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"That's what I wanted to see you about,"
Medbury told him. " You 're not going."
He smiled, but he glanced uneasily at
Davis out of the corners of his eyes.

Davis stopped and looked at him. He
was a middle-aged man with a red beard
and an uncertain temper, and now he
stared at Medbury with flushing face.
Then he broke into a laugh.

"I ain't, eh?" he demanded good-na-
turedly. " I 'd like to know why not."

Medbury smiled and laid his hand on
the other's shoulder.

" Because I want to go myself, John,"
he replied. "I 've j{(?/ to go."

Davis stared at him with dropping jaw.



" You : "

" That 's what I said," Medbury replied.

For a moment Davis stood grinning un-
certainly ; then he looked up.

"Where 's the joke?" he asked.
" Blamed if I see it."

" It 's no joke," said Medbury, patiently.
" I 've ^0/ to go. I can't tell why— just
now ; but some day I may."

Davis gazed up and down the street
with an abstracted air; but all at once he
drew himself together and exclaimed :

"Well, I '11 be-" He broke off sud-
denly, and, turning sharply, began to walk
back to the village.

" Where are you going ? " asked Med-
bury, still standing in the road.

Over his shoulder Davis answered la-
conically :

*' To tell the ol' man I can't go." He
did not stop.

" It 's mighty good of you, John," Med-
bury called humbly. " I '11 make it up to
you somehow — see if I don't."

" Make it up ! " cried Davis, stopping in
the road. " I don't want nothin' made up.
You made it up, years ago, when you got
me out of that affair in Para. You did n't
ask no (juestions that night ; nor when you
run across our bar in that northeaster to
fish up my boy when his boat capsized. I
don't know what you *re up to, and I don't
care. It 's all right." He waved his hand
lightly, as if to dismiss all obligations, and
departed in search of Captain March.

But half a dozen steps away, Medbury
heard him laugh, and turned to see him
standing in the road, looking back.

"Just this minute saw what you was
aimin' at," he called to Medbujy. " Well,
good luck to you I " And, grinning to him-
self, he went his way.

"Now," thought Medbury, "if Cap'n
March '11 only keep his eyes open for the
rest of the day, I guess he 's not going to
miss seeing me. I shall be near, but not
too near. Only I wish I knew of some-
thing to hurry him up before too many
people laugh and wish me luck."

Fate, in the hands of a woman, was to
do that for him.



With something of the serene imperturba-
bility that was a part of his habitual atti-
tude toward life, the Rev. Robert Drew
sat in a rocking-chair on the little porch



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Drawu by Marliu Justice. Half-tone plate ein,'ravcd by C. W. Chadwick

•THERE WAS A TWINKLE IN CAPTAIN MARCH'S EYES'



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of his house and, slowly rocking, looked
out across the waters of the placid bay
while he awaited Captain March's sum-
mons. For twenty-four hours he had
scarcely stirred from home, that he might
be in instant readiness for departure on
the coming of the captain*s messenger;
but the messenger still tarried, and the
Henrietta C, March, lying quietly at anchor
off the harbor with her mainsail up, seemed
no nearer to sailing than she had been the
day before.

It was early in March— March that had
come in like a lamb and now lay drowsing
under a sun that hourly reddened the buds
and gleamed white on the salt-meadows
and the shining boles of trees. There were
bird-calls at inter\'als; barnyard fowls
sunned themselves in garden spaces and
sent up cloudy veils of dust : the life of the
earth was awakening. Drew could see
dark specks about the harbor's mouth : he
knew that the boats had begun to go out
for flatfish. The thought of even that mild
activity moved him to impatience, and,
getting to his feet, he walked to an open
window and looked in.

" Mother," he said, " I 'm going to find
Captain March and get some reason from
him why he does n't sail. He can get a
good mate, I hear; I don't understand his
delaying. I 'm tired of it. If he is n't
going, I wish to know it, and arrange for a
vacation elsewhere.''

" Very well, Robert." His mother looked
up brightly. Her son as an instrument of
strenuous aggressiveness amused her. She
had the sense of humor, which he had not
inherited, and it was this sense that lured
her on to add : " Don't say anything that
you may regret."

**Oh, no," he answered gravely, and
went away, leaving her to the silent laugh-
ter that always seemed to him, whenever
he was a witness of it, as something pecu-
liarly elusive and almost pagan.

In all Blackwater there was no cooler
spot than Myron Beckwith's boat-shop.
Facing the Shore Road, and standing on
piles, with big sliding doors opening at
each end, on a hot summer afternoon one
could always find a cool breeze drawing
through it and hear the water lapping about
the piles beneath the floor. The panorama
of village life passed by on the Shore Road,
and at the back doors one could sit and
watch all the activity of harbor and wharves



and see the vessels going up and down the
sound. To sailors ashore and to idlers in
general it was an attractive spot. Here
Drew found Captain March standing in a
little group near the rear doors, ruminating
on life.

"No," he was saying, "things go best
by contraries. A sailor ought to marry a
girl from the inboard, who .does n't know
a scow from a full-rigged ship and is just
a little scart at sight of salt water. A man
like the dominie here," he added, as Drew
halted by the group, "ought to marry a
girl who 's never been under conviction
and has got a spice of old Satan in her.
That 's what gives 'em variety and keeps
*em interested. When you know just what
you 're going to have for your meals every
day, you kind o* lose interest in your eating."

" Dominie," said Jehiel Dace, " you
ought to get the cap'n to supply your pul-
pit while you 're off on your vacation. He 's
a good deal of a preacher."

" I have other uses for him," said Drew,
with a smile.

" 'T would n't be a bad notion if we 'd
all change places now and then," replied
the captain. " We 'd appreciate each other
better. I don't know but I could preach
about as well as the dominie could run the
Henrietta C, I ain't so sure about the
prayers. One thing, there 's several in
that congregation I 'd like to talk at."

" Nothin' to hender you from freein'
your mind as it is," suggested Dace, bright-
ening at the prospect. " You don't need no
pulpit for that."

There was a twinkle in Captain March's
eyes, but he shook his head.

" No," he said with an air of finality, " it
would n't be official. Wisdom has got to
have authority to give it weight. Otherwise
it 's just blamed impudence."

" That 's so," admitted Dace ; " that 's a
good deal so. See what a man will take
from his wife without — "

Captain March turned suddenly.

" There he comes ! " he exclaimed, and
gazed steadily through the open window.

All eyes, turning in the same direction,
saw a horseman gallo[)ing down the Mount
Horeb road. He descended the hill, was
lost to sight behind the rigging-loft, flashed
past a bit of the Shore Road, and was hid-
den again for a moment while they heard
the thunder of his horse's feet on the mill-
creek bridge. Captain March seated him-



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THE CENTURY MAGAZINE



self and, with knees wide apart, faced the
land-side door.

In front of the shop a boy threw himself
from a panting horse. He walked straight
up to Captain March, and in much the
same manner that a courier might an-
nounce defeat to a king, said :

"He can't come. His wife 's sick, he
says. He can't come."

" That settles it," said the captain. " I
heard Simeon Macy was ashore, and I
thought maybe I could get him for mate.
Now I Ve got to go to the city this after-
noon and look one up."

No one spoke, but every man in the
group except the captain and Drew thought
of Thomas Medbvwy, and wondered how
far a man might be justified in letting per-
sonal reasons override necessity when his
vessel was loaded and ready for sea.

Dace was the first to break the silence.

" As 1 was sayin'," he remarked, ** speak-
in' of wives — "

Some one touched Drew on the shoulder
and he turned (juickly. It was Deacon
Taylor, anxious to talk over again the
debated subject of a new heater for the
church. When Drew was again free the
captain was gone.

" VV'here did the captain go ? " he asked.

"My wisdom touchin* wives reminded
him that his had sent him on an errant,"
answered Dace. "He went to the market.
I suppose by now he 's tryin' to explain
to his wife how he happened to be three
hours late with the meat for dinner."

At the market Drew was told that Cap-
tain March had gone home. When, after
a momentary hesitation, Drew had gone
thither, it was only to* find Mrs. March
sitting by a window, apparently watching
for her recreant husband.

" And he wanted roast beef for dinner,"
sadly remarked that good lady after she
had told the minister that she knew no
more abo^t her husband's whereabouts
than she knew where Moses was buried.
She turned her face from him for an in-
stant.

" It is twelve o'clock, lacking seventeen
minutes," she added in a tone that sug-
gested the tragic stage. Drew hurried
away.

When, after a hopeless search for the
missing mariner, he wended his way home-
ward half an hour later, he smiled to him-
self as he wondered if it was not just as



well : he could not for his life tell what he
could have said to urge the captain to sail.
At his gate he came face to face with a
breathless small boy.

" Mr. Drew," he gasped, " Cap'n March
he says— he says— you be at— Myron's
boat-shop— boat-shop by half -past one —
yes, sir. He 's goin' to sail." Then he
disappeared.

In wonder Drew hastened up to his
house to find his mother kneeling on the
floor and strapping a satchel.

" I Ve just put some crullers and a glass
of jelly in yovu* bag," she told him, without
tunling. " I don't suppose you '11 get a
thing that tastes like real cooking. And I
put yovu* winter flannels in, too. It will be
cold nights, and you will sit out on deck
and get chilled through. Now come to
dinner."

" I don't understand this sudden haste,'*
said Drew, as he took his seat at the table.
" I saw the captain an hour ago, and he
showed no signs of any impatience to be
off. It seems too good to be true."

Mrs. Drew laughed.

"He says the same of you," she told
him. " But if you really get away you owe
it to your mother. I am the god out of the
machine— I. I was tying up the flowering-
currant bush by the fence and Captain
March came by. He was hurrying, my
dear. I never saw him hurry before. What
do sailors say — rolling both scuppers under ?
Yes ; it was like that. I called to him and
asked him if he had seen my son. Yes, he
had. 'I'hen I told him that if he did n't
sail soon you would need a second vaca-
tion to recover from the nervous strain of
waiting for this one to begin. I let him
know how you had done nothing for two
days but sit by your baggage and start at
every sound. I told him, too, that you
were constantly worrying lest something
should happen to keep you at home at the
last minute; so the sooner you got away
the better."

" Oh, mother ! mother ! " protested Drew,
smiling.

" Oh, I put it strongly — trust me for that.
He said he had seen you. but you had said
nothing. I knew it would be like that. Oh,
you were two Buddhas sitting under the
sacred Bo-tree, contemplating eternity. Is
n't that what the Buddha is supposed to
do ? You were like that, you two, anyway.
Well, he explained everything. He told me



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that two men had promised to go out with
him as mate, but changed their minds. He
thought it queer. Another asked to go,
but, for personal reaspns, he did n't want
him. But as soon as he knew just how you
felt he said he *d go right off for this man.
I thought it very good of him. I hope the
man is n't a rough character. But, Robert,
you did n't tell me that his wife and daugh-
ter are going." She looked at her son re-
proachfully.

"Whose wife and daughter? I can't
follow you," he said.

"The captain's, of course."

" I believe he did mention the fact that
his wife and Httle girl were going, but it
made no impression on me," Drew told
her. " I have scarcely given it a thought
since."

" His little girl ! Robert, have n't you
ever seen her ? ^'

" No, mother."

"Well, I suppose you knew of her,
though they don't attend your church."
Then she changed the subject with an
abruptness that was so characteristic that
Drew's thoughts slipped away from the
question he had been about to ask. " But,
do you know," she said, " I think he de-
cided to go partly because he forgot his
meat for dinner and he 's afraid of that
round, good-natured-looking little wife of
his. His hurry to get away now looks as
if he 'd been too busy finding a mate to
get home earlier. He told me about it with
an intimate chuckle that seemed to take
me right into his family closet and intro-
duce me to the skeleton."

As Drew made his way through Beck-
with's boat-shop half an hour later and
stopped at the wide sliding doors at the
rear, a large yawl was lying at the float.
Three sailors sat on the thwarts, leaning
forward with the characteristic rounded
shoulders and relaxed look of idle seamen.
Up the long plank walk from the boat
hurried a tall, beardless young man of
twenty-eight or thirty. He walked with a
swinging gait, his shoulders were well
back, and his face wore the look of one
whose thoughts were pleasant.

He glanced from Drew to his baggage,
then back to Drew again, and smiled,
showing firm white teeth.

" Mr. Drew ? " His voice suggested a
query, but went on again immediately,
without waiting for an answer: "Tumble



in. The old man 's gone aboard. He
would n't wait."

He paused while Drew gathered up his
baggage, but did not offer to assist. The
American seaman is no burden-bearer for
other nien.

The sailors in the boat turned indifferent
faces as they heard the two draw near,
then quickly rose and held the yawl to the
float till they were seated in the stem-
sheets. In silence the oarsmen then took
their places, shipped their oars, and at
Medbury's word sped away.

Drew looked at his watch as they pulled
away from the float.

"It *s not yet the hour Captain March
set for leaving," he said. " I hope I did
not misunderstand it."
. " Oh, that 's the old man's way," replied
the other, lightly. " Now that he 's really
off, he can't hurry fast enough — had to get
Myron to take him out in a sail-boat while
I was to wait for you."

" Are you a Black water man ? " asked
Drew, later.

" Bom here, and my father and grand-
father before me. I guess that makes me
a Black water man all right. My name 's
Medbury. You know my mother ; she goes
to your church."

Drew's face brightened,

"Yes, indeed. Now I understand why
I *ve never seen you," he said. "Your
mother told me that you had not been
home for more than two years. I 've not
been here so long. She is very cheerful in
her loneliness ; I often stop in to talk to
her."

" Yes," answered Medbury, soberly ;
"she told me. It does her lots of good.
She thinks a great deal of you." He
paused a moment, and then said : " I 've
promised her to take no more long voyages.
She 's getting old, and I 'm all she 's got."

"That 's good," said Drew, heartily.
He was very fond of the bright-faced old
woman who had lived to see the covetous
ocean take all but her yorungest boy, and
was quite prepared to like her son for her
sake.

Ill

The Henrietta C, March was a brig of five
hundred tons burden, and was bound for
Santa Cruz in the West Indies; and Cap-
tain March had stopped off his home port
to take aboard his wife and daughter and



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THE CENTURY MAGAZINE



Drew, who had been given a long vaca-
tion by his church. The mate of the brig
had been taken suddenly ill, and for two
days the captain had been trying to get a
man to fill his place.

It was with an impression of almost
Crusoe-like loneliness that Drew found
himself upon the deck when they reached
the brig at last, the mate, with the crew
at his heels, having gone forward to swing
the boat to her place on the center-house,
and then to the ^ndlass to heave the
chain short. Drew set his baggage down
on the deck and, walking forward, watched
the men heaving at the windlass, the jar
and clank of which filled the vessel. On
the quarter-deck the captain, in his shirt-
sleeves and wearing a shapeless brown hat,
walked back and forth, occasionally glanc-
ing aloft at the fiy, which was beginning
to straighten out in the freshening south-
west breeze. His wife and daughter were
nowhere in sight.

The clank of the windlass grew slower
and slower as the cable shortened, and
every moment or two Medbury glanced
over the bow. Finally he raised his hand
above his head, and the men came trooping
down from the forecastle-deck, some going
aloft to loosen sails and others going to
various stations with a businesslike direct-
ness that seemed to Drew to be under the
guidance of wordless intuition. He stood
leaning against the fore-rigging as two
came toward him with the unseeing look of
men who, having a duty to perform, recog-
nize no obstacle, and, gently pushing him
aside, began to throw to the deck the coils
of running rigging against which he had
been leaning. He moved from place to
place, always finding himself in the way
and being pushed aside with the silent
directness that seemed purely impersonal,
until at last, throwing off his coat, he began
to pull with the rest. In silence they made
place for him. For a time he found his
hands catching awkwardly at halyard and
braces and slipping over and under other
harder hands ; then at last he caught the
swing, and his body rose and sank with the
bodies of the others, and his breathing came
heavily and thickened with theirs. The
minister had found himself.

It was not until the brig slowly paid
off, heeling before the fresh breeze, and
'the outward-bound song began its chant
about her forefoot, that he gathered up



his baggage and went aft. Captain March
was at the wheel.

" Go right down and make yourself to
home," he said. " They '11 show you your
room. I declare, you take a hold like an
old hand. We '11 be sending you aloft in
a few days."

Drew smiled, but shook his head.

"No," he said; "I shall stick to the
deck."

As he went down the companionway
and stepped across the cabin he saw the
round little form of Mrs. March kneeling
before a locker in what was to be his room.
She turned her head at the sound of his
footsteps.

" I thought I 'd tidy your room up a bit,"
she told him. " Gracious knows, it needs
it. You 'd think it started out as a car-
penter-shop or sail-loft, but got discouraged
and ended up just plain litter. I guess
Cap'n March has left house-cleaning out
of his almanac. And he said this room
was clean ! "

" Oh, I am sure it will do nicely, Mrs.
March," Drew replied. " My mother says
I 'm fond of a comfortable disorder."

" I guess men are all alike in that," she
said : ** they like a clutter— they think it *s
having things handy. But I hope you '11
excuse my back," she went on. " I was
just telling my daughter that I was almost
ashamed to show my face to you. There
I was scolding about Cap'n March being
so late, when all the time you and he were
so anxious to get off and he scurrying
around to find a mate. I declare, some-
times it seems as if the good Lord did n't
do his best by women when he gave them
tongues. They 're like drums to little chil-
dren—make a dreadful noise and keep
them from better things."

Drew smiled. It seemed clear that the
captain had used some latitude in explain-
ing his late return home. Meanwhile Mrs.
March was backing out of the room.

" There," she said ; " it 's in a sort of
order, if you don't look too close."

Ten minutes later Drew came out into
the cabin, having put away his belongings.

" I am siu-e the room could n't be better,
Mrs. March," he said. "It seems to me
delightfully cozy and neat."

Mrs. March shook her head and smiled
as she said :

" I 'd 'a' been better satisfied if you had n't
mentioned its being so nice. I 've noticed



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this about men-folks, that when things suit
them, they don't notice them. When Cap'n
March talks and acts like a man right out
of the Bible I 'm sure he 's been up to
mischief, or else has something unpleasant
on his mind, one."

Drew laughed as he repHed :

"Then I 'm going to cultivate wise
silences, Mrs. March. I *11 g\\e you the
impression of a man walking in a dream.
I have come on this voyage to learn things ;
you are not letting me lose any time."

" Oh, if you came to learn things, you '11
be wasting time by talking with the rest of
us: you must go to my daughter here.
She 's been called to that, you know— to
teach all men and nations." Her voice
held a curious note: pride, resentment,
anxiety, all seemed to marshal themselves
in the words.

•'Mother!"

Drew turned quickly at the one word, to
see the daughter standing in the doorway
of her room. He noticed that while the
girl's brow was drawn in a frown, her lips
had the undecided irregularity of curve
that hinted at a smile suppressed. This
study of particulars did not make him any
the less alert to a general impression of
striking beauty. He smiled and bowed
somewhat elaborately, to which the girl
returned a curt little nod, though her an-
swering smile was friendly.

He had the tact to seem not to recog-
nize the tension and to turn to other
subjects, and he now said, with a hearti-
ness that seemed to have long been waiting
for expression, that they really were off at
last. His glance at the hanging lamp over
the table, gently swaying in its gimbals,
had the effect of bringing the corroborative
testimony of its motion to their notice,
while he went on to add that it seemed too
good to be true. He said that ever since
the brig had anchored off the harbor he
had been haunted by the fear that some-
thing would happen at the last moment to
keep him at home. Not till now had he
felt safe.

"It 's the other way about with me,"
said Mrs. March. " I shall not feel safe till
I get home again. If the Lord meant for
us to go wandering about on the face of
the waters, he would have made them
steady enough to build roads on. If he
put people 'way on the other side of the
earth, he meant them to stay there — and



us, too," she added lamely, but with suffi-
cient clearness.

Drew halted half-way up the com-
panionway.

"You don't mean to say that you are
afraid of the sea, Mrs. March," he asked,
" after all your voyages ? "

" I 've been going with Cap'n March off
and onfor twenty-five— yes, thirty— years,"
she answered ; " yet I never go out of sight
of land without feeling that I 'm making
faces at my Maker and daring him to pim-
ish me."

" Oh, mother's fear is her most precious
possession," said the girl, now for the first
time coming forth into the cabin. " No-
thing has ever happened to her at sea ; and
that, she feels, is the best reason for think-
ing that something is bound to happen the
next time." She put her hand on the elder
woman's shoulder and smiled down on
her from her greater height

" Well, that 's reasonable," retorted Mrs.
March. " I was never one to shut my eyes
and claim it was n't thundering. I 've got
my hearing. What does the good Lord
give us feelings for if he does n't mean us
to use them ? " With this challenge to un-
belief in design in nature, she went to her
room.

Captain March was still at the wheel
when Drew returned to the deck. Med-
bury was forward with the crew, busily
stowing the anchor. Little by little. Black-
water was disappearing behind the high
white cliffs. Drew took up the glass which
lay in its box against the frame of the
sliding hood of the companionway and
looked toward the village. Even as he
looked, the white spire of his church dis-
appeared from view. He saw it vanish,
and put the glass down, to see the girl
standing in the companionway watching
the changing shore.

"I 've seen the last of my church for
three month§," he said to her; " now I am
really loose and free."

"It 's good to get away from responsi-
bility for a while," she said. " I feel now



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