"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' sprinkled - "
"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 per-haps 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, that's a boat-load of lunatics, sure," said the skipper, as he
rang up the engine-room and tossed a bundle of newspapers into
"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 lullsikin' 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 agin us fer years - that's all," said Disko.
"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
cud ha' met a tramp an' over an' above givin' her her reckonin',
- over an' above that, I say, - cud 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
"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'try 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 tow-boat 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
"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 cud ha'
floated the Manila, insurance an' 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 cud only tell the tale as he told ut!)
All that whoile the wind blew like ould glory, an' the Marilla - '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 Marilla 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 bin out a matter o' fourteen days and they mis-trusted the
Bank has 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 the
"Nex' cast they got ninety. Sez Counahan: 'Either the lead-line's tuk
to 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 Marilla she'd struck her gait,
an' she hild ut, an' prisintly along came a tramp, an' Counahan
"'Hev 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 yerseif,' 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 as 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 Marilla 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
"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,
"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
"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
Disco 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 the dory from the Carrie, who wanted to know why
they were buoying their cable, since they were not on rocky
"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 you be."
"She ain't driftin' any this trip," said the man angrily, for the Carrie
Pitman had an unsavory reputation for breaking her ground-tackle.
"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.
"0-ver-alls! 0-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 stockin'!" And the forces separated,
but Chatharn 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 gettin' 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 hold."
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.
"Gory, 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 head-gear, "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," bawled 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: "Johanna
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 here. Haw!"
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
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
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
fisher-man'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 stateroom 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!"
"Aooo-whoo-whupp!" went the siren. "Wingle-tingle-tink," went
the bell. "Graaa-ouch!" went the conch, while sea and
sky were all mired 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 gray-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,
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, 0 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
"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 stich eyes in any livin' man's
head. 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
"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
"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
"Abaout five year," said Disko, in a shaking voice.
"Then I have been a charge on some one for every day of that time.