The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Deep Sea's Toll, by James B. Connolly

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Title: The Deep Sea's Toll

Author: James B. Connolly

Release Date: October 1, 2017 [EBook #55654]

Language: English

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

See page 34.




W. J. Aylward & H. Reuterdahl

NEW YORK::::::::::::::::::::1905

Copyright, 1905, BY
Published, September, 1905



The Sail-Carriers1
The Wicked “Celestine”41
The Truth of the Oliver Cromwell71
Strategy and Seamanship133
The Salving of the Bark Fuller199
On Georges Shoals243
Patsie Oddie’s Black Night273


Tis Tommie I’m after,” hollers back the SkipperFrontispiece
“All the looseness in my oil-pants is ketched tight”26
What’s that a-drivin’ in from sea, like a ghost from out the dawn?32
Stood by and took them as they came down64
A tug bore down and hailed them68
He was having another mug-up for himself114
The Lucy was acting like a vessel trying to coax the other152
“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{4} 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{5} 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{6} 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{7} 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{8} 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{9} 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{10} 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?”{11}

“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’{12} 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{13} 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{14} 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{15} 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{16} 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{17} 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.{18}

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{19} 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{20} 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{21} 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{22} 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?’{23}

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{24} 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.{25}

“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{26} 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,{27}

[Image unavailable.]

“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.’{28}

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{29} 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{30} 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.{31}

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’:{32}

‘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.

[Image unavailable.]

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{34} 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{35} 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{36} 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?”{37}

“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.{38} 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{39} 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{44} 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.{45}

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.{46}

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{47} 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{48} 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?”{49}

“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—{50}—”

“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.{51} 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,{52} 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{53} 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.”


“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{54} 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,{55} 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?”{56}

“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{57} 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{58} 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{59} 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?”


“Is he here now?”

“Here, Skipper,” responded Mattie for himself.{60} “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{61} 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{62} 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, {63}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,{64} 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.

[Image unavailable.]

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.”{66}

“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.”{67}

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{68} 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?”

[Image unavailable.]

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{70} 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{74} 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{75} 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{76} 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{77} 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.{78}

“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{79} 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{80} 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.{81}

“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.”{82}

“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?”


“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{83} 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{84} 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.”{85}

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{86} 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{87} 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{88} 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{89} 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.{90} 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{91} 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{92} 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{93} 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.{94}

“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{95} 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{96} 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{97} 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{98} 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{99} 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.’{100}

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{101} 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.{102}

“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.’{103}

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{104} 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{105} 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’{106} 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{107} 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{108} 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{109} 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{110} 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{111} 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{112} 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{113} 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{114} 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

[Image unavailable.]

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.{116} 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{117} 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{118} 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{119} 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{120} 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{121} 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{122} 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{123} 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{124} 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{125} 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.”{126} 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{127} 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. ’{128}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{129} 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{130} 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{131} 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


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.{136}

“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.{137} 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,{138} 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{139} ’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!”{140}


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?”


“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{141} 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.”{142}

“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.{143} “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{144} 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.


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.{145}

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{146} 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.”{147}

“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{148} 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{149} 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.”{150}

“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.”{151}

“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.


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{152} 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

[Image unavailable.]

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{154} 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,{155} 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{156} 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{157} 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.






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{162} 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.”{163}

“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{164} 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.”{165}

“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.{166} 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{167} 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{168} 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{169} 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?”{170}

“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.”{171}

“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?”{172}

“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.”{173}

“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.”{174}

“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{175} 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?”{176}

“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,{177} 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?”{178}

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


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{179} 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{180} 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{181} 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{182} 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.


“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.”{183}

“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.”{184}

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!”{185}

“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{186} 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{187} 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.{188} 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.{189}

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{190} 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{191} 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{192} 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{193} 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{194} 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{195} 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{196} 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.{197}

“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{198} 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.”{199}



The Salving of the Bark Fuller


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{202} 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.”


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


“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{204} 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.”{205}

“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.


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.{206} 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,{207} 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?”


“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.{208} “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{209} 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{210} 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.


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{211} 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{212} 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{213} 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{214} 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.


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.{215}

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{216} 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{217} 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.


“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.”


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.{218}

“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.{219}

“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.”{220}

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.”{221}

“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 AI 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.”{222}

“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{223} 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.


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!”{224}

“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?”{225}

“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{226} 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.{227}


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.”{228}

“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{229} 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,{230} 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{231} 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,{232} 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.{233}

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,{234} 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

[Image unavailable.]

“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{236} 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{237} 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.”


“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{238} 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.


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{239} 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{240} 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.”{241}

“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{246} 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.{247} 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{248} 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.


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.


“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.”{249}

“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.”{250}

“Good luck, Dannie. There, but Oh, Dannie?”


“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,{251} 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{252} 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?{253} 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{254} 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.{255}

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 {256}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{257}’, ’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{258} 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{259} 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{260} 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!”{261}

“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.”{262}

“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.”{263}

“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{264} 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——”


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.”{265}

“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{266} 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.”{267}

“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{268} 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{269} 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{270} 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—{271}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.”{276}

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.”{277}

“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?”{278}

“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.{279} 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.”{280}

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{281} 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—{282}—”

“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{283} 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.”{284}

“My!” said Patsie, “that’ll be a bad bit o’ news to Delia.”


“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{285}—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{286} 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,{287}
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{288} 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!{289} 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{290} 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{291} 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{292} 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;{293} 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—{294}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’{295} 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{296} 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{297} 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{298} 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.{299} “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{300} 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;{301} 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{302} 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{303} 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{304} 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.{305} 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{306} 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{307} 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{308} 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{309} 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{310} 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.{311}

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{312} 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.{313}

“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.”



“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!”{314}

“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?”{315}

“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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