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stranded just before midnight last night. Lord knows how much there is
left of her by this time. But I took it a good salvage job to go
after. Cripes!" The _Fledgling_ on her altered course had topped a
wave forward, which wave, travelling swiftly aft, had withdrawn from
the bow the support of its mighty shoulder. Down went the bow with a
great slap and up went the stern, screw racing and racking the engines,
sending Mulhatton crashing to the floor. But bruised as he was and
dazed, he was on his feet with the quickness of a cat, and seizing the
spokes, assisted Dan in bringing up the tug's head to where it ought to

"It's a-goin' to be lively work salvin' any hooker to-day," said the

"It is," replied Dan, "but I'll tell you this, Mul; we'll land her if
anybody can. For I've a tug under me built under my very eyes. I know
every beam and bolt in her. And I've a crew of rustlers," he added,
gazing proudly at Mulhatton's broad back - Mulhatton, with round, red,
bristly, laughing face and eyes like raw onions.

The next minute Dan, in all the delight of the struggle, was making his
way along the lower deck to the engine-room door. The water was racing
past the rail like a wet blur and the deck sloshed ankle deep. High up
a wave climbed the _Fledgling_, and as she paused on the top for a
downward glide, Dan hastily opened the door and clambered down the iron

"Well, Sam, how are they working?" he shouted to Crampton, the chief,
bending over a fizzing valve bonnet.

Sam rose, pushed back his oily peaked cap until the straight raven hair
flowed out from under like a cataract, and gave his thin, waterfall
moustache a twist, while his swarthy, parchment face cracked into a
hundred smiles.

"Workin'," he said, "as sweet as a babe breathin'."

Up reared the stern, lifting the propeller clear of the water. The
engines expending their force in air, raced free. The clatter was
infernal; the pistons seemed trying to jump out of the cylinders, while
the throws and eccentrics lost all semblance of good order.

"Oh, damn!" cried Sam, who, being hurled to the iron floor, swore as
though he enjoyed it.

Whitey Welch, the fireman, burst into a huge guffaw, in which Sam
finally joined.

"You're all right down here," laughed Dan, "as happy as a sewing
circle! There may be some pulling to do later."

"You get something to pull; we'll tend to the rest," and Sam Crampton

Emerging on deck, Dan collided with Pete Noonan, the deck-hand, with
shoulders as big as Dan's and a bigger chest. Pete smiled genially.

"This'll put hair on yer teeth, eh, Cap'n, this will," he said, while
from the galley below floated Arthur's voice in a deep sea chanty:

"I'll go no more a-roaming,
No more a-ro-o-o-a-ming with you, fair maid."

"Go on back to harbor, you little lobster pot; we'll take care of the

The corpulent captain of the great wrecking tug _Sovereign_, lying
outside the breakers off Jones Inlet, megaphoned this insult to the
deck of the _Fledgling_, as she drew near the scene of the wreck,
rising and falling on the waves like a piece of driftwood.

It was a deadly day. The promise of the sunlight had waned with the
earlier hours, and heavy blue-black clouds palled the heavens. Not one
hundred yards apart lay the two tugs, rolling and pitching in the
seaway; the _Fledgling_ trim and stanch, the _Sovereign_ big and
cumbersome, the funnel belching thunderclouds of sepia, her derrick
booms creaking and rattling and slatting infernally.

Straight on ahead, where the line of swelling waves burst into
breakers, where the spume sang like whip-lashes, and where the whine of
the wind tore itself into a nasty snarl, lay the wreck of the schooner
_Zeitgeist_. She lay half on her side and the waves licked up and over
the faded gray hull, completing the work that time already had begun.
One mast was very far forward, the other very far aft - Great Lake rig;
and between the two was a deck-load of thousands of feet of Maine
lumber. The topmasts had snapped off, leaving the stumps.

Lashed in the foremast were two men; and in the mainmast were Captain
Ephraim Sayles and three more of his crew. At first glance they seemed
lifeless; at first glance, indeed, they seemed nothing more than faded
lengths of canvas. But an occasional lifting of a hand, a flash of a
gray face, showed that they were men and that they still lived and
hoped. Under them, over the deck raced the breakers, waist deep, each
one a swift, excited trip-hammer. It was only the lumber that was
holding the aged hull together. As it was, sections of the sides had
ripped out and planks and pieces of deal issuing from the gashes
littered the waters. Three times had the life-savers launched their
boats, and three times they had been cast on the beach like logs, while
thrice had the lines from their mortars fallen short.

"Go on back; we'll take care of her."

And Dan, his teeth bared and coated with blood from anger-bitten lips,
gave the wheel to Mulhatton, ran from the pilot-house, and shook his
fist at the big wrecking tug.

"Why don't you take care of her then, curse you! Why don't you take
care of her? Don't you see there are lives to save? Oh, you cowardly

"Nothin' doin' till the sea goes down," came the reply, and Dan sobbed
aloud in his rage as he entered the pilot-house, where most of the crew
were gathered, peering out of the windows at the tragedy across the

The men in the rigging could be seen plainly now. There was no
excitement. They kept very still, watching the futile efforts of the
life-savers, waving their hands occasionally as though in token of
their thanks and their knowledge of the utter futility of human
efforts. No, there was no excitement; the uncertainty that breeds that
was lacking. Fate was simply clamping its damp hand down over those
men. Such things are always quiet - there is nothing to thrill the
heart or stir the soul in them. It is just a mighty thing dealing
death to weaklings, that is all. And we wonder whether the All-seeing
Eye does not sometimes close in sheer pity, to shut out the inequality
of it.

While they looked, a venomous wave got under the bow and lifted it
high. Then down it went as a man would crash his palms together,
bursting out the forepeak like a rotten apple. Thus weakened forward,
the loss of the foremast was an imminent certainty. And there were two
men in the fore rigging! Captain Ephraim leaned far out from the
mainmast; the tug men could see him plainly as he pointed at the
tottering mast and then at the deck.

"He wants them to leave the mast and go into the mainmast," cried

"But they won't - see, they are shaking their heads 'no,'" shouted Dan.
"They couldn't; the breakers would sweep them away in a minute."


For man is brave and man does fight, even in the face of injustice, in
the face of odds. Thus did Martin Loughran, in the fore rigging of the
_Zeitgeist_, as with set jaws he struggled upward toward the stump of
the topmast. Between the trucks of the fore and maintopmasts ran a
horizontal line of wire. It is called the "triatic stay," and Loughran
was climbing to it. Dan - all the _Fledgling's_ crew and the crew of
the _Sovereign_ - foresaw his intention, and stentorian shouts, "You
can't do it!" bounded over the water. But the sailor did not pause,
if, indeed, he heard their warnings.

Slowly, laboriously he climbed. He stretched up one hand and grasped
the stay. Up went the other hand. Then out against the glooming sky
was limned the swaying form, working its way along the triatic stay
hand over hand, in an effort to reach the mainmast. A faint cheer came
from the men in the main rigging, while two of the _Fledgling's_ crew
cheered, and two bowed their heads in agony, and Dan sobbed aloud.

"Look at him," cried Dan. "Oh, God!"

"A sandy man cashin' in," muttered Mulhatton solemnly.

Out, out worked the swaying form. But he had more than one hundred
feet to go. Twenty-five feet - progress ceased. It hung there silent,
that figure - it seemed almost an eternity. It hung as silent as a
piece of sail and as fitfully swaying. Suddenly one hand relaxed and
fell limp. It was as though something had sucked the breath from every
onlooker. The hand was feebly raised in a futile clutch to regain the
lost hold. It fell again. Still there was silence.

A dark form cleaved the gloom and lay in a black huddle upon the lumber
amidships, until a boarding wave kindly removed it and spurned it upon
the beach as it would a drowned dog. Ten minutes later the foremast
went and the life-savers, dashing into the surf, took out of the
rigging a dead sea-cook.

And still the tugs lay like vultures awaiting carrion. Both had come
down to the wreck in the hope of getting a line over her and pulling
her from the sands, for which there would have been ample reward. But
it was too rough to approach her and she was too far gone to warrant
salving, even were it possible. But there were men dying before their
eyes and no one was lifting a hand. Dan was in a red-headed glare of
emotion. He was too young to look upon such things calmly. He turned
his eyes from the wreck to the _Sovereign_, just as her bow went up on
a wave, showing the red underbody. And it reminded him of the yawning
mouth of some sea monster hungry for prey.

"We're lying here like bloodsuckers!" he yelled. "Waiting for salvage
while good men are dying! Dying - and we're doing nothing! Fellows,"
he roared, "I'm going to take the tug in to her. I'm not afraid of a
risk to save the lives of brave men."

"All right, Cap'n," said Mulhatton, "you know we'll go with you. But
there's no use in bein' fools. Take the tug in - yes. But how'll you
take her out again?"

Dan glared across the heaving waters with bloodshot eyes. "No use; you
couldn't, couldn't get her out again. No, you couldn't." He repeated
this several times. "Is there anything that could?" he added finally.

He looked at his men for the answer, but their eyes were still fastened
on the wreck with almost hypnotic fascination.

"Her deck-load's beginning to shift. It'll be clear off soon and
that'll take the other mast," announced Noonan.

One of the men in the rigging, a giant, tow-headed fellow, suddenly
went crazy, - at least so it seemed. For his lips writhed in a haunting
scream as he whipped out his knife and cut his lashings. Then he
turned a bloodless face toward the _Fledgling_, uttered a short,
rasping shout, and jumped into the sea. A great wave seized him
greedily and swirled him high. Dan caught a fleeting glimpse of that
face, turned reproachfully, it seemed, toward him.

It set him crazy too. His mind was working like lightning.

"Mul," he screamed, "launch the lifeboat, with you fellows holding on
to a line from her bow! We're to windward, and she'll drift right down
to the wreck. Then you can haul us back again. It's been done before.
God, why didn't I think of it sooner!"

Mulhatton looked at his Captain closely.

"One chance in a thousand that our boat would live to make the trip,
Cap'n," he said.

Dan snarled his impatience.

"One chance in ten thousand, one chance in a million, I'll take it!" he
cried in a sharp, metallic voice. "I never saw a man die until
to-day - I'll see no more, God willing."

Without a word Mulhatton turned and rushed for the lifeboat.

"Remember, I go in that boat," yelled Dan as he followed his mate. But
Mulhatton only turned back a defiant look. Together they wrenched the
boat from its blocks and lowered it to Noonan, standing below on the
main deck astern. Crampton, the engineer, was at the wheel, while
Whitey Welch stood by the engines. As the lifeboat was straining on
the top of a swell, Mulhatton attempted to leap in, but was viciously
punched back by Dan, who then sprang out five feet and sprawled in the
stern sheets.

"Damn!" cried the disappointed mate as he sprang to Noonan's side and
seized the line, which was already paying out.

Into the riot went Dan. There was neither mercy nor tolerance in the
waters, - the waves ripped all about in wanton fury; the spume cloaked
the face of them in wet clouds and the sea hollows lay like black pits.
But merciless and intolerant as were the waters, Dan asked no odds of
them. Crouching in the stern with one oar dug deep, he was hurled on
his errand of mercy. The _Sovereign_ whistled its commendation, while
ashore the spectators and life-savers stood breathless. A stealthy
wave slashed the oar, almost pulling his shoulder from its socket, but
he kept the oar. Aye, he kept it and cursed the wave that sought to
take it away. On, on, as determined, as indomitable as the elements.
A wave cut the boat full. It skidded on its side and righted. A
comber rose green behind, hiding the _Fledgling_. It caught the
lifeboat before it broke. It hoisted it high and then, passing on,
expended its crushing force against the wreck ahead. And Dan laughed,
and the spindrift flying like buckshot beat against his teeth. On, on,
until the wreck, boiling in water, loomed ahead. On past the stern of
the wreck shot the small boat, until it was just under the lee of it.
There he signalled to his men to pay out the line no more.

"Jump!" he called to the three men in the rigging. First jumped Daniel
James, and Dan caught him out of the waters and hauled him in. And he
caught the next, the boat careening, shipping a rush of water. As
Captain Ephraim crouched for the leap, the sough of the rotten hull,
working and heaving like the carcass of a shark, was bursting out in a
score of places and the lumber deck-load rose and fell and quivered and
flailed huge planks into the waves. The end was near. Dan shouted the
skipper to hurry. Ephraim obeyed, and had fought his way through the
caldron to the boat and was dragged aboard, when suddenly, with a great
straining sigh, the hull of the wreck parted amidships, both ends
sinking in the waters. A comber rushed in between, swelling and
hissing. The lumber deck-load rose in the air like a living thing.
The remaining fastenings holding it to the deck parted, and there was a
rending and grinding as it slued off into the sea, carrying with it the
main-mast, which crashed down and impaled the bar on which the wreck

The currents had carried the rowboat almost - quite, in fact - in front
of this terrible heaving mass of wood, one hundred feet long and
chained together to a height of ten feet - and only the mainmast, which
seemed to be serving as a sort of anchor, held it. Dan saw the danger,
and the shouts of those on the _Fledgling_ told him that they had seen
it too. The line leading from the boat to the tug was taut and
singing, evidence that the men were hauling upon it. But the pull of
the shoreward rushing waters was as great as their strength. The boat
made no movement out of her dangerous position. Dan was sculling like
mad, but his efforts, compared to the might of the sea, were puny. In
deep silence the mass of lumber worried at its unforeseen anchor. It
ripped free and, rolling and twisting in spineless abandon, bore down
upon the lifeboat with crushing momentum. On it came. They began to
pay out the line in order that the boat might keep ahead of it for a
few extra minutes. But Dan knew there could be no salvation in that.
He could see every foot of the advancing mass. He could see the
hundreds of planks flailing out in the air like arms; he could see the
thick water spurting through thousands of cracks and crevices; could
hear the gnashing of plank on plank. Nearer it came, as powerful, as
inexorable as the glacial drift. It rose before him in all its
crushing might.

Then he felt the boat, as though suddenly endowed with life, start
forward, and, glancing at the _Fledgling_, saw that she had made a
tangent course to the wreck in order that the boat could be pulled
outward from it and away. Dan knew in an instant that they had lashed
the line to the stern bitts and had taken the desperate chance, the
only chance, of making the tug pull her lifeboat from danger. Could
the little line stand the strain? That was the question. It was so
tight that it vibrated like thin wire, and it was humming musically,
monotonously. It held - the boat was moving! But the lumber was moving
too. On it came. Ten feet - a plank wrenched clear of the mass and
shot on ahead, ramming out the lifeboat's stern-board, above the water
line. Another plank, as though hurled by some sinister force, sailed
clear over Dan's head. Ten feet - the line was fraying out at the ring
bolts. Just a second now - five feet. With one bound the lumber swept
down, and past the stern of the boat, and Captain Ephraim fell to his
knees and thanked his God.

The fight off Jones Island Inlet came at a time when it meant much to
Dan. It was the deep sea, and he had measured his might with it. And
as a man is dignified by the prowess of his opponent, so was Dan
dignified by the prowess of the sea. Perhaps that was why the sea had
always called Dan - faintly, dimly; far away sometimes, but always
unmistakably. It came in every wind that blew; a voice that involved
not the sea alone, but the things it stood for - a broader, deeper life
and bigger things; more to do, a final and definite place to make. He
had never met or been influenced by the big men - the men who think and
teach and sing and do the world's work. His environment in these, his
early years of manhood, had been far from them. He could touch them
only in books, which were not entirely satisfactory. And so he learned
from the sea and it spoke to him of breadth, and power, and
determination, and majesty of character. Dan was instinctively seeking
all these things, and in the work he was now doing he felt that he was
nearer to them than he had ever been before.



One Fall afternoon, six months after the rescue of the men of the
_Zeitgeist_, the _Fledgling_, as though sentient with the instinct of
self-preservation, was struggling through the riot of wind and waves,
seeking the security of the Delaware Breakwater, while ten miles back,
somewhere in the wild half gloom off Hog Island, three loaded coal
barges which she had been towing from Norfolk were rolling, twisting,
careening helplessly to destruction - if, indeed, the seas had not
already taken deadly toll of them.

Dan and two of his men were at the wheel spokes, which had torn the
palms of their hands until they were raw and bleeding, and the dull
light flooding in through the windows revealed the indomitable will of
these men, the death-fight spirit which actuated them.

Dan's face was bloodless and strained, and his hair fell across his
eyes, while crouching beneath him, with hands on the under spokes, were
the gigantic shoulders of his mate, the sweaty gray hair and the red,
thick nape of the neck suggesting the very epitome of muscular effort;
and on the other side, writhing and quivering, was the deck-hand, a
study in steel and wire.

The afternoon was still young, but the heavens were darker than
twilight, and the rocking sea was as black as slate, save where a
comber, as though gnashing its teeth in fury, flashed a sudden white
crest, which crumbled immediately into the heaving pall.

"Now, boys, together! Catch back that last spoke we lost!"

And while Dan's words were being shattered into shreds of sound by the
shriek of the gale, the three men bent their backs in a fresh effort to
put the _Fledgling's_ nose a point better into the on-rushing waves.

They did it too. With a hiss and a crunch the bow swung in square to
the watery thunderbolts and the stanch craft, survivor of a hundred
perils, a ten-foot section of her port rail gone, a great dent in the
steel deck-house forward, began to climb over the water hills with much
of her usual precision - down on her side, clear to the bottom of a
hollow, then settling on an even keel with a jerk, climbing the slaty
incline, stiff as a church, then down, down, half on her side again,
then up once more.

"She's making good weather of it," and Dan took his hands from the
wheel, stood erect, and gazed through the after windows, searching a
horizon which he could see only when the tug climbed to a wave top. He
turned to his mate.

"There's no use hunting for those barges," he said tentatively. "When
that tow-line broke back there, it seemed as though one of my heart
strings went too. But there was nothing to do about it; nothing we
could do. It was all we could do to work the _Fledgling_ through."

"Most captains would 'a' cut them barges adrift long before the line
broke," replied the mate; "no use thinkin' about them now; they've
gone, long ago."

Dan worked his way along the pitching floor to the side windows. His
face was tense and drawn. He had never lost a tow before - this was a
part of his reputation. And now. . . . He turned slowly to resume his
place at the wheel, when suddenly, as the tug was sidling down a wave,
the tail of his eye caught a glimpse of a buff funnel protruding above
the wave tops a good quarter of a mile away. His first impression was
that the water had claimed all but the funnel. He was not sure. He
waited. It seemed an age while the tug climbed to the top of the next
comber. Slowly, slowly the buff funnel again came into view, and then
as the tug still climbed he saw it all - a white, broad-waisted yacht
cluttering in the grip of the waters, throwing her stern toward heaven,
reeling over, taking water on one rail, letting it through the opposite
scuppers, sticking her bow into the waves and rising, shaking off the
water like a fat spaniel. Puffs of steam were escaping jerkily from
the whistle valve, and, although Dan could not hear, he knew she was
whistling for assistance.

It was all a quick, pulsating scene, as one views something in a
kinetoscope, and then it was lost as the waters rose between them. Dan
stumbled over to the wheel. He was not a man of many words.

"Boys, there's work for us to do. There's a yacht in distress about a
quarter of a mile off on the port hand. We'll go over and see."

"It'll mean throwing her head off from seas that we've been bucking
since morning," said the mate. And the inflection cast into the words
suggested no protest, only a reminder that it would be no child's play.

"Yes," said Dan simply, leaning forward to take advantage of the uproll
of the tug to locate the yacht more exactly. "There - there - throw her
off three points - - That's it," he added, as the tug floundered on
her new course, - a course no longer into, but across, the waves, which
now began to come from everywhere, buffeting the tug, keel and bow,
rail and pilot-house - crazy cross-seas, fighting among themselves,
slashing, crashing, falling over one another.

But on the _Fledgling_ went, climbing the waves insanely now, sometimes
bow on, sometimes crab-wise - but ever on. Each wave that was topped
gave a better view of the yacht, also enabling those on that wallowing
craft to see the tug, as evidence of which the continuous blasts of the
whistle were borne to the towmen's ears.

Nearer, until the yacht was never lost to view. Evidently she was not
under control; but, even so, it was plain that no high degree of
intelligence was being exerted in handling her. She was not steaming
at all, merely drifting in the trough, and none of the means to bring
her head into the seas which sailors utilize at a pinch had even been
attempted. Whatever was the matter with the yacht, Dan and his men
were sure that the officers and crew were nothing less than blockheads.

Making a wide detour, they brought the tug around under the lee of the
craft and about fifty yards away, where Dan, leaving the wheel to his
men, seized a megaphone and ran on deck.

"What's the matter with you?" he shouted angrily through his megaphone,
aimed toward a group of men on the shattered bridge. "Are you trying
to see how quickly you can sink? Why don't you put her head up?"

A young officer in a wet and bedraggled uniform crawled along the
swaying platform to the megaphone rack and, seizing a cone, shouted
from a kneeling posture:

"Help us, for God's sake! Our thrust shaft has cracked!" The words
came faintly. "Our Captain was washed from the bridge. . . . Tried to
put out sea anchor, but couldn't make it hold without steerage
way. . . . It broke adrift. . . . This . . . the _Veiled Ladye_, with
Mr. Horace Howland and a party aboard."

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