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makes that lingo of hers sound like a
pretty little piece of music. I hope we '11
not have to make her take to the boat
again."

Until then Drew had hardly thought of
the wind. Now it seemed like the pressure
of a hand against his face. The darkness
of the night was relieved by a luminous
haze close down to the sea, which seemed
to radiate a mysterious light that was like
an opaque spray. The stars were gone,
and the wind no longer came in gusts, but



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UNDER ROCKING SKIES



543



in a great rush of sound that overbore
speech like the beat of a corps of drums,
near and threatening. Every strand of rig-
ging twanged in the sweep of the gale ; the
canvas hummed with a muffled roar ; now
and then a wave broke amidships, with a
sudden shock, and ran hissing across the
deck.

Medbury had gone forward to the
pumps, which stopped suddenly, and
Drew felt his way along the house to the
break in the deck. A group, stood about
the well with a lantern, and Medbury was
bending over it. " Slack three feet and a
half/' he said, straightening up. Captain
March turned away without a word, and
walked aft; but Drew stayed to see the
pumps rigged again and their wearying
thump begin once more, with four men at
the bars. As Medbury passed him, Drew
asked him what it was.

"Three and a half feet," he said, and
hurried past

Then Drew at last understood that there
was that depth of water in the hold.

It came on to rain at last, at first a few
small drops out of the black sky, and then
a driving sheet that seemed to sweep
straight on and never to fall. One by one
the passengers disappeared, and Captain
March and Medbury, in oilskins, held the
quarter-deck with the man at the wheel.
Back and forth across the deck the cap-
tain walked, now climbing to windward,
with his body bent forward and his legs
far apart, now braced back, and taking
short steps down the wet incline, and
sometimes breaking into a little run and
checking himself at the rail. Medbury
stood for the most part at the windward
comer of the house, going forward from
time to time, but never for long. They
rarely spoke.

Once Medbiu-y went to the binnacle
for a moment.

" Steady, man ! steady ! *' he said.
" You 're yawing over half the card."

"Steady, sir," the sailor replied in an
emotionless voice.

Captain March stopped his walk at the
wheel, and looked aloft.

" Steer hard ? " he asked good-naturedly.
He had shouted, for the uproar was now
too great for ordinary speech.

" Yes, sir," the man replied, and bent to
the spokes.

"Guess I '11 take a hold with you,"



shouted the captain, and stepped to his
side ; but Medbury touched his arm.

" I '11 take it," he said ; but the captain
shook his head.

" No." he answered ; " I '11 try it a spell."

Medbury cast an uneasy look aloft at
the maintopsail. In the murky light he
could see it bellied out like a great boiwl.

" It 's that topsail makes her steer hard,"
he cried in an aggrieved tone.

Captain March did not glance up.

" Yes," he shouted ; " but I guess it 's
drawing some."

Medbury looked at him sharply, and
then turned away, grinning.

"Well, I guess it is!" he muttered to
himself. " The old pirate ! "

He made his way to the topsail-sheet,
and shook it ; it was like a rod of iron.

" Could n't budge it, if I wanted to," he
said to himself. " I wonder how long that
sail 's going to stand all this."

He started forward, shot in under the
lee of the center-house as a great green
sea came over the rail, and, dripping,
mounted to the forecastle-deck. The look-
out stood with his arms clasped about the
capstan-head, staring straight ahead. In
his yellow oilskins, he had the look of a
wooden man, washed by the seas, immo-
bile, without sensation.

Medbury took him by the shoulder, and
he barely turned his head. His face was
as emotionless as his figure ; only his eyes
showed life.

" You '11—" Medbury lowered his head
as he began to shout, for a sheet of spray
sprang at his face like a cat, blinding him
and making him gasp. Then he felt the
deck slipping into a bottomless abyss, and,
opening his eyes, saw the jibboom disap-
pear, then the bowsprit, and over the bow
rolled a great green wave, shot with white,
and irradiated with phosphorescence. Al-
most to the w^ist it buried them, while they
stood for what seemed an interminable
time, clasping the capstan, with the drag-
ging water roaring about them. The
strange fancy flashed across Medbury's
mind that it was like being on the nose of
a gigantic mole frantically burrowing un-
derground. Then the bow rose again,
shook itself free, and they looked at each
other.

"You '11 have to get out of this,"
shouted Medbury, finishing what he had
begun to say. The man nodded.



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"That was the first bad one, sir," he
yelled back. " I don't know 's I mind bein*
drownded, but I don't want to be speared
to death." He looked aloft, where the
lighter spars and sails seemed like a falling
arch above him. "I *ve been expectin* to
get that royal-yard through my back for
the last hour. Could n't hear it if it did
tumble."

" Well, you '11 have to get out of this,"
Medbury repeated mechanically. " Go up
to the top of the center-hguse. You ^11 be
safe there."

They made their way down, the man
going up to his station, and Medbury aft.

"She 's burrowing a good deal," he
shouted in the captain's ear—" like an old
mole."

The captain nodded.

" Good reason," he replied.

"What did you say?"

" I said, * Good reason.' There 's a lot
of heft in this wind."

" I sent the lookout up to the top of the
center-house," Medbury now called. " No
place for him forward."

"That 's right," answered Captain
March ; then he nodded his head to show
that he had heard and approved.

The watch was changed at twelve, and
the second mate came on deck, but Med-
bury still lingered. Captain March would
not leave the wheel. At three bells Med-
bury sounded the pumps again, and re-
ported a full three and a half feet of water
in the hold. It had gained two inches in
three hours.

Captain March merely nodded when he
was told, and turned his inscrutable face
aloft.

XII

The night was dragging on toward the
hour when the watch on deck is the hard-
est to bear. In his weariness of body and
mind, Medbury had grown indifferent to
the tremendous rush of the wind. The
noises of the night no longer seemed near
him, but far off, muffled by some strange
mental wind-break that hedged him in as if
by a wall. Once or twice he caught him-
self nodding, and looked up, startled, to
take a turn or two across the deck. His
mind was tense with the mental strain, and
the changing of the men at the pumps, or
any pause in the monotony of the uproar,
irritated him, as the stopping of a railroad



train at stations affects one dozing through
a long journey. He was not afraid, — he
had even begun to exult in the self -control
of his superior, seeing in his perfect han-
dling of his vessel something^ uncanny, even
godlike, —yet he was all the while keenly
alive to the thought that Hetty lay below,
within the circle of impending danger. It
was like being compelled to run for one's
life under a great weight

It was past four bells when the main-
topsail split vith a sharp report like mus-
ketry fire, and, looking up, they saw black
space where just before they had seen a
gray hollow of canvas loom through the
night. A ragged fringe of gray flapped
along the bolt-ropes, whipping straight out
in the force of the gale. They let tack and
sheet go with a rush, and strove to clew up
the sail, trying to save, in the stoical fol-
lowing of habit, what was no longer worth
saving.

Medbury came aft when they had clewed
up what remained of the topsail. It seemed
ludicrous to try to stow that frazzled bit of
whipping canvas. He went close to the
captain.

" I did n't stow it, sh*," he shouted in
his ear. " Did n't seem worth while to send
a man aloft. No place for him. Nothing
but a rag left."

" No, no," the captain roared. " That 's
right. Don't want to expose anybody
more 'n we can help." His voice seemed
far away— detached, as it were, in some
strange manner.

Medbury still lingered near. He was a
bit excited, and wished to talk.

" Steer any easier, sir ? " he roared.

Captain March nodded, then he leaned
toward his mate.

"Yes," he yelled. He nodded aloft.
" Been expecting that." Then, for the first
time in his life, he became communicative
as to his plans at sea. " It 's like this," he
went on : " We 've got five hundred miles
to run in this craft or an open boat. I '11
make it in this, if I can. Got to take some
risk, you know. Can't afford to take in
sail as long as she carries it. When it goes
of its own accord, well and good. Can't
help that."

Medbury had begun to long, with an
indescribable sense of weariness, for the
coming of day. Once, as he looked east-
ward, it seemed to him that the curtain of
darkness had lifted : the crests of the waves



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no longer showed a vivid contrast to the
black body of the watery waste, but both
were fading into a neutral tone of gray,
and objects on board began to have more
definite outlines. Then all at once the royal
flew out of its bolt-ropes, like a hound
loosened from its leash, and went twisting
and snapping into the night.

Medbury saw the yard lowered to its
place and all things made snug forward.
As he passed under the foresail to go aft
again, he had to brace himself against the
wind, which drew under the sail like a great
flue. Every cord of the sail seemed vibrant
with sound; and as he staggered on, out
of the tail of his eye he watched the main-
sail tug at its sheet, and boom and gaff
swing up like straws. As his head rose
above the top of the house he saw that
Captain March's eyes were following him,
and he turned his own away.

" If he sees me watching that mainsail,"
he said to himself, ** he *11 think I *m won-
dering why he does n't take it in.** He
smiled grimly. " Well, that would be God's
truth ; but he sha'n't know it.*' So he stood
and gazed steadily seaward.

Now it was surely day —day that showed
itself in a gray sea leaping against a gray
sky. A driving mist, too vaporous to be
called rain, gave the same neutral tone to
the vessel, which seemed to have lost her
individuality overnight. She had the tired,
lifeless look of the men on her deck ; and
as she groaned and whined along the
watery road, her aspect was at once human
and wholly sad. Though they were far to
the south, the mist was cold upon their
faces. Now and then a dash of spray flew
across the quarter-deck, and* its greater
warmth was pleasant in comparison. By
eight o'clock the water in the hold had
gained six inches, and the crew were be-
ginning to lose heart.

The group that gathered in the cabin
that day had the restlessness of people
wairing to start on a long journey. In her
growing fear, Mrs. March hungered for
companionship; she steadily kept to the
cabin, refusing to go to her room, but half
sat, half reclined upon the lounge, and
watched the wooden walls reel about her.
Whenever an unusually heavy sea rolled
them down, she gripped the back of the
lounge and prayed in silence ; and when it
passed she looked about her with a spent
face. Hetty and Miss Stromberg sat in



steamer-chairs, talked a little, and some-
times laughed without reason ; from time
to time they staggered to their room, never
remaining long, or losing for a moment the
aspect of being about to do something
quite different. Drew tried to be cheerful,
but felt that he was only inane ; now and
then he read in a book that at other times
he held closed over his flnger. All day
Lieutenant Stromberg sat at the table and
played solitaire, resolutely forbearing to
cheat himself, being restrained by the
thought that he might be near his last
hoiu*. At times he made jokes that no one
seemed to understand, and then looked up
wonderingly when he laughed alone.

It was afternoon when Hetty, unable
longer to bear the thought of the dark,
close cabin,— all the windows had now
been battened down and the skylight cov-
ered,— made her way to the forward com-
panionway, and, opening the doors, looked
out upon the deck with eyes wide with
wondering fear. The leeward rail was level
with the sea, which boiled about it; the
deck ran like a mill-race. The sky was
lost in the driving mist, which closed about
them in a gray wall that seemed like a
barrier to hide the impending dangers be-
yond. Clinging to the door, she stepped
out upon the deck and glanced aft. The
wind beat her down Uke a flower-stalk, and
she crouched upon the door-step. But
Medbury had seen her, and hurried to her
side.

" You must n't stay here ; you know you
must n't,** he protested. " We may ship a
sea at any time." He himself was (hipping,
and his face was rosy with the damp wind :
he looked like Neptune's very brother.

"Yes," she cried; "yes; I *11 go in a
minute. I could n't stand it down there
another second." She lifted her face above
the house for an instant, and nodded aft.
"What is that for?"

Above the taffrail, from quarter to quar-
ter, a stout piece of canvas had been
stretched between two upright poles, shut-
ting off the outlook astern. Medbury
glanced toward it before he replied.

"That?" he said. "Oh. to keep the
spray off the glass of the binnacle. It
clouds it so the men can't read the com-
pass." It did not seem to him wise to tell
her that it was to keep the helmsmen from
glancing over their shoulders at the fol-
lowing seas, and perhaps losing their nerve



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546



THE CENTURY MAGAZINE



at a critical moment. *' Please go down
now; it makes me nervous to see you
here."

She crouched down upon the door-step
and looked up at him with a smile.

"I did n't suppose you were ever ner-
vous," she told him.

"Well, I am, about you — any woman,
in a sea like this."

" Oh," she murmured, and looked away,
thinking of his qualifying "any woman."
He had never spoken hke that before —
classed her with other women. It showed
that he had accepted the situation, and
she told iierself that she was glad ; never-
theless, it was not an unmixed gladness:
for the first tjme she felt that something
had gone out of her life that she had al-
ways calmly accepted as being as un-
changing as her native hills. Yet it seemed
unreasonable that it should sadden her.
With a little shrug of impatience she put
the thought away just as he leaned to
speak to her again.

" Won't you go below now, Hetty ? " he
said, with a touch of impatience. " I can't
stay here."

" I Ve not asked you to," she replied.

" You know what I mean well enough,"
he said. " I can't leave you here alone.
You are a little tease, for all you can be
so dignified at times."

"If you call me names, I shall certainly
be dignified," she declared. She looked
away as she added : " You would n't call
Miss Stromberg a tease, I 'm sure."

"She 's a little flirt," he answered
promptly.

" How do you know ? " she asked.

" Oh, I just think so. The dominie says
she is n't, though. It 's only fair to say
that."

" I wondered what men found to talk
about so much," she said.

He did not think it necessary to answer
this, but stood looking out over the deck
with unseeing eyes. A wave broke at the
side, leaped up, and swept across the deck
in a sheet of spray.

She gasped as it struck her face, and
then she laughed.

" You see," he warned her. " The next
time it may be worse."

" It 's better than that stuffy cabin," she
answered, feehng an exhilaration in the
salt spray and the wind. There was com-



fort in his presence, too, though she hardly
acknowledged it to herself. It had needed
this storm and the danger to bring back to
her all her old ideals of manliness, cher-
ished in her girlhood in the little seaport,
but weakened by her later acquaintance
with a widely different life.

She looked up suddenly and said :

"Can't we still be friends Tom, — just
friends ? "

"I 'm your friend," he answered. He
did not look toward her as he spoke.

" You would n't speak to me yesterday."

"I was a fool," he said, still looking
away from her.

" It hurt me," she said. She paused, but
he did not speak, and she went on : " We
can always be friends, then, can't we ? "

For a moment he did not speak or look
at her.

" Oh, yes," he said at last ; " we '11 be
friends. I 'm going back to the old long
voyages again as soon as I can— -in Santa
Cruz, if your father will let me off. In a
year or two, or perhaps three, I may go
back home, and we may meet on the street,
and shake hands, and smile, and you will
go away satisfied. * He 's my friend yet,'
you may say, and maybe think of me again
in a year or two, or'perhaps meet me and
bow as we pass. Or, more likely, you will
go away, and, coming back again after a
long time, meet a bent, brown old man
and not recognize him. Or you may ask
about me, and be told : * Oh, he died long
ago, in the South Pacific or Japan, or some
other God-forsaken place.' *I knew him
long ago,' you '11 say, and then go on ask-
ing about others. I guess that 's what
friendship Ifke ours comes to mean."

He turned to her as he ceased, and saw
her rising to a stooping position under the
low sliding-hood. Her face was white.

" I 'm going below now," she said.

" It 's best," he answered ; *' I 'm afraid
to have you here."

She descended two steps and then
turned.

" You are cruel," she said. Her voice
trembled.

He leaned over toward her, for the gale
had drowned her words.

" What did you say ? " he asked.

" I said, 'You are cruel.' "

"Oh," he said vaguely, and watched
her as she disappeared below.



(To be continued)



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Drawn by M. J. Burns. Half-tone plate engraved by R. C. Collins
•THERE CAME A 'SMOOTH/ AND THE BOAT SHOT IN'



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From a photograph by EUiut & Fry

STUDLEY CASTLE, WARWICKSHIRE



LADY WARWICK'S FARMING
COLLEGE FOR GIRLS

BY HUGH SPENDER




|HAT shall we do with our girls?
This is a question that many an
anxious parent asks at present.
The American girl has a habit
of solving the question for herself. If she
does not marry, she sets up in business.
She may begin as a clerk or a typewriter,
but she has no idea of remaining in that
position all her Hfe.

But the English girl has less initiative.
She is not brought up to regard life from
the business point of view. The result is
deplorable, for the girl who does not marry
must either remain at home, too often a
burden to her parents and herself, or swell
the ranks of the army of badly trained
women who are willing to take a salary in
almost any position, from that of waitress
in a tea-shop to that worst of all drudges,
the underpaid governess. Of course there
are some who are clever enough to learn
a profession like shorthand or typewriting ;



but the supply of women clerks is greater
than the demand, and the long hours in
the close atmosphere of offices or stores
have a serious effect on the health. What
we want, then, is a new vocation for the
educated girl, in which she can gain a fair
livelihood without injuring her health.

Such a profession has been discovered
by an Englishwoman with one of the old-
est and most historic titles in the British
peerage, whose high position in society
does not prevent her from giving much
time, thought, and money to-helping those
who are less fortunate than herself. The
Countess of Warwick, the lady in question,
has the rarest of all combinations— great
beauty and cleverness. She is mistress of
the historic castle of Warwick; she rules
over a country-seat of many broad acres
in Essex, and has one df the prettiest houses
in St. James's, the most fashionable part
of London.



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LADY WARWICK'S FARMING COLLEGE FOR GIRLS 549



Lady Warwick is perhaps the most no-
table hostess in London, and her recep-
tions, her concerts, and her dinners were
the themes of society papers, until, a few
months ago, she announced that she had
become a socialist, and was determined
for the time, at all events, to give up such
frivolities.

And so now she addresses workingmen's
meetings, presides over cooperative socie-
ties, and gives her assistance to labor can-
didates. In fact, she is not only a great
social power, but one to be reckoned with
as a political force ; for she is a capital
platform speaker, and when beauty and
eloquence go together the opposition has
reason to be concerned.

But the part of her life that she loves
best is not the almost regal state of her
castle and her London home, but the
work of making a new profession for the
middle-class girl who must otherwise seek
her bread in the crowded offices and shops.

Lady Warwick's scheme is to find work
for the girls on the land. This seems
startling at first sight. Whoever heard of
delicately bred girls, brought up to the
quiet comfort and refinement of an Eng-
lish or American middle-class home, turn-
ing to the land as a means of livelihood ?
When Lady Warwick first started her
scheme, there was a general shout of
amazement. Since then she has convinced
her bitterest opponents that in the lighter
branches of agriculture, such as dairy-
work, market-gardening, poultry- and bee-
keeping, and in the growing of fruit and
flowers, there is a means of livelihood for
the gentlewoman in which she can live far
more happily than in our grimy cities.

The idea was not altogether new when
Lady Warwick started it. A certain num-
ber of women had already tried experi-
ments, by taking small allotments of land
and producing what they could. But in
the majority of the cases they had failed
hopelessly from lack of training. They
started with only the vaguest knowledge
of agriculture and no knowledge at all of
business, and with no idea how to market
their produce, even if they succeeded in
growing it.

Such experiments have, no doubt, been
tried in the United States with better suc-
cess, for the American woman is more
practical than the Englishwoman. She
knows instinctively that to make a success



in any department she must have training
and experience. But the majority of Eng-
lish girls are still taught to think that mar-
riage is their vocation. They must not
dream of preparing themselves even for
that vocation, by learning to cook or to
sew, or to do any of the menial work of a
house. The marriage that they look for-
ward to is to bring a comfortable income,
with well -trained servants, such as their
mothers had before them. Alas for their
schemes !

The young Englishman of their own
class can no longer look to the land as a
means of providing a comfortable home,
unless he has that comparatively rare
possession in the middle classes, a little
capital with which to start. Even then,
with American competition to fight against,
he needs a wife capable of turning her
hand to dairy-work and house-cleaning
like any farmer'^ wife. Furthermore, the
yoimg Englishmen who enter professions
are not fond of burdening their slender
resources with a lily-white damsel whose
chief idea is to amuse herself and wear
pretty frocks. So it comes about that there
is a growing surplus of girls who must fend
for themselves, and who too often come
face to face with want when their parents
die.

It was to provide a profitable and
healthful means of livelihood for such girls
that, nearly ten years ago. Lady W^arwick
started her hostel at Reading. The hostel
consisted of a house, with twenty acres of
land, on the outskirts of Reading, a town
forty miles from London. Here a dozen
students took up their residence, paying a
small sum for board ; for it was not Lady
Warwick's idea to make her scheme a
charitable one. The girls attended the
classes at the Reading agricultural college,
and what they learned in theory they ap-
plied in practical work in the dairy and
the conser\'atories, in the market-garden,
the poultry-run, and the beehives, of their
own little farm.

Early to rise, early to bed, was their
motto— and no nonsense. They rolled
their own lawn, and killed and trussed
their fowls ; they baked their own bread,
made their own jam, and marketed what
produce they did not use. At the head of
the hostel was a most capable woman, who
set an example of hard work and cheer-
fulness. Lady Warwick was indeed very



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Online LibraryA. B. (Alfred Barton) RendleThe Century → online text (page 68 of 120)