Billy's bedside until long,
long after dark. I need not have stayed so long--ought not to have
stayed--for the lad was safe and out of pain; but in this far-away
place a man must be both nurse and doctor, and there I found myself, at
eleven o'clock of a dark night, worn out, and anxious only to reach my
bed by the shortest way.

"'I thinks, sir,' said Billy's father, when I made ready to go, 'that I
wouldn't go back by the ice.'

"'Oh, nonsense!' said I. 'We came over without any trouble, and I'll
find my way back, never fear.'

"'I wisht you'd stay here the night,' said the mother. 'If you'll bide,
sir, we'll make you comfortable.'

"'No, no,' said I. 'I must get to my own bed.'

"'If you'll not go round by the shore, sir,' said the man, 'leave me
pilot you across.'

"'Stay with your lad,' said I, somewhat testily. 'I'll cross by the

"''Twill be the longest way home the night,' said he.

"When a man is sleepy and worn out he can be strangely perverse. I
would have my own way; and, to my cost, I was permitted to take it.
Billy's father led me down to the landing-stage, put a gaff in my hand,
and warned me to be careful--warned me particularly not to take a step
without sounding the ice ahead with my gaff; and he brought the little
lesson to an end with a wistful, 'I wisht you wouldn't risk it.'

"The tone of his voice, the earnestness and warm feeling with which he
spoke, gave me pause. I hesitated; but the light in my surgery window,
shining so near at hand, gave me a vision of comfortable rest, and I
put the momentary indecision away from me.

"'It is two hundred yards to my surgery by the ice,' I said, 'and it
is two miles round the harbour by the road. I'm going by the shortest

"'You'll find it the longest, sir,' said he.

"I repeated my directions as to the treatment of little Billy, then
gave the man good-night, and stepped out on the ice, gaff in hand. The
three hours following were charged with more terror and despair than,
doubtless, any year of my life to come shall know. I am not morbidly
afraid of death. It was not that--not the simple, natural fear of
death that made me suffer. It was the manner of its coming--in the
night, with the harbour folk, all ignorant of my extremity, peacefully
sleeping around me--the slow, cruel approach of it, closing in upon
every hand, lying all about me, and hidden from me by the night."

The doctor paused. He looked over the quiet water of the harbour.

"Yes," he said, repeating the short, nervous laugh, "it was a narrow
escape. The sun of the afternoon--it had shone hot and bright--had
weakened the ice, and a strong, gusty wind, such a wind as breaks up
the ice every spring, was blowing down the harbour to the sea. It had
overcast the sky with thick clouds. The night was dark. Nothing more of
the opposite shore than the vaguest outline of the hills--a blacker
shadow in a black sky--was to be seen.

"But I had the lamp in the surgery window to guide me, and I pushed out
from the shore, resolute and hopeful. I made constant use of my gaff
to sound the ice. Without it I should have been lost before I had gone
twenty yards. From time to time, in rotten places, it broke through the
ice with but slight pressure; then I had to turn to right or left, as
seemed best, keeping to the general direction as well as I could all
the while.

"As I proceeded, treading lightly and cautiously, I was dismayed to
find that the condition of the ice was worse than the worst I had

"'Ah,' thought I, with a wistful glance towards the light in the
window, 'I'll be glad enough to get there.'

"There were lakes of open water in my path; there were flooded patches,
sheets of thin, rubbery ice, stretches of rotten 'slob.' I was not even
sure that a solid path to my surgery wound through these dangers; and
if path there were, it was a puzzling maze, strewn with pitfalls, with
death waiting upon a misstep.

"Had it been broad day, my situation would have been serious enough.
In the night, with the treacherous places all covered up and hidden, it
was desperate. I determined to return; but I was quite as unfamiliar
with the lay of the ice behind as with the path ahead. A moment of
thought persuaded me that the best plan was the boldest--to push on for
the light in the window. I should have, at least, a star to guide me.

"'I have not far to go,' I thought. 'I must proceed with confidence and
a common-sense sort of caution. Above all, I must _not_ lose my nerve.'

"It was easy to make the resolve; it was hard to carry it out. When I
was searching for solid ice and my gaff splashed water, when the ice
offered no more resistance to my gaff than a similar mass of sea-foam,
when my foothold bent and cracked beneath me, when, upon either side,
lay open water, and a narrowing, uncertain path lay ahead, my nerve was
sorely tried.

"At times, overcome by the peril I could not see, I stopped dead and
trembled. I feared to strike my gaff, feared to set my foot down,
feared to quit the square foot of solid ice upon which I stood. Had it
not been for the high wind--high and fast rising to a gale--I should
have sat down and waited for the morning. But there were ominous
sounds abroad, and, although I knew little about the ways of ice, I
felt that the break-up would come before the dawn. There was nothing
for it but to go on.

"And on I went; but at last--the mischance was inevitable--my step was
badly chosen. My foot broke through, and I found myself, of a sudden,
sinking. I threw myself forward, and fell with my arms spread out; thus
I distributed my weight over a wider area of ice and was borne up.

"For a time I was incapable of moving a muscle; the surprise, the
rush of terror, the shock of the fall, the sudden relief of finding
myself safe for the moment had stunned me. So I lay still, hugging the
ice; for how long I cannot tell, but I know that when I recovered my
self-possession my first thought was that the light was still burning
in the surgery window--an immeasurable distance away. I must reach that
light, I knew; but it was a long time before I had the courage to move

"Then I managed to get the gaff under my chest, so that I could throw
some part of my weight upon it, and began to crawl. The progress was
inch by inch--slow and toilsome, with no moment of security to lighten
it. I was keenly aware of my danger; at any moment, as I knew, the ice
might open and let me in.

"I had gained fifty yards or more, and had come to a broad lake, which
I must round, when the light in the window went out.

"'Elizabeth has given me up for the night,' I thought in despair. 'She
has blown out the light and gone to bed.'

"There was now no point of light to mark my goal. It was very dark;
and in a few minutes I was lost. I had the wind to guide me, it is
true; but I soon mistrusted the wind. It was veering, it had veered, I
thought; it was not possible for me to trust it implicitly. In whatever
direction I set my face I fancied that the open sea lay that way.

"Again and again I started, but upon each occasion I had no sooner
begun to crawl than I fancied that I had mischosen the way. Of course
I cried for help, but the wind swept my frantic screams away, and no
man heard them. The moaning and swish of the gale, as it ran past the
cottages, drowned my cries. The sleepers were not alarmed.

"Meanwhile that same wind was breaking up the ice. I could hear the
cracking and grinding long before I felt the motion of the pan upon
which I lay. But at last I did feel that mass of ice turn and gently
heave, and then I gave myself up for lost.

"'Doctor! Doctor!'

"The voice came from far to windward. The wind caught my answering
shout and carried it out to sea.

"'They will not hear me,' I thought. 'They will not come to help me.'

"The light shone out from the surgery window again. Then lights
appeared in the neighbouring houses, and passed from room to room.
There had been an alarm. But my pan was breaking up! Would they find me
in time? Would they find me at all?

"Lanterns were now gleaming on the rocks back of my wharf. Half a dozen
men were coming down on the run, bounding from rock to rock of the
path. By the light of the lanterns I saw them launch a boat on the ice
and drag it out towards me. From the edge of the shore ice they let it
slip into the water, pushed off and came slowly through the opening
lanes of water, calling my name at intervals.

"The ice was fast breaking and moving out. When they caught my hail
they were not long about pushing the boat to where I lay. Nor, you may
be sure, was I long about getting aboard."

The doctor laughed nervously.

"Doctor," said the stranger, "how did they know that you were in

"Oh," said the doctor, "it was Billy's father. He was worried, and
walked around by the shore. When he found that I was not home, he
roused the neighbours."

"As the proverb runs," said the stranger, "the longest way round is
sometimes the shortest way home."

"Yes," said the doctor, "I chose the longest way."


  _Describing How Billy Topsail Set out for Ruddy Cove with
      Her Majesty's Mail and Met with Catastrophe_

THROUGH the long, evil-tempered winter, when ice and high winds keep
the coasting boats from the outports, the Newfoundland mails are
carried by hand from settlement to settlement, even to the farthermost
parts of the bleak peninsula to the north.

Arch Butt's link in the long chain was from Burnt Bay to Ruddy Cove.
Once a week, come wind, blizzard or blinding sunlight, with four
dollars and a half to reward him at the end of it, he made the eighty
miles of wilderness and sea, back and forth, with the mail-bag on his
broad back.

No man of the coast, save he, dared face that stretch in all weathers.
It may be that he tramped a league, skated a league, sailed a league,
sculled a league, groped his way through a league of night, breasted
his way through a league of wind, picked his way over a league of
shifting ice.

To be sure, he chose the way which best favoured his progress and
least frayed the thread upon which his life hung.

"Seems t' me, b'y," he said to his mate from New Bay, when the great
gale of '98 first appeared in the northeast sky--"seems t' me we _may_
make Duck Foot Cove the night, safe enough."

"Maybe, lad," was the reply, after a long, dubious survey of the rising
clouds. "Maybe we'll get clear o' the gale, but 'twill be a close call,
whatever (at any rate)."

"Maybe," said Arch. "'Twould be well t' get Her Majesty's mail so far
as Duck Foot Cove, whatever."

When Arch Butt made Duck Foot Cove that night, he was on the back of
his mate, who had held to him, through all peril, with such courage
as makes men glorious. Ten miles up the bay, his right foot had been
crushed in the ice, which the sea and wind had broken into unstable
fragments. Luff of New Bay had left him in the cottage of Billy
Topsail's uncle, Saul Ride, by the Head, the only habitation in the
cove, and made the best of his own way to the harbours of the west
coast of the bay. Three days' delay stared the Ruddy Cove mailman in
the face.

"Will you not carry the mail t' Ruddy Cove, Saul Ride?" he demanded,
when he had dressed his foot, and failed, stout as he was, to bear the
pain of resting his weight upon it.

"'Tis too far in a gale for my old legs," said Ride, "an'----"

"But 'tis Her Majesty's mail!" cried Arch. "Won't you try, b'y?"

"An I had a chance t' make it, I'd try, quick enough," said Ride
sharply; "but 'twould be not only me life, but the mail I'd lose. The
ice do be broken up 'tween here an' Creepy Bluff; an' not even Arch
Butt, hisself, could walk the hills."

"Three days lost!" Arch groaned. "All the letters three days late! An'

"Letters!" Ride broke in scornfully. "Letters, is it? Don't you fret
about they. A love letter for the parson's daughter; the price o' fish
from St. John's for the old skipper; an' a merchant's account for every
fisherman t' the harbour: they be small things t' risk life for."

The mailman laid his hand on the leather bag at his side. He fingered
the government seal tenderly and his eyes flashed splendidly when he
looked up.

"'Tis Her Majesty's mail!" he said. "Her Majesty's mail! Who knows what
they be in this bag. Maybe, b'y--maybe--maybe they's a letter for old
Aunt Esther Bludgel. She've waited this three year for a letter from
that boy," he continued. "Maybe _'tis_ in there now. Sure, b'y, an' I
believe 'tis in there. Saul Ride, the mail must go!"

A touch of the bruised foot on the floor brought the mailman groaning
to his chair again. If the mail were to go to Ruddy Cove that night,
it was not to be carried on his back: that much was evident. Saul Ride
gazed at him steadily for a moment. Something of the younger man's fine
regard for duty communicated itself to him. There had been a time--the
days of his strength--when he, too, would have thought of duty before
danger. He went abstractly to the foot of the loft stair.

"Billy!" he called. "Billy!"

"Ay, Uncle Saul," was the quick response.

"I wants you, b'y."

Billy Topsail came swiftly down the stair. He was spending a week with
his lonely Uncle Saul at Duck Foot Cove. A summons at that hour meant
pressing service--need of haste. What was the call? Were they all well
at home? He glanced from one man to the other.

"B'y," said Ride, with a gesture towards the mail-bag, "will you carry
that bag to Ruddy Cove? Will----"

"Will you carry Her Majesty's mail t' Ruddy Cove?" Arch Butt burst out.
His voice thrilled Billy, as he continued: "Her Majesty's mail!"

"'Tis but that black bag, b'y," Ride said quietly. "Will you take it t'
Ruddy Cove t'-night? Please yourself about it."

"Ay," said Billy quickly. "When?"

"'Twill be light enough in four hours," said the mailman.

"Go back t' bed, b'y," Ride said. "I'll wake you when 'tis time t' be

Five minutes later the boy was sound asleep.

       *       *       *       *       *

No Newfoundlander ventures out upon the ice without his gaff--a
nine-foot pole, made of light, tough dog-wood, and iron-shod. It was
with his own true gaff that Billy felt his way out of Duck Foot Cove as
the night cleared away.

The sea had abated somewhat with the wind. In the bay beyond the cove,
the broken ice was freezing into one vast, rough sheet, solid as the
coast rocks on the pans, but unsafe, and deceptive over the channels
between. The course was down the bay, skirting the shore, to Creepy
Bluff, then overland to Ruddy Cove, which is a port of the open sea: in
all, twenty-one miles, with the tail of the gale to beat against.

"Feel every step o' the way till the light comes strong," had been old
Saul Ride's last word to the boy. "Strike hard with your gaff before
you put your foot down."

Billy kept his gaff before him--feeling his way much as a blind man
taps the pavement as he goes along a city street. The search for solid
ice led him this way and that, but his progress towards Creepy Bluff,
the shadowy outline of which he soon could see, steadily continued. He
surmised that it was still blowing hard in the open, beyond the shelter
of the islands; and he wondered if the wind would sweep him off his
feet when he essayed to cross Sloop Run, down which it ran, unbroken,
from the sea to the bluff.

"Her Majesty's mail!" he muttered, echoing the thrill in the mailman's
voice. "Her Majesty's mail!"

When the light was stronger--but it was not yet break of day--he
thought to make greater haste by risking more. Now and again he chanced
himself on a suspicious-looking black sheet. Now and again he ran
nimbly over many yards of rubber ice, which yielded and groaned, but
did not break. Often he ventured where Arch Butt would not have dared
take his massive body. All this he did, believing always that he should
not delay the Gull Arm mailman, who might even then be waiting for him
in Ruddy Cove.

But when he had covered six miles of the route, he came to a wide
channel which was not yet frozen over. It lay between two large pans.
How far he might have to diverge from his course to cross without risk,
he could not tell. He was impressed with the fact that, once across,
the way lay clear before him--a long stretch of solid ice.

"Sure, I must cross here," he thought.

He sought for a large cake of floating ice, that he might ferry himself
across with his gaff. None great enough to bear his weight was to be
seen--none, at least, within reach of his gaff. There were small cakes
a-plenty; these were fragments heavy enough to bear him for but an
instant. Could he cross on them? He thought he might leap from one to
the other so swiftly that none would be called upon to sustain his full
weight, and thus pass safely over.

With care he chose the path he would follow. Then, without hesitation,
he leaped for the first cake--passed to the second--to the third--to
the fourth--stepping so lightly from one to the other that the water
did not touch the soles of his boots. In a moment, he was whistling on
his way on the other side, leaving the channel ice bobbing excitedly
behind him.

Soon he broke off whistling and began to sing. On he trudged, piping

    'Way down on Pigeon Pond Island,
    When daddy comes home from swilin',[6]
      Cakes and tea for breakfast,
      Pork and duff for dinner,
      Cakes and tea for supper,
    'Way down on Pigeon Pond Island.

At noon he came to an expanse of bad ice. He halted at the edge of it
to eat a bit of the hard bread and dried venison in his nunny-bag.
Then, forward again! He advanced with great caution, sounding every
step, on the alert for thin places. A mile of this and he had grown
weary. He was not so quick, not so sure, in his estimate of the
strength of the ice. The wind, now blowing in stronger gusts, brought
the water to his eyes and impaired his sight. He did not regret his
undertaking, but he began ardently to wish that Creepy Bluff were
nearer. Thus moved, his pace increased--with ever-increasing peril to
himself. He must make haste!

What befell the boy came suddenly. He trusted his feet to a drift of
snow. Quick as a flash, and all unready, he was submerged in the water


[6] Sealing.


  _Billy Topsail Wrings Out His Clothes and Finds Himself
      Cut off From Shore by Thirty Yards of Heaving Ice_

BILLY could swim--could swim like any Newfoundland dog bred in Green
Bay. Moreover, the life he led--the rugged, venturesome calling of the
shore fishermen--had inured him to sudden danger. First of all he freed
himself from the cumbersome mail-bag. He would not have abandoned it
had he not been in such case as when, as the Newfoundlanders say, it
was "every hand for his life."

Then he made for the surface with swift, strong strokes. A few more
strokes brought him to the edge of the ice. He clambered out, still
gasping for breath, and turned about to account to himself for his

The drift of snow had collapsed; he observed that it had covered some
part of a wide hole, and that the exposed water was almost of a colour
with the ice beyond--a polished black. Hence, he did not bitterly blame
himself for the false step, as he might have done had he plunged
himself into obvious danger through carelessness. He did not wonder
that he had been deceived.

Her Majesty's mail, so far as the boy could determine, was slowly
sinking to the bottom of the bay.

There was no help in regret. To escape from the bitter wind and the
dusk, now fast falling, was the present duty. He could think of all the
rest when he had leisure to sit before the fire and dream. He took off
his jacket and wrung it out--a matter of some difficulty, for it was
already stiff with frost. His shirt followed--then his boots and his
trousers. Soon he was stripped to his rosy skin. The wind, sweeping in
from the open sea, stung him as it whipped past.

When the last garment was wrung out he was shivering, and his teeth
were chattering so fast that he could not keep them still. Dusk soon
turns to night on this coast, and the night comes early. There was
left but time enough to reach the first of the goat-paths at Creepy
Bluff, two miles away--not time to finish the overland tramp to Ruddy
Cove--before darkness fell.

When he was about to dress, his glance chanced to pass over the water.
The mail-bag--it could be nothing else--was floating twenty-yards off
the ice. It had been prepared with cork for such accidents, which not
infrequently befall it.

"'Tis Her Majesty's mail, b'y," Billy could hear the mailman say.

"But 'tis more than I can carry t' Ruddy Cove now," he thought.

Nevertheless, he made no move to put on his shirt. He continued to look
at the mail-bag. "'Tis the mail--gov'ment mail," he thought again.
Then, after a rueful look at the water: "Sure, nobody'll know that it
floated. 'Tis as much as I can do t' get myself safe t' Gull Cove. I'd
freeze on the way t' Ruddy Cove."

There was no comfort in these excuses. There, before him, was the bag.
It was in plain sight. It had not sunk. He would fail in his duty to
the country if he left it floating there. It was an intolerable thought!

"'Tis t' Ruddy Cove I'll take that bag this day," he muttered.

He let himself gingerly into the water, and struck out. It was bitter
cold, but he persevered, with fine courage, until he had his arm
safely linked through the strap of the bag. It was the country he
served! In some vague form this thought sounded in his mind, repeating
itself again and again, while he swam for the ice with the bag in tow.

He drew himself out with much difficulty, hauled the mail-bag after
him, and proceeded to dress with all speed. His clothes were frozen
stiff, and he had to beat them on the ice to soften them; but the
struggle to don them sent the rich blood rushing through his body, and
he was warmed to a glow.

On went the bag, and off went the boy. When he came to the firmer ice,
and Creepy Bluff was within half a mile, the wind carried this cheery
song up the bay:

    Lukie's boat is painted green,
    The finest boat that ever was seen;
    Lukie's boat has cotton sails,
    A juniper rudder and galvanized nails.

At Creepy Bluff, which the wind strikes with full force, the ice was
breaking up inshore. The gale had risen with the coming of the night.
Great seas spent their force beneath the ice--cracking it, breaking it,
slowly grinding it to pieces against the rocks.

The Bluff marks the end of the bay. No ice forms beyond. Thus the waves
swept in with unbroken power, and were fast reducing the shore cakes to
a mass of fragments. Paul was cut off from the shore by thirty yards of
heaving ice. No bit of it would bear his weight; nor, so fine had it
been ground, could he leap from place to place as he had done before.

"'Tis sprawl I must," he thought.

The passage was no new problem. He had been in such case more than
once upon his return from the offshore seal-hunt. Many fragments would
together bear him up, where few would sink beneath him. He lay flat on
his stomach, and, with the gaff to help support him, crawled out from
the solid place, dragging the bag. His body went up and down with the
ice. Now an arm was thrust through, again a leg went under water.

Progress was fearfully slow. Inch by inch he gained on the
shore--crawling--crawling steadily. All the while he feared that the
great pans would drift out and leave the fragments room to disperse.
Once he had to spread wide his arms and legs and pause until the ice
was packed closer.

"Two yards more--only two yards more!" he could say at last.

Once on the road to Ruddy Cove, which he well knew, his spirits rose;
and with a cheery mood came new strength. It was a rough road, up hill
and down again, through deep snowdrifts and over slippery rocks. Night
fell; but there was light enough to show the way, save in the deeper
valleys, and there he had to struggle along as best he might.

Step after step, hill after hill, thicket after thicket: cheerfully he
trudged on; for the mail-bag was safe on his back, and Ruddy Cove was
but three miles distant. Three was reduced to two, two to one, one to
the last hill.

From the crest of Ruddy Rock he could look down on the lights of the
harbour--yellow lights, lying in the shadows of the valley. There was
a light in the post-office. They were waiting for him there--waiting
for their letters--waiting to send the mail on to the north. In a few
minutes he could say that Her Majesty's mail had been brought safe to
Ruddy Cove.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Be the mail come?"

Billy looked up from his seat by the roaring fire in the post-office.
An old woman had come in. There was a strange light in her eyes--the
light of a hope which survives, spite of repeated disappointment.

"Sure, Aunt Esther; 'tis here at last."

"Be there a letter for me?"

Billy hoped that there was. He longed to see those gentle eyes
shine--to see the famished look disappear.

"No, Aunt Esther; 'tis not come yet. Maybe 'twill come next----"

"Sure, I've waited these three year," she said, with a trembling lip.
"'Tis from me son----"

"Ha!" cried the postmaster. "What's this? 'Tis all blurred by the
water. 'Missus E--s--B--l--g--e--l.' Sure, 'tis you, woman. 'Tis a
letter for you at last!"

"'Tis from me son!" the old woman muttered eagerly. "'Tis t' tell me
where he is, an'--an'--when he's comin' home. Thank God, the mail came
safe the night."

What if Billy had left the mail-bag to soak and sink in the waters of
the bay? What if he had failed in his duty to the people? How many
other such letters might there not be in that bag for the mothers and
fathers of the northern ports?

"Thank God," he thought, "that Her Majesty's mail came safe the night!"

Then he went off home, and met Bobby Lot on the way.

"Hello!" said Bobby. "Got back?"

"Hello yourself!" said Billy. "I did."

They eyed each other delightedly; they were too boyish to shake hands.

"How's the ice?" asked Bobby Lot.

"Not bad," said Billy.


  _In Which Billy Topsail Joins the Whaler Viking and a
      School is Sighted_

OF a sunny afternoon the Newfoundland coastal steamer _Clyde_ dropped
Billy Topsail at Snook's Arm, the lair of the whaler _Viking_: a
deep, black inlet of the sea, fouled by the blood and waste flesh of
forgotten victims, from the slimy edge of which, where a score of
whitewashed cottages were squatted, the rugged hills lifted their heads
to the clean blue of the sky and fairly held their noses. It was all
the manager's doing. Billy had but given him direction through the fog
from Mad Mull to the landing place of the mail-boat. This was at Ruddy
Cove, in the spring, when the manager was making an annual visit to the
old skipper.

"If you want a berth for the summer, Billy," he had said, "you can be
ship's boy on the _Viking_."

On the _Viking_--the whaler! Billy was not in doubt. And so it came to
pass, in due course of time, that the _Clyde_ dropped him at Snook's

At half-past three of the next morning, when the dark o' night was but
lightened by a rosy promise out to sea, the _Viking's_ lines were cast
off. At half speed the little steamer moved out upon the quiet waters
of the Arm, where the night still lay thick and cold--slipped with
a soft chug! chug! past the high, black hills; factory and cottages
melting with the mist and shadows astern, and the new day glowing in
the eastern sky. She was an up-to-date, wide-awake little monster, with
seventy-five kills to her credit in three months, again composedly
creeping from the lair to the hunt, equipped with deadly weapons of

"'Low we'll get one the day, sir?" Billy asked the cook.

"Wonderful quiet day," replied the cook, dubiously. "'Twill be hard

The fin-back whale is not a stupid, passive monster, to be slaughtered
off-hand; nor is the sea a well-ordered shambles. Within the experience
of the _Viking's_ captain, one fin-back wrecked a schooner with a quick
slap of the tail, and another looked into the forecastle of an iron
whaler from below. The fin-back is the biggest, fleetest, shyest whale
of them all; until an ingenious Norwegian invented the harpoon gun,
they wallowed and multiplied in the Newfoundland waters undisturbed.
They were quite safe from pursuit; no whaler of the old school dreamed
of taking after them in his cockle shell--they were too wary and fleet
for that.

"Ay," the cook repeated; "on a day like this a whale can _play_ with
the _Viking_."

The _Viking_ was an iron screw-steamer, designed for chasing whales,
and for nothing else. She was mostly engines, winches and gun. She
could slip along, without much noise, at sixteen knots an hour; and
she could lift sixty tons from the bottom of the sea with her little
finger. Her gun--the swivel gun, with a three-inch bore, pitched at the
bow, clear of everything--could drive a four-foot, 123-pound harpoon
up to the hilt in the back of a whale if within range; and the harpoon
itself--it protruded from the muzzle of the gun, with the rope attached
to the shaft and coiled below--was a deadly missile. It was tipped with
an iron bomb, which was designed to explode in the quarry's vitals when
the rope snapped taut, and with half a dozen long barbs, which were to
spread and take hold at the same instant.

"Well," Billy Topsail sighed, his glance on the gun and the harpoon,
"if they hits a whale, that there arrow ought t' do the work!"

"It does," said the cook, quietly.

All morning long, they were all alive on deck--every man of that
Norwegian crew, from the grinning man in the crow's nest, which was
lashed to a stubby yellow mast, to the captain on the gun platform,
with the glass to his eyes, and the stokers who stuck their heads out
of the engine room for a breath of fresh air. The squat, grim little
_Viking_ was speeding across Notre Dame Bay, with a wide, frothy wake
behind her, and the water curling from her bows. She was for all
the world like a man making haste to business in the morning, the
appointment being, in this case, off a low, gray coast, which the
lifting haze was but then disclosing.

It was broad day: the sea was quiet, the sun shining brightly, the sky
a cloudless blue; a fading breeze ruffled the water, and the ripples
flashed in the sunlight. Dead ahead and far away, where the gray of
the coast rocks shaded to the blue of the sea, little puffs of spray
were drifting off with the light wind, like the puff of smoke from a
distant rifle: they broke and drifted and vanished.

From time to time mirror-flashes of light--swift little flashes--struck
Billy's eyes and darted away. Puff after puff of spray, flash after
flash of light: the far-off sea seemed to be alive with the quarry. But
where was the thrilling old cry of "There she blows!" or its Norwegian
equivalent? The lookout had but spoken a quiet word to the captain,
who, in turn, had spoken a quiet word to the steersman.

"W'ales," said the captain, whose English had its limitations. "Ho--far


  _In which the Chase is Kept up and the Captain Promises
      Himself a Kill_

THE number of whales was less than the captain of the _Viking_ had
thought. When the vessel came up with the school, however, there were
twenty or more fin-backs to pick and choose from. They lay on every
hand, wallowing at the surface of the sea and spouting thick, low
streams of water with evident delight: whales far and near, big and
small, in pairs and threes, rising and gently sinking, blowing and
_hon-g-king_, and, at last, arching their broad, finned backs for the
long dive.

The breathing spell was of two or three minutes' duration, the dive
of five or ten, and might last much longer. Billy was told that as
the whales went thus, rising and diving, they travelled in a circle,
feeding on young caplin and herring, squid and crustaceans. He had
never thought to admire the grace of a whale; but his admiration was
compelled: the ponderous, ill-proportioned monsters were so perfectly
adapted to the element they were in that the languor and grace with
which they moved was a delight--particularly when they arched their
glistening black backs and softly, languidly vanished.

But meantime the _Viking_ was lying silent and still; and--

"_Hon-g-k!_" from off the port bow.

"Ha!" exclaimed the captain.

A big whale had risen. The long "_Hon-g-k!_" as he had inhaled a small
cyclone of breath was sufficient to tell that. He was big and he was

"Full speed!" quietly from the captain in Norwegian.

The steersman had already spun the wheel without orders. The _Viking_
swung in a half circle and made for the whale at top speed. There
was just a quiver of excitement abroad--a deepening glitter in the
eyes of the crew, and silence. The rush was upon the whale from
behind--instant, swift, straight: the engines chug-chugged and the
water swished noisily at the bows. There was no lying in ambush, no
stalking: it was sight your game and make for him.

The captain leaned lazily on the gun, which he had not yet swung into
position for firing; his legs were crossed, though the whale was not a
hundred yards away, and he was placidly smoking his pipe. The fin-back
lay dead ahead now, apparently unconscious of the _Viking's_ approach,
and she was soon so near that his escape seemed to Billy to be beyond
the barest chance. The captain waved his hand, calmly looked over the
sea, and fell again into his careless position, with one eye on the

At once the engines stopped and the _Viking_ slipped softly on with
diminishing speed. When she was within thirty yards of the whale,
each separate muscle of Billy's body was tight with excitement--but
the whale arched his back and slipped down deep into the water with a
contemptuous swing of his broad, strong tail.

"Psh-h!" exclaimed the captain, giving one slippered foot a kick with
the other. "Psh!"

They were running over a stretch of frothy, swirling water, where the
whale had lain a moment before.

"_Hon-g-k_!" from off the starboard quarter.

The captain signaled the steersman, who shouted "Full speed!" down the
wheel-house tube. In a flash they were chug-chugging in haste after
another whale--which eluded them at once, with no more fuss than the
first had made: no blowing and frantic splashing; just a lifting of the
back and a languid swing of the tail. Thus the third, the fourth, the
fifth: again and again, through the hours of that quiet morning, they
gave chase; but all to no purpose--on the contrary, indeed, with the
bad effect of alarming the whole school. The whales made sport of them;
the flash of their fins, as they slipped away beyond pursuit, was most

Soon the captain's "Psh!" became guttural, and communicated itself
to the man in the crow's-nest and the engineer who was off duty; the
elusive fin-backs were too much for the patience of them all. But for
hours the "old man" leaned on the gun and smoked his pipe, intent on
the chase through every moment of that time. He kicked his right foot
with his left; his broad back shook with rage; strange ejaculations
drifted back with the clouds of tobacco smoke: that was all. Repeated
disappointment but heightened the alertness and eagerness of the crew.
Every lost whale was dismissed with a "Psh-h!" and quite forgotten in
the pursuit of the next one.

Nine hours out from Snook's Arm and six with the school without
pointing a gun!

"Agh!" the captain exclaimed, jumping from the gun platform, at last,
"the whale captain have the worst business of all men. Agh! but I wish
for rough seas. But I wish I had my harpoon in the back of some whale."

All days are not blue. Before the summer was over, Billy Topsail
learned there were times when the _Viking_ put out from the shelter of
Snook's Arm to a sea that _is_ rough. A gale from the northeast, gray
and gusty, whips up the white horses, and frost gives new weight to the
water. Wind and fog and high seas and sleet make the chase perilous
as well as bitter. She stumbles through the waves and wallows in the
trough with a clear-cut duty before her--to catch and kill a whale: the
little niceties of dodging breaking waves cannot be indulged in when
all manoevering must be directed towards coming up with the quarry
from the proper firing-quarter.

But Billy's first day was clear and quiet; and the whales were having a
glorious innings with the enemy.

       *       *       *       *       *

By noon the prospects for a kill had faded to a bare possibility; the
school had been well scattered. Down the coast and up the coast, out to
sea and far away across the bay, puffs of spray made known the various
directions the whales had taken. About two o'clock--ten hours out from
Snook's Arm, with no let up in duty--the crew were attracted by the
deep, long _hon-g-k_ of a big fellow out to sea and by the spouting of
his two companions: a group of three, male and female, doubtless, with
a well-grown young one. They gave chase. Captain and crew had come to
that pass when fury gets the better of patience.

It was determined to hunt that little school to the death or until deep
night put an end to the chase.

"I get 'im," said the captain between his teeth. "He is big. I get
him--or none."

It was not easy to get him. They were led twenty miles to sea in short
rushes, each of which ended in disappointment and elicited a storm of
guttural ejaculations; they were lured inshore, where submerged rocks
were a menace; they were taken up the coast and back again towards the
islands of the lower shore and once more to sea. Mile after mile--hour
after hour! They came near--they could have hit the beast with a
stone. Occasionally the captain swung the gun into position and put a
hand on the trigger; but the arching back always gave notice, in good
time, that he had been balked again. They tried to guess the point
where the quarry would rise; they steamed near that point, and lay
there waiting.

"_Hon-g-k_!" from half a mile astern.

"Agh!" cried the captain, chagrin twisting his face. "The whale captain
have pos--ee--tiv--lee the worst----! Full speed!"

Off again in persistent chase. Meantime the sun had declined; evening
was drawing on, with gray clouds mounting in the west, and a breeze
rising inshore. The sea was spread with shadow, and all the ripples
grew to little waves, which, hissing as they broke, obscured the swish
of water at our bows. The opportunity was better, and the whales, it
may be, had acquired the inevitable contempt that familiarity breeds.
The _Viking_ crept nearer. Each time, a little nearer; and, by and by,
when she had come within range--within range for the first time that
day--and was running at half speed, with the grayish-black backs most
temptingly exposed, the captain dropped the muzzle of the gun, took
swift sight, and--swung the gun around with impatient force! The whale
was gone on the long dive before a vital spot had been exposed.

There was no impatience of action aboard the _Viking_: the harpoon
might even then have been fast in the whale's back, but the captain had
coolly withheld his stroke until the opportunity should be precisely
what he sought. And this display of patience after a fruitless chase of
fifteen hours! Billy Topsail gasped his disappointment. But the captain

"I get him yet," he said. "Soon, now," after a look at sea and
darkening sky.


  _The Mate of the Fin-Back Whale Rises for the Last Time,
      With a Blood-Red Sunset Beyond, and Billy Topsail
      Says, "Too bad!"_

HALF a mile ahead the whales rose. The _Viking_ crept near without
giving alarm, and waited for them to dive and rise again. The warning
swish and _hon-g-k_ sounded next from off the port bow. There was a
shout from the crew. The school lay close in, headed away; they were
splashing and blissfully _hon-g-king_--and the _Viking_ not fifty yards
distant. She was upon them from behind before they had well drawn
breath. Steam was shut off. The captain's eye was at the butt of the
gun, and his hand was on the trigger. The boat crept nearer--so near
that Billy Topsail could have leaped from the bow to the back of the
young whale; and she was fast losing way.

But it was not the young whale that the captain wanted. He held his
fire. Down went the young one. Down went the bull whale. But had he
arched his back? The old female wallowed a moment longer and dived
with arched back. She barely escaped the _Viking's_ bows and might
have been mortally harpooned with ease. But it was not the female that
the captain wanted. It was the big male. There was not a whale in
sight. Still the captain kept his eye at the butt of the gun and his
hand on the trigger.

A moment later--the steamer was slipping along very slowly--the water
ahead was disturbed. The back of the bull whale appeared. A stream of
water shot into the air and broke like a fountain. The _Viking_ kept
pace--gained; momentarily creeping nearer, until the range was but ten
yards. Then the whale, as though taking alarm, arched his back; and----


The puff of smoke drifted away. Billy Topsail caught sight of the
harpoon, sunk to the hilt in the whale's side. Then the waters closed
over the wounded beast.

"Ha!" cried the captain, jumping from the platform, and strutting about
with his thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat. "Did you see me? Ha!
It is over!"

A cheer broke from the crew. The men ran forward to their stations at
the winch.

"Ha!" the captain repeated with intense satisfaction, his ruddy face
wreathed in smiles. "Did you see me? Ha-a-a-a! It is a dead w'ale."

[Illustration: "IT IS A DEAD W'ALE!"]

The harpoon line was paying out slowly, controlled by a big steam
winch--a gigantic fishing reel. The engines were stopped; but the
_Viking_ was going forward at a lively rate as the catch plunged down
and on. Minute after minute slipped away--five minutes; then the rope
slackened somewhat, and, a moment later, the big whale came to the
surface and spouted streams of blood--streams as red as the streak of
sunset light in the gray sky beyond him. He floundered there in agony,
blowing and _hon-g-king_ and beating the sea with his tail: turning the
water crimson with his blood.

It took him a long, long time to die, frightfully torn by the bomb
though he was. He dived and rose and coughed; and at last he sank
slowly down, down, and still down; drawing out a hundred and forty
fathom of line: straight down to the bottom of the sea in that place.
From time to time the captain touched the rope with his fingers;
and when the tremour of life had passed from it he gave the signal
to haul away. Half an hour later the carcass of the monster was
inflated with gas, lying belly up at the surface of the water, and
lashed by the tail to the port bow of the steamer.

Off the starboard quarter--far away where the dusk had gathered--the
mate of the dead whale rose, _hon-g-ked_, dived and was seen no more.

"Too bad!" muttered Billy Topsail.


  _In Which Billy Topsail Goes Fishing in Earnest.
      Concerning, also, Feather's Folly of the Devil's
      Teeth, Mary Robinson, and the Wreck of the Fish

FEATHER'S FOLLY was one of a group of troublesome islands lying off
Cape Grief on the way to the Labrador. Surveyed by a generously
inaccurate apprentice it might have measured an acre. It was as barren
as an old bone; but a painstaking man, with unimpaired eyesight, if he
lingered long and lovingly enough over the task, could doubtless have
discovered more than one blade of grass. There is no adjective in the
English language adequate to describe its forbidding appearance as
viewed from the sea in a gale of wind.

On the chart it was a mere dot--a nameless rock, the outermost of a
group most happily called the Devil's Teeth. To the Labrador fishermen,
bound north from Newfoundland in the spring, bound south, with their
loads of green cod, in the fall, it was the Cocked Hat. This name,
too, is aptly descriptive; many a schooner, caught in the breakers,
had, as the old proverb hath it, been knocked into that condition, or
worse. But to the folk of the immediate coast, and especially of Hulk's
Harbour, which lies within sight on the mainland, it was for long known
as Feather's Folly.

Old Bill Feather had once been wrecked on the Cocked Hat. The little
_Lucky Lass_, bound to Hulk's Harbour from the Hen-and-Chickens,
and sunk to the scupper-holes with green fish, had struck in a fog.
Four minutes later she had gone down with all hands save Bill. An
absentminded breaker had deposited him high and dry on a ledge of the
northeast cliff; needless to say, it was much to Bill's surprise. For
five days the castaway had shivered and starved on the barren rock.
This was within sight of the chimney-smoke of home--of the harbour
tickle, of the cottage roofs; even, in clear weather, of the flakes and
stage of his own place.

"It won't happen again," vowed Bill, when they took his lean, sore hulk

What Bill did--what he planned and accomplished in the face of ridicule
and adverse fortune--earned the rock the name of Feather's Folly in
that neighbourhood.

"Anyhow," old Bill was in the habit of repeating, to defend himself, "I
'low it won't happen again. An' I'll _see_ that it don't!"

But season followed season, without event; and the Cocked Hat was still
known as Feather's Folly.

Billy Topsail was to learn this.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was early in the spring of the year--too early by half, the old
salts said, for Labrador craft to put out from the Newfoundland ports.
Thick, vagrant fogs, drifting with the variable winds, were abroad
on all the coast; and the Arctic current was spread with drift ice
from the upper shores and with great bergs from the glaciers of the
far north. But Skipper Libe Tussel, of the thirty-ton _Fish Killer_,
hailing from Ruddy Cove, was a firm believer in the fortunes of the
early bird; moreover, he was determined that the skipper of the _Cod
Trap_, hailing from Fortune, should not this season preëmpt his
trap-berth on the Thigh Bone fishing grounds. So the _Fish Killer_ was
underway for the north, early as it was; and she was cheerily game to
face the chances of wind and ice, if only she might beat the _Cod Trap_
to the favourable opportunities of the Thigh Bone grounds off Indian

"It's thick," Robinson remarked to the skipper.

"_'Tis_ thick."

Billy Topsail, now grown old enough for the adventurous voyage to the
Labrador coast, was aboard; and he listened to this exchange with a
deal of interest. It was his first fishing voyage; he had been north
in the _Rescue_, to be sure, but that was no more than a cruise,
undertaken to relieve the starving fishermen of the upper harbours. At
last, he was fishing in earnest--really aboard the _Fish Killer_, bound
north, there to fish the summer through, in all sorts of weather, with
a share in the catch at the end of it! He was vastly delighted by this:
for 'twas a man's work he was about, and 'twas a man's work he was
wanting to do.

"Thick as mud," said Robinson, with a little shiver.

"'S mud," the skipper responded, in laconic agreement.

And it _was_ thick! The fog had settled at mid-day. A fearsome array
of icebergs had then been in sight, and the low coast, with the snow
still upon it, had to leeward shone in the brilliant sunlight. But
now, with the afternoon not yet on the wane, the day had turned murky
and damp. A bank of black fog had drifted in from the open sea. Ice
and shore had disappeared. The limit of vision approached, possibly,
but did not attain, twenty-five yards. The weather was thick, indeed;
the schooner seemed to be winging along through a boundless cloud; and
there was a smart breeze blowing, and the circle of sea, in the exact
centre of which the schooner floated, was choppy and black.

"Thick enough," Skipper Libe echoed, thoughtfully. "But," he added,
"you wouldn't advise heavin' to, would you?"

"No, no!" Robinson exclaimed. "I'm too anxious to get to Indian

"And I," muttered the skipper, with an anxious look ahead, "to make the
Thigh Bone grounds. But----"

"Give her all the wind she'll carry," said Robinson. "It won't bother

"I thinks," the skipper continued, ignoring the interruption, "that
I'll shorten sail. For," said he, "I'm thinkin' the old girl might
bleed at the nose if she happened t' bump a berg."

While the crew reduced the canvas, Robinson went below. He was the
Hudson's Bay Company's agent at Dog Arm of the Labrador, which is close
to Indian Harbour. In January, with his invalid daughter in a dog-sled,
he had journeyed from that far place to Desolate Bay of Newfoundland,
and thence by train to St. John's. It had been a toilsome, dangerous,
incredibly bitter experience. But he had forgotten that, nor had he
ever complained of it; his happiness was that his child had survived
the surgeons' operation, had profited in ease and hope, had already
been restored near to her old sunny health. Early in the spring, word
of the proposed sailing of the _Fish Killer_ from Ruddy Cove had come
to him at St. John's; and he had taken passage with Skipper Libe, no
more, it must be said, because he wished Mary's mother to know the good
news (she had had no word since his departure) than because he was
breathlessly impatient once more to be serving the company's interests
at Dog Arm.

To Mary and her father Skipper Libe had with seamanlike courtesy
abandoned the tiny cabin. The child was lying in the skipper's own
berth--warmly covered, comfortably tucked in, provided with a book to
read by the light of the swinging lamp.

"Are you happy, dear?" her father asked.

"Oh, yes!"

The man took the child's hand. "I'm sometimes sorry," he said, "that
we didn't wait for the mail-boat. The _Fish Killer_ is a pretty tough
craft for a little girl to be aboard."

"Sorry?" was the instant response, made with a little smile. "I'm not.
I'm glad. Isn't Cape Grief close to leeward? Well, then, father, we're
half way home. Think of it! _We're--half--way--home!_"

The father laughed.

"And we might have been waiting at St. John's," the child continued,
her blue eyes shining. "Oh, father, I'd rather be aboard the _Fish
Killer_ off Grief Head than in the very best room of the Crosbie Hotel.
Half way home!" she repeated. "Half way home!"

"Half way is a long way."

"But it's half way!"

"On this coast," the father sighed, "no man is home until he gets

"It's a fair wind."

"And the fog as thick as mud."

"But they've reefed the mains'l; they've stowed the stays'l; they've
got the tops'l down. Haven't you heard them? I've been listening----"

"_What's that!_" Robinson cried.

It was a mere ejaculation of terror. He had no need to ask the
question. Even Mary knew well enough what had happened. The _Fish
Killer_ had struck an iceberg bow on. The shock; the crash forward;
the clatter of a falling topmast; the cries on deck: these things were
alive with the fearful information.


  _The Crew of the Fish Killer Finds Refuge on an Iceberg,
      and Discovers Greater Safety Elsewhere, after Which
      the Cook is Mistaken for a Fool, but puts the Crew to

ROBINSON caught the child from the berth. He paused--it was an instinct
born of Labrador experience--to wrap a blanket about her, though she
was clothed for the day. She reminded him quietly that she would catch
cold without her cap; and this he snatched in passing. Then he was on
deck--in the midst of a litter from aloft and of a vast confusion of
terrified cries.

Before she struck, the _Fish Killer_ had ascended a gently shelving
beach of ice, washed smooth by the sea. There she hung precariously.
Her stem was low, so low that the choppy sea came aboard and swamped
the cabin; and the bow was high on the ice. Her bowsprit was in
splinters, her topmast on deck, her spliced mainmast tottering; she was
the bedraggled wreck of a craft.

Beyond, the berg towered into the fog, stretched into the fog; only a
broken wall of blue-white ice was visible. The butt of the bowsprit
overhung a wide ledge. To scramble to the shattered extremity, to hang
by the hands, to drop to safe foothold: this would all have been easy
for children. The impulse was to seek the solid berg in haste before
the schooner had time to fall away and sink.

Robinson ran forward.

"Got that kid?" Skipper Libe demanded. "Ah, you has! Billy Topsail!" he

Billy answered.

"Get ashore on that ice!" the skipper ordered.

Billy ran out on the broken bowsprit and dropped to the berg. He looked
back expectantly.

"Take the kid!"

A push sent Robinson on the same road. He dropped Mary into Billy's
waiting arms. Then he, too, looked back for orders.

"Ashore with you!"

Robinson swung by the hands and dropped. Before he let go his hands he
had felt the vessel quiver and begin to recede from her position.

"Now, men," said the skipper, "grub! She'll be off in a minute."

Every man of them leaped willingly to the imperative duty. The food
was in the forecastle and hold; they disappeared. Skipper Libe kept
watch on deck. With the waves restless beneath her stern, the schooner
was perilously insecure. She was gradually working her way back to the
sea. The briefest glance below had already assured Skipper Libe that
her timbers were hopelessly sprung.

She was old--rotten with age and hard service. The water was pouring in
forward and amidships; it ran aft in a flood, contributing its weight
to the vessel's inclination to slip away from the berg. It was slow
in the beginning, this retreat; but through every moment the movement
was accelerated. Five minutes--four--three: in a space too brief to be
counted upon she would be wallowing in the sea.

"Haste!" the skipper screamed.

Waiting was out of the question. The _Fish Killer_ was about
to drop into the sea. Though the men had but tumbled into the
forecastle--though as yet they had had no time to seize the food of
which to-morrow would find them in desperate need--the skipper roared
the order to return.

"Ashore! Ashore!" he shouted.

They came back more willingly, more expeditiously, than they had gone;
and they came back empty-handed. Not a man among them had so much as a
single biscuit.

"Jim!" said the skipper.

With that, Jim Tall, the cook, clambered out on the bowsprit. The
others of the crew waited, each with an anxious eye upon the skipper.


No sooner was Jim Tall at the end of the bowsprit than Bill was
underway. The skipper grimly watched his terrified progress.


In turn, Jack Sop scrambled out and dropped to the berg. The schooner
was fast receding from the ledge. Alexander Budge, John Swan, Archibald
Mann, completing the fishing crew, with the exception of Tom Watt, the
first hand, and the skipper, won the ice.

"Now, Tom!" said the skipper.

"You, sir!"

"Tom!" Skipper Libe roared; and you may be sure that Tom Watt waited no

Only the skipper was left. The change from his passive attitude--from
his unbending, reposeful attitude, with a hand carelessly laid on the
windlass--was so sudden and unequivocal that Jim Tall, the cook, who
was ever the wag of the crew, startled even himself with laughter. It
was instant. Skipper Libe in a flash turned from a petrified man into a
terrified and marvellously agile monkey. He bounded for the bowsprit,
nimbly ran the broken length of it, and there stood swaying. The vessel
was now so far from the ledge, and so fast receding, that he paused.
Delay had but one issue. This was so apparent that horror tied the
tongues of the crew. Not a cry of warning was uttered. The situation
was too intense, too brief, for utterance.

"Tom," said the skipper to the first hand, "catch!"

He leaped.

"Skipper," said Tom Watt, in the uttermost confusion, an instant later,
"glad t' see you! Come in! You isn't a minute too early."

In this way, proceeding with admirable self-possession, the souls
aboard the _Fish Killer_ jumped from the frying-pan. Whether or not
it was into the fire was not for a moment in doubt. When the schooner
had once fairly reached the sea, which immediately happened, she sank.
They saw her waver, slowly settle, disappear; when her topmast went
tottering under water the end had come.

Whatever may be said of a frying-pan, nobody can accuse the crew of the
_Fish Killer_ of having come within reach of a fire. Aboard the berg
it was cold--awfully cold. Icebergs carry an atmosphere of that sort
even into the Gulf Stream; they radiate cold so effectively that the
captains of steamers take warning and evade them. It was cold--very,
very cold. There was nothing to temper the numbing bitterness of the
situation. And what the night might bring could only be surmised.

       *       *       *       *       *

Though they were born to lives of hardship and peril, though they had
long been used to the chances of the sea, not one of the castaways had
ever before fallen into a predicament so barren of hope. Flung on an
iceberg, adrift on the wild North Atlantic, derelict where no ships
passed, at the mercy of the capricious winds, without food or fire:
there seemed to be no possibility of escape. But for a time they did
not despair; and, moreover, for a time each felt it a high duty to make
light of the situation, to joke of cold-storage and polar bears, that
the spirits of the others might be encouraged. As dusk approached,
however, the ghastly humour failed. Ruin, agony, grief, imminent death;
in the moody silence, they dwelt, rather, upon these things.

It was not yet dark when a faint shock, a hardly perceptible shiver,
a crash from aloft, a subsiding rumble, apprised the castaways of a
portentous change of condition.

"What's that, now?" growled the cook.

It was a cruelly anxious moment. Only the event itself would determine
whether or not the berg was to turn turtle. They waited.

"She's grounded, I 'low!" exclaimed the skipper.

There was no further disturbance. Whatever had happened, the
equilibrium of the berg had been maintained.

"I'm thinkin'," said the skipper, "that I'll take a little look about."

The skipper's "little look about" developed what appeared to be a
saving opportunity. The berg had grounded; it had also jammed a
wandering pack of drift-ice against the land. What that shore was,
whether mainland or island, the skipper did not wait to ascertain; it
was sufficient for him to know that the survivors of the _Fish Killer_
might escape from a disintegrating berg to solid ground.

He returned, breathless, with the enlivening news; and in lively
fashion, which almost approached a panic, the castaways abandoned the
berg. It was a hard, painful, dangerous scramble, made in the failing
light, and the cook had an unwelcome bath in the icy water between
two pans; but it had a successful issue. Before dark, they were all
ashore--more hopeful, now, than they had been, but still staring death
in the face.

So curious was Skipper Libe that, taking advantage of the last of the
light, he set out to discover the character of the refuge. He returned

"'Tis but a rock," said he. "'Tis no more than a speck o' land."

Then night fell. Robinson's little daughter was by this time on the
point of succumbing to the exposure. Cold, hunger and despair had
reduced her to a pitiable silence. She was in the extremity of physical
exhaustion. They made a deep hollow in the snow in the shelter of a
declivity of rock; and there they bestowed her, gladly yielding their
jackets to provide her with such comfort as they could. But this was
small mitigation of the hardship. The child was still hopeless and
cold. It was sadly apparent that she could not survive the night. And
Robinson knew that to-morrow and to-morrow--a long stretch of days--lay
before them all. There was no hope for a frail body; weakness was
death. In his heart he frankly admitted that he was about to lose his

He lay down beside her. "Mary, dear," he pleaded, "don't give up!"

She pressed his hand.

"Don't give up!" he repeated.

A wan smile came and went. "I can't help it," she whispered.

Skipper Libe and his men withdrew. It was now near midnight. The fog
was lifting. Stars twinkled in patches of black sky. Low towards the
seaward horizon the moon was breaking through the clouds.

Suddenly the cook sat bolt upright. "Skipper," he demanded, "where is

"On the Devil's Teeth."

"An' what rock's this?"



"I'd not be s'prised," the skipper answered, "if 'tis what they calls
the Cocked Hat."

"Feather's Folly!" roared the cook.

"Which?" said the skipper, suspiciously.

The cook was on his feet--dancing in glad excitement. "Feather's
Folly!" he shouted "Feather's Folly!"

"Catch un!" said the skipper, quietly. "He've gone mad."

They set upon the poor cook. Before he could escape they had him fast.
He was tripped, thrown, sat upon.

"Don't let him up," the skipper warned. "He'll do hisself hurt. Poor
man!" he sighed. "He've lost his senses."

"Mad!" screamed the cook. "_You're_ mad. Feather's Folly! We're saved!"

"Hold un tight," said the skipper.

But the cook was not to be held. He wriggled free and bolted. Billy
Topsail and all took after him, the skipper in the lead; and by the
dim, changing light of that night he led them a mad chase over rock and
through drifted snow. They pursued, they headed him off, they laid hold
of his flying coat-tail; but he eluded them, dodged, sped, doubled.
If he were mad, there was method in his madness. He was searching
every square yard of that acre of uneven rock. At last, panting and
perspiring, he came to a full stop and turned triumphantly upon his
pursuers. He had found what he sought.

"Mad!" he laughed. "Who's mad, now? Eh? Who's crazy?"

The crew stared.

"Who's crazy?" the cook roared. "Look at that! What d'ye make o' that?"

"It looks," the skipper admitted, "like salvation!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Old man Feather had indeed "seen that it wouldn't happen again." He
had provided for castaways on the Cocked Hat. There was a tight little
hut in the lee of the Bishop's Nose; within, there were provisions
and blankets and fire-wood and candles. Moreover, in the sprawling,
misspelled welcome, tacked to the wall, there was even the heartening
information that "seegars is in the kityun tabl." The passengers and
crew of the _Fish Killer_ were soon warm and satisfied. They spent
a happy night--a night so changed, so cozy, so bountiful, that they
blessed old man Feather until their tongues were tired. And old man
Feather, himself, who kept watch on the Cocked Hat with a spy-glass,
took them off to Hulk's Harbour in the clear weather of the next day.

"An' did you find the cigars, skipper?" he whispered, with a wide,
proud grin.

"Us did."

"An' was they good? Hist! now," the old fellow repeated, with a wink of
mystery, "_wasn't_ they good?"

"Well," the skipper drawled, not ungraciously, you may be sure, "the
cook made bad weather of it. But he double-reefed hisself an' lived
through. 'Twas the finest an' the first cigar he ever seed."

The old man chuckled delightedly.


  _In Which the Clerk of the Trader Tax Yarns of a Madman
      in the Cabin_

THE trading-schooner _Tax_ of Ruddy Cove had come down from the
Labrador. She was riding at anchor in the home harbour, with her hold
full of salt fish and the goods in her cabin run sadly low. Billy
Topsail, safely back from Feather's Folly, and doomed by the wreck of
the _Fish Killer_ to spend the summer in the quieter pursuits of Ruddy
Cove, had gone aboard to greet the crew. There was hot tea on the
forecastle table, and the crew was yarning to a jolly, brown grinning
lot of Ruddy folk, who had come aboard. It was Cook, the clerk, a
merry, blue-eyed little man, who told the story of the madman in the

"We were lying in Shelter Harbour," said he, "waiting for a fair wind
to Point-o'-Bay. It was coming close to night when they saw him leaping
along shore and kicking a tin kettle as though 'twas a football. I was
in the cabin, putting the stock to rights after the day's trade. I
heard the hail and the skipper's answering, 'Ay ay! This is the trader
_Tax_ from Ruddy Cove.' Then the skipper sung out to know if I wanted a
customer. Customer? To be sure I wanted one!

"'If he has a gallon of oil or a pound of fish,' said I, 'fetch him

"'He looks queer,' said the skipper.

"'Queer he may look,' said I, 'and queer he may be, but his fish will
be first cousins to the ones in the hold, and I'll barter for them.'

"With that the skipper put off in the punt to fetch the customer; but
when he drew near shore he lay on his oars, something puzzled, I'm
thinking, for the customer was dancing a hornpipe on a flat rock at the
water's edge, by the first light of the moon.

"'Have you got a fish t' trade?' said the skipper.

"'Good-evenin', skipper, sir,' said the queer customer, after a last
kick and flourish. 'I've a quintal or two an' a cask o' oil that I'm
wantin' bad t' trade away.'

"He was rational as you please; so the skipper was thrown off his
guard, took him aboard, and pulled out.

"'You're quite a dancer,' said he.

"'Hut!' said the man. 'That's nothin' at all. When the moon's full an'
high, sir, I dances over the waves; an' when they's a gale blowin' I
goes aloft t' the clouds an' shakes a foot up there.'

"'Do you, now?' said the skipper, not knowing whether to take this in
joke or earnest.

"'Believe _me_, sir,' said the man, with the gravest of faces, 'I'm a
wonderful dancer.'

"I was on deck when they came aboard. It was then dusk. I noticed
nothing out of the ordinary in my customer's appearance. He was a
large, big-boned man, well supplied with fat and muscle, and capable,
as I thought at the moment, of enduring all the toil and hardship to
which the men of that coast are exposed. The skipper handed him over to
me without a word of warning, and went below to the forecastle, for the
wind was blowing cold and misty."

"Oh, well," the skipper broke in from his place in a bunk, "how could I
tell that he was mad?"

"Whatever, Skipper Job," the clerk resumed, with a twinkle in his eye,
"I took him into the cabin, and the crew and you were snug enough in
the forecastle, where no hail of mine could reach you. It was not
until then," he resumed, "when the light of the cabin lamp fell full
upon him, that I had a proper appreciation of my customer's size and
strength--not until then that I marked the deathly pallour of his face
and the strange light in his eyes. He was frowsy, dirty, dressed in
ragged moleskin cloth; and he had a habit of looking to right and left
and aloft--anywhere, it appeared, but straight in my face--so that I
caught no more than a red flash from his eyes from time to time. I felt
uneasy, without being able to account to myself for the feeling; so,
anxious to be well rid of him, I asked, abruptly, in what I could serve

"'I'm thinkin' you'll not be havin' the thing I wants,' said he.

"That touched me on a tender spot. 'I'm thinking,' said I, 'that we've
a little of all that you ever thought of.'

"'I don't think you has,' said he, 'but 'twould be best for you if you

"There was a hidden meaning in that. Why should it be best for me?

"'And what is it?' said I.

"''Tis a spool o' silk thread,' said he, soberly, 't' bind the fairies
with--the wicked fairies that tells me t' do the things I don't want
t'. If you've any o' _that_, sir, I'll take all you got aboard, for I
wants it bad.'

"'Come, now, my man,' said I sharply, 'stop your joking. I'm tired, and
in no humour for it. What is it you want?'

"'I'm not jokin', sir,' said he. 'I wants a spool o' green silk thread
t' lash the wicked fairies t' the spruce trees.'

"I could not doubt him longer; there was too much longing, too much
hopelessness, in his voice for that. He was demented; but there are
many men of that coast whom lonely toil has driven mad, but yet who
live their lives through to the natural end, peaceable folk and good
fishermen, and I thought that this poor fellow had as good a right to
trade with me as the sanest man in Shelter Harbour.

"'We've no green silk thread, sir,' said I, 'that will securely lash
fairies to spruce trees. But if you want anything else, and have fish
to trade, I'll take them.'

"'I wisht you had the thread,' said he.

"'Why?' said I.

"''Twould be best for you,' said he with a sigh. 'If I could tie the
wicked fairies up, I wouldn't have t'--have t'--do it. But,' he went
on, 'as you haven't any thread, I'll take some calico t' make a new
dress for my brother's little maid.'

"A certain look of cunning, which overspread his face at that moment,
alarmed me. I thought I had better find out what the wicked fairies had
to do with me.

"'Did you meet the fairies to-night?' said I.

"'Ay,' said he. 'I met the crew o' wicked ones on my way through the

"'And what did they tell you?' said I.

"He signed to me to be silent; then he closed the cabin door and came
close to the counter, behind which I stood, with no way of escape open.

"'Has you got a loaded gun?' he whispered hoarsely.

"His face was close to mine. In his eyes, which were now steady, two
live, red coals were glowing. I fell back from him, frightened; for
I now knew what work the wicked fairies had assigned to him for that
night. Poor fellow! Frightened though I was, I pitied him. I saw his
distress, and pitied him! He was fighting manfully against the impulse;
but it mastered him, at last, and I realized that my life was in grave
danger. I was penned in, you know, and--they call me 'little Cook'--I
was no match for him.

"'No,' said I. 'I've no gun.'

"'Has you got a knife?' said he.

"'Sorry,' said I; 'but I'm sold out of knives.'

"'Has you got a razor?' said he.

"It was high time to mislead him. I saw an opportunity to escape.

"'Is it razors you want?' I cried. 'Sure, I've some grand ones--big
ones, boy, sharp ones, bright ones. I keep them in the forecastle where
'tis dry. So I'll just run up to fetch the lot to show you.'

"His eyes glistened when I spoke of the brightness and sharpness of
those razors. With a show of confidence, I jumped on the counter and
swung my legs over. But he pushed me back--so angrily, indeed, that I
feared to precipitate the encounter if I persisted.

"'Don't trouble, sir,' said he. 'I'll find something that'll answer.
Ha!' said he, taking an axe from the rack and 'hefting' it. 'This will

"'But I'm wanting to wash my hands, anyway,' said I.

"''Twill make no difference in the end,' said he quietly.

"I speak of it calmly now; but when I found myself alone in the cabin
with that poor madman--found myself behind the counter, with no
defensive weapon at hand, with my life in the care of my wits, which
are neither sharp nor ready--I was in no condition for calm thought. To
hail the skipper was out of the question; he would not hear me, and the
first shout would doubtless excite the big man in the moleskin clothes
beyond restraint. My hope of escape lay in distracting his attention
from the matter in hand until the skipper should come aft of his own
notion. But I made one effort in another direction.

"'Did you say _green_ silk thread or _blue_?' said I.

"'I said green, sir.'

"'Did you, now?' I exclaimed. 'Sure, I thought you said blue. We've no
blue, but we've the green, and you'll be able to lash the fairies to
the spruce trees, after all.'

"As a matter of fact, we had a few spools of silk thread, and one of
them was green--a bad stock, as I knew to my cost, for I had long been
trying to dispose of them.

"''Tis too late,' said he.

"'No, no!' said I. 'You'll surely not be letting the fairies drive you
like that. You can take the green thread and lash them all up on the
way home.'

"'No,' he said doggedly; ''tis too late. What they told me to do I must
do before the clock strikes.'

"'Strikes what?' said I.

"'Twelve,' said he.

"With what relief did I hear this! Twelve o'clock? It was now but
eight. The skipper would come aft long before that hour.

"''Tis a long time to wait,' said I. 'I'll make up my bunk, and you may
lie down a bit and rest.'

"'It lacks but twelve minutes of the hour,' said he. 'They's a clock
hangin' behind you, sir.'

"He indicated a cheap American alarm clock. It was the last of a half
dozen I had kept hanging from the roof of the cabin. I had kept them
wound up, for the mere pleasure of hearing their busy ticking, but
had never set them--never troubled to keep them running to the right
time. When I looked up I was dismayed to find that the clock pointed to
twelve minutes to twelve o'clock!

"''Tis not the right time,' I began. ''Tis far too----'

"'Hist!' said he. 'Don't speak. You've but eleven minutes left.'

"Thus we stood, the fisherman with his back to the door and the axe
in his hand, and myself behind the counter, while the cheap American
alarm clock ticked off the minutes of my life. Eleven--ten--nine! They
were fast flying. I could think of no plan to dissuade him--no ruse
to outwit him. Indeed, my mind was occupied more with putting the
blame on that lying clock than with anything else. I had determined,
of course, to make the best fight I could--to blow out the light at
the moment of attack, dive under the counter, catch my man by the
legs, overturn him and escape by the door or there fight it out. Nine
minutes--eight--seven! At that moment I caught a long hail from the

"'Schooner ahoy! Ahoy!'

"I do not think the fisherman heard it. It was too faint--too far off;
and he was too intent upon the thing he was to do.

"'Six minutes, sir,' said he.

"I wondered if Job had heard. The hail was repeated. Then I heard
Skipper Job answer from the deck. At that the fisherman started; but
his alarm passed in a moment.

"'Ahoy!' shouted Skipper Job.

"'Has you got a strange man aboard?' came from the shore.

"'Yes, sir,' Job called.

"'Watch him,' from the shore. 'He's mad.'

"'Oh, he's all right,' Job called. 'He's harmless.'

"Then silence. My hope of relief vanished. I should have to make the
fight, after all, I thought.

"'Five minutes, sir,' said the madman.

"Had Skipper Job gone below again? Or would he come aft? For two
minutes not a word was said. My customer and I were waiting for the
first stroke of twelve. Soon I heard voices forward; then the tramp
of feet coming aft over the deck--treading softly. They paused by the
house, and the whispering ceased. Was it a rescue, or was it not? I
could not tell. The men above seemed to have no concern with me. But,
indeed, they had.

"'John, b'y,' a strange voice called, 'is you below?'

"''Tis me brother Timothy,' my customer whispered. 'I must be goin'

"'John, b'y, is you below?'

"'Ay, Timothy!'

"'Come up, b'y. I'm goin' ashore now, an' 'tis time you was in bed.'

"My customer put up the axe, and, with a sign to me to keep silence,
went on deck, with me following. He jumped in the punt, as docile as a
child, gave us all good-night, and was rowed ashore. We did not see him
again; for the wind blew fresh from the nor'west in the morning, and by
night we were anchored at Point-o'-Bay. Whether or not the fairies had
commanded the poor fellow to kill me at twelve o'clock, I do not know.
He did not say so; but I think they had."


  _In Which a Pirate's Cave grows Interesting, and Two
      Young Members of the Ethnological and Antiquarian
      Club of St. John's, Undertake an Adventure under the
      Guidance of Billy Topsail_

THERE landed in Ruddy Cove, that summer, two youngsters from St.
John's on a vacation--city schoolboys both: not fisher lads. They were
pleasant fellows, and were soon fast friends with Billy Topsail and the
lads of the place, by whom they were regarded with some awe, but still
with great friendliness.

"Hello!" the visitors exclaimed, when they clapped eyes on Billy.
"Where you going?"


"Take us, won't you, please?"

Billy Topsail grinned.

"Won't you?"

"I don't know," said Billy. "I 'low so."

They went to the grounds; and the day was blue, and the sea was quiet,
and Billy Topsail and the schoolboys had a marvellously splendid time;
so they were all friends together from that out.

Tom Call and Jack Wither were members of what they called, with no
little pride, "The Ethnological and Antiquarian Club of St. John's."
The object of this club of lads was, in the beginning, to preserve
relics of the exterminated Beothuk tribe; but to the little collections
of stone implements and flint-lock guns were soon added collections
of mineral specimens, of fossils, of stamps, of fish and shells and
sea-weeds, of insects, of old prints and documents--in short, of
everything to which an inveterate collector might attach a value.

Wherever they went in the long vacation, whether to the coast or to
the interior, not one of them but kept an eye open for additions to
the club collections; and, though much of what they brought back had
to be rejected, it was not long before they had the gratification
of observing an occasional reference to "the collections of the
Ethnological and Antiquarian Club" in the city newspapers.

All this accounts for the presence of Tom Call and Jack Wither in the
Little Tickle Basin, in the thick of the islands off Ruddy Cove, one
vacation day, and for their interest in a rusted iron mooring-ring,
which was there sunk in the rock.

"And nobody knows who put it there?" Tom asked, curiously fingering the
old ring.

"No," replied Billy Topsail, who had taken them over; "but they says
'twas the pirates put it there, long ago."

"Pirates!" cried Tom. "Do they say that?"

"'Twas me grandfather told me so."

It may be that pirates harboured in the Little Tickle Basin in the days
when they made the Caribbean Sea a fearsome place to sail upon. When
the Newfoundland coast was remote, uninhabited, uncharted, no safer
hiding place could have been found than that quiet little basin, hidden
away among the thousand barren islands of the bay. If, as they say,
every pirate had his place of refuge, the iron ring is some evidence,
at least, that a buccaneer was accustomed to fly to the basin when
pursuit got too persistent and too hot for him.

"Of course!" said Tom, when they were sailing back to Ruddy Cove. "How
else can you account for that ring? I bet you," he concluded, "that
dozens of pirates had dens on this coast."

"Now, Tom," said Jack, "you know as well as I do that that's just a
little too----"

"Well," he interrupted, "everybody knows that pirates used to come
here. You'll find it in the histories. It wouldn't surprise me to learn
that there is a cave around here."

"There is," said Billy Topsail.

"There!" cried Tom, his eyes shining. "I told you so!"

"'Tis a wonderful curious place, too," Billy went on. "You has t'
crawl through a hole t' get inside. Sure, the hole is no bigger than a
scuttle. You could close it with a fair sized rock. But once you gets
through, the cave is as big as a room. 'Twould hold a score o' men very

Tom gave Jack a meaning glance. Then he turned to Billy Topsail.

"Can you take us there?" he asked.

"I don't know as I could. I've only _heered tell_ they was a cave like

"And you've never been there?"

"Not me."

Tom's face fell--fell so suddenly and to an expression so woeful that
Jack laughed outright, though he sympathized with Tom's disappointment.

"But I knows a man that _has_ been there," Billy continued. "He's the
man that found it. 'Tis like, now, that he's the only man that's ever
been inside."

"Then the place isn't well known?"

"So far as I can tell, nobody knows it but ol' Joe West."

When they ran Billy's punt to old Joe West's stage, at Ruddy Cove, that
night, Joe was inside, splitting the day's catch of cod. They broached
the object of their visit without delay. Would he guide them to the
cave at Little Tickle Basin? But Joe shook his head. The squid were in
the harbour, and the fish were taking the bait in lively fashion. The
loss of a day's catch was "beyond thinkin' of."

"Do you know the bearings?" Tom asked.

"T' be sure. 'Tis very simple t' get near the spot; but 'tis wonderful
hard t' find the hole. 'Tis all overgrown. You might hunt for a year,
I'm thinkin', an' never find it. When you does find it, it takes a deal
o' nerve t' crawl in. 'Tis that dark an' damp! You keeps thinkin' all
the time, too, that something will fall over the hole an' shut you in.
If you crawls through," Joe concluded, impressively, "be sure one o'
you stays outside."

"But we've no chart of the place," Tom complained.

"If you've paper an' a bit o' pencil," said Skipper Joe, "I'll draw you

Here is what he drew:


Skipper Joe, of course, carefully explained his drawing. "Does you see
where the arrow points?" said he. "Well, 'tis there. You gets the head
o' that little rock in line with the point, at high water, an' there
you are. The cliff is rough, an' covered with a growth o' spruce. The
hole is about half way up, openin' off a mossy ledge. You'll have t'
pry around a wonderful lot t' find it."

"What's it like inside?" Tom asked, eagerly.

"Well, they is a deal o' birch bark scattered around, an' a lot o'
broken rock. I saw that by the light of a match; but I was too scared
t' stay long, an' I haven't never been there since."

Billy Topsail agreed to sail the sloop to Little Tickle Basin on the
next day. Then the boys walked home by the road, much excited. Indeed,
Tom, who was of an imaginative and enthusiastic turn, was fairly
transported. No flight of fancy was too high for him--no hope too wild.
The chart passed from his hand to Jack's and back again a hundred
times. The crude, strange drawing, with its significant arrow, touched
all the pirate tales with reality.

"If it had been only a cave, without a rusted mooring-ring, it wouldn't
have been so much," said Tom. "But with the ring--_with_ the ring, my
boy--a narrow, hidden passage to a cave means a great deal more."

Jack asked Tom what he was "driving at."

"I think," said he calmly, "that there is buried treasure there."

Jack scoffed.

"Very well," said Tom; "but you must remember that these discoveries
come unexpectedly. They're _stumbled_ on. You can't expect to find a
sign-post near buried treasure."

That night they lay awake for a long time. Tom and Jack were
bed-fellows at Ruddy Cove. Struck by a simple idea, Jack awoke his

"Tom," said he, "I think we'll find something there."

"Spanish gold or English?" Tom asked, sleepily.

"It will be _something_," Jack replied. "Something we want."


  _In Which There is a Landslide at Little Tickle Basin and
      Something of Great Interest and Peculiar Value is
      Discovered in the Cave_

NOON of the next day found the three boys at Little Tickle Basin, with
the punt moored to the mysterious ring. Many a vessel had floated in
that snug berth before, no doubt. But whose? And what flag did they
fly? When the tide was at the full, the boys set off across the basin
in the punt; and they were soon ashore, with the head of the little
rock in line with the point of land, as the chart directed.

"Now for it!" cried Tom.

And up the cliff he started, Jack following, with Billy Topsail, who
was quite as deeply stirred as they, bringing up the rear, a pick in
one hand and a shovel in the other. It was not hard climbing. The
declivity could hardly be called a cliff. Rather, it was a hill, rising
sharply from the water's edge--steep, strewn with broken rock, loose
turf and decaying stumps, and overgrown with moss and ill-nourished
shrubs. Jack was impressed with the instability of the whole mass.

"If it weren't for the juts of naked rock," he thought, with some
alarm, "this stuff would all slip into the water, like snow from the
roof of a house."

But he was far too deeply interested in the search to dwell upon such
speculation, however threateningly the imagination might present
the possibilities. They all kept to the perpendicular line, from
their landing place to the crest of the hill; and they searched
painstakingly, tearing aside the shrubs, peering under overhanging
rocks, prying into dark holes. It was all without reward. At last, Jack
came to the top of the hill. Tom was below him, following a narrow
ledge; and Billy Topsail, now wearied of the search, was sitting on a
boulder, lower down.

"Hello, Tom!" Jack shouted. "What luck?"

Jack caught hold of a shrub, and leaned outward, in an attempt to catch
sight of Tom.

"Nothing yet," Tom answered.

Then Jack's feet, which had been resting on an insecure footing of
loose stones, shot from under him. He clung to his shrub and held his
position, but in the effort he dislodged a small boulder, which went
crashing down, dislodging earth and the accumulations of broken rock in
its course. He had started a little avalanche; and the most he could do
was to cry a horrified warning and watch it go rolling down, growing
greater as it went.

"Tom!" he called. "Oh, Tom!"

This time there was no answer. Dead silence followed the frantic call
and the plunge of the avalanche into the water. What had become of Tom?
Billy Topsail, who had found shelter in the "lee" of the boulder upon
which he had been sitting, suggested, when Jack joined him, that Tom
had been swept into the water by the flood of stones and earth. Jack
scouted the suggestion. Had he not watched the course of that selfsame
flood? Tom had been on the ledge. He must still be there--unconscious,
probably, and unable to answer to the call of his name.

"We'll look there first, at any rate," he determined.

A great part of the avalanche had lodged on the ledge. Stones and moss
and new earth lay in slanting heaps in many places; but of Tom's body
there was no sign.

"He've been swep' into the water, I fears," Billy declared.

"Or buried on the ledge," said Jack.

Jack called to his friend again. While they listened, straining their
ears for the remotest response, he had his eye fixed on a remnant of
the avalanche near by. To his unbounded astonishment, he perceived
evidences of some disturbance within the heap. The disturbance suddenly
developed into an upheaval. A foot and an ankle shot out. A moment
later Billy Topsail had that foot and its mate in his hands and was
hauling with small regard for the body behind.

It was Tom.

"I've found the cave!" he gasped, when they had set him on his feet,
profusely perspiring, flushed and exceedingly dirty. "But what's up?
How did I get shut in there? Part of the hill slipped away! I _thought_
it was a landslide. I found the hole, and started to crawl in, to make
sure that it was the place before I said anything. Then I heard a
racket; and then the light was shut out. I thought I might as well go
on, though, and find out afterwards what had happened. So on I went.
And it's the cave, boy!" he cried. "When I made sure of that," he
went on, "I wanted to get out in a hurry. I was afraid to crawl into
that hole head foremost--afraid of being jammed. Of course, I knew
that something had fallen over the mouth of it; and I thought I could
kick the thing out of the way just as easily as I could push it, and
meantime have all the air there was. So out I came, feet first. Have
you got that pick and shovel, Billy? Let's clear this stuff away from
the hole and go in."

"What's in there, Tom?" Jack asked.

"You'll soon find out."

They left Billy Topsail outside, as a precaution against entombment.
Tom went first with the lantern. When, looking along the passage, Jack
saw a flare of light, he followed. The passage was about six feet
long, and so narrow that he could not quite go upon hands and knees.
He squirmed through, with his heart in his mouth, and found himself,
at last, in a roomy chamber, apparently rough-hewn, wherein Tom was
dancing about like a wild Indian.

"Pirate gold!" he shouted. "Pirate gold!"

"Where is it?" Jack cried, believing, for the moment, that he had
discovered it in sacks.

"Dig, boy!" said Tom. "It's underground."

At any rate, a glance about, by the light of the lantern, discovered no
treasure. It was underground, if it were anywhere. So they set about
unearthing it without delay. But there was no earth--nothing but broken
rock. The shovel was of small use; they took turns with the pick,
labouring hard and excitedly, expecting, momentarily, to catch the
glitter of gold. Occasionally, the strength of both was needed to lift
some great, obstinate stone out of the way; but, for the most part,
while one wielded the pick, the other removed the loosened rock.

"What in the world is this thing?" Tom asked.

He had taken a round, brown object from the excavation. Suddenly he let
it drop, with a little cry of horror, and started to his feet. Jack
picked it up and held it close to the lantern.

"Pirates!" whispered Tom, now utterly horrified.

"Last night," said Jack, "I told you that we'd find _something_. We've
found it."

"We've found a pirates' den," said Tom.

"No," Jack replied, handing him the skull; "we've found a Beothuk
Indian burial cave. We've struck it rich for the Ethnological and
Antiquarian Club!"

"Well," Tom admitted, ruefully, "that's _something_!"

Struck it rich? Indeed, they had! The most valuable part of the
collection of Indian relics, now in the club's museum, came from that
cave. The excavation occupied three days; and at the end of it, when
they laid their treasures out at Ruddy Cove, they were thrown into a
transport of delight. In addition to the skeleton remains, which have
since served a highly useful purpose, they had found stone hatchets,
knives, spearheads, clubs, and various other implements of warfare and
the hunt; three clay masks, a curious clay figure in human form, and
three complete specimens of Indian pottery, with a number of fragments.

The rusted iron mooring-ring has never been explained.


  _In Which Billy Topsail Determines to go to the Ice
      in the Spring of the Year and Young Archibald
      Armstrong of St. John's is Permitted to Set Out
      Upon an Adventure Which Promises to be Perilous but

IN the winter when he was fifteen years old, Billy Topsail determined
to go to the ice with the great sealing fleet in the spring, if it
could be managed by hook or crook. His father had no objection to make.
The boy was old enough to look out for himself, he knew; and he was
sure that the experience would complete the process of making a man of

"Go, b'y," said he, "if you can."

There was the difficulty. What sealing captain would take a lad of
fifteen when there were grown men to be shipped? Billy was at a loss.
But he determined, nevertheless, that he would go to the ice, and
selected Long Tom Harbour as a promising port to sail from, for it was
near by and well known. From Long Tom Harbour then, he would go seal
hunting in the spring of the year if it could be managed by a boy with
courage and no little ingenuity.

"Oh, I'll go _somehow_!" said he.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was twilight of a blustering February day. Sir Archibald Armstrong,
the great St. John's merchant, sat alone in his office, with his chair
drawn close to the low, broad window, which overlooked the wharves
and the ice-strewn harbour beyond; and while the fire roared and the
wind drove the snow against the panes, he lost himself in profound
meditation. He stared absently at the swarm of busy men--now almost
hidden in the dusk and storm--and at the lights of the sealing fleet,
which lay there fitting out for the spring voyage to the drift-ice of
the north; but no sound of the activity on deck or dock could disturb
the quiet of the little office where the fire blazed and crackled and
the snow fell softly against the window panes.

"Beg pardon, sir," a clerk interrupted, putting his head in at the
door. "Cap'n Hand, sir."

Captain Hand, of the sealing ship _Dictator_, was admitted. He was a
thick, stubby, hammer-fisted, fiery-faced old man, marked with the
mark of the sea. His eyebrows made one broad black band of wiry hair,
stretching from temple to temple, where they grew in the fashion of
two sharp little horns; and he had a habit of dropping them over his
little red eyes, as if in a passion--but nobody was deceived by that;
for, save in moments of righteous anger, the light of good humour
still shone in the little red eyes, however fiercely they flashed. The
rest of his face was beard--a wilderness of gray beard; it sprang from
somewhere below his shirt collar, and straggled in a tangled growth
over his cheek-bones and neck.

"Report t' you, sir," said he, in a surprisingly gruff voice; and
at the same time he pulled the lobe of his right ear, which was his
invariable manner of salute.

Sir Archibald and Captain Hand were in close consultation for half an
hour; during all of which time the burly captain's eyes were thickly
screened by his eyebrows.

"Oh, I sees, sir--I sees," said he, rising, at the end of it. "Oh, ay!
Of course, sir--of course!"

"And you'll take good care?" Sir Archibald began, almost tenderly.

"Oh, ay!" heartily. "I ain't no nurse, as I tells you fair; but you
needn't worry about _him_, sir."

"His mother will be anxious. She'll hold you responsible, captain."

Captain Hand violently pulled the lobe of his right ear, and turned to
go. At the door he halted. "Tim Tuttle o' Raggles Island has turned up
again, sir," he said, "an' wants t' be shipped."

"Tuttle?" muttered Sir Archibald. "He's the man who led the mutiny on
the _Never Say Die_. Well, as you will, captain."

"Oh, I'll ship him!" said the captain, grimly; and with a last pull at
his ear he disappeared.

On the heels of the captain's departure came Archie. He was Sir
Archibald's son; there was no doubt about that: a fine, hardy
lad--robust, as every young Newfoundlander should be; straight, agile,
alert, with head carried high; merry, quick-minded, ready-tongued,
fearless in wind and high sea. His hair was tawny, his eyes blue and
wide and clear, his face broad and good humoured. All this appeared as
he pulled off his cap, threw back the flaps of his fur-lined overcoat,
picked a stray thread from his knickerbockers, and, at last, eagerly
approached his father.

"You little dandy!" laughed his father.

Archie laughed, too--and flushed. He knew that his father liked to poke
fun at him because the cut of his coat, the knot in his cravat, the
polish on his boots, were matters of such deep concern to the boy.

"Oh, come now, father!" he protested. "Tell me whether I'm to go or

For reply, Sir Archibald gravely led his son to the window. It was his
purpose to impress the boy with the wealth and power (and, therefore,
with the responsibilities) of the firm of Armstrong and Son.

"Come," said he; "let us watch them fitting out the fleet."

The wealth of the firm was vast, the power great. Directly or
indirectly, Sir Archibald's business interests touched every port
in Newfoundland, every cove of the Labrador, the markets of Spain
and Portugal, of the West Indies and South American Republics. His
fishing-schooners went south to the Banks and north to the gray, cold
seas off Cape Chidley; the whalers gave chase in the waters of the
Gulf and of the Straits; the traders ran from port to port of all
that rugged coast; the barques carried cod and salmon and oil to all
the markets of the world. And when the ice came drifting down in the
spring, the sealers scattered themselves over the waters of the North

Archie looked into the dusk without, where lay the ships and wharves
and warehouses that told the story.

"They are mine," said Sir Archibald, gravely, looking deep into his
son's wide-opened eyes. "Some day----"

Archie was alarmed. What did it all mean? Why was his father so grave?
Why had he boasted of his wealth?

"They will be yours," Sir Archibald concluded. After a pause, he
continued: "The firm has had an honourable career through three
generations of our family. My father gave it to me with a spotless
reputation. More than that, with the business he gave me the perfect
faith of every man, woman and child of the outports. The firm has
dealt with its fishermen and sealers as man with man; it has never
wronged, or oppressed, or despised them. You are now fifteen years
old. In September, you are going to an English public school, and
thence to an English university. You will meet with new ideals. The
warehouses and ships, the fish and fat, will not mean so much to you.
You will forget. It may be, even--for you are something of a dandy, you
know--that you will be ashamed to acknowledge that your father is a
dealer in fish and seal-oil; that----"

Archie drew breath to speak.

"But I want you _to remember_," Sir Archibald went on, lifting his
hand. "I want you to know a man when you meet one, whatever the clothes
he wears. The men upon whom the fortunes of this firm are founded are
true men. They are strong, and brave, and true. Their work is toilsome
and perilous, and their lives are not unused to deprivation; but they
are cheerful, and independent, and fearless, through it all--stout
hearts, every one of them! They deserve respectful and generous
treatment at the hands of their employers. For that reason I want
you to know them more intimately--to know them as shipmates know one
another--that you may be in sympathy with them. I am confident that you
will respect them, because I know that you love all manly qualities.
And so, for your good, and for their good, and for the good of the
firm, I have decided that you may----"

"That I may go?" Archie cried, eagerly.

"With Captain Hand, of the _Dictator_, which puts out from Long Tom
Harbour at midnight of March tenth."


  _While Billy Topsail is About His Own Business Archie
      Armstrong Stands on the Bridge of the Dictator and
      Captain Hand Orders "Full Speed Ahead!" on the Stroke
      of Twelve._

AND so it came to pass that, at near midnight of the tenth of March,
Archie Armstrong, warmly clad in furs, and fairly on fire with
excitement, was aboard the staunch old sealer, at Long Tom, half way
up the east coast. It was blowing half a gale from the open sea,
which lay, hidden by the night, just beyond the harbour rocks. The
wind was stinging cold, as though it had swept over immense areas of
ice, dragging the sluggish fields after it. It howled aloft, rattled
over the decks, and flung the smoke from the funnel into the darkness
inland. Archie breasted it with the captain and the mate on the bridge;
and he was impatient as they to be off from the sheltered water, fairly
started in the race for the north, though a great gale was to be

"Good-bye, Skipper John," he had said to John Roth, with whom he had
spent the three days of waiting in this small outport. "I'll send you
two white-coats (young seals) for Aunt Mary's sitting room, when I get

"I be past me labour, b'y," replied John, who was, indeed, now beyond
all part in the great spring harvest, "but I'll give you the toast o'
the old days. 'Red decks, an' many o' them!'"

"Red decks," cried Archie, quoting the old proverb, "make happy homes."

"'Tis that," said old John, striking the ground with his staff. "An' I
wish I was goin' along with you, b'y. There's no sealin' skipper like
Cap'n Hand."

The ship was now hanging off shore, with steam up and the anchor snugly
stowed. Not before the stroke of twelve of that night was it permitted
by the law to clear from Long Tom. Fair play was thus assured to all,
and the young seals were protected from an untimely attack. It was a
race from all the outports to the ice, with the promise of cargoes of
fat to stiffen courage and put a will for work in the hearts of men:
for a good catch, in its deeper meaning, is like a bounteous harvest;
and what it brings to the wives and little folk in all the cottages of
that cruel coast is worth the hardship and peril.

"What's the time, Mr. Ackell?" said the captain to the mate,

"Lacks forty-three minutes o' the hour, sir," was the reply.

"Huh!" growled the captain. "'Tis wonderful long in passin'."

"The whole harbour must be down to see the start," Archie observed
looking to the shore.

"More nor that, b'y," said the captain. "I've got a Green Bay crew.
Most two hundred men o' them, an' every last one o' them a mighty man.
They's folk here from all the harbours o' the bay t' see us off. Hark
t' the guns they're firin'!"

All the folk left in Long Tom--the women and children and old men--were
at the water-side; with additions from Morton's Harbour, Burnt Bay,
Exploits and Fortune Harbour. Sailing day for the sealers! It was the
great event of the year. Torches flared on the flakes and at the stages
all around the harbour. The cottages were all illuminated with tallow
candles. Guns were discharged in salute. "God speed!" was shouted from
shore to ship; and you may be sure that the crew was not slow to return
the good wishes. Archie marked one man in particular--a tall, lean
fellow, who was clinging to the main shrouds, and shouting boisterously.

"Well, we can't lose Tuttle," said the mate, with a grin, indicating
the man in the shrouds.

The captain frowned; and Archie wondered why. But he thought no more
of the matter at the moment--nor, indeed, until he met Tuttle face to
face--for the wind was now blowing high; and that was enough to think

"Let it blow," said bluff Captain Hand. "'Tis not the _wind_ I cares
about, b'y. 'Tis the ice. I reckon there's a field o' drift ice
offshore. This nor'east gale will jam the harbour in an hour, an' I
don't want t' be trapped here What's the time, now, Mr. Ackell?"

"Twenty-seven minutes yet, sir."

"Take her up off Skull Head. That's within the law."

The drift ice was coming in fast. There was a small field forming about
the steamer, and growing continuously. Out to sea, the night-light now
revealed a floe advancing with the wind, threatening to seal tight the
narrow harbour entrance.

"If we have t' cut our way out," muttered the captain, "we'll cut as
little as we can. Mr. Girth!" he roared to the second mate, "get the
bombs out. An' pick a crew that knows how t' use 'em."

The _Dictator_ moved forward through the gathering ice towards Skull
Head; and the three other steamers, whose owners had chosen to make the
start from Long Tom, followed slyly on her heels, evidently hoping to
get to sea in her wake, for she was larger than they. When her engines
were stopped off the Head, it lacked twelve minutes of sailing time.
An unbroken field of ice lay beyond the harbour entrance, momentarily
jammed there. Would the ship be locked in?

"Can't we run for it, sir?" asked the mate. "'Tis but seven minutes too

"No," said the captain. "We'll lie here t' midnight t' the second. Then
we'll ram that floe, if we have t'. Hear me?" he burst out, such was
the tension upon patience. "We'll ram it! We'll ram it!"

It appeared that they _would_ have to. Archie could hear the ice
crunching as the floe pressed in upon the jam. Pans were lifted out of
the water, and, under the mighty force of the mass behind, were heaped
up between the rocks on either side of the narrows. The barrier seemed
even now to be impassable; and it had yet seven minutes to gather
strength. If it should prove too great to be broken, the fleet might
be locked in for a week; and with every hour of delay the size of the
prospective catch would dwindle. The captains of the nearer vessels
were madly shouting to the old skipper of the _Dictator_ to strike
before it was too late; but he gave them no heed whatever. He stood
with his watch in his hand, waiting for the moment of midnight.

"We're caught!" cried the mate.

The captain said nothing. He was watching the jam--hoping that it would
break of its own weight.

"Three minutes, sir," said the mate.

The captain glanced at the watch in his hand. "Two an' a half," he
muttered, a moment later.

A pause.

"Midnight, sir!" cried the mate.

"Go ahead!"

Archie heard the tinkle of the bell in the engineer's room below: then
the answering signal on the bridge. The crew raised a cheer; the mate
pulled the whistle rope; there was a muffled hurrah from the shore.

"Half speed! Port a little!"

The steamer gathered headway. She was now making for the harbour
entrance on a straight course.

"Full speed!"

Then the _Dictator_ charged the barrier.


  _In Which Archie Armstrong falls in with Bill o' Burnt
      Bay and Billy Topsail of Ruddy Cove and Makes a

THERE is no telling what would have happened had the _Dictator_ struck
the jam of ice in the narrows of Long Tom Harbour. Captain Hand was not
the man to lose half a voyage because there was a risk to be taken; had
he been used to counting the risk, he would not have been in command
of the finest ship in Armstrong and Son's fine fleet. Rather than be
locked in the harbour, he had launched his vessel at the barrier,
quietly confident that she would acquit herself well. But, as he had
foreseen, the jam broke of its own weight before the steamer struck. Of
a sudden, it cracked, and gave way; the key blocks had broken. It then
remained only to breast the pack, which was not at all an impossible
undertaking for the stout _Dictator_.

With her rivals following close, she struck the floe, broke a way
through, and pushed on, with a great noise, but slowly, surely; and she
was soon in the open sea. The course was then shaped northeast, for it
appeared that open water lay in that direction. The floe retarded the
ship's progress, but could not stop it; the ice pans crashed against
her prow and scraped her sides, but she was staunch enough to withstand
every shock; and so, gaining on the rest of the fleet, she crept out to
sea, in the teeth of the rising gale.

At two o'clock in the morning, Archie Armstrong was still on the bridge
with the captain and mate. The lights of the fleet were lost in the
night behind. The _Dictator_ had laboured through the first field of
ice into open water. The sea was dotted with great, white "pans,"
widely scattered; and, as the captain had feared, there were signs of
bergs in the darkness roundabout. The waves were rising, spume crested,
on every hand; at intervals, they broke over the bows, port and
starboard, with frightful violence. Gusts of wind whirled the spray to
the bridge, where it soon sheathed men and superstructure in ice.

"Send a lookout aloft, Mr. Ackell," said the captain, after he had long
and anxiously peered straight ahead.

The thud of ice, as the seas hurled it against the ship's prows, the
hiss and crash of the waves, the screaming of the gale, drowned the
captain's order.

"Pass the word for Bill o' Burnt Bay!" he roared.

A short, brawny man, of middle age, who had not missed a voyage to the
ice in twenty years, soon appeared in response to the call, which had
gone from mouth to mouth through the ship. Archie was inclined to smile
when he observed Bill's unkempt, sandy moustache, which was curiously
given an upward twist at one side, and a downward twist at the other.
Nevertheless, he was strongly attracted to him; for he looked like a
man who could be trusted to the limit of his courage and strength.

"Take a glass t' the nest, b'y, an' look sharp for bergs," the captain
ordered. "Don't stay up there. Come back an' report t' me here."

The man went off with a brisk, "Ay, ay, sir!" It was his duty to
clamber to the crow's-nest--a cask lashed to the topmast just below the
masthead--and to sweep the sea for signs of bergs.

"'Tis more than I bargained for, Mr. Ackell," the captain went on, to
the mate, in an anxious undertone, which, however, Archie managed to
catch; and it may be added that the lad's heart jumped into his throat,
and had a hard time getting back into place again.

"Dirty weather, sir!" the mate agreed. "I'm thinkin' we're close to
some heavy ice."

"Well," said the captain, after a pause, "keep her head as she points
now. I'll have a look 'tween decks."

Archie was tempted to ask the captain "if there was any danger." The
foolish question was fairly on the tip of his tongue; but his better
sense came to his rescue in time. Danger? Of course, there was! There
was always danger. He had surely not come on a sealing voyage expecting
none! But catastrophe was not yet inevitable. At any rate, it was the
captain's duty to sail the ship. He was responsible to the owners, and
to the families of the crew; the part of the passenger was but bravely
to meet the fortune that came. So, completely regaining his courage,
Archie followed the captain below.

'Tween decks the stout hearts were rollicking still. The working crew
had duty to do, every man of them; but the two hundred hunters, who had
been taken along to wield gaff and club, were sprawled in every place,
singing, laughing, yarning, scuffling, for all the world like a pack
of boys: making light of discomfort, and thinking not at all of danger,
for the elation of departure still possessed them. Had any misgiving
still remained with Archie, the sight of this jolly, careless crowd
of hunters would have quieted it. _They_ were not alarmed. Then, why
should he be? Doubtless, it was responsibility that made the captain

In the improvised cabin aft, Ebenezer Bowsprit, of Exploits, was
roaring the "Luck o' the Northern Light," a famous old sealing song,
which, no doubt, his grandfather had sung to shipmates upon similar
occasions long ago. Rough, frank faces, broadly smiling, were turned
to him; and when it came time for the chorus, willing voices and
mighty lungs swelled it to a volume that put the very gale to shame.
The ship was pitching violently--with a nauseating roll occasionally
thrown in--and the cabin was crowded and hot and filled with clouds of
tobacco smoke; but neither pitch, nor roll, nor heat, nor smoke, could
interfere with the jollity of the occasion.

"All right here," the captain growled, grinning in his great beard.

"Speech, Sir Archie!" shouted one of the men.

Before Archie could escape--and amid great laughter and uproar and
louder calls for a speech--he was caught by the arm, jerked off his
feet, and hoisted on the table, where he bumped his head, and, by an
especially violent roll of the vessel, was almost thrown headlong into
the arms of the grinning crowd around him.

"Speech, speech!" they roared.

Archie would have declined with some heat had he not caught sight of
the face of Tim Tuttle--a tawny, lean, long man, apparently as strong
as a wire rope. There was a steely twinkle in his eye, and a sneering,
utterly contemptuous smile upon his thin lips. Archie did not know that
this was Tuttle's habitual expression. He felt that the man expected a
rather amusing failure on the part of Sir Archibald Armstrong's son;
and that stimulated him to take the situation seriously. Unconsciously
calling his good breeding to his aid, he pulled off his cap, smoothed
his hair, touched his cravat, and--

"Ahem!" he began; as he had heard the governor of the colony do a dozen
times, and as now, to his surprise, he found most inspiring.

"Hear, hear!" burst rapturously from old Ebenezer Bowsprit.


Ebenezer was in a condition of high delight and expectation. Admiration
shone in his eyes, surprise was depicted by his wide opened mouth,
bewonderment by his strained attention. The sight of his face was too
much for Archie.

"Oh, what Tommy-rot!" he laughed. "Here, let me go! I can't (hold me
up, or I'll fall) make a speech. ("Hear, hear!" from the awe-stricken
Ebenezer.) All I got to say is that I'm (_please_ get a better hold on
my legs, or I'll be pitched off) mighty glad to be here. I'm having the
best time of my life, and I expect to have a better one when we strike
the seals. (Loud and prolonged cheering.) I hope----"

But, in the excitement following his last remark, the speaker's support
was withdrawn, and a pitch of the ship threw him off the table. He was
caught, set on his feet, and clapped on the back. Then he managed to
escape with the captain, followed by loud cries of "More! More!" to
which he felt justified in paying no attention.

"You're your father's son," laughed the captain, as they made their way
up the deck. "Sure, your father never in his life let slip a chance
t' make a speech."

In the forecastle they had a lad on the table under the lantern--a
tow-headed, blue-eyed, muscular boy, of Archie's age, or less. He had
on goatskin boots, a jacket of homespun, and a flaring red scarf. The
men were quiet; for the boy was piping, in a clear, quavering treble,
the "Song o' the Anchor an' Chain," a Ruddy Cove saga, which goes to
the air of a plaintive West Country ballad of the seventeenth century,
with the refrain,

    "Sure, the chain 'e parted,
       An' the schooner drove ashoare,
     An' the wives o' the 'ands
       Never saw un any moare.
         No moare!
       Never saw un any mo-o-o-are!"

He was near the end of the sixteenth verse, and the men were drawing
breath for the chorus, when the captain appeared in the door, wrath in
his eyes.

"What's this?" roared he.

There was no answer. The lad turned to face the captain, in part
deferentially, in part humorously, altogether fearlessly.


  _Billy Topsail is Shipped Upon Conditions, and the
      Dictator, in a Rising Gale, is Caught in a Field of
      Drift Ice, with a Growler to Leeward_

"WHERE'D you come aboard, b'y?" Captain Hand demanded.

"Long Tom, sir."

"Who shipped you?"

"I stowed away in a bunker, sir."

"You're from Ruddy Cove?" said the captain.

"Yes, sir. Me name's Billy, an' me father's a Labrador fisherman. Sure,
I've sailed t' the French Shore, sir, an' I'm a handy lad t' work, sir."

"Billy what?"

"Topsail, sir."

The captain raised his eyebrows; then dropped them, and stared at
the boy. He had been before the mast with old Tom Topsail on a South
American barque in years long gone.

"You'll work hard, b'y," said he, severely, for he had been bothered
with stowaways for thirty years, "an' I'll ship you regular, if you do
your duty. If you don't," and here the captain frowned tremendously,
"I'll have you thrashed at the post at Long Tom, an' you'll have no
share with the crew in the cargo."

"Ay, sir," said Billy, gladly. "Sure, I'll stand by it, sir."

When the captain turned his back, out came the belated chorus, with
young Billy Topsail leading:

    "Sure, the chain 'e parted,
       An' the schooner drove ashoare,
     An' the wives o' the 'ands
       Never saw un any moare.
         No moare!
       Never saw un any mo-o-o-are!"

"If he's like his dad," the captain chuckled to Archie, as they mounted
to the deck, "his name will be on the ship's books before the v'y'ge is
over, sure enough."

It appeared from the bridge that the gale was venting the utmost of its
force. The wind had veered a point or two to the north, and was driving
out of the darkness a vast field of broken ice. This, close packed and
grinding, was bearing down swiftly. It threatened to block the ship's
course--if not to surround her, take hold of her, and sweep her away.
In the northeast, dead over the bows, there loomed a great white mass,
a berg, grandly towering, with its peaks hidden in black, scudding
clouds. Beyond, and on either side, patches of white, vanishing and
reappearing, disclosed the whereabouts of other bergs.

"I was thinkin' about slowin' down," said the mate, when the captain
had scanned the prospect ahead.

With that, some part of Archie's alarm returned. It continued with him,
while the captain moved the lever of the signal box until the indicator
marked half speed, while the ship lost way, and the engines throbbed,
as though alive and breathing hard.

"Report, sir!"

This was Bill o' Burnt Bay, down from the crow's-nest, with his beard
frozen to his jacket and icicles hanging from his shaggy eyebrows.


"They's a big field o' ice bearin' down with the wind. 'Tis heavy,
an' comin' fast, an' 'tis stretchin' as far as I can see. They's five
good-sized bergs ahead, sir, with pan ice all about them. An'----"

"Growlers?" sharply.

"An' they's a big growler off the port bow. 'Twill soon be dead t'
leeward, if we keeps this course."

Bill o' Burnt Bay lumbered down the ladder and made for the forecastle
to thaw out. Meantime, the captain devoted himself to giving the
growler a wide berth; for a growler is a berg which trembles on the
verge of toppling over, and he had no wish to be caught between it and
the advancing floe. He had once lost a schooner that way; the adventure
was one of his most vivid recollections.

"We'll have t' get out o' this, Mr. Ackell," he said, "or we may get
badly nipped. We'll tie up t' the first steady berg we come to. Here,
b'y," sharply, to Archie, "you'll not go t' bed for a while. Keep near
me--but keep out o' the way."

"Ay, ay, sir!"

"Turn out all hands!"

The cry of "All hands on deck!" was passed fore and aft. It ran through
the ship like an alarm. The men trooped from below, wondering what had
occasioned it. Once on deck, a swift glance into the driving night
apprised these old sealers of the situation. They placed the ice hooks
and tackle in handy places; for the work in hand was plain enough.

The ship was swinging wide of the growler, against which the wind beat
with mighty force. A vast surface was exposed to the gale; and upon
every square foot a varying pressure was exerted. As the vessel drew
nearer, Archie could see the iceberg yield and sway. It was evident
that its submerged parts had been melted and worn until the equilibrium
of the whole was nearly overset. A sudden, furious gust might turn the
scale; and in that event a near-by vessel would surely be overwhelmed.

Captain Hand kept a watchful eye on the ice pack, which had now come
within a hundred fathoms, and was hurrying upon the advancing ship.
The vessel was between the floe and the growler: a situation not to
be escaped, as the captain had foreseen. The danger was clear: if the
rush of the floe should be too great for the steamer to withstand, she
would be swept, broadside on, against the berg, which, being of greater
weight and depth, moved sluggishly. Stout as she was, she could not
survive the collision.

The captain turned her bow to the pack; then he signalled full speed
ahead. There was a moment of waiting.

"Grab the rail, b'y," said the captain.

"Ay, ay, sir!"

The floe divided before the ship; the shock was hardly perceptible. For
a moment, where, at the edge, the ice was loose, she maintained her
speed. But the floe thickened. The fragments were packed tight. It was
as though the face of the sea were covered with a solid sheet of ice,
lying ahead as far as sight carried into the night. The ship laboured.
Her speed diminished, gradually, but perceptibly--vividly so! Her
progress was soon at the rate of half speed. In a moment it was even
slower than that. Would it stop altogether?

Archie was on the port side of the bridge. The captain walked over to
him and slapped him heartily on the back.

"Well, b'y," he cried, "how do you like the sealin' v'y'ge?"

That was a clever thought of the captain! Here was a man in desperate
case who could await the issue in light patience. The boy took heart at
the thought of it; and he needed that encouragement.

"I knew what it was when I started," he replied, with a gulp.

"Will she make it, think you?"

Another clever ruse of this great heart! He wanted the boy to have a
part in the action. Archie felt the blood stirring in his veins once

"She's pretty near steady, sir, I think," he replied, after a pause.

The two leaned over the rail and looked intently at the ice sweeping

"Are we losing, sir?" asked the boy.

"I think we're holdin' our own," said the captain, elatedly.

The boy turned to the great growler, now vague of outline in the dark.
The ice floe had swept over the limit of vision. He wondered if it
had struck the base of the berg. Then all at once the heap of cloudy
white swayed forth and back before his eyes. For a moment it was like
a gigantic curtain waving in the wind. It vanished of a sudden. A
mountain of broken water shot up in its place--as high as its topmost
pinnacle had been; and, following close upon its fall, another berg,
with a worn outline, reared itself, dripping streams of water.

Thus far there had been no sound; but the sound beat its way against
the wind, at last, and it was a thunderous noise--"like the growlin' of
a million dogs," the captain said afterwards. The growler had capsized.

"Look!" the boy cried, overcome.

"Turned turtle, ain't she?" remarked the skipper, calmly.

"The pack might have carried us near it!"

"Oh," said the captain, lightly, "but it didn't. She's a good ship, the
_Dictator_. What's more," he added, "she's makin' her way right through
the pack."

Another berg had taken form over the port quarter. The captain shaped
a course for it, eyeing it carefully as he drew near. It was low--not
higher than the ship's spars--and broad, with the impression of
stability strong upon it.

"See that berg, b'y?" said the captain. "Well," decisively, "we'll lie
in the lee o' that in half an hour. You see, b'y," he went on, "the
wind makes small bother for a solid berg. It whips the pan ice along,
easy enough, but the bergs float their own way, quiet as you please. In
the lee of every big fellow like that, there's open water. We'll lie
there, tied up, till mornin'."

In half an hour, the ship broke from the ice into the lee of the berg.
The floe raced past under the force of the gale, which left the lee air
and water untouched by its violence. Skillful seamanship brought the
vessel broadside to the ice. A wild commotion ensued: orders roared
from the bridge, signal bells, the shouts of the line men, the hiss of
steam, and the churning of the screw. Archie saw young Billy Topsail
scramble to the ice like a cat, with the first line in his hand: then
Bill o' Burnt Bay and half a dozen others, with axes and hooks.

In twenty minutes the engines were at rest, the ship was lying like a
log in a mill pond, the watch paced the deck in solitude, and Archibald
Armstrong was asleep in his berth in the captain's cabin--dreaming that
the mate was wrong and the captain right: that the gale had abated in
the night, and the morning had broken sunny.


  _In Which Archie Armstrong and Billy Topsail Have an
      Exciting Encounter with a Big Dog Hood, and, at the
      Sound of Alarm, Leave the Issue in Doubt, While the
      Ice Goes Abroad and the Enemy Goes Swimming_

HAIR seals, which come out of the north with the ice in the early
spring, and drift in great herds past the rugged Newfoundland coast,
returning in April, have no close, soft fur next the skin, such as the
South Sea and Alaskan seals have. Hence, they are valued only for their
blubber, which is ground and steamed into oil, and for their skin,
which is turned into leather. They are of two kinds, the harp which is
doubtless indigenous to the great inland sea and the waters above, and
the hood, which inhabits the harsher regions of the farther north and
east. The harp is timid, gentle, gregarious, and takes in packs to the
flat, newly frozen, landward pans; the hood is fierce, quarrelsome and
solitary, grimly riding the rough glacier ice at the edge of the open

Thus the _Dictator_ lay through the night with hood ice all about the
sheltering berg.

"Hi, b'y! Get yarry (wide awake)!" cried the captain, in the morning.

Archie Armstrong was "yarry" on the instant, and he rolled out of his
berth in hot haste, not at all sure that it was not time to leave a
sinking ship in the boats. The hairy face of the old sealer, a broad,
kindly grin upon it, peered at him from the door.

"Morning, skipper!"

"Mornin' t' you, sir. An' a fine mornin' 'tis," said the captain. "Sure
a finer I never saw."

"What's become of the gale?"

"The gale's miles t' the sou'east--an' out o' sight o' these latitudes.
We're packed in the lee o' the berg, an' fast till the wind changes.
There's a family o' hoods, quarter mile t' starboard. Up, now, b'y! an'
you'll go after them with a crew after breakfast."

When Archie reached the deck, the air was limpid, frosty and still.
There was a blue sky overhead, stretching from horizon to horizon. A
waste of ice lay all about--rough, close-packed, glistening in the
sun. With the falling away of the wind the floe had lost its headway,
and had crept softly in upon the open water. The ship was held in the
grip of the pack, and must perforce remain for a time in the shadow of
the berg, where shelter from the gale of the night had been sought.
Save for the watch of that hour, the men were below, at breakfast. The
"great white silence" possessed the sea. For the boy, this silence,
vast and heavy, and the immeasurable area of broken ice, with its
pent-up, treacherous might, was as awe-impelling as the gale and the

"What d'ye think, Mr. Ackell?" said the captain to the mate, when the
two came up.

Ackell looked to the northeast. "We'll have wind by noon," he replied.

"'Tis what I think," the captain agreed. "Archie, b'y, you'll have a
couple of hours, afore the ice goes abroad. Bowsprit 'll take the crew,
an' you'll do what he tells you."

Ebenezer Bowsprit, with half a dozen cronies of his own choosing, led
the way over the side, in high good humour. In the group on the deck
stood Billy Topsail. He eyed Archie with frank envy as the lad prepared
to descend to the ice; for to participate in the first hunt, generally
regarded as pure sport, was a thing greatly to be desired. He was
perceived by Archie, who was at once taken with a wish for company of
his own age.

"Captain," the boy whispered, "let the other kid come along, won't you?"

"Topsail," the captain ordered, "get a gaff, an' cut along with the

In five minutes, the boys had broken the ice of diffidence, and were
chatting like sociable magpies, as they crawled, jumped, climbed, over
the uneven pack. They were Newfoundlanders both: the same in strength,
feeling, spirit, and, indeed, experience. The one was of the remote
outports, where children are reared to toil and peril, which, with
hunger, is their heritage, and must ever be; the other was of the city,
son of the well-to-do, who, following sport for sport's sake, had made
the same ventures and become used to the same toil and peril.

"'Tis barb'rous hard walkin'," said Billy.

"Sure," replied the other. "And they're getting away ahead of us."

Ebenezer Bowsprit and his fellows, with the lust of the chase strong
upon them, were making great strides towards three black objects some
hundred yards away. It was a race; for it is a tradition that he
who strikes the first blow of the voyage will have "luck" the season
through. The boys were hopelessly behind, and they stopped to look
about them. It was then that Billy Topsail spied a patch of open water,
to the left, half hidden by the surrounding ice. It was a triangular
hole in the floe, formed by three heavy blocks, which had withstood the
pressure of the pack.

"Look!" he cried.

A head, small and alert, raised upon a thick, supple neck, appeared. A
moment later, a second head popped out of the water. They were hoods.
The young one, the pup, must lie near. The boys stood stock still until
the seals had clambered to the pack. Then they advanced swiftly. Billy
Topsail was armed with a gaff, which is a pole shod with iron at one
end and having a hook at the other; and Archie was provided with a
sealing club. They came upon the dog hood before he could escape to the
water. Perceiving this, and only on this account, he turned, snarling,
to give fight.

"I'll take him!" cried Billy.

The hood was as big as an ox--a massive, flabby, vicious beast. He
was furiously aroused, and he would now fight to the death, with no
thought of retreat. He raised himself on his flippers and reared his
head to the length of his long neck, as the boy, stepping cautiously,
gaff poised, drew near.


"Get behind him," Billy shouted to Archie.

Billy advanced fearlessly, steadily, never for a moment taking his eyes
from the hood's head. Upon that head, from the nose to the back of the
neck, the tough, bladder-like "hood" was now inflated. It was a perfect
protection; the boy might strike blow after blow without effect. The
stroke must be thrust at the throat; and it must be a stroke swiftly,
cunningly, strongly delivered. A furious hood, excited past fear, is a
match for three men. The odds were against the lad. He had been carried
away by his own daring.

But Billy made the thrust, and the seal received the point of the gaff
on his hood, as upon a shield: then advanced on his flippers, by jerky
jumps, snapping viciously. Archie cried out. But Billy had skipped
out of harm's way, and had faced about, laughing. He returned to the
attack, undismayed, though the seal reared to meet him, with bared

"Strike!" screamed Archie.

Teeth and flippers were to be feared, and Billy had drawn nearly within
reach of both. He paused, waiting his opportunity. Archie could not
contain his excitement.

"Strike!" he cried again.

Billy struck; but the blow had no force, for he slipped, overreached,
lost his footing, and fell sprawling, almost within reach of his
adversary's teeth. The seal snarled and drew back, startled. Then he
advanced upon the boy, who had had no time to recover, much less to
scramble out of his desperate situation.

It was for Archie to act. He leaped forward from his position behind
the seal, struck the animal with full force upon the tail, and darted
out of reach. The hood snorted, and turned in a rage to face his new
assailant. Billy leaped to his feet, gaff in hand, and faced about,
panting, but ready. He was preparing to attack again, when--

"What's that?" Archie cried in alarm.

It was the boom of the ship's gun, followed by an ominous, hollow
crackling, which ran into the distance like a long peal of thunder. The
floe seemed to be turning.

"'Tis goin' abroad!" Billy shouted. "Quick, b'y! T' the ship!"

The boys had been out of sight of the ship, hidden by a shoulder of
the berg. They had not seen the flag of recall, which had been flying
for ten minutes. Again they heard the report of the gun; and they saw
Ebenezer Bowsprit and his men making shipwards with all speed. Billy
was fully aware of the danger. With another warning cry to Archie, he
started off on a run, turning from time to time to make sure that his
companion was following.

The ice was nauseatingly unstable, grinding and shifting; but no open
water had as yet appeared, though, at any moment, a lane might open up
and cut off the retreat. The floe was feeling the force of a wind in
the north, and was stirring itself from edge to edge. It would soon be
shaken into its separate parts. But with Billy Topsail leading, the
boys ran steadily over the heaving foothold, and in good time came to
the ship, which the rest of the hunting party had already boarded.

Billy Topsail was laughing.

"I don't feel that way," said Archie, "we were in a good deal of

Billy laughed louder.

"Well, we _were_, weren't we?" Archie demanded.

"Maybe," said Billy; "but you'll get used t' _that_!"

They were not a moment too soon, however; for the pack very quickly
fell apart--thus opening a way for the escape of the _Dictator_. And
meantime, the gallant old dog hood had followed the retreating figures
with his eyes: after which, well satisfied with himself, he slipped
into the water and went fishing.


  _The Dictator Charges an Ice Pan and Loses a Main Topmast_

"CAST loose!" was the order from the bridge.

The men scrambled to the berg and released the lines and ice-hooks.
The pack was still loosening under the rising breeze. To the east,
separating the sky from the ice, lay a long black streak--the water
of the open sea; a clear way to the broad, white fields. Once free of
the floe, the ship would speed northward to the Yellow Islands and
Cape William coasts. In a day and a night, the weather continuing
propitious, it would be, "Ho! for the ice. Ho! for the seals."

A lane of water opened up. "Go ahead," was the signal from the master
on the bridge, and the ship moved forward, with her nose turned to the

"Ha, Mr. Ackell!" exclaimed the captain, rubbing his horny hands.
"Looks t' be a fine time, man. We'll make the Yellow Islands at dawn
t'-morrow, if all goes well."

When the _Dictator_ had followed the lane to within one hundred yards
of free water, the advance was blocked by a great pan of ice, tight
jammed in the pack on either side. So fast and vagrantly was the floe
shifting its formation that what had been a clear path was now crossed
by a mighty barrier. Here was no slob ice to be forged through at full
steam, but a solid mass, like a bar of iron, lying across the path.

The ship was taken to the edge of the obstruction, and the captain and
mate went forward to the bow to gauge the strength of it. When they
came back to the bridge, the former had his teeth set.

"It's stiff work for the old ship," said the mate.

The captain growled as he pulled the signal lever for full speed astern.

"Take half a day to cut a way through," he said. "We'll ram it. Here,
b'y," to Archie, "get off the bridge. You're in the way."

Archie joined Billy Topsail on the forward deck. Neither had yet
experienced a charge on a pan of ice; but both had listened, open eyed,
to the sealing tales of daring that had brought disaster.

"I feel queer," Archie remarked.

"Cap'n Hand," said Billy, as though trying to revive his faith in the
old skipper, "he's a clever one. 'Tis all right."

"Make fast below," the captain shouted over the bridge rail.

The word was passed in a lively fashion. Tackle, boats, and all things
loose, were lashed in their places, as if for a great gale.

"Stop!" was the next signal. Then: "Full speed ahead!"

The blow had been launched! A moment later, the _Dictator_ was
ploughing forward, charging the pan, which she must strike like a
battering ram, and shiver to pieces. She was of solid oak, this good
ship, and builded for such attacks; steel plates would buckle and
spring under such shocks as she had many times triumphantly sustained.
The men were silent while they awaited the event. There was not a sound
save the hiss of the water at the ship's prows, and the _chug-chug_ of
the engines.

Archie caught his breath. His eyes were fixed on the fast vanishing
space of water. The thrill of the adventure was manifest in Billy
Topsail's sharp, quick breathing, and in his blue eyes, which were as
though about to pop out of their sockets.


The engines abruptly ceased their labour. Only a fathom or two of water
lay ahead. The ship was about to strike. There was a long drawn instant
of suspense. Then came the blow!

It was a fearful shock. The vessel quivered, crushed her way on for a
space, and stopped dead, quivering still. A groan ran over her, from
stem to stern, as though she had been racked in every part. The main
topmast snapped and fell forward on the rigging with a crash.

A volley of cracks sounded from the ice, like the discharge of a
thousand rifles, slowly subsiding. Dead silence fell and continued for
a moment. Then the screw churned the water, and the ship backed off,
sound, but beaten; for the pan of ice lay, unbroken and unchanged, in
its place, with but a jagged bruise, where the blow had been struck.

"Aloft, there, some o' you, an' cut away that spar!" the captain
shouted. "Bill, get below, an' see if she's tight. Here, you, Dickson,
call the watch t' make sail. Mr. Girth," to the second mate, "take a
crew t' the ice. Blast that pan in three places. Lively, now, every man
o' you!"

Roaring subordinates, answering "Ay, ay, sirs!" rattling blocks and
chains, the fall of hurried feet, cries of warning and encouragement,
the engine's gasps: these sounds confounded the confusion, and
continued it, while the ship, snorting like a frightened horse, was
backed to her first position.

"He'll try it again," Archie gleefully observed to Billy.

The captain was pacing the bridge. Try it again? He was in a fever of
impatience to be at it! It was as though the pan of ice were a foe
needing only another and a heavier blow to be beaten down.

"Sure," said Billy, after a glance to the bridge, "he'll hit that pan
till he smashes it, if it takes till Tibb's Eve!"

"Tibb's Eve?"

"Sure, b'y. Does you not know what that is? 'Tis till the end o' the

The ship was again to be launched against the pan. The second mate took
the blasting crew to the ice in the quarter boat; and he lost no time
about it, as the captain made sure. Up aloft went other hands to cut
away the broken spar and loose the canvas. Work was carried on under
the spur of the captain's harshened voice; for the captain was in a
passion to prove the quality of his ship.

The ice picks were plied as fast as arms could swing them. Soon the
mines were laid and fired. And when the dust of ice had fallen, and
the noise of the explosion had gone rumbling into the distance, three
gaping holes marked the pan at regular intervals from edge to edge.

"She's all tight below, sir," was the carpenter's report.

"Now, Mr. Ackell," said the captain, grimly, "in ten minutes we'll be
free o' the ice, or----"

They made all sail. After a quiet word or two of command, forth the
ship shot, heeling to the breeze, wind now allied with steam. Her
course was laid straight for the jagged bruise in the pan. There was
no stopping her now. The ice was cracked and shivered into a thousand
pieces. The ship forged on, grinding the cakes to fragments, heaping
them up, riding them down. She quivered when she struck, and strained
and creaked as she crushed her way forward, but she crept on,
invincible, adding inch to inch, foot to foot, until she swept out into
the unclogged water.

Then she shook the ice from her screw, and ran grandly into the
swelling sea.

"Hurrah!" the stout hearts roared.

"Hem--hem! Mr. Ackell," said the captain, with some emotion, "'tis a
great ship!"

       *       *       *       *       *

It occurred to Archie that night, while he sat munching hard biscuit
with the captain before turning in, to ask a few questions about Tim
Tuttle. What was the matter with the man? Why did he go about with a
sneer or a frown forever on his face? Why was he not like all the rest
of the crew? Why did the crew seem to expect him to "do" something? Why
did the captain flush and bristle when Tuttle came near?

"Oh," the captain replied, with a laugh, "Tuttle had a fallin' out with
me when we was young. I think," he added, gravely, "that he wronged me.
But that's neither here nor there. I forgave him. The point is--an'
I've often run across the same thing in my life--that he won't forgive
_me_ for forgivin' _him_. That's odd, isn't it? But it's true. An' he's
aboard here t' make trouble; an' the men know that that's just what he
came for."

"But what did you ship him for, captain, if you knew that?"

The captain paused. "Well," he said, "because I'm only a man, I s'pose.
I couldn't help knockin' the chip off his shoulder."

"Do you think he _can_ make trouble?"

"I'd like t' see him try!" the captain burst out, wrathfully.

Tuttle's opportunity occurred the next day.


  _In Which Seals are Sighted and Archie Armstrong has a
      Narrow Chance in the Crow's-Nest._

AT peep o' dawn the _Dictator_ made the Groais Island sealing grounds.
The day broke late and dull. The sky was a dead gray, hanging heavily
over a dark, fretful sea; and there was a threat of wind and snow in
the air.

"Ice, sir!" said the mate, poking his head into the captain's cabin,
his ceremony lost in his elation.

"Take her 'longside," cried the captain, jumping out of his berth.
"What's it like?"

"Looks like a big field o' seal ice, sir."

"Hear that, b'y?" the captain shouted to Archie, who was sitting up in
his berth, still rubbing his eyes. "A field o' ice! There'll be a hunt
t'-day. Mr. Ackell, tell the cook t' send the breakfast up here. What's
the weather?"

"Promisin' thick, sir."

When the captain and the boy went on deck, the ice was in plain
sight--many vast fields, rising over the horizon continually, so that
there seemed to be no end to it. From the crow's-nest it had been
reported to the mate, who reported to the captain, that the spars of
a three-masted ship were visible, and that the vessel was apparently
lying near the ice. That was considered bad news--and worse news yet,
when it was reported from the crow's-nest that she was flying the
house-flag of Alexander Bryan & Company, the only considerable rival of
the firm of Armstrong and Son.

"Oh, well," said the captain, making the best of it in a generous way,
"there'll be 25,000 seals in that pack, an' out o' that we ought t' bag
enough t' pay both of us for the day's work."

Archie caught sight of Billy Topsail, who was standing on the forward
deck, gazing wistfully at him; so he went forward, and the two found
much to say to each other, while the ship made for the ice under full
steam. They fought the fight with the dog hood over again; and when
Billy had acknowledged a debt to Archie's quick thought, and Archie had
repudiated it with some heat, they agreed that the old seal had been
a mighty fellow, and a game one, deserving his escape from continued
attack. Then they abandoned the subject.

"Pretty hard work on the ice," Archie observed, sagely.

"Sure!" Billy exclaimed; for that had been clear to him all his life.
"'Tis fearful dangerous, too. When my father was young, he was to the
ice in a schooner, an' they got caught with the fleet in raftin' ice[7]
offshore, up Englee way. He saw six schooners nipped; an' they were all
crushed like an egg, an' went down when the ice went abroad. His was
the only one o' all the fleet that stood the crush."

"Think you'll share with the crew, Billy?"

"I want to," Billy said with a laugh. Then, soberly: "I want to, for
I want t' get a skiff for lobster-fishin' in New Bay. They's lots o'
lobsters there, an' they's no one trappin' down that way. 'Tis a great
chance," with a sigh.

The captain beckoned Archie to the upper deck. "Tell me, now," he said,
when the boy reached his side, "can you go aloft?"

"Yes," Archie answered, laughing scornfully. "I'm no landsman!"

"True word, if you're son of your father! Then get up with the bar'l
man, an' take a trick at swatchin'. 'Tis cold work, but great sport."

"Swatching" is merely the convenient form for "seal watching." It
appeared to Archie that to swatch with the barrel man must be a highly
diverting occupation. He was not slow to mount the rope ladder to the
masthead, and slip into the cask with the swatcher, who chanced to be
Bill o' Burnt Bay and vociferously made him welcome.

"See anything yet?" asked the boy.

"I'll show you them swiles (seals) in a minute or two," Bill replied

Archie was closely muffled in wool and fur; but the wind, which was
bitter and blowing hard, searched out the unprotected places, and in
five minutes he was crouching in the cask for shelter, only too glad to
find an excuse in the swatcher's advice.

"H-h-h-how l-l-long you been h-h-here?" he chattered.

"Sure, b'y," said Bill, with no suspicion of a shiver in his voice,
"'tis goin' on two hours, now."

"P-p-pretty cold, i-i-isn't it?"

Bill o' Burnt Bay did not reply. His eye was glued to the telescope,
which fairly shook in his hands. Then he leaned over the rim of the
cask, altogether disregarding its instability.

"Seals ho!" he roared.

A cheer went up. Looking down, Archie saw the men swarming to the deck.

"Take a look at them harps, b'y," said Bill, excitedly. "No! Starboard
the glass. There! See them?"

Archie made out a myriad of moving specks--black dots, small and great,
shifting about over a broad white surface. They were like many insects.
He saw Alexander Bryan & Company's vessel, too; and it appeared to him
that the men were just landing on the ice to attack the pack.

"That's the _Lucky Star_," Bill explained. "She's a smaller ship than
we, an' she've got about a hundred men, I s'pose. Never fear, lad,
we'll be up in time t' get our share o' the swiles."

"I-I-I-I g-g-guess I'll g-g-go down, now," said Archie.

Half an hour of exposure in the crow's-nest had chilled the lad to
numbness. His blood was running sluggishly; he was shivering; his legs
were stiff, and his hands were cold and uncertain in their grip. He
climbed out of the cask, and cleverly enough made good his footing on
the platform of the nest. It was when he essayed the descent that he
erred and faltered.

He had a full, two-handed grip on the topmast backstays, and was secure
in searching with his foot for the rope ladder lashed thereto. But when
his foot struck, he released his left hand from the stays, without
pausing to make sure that his foot was firm-fixed on the rung. His foot
missed the rung altogether, and found no place to rest. In a flash, he
had rolled over, and hung suspended by one hand, which, numb though it
was, had unexpectedly to bear the weight of his whole body.

"Be careful goin' down, b'y," he heard Bill o' Burnt Bay say.

The voice seemed to come out of a great distance. Archie knew, in a
dim way, that the attention of the man was fixed elsewhere--doubtless
on the herd of harps. Then he fell into a stupefaction of terror.
It seemed to him, in his panic, that Bill would never discover his
situation; that he must hang there, with his grip loosening, instant by
instant--until he fell.

He was speechless, incapable of action, when, by chance, Bill o' Burnt
Bay looked down. The sealer quietly reached over the cask and caught
him by the collar; then lifted him to the platform, and there held him
fast. Each looked silently, tensely, into the other's eyes.

"'Tis a cold day," said Bill, dryly.

Archie gasped.

"Tough on tender hands, b'y," said Bill.

"Yes," gasped the lad, in a hoarse whisper.

There was a long silence, through which the swatcher looked Archie in
the eye, holding him tight all the while.

"'Tis not wise t' be in a hurry, sometimes," he observed, at last.

The boy waited until he could view the necessity of descent with
composure. Then, with extreme caution, he made his way to the deck, and
went to the cabin, where he warmed himself over the stove. Apparently,
the incident had passed unnoticed from the deck. He said nothing about
it to the captain, nor to any one else; nor did Bill o' Burnt Bay, who
had an adequate conception of the sensitiveness of lads in respect to
such narrow chances.


[7] A floe of pans so forcibly driven by the wind as to be crowded into


  _The Ice Runs Red, and, in Storm and Dusk, Tim Tuttle
      Brews a Pot o' Trouble for Captain Hand, While Billy
      Topsail Observes the Operation_

MEANTIME the ship drew near the ice. When Archie came again on deck,
his nerves quite composed, she was being driven in and out through
the fields to a point as near to the first seal pack as she could be
taken--a mile distant, at the least. During this tedious search for
a landing place, the crew's eager excitement passed the bounds of
discipline. The men could see the crew from Alexander Bryan & Company's
_Lucky Star_ at work; and that excited them the more: they were mad to
reach the ice before their rivals could molest the pack for which they
were bound.

When, at last, the engines were stopped, a party of sixty was formed
in a haphazard fashion; the boats were lowered in haste, and the men
leaped and tumbled into them, crowding them down to the gunwales. In
one of the boats were Archie and Billy, the former in the care of Bill
o' Burnt Bay, to whom the "nursing" was not altogether agreeable,
under the circumstances; the latter in charge of himself, a lenient
guardian, but a wise one.

"Don't get into trouble with the crew o' the _Lucky Star_," had been
the captain's last command.

The men landed, hurrahing, and at once organized into half a dozen
separate expeditions. The direction to be taken by each was determined
by the leaders, and they set off at a dog trot upon their diverging
paths over the ice to the widely distributed seal pack. Meantime, the
boats were taken back to the ship and hoisted in; and the ship steamed
off to land another party on another field, thence to land the last
party near a third pack.

The boys trotted in Bill's wake. Two pennant bearers, carrying flags
to mark the heaps of "fat," as they should be formed, led the file.
One of these men--it happened by chance, to all appearances--was the
captain's enemy, Tim Tuttle. Their work was particularly important on
that day, with the crew of the _Lucky Star_ working so near at hand;
for the flags were to mark the ownership of the mounds of "fat," and
any tampering with these "brands" would be likely to precipitate a
violent encounter between the men of the rival ships.

"I'm thinkin' 'twill snow afore night," Bill panted, as they ran along;
and, indeed, it appeared that it would.

The advance soon had to be made with caution. The hunters were so near
the pack that the whines of the white coats could be heard. Archie
could make out not only the harps, but the blow-holes beside which they
lay in family groups. At this point the men formed in twos and threes,
and dispersed. In a few minutes more, they rushed upon the prey,
striking right and left.

The ice was soon strewn with dead seals. It was harvest time for these
impoverished Newfoundlanders. Lives of seals for lives of men and
women! Bill o' Burnt Bay had ten "kids" at home, and he was merciless
and mighty in destruction.

Archie and Billy came upon a family of four, lying at some distance
from their blow-hole--two grown harps, a "jar," which is a one year
old seal, and a ranger, which is three years old and spotted like a
leopard. Billy attacked the ranger without hesitation. Archie raised
his gaff above the fluffy little jar, which was fanning itself with its
flipper, and whining.

"I can't do it!" he exclaimed, lowering his club, and turning away,
faint at heart; then "Look, Billy!" he cried, in half amused wonderment.

The old seals had wriggled off to the blow-hole, moving upon their
flippers, in short jumps, as fast as a man could walk. Apparently they
had reached the hole at the same instant, which was not wide enough to
admit them both. Neither would give way to the other. They were stuck
fast, their heads below, their fat bodies above.

Their selfish haste was their undoing. Billy was not loath to take
advantage of their predicament.

Thus, everywhere, the men were at work. There was no friction with the
crew of the _Lucky Star_; the whole party worked amicably, and almost
side by side. When they had dispersed the pack, the "sculping" knives
were drawn, and the labour of skinning was vigorously prosecuted. The
skins, with the blubber adhering, were piled in heaps of six or more,
according to the strength of the men who were to "tow" them to the
edge of the field, where the ship was to return in the evening; and
every "tow" was marked with an Armstrong and Son flag.

The _Lucky Star's_ recall gun surprised the men before the work was
finished. They looked up to find that the dusk was upon them, and that
the snow was falling--falling ever more thickly, and drifting with the
wind. The men of the _Lucky Star_ stopped work, hurriedly saw to it
that their heaps of pelt were all marked, and started on a run for the
ship; for, on the ice fields, the command of the recall gun is never

"There goes the _Dictator's_ gun," shouted one of the men.

A second boom added force to the warning. The captain was evidently
anxious to have his men safe out of the storm; the "fat" could be taken
aboard in the morning. So Bill o' Burnt Bay, who was in tacit command
of the party, called his men about him, and led the return. It was
a mile over the ice to the _Dictator_, which lay waiting, with the
second and third parties aboard. He was in haste; moreover, he had Sir
Archibald Armstrong's son in his care: perhaps, that is why he did not
stop to count the _Dictator's_ heaps of pelt before he started.

"Come, now, Tuttle, don't lag!" he shouted, ambitious to have his party
return with no delay.

But Tuttle still lagged--or, rather, ran from heap to heap of pelt, as
though to make sure that each was marked. He busied himself, indeed,
until the party was well in advance--until, as he thought, there was no
eye to see what he did under cover of the driving snow. Then he quickly
snatched _Lucky Star_ flags from half a dozen heaps of "fat," cast them
away, and planted _Dictator_ flags in their stead--a dishonourable duty
which the house-flag of Armstrong & Son had never before been made to

Quite sure, now, that he had shot an arrow that would sorely wound
Captain Hand and the firm of Armstrong & Son, Tuttle ran after his
party. When he was yet some distance behind, he turned about, and saw
a small figure following him. He stopped dead--and waited until that
small figure came up.

"Topsail," he demanded, "what you been doin' back there?"

Billy was very much frightened; but he was a truthful boy, and he now
told the truth. "Been sculpin' an' pilin' me swiles, sir," he stammered.

"Has you been touchin' them flags?"

"N-n-no, sir. I didn't have no time. I was afeared I'd get lost in the

Tuttle caught the boy by the shoulders, and stared fiercely into his
eyes. "Did you see what I done?" he demanded.

Billy was strongly tempted to choose the easier way; but, as I have
said, he was a truthful lad, and a brave lad, too. The temptation
passed in a moment, and he fearlessly returned Tuttle's stare.

"Yes, sir," he said.

"If you tells Cap'n Hand what you saw," said Tuttle, tightening his
grip, and bringing his face close to the lad's, "I'll----"

He did not complete the threat. Billy Topsail's imagination, as he
knew, would conceive the most terrible revenge.

"Yes, sir," Billy gasped, vacantly; for he was more frightened than he
had ever before been in his short life.

That was all. They ran at full speed after their party, and soon joined
it. Tuttle kept at Billy's side while they were getting aboard the
ship, kept at his side while supper was served in the forecastle, kept
at his side through the short evening; kept at his side all the time,
in a haunting, threatening way that frightened Billy as nothing else
could, until the lad, tired out and utterly discouraged as to the
purpose he had formed, turned in, no less to escape Tuttle, who had now
grown hateful to him, than to rest.

"Oh," he thought, "if Archie had on'y come t' the fo'c's'le this night,
I might 'a' told him; but now--I thinks--I'll be afeared, in the


  _In Which Tim Tuttle's Shaft Flies Straight for the Mark.
      The Crews of the Dictator and Lucky Star Declare
      War, and Captain Hand is Threatened with the Shame
      of Dishonour, While Young Billy Topsail, Who Has the
      Solution of the Difficulty, is in the Hold of the

TIM TUTTLE'S design against the honour of Captain Hand and of the firm
of Armstrong & Son promised well. The following day broke fine; and,
early in the morning, the crew of the _Dictator_ was turned out to load
the "fat" which had been left on the floe over night. About one hundred
men were sent to the ice; the rest were kept on the ship to stow away
the "tows" as they came aboard. Among the latter was young Billy
Topsail, who was ordered to the hold the moment he appeared on deck.

The party under Bill o' Burnt Bay was first on the ground. Presently,
the men from the _Lucky Star_ arrived. For a time, pleasant words
passed between the crews. Soon, however, a group of _Lucky Star_
hunters gathered out of hearing of the _Dictator's_ crew. Their voices,
which had been low at first, rose angrily, and to such a pitch that
the attention of Bill o' Burnt Bay was attracted. He observed their
suspicious glances, their wrathful faces, their threatening gestures;
and he promptly surmised that trouble of a familiar kind was brewing.

It was evident that there was to be a dispute over the possession of
certain of the "tows." The rights of that dispute Bill was not in a
position to determine. So far as he knew--and he was bound to stand
squarely upon his own knowledge--there had been no wrong-doing on the
part of his men; and, being a man who never failed in his duty to the
firm, he resolved that not an ounce of "fat" which then lay under a
flag of Armstrong & Son should be yielded to the _Lucky Star_ until
a higher authority than he gave the word. Needless to say, that is
precisely what Tuttle expected of him.

Moving quietly, lest he should provoke the dispute, Bill warned his men
to be on the alert. And it was not long before the crew of the _Lucky
Star_, with a stout fellow at their head, advanced threateningly.

"Look here, you, Bill o' Burnt Bay," shouted the leader, "some o' your
men have been stealin' our tows."

"Oh, come, now, Johnny Tott," Bill replied, good-humouredly, "that
ain't our way o' gettin' a cargo."

The men of the _Dictator_ gathered behind Bill. Bill would have been
better pleased had they gathered with less haste, had there been less
of the battle-light in their eyes, had they held their gaffs less
tightly--but all that, of course, was beyond his control; he could only
make sure to have them there to defend the rights of the firm.

"You can't scare _me_!" Johnny Tott flashed, angered by what he
understood to be a display of force, but still trying to keep his
temper. "We left twenty-two tows here last night, an' we find sixteen
this mornin'. Who took the odd six?"

Bill was bent on having the question referred to the captains of the
ships. _They_ might settle it as they would. As for him--knowing from
experience how quickly such encounters might come, and how violent they
might be--all he desired was peaceably to protect the interests of his
employers, and of the men, who had a percentage interest in every seal

"I don't want t' scare you, Johnny Tott," he replied, quietly. "I
thinks you've counted your flags wrong. Now, why can't we just----"

Then came an unfortunate interruption. It was a long, derisive cat-call
from one of Bill's men--none other than Tim Tuttle. That was more than
could be borne by men who were confident of their rights.

"Thieves!" half a dozen of the crew of the _Lucky Star_ retorted. "A
pack o' thieves!"

It was a critical moment. The _Dictator's_ men, too, believed
themselves to be in the right; and there was a limit to what they, too,
could suffer. To be called thieves was perilously near that limit,
already provoked, as they were, by what they thought a bold attempt to
rob them of their seals.

Bill turned quickly on his own men. "Stand back!" he cried, knowing
well that a rush impended.

"Thieves! Thieves!" taunted the crew of the _Lucky Star_.

"Keep your men quiet!" Bill roared to Johnny Tott. "There'll be trouble
if you don't."

The _Lucky Star_ men were outnumbered; but not so far outnumbered that
their case would be hopeless in a hand-to-hand fight. Nevertheless, it
was the part of wisdom for Johnny Tott, who was himself animated by the
best motives, to keep them quiet. He faced them, berated them roundly,
and threatened to "knock the first man down" who should dare to
continue the disturbance. Thus encouraged, Bill o' Burnt Bay addressed
his crew briefly and to the point.

"No nonsense, men!" he growled. "We wants no bloodshed here. The first
man that passes me," he added, in such a way that not a man of them
doubted he would make good his word, "may get hurt, an' badly hurt,
afore he knows it."

It was no time for gentle dealing. Bill had strong, angry men to deal
with; and the responsibility of keeping them from wronging themselves
and their fellows sat heavily upon him. Confident, however, that he had
them in check, he advanced to parley with Tott. All would doubtless
have gone smoothly had there not been a designing man on Bill's side.
That man was Tuttle, to whom the course of events was not pleasing.
Perceiving, now, that an encounter was likely to be warded off, he
determined to precipitate it.

"Who called me a thief?" he burst out.

Then he broke away from his fellows, and ran towards the crew of the
_Lucky Star_, with his gaff upraised. But Bill o' Burnt Bay was quick
as a flash to intercept him. He tripped Tuttle up with his gaff, fairly
leaped upon the prostrate form, caught the man by the collar, dragged
him back and flung him at the feet of the crew. And, meantime, the
_Lucky Star_ men, who had instantly prepared to meet Tuttle, laughed
uproariously. That hearty laugh lightened the situation perceptibly.

"An' here comes Cap'n Black!" shouted one of the men.

Captain Hand of the _Dictator_, too, was on his way over the ice. Both
skippers had observed the cessation of the work and the separation
of the men into two hostile parties. Familiar as they were with such
disputes, they needed no message to tell them that their presence was
urgently needed on the floe. They came over the ice at full speed, at
the same time trying to get at the merits of the quarrel from the men
who ran to meet them; and, being fat sea-captains, both of them, and
altogether unused to hurried locomotion afoot, they were quite out of
breath when they met.

The skipper of the _Lucky Star_ was a florid, peppery little man, much
given to standing upon his dignity.

"Cap'n Hand," he puffed, "this is--an out--rage, sir! Is this the

"'Scuse me--Cap'n B-Black--sir," the skipper of the _Dictator_ panted,
his little red eyes almost hidden by his bushy brows; "but--I'm
wonder--ful s'prised--that----"

Captain Black drew a long breath, and proceeded more easily, but still
with magnificent dignity. "_I'm_ wonderful surprised t' know, sir,"
he said, "that _this_ is the way Cap'n Hand makes a good v'y'ge of it
every year. I never knew how before, sir."

"I'd have you t' know, sir," returned Captain Hand, bristling
ominously, "that I 'lows no man t' call me a thief."

"I'd have you t' know, sir, that your men have stolen my fat."

"An' I'll have you t' know, sir, that that's t' be proved."

"Cap'n Hand, sir," declared Captain Black, swelling like a
pouter-pigeon the meanwhile, "you whole crew outnumbers mine nigh two
t' one, or I'd load every pound o' fat on the ice on my ship. But I
tells you now, sir, that I'll have the law o' you at St. John's. If you
touch them six tows I'll have you sent t' coolie for a thief, sir, if
there's an honest jury in the land! Mark my words, sir, I'll do it!"

The upshot of it all was, when both captains had cut a ridiculous
figure for a considerable time (and had found it out), that the crews
were withdrawn to the ships, ostensibly for dinner, but really that
they might be kept apart while their blood was heated. A conference was
appointed for three o'clock in the afternoon; and in the interval the
captains were more fully and more accurately to inform themselves by
examining their respective crews. This was a very sensible agreement.
So far as it went, Captain Hand was content; but, being a wise and
experienced man, he foresaw that an amicable settlement of the
difficulty was extremely doubtful.

"I hopes, anyhow, that 'twill not come t' blows," he told Archie, as
they trudged along, for his position made it impossible for him to
confide in anybody else. "'Twill be a dreadful disgrace if it comes t'
blows. An' maybe 'twill be something worse."

When the men reached the _Dictator_, Billy Topsail was waiting on
deck, keen as the rest of them to know what had happened on the ice.
He had a wholesome conscience, and a reasonable courage; he had fully
determined to do his duty, and was about to attract Archie Armstrong's
attention--Archie was to be his first confidant--when Tuttle slipped
quietly to his side, and laid a hand on his shoulder. Billy had no need
to look up; he knew whose hand that was, and what the firm, increasing
pressure meant.

"You better go t' the fo'c's'le, lad," Tuttle whispered in his ear.


_In Which the Issue is Determined_

BILLY Topsail went to the forecastle as he was bid. With Tuttle so
near, he seemed not to have the will to carry out his purpose. He
passed Archie on the way forward, even responded to his nod and merry
greeting with a wistful smile; but said nothing, for he felt that
Tuttle's cold gray eyes were fixed upon him. Archie marked that strange
smile, and thought--it was just a fleeting thought--that Billy must
be in trouble; he was about to stop, but put the solicitous question
off--until another time.

Aboard the _Lucky Star_, Captain Black called Johnny Tott to his cabin.
It was a serious moment for both, as both knew. The hunter realized
that the captain would act upon his statement, and that there would
be no return, once the course was taken. Moreover, he knew that he
would have to take oath, and support that oath with evidence, in the
court-room at St. John's.

"Now, John, I wants just the plainest kind o' truth," the captain
began, for, shorn of his exaggerated dignity, he was a fair,
honest-hearted man. "I've been friends with Cap'n Hand ever since
we was young, an' I've liked him every hour o' that time, an' I've
believed in him every minute; so I'm in no humour t' have a fallin'
out with him. It'll go hard with the man who wrongfully leads me into
_that_. Come, now, what's the _truth_ o' all this?"

"The truth, sir," Johnny replied, slowly, "is this: We left twenty-two
tows on the ice last night, every one with a Bryan & Company flag
flyin' over it, an' we found but sixteen this mornin'. That's all I
knows about it."

"Did you make the count alone?"

"No, sir. They was three others, which," most importantly, "I can
pro-dooce any minute."

"All right, Johnny," said the captain, striking the table with his
fist. "I believe you. You won't find Cap'n Black go back on his crew.
I'll have that fat, if I have t' fight for it!"

While this was passing, Captain Hand had summoned Bill o' Burnt Bay,
Ebenezer Bowsprit and two or three other trustworthy men to _his_
cabin, and requested Archie Armstrong (the good captain seemed to
consider the lad in some measure a representative of the firm) to hear
the interview. One and all, for themselves and for the crew, they
earnestly denied knowledge of any trickery. They regretted, they said,
that the incident had occurred; but they believed that the seals were
the property of the ship, and they hoped that the captain would not
"see them robbed."

"But, Bill," said the captain, hopelessly, "you didn't _count_ the

"No, sir," Bill answered, promptly, "I'm bound t' say I didn't. After
your two recall guns, sir, we was in a hurry t' get aboard. 'Twas a
fault, I knows, sir, but it can't be helped now. I don't _know_ that
anybody changed the flags. I hasn't any reason t' _think_ so. So I
_believe_ that the fat's ours."

"Well, men," the captain concluded, "that's just my position. I _knows_
nothin' t' the contrary; so I got t' believe that the fat's ours.
You'll tell the crew that I'll stand by them. We'll take that fat,
whatever they tries t' do, an' we'll let the courts decide afterwards.
That's all."

There was fret and uncertainty for the captain after the men trooped
out. He was an honest man, seeking the right, but not sure that he was
right. It seemed to him that, whatever the outcome, his reputation
and that of the firm would be tarnished. In a trial at law, the crew
of the _Lucky Star_ and the firm of Alexander Bryan & Company would
appear as the aggrieved parties. Men would say--yes, men would even
publicly take oath to it--that Captain Hand was a thief, and that the
firm of Armstrong & Son abused its power and wealth in sustaining him.
Not everybody would believe _that_, of course; but many would--and the
odium of the charge would never disappear, let the verdict of the jury
be what it might.

"B'y," he said to Archie, in great distress, "'tis a tryin' place t'
be in. I wants t' wrong nobody. 'Twould wound me sore t' wrong Cap'n
Black, who's always been my friend. But I got t' have that fat. A
sealin' skipper that goes back on his crew is not fit for command. I
_must_ stand by the men. If I had an enemy, b'y," he added, "an' that
enemy wanted t' ruin me, he couldn't choose a better----"

Captain Hand stopped dead and stared at the table--stared, and gaped,
until his appearance was altogether out of the common.

"What's the matter, cap'n?" asked Archie, alarmed.

At that moment, however, there was a knock at the door. Billy Topsail
came in, pale and wide-eyed; but the sight of Archie seemed to compose

"I got t' tell you about Tim Tuttle," he began, hurriedly. "I hears
there's goin' t' be a fight, an'--an'--I got t' tell you that I seed
him change the flags on the tows."

"What!" shouted the captain, jumping out of his chair.

And so it all came out. At the end of the talk, Billy Topsail was
assured by the smiling captain that he need not fear Tim Tuttle after a
word or two had been spoken with him. Bill o' Burnt Bay was summoned,
and corroborated Billy's statement that Tuttle was the last man to
leave the tows. And Tuttle was the captain's enemy! Everybody knew it.
The difficulties were thus all brushed away. The crew would accept the
explanation and be content. Tuttle would be ridiculed until he was well
punished for the trick that had so nearly succeeded. It was a good
ending to the affair--a far better outcome than any man aboard had
dared hope for.

"Bill," said the captain, with an odd little smile, "send Tim Tuttle t'
Cap'n Black, with my compliments; an' will Cap'n Black be so kind as t'
accept my apology, and have a friendly cup o' tea with me immediate?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Later, when Tuttle left the captain's cabin, after the "word or two"
had been spoken, he was not grateful for the generous treatment he
had received. He meditated further mischief; but before the second
opportunity offered, there happened something which put animosity out
of the hearts of all the crew.


  _It Appears That the Courage and Strength of the Son of
      a Colonial Knight are to be Tried. The Hunters are
      Caught in a Great Storm_

THE _Lucky Star_ and the _Dictator_ parted company the next day--the
former bound for the Labrador coast, the latter in a southerly
direction to White Bay. For several days, the _Dictator_ ran here
and there among the great floes, attacking small herds; and at the
end of a week she had ten thousand seals in her hold. But that cargo
did not by any means content Captain Hand. Indeed, he began to fear
the voyage would be little better than a failure. Nothing less than
twenty thousands pelts would be a profitable "haul" for a vessel of the
_Dictator's_ tonnage to carry back to St. John's.

For that reason, perhaps, both the captain and the men were willing to
take some risk, when, late one morning, a large herd was sighted on a
floe near the coast in the southwest. The danger lay in the weather: it
was an unpromising day--cold and dull, and threatening snow and storm.
For a time the captain hesitated; but, at last, he determined to land
his men in three parties, caution them to be watchful and quick, and
himself try to keep the _Dictator_ within easy reach of them all. It
really did not appear to be necessary to waste the day merely because
the sky was dark over the coast.

Bill o' Burnt Bay's party was landed first. Billy Topsail and Tim
Tuttle were members of it; and, as usual, Archie Armstrong attached
himself to it. As the _Dictator_ steamed away to land the second crew,
and, thence, still further away to land the third, Bill led his men on
a trot for the pack, which lay about a mile from the water's edge.

"'Tis a queer day, this," Bill observed to the boys, who trotted in his

"Sure, why?" asked Billy.

"Is it t' snow, or is it not? Can you answer me that? Sure, I most
always can tell that little thing, but t'-day I can't."

"'Tis like snow," Billy replied, puzzled, "an' again 'tisn't. 'Tis
queer, that!"

"I hopes the captain keeps the ship at hand," said Bill. "'Tis not t'
my taste t' spend a night on the floe in a storm."

To be lost in a blizzard is a dreaded danger, and not at all an
uncommon experience. Many crews, lost from the ship in a blinding
storm, have been carried out to sea with the floe, and never heard of
afterwards. Bill o' Burnt Bay lost his own father in that way, and
himself had had two narrow escapes from the same fate. So he scanned
the sky anxiously, not only as he ran along at the head of his sixty
men, but from time to time through the day, until the excitement of the
hunt put all else out of his head.


It was a profitable hunt. The men laboured diligently and rapidly. So
intent on the work in hand were they that none observed the darkening
sky and the gusts of wind that broke from behind the rocky coast. Thus,
towards evening, when the work was over save the sculping and lashing,
dusk caught them unaware. Bill o' Burnt Bay looked up to find that the
snow was flying, that it was black as ink in the northeast, and that
the wind was blowing in long, angry gusts.

"Men," he cried, "did you ever see a sky like that?"

The men watched the heavy clouds in the northeast rise and swiftly

"Sure, it looks bad," muttered one.

"Make haste with the sculpin'," Bill ordered. "They's wonderful heavy
weather comin' up. I mind me a time when a blizzard come out of a sky
like that."

The dusk grew deeper, the snow fell thicker, the wind rose; and all
this Bill observed while he worked. Groups of men lashed their tows and
started off for the edge of the floe where the steamer was to return
for them.

"Lash your tows, b'ys," shouted Bill, to the rest of the men. "Leave
the rest go. 'Tis too late t' sculp any more."

There was some complaint; but Bill silenced the growlers with a sharp
word or two. The whole party set off in a straggling line, dragging
their tows; it was Bill who brought up the rear, for he wanted to make
sure that his company would come entire to the landing-place. Strong,
stinging blasts of wind were then sweeping out of the northeast, and
the snow was fast narrowing the view.

"Faster, b'ys!" cried Bill. "The storm's comin' wonderful quick."

The storm came faster than, with all his experience, Bill o' Burnt
Bay had before believed possible. When he had given the order to
abandon the unskinned seals, he thought that there was time and to
spare; but, now, with less than half the distance to the landing-place
covered, the men were already staggering, the wind was blowing a
gale, and the blinding snow almost hid the flags at the water's edge.
When he realized this, and that the ship was not yet in sight, "Drop
everything, an' run for it!" was the order he sent up the line.

"Archie, b'y," he then shouted, catching the lad by the arm and drawing
him nearer, "we got t' run for the landing-place. Stick close t' me.
When you're done out, I'll carry you. Is you afraid, b'y?"

Archie looked up, but did not deign to reply to the humiliating

"All right, lad," said Bill, understanding. "Is you ready?"

Archie knew that his strength and courage were to be tried. He was
tired, and cold, and almost hopeless; but, then and there, he resolved
to prove his blood and breeding--to prove to these men, who had been
unfailingly kind to him, but yet had naturally looked with good-natured
contempt upon his fine clothes and white hands, that fortitude was
not incompatible with a neat cravat and nice manners. Beyond all that,
however, it was his aim to prove that Sir Archibald Armstrong's son was
the son of his own father.

"Lead on, Bill," he said.

"Good lad!" Bill muttered.

Archie bent to the blast.


  _In Which the Men are Lost, the Dictator is Nipped and
      Captain Hand Sobs, "Poor Sir Archibald!"_

WHEN the last party of hunters had been landed from the _Dictator_,
the ship was taken off the ice field; and there she hung, in idleness,
awaiting the end of the hunt. It was then long past noon. The darkening
sky in the northeast promised storm and an early night more surely
than ever. It fretted the captain. He was accountable to the women and
children of Green Bay for the lives of the men; so he kept to the deck,
with an eye on the weather: and while the gloom deepened and spread, a
storm of anxiety gathered in his heart--and, at last, broke in action.

"Call the watch, Mr. Ackell!" he cried, sharply. "We'll wait no longer."

He ran to the bridge, signalled "Stand by!" to the engine-room, and
ordered the firing of the recall gun. The men of the last party were
within ear of the report. It brought all work on the ice to a close.
The men waited only to pile the dead seals in heaps and mark possession
with flags.

"Again, mate!" shouted the captain. "They're long about comin', it
seems t' me."

A second discharge brought the men on a run to the edge of the ice.
It was evident that some danger threatened. They ran at full speed,
crowded aboard the waiting boats, and were embarked as quickly as might
be. Then the ship steamed off to the second field, five miles distant,
to pick up the second party. When she came within hearing distance,
three signal guns were fired, with the result that, when she came to,
the men were waiting for the boats.

It was a run of six miles to the field upon which the first party had
been landed--part of the way in and out among the pans. The storm
had now taken form and was advancing swiftly, and the fields in the
northeast were hidden in a spreading darkness. The wind had risen to
half a gale, and it was beginning to snow. A run of six miles! The
captain's heart sank. When he looked at the black clouds rising from
behind the coast, he doubted that the _Dictator_ could do it in time.
An appalling fortune seemed to be descending on the men on the ice.

"But we may make it, mate," said the captain, "if----"

"Ay, sir?"

"If they's no ice comin' with the gale."

The ship had been riding the open sea, skirting the floe. Now she came
to the mouth of a broad lane, which wound through the fields. It was
the course; along that lane, at all hazards, she must thread her way.
The danger was extreme. The wind, blowing a gale, might force the great
fields together. Or, if ice came with the wind, the lanes might be
choked up. In either event, what chance would there be for the men? In
the first event, which was almost inevitable, what chance would there
be for the _Dictator_ herself?

"Cap'n Hand, sir," the mate began, nervously, "is you goin'----"

The captain looked up in amazement when the mate stammered and stopped.
"Well, sir?" he said.

"Is you goin' inside the ice, sir?"

"Is I goin' WHAT?" roared the captain, turning upon him. "Is I goin'
WHAT, sir?"

It was sufficient. The captain _was_ going among the fields. The mate
needed no plainer answer to his question.

"Beg pardon, sir," he muttered meekly. "I thought you was."

"Huh!" growled the captain.

When the ship passed into the lane, the storm burst overhead. The
scunner in the foretop was near blinded by the driven snow. His voice
was swept hither and thither by the wind. Directions came to the bridge
in broken sentences. The captain dared not longer drive the vessel at
full speed.

"Half speed!" he signalled.

The ship crept along. For half an hour, while the night drew on, not a
word was spoken, save the captain's quiet "Port!" and "Starboard!" into
the wheelhouse tube. Then the mate heard the old man mutter:

"Poor b'y! Poor Sir Archibald!"

No other reference was made to the boy. In the captain's mind,
thereafter, for all the mate knew, young Archibald Armstrong, the
owner's son, was merely one of a crew of sixty men, lost on the floe.

"Ice ahead!" screamed the lookout in the bow.

The ship was brought to a stop. The lane she had been following had
closed before her. The mate went forward.

"Heavy ice, sir," he reported.

Broken ice, then, had come down with the wind. It had been carried into
the channels, choking them.

"Does you see water beyond, b'y?" the captain shouted.

"'Tis too thick t' tell, sir."

The captain signalled "Go ahead!" The chance must be taken. To be
caught between two fields in a great storm was a fearful situation.
So the ship pushed into the ice, moving at a snail's pace, labouring
hard, and complaining of the pressure upon her ribs. Soon she made no
progress whatever. The screw was turning noisily; the vessel throbbed
with the labour of the engines; but she was at a standstill.

"Stuck, sir!" exclaimed the mate.

"Ay, mate," the captain said, blankly, "stuck."

The ship struggled bravely to force her way on; but the ice, wedged all
about her, was too heavy.

"God help the men!" said the captain, as he signalled for the stopping
of the engines. "We're stuck!"

"An' God help us," the mate added, in the same spirit, "if the fields
come together!"

Conceive the situation of the _Dictator_. She lay between two of many
vast, shifting fields, all of immeasurable mass. The captain had
deliberately subjected her to the chances in an effort to rescue the
men for whom he was accountable to the women and children of Green
Bay. She was caught; and if the wind should drive the fields together,
her case would be desperate, indeed. The slow, mighty pressure exerted
by such masses is irresistible. The ship would either be crushed to
splinters, or--a slender chance--she would be lifted out of danger for
the time.

Had there been no broken ice about her, destruction would have been
inevitable. Her hope now lay in that ice; for, with the narrowing of
the space in which it floated, it would in part be forced deep into the
water, and in part be crowded out of it. If it should get under the
ship's bottom, it would exert an increasing upward pressure; and that
pressure might be strong enough to lift the vessel clear of the fields.
The captain had known of such cases; but now he smiled when he called
them to mind.

"Take a week's rations an' four boats t' the ice, mate," he directed,
"an' be quick about it. We'll sure have t' leave the ship."

While the mate went about this work, the captain paced the bridge,
regardless of the cold and storm. It was dark, the wind was bitter and
strong, the snow was driving past; but still he paced the bridge, now
and then turning towards the darkness of that place, far off on the
floe, where his men, and the young charge he had been given, were lost.
The women of Green Bay would not forgive him for lives lost thus; of
that he was sure. And the lad--that tender lad----

"Poor little b'y!" he thought. "Poor Sir Archibald!"

For relief from this torturing thought, he went among the men. He found
most of them gathered in groups, gravely discussing the situation of
the ship. In the forecastle, some were holding a "prayer-meeting"; the
skipper paused to listen to the singing and to the solemn words that
followed it. Here and there, as he went along, he spoke an encouraging
word; here and there dropped a word of advice, as, "Timothy, b'y, you
got too much on your back; 'tis not wise t' load yourself down when
you takes t' the ice," and the like; here and there, in a smile or a
glance, he found the comforting assurance that the men knew he had
tried to do his duty.

"Cap'n John Hand," he thought, when he returned to the bridge, "you
hasn't got a coward aboard!"

The mate came up to report. "We've the boats on the ice, sir," he said,
"an' I've warned the crew t' make ready."

"Very well, Mr. Ackell; they's nothin' more t' be done."

"Hark, sir!"

The ice about the ship seemed to be stirring. Beyond--from far off in
the distance to windward--the noise of grinding, breaking ice-pans
could be heard. There was no mistaking the warning. The moment of peril
was at hand.

"The fields is comin' together, sir."

"Call the crew, Mr. Ackell," said the captain, quietly.

The men gathered on deck. They were silent while they waited. The
only sounds came from the ice--and from overhead, where the wind was
screaming through the rigging.

"'Tis comin', sir," said the mate.


"God help us!"

"'Twill soon be over, Mr. Ackell," observed the captain.

He awaited the event with a calm spirit.


  _And Last: In Which Wind and Snow and Cold Have Their
      Way and Death Lands on the Floe. Billy Topsail Gives
      Himself to a Gust of Wind, and Archie Armstrong
      Finds Peril and Hardship Stern Teachers. Concerning,
      also, a New Sloop, a Fore-an'-After and a Tailor's

BILL o' Burnt Bay did not lead a race for the landing place. When he
looked up, a thick curtain of snow hid the flags. It was then apparent
to him that he and his men must pass the night on the ice. In a
blizzard of such force and blinding density, no help could reach them
from the ship, even if she managed to reach the place where the men
were to be taken aboard.

Nothing was visible but the space immediately roundabout; and the
wind had risen to such terrific strength that sound could make
small way against it. Thus, neither lights nor signal guns could be
perceived--not though the ship should beat her way to within one
hundred yards of where the group stood huddled. There was nothing for
it but to seek the shelter of an ice hummock, and there await the
passing of the storm.

"B'ys," he said to the few men who had gathered about him, and he
shouted at the top of his voice, for the wind whisked low-spoken words
away, "they's a hummock somewheres handy. Leave us get t' the lee of

"No, no!" several men exclaimed. "Leave us get on t' the rest o' the
crew. 'Tis no use stayin' here."

"The path is lost, men," Bill cried. "You'll lose your way--you'll lose
your lives!"

But they would not listen. They hurried forward, and were soon
swallowed up by the night and snow. Bill o' Burnt Bay was left alone
with Billy and Archie and a man named Osmond, who was a dull, heavy

"They's a hummock within a hundred yards o' here," Bill shouted. "I
marked it afore the snow got thick. We must find it. 'Tis----"

"'Tis t' the left; 'tis over there," said Billy, pointing to the left.
"I marked it well."

"Ay 'tis somewheres t' the left. Our only chance is t' find it. Now,
listen well t' what I says. We must spread out. I'll start off. Archie,
you follow me; keep sight o' me--keep just sight o' me, an' no more;
but don't lose me, b'y, for your life. Osmond, you'll follow the b'y;
an' be sure you watch him well. Billy, b'y, you'll follow Osmond. When
we gets in line, we'll face t' the left an' go for'ard. The first t'
see the hummock will signal the next man, an' he'll pass the word."

The three nodded their heads to signify their understanding of these

"Osmond, don't lose sight o' this b'y," said Bill, impressively,
placing his hand on Archie's shoulder. "D'you mind? Men," he went on,
"if one loses sight o' the others, 'tis all up with us. Leave your pelt
go. I'll take mine."

Shelter from that frosty wind was imperative in Archie's case. He made
no complaint, for it was not in his nature to complain; but, strong
to endure as he was, and stout as his spirit was, the cold, striking
through the fur and wool about him, was having its inevitable effect.

When Bill moved off, dragging his burden of pelt, the boy calmly
waited until the stalwart figure had been reduced to an outline; then,
with heavy steps, but fixed purpose to acquit himself like a man, he
followed, keeping his distance. Osmond came next. Young Billy had the
exposed position--a station of honour in which he exulted--at the other
end of the line.

Bill gave the signal, which was passed along by Archie to Osmond and by
him to Billy, and they faced about and moved forward in the direction
in which the hummock lay.

Archie searched the gloom for the gray shape of the hummock. It was a
shelter--a mere relief. But how despairingly he searched for a sight of
that formless heap of ice! Soon he began to stumble painfully. Once he
lost sight of Bill o' Burnt Bay. Then he faltered, fell and could not
rise. It was the watchful Bill who picked him up.

"What's this, b'y?" Bill asked, his voice shaking.

"I fell down," Archie answered, sharply. "That's all."

"I'll carry you, b'y," Bill began. "I'll carry you, if----"

Archie roughly pushed the man away. Then he stumbled forward, keeping
his head up.

At that moment, Osmond, who was like a shadow to the right, gave the
signal. So Bill knew that Billy, whom he could not see, had chanced
upon the hummock. He caught Archie up in his arms, against the boy's
protests and struggles, and ran with him to Osmond, and thence to
Billy, all the time dragging his "tow."

When they reached the lee of the ice, Archie lay quietly in Bill's
arms. He was about to fall asleep, as Bill perceived.

"Unlash the tow," Bill said, quickly, to Osmond, "an' start a fire."

With the help of Billy, Osmond took a pelt from the pack, and spread it
on the ice.

"They's no wood," he said, stupidly.

"Take the cross-bar o' the tow line, dunderhead!" cried Billy. "Here!
Leave me do it."

While Billy released the slender bar of wood from the end of the
line, stuck it in the blubber and prepared to set fire to it, Bill
was dealing with Archie's drowsiness. He shook the lad with all
his strength, slapped him, shook him again, ran him hither and
thither, and, at last, roused him to a sense of peril. The boy fought
desperately to restore his circulation.

"'Tis ready t' light," Billy said to Bill.

"Leave me do it," Bill answered. "Keep movin', b'y," he cautioned
Archie. "Don't you give up."

Give up? Not he! And Archie said so--mumbled it scornfully to Bill,
and repeated it again and again to himself, until he was sick of the
monotony of the words, but could not stop repeating them.

Neither Osmond nor Billy had matches, but Bill had a box in his
waistcoat pocket. He shielded the contents from the wind and snow while
he took one match out. Then he closed the box and handed it to Osmond
to hold. It was well that he did not return it to his own pocket.

Archie was stumbling back and forth over the twenty yards of sheltered
space. He had a great, shadowy realization of two duties: he must keep
in motion, and he must keep out of the wind. All else had passed from
his consciousness. At every turn, however, he unwittingly ventured
further past the end of the hummock.

Twice the wind, the full force of which he could not resist, almost
caught him. Then came a time when he had to summon his whole strength
to tear himself from its clutch. He told himself he must not again pass
beyond the lee of the ice. But, before he returned to that point, he
had forgotten the danger.

A mighty gust laid hold on him, carried him off his feet, and swept him
far out into the darkness.[8] It chanced that Billy Topsail, who had
kept an eye on Archie, caught sight of him as he fell.

"Archie!" the boy screamed.

"Archie?" cried Bill, looking up. "What----"

Archie had even then been carried out of sight. Billy leaped to his
feet and followed. He gave himself to the same gust of wind, and, with
difficulty keeping himself upright, was carried along with it. Bill
grasped the situation in a flash. He, too, leaped up, and ran into the

"Archie, b'y!" he cried. "Where is you? Oh, where is you, lad?" It was
the first time in many years that heart's agony had wrung a cry from
old Bill o' Burnt Bay.

Billy Topsail was carried swiftly along by the wind. It was clear to
him that, should he diverge from the path of the gust, not only would
he be unable to find the lost boy, but he himself would be in hopeless
case. The wind swept him close upon Archie's track, but, as its force
wasted, ever more slowly. He soon tripped over an obstruction, and
plunged forward on his face. He recovered, and crawled back. There he
came upon Archie, lying in a heap, half covered by a drift of snow.

"B'y," Billy shouted, "is you dead?"

Archie opened his eyes. Billy Topsail looked close, but could see no
light of intelligence in them. He shook the boy violently.

"Wake up!" he cried. "Wake up!"

"What?" Archie responded, faintly.

Billy lifted him to his feet, but there was no strength in the lad's
legs; he was limp as a drunken man. But this exertion restored Billy
Topsail; he felt his own strength returning--a strength which the
arduous toil of the coast had mightily developed.

"Stand up, b'y!" he shouted in Archie's ear. "Put your arm on my
shoulder. I'll help you along."

"No," Archie muttered. But despite this protest he was lifted up; then
he said: "Give me your hand. I'm all right."

Billy wasted no words. He locked his arms about Archie's middle,
lifted him, and staggered forward against the wind.

The wind had fallen somewhat, and he made some progress. But the burden
was heavy, and twice he fell. Then he heard Bill o' Burnt Bay's voice,
and he shouted a response, but the wind carried the words away. He
could hear Bill, who was to windward, but Bill could not hear him. So
when the call came again, he marked the location and staggered in that

"Oh, Billy! Oh, Archie!"

The voice was nearer--and to the left. Billy Topsail changed his
course. The next cry came from the right again. Was the wind deceiving
him? Or was Bill changing his place? Then came a ringing cry near at

"Bill!" screamed Billy Topsail.

"Here! Where is you?"

Bill's great body emerged from the darkness. He cried out joyfully as
he rushed forward, took Archie from Billy's arms, and slung him over
his shoulder.

"Praise God!" he muttered tremulously, when he felt life stirring in
the small body.

He put his face close to Billy Topsail's and looked steadily into the
boy's eyes for an instant; and no words were needed to say what he

[Illustration: "WE'RE SAVED!" SAID BILL.]

But where was the hummock? Bill looked about.

"'Tis there," said Billy, pointing ahead.

Bill shook his head. His homing instinct, to which he had trusted
his life in many a fog and night, told him otherwise. Reason entered
into his decision not at all; he merely waited until he was persuaded
that his face was turned in the right direction. Then he started off
unhesitatingly. He had found the harbour entrance thus in many a thick
summer night when his fishing punt rode a trackless sea.

"Take hold o' me jacket, b'y," he said to Billy. "Mind you stick close
by me."

For some time they wandered without seeing any sign of the hummock.
Bill's heart sank lower and lower; for he knew that if they did not
soon find shelter, Archie would die in his arms. At last Bill caught
sight of a light--a dull, glowing light.

"Is that a fire?" he asked.

"'Tis the hummock!" Billy cried. "'Tis Osmond with the fire goin'. 'Tis
he! 'Tis he!"

"We're saved," said Bill.

Once in the lee of the hummock, they roused Archie from his stupor,
and warmed him over the fire, which Osmond, after many failures, had
succeeded in lighting. They broke the cross-piece of the tow line in
two, took another pelt from the pack, and made two fires. The wood
was like the wick in a candle; it blazed in the blubber, and was not
consumed. Between the fires they huddled together, with Archie in the
middle. Their bodies warmed the lad, and he slumbered snugly, quietly,
through the night. Billy Topsail, more sturdy of body, if not of
spirit, kept awake, and had a part in the talk with which each tried to
cheer the others through the fearful, dragging hours.

"'Tis the day," said Bill, at last, pointing to the east.

The wind abated as the dawn advanced, and the snow ceased to fall.
Light crept over the field, and men appeared from behind clumpers of
ice. Group signalled to group. All made their way to the place where
the ship had landed them, a dozen men were already clustered--a gaunt,
haggard, frost-bitten crowd. The terrors of the night still oppressed
them, and, through weeks, would haunt their dreams.

They counted their number. Fifty-nine living men were there; and
there was one dead body--that of Tim Tuttle of Raggles Island, who had
strayed away from his fellows and been lost. And thus they awaited the
full break of day, while eyes were strained into the departing night.
Where was the ship? Had she survived? These were the questions they
asked one another.

"What's that patch o' black?" Bill o' Burnt Bay asked. "Due west,
lads--a mile or more off?"

"Sure, it looks like the ship," some of the men agreed.

As the light increased, the storm passed on. A burst of sunshine at
last revealed the _Dictator_, lying on the ice, listed far to port. The
broken ice in which she had been caught, they learned afterwards, had
been forced under her, and she had been lifted out of danger when the
fields that nipped her came together.

When it is said that old Captain Hand welcomed his crew with open arms,
and embraced Archie--the meanwhile searching through all his pockets
for a handkerchief, which he could not find--there remains little to be
told. He was more haggard than the rescued men. What depths his brave
spirit sounded on that long night are not to be described.

"Well, b'y," was what he said to Archie, "you're back, is you?"

"Safe and sound, cap'n," the boy replied, wearily, "and hungry."

"Send the cook for'ard with the scoff!" roared the captain.

Before noon, all the men were safe aboard, and the ice was breaking up.
When the _Dictator_ settled softly into the water, at the parting of
the fields, the pelt was stowed away. She had no difficulty in making
the open sea; and thence she set forth in search of other floes and
other seal packs.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Dictator_ made Long Tom Harbour without mishap. There it was made
known that the name of Billy Topsail of Ruddy Cove was "on the books,"
and not a man grumbled because the lad was to share with the rest.
There, too, old John Roth, to whom two "white coats" had been promised,
claimed the gift of Archie, and was not disappointed. And there Archie
said good-bye to Billy for the time.

"I'll see you this summer," he said. "Don't forget, Billy. I'll spend
a week of vacation time with you at Ruddy Cove."

"No," Billy replied. "You'll spend it at New Bay. Sure, me name is on
the books, an' I'm goin' after lobsters with me own skiff in July."

"I'll go with you, if you'll take me," said Archie. "And I can never,
never forget that you----"

"Sure," Billy Topsail interrupted, flushing, "you'll go with me t' New
Bay. An' times we'll have of it!"


"Good-bye, b'y!"

And so they parted on terms of perfect equality.

       *       *       *       *       *

That summer, Billy Topsail went to New Bay. But it was not in a skiff;
it was in a swift little sloop, especially made to be sailed by a crew
of one. It came North, mysteriously, from St. John's, to the wonder
of all Green Bay; and its name was _Rescue_. And a letter came North
for Bill o' Burnt Bay: which, when he read it, stirred him to the
profoundest depth of his rugged old heart, for he roared in a most
unmannerly fashion that he'd "be busted if he'd take a thing for
standin' by such a lad!" In reply to a second letter, however, Bill
said he would "be willin' t' take it on credit, if he'd be 'lowed t'
pay for it as he could." So that is how Bill o' Burnt Bay came to sail
to the Labrador in his own fore-and-after, when the fish were running.

And, once, Sir Archibald Armstrong turned to his son. "Well, my boy,"
he said, slowly, "I've been wanting to ask you a question. What do you
think of your shipmates?"

"I think they're heroes, every one!" Archie answered.

"Do you think you now know the difference between a man and a tailor's

"Oh, sir," Archie laughed, "I'll never forget _that_!"

Billy Topsail had never needed to learn.


[8] It is related by the survivors of the steamship _Greenland_
disaster, of some years ago, in which sixty lives were lost, that one
man was in this way carried half a mile over the ice. When he was
found, he had gone mad.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected.

Page 49, "cost" changed to "coast" (a rocky sea-coast)

Page 142, "peninsular" changed to "peninsula" (bleak peninsula to the)

Page 216, "Landside" changed to "Landslide" (Landslide at Little Tickle)

Page 274, the anchor for the footnote after "raftin' ice" was added to
the text.

Page 328, "handkerckief" changed to "handkerchief" (pockets for a

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Adventures of Billy Topsail" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.