Captains Courageous
Rudyard Kipling

Part 4 out of 4

connected with the lin~he had not asked more than two thousand
questions about it,-from his father's most private papers in the safe
to the tug in San Francisco harbour.

"It's a deal," said Cheyne at the last. "You'll alter your mind twenty
times before you leave college, o' course; but if you take hold of it
in proper shape, and if you don't tie it up before you're twenty-three,
I'll make the thing over to you. How's that, Harve?"

"Nope; never pays to split up a going concern. There's too much
competition in the world anyway, and Disko says 'blood-kin hev to
stick together.' His crowd never go back on him. That's one reason,
he says, why they make such big fares. Say, the 'We're Here' goes
off to the Georges on Monday. They don't stay long ashore, do

"Well, we ought to be going, too, I guess. I've left my business
hung up at loose ends between two oceans, and it's time to connect
again. I just hate to do it, though; haven't had a holiday like this for
twenty years."

"We can't go without seeing Disko off," said Harvey; "and
Monday's Memorial Day. Let's stay over that, anyway."

"What is this memorial business? They were talking about it at the
boarding-house," said Cheyne weakly. He, too, was not anxious to
spoil the golden days.

"Well, as far as I can make out, this business is a sort of
song-and-dance act, whacked up for the summer boarders. Disko
don't think much of it, he says, because they take up a collection
for the widows and orphans. Disko's independent. Haven't you
noticed that?"

"Well-yes. A little. In spots. Is it a town show, then?"

"The summer convention is. They read out the names of the
fellows drowned or gone astray since last time, and they make
speeches, and recite, and all. Then, Disko says, the secretaries of
the Aid Societies go into the back yard and fight over the catch.
The real show, he says, is in the spring. The ministers all take a
hand then, and there aren't any summer boarders around."

"I see," said Cheyne, with the brilliant and perfect comprehension
of one born into and bred up to city pride. "We'll stay over for
Memorial Day, and get off in the afternoon."

"Guess I'll go down to Disko's and make him bring his crowd up
before they sail. I'll have to stand with them, of course."

"Oh, that's it, is it," said Cheyne. "I'm only a poor summer boarder,
and you're----"

"A Banker-full-blooded Banker," Harvey called back as he boarded
a trolley, and Cheyne Went on with his blissful dreams for the

Disko had no use for public functions where appeals were made
for charity, but Harvey pleaded that the glory of the day would be
lost, so far as he was concerned, if the 'We're Heres' absented
themselves. Then Disko made conditions. He had heard-it was
astonishing how all the world knew all the world's business along
the water-front-he had heard that a "Philadelphia actress-woman"
was going to take part in the exercises; and he mistrusted that she
would deliver "Skipper Ireson's Ride." Personally, he had as little
use for actresses as for summer boarders; but justice was justice,
and though he himself (here Dan giggled) had once slipped up on
a matter of judgment, this thing must not be. So Harvey came back
to East Gloucester, and spent half a day explaining to an amused
actress with a royal reputation on two seaboards the inwardness of
the mistake she contemplated; and she admitted that it was justice,
even as Disko had said.

Cheyne knew by old experience what would happen; but anything
of the nature of a public palaver as meat and drink to the man's
soul. He saw the trolleys hurrying west, in the hot, hazy morning,
full of women in light summer dresses, and white-faced
straw-hatted men fresh from Boston desks; the stack of bicycles
outside the post~office; the come-and-go of busy officials, greeting
one another; the slow flick and swash of bunting in the heavy air;
and the important man with a hose sluicing the brick sidewalk.

"Mother," he said suddenly, "don't you remember-after Seattle was
burned out-and they got her going again?"

Mrs. Cheyne nodded, and looked critically down the crooked street
Like her husband, she understood these gatherings, all the West
over, and compared them one against another. The fishermen
began to mingle with the crowd about the town-hall doors-blue-
jowled Portuguese, their women bare-headed or shawled for the
most part; clear-eyed Nova Scotians, and men of the Maritime
Provinces; French, Italians, Swedes, and Danes, with outside crews
of coasting schooners; and everywhere women in black, who
saluted one another with gloomy pride, for this was their day of
great days. And there were ministers of many creeds ,-pastors of
great, gilt-edged congregations, at the seaside for a rest, with
shepherds of the regular work,-from the priests of the Church on
the Hill to bush-bearded ex-sailor Lutherans, hail-fellow with the
men of a score of boats. There were owners of lines of schooners,
large contributors to the societies, and small men, their few craft
pawned to the mastheads, with bankers and marine-insurance
agents, captains of tugs and water-boats, riggers, fitters, lumpers,
salters, boat-builders, and coopers, and all the mixed population of
the water-front.

They drifted along the line of seats made gay with the dresses of
the summer boarders, and one of the town officials patrolled and
perspired till he shone all over with pure civic pride. Cheyne had
met him for five minutes a few days before, and between the two
there was entire understanding.

"Well, Mr. Cheyne, and what d'you think of our city? -Yes,
madam, you can sit anywhere you please.-You have this kind of
thing out West, I presume?"

"Yes, but we aren't as old as you."

"That's so, of course. You ought to have been at the exercises when
we celebrated our two hundred and fiftieth birthday. I tell you, Mr.
Cheyne, the old city did herself credit."

"So I heard. It pays, too. What's the matter with the town that it
don't have a first-class hotel, though?"

"-Bight over there to the left, Pedro. Heaps o' room for you and
your crowd.-Why, that's what I tell 'em all the time, Mr. Cheyne.
There's big money in it, but I presume that don't affect you any.
What we want is

A heavy hand fell on his broadcloth shoulder, and the flushed
skipper of a Portland coal-and-ice coaster spun him half round.
"What in thunder do you fellows mean by clappin' the law on the
town when all decent men are at sea this way? Heh? Town's dry as
a bone, an' smells a sight worse sence I quit. 'Might ha' left us one
saloon for soft drinks, anyway."

"Don't seem to have hindered your nourishment this morning,
Carsen. I'll go into the politics of it later. Sit down by the door and
think over your arguments till I come back."

"What good is arguments to me? In Miquelon champagne's
eighteen dollars a case and---" The skipper lurched into his seat
as an organ-prelude silenced him.

"Our new organ," said the official proudly to Cheyne.

'Cost us four thousand dollars, too. We'll have to get back to
high-license next year to pay for it. I wasn't going to let the
ministers have all the religion at their convention. Those are some
of our orphans standing up to sing. My wife taught 'em. See you
again later, Mr. Cheyne. I'm wanted on the platform."

High, clear, and true, children's voices bore down the last noise of
those settling into their places.

" O all ye Works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise him and
magnify him for ever!"

The women throughout the hall leaned forward to look as the
reiterated cadences filled the air. Mrs. Cheyne, with some others,
began to breathe short; she had hardly imagined there were so
many widows in the world; and instinctively searched for Harvey.
He had found the 'We're Heres' at the back of the audience, and was
standing, as by right, between Dan and Disko. Uncle Salters,
returned the night before with Penn, from Pamlico Sound, received
him suspiciously.

"Hain't your folk gone yet?" he grunted. "What are you doin' here,
young feller?"

"0 ye Seas and Floods, bless ye the Lord: praise him, and magnify
him for ever!"

"Hain't he good right?" said Dan. "He's bin there, same as the rest
of us."

"Not in them clothes," Salters snarled.

"Shut your head, Salters," said Disko. "Your bile's gone back on
you. Stay right where ye are, Harve."

Then up and spoke the orator of the occasion, another pillar of the
municipality, bidding the world welcome to Gloucester, and
incidentally pointing out wherein Gloucester excelled the rest of
the world. Then he turned to the sea-wealth of the city, and spoke
of the price that must be paid for the yearly harvest. They would
hear later the names of their lost dead one hundred and seventeen
of them. (The widows stared a little, and looked at one another
here.) Gloucester could not boast any overwhelming mills or
factories. Her sons worked for such wage as the sea gave; and they
all knew that neither Georges nor the Banks were cow-pastures.
The utmost that folk ashore could accomplish was to help the
widows and the orphans, and after a few general remarks he took
this opportunity of thanking, in the name of the city, those who had
so public-spiritedly consented to participate in the excercises of
the occasion.

"I jest despise the beggin' pieces in it," growled Disko. "It don't
give folk a fair notion of us."

"Ef folk won't be fore-handed an' put by when they've the chance,"
returned Salters, "it stands in the nature o' things they hev to be
'shamed. You take warnin' by that, young feller. Riches endureth
but for a season, ef you scatter them araound on lugsuries--

"But to lose everything, everything," said Penn. "What can you do
then? Once I"-the watery blue eyes stared up and down as if
looking for something to steady them--"once I read-in a book, I
think~f a boat where every one was run down-except some
one-and he said to me-"

"Shucks!" said Salters, cutting in. "You read a little less an' take
more int'rust in your vittles, and you'll come nearer earnin' your
keep, Penn."

Harvey, jammed among the fishermen, felt a creepy, crawly,
tingling thrill that began in the back of his neck and ended at his
boots. He was cold, too, though it was a stifling day.

'That the actress from Philadelphia?" said Disko Troop, scowling
at the platform. "You've fixed it about old man Ireson, hain't ye,
Harve? Ye know why naow."

It was not "Ireson's Ride" that the woman delivered, but some sort
of poem about a fishing-port called Brixham and a fleet of trawlers
beating in against storm by night, while the women made a guiding
fire at the head of the quay with everything they could lay hands

"They took the grandma's blanket,
Who shivered and bade them go;
They took the baby's cradle,
Who could not say them no."

"Whew!" said Dan, peering over Long Jack's shoulder. "That's
great! Must ha' bin expensive, though."

"Ground-hog case," said the Galway man. "Badly lighted port,

"And knew not all the while
If they were lighting a bonfire
Or only a funeral pile."

The wonderful voice took hold of people by their heartstrings; and
when she told how the drenched crews were flung ashore, living
and dead, and they carried the bodies to the glare of the fires,
asking: "Child, is this your father?" or "Wife, is this your man?"
you could hear hard breathing all over the benches.

"And when the boats of Brixham
Go out to face the gales,
Think of the love that travels
Like light upon their sails!"

There was very little applause when she finished. The women
were looking for their handkerchiefs, and many of the men stared
at the ceiling with shiny eyes.

"H'm," said Salters; "that 'u'd cost ye a dollar to hear at any
theatre-maybe two. Some folk, I presoom, can afford it. 'Seems
downright waste to me. . . . Naow, how in Jerusalem did Cap. Bart
Edwardes strike adrift here?"

"No keepin' him under," said an Eastport man behind. "He's a poet,
an' he's baound to say his piece. 'Comes from daown aour way,

He did not say that Captain B. Edwardes had striven for five
consecutive years to be allowed to recite a piece of his own
composition on Gloucester Memorial Day. An amused and
exhausted cornmittee had at last given him his desire. The
simplicity and utter happiness of the old man, as he stood up in his
very best Sunday clothes, won the audience ere he opened his
mouth. They sat unmurmuring through seven-and-thirty
hatchet-made verses describing at fullest length the loss of the
schooner Joan Hasken off the Georges in the gale of 1867, and
when he came to an end they shouted with one kindly throat.

A far-sighted Boston reporter slid away for a full copy of the epic
and an interview with the author; so that earth had nothing more to
offer Captain Bart Edwardes, ex-whaler, shipwright,
master-fisherman, and poet, in the seventy-third year of his age.

"Naow, I call that sensible," said the Eastport man. "I've bin over
that graound with his writin', jest as he read it, in my two hands,
and I can testily that he's got it all in."

"If Dan here couldn't do better'n that with one hand before
breakfast, he ought to be switched," said Salters, upholding the
honor of Massachusetts on general principles. "Not but what I'm
free to own he's considerable litt'ery-fer Maine. Still "

"Guess Uncle Salters's goin' to die this trip. Fust compliment he's
ever paid me," Dan sniggered. "What's wrong with you, Harve?
You act all quiet and you look greenish. Feelin' sick?"

"Don't know what's the matter with me," Harvey implied." 'Seems
if my insides were too big for my outsides. I'm all crowded up and

"Dispepsy? Pshaw-too bad. We'll wait for the readin', an' then we'll
quit, an' catch the tide."

The widows-they were nearly all of that season's making-braced
themselves rigidly like people going to be shot in cold blood, for
they knew what was coming. The summer-boarder girls in pink
and blue shirt-waists stopped tittering over Captain Edwardes's
wonderful poem, and looked back to see why all was silent. The
fishermen pressed forward a~ that town official who had talked to
Cheyne bobbed up on the platform and began to read the year's list
of losses, dividing them into months. Last September's casualties
were mostly single men and strangers, but his voice rang very loud
in the stillness of the hall.

"September 9th.Schooner Florrie Anderson lost, with all aboard,
off the Georges.

"Reuben Pitman, master, 50, single, Main Street, City.

"Emil Olsen, 19, single, 329 Hammond Street, City. Denmark.

"Oscar Standberg, single, 25. Sweden.

"CarJ Stanberg, single, 28, Main Street. City.

"Pedro, supposed Madeira, single, Keene's boardinghouse. City.

"Joseph Welsh, alias Joseph Wright, 30, St. John's,

"No-Augusty, Maine," a voice cried from the body of the hall.

"He shipped from St. John's," said the reader, looking to see.

"I know it. He belongs in Augusty. My nevvy."

The reader made a pencilled correction on the margin of the list,
and resumed

"Same schooner, Charlie Ritchie, Liverpool, Nova Scotia, 33,

"Albert May, 267 Rogers Street, City, 27, single.

"September 27th.-Orvin Dollard, 30, married, drowned in dorv off
Eastern Point."

That shot went home, for one of the widows flinched where she
sat, clasping and unclasping her hands. Mrs. Cheyne, who had
been listening with wide-opened eyes, threw up her head and
choked. Dan's mother, a few seats to the right, saw and heard and
quickly moved to her side. The reading went on. By the time they
reached the January and February wrecks the shots were falling
thick and fast, and the widows drew breath between their teeth.

"February l4th.-Schooner Harry Randolph dismasted on the way
home from Newfoundland; Asa Musie, married, 32, Main Street,
City, lost overboard.

"February 23d.-Schooner Gilbert Hope; went astray in dory, Robert
Beavon, 29, married, native of Pubnico, Nova Scotia."

But his wife was in the hall. They heard a low cry, as though a
little animal had been hit. It was stifled at once, and a girl
staggered out of the hall. She had been hoping against hope for
months, because some who have gone adrift in dories have been
miraculously picked up by deep-sea sailing-ships. Now she had her
certainty, and Harvey could see the policeman on the sidewalk
hailing a hack for her. "It's fifty cents to the depot"-the driver
began, but the policeman held up his hand-"but I'm goin' there
anyway. Jump right in. Look at here, All; you don't pull me next
time my lamps ain't lit. See?"

The side-door closed on the patch of bright sunshine, and Harvey's
eyes turned again to the reader and his endless list.

"April 1 9th-Schooner Mamie Douglas lost on the Banks with all

"Edward Canton, 43, master, married, City.

"D. Hawkins, alias Williams, 34, married, Shelbourne, Nova

"G. W. Clay, coloured, 28, married, City."

And so on, and so on. Great lumps were rising in Harvey's throat,
and his stomach reminded him of the day when he fell from the

"May l0th.-Schooner W'e're Here' [the blood tingled all over hi~.
Otto Svendson, 20, single, City, lost overboard."

Once more a low, tearing cry from somewhere at the back of the

"She shouldn't ha' come. She shouldn't ha' come," said Long Jack,
with a cluck of pity.

"Don't scrowge, Harve," grunted Dan. Harvey heard that much, but
the rest was all darkness spotted with fiery wheels. Disko leaned
forward and spoke to his wife, where she sat with one arm round
Mrs. Cheyne, and the other holding down the snatching, catching,
ringed hands.

"Lean your head daown-right daown!" slie whispered. "It'll go off
in a minute."

"I ca-an't! I do-don't! Oh, let me-" Mrs. Cheyne did not at all know
what she said.

"You must," Mrs. Troop repeated. "Your boy's jest fainted dead
away. They do that some when they're gettin' their growth. 'Wish to
tend to him? We can git aout this side. Quite quiet. You come right
along with me. Psha', my dear, we're both women, I guess. We
must tend to aour men-folk. Come!"

The 'We're Heres' promptly went through the crowd as a
body-guard, and it was a very white and shaken Harvey that they
propped up on a bench in an anteroom.

"Favours his ma," was Mrs. Troop's ouly comment, as the mother
bent over her boy.

"How d'you suppose he could ever stand it?" she cried indignantly
to Cheyne, who had said nothing at all. "It was horrible-horrible!
We shouldn't have come. It's wrong and wicked! It-it isn't right!
Why-why couldn't they put these things in the papers, where they
belong? Are you better, darling?"

That made Harvey very properly ashamed. "Oh, I'm all right, I
guess," he said, struggling to his feet, with a broken giggle. "Must
ha' been something I ate for breakfast"

"Coffee; perhaps," said Cheyne, whose face was all in hard lines,
as though it had been cut out of bronze. "We won't go back again."

"Guess 'twould be 'baout's well to git daown to the wharf," said
Disko. "It's close in along with them Dagoes, an' the fresh air will
fresh Mrs. Cheyne up."

Harvey announced that he never felt better in his life; but it was
not till he saw the 'We're Here', fresh from the lumper's hands, at
Wouverman's wharf, that he lost his all-overish feelings in a queer
mixture of pride and sorrowfulness. Other people summer
boarders and such-like-played about in cat-boats or looked at the
sea from pier-heads; but he understood things from the inside--
more things than he could begin to think about None the less, he
could have sat down and howled because the little schooner was
going off. Mrs. Cheyne simply cried and cried every step of the
way and said most extraordinary things to Mrs. Troop, who
"babied" her till Dan, who had not been "babied" since he was six,
whistled aloud.

And so the old crowd-Harvey felt like the most ancient of mariners
dropped into the old schooner among the battered dories, while
Harvey slipped the stern-fast from the pier-head, and they slid her
along the wharf-side with their hands. Every one wanted to say so
much that no one said anything in particular. Harvey bade Dan
take care of Uncle Salters's sea-boots and Penn's dory-anchor, and
Long Jack entreated Harvey to remember his lessons in
seamanship; but the jokes fell flat in the presence of the two
women, and it is hard to be funny with green harbour-water
widening between good friends.

"Up jib and fores'l!" shouted Disko, getting to the wheel, as the
wind took her. " 'See you later, Harve. Dunno but I come near
thinkin' a heap o' you an' your folks."

Then she glided beyond ear-shot, and they sat down to watch her
up the harbour, And still Mrs. Cheyne wept.

"Pshaw, my dear," said Mrs. Troop: "we're both women, I guess.
Like's not it'll ease your heart to hey your cry aout. God He knows
it never done me a mite o' good, but then He knows I've had
something to cry fer!"

Now it was a few years later, and upon the other edge of America,
that a young man came through the clammy sea fog up a windy
street which is flanked with most expensive houses built of wood
to imitate stone. To him, as he was standing by a hammered iron
gate, entered on horseback-and the horse would have been cheap at
a thousand dollars-another young man. And this is what they said:

"Hello, Dan!"

"Hello, Harve!"

"What's the best with you?"

"Well, I'm so's to be that kind o' animal called second mate this
trip. Ain't you most through with that triple invoiced college of

"Getting that way. I tell you, the Leland Stanford Junior, isn't a
circumstance to the old 'We're Here'; but I'm coming into the
business for keeps next fall."

"Meanin' aour packets?"

"Nothing else. You just wait till I get my knife into you, Dan. I'm
going to make the old line lie down and cry when I take hold."

"I'll resk it," said Dan, with a brotherly grin, as Harvey dismounted
and asked whether he were coming in.

"That's what I took the cable fer; but, say, is the doctor anywheres
aranund? I'll draown that crazy rigger some day, his one cussed
joke an' all."

There was a low, triumphant chuckle, as the ex-cook of the We're
Here came out of the fog to take the horse's bridle. He allowed no
one but himself to attend to any of Harvey's wants.

"Thick as the Banks, ain't it, doctor?" said Dan, propitiatingly.

But the coal-black Celt with the second-sight did not see fit to
reply till he had tapped Dan on the shoulder, and for the twentieth
time croaked the old, old prophecy in his ear.

"Master-man. Man-master," said he. "You remember, Dan Troop,
what I said? On the 'We're Here'?"

"Well, I won't go so far as to deny that it do look like it as things
stand at present," said Dan. "She was a noble packet, and one way
an' another I owe her a heap--her and Dad."

"Me too," quoth Harvey Cheyne.


Back to Full Books