Jim Buck, 1 outside Beau-fort Harbor, with Fort Macon heavin'
hot shot at our stern, an' a livin' gale atop of all. Where was you
"Jest here, or hereabouts," Disko replied, "earnin' my bread on the
deep waters, an' dodgin' Reb privateers. Sorry I can't accommodate
you with red-hot shot, Tom Platt; but I guess we'll come aout all
right on wind 'fore we see Eastern Point."
There was an incessant slapping and chatter at the bows now,
varied by a solid thud and a little spout of spray that clattered
down on the foc'sle. The rigging dripped clammy drops, and the
men lounged along the lee of the house - all save Uncle Salters, who
sat stiffly on the main-hatch nursing his stung hands.
"Guess she'd carry stays'l," said Disko, rolling one eye at his
"Guess she wouldn't to any sorter profit. What's the sense o' wastin'
canvas?" the farmer-sailor replied.
The wheel twitched almost imperceptibly in Disko's hands. A few
seconds later a hissing wave-top slashed diagonally across the
boat, smote Uncle Salters between the shoulders, and drenched
him from head to foot. He rose sputtering, and went forward only
to catch another.
"See Dad chase him all around the deck," said Dan. "Uncle Salters
he thinks his quarter share's our canvas. Dad's put this duckin' act
up on him two trips runnin'. Hi! That found him where he feeds."
Uncle Salters had taken refuge by the foremast, but a wave
slapped him over the knees. Disko's face was as blank as the circle
of the wheel.
"Guess she'd lie easier under stays'l, Salters," said Disko, as though
he had seen nothing.
"Set your old kite, then," roared the victim through a cloud of
spray; "only don't lay it to me if anything happens. Penn, you go
below right off an' git your coffee. You ought to hev more sense
than to bum araound on deck this weather."
"Now they'll swill coffee an' play checkers till the cows come
home," said Dan, as Uncle Salters hustled Penn into the fore-cabin.
"'Looks to me like's if we'd all be doin' so fer a spell. There's
nothin' in creation deader-limpsey-idler'n a Banker when she ain't
"I'm glad ye spoke, Danny," cried Long Jack, who had been casting
round in search of amusement. "I'd dean forgot we'd a passenger
under that T-wharf hat. There's no idleness for thim that don't
know their ropes. Pass him along, Tom Platt, an' we'll larn him."
"'Tain't my trick this time," grinned Dan. "You've got to go it alone.
Dad learned me with a rope's end."
For an hour Long Jack walked his prey up and down, teaching, as
he said, "things at the sea that ivry man must know, blind, dhrunk,
or asleep." There is not much gear to a seventy-ton schooner with a
stump-foremast, but Long Jack had a gift of expression. When he
wished to draw Harvey's attention to the peak-halyards, he dug his
knuckles into the back of the boy's neck and kept him at gaze for
half a minute. He emphasized the difference between fore and aft
generally by rubbing Harvey's nose along a few feet of the boom,
and the lead of each rope was fixed in Harvey's mind by the end of
the rope itself.
The lesson would have been easier had the deck been at all free;
but there appeared to be a place on it for everything and anything
except a man. Forward lay the windlass and its tackle, with the
chain and hemp cables, all very unpleasant to trip over; the foc'sle
stovepipe, and the gurry-butts by the foc'sle hatch to hold the
fish-livers. Aft of these the foreboom and booby of the main-hatch
took all the space that was not needed for the pumps and
dressing-pens. Then came the nests of dories lashed to ring-bolts
by the quarter-deck; the house, with tubs and oddments lashed all
around it; and, last, the sixty-foot main-boom in its crutch, splitting
things length-wise, to duck and dodge under every time.
Tom Platt, of course, could not keep his oar out of the business,
but ranged alongside with enormous and unnecessary descriptions
of sails and spars on the old Ohio.
"Niver mind fwhat he says; attind to me, Innocince. Tom Platt, this
bally-hoo's not the Ohio, an' you're mixing the bhoy bad."
"He'll be ruined for life, beginnin' on a fore-an'-after this way,"
Tom Platt pleaded. "Give him a chance to know a few leadin'
principles. Sailin's an art, Harvey, as I'd show you if I had ye in the
fore-top o' the - "
"I know ut. Ye'd talk him dead an' cowld. Silince, Tom Platt! Now,
after all I've said, how'd you reef the foresail, Harve? Take your
"Haul that in," said Harvey, pointing to leeward.
"Fwhat? The North Atlantuc?"
"No, the boom. Then run that rope you showed me back there - "
"That's no way," Tom Platt burst in.
"Quiet! He's larnin', an' has not the names good yet. Go on, Harve."
"Oh, it's the reef-pennant. I'd hook the tackle on to the
reef-pennant, and then let down - "
"Lower the sail, child! Lower!" said Tom Platt, in a professional
"Lower the throat and peak halyards," Harvey went on. Those
names stuck in his head.
"Lay your hand on thim," said Long Jack.
Harvey obeyed. "Lower till that rope-loop - on the after-leach-kris - no,
it's cringle - till the cringle was down on the boom. Then I'd tie her
up the way you said, and then I'd hoist up the peak and throat
"You've forgot to pass the tack-earing, but wid time and help ye'll
larn. There's good and just reason for ivry rope aboard, or else
'twould be overboard. D'ye follow me? 'Tis dollars an' cents I'm
puttin' into your pocket, ye skinny little supercargo, so that fwhin
ye've filled out ye can ship from Boston to Cuba an' tell thim Long
Jack larned you. Now I'll chase ye around a piece, callin' the ropes,
an' you'll lay your hand on thim as I call."
He began, and Harvey, who was feeling rather tired, walked slowly
to the rope named. A rope's end licked round his ribs, and nearly
knocked the breath out of him.
"When you own a boat," said Tom Platt, with severe eyes, "you
can walk. Till then, take all orders at the run. Once more - to make
Harvey was in a glow with the exercise, and this last cut warmed
him thoroughly. Now he was a singularly smart boy, the son of a
very clever man and a very sensitive woman, with a fine resolute
temper that systematic spoiling had nearly turned to mulish
obstinacy. He looked at the other men, and saw that even Dan did
not smile. It was evidently all in the day's work, though it hurt
abominably; so he swallowed the hint with a gulp and a gasp and a
grin. The same smartness that led him to take such advantage of
his mother made him very sure that no one on the boat, except,
maybe, Penn, would stand the least nonsense. One learns a great
deal from a mere tone. Long Jack called over half a dozen ropes,
and Harvey danced over the deck like an eel at ebb-tide, one eye on
"Ver' good. Ver' good don," said Manuel. "After supper I show you
a little schooner I make, with all her ropes. So we shall learn."
"Fust-class fer - a passenger," said Dan. "Dad he's jest allowed you'll
be wuth your salt maybe 'fore you're draownded. Thet's a heap fer
Dad. I'll learn you more our next watch together."
"Taller!" grunted Disko, peering through the fog as it smoked over
the bows. There was nothing to be seen ten feet beyond the surging
jib-boom, while alongside rolled the endless procession of solemn,
pale waves whispering and lipping one to the other.
"Now I'll learn you something Long Jack can't," shouted Tom
Platt, as from a locker by the stern he produced a battered deep-sea
lead hollowed at one end, smeared the hollow from a saucer full of
mutton tallow, and went forward. "I'll learn you how to fly the
Blue Pigeon. Shooo!"
Disko did something to the wheel that checked the schooner's way,
while Manuel, with Harvey to help (and a proud boy was Harvey),
let down the jib in a lump on the boom. The lead sung a deep
droning song as Tom Platt whirled it round and round.
"Go ahead, man," said Long Jack, impatiently. "We're not drawin'
twenty-five fut off Fire Island in a fog. There's no trick to ut."
"Don't be jealous, Galway." The released lead plopped into the sea
far ahead as the schooner surged slowly forward.
"Soundin' is a trick, though," said Dan, "when your dipsey lead's all
the eye you're like to hev for a week. What d'you make it, Dad?"
Disko's face relaxed. His skill and honour were involved in the
march he had stolen on the rest of the Fleet, and he had his
reputation as a master artist who knew the Banks blindfold. "Sixty,
mebbe - ef I'm any judge," he replied, with a glance at the tiny
compass in the window of the house.
"Sixty," sung out Tom Platt, hauling in great wet coils.
The schooner gathered way once more. "Heave!" said Disko, after
a quarter of an hour.
"What d'you make it?" Dan whispered, and he looked at Harvey
proudly. But Harvey was too proud of his own performances to be
impressed just then.
"Fifty," said the father. "I mistrust we're right over the nick o'
Green Bank on old Sixty-Fifty."
"Fifty!" roared Tom Platt. They could scarcely see him through the
fog. "She's bust within a yard - like the shells at Fort Macon."
"Bait up, Harve," said Dan, diving for a line on the reel.
The schooner seemed to be straying promiscuously through the
smother, her headsail banging wildly. The men waited and looked
at the boys who began fishing.
"Heugh!" Dan's lines twitched on the scored and scarred rail. "Now
haow in thunder did Dad know? Help us here, Harve. It's a big un.
Poke-hooked, too." They hauled together, and landed a
goggle-eyed twenty-pound cod. He had taken the bait right into his
"Why, he's all covered with little crabs," cried Harvey, turning him
"By the great hook-block, they're lousy already," said Long Jack.
"Disko, ye kape your spare eyes under the keel."
Splash went the anchor, and they all heaved over the lines, each
man taking his own place at the bulwarks.
"Are they good to eat?" Harvey panted, as he lugged in another
"Sure. When they're lousy it's a sign they've all been herdin'
together by the thousand, and when they take the bait that way
they're hungry. Never mind how the bait sets. They'll bite on the
"Say, this is great!" Harvey cried, as the fish came in gasping and
splashing - nearly all poke-hooked, as Dan had said. "Why can't we
always fish from the boat instead of from the dories?"
"Allus can, till we begin to dress daown. Efter thet, the heads and
offals 'u'd scare the fish to Fundy. Boatfishin' ain't reckoned
progressive, though, unless ye know as much as dad knows. Guess
we'll run aout aour trawl to-night. Harder on the back, this, than
frum the dory, ain't it?"
It was rather back-breaking work, for in a dory the weight of a cod
is water-borne till the last minute, and you are, so to speak, abreast
of him; but the few feet of a schooner's freeboard make so much
extra dead-hauling, and stooping over the bulwarks cramps the
stomach. But it was wild and furious sport so long as it lasted; and
a big pile lay aboard when the fish ceased biting.
"Where's Penn and Uncle Salters?" Harvey asked, slapping the
slime off his oilskins, and reeling up the line in careful imitation
of the others.
"Git 's coffee and see."
Under the yellow glare of the lamp on the pawl-post, the foc'sle
table down and opened, utterly unconscious of fish or weather, sat
the two men, a checker-board between them, Uncle Salters
snarling at Penn's every move.
"What's the matter naow?" said the former, as Harvey, one hand in
the leather loop at the head of the ladder, hung shouting to the
"Big fish and lousy - heaps and heaps," Harvey replied, quoting
Long Jack. "How's the game?"
Little Penn's jaw dropped. "'Tweren't none o' his fault," snapped
Uncle Salters. "Penn's deef."
"Checkers, weren't it?" said Dan, as Harvey staggered aft with the
steaming coffee in a tin pail. "That lets us out o' cleanin' up
to-night. Dad's a jest man. They'll have to do it."
"An' two young fellers I know'll bait up a tub or so o' trawl, while
they're cleanin'," said Disko, lashing the wheel to his taste.
"Um! Guess I'd ruther clean up, Dad."
"Don't doubt it. Ye wun't, though. Dress daown! Dress daown!
Penn'll pitch while you two bait up."
"Why in thunder didn't them blame boys tell us you'd struck on?"
said Uncle Salters, shuffling to his place at the table. "This knife's
"Ef stickin' out cable don't wake ye, guess you'd better hire a boy
o' your own," said Dan, muddling about in the dusk over the tubs
full of trawl-line lashed to windward of the house. "Oh, Harve,
don't ye want to slip down an' git 's bait?"
"Bait ez we are," said Disko. "I mistrust shag-fishin' will pay
better, ez things go."
That meant the boys would bait with selected offal of the cod as
the fish were cleaned - an improvement on paddling bare-handed in
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 to-night. 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 just one o' Dad's blame experirnents. 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 ahold 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 dryly 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! clang! 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 yet."
"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 oil-skinned 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 hour struck clear in the cabin; the
nosing bows slapped and scuffed with the seas; the foc'sle
stove-pipe hissed and sputtered as the spray caught it; and the boys
slept on, while Disko, Long Jack, Tom Platt, 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 each round.
Harvey waked to find the "first half" at breakfast, the foc'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 foc'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 buckshot. Followed the woolly sound of the cable in the
hawse-hole; and a grunt and squeal of the windlass; a yaw, a punt,
and a kick, and the 'We're Here' gathered herself together to repeat
"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
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
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 get jest about what's
goin', candles or kerosene, fer that matter."
"'Tis a mighty good thing," said Long Jack, "to have a friend 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
"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 Calem 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 stripe'd 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 Platt, 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.
Chuckle-head! Chuckle-head! Mind where ye sound!"
Tom Platt's huge rubber boot whirled across the foc'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 machette.
"'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,