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Produced by Al Haines










[Frontispiece: Tongues of flame reached hungrily for them, licking
above Dan's red-gold hair, but never touching the girl.]






Dan Merrithew

By Lawrence Perry



Author of "From the Depths of Things," "Two Tramps," "The Bounder,"
"The Sacrifice," etc.






WITH FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLORS

BY J. V. McFALL





A. L. BURT COMPANY

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK




COPYRIGHT

By A. C. McClurg & Co.

A.D. 1910



Entered at Stationers' Hall, London, England



Published, March 12, 1910

Second edition, March 19, 1910







_Thanks are due Mr. Arthur W. Little, president of the Pearson
Publishing Company, for permission to use in this novel several
incidents in the life of Dan Merrithew which originally appeared in
"Pearson's Magazine."_




TO

LARRY




CONTENTS

CHAPTER
TOC
I. THE GIRL ON THE "VEILED LADYE"
II. DAN'S SEARCH FOR THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
III. A FIGHT IN THE DARK
IV. DAN STAKES HIS LIFE, AND WINS
V. THE LOSS OF THE "FLEDGLING"
VI. THE BRAVE AND THE FAIR
VII. DAN IS COMMANDED TO A PARTY
VIII. WITS VERSUS MACHINE GUNS
IX. AN ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION
X. THE WRAITH IN THE MOONLIGHT
XI. THE BURNING OF THE "TAMPICO"
XII. ALONE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
XIII. NIGHT ON THE DERELICT
XIV. DAN AND VIRGINIA
XV. CONCLUSION



ILLUSTRATIONS

Tongues of flame reached hungrily for them, licking above Dan's
red-gold hair, but never touching the girl . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

"Oh, father," broke in the girl, "tell him it was noble!"

In the flash of an eye, Dan was making for the assassin

Opposite, smiling at him as though they had breakfasted together for
years, was the radiant girl



DAN MERRITHEW


CHAPTER I

THE GIRL ON THE "VEILED LADYE"

The big coastwise tug _Hydrographer_ slid stern-ward into a slip
cluttered with driftwood and bituminous dust, stopping within heaving
distance of three coal-laden barges which in their day had reared
"royal s'ls" to the wayward winds of the seven seas.

Near-by lay Horace Howland's ocean-going steam yacht, _Veiled Ladye_,
which had put into Norfolk from Caribbean ports, to replenish her
bunkers. There were a number of guests aboard, and most of them arose
from their wicker chairs on the after-deck and went to the rail, as the
great tug pounded alongside.

Grateful for any kind of a break in the monotony of the long morning,
they observed with interest the movements of a tall young man, in a
blue shirt open at the throat and green corduroy trousers, who caught
the heaving line hurtling from the bow of the nearest barge, and hauled
the attached towing-cable dripping and wriggling from the heavy waters.

He did it gracefully. There was a fine play of broad shoulders, a
resilient disposition of the long, straight limbs, an impression of
tiger-like strength and suppleness, not lost upon his observers, upon
Virginia Howland least of all. She was not a girl to suppress a
thought or emotion uppermost in her mind; and now she turned to her
father with an exclamation of pleasure.

"Father," she cried, "look! Isn't he simply stunning! The Greek
ideal - and on a tugboat!" Her dark eyes lightened with mischief. "Do
you suppose he'd mind if I spoke to him?"

"He'd probably swear at you," said young Ralph Oddington, with a grin.
Then, seized by a sudden impulse for which he afterwards kicked
himself, being a decent sort of chap, he drew his cigarette case from
his pocket and, as the tug came to a standstill, tossed a cigarette
across the intervening space. It struck the man in the back, and as he
turned, Oddington called,

"Have a cigarette, Bill?"

The tugman's lips parted, giving a flashing glimpse of big, straight,
white teeth. Then they closed, and for an instant he regarded the
speaker with a hard, curious expression in his quiet gray eyes, and the
proffered cigarette, as though by accident, was shapeless under his
heel.

It was distinctly embarrassing for the yachting party; and partly to
relieve Oddington, partly out of curiosity, Virginia Howland leaned
over the rail with a smile. "Please pardon us, Mr. Tugboatman. We
didn't mean to offend you; we - "

The young man again swept the party with his eyes, and then meeting the
girl's gaze full, he waited for her to complete the sentence.

"We," she continued, "of course meant no harm."

He did not reply for a moment, did not reply till her eyes fell.

"All right - thanks," he said simply and then hurried forward.

At sunset the _Veiled Ladye_ was well on her way to New York, and the
_Hydrographer_ was plugging past Hog Island light with her cumbersome
tows plunging astern.

It came to be a wild night. The tumbling blue-black clouds of late
afternoon fulfilled their promise of evil things for the dark. There
were fierce pounding hours when the wrath of the sea seemed centred
upon the _Hydrographer_ and her lumbering barges, when the towing-lines
hummed like the harp strings of Aeolus.

It was man's work the crew of the _Hydrographer_ performed that night;
when the dawn came and the wind departed with a farewell shriek, and
the seas began to fall, Dan Merrithew sat quiet for a while, gazing
vacantly out over the gray waters, wrestling with the realization that
through all the viewless turmoil the face of a girl he did not
know - never would know, probably - had not been absent from his mind;
that the sound of her voice had lingered in his ears rising out of the
elemental confusion, as the notes of a violin, freeing themselves from
orchestral harmony, suddenly rise clear, dominating the _motif_ in
piercing obligato.

When he arose it was with the conviction that this meant something
which eventually would prove of interest to him. One evening some
three months before, he had visited the little sailors' church which
floats in the East River at the foot of Pike Street in New York, and
listened to a preacher who was speaking in terms as simple as he could
make them, with Fate as his text.

Fate, he said, works, in mysterious ways and does queer things with its
instruments. It may sear a soul, or alter the course of a life in
seeming jest; but the end proves no jest at all, and if we live long
enough and grow wise with our years, we learn that at the bottom, ever
and always, in everything, was a guiding hand, a sure intent, and a
serious purpose.

It was a good, plain, simple talk such as longshoremen, dock-rats,
tugmen, and seamen often hear in this place, but it impressed young
Merrithew; for, although he had never accepted his misfortunes, nor
reasoned away the things that tried his soul in this philosophical
manner, yet he had always had a vague conviction that everything that
happened was for his good and would work out in the end.

The words of the preacher seemed to give him clearer understanding in
this regard, taught him to weigh carefully things which, as they
appeared to him, were on the face insignificant. This had led him into
strange trends of thought, had encouraged, in a way, superstitious
fancies not altogether good for him. He knew that, and he had cursed
his folly, and yet on this morning after the storm, on the after-deck
of a throbbing tugboat he nodded his head sharply, outward acquiescence
to an inward conviction that somehow, somewhere, he was going to see
that face again and hear that voice. That was as certain as that he
lived. And when this took place he would not be a tugboat mate. That
was all.

Whatever he did thereafter he had this additional incentive, the future
meeting with a tall, lithe girl with dark-brown hair and gray
eyes - brave, deep eyes, and slightly swarthy cheeks, which were crimson
as she spoke to him.




CHAPTER II

DAN'S SEARCH FOR THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

Daniel Merrithew was one of the Merrithews of a town near Boston, a
prime old seafaring family. His father had a waning interest in three
whaling-vessels; and when two of them opened like crocuses at their
piers in New Bedford, being full of years, and the third foundered in
the Antarctic, the old man died, chiefly because he could see no clear
way of longer making a living.

Young Merrithew at the time was in a New England preparatory school,
playing excellent football and passing examinations by the skin of his
teeth. Thrown upon his own resources, his mother having died in early
years, he had to decide whether he would work his way through the
school and later through college, or trust to such education as he
already had to carry him along in the world.

It was altogether adequate for practical purposes, he argued, and so he
lost little time in proceeding to New York, where he began a business
career as a clerk in the office of the marine superintendent of a great
coal-carrying railroad. It was a beginning with a quick ending. The
clerkly pen was not for him; he discovered this before he was told.
The blood of the Merrithews was not to be denied; and turning to the
salt water, his request for a berth on one of the company's big
sea-going tugs was received with every manifestation of approval.

When he first presented himself to the Captain of the _Hydrographer_,
the bluff skipper set the young man down as a college boy in search of
sociological experience and therefore to be viewed with good-humored
tolerance - good-humored, because Dan was six feet tall and had
combative red-gold hair. His steel eyes were shaded by long
straw-colored lashes; he had a fighting look about him. He had a
magnificent temper, red, but not uncalculating, with a punch like a
mule's kick back of it.

As week after week passed, and the new hand revealed no temperamental
proclivities, no "kid-glove" inclinations, seemingly content with
washing down decks, lassooing pier bitts with the bight of a hawser at
a distance of ten feet, and hauling ash-buckets from the fireroom when
the blower was out of order - both of which last were made possible by
his mighty shoulders - the Captain began to take a different sort of
interest in him.

He allowed Dan to spend all his spare moments with him in the
pilot-house; and as the Captain could shoot the sun and figure latitude
and longitude and talk with fair understanding upon many other elements
of navigation, the young man's time was by no means wasted. Later, Dan
arranged with the director of a South Street night school of navigation
for the evenings when he was in port, and by the time they made him
mate of the _Hydrographer_, he was almost qualified to undergo
examination for his master's certificate.

Mental changes are not always attended by outward manifestations, but
all the crew of the _Hydrographer_, after that mad night off the
Virginia Capes, could see that something had hit the stalwart mate.
The edge seemed to be missing from his occasional moods of abandon;
sometimes he looked thoughtfully at a man without hearing what the man
was saying to him. But it did not impair his usefulness, and his
Captain could see indications of a better defined point in his
ambitions.

So that was the way things were with him when, on a gray December
afternoon, the day before Christmas, the _Hydrographer_, just arrived
from Providence, slid against her pier in Jersey City, and the crew
with jocular shouts made the hawsers fast to the bitts. Some months
before, the _Hydrographer_ had stumbled across a lumber-laden schooner,
abandoned in good condition off Fire Island, and had towed her into
port. The courts had awarded goodly salvage; and the tug's owners,
filled with the spirit of the season, had sent a man to the pier to
announce that at the office each of the crew would find his share of
the bounty, and a little extra, in recognition of work in the company's
interest.

"Dan," said the Captain, as the young man entered the pilot-house in
his well-fitting shore clothes, "you ought to get a pot of money out of
this; now don't go ashore and spend it all tonight. You bank most of
it. Take it from me - if I'd started to bank my money at your age, I
would be paying men to run tugboats for me now."

"Oh, I've money in the bank," laughed Dan. "I'll bank most of this;
but first I'm going to lay out just fifty dollars, which ought to buy
about all the Christmas joy I need. I was going to Boston to shock
some sober relations of mine, but I've changed my mind. About seven
o'clock this evening you'll find me in a restaurant not far from
Broadway and Forty-second Street; an hour later you'll locate me in the
front row of a Broadway theatre; and - better come with me, Captain
Bunker."

"No, thanks, Dan," said the Captain. "If you come with _me_ over to
the house in Staten Island about two hours from now, you'll see just
three little noses pressed against the window pane - waiting for daddy
and Santa Claus." The Captain's big red face grew tender and his eyes
softened. "When you get older, Dan," he added, "you'll know that
Christmas ain't so much what you get out of it as what you put into it."

Dan thought of the Captain's words as he crossed the ferry to New York.
All through the day he had been filled with the pleasurable conviction
that the morrow was a pretty decent sort of day to be ashore, and he
had intended to work up to the joys thereof to the utmost of his
capacity.

Now, with his knowledge as to the sort of enjoyment which Captain
Bunker was going to get out of the day, his well-laid plans seemed to
turn to ashes. The trouble was, he could not exactly say why this
should be. He finally decided that his prospective sojourn amid the
gay life of the metropolis had not been at all responsible for the
mental uplift which had colored his view of the day.

It had come, he now believed, solely from the attitude of the Captain
and Jeff Morrill the engineer, and Sam Tonkin the deck-hand - soon to
become a mate - and Bill Lawson, another deck-hand; all of whom had
little children at home. Well, he had no little children at home.
That settled the matter so far as he was concerned. Blithely he began
to plan his dinner and select the theatre he should attend. But, no;
the old problem returned insistently, and at length he was obliged to
confess that he could devise no solution, and that he did not feel half
as good as he had a few hours before.

At all events he would be as happy as he could. After leaving the
company's office, where he received a hearty "Merry Christmas" and a
fat yellow envelope, he went to the neat little brick house on Cherry
Street where he had rooms, and learned that Mrs. O'Hare, his landlady,
had gone to her daughter's house on Varick Street to set up a Christmas
tree and help to start things for the children. Dan was sorry. He had
rather looked forward to meeting this cheerful person with her
spectacles and kindly old face, who mothered him so assiduously when he
was ashore.

Why the devil had he not thought of finding out about those
grandchildren and of buying them something for Christmas? But he had
not, and now he did not know whether they were girls or boys or both,
nor how many of them there were. So he had no way of knowing what to
buy, or how much. Somehow he had here a feeling that he had been on
the verge of an interesting discovery. But only on the verge.

He walked slowly out of the house and turned into South Street. In the
life of this quaint thoroughfare he had cast his lot, and here he spent
his leisure hours; not that he had ever found the place or the men he
met there especially congenial. But they were the men he knew, the men
he worked with or worked against; and any young fellow who is lonely in
a big city and placed as Dan was is just as liable, until he has found
himself and located his rut in life, to mingle with persons as strange,
with natures as alien, and to frequent places which in later years fill
him with repulsive memories.

At all events Dan did, and he was not worrying about it a bit, either,
as he sauntered under the Brooklyn Bridge span at Dover Street and
turned into South, where Christmas Eve is so joyous, in its way. The
way on this particular evening was in no place more clearly interpreted
than Red Murphy's resort, where the guild of Battery rowboatmen, who
meet steamships in their Whitehall boats and carry their hawsers to
longshoremen waiting to make them fast to the pier bitts, congregate
and have their social being.

Here, on this day, the wealthy towboat-owners and captains are wont to
distribute their largess to the boatmen as a mark of appreciation for
favors rendered, - a suggestion that future favors are expected, - and
here, also, punch of exalted brew is concocted and drunk.

An occasional flurry of snow swept down the street as Dan reached the
entrance. Murphy was out on the sidewalk directing the adornment of
his doorway with several faded evergreen wreaths, while inside, the
boatmen gathered closer around the genial potstove and were not sorry
that ice-bound rivers and harbor had brought their business to a
temporary standstill. They were discussing the morrow, which logically
led to a consideration of the ice-pack, among other things, and thence
to Cap'n Barney Hodge's ill luck.

"Take a hard and early winter," old Bill Darragh, the dean of the
boatmen, was saying, "then a thaw in the middle o' December, and then a
friz-up, and ye git conditions that ain't propitious, as ye may say,
fur towboatmen - nur fur us, neither."

"True fur ye," said "Honest Bill" Duffy. "Nigh half the tugs in the
harbor is in the Erie Basin with screw blades twisted off by the
ice-pack, or sheathin' ripped. And it's gittin' worse. They'll be
little enough money for us this year - an' I was countin' on a hunder to
pay a doctor's bill."

"Well, maybe you'll get more than you think," said Dan, whose words
always carried weight because he was mate of a deep-sea tug. "Captain
Barney Hodge's _Three Sisters_ was laid up yesterday; a three-foot
piece of piling bedded in an ice-cake got caught in her screw,
and - zip! The other fellows are feeling so good about it that I think
they'll be apt to be generous."

"We'll drink to Barney's bad health," said Darragh, raising his glass.
"I saw him half an hour gone. He looked like a dead man. Cap'n Jim
Skelly o' the _John Quinn_ piloted _Gypsum Prince_ inter her dock last
night. No one ever handled her afore but Cap'n Barney. An' the
_Kentigern_ from Liverpool is due to-night. Skelly's layin' fur her
too; an' he'll git her. That'll take two vessels from Barney's private
monopoly."

Darragh was right. The towboatmen had Captain Barney where they wanted
him, and they meant to gaff him hard. He had always been too sharp for
the rest, too good at a bargain, too mean; and what was more, he was in
every way the best towboatman that ever lived. No one liked him; but
the steamship-captains engaged his services for towing and piloting,
nevertheless, for the reason that they considered him a disagreeable
necessity, believing that no other tugboatman could serve them so well.

As a matter of fact, there were several tugboat-captains hardly less
skilful than Captain Barney, and in the time of his idleness they bade
fair to secure not a few of his customers. It was an old saying that
Captain Barney, touched in his pocket, was touched in his heart and
brain also - they meant to touch him in just those places.

"I see him this morning," said Duffy, "when he heard that Cap'n Jim
Skelly 'd come in on the bridge of the _Gypsum Prince_. He was
a-weepin' and cursin' like a drunk. Hereafter he'll have to divide the
_Gypsum_, and she arrives reg'lar, too."

"And he'll lose the _Kentigern_ to-night," laughed Dan. "Well, I don't
care. It'll do him good. I hope they put him out of business."

"Thankee, gents, for your Christmas wishes. I'm glad my friends are
with me." The words, in low, mournful cadence, came from the doorway;
and all eyes turning there saw the stout, melancholy figure of Captain
Barney, his great hooked nose falling dejectedly toward his chin, his
hawk eyes dull and sombre. He had been drinking; and as Duffy made as
though to throw a bottle at him, the fallen great man turned and
stumbled away.

A few minutes later Dan left the resort, faced the biting north wind,
and walked slowly up South Street. Somehow he could not get Captain
Barney out of his mind.

The year before, in violation of an explicit agreement, Captain Barney
had worked in with an outside rowboatman from West Street, towing him
to piers where vessels were about to dock. This, of course, got that
boatman on the scene in advance of the Battery men, who had only their
strong arms and their oars to depend upon. Thus the rival had the
first chance at the job of carrying the lines from the docking
steamships to men waiting on the pier to make them fast. Captain
Barney received part of the money which this boatman made. It was
little enough, to be sure, but no amount of money was too small for
him. And so Dan, the Battery boatmen being his friends, was glad to
see Hodge on his knees - yet he was the slickest tugboat-captain on
earth.

Dan could not help admiring him for that; and now he could not dismiss
from his mind the pitiable picture which Murphy's doorway had framed
but a few minutes before. He tried to, for Dan was an impressionable
young fellow and was worrying too much about this Christmas idea,
endeavoring to solve his emotions, without bothering about the troubles
of a towboat-skipper who deserved all he got and more.

All along the street were Christmas greens. The ship chandlers had
them festooned about huge lengths of rusty chains and barnacled anchors
and huge coils of hawser, and the tawdry windows of the dram shops were
hidden by them. A frowsy woman, with a happy smile upon her face,
hurried past with a new doll in her arms. Dan stopped a minute to
watch her.

Something turned him into a little toyshop near Coenties Slip and he
saw a tugboat deck-hand purchase a pitiful little train of cars, laying
his quarter on the counter with the softest smile he had seen on a
man's face in a twelvemonth.

"Something for the kid, eh?" said Dan rather gruffly.

"Sure," replied the deck-hand, and he took his bundle with a sort of
defiant expression.

He saw a little mother, a girl not more than twelve years old, with a
pinched face and a rag shawl about her shoulders, spend ten cents for a
bit of a doll and a bag of Christmas candy.

"Going to have a good time, all by yourself?" growled Dan.

"Naw, this is fur me little sister," said the girl bravely, if a little
contemptuously. A great lump came into Dan's throat, and feeling
somewhat weak and ashamed, he left the shop. Elemental sensations
which he could not define thrilled him, and the spirit of Christmas,
now entirely unsatisfied, rested on his soul like an incubus. He began
to feel outside of everything - as though the season had come for every
one but him.

Near Pike Street a little group of the Salvation Army stood on the
curb. One of them was a fat, uncomely woman, and she was singing,
accompanying herself upon a guitar. The music was that of a popular
ballad, and the verses were of rude manufacture.

There were perhaps half a dozen listeners scattered about the sidewalk
at a distance sufficient to prevent possible scoffers from including
them in the service. Two of them were rough workmen, and they stood in
the middle of the sidewalk staring vacantly ahead, trying to look
oblivious. Two longshoremen sat on the curb ten feet away, and a man
and a woman leaned against the door of a near-by warehouse. When the
song was finished the two workmen hurriedly approached and threw
nickels on the face of the big bass drum lying flat on the street,
retreating hastily, as though ashamed; the woman did likewise, and one
of the longshoremen.

"Buying salvation," grinned Dan, as he walked on up the street. But
the pleasantry made inadequate appeal. Every one was getting more out
of the season than he was. Once he drew a dollar from his pocket and
started back. But no. What was a dollar to him? He knew where there
were more. That wasn't it. He put the money in his pocket and walked
on.

Dan's mental processes leading to a determination to help Captain
Barney were too clouded for clear interpretation, but he knew there was
no more uncertainty in his mind after he had sought the Captain out and
offered to put him on board the _Kentigern_.

Hodges fairly wept his gratitude. "Dan, Dan, you say you can put me
aboard the _Kentigern_! You'll save my business if you do. I don't


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