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Blow The Man Down - A Romance Of The Coast - 1916
by Holman Day
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"I want to be what you want me to be—to do what you want me to do. But I wish you would tell me to go out into the world and make something of myself. Alma, tell me to go! And wait for me!"

She laid her face against his shoulder and reached for his fingers, endeavoring to pull one of his arms about her. But both of his hands were clutching the rail of the bridge. He resisted.

"Are you going to be like all the rest? Just money and trouble and worry?" She stretched up on tiptoe and brushed a kiss across his fog-wet cheek. "Are you asleep, my big boy? Yesterday you were awake."

"I think I am really awake to-day, and that I was dreaming yesterday. Alma, I cannot sneak behind your father's back to make love to you. I can't do it. I'm going to give up this position. I can't endure it."

"I say 'No!' I need you."

"But—"

"I'll not give you up."

There was something dramatic in her declaration; her demeanor expressed the placid calm of absolute proprietorship. She worked his unwilling fingers free from the rail.

"I love you because you can forget yourself. Now don't be like all the others."

He realized that a queer little sting of impatience was pricking him. The girl did not seem to understand what his manhood was prompting.

"You mustn't be selfish, Boyd!"

She put into words the vague thought which had been troubling him in regard to her attitude; and now that he understood what his thought had been he was incensed by what seemed his own disloyalty. And yet, the girl was asking him to make over his nature!

"I'm afraid it's all wrong. These things never seem to come out right," he mourned.

"You are trying to turn the world upside down all at once—and all alone. Don't think so much, you solemn Yankee. Just love!"

He put his aims about her. "I'm sailing in new waters. I don't seem to know the true course or the right bearings!"

"Let's stay anchored until the fog lifts! Isn't that what sailors usually do?"

He confessed it, kissing her when she lifted her tantalizing face from his shoulder.

"Now you'll let the future alone, won't you?" she asked.

"Yes." But even while he promised he was obliged to face that future.

Julius Marston, at the foot of the ladder, called to his daughter. "Are you up there?" he demanded, sharply.

"Yes, father."

"Come down here."

She gave her lover a hasty caress and obeyed.

Captain Mayo was obliged to listen. Marston, in his anger, showed no consideration for possible eavesdroppers.

"I have told you to stay aft where you belong."

"Really, father, I don't understand why—"

"Those are my orders! I understand. You don't need to understand. This world is full of cheap fellows who misinterpret actions."

Captain Mayo grasped the rails of the bridge ladder and did down to the deck without touching his feet to the treads. He appeared before the father and daughter with startling suddenness.

"Mr. Marston, I am leaving my position on board here as soon as you can get another man to take my place."

"You are, eh?"

"Yes, sir."

"You signed papers for the season. It is not convenient for me to make a change." Marston spoke with the crispness of a man who had settled the matter.

Captain Mayo was conscious that the girl was trying to attract his gaze, but he kept his eyes resolutely from her face.

"I insist on being relieved."

"I have no patience with childishness in a man! I found it necessary to reprimand you. You'll probably know your place after this." He turned away.

"I have decided that I do not belong on this yacht," stated Mayo, with an emphasis he knew the girl would understand. "You must get another master!"

"I cannot pick captains out of this fog, and I allow no man to tell me my own business. I shall keep you to your written agreement. Hold yourself in readiness to carry telegrams ashore for me. I take it there is an office here?"

"There is, sir," returned Mayo, stiffly.

The girl, departing, bestowed on him a pretty grimace of triumph, plainly rejoicing because his impetuous resignation had been overruled so autocratically. But Mayo gave a somber return to the raillery of her eyes. He had spoken out to Marston as a man, and had been treated with the contemptuous indifference which would be accorded to a bond-servant. He was wounded by the light manner in which she viewed that affront, even though her own father offered it.

He stood there alone for a time, meditating various rash acts. But under all the tumult of his feelings was the realization that the responsibility for that yacht's discipline and safety rested on his shoulders and he went about his duties. He called two of the crew and ordered the gangway steps down and the port dinghy cleared and lowered. Then he went to the chart-room and sat on a locker and tried to figure out whether he was wonderfully happy or supremely miserable.

Marston promptly closeted himself with his three wise men of business after he went aft. "We'll frame up those telegrams now and get them off," he told them. "I thought I'd better wait until I had worked the bile out of my system. Never try to do sane and safe business when you're angry, gentlemen! I'm afraid those telegrams would not have been exactly coherent if I had written them right after that Bee liner smashed past us."

"I have been ready to believe that Tucker would come in with us on the right lay," said one of the associates.

"So did I," agreed Marston. "I have thought all his loud talk has been bluff to beat up a bigger price. But, after what he did to-day! Oh no! He is out to fight and he grabbed his chance to show us! I do not believe a lot of this regular fight talk. But when a man comes up and smashes me between the eyes I begin to suspect his intentions."

"There's no need of dickering with him any longer, Mr. Marston. He made his work as dirty as he could to-day—he has left nothing open to doubt."

"I'm sorry," said another of the group. "Tucker has let himself get ugly."

"So have I," replied Marston, dryly. "And I'm growing senile, too, I'm afraid. I went forward and wasted as much anathema on that skipper of mine as I would use up in putting through a half-million deal with an opposition traffic line. Next thing I know I'll be arguing with, the smoke-stack. But I must confess, gentlemen, that Tucker rather took my breath away to-day. Either he has become absolutely crazy or else he doesn't understand the strength of the combination."

"He hasn't waked up yet. He doesn't know what's against him."

"That may be our fault, in a measure," stated one of the men. "We haven't been able to let men like Tucker in on the full details."

"In business it's the good guesser who wins," declared Marston. "Our merger isn't a thing to be advertised. And if we do any more explaining to Tucker the whole plan will be advertised, you can depend on it. The infernal fool has been holding us up three months, demanding more knowledge—and he can't be trusted. There's only one thing to do, gentlemen! That!" He drove his fist into his palm with significant thud.

"Is the Bee line absolutely essential in our plans?"

"Every line along this coast is essential in making that merger stock an air-tight proposition."

"It's a new line and is not paying dividends."

"Well, for that matter, it's got nothing in that respect on some of the other lines we're salting down in the merger," suggested a member of the party, speaking for the first time.

"I'm afraid you said it then, Thompson! American bottoms seem to be turned into barnacle-gardens," declared the man who had questioned the matter of Tucker's value.

"Gentlemen, just a moment!" Julius Marston leaned forward in his chair. His voice was low. His eyes narrowed. He dominated them by his earnestness. "You have followed me in a number of enterprises, and we have had good luck. But let me tell you that we have ahead of us the biggest thing yet, and we cannot afford to leave one loose end! Not one, gentlemen! That's why a fool like Tucker doesn't deserve any consideration when he gets in our way. Listen to me! The biggest thing that has ever happened in this world is going to happen. How do I know? I am not sure that I do know. But as I have just told you, the man who guesses right is the winner." His thin nose was wrinkled, and the strip of beard on his chin bristled. Sometimes men called Marston "the fox of Wall Street." He suggested the reason for his nickname as he sat there and squinted at his associates. "And there's an instinct that helps some men to guess right. Something is going to happen in this world before long that will make millionaires over and over out of men who have invested a few thousands in American bottoms."

"What will happen?" bluntly inquired one of the men, after a silence.

"I am neither clairvoyant nor crystal-gazer," said Marston, grimly. "But I have led you into some good things when my instinct has whispered. I say it's going to happen—and I say no more."

"To make American bottoms worth while the whole of Europe will have to be busy doing something else with their ships."

"All right! Then they'll be doing it," returned Marston.

"It would have to be a war—a big war."

"Very well! Maybe that's the answer."

"But there never can be another big war. As a financier you know it."

"I have made some money by adhering to the hard and fast rules of finance. But I have made the most of my money by turning my back on those rules and listening to my instinct," was Marston's rejoinder. "I don't want to over-influence you, gentlemen. I don't care to discuss any further what you may consider to be dreams. I am not predicting a great war in Europe. Common sense argues the other way. But I am going into this ship-merger proposition with every ounce of brains and energy and capital I possess. The man who gets in my way is trying to keep these two hands of mine off millions!" He shook his clutched fists above his head. "And I'll walk over him, by the gods! whether it's Tucker or anybody else. We have had some good talks on the subject, first and last. I'm starting now to fight and smash opposition. What do you propose to do in the matter, gentlemen?"

They were silent for a time, looking at one another, querying without words. Then out of their knowledge of Julius Marston's uncanny abilities, remembering their past successes, came resolve.

"We're in with you to the last dollar," they assured him, one after the other.

"Very well! You're wise!"

He unlocked a drawer of his desk and secured a code-book. He pressed a buzzer and the secretary came hurrying from his stateroom.

"We'll open action, gentlemen, with a little long-distance skirmish over the wire."

He began to dictate his telegrams.



VI ~ AND WE SAILED

O Johnny's gone to Baltimore To dance upon that sanded floor. O Johnny's gone for evermore; I'll never see my John no more! O Johnny's gone! What shall I do? A-way you. H-e-e l-o-o-o! O Johnny's gone! What shall I do? Johnny's gone to Hilo. —Old Hauling Song.

The taciturn secretary fumbled his way forward and delivered to Captain Mayo a little packet securely bound with tape.

"Orders from Mr. Marston that you take these ashore, yourself. They are important telegrams and he wants them hurried."

The master called his men to the dinghy, and they rowed him away through the fog. It was a touchy job, picking his way through that murk. He stood up, leaning forward holding to his taut tiller-ropes, and more by ears than his eyes directed his course. A few of the anchored craft, knowing that they were in the harbor roadway, clanged their bells lazily once in a while. Yacht tenders were making their rounds, carrying parties who were paying and returning calls, and these boats were avoiding each other by loud hails. Small objects loomed largely and little sounds were accentuated.

The far voice of an unseen joker announced that he could find his way through the fog all right, but was afraid he had not strength enough to push his boat through it.

But Mayo knew his waters in that harbor, and found his way to the wharf. His real difficulties confronted him at the village telegraph office. The visiting yachtsmen had flooded the place with messages, and the flustered young woman was in a condition nearly resembling hysteria. She was defiantly declaring that she would not accept any more telegrams. Instead of setting at work upon those already filed she was spending her time explaining her limitations to later arrivals.

Captain Mayo stood at one side and looked on for a few moments. A gentle nudge on his elbow called his attention to an elderly man with stringy whiskers, who thus solicited his notice. The man held a folded paper gingerly by one corner, exhibiting profound respect for his minute burden.

"You ain't one of these yachting dudes—you're a skipper, ain't you?" asked the man.

"Yes, sir."

"Well, then, I can talk to you, as one officer to another—and glad to meet one of my own breed. I'm first mate of the schooner Polly. Mr. Speed is my name."

Captain Mayo nodded.

"And I need help and advice. This is the first tele-graft I ever had in my hands. I'd rather be aholt of an iced halyard in a no'easter! I've been sent ashore to telegraft it, and now she says she won't stick it onto the wire, however it is they do the blasted trick."

Captain Mayo had already noticed that the messengers from the yachts were killing time by teasing the flustered young woman; it was good-humored badinage, but it was effectively blocking progress at that end of the line.

He felt a "native's" instinctive impulse to go to the relief of the young woman who was being baited by the merrymakers; the responsibility of his own errand prompted him to help her clear decks. But he waited, hoping that the yachtsmen would go about their business.

"From the Polly, Mr. Speed?" he inquired, amiably. "Is the Polly in the harbor? I didn't notice her in the fog."

"Reckon you know her, by the way you speak of her," replied the gratified Mr. Speed.

"I ought to, sir. She was built at Mayoport by my great-grandfather before the Mayo yards began to turn out ships."

"Well, I swanny! Be you a Mayo?"

The captain bowed and smiled at the enthusiasm displayed by Mr. Speed.

"By ginger! that sort of puts you right into our fambly, so to speak!" The mate surveyed him with interest and with increasing confidence. "I'm in a mess, Cap'n Mayo, and I need advice and comfort, I reckon. I was headed on a straight tack toward my regular duty, and all of a sudden I found myself jibed and in stays, and I'm there now and drifting. Seeing that your folks built the Polly, I consider that you're in the fambly, and that Proverdunce put you right here to-night in this telegraft office. Do you know Cap'n Epps Candage?"

Mayo shook his head.

"Or his girl, Polly, named for the Polly?"

"No, I must confess."

"Well, it may be just as well for ye that ye don't," said Oakum Otie, twisting his straggly beard into a spill and blinking nervously. "There I was, headed straight and keeping true course, and then she looked at me and there was a tremble in her voice and tears in her eyes—and the next thing I knowed I was here in this telegraft place with this!" He held up the folded paper and his hand shook.

Captain Mayo did not understand, and therefore he made no remarks.

"There was a song old Ephrum Wack used to sing," went on Mr. Speed, getting more confidential and making sure that the other men in the room were too much occupied to listen. "Chorus went:

"I ain't afeard of the raging sea, Nor critters that's in it, whatever they be. But a witch of a woman is what skeers me!

"There I've been, standing by Cap'n Epps in the whole dingdo, and she got me one side and looked at me and says a few things with a quiver in her voice and her eyes all wet and shiny and"—he paused and looked down at the paper with bewilderment that was rather pitiful—"and I walked right over all common sense and shipboard rules and discipline and everything and came here, fetching this to be stuck on to the wire, or whatever they do with telegrafts. But," he added, a waver in his tones, "she is so lord-awful pretty, I couldn't help it!"

Still did Captain Mayo refrain from comment or question.

"The question now is, had I ought to," demanded Mr. Speed. "I'm taking you into the fambly on my own responsibility. You're a captain, you're a native, and I need good advice. Had I ought to?"

"I'm afraid you'll have to excuse me, sir. The matter seems to be private, and, furthermore, I don't know what you're talking about."

"She says it's to the milliner so that the milliner will hold the job open. But I'm suspicioning that it's roundabout to the beau that's in love with her. That's the style of women. Cap'n Epps shanghaied her to get her away from that fellow. Now she has got it worked around so that she is going back. But there's a beau in it instead of a milliner. She wouldn't be so anxious to get word to a milliner. That's my idee, and I reckon it's yours, too."

"I really have no ideas on the subject," returned Captain Mayo. "But if you have promised a young lady to send a telegram for her I would certainly keep that promise if I were in your place."

The next moment he regretted his rather impetuous advice, for Mr. Speed slapped the paper against a hard palm and blurted out: "That's all I wanted! Course and bearings from an a-number-one adviser. New, how'll I go to work to send this thing?"

"I have been figuring on that matter for the last few minutes, myself," acknowledged the captain. "It's about time to have a little action in this place."

He was obliged to elbow his way through the group of men who surrounded the telegraph operator. Oakum Otie followed on his heels, resolved to study at close range the mystery of telegraphing, realizing what he needed for his own instruction.

"These telegrams are important and they must go at ore, madam," Mayo informed the flustered young woman.

"I can't send them. I am bothered so much I can't do anything," she stammered.

"Oh, forget your business, skipper," advised one of the party.

"It is not my business, sir." He laid the packet of messages before the operator on her little counter and tapped his finger on them. "They must go," he repeated.

"In their turn," warned the yachtsman, showing that he resented this intrusion. "And after the party is over!"

"I intended to confine my conversation to this young lady," said Mayo. He turned and faced them. "But I have been here long enough to see that you gentlemen are interfering with the business of this office. Perhaps your messages are not important. Mine are."

The yachtsman was not sober nor was he judicious. "Go back to your job, young fellow," he advised. "You are horning in among gentlemen."

"So am I," squawked Mr. Speed, with weather eye out for clouds of any sort.

Captain Mayo gave his supporter a glance of mingled astonishment and relish. "We'd better not have any words about the matter, gentlemen,'' he suggested, mildly.

"Certainly not," stated the spokesman. "If you'll pass on there'll be no words—or anything else."

"Then we'll dispense with words!" The quick anger of youth flared in Mayo. The air of the man rather than his words had offended deeply. "You'd like to have this room to yourself so that you can attend to your business, I presume?" he asked the operator.

"Yes, I would."

Oakum Otie laid his folded paper upon the packet of Captain Mayo.

"You will leave the room gentlemen," advised the captain.

Mr. Speed thrust out his bony elbows and cracked his hard fists together. "I have never liked dudes," he stated. "I have been brought up that way. All my training with Cap'n Epps has been that way."

"How do you fit into this thing?" demanded one of the yachtsmen.

"About like this," averred Mr. Speed. He grabbed the young man by both shoulders and ran him out into the night before anybody could interfere. Then Mr. Speed reappeared promptly and inquired, "Which one goes next?"

"I think they will all go," said the captain.

"Come on," urged one of the party. "We can't afford to get into a brawl with natives."

"You bet you can't," retorted Oakum Otie. "I hain't hove bunches of shingles all my life for nothing!"

Mayo said nothing more. But after the yachtsmen had looked him over they went out, making the affair a subject for ridicule.

"Hope I done right and showed to you that I was thankful for good advice," suggested Mr. Speed, seeking commendation.

"Just a bit hasty, sir."

"Maybe, but there's nothing like handing folks a sample just to show up the quality of the whole piece."

"I thank you—both of you," said the grateful operator.

"You'd better lock your door," advised Mayo. "Men are thoughtless when they have nothing to do except play."

"I am so grateful! And I'm going to break an office rule," volunteered the girl. "I shall send off your telegrams first."

"And I hope you can tuck that little one in second—it won't take up much room!" pleaded Oakum Otie. "It's to help an awful pretty girl—looks are a good deal like yours!"

"I'll attend to it," promised the young woman, blushing.

Outside in the village street Mr. Speed wiped his rough palm against the leg of his trousers and offered his hand to the captain. "I'll have to say good-by to you here, sir. I've got a little errunting to do—fig o' terbacker and a box of stror'b'ries. I confess to a terrible tooth for stror'b'ries. When the hanker ketches me and I can't get to stror'b'ries my stror'b'ry mark shows up behind my ear. I hope I have done right in sending off that tele-graft for her—but it's too bad that a landlubber beau is going to get such a pretty girl." Then Oakum Otie sighed and melted away into the foggy gloom.

When Captain Mayo was half-way down the harbor, on his way back to the yacht, he was confronted by a spectacle which startled him. The fog was suddenly painted with a ruddy flare which spread high and flamed steadily. His first fears suggested that a vessel was on fire. The Olenia lay in that direction. He commanded his men to pull hard.

When he burst out of the mists into the zone of the illumination his misgivings were allayed, but his curiosity was roused.

A dozen yacht tenders flocked in a flotilla near the stern of a rusty old schooner. All the tenders were burning Coston lights, and from several boats yachtsmen were sending off rockets which striped the pall of fog with bizarre colorings.

The stern of the schooner was well lighted up by the torches, and Mayo saw her name, though he did not need that name to assure him of her identity; she was the venerable Polly.

The light which flamed about her, showing up her rig and lines, was weirdly unreal and more than ever did she seem like a ghost ship. The thick curtain of the mist caught up the flare of the torches and reflected it upon her from the skies, and she was limned in fantastic fashion from truck to water-line. Shadows of men in the tenders were thrown against the fog-screen in grotesque outline, and a spirit crew appeared to be toiling in the top-hamper of the old schooner.

Captain Mayo ordered his men to hold water and the tender drifted close to the flotilla. He spied a yacht skipper whom he had known when both were in the coasting trade.

"What's the idea, Duncan?"

His acquaintance grinned. "Serenade for old Epps Candage's girl—handed to her over his head." He pointed upward.

Projecting over the schooner's rail was the convulsed countenance of Captain Candage. Choler seemed to be consuming him. The freakish light painted everything with patterns in arabesque; the captain's face looked like the countenance of a gargoyle.

Mayo, observing with the natural prejudice of a "native," detected mockery in the affair. He had just been present at one exhibition of the convivial humor of larking yachtsmen.

"What's the special excuse for it?" he asked, sourly.

"According to the story, Epps has brought her with him on this trip to break up a courting match."

"Well, does that have anything to do with this performance?"

"Oh, it's only a little spree," confessed the other. "It was planned out on our yacht. Old Epps made himself a mucker to-day by sassing some of the gents of the fleet, and the boys are handing him a little something. That's all! It's only fun!"

"According to my notion it's the kind of fun that hurts when a girl is concerned, Duncan."

"Just as serious as ever, eh? Well, my notion is that a little good-natured fun never hurts a pretty girl—and they say this one is some looker! Oh, hold on a minute, Boyd!" The master of the Olenia had turned away and was about to give an order to his oarsmen. "You ought to stop long enough to hear that new song one of the gents on the Sunbeam has composed for the occasion. It's a corker. I heard 'em rehearsing it on our yacht."

In spite of his impatient resentment on behalf of the daughter of Epps Candage, Captain Mayo remained. Just then the accredited minstrel of the yachtsmen stood up, balancing himself in a tender. He was clearly revealed by the lights, and was magnified by the aureole of tinted fog which surrounded him. He sang, in waltz time, in a fine tenor:

"Our Polly O, O'er the sea you go; Fairer than sunbeam, lovely as moon-gleam, All of us love thee so! While the breezes blow To waft thee, Polly O, We will be true to thee, Crossing the blue to thee, Polly—Polly! Dear little Polly, Polly—O-O-O!"

He finished the verse and then raised both arms with the gesture of a choral conductor.

"All together, now, boys!"

They sang with soul and vigor and excellent effect.

Ferocity nearly inarticulate, fury almost apoplectic, were expressed by the face above the weather-worn rail.

"They say that music soothes the savage breast, but it don't look like it in this case," observed Captain Duncan with a chuckle.

"Clear off away from here, you drunken dudes! I'll have the law on ye! I'll have ye arrested for—for breaking the peace."

That threat, considering the surroundings, provoked great hilarity.

"Give way all! Here comes a cop!" warned a jeering voice.

"He's walking on the water," explained another.

"The man must be a fool," declared Captain Mayo. "If he'd go below and shut up, they'd get tired and leave in a few minutes."

However, Captain Candage seemed to believe that retreat would be greatly to his discredit. He continued to hang over the rail, discharging as complete a line of deep-water oaths as ever passed the quivering lips of a mariner. Therefore the playful yachtsmen were highly entertained and stayed to bait him still further. Every little while they sang the Polly song with fresh gusto, while the enraged skipper fairly danced to it in his mad rage and flung his arms about like a crazy orchestra leader.

Mr. Speed came rowing in his dory, putting out all his strength, splashing his oars. "My Gawd! Cap'n Mayo," he gasped, "I heard 'em hollering 'Oh, Polly!' and I was 'feard she was afire. What's the trouble?"

"You'd better get on board, sir, and induce Captain Candage to go below and keep still. He is fast making a complete idiot of himself."

"I hain't got no influence over him. I ask and implore you to step on board and soothe him down, sir. You can do it. He'll listen to a Mayo."

"I'd better not try. It's no job for a stranger, Mr. Speed."

"He'll be heaving that whole deckload of shingles at 'em next!"

"Get his daughter to coax him."

"He won't listen to her when he's that fussed up!"

"I'm sorry! Give way men!"

His rowers dropped their oars into the water and pulled away with evident reluctance.

"Better stay and see it out," advised Captain Duncan.

"I don't care much for your show," stated Mayo, curtly.

The cabin curtains were drawn on the Olenia, and he felt especially shut away from human companionship. He went forward and paced up and down the deck, turning over his troubled affairs in his mind, but making poor shift in his efforts to set anything in its right place.

There were no indications that the serenading yachtsmen were becoming tired of their method of killing time during a fog-bound evening. They had secured banjos and mandolins, and were singing the Polly song with better effect and greater relish. And continually the hoarse voice of the Polly's master roared forth malediction, twisted into new forms of profanity.

But Captain Mayo, pacing under the damp gleam of the riding-light, paid but little heed to the hullabaloo. He was too thoroughly absorbed in his own troubles to feel special interest in what his neighbors were doing. He did not even note that a fog-sodden breeze had begun to puff spasmodically from the east and that the mists were shredding overhead.

However, all of a sudden, a sound forced itself on his attention; he heard the chuckling of sheaves and knew that a sail was being hoisted. The low-lying stratum of fog was still thick, and he could not perceive the identity of the craft which proposed to take advantage of the sluggish breeze. The "ruckle-ruckle" of the blocks sounded at quick intervals and indicated haste; there was a suggestion of vicious determination on the part of the men who were tugging at the halyards. Then Captain Mayo heard the steady clanking of capstan pawls. He knew the methods of the Apple-treers, their cautiousness, and their leisurely habits, and he could scarcely believe that a coasting skipper was intending to leave the harbor that night. But the capstan pawls began to click in staccato, showing that the anchor had been broken out.

Protesting shouts from all about in the gloom greeted that signal.

There was no mistaking the hoarse voice of Captain Candage when it was raised in reply; his tones had become familiar after that evening of malediction.

"Dingdam ye, I know of a way of getting shet of the bunch of ye!"

"Don't try to shift your anchorage!"

"Anchorage be hossified! I'm going to sea!" bellowed the master of the Polly.

"Down with that hook of yours! You'll rake this whole yacht fleet with your old dumpcart!"

"You have driv' me to it! Now you can take your chances!"

The next moment Mayo heard the ripping of tackle and a crash.

"There go two tenders and our boat-boom! Confound it, man, drop your hook!"

But from that moment Captain Candage, as far as his mouth was concerned, preserved ominous silence. The splintery speech of havoc was more eloquent.

Mayo could not see, but he understood in detail what damage was wrought upon the delicate fabric of yachts by that unwieldy old tub of a schooner. Here, another boat-boom carried away, as she sluggishly thrust her bulk out through the fleet; there an enameled hull raked by her rusty chain-plate bolts. Now a tender smashed on the outjutting davits, next a wreck of spidery head-rigging, a jib-boom splintered and a foretopmast dragged down. If Captain Mayo had been in any doubt as to the details of the disasters he would have received full information from the illuminating profanity of the victims.

He knew well enough that Captain Candage was not performing with wilful intent to do all that damage. In what little wind there was the schooner was not under control. She was drifting until she got enough headway to be steered. In the mean time she was doing what came in her way to do. The Polly had been anchored near the Olenia. As soon as her anchor left bottom the schooner drifted up the harbor. Mayo knew, in a few minutes, that Candage was bringing her about. An especial outbreak of smashing signaled that manouver.

Mayo sniffed at the breeze, judged distance and direction, and then he rushed forward and pounded his fist on the forecastle hatch.

"Rout out all hands!" he shouted. "Rouse up bumpers and tarpaulin!"

With the wind as it was, he realized that the schooner would point up in the Olenia's direction when Candage headed out to sea.

At last Mayo caught a glimpse of her through the fog. His calculation had been correct. Headed his way she was. She was moving so slowly that she was practically unmanageable; her apple-bows hardly stirred a ripple, but with breeze helping the tide-set she was coming irresistibly, paying off gradually and promising to sideswipe the big yacht.

Mayo had a mariner's pride in his craft, and a master's devotion to duty. He did not content himself with merely ordering about the men who came tumbling on deck.

He grabbed a huge bumper away from one of the sailors who seemed uncertain just what to do; he ran forward and thrust it over the rail, leaning far out to see that it was placed properly to take the impact. He was giving more attention to the safety of the Olenia than he was to what the on-coming Polly might do to him.

Under all bowsprits on schooners, to guy the headstays, thrusts downward a short spar, at right angles to the bowsprit; it is called the martingale or dolphin-striker. The amateur riggers who had tinkered with the Polly's gear in makeshift fashion had not troubled to smooth off spikes with which they had repaired the martingale's lower end. Captain Mayo ducked low to dodge a guy, and the spikes hooked themselves neatly into the back of his reefer coat. Mr. Marston had bought excellent and strong cloth for his captain's uniform. The fabric held, the spikes were well set, the Polly did not pause, and, therefore, the master of the Olenia was yanked off his own deck and went along.

All the evening Mayo's collar had been buttoned closely about his neck to keep out the fog-damp, and when he was picked up by the spikes the collar gripped tightly about his throat and against his larynx. His cry for help was only a strangled squawk. His men were scattered along the side of the yacht, trying to protect her, the night was over all, and no one noted the mode of the skipper's departure.

The old schooner scrunched her way past the Olenia, roweling the yacht's glossy paint and smearing her with tar and slime. It was as if the rancorous spirit of the unclean had found sudden opportunity to defile the clean.

Then the Polly passed on into the night with clear pathway to the open sea.



VII ~ INTO THE MESS FROM EASTWARD

Farewell to friends, farewell to foes, Farewell to dear relations. We're bound across the ocean blue— Bound for the foreign nations. Then obey your bo's'n's call, Walk away with that cat-fall! And we'll think on those girls when we can no longer stay. And we'll think on those girls when we're far, far away. —Unmooring.

For the first few moments, after being snatched up in that fashion, Mayo hung from the dolphin-striker without motion, like a man paralyzed. He was astounded by the suddenness of this abduction. He was afraid to struggle. Momentarily he expected that the fabric would let go and that he would be rolled under the forefoot of the schooner. Then he began to grow faint from lack of breath; he was nearly garroted by his collar. Carefully he raised his hands and set them about a stay above his head and lifted himself so that he might ease his throat from the throttling grip of the collar. He dangled there over the water for some time, feeling that he had not strength enough, after his choking, to lift himself into the chains or to swing to the foot-rope.

He glanced up and saw the figurehead; it seemed to be simpering at him with an irritating smile. There was something of bland triumph in that grin. In the upset of his feelings there was personal and provoking aggravation in the expression of the figurehead. He swore at it as if it were something human. His anger helped him, gave him strength. He began to swing himself, and at last was able to throw a foot over a stay.

He rested for a time and then gave himself another hoist and was able to get astride the bowsprit. He judged that they must be outside the headland of Saturday Cove, because the breeze was stronger and the sea gurgled and showed white threads of foam against the blunt bows. His struggles had consumed more time than he had realized in the dazed condition produced by his choking collar.

He heard the popping of a motor-boat's engine far astern, and was cheered by the prompt conviction that pursuit was on. Therefore, he made haste to get in touch with the Polly's master. He scrambled inboard along the bowsprit and fumbled his way aft over the piles of lumber, obliged to move slowly for fear of pitfalls, Once or twice he shouted, but he received no answer, He perceived three dim figures on the quarter-deck when he arrived there—three men. Captain Candage was stamping to and fro.

"Who in the devil's name are you?" bawled the old skipper. "Get off'm here! This ain't a passenger-bo't."

"I'll get off mighty sudden and be glad to," retorted Mayo.

"Well, I'll be hackmetacked!" exploded Mr. Speed shoving his face over the wheel. "It's—"

"Shut up!" roared the master. "How comes it you're aboard here as a stowaway?"

"Don't talk foolishness," snapped Captain Mayo "Your old martingale spikes hooked me up. Heave to and let me off!"

"Heave to it is!" echoed Oakum Otie, beginning to whirl the tiller.

Captain Candage turned on his mate with the violence of a thunderclap. "Gad swigger your pelt, who's giving off orders aboard here? Hold on your course!"

"But this is—"

"Shut up!" It was a blast of vocal effort. "Hold your course!"

"And I say, heave to and let that motor-boat take me off," insisted Mayo.

Captain Candage leaned close enough to note the yacht skipper's uniform coat. "Who do you think you're ordering around, you gilt-striped, monkey-doodle dandy?"

"That motor-boat is coming after me."

"Think you're of all that importance, hey? No, sir! It's a pack of 'em chasing me to make me go back into port and be sued and libeled and attached by cheap lawyers."

"You ought to be seized and libeled! You had no business ratching out of that harbor in the dark."

"Ought to have taken a rising vote of dudes, hey, to find out whether I had the right to h'ist my mudhook or not?"

"I'm not here to argue. You can do that in court. I tell you to come into the wind and wait for that boat."

"You'd better, Cap Candage," bleated Oakum Otie. "This is—"

"Shut up! I'm running my own schooner, Mr. Speed."

"But he is one of the—"

"I don't care if he is one of the Apostles. I know my own business. Shut up! Hold her on her course!"

He took two turns along the quarter-deck, squinting up into the night.

"Look here, Candage, you and I are going to have a lot of trouble with each other if you don't show some common sense. I must get back to my yacht."

"Jump overboard and swim back. I ain't preventing. I didn't ask you on board. You can leave when you get ready. But this schooner is bound for New York, they're in a hurry for this lumber, and I ain't stopping at way stations!" He took another look at the weather, licked his thumb, and held it against the breeze. "Sou'west by sou', and let her run! And shut up!" he commanded his mate.

Mayo grabbed one of the yawl davits and sprang to the rail.

"We're some bigger than a needle, but so long as the haystack stays thick enough I guess we needn't worry!" remarked Captain Candage, cocking his ear to listen to the motor-boat's exhaust.

"Hoi-oi!" shouted Mayo into the night astern. He knew that men hear indistinctly over the noise of a gasoline-engine, but he had resolved to keep shouting.

"This way, men! This way with that boat!"

"'Vast heaving on that howl!" commanded Candage.

But Mayo persisted with all his might. His attention was confined wholly to his efforts, and he was not prepared for the sudden attack from behind. The master of the Polly seized Mayo's legs and yanked him backward to the deck. The young man fell heavily, and his head thumped the planks with violence which flung him into insensibility.

When he opened his eyes he looked up and saw a hanging-lamp that creaked on its gimbals as it swayed to the roll of the schooner. He was in the Polly's cabin. Next he was conscious that he was unable to move. He was seated on the floor, his back against a stanchion, his hands lashed behind him by bonds which confined him to the upright support. But the most uncomfortable feature of his predicament was a marlinespike which was stuck into his mouth like a bit provided for a fractious horse, and was secured by lashings behind his head. He was effectually gagged. Furthermore, the back of his head ached in most acute fashion. He rolled his eyes about and discovered that he had a companion in misery. A very pretty young woman was seated on a camp-chair across the cabin. Her face expressed much sympathy.

He gurgled a wordless appeal for help, and then perceived that she was lashed into her chair.

"I wish I could take that awful thing out of your mouth, sir."

He gave her a look which assured her that he shared in her desire.

"My father has tied me into this chair. I tried to make him stop his dreadful talk when the boats came and burned the lights. He put me down here and made a prisoner of me. It is terrible, all that has been happening. I can't understand! I hope you will not think too hard of my father, sir. Honestly, he seems to be out of his right mind."

He wanted to return some comforting reply to this wistful appeal, but he could only roll his head against the stanchion and make inarticulate sounds.

"He seemed to be very bitter when he brought you below. I could not make him listen to reason. I have been thinking—and perhaps you're the gentleman who led the singing which made him so angry?"

Mayo shook his head violently in protest at this suspicion.

"I didn't mind," she assured him. "I knew it was only in fun." She pondered for a few minutes. "Perhaps they wouldn't have teased one of their city girl friends in that way—but I suppose men must have a good time when they are away from home. Only—it has made it hard for me!" There were tears in her eyes.

Mayo's face grew purple as he tried to speak past the restraining spike and make her understand his sentiments on the subject of that serenade.

"Don't try to talk, sir. I'm so sorry. It is shameful!"

There was silence in the cabin after that for a long time. He looked up at the swinging lamp, his gaze wandered about the homely cabin. But his eyes kept returning to her face. He could not use his tongue, and he tried to tell her by his glances, apologetic little starings, that he was sorry for her in her grief. She met those glances with manifest embarrassment.

After an absence which was prolonged to suit his own sour will in the matter, Captain Candage came stamping stormily down the companionway. He stood between his captives and glowered, first at one and then at the other.

"Both of ye blaming me, I reckon, for what couldn't be helped."

"Father, listen to me now, if you have any sense left in you," cried the girl, with passion. "Take that horrible thing out of that gentleman's mouth."

"It has come to a pretty pass in this world when an honest man can't carry on his own private business without having to tie up meddlers so as to have a little peace." He walked close to Mayo and shook a monitory finger under the young man's nose. "Now, what did ye come on board here for, messing into my affairs?"

The indignant captain put forth his best efforts to make suitable retort, but could only emit a series of "guggles."

"And now on top of it all I am told by my mate, who never gets around to do anything that ought to be done till it's two days too late, that you are one of the Mayos! Why wasn't I informed? I might have made arrangements to show you some favors. I might have hove to and taken a chance, considering who you was. And now it's too late. Everybody seems to be ready to impose on me!"

Again Mayo tried to speak.

"Why don't you shut up that gobbling and talk sense?" shouted the irate skipper, with maddening disregard of the captive's predicament.

"Father, are you completely crazy? You haven't taken that spike out of his mouth."

"Expect a man to remember everything when he is all wrapped in his own business and everybody trying to meddle with it?" grumbled Candage. He fumbled in his pocket and produced a knife. He slashed away the rope yarn which lashed the marlinespike. "If you can talk sense I'll help you do it! I reckon you can holler all you want to now. Them dudes can't find their own mouths in a fog, much less this schooner. Now talk up!"

Mayo worked his aching jaws and found his voice. "You know how I happened to get aboard, Captain Candage. I am skipper of the Olenia. Put back with me if you want to save trouble."

"Not by a tin hoopus, sir! I ain't going about and tackle them reefs in this fog. I've got open sea ahead, and I shall keep going!"

Mayo was a sailor who knew that coast, and he admitted to himself that Candage's stubbornness was justified.

"I ain't responsible for your getting aboard here. I'll land you as soon as I can—and that covers the law, sir."

During a prolonged silence the two men stared at each other.

"At any rate, Captain Candage, I trust you will not consider that you have a right to keep me tied up here any longer."

"Now that there's a better understanding about who is boss aboard here, I don't know as I'm afraid to have you at large," admitted the skipper. "I only warn you to remember your manners and don't forget that I'm captain."

He flourished his clasp-knife and bent and cut the lashings. Then he strode across the cabin and performed like service for his daughter.

"I reckon I can afford to have you loose, too, now that you can't tell me my business in front of a lot of skylarkers throwing kisses right and left!"

"Father! Oh, oh!" She put her hands to her face.

Captain Candage seemed to be having some trouble in keeping up his role of a bucko shipmaster; he shifted his eyes from Mayo's scowl and surveyed his daughter with uncertainty while he scratched his ear.

"When a man ain't boss on his own schooner he might as well stop going to sea," he muttered. "Some folks knows it's the truth, being in a position to know, and others has to be showed!" He went stamping up the companionway into the night.

Captain Mayo waited, for some minutes. The girl did not lift her head.

"About that—What he said about—You understand! I know better!" he faltered.

"Thank you, sir," she said, gratefully, still hiding her face from him.

"Men sometimes do very foolish things."

"I didn't know my father could be like this."

"I was thinking about the men who came and annoyed him. I can understand how he felt, because I am 'a 'native' myself."

"I thought you were from outside."

"My name is Boyd Mayo. I'm from Mayoport."

She looked up at him with frank interest.

"My folks built this schooner," he stated, with modest pride.

"I'm Polly Candage—I'm named for it."

"It's too bad!" he blurted. "I don't mean to say but what the name is all right," he explained, awkwardly, "but I don't think that either of us is particularly proud of this old hooker right at the present moment." He went across the cabin and sat down on a transom and, tested the bump on the back of his head with cautious palm.

She did not reply, and he set his elbows on his knees and proceeded to nurse his private grouch in silence, quite excluding his companion from his thoughts. Now that he had been snatched so summarily from his hateful position on board the Olenia, his desire to leave her was not so keen. After Mayo's declaration to the owner, Marston might readily conclude that his skipper had deserted. His reputation and his license as a shipmaster were in jeopardy, and he had already had a bitter taste of Marston's intolerance of shortcomings. If Marston cared to bother about breaking such a humble citizen, malice had a handy weapon. But most of all was Mayo concerned with the view Alma Marston would take of the situation. She would either believe that he had fallen overboard in the skirmish with the attacking Polly or had deserted without warning—and in the case of a lover both suppositions were agonizing. His distress was so apparent that the girl, from her seat on the opposite transom, extended sympathy in the glances she dared to give him.

"How did you tear your coat so badly in the back?" she ventured at last.

"Spikes your excellent father left sticking out of his martingale," he said, a sort of boyish resentment in his tones.

"Then it is only right that I should offer to mend it for you."

She hurried to a locker, as if glad of an excuse to occupy herself. She produced her little sewing-basket and then came to him and held out her hand.

"Take it off, please."

"You needn't trouble," he expostulated, still gruff.

"I insist. Please let me do a little something to make up for the Polly's naughtiness."

"It will be all right until I can get ashore—and perhaps I'll never have need to wear the coat again, anyway."

"Won't you allow me to be doing something that will take my mind off my troubles, sir?" Then she snapped her finger into her palm and there was a spirit of matronly command in her voice, in spite of her youth. "I insist, I say! Take off your coat."

He obeyed, a little grin crinkling at the corners of his mouth—a flicker of light in his general gloom. After he had placed the coat in her hands he sat down on the transom and watched her busy fingers. She worked deftly. She closed in the rents and then darned the raveled places with bits of the thread pulled from the coat itself.

"You are making it look almost as good as new."

"A country girl must know how to patch and darn. The folks in the country haven't as many things to throw away as the city folks have."

"But that—what you are doing—that's real art."

"My aunt does dressmaking and I have helped her. And lately I have been working in a millinery-shop. Any girl ought to know how to use her needle."

He remembered what Mr. Speed had said about the reason for her presence on the Polly. He cast a disparaging glance around the bare cabin and decided in his mind that Mr. Speed had reported truthfully and with full knowledge of the facts. Surely no girl would choose that sort of thing for a summer vacation.

She bent her head lower over her work and he was conscious of warmer sympathy for her; their troubled affairs of the heart were in similar plight. He felt an impulse to say something to console her and knew that he would welcome understanding and consolation from her; promptly he was afraid of his own tongue, and set curb upon all speech.

"A man never knows how far he may go in making fool talk when he gets started," he reflected. "Feeling the way I do to-night, I'd better keep the conversation kedge well hooked."

Now that her hands were busy, she did not find the silence embarrassing. Mayo returned to his ugly meditations.

After a time he was obliged to shift himself on the transom. The schooner was heeling in a manner which showed the thrust of wind. He glanced up and saw that the rain was smearing broad splashes on the dingy glass of the windows. The companion hatch was open, and when he cocked his ear, with mariner's interest in weather, he heard the wind gasping in the open space with a queer "guffle" in its tone.

Instinctively he began to look about the cabin for a barometer.

Already that day the Olenia's glass had warned him by its downward tendency. He wondered whether further reading would indicate something more ominous than fog.

Across the cabin he noted some sort of an instrument swinging from a hook on a carline. He investigated. It was a makeshift barometer, the advertising gift of a yeast company. The contents of its tube were roiled to the height of the mark which was lettered "Tornado."

"You can't tell nothing from that!" Captain Candage had come down into the cabin and stood behind his involuntary guest. "It has registered 'Tornado' ever since the glass got cracked. And even at that, it's about as reliable as any of the rest of them tinkerdiddle things."

"Haven't you a regular barometer—an aneroid?" inquired Captain Mayo.

"I can smell all the weather I need to without bothering with one of them contrivances," declared the master of the schooner, in lordly manner. He began to pull dirty oilskins out of a locker.

Mayo hurried up the companionway and put out his head. There were both weight and menace in the wind which hooted past his ears. The fog was gone, but the night was black, without glimmer of stars. The white crests of the waves which galloped alongside flaked the darkness with ominous signalings.

"If you can smell weather, Captain Candage, your nose ought to tell you that this promises to be something pretty nasty."

"Oh, it might be called nasty by lubbers on a gingerbread yacht, but I have sailed the seas in my day and season, and I don't run for an inshore puddle every time the wind whickers a little." He was fumbling with a button under his crisp roll of chin beard and gave the other man a stare of superiority.

"You don't class me with yacht-lubbers, do you?"

"Well, you was just on a yacht, wasn't you?"

"Look here, Captain Candage, you may just as well understand, now and here, that I'm one of your kind of sailors. Excuse me for personal talk, but I want to inform you that from fifteen to twenty I was a Grand-Banksman. Last season I was captain of the beam trawler Laura and Marion. And I have steamboated in the Sound and have been a first mate in the hard-pine trade in Southern waters. I have had a chance to find out more or less about weather."

"Un-huh!" remarked the skipper, feigning indifference. "What about it?"

"I tell you that you have no business running out into this mess that is making from east'ard."

"If you have been so much and so mighty in your time, then you understand that a captain takes orders from nobody when he's on board his own vessel."

"I understand perfectly well, sir. I'm not giving orders. But my own life is worth something to me and I have a right to tell you that you are taking foolhardy chances. And you know it, too!"

Captain Candage's gaze shifted. He was a coaster and he was naturally cautious, as Apple-treers are obliged to be. He knew perfectly well that he was in the presence of a man who knew! He had not the assurance to dispute that man, though his general grudge against all the world at that moment prompted him.

"I got out because they drove me out," he growled.

"A man can't afford to be childish when he is in command of a vessel, sir. You are too old a skipper to deny that."

"I was so mad I didn't stop to smell weather," admitted the master, bracing himself to meet a fresh list of the heeling Polly. He evidently felt that he ought to defend his own sagacity and absolve himself from mariner's culpability.

"Very well! Let it go at that! But what are you going to do?"

"I can't beat back to Saturday Cove against this wind—not now! She would rack her blamed old butts out."

"Then run her for Lumbo Reach. You can quarter a following sea. She ought to ride fairly easy."

"That's a narrow stab in a night as black as this one is."

"I'll make a cross-bearing for you. Where's your chart?" Mayo exhibited a sailor's alert anxiety to be helpful.

"I 'ain't ever needed a chart—not for this coast."

"Then I'll have to guess at it, sir." He closed his eyes in order to concentrate. "You gave a course of sou'west by sou'. Let's see—it was nine-fifteen when I just looked and we must have logged—"

"It ain't no use to stab for such a hole in the wall as Lumbo Reach," declared Candage in discouraged tones.

"But you've got your compass and I can—"

"There ain't no depending on my compass within two points and a half."

"Confound it, I can make allowance, sir, if you'll tell me your deviation!"

"But it's a card compass and spins so bad in a seaway there ain't no telling, anyway. In my coasting I haven't had to be particular."

"Not as long as you had an apple-tree in sight," jeered Mayo, beginning to lose his temper.

"I don't dare to run in the direction of anything that is solid—we'll hit it sure, 'n' hell-fire will toast corn bread. We've got to stay to sea!"

Captain Mayo set his teeth and clenched his fists and took a few turns up and down the cabin. He looked up into the night through the open hatch of the companion-way. The pale glimmer of the swinging lamp tossed a mild flare against the blackness and lighted two faces which were limned against that pall. Both Oakum Otie and Smut-nosed Dolph were at the wheel. Their united strength was needed because the schooner was yawing madly every now and then when the mightier surges of the frothing sea hoisted her counter, chasing behind her like wild horses. Those faces, when Mayo looked on them, were very solemn. The two were crouching like men who were anxious to hide from a savage beast. They grunted as they struggled with the wheel, trying to hold her up when the Polly tobogganed with rushes that were almost breath-checking.

Mayo hastened to the girl. "I must have my coat, Miss Candage. I thank you. It will do now."

She held it open for his arms, as a maid might aid her knight with his armor. "Are we in danger?" she asked, tremulously.

"I hope not—only it is uncomfortable—and needless," he said, with some irritation.

"Must I stay down here—alone?"

"I would! It's only a summer blow, Miss Candage. I'm sure we'll be all right."

Captain Candage had gone on deck, rattling away in his stiff oilskins.

Mayo followed, but the master came down a few steps into the companionway and intercepted the volunteer, showing a final smolder of his surliness.

"I want to notify you that I can run my own bo't, sir!"

"Yes, run it with a yeast barometer, a straw bottom, a pinwheel compass, and your general cussedness of disposition," shouted Mayo into the whirl of the wind, his anxiety whetting his much-tried temper.

"If you're feeling that way, I don't want you up here."

"I'm feeling worse than you'll ever understand, you stubborn old fool!"

"I let one man call me a fool to-day and I didn't make back talk—but I know where to draw the line," warned Candage.

"Look here, I propose to start in with you right now, sir, on a basis you'll understand! I say you're a fool and need a guardian—and from now on I'm going to make my bigness aboard here! Get out of my way!"

Captain Mayo then emphasized his opinion of Captain Candage by elbowing the master to one side and leaping out on deck.

"That may be mutiny," stated Mr. Speed through set teeth, checking the startled exclamation from his helper at the wheel. "But, by the Judas I-scarrot, it's a Mayo that's doing it! Remember that, Dolph!"



VIII ~ LIKE BUGS UNDER A THIMBLE

Up comes the skipper from down below, And he looks aloft and he looks alow. And he looks alow and he looks aloft, And it's, "Coil up your ropes, there, fore and aft." With a big Bow-wow! Tow-row-row! Fal de rai de, ri do day! —Boston Shanty.

Captain Mayo strode straight to the men at the wheel. "Give me those spokes!" he commanded. "I'll take her! Get in your washing, boys!"

"Ay, ay, sir!" assented Mr. Speed, giving the resisting Dolph a violent shove.

When Captain Candage began to curse, Captain Mayo showed that he had a voice and vocabulary of his own. He fairly roared down the master of the Polly.

"Now shut up!" he ordered the dumfounded skipper, who faced him, mouth agape. "This is no time for any more foolishness. It's a case of work together to save our lives. Down with 'em, boys!"

"That's right," declared the mate. "She don't need much of anything on her except a double-reefed mitten with the thumb brailed up."

The wind had not attained the velocity of a gale, but it did have an ugly growl which suggested further violence. Mayo braced himself, ready to bring the schooner about in order to give the crew an opportunity to shorten sail.

Captain Candage, deposed as autocrat for the moment, seemed to be uncertain as to his duties.

Mayo, understanding mariner nature, felt some contrition and was prompted by saner second thought.

"You'd better take the wheel, Captain Candage. You know her tricks better than I do in a seaway. I'll help the boys take in sail."

The master obeyed with alacrity. He seemed to be cowed. Anger no longer blinded him to their predicament.

"Just say what you want done, and I'll try to do it," he told Mayo, in a voice which had become suddenly mild and rather beseeching. Then he called to his daughter, who had come to the foot of the companion steps, "Better blow out that cabin light, Polly girl! She's li'ble to dance bad, and we don't want to run the chance of fire."

Mayo got a glimpse at her face as he hurried upon the house on his way to the main halyards. Her face was pale, but there was the firm spirit of her Yankee ancestry of the sea in her poise and in her very silence in that crisis. She obeyed without complaint or question and the cabin was dark; even the glimmer of the light had held something of cheer. Now the gloom was somber and depressing.

The schooner came round with a sort of scared hurry when the master threw the wheel hard over and trod on the spokes with all his weight. As soon as the bellying mainsail began to flap, the three men let it go on the run. They kept up the jumbo sail, as the main jib is called; they reefed the foresail down to its smallest compass.

Mayo, young, nimble, and eager, singly knotted more reef points than both his helpers together, and his crisp commands were obeyed unquestioningly.

"He sartinly is chain lightning in pants," confided Dolph to Otie.

"He knows his card," said Otie to Dolph.

Captain Mayo led the way aft, crawling over the shingles and laths.

"I hope it's your judgment, sir, that we'd better keep her into the wind as she is and try to ride this thing out," he suggested to the master.

"It is my judgment, sir," returned Captain Candage, with official gravity.

Hove to, the old Polly rode in fairly comfortable style. She was deep with her load of lumber, but the lumber made her buoyant and she lifted easily. Her breadth of beam helped to steady her in the sweeping seas—but Captain Mayo clung to a mainstay and faced the wind and the driving rain and knew that the open Atlantic was no place for the Polly on a night like that.

Spume from the crested breakers at her wallowing bow salted the rain on his dripping face. It was an unseasonable tempest, scarcely to be looked for at that time of year. But he had had frequent experience with the vagaries of easterlies, and he knew that a summer easterly, when it comes, holds menacing possibilities.

"They knowed how to build schooners when your old sirs built this one at Mayoport," declared Captain Candage, trying to put a conciliatory tone into his voice when he bellowed against the blast. "She'll live where one of these fancy yachts of twice her size would be smothered."

Mayo did not answer. He leaped upon the house and helped Dolph and Otie furl the mainsail that lay sprawled in the lazy-jaeks. They took their time; the more imminent danger seemed to be over.

"I never knowed a summer blow to amount to much," observed Mr. Speed, trying to perk up, though he was hanging on by both hands to avoid bring blown off the slippery house.

"It depends on whether there's an extra special squall knotted into it somewhere to windward," said Mayo, in a lull of the wind. "Then it can amount to a devil of a lot, Mr. Speed!"

The schooner washed her nose in a curving billow that came inboard and swept aft. With her small area of exposed sail and with the wind buffeting her, she had halted and paid off, lacking steerageway. She got several wallops of the same sort before she had gathered herself enough to head into the wind.

Again she paid off, as if trying to avoid a volleying gust, and another wave crested itself ahead of the blunt bows and then seemed to explode, dropping tons of water on deck. Laths, lumber, and bunches of shingles were ripped loose and went into the sea. The Polly appeared to be showing sagacity of her own in that crisis; she was jettisoning cargo for her own salvation.

"Good Cephas! this is going to lose us our decklo'd," wailed the master. "We'd better let her run!" "Don't you do it, sir! You'll never get her about!" Mayo had given over his work on the sail and was listening. Above the scream of the passing gusts which assailed him he was hearing a dull and solemn roar to windward. He suspected what that sound indicated. He had heard it before in his experience. He tried to peer into the driving storm, dragging the rain from his eyes with his fingers. Then nature held a torch for him. A vivid shaft of lightning crinkled overhead and spread a broad flare of illumination across the sea. His suspicions, which had been stirred by that sullen roar, were now verified. He saw a low wall of white water, rolling and frothing. It was a summer "spitter" trampling the waves.

A spitter is a freak in a regular tempest—a midsummer madness of weather upheaval. It is a thunderbolt of wind, a concentration of gale, a whirling dervish of disaster—wind compactly bunched into one almighty blast—wind enough to last a regular gale for a whole day if the stock were spent thriftily.

"Don't ease her an inch!" screamed Mayo.

But just then another surging sea climbed aboard and picked up more of the laths and more of the shingles, and frolicked away into the night with the plunder. Captain Candage's sense of thrift got a more vital jab than did his sense of fear. His eyes were on his wheel, and he had not seen the wall of white spume.

"That decklo'd has got to be lashed," he muttered. He decided to run with the wind till that work could be performed. He threw his helm hard over. Mayo had been riding the main boom astraddle, hitching himself toward the captain, to make him hear. When the volunteer saw the master of the Polly trying to turn tail to the foe in that fashion, he leaped to the wheel, but he was too late. The schooner had paid off too much. The yelling spitter caught them as they were poised broadside on the top of a wave, before the sluggish craft had made her full turn.

What happened then might have served as confirmation of mariners' superstition that a veritable demon reigns in the heart of the tempest. The attack on the old Polly showed devilish intelligence in team-work. A crashing curler took advantage of the loosened deckload and smashed the schooner a longside buffet which sent all the lumber in a sliding drive against the lee rail and rigging. The mainsail had been only partly secured; the spitter blew into the flapping canvas with all its force and the sail snapped free and bellied out.

The next instant the Polly was tripped!

She went over with all the helpless, dead-weight violence of a man who has caught his toe on a drooping clothes line in the dark.

The four men who were on deck were sailors and they did not need orders when they felt that soul-sickening swing of her as she toppled. Instinctively, with one accord, they dived for the cabin companionway.

Undoubtedly, as a sailor, the first thought of each was that the schooner was going on to her beam-ends. Therefore, to remain on deck meant that they would either slide into the water or that a smashing wave would carry them off.

They went tumbling down together in the darkness, and all four of them, with impulse of preservation as instant and true as that of the trap-door spider, set their hands to the closing of the hatch and the folding leaves of the door.

Captain Mayo, his clutch still on a knob, found himself pulled under water without understanding at first just what had happened. He let go his grip and came up to the surface, spouting. He heard the girl shriek in extremity of terror, so near him that her breath swept his face. He put out his arm and caught her while he was floundering for a footing. When he found something on which to stand and had steadied himself, he could not comprehend just what had happened; the floor he was standing on had queer irregularities.

"We've gone over!" squalled Mr. Speed in the black darkness. "We've gone clear over. We're upside down. We're standing on the ceiling!"

Then Mayo trod about a bit and convinced himself that the irregularities under his feet were the beams and carlines.

The Polly had been tripped in good earnest! Mr. Speed was right—she was squarely upside down!

Even in that moment of stress Mayo could figure out how it had happened. The spitter must have ripped all her rotten canvas off her spars as she rolled and there had been no brace to hold her on her beam-ends when she went over.

Captain Candage was spouting, splashing near at hand, and was bellowing his fears. Then he began to call for his daughter in piteous fashion.

"Are you drownded, Polly darling?" he shouted.

"I have her safe, sir," Mayo assured him in husky tones, trying to clear the water from his throat. "Stand on a beam. You can get half of your body above water."

"It's all off with us," gasped the master. "We're spoke for."

Such utter and impenetrable blackness Mayo had never experienced before. Their voices boomed dully, as if they were in a huge hogshead which had been headed over.

'"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep,'" quavered the cook. "If anybody knows a better prayer I wish he'd say it."

"Plumb over—upside down! Worse off than flies in a puddle of Porty Reek molasses," mourned Mr. Speed.

The master joined the mate in lamentation. "I have brought my baby to this! I have brought my Polly here! God forgive me. Can't you speak to me, Polly?"

Mayo found the girl very quiet in the hook of his arm, and he put his free hand against her cheek. She did not move under his touch.

"She has fainted, sir."

"No, she's dead! She's dead!" Candage began to weep and started to splash his way across the cabin, directed by Mayo's voice.

"She is all right—she is breathing," the young man assured the father. "Here! This way, captain! Take her. Hold her up. I want to see whether anything can be done for us."

"Nothing can be done!" whimpered Candage. "We're goners."

"We're goners," averred Oakum Otie.

"We're goners," echoed Dolph.

Mayo gave the girl into the groping arms of her father and stood for a few moments reflecting on their desperate plight. He was not hopeful. In his heart he agreed with the convictions which his mates were expressing in childish falsetto. But being a young sailor who found his head above water, he resolved to keep on battling in that emergency; the adage of the coastwise mariner is: "Don't die till Davy Jones sets his final pinch on your weasen!"

First of all, he gave full consideration to what had happened. The Polly had been whipped over so quickly that she had been transformed into a sort of diving-bell.{*} That is to say, a considerable amount of air had been captured and was now retained in her. It was compressed by the water which was forced up from below through the windows and the shattered skylight. The pressure on Mayo's temples afforded him information on this point. The Polly was floating, and he felt comforting confidence that she would continue to float for some time. But this prospect did not insure safety or promise life to the unfortunates who had been trapped in her bowels. The air must either escape gradually or become vitiated as they breathed it.

* The strange adventure of the Polly is not an improbability of fiction. A Bath, Maine, schooner, lumber- laden, was tripped in exactly this fashion off Hatteras. Captain Boyd Mayo's exploit has been paralleled in real life in all details. My good friend Captain Elliott C. Gardner, former skipper of the world's only seven-master, the Thomas W. Lawson, furnished those details to me, and after writing this part of the tale I submitted the narrative to him for confirmation. It has received his indorsement.—H. D.

There was only one thing to do, he decided: take advantage of any period of truce which their ancient enemy, the sea, had allowed in that desperate battle.

A sailor is prey to hazards and victim of the unexpected in the ever-changing moods of the ocean; he must needs be master of expedients and ready grappler of emergencies.

"Where are your tools—a saw—a chisel?" demanded Mayo. He was obliged to repeat that query several times. His companions appeared to be wholly absorbed in their personal woes.

At last Mr. Speed checked his groans long enough to state that the tools were in "the lazareet."

The lazaret of a coaster is a storeroom under the quarter-deck—repository of general odds and ends and spare equipment.

"Any way to get at it except through the deck-hatch?"

"There's a door through, back of the companion ladder," said Mr. Speed, with listless indifference.

Mayo crowded his way past the ladder after he had waded and stumbled here and there and had located it. He set his shoulders against the slope of the steps and pushed at the door with his feet. After he had forced it open he waded into the storeroom. It was blind business, hunting for anything in that place. He knew the general habits of the hit-or-miss coasting crews, and was sure that the tools had been thrown in among the rest of the clutter by the person who used them last. If they had been loose on the floor they would now be loose on the ceiling. He pushed his feet about, hoping to tread on something that felt like a saw or chisel.

"Ahoy, you men out there!" he called. "Don't you have any idea in what part of this lazaret the tools were?"

"Oh, they was probably just throwed in," said Mr. Speed. "I wish you wouldn't bother me so much! I'm trying to compose my mind to pray."

There were so much ruck and stuff under his feet that Mayo gave up searching after a time. He had held his breath and ducked his head under water so that he might investigate with his bare hands, but he found nothing which would help him, and his brain was dizzy after his efforts and his mouth was choked by the dirty water.

But when he groped his way back into the main cabin his hands came in contact with the inside of the lazaret door. In leather loops on the door he found saw, ax, chisel, and hammer. He was unable to keep back a few hearty and soul-satisfying oaths.

"Why didn't you tell me where the tools were? They're here on the door."

"I had forgot about picking 'em tip. And my mind ain't on tools, anyway."

"Your mind will be on 'em as soon as I can get forward there," growled the incensed captain.

Mayo was not sure of what he needed or what he would be obliged to do, therefore he took all the tools, holding them above water. When he waded past Captain Can-dage he heard the old skipper trying to comfort the girl, his voice low and broken by sobs. She had recovered consciousness and Mayo was a bit sorry; in her swoon she had not realized their plight; he feared hysterics and other feminine demonstrations, and he knew that he needed all his nerve.

"We're going to die—we're going to die!" the girl kept moaning.

"Yes, my poor baby, and I have brought you to it," blubbered her father.

"Please keep up your courage for a little while, Miss Candage," Mayo pleaded, wistfully.

"But there's no hope!"

"There's hope just as long as we have a little air and a little grit," he insisted. "Now, please!"

"I am afraid!" she whispered.

"So am I," he confessed. "But we're all going to work the best we know how. Can't you encourage us like a brave, good girl?" He went stumbling on. "Now tell me, mate," he commanded, briskly, "how thick is the bulkhead between the cabin, here, and the hold?"

"I can't bother to think," returned Mr. Speed.

"It's only sheathing between the beams, sir," stated Captain Candage.

"Mate, you and the cook lend a hand to help me."

Oakum Otie broke off the prayer to which he had returned promptly. "What's the use?" he demanded, with anger which his fright made juvenile. "I tell you I'm trying to compose my soul, and I want this rampage-round stopped."

"I say what's the use, too!" whined Dolph. "You can't row a biskit across a puddle of molasses with a couple of toothpicks," he added, with cook's metaphor for the absolutely hopeless.

Mayo shouted at them with a violence that made hideous din in that narrow space. "You two men wade across here to me or I'll come after you with an ax in one hand and a hammer in the other! Damn you, I mean business!"

They were silent, then there sounded the splash of water and they came, muttering. They had recognized the ring of desperate resolve in his command.

Mayo, when he heard their stertorous breathing close at hand, groped for them and shoved tools into their clutch. He retained the hammer and chisel for himself.

"That's about all I need you for just now—for tool-racks," he growled. "Make sure you don't drop those."

The upturned schooner rolled sluggishly, and every now and then the water swashed across her cabin with extra impetus, making footing insecure.

"If I tumble down I'll have to drop 'em," whimpered Oolph.

"Then don't come up. Drowning will be an easier death for you," declared the captain, menacingly. He was sounding the bulkhead with his hammer.

The tapping quickly showed him where the upright beams were located on the other side of the sheathing. In his own mind he was not as sanguine as his activity might have indicated. It was blind experiment—he could not estimate the obstacles which were ahead of him. But he did understand, well enough, that if they were to escape they must do so through the bottom of the vessel amidship; there, wallowing though she was, there might be some freeboard. He had seen vessels floating bottom up. Usually a section of the keel and a portion of the garboard streaks were in sight above the sea. But there could be no escape through the bottom of the craft above them where they stood in the cabin. He knew that the counter and buttock must be well under water.

"Have you a full cargo belowdecks?" he asked.

"No," stated Captain Candage, hinting by his tone that he wondered what difference that would make to them in the straits in which they were placed.

Mayo felt a bit of fresh courage. He had been afraid that the Polly's hold would be found to be stuffed full of lumber. His rising spirits prompted a little sarcasm.

"How did it ever happen that you didn't plug the trap you set for us?"

"Couldn't get but two-thirds cargo below because the lumber was sawed so long. Made it up by extra deck-lo'd."

"Yes, piled it all on deck so as to make her top-heavy—so as to be sure of catching us," suggested Mayo, beginning to work his hammer and chisel on the sheathing.

"'Tain't no such thing!" expostulated Captain Candage, missing the irony. "Them shingles and laths is packet freight, and I couldn't put 'em below because I've got to deliver 'em this side of New York. And you don't expect me to overhaul a whole decklo'd so as to—"

"Not now," broke in Mayo. "The Atlantic Ocean has attended to the case of that deckload."

"My Gawd, yes!" mourned the master. "I was forgetting that we are upside down—and that shows what a state of mind I'm in!"

Mayo had picked his spot for operations. He drove his chisel through the sheathing as close to the cabin floor as he could. Remembering that the schooner was upside down and that the floor was over his head, the aperture he was starting work on would bring him nearest the bilge. When he had chiseled a hole big enough for a start, he secured the saw from the mate and sawed a square opening. He lifted himself up and worked his way through the hole and found himself on lumber and out of water. It was what he had been hoping to find, after the assurance from the master: the partial cargo of lumber in the hold had settled to the deck when the schooner tipped over. Investigating with groping hands, he assured himself that there were fully three feet of space between the cargo and the bottom of the vessel.

"Come here with your daughter, Captain Candage!" he called, cheerily. "It's dry in here."

He kneeled and held his hands out through the opening, directing them with his voice, reaching into the pitchy darkness until her hands found his, and then he brought her up to him and in upon the lumber.

"It's a little better, even if it's nothing to brag about," he told her. "Sit over there at one side so that the men can crawl in past you. I'll need them to help me."

"And what do you think now—shall we die?" she asked, in tremulous whisper.

"No, I don't think so," he told her, stoutly.

They were alone in the hold for a few moments while the others were helping one another through the opening.

"But in this trap—in the dark—crowded in here!" Her tone did not express doubt; it was pathetic endeavor to understand their plight. "My father and his men are frightened—they have given up. And you told me that you are frightened!"

"Yes, I am!"

"But they are not doing anything to help you."

"Perhaps that is because they are not scared as much as I am. It often happens that the more frightened a man is in a tight place the more he jumps around and the harder he tries to get out."

"I don't care what you say—I know what you are!" she rejoined. "You are a brave man, Captain Mayo. I thank you!"

"Not yet! Not until—"

"Yes, now! You have set me a good example. When folks are scared they should not sit down and whimper!"

He reached and found a plump little fist which she had doubled into a real knob of decision.

"Good work, little girl! Your kind of grit is helping me." He released her hand and crawled forward.

"This ain't helping us any," complained Captain Candage. "I know what's going to happen to us. As soon as it gets daylight a cussed coast-guard cutter will come snorting along and blow us up without bothering to find out what is under this turkle-shell."

"Say, look here, Candage," called Captain Mayo, angrily, "that's enough of that talk! There's a-plenty happening to us as it is, without your infernal driveling about what may happen."

"Isn't it about time for a real man to help Captain Mayo instead of hindering him?" asked the girl. Evidently her new composure startled her father.

"Ain't you scared any more, Polly? You ain't losing your mind, are you?"

"No, I have it back again, I hope."

"Your daughter is setting you a good example, Captain Candage. Now let's get down to business, sir! What's your sheathing on the ribs?"

"Inch and a half spruce, if I remember right."

"I take it she is ribbed about every twelve inches."

"Near's I remember."

"All right! Swarm forward here, the three of you, and have those tools handy as I need 'em."

He had brought the hammer and chisel in his reefer pockets, and set at work on the sheathing over his head, having picked by touch and sense of locality a section which he considered to be nearly amidship. It was blind effort, but he managed to knock away a few square feet of the spruce boarding after a time.

"Hand me that saw, whoever has it."

A hand came fumbling to his in the dark and gave him the tool. He began on one of the oak ribs, uncovered when the boarding had been removed. It was difficult and tedious work, for he could use only the tip of the saw, because the ribs were so close together. But he toiled on steadily, and at last the sound of his diligence appeared to animate the others. When he rested for a moment Captain Candage offered to help with the sawing.

"I think I'll be obliged to do it alone, sir. You can't tell in the dark where I have left off. However, I'm glad to see that you're coming back to your senses," he added, a bit caustically.

The master of the Polly received that rebuke with a meekness that indicated a decided change of heart. "I reckon me and Otie and Dolph have been acting out what you might call pretty pussylaminous, as I heard a schoolmarm say once," confessed the skipper, struggling with the big word. "But we three ain't as young as we was once, and I'll leave it to you, sir, if this wasn't something that nobody had ever reckoned on."

"There's considerable novelty in it," said Mayo, in dry tones, running his fingers over the rib to find the saw-scarf. The ache had gone out of his arms, and he was ready to begin again.

"I'm sorry we yanked you into all this trouble," Can-dage went on. "And on the other hand, I ain't so sorry! Because if you hadn't been along with us we'd never have got out of this scrape."

"We haven't got out of it yet, Captain Candage."

"Well, we are making an almighty good start, and I want to say here in the hearing of all interested friends that you're the smartest cuss I ever saw afloat."

"I hope you will forgive father," pleaded Polly of the Polly. He felt her breath on his cheek. She was so near that her voice nearly jumped him. "I don't mean to get in your way, Captain Mayo, but somehow I feel safer if I'm close to you."

"And I guess all of us do," admitted Captain Candage.

Mayo stopped sawing for a moment. "What say, men? Let's be Yankee sailors from this time on! We'll be the right sort, eh? We'll put this brave little girl where she belongs—on God's solid ground!"

"Amen!" boomed Mr. Speed. "I have woke up. I must have been out of my mind. I showed you my nature when I first met you, Captain Mayo, and I reckon you found it was helpful and enterprising. I'll be the same from now on, even if you order me to play goat and try to butt the bottom out of her with my head." "Me, too!" said Smut-nosed Dolph.



IX ~ A MAN'S JOB

O Nancy Dawson, hi—o! Cheer'ly man! She's got a notion, hi—o! Cheer'ly manl For our old bo'sun, hi—o! Cheer'ly man! O hauley hi—o! Cheer'ly man! —Hauling Song.

Boyd Mayo soon found that his ancestors had put no scrub timber into the Polly. The old oak rib was tough as well as bulky. The task of sawing with merely the tip of the blade in play required both muscle and patience, and the position he was obliged to assume added to his difficulties. He rested after he had sawed the rib in four places, and decided to give Oakum Otie something to do; the mate had been begging for an opportunity to grab in. He was ordered to knock away as much as he could of the sawed section with hammer and chisel. Mayo figured that when this section of rib had been removed it would leave room for a hole through the bottom planks at least two feet square—and there were no swelling girths in their party.

The mate had strength, and he was eager to display that helpful spirit of which he had boasted. He went at the beam with all his might.

Mayo's attention had been centered on his task; now, with a moment's leisure in which to note other matters, he was conscious of something which provoked his apprehension; the air under the hull of the schooner was becoming vitiated. His temples throbbed and his ears rang.

"Ain't it getting pretty stuffy in here?" asked the master, putting words to Mayo's thoughts.

"I have been feeling like a bug under a thimble for some little time," stated Otie, whacking his chisel sturdily.

"Her bottom can't be awash with all this lumber in her. If we can only get a little speck of a hole through the outside planking right now, we'd better do it," suggested Candage.

"That's just what I have been doing," declared Mr. Speed. "I'm right after the job, gents, when I get started on a thing. Helpful and enterprising, that's my motto!"

The next moment, before Mayo, his thoughts busy with his new danger of suffocation, could voice warning or had grasped the full import of the dialogue, the chisel's edge plugged through the planking. Instantly there was a hiss like escaping steam. Mayo yelled an oath and set his hands against the mate, pushing him violently away. The industrious Mr. Speed had been devoting his attention to the planking instead of to the sawed beam.

Wan light filtered through the crevice made by the chisel and Mayo planted his palm against the crack. The pressure held his hand as if it were clamped against the planks, and the hissing ceased.

The schooner, as she lay, upside down in the sea, was practically a diving-bell; with that hole in her shell their safety was in jeopardy. The girl seemed to understand the situation before the duller minds of her father and his mates had begun to work. She frenziedly sought for Mayo's disengaged hand and thrust some kind of fabric into it.

"It's from my petticoat," she gasped. "Can you calk with it?"

"Hand me the chisel," he entreated.

As soon as she had given the tool to him he worked his hand free from the crack and instantly drove the fabric into the crevice, crowding it fold by fold with the edge of the chisel.

"Hope I didn't do anything wrong, trying to be helpful," apologized Mr. Speed.

"I'll do the rest of this job without any such help," growled the captain.

"But what are you stopping the air for when it's rushing in to liven us up?" asked Dolph, plaintively.

"It was rushing out, fool! Rushing out so fast that this lumber would have flattened us against the bottom of this hull in a little while."

"I would have figgered it just t'other way," stated Mr. Speed, humbly. "Outside air, being fresh, ought nat'rally to rush in to fill the holes we have breathed out of this air."

Mayo was in no mood to lecture on natural phenomena. He investigated the cut which had been made by the incautious mate and estimated, by what his fingers told him, that the schooner's bottom planks were three inches thick. He settled back on his haunches and gave a little thought to the matter, and understood that he had a ticklish job ahead of him. Those planks must be gouged around the complete square of the proposed opening, so that the section might be driven out in one piece by a blow from beneath. That section must give way wholly and instantly. They were doomed if they made a half-job of it. In that pitchy blackness he had only his fingers to guide him. That one little streak of light from the open world without was tantalizing promise. On the other side of those planks was God's limitless air. The poor creatures penned under that hull were gasping and choking for want of that air. Mayo set bravely to work, hammering at the chisel-head above him.

All were silent. They felt the initial languor of suffocation and knew the peril which was threatening them.

"If there is anything I can do—" ventured Otie.

"There isn't!"

Captain Mayo felt the lack of oxygen most cruelly, because he was working with all his might. Perspiration was streaming into his eyes, he was panting like a running dog, his blows were losing force.

He found that Otie had partly cleared out the rib before that too-willing helper had taken it into his head to knock a hole through the planking. The rib must come away entirely! The tough oak resisted; the chisel slipped; it was maddeningly slow work. But he finished the task at last and began to gouge a channel in the planking close to the other ribs. Torpor was wrapping its tentacles about him. He heard his companions gasping for breath. Then, all at once, he felt a little pat on his shoulder. He knew that tap for what it was, though she did not speak to him; it was the girl's reassuring touch. It comforted him to be told in that manner that she was keeping up her courage in the horrible situation. He beveled the planks as deeply as he dared, and made his cut around three sides of his square. He was forced to stop for a moment and lay prostrate, his face on the lumber.

"Take that saw, one of you, and chunk off a few short lengths of plank," he whispered, hoarsely. The rasp of the hand-saw informed him that he had been obeyed.

He held his eyes wide open with effort as he lay there in the darkness. Then he struggled up and went at his task once more. Queerly colored flames were shooting before his straining eyes. He toiled in partial delirium, and it seemed to him that he was looking again at the phantasmagoria of the Coston lights on the fog when the yachtsmen were serenading the girl of the Polly. He found himself muttering, keeping time to his chisel-blows:

"Our Polly O, O'er the sea you go—"

In all the human emotions there is no more maddening and soul-flaying terror than the fear of being shut in, which wise men call claustrophobia. Mayo had been a man of the open—of wide horizons, drinking from the fount of all the air under the heavens. This hideous confinement was demoralizing his reason. He wanted to throw down his hammer and chisel and scream and kick and throw himself up against the penning planks. On the other side was air—the open! There was still one side of the square to do.

Again that comforting little hand touched his shoulder and he was spurred by the thought that the girl was still courageous and had faith in him. He groaned and kept on.

Lapse of time ceased to have significance. Every now and then the hammer slipped and bruised his hand cruelly. But he did not feel the hurt. Both tools wavered in his grasp. He struck a desperate—a despairing blow and the hammer and chisel dropped. He knew that he had finished the fourth side. He fell across Polly Candage's lap and she helped him to his knees.

"I'm done, men," he gasped. "All together with those joists! Strike together! Right above my head."

He heard the skipper count one—two—three. He heard the concerted blow. The planks did not give way.

"We don't seem to have no strength left," explained the mate, in hoarse tones.

They struck again, but irregularly.

"It's our lives—our lives, men!" cried Mayo. "Ram it to her!"

"Here's one for you, Captain Mayo," said Candage, and he thrust a length of plank into the groping hands.

"Make it together, this time—together!" commanded Mayo. "Hard—one, two, three!"

They drove their battering-rams up against the prisoning roof. Fury and despair were behind their blow.

The glory of light flooded into their blinking eyes.

The section had given way!

Mayo went first and he snapped out with almost the violence of a cork popping from a bottle. He felt the rush of the imprisoned air past him as he emerged. Instantly he turned and thrust down his hands and pulled the girl up into the open and the others followed, the lumber pushing under their feet.

It seemed to Captain Mayo, after those few frenzied moments of escape, that he had awakened from a nightmare; he found himself clinging to the schooner's barnacled keel, his arm holding Polly Candage from sliding down over the slimy bottom into the sea.

"Good jeero! We've been in there all night," bawled Captain Candage. He lay sprawled on the bottom of the Polly, his hornbeam hands clutching the keel, his face upraised wonderingly to the skies that were flooded with the glory of the morning. Otie and Dolph were beside him, mouths open, gulping in draughts of the air as if they were fish freshly drawn from the ocean depths.

There was a long silence after the skipper's ejaculation.

Thoughts, rather than words, fitted that sacred moment of their salvation.

The five persons who lay there on the bottom of the schooner stared at the sun in its cloudless sky and gazed off across the sea whose blue was shrouded by the golden haze of a perfect summer's day. Only a lazy roll was left of the sudden turbulence of the night before. A listless breeze with a fresh tang of salt in it lapped the surface of the long, slow surges, and the facets of the ripples flashed back the sunlight cheerily.

Captain Candage pulled himself to the keel, sat upon it, and found speech in faltering manner.

"I ain't a member of no church, never having felt the need of j'ining, and not being handy where I could tend out. But I ain't ashamed to say here, before witnesses, that I have just been telling God, as best I know how, hoping He'll excuse me if I 'ain't used the sanctimonious way, that I'm going to be a different man after this—different and better, according to my best lights."

"I believe you have spoken for all of us, Captain Can-dage," said Mayo, earnestly. "I thank you!"

They all perceived that the Polly had made offing at a lively pace during her wild gallop under the impetus of the easterly.

Mayo balanced himself on the keel and took a long survey of the horizon. In one place a thread of blue, almost as delicate as the tracery of a vein on a girl's arm, suggested shore line. But without a glass he was not sure. He saw no sign of any other craft; the storm had driven all coasters to harbor—and there was not wind enough as yet to help them out to sea again. But he did not worry; he was sure that something, some yacht or sea-wagon, would come rolling up over the rim of the ocean before long. The faint breeze which fanned their faces was from the southwest, and that fact promised wind enough to invite shipping to spread canvas.

Only the oval of the schooner's broad bilge showed above water, and the old Polly was so flat and tubby that their floating islet afforded only scant freeboard.

Mayo shoved his arm down into the hole through which they had escaped. After the air had been forced out the lumber was within reach from the schooner's bottom. He fumbled about and found the ax. Some of the short bits of lumber which they had used as battering-rams were in the jaws of the hole. He busied himself with hewing these ends of planks into big wedges and he drove them into cracks between the planks near the keel.

"It may come to be a bit sloppy when this sou'wester gets its gait on," he suggested to the skipper. "We'll have something to hang on to."

Captain Candage's first thankfulness had shown a radiant gloss. But he was a sailorman, he was cautious, he was naturally apprehensive regarding all matters of the sea, and that gloss was now dulled a bit by his second thought.

"We may have to hang on to something longer 'n we reckon on. We're too far off for the coasters and too far in for the big fellers. And unless something comes pretty clost to us we can't be seen no more 'n as if we was mussels on a tide reef. We'd ought to have something to stick up."

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