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Title: The Deep Sea's Toll
Author: Connolly, James B. (James Brendan)
Language: English
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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.

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                          THE DEEP SEA’S TOLL

   [Illustration: “’Tis Tommie I’m after,” hollers back the Skipper.

                            --See page 34.]



                               THE DEEP
                              SEA’S TOLL

                                  BY
                           JAMES B. CONNOLLY

                    AUTHOR OF “OUT OF GLOUCESTER,”
                          “THE SEINERS,” ETC.

                         WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                    _W. J. Aylward & H. Reuterdahl_

                        CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
                        NEW YORK :::::::: 1905



                          COPYRIGHT, 1905, BY
                        CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS

                      Published, September, 1905

                            TROW DIRECTORY
                   PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING COMPANY
                               NEW YORK



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE

THE SAIL-CARRIERS                                                      1

THE WICKED “CELESTINE”                                                41

THE TRUTH OF THE OLIVER CROMWELL                                      71

STRATEGY AND SEAMANSHIP                                              133

DORY-MATES                                                           159

THE SALVING OF THE BARK FULLER                                       199

ON GEORGES SHOALS                                                    243

PATSIE ODDIE’S BLACK NIGHT                                           273



ILLUSTRATIONS


“’Tis Tommie I’m after,” hollers back the Skipper          _Frontispiece_

                                                                  FACING
                                                                    PAGE

“All the looseness in my oil-pants is ketched tight”                  26

What’s that a-drivin’ in from sea, like a ghost from out              32

Stood by and took them as they came down                              64

A tug bore down and hailed them                                       68

He was having another mug-up for himself                             114

The _Lucy_ was acting like a vessel trying to coax the other         152

“You just try it--just let me see you try it, Sam Leary”             234



The Sail-Carriers


It was a howling gale outside, but howling gales were common things to
Peter, and he did not see why this one need hinder his taking a little
stroll along the docks. Something in the appearance of the vessel just
rounding the Point helped to give new life to the idea he had been
entertaining for some minutes now--that a little trip along the harbor
front wouldn’t be a half bad notion.

Exactly what that something was Peter could not say. Queer inner
workings were not to be argued as if they were Trust or Tariff
questions; but this vessel--and she certainly was an able vessel--and
the vessel just before her was an able vessel too--both these vessels,
he might say, tearing around the Point, rails buried and booms dragging,
did suggest in some way Peter couldn’t quite reason out, that his
intended little voyage was a good idea.

It had been ever so with Peter. Never one of his favorites came swinging
in before a breeze that he did not begin to get nervous. So, having
made a note of the _Colleen Bawn_, Tom O’Donnell master, under a note
of the _Nannie O_, Tommie Ohlsen master, and seeing nothing further to
hinder he just the same as conferred a decoration on the most
meritorious of his volunteer staff by giving him full charge of the
tower while he should be gone. Then, with conscience clear, he climbed
down the winding back stairs and out onto the street.

In and about among the wharves did Peter jog under easy sail until he
felt somewhat more rested. He was, indeed, about to return to Crow’s
Nest, but happening to glance down Duncan’s Dock, he made out Dexter
Warren painting dories under the lee of the long shed. “Miracles!”
murmured Peter, “Dexter’s workin’.” Picking his course over the planks
of the dock, tacking in and out among the fish flakes, empty hogsheads
and old broken spars, Peter noticed Dexter step away from his dories,
raise his hands to his eyes, take a squint across the harbor, shake his
head sadly, come back and resume his dory-painting.

But resumed it leisurely, for Dexter, as everybody in Gloucester that
knew him knew, was not the man to do things in a bull-headed way. That
some men painted portraits with less care than Dexter painted bankers’
dories was readily believed by anyone who had ever seen Dexter painting
dories. Dexter would have told you that the dories were the more useful.
He was now putting in the discriminating touches that distinguish the
type of man who works for something other than the money there is in it.
It was the precise little dab of the brush here and a deft little flirt
of the wrist there, and the holding of the head first to one side and
then the other, that caught the eye of Peter when he rounded to under
Dexter’s quarter and hailed.

“Hulloh, Dexter-boy, and what’s it you’re paintin’?”

“Miniachoors--miniachoors on iv’ry,” responded Dexter, with brush
suspended at arm’s length, and himself swinging slowly around. He had
some more little repartee on the tip of his tongue, but seeing who it
was he forgot it, and “Hulloh, Peter,” he said instead, “and what ever
druv you out this mornin’?”

“I dunno. The confinement, maybe.”

“Ah, that’s bad--too much confinement.”

“That’s what I was thinkin’ myself. For who are the dories?”

“Captain O’Donnell.”

“For the _Colleen Bawn_? A man’d think’d be a new vessel and not new
dories he’d be gettin’--the old one’s that wracked apart. Red bottoms,
yeller sides, and green gunnels--m’m--but they’ll be swell-lookin’
dories when you get ’em done, won’t they?”

“They’ll be the prettiest dories that was ever put aboard a trawler out
of Gloucester,” said Dexter, appreciatively.

“I’ll bet. And he’ll be pleased with ’em, I know--’specially the green
gunnels--and he ought t’ be along soon.”

“Who along soon?--not the _Colleen Bawn_?”

“Sure. She was comin’ around the Point just as I left Crow’s Nest.”

“No! Well, I’m glad,” breathed Dexter. “I’m glad he’s home again. And
so’ll his wife be, too. There was that gale just after she left. His
wife, I’ll bet, ain’t slept a wink since.”

Peter straddled the sheer of a broken topmast. “Whose wife, Dexter?--not
meanin’ to be inquisitive.”

“Why, Jimmie Johnson’s. He’s on the _Colleen_ this trip.”

“Him? The little fellow lumps around here sometimes? Why, we used to
scare him ’most to death up in Crow’s Nest tellin’-- How came it he got
it into his head to go fishin’?”

“Oh, it was what the papers’d call a little matrimonial difference. I
expect that him and his wife ain’t got real well acquainted with each
other yet. He’s pretty young yet, and she don’t know too much about the
world. I know, because she’s my first cousin. Young married couples, I
s’pose, got to have ’bout so many arguments before they find each other
out. I ain’t married myself, but ain’t it about that way, Peter?”

“Well, gen’rally, Dexter, though not always.” Peter jabbed the point of
his knife-blade into his spar. “You see, Dexter, it’s a good deal like
vessels. You don’t always know how to take them at first. There’s some
sails best down by the head, and some by the stern. There’s some’ll come
about in the wildest gale under headsail alone, and others you have to
drive around with the trys’l or a bit of the mains’l and that, too, when
a minute too late means the vessel gone up on the rocks. Some you c’n
find all about how they trim the first trip, and some you c’n never find
out about; and some fine day they rolls over or goes under, and the
whole gang’s lost. But about Jimmie, Dexter--how’d Tom O’Donnell ever
come to ship him?”

“Lord, I dunno. I only know I came down on the dock that mornin’, and he
was standin’ right where I am now, just goin’ to begin on a new set of
dories for the _Scarrabee_ that was fittin’ out to go halibutin’. When I
came along I was wonderin’ where I could get about a week’s work. I
didn’t want more’n a week, because I’d been promised a job in the glue
factory the first of the month, and I never did see the use of wearin’
yourself out beforehand when you’re goin’ to start in soon on a steady
job, would you, Peter?”

“Well,”-- Peter made a few more thoughtful jabs into the topmast--“well,
no, maybe not--more especially if ’t was a glue factory job.”

“That’s what I say. Well, I notices something was wrong, and I asks what
the matter was. ‘Tired of work?’ I says, thinkin’ to cheer him up.”

“‘Tired of everything,’ says Jimmie, and I see he was ’most ready to
cry. Well, you know the kind he is, Peter. He ain’t one of them fellows
that’ll go out and have a few drinks for himself and forget it. No; he
thinks over things that don’t amount to nothin’ till he’s near
crazy--you’ve met them kind? Yes? Well, Jimmie was that way this
mornin’. I drew it out of him that he’d had a scrap up home. He told me,
knowin’ I wouldn’t tell it all over the place, and----”

“And he wound up by shippin’ with Tom O’Donnell? How’d Jimmie ever get a
chance with that gang? They’re an able crew.”

“Lord, I dunno. I went away, and warn’t gone more than an hour when the
boy from the office came huntin’ for me and says that Jimmie Johnson’d
gone a haddockin’ trip in the _Colleen Bawn_ and did I want his job? And
I came back and went to work thinkin’ I had a week ahead of me or so,
and here it’s the fourteenth day--not countin’ Sundays--and I’m glad
he’s back, and I hope he hurries ashore as soon’s they come to anchor.
Fourteen days now paintin’ dories and lumpin’ around this dock, and----”

“And that poor boy out in the _Colleen Bawn_ in that last blow! Well,
maybe it’ll do him good. Your cousin, you say, Dexter? I think I’ve seen
her--and a nice little woman, too--though I expect there was a little to
blame on both sides. There gen’rally is. But I must be gettin’ back. I
left a lad in charge of Crow’s Nest that I’m afeard ain’t able to pick
out a Georgesman from an Eyetalian barque loaded with salt till they’re
under his nose, and maybe he won’t be reportin’ one or two to the office
till after they know it themselves, and then somebody’ll ketch the
devil--me, most likely. So, so long, Dexter.”

Regretfully relinquishing his old topmast, and leaving Dexter and his
dories in his wake, Peter gradually gathered steerage-way, and headed up
the dock, from where, in time, he managed to work into the street, and
then, with Duncan’s office to port and a good beam wind, he bore away
for Crow’s Nest. He had it in mind to go by way of the Anchorage, and
laying his course therefor--no’west by nothe--he hauled up for the
Anchorage corner.

Luffing the least bit to clear the brass railings outside the Anchorage
windows, and having in mind all the while how fine it would be once he
was around with a fair wind at his back, and bending his head at the
same time to the breeze, Peter ran plump into somebody coming the other
way.

“I say, matey, but could you swing her off a half-point or so?” sung out
the other cheerfully.

“Swing off? Why, of course, but gen’rally a vessel close-hauled is
s’posed to have right of way where I come from.”

“Close-hauled are you? Well, so’m I--or I thought I was.”

“And so maybe y’are, if you’re so round-bowed and flat-bottomed a craft
you can’t sail closer than seven or eight points. Anyway, I’m starb’d
tack.”

“Well, who in--” The other peered up. “Why, hello-o, Peter!”

“What! Well, well, Tommie Clancy! the _Colleen Bawn_ in already?”

“To anchor in the stream not two minutes ago. I hurried ashore on an
errand for her.”

“And what kind of a trip did y’ have?”

“Oh, nothing extra so far as the fish went, but good and lively every
other way. Stayed out in that breeze week before last and left Georges
last night with that latest spoon-bow model and I guess she’s still
a-comin’. Some wind last night comin’ home, Peter.”

“M-m-- I’ll bet she came a-howlin’.”

“Oh, maybe she didn’t. Peter boy, but if you only could’ve seen her
hoppin’ over the shoals last night and comin’ up to Cape Ann this
mornin’! But let’s step inside, and have a little touch.”

“Well, I don’t mind, seein’ the kind of a day it is, Tommie. And I want
to ask you about that little fellow you shipped-- Jimmie Johnson.”

“Ho, ho--‘Your oilskins are too loose,’ says the Skipper to him. Ho,
ho--wait and I’ll tell you about him, Peter--‘Your oilskins too loose--’
ho, ho.”

“What did he mean by that?”

“Wait, till I tell you, Peter-boy. But let’s sit down and drink in
comfort. There y’are. Here’s a shoot. G-g-g-h-! m-m-! but ain’t it fine
to feel that soaking into your inside planking after you’ve been
carryin’ a dry hold for sixteen days? Ain’t it? What? You bet! And about
the little lumper-man--it was funny from the start. I was down the end
of the dock the mornin’ we left, with the dory, waiting for the
Skipper, when along comes this little fellow lookin’ like something
sad’d happened. I kind of half knew him from seein’ him around the dock
now and again. He seemed to be lookin’ for some good sympathetic party
to tell his troubles to and I let him pour them into me. He talks away
and I listens and before he’s through I begin to see what the trouble
was. ‘What you need is a couple of drinks,’ I says--‘What d’y’ say if we
step up the dock and have a litle touch?’

“‘No, no,’ says he, ‘I ain’t drunk a drop since I got married--and I
never will whilst I am married.’

“‘Then if you don’t hurry up and get a divorce, I can see that you are
goin’ to carry around an awful thirst,’ I says, but the way he took it I
see he didn’t want any foolin’. And then, to soothe him, I asked why he
didn’t go a haddockin’ trip, and forget it.”

“‘Do you think I’d forget it?’ he asks, eager-like.

“‘Well,’ I said, ‘I can’t say. Some people remember things a long time,
but you go a trip with Tom O’Donnell, and you’ll stand a pretty good
chance ’specially ’bout this time o’ year,’ I says. ‘And maybe it’ll
teach people a lesson,’ I insinuates. And just then down the dock comes
the Skipper, with big Jerry Sullivan. Ain’t he a whale though--big
Jerry?”

“Yes, and gettin’ bigger every day.”

“Yes. Well, the Skipper was layin’ down the law to big Jerry, and you
could hear him the length of the dock. He was sayin’, ‘I told him we’d
leave at nine o’clock, and it’s quarter-past now, and I told him above
all the others, knowin’ his failin’. He knows me, and he oughter know
that when I say nine o’clock that ’tis nine o’clock I mean, and not ten,
or eleven, or two in the afternoon; and we’ve been in two nights now,
and he’s had plenty o’ time to loosen up since.”

“‘That’s right enough, Skipper,’ says Jerry. ‘I heard you myself, and I
said myself, “Now, mind, Bartley, what the Skipper’s tellin’ you.” But
you see, Skipper, it was a weddin’ last night, and a wake the night
before----’

“‘A wake and a weddin’! And whose weddin’--his?’ roars the Skipper.

“‘Why, no,’ says Jerry.

“‘Was it his wake, then?’

“‘Why, Skipper, don’t you know it couldn’t been his wake?’

“‘Not his wake and not his weddin’? Then what the divil reason has he?’

“‘Why,’ said Jerry, ‘I ain’t sayin’ he’s got any good reason. But you
know what he thinks of you and of the vessel. He’s been in the
_Colleen_ ever since she was built, and he’s a fisherman--a fisherman,
Skipper, stem to stern a fisherman--and he knows your ways and the
vessel’s ways,’ says Jerry.

“‘Indeed, and I’m not sure he knows my ways too well,’ says the Skipper.
‘It’s so proud he should be to sail in the _Colleen Bawn_, the fastest,
ablest vessel out of Gloucester, if I do say it myself, that-- But no
more talk. To the divil with him. There’s the dory--jump in and go
aboard.’

“‘But what’ll I do for a dory-mate?’ says Jerry.

“‘Oh, I’ll get you a dory-mate. When we put into Boston for bait
there’ll be plenty to pick up on T wharf.’

“Well, just there I nudges the little lumper, and he sets his jaws and
steps up: ‘Captain, could you give me a chance? I’d like to ship with
you for a trip.’

“The Skipper looks down at him. ‘And who are you?’

“And right away he begins to tell his troubles to the Skipper, and the
Skipper--you know the Skipper--listens like a father. But he near
spoiled it all by windin’ up, ‘Oh, I’ve been workin’ around the dock
lately, but I used to be quartermaster on a harbor steamer in Boston
one time,’ to let the Skipper know he wouldn’t have a passenger on his
hands.

“The Skipper looks him up and looks him down. ‘Quartermaster on a harbor
steamer once, was you? Think of that, now. It’s the proud man you
oughter be! And about as big as a pair of good woolen mitts! But’--and
he looks over at Jerry sideways--‘you’ll have a mate that’s big enough.
Jerry,’ and he begins to smile sly-like, ‘Jerry, here’s the dory-mate
you’ve been screechin’ for.’

“‘What!’ howls Jerry, ‘him--him! Why, I could slip him into one of my
red-jacks. That little shrimp! A shrimp? No--a minim!’

“It was scandalous, of course, to speak out like that to the little man
to his face, but Jerry and Bartley were great friends, you see; and
Jerry’d kept on, but the Skipper puts an end to it quick, and we went
aboard.

“Well, we puts into Boston for the bait, gets it up to T wharf and puts
out. Coming down the harbor it was Jerry and the little man’s watch on
deck. Jerry put him to the wheel. ‘Bein’ quartermaster of a harbor
steamer here once, of course you know the channel,’ says Jerry, and
leaves him and goes for’ard. Well, we went along till we were pretty
near the little light-house on the thin iron legs that sets up like it
was on stilts. Well, you know how the channel is there, Peter, and this
time it was blowin’ some--wind abeam. I mind the little man askin’ Jerry
afore this if it warn’t pretty bad weather to be puttin’ to sea and
Jerry sayin’ maybe it would be for harbor steamers. We were crowdin’
along at this time, Jerry for’ard by the windlass, me in the waist, and
the little man to the wheel. We gets near to the little
light-house--like a spider on long legs it was-- Bug Light is the name of
it, and a good name for it, too. We were crowdin’ through, and I was
thinkin’ of askin’ Jerry if he hadn’t better take the wheel himself, and
then I thought I wouldn’t. It warn’t my watch, and you don’t like to be
hintin’ to a man that he don’t know his business, you know, not even to
a man that was green as this one might be in handlin’ a fisherman. Well,
we gets nearer and I noticed the little man beginnin’ to fidget like he
was nervous or something. At last he hollers out to Jerry, ‘I say,
matey, what’ll I do? I don’t know’s I c’n keep her away from the light,
and there’s rocks on the other side. What’ll I do, matey?’

“Jerry turns around. ‘Whatever you do, don’t call me matey. And whatever
you do again, don’t put this vessel up on the rocks or the Skipper’ll
swing you from the fore-gaff peak and let this fine no’therly blow
through you.’

“‘But we won’t go by,’ hollers the little man; ‘we’re goin’ to hit it.’

“‘Well, hit it if you want to,’ says Jerry--‘it’s your wheel. You
shipped in Bartley Campbell’s place, now do Bartley Campbell’s work.
Anyway,’ goes on Jerry, ‘you won’t do any great harm if you do. It’s
bent to one side anyway here where some old coaster or other hit it a
clip last fall. Maybe you c’n straighten it out.’

“Jerry no more than got that out than the vessel got way from the little
man and ran into the light. She hit it fair as could be, with her
bowsprit against one of the long, thin iron legs, and she did give it a
wallop. There was a man climbin’ up the ladder the other side of the
light--to fill his lamps, I s’pose--and when we hit the light he shook
off like an apple from a tree, and drops into the water. The vessel
bounces off where we hit, and the Skipper and the rest of the gang comes
rushin’ up on deck. ‘What the divil’s that?’ says the Skipper; and
seein’ the man in the water, he rushes to the side and gaffs him in nice
and handy.

“‘What the devil do you mean?’ says the man the Skipper’d gaffed, soon’s
he’d got his mouth clear of salt water.

“‘What the divil do _you_ mean?’ says our Skipper, ‘by comin’ aboard
this vessel?’ He’s about as quick a man to see a thing--that Tom
O’Donnell--as ever I saw in my life.

“‘What do I mean?’ says the man. ‘What do you mean by running that gaff
into me the way you did?’

“‘Holy Mother!’ says the Skipper, ‘but will you listen to him? It’s gold
medals we should be gettin’ from the Humane Societies for savin’ the
life of him, and now it’s nothin’ but growling because we did save it.’

“‘Saved my life!’ sputters the light-house lad. ‘My boat was right there
when I fell. Why, it ain’t your vessel’s length away now under the
light’--the _Colleen_ was beginnin’ to slide away again--‘and I want you
to know I c’n swim like a fish.’

“‘Then swim, ye divil ye, swim!’ says the Skipper quick’s a wink, and
picks him up and heaves him over the rail. ‘Yes,’ says big Jerry, ‘swim,
you lobster, swim!’ and he pushes him along with an oar he’d grabbed out
the top dory. And he did swim, too.

“And then the Skipper comes aft. ‘Who the divil,’ says he, ‘was to the
wheel?’ and spots the little man, who was lookin’ more surprised than
the light-keeper in the water. ‘And where’d you ever steer a vessel
before?’ says the Skipper.

“‘I dunno’s I did so very bad,’ answers the little man. ‘I used to be
quartermaster on a harbor steamer once, and I kept her off the rocks.’

“The Skipper looked at him like he was a new kind of fish. ‘Indeed, was
you now? And you kept her off the rocks? And did you ship for a
fisherman or what?’ And the Skipper looks at him a little more, then
laughs and takes the wheel himself. ‘Maybe,’ says he, ‘the insurance
company would like it better if I took her the rest of the way out of
the harbor myself. And I don’t want to lose her myself. She’s too good a
vessel--the fastest and the ablest out o’ Gloucester. But go below now,
boy, and have your supper.’

“Well, that passed by all right, but outside the harbor, off Minot’s, we
ran foul of the _Superba_--that’s the new one, the latest spoon-bow
model. He sees her comin’ and sways up, but she comes on and goes on
by--goes on by nice and easy. ‘And she used to be a good vessel once,’
says Dick Mason, her skipper, to some of his gang standing aft. We could
hear him--he meant us to hear him--‘of course, a good vessel once, the
_Colleen Bawn_, but she’s been wracked so she can’t carry sail no
longer.’

“Imagine Tom O’Donnell, Peter, havin’ to stand on the quarter of his
own vessel and take that from Dick Mason--imagine it, Peter, and from
Dick Mason that, standing on deck and wide-awake, couldn’t sail a vessel
like Tom O’Donnell could from his bunk below and half asleep. The
Skipper looked after her, then he turns us to, and it was sway up and no
end to the trimmin’ of sheets. But no use. The _Superba_ kept goin’ on
away, and the Skipper couldn’t make it out. He stood with one foot on
the house, his chin in his hand, and his elbow on his knee, and tried to
figure it out as he looked after her. It was by the wind, and plenty of
it--the rail nice and wet--couldn’t been better for our vessel. ‘There’s
something wrong,’ says he. And there was something wrong. We found it
after awhile. It was one of the iron bands that was holdin’ her
together--the one for’ard was loose and draggin’ under her bottom. The
Skipper was tickled to death when he found what it was. ‘Troth, and I
knew there was something wrong with her,’ he says; and puts into
Provincetown and has it bolted on again. ‘Now,’ he says, ‘she’ll be nice
and tight again when we wants to drive her. And if we runs foul of that
spoon-bow again, we’ll see.’ We warn’t out the harbor hardly before the
wind gettin’ at her, she begins to leak for’ard, but the Skipper
pretended he didn’t see it, puts around the Cape and off for Georges,
where we got to just about in time to ketch that no’west gale that was
riotin’ out there the week before last. We were blowed off, but banged
her back, blowed off and banged her back again, tryin’ to hang on to
shoal water so’s to be handy to good fishin’ when it moderated. But it
was a week before it did moderate, and by that time the _Colleen_ was
pretty well shook up, with the water sizzlin’ through her like she was a
lobster-pot for’ard, and the gang makin’ guesses on how long before
she’d come apart altogether. The Skipper, he didn’t seem to mind. ‘She’s
a little loose,’ says he, ‘but don’t let it worry ye. Keep your rubber
boots on, and don’t mind. So long as the iron bands hangs to her planks,
she’s all right.’

“Well, as I said, it moderated, and we got a chance to fish a little on
and off for another week, and the troubles of Jerry with his dory-mate
would fill a book that week. ‘It’s two men’s work you have now, Jerry,’
I says to him. ‘’Tisn’t two but three,’ says Jerry. ‘It’s my own work
and his work and another man’s work to see he don’t get tangled up in
the trawls or capsize the dory or fall over himself and get lost.’
However, fishin’ on and off brought us to yesterday, when, with the wind
makin’ all the time, it got too rough toward the evenin’ to put the
dories out, and we used the time up till along toward dark in dressin’
what fish we had on deck and cuttin’ fresh bait for next day--to-day
that’d be. We’d done all that, and was gettin’ ready to make ourselves
comfortable for the night with the Skipper sayin’: ‘Ten thousand more,
and I’d swing her off for Gloucester, I would. But another set, and,
with any kind of luck, we’ll get that, and then we’ll swing her off.’
He’d only just said that--he was havin’ a mug-up for’ard at the
time--when whoever was on watch sticks his head down the gangway, and
calls out: ‘Captain, here’s the _Superba_, and she’s goin’ home, I
think.’

“‘What!’ says he, and gulps his coffee and leaps for the gangway, and we
knew that our notions about a comfortable night might’s well be
forgotten. He takes a look at the vessel comin’. ‘That’s Dickie Mason,
sure enough. Shake the reef out the mains’l, and we’ll put after her.’

“‘Mason’s under a trys’l, Skipper,’ says big Jerry.

“‘And so would I be in that cigar-box,’ says the Skipper.

“We drives up and shoots under her stern. ‘Hi-i, Captain Mason!’ sings
out our Skipper.

“‘Hi-i, Captain O’Donnell,’ hollers Mason.

“‘Know me?’

“‘I sure do.’

“‘And this vessel?’

“‘That old wrack?-- I’d know her in a million.’

“‘Would you now? Then swing on your heel and follow her home.’ And then
he turns to us, ‘Boom her out now, boys--boom her out--no’west by west
and never a slack.’ And off he goes straight for the shoals, with a
livin’ south-easterly gale and the black night on us.

“‘Twarn’t more than an hour, or maybe two, runnin’ like that, when we
couldn’t make out the _Superba’s_ lights any more. The Skipper himself
went to the masthead and looked. ‘She’s put to the nothe’ard, I think,’
he said, comin’ down. ‘But then again maybe he isn’t. Maybe he’s put
them out. Anyway, we’ll keep on and make a holy show of her--the fine
_Superba_, indeed! that don’t dare to follow the _Colleen Bawn_, all
wracked as they say she is! Maybe he’ll get his courage up and come
after us later, but whatever she does we’ll keep this one as she is.’

“We were fair into the shoal water then with the Skipper keepin’ the
lead goin’ himself. ‘Billie Simms in the _Henry Parker_ showed me in the
_Lucy Foster_ the short course over these shoals,’ he says--‘and it cost
me twelve hundred and odd dollars, and I haven’t forgotten the road.’
He warn’t tellin’ anybody what water he was gettin’. It was pretty shoal
though, man, it was. Once or twice, I swear, we were real worried. But
he’s the lucky man, is Tom O’Donnell. The wind hauled and he swung her
fore-boom over and tried to spread a balloon. It carried away her
foretopm’st, which maybe was just as well. And all night long he kept
her goin’----”

“Lord, but you must’ve had it, Tommie. And Jimmie Johnson--how was he
makin’ out?”

“Jimmie Johnson? Ho, ho! the little lumper. Let me tell you. In the
middle of the night, thinkin’ the worst of it was over, with the shoals
behind us, the gang went below and turned in, all but me. I gets my pipe
from my bunk and was havin’ a smoke, and thinkin’ of turnin’ in too,
when this Jimmie Johnson came down, lookin’ pretty well worried.

“‘Ain’t it awful?’ he says.

“‘Ain’t what awful?’ I asks.

“‘Why, the night--the vessel--the way she’s sailin’--and everything
else.’

“‘Why don’t you turn in?’ I asked.

“‘It’s no use turnin’ in now,’ he answers; ‘my watch comes in half an
hour or so.’

“‘Turn in,’ says I; ‘I’ll stand your watch.’

“‘Will you?’ he says, and looks like a load’d come off his chest.

“He was goin’ to turn in then, when he happened to think he’d like to
have a mug-up. So he gets a mug of coffee and a slice of pie, and takes
a seat on the wind’ard locker. There was plenty wind stirrin’ then, mind
you, but there he was havin’ a nice little mug-up for himself, sittin’
on the weather-locker and all oiled-up, leanin’ over the table, his mug
o’ coffee to one hand and a wide wedge o’ pie to the other. Man, I have
to laugh every time I think of him. ‘The cook of this vessel does make
the finest apple pie, don’t he?’ he says, and you could see his spirits
was beginnin’ to rise, with the hot coffee gettin’ inside of him. The
_Colleen_ was bumpin’ herself all this time, rollin’ over like she was
goin’ to lie down, and then gettin’ up again, rearin’ her head and
fannin’ herself with her forefeet, standin’ on her hind legs and then
comin’ down again, doin’ all those kind of things you gets used to on
her when the Skipper’s tryin’ to sail her in a blow. Well, I watches
this little Jimmie for awhile, till I happens to think that so long’s I
had another watch to stand I might’s well have another pipeful while I
was waitin’. I was thinkin’ of steppin’ over for a bit of tobacco out of
big Jerry’s bunk, which was right over where this Jimmie Johnson was
sittin’, when the _Colleen_ gave an extra good lurch, and with it all at
once this lad sank down about a foot or so, and Jerry at the same time
most comes through the bottom of his bunk. The lad, he gets pale, and
makes as if he was tryin’ to stand up but couldn’t. ‘What is it?’ I
said, and wonders what was wrong with him. ‘My oil-skins,’ said he. ‘All
the looseness in my oil-pants is ketched tight.’ And then Jerry woke up,
with the noise he made in fallin’, I s’pose, and the most surprised man
you ever saw. ‘Mother o’ mine!’ says Jerry, ‘what’s that?’ and just
for’ard of him Aleck McKenzie leaps a full three feet into the air,
hittin’ the deck beam so hard he must’ve left pieces of himself stickin’
to it. ‘What in the--!’ says Aleck, and when he got that far he sees
this Jimmie Johnson. ‘Did you do that?’ he says.

“‘No,’ says he, and tryin’ himself to get off the locker Aleck notices
him.

“‘What you doin’ there anyway?’ says Aleck.

“‘I dunno,’ says Jimmie, and just then the _Colleen_ falls the other way
and lets him loose again, and he leaps for the gangway and up on deck.
Man, he fair flew, and I went up after him, not knowin’ what might
happen to him, and Jerry and Aleck below swearin’ like crazy men.

“Up on the deck there was the Skipper just able to keep his feet and
talkin’ to Dal Skinner,

[Illustration: “All the looseness in my oil-pants is ketched tight.”]

who was to the wheel. It was dark enough, but you c’d make him out where
the light of the binnacle hit on his wet oil-skins. Up to him popped the
little man from somewhere. ‘My God, but it’s a wild night, ain’t it,
Captain?’ says he.

“‘Who the divil’s that?’ says the Skipper, and he peeks along the deck
to where Jimmie was hangin’ to the weather rail. After takin’ another
peek and seein’ who it was, the Skipper don’t pay no more attention to
him, but goes on talkin’ to Dal.

“‘I’m thinkin’,’ says the Skipper, ‘that it’s moderatin’ a bit and maybe
she’d stand the stays’l pretty soon.’ Jimmie, I guess, was listenin’ to
that and couldn’t hold in any longer. ‘Oh, Captain, Captain,’ says he,
‘she’s fallin’ apart forward,’ and tells him what happened in the
forec’s’le. ‘How long you been sleepin’ for’ard?’ asks the Skipper.

“‘Four nights now,’ says Jimmie.

“‘Only four nights? That’s it, you’re not used to sleepin’ for’ard yet.
You mustn’t mind that. They all used to think that at first. But Lord
bless you, don’t you mind that. That’s just a little way she has. She
don’t mean any harm.’

“‘But Jerry fell through his bunk.’

“‘And why wouldn’t he? sure he weighs a ton.’

“‘But,’ says Jimmie, ‘she pinched my oil-pants, her planks opened up so
wide!’

“‘That so? And what size oil-skins do you wear?’

“‘I dunno,’ says he--‘these belong to Clancy.’

“‘There it is,’ said he, ‘Clancy’s a big man, and your oil-skins are too
loose. Go below and see if you can find some that are four sizes smaller
and get the loan of ’em. Go below anyway,’ says he, ‘and finish your
mug-up. You’ll feel better.’

“‘If you don’t mind, Captain,’ says he, ‘I’d rather stay on deck
awhile--it’s safer, I think.’

“‘All right,’ says the Skipper, ‘but don’t get in the way.’

“He hadn’t got that fair out, when ‘Hard down--hard down!’ comes ravin’
from the watch for’ard. ‘Down,’ hollers Dal, and the _Colleen_ makes a
shoot, and the booms start to come over. And just then the Skipper makes
a jump for the waist after this Jimmie and slings him out of the way of
the fore-boom. He saved Jimmie from having his head split open and
knocked overboard and lost, but he couldn’t save himself. Even a man
like Tom O’Donnell can’t sling a man out of the way on a wet and driving
deck with one hand like he was a feather, and the boom ketches him side
the head just as the vessel heels down again on the other tack and over
the railing he goes----”

“Not overboard, Tommie!”

“Yes, overboard and into the black sea, and me standing by couldn’t save
him from it. I jumped, but he was gone, and over on the other side the
clumsy ark of a vessel we had to turn out for went on by. The watch
must’ve been asleep aboard of her. I stood and cursed her lights as they
went away from us. Yes, sir, cursed ’em out between the times I was
hollering for the gang to come up.

“‘On deck everybody--all hands on deck!’ I roars it loud’s I could, and
had the gripes slashed off the nest of lee dories by the time they came
up flying.

“‘The Skipper is gone,’ says I--‘over with a dory!’ and we had one over
in no time, and Jerry and me jumps in-- Jerry in his stockin’ feet--and
out we goes. We couldn’t sees so much as a star in the sky, if there was
one--not even the white tops of the seas--but we drove her out, and
’twas all we could do to keep the dory from capsizin’ by the way. ‘To
looard!’ I says, and to looard we pushed her, and then, ‘Hi, the
_Colleen Bawn_! On your lee quarter.’ ’Twas the Skipper’s voice. And
maybe we didn’t row! But ’twas one thing to hear his voice, and another
in that night and sea and blackness to find him, and keep the dory
right side up at the same time. But he kept singin’ out and we kept
drivin’ away, and at last we got him. A hard job he must’ve had trying
to keep afloat with his big jack-boots on, and everything else on, for
the fifteen minutes or more it took us to find him.

“‘Lord!’ says he, ‘but I’m glad to see you. Paddling like a porpoise
I’ve been since I went over the side. But drive for the vessel--there’s
her port light--and I’ll keep bailin’, if one of ye’ll lend me your
sou’wester.’

“We got alongside, and the Skipper climbs over the rail. ‘Put her on her
course again,’ he says, and then starts to go below to overhaul his
head.

“And then Jimmie Johnson steps up. ‘How’d it come, Captain,’ he says,
‘you fell overboard?’ By the light from the cabin gangway the Skipper
sees him, and----

“‘You little-- I dunno what--but go below. Take him for’ard, somebody,’
he says, ‘and tie him in his bunk, or give him laudanum out of the
medicine-chest, afore we have all hands lost tryin’ to look after him.’

“Then he goes below to fix his head up--the side of his head was laid
clean open, with the blood runnin’ scuppers full from him.

“‘Och,’ says he, ‘but ’tis a great pickle--salt water,’ and he takes an
old cotton shirt and tears it up and wraps it ’round his head, and goes
on deck again.”

“And after that he kept her comin’ just the same, Tommie?”

“Just the same. All night long he kept her comin’, and payin’ attention
to nobody. In the early mornin’, I mind we passed Josh Bradley in the
_Tubal Cain_, him bangin’ along with a busted fores’l, remindin’ us of a
gull with a broken wing. We passed a whole fleet of old plugs anchored
off Highland Light, ripped by ’em roarin’, and they lookin’ over the
rails at the Skipper, his head all wrapped up. Imagine her, Peter, with
her four lowers and gaff topsail, and the wind makin’ if anything. And
then what should happen but he made out the _Nannie O_ ahead. ‘’Tis
Tommie Ohlsen,’ he says, ‘under four lowers. We’ll chase him.’ But
Tommie must’ve seen us, for soon we saw his tops’l break out. Then we
sent up the stays’l, and then Tommie sent up his. Then we came swingin’
round the Cape--and I’d like to had a photograph of her then--with the
Skipper standin’ between house and rail to wind’ard, squeezin’ the salt
water out of his beard, and Jerry below singin’:

    ‘What’s that a-drivin’ in from sea,
       Like a ghost from out the dawn?
     And who but Tom O’Donnell
       And his flying _Colleen Bawn_.’

“‘’Tis fine and gay they’re feelin’,’ says the Skipper, ‘with their
singin’, thinkin’ they’ll soon be home. In a minute, now, there’ll be
something to sing about. Look at what’s coming,’ and she gets it fair
and full. And it was too much for the gang. He floats them all out
below. From fore and aft they comes runnin’ up on deck. ‘For God’s sake,
Skipper, what is it?’ says they. ‘Don’t worry,’ says the Skipper, ‘’tis
only a little squall, and the _Nannie O_ ahead.’ ‘But what’re we goin’
to do, Skipper? We can’t stay below.’ ‘Oh, climb on the weather-rail,’
says the Skipper, ‘and if she goes over, ’tis only a mile to shore.’ And
then the face of little Jimmie! ‘My God, my God--my poor, poor wife!’ he
says. ‘Whisht, lad, whisht,’ says the Skipper, patting his head, ‘’tis
to your wife we’re takin’ you,’ and he keeps on chasin’ the _Nannie O_
across the bay.”

“And then?”

“And then? Why, he kept her goin’ across the bay. Half-way home, there
was a big white steam yacht layin’ to both anchors. She was big enough
to tow the _Colleen_ ten knots an hour.

[Illustration: What’s that a-drivin’ in from sea, like a ghost from out
the dawn?]

‘You’d think it was banshees we was, the way they look out from between
the lace curtains,’ says the Skipper, and we rips by her stern like the
express train goin’ by West Gloucester station.

“A little while after that we overhauled Eben Watkins. Eben, you know,
used to brag some about that vessel of his one time, but now he was
under a storm trys’l. ’Twas kind of thick--we’d lost sight of the
_Nannie_--and the Skipper was goin’ on by without intendin’ to say
anything, but Eben hails him.

“‘Where were you about two hours ago?’

“‘Roundin’ the Cape,’ says the Skipper.

“‘What sail d’y’ have on her?’

“‘What she’s got now.’

“‘That stays’l?’

“‘That stays’l--yes.’

“‘Get that squall?’

“‘Oh, a little puff.’

“‘A little puff?’ says Eben, and he stretches his head at us--‘a little
puff. And how’d she stand it?’

“‘Just wet our rail--just wet our rail.’

“‘Go to hell!’ says Eben--‘just wet your rail.’ And I don’t blame him,
for the _Colleen_ was down to her hatches then. ‘I s’pose Tommie Ohlsen
just wet his rail too,’ says Eben. ‘All we could see of him goin’ by a
while ago was the weather-side of his deck.’

“‘’Tis Tommie I’m after,’ hollers back the Skipper and gets out of
hearing.

“I don’t know whether we gained or lost on the _Nannie O_, but we
carried our stays’l every foot of the way from Cape Cod to Eastern Point
and we carried into the harbor just the same’s we came across the bay.
Did you see her beatin’ in? No? Well, it was a scandal. Her deck was
slidin’ back and forth under our feet--we could feel it, and you’ve seen
a soap-box with the top and bottom gone floatin’ about in the tide? Yes?
And how it lengthens out sometimes when a sea hits it broadside? Well,
that’s the way the _Colleen_ was shiftin’ back and forth comin’ in the
harbor. She was that loose ’twas immoral. ‘She’s ten feet longer when
she stretches herself real well,’ says Jerry. ‘She is a bit loose,’ says
the Skipper, ‘but she sails better loose. When she lengthens out like
that, she’s doin’ her best reachin’.’

“And that’s the way she came in. When we came to anchor the Skipper went
into her peak with a lantern, tryin’ to find out what it was. ‘I think
she’s a little more loose than ordinary this trip,’ he says--‘it must be
the calkin’. But before he got through he discovered that it was her
iron band had dropped off altogether. And then it was he told me to go
ashore to see about a place for her on the railway. And I guess I’d
better hurry along. But afore we go, Peter, just a little touch to the
_Colleen Bawn_, for God bless her, loose as she is, there’s nothing like
her out the port.”

“And are you goin’ to stay on her and she like that?”

“And she that way? And why not? He’s going to put four-inch joists in
her fore and aft this time on the railway, and then she’ll be all right.
She’ll leak a little maybe, but what’s a little leak? And anyway I’d
rather be lost in her with Tom O’Donnell than live a thousand years with
some. And so here’s to her, Peter-boy. One thing, you know you’re alive
on her--and here’s to the _Colleen Bawn_.”

“To the _Colleen Bawn_, Tommie, and I don’t know but what you’re right.”

When Peter came out of the Anchorage again, the atmosphere had cleared.
The blush of the sky was a marvellous thing for March. Peter could not
remember when he had ever seen so rosy a morning for that time of year.
And it was a fair wind, too--so fair that Peter could not but remark it.
“If we was comin’ home in the _Colleen Bawn_, or the _Nannie O_, in this
breeze, our wake’d be fair boilin’. The _Colleen Bawn_ with the
Irishman aboard, or the _Nannie O_ with Tommie Ohlsen--they’d be loggin’
fifteen knots--yes, and sixteen maybe.” He looked over his shoulder, and
for twenty fathoms back he could see the smooth, white log-line and the
brass-bound log whirling like mad. It was a rosy morning, and Peter
rolled along for Crow’s Nest.

Along the road he overhauled Dexter Warren, who seemed to be out taking
the air.

“Seen Jimmie Johnson yet, Dexter?” asked Peter.

Dexter took a hand out of one pocket to gesture. “Jimmie? Yes, and he’s
crazy. He came up the wharf like a ghost. ‘Hulloh, what kind of a trip’d
you have, Jimmie?’ I asked, ‘and how do you like Captain O’Donnell?’

“‘Yah,’ he says, ‘your oil-skins is too loose.’ ‘What?’ I hollers after
him--he goin’ up the dock like a streak. ‘Take to the weather-rail--it’s
only a mile to shore,’ he waves his hand and hollers back to me. And
then his wife popped around the corner. ‘Jimmie!’ says she. ‘Jennie!’
says he, and in a second it was all off. The pair of them flew up the
dock like a pair of gulls before a no’the-easter and I picked up my pots
and brushes and went up to the office and told the old man that I
guessed I’d quit.”

“And did you?”

“Did I? And why wouldn’t I? Jimmie’s job is waitin’ for him if he ain’t
too crazy to take it, and if he is it don’t matter to me. There’s my
glue-factory job the first of the month. ‘Your oil-skins is too loose,’
says he. He must be crazy, Peter--plumb crazy.”

       *       *       *       *       *

It was in the middle of the morning when the _Colleen Bawn_ came to
anchor. It was late in the afternoon, almost dark, and Peter was fillin’
his last pipe at Crow’s Nest, when the _Superba_ came to anchor in the
stream. By and by Dickie Mason came up the dock and hailed for
“twenty-five thousand haddock and ten thousand cod.”

“Twenty-five thousand haddock and ten thousand cod--aye, aye. Any news?”

“Well, yes; and, if it turns out to be true, it’s pretty bad.”

“That so, Captain? What is it?”

“I think we’ve seen the last of the _Colleen Bawn_ and Tom O’Donnell.
Last night, comin’ on dark, he left us on Georges for a short cut across
the shoals. The gale hit in right hard after, and I guess he’s gone--you
know how loose and wracked his vessel is--and the last we saw of her she
was swung out and goin’ before it--all four lowers, and a livin’ gale.
She couldn’t have lived through it. We swung off and came around. We
drove all the way and just got in. It’s too bad if it turns out to be
so--though maybe he’ll wiggle home in spite of it. Of course, he’d get
her to home if anybody could, but you know them shoals in a gale and how
loose and wracked his vessel was.”

“Yes,” said Peter. He leaned over the taffrail of Crow’s Nest and put it
as politely as he could. “Yes, she’s loose and wracked, Captain Mason,
but there’s a few planks of her left, and if you was up here, Captain
Mason, and could look over the tops of buildings same’s I can, you’d see
her main truck stickin’ up above the railway. I heard them sayin’ she
left the same time your vessel did, but she got home so long ago,
Captain, that her fish is out and her crew got their money, and if you
was to drop up to the Anchorage you’d probably find Tommie Clancy and a
few more of her gang havin’ a little touch--and maybe they’ll tell you
how they did it.”

Peter spoke with some moderation while his head was outside and his
voice within range of the astounded master of the _Superba_, but once
inside, with only his trusted staff to testify, he gave vent to less
restrained comment. “Them young skippers, and some of them late models,
give me a pain in the waist. ‘The last we see of her,’ says he, ‘she was
goin’ over the shoals, and you know how loose and wracked she was,
Peter.’ And so she is. But, Lord! I’d like to told him she’d be comin’
home trips yet when his fancy model’d be layin’ to an anchor. Lemme see
now--telephone one of you the _Superba’s_ trip--twenty-five thousand
haddock and ten thousand cod. And make a note on a slate of the _Colleen
Bawn’s_ trip. She don’t sail for the firm, but I do like to keep track
of her. Forty thousand haddock and ten thousand cod--loose she is, and
her deck crawly under your feet, and they have to wear rubber boots in
her forehold, when Tom O’Donnell starts to drive her, and iron bands
around her for’ard to hold her together. But, Lord she was an able
vessel once--an able vessel once. I think I’ll be goin’ along to supper
pretty soon--yes, sir, an able vessel was the _Colleen Bawn_.

    “‘What’s that drivin’ in from sea,
        Like a ghost from out the dawn?
      And who but Tom O’Donnell
        And the flying _Colleen Bawn_.’

M-m--the flyin’ _Colleen Bawn_.”

So hummed Peter, and closed in the hatches of Crow’s Nest with a feeling
that his little morning trip along the water front had not been without
its reward.



The Wicked “Celestine”


Sailing out of Boston is a fleet of fishing schooners that for beauty of
model, and speed, and stanchness in heavy weather are not to be
surpassed--their near admirers say equalled--by any class of vessels
that sail the seas; and, saying that, they do not bar the famous fleet
of Gloucester.

This Boston fleet is manned by a cosmopolitan lot, who are all very
proud of their vessels, particularly of their sailing qualities. Good
seamen all--some beyond compare-- Irishmen still with the beguiling
brogue of the south and west counties, Yankees from Maine and
Massachusetts, Portuguese from the Azores, with a strong infusion of
Nova Scotians and Newfoundlanders, and scattering French, English and
Scandinavians.

No class of men afloat worry less about heavy weather than do these men;
nowhere will you find men more deeply versed in the ways of vessels or
quicker to meet an emergency; none will carry sail longer, or, if out in
a dory, will hang on to their trawls longer if it comes to blow, or the
fog settles, or the sea kicks up. In the matter of courage, endurance
and skill, they are the limit.

The standard for this superb little navy was first raised by a lot of
men of Irish blood, from Galway and Waterford originally, who chose this
most hazardous way to make a living--and in other days, with the
old-class vessels, it was terribly hazardous--who chose his life,
tenderhearted men and men of family though most of them were, in
preference to taking orders from uncongenial peoples ashore.

They are still there, an unassuming lot of adventurers taking the most
desperate chances in the calmest way--great shipmates all, tenderness
embodied and greatness of soul beyond estimation. And it was one of the
best known of them, a dauntless little Irish-born, who, squaring his
shoulders and swinging his arms, spat right and left and moved up the
dock to a hail of salutations this beautiful winter morning.
“Good-morning, Captain,” and “How are you, Coleman?” and “Are you to
take the new one this trip, Skipper?” All this, and more, as Captain
Coleman Joyce, not above five feet in height nor a hundred and thirty
pounds in weight, but of a port to subdue Patagonians seven feet high,
as with a beard that curled and shoulders that heaved he rolled
gloriously up the dock.

An abstemious man was Captain Joyce; but there were times and
circumstances, say now, for instance, when before casting off for a
haddocking trip to Georges Banks it became necessary to consummate one
of the rites without which no man could conceive a fishing trip to be
lucky. These rites, incidentally, were two: One consisted of taking a
good drink before going out; the other was to take a good drink after
getting in. Simple, but not to be overlooked.

And now, when, after a beat up Atlantic Avenue to the saloon that is
nearest the south side of the wharf, Coleman found himself leaning
against the bar and looking at the barkeeper, that suave party, without
further orders, set before him a small glass of water and a small glass
empty and the same old bottle with the horse and rider on the outside.

Raising his filled glass, and absent-mindedly looking about him by the
way, Captain Joyce observed that it was a wistful crowd which was
watching him. It was always a wistful crowd. He nodded amiably to four
or five, but gazed vacantly at the others. All told, there must have
been twenty loafers in the place, and everyone undeniably thirsty, with
a thirst that was immeasurably intensified by the sight of this
successful skipper preparing to take a drink.

Coleman, regarding them again, pulled out an old wallet and from it took
a five-dollar bill. Every pair of expectant eyes in the place saw the V
on the bill. Plainly, too, he was not trying to hide it. A symphony of
short, hacking coughs foretold clogged throats clearing for
action-- Captain Joyce always was free with his money. Following the
bill, but only after a lot of digging about with his fingers, Captain
Joyce extricated a silver coin--a quarter of a dollar, they saw. Coleman
held it up to his eyes that he might the better see it. Nobody, looking
at those eyes of his, would ever suspect that they were weak. He put
back the bill, restrapped the wallet, replaced it in his pocket, laid
the quarter on the bar, and took his drink, first the whiskey, then the
water, and both rapidly, as a man of action should.

Smacking his lips and regarding the change on the bar--a dime and a
nickel--at the same time casting a sly glance at the barkeeper, he
beckoned with his hand over his shoulder, but without looking around.
“Let ye all come up,” he said, and bolted for the door to escape the
rush.

Outside the door of the saloon he was hailed by a shore-going friend,
once a fisherman, but now a grocer, whose chief income arose from
provisioning fishing vessels, and so one who kept up with all the gossip
of the fleet. “Hello, Captain Joyce! What’s this they’re telling me
about you having a new vessel--a new style model, too.”

“It’s the truth.”

“And given up the _Maggie_--that was built for you--that I heard you say
a hundred times was not a bad sailer at all and the ablest vessel of her
tonnage that ever sailed past Boston Light?”

“Yes, or past any other light. She’s that and more. But Lord bless you,
she can’t sail with some of the new ones, and I’m tired to my soul of
havin’ every blessed model of a fisherman that was ever launched comin’
up on my quarter and goin’ by like I was an old sander. This last time
who was it, d’y’ think? You’d never guess. Name every vessel that ever
sailed out of T Dock and she’d be the last you or any other man’d name.
Who but the _Bonita_--yes. The black-whiskered divil, Portugee Joe,
yes--with the rings in his ears. Faith, an’ had I hold of him when he
said it, ’tis in his nose he’d be wearin’ them. ‘Captain Joyce,’ he
hails, and the bloody Dago he can’t talk United States yet--‘Captain
Joyce, what you carry, hah?--breeks or gran-eet or what?’ Gran-eet, mind
ye, with the Western Islands brogue of him! Yes, and goes on by the
same’s if the _Maggie_ was r’ally loaded with granite. ‘By the Lord,’ I
calls out after him, ‘but the next time you and me try tacks I’ll make a
wake for you to steer by or I’ll know why.’ And I’ve got a vessel now,
b’y, a vessel that can sail or I don’t know fast lines when I see them.
And the Portugee he’s just gone down the harbor--he’ll be waitin’ for me
outside the lightship, he says. So I’m off.”

Captain Joyce journeyed on and, standing on the cap-log at the end of
the wharf, he looked down on his new vessel and his eyes shone with joy
in the sheer beauty of her. “Purty, purty, purty,” he murmured; “just
like she was whittled out of a block.” And, turning to a man who was
taking his bag ashore, the last man of the old gang to leave her, he
inquired, “She can sail, they tell me, this one?”

“Oh, she can sail all right.”

“And how does she handle?”

“Handle? She’s that quick in stays that you want to watch her.”

“Watch her, eh? And stiff is she?”

“I don’t know about that. One day we used to think she was a house, but
again she’d roll down in a twelve-knot breeze, and in a way to make your
hair curl.”

“Man alive! But whisper, was that why Jimmie Eliot gave her up?”

“I don’t know about that. He wouldn’t say, the Skipper wouldn’t.”

“And that’s queer, too, come to think.”

“It do look queer, but maybe he thought it wouldn’t be fair to the
owners.”

“’Tis the divil and all of a mystery. And where is he now?”

“Went to Gloucester last night.”

“That’s too bad. When another man’s been in a vessel I gen’rally likes
to get his notions of her myself. You can’t tell a vessel by just
lookin’ at her--you have to be in her a while. Well, whatever she is,
we’ll put out in her now. Let ye hoist the mains’l, b’ys, and we’ll go.
Portugee Joe is waitin’ for us below.”

Captain Joyce and his able crew put out from the dock and a great crowd
lined the cap-log to see her off. Down the harbor she went, creeping
before the light westerly as if she had a propeller hidden somewhere
below.

Captain Joyce and his old friend Jerry Connors looked her up and looked
her down.

“I say, Jerry, but did ever y’ see annything scoot like her--hardly a
breath and she goin’ along like she is. It’s not right, Jerry--hardly a
ripple in her wake.”

“Oh, you’ve been so long in the old _Maggie_, Skipper----”

“The _old Maggie_, is it? She’s not too old--ten year.”

“I know. Ten year is nothing in a good vessel, but they been improving
them so fast. Last fall, the trip you didn’t wait for me, you know, I
went in the _Jennie and Katie_. Y’oughter seen her skipper. Handle? Like
a little naphtha launch to pick up dories. And sail? Man, but she could
sail!”

“That so? And how’d she behave in heavy weather?”

“Well, we didn’t have any heavy weather that trip.”

“No breeze at all?”

“Well, one day it did breeze up. We had her under a balanced reef
mains’l. She did slap around a bit. ’Twas the devil and all to stay in
your bunk, but she did pretty well. But you mustn’t get ’em out of trim.
The first two doryloads of fish that came aboard that trip was pitched
into her after-pens and, man, she reared right up in the air--right
straight up on her hind legs and began to claw out with her fore feet
like she was trying to climb up a wall----”

“You’d think ’twas a horse you were talkin’ about, Jerry. But she could
sail, you say?”

“Sail? Like a plank on edge--and greased.”

“Well, this one can sail, too. Look at her. Not a blessed hop out of
her--just smoochin’ along like a girl slidin’ on ice ashore, isn’t she?”

Off the lightship they found the _Bonita_. “There he is,” announced
Coleman, “with his rings in his ears. Keep her as she is till the pair
of us come together. Trip afore last he sailed a couple of rings around
the _Maggie_ by way of amusin’ himself, but I’ll amuse him now or I’ll
tear the sail off this one.”

In a freshening breeze and both vessels soon swinging all they had, it
was a good chance for a try-out. Four hours of that and the victory went
to the handsome _Celestine_, for off Cape Cod, after a run of fifty
miles, Coleman had the _Bonita_ two miles to leeward.

For an hour after that Coleman could hardly be coaxed down to eat.
Standing on the _Celestine’s_ quarter, he chuckled, and chuckled, and
chuckled. Even after taking his place at the table, he had to climb up
the companionway to have one more look at the beaten _Bonita_. “A good
vessel for rip-fishin’ the Portugee’s got--she drifts well,” he said,
“and maybe ’tis me won’t tell him next time we meet.”

And yet in the middle of the meal he suddenly set down his mug of coffee
and leaned across the table. “Don’t it strike you, Jerry, that for a
vessel of her model this one is the divil for stiffness?”

“We were saying among ourselves a little while ago, Skipper, that we
never before saw a vessel that barely wet her scuppers in a breeze like
this.”

“That’s it-- I don’t know what it is. But she’s a queer divil altogether.
Sometimes when she luffs she fetches up in a way to shake every tooth in
your head. And there was what one of the men that was in her last trip
said of her.”

“And what did he say, Skipper?”

“He said--but come to think, he didn’t say anything, and that’s the
divil of it. One or two little outs in a vessel, if you know what they
are, aren’t always a great harm. But when you don’t know how to take
her!”

The crew agreed with their Skipper that there was something queer about
this new vessel of theirs, but no illuminating discussion came of it
until next morning when, having cleared the north shoal of Georges, it
became necessary to head southward.

Heading to the east’ard in a southerly breeze, she had been on the
starboard tack up to that time. Now her helmsman shot her head across
the wind, her sails shook, shivered, her booms began to swing, and over
on the port tack went the _Celestine_. Everybody looked to see her roll
down some, but in that breeze--they hadn’t even taken their stays’l
in--nobody looked to see her do what she did. Least of all her Skipper,
who, standing carelessly by the starboard rail, would have gone
overboard and been lost probably, but for Jerry Connors.

“Wheel down! wheel down!” roared Jerry, and hauled the Skipper back
aboard.

“Down it is!”

“Cripes!” said the Skipper when he found his breath--“cripes, but she’s
left-handed.”

“Left-handed?”

“Yes, and double left-handed, the cross-eyed whelp! Just barely put her
scuppers under on one tack and down to her hatches on the other. Man
alive, but if we have to put her on the wrong tack makin’ a passage,
what’ll we ever do with her? Put her back, put her back--back on the
other tack with her and keep her there till we get some sail off her.
Man, man, but when we have to put a vessel under her four lowers in a
little breeze like this----”

They kept her so until next morning, when they hove her to--they had to
heave her to--with Georges north shoal bearing twenty-three miles west
by north and a howling gale in prospect. With the glass showing a scant
29 and the sea coming to them in a long swell, they all foresaw a good
lay-off with a chance to catch up on sleep or read up, or overhaul their
gear.

The storm hit in hard that night. A northeaster it was, with a thick
snow in its wake and a whistle that made a bunk feel most comfortable.
The snow passed, and after two days the worst of the breeze also; but
after it came the tremendous seas that make such a terrible place of the
northerly edge of Georges shoals in the wrong kind of winter weather.

Nobody aboard the _Celestine_ worried particularly. They had been having
that sort of thing all their lives. After a while it would pass. Only
when it lasted for too long a time it _did_ make slow fishing. They put
her under jumbo and riding sail and let go their chain anchor. Next day
they took sail off her altogether and made ready their hawser and big
anchor. Under both anchors, if it came to that, she certainly would be
safe.

This gale was some time in passing. And now it was coming on evening of
the fourth day--two days of a heavy breeze and two days of the great
seas. All the men, excepting the watch, were below, about half for’ard
and half aft, those for’ard mugging-up or overhauling trawls, those aft
listening to Jerry Connors, a great reader, who was now reeling off a
most interesting story with dramatic emphasis. It was the “Cloister and
the Hearth,” and Gerald was up in the tree with the bear after him--the
_Celestine_ dancing like a lead-ballasted cork figure all the while. In
the middle of it all the watch hailed something from deck. The Skipper,
trying to keep from sliding off the locker and, at the same time, above
the howling of the wind get what Jerry was reading, grew wrathy at the
interruption.

“What’s that ballyhooin’ on deck--whose watch?”

One had risen, and now from the companion steps, his head above the
slide, passed on the word. “It’s John’s.”

“Oh, John is it? Don’t mind John--the least thing worries John. But what
was he sayin’?”

“He says there’s some big seas coming, and getting bigger all the time;
and true enough, they are.”

“Big seas, is it? Cripes, a man don’t need to stand watch on deck or
stick his head out of the hatch, like a turkey in a crate, to find that
out.”

“Big seas coming aboard, he says, and hadn’t we better make ready to put
out the big anchor, she being on her weak tack?”

“Her weak side! That’s so--maybe we had. Tell him yes and call the gang
for’ard. Now go on, Jerry, whilst we’re waitin’. What did that divil of
a bear do then?” The Skipper leaned forward from the locker. “What did
he do? Hurry on, Jerry-boy.”

“And then he--” recommenced Jerry, but got no further. A scurry of boots
was heard on deck, a quick slamming back of the slide, and down the
companionway came John. Feet first he came flying and hauled the slide
after him. “Here’s one big as a church and----”

That was all he got out when the sea struck. Over went the
_Celestine_--over, over--the Skipper was shot from the locker through
the open door of his stateroom across the cabin. Jerry, who had been
sitting by the stove, was shot into that same room ahead of the Skipper.
Another, lying comfortably in his bunk to windward, was thrown clear
across the cabin and into the opposite bunk on the lee side, and his
bedding followed him and covered him up. Another of the crew, doubled up
in the after windward bunk, was sent past the lazarette and in on top of
his neighbor, who had a moment before been comfortably lying in his bunk
to leeward, passing the time of day with a pleasant word and a pipe in
his mouth. The bedding also followed that man. Everything loose went
from the windward bunks to the lee bunks--from the whole windward side
to the lee side.

The vessel poised so for perhaps ten seconds, while men called one to
another. “What’s it?” “Are you hurted, Joe?” “God help us--what in the
divil’s this?” “What in the devil’s name--” “Man, let me up--’tis
smothered I am!” Cries of surprise and cries of consternation, while
through it all the _Celestine_ seemed balanced between going down for
good and never coming up at all. The wall-lamp flared and then started
to blaze. It looked like a possible fire to add to the rest of it, but
the Skipper, like a flash, threw a smothering wet oil-jacket over it.
The binnacle lamp then started, but only for a moment--suddenly went
out, and then for the first time they heard the rush of the sea coming
on them in the dark.

“Did you think to draw the slide tight, John?” bellowed the Skipper.

“Tight? ’Tis tighter than the lid of hell.”

“Then somebody must’ve left the binnacle slide open--there’s men without
sense to be found wherever you go--you can’t dodge them.”

A short space of that, and she rolled part way back. “Up she comes,”
said the Skipper--“’tisn’t in nature she won’t come--she’s got to come
up soon or go down entirely.” And it did seem as if she was coming up,
but the next big sea hit her--bigger than the one that had hove her
down. Down inside the _Celestine_ they never quite agreed on what
happened. They knew that for a moment or two they were standing on the
roof of the cabin, that the red-hot cover fell off the stove and hit
that same roof, that the hot coals fell out of the stove and began to
sizzle among the loose bedding. They knew, too, that in the middle of it
all John’s voice was heard exclaiming, “Oh, my poor wife!” and again, “O
God, O God, we’re lost!” and that the Skipper said, “Hush up your
caterwauling--we’re a long way from bein’ lost yet,” even while the
loose bedding began to take fire and blaze up.

Then all at once she righted, and so suddenly that they were thrown one
against the other, across the floor and back again. And Jerry Connors
became entangled in a tub of trawls that somebody had been overhauling.
Six hundred hooks, every hook attached to three feet of ganging, and the
whole hanging to two thousand feet of line--it was an awful mess to get
mixed up with at a time like that. Twenty hooks at least were sticking
in him here and there, and Jerry swore prodigiously.

They smothered the fire with blankets and old clothes and lit the lamp
again. That done, they noted that the print of the red-hot stove cover
had been left on the roof of the cabin, showing that the vessel had been
keel up. “D’y’ s’pose she went clean over and over, or did she go
half-way and back again, Jerry?” was the first inquiry of the Skipper
when the lamp was lit.

“In God’s name, wait till I get some of these hooks out of me--they’re
into me gizzards, some of them.”

Up on deck they met the gang coming out of the forec’s’le, the cook in
the lead.

“How was it for’ard?” asked the Skipper.

‘I was lying in my bunk to looard,” began the cook, “and Jack was in his
bunk to wind’ard just opposite. Jack was playing with the cat. Well,
sir, when she went over I forgot the cat, but through the air came this
great black thing with forty claws and fourteen green and yellow eyes
and got me by the hair, and Jack with his two hundred pound weight on
top of him again. And the cat gets his claws in among me whiskers----”

“Shut up!” roared the Skipper--“you and the cat and your whiskers. Is
anybody gone? Who was on watch with you, John?”

“Mattie.”

“Is he here now?”

“Here, Skipper,” responded Mattie for himself. “When John dove for the
cabin I dove for the forec’s’le. I didn’t lose no time.”

“I’ll bet you didn’t, if you came down red-jacks first the way John
Houlihan did. Well, that’s all right, then. Let’s see what’s left on
deck. Get up a few torches--and have a care some of you aren’t washed
overboard.”

Nothing was left on deck. The spars had been torn out when she went over
and were now lying alongside threatening to punch holes in her side as
they lifted and dropped to every big sea. The Skipper took the big axe
and the cook his hatchet, and others got out their bait knives, and all
began to chop and hack and cut until the wreckage of the spars was clear
of the vessel.

Then they took a further look. Dories were gone, booby hatches were
gone, the rail was gone. Only the stanchions sticking up above the deck
showed where the rail had been. But the wonderful thing was yet to
appear. Going forward, the Skipper noticed a turn of chain around the
vessel’s bow. He looked again--and again. When he had satisfied himself
he thoughtfully combed his beard.

“Forty winters I’ve been comin’ to Georges, and this is the first time
ever I see that. There’ll be people that’ll say it never happened--that
it couldn’t have happened. But there’s the cable around her bows, a
full turn, to prove she went clean over--down one side and up the other.
We’re blessed lucky to be alive, that’s what I say.”

“That’s what we are,” affirmed Jerry, and had another look for himself.
And they all had another look for themselves. “Blessed lucky,” they all
agreed. “And what’ll we do now, Skipper?”

“Do?” He looked around and saw only the stumps of masts projecting above
her deck--no sails, no rigging, nothing. The bowsprit, even, was gone
and their chain parted--and the north shoal of Georges bearing twenty
miles to leeward. “Give her the other anchor, and whilst we’re layin’ to
that we’ll see what we can do.”

That night they hung grimly on to the other anchor. In the morning the
Skipper chewed it over. “We can’t lay here forever--that’s certain. We
must try and get her out. I don’t like that shoal to looard. With this
one there’s no tellin’ what she’ll take it into her head to do--to go
adrift maybe, and then it’s all swallowed up we’ll be in short order.”

So they prepared to work her out. For masts they could do no better than
take the pen-boards out of the hold, split them up and fish them
together. They were of two-inch stock, and when they had used them all
up they made but sorry-looking spars. For sails they shook the bedding
out of their mattresses, took the ticking and their blankets and sewed
them together with pieces of oilskins by way of patchings. There was
some record-breaking sewing aboard the _Celestine_ that morning, for all
were thinking of the shoal under their lee.

They set up the pen-boards by way of masts, laced the bedding and
blankets to them for sails, and then they had it--a medley of colors!
Blue and white striped ticks, green and gold and red blankets--the
masterpieces of fond wives ashore--and two crazy-quilts. One particular
crazy-quilt the Skipper eyed with regret. “I mind the night the wife won
that at the church fair. A hundred and fourteen chances she took--at ten
cents a chance--me payin’ for them. Nine hundred and ninety-nine pieces
in it. ‘There’ll be the fine ornament for your bunk, Colie,’ says she to
me. ‘And warm, too,’ she says, ‘on a winter’s day.’ ’Tis tears she’d be
sheddin’ could she see it this winter’s day, usin’ it by way of a cloth
to a fores’l up where the single reef cringle should be.”

They spread them all at last, brought her head to and warped in the
anchor. “And now, you slippery-elm divil, sail! Sail, you black,
fatherless, left-handed, double left-handed divil, sail!”

She did sail, after a fashion. She did not go along like the saucy
vessel that had put out from T Dock less than a week before, not quite
like a greased plank on edge or a girl sliding on ice, but she made
headway. It was heart-breaking headway that promised to make a long
voyage of the something like two hundred miles to Boston, but the crew
had hopes--if the wind stayed to the east’ard.

But the wind did not stay to the east’ard. After two days it hauled to
the north-west, and they had to tack. They tacked to the north and they
tacked to the south, always with a respectful eye to her weak side; but
it was slow work. More, it was cold, and the seas that came aboard iced
her up. And, having no rails to her, the crew had to be painfully
careful or they would slide overboard.

“And yet no great danger bein’ lost, for even with oilskins a man could
swim as fast as this one’s sailin’. But it’s so blessed cold!” said
Jerry.

They were sighted several times and other vessels bore down, but the
Skipper waved them off. “If they think because we’re short on sails and
spars they’re goin’ to get salvage out of this one, we’ll fool ’em,”
and onward he sailed with a dory, which they had picked up, lashed
amidships.

They ran out of grub and fuel. They had fitted out for market fishing,
with ten days or two weeks as the probable length of the trip. They were
now four weeks out, with Cape Cod not yet weathered. Something had to be
done. Four times they had got all but abreast of the cape--four times
the no’-wester had beaten them back. Under their rig they had to take
whatever came. They could not force her around when around she would not
go.

Nobody murmured. They were enjoying themselves. For one thing they
learned how Gerald made out with the bear, and Jerry read in his round
voice of Gerald’s further adventures; and they would not have minded it
much, though, to be sure, there was not much money in it for their
families--but that was the luck of fishing--only they were cold and
hungry.

It was then that for the first time the Skipper hailed a vessel. She was
one of the big liners, a fourteen-thousand tonner, bound out from Boston
to Liverpool. Beside her huge hulk the little _Celestine_, with her
ridiculous jury-rig, looked like a burlesque toy. But Coleman wasn’t
apologizing for looks.

[Illustration: Stood by and took them as they came down.

--See p. 67.]

“I know ye’ll be carryin’ the mail and in the divil’s own hurry, but
we’re a little short of grub,” he explained when the steamer had come to
a stop. “Our head steward doubts there’ll be oysters and ontrees enough
for our seven o’clock dinner to-night, and if ye’ll stay hove-to for a
half hour I’ll come under your lee and go aboard.”

“All right. But how will you carry the stuff?”

“Carry it, is it? Why, in the dory, to be sure.”

“What? Put a dory over to-day?”

“And why not?”

“She’ll swamp.”

“The divil she will.” They put the dory over. Coleman and Jerry got in
it, rowed alongside, and climbed up the sea-ladder. Half-way up the
Skipper looked back--there was a good bit of water in the dory. “Jerry,
you’ll have to go down again and bail her out.” Which Jerry did, while
the Skipper kept on to the steamer’s deck to negotiate.

“And what can I help you to?”

“Well, we’ll need a little coal.”

“All right. How much?”

“Oh, maybe half or three-quarters of a ton.”

“Three-quarters of a ton? And where’ll you carry It?”

“In the dory.”

“In this sea?”

“I’ve carried twenty-five hundred of fish in a dory in more sea than
this.”

“All right--in it goes. What else?”

“Oh, some wood.”

“Wood all gone, too?”

“We burned the last of our bunk-boards this morning.”

“Gracious! How much wood?”

“Oh, two or three barrels.”

“All right. But won’t it overbalance your dory?”

“L’ave that to me. And have you some vegetables, say a barrel of
potatoes----”

“Sure. And where’ll you put _them_?”

“In the dory. And a barrel of odds and ends--turnips and cabbage
and----”

“And that in the dory, too?”

“In the dory--where else? And a tub of butter, and a case or two of
canned beef, and a bit of fresh beef, and some coffee and tea, and a box
of hard bread----”

“And all in the----”

“In the dory, yes.”

“All right. Stand by and over they go.”

And the Skipper and Jerry stood by and took them as they came down and
piled them all in the dory, to the wonder of all who saw. “And send the
bill to the man I told you--he’s the owner. And ’twould be servin’ him
no more than right if you charged him good and high, for a man that
would ask men to go to sea in a circus vessel like this--sure he
deserves no better.”

As they were about to push off, the steamer captain lowered down another
case. “Of bouillon,” he said, “for yourself, Captain--for the nerve of
you. And here’s for the boys to have a drink,” and tossed down a quart
of whiskey.

“Thank ye kindly,” said Coleman, and he and Jerry pulled off.

From the steamer they watched them anxiously, expecting to see them
swamped and lost. But not so. There is an art in managing a loaded dory
in a heavy sea.

Their shipmates greeted them affectionately. “And I’ll begin with the
bully soup, Skipper,” said the cook. “’Twill be the quickest made.”

And the cook did that, putting the twenty-four quarts into one immense
boiler, and they finished it in the first rush. Then the Skipper drew
the cork out of the bottle of whiskey.

“A nice man, that steamer captain,” said Coleman, “but not much
judgment. ‘Tell the boys to have a drink on me,’ he says, and that same
was good of him. But one quart among twenty-two men! Oh, Lord!”

“Lord forgive him,” said Jerry, “’tisn’t enough for an aggravation.”

After that, and a good warming-up and drying out of wet clothes, they
went on deck and turned to as if it was canoeing on the Charles River
they were. They coaxed the _Celestine_ along, always with an eye to her
weak side. And the wind came fair, and the first thing they knew--no
more than a couple of days more of careful night and day work it
was--they found themselves abreast of Boston lightship. And here a tug
bore down and hailed them.

“You’re lookin’ in bad shape. Will I heave a line aboard?”

“Will you? I don’t know. How much to the wharf?”

“Oh, about five hundred dollars, I guess.”

“You guess, do you? Well, I’ll make a guess you won’t.”

“Well, what d’y’ say to two fifty?”

“No, nor one fifty--nor a single fifty, nor the half of fifty. We’ve
beat two hundred and odd mile this way, and I cal’late we can make ten
mile more to the dock.”

“Come two hundred miles in that rig?”

[Illustration: A tug bore down and hailed them.]

“Yes, sir--from Georges--and could come it again.”

“From Georges--in the weather we’ve had? Angel Gabriel! I’ll take you up
for nothing.”

“No, no, you won’t. We’ll give you what’s due you--ten dollars.”

“All right--ten dollars.”

And so the _Celestine_ came back to T Dock. And an appreciative
aggregation of connoisseurs in seamanship were there to greet her. But
the crew of the _Celestine_: It did not take them long to hustle ashore
after she was tied up--and they all had their bags with them. No more of
her for them, thank you.

And Coleman? After a look over to Eastern Packet Pier to see that his
own _Maggie_ was still there, Coleman hurried up the dock and headed for
the bar of the saloon that is nearest the south side of T Dock, there to
consummate the second of the rites without which he could conceive no
trip to be lucky.

The bartender set down the glass of water and the glass empty and the
bottle with the horse and rider on the outside. Coleman raised the
bottle. But looking about him before he drank and observing the wistful
crowd, he set his filled glass down again and drew his old wallet from
his pocket, and from there dug out a bill. It was a five-dollar
bill--they all saw it, with the V in plain sight. That, Coleman laid
down on the bar, and motioning back over his shoulder, said heartily,
“Let ye all come up--and have a drink on the _Maggie Joyce_--the
_Maggie_ for me from this out.”

“And how about that new one, Captain?” said one when the rush was over
and a dozen throats had been properly sluiced.

“That one, is it? That one! The wicked-- I won’t say it, but if ever I
set foot on her deck again may-- That one--why, ’tis bad as pickin’ up a
painted drab on the street and your own decent wife to home. Let ye
drink again--d’y’ hear me?” And not a man of them but heard.



The Truth of the Oliver Cromwell


Martin Carr did a fine thing that afternoon. Martin and John Marsh were
hauling trawls, when a sea capsized their dory. The same sea washed them
both clear of the dory. John Marsh could not swim. It looked as if he
had hauled his last trawl, and so beyond all question he had, but for
Martin, who seized one of their buoy-kegs, which happened to bob up near
by, and pushed it into John’s despairing arms. “Hang on for your life,
John!” said Martin, and himself struck out for the dory, knowing that
the buoy could not support two. It was perhaps forty feet to the bottom
of the dory--not a great swim, that; but this was a winter’s day on the
Grand Banks, and a man beaten back by a rough sea and borne down by the
weight of heavy clothing, oilskins, and big jack-boots. When he had
fought his way to the dory he had to wait a while before he dared try to
climb up on it, he was that tired; and after he got there he found no
strap to the plug, and so nothing to hang on to. He remembered then that
he and John had often spoken of fixing up a strap for the plug, but had
never fixed it.

“My own neglect,” muttered Martin, “and now I’m paying for it.”

Clinging to the smooth planking on the bottom of the dory was hard work
that day, and becoming harder every minute, for the sea was making. And
there was John to keep an eye on. “How’re you making out, Johnnie-boy?”
he called.

“It’s heavy dragging, but I’m all right so far,” John answered.

“And how is it with you now, Johnnie-boy?” he called in a little while
again.

“I can hang on a while yet, Martin.”

“Good for you!” said Martin to that.

“Can you see the vessel?” asked John after another space.

“He’s giving out, and I see no vessel,” thought Martin, but answered
cheerily, “Aye, I see her.”

“And how far away is she, and what’s she doing?”

Aloud Martin said, “Five or six miles, maybe, up to wind’ard; and she’s
taking aboard all but the last dory, and there’s men gone aloft to look
for us.” But under his breath, “And God forgive me if I go to my death
with that lie on my lips; but ’tis no deeper than my lips--no deeper.”

Then they waited and waited, until John said, “Martin, I’ll have to go
soon-- I can’t hang on much longer.”

“Bide a while, Johnnie-boy--bide a while. Dory-mates we’ve been for many
a trip--bide a while with me now, Johnnie.”

But Martin knew that it would be for but a little while for John--for
them both, if help did not come soon. Scanning the sea for whatever hope
the sea might give, he saw the trawl-line floating on the water. That
was the line that ran from their anchor somewhere on the bottom to the
buoy-keg to which John was clinging. If he could but get hold of that
line he could draw John to the dory, with a better chance to talk to
him--to put heart into him, for Johnnie was but a lad, no more than five
and twenty.

To get the line, he would have to swim; and to swim any distance in that
rising and already bad sea he would have to cast off most of his
clothing. And with most of his clothing gone he would not last too long.
Certainly if the vessel did not get them by dark, he would never live
through the night. He would freeze to death--that he knew well. But
could he live through the night, anyway? And even if he could-- But what
was the good of thinking all night over it? He pulled off his boots,
untied his oilskins, hauled off his heavy outer woollens.

“Johnnie-boy, can you hang on a while longer?”

“I dunno, Martin-- I dunno. Where’s the vessel?”

“She’s bearing down, John.” And with the thought of that second lie on
his lips Martin scooped off for the buoy-line, which, after a battle, he
grabbed and towed back to the dory. It was a hard fight, and he would
have liked well to rest a while; but there was Johnnie. So in he hauled
many a long fathom of slack ground-line, with gangings and hooks, and
after that the buoy-line. He sorrowfully regarded the fine fat fish that
he passed along; every hook seemed to have a fish on it. “Man, man, but
’twas only last night I baited up for ye in the cold hold of the
vessel--baited with the cold frozen squid, and my fingers nigh
frost-bitten.” But every hook was bringing him nearer to his dory-mate.

He felt the line tauten at last. “Have a care now, Johnnie, while I draw
you to me,” and hauled in till Johnnie was alongside.

But “Good-by,” said Johnnie ere yet Martin had him safe.

“Not yet, Johnnie-boy,” said Martin, and reached for him and held him
up and lashed him to the buoy. “You can rest your arms now, lad,” he
said, and Johnnie gratefully let go.

“’Tis made of iron a man should be that goes winter trawling,” said
Martin, and up on the bottom of the dory he climbed again, this time
with infinite difficulty.

They had had the leeward berth and now were farthest from the vessel,
and by this time it was dark. But Martin knew the Skipper would not give
them up in a hurry, as he explained to John. And by and by they saw the
torches flare up.

“Wait you, John,” said Martin then, “and save your strength. I’ll hail
when I think they’re near enough to hear.” Which he did, in a voice that
obeyed the iron will and carried far across the waters.

Then the vessel saw them and bore down, the Skipper to the wheel and the
men lining the rail.

“Be easy with John,” said Martin to the man who first stretched his arms
out and remarked, “I’m thinking he’s nigh gone.”

“_Nigh_ gone? He _is_ gone,” as they lifted John aboard.

“But all right with him now,” they said as they passed him along the
deck. “And how is it with yourself, Martin?” they asked him as he was
about to step over the rail.

“Fine and daisy,” said Martin. “How is it yourself, boy?” stepping
jauntily up, and then, unable longer to stand, falling flat on the deck.

Seeing how it had been with him, they made him go below also, which he,
with shipmates helping, did; and also, later, put on the dry shift of
clothes they made ready. In the middle of it all he asked, “Where’s
Johnnie?”

“In his bunk--and full of hot coffee--where you’ll be in a minute.”

“The hell I will! there’s my dory yet to be hoisted in.”

“Your dory, Martin? Why, she’s in, drained dry and griped long ago.”

“What! and me below? And dory in already? What was it? Did I fall
asleep, or what? Lord! but it’s an old man I must be getting. I
wouldn’t’ve believed it. In all my time to sea, that’s the first time
ever I warn’t able to lift hand to tayckles and my own dory hoisting
in.” He made for the companion-way, but so weak was he that he fell back
down the companion-way when he tried to make the deck.

But a really strong man recuperates rapidly. An hour later Martin was
enjoying a fine hot supper, while the crew sat around and hove questions
at him. They asked for details, and he gave them, or at least such of
them as had become impressed on his mind; particularly did he condemn,
in crisp phrases, the botheration of boots that leaked and the need of a
second plug-strap on the bottom of a dory. “There ought to be a new law
about plug-straps,” said Martin.

“Did ever a man yet come off the bottom of a dory and not speak about
the plug-straps?” commented one.

“And leaky boots is the devil,” affirmed another--a notorious talker
this one, who bunked up in the peak, where he could be dimly seen now,
his head out of his bunk that his voice might carry the better. “I
bought a pair of boots in Boston once--a Jew up on Atlantic Avenue----”

“In Heaven’s name, will you shut up, you and your Atlantic Avenue boots?
We’ll never hear the end of those boots.”

The man in the peak subsided, and he who had quelled him, near to the
stove and smoking a pipe, went on for himself: “And what were you
thinkin’ of, Martin, when you thought you were goin’?”

“Or did you think any time that you was goin’?” asked somebody else.

“Indeed and I did, and a dozen times I thought it--and that ’twas a
blessed cold kind of a day for a man to be soaking his feet in the
ocean.”

“And yet”--the lad in the peak was in commission again--“and yet warn’t
it some professor said in that book that somebody was reading out of the
other day--warn’t it him said that salt water ain’t nigh so cold as
fresh. Is it, Martin?”

“As to that,” answered Martin, “I dunno. But I wish ’twas that
professor’s feet, not mine, was astraddle the bottom of that dory--not
to wish him any harm. But winter’s day and the wind no’therly, I found
it cold enough.”

“I went into a Turkish bath parlor in New York one time,” came the
conversational voice from the peak, “and hot? My Lord----”

“The man,” said the next on watch, taking his mitts from the line above
the stove--“the man that’d talk about hot Turkish baths on a night like
this to sea-- Turkish baths, and, Lord in heaven, two good long hours up
there----” He halted to take a sniff up the companion-way. “Two
hours--what ought to be done with the like o’ him?”

The man by the stove, who a while before had vanquished the lad in the
peak, took his pipe long enough from his mouth to observe, “And for four
years now, to my knowledge, he’s been tryin’ to tell how hot ’twas in
that Turkish bath.”

“Hit him with a gob-stick,” suggested the cook--“or this rolling-pin.”
He was flattening out pie-crust.

“A gob-stick or a rolling-pin,” said the next on watch, “is too good for
him. Here, take this,” and passed the cook’s hatchet along the lockers.

The opening and closing of the hatch after the watch had gone on deck
admitted a blast of air that made the man in the bunk nearest the steps
draw up his legs. The flame in the lamp flared, whereat the original
inquirer got up to set the lamp chimney more firmly over the base of the
burner, and before he sat down put the question again. How did Martin
feel when he thought he was sure enough going. “The last fifteen or
twenty minutes or so I bet you did some thinkin’--didn’t you, Martin?”

“A little,” admitted Martin, and with a long arm gaffed another potato.
“Toward the end of it the sea did begin to take on a gray look that I
know now was grayer than any mortal sea ever could’ve been.”

“And what were you thinkin’ of then, Martin?”

“What was I thinking of? What-- Lord, but these apple dumplings are great
stuff, aren’t they? You don’t want to let any of those dumplings get
past you, Johnnie. Never mind how used-up you feel, come out of your
bunk and try ’em. Five or six good plump dumplings inside of you and
you’ll forget you ever saw a dory.”

“He’s asleep, Martin.”

“Is he? Well, maybe ’tis just as well. ’Twas a hard drag for poor John
to-day. What was I thinking of? you asked me. Well, I’ll tell you what I
was thinking of. You know what store I set by a good razor. I’d go a
hundred mile for a good razor--a _good_ razor--any time. You all know
that, don’t you?”

“Yes--yes----”

“Well, this last time out I brought aboard as fine a looking razor as
ever a man laid against his face. Oh, I saw you all eying it the last
time I took it out. Don’t pretend-- I know you. It’s right there in my
diddy-box, and before I turn in to-night it’s a good scrape I’m going to
give myself with it--yes. Well, when Johnnie’d said ‘Good-by,
Martin’--said it for the second time--‘Good-by, Martin, don’t mind me
any more, look out for yourself’--said that, and I’d said, ‘Hold on a
little longer’ to him for about the tenth time--well, about that time,
when I did begin to think we were sure enough going--with it coming on
dark and no sign of the vessel in sight--then it was I couldn’t help
wondering who in hell aboard the vessel was going to get that razor.”

When everybody had done laughing, and after two or three had told how
they felt when they were on the bottom of a dory, the persistent one
asked again, “Martin, but you must’ve had some close calls in your
time?”

“My share--no more.” He was taking a look around the table as he
spoke--a lingering, regretful look--and then he gave up any further
thought of it. “Ah-h,” he sighed, “but I cert’nly took the good out of
that meal,” and leaning against the nearest bunk-board--his own--drew
out his pipe from beneath the mattress. “My share and no more,” he
repeated, and reached across to the shelf in his bunk and drew forth a
plug of tobacco. He cut off the proper quantity and rolled it around
between his palms the proper length of time before he spoke again. With
the pipe between his teeth he had to speak more slowly. “Any man that’s
been thirty years trawling will nat’rally have a few things happen to
him. To-day makes the third time I’ve been on the bottom of a dory, and
cold weather each time--just my blessed luck--cold weather each
time”--three times he blew through the stem of his pipe--“and I don’t
want to be there the fourth. Eddie-boy, hand me a wisp out of the broom
at your elbow.”

While Martin was cleaning out his pipe somebody put the question
generally. Would they rather be on the bottom of a dory out to sea, or
on a vessel piled up on the rocky shore somewhere?

“On the rocks for me.”

“And for me.”

“Yes, a chance to get ashore from a wreck, but the bottom of a dory with
the sea breaking over you, and it cold maybe--cert’nly it’s never any
too warm--wr-r-h!”

There seemed to be no doubt of what they would take for their choice.
“And yet,” commented Martin when the last word had been said, “I dunno
but the closest call ever I had was when the _Oliver Cromwell_ went
ashore and was lost off Whitehead.”

“Cripes, but I’m glad I warn’t on her. A bad business that--a bad
business. Hand me that plate, will you, Martin”--this from the cook.

“Sure, boy--here y’are--an armful of plates. Cook on a fisherman’s the
last job I’d want--you’re never done. And you’re right it was a bad
business, cook. When you’ve seen nineteen men washed over one after the
other, every man--every man but one, that is--putting up the divil’s own
fight for his life before he went-- I dunno but what it must be worse
than going down at sea altogether, all hands in one second, with no
chance at all--though that must be hard enough, too.”

Silence for a while, and then Martin continued: “If I had it to do over
again”--two long puffs--“to do it over and be lost instead of saved, I
dunno but what I’d rather founder at sea myself. Nineteen men
lost--eighteen good men-- Lord, but ’twas cruel!”

Martin, with his head back, was gazing thoughtfully up at the
deck-beams. A gentle leading question, and he resumed.

“We left Gloucester that trip with the Skipper’s-- But to tell that story
right a man ought to begin away back. But will you give me a match,
somebody?”

He lit up again, and then settled himself snugly between the edge of the
table and his bunk-board, after the manner of a man who is in for a long
sitting-out. Once he really started there were but few interruptions.
The loss of the _Cromwell_ was a serious affair, and nobody broke in
thoughtlessly; and only when Martin would stop to refill his pipe, or to
light up again when he found he had let it go out, did he make any halt
himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

“What the Hoodleys of Cape Ann were, and are still,” began Martin, “of
course all of you, or most all of you, anyway, know. Or maybe some of
you don’t know. Well, they were a hard crowd--but didn’t know it--the
kind of people that whenever they got to talking about their own kind,
never had any tales to prove maybe that there was even the lightest bit
of wit or grace or beauty among them; no, none of that for the Hoodleys
of Cape Ann. But to show you what thrifty, hard-headed fore-people they
had, they could spin off, any of ’em, a hundred little yarns, almost any
day, as if anybody on earth that knew those of them that were alive
would ever doubt what the dead-and-gone ones must’ve been. Hard they
were--even neighbors that didn’t take life as a dream of poetry said
that much of them. Hard they were--man, yes--the kind that little
children never toddled up to and climbed on to their knees, nor a man in
hard luck by any mistake ever asked the loan of a dollar of--the kind
that never a man walked across the street to shake hands with. That’s
the kind they were. Take ’em all in all, I guess that the Hoodleys were
about as hard a tribe as you’d find in all Essex County--surely ’tisn’t
possible there were any harder. And yet you couldn’t pick a flaw in ’em
before the law. They were honest. Everybody had to say that for
them--paying their debts, their just debts--as they put it
themselves--and collecting their own dues, don’t fear, and a great
respect for the letter of the law--for the letter of it. And I mind
they used to boast that for generations their people had kept clear of
the poorhouses, and that all had been church-members in good standing.
Well, not exactly all; for, to be exact and truthful--they themselves
used to put it that way--there was one here and there that had
broken away. But such had been rare, as one of them--a strong
church-member--used to put it, and the devil is ever active; and
speaking of the devil, this particular member’d go on, there is always
the blistering pit for the unrighteous. That last I s’pose he thought he
ought to put in, because everybody knew that of all the people that fell
from grace, the wickedest, the most blasphemous, the most evil of all
evil livers had been those of the Hoodleys that had back-slided. Once
they went to the bad they cert’nly went beyond all hope; and nobody did
they curse out more furiously than their own people every time they did
start in.

“Well, the Hoodleys weren’t a seafaring people originally. They moved
over to Gloucester, y’see, at one particular time when everybody was
expecting in some way to make money out of fishing. George Hoodley was a
lad then--seventeen--with the hard kind of a face and the awkward body
that everybody nat’rally looked for in one of his breed. And he had the
kind of a mind, I cal’late, that his father would like a boy of his to
have. Well, George signed right away for a boy’s wages with a prudent
master--old Sol Tucker it was--that went in the _Distant Shore_ so long.
They used to say that Sol wore the same pair of jack-boots out of her
that he had when he first went aboard, and there was eighteen years
between his first and last trips in her. I mind the jack-boots--and they
were cert’nly well patched when I saw them--though no more than twelve
year old then. That’ll give you an idea of Sol. And George Hoodley put
in thirteen years with Sol, and thirteen long hard drags of years they
must’ve been. I misdoubt that any of us here could’ve stood those
thirteen--no, sir, not for vessel’s, skipper’s, and hand’s share
together. Well, George stood it, and I don’t b’lieve he ever knew he was
missing anything in life. But he had something to show for it, as he’d
say himself. When he left old Sol he was able to buy a half interest and
go master of a good vessel. I went with him in her--the _Harding_--two
trips--just two, no more.”

Martin halted to light up again, and somebody asked, “Warn’t it the
_Harding_, Martin, that had the small cabin?”

“Yes, the smallest, they say, that ever was seen in a fisherman. Just
about room to stand between the steps and the stove and between the
stove and the bulkhead again; and not much better for’ard--a forec’s’le
so small that the crew used to say they had to go on deck to haul on
their oilskins. She was all hold. Well, while he was in the _Harding_
George made a great reputation for all kinds of carefulness. Most men
that went with him said he was altogether too careful for any mortal
use; and maybe that was so. But his savings kept piling up, and there
was plenty of other careful men to ship with him and abide by him.

“One thing that George and his people used to boast about was that he
warn’t like a good many other fishermen. While a good many of them were
putting in time ashore drinking, skylarking, or if it warn’t no more
than to spend a quiet sociable evening with their friends or their own
families--during all that George was attending to business, for business
it was to him. He was talking one day of those who said fishing was a
venture, or even adventure, and he’d been reading somewhere, he said, of
the joy that somebody thought fine, strong men ought to get out of
fishing. He almost smiled when he was telling it. The joy of fishing! If
you had a good trip of fish and got a good price for it, why, yes,
fishing was good fun then. But as far as he could see it was like any
other kind of work. You put in about so much time at it and took good
care of your money, and at the end of the year you had about so much to
show for it. And as for the fun of fighting a breeze of wind that some
of them talked about, seeing how long you could hang on to your canvas
without losing your spars, or how far down you could let your vessel
roll before she’d capsize--none of that for him. And it was all rot,
their pretending they got any fun out of it. They had the same blood and
nerve and senses as any other humans, and he knew that for himself he
was content to stay hove-to when it blew one of the living gales they
talked about, and satisfied, too, to shorten sail in time, even if he
was bound home, when it blew hard enough. Gloucester would be there when
he got there--it wouldn’t blow away. Cert’nly, he’d admit, the drivers’d
outsail him on a passage and beat him out of the market once in a while;
but in the long run his way paid best. He could name the foolish fellows
that’d been lost, and the fingers of both hands wouldn’t begin to name
them. Yes, and left families to starve, some of ’em. And he himself was
alive and still bringing home the fish, and everybody in Gloucester knew
what he had to show for it.

“Well, by that time everybody in Gloucester did know what he had to show
for it, and everybody in Gloucester said it was about time he began to
look around for a wife, though nobody expected George Hoodley to look
around for a wife after the regular manner of fishermen, who don’t look
around at all, so far as I c’n see. We ourselves, or most of us, anyway,
liking the girl pretty well and she willing, gen’rally hurry up to get
married ’bout as soon as we find ourselves with a couple of months’ rent
ahead.

“But not that way with George Hoodley. It wasn’t until he was forty-five
that he began to look around after the manner of his people for a wife.
There was to be no rushing into the expenses of matrimony; but with two
good vessels, and a house all clear, a man might well think of it--or
leastways I imagine that’s the way he thought it out, if he wasted any
time thinking of it at all.

“Now, if George Hoodley had not been like other men during all the years
he was fishing, if he hadn’t joined in the talk of his mates on what was
worth having in life--you know how fishermen gen’rally talk when they
get going on some things--even if George Hoodley pretended to think that
he thought they were a lot of blessed fools, yet it is more than likely
that the opinions of the men he went to sea with had their influence
with him just the same. It stands to reason they were bound to, after
years of it. And then, clear back he must’ve come of flesh-and-blood
people, like anybody else. For, though nobody could imagine the Hoodleys
having weaknesses like other people, yet cert’nly, if you went far
enough back, there must’ve been ancestors among ’em all--one or
two--that enjoyed life the same as other people.

“Well, for a wife George took a very pretty girl who was young
enough--some of you that know her know that well--young enough to have
had grandchildren to him. Twenty or twenty-one, light-haired, pretty
face, and a trim figure. I didn’t like her eyes or her mouth myself, but
everybody agreed she was pretty. She had never been so far away from
home that she could not be back again the same day--and that certified
to her character with some people. For other things, she would come into
some money when her father died. And her father didn’t object to George
Hoodley. He was a thrifty man, too, and said all right--made George’s
way easy, in fact.

“Now, I cal’late that George thought that he never did a wiser thing in
all his life than when he married that girl. Among the men he knew there
were some that’d got pretty wives, but no money; and others money, but
plain-lookers. He was getting both, good looks and money, and he could
laugh at them all--those who wanted her because of the money in prospect
or those others who were in love with her face. And maybe he didn’t
laugh at some of ’em!--the sail-carriers and others who imagined that a
reputation for foolishness at sea won women’s hearts. It was a great
stroke of business altogether. He would get his share of good living
yet--he boasted of that. He had always taken the best care of
himself--never drank and seldom smoked, and then only in the way of
business--was in the prime of life, had a tough constitution, and his
wife-to-be was young and pretty. He could laugh at all of them.

“Nearly everybody in Gloucester said nice things to George. ‘My, but
you’re the deep one--and lucky? Oh, no, you’re not a bit lucky! But you
always did have a long head--’ That’s the way most people talked to him,
and he liked it. As for the few who didn’t seem pleased--the three or
four who hinted, but didn’t ask outright if he thought he was doing a
wise thing-- George said it was easy enough to place them--they’d like to
get her themselves. If he was only another kind of a man he might have
been warned in time, but he was that kind that nobody felt sorry for.
And that’s a hard thing, too.

“Well, they were married, and the wonderful thing of George letting his
vessel go out a trip without him was on exhibition to the people of
Gloucester. Yes, sir, she went to sea the day he was married. He stayed
ashore that trip--that trip, but not the second.

“The truth was, they didn’t get along well together; which warn’t
remarkable, maybe--she young and pretty, and he the age he was and more
than looking it. Forty-seven’s a fine age for some men, but not for
George’s kind. Leather-skinned he was, with lean chops of jaws, a mouth
as tight as a deck beam, a turkey neck--you’ve seen turkey necks--and
eyes that were cold as a dead haddock’s.

“George, I cal’late, was beginning to learn that a woman was a different
proposition from a vessel, and that there were things about a woman that
had to be studied out. Not that I think he tried overhard to study this
one out. Listening to him as I had many a time before he got married, I
knew that he figured that a woman, like everything else, had her place
in the universe, and she ought to know it, or be made to know it. And
now here was his wife’s case: a steady man for a husband, a good house
to live in, grub and her clothes all found, or, anyway, as much clothes
as he thought fit and proper for her to have. Could a woman expect
more, or a man do more, than that?

“’Twarn’t long after he got married that things began to go wrong, not
only at home but out to sea. There was the trip he broke his ankle.
Coming home, he looked maybe for a little show of grief on the part of
his wife, but, if he did, he didn’t find it. Indeed, she even said he
ought to go to a hospital instead of making it hard for her at home.
’Twas common talk that she said that.

“Going out his next trip, with his leg not yet well-knit and himself
having to limp out the door, he and his wife had words. Billie Shaw,
passing by, heard them. ‘I don’t care if I never see you again,’ he
said. ‘And if you think I’d care if I never saw you again either, you’re
mistaken. I wouldn’t care if you’re lost--you and your vessel. Only I
wouldn’t like to see all the crew lost.’

“That last must have set him to thinking, for he didn’t sail that day,
as he said he would, but put in a day talking to people around town. I
know he asked me, for one, a lot of questions. I didn’t know till later
what he was driving at. ’Twas while he was questioning me that he coaxed
me into shipping with him. ‘Just this trip, Martin,’ he said. ‘And your
cousin Dan Spring’s thinking of coming out with me this time, to help
me out. Two men left me suddenly to-day, and if you’ll come out Dan’ll
surely come.’ And so out of good-nature I said I’d go with him. It’s
blessed little he got out of me, though, in answer to his other
questions, but he found plenty of others willing to talk.

“Well, on the passage out we all noticed he seemed an absent-minded man.
We noticed, too, or thought we did, that he used to forget that his leg
warn’t yet very strong, and that now and then he had to pull up when it
seemed to hurt him bad.

“That trip--well, it was a queer one from the first. With myself and my
cousin Dan, who were dory-mates, it warn’t nothing but accidents. There
was that after the first haul of fish when we were dropping down to come
alongside. It was a bit rough, that’s a fact. Some said that for so
careful a man it was surprising that the Skipper had ordered the dories
out at all that day. However, we were just ahead of her--under the end
of her bowsprit almost--and of course Dan and myself nat’rally looked
for the Skipper to look out for us. We were so near that Dan had taken
in his oars and had the painter ready to heave aboard. I was at the
oars. One stroke more, I thought, and we’ll be all right, when whing!
the first thing we knew around came the vessel and down on us. I
couldn’t do anything with the dory, she being down to her gunnels with
fish. Well, Dan had time to holler to me, and I hollered to him--no more
than that--when she was on us. By a miracle, you might say, we both
managed to grab the bob-stay. The stem of the vessel cut the dory like
it was a cracker, and then under her keel it went.

“Not knowing what to make of it all, we climbed aboard over the bow. Our
faces were no more than above the knight-heads than the Skipper yelled.
We ran aft and asked him what was wrong. He stared at us for a second as
if he couldn’t understand.

“‘What’s it?’ I asked.

“‘Why, I thought you two were gone.’

“‘And so we were, for all of you. A man that’s been to sea as long you,
George Hoodley,’ I said, ‘and put a wheel the wrong way! Nobody ever
said you were the cleverest man out of Gloucester to handle a vessel,
but cert’nly you know down from up.’

“‘Martin,’ he said, ‘I give you my word. Just as I grabbed the wheel
that time a sea came aboard, the vessel lurched, and down on deck I
went, with my weak ankle giving way under me.’

“Well, our dory was gone, but later in the trip one of the crew, Bill
Thornton, was troubled with a felon on his finger. ’Twarn’t anything
very bad, and Bill himself said it didn’t amount to anything, but the
Skipper thought Bill’d better stay aboard, and his dory-mate with him.
‘And Martin, you and Dan take his dory,’ says the Skipper--‘you two
being so used to each other it’ll be the best way.’

“Well, that was all right. We took their dory and gear and went out the
next set--only two days after our own dory had been lost, mind you.
Well, this time we got lost in the fog and were out overnight. It turned
out a snowy night, and cold, with fog again in the morning. That
morning, so we heard from the crew later, the Skipper said, after a
little jogging about, ‘They must be gone; we may as well give it up.’
Well, everybody aboard thought there was a good chance for us yet, and
one or two hinted at that. But he wouldn’t have it. ‘Run her westerly,’
he said, and went below. Well, to everybody’s surprise we popped up just
then almost under her bow. ’Twas quite a little sea on at the time, but
the man at the wheel this time didn’t have any bad ankle. He jibed her
over in time and we climbed aboard. One man ran down to call the Skipper
and tell him the news, but the Skipper only swore at him. ‘Do you mean
to tell me that the watch shifted the course of this vessel without
orders from me? I’ll talk to him.’ And he did talk to him, and in a
most surprising way. We didn’t know what to make of it. He raved.
‘Discipline,’ he said--he’d always been a great hand for discipline
aboard his vessel, but this warn’t any case for discipline--’twas men’s
lives.

“Well, they expected to have two or three more days of fishing aboard
the _Cromwell_ after that day, but I made a kick. Never again would I
haul a trawl for a skipper of his kind, I said.

“‘What?’ asked the Skipper. ‘You mean to mutinize on me?’

“‘Call it mutiny or what you please,’ said I, ‘but myself and Dan don’t
leave this vessel again in a dory.’

“‘Don’t you know I can run into the nearest port, Newf’undland or Nova
Scotia, and put you ashore?’

“‘I do.’

“‘Or take you both back to Gloucester and have you up before the court?’

“‘You can put us up before forty courts--the highest in the land, if you
want--and maybe they’ll sentence us to ten years in jail, or to be
strung up to a yard-arm somewheres. But I don’t cal’late they will-- I
don’t cal’late so--not after we tell our story. It’s a fine thing
fishermen have come to when their own skippers try to lose ’em.’

“‘Lose you? Me try to lose you? And why, in God’s name, would I try to
lose you?’

“‘Lord knows. But you do, and there’s an end of it. Dan and I don’t
swing any dory over the rail of this vessel this trip again.’

“He said nothing to that. Only he looked at me, then a long look at Dan,
and turned into his bunk again. Later in the day he drew out a quart
bottle of whiskey and began to drink. That was a new thing to his crew
that knew him so long. They’d pretty good reason to believe that he’d
kept a bottle in his closet under lock and key for a little drink on the
quiet when the dories were out and nobody by; but they knew he did it
slyly so as not to have the name of it, or maybe so’s not to have to ask
anybody to join him, and so save expense. But everybody knew that
whatever liquor he took that way was not enough to hurt him. Yes, a
sober man he’d always been--everybody had to say that for him. But now
he was drinking with all hands looking on, taking it down in gulps, and
when the first quart was gone he brought out another, drinking by
himself all the time.

“However, he warn’t drunk by a good deal when in the middle of the night
he ordered all hands on deck to make sail. The men thought he was crazy;
but he was the skipper. If anything happened, ’twas his lookout, not
theirs. So they gave her the full mains’l, and then he ordered the man
at the wheel to swing her off.

“‘Yes, sir, and what course?’

“‘What course? Didn’t I say to swing her off? Put her fair before it.
Jibe over your fores’l and let her run--let her run, I tell you!
Whichever way she goes, let her run.’

“And we let her run all that night and all next day. She was under her
winter rig--in March it was--no topm’sts; but the four lower sails alone
were enough for any Gloucester fisherman that second night. I mind ’twas
nine o’clock that night, and Abner Tucker’s watch. A staid, sober man
was Abner. He’d been to sea for twenty years, and been with George for
ten years--stayed with him because he knew him for a prudent man, I
s’pose. Well, Abner took the wheel, and getting the feel of it, cried
out, ‘Lord in heaven, it’s like trying to steer two vessels--she’s
running wild!’ and braced himself against the wheel, but warn’t braced
firm enough, or he warn’t strong enough, for he let her broach, and a
sea swept her quarter, burying him and the vessel both. Over the top of
the house went that sea and down into the cabin by the ton. They were
floated out in the cabin and came tumbling up on deck. Josh Whitaker, a
bait knife in his hand, jumped to the main peak halyards.

“The Skipper noticed him. ‘What you goin’ to do?’

“‘Cut,’ says Josh.

“‘You cut, and I’ll cut you!’ The Skipper, too, had a bait-knife, and he
lunged with it for Josh. Then he stood guard by the halyards. ‘Or if
anybody else thinks to cut’--and we saw the rest of it in his face--dark
as it was, we saw that.

“The Skipper was still on guard there when Dan and myself came on deck
for our watch. That was eleven o’clock. Dan went for’ard to look out and
I took the wheel from Abner, and glad enough he was to turn the wheel
over when he gave me the course. I looked in the binnacle to make sure
he had it right.

“‘Still on that course?’ I asked, when I’d seen ’twas so. ‘Where’s the
Skipper?’

“‘Here,’ said the Skipper himself from between the house and the weather
rail, where he was still watching that nobody bothered the halyards, I
s’pose. ‘What’s it?’

“‘How about the course?’ I asked.

“‘What’s wrong with the course?’

“‘No’west by west half west--is it right?’

“‘No’west by west half west, or whatever it is--yes. And why not?’

“‘Oh, nothin’, if you say it’s right.’

“‘And why isn’t it right? Why not? Why don’t you spit it out? What’s
wrong, anyway?’

“‘What’s wrong?’ I said. ‘Don’t you know we warn’t much more than three
hundred miles off shore on this course when we swung her off last night,
and we’ve been coming along now for twenty-three hours--and the clip
she’s been coming!’

“He said nothing to that for a while, and then it was, ‘And so you don’t
think the course is right?’

“‘No, I don’t--not if you’re intending to make Gloucester.’

“‘That so? Not if I was intending to make Gloucester? And where in the
name o’ heaven am I headin’ for if not Gloucester?’

“‘Where? where? Damned if I know,’ says I. ‘Hell, maybe.’

“‘That so? Well, Gloucester or hell, drive her you.’

“‘Oh, I’ll drive her.’ I threw it back in his teeth that way, spat to
looard, took a fresh hold of the wheel, and did drive her just to let
him know he couldn’t scare me. Cripes, but I gave her all she wanted!

“It was wicked, though, the way she was going. She warn’t a big sailer,
the _Cromwell_-- George Hoodley never did believe in the racing kind--but
any old plug could’ve sailed that night. Along toward midnight it got
thick o’ snow, I mind, and we came near running into a vessel hove-to
under a fores’l. ‘A fisherman!’ Dan for’ard called out, and as we shot
by her a warning hail came to us.

“‘What’s that he said?’ asked the Skipper of Dan.

“‘Something about where we’re bound for,’ answered Dan.

“‘That so? What’s it of his business?’ and went below for a spell.

“From the wheel I could see him taking another drink under the cabin
light. He had got to where he wasn’t bothering to pour it into a mug,
but took it straight from the bottle--long pulls, too. He came on deck
again just as my watch and Dan’s was up. To Charlie Feeney, who was next
man to the wheel, I said that the Skipper ought to be spoken to about
hauling her up. So Charlie did.

“‘Who in the devil’s name is skipper of this vessel, anyway?’ was all
the answer he got.

“Henry Carsick, who was Charlie’s dory-mate, said he didn’t know what to
make of it. ‘I’m blessed if ever I knew him to carry half this sail in a
breeze before, and I’ve been with him three years,’ said he to me as he
went for’ard.

“Well, Dan and me hadn’t more than got off our oilskins after standing
watch, when a hail came from Henry on watch for’ard. ‘Some kind of a
roaring ahead of us,’ repeated Charlie from the wheel. And just then it
was that, leaping like a hound, she hit something good and hard--a
check, a grinding along her bottom, a rearing of her bow. But nothing
small was going to stop her the clip she was going then, and whatever it
was, she was clear of it. By that time the whole crew was tumbling up on
deck. ‘God in heaven, what is it?’ they called out one to another.
Another leap of her, and it was clear white astern and on either side.
‘A wall of rock ahead!’ said Henry Carsick, and came tumbling aft--‘a
ledge of solid rock, Skipper!’

“‘Yes,’ said the Skipper, in a kind of studyin’ tone--‘and it _was_ hell
or Gloucester, warn’t it’--he turned to me. ‘I said it’d be, didn’t I?’

“‘That’s what you did,’ said I, ‘and it ain’t Gloucester. You ought to
be proud of yourself--nineteen men, maybe, lost for you--nineteen men.
I’m not counting yourself--you ought to be lost. Will we put a dory
over?’

“‘Put it over, if you want to. Do what you please. I’m done with this
vessel-- I’m done with fishing.’

“‘I guess that’s right,’ says I. ‘And I guess you ain’t th’ only one
that gets through with fishing to-night.’ Then I turned to the crew:
‘What d’y’ say if we try and get a dory over and see what’s around us?’

“They said all right, and we unhooked the tackles. A few heaves, and up
went the dory into the air. It hung there for a second or two. We tried
to push it over, but the wind took it, tore it from us and dropped it
into the sea. The sea took it, tossed it up and back against the rail
and on to the deck. One smash--another--another--and it was
kindling-wood.

“‘Try another,’ said Dan, who was standing by the rail to his waist in
water. He had a line about his waist, and that was all kept him inboard.
We hoisted another dory out of the nest, and we had to fight, even as we
were hoisting, for a footing on her deck, it was that steep and the
great seas running clean over her. Up into the air we hoisted the second
dory--up and out again. Once more the howling wind and the boiling sea
took it--once more ’twas kindling-wood.

“‘There’s seven more left--try another,’ said Dan. A great man, Dan. If
I go to sea for forty years I never expect to see a better-- I could
’most cry when I think of how he was lost that night.

“‘One of my hands mashed to a pulp,’ said somebody.

“‘Well, we can’t stop to doctor you,’ I called to him. ‘Let somebody
take your place at the tayckles. Now then, lads. I don’t know that
it’ll do any good when we do get it over, but maybe we c’n take a look
around--maybe find a landing-place somewheres.’

“‘I’ll go in her,’ calls out someone. ‘Give me a chance now----’

“‘My chance,’ said Dan--‘my chance, ain’t it, Martin?’

“‘Yes,’ says I to Dan, and looking back at it now I say, ‘God forgive
you, Martin Carr,’ and yet ’twarn’t no fault of mine.

“Out went the dory, and when she hung for a second Dan swung himself
after it. He made it, and called, ‘Pay out that line!’ and dug in with
the oars. We could just see him. We were still paying out the line, we
could still hear his voice, when ‘Haul in! I broke an oar!’ he called.

“‘Haul in!’ said I; but when we went to haul in there was nothing to
haul--the line had parted.

“‘God, he’s gone!’ said somebody.

“‘That’s what he is,’ said a voice beside me--‘I was bound he would be.’

“’Twas the Skipper. From by the rail he crept up to me with a
knife-blade shining--a bait-knife it was, the same he’d had all night.
And then I knew what it meant--he had cut the line. I stood away from
him first, then I grabbed him and picked him up, and had a mind to
heave him over the rail, and then-- I don’t know why-- I didn’t. I dropped
him on the deck. ‘You’ll get yours before this night’s over,’ I said.

“‘A devil of a lot I care,’ he said.

“The rest of them, or at least those that warn’t too busy with the next
dory or trying to look out for themselves, called out to ask what was
wrong with the two of us. I didn’t answer, nor did the Skipper.

“Dan was the first to go that night. We kept trying to launch
dories--trying, but losing them--smashed to kindling-wood they were,
until the whole nine of them were gone. During that time four men were
washed over. One, with a line about him, made a desperate try, but was
hauled back dead, I mind. We laid his body on the house, and afterward,
when I went to look for it, it was gone--swept over. The seas were
wicked.

“The wind was blowing harder, the big combers were coming even higher,
and the gang began to be washed off her deck and lost one after the
other. We took to the rigging when we saw ’twarn’t any more use on deck.
And in the middle of it all, what d’y’ think the Skipper did? What d’y’
think he did, the man that was the cause of it all? Well, while his crew
were going--to heaven or hell, as it might be--washed over and lost, one
after the other--he goes below and has a mug-up for himself. Yes, sir,
goes into the forec’s’le and has a mug of coffee and a piece of pie.
Somebody that’d seen him going below called out to the rest of us. The
Lord’s truth, that. And the rest of us blasphemed to God, we were that
black with rage against him.

“Well, there was ten of us, I think, in the rigging, all hoping to be
able to last until daylight, when we thought we might be able to see
where we were. Hoping only--’twas not expecting--for ’twas getting
colder, with the spray beginning to freeze where it struck and making
hard work of holding on to the rigging. ’Twas wild--her sails still up,
with the reef points beating a devil’s tattoo where the canvas warn’t
tearing up and flying out like long-tailed, ghostly things in the
blackness. Lashed to the rigging we must’ve been for all of two hours, I
cal’late. Some began to take note of the numbness creeping over
them--one or two--the most discouraged. The warmer-blooded, or the
strongest, tried to keep up a cheering talk--tried to crack jokes and
one thing or another.

“Well, we had hope, some of us, of lasting through the night, when
crack! We knew what was coming then. I slipped the half-hitch that had
been holding me to the shrouds and climbed higher. I was ’most to the
mast-head, clear of the gaff, when over the side went her forem’st,
half a dozen men clinging to the forerigging, a-swaying and shaking; and
after it went the mainm’st, with four more, I think, in her rigging.

“Well, sir, when the forem’st went I was thrown into clear water. I had
plenty of line to my hand, with a turn of it around the mast-head, and
with that I hauled myself back. I hung on to an arm of the cross-trees
for a while there before I started to work my way back along the mast
toward the vessel. I didn’t believe then I’d ever live to reach the
vessel. The sail, as I said, had been kept standing on her, and now it
was lying flat on the water, now sagging down with the weight of the
water over it, and now bellying into the air when a great sea would get
under it. I saw a shadow of a man--hanging on to a reef point he was--go
down with that sail once, then go up with it once, and then the sail
split under the weight of the sea, and I never saw him again. But I
heard him holler as he went. What he said I don’t know-- I had to keep on
crawling. The hoops of the sail were around the mast, of course, and I
used them and the bolt-rope of the fores’l where the sail was torn away
to pull myself along. And, mind you, I had to watch out for the forem’st
itself. It reared and tossed with one sea after another--me astride it
most of the time--like a man on horseback, though hard riding enough I
found it. The least little tap of that, and I knew where I’d be--bait
for the fishes that I’d baited for so often. Well, between the hoops and
the bolt-rope and the rigging I hauled myself along. And the way that
mast rolled! Forty times I swear I thought I was good as dead. But no.
And so I dragged myself along, watching out when I went upon the crests
and holding my breath when I was pulled down into the depths--hung on
desperately, mindful that the quietest knock of that big spar would end
me then and there, and mindful, too, that once my grip loosed I’d be
swallowed up in the roaring. Tired I was, aye, and weak, but I kept on
working toward the vessel’s hull always.

“Against the white sails and white foam I made out two others struggling
like myself. ‘That you, Bill?’ said one. ‘Yes--that you, Mike?’ I heard
from the other. I knew who they were then, and called out myself.
Between two seas one slipped from sight. The other still crept on. ‘That
you, Bill?’ I called out. ‘Bill’s gone,’ said the voice. ’Twas Mike
Cannon. ‘That’s tough,’ I said. ‘It is that,’ says Mike, ‘after the
fight he put up. But how’re you making out yourself?’ ‘Pretty good;
how’re you?’ I said. ‘Kind of tired. I doubt if I’ll hold out much
longer--something smashed inside my oilskins. My chest and a few ribs,
I think--and one arm, too. A wild night and tough going, Martin.’

“There was no more chance to talk. Two awful seas followed, and after
the second a quiet spell--the back suction. I looked around. I thought I
saw Mike, but warn’t sure. I guess now I didn’t, for another sea, the
biggest of all, tossed the whole lot of wreckage back against the hull
of the _Cromwell_. There was a grinding and a battering as the spars met
the hull. Myself up in the air, I looked down and found myself over her
deck, and then--my guardian angel it must’ve been that whispered me
then-- I let go. ‘God in heaven!’ I found myself saying, and fetched up
on her deck, the luckiest man in all the North Atlantic.

“Against what was left of the rail I found myself, close to the balance
of the forerigging. At first I warn’t sure just where I was at all, but
that’s where I found myself when my eyes were clear to see again. And
when my eyes were clear I looked around. The hull of her was heaving to
every sea, moving inshore maybe a foot at a time, with her bowsprit
pointing to a shadow of rock or cliff ahead. I looked around again, and,
so far as I could make out, everything--house, gurry-kids,
booby-hatches, everything--was gone off her. Only the two stumps of her
masts seemed to be left on deck. But, no--the forec’s’le hatch was
left. Her bow, being so much higher than her stern, saved that. I saw
that, and-- I don’t know why--toward the forec’s’le I crawled. The
hatches were closed. I slid them back. Down the steps I went, and when I
was below-- I don’t know why, either-- I thought of the razors in my bunk.
I might’s well get them couple of razors, I says to myself, and starts
for my bunk, which was in the peak--the same bunk, clear for’ard on the
starb’d side, that the Turkish-bath lad is in now. ’Twas like swimming
down there. The water by the butt of the forem’st, ’bout like where I’m
sitting here to-night, was over my waist. I couldn’t help thinking then
how deep ’twas, and getting deeper fast, with the seas pouring down the
companionway. I was thinking of that--thinking I ought to’ve closed the
hatches after me--and was looking back toward the steps, when I heard a
little noise, or thought I did, for the pounding of the seas overhead
was making an awful racket and I warn’t sure. But I heard it again, the
clinking of crockery like, and I looked around--back behind the
steps--at last, and there, behind the stove, leaning up against the
cook’s lockers-- I’d clean forgot him--was the Skipper. He was having
another mug-up for himself.

“‘God! ‘I said, ‘you here?’

“He half-turned, dropping a coffee mug he had in his hand. Then taking
a second look: ‘Man, but I thought it was the ghost of Dan Spring. But
you two look something alike. Come to think, you’re cousins, ain’t you?
Man, if you could only see yourself! Blood, blood, and bruises--and your
eyes, man--your eyes! But have a mug of coffee. Warn’t it lucky? here’s
the coffee-boiler hove up here on the lockers, and some coffee still
left in it--and hot. And there’s a pie in the grub locker--on the top
shelf. If it’d been on the bottom shelf it’d be all wet and floating
around. Ain’t that luck? And look here--a good half pint of whiskey left
yet! It’s been an awful night, ain’t it? What d’y’ say?”

“He held the bottle toward me. I took it from him and smashed it on the
stove. And then I gave him a bit of my mind. ‘And so, George Hoodley,
you’re so afraid, after all, to go to your death that you must go drunk,
hah? The soul that the Lord gave you--that soul is going from a drunken
body straight to the God that’s going to judge you. And how’ll you be
judged, d’y’ think, for this night’s work, George Hoodley? Could you
listen to what was said on deck to-night and not die of fright at what
you’ve done? Did you hear Sam Catiss? “I’m not afraid to go, if go I
must,” says Sam, “but, Lord, there’s one or two things I wish I hadn’t
done,” says Sam. You heard him--we all

[Illustration: He was having another mug-up for himself.]

heard him--and then he was swept over. And but for you, George Hoodley,
maybe he’d have had time to make his peace before he went. And up in the
rigging--you warn’t there, I know--even you, if you’d heard what Peter
Harkins said when we all knew her spars were going--when Peter heard the
first crack and knew what it meant; and knowing he was going, with his
last free breath he said things of you that if I had an enemy I wouldn’t
want him to hear--not if I hated him bad enough to want to see him in
the bottom of the deepest, hottest hold of hell----’

“‘Hell!’ he breaks in--‘there ain’t no hell--nor heaven, nor God, nor
anything.’

“‘God forgive you for that! You----’

“‘God forgive me? Martin, you talk like an old woman. I tell you, since
I was no higher than one of my jack-boots I’ve been listening to talk of
hell and heaven--mostly hell, though--and I used to believe it one time.
Nobody believed it any more than I did till when--till I began to see
that the very people that was talking it so hard warn’t governed by what
they said. What they wanted was everybody else to be governed by what
they preached. I tell you I know. I’ve seen it in my own people-- I know
them better than you do. It’s years now-- I was one of the fools, one
that never let anybody, I thought, get the best of me at anything.
You’re one--though you’re a good man in your fool way, Martin. I had no
grudge against you, not even when I tried to lose you in the dory. But I
had to get rid of your dory-mate.’

“‘Get rid of Dan? And why Dan?’

“‘Why? There again! You mean to tell me you don’t know?... I looked
around before I went out this trip. Nobody’d tell me, but I knew his
first name was Dan-- Dan something. One day, when the crew was out
hauling the trawls, I rummaged his bunk and found part of a letter in my
wife’s writing under his mattress. That was the same day I ran over Dan
and you in the dory. ’Twas for that chance I’d been pretending my ankle
warn’t better. Weak ankle, bah!’ He drove the bad foot against the stove
and crushed in the oven door. ‘Anything weak about that foot!--bah!
“Dear Dan,” the note read-- I know my wife’s handwriting, and his name’s
Dan.’

“‘Wait a bit--wait a bit. How do you know it was this Dan? Are there no
other Dans in Gloucester?’

“‘How do I know? And it in his bunk--under the mattress in his bunk.’

“‘That’s all right. And whose bunk was it before Dan Spring got it?
Another Dan’s, warn’t it-- Dan Powell’s? And didn’t he leave the
mattress behind him when he left this vessel, trip before last? Didn’t
he? And warn’t Dan Powell just the kind of a man that’d do a thing like
that, and not Dan Spring, my own cousin? And so that’s the bottom of it?
Nineteen souls gone because you thought--just thought only--that one of
them was fooling you. And for a woman that warn’t worth Dan Spring’s
little finger. That’s the truth, George Hoodley. But if you’d been
brought up different, if you’d studied to understand the good side of
people, instead of the other side, and how to get the best of them and
to make money out of them and save it, you both might’ve come safe out
of it. But you warn’t that kind. ’Twarn’t in your blood, nor in none of
your people. Wrong’s wrong-- I got nothing to say about that--but human
nature’s human nature. Why should you expect, George Hoodley, to get the
fine things in life? Why warn’t you content with money? You’d earned
that. What had you to offer a handsome young woman that liked a good
time? What had you, even supposing she was the kind you could
trust--anything that women love? Not a blessed thing. You’ve spent your
life with about one idea in your head, and that idea had nothing to do
with being pleasant or kind to others, or good to anybody but yourself.
Miles away from the kind of thing that women love were you all the time.
You come to nigh fifty year of age--you, with your hard face and hard
mouth, and eyes like-- God! like a dead fish’s eyes to-night, no
less--don’t you know that whoever was going to marry you warn’t going to
for love? You had a right to marry some lean old sour-mouthed spinster
with a little money like yourself. What made you think that beauty and
love was for you? But even in marrying you thought to make a good
bargain--and got fooled. And by the daughter of a man of your own kind,
too. D’y’ s’pose her father didn’t know? God help you, George Hoodley,
’twas him hooked you--’twas him made the good bargain, not you. Why,
before ever you married her ’twas common talk she warn’t the girl for
any man to trust. But what good is it to talk of that now? Nineteen men
gone, for I don’t count you--you’re no man. You’re a-- But I won’t say
it. Lord, but I’m tempted to choke you where you stand. Only when I
think of those fine men--and poor Dan Spring----”

“‘Dan Spring? Don’t tell me ’twarn’t Dan Spring, the----’

“‘Hold up,’ I says to that--‘hold up, or close as we both are to death
now and soon to go, I’ll choke you where you stand-- I’ll send you to
your God, or to the devil, with the print of my fingers around your
turkey gobbler’s throat, if you say aught of Dan. Dan was my own kind
and I knew him. Whatever faults he had--and maybe he had some--it warn’t
in the heart of Dan Spring to undervalue good women, or to mix with
married women of any kind, let alone the wife of a man he was to go
ship-mate with. No, sir, not if he didn’t have a wife and children of
his own--wife and children that’ll have to suffer all their lives
because of you, and never know what brought it all about. But years from
now they’ll still be without food and clothing because of you. When I
think of it, George Hoodley, I misdoubt they’d count it against me in
the other world, where we’ll both be soon with the others, if I was to
take you by the throat and wind my fingers around your windpipe, and
choke and choke and squeeze and squeeze you till your tongue came out
and your eyes popped, and your face got blue and then black, and you----’

“He drew back against the lockers and put his hands before his face.
‘Martin, Martin, don’t!’ he said; for, in truth, I all but had hold of
him in spite of myself.

“‘I’m not going to,’ I said. ‘I have enough already to account for.
There’s two or three things I wish I hadn’t done, and maybe if I sent
you to death a few minutes sooner than you’re going, I’d be sorry for
it, too, later on. I’m going on deck now. This vessel won’t last much
longer. She’s breaking as it is--and up to our chests in water here
now.’

“Well, all the time we were below the big seas never let up. Some of her
outside planks were working loose from their frames when I left him to
go on deck again. Her deck planking, too, was coming apart. I almost
fell into her hold when I was coming out of the forec’s’le. I didn’t
know what to do quite, but climbed up on toward her bow at last, hanging
on where I could, dodging seas and the loose bits of wreck they were
carrying with them. At the knight-heads I looked around and ahead.
Astern and to either side ’twas nothing but rocks and the white sea
beating over them. Ahead I could make out a wall of rock-- I guessed
where I was--to the west’ard of Canso, off Whitehead. I knew that coast,
and a bad coast it was. Up on the bowsprit, crawling out with the help
of the footropes and the stops hanging down and the wreck of the jib and
stays, I began to think I had a chance--if I could only live till the
daylight that was coming on. I climbed farther out. Hard work it was,
and I soon cast off my boots. At the end of the bowsprit I got a better
look. A dozen feet away was the ledge with a chance for a footing. If a
man could jump that--but what man could, from a vessel’s bowsprit? But
now and then, perhaps every minute or so, the bowsprit, under a more
than average big sea, lifted and sagged a little nearer the cliff. At
the right time a man might make the leap, I thought. But if he missed? I
looked down with the thought and saw nothing but rocks and a white
boiling below. ‘If you miss, Martin,’ I said to myself, ‘maybe you’ll
live five seconds, maybe ten--but more likely maybe you’d keep clear of
being mashed to jelly for just about a wink of your eye.’ And ’twas
enough to make a man wink his eyes just to look at the white boiling
hell beneath. I cast off my oilskin jacket while I was thinking of it,
and then my oil pants. After that went my jersey, flannel shirt, and
trousers. I meant to have a good try at it, anyway.

“Looking back before I should leap, who did I see but the Skipper. In
the noise of the sea I had not heard him. He, too, had cast off his
boots and was even then unbuttoning his oilskins. He must’ve known I was
watching him, for he said, ‘Don’t throw me off, Martin--don’t!’

“‘Who’s going to?’ I asked.

“‘That’s right--don’t. Give me a chance now, Martin.’

“‘Like you gave your crew?’

“‘Oh, don’t, Martin--don’t! I was crazy. All that I said about not
believing in God and hell, I didn’t mean that. I’m afraid of
it--afraid. I was always afraid of it, but never like now, Martin--never
so afraid of the burning pit as now--never, never. Help me up,
Martin-- I’m weak-- I can hardly stand. Help me, won’t you, Martin? You’re
twice the man I am--no man ever sailed with me had your strength,
Martin. Help me, won’t you, Martin?’

“I lifted him up, and the two of us clung to the end of the bowsprit. He
looked weak as water then, and I pitied him, and pitying him I pointed
out what chance we had. ‘There’s the cliff, and there’s what’s below.
It’s one chance in ten to a man that can leap well.’

“‘I never could leap well, Martin.’

“‘No, you couldn’t--nor do anything much that other boys could do--no
money in leaping, I s’pose. But there it is--and you c’n have your
choice. Will you jump first, or last?’

“‘You go first, Martin. If you make it, maybe you c’n help me--maybe
pass me a bit of line or something. See, I’ve got a bit of line I took
along. You go first, Martin--you go first. It’s an awful jump to take,
though.’

“‘There’s men of your crew took more awful jumps to-night, George
Hoodley. They jumped from this world to the other when the spars went.
Well, I’m going. Give me room to swing my arms. Now, if I miss,
good-by. If we both miss, then I s’pose we’ll be standing up and giving
account together in a few minutes. I’ve got enough on my conscience, but
I’m glad I’m not you. Stand clear of me now--when she lifts, I’m going.’

“The _Cromwell_ lifted. Her bowsprit rose up and up till the end of it
was higher than the ledge in the wall of rock before us. I waited till
the last little second--till the bowsprit swayed in toward the cliff,
and then, while it balanced there and before it started to settle again,
knowing, as you all know, the power that’s in the uplift of a sea, I
gathered myself and jumped. And ’twas a good leap. I didn’t think I
could do it, cold and numb as I’d been feeling. A good leap, yes. And
’twas the wet, slippery shelf of rock I landed on; but I went a yard
clear, and even when I slipped a little I checked myself before I
slipped back to the edge, and was safe. Well, I lay there till I felt my
nerve steady again, then stood up and called for the line from the
Skipper.

“‘Now, when you jump,’ I says, ‘I’ll get what brace I can here, so if
you slip on the edge same’s I did there’ll be a chance to save you. But
mind you, George Hoodley, if I find I can’t hold you up--if it’s to be
your life or mine--it’s you that’s got to go. Mind that. And
hurry--throw it quick, or I’ll cast off the line altogether. That
bowsprit won’t be there in a few minutes, maybe. Hurry up!’

“‘But you’ll hang on, won’t you, Martin? You’ve got the strength, if you
want to use it.’

“‘Jump, man, jump afore you lose your nerve entirely,’ I hollers.

“He threw the line to me, after taking one end of it around his waist.
The other end I took around my waist, my end half hitched so I could
slip it in a hurry. I warn’t throwing my life away for him, if I knew
it.

“Well, he jumped at last. And the bowsprit rose full as high and gave
him full as good a chance as I’d got. But even so he fell a little
short. His feet only caught the edge of the shelf. He staggered, and
seeing how it was, I braced my feet well as I could and hauled. He came
in, sagged away, I bracing my feet--they were slipping. In a crack in
the rock of the ledge I dug the fingers of one hand, the other hand to
the line, and hung on. We were gaining; he was fairly on his feet, and I
felt the strain easing, when a sea that swept up the side of the cliff
like a tidal wave took him clear of everything. It would have swept me,
too, but I gripped where I could get a hold, with the fingers of my one
loose hand in the crack in the rocks, and hung on there--one hand to
the crack and the other to the line--hung on so, supporting the weight
of myself and the Skipper, until I felt my muscles getting hot and heavy
and my breath coming fast. He was floundering somewhere on the edge of
the cliff. I hollered to him, though feeling almost certain he was
battered to pieces by then--‘How is it with you, George--how is it,
man?’ but there was no answer. Again I hollered, and again no answer.
And then, when I was satisfied that it was only the last ounce of
strength I had left, I called out, ‘Help yourself, George--why don’t you
help yourself?’ No answer. Once more I called, and once more getting no
answer, I knew then he must’ve been beaten to death against the rocks,
and that ’twas his dead weight was hanging to me. And yet I called once
more to make sure. But still getting no answer, ‘The Lord have mercy on
your soul, George Hoodley,’ I said, and let slip the line.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Toward the end of Martin’s story it had become very quiet in the
forec’s’le. Nobody said anything, neither broke in with a question nor
offered any comment, until after a long silence, and then not until
after Martin himself had repeated absently, as if to himself, and after
a long indrawn breath, “And then I let slip the line.” Only then did he
look around and seem to realize that he was not on the ledge off
Whitehead.

“And after you cast off the line, what then, Martin?”

“Well,” resumed Martin, “the weight being gone made a great difference
to me, but it was quite a while before I could stand on my feet. Even
then I didn’t have the courage to look down right away, but climbing to
one side to the very top of the cliff, I laid flat on my stomach and
looked over the edge. ’Twas good light then, and I could see the body of
George Hoodley below--tossing about like an eggshell, as if ’twas no
more than sea-weed in a sea-way. And that was the end of it. Even if he
warn’t dead at the time--even if he warn’t dead when I let go the line
and it had to be me or him, it ought to’ve been him. If it was a friend,
now--if it was Dan, say-- I don’t know what I would do. I hope I’d have
the strength not to cast loose the line.”

It was very quiet again. The boot-heels of the new watch on deck, the
rasping of the booms as the vessel jibed, the whistle of the rising
gale, the slap of the sea outside them, the Skipper’s voice on deck, the
atmosphere, stirred Martin again. “’Twas a night like this we swung the
_Cromwell_ off to the west’ard. I shouldn’t wonder but what he’d be
takin’ the mains’l off her soon, won’t he?”--this to the old watch, who
had just come down the companion-way and was wringing his mitts out by
the stove.

“The mains’l, Martin?” repeated the watch in surprise. “Why, the
mains’l’s been off her for hours--she’s under a trys’l and jumbo.”

“The mains’l, Martin,” explained one, “was taken off her just after you
and Johnnie were taken aboard. You were pretty tired and didn’t notice,
maybe, at the time.”

“Lord, I must’ve been tired--not to know it when the mains’l’s taken off
a vessel I’m in. There was never a minute the night the _Cromwell_ was
lost that I was tired as that. No, sir, not even when I laid on the
cliff in the morning and looked down for George Hoodley’s body.”

“Speakin’ of that, Martin, didn’t some of the bodies come ashore?” This
from the cook, who incidentally, feeling a little less hurried, was
putting a few shovels of coal into the stove before he should turn in
for the night.

“There were two bodies came ashore,” resumed Martin. “And that was a sad
thing, too. I was going up to see if I couldn’t get some clothes to hide
my nakedness, and maybe a pair of boots and a bite to eat and a bit of
fire to warm up by somewhere, when I met a man. ’Twas good light by
then. He was coming down a bit of beach behind the cliff. I told him my
vessel had been wrecked, and I was all that was left of the crew. And he
fixed me up as well as he could and came back with me to the beach, and
there’s where the sad part came in. One of the _Cromwell’s_ crew, Angus
MacPherson, had been fishing out of Gloucester twelve years, and every
fall he said he was going home to see the old people. I knew that as
well as I knew that he’d been sending money home regularly to the old
people. If it hadn’t been for Angus they’d’ve had a hard time of it, I
cal’late, those twelve years. Well, he never went home, as he said; but
here was the very place Angus came from, and this was the way he came
home at last. That same afternoon I helped to bury him and to carry his
old mother away from the grave when she couldn’t carry herself. God help
us, but there’s hard spots in life, ain’t there?

“The other body that came up was the Skipper’s. And him I went to
Gloucester with. And maybe there’d be no more to that, but getting into
the Gloucester station, just as the train hauled up, who should happen
to be at the station but the Skipper’s wife--his widow, then, of course.
She knew well enough what had happened--everybody in Gloucester
knew--the papers full of it the day before; but she didn’t know that I,
the one man saved from the wreck, was on the train. Nobody knew. I
didn’t send any word ahead. It was only three days since the vessel was
lost, but was she crying her eyes out? Was she?--the--the-- But I won’t
say it.

“I goes up to her. ‘Mrs. Hoodley,’ says I, ‘I’ve brought home your
husband’s body for burial.’

“D’y’ think she thanked me? Indeed, I saw by her face I’d made a mistake
not to bury him with Angus down Whitehead way. And then she makes eyes
at me-- God’s truth--makes eyes at me, while the box that her husband’s
corpse was in--and I knew what a battered, bloody corpse it was--was
being lifted out of the baggage-car and put into a wagon. She gave
orders then and there to have it taken straight to the graveyard; and
when it was buried, mind you, she warn’t there--not even for decency’s
sake. But going from the station while her husband’s body was being
carried away, she held her head up and took note of who was looking at
her. That’s what she liked--people to notice her. And looking at her I
cursed George Hoodley for a fool that didn’t drown her if he was bound
to drown somebody, instead of the man that he thought had wronged him.
So there you have it--the truth of the _Oliver Cromwell_--the part that
didn’t get into the papers.”

“What was it the papers did say about it, Martin?”

“Oh, what they said was pretty near right so far as it went, but they
didn’t know the whole truth, and don’t yet. They said a word or two
’bout his leaving a wife. No great harm done in that, I s’pose. As for
himself, they said he was thrifty, and hard-working, and
careful--gen’rally careful, they might’ve said--and successful. And so
he was, I s’pose. But I think I’ll be turning in, for after all there’s
nothing like a good sleep, is there? Where’s Johnnie? Still asleep?
Well, he’s the wise lad to be getting his good sleep ’stead of listening
to my long-winded stories. Maybe if we all turn in there’ll be more of
us good and strong to haul a trawl again to-morrow.” He picked up his
pipe. It was cold. “And now there’s something. The man that’d invent
something to keep a pipe going when you lay it down without smokin’
itself all up’d make a lot of money, wouldn’t he? And yet maybe it’s
just as well for some of us. I cal’late I’ve smoked enough, anyway.”

“But, Martin, before you turn in, what’s become of Hoodley’s widow?”

“Oh, her? She and Dan Powell got married since, and they’re both
getting all that’s coming to them. He’ll go out and get lost some day
too, maybe, to get away from her. I wouldn’t be surprised, anyway, if he
did. Only before he goes, being a different kind of a man from George
Hoodley and knowing women of her kind better, he won’t worry so much
about the man as about her. He’ll see that she’s put out of the way
before he sails--or at least that’s my idea of it; or maybe it’s only
that I half hope he will. But I think I’ll be turning in.”

He tucked his pipe away under his mattress, slipped out of his
slip-shods, slacked away his suspenders, and laid his length in his
bunk. He was about to draw the curtain, but his eye catching the eye of
the watch, who was then hauling off his wet boots, he had to ask,
“What’s it look like for the morning, Stevie--what’d the Skipper say?”

“He says that unless it moderates a bit more than it looks as if ’twill
now, we’ll stay aboard in the morning.”

“Well, here’s one that ain’t sorry to hear that. I don’t mind sayin’,
now that it’s all over, that hanging on to the bottom of that dory
warn’t any joke to-day. I’m good and tired. ’Twas a night like this we
headed the _Cromwell_ to the west’ard. ‘Hell or Gloucester,’ says he,
and hell it was for him. Good-night.”



Strategy and Seamanship


I

Harry Glover, master of the _Calumet_, was generally admitted to be a
great diplomat; he himself allowed he was a little something that way.
And everybody said he must be--diplomat, strategist, or whatever it
was--else how could he, a man who had never had even ordinary luck at
bank fishing, induce so shrewd a man as Fred Withrow, something of a
schemer too, to build him a fine vessel like the _Calumet_ and send him
to the Newfoundland coast for frozen herring on a trip wherein an owner
stood to lose more money possibly, should things go wrong, than in any
other venture of fishermen.

The _Calumet_ was lying into Little Haven, Placentia Bay, when Glover,
sitting in his cabin, heard a hail and an inquiry for Captain Marrs of
the _Lucy Foster_.

Glover, ever wide awake, was on deck in an instant. It was a man in a
boat and looking tired. “Captain Marrs, did you say?” asked Glover.

“Yes, sir-- Captain Wesley Marrs.”

“Why, he was here, but he’s gone.”

“Been gone long?”

“Oh, two days now.”

The messenger looked discouraged. “Did he say where he was going to,
sir?”

“Why, yes--but you look froze up. Come aboard. You don’t never take a
little touch of anything--something nice and warm from Saint
Peer--something that’ll melt the frost inside your chest afore you know
you got it down--or do you? On a cold day like this,” insinuated Captain
Glover, “with frost in the air and maybe a long row ahead of you.”

“It is more than a common cold day,” assented the messenger.

“Cold day! I should say! Why, I don’t know how you ever stood it comin’
as far away as you did--ten miles, did you say you came?”

“Ten mile? Ten mile?” snorted the messenger.

“Ten miles. Why, yes. Ain’t that what it is to Saint Mary’s?”

“Saint Mary’s? I didn’t come from no Saint Mary’s. I came from Folly
Cove--eighteen mile.”

“Lord, but you don’t tell me! What d’y’ say, now--another little touch?
Let me see. Who’s that fellow down there who’s such a great hand to get
herring? Let me see now-- Johnson? Burke? No, not Burke. Robbins? No, not
Robbins, nor Lacey. That’s queer-- I know him so well and yet can’t
remember his name.”

“Do you mean Rose, John Rose?” suggested the messenger.

“Rose, is it? Is it Rose you’ve come from?”

“Yes, sir-- John Rose.”

“That’s it, come to think of it, old John Rose.”

“Why, he ain’t so old.”

“No? Well, it’s so long since I’ve seen him. Have another little touch,
and don’t be afraid of it. There’s another jug when that one’s empty.
Seen John lately?”

“Seen him? I should say. Last man I spoke to before I left.”

“That so? Any herring down there?”

“A few. But I must be getting along. Rose’d talk to me if he knew I’ve
been loafing here. Which way, Captain, did you say I’d find Captain
Marrs?”

Glover carefully headed the messenger about as far off Wesley Marrs’s
course as the length and breadth of Placentia Bay would admit. He waited
just long enough for the messenger to double the nearest headland, then
up anchor, made sail, and away for Folly Cove. It was ten in the
morning when he weighed anchor, and early afternoon found him knocking
at the door of John Rose’s little house.

He at once introduced himself. “Captain Glover of the _Calumet_. But
maybe you’ve been expecting me.”

“Not that I knows of,” said Rose.

“What, ain’t Captain Marrs sent word yet?”

“Word from Captain Marrs? Why, it was him I was expecting.”

“I know-- I know, but he’s sailed for home. By this time I cal’late he’s
to the west’ard of Miquelon, streaking it across the Gulf, laying to it
for home. Filled up, did Wesley, night afore last, at Little Haven.”

“Filled up at Little Haven? Why, when did any herrin’ hit in there?”

“Two days ago. And Wesley got ’em. And the last thing he said afore
wearing off was, ‘Harry, you know I got some good friends across the
bay, and maybe one or two of ’em’ll be having some herrin’ saved up for
me after this cold snap. If you hear of any and can help any of ’em out
by taking ’em off their hands at a fair price, why, I’ll consider it a
great favor--a great favor to me, Harry. There’s John Rose down to Folly
Cove, a great friend of mine. I’ll send him word ’bout you, Harry, so
in case he gets hold of any he’ll maybe let you have ’em.’ Wesley and
me’s great friends, you see, Mr. Rose, and Wesley, no doubt, thinkin’
there mightn’t be any market, wanted to do you a good turn too.”

“Oh, there’s plenty market. Herrin’s been that scarce this winter that
people been from everywhere lookin’ for a load--yes. But I was savin’
them for Wesley. But if Wesley’s gone, and you’re such a great friend of
Wesley’s--any friend of Wesley’s a friend of mine--and sailin’ from the
same firm in Gloucester, you say?”

“The same firm, the Duncans.”

“That so? Well, I can’t say as ever I heard Wesley speak of you or any
mention of your name down this way before--but that ain’t extraor’nary,
maybe. Anyway, being as you’re a friend of Wesley’s, you can have them
herrin’ just the same as if you was Wesley himself.”

The loading of the _Calumet_ was a record performance. By dark she was
off and away.

And as she cleared the last headland of Placentia Bay, as she squeezed
by Shag Rocks and left Lamalin astern, Captain Harry Glover had to laugh
aloud. “O Lord, but I call that getting ahead of a man!” he chuckled.
“It was too easy. Talk about strategy!”


II

The _Lucy Foster_ was lying into Big Whale Gut with Wesley Marrs chafing
to complete his cargo. Five hundred barrels would just about fill her
up--fill her up nicely.

A man in a rowboat came into the cove. The one sail on the boat had
evidently been blown away, for only some strips of canvas were tied to
the little mast.

Wesley Marrs, leaning against the main rigging of the _Lucy_, watched
the weary oarsman approach.

“Looks as if he’d been boxin’ the compass in strange waters,” commented
Wesley meditatively. “What’s wrong?” he hailed.

“Captain Marrs?”

“Yes.”

“I’ve been three days looking for you, Captain Marrs. But I don’t
cal’late you have such a thing as a drink of good liquor aboard, have
you, Captain? I’m most famished.”

Wesley said no more--only led the way to the cabin and handed out a jug,
a jug so full that from it the cork was yet to be taken for the first
time. The messenger took the cork out and without help. He bit it out,
and let the red rum of old Saint Pierre gurgle down after the manner in
which all men said it should.

“Good?” asked Wesley.

The messenger sucked in his cheek and his lips kissed together
lingeringly. “Good--m--m--you ought to try it yourself, Captain Marrs.”

Wesley did try it--a small, safe drink. “It is good, ain’t it?” and was
about to put it back in the locker of his stateroom--was about to, but
looking around and observing that wistful gathering he hadn’t the heart.
Six of his own crew and a dozen natives were there, and they passed it
along the locker, though not too rapidly. When Wesley got it back he
“hefted” it. It felt pretty light. He shook it up. Gauging by sound was
a good way, too, when the jug itself was heavy. It was light. “Lucky
’twas the little jug,” said Wesley, and he laid it at his feet with a
sigh. “But what was it you was goin’ to say?” he asked of the boatman he
had rescued from famishing.

“John Rose, of Folly Cove--you know him, Captain?”

“For more than twenty year. But what of him?”

“Well, John’s got five hundred barrels of as fine frozen herrin’ as ever
a man laid eyes on, and he says for you to come and get ’em.”

“Five hundred barrels? Man, but that’s good news--better have another
little touch.”

After that second drink, the boatman, who had been nursing a few little
suspicions for two days now, thought he had better tell Captain Marrs of
his meeting with Captain Glover. And he did, or rather began to. He was
about one-quarter through when Wesley jumped for the companionway.
“Break out the anchor and make sail,” ordered Wesley, and then, dropping
back into the cabin, and suggesting to the boatman that he had better
have one more drink, he started to fill his pipe. With his pipe going
freely Wesley could think more rapidly--could fathom things more surely.

“Harry Glover,” said Wesley, to himself as he supposed, but really half
aloud, “I know you, Harry Glover, and your father and your grandfather
afore you, and all the rest of your fore-people on Cape Ann by hearsay,
and not one of you I’d trust with so much as the price of a
bait-knife--no. Now, let’s see-- Glover, he’s got them herrin’.”

“But how’s he going to get ’em, Captain? John Rose is keepin’ ’em for
you,” said the belated boatman at this point.

“Who in the devil,” began Wesley, but recovering himself, pushed the jug
toward the messenger. “About one more drink is what you need, and that
about empties the jug, too. Take it and keep quiet, or I’ll carry you up
on deck and heave you over the rail, and heave the jug after you to make
sure you go down.

“Let’s see, now”-- Wesley resumed his meditations--“he’s got them herrin’
and off long afore this. Now, where’ll he go first? To Saint Peer?
That’s it, to Saint Peer for a few cases of wine to take home. And then?
To Canso, of course, to see that girl that’s makin’ such a fool of him.
Yes, and he’ll make a great fellow of himself by givin’ a case of cassy
wine to her people. It’s most Christmas-time, and he’ll make a great
hit, and it won’t cost him too much--a dozen bottles of cassy. And then?
Then he’ll tell the girl, and everybody else in Canso, that he’s the
first vessel to leave Newf’undland with anything like a load of frozen
herrin’ this winter. And he’ll be right--he’ll be easy the first to
Gloucester this season--or oughter be. And ‘Let me tell you how I filled
up,’ he’ll say, and go on to spin a fine yarn on how he got the best of
Wesley Marrs. Never let on he lied and cheated, not Mister Glover. And
they’ll think he’s a devil--yes, sir, a clean devil of a man. ‘And
Wesley Marrs,’ he’ll go on to say, ‘Wesley’s all right--he can handle a
vessel pretty well, can Wesley, but when he gets to figurin’ against
Harry Glover--’” Wesley drew a breath--“If I get near enough to lay my
hands on him and don’t welt the head off him, then may the dogfish get
me and----”

“Anchor’s hove short up, sir,” came down the companion-way.

Wesley took the jug from the messenger and locked it up. Then he went on
deck.

Five minutes later the _Lucy Foster_ was off and away. “I’ll chase him,”
muttered Wesley, “chase him clear to Gloucester, but I’ll get him,” and
himself standing close to the wheel, he drove the _Lucy_ out of Big
Whale Gut and across Placentia Bay.

“Just a minute at Folly Cove to drop this blessed fool of a messenger
John Rose sent, and just another minute to hail John himself and make
certain, and then across the Gulf to Canso,” said Wesley, and stood on
the _Lucy’s_ quarter and watched her go along.


III

It was night, and a northeast gale and falling snow was making the thick
night thicker. The _Lucy Foster_ had come across the Gulf like a runaway
horse, and now they were expecting to strike in somewhere.

Wesley was standing aft, when a long, low, warning moan came to them
over the water. “There’s the whistle--we ought to see Cranberry Light
soon--watch out.”

The forward watch, hanging on to her fore-rigging and peering sharply
ahead, soon called out: “There it is--no--it’s a vessel’s port light.”

Wesley looked. “’Tis a vessel, sure enough, and hove-to, ain’t she?
Maybe we’d better speak her”--this last to the man at the wheel. The
helmsman brought her up, and “Hi-i!” roared Wesley.

“Hi-i!” came back--“who’re you?”

Wesley swore softly. “Harry Glover, by the Lord! Here, Charlie, you
answer him. There ain’t many knows you. Ask him what’s wrong--and don’t
get too near him, you to the wheel.”

“What’s wrong?” called Charlie Green.

“Nothin’--just waitin’ for a chance to go into Canso.”

“Well, why don’t you go in--what’s holdin’ you back?”

“Why? Too thick to make the harbor to-night.”

“Ask him, Charlie,” said Wesley, “what kind of a man he holds himself
that he’s afraid to make a harbor to-night?” Which Charlie did, in a
tone that Wesley could never have achieved.

“Who in the devil are you that’s so all-fired smart?” queried Glover.
“Who’re you, anyway?”

“Give him your own name, Charlie,” said Wesley, and Charlie did. “Lord,
but you do put up a pert twist with your voice, Charlie. If a man was to
talk to me like that, I’d run him down.”

“Charlie Green? I never heard of you afore--nor nobody else aboard here.
What vessel is that?” came from Glover.

“Never mind what vessel. Whatever vessel’s here I’m not too frightened
to put her into Canso to-night.”

“That so? You’re the devil and all, ain’t you? And when are you goin’
in?”

“Right away.”

“That so? And maybe you’ll show me the way?”

“Yes, if you ain’t too scared to follow. And I’ll have a good story to
tell when we get to Gloucester--not alone being scared to go in, but too
scared even to follow behind when another man shows you the way.”

“That so? Well, I don’t see you goin’ in, nor I don’t see no ridin’
light hangin’ from your stern.”

“No? Well, s’pose you follow on and stop talkin’.”

A lantern was dropped over the stern of the _Lucy Foster_, Wesley put
her wheel up, and the _Lucy_ was off. Another moment, and they made out
the green light of the _Calumet_ coming after.

Wesley, chuckling to himself, sailed scandalous courses with the _Lucy_.
“If I don’t scare him ’bout half to death, and if him and me don’t have
a heart-to-heart talk after we come to anchor inside--if ever he comes
to anchor inside! Let’s see now, Charlie. There’s Kirby Rock under our
lee. I hope the _Calumet_ carries a weather helm--for the crew’s sake, I
mean. And now west half no’the-- I’ll give him a scare. There’s Black
Rocks ahead--he’s got to keep on now. And now for the Bootes--a nice
little lot of ledges, the Bootes--but not to make a landin’ on--six feet
in spots and the surf breakin’ fine over ’em. Hear it roar? Lord, yes,
and see it. We’ll hold up a bit, Charlie, or it’s the _Lucy_’ll be
gettin’ into trouble. And now for Man-o’-war, another fine little
spot--six or eight feet of water there--no’the three-quarters west. Oh,
man, hear it roar! How’s he makin’ out behind? There he is, and scared
blue, I’ll bet, for fear she’ll swing a foot out of the way. Let’s see,
now, where we ought to be! Let’s see--man, but it’s thick here!--let
her go--off, now, Charlie, west no’west and a hair west, just a hair
now, ought to take us inside Mackerel Rock. If Glover knows his business
now, it won’t matter; if he don’t, then Lord help his name for master of
a vessel. Enough on that course--shoot her up now by the Rock no’the,
quarter west. Go ahead, the _Lucy_’ll make it, don’t fear. Man, she’ll
sail in the wind’s eye, the _Lucy_. Don’t fear for the _Lucy_--a weather
helm she carries. She’ll shy off herself if we get too close. That’s the
girl--there she is--a good place to be by, that! And now for the reg’lar
channel--no’west by west--and let her go! But how are they makin’ out on
the _Calumet_, I wonder?”

They were not making out on the _Calumet_ at all. Evidently she did not
carry a weather helm. From the _Lucy_ they could make out her port
light--for a while they thought she was past the ledge and all safe.
Then the red light swung off to leeward. They soon heard a hail. Then a
series of hails.

“Lord,” said Wesley, “d’y’ s’pose she struck?” and himself jumped to the
wheel again. His first thought was to put the _Lucy_ right back to the
Rock; his second, and the one he acted on, was to get her lights out of
sight and then to turn back, sail wide, and come up to the _Calumet_ as
though he had just come in the harbor himself. “They’re safe for a while
there, and there was no reason in the world why he couldn’t have got by
there if we did,” said Wesley, and began to nose her way back. It was
his seaman’s extra sense that brought him safely to the _Calumet_ again.

He found her on the edge of the ledge, with the sea washing over her.
She was pounding, and from her deck they heard the sounds that meant
that a dory was to be launched. There was much talking, some free
comment, and not a little profanity.

“Hi-i!” hailed Wesley, in his own person. “What vessel’s that?”

“What? That you, Wesley?” came Captain Glover’s voice.

“Why, is that you, Harry?” answered Wesley.

“When’d you come in?”

“Just shot in.”

“Shot in! A night like this!”

“Why, yes. But what’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong? Everything’s wrong. Some bloody pirate piloted us ashore
and then went up the harbor and left us. What bloody ledge is this we’re
on?”

“I’m not sure, not having a chart handy; but it’s a bad place, whatever
it is.”

“A bad place? I should say. We’ve just smashed our dory, and I’m afraid
some of us will be washed over if the sea makes a little more. What’ll
we do?”

“Well, that’s for you to say. You’re master of your own vessel, and, of
course, you know your own business. But I’ll drop over a dory, if you
say so. I’d rather handle live men now than corpses in the morning,
myself.”

“Well then, for the Lord’s sake, hurry up, won’t you?”

Wesley took off the crew of the _Calumet_. On his own deck he met Glover
and spoke a little of his mind. “’Twas my intention, Harry Glover, to
take it out of your hide, for stealin’ them herrin’ at Folly Cove, but
as you’re shipwrecked now it makes a difference. I’ll take you up the
harbor and leave you there.” Which he did, and, further, let them have a
dory to take them to the dock.

To Glover, at parting, he said, “You and me, Harry, better have no words
over this--you know why. The consul here’ll send your crew home at the
expense of the Gover’ment, so they’ll be all right.”

“But the _Calumet_-- I s’pose she’ll break up where she is?”

“She may, and then she mayn’t.”

“Then I’d better go down when it moderates and see what I can do.”

“That,” answered Wesley, “is your business. As it is now, she’s
abandoned, and anybody’s property that wants to board her.”

“Oh, nobody’ll board her in this weather--they’d be smashed on the
ledges. Just as soon as it moderates--some time to-morrow, maybe-- I’ll
be down with a tug and lighten her up.”

But Wesley did not wait until it moderated. That same night, at high
water, the _Calumet_ floated off. Five hundred barrels of frozen herring
transferred to the _Lucy Foster_ helped materially in the floating of
the _Calumet_.

“Only eight hundred barrels of salt herring in her now--we oughter be
able to get her home. She’s squattin’ pretty low in the water, but we
oughter get her home. And do you, Charlie, take Dan and George and
Tommie and follow on behind the _Lucy_,” said Wesley, and in the morning
light he led the way out of Canso Harbor.


IV

The _Lucy Foster_ came sailing into Gloucester Harbor, and in her wake
was the _Calumet_. The _Lucy_, under not more than half sail, was
acting like a vessel that was trying to coax along the other, which was
moving most painfully. Wesley, from the _Lucy’s_ quarter, kept hailing
out encouragement. “‘Most home, Charlie--keep her goin’. There’ll be
good salvage for all hands, but a little extra for you, Charlie--keep
her goin’. And them men to the pumps--ain’t there just a little touch
left all around in that big jug to hearten ’em up a little? It’d be too
bad to have her sink on us now, and she into the dock, you might say.
I’ll run a bit ahead now, Charlie, and hail the steamboat people, so
there’ll be a lighter alongside by the time you’re ready to anchor.”

Knowing nothing of all this, but talking matters over with Mr. Duncan,
was Fred Withrow, the owner of the _Calumet_, in Mr. Duncan’s office.
“Here’s a telegram came four days ago from Glover. Says that the
_Calumet_ went ashore the previous night while she was trying to make
Canso Harbor. And now here’s the second telegram, came three days ago,
saying that as soon as the weather moderated he took a tug and went down
to see how she was, but couldn’t find her. And now, here’s this long
letter, came this morning, saying that he don’t know what to make of
it--that when he went down to look for her he could not find a trace of
her. He says he thought she

[Illustration: The _Lucy_ was acting like a vessel trying to coax the
other.]

may have slipped off the ledge--whatever ledge it is he does not seem to
know, it was such a black night and blowing so hard when he came in. But
that she must have slid off and sunk, rolled over on her side and sunk,
he is certain; because otherwise the spars at least would show. Now he’s
thinking of sounding the harbor, but wants to know my opinion of it
first.”

“Yes?” said Mr. Duncan. He and Withrow were not the best of friends.

“Yes. But I suppose you’re wondering what it’s all got to do with you.
Well, Glover mentions in his letter that Wesley Marrs came into the
harbor just after the _Calumet_ went ashore. It was Wesley took the crew
off. But next morning, when he went down to look for the _Calumet_,
Wesley was gone. I didn’t know but what you had heard from Wesley.”

“I haven’t heard from Wesley since he left for Newfoundland, six weeks
ago. I don’t generally hear from him till he gets home. Wesley isn’t
much of a letter-writer.”

It was just then that they heard a commotion, and, looking out of the
window, saw the _Lucy Foster_ and the _Calumet_ coming to anchor in the
stream.

“What!” exclaimed Withrow, and waited, after he had looked again, no
longer than to glance doubtfully at Mr. Duncan before he flew out of
the door.

After Mr. Duncan also had had another look and seen for himself that it
was true, he sat down in his chair and tried to think it out. He was
still trying to think it out when Wesley himself came in the door.

“Hi-i!” hailed Wesley, and taking one of Mr. Duncan’s longest cigars,
sat down and answered Mr. Duncan’s first question by beginning to tell
the story. It took just about the length of a cigar to tell it, for,
while Wesley smoked fast, he also talked fast, and with that told barely
more than the cold facts.

Barely more than the cold facts, and yet, to get the real color of it,
one should have heard Wesley tell it; should have seen him hunch his
shoulders wrathfully in the beginning when he was picturing Glover’s
sending the messenger astray; should have seen him bring his fist down
on the desk when he drove the _Lucy_ across the Gulf to head off Glover
at Canso; then should have seen him lean back and laugh when he told how
Glover abandoned his vessel. And, finally, one should have caught a
glimpse of his eyes through the halo of smoke when he said, “And
’twarn’t no joke takin’ them frozen herrin’ out of the _Calumet_ that
night, and ’twas pump, pump, pump, and stand by on the _Lucy_ all along
the Cape shore ready to take the crew off her any minute. Yes, sir. She
leaked a little, did the _Calumet_, and she cert’nly did set
scandalously low in the water at times, but we wiggled her home. Yes,
sir, and there she is, out in the stream.”

Having smoked out his cigar, Wesley naturally slowed up. “And I misdoubt
that she’d stayed afloat of herself another half hour. There’s a hole
under her quarter that most of them herrin’, if they knowed enough or
didn’t happen to be put away in pickle, could’ve swum their way through.
A good man, that Charlie Green, Mr. Duncan; and if you could only’ve
heard the twist he put into his voice when he was talkin’ to Glover just
afore he went into Canso Harbor that night! But a week on the railway
oughter fix up the _Calumet_ so she’ll be as good as ever.

“But ain’t that a good one on Glover, though? Hah, what? Glover,
the--the--strategist? That’s it--strategist--strat-e-gist! Ho-ho!”
Wesley leaned back in his chair and blew the last ring up at the
ceiling. “And John Rose-- I don’t cal’late John Rose’ll feel so bad when
he hears the whole story--hah, what? And Glover--ho-ho!--think of him
tellin’ his friends up to Canso how it happened--and leave it to him to
tell it right; and after he gets through tellin’ them that, of him
hirin’ a tug to go down and pull her off, and him cruisin’ around
lookin’ for her--and not findin’ her--ho-ho! But I s’pose we got to talk
business now. What’s the salvage law about this, Mr. Duncan? I’ve picked
up a few vessels at sea in my time, but never one quite this way. How
about the salvage, Mr. Duncan?”

“The vessel was abandoned, you say?”

“She cert’nly was.”

“Well, then, our lawyer ought to be able to fix that up easily enough.
There’ll be a big salvage, don’t you worry about that. And however it
comes out, it will cost her owner a good many times more than if he
hadn’t got so oversmart a skipper for her. But you’re laughing again,
Captain--what is it?”

“I couldn’t help laughin’ to think of Withrow, too. I never did
partic’larly like Withrow, either. What does he think, d’y’ s’pose, Mr.
Duncan?”

“Withrow? M-m-- I wouldn’t want to say. But I know what I’d think if it
happened to one of my vessels, and I know what I’d say--and what I’d do,
too.”

“And what’s that now, Mr. Duncan?”

“If it was one of my vessels, I’d see that the next vessel I built went
to a skipper that ran a little more to seamanship and not quite so much
to strategy.”

“That’s if she’s to go fishin’?” commented Wesley.

“Of course--if she’s to go fishing,” agreed Mr. Duncan.

“That’s me, too--a little plain, ordinary seamanship for me. But I’ll be
goin’, I think. That oughter be a pretty good story to tell up the
street--hah, what? And John Rose-- I think I’ll have to write a letter to
John Rose about it. Yes, I think that’s worth a little note to
John--hah, what? Yes. But first I think I’ll tell ’em up the street, for
cert’nly up to the rooms they’ll all admire to hear about Fred Glover
and his strategy. Yes, sir, Fred and his strategy--ho, ho, ho,
strategy!” and out the door and up the street went Wesley.



Dory-Mates


Martin Carr’s dory-mate having just stepped on deck, the forec’s’le gang
began to question Martin about him. In the fast run-off to the grounds,
with everybody trying to catch up on sleep, there had been small time to
get acquainted; but the general opinion seemed to be that ’twas rather a
delicate-looking lad.

“That’s what,” summed up an unquestionably able-looking fisherman who
was overhauling a tub of trawls. “He _don’t_ look hardly rugged enough
to go winter trawlin’. D’y’ think he do, yourself, Martin?”

’Twas put in all good-nature, as Martin himself well knew; but it was
not in Martin to allow even moderate criticism of a friend pass without
retort, and so his “I never knew before ’twas looks made a man” went
flying back to the lee lockers.

The man on the lockers smoothed out a snarled ganging ere he came back
with “Now, now, Martin, we all know ’tisn’t looks alone, but leave it to
yourself--don’t looks go a great ways toward your judgment of a man?
Afore ever you _know_ what a man is, don’t the cut of his mouth or the
set of his jaw, and the way he looks out of his eyes at you, have a lot
to do with how far you’d trust him? Don’t it?”

“Sure, it does,” replied Martin. “But d’y’ mean to say this lad hasn’t
good eyes and mouth and jaw?”

“Now, Martin”--and a broken, rusted hook was snipped off and replaced
with a new shiny one--“now, Martin, nobody knows better than you what
_I_ think--you that c’n read a man’s mind ’most. The lad’s got as fine a
face in a way as ever I looked at. Man, ’tis a beautiful face. But
that’s the bother of it--’tis beauty, not strength in it. And comin’
down to facts, you know yourself, it’s no joke to be out in a dory with
a man that can’t hold his end up. ’Tis thought of you we have, Martin.
Did ever he haul a trawl or try to row a loaded dory agen a full tide
out here?”

For answer, Martin continued calmly to blow his puffs of smoke toward
the deck-beams.

“That means he never did, and I’m afraid, Martin, when it comes to it,
that maybe he won’t be able to.”

“Well, maybe he won’t,” echoed Martin placidly; “but whether he does or
no, ’tisn’t Martin Carr will be the first to tell him he’s fallin’
short.”

“But where did you pick him up, anyway, Martin?”

“I didn’t have to pick him up. His father was a dory-mate of mine, nigh
thirty year ago--as far back as the old _Aleutian_----”

“The same _Aleutian_ that was lost with all hands afterward, Martin?”

“The same. But this was some years before she was lost. This was when
Jack Teevens, this boy’s father, was lost. And how? Tryin’ to save a
shipmate. And I was the shipmate. Maybe some of you remember now?”

“Coming across Western Bank one winter’s day, warn’t it, Martin?”

“Aye, makin’ a passage--the old _Aleutian_ runnin’ before an easterly
gale--everything on and staggerin’ under it. Jack was to the
wheel--lashed. Me on watch for’ard, was standing foolish-like between
the dories and the lee-rail. In a day-dream I must’ve been. By’n’by
comes a big sea after her. I didn’t see it, but Jack to the wheel did.
‘Watch out, Martin!’ he hollers; but I was kind of slow, and when the
sea hit her, away I went over the rail. Good as gone was I, but Jack
casts off his life-line and comes jumpin’ to the waist to heave me
something or other to keep me afloat. Comes another sea and heaves me
back toward the vessel. I grabs a draw-bucket and the end of the throat
halyards, which Jack had hove, just as a third sea comes. Well, in that
third sea, which broke clean over her--she bein’ already hove most flat
by the second sea--away goes Jack Teevens. I didn’t see him go. ’Twas
when the gang came rushin’ on deck and hauled me aboard that they told
me they could just make him out--away to looard he was--as he waved
good-by afore he went down--down to stay. Lord in heaven, what a man he
was! And to go at his age!”

“’Twas hard. But he couldn’t’ve been such a young fellow, Martin?”

“Let me see. Nineteen year ago that was. Nineteen from
forty-eight--twenty-nine year he’d be that time. We were the one age.”

“Lord, Martin, ’tisn’t possible you’re forty-eight year old?”

“That’s what--forty-eight.”

“Well, you don’t look it. Do you feel it?”

“Feel what--forty-eight? Man alive, what’s forty-eight to a man that’s
never seen a sick day in his life?”

“But you’ve taken great care o’ yourself, Martin.”

“Well, maybe. A little regular smokin’ and a drink once in a while
ashore, or maybe sittin’ up a night or two by way of bein’ sociable
after weeks on end of this work out here.”

“Could you stand to a mark and jump your ten foot six inches, toe to
heel, like I see you do one time, Martin?”

“No, I couldn’t. My joints aren’t that soople. But if I couldn’t go
without sleep as long, or stay to my neck in the water as long, or go
without grub even longer----”

“That you could, Martin. ’Tis me ought to know that--me, that was three
days and three nights astray with you on Quero. An’ when it comes to
buckin’ agen wind and tide with a dory loaded to the gunnels----”

“Hi-i! below there!” This from the deck. “Out dories!”

With a sigh Martin set down his pipe and prepared to get into cardigan
jacket, boots, and oilskins. “I must say I hates to leave my little
pipeful”--and to his youthful dory-mate, dropping down from deck--“Isn’t
it so with you, too, Eddie-boy?”

“I could smoke all the time I’m awake, Martin.”

“Like your father before you, boy. You’re cert’nly like your father
other ways, too. But you’re not tough like him. Sad kind of, too, like
he was at times, ’s if he could see things ahead. O Lord, but I did love
your father, boy! And you cert’nly look like him. But, come along now.
Your first trip at this work, and we must have things right.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Martin’s dory, the first over the side, was dropped up to windward. To
the Skipper’s last word, “Set to the east’ard, Martin--it don’t look
none too good, but I’ll be back to you after I’ve run the string out,”
Martin waved a free arm and nodded a cheerful acquiescence.

The vessel left them astern. Martin began to heave the trawls and Eddie
to row. There was a disquieting pitch and toss to the sea. Anybody but a
trawler would have called it bad weather for a sixteen-foot dory to be
out in. It was a much heavier sea than any Eddie had ever before tried
to row a boat in, and he soon said so.

“Yes,” answered Martin, “I s’pose it do seem hard at first--a banker’s
dory in a chop--but after three or four days you won’t mind it. ’Tis the
cross-tide that puts that little kick to it and slats her around so. And
yet the safest small boat afloat is a dory--when it’s handled right.
Here we are now, away out here in this little dory.”

“And just where are we, Martin?”

“Let me see now.” Martin was a dextrous trawler, who never had to slack
his work because of any little conversational strain. He kept the air
full of hooks and line even while he figured it all out. “We were
forty-four fifty-six north and fifty-one ten west at noon, the Skipper
said. We sailed for an hour after that--east half no’the. That ought to
put us about a hundred and fifty mile from the nearest point o’
land-- Newf’undland that’ll be. But how’s the rowin’? A bit heavy, isn’t
it? Tide and sea together’s a hard thing to buck out here, boy. You’d be
surprised how they carry you out the way at times. That’s the divil when
the fog or the snow comes and you drift. Or maybe the vessel isn’t
anchored--flyin’ sets maybe same as now--and away _she_ goes. And now,
Eddie-lad, try and see how you make out shootin’ a trawl, and let me
tend to the rowin’. Careful, now, comin’ for’ard--you’re not in a
bathin’-suit in Gloucester Harbor with smooth water and no more than a
hundred yards’ swim if you capsize the boat. That’s it--keep ’em
whirlin’. My, but you’re doin’ fine--’tis born in people, the fishin’
ways. If you were only a bit more rugged, now, there wouldn’t be your
better on the whole Grand Banks. But this life’ll soon put the strength
in you, Eddie-boy.”

“If it don’t kill me first,” laughed the young fellow.

“Kill you? What talk is that? Kill you? Why, the way you’ll eat--not
three, but four, and maybe five meals a day. And mug-ups? Every time
you think of it, a mug-up--and when you forget, always plenty to put you
in mind of it by their example. And _sleep_----”

“When there’s any time to sleep.”

“Time? Wait till it comes too rough to go out in the dory.”

“Too rough?” The boy looked over the gunnel and grimaced.

“Oh, it comes plenty rough at times. Have a care, or one of those little
seas’ll wet you through.”

“H’m-- I’m wet through already.”

“Oh, no, not real wet through. When you get real wet out here-- But,
never mind, wet or dry, we’ll be alike, anyway, and company for each
other, however it goes. Your father, now, he was great company in a
dory. Tell stories! And sing! What’s it he used to sing, now, on the old
_Aleutian_, when we were hardly more than boys together? Oh, but your
father had the voice, boy! And to hear him roll out--

    “‘Let it come from the east,
      Let it come from the west’--

That’s when it would be breezin’ up. Dory-mates were we, the same as you
and me be now, lad. And he was a dory-mate. I had to fight almost to
keep him from doin’ half my work as well as all his own, at times. I
mind how he used to speak of you when we’d get a breath between
haulin’, or maybe walkin’ the deck of a night-watch together. ‘Martin,
but if you could see how he’s growin’,’ he’d say. ‘Every trip in he
looks a head taller. And the grip of him, Martin, when he winds his five
little fingers around my one finger! And the beauty of him--the spit of
his mother, Martin,’ he’d say. ‘And if you could see him of a mornin’
climb up on the bed and grab the mustache of me and twist it. Only two
year old, Martin, and talk--man, he c’n talk better than I can--the long
words of him, Martin! And I do hope he’ll never have to go fishin’!’ He
said that last many a time. ‘I do hope he’ll never have to go fishin’
for a livin’! But if he do have to go, I’d lie easy in my
grave--wherever my grave may be, Martin--if he was to have a dory-mate
like you.’ And to think now we’re dory-mates-- Jack Teevens’s boy and
Jack Teevens’s old dory-mate. And he had to be lost, your father. Some
things are hard to take, believe in a Divine Providence much as we like.
And then your mother had to die, too.”

“Yes, Martin. And I often wondered if she were not glad to go. What did
she have to live for? And I think of it, what have I got to live for? If
it comes to that, what have you, Martin--no wife, no family--what have
you to live for?”

“What have I? Lad, it grieves me to hear you talk that way. What haven’t
I to live for? I’ve hundreds of things to live and be thankful for.
There’s my friends. There’s the little ones I’ve seen--not my own--my
own were taken away, please God, and their mother--but my friends’
children that I’ve seen in the bornin’ almost and now growin’ up around
me. And out here, never do I step aboard the vessel after a long day’s
haulin’ and draggin’ that I’m not glad to see the fresh faces lookin’ at
me over the rail--if it’s no more than the Skipper hangin’ to the wheel
or the cook standin’ by the painter. And at home, boy! Never a time we
breast Cape Sable goin’ home that I don’t begin to feel cheerful, no
matter how hard and rough and maybe profitless a trip we’ve had. And
when we raise Eastern Point! and goin’ into the harbor of Gloucester!
Lad, lad, but my eyes run water ’most to think of the people I’m soon to
see--to talk and shake hands with, maybe sit up a night or two with
before I go out again. Lord, boy, if there warn’t a man or woman in the
whole wide world to hail good-mornin’ to you--if it was no more than to
look at happy people’s faces when you’re ashore--or out to sea again, if
it’s no more than to look at the sky and the fine tumblin’ ocean! Even
the sea in a blow, boy, is somethin’ to soothe a troubled man’s soul.”

“To soothe? Lord, Martin, is it soothing now? Look at it. How we’re
staying gunnels up is more than I know.”

“Gunnels up? What, now? Why, Eddie, when you’ve seen it as I’ve seen it!
But _’tis_ growin’ a bit more rough--isn’t it? Have a care for some of
those seas. That oar in the becket astern, have an eye to that, and when
you notice a bad sea comin’, just give the oar a little flirt--so--and
put her head or stern to it, whichever’s handiest. It’ll save a
capsizin’ some day, maybe. And now ’tis time to begin haulin’. The
signal’s been to the peak some time now, but I like to give ’em a good
set myself. I c’n make up the time on the haulin’. But we’ll begin now,
and do you coil, boy. Here we go, four tubs of line--a mile and a half
of a trawl to haul. ’Tis the rare appetite it’ll give us; and when----”

“Isn’t the vessel rather far away, Martin?”

“Let me see. Where is she now? Oh, yes. She is a bit away, but it must
be the lee dories have gone adrift. Let’s see who’s in the lee dory.
That’ll be--let me see, now-- Jethro and Eben. Eben’s a good man, but
Jethro’s not much of a man in a dory--big enough, but not much use.”

“And I guess he’s not the only useless man out here to-day.”

“Hush, boy, hush. What kind of talk is that?”

“It’s true. Don’t I know that I could no more haul trawls in this sea
than---- Why? A mile and a half of trawl to be hauled, and don’t I know
that as your dory-mate I ought to haul half of it? And will I? Could I,
even if you’d allow me, Martin? Oh, yes--about as well as I could winch
in the vessel’s anchor alone. Don’t I know what it means--a man that
can’t do his share out here? It means that one of the crew is eating his
share of grub and by and by will get his share of the stock, and yet who
is no more use in a dory than the painter when the dory’s aboard, and no
more use aboard the vessel itself than the spare anchor with the vessel
in harbor. Don’t I know, Martin?”

“Eddie, listen to me. You talk again like that, and sure’s my name’s
Martin Carr I’ll take the privilege of your father’s friend and bat the
jaw of you. I will, boy, much as I like you. And let me tell you, ’tis
dory agen dory out here, and our dory’ll bring her share of fish aboard
this night.”

“This night? Will we get aboard this night, do you think, Martin?”

Martin looked about him--looked long about him, but said only, “Is there
a drop of water left in the bottle, Eddie?”

“About half a mugful.”

“Half a mugful? Well, keep that by you, and by’n’by you’ll have it to
drink--not now.”

“I’ll save it for you, Martin.”

“That’s your father’s own boy, Eddie, but never mind me. What’s a
mouthful of water to me that’s been without it seven days on end? It’s
nothin’--nothin’ at all. Keep it for yourself and by’n’by drink it. It
may mean a lot to you, for I know that already you’re wringin’ with the
sweat. And you’re tired, too, aren’t you, lad?”

“A little, Martin.”

“Oh, but it’s the cruel work for you, boy. But what are you at now?”

“I was going to have a smoke.”

“Well, I wish you wouldn’t yet awhile, Eddie.”

“And why, Martin?”

“I’ll tell you later.”

“Tell me now--what’s wrong, Martin?”

“Well, we’re astray, lad--astray. Did you never hear what ’tis to be
astray on the Banks? And now night’s ’most on us, and ’tis small use
rowin’. The dories, last time I looked, were all points of the compass
and the vessel standin’ after them--a strong tide and their lines
parted, no doubt. I haven’t seen her for an hour or more now. We’ll be
the last to be picked up, anyway. She’ll get to us by mornin’, no
doubt.”

“If she ever does get to us, Martin.”

“And why won’t she get to us? You’re not like your father there, boy.
’Twarn’t in your father ever to give up, boy. With him, the blacker it
came the brighter he’d get. You’re more like your mother’s people in
that, Eddie.”

“I think I must be, Martin--everybody says so, anyway.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Throughout the long cold night they drifted. Eddie, shivering in the
stern, broke a long silence:

“It must be near morning now, Martin?”

“Gettin’ to it, boy, gettin’ to it.”

“And the water smoother, don’t you think, Martin?”

“A lot smoother, Eddie-boy”; and under his breath, “I only wish it
hadn’t moderated for a while longer.”

“And the air not quite so cold, Martin?”

“Not quite, Eddie-boy”; and again under his breath, “And that’s not for
the best, either, just now.” He looked out ahead--out and up. It was
quite a little while before Eddie noticed what Martin had foreseen--the
white flakes fluttering down. Only when they began to settle on the back
of his woollen mitts did the young fellow take note of them--resting
there for a moment and then melting under the warmth of his hand. He
regarded the first flake curiously. That he could see it at all was
proof that morning was at hand, and he felt glad. What it might mean to
them did not then dawn on him. When his brain awoke to the warning it
brought he did not obey his first impulse--to shout out his discovery.
Instead, he waited and thought it all out, and as he waited and pondered
the flakes fell faster.

When he had thought it all out he looked toward Martin, who was leaning
over the bow. Thinking he might be asleep--he felt drowsy enough
himself-- Eddie feared to waken him at first. But he finally ventured to
call, “Martin!”

“Aye, boy.” Martin turned with eyes that clearly had not lately been
closed, eyes that regarded him tenderly.

“Will it last? Don’t be afraid to tell me, Martin. I think I know what
it means now.”

“And you’re not afraid?”

“Afraid? Why, no. ’Twas the work--the hardship I dreaded--not the danger
of being lost. None of my people were ever afraid to die. And yet, I’m
afraid of the sea, Martin. That must have come from my mother. She was
always afraid of it--on account of my father being on it so much, I
suppose. I hate to think of being drowned and being found floating in
it, or even lying on the bottom of it. There’s a good many lying on the
bottom hereabouts, aren’t there, Martin?”

“The sands hereaway, Eddie, are covered with the bones of lost
fishermen.”

“Well, that’s what I dread. If I could only die ashore, or be buried
ashore--a Christian burial with a little prayer, and then the dry earth
over you. Don’t _you_ fear being buried in the sea, Martin?”

“Fear it? Not me, boy. Sea or shore, it’s all one to Martin Carr, though
maybe I do like the sea a bit the more.”

“Ugh! I don’t. And promise me, Martin--promise me, if it rests with you,
that you’ll bury me ashore.”

“Hush, boy, hush. It’s not right now to be thinkin’ such things.”

Again Martin looked out from the bow, and the young fellow huddled in
the stern. He could not stand the long silences. “What are you thinking
of, Martin?”

“I’m thinkin’, boy, that it’s small use waitin’ around here for the
vessel. It’s as thick o’ snow as I’ve seen it in a good many winters,
and no sign of it slacking. We’ve got to be doin’ somethin’, and we
might’s well be rowin’. But first, where’s your tobacco? Well, throw
that over--see now, there goes mine. That’s so that by’n’by you won’t be
tempted to smoke. Smokin’ makes you thirsty, and to be thirsty and no
water-- I mean real thirsty, after two or three days, maybe, without a
drink, and you rowin’ hard all the time and the juice sweated out of
you--it’s an awful feeling lad. I know, I know, there _is_ the snow. But
snow where it touches here isn’t quite what you think it. Not a square
inch where the snow strikes here that isn’t crusted with salt, and you
know what comes of drinkin’ saltish water. We may be out for days, so
let’s get ready. Let me see, now--it oughter be twelve o’clock by this.
Yesterday at twelve I mind the tide set to the west’ard. We’ll row
across it--so. But first we’ll pitch out the fish. It’s a shame, isn’t
it, to have to heave the fine fat fish back after you’ve gone to the
trouble of baitin’ up four tubs of trawls--to have to haul a mile and a
half of trawls and then have to heave them overboard again after they’re
coiled nice in the buckets and the fish to your gunnels after them. Two
thousand pounds of good fish there, Eddie. ’Tis a shame, but over with
’em. And don’t try to save one to eat. It’s no use--raw fish. I tried it
once, and my stomach was upset by it--and my stomach’s not easy upset.
You’d throw it up, Eddie, and that would weaken you for the rowin’. And
we’re in for a row now. You’ve rowed a dory around in a harbor, boy, in
your day, but now for a real row.”

“How far, Martin?”

“To Newf’undland coast, maybe--a hundred and fifty miles--if we’re not
picked up.”

“Oh----”

“’Tis discouragin’ to think of, but don’t let yourself think too much
about it. After twenty-four or forty-eight hours you won’t be thinkin’
so much about it. ’Twill be more mechanical-like then with you--brain
kind of hazy-like from lookin’ at nothing but the level sea over the
gunnel and your arms never stoppin’. Do you sit on the for’ard thwart,
but take it easy--’tis a long drag, boy--a hundred and fifty mile to
Newf’undland.”

And so they set out. ’Twas a long, easy, regular stroke that Martin
dropped into; just such a stroke as a man might adopt who looked for a
moderately long drag to his vessel--ten or fifteen miles, say.

But this was a hundred and fifty miles. Yes, and more, with allowances
to be made for the set of wind and tide and the natural perversity of
the dory itself. Whoever has rowed a dory knows that nothing will swerve
more easily off its course--that is, if you don’t know how. Martin Carr
knew how, but the young fellow with him did not; and it was Martin
Carr’s business to make such allowances as would offset the uneven
rowing of the lad.

They rowed on. To the boy the silences were appalling. For an hour at a
time nothing would be said. Martin, with the instinct of an old trawler,
was husbanding every ounce of energy; the boy was numb, overwhelmed. A
hundred and fifty miles! The thought of it! He did not shrink from the
thought of death, but a hundred and fifty miles of this work! He began
to figure it out. Say they drove the dory ten feet a stroke. That was
more than five hundred strokes to a mile--one hundred and fifty times
five hundred--how much? How slow he was to figure now--but, yes, that
was 75,000 strokes. Good Lord! one, two, three--why, it would take
twenty-four hours just to count 75,000, without rowing at all. But to
row--to reach out with the arms and haul those two heavy blades through
a heavy sea--one--two--three--and every other stroke ineffective,
certainly for him, if not for the strong-backed Martin Carr, because of
the unevenness of the sea. Why, it would take a week, night and day.

He began to figure it up another way. Suppose they made two miles an
hour. That was forty-eight miles a day--three days in all. But allowing
for cross-tides and cross-winds, the constant heading of the dory
straight again--say four days. Four days! And nothing to eat and nothing
to drink during those four days of work and toil. And that meant that
they must never vary from their course. Naturally they would vary. Say
six days and six nights. But no man can row night and day for six days
and nights without food and drink. Not even Martin, wonderful man that
he was, could do it. Say they rested one-third of the time--eight hours
a day. Ashore, men who did practically nothing slept eight hours a day.
That surely would not be too much rest after rowing a heavy dory in a
heavy sea.

Already, though he had been rowing hardly more than two hours, he was
tired, with wrists hot and heavy, and his forearms cramping. And Martin
himself must feel it after a day or two. Much as he had heard of these
iron men, these deep-sea trawlers, they could not last it out forever.
And God! suppose they were heading out across the Atlantic--and could
even Martin say they were not, with no sun or stars to guide him? Would
it be slow starvation? And why was it, now he thought of it, he wasn’t
famished? Twenty-eight hours already without food! Ah, was that why
Martin buckled his own belt about his stomach--buckled it tight and made
him drink the last of the water? Surely, if nothing else came, that
would come--the slow starvation.

Or would it be just madness? How unreal it all was!
One--two--three--four--the chafing of the oars came to him as if from
some other dory in the distance. So certain was he that the noise was
not made by himself and Martin that he stopped and listened.

“What’s it, lad?”

“Isn’t there another dory somewhere near, Martin?”

“Maybe--there’s no tellin’, it’s so thick,” answered Martin aloud, but
to himself, “Already,” and shook his head sorrowfully.

The lad, after a moment or two of listening, came to see how he had
misled himself.

He resumed his examination of Martin’s back--the regular bend and heave
he noticed. He could not see the face, but he knew the calm set of eyes
and jaw. What a man! But even Martin would have to go, too, and when
they would be found, even Martin, the iron man, would be stiff and cold
also, as others had been found before him. But so few were found! And
why weren’t they found! Capsized and drowned. That was it--or was it
that they went crazy and jumped overboard? He pictured that--the sudden
dropping of the everlasting oars, the last wild cry, the dive over the
gunnel. He wondered would it be that way with himself.

He looked about, his first long look, and noted the sea. He certainly
never had imagined the sea as it was now--not nearly so rough as on the
day before--almost smooth, in fact, as if beaten down with the weight
of snow which lay upon it like--like what? He had seen that often, of
course--the new-fallen snow on land. But nothing like this--the cold
gray waste hidden until all was white. What was it like now, that white
covering? Oh, yes--why had he not thought of it before?--like the white
sheet they sometimes drew over dead people.

“Martin!” he called out then.

“Aye?”

“Isn’t it awful?”

“’Tis--in a way. ’Tis solemn, boy. Here we are hid away--a vessel could
be fifty feet away and we not see her. She could be twenty feet away and
she not see us--we’re that white. But there’s a consolation--the thicker
it comes the sooner it’ll stop.”

“Then this should stop soon.”

It did stop finally; after what Martin judged to be ten or twelve hours.
It melted from the sea, then thinned above, and the sky shone through.
Not a broad sweep at first, but patches here and there. It was later
before the clear dome and the familiar stars shone out.

“There’s the Great Dipper, boy--see it? It must be three o’clock in the
mornin’ by the placin’ of it.”

“Three in the morning--and we rowing since three o’clock yesterday
afternoon!”

“Aye, boy. And there’s the North Star and those other little stars I
don’t know the names of. We’ll keep the North Star one good point off
the starb’d bow, boy, and on that course till mornin’, and then we’ll go
by the sun.”

The morning came, and the boy noted that six inches of snow covered the
inside of the dory everywhere--gunnels, strakes, and thwarts, except
where they had been sitting, and the bottom of the dory, except where
their champing boots and the heat from within them had beaten it into a
slush; and that the snow was dazzling white under the morning sun. But
above all he felt the cold.

“The wind must have shifted, Martin, it’s so much colder.”

“Aye, boy. ’Tis no’west now.”

“A cold wind--the coldest of all, isn’t it, Martin?”

“Aye, boy, but one great comfort with it--’tis mostly a clear wind, a
no’wester. Should any vessel be about now they’ll soon see us. But rest
a while, boy. Go aft and lie in the stern--you’ll be trimmin’ ship
better there--every little tells in a long haul; or stamp up and down
and slap your arms, or take the bailer and shovel out the snow.”

Having cleared the dory of snow, the boy strove vainly to overcome his
inclination to lie down. But he did lie down at last. His legs were so
numb that he hadn’t the strength to go aft, he said, and so Martin took
him in his arms and set him in the stern. “And don’t rest too long
there, boy. There’s such a thing as freezing to death in a no’wester. A
cold wind, lad, is a no’wester.”

The boy lay there till Martin bade him rise and stamp about. But he
could not keep up the stamping for long. “I’m so tired, Martin, and
hungry--oh, so hungry!” He sucked at a bit of snow-crust.

“Aye, boy. One older and tougher than you might say it. And don’t eat
too much of that stuff, and try, boy, try a while again to keep movin’
your arms and legs.”

He tried, but could not. So Martin bade him lie down again. And the boy
lay down and began to drowse, at which Martin shook his head. But what
could he do? He had to keep rowing himself. Oh, yes--he took off his own
cardigan jacket and forced the boy into it. The boy, only half awake,
protested--a feeble protest--as Martin, with a soft “Hush, lad,
hush--weren’t me and your father dory-mates for many the long year
together?” buttoned it about him.

“My, Martin, but that’s warming!”

“Aye, boy, that it is. Many a cold winter’s day it’s helped to warm me.”

To remove his cardigan jacket, which was under his oil-coat, Martin had
to expose himself to the biting no’wester, and so cold and searching was
it that he took many minutes to button his oil-jacket again. To overcome
the numbness--“Or soon I wouldn’t be able to hold an oar at all,” he
muttered--he beat his hands against the gunnels, noticing the while that
he not only knocked off the last little films of frozen snow-crust, but
also, though this rather curiously than sympathetically, that the ends
of his fingers bled under the impact of the blows. “Man, but ’tis cold,
when it comes to that!” and bent over the boy to fix the jacket more
securely around his neck. “Forty-eight hours now without food or
drink--’tis hard on you, lad--hard on you.”

Back to his rowing, and no cessation till he heard the lad muttering in
his sleep. “What’s it now?” said Martin, and bent toward him.

“-- But to be floating around in the water or lying somewhere on bottom
for the fish to eat up--” murmured the sleeping boy.

“Lad, lad, but you’re right--’tis hard.”

“-- If it was no more than a Christian burial--”

“Christian burial, lad? Make your mind easy, but if I live, and you die,
’tis Christian burial you’ll get, boy. But ’tis both of us together’ll
go, I’m thinkin’ now.” He shook the lad. “Wake--wake now,
Eddie-boy--wake, boy, wake, and try and row again a bit. ’Tis cruel I
am--aye, the hard heart of me--aye, boy. But now you must row, and maybe
you’ll warm up a while yet. Lay there, and in two hours more ’tis stiff
as the oar itself you’ll be.”

And so the boy crept to his seat and resumed rowing, though his oars no
more than slid over the surface of the sea. The lad thought he was
helping--he saw the oars pass from forward to aft and back again--but it
was only the dory slipping away under the ceaseless drive of Martin’s
irresistible strength.

Throughout all that cold winter’s day they rowed. And night came, and
once more the boy sought the stern and lay there; and as he lay, Martin
took off his oil-jacket and buttoned it about the lad’s body. “There,
now, a cardigan jacket and two oilskins. You ought to keep warm now. And
now, Martin Carr”--he was back to his seat again--“’tis harder than ever
you’ll have to row or yourself freeze to an icicle.”

All through that long night Martin called to the lad. Until well into
the night, as he considered it, he could catch the responses. But
gradually Eddie’s voice became duller, and toward morning Martin got no
answer at all. “Asleep, the poor boy!” muttered Martin, himself by then
not too wide awake.

The stars dulled away, the dawn broke gray, and then the first long rays
of the winter sun glinted the white of the crested seas. The weary man
in the waist of the dory roused himself. He found himself still rowing,
but that his mind had slept he felt certain. He looked about
him--astern, ahead, to either side. No sail--nor smoke. He took note of
the dory. Iced to a depth of six inches it was, and with every fresh
slap of the sea more ice was adding. “A mile away now and we’d look like
a lump of ice to any passing vessel,” he thought aloud.

The no’wester whistled over the ridged seas. A no’west wind and
white-tipped seas that broke over them--could man invent anything more
freezing? And all night long it had been so.

“Eddie,” called Martin, “Eddie-boy!” Again, “Oh, Eddie-lad-- Eddie-boy,
shake yourself now, dear.” But no answer coming from the boy, Martin
more closely regarded the figure in the stern. The rising rays of the
sun were tinting the stiffened yellow oilskins, but the low-drawn
sou’wester allowed Martin no glimpse of the features. The hands were
encased in the heavy woollen mitts, which Martin now noted were coated
with ice. Still, ice was no great matter. How he wished his own
oilskins--what was left of them--were iced up, too. Ice kept out the
biting wind.

Gradually it came into his brain, even though the yet insufficient light
revealed nothing of the boy’s face, that all was not quite natural. Once
more a call, but no answer, not even the old familiar shifting of the
legs. “Is it asleep you are, boy, and have you been asleep all night?
Lad, lad, but if you’ve been asleep--” and bent over and lifted the
sou’wester.

The face was calm--calm as a waxen mask in a window. But the eyes--wide
open! Quickly he drew off the boy’s mitts and felt of the hands within.
The ice on the gunnels of the dory was not colder. Martin’s brain did
not grasp it, what with his body being so numb, but his heart crowded
itself inside him.

He dropped back to his seat and resumed the oars. But only for a few
strokes. He stood up, and with the bailer began to pound the ice off the
dory. “She’ll sink else,” he said--“she’ll sink else, lad, and we’ll
never get you ashore.” He broke the bailer trying to pound the ice off.
He took the handle of an oar then--one of Eddie’s oars he noted dully,
one of the oars which he had lightened by cutting down, to fit the boy’s
feebler arms.

The ice cleared away, he went back to his rowing. But again only a few
strokes, when it seemed to sweep over him what it meant--the frozen body
of the poor boy-- Jack Teevens’s boy. He rubbed an iced mitt across his
eyes. “God, what a death for you, child! What a death! And such a
beautiful boy! If ’twas a tough old knotted trawler like me-- And me that
was to watch out for him! Yet to watch I meant, lad, but ’twas a long
night--and a cold. And not overwarm myself was I, and I’m misdoubting,
too, I slept to the oars. O God, ’tis cruel--cruel!” and dropped his
head on his hands.

He tried to think it out; but he had such horrible thoughts that he knew
that course would never do. He lifted his body from his seat and tried
to stand up. He could not, the first time, or the second, but the third
he held his feet. The dory was again sagging under the weight of ice;
from stem to stern, gunnels, thwarts, planks inside and out, were nearly
a foot thick with it. The painter coiled in the bow was big around as a
barrel. Across the body of the dead boy it was beginning to pack solid.
Martin gouged the gob-stick from out of the frozen bottom and began to
break the ice off. He could hardly hold it with one hand, and so put
both to it.

A good part of the ice knocked loose and thrown over, he reapplied
himself to the oars. It was plain enough to him now. “However else it
comes, ’tis for you, Martin Carr, to stand to your rowin’--to stand to
it till you can push your arms out no more from your shoulders, till
your fingers will cling no longer to the handles, till--till you’re cold
and stiff, no less, Martin Carr, than the poor boy there before you. If
that comes, well and good, you’ve done your best. ’Tis to shore you must
reach, or be picked up, or die to your oars. And mind it always, Martin
Carr-- Christian burial for Jack Teevens’s boy.”

So he rowed on. All that day and all that long night he rowed--all
through a snow-storm that enveloped him like ever-rolling white clouds,
and through which only his fisherman’s instinct kept him to his course.
“‘Twill be east-no’the-east this wind--if I know wind at all, and ’tis
no’the by west you’re to head, Martin. Two points for’ard of the port
beam you’ll keep that wind, and there you are, Martin, for the nearest
point of Newf’undland--if ever you get there. But, oh, ’tis mortal cold
and mortal tirin’,” he muttered, and yet rowed on, regarding his arms
not as his own, but as a mechanism directed by some inner force and
instinct that he did not recognize as part of himself.

Four full days and nights, and for the first time Martin Carr almost
admitted himself beaten. His fingers, he observed, were stiffening more
frequently; the rapping against the hard gunnel no longer brought the
blood. Certainly they would freeze up soon. And if they froze he would
be unable to row. They might freeze stiff and straight, like Eddie’s
there. And if so? He groaned--he would be unable to grasp the oars. But
hold--he would fix that. If freeze his fingers must, he would see that
they froze so as to be of some use to a man. And conscientiously he
curled them around the handles of the oars. Stubborn they were at first,
but he forced them into position and held them motionless till they were
securely frozen to the handles of the oars.

And so, the oars secured beyond accident or future weakness, Martin Carr
resumed his solemn way to the shore. How far to the shore then? He did
not know--maybe forty, maybe fifty, maybe sixty, maybe one hundred
miles. For all he knew he might have been rowing zigzag all over the
ocean, running S’s, as sometimes green hands steered a vessel over the
wide sea.

However, row he did, gray winter skies and grim slate-colored seas about
him. Lonesome? Aye, it was lonesome. In thirty years of fishing Martin
Carr had never known so lonesome a time. Consider it--no sail, no smoke,
no gull even to come screaming astern, and the boy’s frozen body ever
facing him in the stern.

Only the slap of chopping seas under the dory’s low gunnels--that and
the tumble of green-gray seas--interminable seas, curling like serpents,
rolling always toward one and spitting foam as they rolled. Always
that--that and the frozen body in the stern, and the thoughts that
_would_ come to him. Such thoughts!

Sometimes Martin Carr thought he would move the body to the bow, where
he might not have it forever before his eyes. But again he wasn’t quite
sure that he would not see it just as clearly even if behind him; and
somehow he was not quite sure that he did want it moved, even if he
could do it now, which he doubted, his own fingers frozen as they were
to the oars. Or his hands once removed, he was not sure he could reshape
them to the handles of the oars again. So perhaps it was just as well,
and he faced the dead boy anew.

For two days and two nights more, with his dead dory-mate’s face ever
staring at him from the stern--for six frosty days and six freezing
winter nights in all--through that northern wind, and sea, and snow, and
hail, Martin Carr rowed the dory. And made land at last. It did not look
much--an iron-bound shore, where the sheer rock rose straight as the
wall of a church and against which the high seas beat furiously. He
could not land there--he had to hunt a harbor. He made out one at
last--an inlet, with signs of people near by. His eyes were no more than
pin-points in his head, but he could make out the five or six low huts
set up on the rocks, and for them he headed. The way was caked in ice,
and that made hard work of it for a man who had come so far without food
or drink to force his way through. Using the oars as poles, he might
with less labor have beaten a channel through, but his fingers, frozen
to the oars, were not yet to be unsealed. He could do only one thing,
and that was row. And so he rowed, ever rowed, making a channel by
forcing the bow of the dory over the ice till of its own weight it broke
through and went on.

In that laborious fashion he advanced. Hours in that little bay alone,
but at length he reached the shore. He made sure it was the shore by a
long examination before he relinquished the oars. To free himself of the
oars, he had to knock the ends of them one over the other--had to do
that to loosen the ice from about his hands so that he could slip his
fingers free. They came away as he had frozen them, shaped in
cylindrical form to the handles. Taking note of how smoothly they came
away, he reflected that he might with safety have slid them off before
this--if for no more than to break the ice off his unshaven chin or to
wipe the hail from his eyes, or to set back on Eddie’s head the
sou’wester which had blown off in the night. But a man sees many things
when it is past the time.

However, that wasn’t getting on. There was Eddie yet to be taken care
of. Christian burial he had asked for, and Christian burial he should
have. He crawled out of the dory, and reached over the gunnel with one
leg till the toe of his boot touched the ice on solid land. Finding it
firm, he drew his other leg after the first.

He pushed away from the dory. One step, and down he went to hands and
knees, and could not get up, try as he would. He almost cried--perhaps
if he had been stronger he would have cried. He, Martin Carr, whose
strength used to be the boast of every crew that ever he sailed with,
here he was, weak as a young child.

But he must get on. If he couldn’t walk, he could creep. And so creep he
did, on hands and knees, a hundred yards, perhaps, to the door of the
nearest hut.

They opened to his knock, a bearded man and behind him a stout woman,
with a brood of fat children peering out curiously. Seeing how it must
be with him, they lifted him up, set him down on a chair, and told him
that in a minute or two the hot tea would be ready for him; or if he
would wait but ten minutes, they would run over to the store and get
him a glass of brandy--good brandy from Saint Pierre.

“I want no tea and I want no brandy,” said Martin Carr, “and yet thanks
to ye the same. I’ve a dory-mate below, and he’s waitin’ burial. Help me
with him, help me get him ashore, for I’m weak to cryin’ ’most, and
after that prayers and a burial and Martin Carr will never forget ye
both.”

Back to the dory they went with him, the man that Martin Carr had
knocked up and two of his neighbors. Under Martin’s directions they
essayed to lift the body from the dory, one being within the dory and
two ashore. They had the body among them, suspended between the dory and
shore, but it was an awkward weight, and the feet of one slipping,
through the ice and out of sight went the body.

“He’s gone!” they shouted, and stared at the hole in the ice.

“Christ in heaven!” Martin crawled to the hole, and with no further word
dropped through and after the body. They saw him disappear and shivered.

Next they saw the body handed up by a pair of frozen hands. It was just
deep enough there for Martin’s head, as he stood on bottom, to all but
show clear. They took the body from him, seeing only the half-submerged
head, the upstretched arms, and at the end of them the frozen, hooked
fingers trying to balance the frozen body.

Martin followed the body, was helped up the beach, and there lay prone.
It was some time before he could move, and his first clear speech was an
apology. “I’m fair worked out,” he said. “I’ve come a long way--days and
nights--days and nights-- I don’t know how many; but it seems like years
of rowin’ I’ve had and nothin’ to eat--nor drink. Don’t mind if I
refused your drink a while ago-- I’ll take it now that Eddie’s safe, and
thank ye kindly for the same.”

They buried Eddie--dug his grave through the many feet of snow, lowered
him into the warm, brown earth, and had the good father say prayers over
him. Martin was there--stayed to the last shovelful and sent his own
prayer with it.

Not till that was done did he hunt for a doctor. The doctor threw up his
hands when he saw the sight, but without delay went to work. To save the
arms and legs the entire ten fingers and toes would have to come off.
The doctor told him that. “Go ahead,” said Martin.

Bandaged up and rested, the doctor asked him his story. And he told
it--simply, with emphasis only on the fate of the poor lad, Jack
Teevens’s boy.

“But when he was gone beyond all hope, when he was actually dead,”
insisted the doctor, “why didn’t you take your cardigan jacket off him,
and your oil-jacket, and put them back on yourself? He was dead, and
much as you cared for him he would be no worse off. And you--with your
constitution--you might have saved yourself from freezing up. Why didn’t
you?”

“Take the clothes off the poor dead boy?” protested Martin. “Take them
back after I’d put them on him? Twist and toss about his poor body after
he was cold in death? I couldn’t-- I couldn’t.”

“God help you,” exclaimed the doctor--“you’re ruined for life!”

“Aye,” assented Martin, “ruined I am.”

“You take it calmly enough. Do you realize what it means, man? You, who
were such a magnificent man when you were whole and sound, do you know
what it means?”

Martin regarded the doctor. “Do I know?” he gazed on his bandaged hands,
and looked down on his poor stumps of feet. “God help me, ’tis well I
know it. Ye’ll never fish again, Martin Carr; ye’ll never haul trawl or
row dory again, nor stand to a wheel, nor reef a sail. The best part of
your life’s gone. Ye’re such a creature, Martin Carr, as men throw
pennies to in the street. But the last thing ye did in your full man’s
life--maybe Jack Teevens will remember it when in another world he meets
ye, that out of love of him ye stood by his boy--were a full dory-mate
to him--and at the last gave him Christian burial.”



The Salving of the Bark Fuller


I

To Captain Dixey, of the iron sea-going tug _Ice King_, lying tied up to
her dock in Boston Harbor, came one winter’s morning a man in a fur coat
and much bediamonded. “My name,” said the visitor, “is Wiley.”

“And wily is your nature,” thought Dixey, who, according to report, was
not too unsophisticated himself.

“And I want to know what it will cost me for the services of your tug
for one, two, three, or four days--a week, if necessary.”

“That will depend on the service.”

“Well, suppose I can’t just say what the service will be?”

“Then I can’t tell you just what the price will be.”

“Haven’t you a fixed price by the day?”

“For a fixed service, yes. A man comes to me and says, ‘What do you want
to run down to Newport News to tow a barge, or say two barges, of
coal--fifteen or eighteen hundred tons in a barge--to Boston?’ I tell
him. I’ll tell you, if it’s anything of that kind.”

“’Tisn’t quite that.”

“Well, a man comes to me and says, ‘Say, I have a vessel under the lee
of Cape Cod’--say it’s blowin’ a no’wester like now--a vessel say to
anchor at Provincetown or Chatham----”

“Yes, yes, at Chatham----”

“-- And you ask me what I’ll go and get her for and tow her to Boston?
I’ll soon tell you, if you’ll tell me what her tonnage is.”

“Say a two-thousand-ton bark, and loaded with mahogany.”

“That’s a pretty big vessel and a pretty valuable cargo, and the wind’s
liable to stay no’west for a while--blowin’ hard as it promises to, and
a hard drag around Cape Cod and across the Bay in a no’wester----”

“I know, I know--but how much?”

“Me to leave right away?”

“Well, maybe not at once--say in a few hours. But I’m ready to engage
you at once.”

“Well----”

“But wait--it isn’t exactly a tow from anchorage.”

“No?”

“No. You see, it’s this way. I’m interested in this bark, and there’s a
desperate sort of captain aboard, and she’s leaking, and I’m afraid that
despite all instructions he’ll try and beat her around the Cape. And he
mayn’t make it. And if he tries it and anything goes wrong--if he has to
get help--say her sails blow off and she leaking-- I’d like to be right
there and pick her up.”

“Why, that’s salvage, and a towboat could claim salvage--if she really
needed help.”

“The towboat could claim? You mean the owners of the towboat could claim
the salvage?”

“Why, of course, the owners.”

“Well, if I charter her I’d be the same as the owner, wouldn’t I?”

“M-m-- I don’t know but what you would.”

“Well, there it is.”

“H’m--where’d you say she was layin’-- Chatham?”

“I didn’t say.”

“No? I thought you did.”

“You think too fast. How much for your boat from now till the job’s
over?”

“Well, two thousand tons--her hull’d be worth a lot in itself. And
mahogany--a two-thousand-ton ship ought to be carryin’ about a couple of
million feet of lumber. And mahogany worth--how much a thousand is
mahogany worth, anyway?”

“I don’t know.”

“No? Well, it’s worth a whole lot, that’s sure. Here’s the _Morning
Commercial News_’ll tell. M-m--here’s pine, rough--spruce,
planed--m-m--oak--m-m--mahogany--whew! Say, mahogany’s away up, isn’t
it? Let me see now. I’ll do that job----”

“Charter me your tug----”

“Yes, charter you the tug for five thousand dollars for the whole job,
and two hundred dollars a day--the two hundred a day in case there’s
nothing doin’, in case that Skipper shouldn’t go clear crazy, you see,
and put out and she leakin’.”

Wiley put on his hat. “You don’t want much, do you? Five thousand
dollars! I’ll give you a thousand for the whole job, or two hundred for
every day you’re under charter if we don’t get her.”

“No, no--a cargo of mahogany. Five thousand or nothing.”

“Don’t be unreasonable. You know I can get plenty for a thousand----”

“Not too many sea-going tugs right now. There’s always good pickin’ for
a big tug in the Bay this time of year. And there’s a risk in your
job.”

“A little. But I can get a tug just as good as yours for a thousand.”

“Can you? Then why don’t you?”

“Well, I will. Good-day.”

Captain Dixey gazed after Wiley going up the dock. “And so he can--for a
thousand--if he don’t tell them too much. But that would be a rich haul,
and I don’t see why I can’t do a little salvage business on my own
account. Why not? She’s anybody’s prize that can get her. Two thousand
tons and a bark--in the lee of the Cape somewhere, and loaded with
mahogany--he said something about Chatham. It oughtn’t be too hard to
find out.”

Within ten minutes Captain Dixey was sending off telegrams like an
Associated Press-man. He got the answer he wanted, and some hours later,
when the man in the fur coat was putting out in another iron sea-going
tug, the _Durlich_, Dixey, in the _Ice King_, was not half a mile behind
him going across the Bay.


II

At about the same hour that the _Durlich_ and the _Ice King_ had
breasted Cape Cod Light, the American fisherman _Buccaneer_, Crump
Taylor master, lay hove-to on the Western Banks. On her deck were the
two men on watch, alternately looking out for the big seas, and hailing
one to the other when a particularly high one threatened to break over
her rail.

Young Arthur Gillis, standing forward, suddenly called out to Sam Leary,
his watchmate, who was aft, “Here’s one coming aboard, Sam, I think.”

Sam turned, brushed the spray from his eyes with a wet woollen mitt, and
had a look. He did not have to look twice. “_Think_ she’s coming!
_Think!_” and leaped for the lee of the mainmast, where he hooked his
fingers to a couple of belaying-pins in the fife-rail. Another squint
then from around the mast. “_Think!_” and with a toe to the fife-rail
and both hands to the halyards of the furled-up mainsail, he began to
climb. “And climb you, too!” Another glance between the mast and
bolt-rope of the sail. “_Think_, do you? Climb’s all I got to say.
Climb, you alabaster idjit, and don’t stop till you’re to the masthead!
She’s a Himalaya mountain.”

Sam was by then strategically astraddle the main gaff, from where in
comfort he could observe Gillis, who was to the lantern-board in the
fore-rigging and still climbing. The sea struck her, and over rolled the
little _Buccaneer_, over, over, till her masts were all but flat out on
the water. Her waist must have been buried under ten feet of water, but
Sam from his perch could manage to keep his head clear of the sea.

He saw that his watch-mate was safe. “Hi, there! are the companion-way
hatches down?”

“I think so.”

“You think so! Some day you’ll think you’re alive, and you’ll wake up
dead. Is she lifting any for’ard? Can you tell from where you are? Will
she come up?”

“I think----”

“Blast you and your thinkin’. Do you ever do anythin’ but think? Don’t
you ever _know_ anything?”

“She _is_ lifting.”

“All right, then. How’d you like to be below now, wonderin’ what’s
happened her?”

“Not me. ’Tain’t so bad up here, is it?”

“‘Twon’t be--if she comes up.”

“Was this one ever hove down before, Sam?”

“Twice.”

“Worse than this were you ever?”

“Once ’twas worse. This same man in her--he’s a dog, is Crump--nothing
jars him. Both mastheads under that time.”

“And come up, did she?”

“And come up, did she?” snorted Sam. “Ain’t she here, and ain’t I here?
Watch out--she’s righting now.”

Up she came--a noble little vessel--slowly at first, but more rapidly as
she began to free herself of the weight of water on her deck. Her final
snap nearly threw Gillis from the rigging. A wild lunge, and he managed
to retain his grip in time to save his life.

Sam had to hide his emotion at his mate’s close call. “Didn’t I tell you
to hang on? Think you was in a swing at a picnic? H’m--there’s the
Skipper bangin’--the hatch is jammed.”

Indications of action were proceeding from the cabin. Calm taps followed
by quick strokes, and they seeming inadequate to proper results, one
final impatient smash with the axe. Out came the dripping head and
shoulders of Crump Taylor.

He surveyed the clean-swept deck. Disgust overcame him. “If that ain’t a
clean job--what? I was hopin’ there’d be somethin’ left, but Lord! not
so much as would make a boy’s size match to light a cigarette with.
Gurry-kids, booby-hatches--not even a stray floatin’ thole-pin left of
the dories.” After which he had time for the watch. “So there you are,
eh? And which of you two guardian angels was it left that hatch open?
Which? Nobody? It opened itself, I s’pose. It’ll get so a man won’t dare
to turn in for a nap ’thout he has a rubber suit on. If we get that
cabin dry in a month we’ll be doin’ well. And as fine a fire in the
stove----”

“Wet the bunks, Skipper?” queried Gillis.

“Wet the bunks, you blithering idjit? Wet, is it?” He regarded Gillis
more curiously, then gave him up; and stepping on deck, followed by the
rest of the cabin gang, mingled in the waist with the crowd from the
forec’s’le.

All hands gazed disconsolately about the deck, but, wise men all,
allowed the Skipper to do the talking. “If this ain’t been the
twistedest, unluckiest trip! Five weeks from home, and what’ve we got to
show? Lost half our gear, and ’most lost four men and two dories. And
now we’ve lost the dories altogether--and every blessed thing that ain’t
bolted to her deck. Blessed if I don’t think when I get home I’ll go
coastering! Yes, sir, coastering. Cripes, but look--even the rails gone
from her! Look, will you, no more than the stanchions left to her.”

“A clean deck, Skipper, makes good sailin’,” put in Sam from the gaff.

“Does it, you--you-- I b’lieve ’twas you, Sam Leary, left that slide
open. A clean deck makes good sailing, do it? Well, try her on sailing,
then. Come off that gaff, you menagerie monkey, and give the gang a
chance to loose that mains’l. That’s what. Slap it to her and put for
home. And _drive_ her. If we can’t do nothing else, we c’n make a good
passage of it.”

And with everything on, away went the deck-swept _Buccaneer_ to the
west’ard.


III

The master of the bark _Henry Fuller_, mahogany-laden and Boston-bound,
and, now to anchor in Chatham Harbor on the Cape Cod shore, stood
conning a telegram.

“In two hours or so now he ought to be outside and waiting for us. ‘Slip
your chains and let her go.’ All right. Only, instead of slipping I’ll
see that they part--in the most natural way in the world--and out we’ll
go proper.”

And out she went, threatening all sorts of destruction, but curiously
missing whatever lay in her road. Thus far all had gone well. But the
best-laid plans----

Instead of a moderate gale, the master of the _Fuller_ found a blizzard
to combat--a northwester, which in winter is always cold. This one was
so cold that in the first sweep of it they almost froze up--in fact,
came so near to freezing that by midnight all hands were spending more
time below than on deck in the effort to keep warm.

“Why in the devil’s name didn’t he warn me of this?--up there in Boston,
where they have all kinds of weather-bureau information. Why in the
devil’s name didn’t he?” complained the master of the _Henry Fuller_.

The _Fuller_, to lend a good color by and by to the story of the
wreckage and rescue, had to have a leak. The leak had been provided for
at the same time that the cables were chiselled. So that was all right.
But the leak meanwhile had begun to grow. Whereas the _Fuller’s_ captain
had counted on two men to work pumps, or four seeming to be working
desperately as the rescuers approached, there were now four men who
really had to toil without cessation to keep the ship dry.

It grew colder. The coldest wind of all that ruffles the North Atlantic
is a northwester, and this was an exceptionally cold northwester. The
bark began to ice up fast, and so many extra men were needed to chop the
ice off her that there were not enough left to take sail off. When out
from the lee of the land they began to feel the real force of the wind,
and so unloosed sails were blown off before they could be set. Then they
hove her to. But a square-rigger doesn’t stay hove-to like a
fore-and-after, and the _Fuller_ went sliding off to leeward; and
sliding too far to leeward off the Cape Cod coast in a northwester means
to drift to Georges Shoals, where in places is no more than twelve feet
of water. The bark _Henry Fuller_ drew twenty-one.

The master of the _Fuller_, far from being as crazy as Wiley, to suit
his purposes, had described him to Dixey, was in reality a long-headed
chap and a good seaman, and here he began to think and act. Calling such
of the crew as were chopping ice off her deck and rail, he put them to
work setting such extra sail as he had below.

A tedious and difficult job that; and dangerous, with big seas
threatening to overpower the logey craft. But it had to be done; and it
was done after a long and wracking night.

Sail on her again, the Skipper tried to beat her around the cape. But as
a square-rigger won’t lay hove-to as snugly as a fore-and-after, neither
will she hold up to the wind like a fore-and-after. A fore-and-after
always for coasting work; a square-rigger for trade-winds and the wide
ocean wherein to navigate.

The _Fuller_ would not do it; nor could her master work her under the
lee of the land. What with the water in her hold, the ice on her hull,
and her insufficiency of sail, she only rolled and drifted in the trough
of the sea. And having left both anchors in the harbor of Chatham, he
could get no grip of bottom to hold her. However, he could do the next
best thing--he could lay her to a drag. So getting several of the
mahogany logs out of her hold, the crew lashed them together, and,
working under protest, mutinous almost in their free discussion of
things, they hoisted the drag up and dropped it over the rail after
great exertion.

It was again night, and still no signs of a rescuing tug. Another
private glance at the telegram revealed nothing new. “We’re altogether
too near the shoals for Wiley,” muttered the captain of the _Fuller_,
“and even if we weren’t, I guess he’s having all he wants to look after
himself in this gale. I wonder is she drifting fast? The lead there,
fellows--give her the lead, and see what’s under us.”

One man had life enough to take a sounding. “Forty-five fathom,” he
called.

“Forty-five! God, but we’re going into it! Cut that drag adrift and
let’s get out of here. Get together, men, and make sail of some kind
till we’re by this place.”

“What place is it just, Captain?”

“It’s Georges North Shoal to looard of us.”

They asked no more, but worked with desperation. Frost-bitten, wet,
hungry, they made sail of it in some fashion. Anywhere for them now but
Georges North Shoal and sure death.

“And once by here, let her go where she will-- I’m done with her,”
announced the tired captain of the _Henry Fuller_.


IV

A schemer of fame was Dixey of the _Ice King_. He stayed by the
_Durlich_ till the gale drove her to harbor, and then to harbor he ran
with her. He proposed to stay by her, too, till further orders. A
proposition to tow a used-up tramp steamer to Portland he waved off
impatiently. He was playing for bigger game.

However, when after forty-eight hours in Provincetown Harbor the
_Durlich_ showed no signs of moving out, Dixey began to squirm. He
instituted inquiries. Between the firemen of the two towboats existed an
amity of feeling that might be turned to profit. So to the hold of the
_Durlich_ a begrimed party with a quart of the right stuff in his
overcoat pocket found his way; and returned after an unconscionably long
visit, somewhat befuddled, but able to report that the gentleman in the
fur coat didn’t calculate to expose his precious life in such weather
again off Cape Cod.

Dixey considered the situation again in this new light. A long
contemplation from all angles, and he went ashore to telephone. He came
back again and drew out his charts. “H’m! She’s left Chatham and she’s
not been reported yet in Boston. She must be out here somewhere. But
where, just?” A further thoughtful whirl of a pair of dividers on the
chart. “He may’ve beat up by the Cape, but I don’t think so. It’s a good
chance he went into the North Shoal, and if he did, of course he’s lost.
But in case he did get by--in case he did--” Dixey whistled down the
tube to his engineer. “Warm her up and we’ll get out of here.”

And so it came to pass that Dixey in time sighted the leaking bark, to
every appearance a sinking bark, with a crew of imploring, frost-bitten
men to her iced-up rail.

The master of the bark told a story of extreme hardship, of just
escaping being lost on the shoals of Georges.

“The North Shoal?”

“Aye, the North Shoal. We all but bumped, we were that handy to it. A
dozen times we thought we were lost. I don’t understand it myself, but
we worked by, and here we are--our hold full of water, everything soaked
in the cabin and forec’s’le, where the seas wet everything down. Nothing
to eat, no fire fore or aft, and we’re most froze up. Put a boat out
and take us off, for God’s sake!”

“Goin’ to abandon her?” Dixey’s voice almost betrayed his anxiety.

“Abandon her? Yes, and get as far away from her as anybody will take us.
Why, man, we’re froze up, and she’s sinking!”

“Don’t you think you could keep some of your men aboard pumpin’ her out
and take a line from me so I can tow you in? This steamer of mine could
walk you home at a six-knot clip, deep as you are. It’d mean a lot of
money to me. What d’y’ say?”

“No, sir. I wouldn’t stay aboard her another hour, let alone the men,
for millions. You haven’t any notion of how things are aboard of her.
Everything wet down below, grub and bedding both, and solid ice, man,
from rail to rail--likely to go down under our feet any minute. And
here’s some of these men half wild with suffering. Take us off, and do
what you please with her afterward. For all I care she’s yours--she’s
anybody’s that’ll take us off.”

“Blest if I don’t try and take them off just the same.” Dixey waved to
his mate to unlash the boat.

The deck-hands of the _Ice King_ seldom had occasion to launch a boat,
and now they made a mess of it. When they should have fended the boat
off, they allowed the sea to bear it in. Against the side of the towboat
it came crashing.

Dixey swore blue oaths from the pilot-house. “What in the name of
Beelzebub you tryin’ to do? Stove in, is she?”

“Yes, sir,” answered the mate.

“Bad?”

“So bad that I wouldn’t want to ask any men to go in her--and the men
don’t want to go, either.”

“That so? A fine lot of able seamen! Well, they’ll have to take a
line--” He hailed the bark. “We can’t help you unless you’ll take a line
and let us tow you.”

“What’s the matter with your other boat?”

“They’d smash that, too, and----”

“Ho, Captain--” it was the voice of one of the bark’s crew--“here’s a
sail bearing down.”


V

The sea-swept _Buccaneer_, bucking the northwester, was putting in great
licks on the southerly tack. Suddenly the forward watch, trying to keep
warm in the lee of a bit of canvas tacked to the weather fore-rigging,
spied an abandoned vessel.

“Wreck O!” his voice rang above the gale. Crump Taylor and half the crew
came piling up to the tumbling deck.

“Where away? Sure enough! Let’s see again. That’s what--a wreck!”

The fast-sailing _Buccaneer_ was soon abreast of her. “Jibe her over and
sail around her--let’s have a closer look,” said Crump, and the man at
the wheel did as bid.

“She’s pretty low, and all iced up. She looks bad, but you never can
tell. What the devil’s that big tug doin’, and not helpin’ her? But no
matter what he’s doin’--drop alongside there--not too close. One roll of
her atop of us and our names’d be in the papers with the fine notices
they give a man when he’s dead. ‘An honor to their profession,’ ‘Too bad
they died,’ and so on--all fine enough, but not healthy. Hi, aboard the
bark--what’s wrong?”

Again was the story told--of the harrowing drift past the edge of the
shoals and their present plight. “Take us off,” it was then--“for God’s
sake, take us off!”

“We got no boat,” said Crump to that. “But wait, there’s that tug,” and
motioning to the wheel, “Jog over to the tug.”

“Those men want to be taken off,” hailed Crump when he was close to the
towboat.

“Well?” said Dixey.

“And you got two boats?”

“Yes, and one already smashed trying to put it over.”

“Well, there’s the other.”

“And smash that, too?”

“Well, I’ll be damned--and a frost-bitten crew alongside--and their
vessel sinkin’ under their feet. How about the busted one towin’
astern?”

“It’s full of water.”

“Well, cast her adrift, and we’ll stand by and pick her up and patch her
up and take the bark’s crew off with her.”

“Lord, you’re the devil and all, ain’t you?”

“Now, _what_ d’y’ think o’ that?” was all the disgusted Crump could
splutter by way of condemnation. He turned to his crew. “All there’s to
it is, we’ll have to get ’em off ourselves.”

“But how’ll we get ’em off, Skipper, without a boat?”

“I know.” Sam Leary bobbed up. “Let ’em run a line from their masthead
to a block in our riggin’ and again a block on deck with a couple of men
standin’ by to haul and slack, and let them come down the incline like’s
if ’twas a breeches buoy.”

“Sam,” said Crump admiringly, “but you’re sure a wizard.”

Crump hailed to the bark and explained. The bark’s crew did their share.
One after the other they came whizzing down to the deck of the
fisherman. Her captain, the last to leave, set fire to the few dry
places below before he went. An excruciating half-hour it was, but at
last the crew of the bark were on the deck of the schooner. “And now go
below,” commanded Crump, “and turn into the dry blankets. In five
minutes the cook’ll have you full of hot coffee.”

Seeing the strangers on the way to comparative comfort, he returned to
active business. Crump was ever a man of action.

“Who’s in for salvage?”

“Me!” said eighteen members.

“And who’ll be the prize crew?”

“Me!” said nineteen, this count including the cook, just then running
aft with more hot coffee. The nineteen, and doubtless Crump also, had
visions of an adventure that might yet net them a good trip.

“And now to get aboard. How’ll we get a man aboard her for a starter?
How about that, Sam? We can’t go up the way they came down, can we? Get
your head to working.”

“Why, swing aboard by our dory taykles. When we roll down and our
mastheads are ’most over her deck, a man can let go and drop off.”

“And suppose a man misses?” Crump put the question like a lecturer in
front of a class.

“He must’nt miss--unless he’s an A1 swimmer. If he----”

“O Skipper, they’re making ready to put over a boat from the tug!”

“The devil--tryin’ to steal our prize! Get a move on, fellows! If
they’re half-way smart they’ll beat us out, and you know marine
law--whoever puts the first man aboard c’n claim salvage rights. We got
to beat ’em, Sam, and that dory-taykle scheme’s not quick enough. How’ll
we do it now?”

“If you’re good and careful I’ll try the main-boom jump. But you got to
be careful--in this sea, Skipper.”

“All right. Sail around her again,” called Crump to the wheelsman. “Now,
fellows, when she’s comin’ afore it let her main sheet run to the knot,
and put the boom taykle to her and be sure to choke it up hard and
tight. This no place for accidents.”

Which they did, and as the _Buccaneer_ came flying down toward the stern
of the bark, Sam Leary ran out on the boom, which was then at right
angles to her rail, leaning against the sail as he ran. At the end of
the boom he gathered himself for the leap. “Steady, Skipper--you know
what it means if I miss.”

“Trust me, Sammie.” Crump held the wheel, and in the touch of his hand
was the full genius of steering. “Trust me, Sammie,” he repeated, while
Sam again gathered himself, and from under the stern of the bark, the
_Buccaneer_ lifting to a sea, he made the jump. It was a lesson in
helpfulness to see, at the psychological moment, the entire crew’s arms
unconsciously raised to waft him on.

Sam’s feet hit the icy rail, and away he went, skating half the length
of her quarter and coming down--bam! on the seat of his oilskins.

“Hurt you, Sammie?” came sympathetic voices from the deck of the
_Buccaneer_.

“Never jarred me,” affirmed Sam, and waved his hand at the discomfited
master of the tugboat.

“Yes,” commented Crump, looking over to the tug, “that does for _his_
salvage. And now I’ll put her alongside, Sammie, and we’ll try your
dory-taykle scheme.”

When Crump had his tackles rigged he called out: “I’ll hoist the men up
and let ’em drop aboard. Only you run an end of a halyard from the bark,
Sammie, to haul ’em well inboard.”

“And tell ’em what I said about not missing, Skipper.”

“I’ll give ’em written instructions,” said Crump to that.

“Just like putting fish out on the dock, ain’t it?” hallooed the first
man, while he was still in the air. Down he came--plump! and his teeth
rattled when he hit the upheaving deck.

“Hurry up, a few more of you, and help to put out the fire here--this no
place for jokes.”

When he had seven men, Sam waved an arm to Crump. “No more, no more,
Skipper.”

“But me, Skipper, me!” appealed every individual one of those left
behind.

“No.”

Despite that, “Just me!” a half dozen men with uplifted arms implored
the Skipper. “Just me, Skipper, just me!” Most persistent of all was
young Gillis. “Just me, and make a good prize crew. That’ll be eight men
and myself--nine men all told. Luck in odd numbers. Besides, I’m Sam’s
watch-mate, and Sam said he never had a watch-mate like me.”

“H’m-- I cal’late that’s right. Just you, then, but hurry.”

Gillis hurried, so much so that instead of dropping aboard the bark he
fell into the sea between the bark and the schooner.

He came spluttering to the top. “Heave me a line, somebody!” A dozen
lines were hove at him and two draw buckets; one, hitting him on the
head, all but drove him under again.

“Lord, don’t kill me!”

“There’s a fine waste of draw buckets,” commented one of the prize crew
ere they had him safe on the bark.

“Oh, but that fire feels good!” chattered Gillis, and took station by
the main hatch, where he might heave buckets of water on the fire
without removing too far from the heat of it.

It took them the better part of two hours to master the fire. “To the
pumps!” said Sam then, and, double-manned by fresh vigorous men, the
pumps soon began to lessen the deluge in the hold.

“And now make sail, Sam,” called Crump from the _Buccaneer_.

“Aye. Who’s ever been square-riggin’?” asked Sam of his prize crew then.
Two men answered to that.

“You’ll be captain of one watch, and you of the other. That’s for
knowin’ about a square-rigger. And now let’s make sail.”

They could not make sail very well, however, because there was not sail
enough to make--that is, to set sail as it should be set on a
square-rigger. But there was enough for half-sails, and they made
half-sails for her accordingly.

“Now she’s a fore-and-after, isn’t she?” commented Sam. “All right,
now--we can do somethin’ with her now--hah, what?”

“Yes, and we won’t need any captains of watches in her, will we, Sam?”
queried Gillis, thereby betraying a slight jealousy of the superior
ranks.

“That’s so--we won’t, will we? You two square-riggers, you Charlie and
you Dinnie, you’ll be just ordinary hands again.”

“Well, well, ordinary hands ain’t bad--there’ll be good prize money out
of this, Sam.”

“If we keep her afloat there’ll be.”

“Oh, we’ll keep her afloat, Sam.”

“It’s good you think so. But to the wheel now. Who’s first watch?”

“O Sam”-- Gillis was peering into the binnacle--“her compass is busted!”

Sam ran aft to see for himself. “So it is. Man, but they’ve had crazy
doin’s aboard this one.”

“Aye, and her rudder’s been pounded off,” came from another.

“No compass and no rudder, hah? Wouldn’t that jolt you, though? Well--”
Sam looked around. “O Skipper,” he hailed to his vessel, “you’ll have to
come under our stern and make the _Buccaneer_ act as a rudder for this
one.”

“It’s easy done,” said Crump, and passed up the lines to hold the
_Buccaneer_ in proper fashion to the bark.

With everything fast and taut and the bark beginning to show signs of
life, the _Ice King_ ranged alongside the _Buccaneer_.

Dixey’s head was poked out the pilot-house. “I say, Captain,” he called,
“you’ll never be able to beat home with her. What d’y’ say if you take
our line and we tow you both to Boston--or Gloucester? It’s out of the
question you gettin’ her home under sail. You keep your gang aboard to
keep her pumped out, and I’ll tow her and we’ll split the salvage. What
d’y’ say? You’ll never see home and you hang on to her.”

“And you the man wouldn’t lend us your old boat?” called back Crump.

“That’s all right, Captain. Business is business. Better take my line.
You’ll never see home and you hang on to her that way.”

Sam had to put in a word here. “Don’t you take any old line from him,
Skipper. Fine days when steamboat men c’n tell us our business!”

“No fear of me, Sam. Sheer off, you,” and Crump waved the tug
contemptuously away.

With a final word from the pilot-house, “Well, don’t blame me if you
lose your prize and your men both,” the big sea tug moved toward the
northwest, where soon she was lost in the haze.


VI

With the bark under weigh, Sam Leary organized his crew. Four men to the
pumps and four men to chop ice, and himself everywhere--alow and aloft,
pumping water, chopping ice, and back to the stern to advise with Crump
Taylor as to the course.

“How’s she doin’?” Sam would call.

“Fine! fine! Go on--all right. I think she’s liftin’ a mite.”

“Think so?” and Sam, much cheered, would dash around deck again.

The ice was a toilsome proposition. It made about as fast as they could
clear it. “I see them harvesting ice on the Kennebec one winter,” said
young Gillis, by way of drawing an extra breath--“horses and
ice-cutters--and that’s what we ought to have here.”

“I suppose so,” retorted Sam, “and wagons to carry it off, and ice-boats
sailin’ around with cushions and young ladies in furs in ’em, and a
little automobile engine to work the pumps, so all you’d have to do
would be to stand watch once in a while and go below and mug up whenever
you felt like it.”

“There,” exclaimed Gillis, “I knew there was something I forgot! What we
goin’ to do about eatin’? There’s no grub aboard this one.”

“None at all? How d’y’ know?”

“Oh, I been below.”

“Trust you. At eatin’ or watchin’ out for seas you’re a certificated
master. ‘Here’s one I _think_ is comin’ aboard,’ he says the other day,
and she high as Mount Shasta ’most, and comin’ like a railroad train.
And so no grub, eh? Well, the Skipper’ll have to manage some way to
heave some aboard. But quit your conversational chattin’ now and keep
pumpin’--and you others go to choppin’. Slack up, and the first thing
you know this one’ll go down--plumb! like a rock--and then where’ll we
be?”

“And our salvage, Sam--where’d that be, too, hah?”

“That’s so, our salvage. And ’tisn’t only salvage, but we want to show
that tug-boat crowd, and those bark people that cast her off, that we
c’n get her home. But how’s the pumps? Three thousand strokes yet? Isn’t
that the devil, though? And ice enough aboard yet to make a winter’s
crop for one of them Boston companies with the fleet of yellow wagons,
yes. But keep to it, fellows, and by’n’by we’ll see about grub.”

Later, Sam paid out a long line, which Crump took aboard the
_Buccaneer_ and attached to a great hunk of beef, wrapped in four
thicknesses of oilskins, and a can of hot coffee, tightly stoppered. The
beef reached the bark somewhat cooled, but in bulk entire. As to the
can, the stopper was buffeted out of that, and only salt water was there
when Sam hauled it in.

“Now what d’y’ think of that, Skipper?”

“That’s the devil, ain’t it? But better luck next time.”

“Lord, I hope so!”

All that night the prize crew labored. The sails needed but small
attention. Hauling in or paying out occasionally sufficed for them, she
being on the one tack all night; but the hull of the bark setting so low
made the trouble. The seas broke almost continuously over her, and added
to that were the icy decks, with footing so uncertain that at any moment
a man was likely to be picked up and hurled into the roaring black void.
When two or three men had been hove into the lee scuppers, and from
there miraculously rescued, Sam saw to it that thereafter every man
worked with a life-line about him.

Sam himself was fettered by no lashings. His work called for too
extensive an activity. He had to be not only aft, but forward, and aloft
as well as below. They could hear him moving in the blackness, grabbing
sheets or halyards, fife-rail or rigging, as he stumbled from one place
to another. Regularly did he disperse words of cheer. “We’ll get home
yet, fellows, and fool ’em all--and then! For you home-bound craft, you
that got families, there’s the wife who’ll have new dresses and the
children copper-toed boots, and a carriage for the baby, with springs in
it. Man, but the time you’ll all have! And the time _we’ll_ have, we
privateers--hah, Gillis?”

“M-m!” murmured Gillis from the region of the port pump-brake, and
forced new energy into arms that long ago he had thought were beyond
revival.

Morning came, and with it an increase of wind and cold. Crump, from the
end of the _Buccaneer’s_ bowsprit, where he managed to hang by the aid
of the jib-stay, hailed Sam and offered to put on fresh men.

“No,” said Sam, “we’ll stick it out a while longer.”

“But by’n’by it’ll be too rough, Sammie, and we won’t be able to take
you off.”

“Oh, well then, no harm--we’ll stick it out some way.”

“All right, have your way,” and Crump went back to the deck of his
vessel.

That afternoon it began to look bad for the bark and the men aboard
her. It was her captain, refreshed from a twenty-four hours’ sleep
below, who thoughtlessly passed his opinion when he, the first of his
crew to revive, poked his head above the companion-way and was
astonished by the sight of the ship that he thought he had scuttled.
“What--she on top of the water yet!” From the bark his eyes roved to the
derailed ice-covered deck of the little _Buccaneer_, then up to Sam and
his toiling gang again. “Well, they are damn fools, ain’t they, to think
they’ll ever get her home?”

He said that to Crump, who answered softly: “Now, Captain, I don’t want
to jar your feelings any, but if you don’t do one of two things--go
below and stay there, or draw the hatch over your face if you stay up
here--then I’m afeared I’ll have to pick you up and tuck you away under
the run or somewhere else where you can’t be heard for a while. Damn
fools, eh?” snorted Crump, and in sheer derision of some people’s
judgment spat several fathoms to leeward.

It turned out as Crump had predicted in the morning--still heavier
weather for that afternoon and night. Just when Sam was demonstrating
with a long pole that there was at least a foot less water in her hold,
the wind and sea began to make. Crump offered to attempt to put fresh
men aboard, but Sam waved him off. “No use, Skipper, runnin’ extra risk
for the gang--you’d lose some of ’em. We’ll stick it out--we’ll make out
some way.”

Throughout that night the men on the bark toiled terribly. Chop ice and
man pumps it was, with not even time to crack a joke or indulge in
occasional cheering reminiscence. There was not time during most of the
night even to carry to the rail and throw to leeward the chopped ice. So
they cut it into large blocks and piled them up two or three tiers high
and there allowed them to stay until by and by, the bark heaving down
sufficiently, away they went in a grand slide overboard. “Everybody
sashay,” Sam would cry then, and waft them overboard with graceful arms.
And yet, exhausting as was the ice-chopping, the pumping was even more
so. It was so terribly monotonous to men accustomed to lively action. No
variety to pumping water out of a ship’s hold; never a chance to put in
a fancy stroke or shift hands, as in ice-chopping. Up and down--always
that--up and down; and when a ship is making as fast as she is
lightened, never an inch of encouragement from the sounding pole. Sam
had to cut down the spells from an hour to half an hour, and finally to
fifteen minutes, so terribly wearing did the grind become to the
exhausted men.

Sam himself had no exuberant vitality after that second night; but the
unobtrusive will was inflexible as ever, and he had ever an eye for
those on the _Buccaneer_. “Skipper, ain’t she been strainin’ through the
night?”

“A little bit, Sammie, a little bit.”

“More than a little, Skipper--there’s been too much pumpin’ aboard you,
too, for a _little_ strainin’. How many strokes?”

“Oh, maybe two thousand through the night.”

“I thought about that. And now let me tell you something, Skipper--that
kind of work won’t do your vessel any partic’lar good. It’s a terrible
strain. I know, I know--you can’t tell me a little vessel like the
_Buccaneer_ can be a rudder to a big logey rolling ship of this one’s
size and not show signs of it. I misdoubt you’ll be able to hang on much
longer.”

“Much longer? Let me tell you, boy, we’ll hang on till you or me goes
under.”

“No, you won’t.”

“Why won’t we? Who’ll stop?”

“I will. See here.” Sam, balanced on the taffrail of the bark, poised a
sharp-edged axe above the lines that held the _Buccaneer_ astern. “One
slash here, and one slash there, and you’re adrift.”

“You just try it--just let me see you try it, Sam Leary!” Crump in his
wrath shook his fist at Sam, and followed that by furious orders to the
_Buccaneer’s_ crew. But that fit over, he shook his head. “I misdoubt
that bark’ll live the night out. Blast her, blast her, I wish we’d never
set eyes on her! What’s millions, let alone a few thousand dollars, to
men’s lives--and men that’s sailed with you, and summer breeze or winter
blow was always there when you wanted ’em? Damn you, Sam Leary, for an
obstinate mule, but if ever I see you aboard this vessel of mine again
you won’t leave it in a hurry again to go aboard any old sinkin’ hulk
for prize money!”

And still the wind and sea increased; and just before dark Sam appeared
at the stern of the bark with the sharp axe in his hand. “O Skipper,
Skipper!” he called.

“Aye, Sammie.”

“Time to part company.”

“No, no, Sammie--not yet awhile.”

“Yes, now’s the time. There’s nine of us here and twenty-seven of you
there. You lay tied to this one, and if we go down suddenly in the
night, down you go, too.”

“No, no, Sammie. I’ll have two men with axes to the lines. I’ll cut, if
I see you goin’--as sure as God’s above me, I’ll cut.”

“‘Twon’t do, Skipper. We could roll under in

[Illustration: “You just try it--just let me see you try it, Sam
Leary.”]

the dark afore you’d know it and you’d get whirled in----”

“And even so, Sammie--do you believe she’d draw us under?”

“Wouldn’t she? If you didn’t cut quick enough, say. And if she didn’t,
you’d be caught aback, and in this breeze you’d capsize in a wink. No,
’twon’t do, Skipper. If we’ve got to go, we got to go, and you goin’
with us won’t help. And there’s nine of us and twenty-seven of you.” He
looked all about him then--ahead, abeam, aloft, and once more astern at
Crump. “So long, fellows, if we’re not here in the mornin’.” Two sharp
slashes and the line parted; wide apart fell the big bark and the little
schooner.

Crump, immediately he felt himself free, laid the _Buccaneer_ alongside
as near the bark as he dared, and he could dare a great deal.

“Keep off!” called Sam.

“No more than she is now, Sam. And if ever she should go down, tell the
fellows to lash themselves to something or other that’ll float high, and
we’ll be right there and maybe pick some of you up----”

Sam waved, the last time they were able to see so much as a hand waved
ere black night rolled down on them.

From the little schooner all hands watched the night out for that spot
in the darkness where they conceived the bark to be--that is, those that
had time to spare from their work. Occasionally they could catch from
her deck a call that they knew to be the voice of Sam with his word of
cheer. They saw the attempts to light torches on her, the flash and
flare, and then the almost immediate dousing when the sea washed aboard.

But fortune attends the brave. She was there in the morning, rolling
worse than ever and lower in the water, but still afloat.

“Now, ain’t that amazin’?” demanded Crump of one after another of his
crew. “Ain’t it amazin’?” he demanded of the captain of the bark.

That intriguing party could only shake his head at the miracle of it.
“Still afloat! And when I left her I give her about an hour. I set her
afire myself with my own hand,” he explained, “so nobody’d be misled
into tryin’ to save her. ‘No salvage on _her_,’ I said. ‘Another hour
and she’ll be burned to the water’s edge, and then she’ll sink and
trouble nobody no more,’ I said. And a good job I thought it was, she
was that dangerous-lookin’. And if I’d never set a match to her, she was
leakin’ that bad, and that low in the water! And there she is still
afloat! Well, that’s past me.”

That afternoon, the weather moderating, Crump sailed close up and once
more offered to try to take off the worn-out gang of the now wildly
sailing bark and put his own fresher men aboard.

“What!” exclaimed Sam--“leave her, and after we got her this far? Why
we’re gettin’ to love the old hulk. Let’s finish the job, Skipper, so
long’s we started it. Another day and we’ll be home.”

“Sam Leary, am I skipper, or you?”

“Why, of course you’re skipper, and if you order it--_order_ it,
Skipper--we got to obey.”

“Well, come aboard here.”

“How?”

“Rig up that taykle--the same that hoisted your gang aboard.”

“That taykle parted last night, Skipper, and it can’t be rigged.” If one
can imagine an impudent, unshaven, hollow-eyed man in iced-up boots,
beard, and oilskins, then it is possible to picture Sam Leary as he
leaned against the mizzen-rigging of the wallowing derelict and smiled
sweetly at his skipper. And imagine Sam Leary’s skipper, after a lot of
spluttering, smiling back, and even at last admitting himself beaten.

“All right, go ahead. There’s no gettin’ past you, Sam Leary. Finish
your cruise in her.”

And Sam Leary did finish his cruise in her. Three days later, such
weary, weary men-- But let that pass. Three days later--and in broad
daylight it happened, so that their friends at home might share in the
full glory of their achievement--they sailed, the bark leading and the
little fisherman by way of a rudder astern, into the harbor of
Gloucester, where they fancy they know a seaman when they see one.


VII

Of the sequence of events that threw that valuable prize into their
hands the crew of the _Buccaneer_ were not told at that time; but,
later, young Gillis, having journeyed to Boston--there in emulation of
more noted fishermen the more splendidly to disburse his
prize-money--had come back minus his roll, but fat with information.

“And there I was, Skipper, spending my money like a--like a----”

“--a drunken fisherman.”

“No, that’s not how I was goin’ to put it, Skipper. But, anyway, there I
was dispensin’ refreshment like a gentleman to a few friends I’d met,
when along comes the skipper of the tugboat that wanted us to take his
line and we wouldn’t, you mind. And he looks at me hard, and at last
asks me was I _really_ one of that gang o’ fishermen that brought the
mahogany bark back to port. And I says, ‘Why ain’t I, _really_?’ ‘Well,’
he says, ‘you look so diff’rent dressed up.’ And I said that naturally a
man that’d been bangin’ around on the Banks for five or six weeks would
look handsome in oilskins and a gale of wind. That kind o’ struck him
amidships, I guess, for he said he didn’t mean anything by that, and
goes on to tell me how he figured it cost him twelve hundred dollars
chasin’ up that bark--in tows he missed that week; and his friend
here--he introduced the other steamboat man--’d got a thousand dollars
just for doin’ nothin’ but layin’ under the lee of the Cape for three
days while it blew, and then for joggin’ around two days off the cape
after it moderated. ‘Yes, and the man that paid me is down the wharf
now,’ goes on the second steamboat man, ‘and I think he’d like to meet
some of your crowd.’ And down the dock we went, and there he was. I
forget what he looked like in the face, but he had the swellest fur
coat, big enough to ’most make a mains’l for the _Buccaneer_ and fur
nigh long enough for reef-points on that same mains’l, and he shakes
hands with me and says he didn’t know whether to be sore or not. And
just then Sam come bowlin’ along, and he says, ‘This must be one of your
crowd, too?’ ‘_One!_’ I says--‘one! Why, he had charge!’ and just then
the first steamboat man he grabs Sam and says, ‘Well, I’ll be
damned--why, you’re the fellow made the main-boom leap!’ ‘What!’ says
fur coat, and has a good look at Sam. ‘Sure enough,’ he goes on, ‘you’re
the kind of men I ought to have hired to salve the bark.’ ‘Hired? what
d’y’ mean?’ says Sam. ‘Oh, nothing,’ says fur coat to that; ‘but I’m
done with the salvage business. Let’s have a drink,’ and then they came
so fast, reg’lar ring-a-ring-a-rounder fashion, that----”

“That the next thing you knowed you had an awful headache, and not
enough money to pay for your ticket back to Gloucester.”

“Didn’t I, though! Trust me--me, Wise Aleck, goin’ to Boston ’thout a
return ticket. But Sam didn’t.”

“No, trust Sam to go the whole hog. How much does he want?”

“Twenty, or twenty-five, he thought would do.”

“Only twenty-five, hah? Mod’rate, ain’t he? Well, give me his address
and I’ll telegraph it to him. And how much do you want for yourself?”

“Oh, about fifteen cents for a drink’ll do me, unless----”

“Unless what?”

“‘Less you’d lend me ten on the next trip.”

“No, I won’t lend you ten on the next trip. I’ll _give_ you ten dollars,
if that’ll do you.”

“And why not lend me the ten on the next trip, Skipper?”

“Because there ain’t goin’ to be no next trip this winter. I’m
cal’latin’ to stay ashore a while. This salvage business is good enough
for me this winter. A couple of months ashore won’t hurt any of us. And
then there’s the _Buccaneer_ needs calkin’ where steerin’ that bark
racked her, and new rail, and a few things around deck. And that’ll give
that streak of hard luck a chance to run itself out. So here y’are. I
s’pose you’ll go and blow that now as fast as you can?”

“I guess that’s right, too, Skipper,” and up the street rolled Gillis,
blithely singing.

Crump gazed after him. “There’s a man oughter be glad he’s alive to-day.
But no, he must try and keep up with men like Sam Leary that gets fat on
excitement. Where’s that card o’ Sam’s he give me? H’m-m--Élite Hotel,
Canal Street. And twenty-five dollars, eh? He must be cal’latin’ to come
home in a automobile. Well, after all, I dunno but he’s entitled to
automobiles at that.”



On Georges Shoals


Oh, but Dannie Keating was the happy man that night! Under the light of
the winter stars he drew her to him, and, with her head all but resting
on his shoulder and his arm about her waist, they came down the shady
side of the street together, and cared no more for the whistling wind
than for whatever curious eyes might, from behind drawn blinds, be
peeping. “If anybody’s rubbering, they’re all sore,” said Dannie when
she protested, and again broke the night air with--he simply couldn’t
help it--

    “O sweetheart mine, I love thee,
     And in all the sky above--see!
     No heart like thine, no love like mine--
     O sweetheart, but I love thee!”

Oh, but the blood was running riot within him. “Don’t I love you, Katie?
Don’t I? And don’t you? And don’t we both?” and in the shadow of the
steps of her home he drew her yet closer to him and kissed her--kissed
her--a thousand times he kissed her before she could draw a free breath
again.

“And in the morning, Katie, I’ll be putting out. You won’t see me, it’ll
be so early. And it’ll be the last trip in that old packet, though maybe
I oughtn’t say that of her that’s earned a good bit of money for
me--earned enough to pay for the new one, Katie--the new one that’ll be
ready for me the next trip in. And then, Katie dear, we’ll see--as good
as anything of her length and beam out the port. And have you picked a
name for her yet? Yes? The _Dannie Keating_, indeed! No, no, I’ve a ten
times better one--and you’d never guess, I’ll bet. And she’ll be a
vessel! Every cent that you saved for me, dear, went into her.”

“You saved it yourself, Dannie.”

“I saved? Lord bless you, Katie, how much would ever I save if I hadn’t
turned it over to you as fast as I made it? How much did I save before I
met you? A whole lot, warn’t it, now? Why, girl, the very oilskins I
used to wear would be drawn against my next trip. But it don’t matter
which of us--every cent the pair of us have saved has gone into her. And
she’ll _be_ a vessel, and then, if any man sailing out of this port
thinks to make me take my mains’l in----”

“Hush, Dannie, don’t begin by being reckless. And I wish you weren’t
going out in the _Pantheon_ again. She’s so old, Dannie, and not the
vessel for a winter trip to Georges.”

“Well, there _is_ better. But she’s been a good vessel to me, dear, and
that means to you, too. And only one more trip, and then the fast and
the saucy--the handsome _Katie Morrison_.”

He parted from her after that, and from the shadow of the doorway she
looked after him, her heart jumping and herself all but running after
him. Up the street she watched him swing, so straight and strong. Oh,
but the shoulders of him! and the spring to his every stride! Then she
breathed a prayer for him, and went upstairs and to her bed.

But she could not sleep. All night long she tossed, whatever it was
possessed her; and in the dawns she got up to watch by the window until
he should come by on his way to the vessel.

He would come by, she knew. He never yet failed to go that half dozen
streets out of his way so that he might look up at her window. Oh, the
times that she watched from behind the curtains--before she knew him
well, that was--and he never suspecting!

And he came at last. It was but five o’clock then, and dark--a winter
morning. But she needed no light. Long before she could make out his
figure she knew his footfall. How lightly he trod for so big a man--to
his toes at every stride, as a strong man should. No doubt or hesitation
there--a man to go winter fishing that, and enjoy every whistling breath
of it. And he was singing now!

    “O sweetheart dear, I love thee!”

When a man sings a love-song at five o’clock of a winter’s morning-- She
threw on her mother’s prized cashmere shawl and ran down.

“Dannie!”

Across the street he leaped, three strides from curb to curb and two
more to the top step. “Katie-- Katie--and this cold morning!”

“I couldn’t let you go by without saying good luck again, Dannie.”

“Oh, the girl!” He patted her head and drew her to him till he felt her
lips making warm little circles against his neck.

“Dannie?”

“Yes, dear.”

“I wish you’d stay at home this trip. The _Pantheon_ is old.”

“Old? So she is. Not the vessel the _Katie_’ll be--not by a dozen
ratings. But Lord, Katie, I’ve been through too many blows in her for
you to be worrying now, dear.”

“I know it, Dannie, and yet I wish you weren’t going this trip.”

“Well, I wish I warn’t myself. I’d like nothing better than to be
staying this month home and watching the new one building--to overhaul
every plank and bolt and thread of oakum that’s put in her. All day long
watch her building, and every night come and tell you how she is getting
on, the pair of us side by side before the fire. That’d beat winter
fishing on Georges--fighting your way out of the shoal water when it
comes a no’the-easter, and chopping ice off her to keep her afloat when
it comes a no’wester. Yes, dear, it cert’nly would be a comfort--home
here with you and watching the _Katie_ building. But we can’t both have
comfort, dear. You to home and me to sea we’ll have to be for many years
yet, dear. I’ll go out this trip as I went out a hundred of others
before. When I’m back--why, ’twill be worth the trip, dear, that coming
back to you.”

“I’ll be at the dock this time, Dannie.”

“Then the old _Pantheon_ won’t be too close to the slip before
somebody’ll be making a flying leap for the cap-log. There, there, dear,
this one trip, and then it’ll be Mrs. Dannie Keating and a month
ashore--hah, what! There’s the girl! But God bless you, dear, and keep
you till I’m home again.”

“Good luck, Dannie. There, but Oh, Dannie?”

“Yes?”

“Don’t go yet--just a minute more, dear.”

He patted her cheek and dried her eyes, and when she wouldn’t stop
sobbing, he unbuttoned his coat and made her rest her head on his
breast. Her ear against the blue flannel shirt, she could feel his
heart. And it was a heart--like all of himself, full of strength. A cold
winter’s morning it was, but here all afire. He was right--it would be a
storm indeed when he went under. And yet--she could not help it--she
broke into sobbing again.

“What’s it now?”

“Oh, Dannie, last night after I left you I heard my father telling that
another vessel had been given up for lost. Did you know?”

“I’ve heard, dear.”

“And you never told me. You tell me the danger is small----”

“And ’tis small, dear. Sea room and sound gear, and a good vessel will
live forever. Of course, accidents will happen--sometimes something
parting at the wrong time, or being run down by a steamer in the
fog--which was what happened, I don’t doubt, to the _Tempest_”

“Well, whether she was run down by a steamer, or caught in the shoals,
or foundered in the heavy seas, isn’t it all the same to the wives and
children of the _Tempest’s_ crew? Think of young Captain Rush’s wife.
What an awful thing for her, Dannie!”

“I know, dear, I know. But hush now--that’s the girl. And don’t worry
for me. Though they come masthead high and toss us like we’re a pine
chip, I’ve only to think of you, Katie, here in the doorway looking down
the street after me--a last look for me before I turn the corner. Only
to think of that, and I’ll laugh--laugh out loud at them. ‘Come on, you
green-backed devils!’ I’ll say--‘come on! You’d overpower us, would you?
Higher yet, high as the clouds, if you want, and the _Pantheon_ she’ll
ride you down.’ And she will, too, Katie--the old _Pantheon’s_ a wonder
hove-to. Yes, Katie, only last trip I hollered like that to ’em one
night, and----”

“Oh, but you mustn’t, Dannie--it’s like boasting.”

“Boasting? No, but seamanship, girl--seamanship. It’s knowing, not
guessing--knowing how to handle her. Just sail enough and wheel enough
and your wake setting so’s to break the backs of them afore they can
come aboard with their shoulders hunched up, spitting foam and roaring
warnings--green-eyed like. ’Tis they boast and threaten, not me. And if
’tis to an anchor----”

“Well, dear, don’t talk that way again. And go now, while I’m strong to
let you. Good luck, Dannie, and don’t forget----”

“Forget what, Katie?”

“You know what.”

“Oh, well, tell me just the same--don’t forget what?” And he laughed in
advance to hear her say it. And she whispered it, and he came nigh to
crushing her as he heard.

“And don’t I love you, too, Katie?”

“I know it, Dannie. Only with me, if you don’t come back I can never
love anybody else again--never, never, never. I love you, Dannie.”

“And do I love you, Katie? Do I? Do I catch my breath and walk the deck
on the long black winter nights because I can’t sleep--driving and
fighting, days and nights? Tired out I ought to be, but no more tired
than the roaring sea itself. Thinking of you, Katie, thinking of you.
But I’m off now, dear, and don’t forget-- No need to say what, is there?
But tell it again? And sure I will, dear. Whisper”--and he retold it
softly in her ear. And she, loving to love, loving to be loved, could
not see to let him go for another while. “And will I come home again?
Will I? Did I come a hundred times before? Or was it my ghost? Aye, a
healthy ghost. But say a prayer for me just the same. Though what’s to
be is to be. God bless you, Katie Morrison, and good-by.”

       *       *       *       *       *

There was every promise of a wild night, and a wicked place to be on a
bad night is Georges Bank in shoal water. To the westward, barring
escape to deep water and good sea room when the northeaster blows, is a
ridge of sand with no more than twelve feet of water. Over that the
lightest draught vessel of the Gloucester fleet would not have bumped on
a calm June day. So shoal was it and so heavy the seas in there that
vessels have been known to pitch head first into bottom at times; their
bowsprits have been found so stuck in the sand by fishermen who dared to
cut close in on summer days. A vessel striking there was much worse off
than if she struck in on a bare beach of the mainland, because while in
either case she was sure to be battered to pieces, out there on Georges
was no escape for the crew.

As a matter of fact, in very heavy weather a vessel would hardly live to
strike the clear beach. She would be smothered long before that. In ten
fathoms of water, say, with a big sea and strong tide running, there
were rip waters to send the foam mast-high, to catch the vessel up and
spin her about as if she were a top such as boys whip around in
spring-time. Small wonder fishermen dread shoal water on Georges in a
breeze; small wonder that the smart trawlers hustle dories in and bear
off in a hurry when they find themselves in less than twenty-five
fathoms and a breeze making; small wonder that even the hand-liners
quite often jeopardize their chances for a good trip and up anchor and
away when it looks too bad.

But there is not always time to get away. Sometimes the storm makes too
suddenly. One might say that expert fishermen, above all others, should
be quick to foresee a coming storm. They are quick enough, Lord
knows--years of perilous observation have made them so. But there are
those who won’t leave, come how it will. Every coming storm does not
mean that the one terrible storm of years is at hand; and when it is so
difficult to get back to just the right spot after a storm has scattered
the fleet, why let go for what is only probability, not a certainty, of
disaster?--especially when one is on a good spot. It is only one storm
in a dozen years when good seamanship, fishermen’s instinct, sound gear,
and an able craft do not avail. And what real fishermen would not risk
the one storm in ten years? That is how they put it, and therein have
some of them come to be lost.

This was a case of sudden storm and everybody aware that it was to be a
wild night; but such fishing as they had been having that day was too
tempting to leave. Certainly aboard the _Pantheon_ they had no notion of
leaving it. They only knocked off for the night when the tide got
altogether too strong for them. With sixty fathoms of line in
twenty-five fathoms of water their ten-pound leads struck bottom only
twice before they came swirling to the surface again.

John Gould was the last to haul in his line. “You don’t often see the
tide any stronger than this,” he observed to his skipper.

“That’s a fact, John, you don’t,” answered Dannie, together with John
half turning a shoulder and ducking his head to the drenching sea that
was coming aboard. “And some of the fleet’s takin’ notice, too. There’s
old Marks and Artie Deavitt and McKinnon and Matt Leahy givin’ her more
string. That’s what they think of it already. M-m-- Lord, smell that
breeze!” He took another look about. “Better have another look for’ard,
John, there, and see she’s not chafin’ that hawser off. All right?
That’s good.”

A moment more and he shook his head, and five minutes later called all
hands. “Might’s well give her a little more string, fellows. Didn’t
intend to give it to her so soon, but this lad up to wind’ard, I see
he’s givin’ her some more, and we’ll have to put out more or he’ll be on
top of us. I cal’late he’s got half a mile of hawser out now. A man that
figures on gettin’ worried so soon ought to keep off by himself
somewhere.”

That was at eight o’clock, with the tide racing toward the shoals before
a fifty-mile northeaster. There was not a great deal of sea by then.
There never is when tide and wind run together and it is the first of a
breeze. But when that tide turns!

“Yes, sir, when this tide turns--if anybody wants to see somethin’
superfine in the way of tide-rips, right here’ll be the place,” remarked
the Skipper, and, seeing that the extra length of hawser was paid out,
dropped below for a mug-up. “There’s no tellin’ when we’ll get a chance
again for a cup of coffee,” he said. “‘Twill be a long night, I’m
thinkin’. But what’ll that mess be, cook, when it’s done cookin’?”

“Tapioca puddin’, Skipper.”

“That’s good.” He helped himself to a mug of coffee, saying no further
word, barely giving ear to John Gould, a miraculous man, who had
survived thirty-five winters on Georges, and was still rugged as oak.

“When our old cook used to make tapioca puddin’, ’twas a sure sign of
heavy weather comin’, warn’t it, Skipper?”

The Skipper barely inclined his head, and John turned to his less
preoccupied mates. “That last big breeze--let’s see. Yes, ten year ago
this month. I’ll never forget that gale. Nobody will, I cal’late, that
was out that night. The Skipper here was in this same vessel--she twenty
year old then, though only the Skipper’s second year as skipper in her.
The glass was down that afternoon, I mind, but the sea smooth--that is,
for that time o’ year. But by ten that night! Lord, what a night that
was! Wind! and sea! Forty vessels and five hundred men in the
hand-linin’ fleet that night, and every third man and vessel gone by the
mornin’. God, how they did smash into each other! And their spars--like
fallin’ trees when they’d come together in the dark.”

John passed from narrative to reflection. “Some widows made that night,
warn’t there, Skipper?”

“Aye, John--and some maids widowed.” The Skipper did not even smile at
his own pun.

“There ought to be a law, I think,” continued John, “to keep vessels
from anchorin’ so close to each other. Take it that night. If the fleet
warn’t bunched up so close there wouldn’t ’a’ been half so many lost.
Yes, sir, there oughter be a law, don’t you think, Skipper?”

“What?” The Skipper came out of his abstraction. “What--oh! a law, eh?
And who’d come out here to see it lived up to? Gover’ment vessels? No,
John, no law would do. Where there’s good fishin’ there men and vessels
will go, and devil take the risk. I know we oughtn’t be huddled in here
like we are. I know that if another such breeze as that one ten years
ago hits in here to-night there’ll be just as many of us lost as there
was that night. Yes, sir, just as many.” He stopped by the companionway
to button his sou’wester under his ear--“Good pie that, cook. I hope the
tapioca’ll taste as well in the mornin’”--drew on his mitts, and went on
deck.

Down the companionway soon came his voice. “Everybody up, and give her a
little more string. There’s one or two of them beginnin’ to drift
a’ready.”

They heard his voice roll along the deck then. “Aft there, call all
hands to give her more hawser--and the chain with it!”

They did so, noting as the chain rattled out that the wind had increased
perceptibly. “When this tide’s settin’ back there’ll be _some_ sea
kickin’ up here,” they heard their Skipper say. And then his voice
again--from aloft this time: “Give her more yet--another fifty fathom.”
Down he dropped to the deck with, “It’s goin’ to be hell around here
to-night! If ’twas some vessels I’ve been in--or if ’twas the _Katie
Morrison_ now, that’s not finished--it’d be slip cables and out of
here--and in a hurry. But not in this old packet--’twouldn’t do. She’d
most likely split in two tryin’ to beat out, and cert’nly she wouldn’t
get back here in a week if the wind hauled. No, sir. But what’s this?”
He held up a bare palm.

The entire crew began to sniff the air then, and, holding out their
palms, to catch and taste whatever the wind had brought.

Snow! A howling no’the-easter in shoal water on Georges, the vessel
dragging--_And_ snow!

The Skipper made no comment. Even after he had made certain of it, he
said nothing, nor made any new move--only stood by the fore-rigging and
tried to map out in his mind the location of the others of the fleet.

“And now let’s see--we’re pretty nigh the most westerly of the bunch.
Jack Kildare, he’s about east by south. If he does drag he’ll most
likely miss us. Simms--the _Parker_--he’s about east by no’the and maybe
two cable-lengths away. She won’t drag, I’m sure--rides easy as a gull.
Jim Potter, he’s about right to fetch us--no’the-east--and those two
that dropped in just to the no’the-ard of him at dark to-night--they
might, too. Any of those three’ll get us in short order if they get to
draggin’.” Again he held his palm up. “Gettin’ wetter--and thicker.
There’ll cert’nly be hell to pay round here to-night, and the old
_Pantheon_--but, Lord, she’s been through too many blows to----”

The vessel leaped under him, sagged back and started to rush forward
again. His quick ear caught the first of the crunching. “Stand clear of
her for’ard!” he warned, and himself jumped to the protection of the
foremast, as through her bow planking they heard her chain go zipping.

A moment of almost a dead stop, a breath of portentous quiet, and she
swung broadside to the sea. “Wa-atch out!” roared the Skipper. Aboard
came the sea in tons. “Hang on! hang on!” called one to another. All
clung grimly to whatever was nearest. It passed on, submerging
everybody, but leaving the vessel still right side up.

“Everybody all right?” called the Skipper.

Each for himself answered--all but one.

“Henry!” called the Skipper. “Henry Norton!”

No answer. And again no answer.

“I cal’late he’s gone, Skipper.”

“He must be. God help him!”

“And his folks, Skipper--he’s the third of his family been lost out
here.”

“And there’ll be more before the night’s over,” muttered one at the
Skipper’s elbow.

“Maybe there will,” snapped the Skipper, “but in God’s name wait till it
happens. Below there-- Oh, cook, hand up a torch, and let’s see what’s to
be done.”

“Chain parted, Skipper.”

“Well, it don’t take any magician to see that. But let’s see what else.”

The chain, before parting, had torn through her iron-bound hawser hole,
and three of the stout stanchions had gone as if they were cardboard.

“_Some_ tide that!” observed old John Gould, and his voice was that of a
connoisseur in tides.

“Yes,” admitted the Skipper. “But go aloft, one of you--you, John--and
see if you can see anybody comin’. There’ll be somebody down on us soon.
And the rest of you stand by to put sail on her. It’ll be too much to
expect that single hawser to hold her. And go aft, you Dick, and take a
soundin’.”

Came John’s voice from aloft. “Can’t see half a length away.”

“All right, come down.” He turned toward the stern. “What water?”

“Twenty fathom.”

“Twenty? Drifting as fast as that? Put sail on her--the big trys’l
first. Jib? No, not yet. Give this one too much headsail and she’ll be
into the hummocks before you could half put the wheel down on her.”

“Nineteen fathom.”

“Nineteen? All right, boy, keep soundin’, and loose your jib now,
fellows.”

“Eighteen fathom, Skipper.”

“Eighteen fathom? Man, I think I hear it roar,” observed one.

“I hear it, too. Is that the surf?” came from another.

“‘Is that the surf?’ Who’s that damn fool? Oh, it’s the new man. Well,
maybe you’re part way excusable. Yes, that’s the surf under your lee. If
’twas light you could see it break. But don’t mind that, boy-- I’ve heard
it before and come away.”

“Maybe you have,” commented one unthinkingly, “but there’s not been too
many that’s been near enough to hear it and got home to tell about
it--not too many.”

“For God’s sake, choke that croaker, somebody! And drive her,
fellows--no time to lose now.” The Skipper was all over her deck. “And
stand by with the axe, you Fred, so when we have to, and I give the
word, cut and we’ll run for it.”

“I s’pose she couldn’t stand the mains’l, Skipper?”

“No, John, she couldn’t--not this old hooker in this breeze. Just the
extra weight of that boom outward now and over she’d flop, sure as fate.
She’s thirty year old, this one. Lord, if ’twas only the _Katie_,
wouldn’t we go skippin’ out of here! But go aloft again, John.”

In the whirl and thickness of snow they tried to follow John as he
climbed the rigging, swinging and clinging, fighting his way up.

John’s voice, but too muffled to be understood, came down to them. One
man jumped into the rigging and passed the word along.

“He says a ridin’ light to wind’ard--two of em.”

“To anchor are they? Make sure.”

An exchange of words above. “John says he thinks one of ’em’s
driftin’--only her ridin’ light shows, but the other’s just showed a
side-light--her port light.”

“Port light? That’s bad for us. Look sharp to the wheel. And for’ard,
who’s got the axe--you, Fred? Well, get up the other axe and stand by
with it you, Tim. Slash to it, both of you, when I give the word. Can
you hear me?”

“Yes, sir.”

He stepped back to the break and tried to catch John’s voice for
himself. Not getting it easily, he jumped into the rigging. “What’s that
last--of that one sailin’----”

“Another vessel driftin’ down--and another--two draggin’ and two
sailin’, but not makin’ much headway. An awful wind aloft, Skipper.”

“Aye, John--and below, too. But what’s that? Hell!” He dropped to deck
and leaped to the wheel. He was just in time to dodge the side-sweep of
a vessel’s bowsprit as she swirled by his quarter. Another moment and it
caught the stern davits, the dory slung up to them, and then the end of
the _Pantheon’s_ main boom. Cr-s-sh!--cr-s-sh! The bowsprit of the
stranger cracked sharp off, the _Pantheon’s_ dory went to kindlings, and
her boom smashed at the slings. “Hi-i! you blasted loon, where you
goin’?”

“Hi-i!” came back a yet hoarser voice--“couldn’t help it--parted both
cables.”

“That’s bad----”

“Yes--good-by.”

Dannie fanned the snow from his eyes. “If that ain’t hell--talkin’ to
men you can’t see and they driftin’ away to be lost! And the dory gone,
though it’s more than a dory we’ll need to-night.”

“Oh, Skipper!” came from aloft again.

“Aye, John.”

“Near’s I can make out, there’s four or five vessels bearin’ down----”

“Close by?”

“Pretty close--yes, sir.”

“Wait-- I’ll be with you.” Aloft climbed the Skipper. ’Twas a fight to go
aloft, such was the force of the wind and so wildly swayed the rigging
of the old _Pantheon_.

From the deck the crew gazed after the Skipper till they could see his
swaying shoulders no more. Soon he came flying down, and after him came
John, both by way of the snow-slushed, slippery halyards.

“Cut!” roared the Skipper before he had fairly hit the deck--“and at the
wheel there, let her pay off.”

“Cut--cut!” Away went the twelve-inch rope in stubborn convolutions
through the hawse-holes. Around came the _Pantheon_, and by her bow came
driving a great white shadow. White sail against white snow on a black
night she came driving on, and only a memory of a dim light to mark her
when the shadow of the sails could not be made out.

“No side-lights--draggin’?”

“Aye, and draggin’ fast as some vessels ever sail.”

Again a shadow, and from out of the night inarticulate voices--voices
that grew in volume, rang loud, louder yet--not so loud, muffled, yet
more muffled, quiet again--voices as if from another world, not to be
clearly distinguished. “Did anybody catch what they said?”

“Nobody? Well, that’s their end.”

“God help ’em, yes.”

“Sixteen fathom, Skipper.”

“Sixteen! We cert’nly can’t be weatherin’ it much.”

“Lord, I should say not. And seas to swallow us alive. Looks bad for us,
too, don’t it, Skipper?”

“Looks bad for who? Dry up! There’s a whole ocean to the east’ard of
us--how’s she pointin’?”

“Su’the-east by east.”

“Su’the-east by east? That the best the old whelp can do? That means
she’ll point no better than no’the by west when we jibe her. Try and
hold her up.”

For a moment the snow lifted and they caught points of light--a red and
a green and several white lights. “Most of ’em still to anchor. I hope
none of ’em get in our way.”

The snow fell again, and once more John Gould went aloft.

“One on the starb’d tack, Skipper.”

“Aye, don’t mind her--only on the port tack.”

“Aye. Here’s one, wherever in the devil she came--hardalee, hardalee!”

“Hardalee!” The Skipper jumped to the wheel and helped to hold it down.
“Where’s she now?”

“I’ve lost her. Thick o’ snow again. Here she is--and another on the
other tack.”

“God in heaven! one on each tack?”

He got no further. A hail came from somewhere aloft, and yet not from
the _Pantheon’s_ masthead--a voice, not John’s, called out something or
other--a dozen voices called--a roar of voices mingled with the shriek
of the wind, and then slipped by another dread shadow.

“Fifteen fathom, Skipper.”

“Aye,” breathed the Skipper. He made out the shadow, not altogether with
his eyes--the deeper senses do the work on such nights--and let her pay
off. “But we can’t run this way long--we’d be smothered in the shoal
water.” Again he tacked, again in a shadow of sails. “She’s in the same
fix,” he muttered, and tacked again. No shadow pressed and he drew
breath, but hardly a whole breath, when again voices, from aloft as well
as from across the water. All about him he looked to make out. When he
did make out anything there were two of them--one to each side. There
was nothing to do, then, but try to outrun them both. He eased off his
sheets and away went the old _Pantheon_.

“Running to perdition if I hold this long.” He could hear the roar quite
plainly now, and, hearing it, groaned. “But I’ve got to keep clear. God!
why don’t they hold up?”

And then it came--from straight ahead and so suddenly that no human
power could avert, no quickness of hand or eye or trick of seamanship or
weatherliness of vessel could avail. Head on to the old _Pantheon_ it
was--a phantom of white above and a band of black below showed through
the driving snow. One awful wait that was worse than the actual
collision, and then it came. The _Pantheon_ cut into the other’s topside
planking, her bowsprit bore through the other’s rigging and
foresail--cr-s-sh!--cr-s-sh!--the smash of breaking timbers, the tearing
of stiff canvas, and above all the howl of the wild gale.

Men hailed out questions, oaths, and words that no man could understand.
They held so, the bow of one into the waist of the other, long enough
for men from the _Pantheon_ to leap aboard the other and then to leap
back. “Man, she’s worse than we are!” shouted one, as back he came. The
sea poured in by way of the great gashes. A moment more and it poured
unchecked over the _Pantheon’s_ rails. Then the spars of the stranger
went over the side and across the _Pantheon’s_ deck. Somebody moaned
that he was hurt, but there was no time to find out who. The stranger’s
dory bobbing up alongside, one man made a wild leap for it, fell short,
and that ended him, though that mattered not much--he had no chance
either way. Others--wraith-like voices--were heard calling from the sea
before they went under smothering. One man called to a mate, “Take hold,
boy,” and both rode grimly to their death, cresting high the great seas,
astraddle the _Pantheon’s_ chain-box.

Dannie clung to the wheel, hoping that the wind and sea would carry the
_Pantheon_ clear, and that, being ready, he might force her off. But not
so. They did come apart, but apart they settled even more rapidly. The
stranger went down stern first; the _Pantheon_ stern hove high, pointed
her bow after the stranger, and began to settle that way, bow first.

The Skipper was alone at the wheel when she made her plunge, and
defiantly clung to her till he was carried far under. He rose to the
surface and caught his breath. And that breath he gave to the _Pantheon_
as he saw her mast-heads plunging. “You were a good vessel to me,” he
murmured, even as the sea tossed him far away. He reached for something
in the swash and found he had the wheel-box. He grasped it, but it was
all smooth-sided--no place for his hands to get a grip, and the
terrible tide rips tore him loose. One sea, and another, now high where
the heavens touched the crests almost, and again in the depths and
roarings he was cast like the flying spume itself.

Enveloped in foam so thick that even when his head was above the surface
he could not breathe fairly, he still tried to justify that last
catastrophe. “And yet you were a good vessel to me.”

There is always a last sea, and that last sea caught him fair and
overbore him. He knew it when it came. The physical agony was by then
and the soul surmounting all. Not till then did he indulge himself so
far as to let his heart dwell on the memory of her as he last saw her,
standing in the doorway when he turned the corner. For the last time he
had turned that corner. Ah, but she was beautiful--and was it to lose
her he came to sea?

The roar of Georges Shoals was in his soul. He began to hear the voices
then, voices of his own men--he knew them--and voices he had never heard
before--voices, no doubt, of men lost in these long years of toil in
waters where the sands below are white with lost men’s bones. Her voice
he heard, too--heard it above all. “Dannie, Dannie,” it whispered, plain
as could be. By that he knew that she needed no newspaper to tell
her--even at that moment she knew--knew, and was suffering. And all her
life she would have to suffer. And so it was “God help you, Katie
Morrison!” that parted his foam-drenched lips at the last.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Katie Morrison_ was launched and rigged, but ’twas another young
and hopeful skipper that sailed her out to sea.



Patsie Oddie’s Black Night

    “To hell with them that’s saved,” said he--
        “Here’s to them that died.”


’Twas Patsie Oddie said that--that is, said it first. Many people have
repeated it since, but with Patsie Oddie it was born. He said a whole
lot more--enough for somebody to make a song of--but the two lines
quoted above serve to sum the matter up.

It was a winter’s morning he said it. Cold? Oh, but it _was_ cold. Wind
from the north-west and blowing hard--a sort of dry blizzard. Every
vessel coming in had stories to tell of what a time they had to get home
and how long it took them.

“It’s been tack, tack, tack from St. Peter’s Bank, till we fair chafed
the jaws off the boom of her,” said Crump Taylor.

“Four days and four nights from Le Have,” said Tom O’Donnell. “Four days
and four nights for the able _Colleen Bawn_ to come three hundred miles.
Four days and four nights to butt her shoulders home--and glad to get
home at that.”

That was the story from all of them when they came in. And they were
sights coming in, too. Ice? You had to look half-way to the mast-head to
see anything _but_ ice. Anchors, bows, dories in the waist, cable on
deck--all was solid as could be--all on deck from rail to rail and clear
aft to the wheel--ice, ice, ice.

The crew of the _Delia Corrigan_ were putting her stores aboard. Her
skipper, Patsie Oddie, was standing on the dock and looking her over. He
hummed a song as he looked. This was just after he had painted her
black. She had come to him black, but in a run of bad luck he had
painted her blue; and having worked off the bad luck, he had painted her
black again. Now she looked beautiful--black and beautiful--and able!
Let no man cast eye on the _Delia_ and not praise her ableness while
Patsie Oddie was by.

All at once he called out to one of his men: “Martin, let’s take a walk
up the street.” And Martin went gladly enough.

First they had a drink, and then Patsie stepped into the shop of what
all fishermen rated the best tailor in Gloucester. “Measure me for a
suit of sails,” was his word of greeting there. “Give me a Crump Taylor
vest, a Wesley Marrs jacket, and a Tom O’Donnell pair of pants, and all
of the best. And mind the mains’l.”

“The overcoat, Captain?”

“The overcoat? What else? Isn’t she the biggest sail of all? Mind when
you come to that--put plenty of duck to it, the best and finest of duck.
And good stout duck, double-ought, like what gen’rally goes into a
fores’l. And the best and finest of selvin’ and trimmin’s along the
leach and the luff and in the belly of it. And let it hang low--the
latest fashion, same’s you made Crump Taylor. Crump steps ashore a while
ago with one down to the rail. He tells me he has to sway it up every
now and then to keep it off the deck. Five weeks to-day I’ll want it.
Mind now, the best.”

“And which way do you go now, Captain?” said the tailor when he had
taken the big skipper’s measure.

“To the east’ard,” said Patsie.

“But not to-day?” said the tailor. “Too blowy, ain’t it?”

“Maybe,” said Patsie, “you’d like to go skipper o’ the _Delia Corrigan_?
S’pose now you go on with that suit, and let me go to the east’ard. And
you tell me what’ll be and I’ll pay you now. How much?”

“Will you go as high as forty-five dollars for the suit and sixty-five
for the coat, a hundred and ten dollars in all, Captain?”

“Yes, and a hundred and forty-five and a hundred and sixty-five and
three hundred and ten in all, if need be. The best of cloth I want,
mind, and double-ought in the big coat--no less. It’s to be a weddin’,
maybe.”

“Best man?” said the tailor.

“I dunno,” said Patsie, “whether ’twill be best man or second-best man,
but that’s the way of it now. Maybe I’ll know more about it afore we put
out. But if I don’t call for it next trip, you c’n wear it yourself.
Here’s your money. Come along, Martin.”

Down the street he stopped at a jeweller’s shop. “A diamond ring I want,
and I don’t know much about them.”

He looked over an envelopeful that the salesman emptied on to the glass
case. “But I don’t want any red or yellow or fancy colors--a good white
one I want. Now here’s one. A hundred dollars? Something better than
that. This one now? A hundred and fifty? And this one? A hundred and
seventy-five, is it? And here’s a two hundred one, you say? But here’s a
better one, isn’t it? It’s a bigger one, anyway. Only a hundred and
eighty? Like men, aren’t they--the biggest not always the best? Like
men, yes--and like women, too--the showiest not always the best. I’ll
take this one, the two hundred and fifty dollar lad. Martin, how do you
like that? Would a young woman be pleased with that, d’y’ think?”

“The woman, skipper, that wouldn’t be pleased with that ought to be hove
over the rail.”

“Well, I hope we won’t have to heave nobody over the rail. But pick out
a little somethin’ for yourself, Martin-boy. There’s somethin’ there’d
go fine in your necktie when you’re ashore. Hush, hush, boy--take it,
and don’t talk. And now”--to the man behind the case--“how much all
told? This little pin for myself, too.”

“Two hundred and fifty, and twenty for your friend’s pin, and the little
thing for yourself, five dollars-- I’ll throw that in Captain--two
hundred and seventy. And if you have a mind to change that diamond any
time, we’ll be willing to give you something else for it.”

Patsie looked down at the floor and then up at the salesman. “I don’t
think I’ll want to change it. I mayn’t have any use for it, but whether
I do or not, you won’t see it back here any more. Let’s be movin’,
Martin.”

He led the way out and away from Main Street and stopped on a corner.
“Martin, do you wait under the lee of this house whilst I jogs on a bit.
’Tisn’t long I’ll be gone. Swing off when you see me headin’ back, and
wait for me at the bottom of the hill.”

Martin waited, but not for long. It seemed to him that he had taken no
more than a dozen drags of his pipe when he saw his skipper coming back.
Down the hill went Martin, and after him came his skipper.

Not a word said Patsie Oddie until they were on Main Street again. Then
it was only, “The stores’ll be aboard by now, don’t you think, Martin?”

“They ought to, Skipper.”

“Then we’ll put out.” He threw a glance at the sky and then a look to
the flag on the Custom House as they turned off Main Street to go down
to the dock. At the head of the dock they met Wesley Marrs.

“Hulloh Patsie,” said Wesley.

“Hulloh Wesley,” said Patsie. “Go on to the vessel, you, Martin, and
tell them to make sail. I’ll follow on.” Then, when Martin had gone on
ahead, “When’d you get in, Wesley?”

“Just shot in.”

“How’s it outside?”

“Plenty of the one kind,” said Wesley. “Anybody that likes it no’west
ought to be pleased. Tack, tack, tack, for every blessed foot of the
way. All but put in to Shelburne once to give the crew a rest. Night and
day, tack, tack, tack-- I cal’late the rudder post’s worn ’most out. Yes,
sir. And never a let-up choppin’ ice--had to, to keep her from sinkin’
under us. Fourteen days from Fortune Bay that I’ve run in fifty-odd
hours in the _Lucy_ with the wind to another quarter. Man, but I was
beginnin’ to think the baby’d be grown a man afore I’d see him again.
Well, I’m off, Patsie.”

“Where to?”

“Where to? Home, of course.”

“Oh, home?”

“Of course--the baby and the wife. Patsie, but you ought to marry.
You’ll never be half a man till you marry.”

“Yes? And who’ll I marry?”

“Oh, some nice, fine girl. Man, but there’s whole schools of girls’d
jump to marry you--whole schools, man. Heave your seine and you’d get a
deck-load of ’em--or a dory-load, anyway.”

“No, nor a dory-load, nor a single one caught by the gills in
mistake--me that has no more learnin’ than a husky out o’ Greenland. Not
me, Wesley, that can’t read my own name unless it’s wrote in plain
print, and that c’n only find my way about by dead reckonin’. I c’n haul
the log, and, knowin’ her course and allowin’ for tides and one thing or
another that’s set down and the other things that aren’t set down, but
which a man knows nat’rally----”

“Yes, Patsie, and knows it better than nineteen out o’ twenty that has
sextants and quadrants, and can run them--what do they call ’em--sumner
lines?”

“Well, maybe as well as some, Wesley. But, Wesley, girls aren’t lookin’
for the likes o’ me. Patsie Oddie’ll do to handle a vessel, maybe, and
he’ll take her where any other man that sails the sea’ll take her, and
he’ll bring her home again. And he’s good enough to get the fish and
bring them to market, to hang out in a blow, to carry sail till all’s
blue, and the like o’ that. But his style don’t go these days, Wesley.
No, there may be schools o’ girls swimmin’ around somewheres, but
they’re divin’ the twine when Patsie Oddie makes a set. Anyway, it
wouldn’t make any difference to me if whole rafts of ’em was to come
swimmin’ alongside and poke their heads up and say, ‘Come and take me.’
I’m one o’ them queer kind, Wesley, that only goes after one girl. And I
set for her--and didn’t get her.”

Wesley said nothing to that for a while. Then it was: “Well, Patsie,
never mind. I didn’t think when I spoke first. I’ll say, though, that I
don’t think much of the girl that wouldn’t stand watch with you if you
asked her. If she wanted a man, Patsie, I’m sure I don’t know where
she’d get a better one--that’s if it’s a _man_ she wanted. If she don’t
want a man, but only a smooth kind of arrangement that plays a banjo or
c’n stand up to a pianner and sing, ‘I loves yer, I loves yer,’ or some
other damn mess--and the same to every girl that looks his way--one of
the kind that’s hell ashore, but can’t take in sail in a gale without
washin’ a couple of men over the lee-rail, one of the kind that gives
this way and that to every tide that ebbs and flows, like a red-painted
whistlin’ buoy--why, then, maybe somebody else’d look prettier swashin’
around for the people to look at and make use of. Maybe,” went on
Wesley, “she’d take a notion to some bucko like Artie Orcutt that just
lost the _Neptune_. Heard of it?”

“’Twas in the papers this mornin’, so they tell me. I’m not much of a
hand to read papers, you know.”

“Well, he lost his vessel and ten of his men, and ought to lose his
papers. With half a man’s courage and a quarter of the seamanship any
master of a vessel oughter have, he’d’ve saved his vessel and all his
men. He c’n thank the _Lucy Foster’s_ ableness and the courage of some
of her crew that a soul of them got home at all. They came home with
us--all but Orcutt--from Fortune Bay. He was goin’ to get a passage over
to St. Pierre and wait a while there.”

“My!” said Patsie, “that’ll be a bad bit o’ news to Delia.”

“What!”

“Yes, Orcutt is the man. I think ’tis him, anyways. I know he used to
hang around there when I was to sea--and a word dropped this mornin’-- It
must be somebody; and who but him?”

Wesley looked at Patsie. “Well, if it is him, may the Lord forgive me
for pickin’ him off. I wish I’d knowed it, though maybe, after all, I
couldn’t ’a’ managed it to leave him and take the others. Oh, well, it’s
all in the year’s fishin’. He’s lucky. Maybe he’ll live to teach this
girl of his what a man oughtn’t be, though I don’t suppose you’ll care
so much about it by the time she’s learned the lesson. Man, but I can’t
believe Delia Corrigan’d throw you for Artie Orcutt. No, Patsie, I
can’t. But here’s the Anchorage fair on our beam. What d’y’ say to a
little touch, hah? A pretty cold morning, Patsie.”

“I don’t mind, Wesley.”

“What’ll it be to, Patsie?” Wesley raised his glass and waited for
Patsie. They were leaning against the rail by that time.

“What to? Oh, to the _Neptune’s_ gang--the whole ten of ’em.”

“Sure enough--the whole ten. Here’s a shoot--but hold up. Which ten,
Patsie--the ten lost or the ten saved?”

“The ten saved? To hell with the ten saved!” said Patsie--“the Lord’s
looked out for them that’s saved.” Patsie raised his glass: “Here’s to
them that died.”

“Them that died? H’m--and yet I don’t know but what you’re right.
They’ve got their share, come to think--you’ve got it right, Patsie.
Here’s to them that was lost.” And Wesley gulped his liquor down.

“And which way, Patsie?” Wesley inquired after the return drink.

“To the east’ard,” said Patsie.

“To the east’ard, is it? Well, I don’t need to say fair wind to you, for
you’ve got it. This wind holds, and you’ll be heavin’ trawls in that
fav’rite spot of yours on Sable Island no’th-east bar in forty hours or
so. I cal’late you’ll keep on fishing there till some fine day you get
caught. Well, good luck and drive her, Patsie, till you’re back again.”
And Wesley swung off for his wife and baby.

“Drive her,” Wesley had said, and certainly Patsie Oddie drove her that
trip to the east’ard. Before a whistling gale and under four whole lower
sails the _Delia_ went away from Eastern Point and across the Bay of
Fundy like a ghost in torment. Two or three new men, not yet in full
sympathy with their skipper, began to inquire what it all meant. They
could see the sense of driving a vessel like that on a passage home, but
going out!

On that passage to the east’ard only the watch stayed on deck where a
man had his choice--the watch and the Skipper--the Skipper walking the
quarter and dodging the seas that came after her between little lines of
some song he was humming to himself. Every man on coming below after a
watch spoke of the Skipper and his singing, but only a word did they
catch now and then to remember afterward.

    “Out in the snow and the gale they rowed,
     And no man saw them more,”

was what one caught.

“And a fine thing that, to be singing on a cold winter’s night with a
howling gale behind and the seas breaking over her quarter. Yes, a fine
thing, that,” said the crew, in the security of the cabin below.

    “And no man saw them more----”

Some men lost in dories the skipper must have been talking about, and
after that:

    “And should it be the Lord’s decree
     Some day to lay me in the sea,
     There’ll be no woman to mourn for me--
     For that, O Lord, here’s thanks to Thee!”

under his breath generally, but his voice rising now and then with the
wind.

Martin Carr, who happened to be at the wheel just then, made out that
snatch of his skipper’s song as he walked the tumbling quarter. And he
kept walking the quarter, walking the quarter--and a cold night it was
for a man to be walking the quarter--a word to the watch once in a
while, but saying nothing mostly, except to croon the savage songs to
himself.

Surely nothing peaceful was coming out of that kind of a song, thought
watch after watch, bracing themselves at the wheel to meet each new
blast of the no’-west wind.

In the morning he was still there walking the quarter--less mournful,
perhaps, but in a savage humor. Men who had sailed with him for years
did not know what to make of it. There was the incident of the big bark,
a good part of whose sail had evidently been blown away and the most of
what was left tied up. Under the smallest possible canvas she was
heading close up to the wind and making small way of it.

“Why the divil don’t they heave her to entirely!” snapped Patsie. “Look
at her, will ye, the size of her and the sail she’s carryin’, and then
the size of this little one and the sail _she’s_ carryin’.”

The men chopping ice on the bark’s deck stood transfixed as they saw the
little _Delia_ sweep by. Under her four lowers, and going like the
blizzard itself was she, with a big bearded man, wrapped to his eyes in
a great-coat, waving his arms and swearing across the white-topped seas
at them.

“And did you never see a vessel afore?” barked Patsie. “Well, look your
fill, then, and get our name while you’re about it, and report us, will
you?--the _Delia Corrigan_, Gloucester, and doin’ her fifteen knots
good, will you?”

And then, turning away to his own: “The likes o’ some of ’em oughtn’t be
allowed a cable-length off shore. Their mothers ought to be spoke to
about it. There’s a fellow there ought to be going along about his
business--and look at him, hove to! Waitin’ for it to moderate! Lord,
think of it--as fine a day as this and waitin’ for it to moderate! The
sun shinin’, and as nice a green sea as ever a man’d want to look at!
It’s the like o’ them that loses vessels and men--makes widows and
orphans.”

So much for his crew. Then a dark look ahead and beyond the green and
white seas that were sweeping by the _Delia’s_ bow, while the bearded
lips moved wrathfully. “Ten men lost, blast him! And drinkin’ wine,
maybe, in Saint Peer now, if we c’d only see him! Yes, and he’ll come
back to Gloucester with a divil of a fine story to tell. ’Tis a hero
he’ll make himself out to be. Looked in the face o’ death and escaped,
he’ll say--blast him!”

       *       *       *       *       *

Sable Island--sometimes, and not too extravagantly, termed the Graveyard
of the Atlantic--is set among shoal waters that afford the best of
feeding-ground for the particular kinds of fish that Gloucestermen most
desire--halibut, cod, haddock, and what not--and so to its shoal waters
do the fishermen come to trawl or hand-line.

Lying about east and west, a flat quarter moon in shape, is Sable
Island. Two long bars, extending north-westerly and north-easterly, make
of it a full deep crescent. Nowhere is the fishing so good (or so
dangerous) as close in on these bars, and the closer in and the shoaler
the water, the better the fishing. There are a few men alive in
Gloucester who have been in close enough to see the surf break on the
bare bar; but that was in soft weather and the bar to windward, and they
invariably got out in a hurry.

Two hundred and odd wrecks of one kind or another, steam and sail, have
settled in the sands of Sable Island. Of this there is clear and
indisputable record. How many good vessels have been driven ashore on
the long bars on dark and stormy nights or in the whirls of snowstorms
and swallowed up in the fine sand before ever mortal eye could make note
of their disappearing hulls, there is no telling.

Gloucester fishermen need no tabulated statement to remind them that the
bones of hundreds of their kind are bleaching on the sands of Sable
Island, and yet of all the men who sail the sea they are the only class
that do not give it wide berth in winter. And of all the skippers who
resorted to the north-east bar in winter, Patsie Oddie was pre-eminent.
Some there were who said he was reckless, but those that knew him best
answered that it would be recklessness indeed if he did not know the
place; if he did not know every knoll and gully of it that man could
know, including gullies and knolls that were not down on charts--and
never would be, because the men that made the charts would never go in
where Patsie Oddie had gone and sounded when the weather allowed.

It was on the Sable Island grounds--the north-east bar--that the
_Delia_, after a slashing passage, let go her anchor on the morning of
the second day. Twenty fathoms of water it was, shoal enough water any
time, but good and shoal for that time of the year, when gales that made
lee shore of the bar were frequent. The _Delia’s_ crew were not
worrying, though; they gloried in their skipper.

Lying there close in, with the wind north-west, the _Delia_ was in the
lee of the north-east bar, and that first day, too, was not at all
rough. And the fish were thick there, and as fine and fat as man would
want to see. Fifteen thousand of halibut and ten thousand of good
cod--certainly that was a great day’s work. Was it not worth fishing
close in to get a haul like that? Turning in that night they were all
thinking what a fine day they had made of it, and wondering if the
fellow they had seen to the eastward--in deeper and safer water--had
done so well. But they all felt sure he had not. “In the morning,” said
Martin Carr, “he’ll get up his courage and come in and give us a
look-over, and finding we did so well, maybe he’ll anchor close in and
make a set, too.”

Nobody saw him in the morning, however, for it came on thick of snow and
the wind to the eastward. Wind in that quarter would be bad, of course,
if it breezed up; but it had not yet breezed up, and the _Delia’s_ crew
were not minding any mere possibility. It was not too bad to put the
dories over, and between squalls they hauled again, heaving up the
anchor, however, before leaving the vessel, so that their skipper could
stand down and pick them up flying.

“We’ll clear out, I’m thinkin’, for to-night,” said Patsie when they
were all hauled. And clear out they did, which was well, too, for that
night the wind increased to a bad gale, and, safe and snug below,
alongside the hot stove or under the bright lamp, it did them all good
to think that the north-east bar was not under their lee.

Even when they were jogging that night it looked bad; but they knew they
might do it and live. They had to keep an eye out, of course, and stand
ready to stand off in a hurry, for should it come too bad it would mean
lively work to get out.

Safe away to the eastward of them, watch after watch of the _Delia_
stamping about deck could make out the riding light of the other vessel
to anchor.

“In the mornin’, whoever he is, he’ll be gettin’ his courage up, and
maybe he’ll drop down,” said the _Delia’s_ crew.

They were in great good-humor. And well they might be, with twenty-five
thousand of halibut and fifteen thousand of fine cod after two days’
fishing. Yes, well they might be--halibut sixteen and eighteen cents a
pound when they left Gloucester.

It was worth taking chances to get fish like that; and with a skipper
who knew the bar as most men know their own kitchens, who could foretell
the weather better than all the glasses in the country, who could keep
run of a vessel and tell you where you were any time of the day or night
out of his head--no need for him to be everlastingly digging out charts
and taking sights--they were safe. Yes, sir, they were safe with this
man. Fishing in twenty fathoms of water in that kind of weather looked
bad--very bad--and they would not care to try it with everybody in heavy
weather, but with a short scope and with Patsie Oddie on the
quarter--why, that was a different matter altogether.

In the morning it was so thick that they could not see a length ahead;
so the skipper, to be safe, kept the lead going. That afternoon it
cleared, and they saw to anchor, but now inside of them, their neighbor
of the day before.

Patsie Oddie looked her over. “What do you call her?” he asked finally
of Martin Carr.

“The _Eldorado_ or the _Alhambra_-- I wouldn’t want to say which, they
bein’ alike as two herrin’.”

“That’s right--they do look alike, Martin. But she’s the
_Eldorado_-- Fred Watson. But what’s got into him this trip? Generally he
fishes farther off. But ’tis Watson’s vessel, anyway, and the blessed
fool’s got his dories out. He must be drunk--if he isn’t foolish. But he
don’t drink--not gen’rally. What ails him at all? She’ll be draggin’
soon, if she isn’t already. He don’t seem to know too much about that
swell in there with an easterly wind-- I misdoubt he ever fished in so
close before--and if he don’t let go his other anchor he’ll soon be
where a hundred anchors won’t do him any good. And look at where some of
his dories are now!”

Getting nervous under the strain, Oddie stood down and hailed the two
men in the dory farthest from the _Eldorado_. They said they did not
know quite what to do--no signal to haul had yet been hoisted on the
vessel. They guessed, though, they would hang on a while longer.

Patsie understood their feelings. No fisherman wants to be the first to
cut and go for the vessel, and so lose fish and gear also. Losses of
that kind have to be shared by the men equally. Not only that, but to
have somebody look across the table at supper and say, “And so there
were some that cut their gear and ran for it to-day, I hear?” No, men
face a good bit of danger before that.

In the next of the _Eldorado’s_ dories they were pretty nervous, but
said that as long as the others were not cutting they were not going to.

“That’s right,” said Patsie, “that’s the way to feel about it. But take
my advice and you’ll buoy your trawls and come aboard of me. It’s goin’
to be the divil to pay on this bar to-night--and in these short days
’twill soon be night.”

And they, knowing Patsie Oddie’s reputation, buoyed their trawls and
came aboard the _Delia Corrigan_. And after that Patsie picked up three
more dories out of the blinding snow and took them aboard the _Delia_.
By the time Patsie had those four dories of the _Eldorado_ safe, it was
too rough to attempt to put the men aboard their own vessel. “But I’ll
stand down and hail her fer ye,” said Patsie.

Now all this time it never occurred to Patsie Oddie that anybody but
Fred Watson was master of the _Eldorado_. In the hurry and bustle of
picking up the stray dories, there had been no time to talk of anything
but the work in hand; and so his immense surprise when he made out Artie
Orcutt standing by the quarter rail of the _Eldorado_, and so his anger
when Orcutt called out before he himself had a chance to hail: “If
you’re getting so all-fired jealous of me, Patsie Oddie, that you can’t
even see me get a good haul of fish without you trying to steal it from
me----”

The rest of it was lost in the wind, but there was enough in that much
to make Patsie Oddie almost leap into the air. “So it’s you, is it?
Lord, and I’d known that, you c’n be sure I’d never tried to help you
out.” That was under his breath, with only a few near by to hear him.
He wanted to say a whole lot more, and say it good and hard, evidently,
but he did not. All he did say to Orcutt before bearing away was, “You
take my advice, Artie Orcutt, and you’ll let go your second anchor.”
Just that, and sheered off and left him.

“And how comes it Artie Orcutt’s got the _Eldorado_?” he then asked of
one of the men he had picked up.

“He came aboard at Saint Peer, where we put in with Captain Watson sick
of the fever. He came aboard there and took charge.”

“H’m!” Oddie stroked his beard and smiled--smiled grimly. “I don’t see
but what he brought it on himself.” But that last as though he were
talking to himself.

He looked over toward the _Eldorado_ again. “I can’t see that we can
help him, anyway,” he said again, and the grim smile deepened. “We might
just as well go below--there’s the cook’s call. Have your supper, boys,
and we’ll sway up, sheet in and stand out. Whatever Orcutt does, I know
I’ll not hang around here this night.”

With the words of their skipper to point the way, most of the _Delia’s_
crew agreed that, after all, it was not their funeral. Lord knows, a
crew had enough to do to look out for their own vessel in that spot in
bad weather. And as for Artie Orcutt-- Lord, they all knew _him_ and what
_he’d_ do if ’twas the other way about--if ’twas the _Delia_ was in
trouble.

But it was not Orcutt alone. There were nine others. That phase of it
the crew argued out below, and that was what they agreed their skipper
must be wrestling with up on deck.

The lights gleamed out of forec’s’le and cabin as hatches were slid and
closed again, with watch after watch coming and going, but Oddie stayed
there on deck. It was a bad deck to walk, too, the vessel pitching
heavily and the big seas every once in a while breaking over her. But
the Skipper seemed to pay no attention, only stamped, stamped, stamped
the quarter.

The men passed the word in the morning. “Walkin’, walkin’, walkin’,
always walkin’, speak-in’ aloud to himself once in a while. Man, but if
he’s savin’ it up for anybody, I wouldn’t want to be that partic’lar
party when he’s made up his mind to unload.”

And what was it his soul was wrestling with? What would any man’s soul
be wrestling with if he saw whereby a rival might be disposed of for
good and for all? Especially when that rival was the kind of a man that
the woman in the case could not but realize after a great while was not
the right kind--that no woman could continue to respect, let alone love.

And then? He had only to let him alone now--say no word, and there it
was--destruction as certain as the wind and sea that were making, as
certain as the sun that was rising somewhere to the east’ard.

All that, and the primal passions of Patsie Oddie for the untamed soul
of Patsie Oddie to contend with. No wonder he looked like another man in
the morning--that in the agony of it all he groaned--and he a strong
man--groaned, yes, and pressed his hands to his eyes as one who would
shut out the sight of horrid images. Only to think of Patsie Oddie
groaning! Yet groan he did, and questioned his soul--talking to
something inside of him as if it were another man. “But it won’t leave
me a better man before God--and God knows, too, it won’t make Delia
happier. God knows it won’t--it won’t----”

It was light enough then for Patsie Oddie to see that the _Eldorado_ was
drifting, drifting, not rapidly as yet, but certainly and to sure
destruction, with the ten souls aboard of her doomed as so many
thousands of others had been doomed before them. And the wind was ever
making, and the sea ever rising. She had both anchors out then, as
Patsie Oddie saw, and he saw also when her chain parted. “Now she’s
draggin’,” he muttered then, and waited to see what action Orcutt would
take. “Why in God’s name don’t he do something?” and ordered the man at
the wheel on the _Delia_ to stand down.

Rounding to and laying the _Delia_ as near to the _Eldorado_ as he dared
in that sea, he roared out to Orcutt: “What in God’s name are you doing
there, Artie Orcutt? Don’t you see your one anchor can’t hold her? Cut
the spars out of her--both spars, man!”

Orcutt was frightened enough then, and in short order had the spars over
the side. That helped her, but it could not save her. It was too late.
She was still dragging--slowly, slowly, but sure as fate, and promising
to drag more rapidly as the water grew shoaler. And it was getting
shoaler all the time.

Oddie threw up his hands. “They’re goin’! To-night will see her and them
buried in the sand.” He turned to his crew, standing in subdued groups
about the _Delia’s_ deck. “I want a man to go with me in the dory. Maybe
we c’n get them off.”

There were plenty ready to go; but he wanted only one. “No,” he said to
one, “you’ve got a wife,” and to another, “You’ll be missed, too. I want
somebody nobody gives a damn about--like myself!” and took a young
fellow--there is always one such in every crew of fishermen--that swore
he had not mother, father, brother, sister, nor a blessed soul on earth
that cared whether he ever came home or was lost. And doubtless he was
telling the truth, for he certainly acted up to it. A hard case he was,
but a good fisherman. And courage? He had courage. He laughed--no
affected cackle, but a good round laugh--when he leaped over the side
and into the dory with Patsie Oddie.

“If I don’t come back,” he called to his bunkmate, “you c’n have that
diddy-box you’ve been so crazy to get--the diddy-box and all’s in it.
For the rest, you c’n all have a raffle and give the money to the
Widows’ and Orphans’ Fund, back in Gloucester.”

“Malachi-boy, but you’re a man after my own heart,” said Oddie, as the
dory lifted on to the seas and away from the shelter of the _Delia’s_
side. And Malachi laughed at that. There was what he lived for--where
Patsie Oddie praised one must have been a man.

A dory is the safest small boat that the craft of man has yet devised
for living in troubled waters. Handled properly, it will live where
ships will founder. And yet, though Patsie Oddie and Malachi Jennings
were the two men to the oars, it was too much even for the dory in that
sea; and over she went before they were half-way to the _Eldorado_. The
crew of the _Delia_, seeing them bob up, and for the time safely
clinging to the plug-strap, whisked another dory to the rail and ready,
but their Skipper waved them back.

“Pay out an empty dory!” came his voice above the wind’s opposition.
Which they did, and speedily, and Patsie and Malachi got into it; and
with great care, the two men lying in the bottom of it were hauled
alongside the _Delia_ and helped aboard.

“No man can row a dory this day,” was Patsie’s first word. “And a man
with big boots and oilskins overboard in that sea--too small a chance.
But put a longer line on that same dory and pay it out again.” Which
they did also, and in that way began to take the gang off the
_Eldorado_.

Five trips of the dory were made, two of the _Eldorado’s_ crew coming
back each trip, one crouched in the stern and the other lying flat on
the bottom amidships. It was the roughest kind of a passage, and even
when the dory would come alongside the _Delia_ the most careful handling
was needed to get them safely aboard.

Orcutt, of course, was the last man to come aboard. Bad as he was, he
could do no less than that--stand by his vessel to the last. When he
came alongside the _Delia_, he rose from the bottom of the dory, his
companion having safely boarded the _Delia_, and lunged for the rail.
Never a quick man on his feet, nor quick to think and act, and now
trembling with anxiety, Orcutt made a mess of boarding. He had to stop
long enough, too, to look up at Oddie and think what a fool of a man
Oddie was altogether--a mind like a child! So, in the middle of it all,
he did not get the rise of the dory to throw him into the air. He waited
just that instant too long--it took nerve--and then he had to hurry, and
the uprise of the dory was not there to throw him into the air and on to
the _Delia’s_ rail. Clothes soaked in brine and heavy boots, a man is
not a buoyant thing in the water, and this was a heavy sea. So Orcutt,
falling between dory and vessel, went down--deep down--and when he came
up it was where the tide swept down under the vessel’s quarter.

Patsie Oddie, standing almost above him, caught the appeal of Orcutt’s
eyes, and then saw him go under again. “If he comes up again ’twill be
clear astern,” thought Oddie, “and the third time with all that gear on
him he’ll never come up--and if ’tisn’t Providence, then what is it?”
And this was a cold winter’s day, and Oddie himself soaked in sea-water.
“And if he don’t come up,” thought Oddie, “if he don’t come up-- Lord
God, must I do more than I’ve done already for a man I don’t like--a
man that I know is no good--for a man in my way--a man, too, that would
no more go overboard for me, even on the calmest day, than he’d cut his
own throat?” And there was that queer smile that Orcutt had thrown at
him as he stood up in the dory-- Oddie did not forget that. And then he
saw Orcutt’s sou’wester on the water and the man himself beneath it.

No more thought of that. Overboard went Oddie with all his own weight of
clothes, oilskins, woolens, and big boots, while quick-witted men hove
the bight of the main-sheet after him; and Oddie, grappling with the
smothering and frightened Orcutt, smashed him full in the face. “Blast
you, Artie Orcutt, there’s fun in beating you even here,” and hooked on
to the collar of Orcutt’s oil jacket with one hand and grabbed the
main-sheet just before the tide would have carried them out of reach.

Safe on the deck of the _Delia_, Orcutt offered his hand to Oddie, who
did not seem to notice, but said, “If you go below, Captain Orcutt,
you’ll find a change of dry clothes in my room, and you c’n turn in
there and rest yourself.”

“But I want to thank you,” said Orcutt, overwhelmed.

“Take your thanks to the divil,” said Oddie to that. “’Twas for no love
of you I stood by. You c’n have the best on this vessel, but take your
hand? Blast you, no! Go below, or I’ll throw you below.” And Orcutt went
below without delay.

It was late in the afternoon then. Even while they were hoisting that
last dory over the rail Oddie had given his orders to drive out. At
first all thought she would come clear, but in a little while they began
to doubt, and doubt turned to misgiving, and misgiving to certainty. Sea
and wind were too much for them now. In saving the _Eldorado’s_ crew
they had waited too long--the tide was now against them also--and now it
was no use. It was Oddie himself who said so at last, and went aloft
before it was too dark to take a look at the surf they were falling
into.

He stayed aloft for about ten minutes, and when he came down all hands
knew it was to be desperate work that night.

“Put her about,” was his first order, and “Take a sounding, Martin,” his
second.

She came about in the settling blackness and started for shoal water.

“You might’s well put her sidelights up,” he said next. “Nobody’ll get
in our road to-night--nor we in anybody else’s--but we’ll go ship-shape.
And what do you get?” he asked of Martin, when the lead came up.

“Eighteen fathom,” was the word from Martin. Eighteen fathom, and this
a winter gale and a winter sea, and the strongest of tides against them!

“Eighteen fathom and goin’ into it straight’s ever a vessel c’n go,”
said Oddie. “Wicked ’tis, but the one thing’ll make me laugh when we
go----”

“Sixteen fathom!” from Martin.

“Sixteen? She’s sure shoaling----”

Oddie was at the wheel himself then, and the _Delia_ was beginning to
feel the pounding. They could not see the sky at all, it was that black,
but all around they could see the combers breaking white--so white that
they made a kind of light of their own. And then it was, with the Lord
knows how much wind behind them and seas mast-head high and the little
vessel taking it fair abeam, that the crew of the _Delia_ and the crew
of the _Eldorado_ guessed what was running in Patsie Oddie’s mind. He
was to drive her across the bar! With all the sail in the _Delia_ on
her, to let her take the full force of it and bang her across the
shoals, where soon there would not be enough water to let her set up on
an even keel!

Martin Carr was heaving the lead all the time, and all noted how he made
himself heard when it came to ten fathom.

“Ten fathom!” the crew repeated, and murmured it over till one got
courage to ask, “Is it going to drown us you are, Captain Oddie?”

“I’m trying to save you, boys,” he answered, and his voice was as tender
as could be and yet be heard above a roaring gale.

“Nine and a half,” and then, “Nine fathom!” came from Martin Carr,
barely able to hold his place by the rail, the vessel was pitching so.

It was at eight fathoms that Artie Orcutt raised a cry of protest, and,
hearing that, Oddie ordered Martin to sound no more. “Bring the lead
here, Martin,” said Oddie, and taking a big bait knife he always kept on
the house, with one stroke cut the lead-line off short. Then he opened
the slide of the cabin companion-way and hove the lead on to the cabin
floor with a “There, now, maybe we _are_ goin’ to be lost. I think
myself that maybe we will, but some of ye mayn’t die of fright now,
anyway.”

She was fair into it then, making wild work of it, with Oddie himself to
the wheel, and all his great strength needed to hold her. He called one
of his men to help him once, and he, feeling the full force of it, now
and again would start to ease her up a little, but the moment a spoke
went down so much as a hair’s breadth Patsie Oddie’s big arms would work
the other way. “Maybe you think this is a place to tack ship,” Oddie
said once, and the wheel stayed up and she took it full force.

How Oddie ever expected to save the _Delia_ nobody ever knew, beyond
trying to lift her across with the sheer weight of the wind to her
sails. And that would be sheer luck, such luck as had never befallen a
vessel in their plight before. Other men of courage with stout vessels
must have tried that, they knew, and none of them had ever got over, nor
come back to tell how close they came to it.

And that was all there was to it--sheer luck, Oddie would have told
them, had they asked him. And yet it was not luck altogether. True, he
knew no channel across--there was no channel across--and yet he knew
there were little gullies scooped out here and there on the sand-ridges.
And if a man could make one now and one again, jumping over the almost
dry beach, as it were, between them--who knows?--it might be done. On a
black night like this nobody could see the gullies, or on any kind of a
night, for that matter; but then there was that something--he did not
know what to call it--inside of him that told him the things he could
not hear nor see nor feel. And then again, let a vessel alone, and she
will naturally shy for the deep water. Force her with the rudder, and
she will go where the rudder sends her. Oddie forced her, but only to
make her take the full weight of the wind. It was necessary to drive her
over if ever she was to get over at all. That same something inside told
him when her nose was nearing the high shoals--it came to him as if her
quivering planks carried the message; there it was, put her off now, and
now again, now hold her that the wind may have its lifting effect, now
let her go and she’ll find the way. That was the way of it--bang, bang,
bang, on her side mostly, with her planks smashing against the bare
bottom as she drove over the sand-ridges--her stem rushing through at an
awful clip when she found a gully a little deeper than usual.

The great seas broached over her, and it became dangerous to remain on
deck. So Oddie ordered all hands below and the slides drawn tight after
them, fore and aft.

“I don’t see the difference whether we’re washed off up here or drowned
below,” said one. “Go below, just the same,” said Oddie, and below they
all went, while Oddie, lashing himself hard and fast, prepared for what
further fury wind and sea had in store for himself and the _Delia_.

It was a sea to batter a lighthouse down. It takes shoal water for
wicked seas, and this certainly was shoal water, with the sand off
bottom swirling around deck. A noble vessel was the _Delia_, but when
the sea took charge that night everything was swept clean from her
decks. Dories first--her own eight and the four of the _Eldorado’s_ that
had been picked up, twelve in all--went with one smash. Oddie allowed
himself a little pang as he watched them and heard the crash. It was too
dark to see them clearly; but he knew how they looked, floating off in
the white combers in kindling-wood. The booby-hatches went next, and
after them the gurry-kids--match-wood all. Everything that was not
bolted went. The very rails went at last, crackling from the stanchions
as if they were cigar-box sides when they did go.

“‘Twill be the house next,” muttered Oddie. “And then her planks will
come wide apart--and then----” He rolled it between his teeth. “Well,
then we’ll all go together. But”--he locked his jaws again--“drive her
you must, Patsie Oddie,” and bang, bang, smash, bang, and smash again he
held her to it.

And in the morning she came clear; still an awful sea on and wind to
tear the heart out of the ocean itself, but clear water--beautiful,
clear water. By the morning light he saw what he could not see in the
dark night, that her port anchor was gone from her bow--scraped off
against the bottom--and that her decks were covered with the sand off
the bottom also; but she herself--his darling _Delia_--was all right.
There was nothing gone that could not be replaced--maybe a bit loose in
the seams, but, Lord, Gloucester was full of good calkers--and now they
had the beautiful clear water. God be praised! And, after all, if never
a woman in all the world smiled on him again, ’twas worth while saving
men’s lives.

Oddie drew the slide back from the cabin companion-way. “Set the watch,”
he called, and the first on watch, Martin Carr, came up and took the
wheel from him.

“Gloucester,” said Oddie--“you know the course, Martin. And be easy on
her. ’Tisn’t in nature for a vessel not to loosen a bit after last
night, but there’ll be nothing the pumps won’t clear. I know that by the
heave of her under me. She’s all right, Martin--a great vessel. We owe
our lives to her ableness this night, but pump her out,” and went below
to draw off his boots. His legs were so swollen that he had to split the
leather from knee to heel to get them off, and when he turned them
upside down sand ran out of the legs of them. “A wild night,” he said,
and looked curiously at the sand--a wild night it was--“and I’m tired.
Since leavin’ Gloucester I’ve not seen my bunk. Call me in two hours,”
and turned in on the floor and fell instantly asleep.

After a storm it should be good to see the fine green water rippling
again under the sun, but to Patsie Oddie it brought no sense of joy. He
only glowered and glowered as down the coast he sailed the _Delia_. Even
the sight of Cape Sable, which generally brings a smile to the faces of
fishermen homeward bound, had no effect on him. He drove her on, and
even seemed to welcome the cold nor’-wester that met him when he
straightened out for what in a fair wind, and his vessel tight, would
have been one long last riotous leg.

He smashed into that nor’-wester, and it smashed into him. Tack, tack,
tack--the _Delia_ did not have her own way all the time. Three days and
three nights it was, with the able _Delia_ gradually encasing herself in
ice. Only the ice seemed to please Patsie Oddie. The day he left
Gloucester it had been just like that on incoming vessels. And that was
a bitter day, and it was a bitter day again when he was coming back--and
not with cold alone. Ice, ice, ice--“Let her ice up,” and from Cape
Sable to the slip in Gloucester Harbor he kept her going.

The _Delia_ was no sooner tied to the dock than away went the crew of
the _Eldorado_. Away also went the _Delia’s_ crew as soon as they had
tidied things up and the Skipper had given the word.

Patsie himself did not hurry. There was nothing for him to hurry for.
So he cleaned up, changed his clothes, locked the cabin of the _Delia_,
and went slowly up the dock.

He was hailed on the way by any number of people--fishermen, dealers,
lumpers, idlers. Those who knew him tendered congratulations or shook
hands, slapped him on the shoulder--he had done a fine thing. Some there
were who stood in awe of him, only looked at him, examined face and
figure for further indications of the daring of the man. The whole
water-front was talking over it. Rapidly the whole town was learning it.

Patsie nodded, shook hands, said, “How is it here?” and “Thank ye
kindly,” and went on his way to the owner’s store. He reckoned up his
trip, ordered a few things immediately needed on the vessel, and said,
“That’s all I’m thinkin’ for now,” and went up the street. On the way he
passed Delia Corrigan’s house. He did not mean to, but he could not help
it--he looked up for sign of her as he got abreast of the windows. There
she was, cold as it was, window raised and calling to him. He waited to
make sure, and she again said, “Won’t you come in?”

Patsie went up the steps and into the snug livingroom, where Delia was
waiting--a rosy, wholesome-looking young woman, now bravely trying to
smile.

“Home again, Patsie?”

“Home again, Delia--yes.”

“And a fine thing you did.”

“No fine thing that I can see to it. There were men on a vessel that
might have been lost, and I took them off and gave them a passage home.”

“Patsie----”

“Yes?”

“You left me in a hurry that morning, Patsie. You shouldn’t have rushed
out so. After you were gone Captain Marrs stepped in to tell me about
his rescue of Captain Orcutt and part of his crew. And then he began to
tell me other things--about you. He’s a good friend of yours, Patsie. It
was good to listen to him, though I knew it all before--and more. Don’t
fear that all the good things you did aren’t known to me. But after a
time I began to see what it was he meant, and without letting him finish
I ran out to see you. But you were gone. I could just see your vessel
going out by the Point in all that gale. You put to sea in all that
gale, Patsie?”

“Put to sea? Yes, and lucky I did, maybe, for I was no more than in time
to bring back the man you want--and he’d never seen Gloucester again if
I hadn’t.”

“Who was that?”

“Who was that? Why, Delia!”

“Who was that?”

“Who? Why, who but Orcutt.”

“Captain Orcutt? No, Patsie--it wasn’t Orcutt. He did come back in your
vessel, the man I want--but it wasn’t Orcutt.”

“Not Orcutt? Not Orcutt?”

“No, not Orcutt. Oh, Patsie, but it is hard on a woman! Oh, if you only
knew what a hard man you are to make understand! I suppose I have to do
it--you’re that backward yourself. It’s hard on me, Patsie, but you’ll
go no more to sea in a gale, and me here shaking with fear for you. You
did bring back the man I want, Patsie. Over Sable Island bar he drove
the _Delia_, but it wasn’t Orcutt.”

Patsie, trembling, stared at her. “Not Orcutt, Delia?”

“Patsie, I’ve said it a dozen times. It wasn’t Orcutt, and yet ’twas
somebody in your vessel. Oh, why did you mistake me that morning,
Patsie? Would I be a woman and not have a word of pity for a man that
came so nigh being lost as Captain Orcutt would have been but for Wesley
Marrs? And you are such a backward man, Patsie. Don’t you hear me,
Patsie? Then look at me, dear--look at me--it wasn’t-- And who can it be?
Who was it, Patsie, that drove the _Delia_ over Sable Island bar,
himself to the wheel?”

“Oh!” gasped Patsie--“Delia mavourneen, mavourneen, mavourneen!”

He drew back a step, got another look at her face, and clasped her
again. “And ’twas me all the time, asthore?”

“You all the time. And if you hadn’t been in such a hurry I’d have told
you that morning.”

“Oh, Delia, Delia,” and from his beard she caught the murmur--“and the
black, black night I put in on Sable Island bar! Oh, the black, black
night I almost left him and his men to die. Oh, Delia, Delia, there was
hate and murder in my heart that night.”

“Never mind that now, Patsie. You had it out with yourself, and it
wasn’t hate nor murder at the last, Patsie.”

“Delia, dear, but ’tis a wicked man couldn’t be good with you,” and
gathered her to him.

“Yes, but----”

“But what, alanna?”

“My breath, dear.” She raised her head and looked into his eyes.
“Patsie, Patsie, but the strength of you!”





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