John Talbot Smith.

Saranac : a story of Lake Champlain online

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life kept the lady and the sailor from meeting for a
whole month. Had he paid attention to the fact
that Elise and Remi visited Miss DeLaunay every
week he would have been concerned ; or had he seen
her every other morning at dawn watching the
Adirondack as it appeared around Iron Point and
swept up to the dock he would surely have despaired.
The children told Regina more about the captain
than she could have learned herself from older people.
She liked to talk about him. She was building up in
her soul an image of the plain, blunt fellow as he
really was, and she was in admiration of it. It was
easy for her to rise in the sunny morning and watch
the steamer sailing out of the sun as it were into the
harbor. Its noble outlines and movement pleased the
eye ; when she thought of the guiding mind within it
the thought stirred her heart. All night the Captain
was at his post guiding the ship through the lake
channels. It was really he rather than the ship who
came so proudly and nobly into port. She said to
herself her interest arose from the fact that Captain
Hugh was so different from the men about her. She
thought of her father and sighed ; and remembered
Winthrop's sneering face in the church and sighed
again. If Winthrop could have seen and known !

After a time he did see enough to disturb him
severely. In every visit he made her he noticed that
his dear girl, if it was evening, went out on the ver-
anda to see the Captain's ship sail down the bay,
and once Mrg DeLaunay said.



H4

' Regina's devotion to that boat is fervid ; she never
misses a sight of it."

But in Saranac every one had the same devotion.

" You should see it in the morning," he began, and
Regina interrupted him to say

" I do see it in the morning, if I am awake," and
he was actually suspicious enough to watch her win-
dow for a week after to satisfy himself that she awoke
for this event. Next he discovered the visits and
talks of the children, and his soul was filled with
glocm.

A certainty unfavorable to our hopes is more en-
durable than the state of doubt, but doubt has also
its compensations. Winthrop could not see them.
He longed to end his miserable swaying between joy
and despair, but as Miss DeLaunay had never encour-
aged him to woo her he dared not risk all on an ill-
prepared proposal. Still the situation looked black
for him. When Hugh's name was mentioned in Re
gina's presence a light came into her eyes that alarmed
him. It would seem there was an understanding be-
tween them.

He had no confidant to help him bear his misery
and give him comfort. His father he did not treat
very kindly in his confidences, as he gave him only
those which concerned the worst side of his charac-
ter ; and the old gentleman shrank from them, much
as he loved his boy. John loved his father somewhat.
But the elder's business capacity being destroyed by
sickness, the other elements of his character were not
very pleasing. He suffered from John's ill-humor
particularly, because through it he sometimes discov-
ered the cause of the young man's trouble. In these



"5

trying days young Winthrop's gloom cast a gloom
over their bachelor household.

* What's the matter, Joha ?" said the father ten-
derly.

" Same old trouble," said John, "girl."

*' You know my feelings on that particular girl,"
said the senior.

" And you know mine," significantly.

"I should think I did. What's the matter now?"

" Doubt. Not certain but another fellow is taking
the lead. You look as if you would like that to hap-
pen," and John glared at nis father.

" Not under the circumstances," and the old man
grew a shade paler. " I pray for your success '

" Good, dad," said John, surprised into a laugh,
" I didn't know you had begun to be pious."

"Well, I have. Sickness, I suppose, has won me,
and then I see no help anywhere. When a man's
enemy is sporting his hard earned money under his
very eyes unpunished, and when a man's own son
says he will commit suicide if a certain girl rejects
him, and there is no way to help or prevent or right
these things, what can he do but pray to One that
rules all things to help him out of his danger ? I know
you're in earnest, John, and though I don't like the
family, I'd sooner you'd marry every soul in it than
lose you before my time. So I'm praying for you."

" Dad, you're too good," said John squeezing his
father's hand. " I know I distress you wth such talk,
but I can't help it W.ien I think of losing that
dear girl a blackness comes over me that makes death
seem a trifle compared with it. I'' , been in the
dumps before, and I'll get out of these all right.



Nothing serious has happened. It's only suspicion.
You keep on praying I don't believe in it, but I
like to know you are doing your best for me, as you
always did."

Life, career, happiness hung in the balance with
Regina's love. This was so true that he often grew
suddenly weak and sick and cast himself in anguish
on the ground ; he saw it all, the horrid ending, his
father's misery, and perhaps that eternity of punish-
ment in which he should wander desolate of her. He
carried in his pocket a letter which he was tempted
to tear into pieces and cast from him forever. He
would read it over and over, threaten it, return it to
his pocket.

It was Hugh's letter with the reference to De-
Launay's crime. For destroying an ideal it would be
the engine. Regina's trust in the man who had
promised her secrecy and violated the promise would
not hold a minute after reading that letter. But he
could not commit this crime against the comrade of
his heart. His nature, honorable to the finest sense
of honor, turned against it. Hugh and he had gone
through blood together, and since childhood had been
bound by the closest ties. He knew the revelation in
the letter was an unconscious slip of the mind. The
missive ought to be destroyed, and the temptation
forever removed, but he had not the strength to de-
stroy it. He put it back always with the uncomforta-
ble feeling that he was keeping it, as he had kept it
all these months, to use against h's friend. But he
assured himself that death would be an easier and
pleasanter fate than dishonor, and he said aloud that
the lake would receive his living body before his hand



lent itself to such a deed. The utterance of so noble
a sentiment usually quieted his conscience, and made
him good-tempered and hopeful for some days.



CHAPTER XIV.
THE STEAMER'S FATE.

The dock at Whitehall, where Captain Sullivan
moored his steamer every other day was a bright place
on a summer evening. Miss D^Launay liked it bet
ter than the sights in Saratoga. Oi her return from
a few weeks' visit to the Springs she told the captain
of her liking, and was at once seated where the
scene of bustle and excitement could be stud-
ied at leisure. The night was dark and
cool, and the lamps shone all the better for it. The
b g steamer lay at her mooring like a captive ghost,
while the dock was the source of noise and uproar
Mr DeLaunay thought it was tiresome and was for
going to bed, until Regina had interested him by
pointing out the curious things that delighted her
amid the confusion. Then he became interested
himself, and wondered how the deuce she could dis-
cover them

A tramp hung around the freight gangway and
talked at odd times with the men. His rags drew a
laugh froai DeLaunay for their oddity He carried
the rags with dignity, Regina thought, and with more
manliness and more independence than tramps had
usually. His face seemed dark and savage from a
distance, probably because his wide-rimmed ragged
hat shaded it too much.

" What do you think about him ?" said Mr. De-
Launay wishing to be amused.



n6

Nothing serious has happened. It's only suspicion.
You keep on praying I don't believe in it, but I
like to know you are doing your best for me, as you
always did."

Life, career, happiness hung in the balance with
Regina's love. This was so true that he often grew
suddenly weak and sick and cast himself in anguish
on the ground ; he saw it all, the horrid ending, his
father's misery, and perhaps that eternity of punish-
ment in which he should wander desolate of her. He
carried in his pocket a letter which he was tempted
to tear into pieces and cast from him forever. He
would read it over and over, threaten it, return it to
his pocket.

It was Hugh's letter with the reference to De-
Launay's crime. For destroying an ideal it would be
the engine. Regina's trust in the man who had
promised her secrecy and violated the promise would
not hold a minute after reading that letter. But he
could not commit this crime against the comrade of
his heart. His nature, honorable to the finest sense
of honor, turned against it. Hugh and he had gone
through blood together, and since childhood had been
bound by the closest ties. He knew the revelation in
the letter was an unconscious slip of the mind. The
missive ought to be destroyed, and the temptation
forever removed, but he had not the strength to de-
stroy it. He put it back always with the uncomforta-
ble feeling that he was keeping it, as he had kept it
all these months, to use against h's friend. But he
assured himself that death would be an easier and
pleasanter fate than dishonor, and he said aloud that
the lake would receive his living body before his hand



lent itself to such a deed. The utterance of so noble
a sentiment usually quieted his conscience, and made
him good-tempered and hopeful for some days.

CHAPTER XIV.
THE STEAMER'S FATE.

The dock at Whitehall, where Captain Sullivan
moored his steamer every other day was a bright place
on a summer evening. Miss DeLaunay liked it bet
ter than the sights in Saratoga. Oi her return from
a few weeks' visit to the Springs she told the captain
of her liking, and was at once seated where the
scene of bustle and excitement could be stud-
ied at leisure. The night was dark and
cool, and the lamps shone all the better for it. The
b g steamer lay at her mooring like a captive ghost,
while the dock was the source of noise and uproar
Mr DeLaunay thought it was tiresome and was for
going to bed, until Regina had interested him by
pointing out the curious things that delighted her
amid the confusion. Then he became Interested
himself, and wondered how the deuce she could dis-
cover them

A tramp hung around the freight gangway and
talked at odd times with the men. His rags drew a
laugh from DeLaunay for their oddity He carried
the rags with dignity, Regina thought, and with more
manliness and more independence than tramps had
usually. His face seemed dark and savage from a
distance, probably because his wide-rimmed ragged
hat shaded it too much.

" What do you think about him ?" said Mr. De-
Launay wishing to be amused.



n8

" He is a stranger ia this place," she replied, " his
rags are an accident. He is not afraid of anything.
He is a man. But some trouble agitates him. He
ii on the dock for a purpose, and thinks he may not
accomplish it."

<k No doubt he drinks," said the father sorrowfully,
for Regina's admiration for a man made him feel un-
comfortable.

" That may be his trouble. Do you know him,
Captain?"

Hugh had come up for a moment to assure himself
of her comfort.

" A common tramp," he replied, " anxiou? to steal
his way up the lake. Probably stole it down last
night or last week."

Her father laughed, Regina shook her head.

" He is not a tramp of these parts," she said, ''* and
there is something notable, peculiar about him "

Hugh bent over the rail and took a closer look.

" I think you are right," he said. " He is a stran-
ger and something above the common. If he wants
a ride I'll give it to him.'"

" How generous!"

u Your interest in him has paid his fare, ' said the
gallant Captain with a bow, and he went away laugh-
ing at her evident surprise.

"In the name of all that's chivalrous where did he
get that bow ? Is not this the converser on pigs and
frying pans."

" I suppose," said Regina, ' he is playing a well-
rehearsed part as he played Ingomar. Then he is at
home on the water you know, and all sailors are po-



lite on their own element. But please observe our
tramp. Good fortune has reached him."

Hugh had addressed the man, who listened to
the Captain's remarks pleased but not cringing.
Then he bowed in a way that again astonished De-
Launay, came towards the boat with Sullivan, and
stood for a minute hat in hand while the Captain
spoke to a deck official. His weather-tanned face,
thin and severe in feature, was worth a study. Dissi-
pation had exhausted it, but a dare devil nature was
quite visible in every line. Even DeLaunay was able
to form an opinion on it.

" A rough, bad life has ruined him," he said, " and
he won't last long. But what a devil he must have
been in his day."

" You mean, what a man he must have been !" said
Regina ; and her clear tones reached the tramp. He
looked up, smiled, bowed as if admitting the truth of
the remark ; then a deck-hand took charge and bo* e
him away.

" He believes you," said DeLaunay. " More bow-
ing. Etiquette from tramps ! Chivalry from boat-
men ! Save us !"

The big boat glided from the dock, and away
through the south hills into the lake. The lovely shores
around were sparsely settled by lake gypsies and the
lights from their low cabins twinkled in the night. The
dark hills were visible where their rough tops showed
against the sky. The stillness of that beautiful region
was disturbed only by the panting of the steamer and
the churning of the water under the paddle wheels. It
was like moving through a land of mystery in charge
of a powerful spirit.



I2O

When the boat swung into a landing Regina saw
in miniature the scenes of the dock at Whitehall, the
deck hands rushing about in the glare of the lamps,
nervous travellers, and lazy sight-seers. These land
ings were numerous, and being on both shores gave
the steamer a zigzag course. There wis an ever
shifting horizon of mountains, of shores dotted at ran-
dom with the lights ot remote villages.

The scene became m^re im pressive when Captain
Sullivan took them to the wheel house, where the
chief pilot and his assistant guided the vessel in the
open lake. The hurricane deck was in darkness, and
the lake with its shores lay distinct to the eye, the
smooth waters like a map at their feet. The old pilot
told her lake stories, and permitted her to hold the
wheel spokes and help change the course of the ship.
What a thrill moved her as she felt the great panting
creature turn so gently under her weak hand !

" You have seer, the prince of Champlain pilots,"
said Hugh later, "a reputation which secures him a
position for life. He must have assistants and an
attendant. He has become a morphine eater in a
mild way. Since he made this fact known the com-
pany gave him an attendant, another pilot who never
leaves him an instant while he is at the wheel. The
old fellow wanted to resign."

" That was honest of him," said Regina, " and
clever of the company to retain him."

" He is worth thousands to them," said the Captain.
"He has never made a blunder that cost them any-
thing. Even his morphine habit has never yet inter-
fered with his duties and his skill. But of course it
may sometime."



til

" It surely will," said DeLaunay, " and I am glad the,
company takes proper measures to prevent accident.'

Captain Sullivan showed the father and daughter every
courtesy. His attentions were numerous and without
awkwardness. He kmw just what to do, and did it
like a master. His uniformed figure looked majestic
to Regina in her present gentle temper. His man-
ner towards the passengers was as suave and even as
that of a beau. She was certain he said nothing of
pigs and frying-pans in his conversation with them,
nor did he bring up these vulgar figures once in his
chatting with her. The official was a less faulty per-
son than the private citizen. Being much given to
comparison of late she could not help contrasting the
two men who sat with her. Her father's elegance of
manner was no match for the flexibility and youth of
the Captain. It looked effeminate beside that dignity
which perfect health, a fine uniform, the conscious-
ness of authority and heavy responsibility gave the
chief officer.

To be a commanding man was much, and all her
impressions of months back concerning Hugh Sulli-
van came to her soul at once like the tones of a per-
fect chord, and roused her to admiration. His blunt
honest manner, his admirable acting, the love of his
relatives for him, his religious feeling, the honest
services he had rendered her father, his unconscious
humility under her cruel indifference to these services,
the tender love for his sister's children ; these things
stirred her heart deeply because she was now looking
at him clothed with power, and wearing it with the
courage and sobriety that distinguish men capable
to rule.



S22

Beside him not only her father but all the men she
had ever known seemed insignificant. John Win
throp, soldier though he had been, was no exception.
Alas for John ! He came aboard at one obscure
landing, conscious that fate had tricked him in delaying
the train which would have given him the steamer at
Whitehall. The fascination of a uniform, the mag-
netism of a handsome chief officer, and four hours'
time were fatal influences against him ; but confiding
in the power of night, stars, lake and clouded shore
to move the sentimental soul, he set himself to use
them. He talked to the DeLaunays quite skilfully,
until Regina felt warm and enthusiastic at his clever
expression of the feelings the night journey had
waked in her own heart. His appearance would not
have pleased her earlier in the evening, as it might
have spoiled her contemplation of the Captain's good
qualities ; when this contemplation was ended by
sleepiness, Winthrop's lively talk and delicate senii
ment were very agreeable What mortification for
him did he know his efforts were so lightly consider-
ed ; what despair had he seen her mentally comparing
him with the Captain to Sullivan's increased glory. In
the Captain, Regina concluded, there was less senti-
ment, more action. Then, in spite of John's senti-
mental charms, she went to bed and slept.

Some one else also slept that evening to the detri-
ment of the steamship corporation. At two o'clock of
the morning the Captain met the pilot's attendant on his
way to the wheelhouse, which he had left for a minute
after the steamer touched at Westport. This was a
breach of rules since his orders were not to leave the
pilot for an instant. The Captain sharply reproved him.



123

" The old man has no morphine in him to night,''
said the attendant, "he told me so. I have been
away only a minute. I left him as wide awake as you
are."

" No excuse," said the Captain sharply. " Never
let this occur again/'

Perhaps he was thinking of Regina's presence on
board. He had hardly spoken the word when some
thing curious and inexplicable happened. The deck
slanted gently so that the Captain thought for an in-
stant that it was caving in aft, the speed suddenly fell
off, then ceased, the steamer tilted slightly to larboard,
and a light crash was heard forward. That was all.
There was no disturbance, and but for the slant of the
deck and the stoppage no one could suspect danger.
At the first pitch of the vessel the two officers sprang
to the upper deck. One glance made plain the dis-
aster and relieved their worst fears. The Adirondack
was ashore on a slanting rock bottom and by the
rarest of good fortune had tilted gently in the right
direction. Her side rested solidly and safely against
the rock wall of the precipitous shore, while the bow
had mounted a low ridge and of its own weight fallen
on the other side. This was the crash heard In the
wheelhouse stood the pilot sound asleep, a morphine
sleep, with the spokes of the wheel in his hands, mo-
tionless, unconscious.

The next instant found Hugh speeding to the en-
gine room. The engine had been stopped. On his way
he met two figures in the deserted salon, Regina and
Winthrop, pale and wondering.

" We are ashore," said the Captain.

" My God," cried John with a lo >k of anguish to-



124

wards Regina, "let us wake the people" and he
would have raised a shout of alarm, but that the Cap-
tain clapped his hand to his mouth and said in a
whisper :

" Not a word for your life. There is no danger.
Keep your head, John, and get Miss DeLaunay ready
to go ashore. I'll 'tend to the others."

His coolness and decision were magnificent to
Regina, and his strong will brought Winthrop to him-
f.elf at once The third instant found Hugh in the
engine-room whence the engineer had fled; the
fourth saw him at the furnace and the tramp beside
him. The entire watch had followed the engineer in
a cowardly fTght to shore.

Fortunately the fires were undisturbed, and a few
minute's work with the aid of the tramp shut off
danger from them. Leaving the useful fellow on
guard he returned to the deck. The pilot's attend-
ant was standing with Winthrop and Regina.

" Help these two ashore," said the Captain, ' and
then come back to look after t^e rest. You can step
from the deck to the rocks I think."

" Easily," said the pale attendant. " She is stuck
fast on a ledge."

u My father," said Regina.

" There is not the slightest fear," Hugh said with a
smile, she had shown such a calm courage. " I shall
bring him to you without disturbing his nerves."

When they had gone he proceeded to wake his
officers and instruct them. Very quietly the pas-
sengers were aroused, and informed that the journey
had come to an end. Very sourly and leisurely they
dressed and straggled into the salon, where the officers



"5

were waiting ; they were led quietly to the deck and
handed ashore over the regular gangplank, too mysti-
fied by the darkness, broken sleep, and sour tempers
to understand the position. The rocky slope, pine
and spruce trees ill around, and the broken bow of
the steamer in a heap on the shore explained that
this was not the dock at Saranac. Surprised questions
were cut short by a speech from the captain, a brief
description of the accident, and a statement that a
messenger had been sent for a rescue steamer; while
they waited a small cabin near by was at the disposal
of the women, the men to shift as they best could. Un-
der the lead of the first officer the confused travellers
made through the pine gro/e to the cabin. It was
the shabby hut of a cross fisherman, whose absence
for twelve hours had been bought by the captain.
The women took possession cheerfully, the men went
off to inspect the steamer, the tramp and the first
officer were detailed to guard the hut. Regina was
pleased to see that her tramp bore a close inspection
well. His thin, feverish face had marks of sorrow as
well as dissipation. It was a good face in the main,
and his eyes were pathetic. He arranged the cabin
in a handy manner, seeming to know wh r e necessary
things should be in a bachelor s hut ; made a fire on
the wide hearth, brought crockery, tinware and eat-
ables from the wrecked steamer, cooked the coffee,
eggs and toast, and served a neat and refreshing me < I
to eight or ten nervous women. His rags were gone.
Some ^ne had given him enough clothing to take
a<vay t^e tramp appearance.

Winthrop brought Regina a report of the situa-
tion after the meal was over. The great steamer



126

was firmly stuck in its upright position, but for
ever useless, and Hugh was actually shedding
tears over it. The men had returned it
their staterooms to sleep the night out. Prob-
ably by noon the next day a steamer would arrive
from Burlington to take them home. Revived
by hot coffee and toast, the women chattered their
grief, joy, wonder in one breath to John, bat Re-
gina said nothing. There was something strange
about her, Winthrop's loving eyes noticed ; something
inexplicable and beautiful. He did not like it and
felt worried. The tramp and the first officer sug-
gested that a little sleep would save the ladies from
headaches that day and give them an appetite for
breakfast ; at the bare mention of it they banished
the men and went to bed on the floor with elaborate
preparations. But Regina could not sleep, and took
the one easy chair into the small porch over the door-
way, where the three men sat at her feet and talked
in murmurs of the shipwreck and the luck of the
escaped passengers. Two men had disappeared, the
engineer and the unfortunate pilot, who were proba-


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Online LibraryJohn Talbot SmithSaranac : a story of Lake Champlain → online text (page 8 of 18)