Part 2 out of 4
the little bait-barrels below. The tubs were full of neatly coiled
line carrying a big hook each few feet; and the testing and
baiting of every single hook, with the stowage of the baited line
so that it should run clear when shot from the dory, was a
scientific business. Dan managed it in the dark without looking,
while Harvey caught his fingers on the barbs and bewailed his
fate. But the hooks flew through Dan's fingers like tatting on an
old maid's lap. "I helped bait up trawl ashore 'fore I could well
walk," he said. "But it's a putterin' job all the same. Oh, dad!"
This shouted towards the hatch, where Disko and Tom Platt were
salting. "How many skates you reckon we'll need?"
"Baout three. Hurry!"
"There's three hundred fathom to each tub," Dan explained; "more'n
enough to lay out tonight. Ouch! 'Slipped up there, I did." He
stuck his finger in his mouth. "I tell you, Harve, there ain't
money in Gloucester'u'd hire me to ship on a reg'lar trawler. It
may be progressive, but, barrin' that, it's the putterin'est,
slimjammest business top of earth."
"I don't know what this is, if 'tisn't regular trawling," said
Harvey, sulkily. "My fingers are all cut to frazzles."
"Pshaw! This is jest one o' dad's blame experiments. He don't
trawl 'less there's mighty good reason fer it. Dad knows. Thet's
why he's baitin' ez he is. We'll hev her saggin' full when we take
her up er we won't see a fin."
Penn and Uncle Salters cleaned up as Disko had ordained, but the
boys profited little. No sooner were the tubs furnished than Tom
Platt and Long Jack, who had been exploring the inside of a dory
with a lantern, snatched them away, loaded up the tubs and some
small, painted trawl-buoys, and hove the boat overboard into what
Harvey regarded as an exceedingly rough sea. "They'll be drowned.
Why, the dory's loaded like a freight-car," he cried.
"We'll be back," said Long Jack, "an' in case you'll not be
lookin' for us, we'll lay into you both if the trawl's snarled."
The dory surged up on the crest of a wave, and just when it seemed
impossible that she could avoid smashing against the schooner's
side, slid over the ridge, and was swallowed up in the damp dusk.
"Take a-hold here, an' keep ringin' steady," said Dan, passing
Harvey the lanyard of a bell that hung just behind the windlass.
Harvey rang lustily, for he felt two lives depended on him. But
Disko in the cabin, scrawling in the log-book, did not look like a
murderer, and when he went to supper he even smiled drily at the
"This ain't no weather," said Dan. "Why, you an' me could set thet
trawl! They've only gone out jest far 'nough so's not to foul our
cable. They don't need no bell reelly."
"Clang! cling! clang!" Harvey kept it up, varied with occasional
rub-a-dubs, for another half-hour. There was a bellow and a bump
alongside. Manuel and Dan raced to the hooks of the dory-tackle;
Long Jack and Tom Platt arrived on deck together, it seemed, one
half the North Atlantic at their backs, and the dory followed them
in the air, landing with a clatter.
"Nary snarl," said Tom Platt, as he dripped. "Danny, you'll do
"The pleasure av your comp'ny to the banquit," said Long Jack,
squelching the water from his boots as he capered like an elephant
and stuck an oilskinned arm into Harvey's face. "We do be
condescending to honour the second half wid our presence." And off
they all four rolled to supper, where Harvey stuffed himself to
the brim on fish-chowder and fried pies, and fell fast asleep just
as Manuel produced from a locker a lovely two-foot model of the
Lucy Holmes, his first boat, and was going to show Harvey the
ropes. Harvey never even twiddled his fingers as Penn pushed him
into his bunk.
"It must be a sad thing - a very sad thing," said Penn, watching
the boy's face, "for his mother and his father, who think he is
dead. To lose a child - to lose a man-child!"
"Git out o' this, Penn," said Dan. "Go aft and finish your game
with Uncle Salters. Tell dad I'll stand Harve's watch ef he don't
keer. He's played aout."
"Ver' good boy," said Manuel, slipping out of his boots and
disappearing into the black shadows of the lower bunk. "Expec' he
make good man, Danny. I no see he is any so mad as your parpa he
says. Eh, wha-at?"
Dan chuckled, but the chuckle ended in a snore.
It was thick weather outside, with a rising wind, and the elder
men stretched their watches. The hours struck clear in the cabin;
the nosing bows slapped and scuffled with the seas; the fo'c'sle
stovepipe hissed and sputtered as the spray caught it; and the
boys slept on, while Disko, Long Jack, Tom Plait, and Uncle
Salters, each in turn, stumped aft to look at the wheel, forward
to see that the anchor held, or to veer out a little more cable
against chafing, with a glance at the dim anchor-light between
Harvey waked to find the "first half" at 'breakfast, the fo'c'sle
door drawn to a crack, and every square inch of the schooner
singing its own tune. The black bulk of the cook balanced behind
the tiny galley over the glare of the stove, and the pots and pans
in the pierced wooden board before it jarred and racketed to each
plunge. Up and up the fo'c'sle climbed, yearning and surging and
quivering, and then, with a clear, sickle-like swoop, came down
into the seas. He could hear the flaring bows cut and squelch, and
there was a pause ere the divided waters came down on the deck
above, like a volley of buck-shot. Followed the woolly sound of
the cable in the hawse-hole; a grunt and squeal of the windlass; a
yaw, a punt, and a kick, and the "We're Here" gathered herself
together to repeat the motions.
"Now, ashore," he heard Long Jack saying, "ye've chores, an' ye
must do thim in any weather. Here we're well clear of the fleet,
an' we've no chores - an' that's a blessin'. Good night, all." He
passed like a big snake from the table to his bunk, and began to
smoke. Tom Platt followed his example; Uncle Salters, with Penn,
fought his way up the ladder to stand his watch, and the cook set
for the "second half."
It came out of its bunks as the others had entered theirs, with a
shake and a yawn. It ate till it could eat no more; and then
Manuel filled his pipe with some terrible tobacco, crotched
himself between the pawl-post and a forward bunk, cocked his feet
up on the table, and smiled tender and indolent smiles at the
smoke. Dan lay at length in his bunk, wrestling with a gaudy,
gilt-stopped accordion, whose tunes went up and down with the
pitching of the "We're Here". The cook, his shoulders against the
locker where he kept the fried pies (Dan was fond of fried pies),
peeled potatoes, with one eye on the stove in event of too much
water finding its way down the pipe; and the general smell and
smother were past all description.
Harvey considered affairs, wondered that he was not deathly sick,
and crawled into his bunk again, as the softest and safest place,
while Dan struck up, "I don't want to play in your yard," as
accurately as the wild jerks allowed.
"How long is this for?" Harvey asked of Manuel.
"Till she get a little quiet, and we can row to trawl. Perhaps to-
night. Perhaps two days more. You do not like? Eh, wha-at?"
"I should have been crazy sick a week ago, but it doesn't seem to
upset me now - much."
"That is because we make you fisherman, these days. If I was you,
when I come to Gloucester I would give two, three big candles for
my good luck."
"To be sure - the Virgin of our Church on the Hill. She is very
good to fishermen all the time. That is why so few of us Portugee
men ever are drowned."
"You're a Roman Catholic, then?"
"I am a Madeira man. I am not a Porto Pico boy. Shall I be
Baptist, then? Eh, wha-at? I always give candles - two, three more
when I come to Gloucester. The good Virgin she never forgets me,
"I don't sense it that way," Tom Platt put in from his bunk, his
scarred face lit up by the glare of a match as he sucked at his
pipe. " It stands to reason the sea's the sea; and you'll git jest
about what's goin', candles or kerosene, fer that matter."
"Tis a mighty good thing," said Long Jack, "to have a fri'nd at
coort, though. I'm o' Manuel's way o' thinkin'. About tin years
back I was crew to a Sou' Boston market-boat. We was off Minot's
Ledge wid a northeaster, butt first,
atop of us, thicker'n burgoo. The ould man was dhrunk, his chin
waggin' on the tiller, an' I sez to myself, 'If iver I stick my
boat-huk into T-wharf again, I'll show the saints fwhat manner o'
craft they saved me out av.' Now, I'm here, as ye can well see,
an' the model of the dhirty ould Kathleen, that took me a month to
make, I gave ut to the priest, an' he hung Ut up forninst the
altar. There's more sense in givin' a model that's by way o' bein'
a work av art than any candle. Ye can buy candles at store, but a
model shows the good saints ye've tuk trouble an' are grateful."
"D'you believe that, Irish?" said Tom Platt, turning on his elbow.
"Would I do Ut if I did not, Ohio?"
"Wa-al, Enoch Fuller he made a model o' the old Ohio, and she's to
Salem museum now. Mighty pretty model, too, but I guess Enoch he
never done it fer no sacrifice; an' the way I take it is -"
There were the makings of an hour-long discussion of the kind that
fishermen love, where the talk runs in shouting circles and no one
proves anything at the end, had not Dan struck up this cheerful
"Up jumped the mackerel with his striped back.
Reef in the mainsail, and haul on the tack;
For it's windy weather -"
Here Long Jack joined in:
"And it's blowy weather;
When the winds begin to blow, pipe all hands together!"
Dan went on, with a cautious look at Tom Plait, holding the
accordion low in the bunk:
"Up jumped the cod with his chuckle-head,
Went to the main-chains to heave at the lead;
For it's windy weather," etc.
Tom Platt seemed to be hunting for something. Dan crouched lower,
but sang louder:
"Up jumped the flounder that swims to the ground.
Mind where ye sound!"
Tom Platt's huge rubber boot whirled across the fo'c'sle and
caught Dan's uplifted arm. There was war between the man and the
boy ever since Dan had discovered that the mere whistling of that
tune would make him angry as he heaved the lead.
"Thought I'd fetch yer," said Dan, returning the gift with
precision. "Ef you don't like my music, git out your fiddle. I
ain't goin' to lie here all day an' listen to you an' Long Jack
arguin' 'baout candles. Fiddle, Tom Platt; or I'll learn Harve
here the tune!"
Tom Platt leaned down to a locker and brought up an old white
fiddle. Manuel's eye glistened, and from somewhere behind the
pawl-post he drew out a tiny, guitar-like thing with wire strings,
which he called a nachette.
"'Tis a concert," said Long Jack, beaming through the smoke. "A
reg'lar Boston concert."
There was a burst of spray as the hatch opened, and Disko, in
yellow oilskins, descended.
"Ye're just in time, Disko. Fwhat's she doin' outside?"
"Jest this!" He dropped on to the lockers with the push and heave
of the "We're Here".
"We're singin' to kape our breakfasts down. Ye'll lead, av course,
Disko," said Long Jack.
"Guess there ain't more'n 'baout two old songs I know, an' ye've
heerd them both."
His excuses were cut short by Tom Platt launching into a most
dolorous tune, like unto the moaning of winds and the creaking of
masts. With his eyes fixed on the beams above, Disko began this
ancient, ancient ditty, Tom Platt flourishing all round him to
make the tune and words fit a little:
"There is a crack packet - crack packet o' fame,
She hails from Noo York, an' the Dreadnought's her name.
You may talk o' your fliers - Swallow-tail and Black Ball -
But the Dreadnought's the packet that can beat them all.
"Now the Dreadnought she lies in the River Mersey,
Because of the tugboat to take her to sea;
But when she's off soundings you shortly will know
She's the Liverpool packet - O Lord, let her go!
"Now the Dreadnought she's howlin' 'crost the Banks o' Newfoundland,
Where the water's all shallow and the bottom's all sand.
Sez all the little fishes that swim to an' fro:
'She's the Liverpool packet -O Lord, let her go!'"
There were scores of verses, for he worked the Dreadnought every
mile of the way between Liverpool and New York as conscientiously
as though he were on her deck, and the accordion pumped and the
fiddle squeaked beside him. Tom Platt followed with something
about "the rough and tough McGinn, who would pilot the vessel in."
Then they called on Harvey, who felt very flattered, to contribute
to the entertainment; but all that he could remember were some
pieces of "Skipper Ireson's Ride" that he had been taught at the
camp-school in the Adirondacks. It seemed that they might be
appropriate to the time and place, but he had no more than
mentioned the title when Disko brought down one foot with a bang,
and cried, "Don't go on, young feller. That's a mistaken jedgment
- one o' the worst kind, too, becaze it's catchin' to the ear."
"I orter ha' warned you," said Dan. "Thet allus fetches dad."
"What's wrong?" said Harvey, surprised and a little angry.
"All you're goin' to say," said Disko. "All dead wrong from start
to finish, an' Whittier he's to blame. I have no special call to
right any Marblehead man, but 'tweren't no fault o' Ireson's. My
father he told me the tale time an' again, an' this is the way
"For the wan hundreth time," put in Long Jack, under his breath.
"Ben Ireson he was skipper o' the Betty, young feller, comin' home
frum the Banks - that was before the war of 1812, but jestice is
jestice at all times. They f'und the Active o' Portland, an'
Gibbons o' that town he was her skipper; they f'und her leakin'
off Cape Cod Light. There was a terr'ble gale on, an' they was
gettin' the Betty home's fast as they could craowd her. Well,
Ireson he said there warn't any sense to reskin' a boat in that
sea; the men they wouldn't hev it; and he laid it before them to
stay by the Active till the sea run daown a piece. They wouldn't
hev that either, hangin' araound the Cape in any sech weather,
leak or no leak. They jest up stays'! an' quit, nat'rally takin'
Ireson with 'em. Folks to Marblehead was mad at him not runnin'
the risk, and becaze nex' day, when the sea was ca'am (they never
stopped to think o' that), some of the Active's folk was took off
by a Truro man. They come into Marblehead with their own tale to
tell, sayin' how Ireson had shamed his town, an' so forth an' so
on; an' Ireson's men they was scared, seem' public feelin' ag'in'
'em, an' they went back on Ireson, an' swore he was respons'ble
for the hull act. 'Tweren't the women neither that tarred and
feathered him - Marblehead women don't act that way - 'twas a
passel o' men an' boys, an' they carted him araound town in an old
dory till the bottom fell aout, an' Ireson he told 'em they'd be
sorry for it some day. Well, the facts came aout later, same's
they usually do, too late to be any ways useful to an honest man;
an' Whittier he come along an' picked up the slack eend of a lyin'
tale, an' tarred and feathered Ben Ireson all over onct more after
he was dead. 'Twas the only time Whittier ever slipped up, an'
'tweren't fair. I whaled Dan good when he brought that piece back
from school. Tots don't know no better, o' course; but I've give
you the facts, hereafter an' evermore to be remembered. Ben Ireson
weren't no sech kind o' man as Whittier makes aout; my father he
knew him well, before an' after that business, an' you beware o'
hasty jedgments, young feller. Next!"
Harvey had never heard Disko talk so long, and collapsed with
burning cheeks; but, as Dan said promptly, a boy could only learn
what he was taught at school, and life was too short to keep track
of every lie along the coast.
Then Manuel touched the jangling, jarring little nachette to a
queer tune, and sang something in Portuguese about "Nina,
innocente!" ending with a full-handed sweep that brought the song
up with a jerk. Then Disko obliged with his second song, to an
old-fashioned creaky tune, and all joined in the chorus. This is
"Now Aprile is over and melted the snow,
And outer Noo Bedford we shortly must tow;
Yes, out o' Noo Bedford we shortly must clear,
We're the whalers that never see wheat in the ear."
Here the fiddle went very softly for a while by itself, and then:
"Wheat-in-the-ear, my true-love's posy blowin';
Wheat-in-the-ear, we're goin' off to sea;
Wheat-in-the-ear, I left you fit for sowin';
When I come back a loaf o' bread you'll be!"
That made Harvey almost weep, though he could not tell why. But it
was much worse when the cook dropped the potatoes and held out his
hands for the fiddle. Still leaning against the locker door, he
struck into a tune that was like something very bad but sure to
happen whatever you did. After a little he sang in an unknown
tongue, his big chin down on the fiddle-tail, his white eyeballs
glaring in the lamplight. Harvey swung out of his bunk to hear
better; and amid the straining of the timbers and the wash of the
waters the tune crooned and moaned on, like lee surf in a blind
fog, till it ended with a wail.
"Jimmy Christmas! Thet gives me the blue creevles," said Dan.
"What in thunder is it?"
"The song of Fin McCoul," said the cook, "when he wass going to
Norway." His English was not thick, but all clear-cut, as though
it came from a phonograph.
"Faith, I've been to Norway, but I didn't make that unwholesim
noise. 'Tis like some of the old songs, though," said Long Jack,
"Don't let's hev another 'thout somethin' between," said Dan; and
the accordion struck up a rattling, catchy tune that ended:
"It's six an' twenty Sundays sence las' we saw the land,
With fifteen hunder quintal,
An' fifteen hunder quintal, 'Teen hunder toppin' quintal,
'Twix' old 'Queereau an' Grand!"
"Hold on!" roared Tom Plait "D'ye want to nail the trip, Dan?
That's Jonah sure, 'less you sing it after all our salt's wet."
"No, 'tain't. Is it, dad? Not unless you sing the very las' verse.
You can't learn me anything on Jonahs!"
"What's that?" said Harvey. "What's a Jonah?"
"A Jonah's anything that spoils the luck. Sometimes it's a man -
sometimes it's a boy - or a bucket. I've known a splittin'-knife
Jonah two trips till we was on to her," said Tom Plait. "There's
all sorts o' Jonahs. Jim Bourke was one till he was drowned on
Georges. I'd never ship with Jim Bourke, not if I was starvin'.
There wuz a green dory on the Ezra Flood. Thet was a Jonah too,
the worst sort o' Jonah. Drowned four men she did, an' used to
shine fiery o' nights in the nest."
"And you believe that?" said Harvey, remembering what Tom Platt
had said about candles and models. "Haven't we all got to take
A mutter of dissent ran round the bunks. "Outboard, yes; inboard,
things can happen," said Disko. "Don't you go makin' a mock of
Jonahs, young feller."
"Well, Harve ain't no Jonah. Day after we catched him," Dan cut
in, "we had a toppin' good catch."
The cook threw up his head and laughed suddenly - a queer, thin
laugh. He was a most disconcerting nigger.
"Murder!" said Long Jack. "Don't do that again, doctor. We ain't
used to Ut."
"What's wrong?" said Dan. "Ain't he our mascot, and didn't they
strike on good after we'd struck him?"
"Oh! yess," said the cook. "I know that, but the catch iss not
"He ain't goin' to do us any harm," said Dan, hotly. "Where are ye
hintin' an' edgin' to? He's all right."
"No harm. No. But one day he will be your master, Danny."
"That all?" said Dan, placidly. "He wun't - not by a jugful."
"Master!" said the cook, pointing to Harvey. "Man!" and he pointed
"That's news. Haow soon?" said Dan, with a laugh.
"In some years, and I shall see it. Master and man - man and
"How in thunder d'ye work that out?" said Tom Platt.
"In my head, where I can see."
"Haow?" This from all the others at once.
"I do not know, but so it will be." He dropped his head, and went
on peeling the potatoes, and not another word could they get out
"Well," said Dan, "a heap o' things'll hev to come abaout 'fore
Harve's any master o' mine; but I'm glad the doctor ain't choosen
to mark him for a Jonah. Now, I mistrust Uncle Salters fer the
Jonerest Jonah in the fleet regardin' his own special luck. Dunno
ef it's spreadin' same's smallpox. He ought to be on the Carrie
Pitman. That boat's her own Jonah, sure - crews an' gear make no
differ to her driftin'. Jimmy Christmas! She'll etch loose in a
"We're well dear o' the fleet, anyway," said Disko, "Carrie Pitman
an' all." There was a rapping on the deck.
"Uncle Salters has catched his luck," said Dan, as his father
"It's blown clear," Disko cried, and all the fo'c'sle tumbled up
for a bit of fresh air. The fog had gone, but a sullen sea ran in
great rollers behind it. The "We're Here" slid, as it were, into
long, sunk avenues and ditches which felt quite sheltered and
homelike if they would only stay still; but they changed without
rest or mercy, and flung up the schooner to crown one peak of a
thousand grey hills, while the wind hooted through her rigging as
she zigzagged down the slopes. Far away a sea would burst in a
sheet of foam, and the others would follow suit as at a signal,
till Harvey's eyes swam with the vision of interlacing whites and
greys. Four or five Mother Carey's chickens stormed round in
circles, shrieking as they swept past the bows. A rain-squall or
two strayed aimlessly over the hopeless waste, ran down wind and
back again, and melted away.
"'Seems to me I saw somethin' flicker jest naow over yonder," said
Uncle Salters, pointing to the northeast.
"Can't be any of the fleet," said Disko, peering under his
eyebrows, a hand on the fo'c'sle gangway as the solid bows
hatcheted into the troughs. "Sea's oilin' over dretful fast.
Danny, don't you want to skip up a piece an' see how aour trawl-
Danny, in his big boots, trotted rather than climbed up the main
rigging (this consumed Harvey with envy), hitched himself around
the reeling crosstrees, and let his eye rove till it caught the
tiny black buoy-flag on the shoulder of a mile-away swell.
"She's all right," he hailed. "Sail O! Dead to the no'th'ard,
comin' down like smoke! Schooner she be, too."
They waited yet another half-hour, the sky clearing in patches,
with a flicker of sickly sun from time to time that made patches
of olive-green water. Then a stump-foremast lifted, ducked, and
disappeared, to be followed on the next wave by a high stern with
old-fashioned wooden snail's-horn davits. The sails were red-
"Frenchmen!" shouted Dan. "No, 'tain't, neither. Da-ad!"
"That's no French," said Disko. "Salters, your blame luck holds
tighter'n a screw in a keg-head."
"I've eyes. It's Uncle Abishai."
"You can't nowise tell fer sure."
"The head-king of all Jonahs," groaned Tom Platt. "Oh, Salters,
Salters, why wasn't you abed an' asleep?
"How could I tell?" said poor Salters, as the schooner swung up.
She might have been the very Flying Dutchman, so foul, draggled,
and unkempt was every rope and stick aboard. Her old-style
quarter-deck was some four or five feet high, and her rigging flew
knotted and tangled like weed at a wharf-end. She was running
before the wind - yawing frightfully - her staysail let down to
act as a sort of extra foresail, -" scandalised," they call it, -
and her fore-boom guyed out over the side. Her bowsprit cocked up
like an old-fashioned frigate's; her jib-boom had been fished and
spliced and nailed and clamped beyond further repair; and as she
hove herself forward, and sat down on her broad tail, she looked
for all the world like a blowzy, frousy, bad old woman sneering at
a decent girl.
"That's Abishai," said Salters. "Full o' gin an' Judique men, an'
the judgments o' Providence layin' fer him an' never takin' good
holt. He's run in to bait, Miquelon way."
"He'll run her under," said Long Jack. "That's no rig fer this
"Not he, 'r he'd 'a' done it long ago," Disko replied. "Looks's if
he cal'lated to run us under. Ain't she daown by the head more'n
natural, Tom Platt?"
"Ef it's his style o' loadin' her she ain't safe," said the
sailor, slowly. "Ef she's spewed her oakum he'd better git to his
pumps mighty quick."
The creature thrashed up, wore round with a clatter and rattle,
and lay head to wind within ear-shot.
A greybeard wagged over the bulwark, and a thick voice yelled
something Harvey could not understand. But Disko's face darkened.
"He'd resk every stick he hez to carry bad news. Says we're in fer
a shift o' wind. He's in fer worse. Abishai! Abishai!" He waved
his arm up and down with the gesture of a man at the pumps, and
pointed forward. The crew mocked him and laughed.
"Jounce ye, an' strip ye, an' trip ye!" yelled Uncle Abishai. "A
livin' gale - a livin' gale. Yah! Cast up fer your last trip, all
you Gloucester haddocks. You won't see Gloucester no more, no
"Crazy full - as usual," said Tom Platt. "Wish he hadn't spied us,
She drifted out of hearing while the greyhead yelled something
about a dance at the Bay of Bulls and a dead man in the fo'c'sle.
Harvey shuddered. He had seen the sloven tilled decks and the
"An' that's a fine little floatin' hell fer her draught," said
Long Jack. "I wondher what mischief he's been at ashore."
"He's a trawler," Dan explained to Harvey, "an' he runs in fer
bait all along the coast. Oh, no, not home, he don't go. He deals
along the south an' east shore up yonder." He nodded in the
direction of the pitiless Newfoundland beaches. "Dad won't never
take me ashore there. They're a mighty tough crowd - an' Abishai's
the toughest. You saw his boat? Well, she's nigh seventy year old,
they say; the last o' the old Marblehead heel-tappers. They don't
make them quarter-decks any more. Abishai don't use Marblehead,
though. He ain't wanted there. He jes' drif's araound, in debt,
trawlin' an' cussin' like you've heard. Bin a Jonah fer years an'
years, he hez. 'Gits liquor frum the Feecamp boats fer makin'
spells an' selling winds an' such truck. Crazy, I guess."
"Twon't be any use underrunnin' the trawl to-night," said Tom
Platt, with quiet despair. "He come alongside special to cuss us.
I'd give my wage an' share to see him at the gangway o' the old
Ohio 'fore we quit floggin'. Jest abaout six dozen, an' Sam
Mocatta layin' 'em on crisscross!"
The dishevelled "heel-tapper" danced drunkenly down wind, and all
eyes followed her. Suddenly the cook cried in his phonograph
voice: "It wass his own death made him speak so! He iss fey - fey,
I tell you! Look!" She sailed into a patch of watery sunshine
three or four miles distant. The patch dulled and faded out, and
even as the light passed so did the schooner. She dropped into a
hollow and - was not.
"Run under, by the great hook-block!" shouted Disko, jumping aft.
"Drunk or sober, we've got to help 'em. Heave short and break her
Harvey was thrown on the deck by the shock that followed the
setting of the jib and foresail, for they hove short on the cable,
and to save time, jerked the anchor bodily from the bottom,
heaving in as they moved away. This is a bit of brute force seldom
resorted to except in matters of life and death, and the little
"We're Here" complained like a human. They ran down to where
Abishai's craft had vanished; found two or three trawl-tubs, a
gin-bottle, and a stove-in dory, but nothing more. "Let 'em go,"
said Disko, though no one had hinted at picking them up. "I
wouldn't hev a match that belonged to Abishai aboard. 'Guess she
run clear under. 'Must ha' been spewin' her oakum fer a week, an'
they never thought to pump her. That's one more boat gone along o'
leavin' port all hands drunk."
"Glory be!" said Long Jack. "We'd ha' been obliged to help 'em if
they was top o' water."
"'Thinkin' o' that myself," said Tom Platt.
"Fey! Fey!" said the cook, rolling his eyes. "He hass taken his
own luck with him."
"Ver' good thing, I think, to tell the fleet when we see. Eh, wha-
at'?" said Manuel. "If you runna that way before the wind, and she
work open her seams -" He threw out his hands with an
indescribable gesture, while Penn sat down on the house and sobbed
at the sheer horror and pity of it all. Harvey could not realise
that he had seen death on the open waters, but he felt very sick.
Then Dan went up the crosstrees, and Disko steered them back to
within sight of their own trawl-buoys just before the fog
blanketed the sea once again.
"We go mighty quick hereabouts when we do go," was all he said to
Harvey. "You think on that for a spell, young feller. That was
After dinner it was calm enough to fish from the decks, - Penn and
Uncle Salters were very zealous this time, - and the catch was
large and large fish.
"Abishai has shorely took his luck with him," said Salters. "The
wind hain't backed ner riz ner nothin'. How abaout the trawl? I
despise superstition, anyway."
Tom Platt insisted that they had much better haul the thing and
make a new berth. But the cook said: "The luck iss in two pieces.
You will find it so when you look. I know." This so tickled Long
Jack that he overbore Tom Platt, and the two went out together.
Underrunning a trawl means pulling it in on one side of the dory,
picking off the fish, rebaiting the hooks, and passing them back
to the sea again something like pinning and unpinning linen on a
wash-line. It is a lengthy business and rather dangerous, for the
long, sagging line may twitch a boat under in a flash. But when
they heard, "And naow to thee, O Capting," booming out of the fog,
the crew of the "We're Here" took heart. The dory swirled
alongside well loaded, Tom Platt yelling for Manuel to act as
"The luck's cut square in two pieces," said Long Jack, forking in
the fish, while Harvey stood open-mouthed at the skill with which
the plunging dory was saved from destruction. "One half was jest
punkins. Tom Platt wanted to haul her an' ha' done wid ut; but I
said, 'I'll back the doctor that has the second sight,' an' the
other half come up sagging full o' big uns. Hurry, Man'nle,
an' bring's a tub o' bait. There's luck afloat tonight."
The fish bit at the newly baited hooks from which their brethren
had just been taken, and Tom Platt and Long Jack moved
methodically up and down the length of the trawl, the boat's nose
surging under the wet line of hooks, stripping the sea-cucumbers
that they called pumpkins, slatting off the fresh-caught cod
against the gunwale, rebaiting, and loading Manuel's dory till
"I'll take no risks," said Disko, then - "not with him floatin'
around so near. Abishai won't sink fer a week. Heave in the
dories, an' we'll dressdaown after supper."
That was a mighty dressing-down, attended by three or four blowing
grampuses. It lasted till nine o'clock, and Disko was thrice heard
to chuckle as Harvey pitched the split fish into the hold.
"Say, you're haulin' ahead dretful fast," said Dan, when they
ground the knives after the men had turned in. "There's somethin'
of a sea tonight, an' I hain't heard you make no remarks on it."
"Too busy," Harvey replied, testing a blade's edge. "Come to think
of it, she is a high-kicker."
The little schooner was gambolling all around her anchor among the
silver-tipped waves. Backing with a start of affected surprise at
the sight of the strained cable, she pounced on it like a kitten,
while the spray of her descent burst through the hawse-holes with
the report of a gun. Shaking her head, she would say: "Well, I'm
sorry I can't stay any longer with you. I'm going North," and
would sidle off, halting suddenly with a dramatic rattle of her
rigging. "As I was just going to observe," she would begin, as
gravely as a drunken man addressing a lamp-post. The rest of the
sentence (she acted her words in dumb-show, of course) was lost in
a fit of the fidgets, when she behaved like a puppy chewing a
string, a clumsy woman in a side-saddle, a hen with her head cut
off, or a cow stung by a hornet, exactly as the whims of the sea
"See her sayin' her piece. She's Patrick Henry naow," said Dan.
She swung sideways on a roller, and gesticulated with her jib-boom
from port to starboard.
"But-ez---fer-me, give me liberty - er give me-death!"
Wop! She sat down in the moon-path on the water, courtesying with
a flourish of pride impressive enough had not the wheel-gear
sniggered mockingly in its box.
Harvey laughed aloud. "Why, it's just as if she was alive," he
"She's as stiddy as a haouse an' as dry as a herrin'," said Dan,
enthusiastically, as he was stung across the deck in a batter of
'em off an 'fends 'em off, an' 'Don't ye come anigh me,' she sez.
Look at her -jest look at her! Sakes! You should see one o' them
toothpicks h'istin' up her anchor on her spike outer fifteen-
"What's a toothpick, Dan?"
"Them new haddockers an' herrin'-boats. Fine's a yacht forward,
with yacht sterns to 'em, an' spike bowsprits, an' a haouse that
u'd take our hold. I've heard that Burgess himself he made the
models fer three or four of 'em, Dad's sot ag'in' 'em on account
o' their pitchin' an' joltin', but there's heaps o' money in 'em.
Dad can find fish, but he ain't no ways progressive - he don't go
with the march o' the times. They're chock-full o' labour-savin'
jigs an' sech all. 'Ever seed the Elector o' Gloucester? She's a
daisy, ef she is a toothpick."
"What do they cost, Dan?"
"Hills o' dollars. Fifteen thousand, p'haps; more, mebbe. There's
gold-leaf an' everything you kin think of." Then to himself, half
under his breath "Guess I'd call her Hattie S., too."
That was the first of many talks with Dan, who told Harvey why he
would transfer his dory's name to the imaginary Burgess-modelled
haddocker. Harvey heard a good deal about the real Hattie at
Gloucester; saw a lock of her hair - which Dan, finding fair words
of no avail, had "hooked" as she sat in front of him at school
that winter - and a photograph. Hattie was about fourteen years
old, with an awful contempt for boys, and had been trampling on
Dan's heart through the winter. All this was revealed under oath
of solemn secrecy on moonlit decks, in the dead dark, or in
choking fog; the whining wheel behind them, the climbing deck
before, and without, the unresting, clamorous sea. Once, of
course, as the boys came to know each other, there was a fight,
which raged from bow to stern till Penn came up and separated
them, but promised not to tell Disko, who thought fighting on
watch rather worse than sleeping. Harvey was no match for Dan
physically, but it says a great deal for his new training that he
took his defeat and did not try to get even with his conqueror by
That was after he had been cured of a string of boils between his
elbows and wrists, where the wet jersey and oilskins cut into the
flesh. The salt water stung them unpleasantly, but when they were
ripe Dan treated them with Disko's razor, and assured Harvey that
now he was a "blooded Banker"; the affliction of gurry-sores being
the mark of the caste that claimed him.
Since he was a boy and very busy, he did not bother his head with
too much thinking. He was exceedingly sorry for his mother, and
often longed to see her and above all to tell her of his wonderful
new life, and how brilliantly he was acquitting himself in it.
Otherwise he preferred not to wonder too much how she was bearing
the shock of his supposed death. But one day, as he stood on the
fo'c'sle ladder, guying the cook, who had accused him and Dan of
hooking fried pies, it occurred to him that this was a vast
improvement on being snubbed by strangers in the smoking-room of a
He was a recognised part of the scheme of things on the "We're
Here"; had his place at the table and among the bunks; and could
hold his own in the long talks on stormy days, when the others
were always ready to listen to what they called his "fairy-tales"
of his life ashore. It did not take him more than two days and a
quarter to feel that if he spoke of his own life - it seemed very
far away - no one except Dan (and even Dan's belief was sorely
tried) credited him. So he invented a friend, a boy he had heard
of, who drove a miniature four-pony drag in Toledo, Ohio, and
ordered five suits of clothes at a time, and led things called
"germans" at parties where the oldest girl was not quite fifteen,
but all the presents were solid silver. Salters protested that
this kind of yarn was desperately wicked, if not indeed positively
blasphemous, but he listened as greedily as the others; and their
criticisms at the end gave Harvey entirely new notions on
"germans," clothes, cigarettes with gold-leaf tips, rings,
watches, scent, small dinner-parties, champagne, card-playing, and
hotel accommodation. Little by little he changed his tone when
speaking of his "friend," whom Long Jack had christened "the Crazy
Kid," "the Gilt-edged Baby," "the Suckin' Vanderpoop," and other
pet names; and with his sea-booted feet cocked up on the table
would even invent histories about silk pajamas and specially
imported neckwear, to the "friend's" discredit. Harvey was a very
adaptable person, with a keen eye and ear for every face and tone
Before long he knew where Disko kept the old green-crusted
quadrant that they called the "hog-yoke" - under the bed-bag in
his bunk. When he 'took the sun, and with the help of "The Old
Farmer's" almanac found the latitude, Harvey would jump down into
the cabin and scratch the reckoning and date with a nail on the
rust of the stove-pipe. Now, the chief engineer of the liner could
have done no more, and no engineer of thirty years' service could
have assumed one half of the ancient-mariner air with which
Harvey, first careful to spit over the side, made public the
schooner's position for that day, and then and not till then
relieved Disko of the quadrant. There is an etiquette in all these
The said "hog-yoke," an Eldridge chart, the farming almanac,
Blunt's "Coast Pilot," and Bowditch's "Navigator" were all the
weapons Disko needed to guide him, except the deep-sea lead that
was his spare eye. Harvey nearly slew Penn with it when Tom Platt
taught him first how to "fly the blue pigeon"; and, though his
strength was not equal to continuous sounding in any sort of a
sea, for calm weather with a seven-pound lead on shoal water Disko
used him freely. As Dan said: "'Tain't soundin's dad wants. It's
samples. Grease her up good, Harve." Harvey would tallow the cup
at the end, and carefully bring the sand, shell, sludge, or
whatever it might be, to Disko, who fingered and smelt it and gave
judgment. As has been said, when Disko thought of cod he thought
as a cod; and by some long-tested mixture of instinct and
experience, moved the "We're Here" from berth to berth, always
with the fish, as a blindfolded chess-player moves on the unseen
But Disko's board was the Grand Bank - a triangle two hundred and
fifty miles on each side a waste of wallowing sea, cloaked with
dank fog, vexed with gales, harried with drifting ice, scored by
the tracks of the reckless liners, and dotted with the sails of
For days they worked in fog - Harvey at the bell - till, grown
familiar with the thick airs, he went out with Tom Platt, his
heart rather in his mouth. But the fog would not lift, and the
fish were biting, and no one can stay helplessly afraid for six
hours at a time. Harvey devoted himself to his lines and the gaff
or gob-stick as Tom Platt called for them; and they rowed back to
the schooner guided by the bell and Tom's instinct; Manuel's conch
sounding thin and faint beside them. But it was an unearthly
experience, and, for the first time in a month, Harvey dreamed of
the shifting, smoking floors of water round the dory, the lines
that strayed away into nothing, and the air above that melted on
the sea below ten feet from his straining eyes. A few days later
he was out with Manuel on what should have been forty-fathom
bottom, but the whole length of the roding ran out, and still the
anchor found nothing, and Harvey grew mortally afraid, for that
his last touch with earth was lost. "Whale-hole," said Manuel,
hauling in. "That is good joke on Disko. Come!" and he rowed to
the schooner to find Tom Platt and the others jeering at the
skipper because, for once, he had led them to the edge of the
barren Whale-deep, the blank hole of the Grand Bank. They made
another berth through the fog, and that time the hair of Harvey's
head stood up when he went out in Manuel's dory. A whiteness moved
in the whiteness of the fog with a breath like the breath of the
grave, and there was a roaring, a plunging, and spouting. It was
his first introduction to the dread summer berg of the Banks, and
he cowered in the bottom of the boat while Manuel laughed. There
were days, though, clear and soft and warm, when it seemed a sin
to do anything but loaf over the hand-lines and spank the drifting
"sun-scalds" with an oar; and there were days of light airs, when
Harvey was taught how to steer the schooner from one berth to
It thrilled through him when he first felt the keel answer to his
hand on the spokes and slide over the long hollows as the foresail
scythed back and forth against the blue sky. That was magnificent,
in spite of Disko saying that it would break a snake's back to
follow his wake. But, as usual, pride ran before a fall. They were
sailing on the wind with the staysail - an old one, luckily - set,
and Harvey jammed her right into it to show Dan how completely he
had mastered the art. The foresail went over with a bang, and the
foregaff stabbed and ripped through the stay-sail, which, was of
course, prevented from going over by the mainstay. They lowered
the wreck in awful silence, and Harvey spent his leisure hours for
the next few days under Torn Platt's lee, learning to use a needle
and palm. Dan hooted with joy, for, as he said, he had made the
very same blunder himself in his early days.
Boylike, Harvey imitated all the men by turns, till he had
combined Disko's peculiar stoop at the wheel, Long Jack's swinging
overhand when the lines were hauled, Manuel's round-shouldered but
effective stroke in a dory, and Tom Platt's generous Ohio stride
along the deck.
"'Tis beautiful to see how he takes to ut," said Long Jack, when
Harvey was looking out by the windlass one thick noon. "I'll lay
my wage an' share 'tis more'n half play-actin' to him, an' he
consates himself he's a bowld mariner. 'Watch his little bit av a
"That's the way we all begin," said Tom Platt. "The boys they make
believe all the time till they've cheated 'emselves into bein'
men, an' so till they die - pretendin' an' pretendin'. I done it
on the old Ohio, I know. Stood my first watch - harbor-watch -
feelin' finer'n Farragut. Dan's full o' the same kind o' notions.
See 'em now, actin' to be genewine moss-backs - every hair a rope-
yarn an' blood Stockholm tar." He spoke down the cabin stairs.
"'Guess you're mistook in your judgments fer once, Disko. What in
Rome made ye tell us all here the kid was crazy?"
"He wuz," Disko replied. "Crazy ez a loon when he come aboard; but
I'll say he's sobered up consid'ble sence. I cured him."
"He yarns good," said Tom Platt. "T'other night he told us abaout
a kid of his own size steerin' a cunnin' little rig an' four
ponies up an' down Toledo, Ohio, I think 'twas, an' givin' suppers
to a crowd o' sim'lar kids. Cur'us kind o' fairy-tale, but blame
interestin'. He knows scores of 'em."
"'Guess he strikes 'em outen his own head," Disko called from the
cabin, where he was busy with the log-book. "'Stands to reason
that sort is all made up. It don't take in no one but Dan, an' he
laughs at it. I've heard him, behind my back."
"Y'ever hear what Sim'on Peter Ca'houn said when they whacked up a
match 'twix' his sister Hitty an' Lorin' Jerauld, an' the boys put
up that joke on him daown to Georges?" drawled Uncle Salters, who
was dripping peaceably under the lee of the starboard dory-nest.
Tom Platt puffed at his pipe in scornful silence: he was a Cape
Cod man, and had not known that tale more than twenty years. Uncle
Salters went on with a rasping chuckle:
"Sim'on Peter Ca'houn he said, an' he was jest right, abaout
Lorin', 'Ha'af on the taown,' he said, 'an' t'other ha'af blame
fool; an' they told me she's married a 'ich man.' Sim'on Peter
Ca'houn he hedn't no roof to his mouth, an' talked that way."
"He didn't talk any Pennsylvania Dutch," Tom Platt replied. "You'd
better leave a Cape man to tell that tale. The Ca'houns was
gipsies frum 'way back."
"Wal, I don't profess to be any elocutionist," Salters said. "I'm
comin' to the moral o' things. That's jest abaout what aour Harve
be! Ha'af on the taown, an' t'other ha'af blame fool; an' there's
some'll believe he's a rich man. Yah!"
"Did ye ever think how sweet 'twould be to sail wid a full crew o'
Salterses?" said Long Jack. "Ha'af in the furrer an' other ha'af
in the muck-heap, as Ca'houn did not say, an' makes out he's a
A little laugh went round at Salters's expense.
Disko held his tongue, and wrought over the log-book that he kept
in a hatchet-faced, square hand; this was the kind of thing that
ran on, page after soiled page:
"July 17. This day thick fog and few fish. Made berth to
northward. So ends this day.
"July 18. This day comes in with thick fog. Caught a few fish.
"July 19. This day comes in with light breeze from N. E. and fine
weather. Made a berth to eastward. Caught plenty fish.
"July 20. This, the Sabbath, comes in with fog and light winds. So
ends this day. Total fish caught this week, 3,478."
They never worked on Sundays, but shaved, and washed themselves if
it were fine, and Pennsylvania sang hymns. Once or twice he
suggested that, if it was not an impertinence, he thought he could
preach a little. Uncle Salters nearly jumped down his throat at
the mere notion, reminding him that he was not a preacher and
mustn't think of such things. We'd hev him rememberin' Johnstown
next," Salters explained, "an' what would happen then?" So they
compromised on his reading aloud from a book called "Josephus." It
was an old leather-bound volume, smelling of a hundred voyages,
very solid and very like the Bible, but enlivened with accounts of
battles and sieges; and they read it nearly from cover to cover.
Otherwise Penn was a silent little body. He would not utter a word
for three days on end sometimes, though he played checkers,
listened to the songs, and laughed at the stories. When they tried
to stir him up, he would answer. "I don't wish to seem
unneighbourly, but it is because I have nothing to say. My head
feels quite empty. I've almost forgotten my name." He would turn
to Uncle Salters with an expectant smile.
"Why, Pennsylvania Pratt," Salters would shout. "You'll fergit me
"No - never," Penn would say, shutting his lips firmly.
"Pennsylvania Pratt, of course," he would repeat over and over.
Sometimes it was Uncle Salters who forgot, and told him he was
Haskins or Rich or McVitty; but Penn was equally content - till
He was always very tender with Harvey, whom he pitied both as a
lost child and as a lunatic; and when Salters saw that Penn liked
the boy, he relaxed, too. Salters was not an amiable person (he
esteemed it his business to keep the boys in order); and the first
time Harvey, in fear and trembling, on a still day, managed to
shin up to the main-truck (Dan was behind him ready to help), he
esteemed it his duty to hang Salters's big sea-boots up there - a
sight of shame and derision to the nearest schooner. With Disko,
Harvey took no liberties; not even when the old man dropped direct
orders, and treated him, like the rest of the crew, to "Don't you
want to do so and so?" and "Guess you'd better," and so forth.
There was something about the clean-shaven lips and the puckered
corners of the eyes that was mightily sobering to young blood.
Disko showed him the meaning of the thumbed and pricked chart,
which, he said, laid over any government publication whatsoever;
led him, pencil in hand, from berth to berth over the whole string
of banks - Le Have, Western, Banquereau, St. Pierre, Green, and
Grand - talking "cod" meantime. Taught him, too, the principle on
which the "hog-yoke" was worked.
In this Harvey excelled Dan, for he had inherited a head for
figures, and the notion of stealing information from one glimpse
of the sullen Bank sun appealed to all his keen wits. For other
sea-matters his age handicapped him. As Disko said, he should have
begun when he was ten. Dan could bait up trawl or lay his hand on
any rope in the dark; and at a pinch, when Uncle Salters had a
gurry-sore on his palm, could dress down by sense of touch. He
could steer in anything short of half a gale from the feel of the
wind on his face, humouring the "We're Here" just when she needed
it. These things he did as automatically as he skipped about the
rigging, or made his dory a part of his own will and body. But he
could not communicate his knowledge to Harvey.
Still there was a good deal of general information flying about
the schooner on stormy days, when they lay up in the fo'c'sle or
sat on the cabin lockers, while spare eye-bolts, leads, and rings
rolled and rattled in the pauses of the talk. Disko spoke of
whaling voyages in the Fifties; of great she-whales slain beside
their young; of death agonies on the black, tossing seas, and
blood that spurted forty feet in the air; of boats smashed to
splinters; of patent rockets that went off wrong-end-first and
bombarded the trembling crews; of cutting-in and boiling-down, and
that terrible "nip" of '71, when twelve hundred men were made
homeless on the ice in three days - wonderful tales, all true. But
more wonderful still were his stories of the cod, and how they
argued and reasoned on their private businesses deep down below
Long Jack's tastes ran more to the supernatural. He held them
silent with ghastly stories of the "Yo-hoes" on Monomoy Beach,
that mock and terrify lonely clam-diggers; of sand-walkers and
dune-haunters who were never properly buried; of hidden treasure
on Fire Island guarded by the spirits of Kidd's men; of ships that
sailed in the fog straight over Truro township; of that harbour in
Maine where no one but a stranger will lie at anchor twice in a
certain place because of a dead crew who row alongside at midnight
with the anchor in the bow of their old-fashioned boat, whistling
- not calling, but whistling - for the soul of the man who broke
Harvey had a notion that the east coast of his native land, from
Mount Desert south, was populated chiefly by people who took their
horses there in the summer and entertained in country-houses with
hardwood floors and Vantine portieres. He laughed at the ghost-
tales, - not as much as he would have done a month before, - but
ended by sitting still and shuddering.
Tom Platt dealt with his interminable trip round the Horn on the
old Ohio in the flogging days, with a navy more extinct than the
dodo - the navy that passed away in the great war. He told them
how red-hot shot are dropped into a cannon, a wad of wet clay
between them and the cartridge; how they sizzle and reek when they
strike wood, and how the little ship-boys of the Miss Jim Buck
hove water over them and shouted to the fort to try again. And he
told tales of blockade -long weeks of swaying at anchor, varied
only by the departure and return of steamers that had used up
their coal (there was no change for the sailing-ships); of gales
and cold - cold that kept two hundred men, night and day, pounding
and chopping at the ice on cable, blocks, and rigging, when the
galley was as red-hot as the fort's shot, and men drank cocoa by
the bucket. Tom Platt had no use for steam. His service closed
when that thing was comparatively new. He admitted that it was a
specious invention in time of peace, but looked hopefully for the
day when sails should come back again on ten-thousand-ton frigates
with hundred-and-ninety-foot booms.
Manuel's talk was slow and gentle - all about pretty girls in
Madeira washing clothes in the dry beds of streams, by moonlight,
under waving bananas; legends of saints, and tales of queer dances
or fights away in the cold Newfoundland baiting-ports. Salters was
mainly agricultural; for, though he read "Josephus" and expounded
it, his mission in life was to prove the value of green manures,
and specially of clover, against every form of phosphate
whatsoever. He grew libellous about phosphates; he dragged greasy
"Orange Judd" books from his bunk and intoned them, wagging his
finger at Harvey, to whom it was all Greek. Little Penn was so
genuinely pained when Harvey made fun of Salters's lectures that
the boy gave it up, and suffered in polite silence. That was very
good for Harvey.
The cook naturally did not join in these conversations. As a rule,
he spoke only when it was absolutely necessary; but at times a
queer gift of speech descended on him, and he held forth, half in
Gaelic, half in broken English, an hour at a time. He was
specially communicative with the boys, and he never withdrew his
prophecy that one day Harvey would be Dan's master, and that he
would see it. He told them of mail-carrying in the winter up Cape
Breton way, of the dog-train that goes to Coudray, and of the ram-
steamer Arctic, that breaks the ice between the mainland and
Prince Edward Island. Then he told them stories that his mother
had told him, of life far to the southward, where water never
froze; and he said that when he died his soul would go to lie down
on a warm white beach of sand with palm-trees waving above. That
seemed to the boys a very odd idea for a man who had never seen a
palm in his life. Then, too, regularly at each meal, he would ask
Harvey, and Harvey alone, whether the cooking was to his taste;
and this always made the "second half" laugh. Yet they had a great
respect for the cook's judgment, and in their hearts considered
Harvey something of a mascot by consequence.
And while Harvey was taking in knowledge of new things at each
pore and hard health with every gulp of the good air, the "We're
Here" went her ways and did her business on the Bank, and the
silvery-grey kenches of well-pressed fish mounted higher and
higher in the hold. No one day's work was out of the common, but
the average days were many and close together.
Naturally, a man of Disko's reputation was closely watched -
"scrowged upon," Dan called it - by his neighbours, but he had a
very pretty knack of giving them the slip through the curdling,
glidy fog-banks. Disko avoided company for two reasons. He wished
to make his own experiments, in the first place; and in the
second, he objected to the mixed gatherings of a fleet of all
nations. The bulk of them were mainly Gloucester boats, with a
scattering from Provincetown, Harwich, Chatham, and some of the
Maine ports, but the crews drew from goodness knows where. Risk
breeds recklessness, and when greed is added there are fine
chances for every kind of accident in the crowded fleet, which,
like a mob of sheep, is huddled round some unrecognised leader.
"Let the two Jeraulds lead 'em," said Disko. "We're baound to lay
among 'em fer a spell on the Eastern Shoals; though ef luck holds,
we won't hev to lay long. Where we are naow, Harve, ain't
considered noways good graound."
"Ain't it?" said Harvey, who was drawing water (he had learned
just how to wiggle the bucket), after an unusually long dressing-
down. "Shouldn't mind striking some poor ground for a change,
"All the graound I want to see - don't want to strike her - is
Eastern Point," said Dan. "Say, dad, it looks 's if we wouldn't
hev to lay more'n two weeks on the Shoals. You'll meet all the
comp'ny you want then, Harve. That's the time we begin to work. No
reg'lar meals fer no one then. 'Mug-up when ye're hungry, an'
sleep when ye can't keep awake. Good job you wasn't picked up a
month later than you was, or we'd never ha' had you dressed in
shape fer the Old Virgin."
Harvey understood from the Eldridge chart that the Old Virgin and
a nest of curiously named shoals were the turning-point of the
cruise, and that with good luck they would wet the balance of
their salt there. But seeing the size of the Virgin (it was one
tiny dot), he wondered how even Disko with the hog-yoke and the
lead could find her. He learned later that Disko was entirely
equal to that and any other business, and could even help others.
A big four-by-five blackboard hung in the cabin, and Harvey never
understood the need of it till, after some blinding thick days,
they heard the unmelodious tooting of a foot-power fog-horn - a
machine whose note is as that of a consumptive elephant.
They were making a short berth, towing the anchor under their foot
to save trouble. "Squarerigger bellowin' fer his latitude," said
Long Jack. The dripping red headsails of a bark glided out of the
fog, and the "We're Here" rang her bell thrice, using sea
The larger boat backed her topsail with shrieks and shoutings.
"Frenchman," said Uncle Salters, scornfully. "Miquelon boat from
St. Malo." The farmer had a weatherly sea-eye. "I'm most outer
'baccy, too, Disko."
"Same here," said Tom Platt. "Hi! Backez vouz - backez vouz!
Standez awayez, you butt-ended mucho-bono! Where you from - St.
Ah, ha! Mucho bono! Oui! oui! Clos Poulet - St. Malo! St. Pierre
et Miquelon," cried the other crowd, waving woollen caps and
laughing. Then all together, "Bord! Bord!"
"Bring up the board, Danny. Beats me how them Frenchmen fetch
anywheres, exceptin' America's fairish broadly. Forty-six forty-
nine's good enough fer them; an' I guess it's abaout right, too."
Dan chalked the figures on the board, and they hung it in the
main-rigging to a chorus of mercis from the bark.
"Seems kinder unneighbourly to let 'em swedge off like this,"
Salters suggested, feeling in his pockets.
"Hev ye learned French then sence last trip'?" said Disko. "I
don't want no more stone-ballast hove at us 'long o' your calm'
Miquelon boats 'footy cochins,' same's you did off Le Have."
"Harmon Rush he said that was the way to rise 'em. Plain United
States is good enough fer me. We're all dretful short on
terbakker. Young feller, don't you speak French?"
"Oh, yes," said Harvey, valiantly; and he bawled: "Hi! Say!
Arretez vous! Attendez! Nous sommes venant pour tabac."
"Ah, tabac, tabac!" they cried, and laughed again.
"That hit 'em. Let's heave a dory over, anyway," said Tom Platt.
"I don't exactly hold no certificates on French, but I know
another lingo that goes, I guess. Come on, Harve, an' interpret."
The raffle and confusion when he and Harvey were hauled up the
bark's black side was indescribable. Her cabin was all stuck round
with glaring coloured prints of the Virgin - the Virgin of
Newfoundland, they called her. Harvey found his French of no
recognised Bank brand, and his conversation was limited to nods
and grins. But Tom Platt waved his arms and got along swimmingly.
The captain gave him a drink of unspeakable gin, and the opera-
comique crew, with their hairy throats, red caps, and long knives,
greeted him as a brother. Then the trade began. They had tobacco,
plenty of it - American, that had never paid duty to France. They
wanted chocolate and crackers. Harvey rowed back to arrange with
the cook and Disko, who owned the stores, and on his return the
cocoa-tins and cracker-bags were counted out by the Frenchman's
wheel. It looked like a piratical division of loot; but Tom Platt
came out of it roped with black pigtail and stuffed with cakes of
chewing and smoking tobacco. Then those jovial mariners swung off
into the mist, and the last Harvey heard was a gay chorus:
"Par derriere chez ma tante,
Il y a un bois joli,
Et le rossignol y chante
Et le jour et la nuit...
Que donneriez vous, belle,
Qui I'amènerait ici?
Je donnerai Québec,
Sorel et Saint Denis."
"How was it my French didn't go, and your sign-talk did?" Harvey
demanded when the barter had been distributed among the "We're
"Sign-talk!" Platt guffawed. "Well, yes, 'twas sign-talk, but a
heap older'n your French, Harve. Them French boats are chock-full
o' Freemasons, an' that's why."
"Are you a Freemason, then?"
"Looks that way, don't it?" said the man-o'war's man, stuffing his
pipe; and Harvey had another mystery of the deep sea to brood
The thing that struck him most was the exceedingly casual way in
which some craft loafed about the broad Atlantic. Fishing-boats,
as Dan said, were naturally dependent on the courtesy and wisdom
of their neighbours; but one expected better things of steamers.
That was after another interesting interview, when they had been
chased for three miles by a big lumbering old cattle-boat, all
boarded over on the upper deck, that smelt like a thousand cattle-
pens. A very excited officer yelled at them through a speaking-
trumpet, and she lay and lollopped helplessly on the water while
Disko ran the "We're Here" under her lee and gave the skipper a
piece of his mind. "Where might ye be - eh? Ye don't deserve to be
anywheres. You barn-yard tramps go hoggin' the road on the high
seas with no blame consideration fer your neighbours, an' your
eyes in your coffee-cups instid o' in your silly heads."
At this the skipper danced on the bridge and said something about
Disko's own eyes. "We haven't had an observation for three days.
D'you suppose we can run her blind?" he shouted.
"Wa-al, I can," Disko retorted. "What's come to your lead'? Et
it'? Can't ye smell bottom, or are them cattle too rank?"
"What d'ye feed 'em?" said Uncle Salters with intense seriousness,
for the smell of the pens woke all the farmer in him. "They say
they fall off dretful on a v'yage. Dunno as it's any o' my
business, but I've a kind o' notion that oil-cake broke small an'
"Thunder!" said a cattle-man in a red jersey as he looked over the
side. "What asylum did they let His Whiskers out of?"
"Young feller," Salters began, standing up in the fore-rigging,
"let me tell yeou 'fore we go any further that I've -"
The officer on the bridge took off his cap with immense
politeness. "Excuse me," he said, "but I've asked for my
reckoning. If the agricultural person with the hair will kindly
shut his head, the sea-green barnacle with the wall-eye may
perhaps condescend to enlighten us."
"Naow you've made a show o' me, Salters," said Disko, angrily. He
could not stand up to that particular sort of talk, and snapped
out the latitude and longitude without more lectures.
"'Well, tbat's a boat-load of lunatics, sure," said the skipper,
as he rang up the engine-room and tossed a bundle of newspapers
into the schooner.
"Of all the blamed fools, next to you, Salters, him an' his crowd
are abaout the likeliest I've ever seen," said Disko as the "We're
Here" slid away. "I was jest givin' him my jedgment on lulisikin'
round these waters like a lost child, an' you must cut in with
your fool farmin'. Can't ye never keep things sep'rate?"
Harvey, Dan, and the others stood back, winking one to the other
and full of joy; but Disko and Salters wrangled seriously till
evening, Salters arguing that a cattle-boat was practically a barn
on blue water, and Disko insisting that, even if this were the
case, decency and fisher-pride demanded that he should have kept
"things sep'rate." Long Jack stood it in silence for a time, - an
angry skipper makes an unhappy crew, - and then he spoke across
the table after supper:
"Fwhat's the good o' bodderin' fwhat they'll say?" said he.
"They'll tell that tale ag'in' us fer years - that's all," said
Disko. "Oil-cake sprinkled!"
"With salt, o' course," said Salters, impenitent, reading the
farming reports from a week-old New York paper.
"It's plumb mortifyin' to all my feelin's," the skipper went on.
"Can't see ut that way," said Long Jack, the peacemaker. "Look at
here, Disko! Is there another packet afloat this day in this
weather c'u'd ha' met a tramp an', over an' above givin' her her
reckonin', - over an' above that, I say, - c'u'd ha' discoorsed
wid her quite intelligent on the management av steers an' such at
sea'? Forgit ut! Av coorse they will not. 'Twas the most compenjus
conversation that iver accrued. Double game an' twice runnin' -
all to us." Dan kicked Harvey under the table, and Harvey choked
in his cup.
"'Well," said Salters, who felt that his honour had been somewhat
plastered, "I said I didn't know as 'twuz any business o' mine,
'fore I spoke."
"An' right there," said Tom Platt, experienced in discipline and
etiquette -" right there, I take it, Disko, you should ha' asked
him to stop ef the conversation wuz likely, in your jedgment, to
be anyways - what it shouldn't."
"Dunno but that's so," said Disko, who saw his way to an
honourable retreat from a fit of the dignities.
"'Why, o' course it was so," said Salters, "you bein' skipper
here; an' I'd cheerful hev stopped on a hint - not from any
leadin' or conviction, but fer the sake o' bearin' an example to
these two blame boys of aours."
"Didn't I tell you, Harve, 'twould come araound to us 'fore we'd
done'? Always those blame boys. But I wouldn't have missed the
show fer a half-share in a halibutter," Dan whispered.
"Still, things should ha' been kep' sep'rate," said Disko, and the
light of new argument lit in Salters's eye as he crumbled cut plug
into his pipe.
"There's a power av vartue in keepin' things sep'rate," said Long
Jack, intent on stilling the storm. "That's fwhat Steyning of
Steyning and Hare's f'und when he sent Counahan fer skipper on the
Manila D. Kuhn, instid o' Cap. Newton that was took with
inflam't'ry rheumatism an' couldn't go. Counahan the Navigator we
"Nick Counahan he never went aboard fer a night 'thout a pond o'
rum somewheres in the manifest," said Tom Platt, playing up to the
lead. "He used to bum araound the c'mission houses to Boston
lookin' fer the Lord to make him captain of a towboat on his
merits. Sam Coy, up to Atlantic Avenoo, give him his board free
fer a year or more on account of his stories. Counahan the
Navigator! Tck! Tck! Dead these fifteen year, ain't he?"
"Seventeen, I guess. He died the year the Caspar McVeagh was
built; but he could niver keep things sep'rate. Steyning tuk him
fer the reason the thief tuk the hot stove - bekaze there was
nothin' else that season. The men was all to the Banks, and
Counahan he whacked up an iverlastin' hard crowd fer crew. Rum! Ye
c'u'd ha' floated the Manila, insurance and all, in fwhat they
stowed aboard her. They lef' Boston Harbour for the great Grand
Bank wid a roarin' nor'wester behind 'em an' all hands full to the
bung. An' the hivens looked after thim, for divil a watch did they
set, an' divil a rope did they lay hand to, till they'd seen the
bottom av a fifteen-gallon cask o' bug-juice. That was about wan
week, so far as Counahan remembered. (If' I c'u'd only tell the
tale as he told ut!) All that whoile the wind blew like ould
glory, an' the Manila - 'twas summer, and they'd give her a
foretopmast - struck her gait and kept ut. Then Counahan tuk the
hog-yoke an' thrembled over it for a whoile, an' made out, betwix'
that an' the chart an' the singin' in his head, that they was to
the south'ard o' Sable Island, gettin' along glorious, but
speakin' nothin'. Then they broached another keg, an' quit
speculatin' about anythin' fer another spell. The Manila she lay
down whin she dropped Boston Light, and she never lufted her lee-
rail up to that time - hustlin' on one an' the same slant. But
they saw no weed, nor gulls, nor schooners; an' prisintly they
obsarved they'd been out a matter o' fourteen days, and they
mistrusted the Bank had suspinded payment. So they sounded, an'
got sixty fathom. 'That's me,' sez Counahan. 'That's me iv'ry
time! I've run her slat on the Bank fer you, an' when we get
thirty fathom we'll
turn in like little men. Counahan is the b'y,' sez he. 'Counahan
"Nex' cast they got ninety. Sez Counahan: 'Either the lead-line's
tuk too stretchin' or else the Bank's sunk.'
"They hauled ut up, bein' just about in that state when ut seemed
right an' reasonable, and sat down on the deck countin' the knots,
an' gettin' her snarled up hijjus. The Manila she'd struck her
gait, and she hild ut, an' prisintly along come a tramp, an'
Counahan spoke her.
"'Hey ye seen any fishin'-boats now?' sez he, quite casual.
"'There's lashin's av them off the Irish coast,' sez the tramp.
"Aah! go shake yerself,' sez Counahan. 'Fwhat have I to do wid the
"'Then fwhat are ye doin' here?' sez the tramp.
"'Sufferin' Christianity!' sez Counahan (he always said that whin
his pumps sucked an' he was not feelin' good) - 'Sufferin'
Christianity!' he sez, 'where am I at?'
"'Thirty-five mile west-sou'west o' Cape Clear,' sez the tramp,
'if that's any consolation to you.'
"Counahan fetched wan jump, four feet sivin inches, measured by
"'Consolation!' sez he, bould ez brass. 'D'ye take me fer a
dialect? Thirty-five mile from Cape Clear, an' fourteen days from
Boston Light. Sufferin' Christianity, 'tis a record, an' by the
same token I've a mother to Skibbereen!' Think av ut! The gall av
um! But ye see he could niver keep things sep'rate.
"The crew was mostly Cork an' Kerry men, barrin' one Marylander
that wanted to go back, but they called him a mutineer, an' they
ran the ould Manila into Skibbereen, an' they had an illigant time
visitin' around with frinds on the ould sod fer a week. Thin they
wint back, an' it cost 'em two an' thirty days to beat to the
Banks again. 'Twas gettin' on towards fall, and grub was low, so
Counahan ran her back to Boston, wid no more bones to ut."
"And what did the firm say?" Harvey demanded.
"Fwhat could they'? The fish was on the Banks, an' Counahan was at
T-wharf talkin' av his record trip east! They tuk their
satisfaction out av that, an' ut all came av not keepin' the crew
and the rum sep'rate in the first place; an' confusin' Skibbereen
wid 'Queereau, in the second. Counahan the Navigator, rest his
sowl! He was an imprompju citizen!
"Once I was in the Lucy Holmes," said Manuel, in his gentle voice.
"They not want any of her feesh in Gloucester. Eh, wha-at? Give us
no price. So we go across the water, and think to sell to some
Fayal man. Then it blow fresh, and we cannot see well. Eh, wha-at?
Then it blow some more fresh, and we go down below and drive very
fast - no one know where. By-and-by we see a land, and it get some
hot. Then come two, three nigger in a brick. Eh, wha-at? We ask
where we are, and they say - now, what you all think?"
"Grand Canary," said Disko, after a moment. Manuel shook his head,
"Blanco," said Tom Platt.
"No. Worse than that. We was below Bezagos, and the brick she was
from Liberia! So we sell our feesh there! Not bad, so? Eh, wha-
"Can a schooner like this go right across to Africa?" said Harvey.
"Go araound the Horn ef there's anythin' worth goin' fer, and the
grub holds aout," said Disko. "My father he run his packet, an'
she was a kind o' pinkey, abaout fifty ton, I guess, - the Rupert,
- he run her over to Greenland's icy mountains the year ha'af our
fleet was tryin' after cod there. An' what's more, he took my
mother along with him, - to show her haow the money was earned, I
presoom, - an' they was all iced up, an' I was born at Disko.
Don't remember nothin' abaout it, o' course. We come back when the
ice eased in the spring, but they named me fer the place. Kinder
mean trick to put up on a baby, but we're all baound to make
mistakes in aour lives."
"Sure! Sure!" said Salters, wagging his head. "All baound to make
mistakes, an' I tell you two boys here thet after you've made a
mistake - ye don't make fewer'n a hundred a day - the next best
thing's to own up to it like men."
Long Jack winked one tremendous wink that embraced all hands
except Disko and Salters, and the incident was closed.
Then they made berth after berth to the northward, the dories out
almost every day, running along the east edge of the Grand Bank in
thirty-to forty-fathom water, and fishing steadily.
It was here Harvey first met the squid, who is one of the best
cod-baits, but uncertain in his moods. They were waked out of
their bunks one black night by yells of "Squid O!" from Salters,
and for an hour and a half every soul aboard hung over his squid-
jig - a piece of lead painted red and armed at the lower end with
a circle of pins bent backward like half-opened umbrella ribs. The
squid -for some unknown reason - likes, and wraps himself round,
this thing, and is hauled up ere he can escape from the pins. But
as he leaves his home he squirts first water and next ink into his
captor's face; and it was curious to see the men weaving their
heads from side to side to dodge the shot. They were as black as
sweeps when the flurry ended; but a pile of fresh squid lay on the
deck, and the large cod thinks very well of a little shiny piece
of squid-tentacle at the tip of a clam-baited hook. Next day they
caught many fish, and met the Carrie Pitman, to whom they shouted
their luck, and she wanted to trade - seven cod for one fair-sized
squid; but Disko would not agree at the price, and the Carrie
dropped sullenly to leeward and anchored half a mile away, in the
hope of striking on to some for herself.
Disko said nothing till after supper, when he sent Dan and Manuel
out to buoy the "We're Here's" cable and announced his intention
of turning in with the broad-axe. Dan naturally repeated these
remarks to a dory from the Carrie, who wanted to know why they
were buoying their cable, since they were not on rocky bottom.
"Dad sez he wouldn't trust a ferryboat within five mile o' you,"
Dan howled cheerfully.
"Why don't he git out, then'? Who's hinderin'?" said the other.
"Cause you've jest the same ez lee-bowed him, an' he don't take
that from any boat, not to speak o' sech a driftin' gurry-butt as
"She ain't driftin' any this trip," said the man, angrily, for the
Carrie Pitman had an unsavoury reputation for breaking her ground-
"Then haow d'you make berths?" said Dan. "It's her best p'int o'
sailin'. An' ef she's quit driftin', what in thunder are you doin'
with a new jib-boom?" That shot went home.
"Hey, you Portugoosy organ-grinder, take your monkey back to
Gloucester. Go back to school, Dan Troop," was the answer.
"O-ver-alls! O-ver-alls!" yelled Dan, who knew that one of the
Carrie's crew had worked in an overall factory the winter before.
"Shrimp! Gloucester shrimp! Git aout, you Novy!"
To call a Gloucester man a Nova Scotian is not well received. Dan
answered in kind.
"Novy yourself, ye Scrabble-towners! ye Chatham wreckers' Git aout
with your brick in your stock in'!" And the forces separated, but
Chatham had the worst of it.
"I knew haow 'twould be," said Disko. "She's drawed the wind
raound already. Some one oughter put a deesist on thet packet.
She'll snore till midnight, an' jest when we're gittin' our sleep
she'll strike adrift. Good job we ain't crowded with craft
hereaways. But I ain't goin' to up anchor fer Chatham. She may
The wind, which had hauled round, rose at sundown and blew
steadily. There was not enough sea, though, to disturb even a
dory's tackle, but the Carrie Pitman was a law unto herself. At
the end of the boys' watch they heard the crack-crack-crack of a
huge muzzle-loading revolver aboard her.
"Glory, glory, hallelujah!" sung Dan. "Here she comes, dad; butt-
end first, walkin' in her sleep same's she done on 'Queereau."
Had she been any other boat Disko would have taken his chances,
but now he cut the cable as the Carrie Pitman, with all the North
Atlantic to play in, lurched down directly upon them. The "We're
Here", under jib and riding-sail, gave her no more room than was
absolutely necessary, - Disko did not wish to spend a week hunting
for his cable, - but scuttled up into the wind as the Carrie
passed within easy hail, a silent and angry boat, at the mercy of
a raking broadside of Bank chaff.
"Good evenin'," said Disko, raising his headgear, "an' haow does
your garden grow?"
"Go to Ohio an' hire a mule," said Uncle Salters. "We don't want
no farmers here."
"Will I lend you my dory-anchor?" cried Long Jack.
"Unship your rudder an' stick it in the mud," said Tom Platt.
"Say!" Dan's voice rose shrill and high, as he stood on the wheel-
box. "Sa-ay! Is there a strike in the o-ver-all factory; or hev
they hired girls, ye Shackamaxons?"
"Veer out the tiller-lines," cried Harvey, "and nail 'em to the
bottom." That was a salt-flavoured jest he had been put up to by
Tom Platt. Manuel leaned over the stern and yelled; "Johnna Morgan
play the organ! Ahaaaa!" He flourished his broad thumb with a
gesture of unspeakable contempt and derision, while little Penn
covered himself with glory by piping up: "Gee a little! Hssh! Come
They rode on their chain for the rest of the night, a short,
snappy, uneasy motion, as Harvey found, and wasted half the
forenoon recovering the cable. But the boys agreed the trouble was
cheap at the price of triumph and glory, and they thought with
grief over all the beautiful things that they might have said to
the discomfited Carrie.
Next day they fell in with more sails, all circling slowly from
the east northerly towards the west. But just when they expected
to make the shoals by the Virgin the fog shut down, and they
anchored, surrounded by the tinklings of invisible bells. There
was not much fishing, but occasionally dory met dory in the fog
and exchanged news.
That night, a little before dawn, Dan and Harvey, who had been
sleeping most of the day, tumbled out to "hook" fried pies. There
was no reason why they should not have taken them openly; but they
tasted better so, and it made the cook angry. The heat and smell
below drove them on deck with their plunder, and they found Disko
at the bell, which he handed over to Harvey.
"Keep her goin'," said he. "I mistrust I hear somethin'. Ef it's
anything, I'm best where I am so's to get at things."
It was a forlorn little jingle; the thick air seemed to pinch it
off; and in the pauses Harvey heard the muffled shriek of a
liner's siren, and he knew enough of the Banks to know what that
meant. It came to him, with horrible distinctness, how a boy in a
cherry-coloured jersey - he despised fancy blazers now with all a
fisherman's contempt - how an ignorant, rowdy boy had once said it
would be "great" if a steamer ran down a fishing-boat. That boy
had a state-room with a hot and cold bath, and spent ten minutes
each morning picking over a gilt-edged bill of fare. And that same
boy - no, his very much older brother -was up at four of the dim
dawn in streaming, crackling oilskins, hammering, literally for
the dear life, on a bell smaller than the steward's breakfast-
bell, while somewhere close at hand a thirty-foot steel stem was
storming along at twenty miles an hour! The bitterest thought of
all was that there were folks asleep in dry, upholstered cabins
who would never learn that they had massacred a boat before
breakfast. So Harvey rang the bell.
"Yes, they slow daown one turn o' their blame propeller," said
Dan, applying himself to Manuel's conch, "fer to keep inside the
law, an' that's consolin' when we're all at the bottom. Hark to
her' She's a humper!"
"Aoooo - whoooo - whupp!" went the siren. "Wingle - tingle -
tink," went the bell. "Graaa - ouch!" went the conch, while sea
and sky were all milled up in milky fog. Then Harvey felt that he
was near a moving body, and found himself looking up and up at the
wet edge of a cliff-like bow, leaping, it seemed, directly over
the schooner. A jaunty little feather of water curled in front of
it, and as it lifted it showed a long ladder of Roman numerals -
XV., XVI., XVII., XVIII., and so forth - on a salmon-coloured,
gleaming side. It tilted forward and downward with a heart-
stilling "Ssssooo"; the ladder disappeared; a line of brass-rimmed
port-holes flashed past; a jet of Steam puffed in Harvey's
helplessly uplifted hands; a spout of hot water roared along the
rail of the "We're Here", and the little schooner staggered and
shook in a rush of screw-torn water, as a liner's stern vanished
in the fog. Harvey got ready to faint or be sick, or both, when he
heard a crack like a trunk thrown on a sidewalk, and, all small in
his ear, a far-away telephone voice drawling: "Heave to! You've
"Is it us?" he gasped.
"No! Boat out yonder. Ring! We're goin' to look," said Dan,
running out a dory.
In half a minute all except Harvey, Penn, and the cook were
overside and away. Presently a schooner's stump-foremast, snapped
clean across, drifted past the bows. Then an empty green dory came
by, knocking on the 'We're Here's' side, as though she wished to
be taken in. Then followed something, face down, in a blue jersey,
but it was not the whole of a man. Penn changed colour and caught
his breath with a click. Harvey pounded despairingly at the bell,
for he feared they might be sunk at any minute, and he jumped at
Dan's hail as the crew came back.
"The Jennie Cushman," said Dan, hysterically, "cut clean in half -
graound up an' trompled on at that! Not a quarter of a mile away.
Dad's got the old man. There ain't any one else, and - there was
his son, too. Oh, Harve, Harve, I can't stand it! I've seen -" He
dropped his head on his arms and sobbed while the others dragged a
grey-headed man aboard.
"What did you pick me up for?" the stranger groaned. "Disko, what
did you pick me up for?"
Disko dropped a heavy hand on his shoulder, for the man's eyes
were wild and his lips trembled as he stared at the silent crew.
Then up and spoke Pennsylvania Pratt, who was also Haskins or Rich
or McVitty when Uncle Salters forgot; and his face was changed on
him from the face of a fool to the countenance of an old, wise
man, and he said in a strong voice: "The Lord gave, and the Lord
hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord! I was - I am a
minister of the Gospel. Leave him to me."
"Oh, you be, be you?" said the man. "Then pray my son back to me!
Pray back a nine-thousand-dollar boat an' a thousand quintal of
fish. If you'd left me alone my widow could ha' gone on to the
Provident an' worked fer her board, an' never known - an' never
known. Now I'll hev to tell her."
"There ain't nothin' to say," said Disko. "Better lie down a
piece, Jason Olley."
When a man has lost his only son, his summer's work, and his means
of livelihood, in thirty counted seconds, it is hard to give
"All Gloucester men, wasn't they," said Tom Platt, fiddling
helplessly with a dory-becket.
"Oh, that don't make no odds," said Jason, wringing the wet from
his beard. "I'll be rowin' summer boarders araound East Gloucester
this fall." He rolled heavily to the rail, singing.
"Happy birds that sing and fly
Round thine altars, O Most High!"
"Come with me. Come below!" said Penn, as though he had a right to
give orders. Their eyes met and fought for a quarter of a minute.
"I dunno who you be, but I'll come," said Jason, submissively.
"Mebbe I'll get back some o' the - some o' the - nine thousand
dollars." Penn led him into the cabin and slid the door behind.
"That ain't Penn," cried Uncle Salters. "It's Jacob Boiler, an' -
he's remembered Johnstown! I never seed such eyes in any livin'
What's to do naow? What'll I do naow?"
They could hear Penn's voice and Jason's together. Then Penn's
went on alone, and Salters slipped off his hat, for Penn was
praying. Presently the little man came up the steps, huge drops of
sweat on his face, and looked at the crew. Dan was still sobbing
by the wheel.
"He don't know us," Salters groaned. "It's all to do over again,
checkers and everything - an' what'll he say to me?"
Penn spoke; they could hear that it was to strangers. "I have
prayed," said he. "Our people believe in prayer. I have prayed for
the life of this man's son. Mine were drowned before my eyes - she
and my eldest and - the others. Shall a man be more wise than his
Maker? I prayed never for their lives, but I have prayed for this
man's son, and he will surely be sent him."
Salters looked pleadingly at Penn to see if he remembered.
"How long have I been mad?" Penn asked suddenly. His mouth was
"Pshaw, Penn! You weren't never mad," Salters began. "Only a
little distracted like."
"I saw the houses strike the bridge before the fires broke out. I
do not remember any more. How long ago is that?"
"I can't stand it! I can't stand it!" cried Dan, and Harvey
whimpered in sympathy.
"Abaout five year," said Disko, in a shaking voice.
"Then I have been a charge on some one for every day of that time.
Who was the man?"
Disko pointed to Salters.
"Ye hain't - ye hain't!" cried the sea-farmer, twisting his hands
together. "Ye've more'n earned your keep twice-told; "an' there's
money owin' you, Penn, besides ha'af o' my quarter-share in the
boat, which is yours fer value received."
"You are good men. I can see that in your faces. But -"
"Mother av Mercy," whispered Long Jack, "an' he's been wid us all
these trips! He's clean bewitched."
A schooner's bell struck up alongside, and a voice hailed through
the fog: "O Disko! 'Heard abaout the Jennie Cushman?"
"They have found his son," cried Penn. "Stand you still and see
the salvation of the Lord!"
"Got Jason aboard here," Disko answered, but his voice quavered.
"There - warn't any one else?"
"We've f'und one, though. 'Run acrost him snarled up in a mess o'
lumber thet might ha' bin a fo'c'sle. His head's cut some."
"Who is he?"
The "We're Heres'" heart-beats answered one another.
"Guess it's young Olley," the voice drawled.
Penn raised his hands and said something in German. Harvey could
have sworn that a bright sun was shining upon his lifted face; but
the drawl went on: "Sa-ay! You fellers guyed us consid'rable
"We don't feel like guyin' any now," said Disko.
"I know it; but to tell the honest truth we was kinder - kinder
driftin' when we run ag'in' young Olley."
It was the irrepressible Carrie Pitman, and a roar of unsteady
laughter went up from the deck of the "We're Here".
"Hedn't you 'baout's well send the old man aboard? We're runnin'
in fer more bait an' graound-tackle. 'Guess you won't want him,
anyway, an' this blame windlass work makes us short-handed. We'll
take care of him. He married my woman's aunt."
"I'll give you anything in the boat," said Troop.
"Don't want nothin', 'less, mebbe, an anchor that'll hold. Say!
Young Olley's gittin' kinder baulky an' excited. Send the old man
Penn waked him from his stupor of despair, and Tom Platt rowed him
over. He went away without a word of thanks, not knowing what was
to come; and the fog closed over all.
"And now," said Penn, drawing a deep breath as though about to
preach. "And now" - the erect body sank like a sword driven home
into the scabbard; the light faded from the overbright eyes; the
voice returned to its usual pitiful little titter -" and now,"
said Pennsylvania Pratt, "do you think it's too early for a little
game of checkers, Mr. Salters?"
"The very thing - the very thing I was goin' to say myself," cried
Salters, promptly. "It beats all, Penn, how you git on to what's
in a man's mind."
The little fellow blushed and meekly followed Salters forward.
"Up anchor! Hurry! Let's quit these crazy waters," shouted Disko,
and never was he more swiftly obeyed.
"Now what in creation d'ye suppose is the meanin' o' that all?"
said Long Jack, when they were working through the fog once more,
damp, dripping, and bewildered.
"The way I sense it," said Disko, at the wheel, "is this: The
Jennie Cushman business comin' on an empty stummick -"
"He - we saw one of them go by," sobbed Harvey.
"An' that, o' course, kinder hove him outer water, Julluk runnin'
a craft ashore; hove him right aout, I take it, to rememberin'
Johnstown an' Jacob Boiler an' such-like reminiscences. Well,
consolin' Jason there held him up a piece, same's shorin' up a
boat. Then, bein' weak, them props slipped an' slipped, an' he
slided down the ways, an' naow he's water-borne ag'in. That's haow
I sense it."
They decided that Disko was entirely correct.
"'Twould ha' bruk Salters all up," said Long Jack, "if Penn had
stayed Jacob Bollerin'. Did ye see his face when Penn asked who
he'd been charged on all these years'? How is ut, Salters?"
"Asleep - dead asleep. Turned in like a child," Salters replied,
tiptoeing aft. "There won't be no grub till he wakes, natural. Did
ye ever see sech a gift in prayer? He everlastin'ly hiked young
Olley outer the ocean. Thet's my belief. Jason was tur'ble praoud
of his boy, an' I mistrusted all along 'twas a jedgment on
worshippin' vain idols."
"There's others jest as sot," said Disko.
"That's dif'runt," Salters retorted quickly. "Penn's not all
caulked, an' I ain't only but doin' my duty by him."
They waited, those hungry men, three hours, till Penn reappeared
with a smooth face and a blank mind. He said he believed that he
had been dreaming. Then he wanted to know why they were so silent,
and they could not tell him.
Disko worked all hands mercilessly for the next three or four
days; and when they could not go out, turned them into the hold to
stack the ship's stores into smaller compass, to make more room
for the fish. The packed mass ran from the cabin partition to the
sliding door behind the fo'c'sle stove; and Disko showed how there
is great art in stowing cargo so as to bring a schooner to her
best draft. The crew were thus kept lively till they recovered
their spirits; and Harvey was tickled with a rope's end by Long
Jack for being, as the Galway man said, "sorrowful as a sick cat
over fwhat couldn't be helped." He did a great deal of thinking in
those dreary days; and told Dan what he thought, and Dan agreed
with him - even to the extent of asking for fried pies instead of
But a week later the two nearly upset the Hattie S. in a wild
attempt to stab a shark with an old bayonet tied to a stick. The
grim brute rubbed alongside the dory begging for small fish, and
between the three of them it was a mercy they all got off alive.
At last, after playing blindman's-buff in the fog, there came a
morning when Disko shouted down the fo'c'sle: "Hurry, boys! We're
To the end of his days, Harvey will never forget that sight. The
sun was just clear of the horizon they had not seen for nearly a
week, and his low red light struck into the riding-sails of three
fleets of anchored schooners - one to the north, one to the
westward, and one to the south. There must have been nearly a
hundred of them, of every possible make and build, with, far away,
a square-rigged Frenchman, all bowing and courtesying one to the
other. From every boat dories were dropping away like bees from a
crowded hive; and the clamour of voices, the rattling of ropes and
blocks, and the splash of the oars carried for miles across the
heaving water. The sails turned all colours, black, pearly-grey,
and white, as the sun mounted; and more boats swung up through the
mists to the southward.
The dories gathered in clusters, separated, reformed, and broke
again, all heading one way; while men hailed and whistled and cat-
called and sang, and the water was speckled with rubbish thrown
"It's a town," said Harvey. "Disko was right. It is a town!"
"I've seen smaller," said Disko. "There's about a thousand men
here; an' yonder's the Virgin." He pointed to a vacant space of
greenish sea, where there were no dories.
The "We're Here" skirted round the northern squadron, Disko waving
his hand to friend after friend, and anchored as neatly as a
racing yacht at the end of the season. The Bank fleet pass good
seamanship in silence; but a bungler is jeered all along the line.
"Jest in time fer the caplin," cried the Mary Chilton.
"'Salt 'most wet?" asked the King Philip.
"Hey, Tom Platt! Come t' supper to-night?" said the Henry Clay;
and so questions and answers flew back and forth. Men had met one
another before, dory-fishing in the fog, and there is no place for
gossip like the Bank fleet. They all seemed to know about Harvey's
rescue, and asked if he were worth his salt yet. The young bloods
jested with Dan, who had a lively tongue of his own, and inquired
after their health by the town - nicknames they least liked.
Manuel's countrymen jabbered at him in their own language; and
even the silent cook was seen riding the jib-boom and shouting
Gaelic to a friend as black as himself. After they had buoyed the
cable - all around the Virgin is rocky bottom, and carelessness
means chafed ground-tackle and danger from drifting - after they
had buoyed the cable, their dories went forth to join the mob of
boats anchored about a mile away. The schooners rocked and dipped
at a safe distance, like mother ducks watching their brood, while
the dories behaved like mannerless ducklings.
As they drove into the confusion, boat banging boat, Harvey's ears
tingled at the comments on his rowing. Every dialect from Labrador
to Long Island, with Portuguese, Neapolitan, Lingua Franca,
French, and Gaelic, with songs and shoutings and new oaths,
rattled round him, and he seemed to be the butt of it all. For the
first time in his life he felt shy - perhaps that came from living
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