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Title: Rugged Water (1924)
Author: Joseph C. Lincoln
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eBook No.: eBook No.:  0200621.txt
Language:  English
Date first posted: September 2002
Date most recently updated: September 2002

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Title:      Rugged Water
Author:     Joseph C. Lincoln


A dark night, but a clear one.  No clouds, no fog, and the wind but
a light southwesterly breeze.  Warm, too, for November.  The little
room in the tower of the Setuckit Life-Saving Station was chilly,
of course--a landsman might have considered it decidedly cold--but
to Seleucus Gammon, the member of the Setuckit crew on watch in the
tower, it was warm, noticeably and surprisingly so.  Seleucus, who
had come on duty dressed for the ordinary November temperature, had
unbuttoned the heavy jacket which he wore over his sweater and had
hung his cap on the hook on the wall, beside the round, brass
ship's clock.  The brass of the clock was polished to a mirror-like
glisten.  So, too, was the metal of the telescope on its stand in
the middle of the room.  So, also, was every particle of brass or
nickel in that room.  There was no light to render these things
visible, and no stove or other heating apparatus.  Heat within and
cold without meant frost-covered window panes and consequent
difficulty in looking through and from those windows, in keeping
watch up and down the beaches and over the stretches of sea and
shoal.  In many stations at this period it was not customary to
keep a man on watch in the tower at night; the regulations did not
require it and the matter was left to the discretion of the keeper.
At Setuckit, however, night watch in the tower was a part of the
regular routine; at least, since Captain Oswald Myrick had been in
charge there.

Seleucus strolled slowly about the glass-inclosed room, stopping to
peer from each window in turn.  He was a huge, bulky man, with a
salt sea roll in his walk, and as he lumbered from window to window
in the darkness, a seeker for comparisons might have been reminded
of a walrus wallowing about in an undersized tank.  A bald head and
a tremendous sweep of shaggy mustache were distinct aids to the
walrus suggestion.

The views from each window were made up solely of blackness,
spotted with fiery points.  To Seleucus, however, the blackness was
underlaid with the familiarity of long acquaintance, and every pin
prick of fire a punctuation on a page he knew by heart.  For
example, to the east, ten miles away, the steady white spark was
the Orham lighthouse shining out from the high sand bluffs fronting
the Atlantic.  Far out, and more to the south, another brilliant
point marked the position of the lightship at Sand Hill Shoal, and
still farther to the southeast and fainter, because of distance,
were the lanterns of the Broad Rip lightship.  Swinging to the
south he noted two more lightships, those marking respectively the
edges of the Tarpaulin and Hog's Back, smaller shoals but quite as
dangerous as their bigger brothers.  To the west was still another,
that moored by Midchannel Shoal, and, eight miles beyond, and
flashing at minute intervals, was the lighthouse on Crow Ledge,
unique because, like the house in the Scriptural story, it was
founded upon a rock, and rocks are distinct novelties along the
Cape Cod coast.

On this night--or morning, for it was almost that--and visible
because of the unwonted clearness of the atmosphere, one more spark
pricked the southern horizon, the light at Long Point, on
Nonscusset Island.  Between these were scattered others, much less
brilliant, and these the watcher knew to be the lights of vessels--
schooners for the most part--taking advantage of the fair weather
to make safe passage between ports south of "Down East."  From the
tower of the Setuckit Life-Saving Station in the later years of the
nineteenth century--the years before the United States Life-Saving
Service was taken over by the Naval Department and rechristened the
Coast Guard, before the era of wireless stations and the Cape Cod
Canal--on a clear night from Setuckit tower one might count no less
than six lighthouses and six lightships, not including that of
Setuckit lighthouse itself, which reared its blazing head two miles
up the beach, and was, therefore, a next-door neighbor.

A beautiful coast in summer; in winter a wicked, cruel coast,
where, so the records show, there were more wrecks during a period
of fifty years than at any other spot, except one, from Key West to
Eastport, Maine.

These matters, statistical and picturesque, were not, of course, in
the thoughts of Mr. Gammon as he stood, hands in pockets, gazing
through the tower window facing west.  His mental speculations were
engaged with matters much more personal and intimate.  The little
ship's clock on the wall had just struck twice, so he knew that the
time was two bells, or five o'clock, therefore it would soon be
daybreak, and, later, sunrise, when his watch would end.  He knew
also that, down below, in the kitchen of the station, Ellis Badger,
who happened to be cook that week, was preparing breakfast.
Breakfast, the first meal of the four in the station routine of
those days, was served before daylight.  Dinner was at eleven,
supper at four, and there was an extra meal about eight in the

Seleucus thought of breakfast and his always present and enthusiastic
appetite hailed the thought joyfully.  Then he remembered the sort
of cook Badger was, and the joy was chilled with a dash of
foreboding.  It was Ellis Badger who had accidentally dropped the
kitchen cake of soap into the bean pot on a Saturday of the previous
winter.  The comments of his comrade were expressed with feeling.

"You ain't mad, be you, Seleucus?" queried Mr. Badger solicitously.
Gammon's reply was noncommittal.

"I don't know's I'm so mad that they'll have to shoot me, Ellis,"
he observed.  "I ain't bit nobody yet.  But I am beginnin' to show
signs--I'm frothin' at the mouth."

It was he, also, who suggested that the soap be put into the Badger
coffee.  "So's it'll be strong enough to wash with," he explained,
referring to the coffee.

His anticipations concerning breakfast were not, therefore,
entirely free from misgiving, but forty-nine years of a life spent
amid storms--meteorological always and matrimonial for the latter
half--had endowed Seleucus with a sort of amphibious philosophy,
and made him more or less weatherproof.  The most savage
northeaster blew itself out eventually, and Mrs. Gammon--her
Christian name was Jemima--stopped talking if one had sufficient
fortitude to endure to the end.  The sane procedure during both
trials was patiently to wait for that end, and think of something
else while waiting.

So, true to his code, and reflecting that, after all, a poor
breakfast was better than no breakfast, Mr. Gammon shifted his
thought, also his position, and, walking to the eastern window,
looked out from that.  As he stood there the eastern horizon turned
from black to gray, the low-hanging stars above it began to dim;
and below him the sand dunes and the cluster of shanties and fish
houses of the little settlement at Setuckit Point slowly emerged
from the gloom, separated, and assumed individual shape and

A step sounded on the stair leading to the tower, the door opened
and Calvin Homer entered the little room.  Homer was Number One man
at the Setuckit Station; that is, his was, next to Captain Oswald
Myrick's, the position of greatest responsibility and command.  On
board a ship, he would have ranked as mate and his associates would
have added a "sir" to their remarks when addressing him.  On the
station records he was "Surfman Number One," but his comrades
called him Calvin or "Cal," just as they called their commander
"Cap'n Oz" or "Ozzie."  The keeper of a Cape Cod Life-Saving
Station, at that time, had absolute and autocratic control of his
crew while the latter were on duty, and the crew recognized and
obeyed that authority.  But, being independent Yankees, they
remained democrats so far as verbal homage to rank and title was

Homer came into the tower room, closing the door behind him.  He
was twenty-six, lean, square shouldered, smooth faced, gray eyed,
and sunburned to a deep brick red.  He had just come up from his
cot in the sleeping quarters on the second floor, and was wearing
his blue uniform suit, with "NO. 1" in white upon the coat sleeves.
Gammon noticed the uniform immediately.

"Hello, Cal," he drawled.  "Up airly, ain't you?  And all togged
out, too.  Practicin' up to show off afore the girls next summer?"

Homer smiled.  "Next summer is a long way off, Seleucus," he said.

"Huh!  Maybe 'tis when a feller is as young as you be.  I'll be
fifty next June, and I can smell Mayflowers already.  How's Cap'n
Ozzie this mornin'?"

"I don't know.  His door is shut, so I hope he's asleep, and his
wife, too.  I didn't hear anybody moving as I came by.  It was a
quiet night, so maybe they both slept.  I hope so.  The cap'n needs
all the rest he can get.  He starts for home this morning."

"Um-hum.  I know he does.  Peleg Myrick's goin' to take him over,
they tell me.  Good thing there's a smooth sea.  That old craft of
Peleg's is as sloppy as a dish pan if there's more'n a hatful of
water stirrin'.  I went up to Orham along of Peleg my last liberty
day but one, and--crimustee!--I give you my word I thought I'd be
drownded afore we made Baker's beach.  I told Peleg so.  'What's
the matter with ye?' says Peleg.  'This boat of mine 'll weather
anything!' he says; 'and this ain't nothin' but a moderate blow.
You won't get overboard this trip.'  'I know it,' I told him, 'and
that's the trouble.  When I'm overboard I can cal'late to make out
to swim, but aboard here all I can do is set still and wait for the
tide to go over my head.  That last sea we shipped filled my
ileskins full to the waist.  Let me take your hand pump so I can
see how bad my boots leak.'  He, he!  Crimus!  Peleg named that
boat of his The Wild Duck.  I told him he'd ought to named her The
Loon.  'A loon spends half his time under water,' I says.  He, he!
. . .  Humph!  Wonder to me Ozzie didn't have a hoss 'n' team to
come down over the beach to fetch him and his wife.  Don't see why
he didn't, do you?"

Homer shook his head.  "It's a rough road and a long one," he said.
"I guess his wife thought it would be easier for a sick man to
travel to West Harniss by water.  And it's almost a flat calm just

"Just now?  Do you mean 'tain't likely to last?"

"I'm afraid not--all day.  The glass has fallen a good deal since
ten o'clock and it's still going down. . . .  Well, has anything
happened since you came on watch?"

"Nothin' but watchin', and plenty of that.  But you ain't told me
why you've got your dress-up clothes on?  Don't expect no summer
boarders down to watch beach drill this time of year, do you?"

"Hardly.  I put the uniform on to please the skipper.  He told me
he wished I would.  Said it would make him feel a little more as if
he was leaving somebody in command here when he quit.  He's pretty
blue at going, but I tell him he'll be back here as well as ever in
a fortnight or so."

Mr. Gammon shook his head, sighed, and reached into his pocket for
his chewing tobacco.

"That's what you told him, was it?" he observed.  "Humph!  Ain't
you ever been to prayer meetin'?"

"I guess I have.  What's that got to do with it?"

Seleucus inserted the plug of tobacco between his teeth and bit and
tugged until he separated a section, which he tucked into his

"I used to go to Methodist vestry meetin' myself about thirty year
ago or such a matter," he observed.  "Used to go consider'ble in
them days, I did, when I was home from fishin'.  I was young and my
morals wan't settled in the straight and narrer channel, same as
they be now. . . .  Eh?  What did you say?"

"I didn't say anything."

"Didn't you?  Then it must have been what you looked that I heard.
I went to meetin' Friday nights pretty reg'lar.  I was always the
churchy kind. . . .  Didn't you say nothin' THEN?"


"Humph!  You're missin' chances.  I did go, for a fact.  You see,
there was a girl that--well, never mind that part.  But at them
meetin's, time and again, I've heard your great-uncle, Zebedee
Ryder, him that kept grocery store, rant and rave about the sin of
lyin'.  He wouldn't tell a lie for nothin', your Uncle Zeb
wouldn't.  Used to make his brags about it right out loud."

"Well, it was something to brag about--if it was true."

"Oh, I guess likely 'twas true enough.  Nigh as I ever heard Zeb
Ryder WOULDN'T tell a lie--for nothin'.  If there was five cents to
be got a holt of then things might be different. . . .  But,
anyhow, what I'm tryin' to say is that I can't understand how you,
one of Uncle Zeb's own--er--ancestors, can sit in the skipper's
room down below there and tell Ozzie that he'll be back here in a
fortni't.  You know plaguy well he'll never come back."

The younger man did not answer immediately.  When he did he said,
"I surely hope he will."

"So do I--in one way.  In another I don't.  Oz Myrick has been
life-savin' for twenty-odd year.  He was one of the first surfmen
on one of the fust reg'lar crews ever set patrollin' a Cape Cod
beach.  Afore that he was fishin' on the Banks, and swabbin' decks
aboard a square rigger when he wan't more'n a kid.  He's pretty
nigh as much of a veteran as Superintendent Kellogg, down to
Provincetown.  It's time he give up and took a rest.  Yes, and his
check is about ready to be handed in for keeps.  He's sick and it's
the kind of sickness folks his age don't get over."

Homer nodded.  "He knows it," he said, briefly.

"Course he knows it.  Cap'n Oz ain't anybody's fool.  Told you he
was cal'latin' to try and have you appointed keeper in his place,
didn't he?"

Homer looked at him sharply.  "What makes you say that?" he

"'Cause he told me he was cal'latin' to.  Good notion, too."

His companion shook his head.  "I'm not so sure that the notion is
good," he said.  "There are at least five men here, and one of 'em
is yourself, who have been in the service longer than I have."

"Humph!  I cal'late you could find plenty of fellers up to
Charlestown jail that have been in there long enough, but
'twouldn't be one of them that would be picked out for warden.  It
takes more'n a kag of salt mackerel on legs to handle this job down
here.  It takes a man--with brains.  We've got a good crew, there's
no doubt about that."

"You bet there isn't!"

"I shouldn't take no such bet.  They're all right, for this
Setuckit crew.  But what are they?  Why, the heft of 'em are
fellers like me, that have been in and on and around salt water so
long the pickle drips off 'em when they walk.  They ain't scared of
nothin'.  I give in to that, but that ain't because they don't know
enough to be.  They're too stubborn to let anything scare 'em,
that's why.  But they're as independent and cranky as a parcel of
washtubs afloat.  A man they know and have confidence in, he can
handle 'em.  But you let somebody try it that ain't that kind and
then see.  Would I take the job of keeper down here?  I, nor Hez
Rogers, nor Ed Bloomer, nor Sam Bearse, nor any of 'em?  You bet we

"Why not?"

"'Cause we've got sense enough to realize the kind of sense we
ain't got.  A good fo'mast hand don't necessary make a good
skipper.  Takes more'n rubber muscles and codline hair, that does.
Takes brains, I tell you.  You've got brains, Cal, along with nerve
and the rest of it.  You can handle a schooner in a shoal, or a
surfman that's been on liberty, and has come back full of pepper
tea, and do it judgmatically.  When you get through the wreck's
afloat, if she's floatable, and the man's ready and willin' to go
to work again.  And all hands are satisfied the right thing's been
done.  This crew here--the heft of 'em--would row you to hell over
bilin' water if you give the word to launch.  They've seen you go
there and back again more'n once since Cap'n Oz was took sick.
They'd be glad to have you for skipper.  And Ozzie wants you to be,
and so does District Superintendent Kellogg, for the matter of
that.  There's only one man I know that hadn't ought to want it."

"Who is that?"

"You yourself.  You ain't a Scrabbletown lobscouser, like the most
of us.  Your old man was a square-rig cap'n, in his day, and your
mother was a Baker and time was when her folks was counted high
toned and worth money, so I've heard tell.  You're smart.  You've
been to high school.  You could get a job up to Boston, and have
vessels of your own runnin' ashore afore you died, if you'd mind to
set out for it.  What in the nation you want to waste your time
chasin' other folks's wrecks is more'n I can make out.  If you want
to be keeper of Setuckit Life-Savin' Station I cal'late you can.
But WHY you want to, that I don't know.  Why do you, Cal?  What
makes you stay here?"

The young man shook his head.  "I don't know," he replied.  "I
guess it's because--because--well, you could have had a good job
ashore last winter, Seleucus.  I know of at least one that was
offered you.  Why do YOU stay here?"

Gammon grinned.  "'Cause I was born a darn fool, and ain't growed
out of the habit, I cal'late," he said.  "I swear off every fall
and vow I'm through life-savin'.  Then I turn to and swear on
again.  There's somethin' about this--this crazy job that gets a
feller, same as rum.  I like it."

Homer nodded.  "I know," he said.  "And it's the same way with me.
I like it--and I can't give it up--yet.  I went into the service
just as a time-filler four years ago.  I had been at home up in the
village for three months with mother; she was sick, and I had to be
there.  Then she died and--well, there was nothing else in the way
of work in sight, and here was sixty-five a month, and a good deal
of fun.  I meant to stay six months, perhaps.  I'm here yet."

"Yes, so you be.  But you don't have to stay here, twelve mile from
nowhere, do you?"

"No-o.  But--well, I seem to be married to the job."

Seleucus shivered.  "Boy," he said solemnly, "don't talk that way
at your age.  If you was married you'd have an excuse for the
twelve mile--yes, or fifty. . . .  There, there!  Let's talk about
somethin' cheerful.  There was a Swede drownded off a schooner down
along Race Point last week, so Wallie Oaks was tellin' me.  He see
it in the Boston paper day afore yesterday when he was over to

The clock struck three bells and, later, four.  The gray streak
along the eastern horizon broadened, turned to rose and then
crimson.  Over the edge of the Atlantic, seen beyond the distant
roofs of Orham, rolled the winter sun.  Seleucus yawned, stretched
and took his cap from the hook.

"And that's over," he observed thankfully, referring to his term on
watch.  "One more night nigher the graveyard, as my grandmother
used to say, by way of brightenin' up breakfast.  Well, I don't
need no brightenin' up for my breakfast.  And you ain't had yours
neither, have you?  Here's Sam.  Cal, let's you and me go down and
mug up."

Sam Bearse, raw boned, tanned and mustached, had entered the room
while his fellow surfman was speaking.  He grunted a "How be you,
Seleucus?  Hello, Cal," and, hanging his cap up on the hook,
prepared to take over the tower watch.  Homer and Gammon descended
to the kitchen.  Then they "mugged up," that is, they ate breakfast
together.  The other men, having already breakfasted and washed the
dishes--each washing his own--were now smoking and skylarking
outside the station in the sunshine.  It being clear weather, no
one was on beach patrol that morning.

Homer finished first, and, leaving his comrade still busy with
coffee and doughnuts, rose from the table and prepared to go out.

"I'll attend to my dishes when I come in, Seleucus," he said.  "I'm
going to look around a minute or two."

Seleucus nodded.  "Heave ahead," he observed, his mouth full.
"I'll be done after a spell.  Cal'latin' to have another cup of
Ellis's coffee."

"That'll be the fourth, won't it?"

"Um-hum.  But it takes about five of this slumgullion to make one
of reg'lar coffee.  If I didn't have no more body to me than this
coffee's got, I'd have to hire help to find myself on a dark night.
Like drinkin' fog, 'tis.  Every doughnut I eat sinks right down
through to the bottom."

There was a chill in the air in spite of the sunshine, but to
Calvin Homer and his associates the morning was astonishingly mild
and balmy.  A little breeze had sprung up, and had shifted more
toward the north; the beach grass in the hollows between the dunes
and on their crests was waving, the water of the bay was blue and
sparkling.  Over all, as always at Setuckit, sounded the surge and
hiss and thunder of the surf along the beach on the ocean side.

Hezekiah Rogers, surfman Number Four, hailed Homer as the latter

"Wind's breezin' on a little mite, Cal," he said.  "And cantin'
round more to the no'th.  Have you noticed the glass?  Fallin',
ain't it?"

"Yes.  It has been falling all night."

"I bet you!  Never see a day like this, this time of year, but it
turned out to be a weather breeder.  We'll have one old bird of a
no'theaster by nighttime, see if we don't.  And I have to turn out
on patrol at twelve.  Godfreys!  Who wouldn't sell the farm and go
to sea?"

Homer smiled, but did not answer, and, turning the corner of the
station, walked toward the buildings at its rear.  Two cats and a
weather-beaten terrier, the latter a survivor from a wrecked
schooner, came trotting to meet him.  In a lath inclosure adjoining
the barn, a half dozen hens and a rooster with most of his tail
feathers blown or pecked away were scratching--presumably for
exercise--at the sand.  In the barn itself, the station horses--a
pair of sturdy animals, named respectively, "Port" and "Starboard"--
were standing in their stalls.  The horses were almost as valuable
members of the Setuckit life-saving outfit as the humans.  They
pulled the boat wagons to the shore, hauled the heavy car bearing
the beach apparatus--the latter comprising the Lyle gun, the
breeches buoy, the life car, and all their paraphernalia--on the
rare occasions when the apparatus was used, and were respected,
pampered and better fed than their two-legged comrades.  Homer
patted their heads, made sure that they had been given their
morning rations, and turned to go out.  Hez Rogers met him at the
barn door.

"Olive's lookin' for you, Cal," he announced.  "She says Ozzie's up
and rigged and ready to leave, and wants to see you."

Olive Myrick was the captain's wife.  Her home was at West Harniss,
nine miles distant across the bay, but she had come down to the
station when her husband was taken ill, and had been living there
for three weeks.  The keeper was permitted, under the regulations,
to have his wife with him.  In some stations she acted as cook and
general housekeeper, receiving a small allowance for the work.

Homer found her waiting for him in the kitchen.  She looked tired
and worn and anxious, as she had reason to be.

"Oswald wants to see you, Calvin," she said.  "We're goin' over to
the main just as soon as the boat's ready and he's set on talkin'
with you afore he leaves.  Go right in."

The skipper's room at Setuckit was on the first floor, leading from
the mess room.  Entering, Homer found Captain Myrick, dressed and
sitting in a rocking chair.  The skipper was pale and haggard and
his clothes hung loosely on his body.  He had lost weight during
his illness.  Calvin hailed him cheerfully.

"Good morning, Cap'n," he said.  "Well, well! you look fit as a
fiddle.  All taut and rigged and ready to put to sea, eh?  We're
going to miss you, but we'll be all the more glad when you come
back.  And you couldn't have better weather for the trip."

Myrick ignored the reference to his appearance, and the weather.
He motioned to the only other chair in the room.

"Sit down, Cal," he ordered.  "I've got a word or so to say to

Homer took the other chair.  Captain Myrick drew a long breath.

"Calvin," he went on, "I'm startin' on my last cruise, and I know

His subordinate hastened to protest.  "No, no!" he exclaimed.  "You
shouldn't talk that way.  What you need is rest.  You'll be all
right in--"

"Sshh!  We ain't young ones, you and I, and there's no sense in
makin' believe.  I'm never comin' back.  I've got my orders and I'm
bound in.  I know it--although I try to let Olive think I don't.
But I do, and so does she, and so do you and all hands.  I'm

"But, Cap'n--"

"Sshh!  You're wastin' time, and I ain't got much more to waste,
down here.  There'll be a new skipper at the Setuckit Station
inside of a month--inside of a week, if my say-so counts--and
you're the man that'll have the job, if you want it.  What I want
to make sure of is that you do want it.  Do you?"

Homer hesitated.  He did want the appointment, wanted it more than
he had ever wanted anything in his life, but he liked and admired
the man before him, and his sense of loyalty was strong.

"I don't see any use in talking about that," he declared
stubbornly.  "You're the keeper here, and there never was a better
one.  I've enjoyed working under you and I'd like nothing better
than to keep on doing it, as long as I stay in the service."

"Um-hum.  Well, what I'm asking you is if you're figgerin' on
stayin' in the service.  Are you?"

"Yes.  I guess so.  For the present, anyway."

"You guess so?  Ain't you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure.  But--"

"Never mind the buts.  What do you want to stay for?  It ain't the
pay.  I've been chasin' wrecks for twenty-odd year, and all I'm
gettin' is seventy-five a month.  You could earn more'n that--a
smart young feller like you--at almost anything ashore.  What are
you wastin' your time life-savin' for?"

It was the same question Seleucus Gammon had asked that very
morning.  And Homer had asked himself that question many times
during the past months.  And the answer, however unsatisfactory,
was always the same.

"I like the work, Cap'n," he replied.  "I realize the pay amounts
to nothing.  It isn't that.  It is just--well, there is something
about it that--that--"

"I know.  And I know what 'tis, too.  It's the same thing that
makes a feller go out codfishin' right along, winter and summer,
when he could earn more money sawin' wood at home."

"Yes.  But, you see--well, it's a man's job."

"So's sawin' wood.  But I know what you mean.  This life-savin'
game IS a man's job--for a boy's wages.  And it's more'n that;
there's the gamble in it.  You kind of gamble against all outdoors
for your life and the other man's.  I know--Lord, don't I!  It's
that, and the salt in your blood and mine, that makes us stick to
it.  And there's a kind of pride, too.  Cal, the average man would
call me a fool, and I guess I am, but I've took more pride in
keepin' this station the way it ought to be than I would bein'
President of the United States."

"I understand.  And you've kept it well, too."

"Yes, I cal'late I can say I have.  And that's another thing I
wanted to say to you.  If you're sure you want to be keeper here,
I'm goin' to recommend you and my word ought to carry some heft
with the superintendent.  But, if you ARE skipper of this station,
I want you to promise me you'll keep up the Setuckit record.  Since
I've been here we've handled I don't know how many wrecks, some of
'em we got afloat again and lots of 'em we didn't, but we never
lost one life.  I'm kind of proud of that."

"You ought to be."

"Maybe so; I am, anyhow.  And there's another thing I've took pride
in.  There's never been a call come to this station yet that we
ain't answered.  There never was a vessel in distress off our
section--and some that weren't ours--that we ain't gone out to her,
no matter how much of a gale of wind was blowin' nor what kind of a
sea was runnin'.  And we never started and then give up and turned
back.  There ain't so many stations can say that."

"There aren't any others 'round here that I know of."

"Um-um-hum.  Well, I've took some pride in that, too.  And I want
you to promise me you'll try to keep up that record."

"I'll promise you that I'll do my best."

"That ain't quite enough, not at Setuckit, 'tain't.  You've got to
do a little mite more than your best.  You'll have to do things
that ain't possible, if you understand what I mean.  That's what
makes it worth while, this gamblin' game of ours.  A feller has to
look off to wind'ard and sort of grin and say, 'Well, by thunder,
we'll see!'  And then GO and see--and see it through.  Do you get
my meanin'?"

Calvin nodded.  "I ought to, I've watched you," he said, grimly.
"Look here, Cap'n Oz: I don't want to brag, but I think--I THINK
you can count on me.  I like the--the gamble, as you call it."

"All right, boy!  All right.  I ain't afraid of you, and I haven't
been.  Just wanted to tell you how the old man was feelin' when he
got his clearance papers, that's all.  I'm backin' you and I'm
bettin' on you, too. . . .  Now one thing more.  You know this crew
pretty well."

"There's none better."

"No, there ain't.  They'll go anywheres and do anything, with the
right man to lead 'em.  But with the wrong man. . . .  You know, a
crew like ours is made up of kind of rough stuff.  That's why
they're here.  There's some hellions amongst 'em--bound to be.
You've got to handle 'em easy.  They'll get drunk, some of 'em, if
they have a chance, and they'll come back from liberty ready to
take charge and run things--some of 'em, as I say.  Well, you've
got to use judgment.  You've got to see some things and put your
foot down on 'em hard.  And you've got to forget to see some other
things.  A parcel of husky men all alone down here on the beach,
with not so much to do a good deal of the time, is like a school
full of young ones.  If a new teacher comes on deck, the first
thing the young ones do is to find out whether he's boss or they
are.  If he is they're for him; he can handle 'em like a breeze.
But if they find he ain't sure whether he's boss or not--then look
out.  You know this crew of ours well as I do.  Give 'em a pretty
free helm, but don't let 'em come up into the wind on you.  See?"

"I see."

"Well, I cal'late that's about all.  Good luck to you, Cal.  Don't
forget your old skipper altogether, and, if you can find a chance
to run over to Harniss and see me, do it. . . .  Only don't put it
off too long or I may not be there."

"Now, Cap'n, what makes you talk like that?  You know--"

"Yes, I do.  So do you, boy. . . .  Whew!  I wouldn't believe
talkin' would make me so tuckered.  I've rowed five mile through a
head wind and sea, and had more breath left than I've got now. . . .
Well, Olive, what is it?"

His wife had entered the room.  "You must get your things on,
Oswald," she said.  "Peleg is here, and the boat's ready."

"So?  Then I cal'late I'll be ready in a couple of shakes.  So
long, Cal.  See you outside.  Tell the boys to stand by so's I can
say good-by to 'em."

That good-by was a short ceremony.  Peleg Myrick's catboat, the
Wild Duck, was anchored in the little cove on the bay side, near
the station.  Peleg's dory was hauled up on the beach, and its
owner was standing beside it, ready for his passengers.  Mr.
Myrick--he was not related to Captain Oz--was a stubby specimen of
marine architecture, the skin of his hands and face tanned to the
color of mahogany and looking more like leather than a human
cuticle.  The skin of his feet and his legs from the knees down was
of similar shade and consistency, a fact perfectly obvious during
spring, summer and fall, when he was accustomed to "go barefoot."
Now, as it was winter, he wore a mammoth pair of high rubber boots.
The remainder of his attire was a hit or miss jumble of black
shirt, sou'wester, faded sweater and patched trousers.  His eyes
were small and blue, his nose big and red, and his mouth and most
of his chin hidden beneath a tousled heap of mustache, which, as
Seleucus Gammon described it, looked like "a mess of dry seaweed
that had blowed up under the lee of his face and stuck fast."  He
lived alone in a shanty four miles up the beach, and the summer
visitors called him the "hermit."  In his youth he had played the
fiddle at the Orham dances.  He had that fiddle yet and lonely
surfmen on evening beach patrol heard it wailing as they passed his
shanty.  He earned the few dollars he needed by clamming and
fishing.  Between times he prophesied concerning the weather.

He stood by his dory's bow, and about him stood the off-duty
members of the Setuckit life-saving crew, Calvin Homer and Seleucus
among them.  Captain Oswald, leaning on his wife's arm, walked
slowly from the station to the shore.  Peleg got the dory afloat
and stood, knee deep in the water, waiting.  Captain Myrick turned
to his crew.

"Well, boys," he said, with a one-sided attempt at a grin, "I'm
goin' ashore on a little mite of a spree.  First liberty I've had
for quite a spell.  I leave you and Cal to run things.  Take care
of yourselves."

"We will. . . ."  "Sure thing. . . ."  "Keep sober as you can,
skipper. . . ."  "See you back again pretty soon. . . ."  "Give my
regards to the girls."

These were some of the responses.  Peleg helped his passengers into
the dory.  Then, giving the boat a final shove, he swung over the
side and took up the oars.  Gammon hailed him.

"Say, Peleg," he drawled, "what's the matter with your prophesyin'
factory?  Broke down, has it?  This is about as good a day as we've
had for a month, and, last time you and me talked, you was
cal'latin' on one of them East Injy typhoons.  Said 'twas goin' to
blow the lighthouse out to sea, or somethin' like that."

Peleg's retort was a repetition of the soothsayer's reply to

"Day ain't done yit," he snorted.  "You'd have to tie your hair on
afore to-morrer mornin'--if you had any to tie."

He swung forward and back with the oars.

"So long, boys," called Captain Oz.  "Good luck, Calvin."

The dory moved off, drew abreast of the stubby broad-beamed
catboat, and, a few minutes later, the Wild Duck stood out into the
bay.  The life-savers watched her go.  Then they turned back to the
station.  Seleucus made the only remark.

"There goes a good man, Cal," he observed, sententiously.

Homer did not answer.

All that forenoon the breeze continued to freshen and to pull more
and more from the north to the dreaded northeast.  Beach drill that
afternoon was held beneath a lowering sky, and in the face of what
was already a young gale.  The car containing the Lyle gun and
accompanying apparatus was dragged out by the horses, and the men
went through the maneuvers of shooting the line over the drill mast
set in the sand, rigging the breeches buoy and pulling one of their
comrades from the crosstrees to the dune which represented dry land
and safety.  Ordinarily the drill was a matter of routine, but to-
day there was a sort of grim prophecy in its details.  The glass
was still falling and the thermometer was falling also.  From a
morning phenomenally warm for the time of year the temperature had
changed until, at three o'clock, it was so cold that every gust was
a broadside of icy needles penetrating oilskins and sweaters and
causing the life-savers to slap their mittened hands and kick the
heels of their rubber boots together to stir reluctant circulation.

As they put the car back in its house again Gammon turned to Homer
with a shrug.

"I'm goin' to bow down and make reverence to Peleg next time I see
him," he declared.  "The old skate knew what he was talkin' about
when he give out his proclamations about dirty weather comin'.
It's mean enough now, but it'll be a snorter afore mornin', or I
miss my guess.  Feels like snow, too.  Figgerin' to give the new
skipper a reg'lar break in, ain't they, eh?"

Homer nodded.  He did not feel like talking.  The responsibility of
absolute command was heavy upon him.  If mistakes were made now,
they would be his; if blame came he must take it all.  And the
Setuckit Station had never lost a life.

He was not afraid, in the ordinary sense.  Gales and seas, and the
dangers that come with them, he had experienced often enough.  But
always before he had been under the command of another man.  During
Captain Myrick's illness he had led the crew in many rescues, but
upon the return to the station he had made his report to his
superior, and there his responsibility ended.  Now, as temporary
skipper, it was different; he was not there to obey orders, but to
give them.  And he knew the crew would be watching to see how he
bore himself on trial.

They were watching him already.  He caught sly glances and was
conscious of whispers behind his back.  Those that he heard were
not unkindly in tone--the men liked him--but they were noncommittal.
They were waiting for him to prove himself, and, if he did, well and
good.  If he did not--if he faltered or hesitated, or for one moment
showed that he doubted or was not certain--then, like the school
children with the new teacher, his rule was forever ended.  He might
as well resign at once, for they would force him out of the service
sooner or later.

Walter Oaks, the newest member of the crew, and the one that Homer
liked least, drew alongside as they walked to the station.

"Well, Cap'n Cal," he observed, in a tone loud enough for the
others to hear, "how does it seem to be boss of the ship?  Ain't
goin' to be too stuck-up in your new job to speak to common folks,
are you?"

Calvin smiled.  "I haven't got any new job yet, Wallie," he

"That's so; so you ain't.  Only just a try-out, as you might say.
Well, it looks as if you'd have somethin' to try you pretty soon.
It's goin' to blow a little mite afore mornin', they tell me.
Don't get scared, Cal.  If we have to go out and you upset the boat
we'll all hang on to Seleucus and drift ashore.  Fat'll always keep
afloat, so they say, and Seleucus has got enough of that.  Ha, ha!"

Gammon himself made answer.

"Hot air's what they fill balloons with," he observed.  "You're
consider'ble of a gas bag, Wallie.  If we capsize I'm cal'latin' to
grab aholt of you and rise right up out of the water."

By supper time snow had begun to fall and when, at ten o'clock, the
order was given for those not on watch to turn in, the station was
trembling in the grip of a northeast blizzard such as seldom
visited even that storm-whipped locality.  The hurricane shrieked
and howled, the snow and flying sand thrashed against the windows,
and above the swish and clatter and scream sounded the eternal
bellowing boom of the great rollers beating the outer beach.

Calvin Homer went to his room, the keeper's room just vacated by
Captain Myrick.  He went there, but he did not undress or go to
bed.  He left the room at frequent intervals to visit the watchman
in the tower, to speak with the returning beach patrols, to attempt
to peer through the windows at the chaos outside.  This last
procedure was wholly useless, the flying snow and sand were jumping
back from the panes like fine shot, and more than once he
momentarily expected those panes to be beaten in.

At four in the morning he was in the kitchen when Joshua Phinney
came in from patrol.  The man was muffled to the eyes, but the
lashes of those eyes were fringed with icicles and his frozen
oilskins cracked and split as Homer helped him to remove them.
Phinney's first move, after being taken out of his shell, was to
seize the huge coffee pot, kept hot and full always at the back of
the range, and pour and drink three cups of its scalding contents.

"Nothing in sight, Josh?" queried Calvin, anxiously.

Phinney was picking the ice from his brows.

"In sight?" he growled.  "Lord A'mighty! there ain't any sight.
You can't see three feet ahead of your jib boom.  All you can do is
feel--if you ain't too numb even to do that."

"The telephone's gone, so Hez tells me."

"Gone!  I fell over two poles myself on the way up.  I don't know's
the halfway house ain't blowed flat by this time."

The halfway house was the little hut on the beach two and a half
miles below the station.  It contained a stove--the fire in which
the patrolmen were supposed to keep alight and replenished--a
telephone instrument, and the keys to the time clocks carried by
those on patrol.  At the halfway house the patrolman from Setuckit
met the patrolman from the Orham Station, the latter building
another two and a half miles further on.

"Did you meet the fellow from Orham?" inquired Homer.

"Yep.  He fell in just as I was tryin' to pick up spunk enough to
crawl out."

"Did he say anything?  Was there any news?"

"NEWS!  No.  He was so froze he couldn't say nothin' at first, and
when he thawed out all he did was swear at the weather.  'Twas Ezry
Cooper, so you can know that the swearin' was done proper, nothin'
left out."

"Sea is over the beach, I suppose?"

"You suppose right.  Down abreast that pint where the Sarah
Matthews come ashore it was runnin' five foot deep and a hundred
foot wide.  I had to go half a mile out of my way to get around

"You didn't hear anything from outside?  No guns, or anything?"

"Hear!  I had to grit my teeth afore I could hear myself think.  If
the whole United States Navy was off the Sand Hill and every ship
blowed up to once you couldn't hear it to-night, I tell you. . . .
Well, anything else, Cal?  If there ain't I'm goin' aloft to turn
in.  Got to roust out Sam first, of course," with a grin.  "He'll
be real thankful to me, won't he, when he finds what he's got to go
out into?"

He went up the stairs to the sleeping quarters.  Three minutes
later Sam Bearse, muffled, booted, sou'westered and oilskinned, his
Coston signal at his belt, came stumbling sleepily down.

"Dirty morning, Sam," was Homer's greeting.  "There'll be something
doing as soon as it is light enough to see, I shouldn't wonder.
Keep a sharp lookout.  Use your Coston, of course; the telephone is

Bearse was filling himself with hot coffee and merely grunted.
Then, pulling on his mittens and buttoning his sou'wester beneath
his chin, he pushed open the door and went out into the churning
blackness.  It took all of Homer's strength to pull that door shut.

At half-past five the call came.  Calvin was on his way up to the
tower when he met Oaks, the man on watch, coming down.

"Sam's burnin' his Coston, Cal," Oaks blurted, excitedly, "He must
see somethin'!  Lord! it's an awful mess to go off in, ain't it?
Cal, do you think you'd better--"

Homer did not stop to hear the rest.  He hurried to the tower room.
The window toward the southeast was open and banging in the gale.
Leaning out, he peered down the beach.  The wind was as strong as
ever and the cold intense, but it had stopped snowing.  A mile or
more away a brilliant glow of red light with an intensely blazing
core spotted the black background.

Homer sprang to the stairs, ran down the first flight and into the
room where the crew, each on his cot, were sleeping the sleep of
the entirely healthy.

"Turn out, boys!" he called, briskly.


They were ready in three minutes.  Beside each cot stood its
occupant's rubber boots, their tops folded down, and socks,
underclothes and trousers stuffed inside, ready for instant
donning.  Before Homer turned from the door, the men were on their
feet and dressing.  He went down to the skipper's room--his own
now--and hurriedly scrambled into woolen jacket, oilskins and
sou'wester.  Pulling on a pair of mammoth mittens and taking the
lantern from its hook and lighting it, he pushed open the door and
went out.

The gale struck him as he turned the corner on his way to the barn.
Its force was tremendous.  Like a giant's hand it pushed against
him and the blown sand cut his face as he leaned forward and fought
on.  The door of the stable was closed, but not locked, and the
horses, awakened by the lantern light, turned to look at him as he
entered.  He backed them out of their stalls and began harnessing.
In a few moments others of the crew joined him.  In less than ten
minutes from the time of his leaving the tower room the cart,
bearing the lifeboat, was on its way down the beach.

It was a fight all the way.  The sand was deep and the wheels cut
into it.  The horses did their best, but they, unaided, could never
have made the trip that morning.  The men helped, each tugging at
the ropes attached to the sides of the cart.  No one spoke.  Breath
was a necessity not to be wasted, and conversation in the midst of
that screeching whirlwind would have been unheard.  Each head was
bent, each foot planted doggedly in the sand, and every muscle
strained.  The panting horses pulled like the humans.  Animals and
men had been through it all many times before and each knew what
was expected of him.

In clear weather, under ordinary conditions, they would have
covered the distance in a short time.  As it was, almost half an
hour had elapsed before they reached the foot of the high dune from
which the spot where Bearse's signal burned was visible.  There
Bearse himself met them.

He plowed close to Calvin and bellowed in the latter's ear.

"'Tain't any use to try to get down any further," he panted.
"Surf's runnin' clean over the beach just below here.  I got in
pretty nigh to my waist comin' up.  Might's well launch her right
abreast here, Cal. . . .  Whew!  Did you ever see such a blow in
your life!  And cold!  My Godfreys!"

Homer did not reply.  Instead he asked a question.

"Where is she?" he shouted.

"On the south end of the Sand Hill.  Pretty well out.  Two master,
looks like.  She was sendin' up rockets a while ago, but not now.
Come up yonder; I cal'late it's light enough to make her out--a
little of her, anyhow."

He led the way to the top of the dune and Homer followed.  At this
elevation the extreme force of the hurricane was most evident and
for the moment Calvin was conscious of nothing else.  Then, after
he had caught his breath and mopped the sand and spray from his
eyes, he looked seaward.  It was a gray-and-white upheaval over
which he looked.  In the dim light of early morning he saw the huge
breakers running, in creaming ridges, out, out, out, one behind the
other.  Immediately before him they fell in frothing, leaping
tumult, to surge up the shelving shore to the very base of the
dune.  The middle distance was obscured by driving scud.  He turned
to his companion.  Bearse pointed a mittened hand.

"There she is," he roared, and above the thunder of the sea his
words came only as a faint whisper.  "Off yonder.  You can sight
her once in a while between squalls. . . .  There!  Look!"

Homer looked--and saw.  A mass of crazy wave, a huddle of jumping
froth, and, at one spot above it, two black masts slanted against a
slaty background.  He nodded and turned back.

As they stumbled down the sheltered side of the dune Bearse laid a
hand on his own.

"Goin' to try it?" he queried. . . .  "Oh, all right!" with a one-
sided grin.  "Just as you say.  I always did like exercise."

Back at the cart Calvin shouted brief orders.  Once more the men
and horses bent to the tugs and the cart and its burden emerged
from between the dunes and came out at the top of the sloping

"Man the surf boat!" shouted Homer.

Each man took his position.  The cart was turned broadside to the

"Unload. . . .  Take out bolts. . . ."

The bolts which held the vehicle were removed, and the rear and
forward wheels of the boat carriage separated.


The boat was lowered to the sand.

"Haul out wheels."

The wheels were pulled out of the way.  With the lifting bar under
her the boat was skidded bow on to the surf.

"Take life belts."

Each man took a life belt from the racks inside the boat and
strapped it over his shoulders and about his waist.  The only one
who did not do this was Badger, the cook, who, according to rule,
would be left ashore in charge of the station during his
commander's absence.

"Ship rowlocks. . . .  Take oars."

Each man at his place--a place fixed by regulation and confirmed by
constant drill--put his rowlock in position, and laid his oar
crosswise on the boat.  Homer gave the outfit a hurried glance of

"Shove her down," he ordered.

With a rush they slid the boat down the slope and into the surge.
The men at the bow were knee-deep in water.  Seleucus Gammon found
time to shout a comment.

"Crimus! that feels nice and cool," he bellowed.  "Come in, boys,
the water's fine.  What's the matter, Wallie; tired?  This'll
freshen you up."

Oaks, the comparatively new member of the crew, did not answer.  He
was looking at the walls of white water just ahead.

"In bow," ordered Calvin.

Seleucus and his opposite surfman sprang over the gunwale and
seized their oars.

"Down with her."

As she moved out the other men scrambled in.

"Start rowing. . . .  GO!"

The boat leaped forward into the breakers.  As she did so Homer,
the last man to leave shore, swung over the stern and took up the
heavy steering oar.  A long stroke, another, a moment's wait as a
wave broke just before them, and swept beneath.  Then another
mighty pull, and a rise that lifted them up and up.  Flying foam, a
deluge of icy water, a series of strokes, and then a coast.  They
were over the first breaker.  The men settled to their long pull.
Homer, again swabbing his dripping face with a drenched mitten,
peered ahead and bent his strength to the steering oar.  A good
launch and a lucky one, conditions considered.  They were off.  So
far, so good.

But the launch was only the beginning, a fact which every man
realized--the new skipper most of all.  There remained a row of at
least three miles, through a sea which was establishing a record
even for that coast, and with weather conditions about as bad as
they could be.  Even as exacting a disciplinarian as Superintendent
Kellogg, the hardy veteran in charge of the district, would have
excused a keeper for not risking the lives of his crew that day.
Homer knew this and knew that the men knew it.  Surely, as Oaks had
intimated, his first "try-out" as temporary head of the Setuckit
Station was a tough one.

He was not afraid--for himself.  The excitement of the battle was
too keen for that.  There was a fierce joy in it.  But the sense of
responsibility was always there, when he permitted himself to think
of it.  Responsibility, not only for those lives aboard the
stranded schooner, but for the safety of his comrades, and the
clean record to which Myrick had referred.  He set his teeth, and
when Gammon, tugging at the bow oar, caught his eyes and grimly
grinned, he smiled in return.

The seas were enormous.  Only from their crests could he see ahead.
Each time the boat swung up to the top of one of those hills of
water he peered apprehensively out, fearing that the two black
marks, the masts of the wrecked craft, might no longer be in sight.
But they were there--they still stood.

He looked into the faces under the sou'westers.  Every face was
set, and every man was pulling with all his might.  No one spoke,
they were too busy for that.  Even Seleucus, the loquacious, was
silent, and no ordinary combination of wind and wave could have
prevented him from shouting a profane joke occasionally.  The boat
moved on, slowly, but doggedly; the spray shot over it in sheets,
and froze when it struck.  Men, oars, and rigging were covered with

The cold, that was the worst of all.  Oilskins glistened like suits
of armor.  Mittens cracked at the knuckles.  Eyebrows and mustaches
hung with icicles.  But they were gaining; with every stroke they
drew nearer to Sand Hill Shoal and the wreck at its southern

Suddenly Oaks, at Number Six, stopped rowing.  Homer, watching the
expressions of his men, had of late watched his in particular.  He
had seen it change.  And so he was, in a measure, prepared.

"Go on, Wallie," he shouted.  "Row.  What's the matter with you?"

Oaks tried to rise from the thwart, would have risen, had not Sam
Bearse, at Number Seven, freed one hand and jerked him down again.

"Row, you fool!" growled Sam.

But Oaks did not obey.  His chin was quivering, and, in spite of
the cold, there were beads of perspiration on his cheeks.

"Put me ashore, Cal Homer," he shrieked.  "I--I--Put me ashore!
I can't stand this.  For God's sake, Cap'n, put me ashore!"

The other men kept on rowing--it was mechanical with them--but
their looks expressed the wildest astonishment.  This was something
new in their experience, brand new.

Calvin was as astonished as the rest.

"Put you ASHORE!" he gasped.

"Yes--yes.  Put me ashore.  My God, we--we can't make it!  We'll be
drownded.  I--I've got a--a wife to home.  She--she--Turn round,
Cal Homer, you're crazy!  We can't make it.  We'll drown, I tell
you!  You put me ashore."

The man's nerve was completely gone.  He let go of his oar entirely
and shook both fists in the air.  Bearse pulled the oar into the

Oaks's threats changed to pleadings.

"Oh, Cap'n, please!" he begged.  "I'll pay you for it.  My pay
check's comin' due next week.  I'll give you half of it--I swear I
will!  I'll give you all.  I--I can't stand it, I tell you.  Turn
around and put me ashore."

There was silence in the boat for an instant, silence broken by a
tremendous "Haw! haw!" from Seleucus Gammon.  The other men, still
rowing as hard as ever, looked at each other, then at Oaks, and
then at their skipper pro tem.  Homer, catching that look, knew
they were waiting to see how he would meet this entirely
unprecedented emergency.  It was another test--a test of his
capacity as "boss."

"I'll pay you," shrieked Oaks again.  "I'll give you--"

But Homer interrupted.

"Sit down," he ordered, savagely.  "Sit down and row."

"But, Cal, please--"

Calvin lifted the big steering oar from the water.

"Down!" he roared.  "Down, or I'll cave your head in with this. . . .
Down!  Now row--or I'll brain you first and drown you afterwards."

At that moment he would have done it.  The men knew it and, what
was more important, Oaks himself seemed to realize it.  Sobbing and
hysterical he sank back upon the thwart, took up the oar which
Bearse pushed into his hands, and began rowing once more.  Homer
glared at him, swallowed hard--and then laughed aloud.  A bellow of
laughter came from the boat.  What might have been a calamity was
now a joke, a joke to be remembered and talked about--when the time
for talking came.

"Almost there, boys," shouted Calvin, cheerfully.  "Keep her

The wreck was in plain sight now, only a quarter of a mile away.  A
little fore and aft schooner, hard and fast aground, at least every
third sea breaking over her from stem to stern.  Men were in the
rigging, five of them.  Calvin waved to them and a hand was waved
in return.

The sea was more wicked than ever there at the tail of the shoal.
It required judgment and experience and skill to bring the lifeboat
up under the lee of the wreck.  But this--with the exception of
Oaks--was a veteran crew, even if their leader was comparatively
new to his job, and, after several trials, it was done.  The
schooner's deck was aslant, and formed a partial shelter.  The
grapnels were made fast.

"Come down!" shouted Calvin, addressing the men in the rigging.
"We'll look out for you.  Hurry!"

One of the men--the captain--shouted a reply.  Above the tumult of
wind and water only a few words were audible in the boat below,
something like "half froze."

"We'll have to go after 'em," called Calvin.  "Come on, one of you.
You, Seleucus, come with me.  The rest of you stay in the boat."

Watching his chance he climbed over the tilted rail, Gammon at his
heels.  The slant of the deck, and the coating of ice upon it, made
each step an effort and a risk.  The schooner's crew were in the
rigging of the foremast.  Their captain, when he realized the
danger his craft was in, had ordered the anchors thrown over.  They
had held, but the wind and tide had not only swung the vessel
around until she grounded, but their force had ripped the windlass
bodily from the deck and jammed it tight in the bow "in the eyes of
her," as a sailor would describe it.  And over that bow the
breakers poured in icy cascades.

The men in the rigging had managed to cast off the lines with which
they had secured themselves there, and, stiffly and slowly, were
climbing down to the lee rail.  Theirs was now, more than ever, a
precarious position.  Again and again the flying water poured over
them.  Plainly the schooner was being beaten to pieces, and the
masts, the foremast especially, might go by the board at any

Homer and Gammon slipped and stumbled forward.  Each time a wave
went over they were obliged to cling with hands and feet.  After
one tremendous sea Calvin, brushing the water from his eyes, looked
anxiously for his companion.

"All right, are you, Seleucus?" he gasped.

Seleucus's voice, punctuated with coughs, made answer.

"All here, so fur," it panted.  "Crimustee! have to do some hangin'
on, don't ye?  Monkey up a tree ain't got nothin' on us.  Yes, he
has, too.  He's got a tail and that ought to help consider'ble.
Wish to the Lord I had one. . . .  Here you go--you!  Give me your

The first man, a foremast hand, was at the foot of the shrouds.
Between them, and aided by the other life-savers, he was lifted
over the side into the boat.  The other four followed, the captain
last of all.  He had reached the rail, and was about to jump to the
boat when a huge breaker, timed exactly right--or wrong--reared its
head above the schooner's bow.

"Look out!" bellowed Gammon, and from the boat came an echoing yell
of warning.  Homer made a flying leap and a clutch at the oilskin
collar of the man at the rail.  Then the wave broke and he and the
owner of that oilskin were thrown headlong to the slanting deck and
over and over--"like a couple of punkins," as Seleucus described it
afterwards--until they struck the foot of the lee rail with
terrific force.

It was Homer who struck first and for an instant he was stunned.
His head had hit a stanchion of the bulwark and, if it had not been
for his sou'wester, the latter buttoned tightly under his chin, he
would almost certainly have been killed.  As it was, his head was
cut, and when Gammon dragged him out of the surge of water the
blood was running down his face.  But he still clutched the collar
of the schooner's skipper and the pair scrambled dazedly to their
feet.  Seleucus, who had saved himself from similar disaster by
seizing and holding fast to a rope's end, was clear headed and

"Over with you," he shouted, pushing the skipper to the rail.
"Come, wake up!" with a shake.  "Into that boat now.  Look out for
him, you fellers."

The rescued man was bundled over the side into three pairs of
outstretched arms.

"Now, Cal," ordered Gammon.

But Homer was capable of taking care of himself by this time.

"You first," he commanded.

"Why . . . why, you durn fool, this ain't no time to. . . .  A-a-ll
right, just as you say, Cap'n."

He jumped into the boat.  Homer cast a comprehensive glance over
the abandoned schooner.  She was doomed; there was absolutely no
hope of saving her or anything aboard her.  He, too, climbed over
the side.

"All right, Cal, are you?" asked Bearse, anxiously, as Calvin took
his place in the stern.

"Yes.  Cast off.  Lively now."

The boat swung away from the wreck.

"All set?  Row."

He braced himself at the steering oar.  The crew began rowing.  The
men from the schooner crouched between the thwarts.

The row home was longer than the outward trip had been, and,
although not quite so hard, was hard enough.  Homer's head was
throbbing wickedly, and he wiped the blood from his face with his
frozen mitten from time to time.  He had determined not to attempt,
with such a load aboard, a landing in the surf upon the outer
beach, but to go around the end of the point to the sheltered
waters of the bay side.

On the "rips" at the end of the point the seas were higher than any
they had yet encountered.  The boat climbed and climbed, and then
dipped and slid.  The cook of the schooner, a half-breed
Portuguese, crouching near the bow directly in front of Gammon,
began to pray aloud.  Seleucus lost patience.

"Shut up!" he roared.  "You can hold meetin' when you get ashore.
Sing hymns then and take up collection, if you want to. . . .  But
now you shut up.  Shut up, or I'll step on you!  Look at Wallie;
see how nice he's behavin'."

Oaks had remained quiet since his outbreak on the way to the wreck.
He was white and shaking, but he had not spoken, and he was rowing,
after a fashion.  The other men laughed.  Homer smiled, but he
shook his head.

"That'll do, Seleucus," he ordered.  "Don't talk--row.  We want to
get home--where it's warm."

The boat soared and coasted over the huge waves.  Midway of the
rips, at the crest of a billow, Calvin looked back in the direction
of the Sand Hill.  The two black marks no longer slanted against
the sky.  The sea had swallowed its prey, the schooner had gone.

Landing in the cove at the back of the point was an easy matter.
They beached the boat, and the rescued men--the cook's prayers now
turned to profane thanksgivings--staggered through the sand to the
station.  Homer drew a long breath.

"Leave her where she is," he commanded, referring to the lifeboat.
"We'll attend to her later.  I don't know how you boys feel, but I
want a cup of coffee."

Gammon, as usual, was the first to answer.

"Coffee!" he repeated.  "I'm so fur gone I want about another
hogshead of that stuff Ellis CALLS coffee.  That shows the state
I'M in."

As they walked up the beach he came close to his commanding

"How's your head, Cal?" he asked

"Oh, it's achin' a little, but it's all right.  A bump, that's

"Bump!  Crimus!  If that's a bump then a man with his head cut off
has been scratched. . . .  Cal," he added, under his breath, "you
done a good job this mornin'.  You'll make out as skipper at
Setuckit.  I said you would, and now I know it."

A moment later he was inquiring solicitously concerning Oaks.

"That wife of yours ashore, Wallie," he observed, "she ain't lost
you yet, I'm afraid.  Don't have no luck, does she?"

Oaks, sullen and downcast, made no reply.  He was the first to
enter the station and, after swallowing a cup of red-hot coffee,
went up to the sleeping room to change his clothes.  His immediate
future was destined to be unpleasant, and he knew it.

Calvin, too, drank coffee--or Badger's substitute for it--and ate a
few mouthfuls.  But there was too much to be done--and done at
once--to permit of rest.  Dry clothes and warmth were restorers in
themselves, and water and a bandage helped his cut head.  He
treated himself to these luxuries and then set about the duties to
follow.  The men from the schooner had been fed and warmed and
dried, and were now stretched on the cots in the room provided for
such waifs.  There were cases of frostbite among them, and the
skipper--his name was Leary--had a badly bruised knee.  All this
had to be seen to and the regulation entries concerning the wreck
made in the log of the station.

Badger reported that nothing of importance had happened during his
comrades' absence.  Telephone poles and wires were down and there
was no communication with other stations or with the main.  The
glass was still very low, the gale had abated but little, and it
was beginning to snow once more.  Homer went down to the mess room
where the men were sprawled about the stove, smoking and joking.
Wallie Oaks was not among them and Calvin asked concerning him.  A
general grin was his only answer at first, and then Seleucus spoke.

"Wallie's gone out to the barn," he explained.  "He ain't
comf'table, Wallie ain't.  Don't seem to be satisfied nowhere.
When he was off yonder he wanted to be put ashore and now he is
ashore he acts kind of as if he wished he was to sea again.  I
cal'late he's tellin' the horses about his havin' a wife to home.
Seems to me I heard old Port laughin' a minute or two ago."

The men chuckled.  Josh Phinney winked at his companions.

"The heft of us have got wives, fur's that's concerned," he
observed.  "You've got one, ain't you, Seleucus?"

Mr. Gammon regarded him gravely.  "I've got a number eleven boot,
too," he announced; "but I ain't makin' any brags about it.  I'm
just keepin' it to use on folks that get too smart and fresh in
their talk."

Phinney swung round in his chair.

"I wouldn't keep it too long," he said, cheerfully.  "It might
spile.  If you ain't had enough exercise this mornin', and want
more, I cal'late maybe I can accommodate you."

Homer raised a hand.  "I can give you all the exercise you need,"
he said.  "It's snowing again and as thick as mud outside.
Seleucus, you'd better go up to the tower and relieve Ellis on
watch for a while.  He's been there, off and on, all the forenoon.
Ed, you can get ready to go out on patrol."

Ed Bloomer's freckled face lengthened.

"Lord A'mighty!" he groaned.  "Ain't you got NO heart, Cal?  I'm so
stiffened up now that my jints snap like a bunch of firecrackers.
I've got a wife up to Orham myself."

"Well, when you get to the halfway house you'll be two miles nearer
to her.  Think of that, and be happy.  I'm sorry, boys, but it's
the dirtiest weather I've seen since I came here.  Make the most of
what rest you can get.  We're likely to have another job before
this storm is over."

Leaving Bloomer to lament and don his spare suit of oilskins,
Calvin went out to the barn.  In that chilly, gloomy shed he found
Oaks seated on an empty mackerel keg, his elbows on his knees and
his head in his hands.  He looked up, recognized his skipper, and
sank back again.

"What's the matter, Wallie?" queried Homer.  "What are you doing
out here?"

Oaks did not answer, and the question was repeated.

"What are you doing out here alone?" asked Calvin.

"Nothin'.  I want to be alone.  Let me be.  I wish I was dead.  I'd
be better off if I was."

"Oh, I guess not."

"Yes, I would, too.  I'm goin' to quit.  I'm goin' to quit right
now.  Them fellers'll never give me any peace.  I--I wish I'd
drownded.  Yes," savagely, "and I wish they'd drownded first--so's
I could see 'em doin' it."

"Look here, Wallie--"

"Aw, shut up.  I've quit this job.  I'm through.  You haven't got
any more say over me, Cal Homer."

"Yes, I have.  So long as you're here I've got a lot to say.  You
lost your nerve out there this morning, and you made a fool of
yourself, but that's nothing."

"Nothin'!  If you heard all that gang guyin' me you'd think 'twas
somethin'.  I'll kill that Josh Phinney, I swear to God I will!
I'll quit here but I'll kill him and Seleucus Gammon first."

"No, no, you won't.  Stop!  The boys will guy you for a while, but
they'll get over it if you behave like a man and not like a kid.
That mess off there scared you--well, it scared all of us.  But the
rest have been at the work longer than you have, and they didn't
let it get the best of 'em.  Get up off that keg, and stop playing
cry-baby.  Go ahead and do your work and behave like a man and
they'll forget it by and by."

"Forget it!  They'll tell it from one end of Cape Cod to the other.
I'll never--"

"If you behave yourself they won't.  _I_ shan't tell and I'll ask
them not to.  When they tease you--grin, and keep on grinning.
There's no fun in guying a man that laughs.  Square yourself with
'em.  See here, I'll tell you how you can begin the squaring.  Ed
Bloomer is pretty well used up, but it's his turn to go on patrol.
Go in and offer to go in his place."

"His place!  Why, it's his turn, ain't it?  'Tain't mine.  I took
mine last--"

Homer swung about in disgust.  "It looks as if you were getting
about what is coming to you," he said.

Nevertheless, when, a little later, he went up to the tower he
found Gammon chuckling to himself.

"Crimus!" announced Seleucus gleefully.  "What do you suppose has
happened, Cal?  Josh was up here just now and he says that Ed
Bloomer was all rigged and ready to go down the beach when Wallie
comes tearin' in and gives out that he's just dyin' to go instead.
Ed was so surprised he commenced to holler for a doctor, but Wallie
kept sayin' he meant it, and, by crimus, he went, too!  What do you
think of that?"

Homer nodded.  "See here, Seleucus," he said, "I want you fellows
to let up on Wallie.  He isn't very heavy in the upper story, and
he made a fool of himself this morning, but we ought to give him
another chance, seems to me.  He's new at this game--"

"Ain't much newer than you, is he?"

"Why, yes, a little.  And--Well, never mind, I want you and the
rest to stop plaguing him about it.  Give him his chance.  He may
make good next time."

Gammon was skeptical.

"Wanted to quit, didn't he?" he asked.

"He hasn't quit."

"Cal, I know them Oakses, knew old man Oaks, and old Caleb Oaks--
his uncle--and all the rest of 'em from way back.  They're yeller,
I tell you.  Got a streak of it in 'em and they'd have to be biled
afore 'twould come out.  Why, old Caleb, one time he--"

"Never mind.  You get the crew to let up on Wallie.  And I want you
and the rest of the boys to keep quiet on this whole business--
outside of our own crew.  You understand?"

Seleucus turned and looked him over.

"All right, Cap'n," he said, grimly.  "They will, I cal'late, if I
tell 'em you want 'em to.  After the way you handled things this
mornin' they'll do 'most anything you ask.  But, so fur's Wallie's
concerned, 'twon't do much good.  He'll go out patrollin' to make
up along with Ed, and he'll suck around and run errands and wash
dishes and all that, to keep the gang from raggin' him.  But he'd
do as much for anybody else, if he could get somethin' for himself
by doin' it.  He's yeller, like all them Oakses, and he don't
belong in a Setuckit crew.  Up to Crooked Hill, or to North End"--
with the contemptuous scorn of one station for a rival--"he might
get on well enough, but not down here to Setuckit--no, sir!  You
see if I ain't right."

All that day and the following night the storm raged.  There were
no more wrecks, however, and for so much Setuckit was thankful.  By
morning, the wind had gone down and the sun was shining over an
icebound coast, with a tumbling sea visible to the horizon.  The
mainland of the Cape was white with snow and, even at wind-swept
Setuckit, there was snow in the hollows between the dunes.  The
mercury was climbing in the barometer and there was every prospect
of fair weather for the immediate future.

It was Saturday, house-cleaning day at the station.  The men were
washing their clothes, sweeping and scrubbing.  The members of the
crew of the David Cowes were, most of them, up and about and
helping wherever help was permitted.  Captain Leary, his bruised
knee bandaged, and limping with an improvised cane, was nervous and
anxious.  He was, of course, eager to get away and to get word of
the loss of his schooner to his owners, and to send to his family,
at Rockland, tidings of his own safety and that of his crew.
Toward Homer and the men of the station the feelings of himself and
his shipmates were of sincere gratitude and admiration.  He
expressed these feelings in his talks with Calvin.

"Oh, I know you don't want to talk about it, Cap'n," he said, "but
you can't blame us for sayin' 'thank you'!  I had about given up
hope when you fellows hove in sight.  And even after we sighted
your boat I didn't think there was one chance in a thousand of your
gettin' alongside in time.  'Twas a good job you did, and if
anything I can say will help you or your crew at headquarters, it's
going to be said."

Calvin nodded.  "Much obliged, Cap'n Leary," he said, "but don't
trouble yourself.  It's what we're here for, and what we're paid
for.  We have got a good crew at this station and they've never
laid down yet.  I'm sorry about the telephone, and a little
anxious, too.  That was about the wickedest gale I've ever been
through and Gammon and the other men who have been in the service
for years say they never saw a worse one.  When we do get news it
will be pretty serious, I'm afraid.  There must have been more
wrecks than yours, and we'll hear about 'em in a little while."

"How do you expect to hear?"

"Oh, somebody will be coming down from Orham before long.  Some of
the fellows up there have shanties and fishing gear down here and
they'll be anxious to find out what damage has been done.
Superintendent Kellogg will be worried, too, and he'll want to get
in touch with us.  Maybe they've got some news at the Orham Station
by this time.  If they have they'll get it to us as soon as they

"How soon do you figure I and my men can get off?  I don't want to
hurry you, but I'm mighty anxious to get word to my owners and

"Of course.  Well, we'll get you off some time this afternoon if
this weather holds.  If nobody comes down from Orham we'll get sail
on the spare boat and have somebody get you up that way."

By noon, however, word came from the watchman in the tower that a
sailboat was in sight, coming from the direction of Harniss.  Homer
went up to investigate.

"Who is it, Hez?" he asked, of Rogers, then on duty.

"Looks like Peleg," replied Rogers.  "That's who I make it out to

It was the hermit, sure enough, and he arrived, wet and chilled,
but garrulous.  The Cape had been storm swept from Race Point to
Buzzard's Bay.  Telephone and telegraph poles were down all along
the line and no trains had been through since Thursday night.  Some
one had driven over from Bayport in a sleigh just before he left
and brought rumors of a wreck at Crooked Hill Shoal.

"Didn't have no particulars, he didn't," declared Peleg.  "But from
what he heard there was a consider'ble of lives lost.  They'd just
got a wire through from Trumet to Bayport and that's how he heard
about it, so they say.  Look here, Cal, how about my weather
prophesyin'?  Didn't I tell Seleucus Gammon he'd have to tie his
hair on afore mornin'?  Didn't I, eh?  Where is that Gammon
critter?  I want to preach to him."

He had, so he said, landed Oswald Myrick and wife safely before the
storm broke, and they had been driven from the landing place to
their home at West Harniss.  Peleg departed to crow over Seleucus,
leaving Homer more anxious than ever to hear from the mainland.

The next item of news came by way of the beach.  One of the crew at
the Orham Station had tramped as far as the halfway house to bring
it, and Sam Bearse had, on his own initiative, walked down there on
the chance of hearing something.  What he heard was sufficiently
sensational to pay, in Sam's estimation, for the exertion of the
trip.  The wreck at Crooked Hill Shoal had been that of a three-
masted schooner, from New York to Portland, loaded with coal.  She
had struck on Thursday night and the Crooked Hill Station crew had
gone out to her early the next morning.  They made the outward trip
safely and took off all but two of the schooner's crew, those two
having been washed overboard before they reached the vessel.

But the real sensation of Bearse's news was to follow.  On the way
back to the beach the crowded lifeboat had, somehow or other, been
permitted to swing broadside with the trough of the sea.  She was
overturned and every man, life crew and all, had been drowned.
Only one was dragged from the surf with the breath of life in him.

The group of listeners in the kitchen of the Setuckit Station
looked at each other aghast.  Accidents, and even occasional
deaths, were more or less to be expected, they were risks of their
trade--but this wholesale killing was staggering.

"Only one saved, you say, Sam?" queried Homer incredulously.

"So they say," declared Sam.  "That's the yarn."

"Who was the one?" demanded Phinney.

"Crooked Hill feller name of Bartlett.  Number Two man he was, I
understand.  Anybody here know him?"

Seleucus Gammon nodded.  "I do, I cal'late," he said.  "If it's the
feller I think 'tis it's Benoni Bartlett.  He's been in the service
for a long spell, 'most as long as I have.  'Bout my age he must
be, too. . . .  Humph!  Benoni, eh?  And he's the only one got
ashore!  Sho!  Well, if it's Benoni he'll figger 'twas the A'mighty
himself picked him to be hauled out of the wet.  Crimus! yes, he'll
think that sure."

"Why?" asked Rogers.

"'Cause he's kind of cracked on such things.  Reg'lar Bible crank,
so some of the Trumet fellers tell me. . . .  Sho!  Benoni the
only one saved out of all that crowd.  Some good men gone on that
load. . . .  Boys, the newspapers 'll make talk about this, won't
they? Remember what a fuss there was when the Orham crew was lost?
Bartlett 'll be what they call a hero, if he don't look out. . . .
Tut, tut, tut!  Sho!  Crimustee!"


The news of the Crooked Hill disaster reached the Boston papers the
moment that telegraphic communication was reopened.  It was but one
fatal incident of the great storm, but, coming so closely on the
heels of a somewhat similar happening at Orham a few years before,
it attracted wide notice.  The editors, sensing its dramatic
qualities, sent their reporters down to investigate.  The reporters
interviewed the townspeople at Trumet, the fishermen at the little
settlement near Crooked Hill, and any one else who seemed likely to
furnish details and help to fill space.  Bartlett, the sole
survivor, was besieged.  He was in a state of complete nervous
collapse and the doctors permitted him to see no one, but the
newspaper men saw the doctors, the longshoremen and the townspeople
generally, and made the most of everything they were told.

The first batch of papers brought to Setuckit displayed photographs
of the Crooked Hill Station, of the crew--a snapshot taken two
years before--of the beach opposite the shoal, of the men who
helped Bartlett ashore, of the house where he was being taken care
of, of Bartlett himself--another ancient snapshot--and one
enterprising sheet exhibited a smudgy and libelous likeness of Miss
Norma Bartlett, his daughter.  This last was a vague cross-hatching
of inky lines, through which one caught glimpses of a young woman
apparently not more than sixteen, and as a recognizable likeness
was of about as much value as a portrait of a rooster taken through
the wires of his coop at twilight on a foggy afternoon.

The life-savers at Setuckit found the papers immensely interesting.
The long stories of the reporters were read silently and aloud.
The pictures were scrutinized with care.  Seleucus, the only
Setuckitite who had known Bartlett, was cross-questioned and
catechized.  Mr. Gammon obligingly remembered everything he could
and, when his memory failed, called upon his inventive faculties.
Their own exploit, the rescue of the crew of the David Cowes, was
completely overshadowed and practically ignored, so far as public
notice was concerned.  There were brief paragraphs mentioning it,
but they were but items in a long list of maritime casualties.

Captain Leary and his men had shown no symptoms of forgetting,
however.  They were taken to Orham the afternoon of the day
following the rescue.  At the beach, as they were about to leave,
Leary again expressed their gratitude and admiration.

"It was the finest job I've ever seen done on salt water, Cap'n
Homer," he declared.  "I'm going to tell my owners so, and
everybody else that asks me.  We wouldn't, one of us, be here now
if it wasn't for you fellows, and if we can ever get even you bet
we'll do it.  I'll make it my business to write to headquarters and
tell 'em what I think of it.  It'll be the first letter I write
after I get home, and my whole crew will sign it.  They'll be
tickled to death at the chance."

Homer thanked him, but urged him not to trouble.

"To tell you the truth, Cap'n," he said, "it was only by mighty
good luck that we got to you in time.  What happened over at
Crooked Hill might just as well have happened here, and we can be
thankful our pictures aren't in the papers instead of those poor

Gammon and some of the other men were not so magnanimous.

"Humph!" grunted Seleucus, tossing his copy of the Boston Star
aside; "all this kind of makes you tired, don't it?  After all, by
crimus, a life-savin' crew's job is to save lives.  If the Crooked
Hill gang had got their boat to shore with all hands safe and sound
'twould have been somethin' to hurrah about.  They didn't, they got
upset and drownded, which wa'n't their job at all.  Somebody
bungled somethin' and all hands paid for it.  It's too bad and I'm
sorry for 'em, the Lord knows, but just the same the bunglin' was a
fact.  Did you read that piece about Sup'rintendent Kellogg
preachin' what a wonderful critter Bartlett is?  Why is he
wonderful?  'Cause he was lucky enough to be hove up on the beach
and was snaked out of the wet by the scruff of his neck.  He's a
hero, Bartlett is--says so in the paper.  Well, why ain't I a hero?
_I_ got ashore and nobody else hauled me there neither.  I AM a
hero--I'll bet you on it!  Smoke up a piece of glass and look at me
through it.  No, no, don't risk your eyesight without the glass;
I'm liable to dazzle you."

Josh Phinney grinned.

"We're all heroes, Seleucus," he declared.  "Pretty ones.  Trouble
is nobody else believes it and we can't prove it."

"Kellogg knows it," declared Seleucus.  "He talks that way about
Bartlett 'cause he has to.  He'd 'a' been swimmin' against the tide
if he didn't.  But suppose them Crooked Hillers had lost their boat
and all got ashore themselves; do you cal'late the sup'rintendent
would have called 'em heroes then?  Humph! he'd have given 'em blue
Tophet for smashin' up the boat.  He ain't any old maid cryin' over
yarns in a newspaper, Kellogg ain't.  He's been life-savin' or
bossin' life-savers for twenty-odd year.  He knows what's what."

Ed Bloomer leaned over and scratched a match on Gammon's trouser

"What ails you, Seleucus," he observed, "is that you're jealous,
that's all.  If they printed YOUR picture you'd be all set up.  I'd
like to see your picture in the paper.  'Seleucus Gammon, the noble

"Sea lion," put in Phinney.  "I see some of them sea lions up to
Boston at a show one time.  One of 'em stuck his head up out of the
water and hollered, and I swear I thought 'twas Seleucus in
swimmin'.  Yes, I did.  I was just goin' to answer him."

Seleucus rose.  "Wa'n't goin' to tell him dinner was ready, was
you, Josh?" he queried.  "If you was I bet he was glad to hear it.
You're cook this week, I've heard tell, but I should be glad to
have a little mite of proof of it."

"Proof 'll be on the table in about ten minutes now.  Keep your
patience bilin', hero."

"Huh!  Takes a hero to keep patient when you're cook, Josh. . . .
Hello! speakin' of heroes, here comes Wallie.  I understand
Wallie's favorite hymn up to prayer meetin' is 'Pull for the shore,
sailor.'  Let's sing it for him.  What d'ye say?"

They sang a verse with gravity and gusto.  Oaks pretended not to
notice.  Generally speaking, he had been tormented less than he
expected, a fact due entirely to Homer's request that the crew "let
up on him."

If the papers and the public paid little attention to the Setuckit
exploit, Calvin and his men received gratifying acknowledgment from
other sources.  Oswald Myrick wrote expressing congratulations in
no stinted phrase.  Superintendent Kellogg sent a commendatory
letter and notified Homer that he was coming down to see him as
soon as he could get away.  "Partly on business and partly on
pleasure," the letter ended, "although I am hoping the business may
be pleasant for us both."

From this hint Calvin inferred that his appointment as keeper at
Setuckit was assured.  The crew seemed to take it for granted and
to be thoroughly satisfied at the prospect.  In a dozen ways they
made it quite plain that their commander's handling of the David
Cowes affair had proved his case, so far as they were concerned.

But the Crooked Hill sensation was destined to be more than a nine
days' wonder.  The stories in the Boston dailies were copied
elsewhere.  In New York, in Philadelphia--even as far away as
Chicago--the tale of the loss of the life crew was given columns of
space and editorials were written praising "the gallant fellows who
had died in the performance of their duty."  Benoni Bartlett, the
only one who had not died, was invariably given more space than any
one else.  Even in the halls of Congress he was talked about, for
the newest representative from Massachusetts used his name and the
loss of his fellow surfmen as texts for his maiden speech, a speech
in which he attacked the administration for shameful neglect of the
public service and general misbehavior.  The speech--the small
portion of it which was reported--was gleefully read in the mess
room at Setuckit.

"Seleucus, we're getting talked about," declared Phinney.  "Listen
to this:  'And I say to you, gentlemen, that the neglect which
causes men like these to die on the storm-eaten'--no--'beaten--
shores of the old Bay State is but another instance of the
disregard of the common people, a disregard of the worker and a
panderin' to the interests which is makin' the name of the party in
power a stench in the nostrils of decent men and women.'  Hear
that, do you?  Now, will you keep on votin' the Republican ticket?"

Seleucus, whose political adherence had remained fixed since the
candidacy of Rutherford B. Hayes, snorted defiance.

"Bah!" he exclaimed.  "Didn't say nothin' about raisin' no wages
down in this section, did he?  I presume likely not.  Who was it
saved this country in '61 and has been savin' it ever since?
'Twan't no copperhead Democrat, I'll tell you that."

"Ho, ho!  You're a stench, Seleucus.  Says so right here in the
paper.  Burn some sugar, somebody."

In Boston they were raising a fund to present Bartlett with a watch
and a chain, a gold medal, or a house and lot; the exact nature of
the reward was not yet determined, and there seemed to be marked
differences of opinion on that point, but they were bound to give
him something.

The good weather continued and the days and nights at Setuckit were
singularly free from incident.  Jupiter Pluvius, or old Boreas, or
whoever was responsible, seemed to have exhausted all his efforts
in the record-breaking storm, and to be willing to rest for the
time being.

On a Thursday, about a fortnight after the Cowes wreck, District
Superintendent Kellogg made his promised visit.  He was a square-
shouldered, burly man, whose sixty years and gray hairs had not
diminished his vigor to any appreciable extent and who knew the
life-saving game from the first deal to the final bet.  The men in
the service respected and liked him.  He was strict, but just.  He
did not overpraise and he was prompt to punish, but his punishments
were always deserved, and the culprit usually grinned in public,
even if he swore in private.  He called each one of his men by his
first name and knew all about them and their records.

Calvin Homer was very fond of him, and felt sure that the liking
was reciprocated.  Remembering the hint in the superintendent's
letter he could not help feeling a bit excited when his superior
officer's boat was sighted coming down the bay.

But the excitement proved to be unjustified.  Nothing whatever was
said about the appointment of a keeper.  Kellogg inspected the
station, watched the drill, expressed himself as satisfied, and
offered almost no suggestions.  He was not as talkative as usual,
and seemed to have something on his mind, something not altogether
pleasant, which was troubling him a good deal.

Only during the last few minutes, as he was about to sail away
again, did he even remotely hint at the appointment.

"You're doing first rate, Calvin," he said.  "I knew you would.
The men are all back of you and are contented and satisfied.  If I
had my way--"

He paused, and then repeated the last words.

"If I had my way--" he said again, and again paused.

Calvin thought he must be waiting for him to speak.

"Well, don't you have it, sir?" he suggested.  "It always seemed to
me that if anybody did about as he liked it was you, Cap'n

Kellogg sniffed.

"I generally cal'late to, that's a fact," he replied.  "I generally
figure that I know my business and expect to be left alone to mind
it.  Sometimes, though, other folks try to mind it for me.  There's
a lot of interfering damn fools in this world; did you know it?"

Homer did not know exactly how he was expected to reply to this

"Why--yes--so I've heard," he agreed.

"You've heard right.  And most of 'em have been elected somethin'
or other.  Politics are all right in town meeting or up to the
State House, but, by holy, they don't belong on the beach.  Cal,
if--if things don't turn out exactly as--as you and I know they
ought to--why . . . but, there, maybe they will.  I'll see you
again pretty soon.  You'll hear from me before long, anyhow.  Good-

He went away, leaving Homer disappointed and apprehensive.
Apparently his appointment was by no means a certainty.  Something
had interfered--politics presumably--but what politician would care
to bother with a seventy-five-dollar-a-month job in the life-saving
service?  Politics made men postmasters, of course, but so far it
had let the life-savers alone.

He worried about the matter for a time and then determined to put
it from his mind.  He had not taken a day from the beach for nearly
six weeks and, the good weather continuing, decided to go up to
Orham for an afternoon and perhaps part of an evening.  There were
some errands to be done in the village and--well, there were other
reasons which tempted him.

Peleg Myrick took him up in the Wild Duck.  Peleg was still
boastful concerning the accuracy of his prophecy in the matter of
the big gale.

"What did them Weather Bureau folks at Washington give out the day
afore she landed on us?" he wanted to know.  "Did THEY say 'twas
goin' to blow hard enough to lift the scales off a mackerel?  No,
siree, they never!  'Twas old Peleg said that.  THEY said,
'No'therly winds and cloudy,' that's what THEY said.  All right as
fur as it went, I give in; but 'twas like sayin' a young one was
freckled when he had smallpox.  _I_ said, 'It's goin' to tear loose
and let her rip and you want to stand from under.'  Folks laughed.
Seleucus Gammon, he laughed; but thinks I, 'Them that laughs last
laughs later on.'  Well, I was right, wa'n't I?  I cal'late I was.
I don't make out to call myself a weather bureau--no, nor a weather
washstand neither--but when I--"

And so on, most of the way up the bay.  Calvin paid little
attention; he had heard Mr. Myrick before.  The sole question he
asked was the usual one asked by all acquainted with the hermit,
the question asked by every summer boarder, and the answer to which
was a byword in Orham and its vicinity.  Homer knew that answer by
heart, but he asked the question merely because answering it
pleased Peleg.

"Let's see," he observed, "how is it you get your points on the
weather?  Something in your bones, isn't it?"

"That's it, that's it.  It's a gift, way I look at it.  My
grandmother she had some of it, too, but not so strong as I have.
Her bones used to ache consid'rable 'cordin' to the way the wind
was, but she never studied of it out, she never systemated it, the
way I have.  I get a--a--snitch in my starboard elbow, we'll say.
That means, gener'lly speakin', sou'west wind, more or less of it
'cordin' to the ache.  If she keeps on a-runnin' till she gets fur
as the wrist, then says I, 'Look out!  It's goin' blow hard.  Smoky
sou'wester, maybe.'  Now, when my knee gets tunin' up--"

His passenger interrupted.  "Say, Peleg," he broke in, "you must
have been a sort of all-over jumping toothache week before last."

Peleg groaned at the recollection.

"Man alive!" he declared.  "I was just one twistin' titter 'from
jibboom to rudder."

Safely landed at the Orham wharf, Homer strolled up to the village,
did his few errands at the stores, exchanged casual comments with
acquaintances and then walked briskly away.  The acquaintances
would have been glad to talk longer, had he given them the
opportunity.  The wreck and the stories in the papers were, so to
speak, dispensations of Providence to the gossips.  This was the
dull season for them and topics were scarce.  All sorts of rumors
were flying about, rumors intimately connected with the life-saving
service and the Setuckit crew in particular.  Calvin Homer might
have confirmed or denied some of these rumors had he been persuaded
to talk, but, apparently, he could not be so persuaded.  They
tried, they threw out hints, they asked leading questions, but
received no satisfaction.  He was pleasant and willing to chat on
subjects of no particular importance, but when the one absorbing
topic was broached, he, as one of them described it, "shut up like
a quahaug."

The gossips at the post office watched him as he walked out, and
one or two of them followed him as far as the door and peered after
him, as long as he was in sight.

"Headed to the south'ard, ain't he?" queried Obed Halleck, who,
occupying the most comfortable seat by the stove, had prudently
resisted temptation and remained where he was.  Seth Burgess, one
of the pair who had gone out to the platform, nodded significantly.
"South'ard it is," he answered.  "Course it ain't none of my
business, but if anybody offered to bet he was bound down in the
latitude of the Neck Road _I_ wouldn't take 'em up."

Gaius Cahoon, his comrade on the platform committee, grinned.

"Cal don't tell much more'n he figgers to, does he?" he observed.

Mr. Halleck winked.  "Not to us, he don't," he admitted.  "If you
was better lookin', Gaius, and had red hair, you might be talked to
more, I shouldn't wonder."

"If his name was Myra he would, sartin," observed Seth.  "He'll
tell Myra all there is to tell--she'll make him.  Myra generally
makes out to get what she sets out after."

"And she's set out to get him," concurred Gaius.  "Well, she's some
girl, Myra is, and smart, too.  I don't know's I blame him for
hangin' round down there.  If I was younger I might be cruisin'
down the Neck Road myself.  I was some cruiser in my day," he
added, complacently.

Burgess chuckled.  "Yes, you was, Gaius," he declared.  "And so was
I.  He, he!  You and me was a team in them times.  Do you remember
that night when we went over to the Thanksgivin' ball at Denboro?
There was a couple of girls over there that--"

The reminiscence was lengthy and given in detail.  Whenever the
narrator omitted a remark or incident Mr. Cahoon broke in to supply

Meanwhile Calvin Homer was walking down the Neck Road.  It was
nearly six o'clock, Orham's supper time.  Windows in the rear of
the houses were alight and smoke was rising from the kitchen
chimneys.  It was a crisp, fine winter evening, a snap in the air
and the early stars like electrically lighted pin holes in the
blue-black canopy of a cloudless sky.  There was almost no wind.
Calvin's conscience was as clear as the weather, so far as absence
from his post was concerned.  He had, while at the post office,
telephoned Setuckit, and learned from Gammon, who had been left in
charge, that all was well at the station.

"Stay as long as you want to, Cal," Seleucus had said over the
phone.  "Cal'late we can manage to keep house while you're
gone. . . .  Eh?  Wait a minute. . . .  Well, never mind.  Thought
maybe Wallie'd want you to see his wife and find out if she was
still ashore, but seems he ain't partic'lar.  So long."

The Neck Road was not in those days--nor is it even yet--a populous
thoroughfare.  The dwellings along it are scattered and placed well
back from the street.  The house occupied by Mrs. Serepta Fuller
and her daughter was one of the largest, of a type of architecture
inflicted upon this country in the early 'fifties, and displaying
much jig-saw ornamentation.

Calvin turned in at the gate and walked up the path to the side
door.  Before he could knock, the door was opened by Mrs. Fuller
herself, who had heard his step.  She resembled the house in some
respects, being rather large, and, for her age, still ornamental.
She welcomed the visitor warmly.

"We're so glad to see you, Cap'n Homer," she declared.  "We've been
counting on it ever since we got your letter.  Myra is as excited
as can be.  I declare you'd think it was a year since you were
here.  And it IS a long time; and we see so few people--of the
right kind, I mean.  Come right in.  Take off your things.  Supper
will be ready in just a few minutes.  Shan't I get you a cup of hot
tea or something?  It's real wintry out, isn't it?"

Homer declined the tea.  While he was removing his hat and coat
Myra Fuller came hurrying to greet him.  She was a striking-looking
young woman, her hair that "certain shade of red" which so many
like and each one describes differently, a pair of large and most
expressive blue eyes, red lips and a determined chin.  Her figure
was what her mother's had been twenty years before--in fact, Mrs.
Fuller often said that Myra was the image of herself when she was a
girl.  Those who remembered the lady when she was Sarepta Townsend
were satisfied to agree with this statement, just as they had been
satisfied with Sarepta in her day.  A great many young fellows--and
older ones, too--found Myra perfectly satisfactory.  She herself
seemed less easy to suit.

She was, owing to what her mother often referred to as their
"reduced circumstances," teaching in the Orham high school.  She
was a satisfactory teacher and a remarkably good disciplinarian.
She sang a little and played a little more and danced very well
indeed.  Why she was, at twenty-five, still single, was one of
Orham's mysteries.  The men, most of them, were certain it was not
because of the lack of opportunities; the women, practically all of
them, seemed less sure, although they expressed little discontent
with the fact itself.

Calvin Homer had, of course, known the Fullers all his life.  He
had known Myra when a schoolgirl.  Then she went away to study at
Bridgewater and he had not seen her for a long time.  After her
return he met her infrequently at dances and parties.  Rumors of
her engagement to this fellow or that had been spread about the
town, but they were always denied.  Of late he had seen her more
frequently, had called--when on liberty--and was always asked to
call again.  People wondered why Myra Fuller--an ambitious young
woman with aspirations, inherited and cultivated--should care to
bother with one as humble as a member of the life-saving service.
Captain Ziba Snow, one of Orham's influential citizens, who lived
in the big house at the corner of the Neck Road and the West Main
Road, expressed that wonder one evening at the supper table.

"I noticed Calvin Homer up street this afternoon," said the
captain.  "He's ashore on liberty--I presume likely.  And, later
on, I noticed him and Myra Fuller walking along together, sweet and
sociable as a couple of rats in a sugar hogshead.  I don't blame
him--she's a mighty good-lookin' girl; but why Sarepta Fuller's
child should be wasting time with an ordinary young chap life-
saving along shore I can't make out."

Nellie Snow, his seventeen-year-old daughter, answered his remark.

"Because he isn't a bit ordinary," she declared, with conviction.
"He is one of the handsomest and nicest fellows in Orham, all the
girls say so--and smart, too, even if he is a life-saver.  If Myra
Fuller gets him she'll be lucky.  I hope she doesn't."

Her father turned to regard her with sudden and significant

"Humph!" he said, after a moment.  That was all, but a "humph" may
express much.

Miss Fuller's welcome was as cordial as her mother's.  The supper
was a distinctly pleasant meal.  Since his own mother's death
Calvin had learned to appreciate and look forward to the
comparatively few home meals which came his way.  Life at the
station was interesting--tremendously interesting to him, or he
would not have remained there--but there was a flavor of rest and
homely comfort and domesticity about a supper like this one which
awakened memories and gratified senses which, at other times, he
was scarcely aware he possessed.  The shaded light, the table
linen, the polished knives and forks and spoons, the quiet ease of
it all--he found himself contrasting these with the bare mess room
at Setuckit, the glare of the bracket lamps and their reflectors,
the hit or miss service and the noisy jokes.  He liked his work, he
was tremendously fond of his crew, enjoyed being with them and was
proud to consider himself one of them--but this, this was different
and he liked this, too.  This supper was like the old-time suppers
at home.  It was good to hear feminine voices once more, a pleasant
change from Seleucus Gammon's gruff sallies and Josh Phinney's
strident rejoinders.

The Fullers did their best to make him feel at home.  The supper
was a good one--Sarepta and her daughter were competent cooks--and
the food was a cheerful contrast to that prepared by Ellis Badger.
Mrs. Fuller and Myra kept up a steady flow of conversation,
dealing, for the most part, of course, with the wrecks at Setuckit
and at Crooked Hill Shoal.

"We're all awfully proud of you, Calvin," declared Sarepta, beaming
above the teapot.  "We know what you did down there and everybody
has been talking about it.  I declare, it makes us proud just to
know you are such a friend of ours, doesn't it, Myra?"

Myra nodded.  "Indeed it does," she agreed.

"Everybody says that if it hadn't been for you the folks on that
schooner would have been lost, just as sure as could be.  And they
all say you are the best cap'n in the service.  Don't they, Myra?"

Miss Fuller again agreed.  Calvin thought it time to protest.

"But I'm not a cap'n," he put in.

"Yes, you are--or what amounts to the same thing.  And you're going
to be one, really, just as soon as the appointment is made."

Their guest shook his head.  "That isn't sure, by any means," he
said.  "There are plenty of others who deserve it as much as I do."

Myra's eyes flashed and her color deepened.

"Nonsense!" she explained.  "There isn't anybody like you in the

Calvin laughed aloud.  "I guess you don't know the rest of the
boys," he suggested.

"Of course I do.  I know them as well as you do--or better.  You
are head and shoulders over them all.  Look at the rest of them!
Who are they?  Just ignorant, common fishermen and lobstermen and
people like that.  They don't know anything except how to row a
dory and walk up and down the beach."

"Well, that's about all a life-saver needs to know, isn't it?"

"Perhaps so, but it isn't all YOU know, Calvin Homer.  Everybody
says you're too good for the work--everybody.  But they ARE going
to make you keeper there at Setuckit; they have got brains enough
for that."

"Well, I don't know about the brains, and I'm not so sure about--"

"Oh, don't!  It makes me cross to hear you run yourself down.  Of
course you'll be captain.  You know you will."

Mrs. Fuller put in a word.  "Myra has been SO put out about all
these things in the papers lately," she observed.  "All this
praising up of those Crooked Hill people.  It makes her provoked,
and I don't wonder.  It does me, too."

Myra's eyes snapped; they were handsome eyes and the sparkle was

"Provoked!" she repeated.  "I should think I was.  Who wouldn't be?
It is all so ridiculous.  Those people at Crooked Hill--that
Bartlett and the rest--what did they do?  Nothing--except blunder
and get themselves and every one else drowned."

"Bartlett wasn't drowned."

"Well, he deserved to be.  It was only luck that saved him.  And
yet they are printing his picture in the paper, and calling him a
hero, and goodness knows what.  It is outrageous.  YOU didn't get
yourself drowned, or your men either.  YOU ought to be in the
papers.  YOU ought to be talked about in Washington.  Oh, if I were
a man, if I wouldn't say things!"

Calvin, looking at her, was conscious of a feeling that for her to
be a man would be a pity--yes, a great pity.  He was glad that she
was not.  And, in spite of himself, he found her indignation

"Oh, now," he said, "that doesn't amount to anything, all that
newspaper stuff."

"It does, too.  It amounts to a lot, and you ought to have it.  I
wish I could see that Kellogg man.  I'd tell him what I think.  Why
doesn't HE come out and tell those newspapers the truth?  He knows
well enough.  Why don't you make him?"

Homer laughed at the idea.  "I should have a good time making Cap'n
Kellogg do anything," he said.

Miss Fuller tossed her head.

"_I_ could make him," she declared.  "I only wish I had the

"How?  What do you mean?"

Another toss of the head, a droop of the eyelids, and a little

"Oh, I could," repeated the young lady.

Her mother smiled indulgently.  "Myra's got a real convincing way
with her," she said.  "And she is so cross when she talks about
what she calls your wrongs, Calvin.  I never saw her so put out
before.  She has talked about nobody but you ever since those
newspaper stories began.  I don't know what does ail her."

Miss Fuller was prettily confused.  "Oh, mother, stop!" she
commanded.  "Don't be so silly. . . .  Now, let's forget the old
papers and talk about something else."

So they did, to their guest's relief.  Mrs. Fuller spoke feelingly
concerning bygone days, when her husband was alive and they were
"able to have things."  This led, by tortuous paths, to the
present, its inconveniences, and her daughter's capabilities as a
teacher and household manager.  After a time Myra again felt called
upon to protest.

"Oh, mother, do stop talking about me," she begged.

Sarepta bridled.

"Why shouldn't I talk about you?" she wished to know.  "You're
all the child I've got and nobody ever had a smarter or better
one. . . .  Do have another cup of tea, Cap'n Calvin."

When they rose from the table Mrs. Fuller insisted upon doing the
clearing away unassisted.

"Myra," she said, "you and the cap'n go right into the sitting room
and talk.  He'll be having to go back to the station pretty soon
and goodness knows when he'll be able to come again.  There are
only a few dishes--we never have anything but an everyday supper
when YOU come, Calvin; treat you just like one of the family, you
see--and I'd just as soon do them as not."

So Calvin and Myra went into the sitting room, the big square room
with the square piano and the black walnut set, and on the walls
the oil portraits of Sarepta's father and mother, portraits painted
by an unknown artist who should have been an undertaker.  The
hanging lamp in that sitting room gave but a dim light--Myra
declared she did not know what was the matter with the old thing--
and so, when they sat together upon the haircloth sofa to look over
the scrap-book which Miss Fuller had kept since she was a girl,
they were obliged to bend low in order to see.

The scrapbook she had brought down from her own room at Calvin's
request.  How he came to make the request he could scarcely have
told.  Miss Fuller had, for some reason, happened to mention it,
had casually spoken of her possession of such a book, soon after
they came into the sitting room.  Then they had talked about it,
just why he was not sure, for he had not at first been greatly
interested.  But the young lady said it was her chief treasure.
There were things in it she would not show to any one--oh, not for
worlds and worlds!  That is, to hardly any one.  Didn't he wish HE
might see it?  Being thus challenged, he, of course, declared he
wanted to see it.  Miss Fuller at first laughed, was provokingly
obdurate, and then flutteringly hesitant.  Would he promise not to
tell if she showed it to him?  He would.  And promise not to read
anything in it unless she gave permission?  Yes, he would promise
that.  So, after more hesitation--becoming and pretty hesitation--
the scrapbook was brought and they bent over it, sitting close
together upon the old sofa.

And, as they bent, strands of her hair brushed his cheek, he could
hear her soft breathing.  He was conscious--increasingly and
peculiarly conscious--of her nearness to him and of the perfume she
had used, of the full curve of her neck and the touch of her hands
as they turned the pages together.

There were many of these pages, some with schoolgirl pictures and
clippings from normal-school magazines and invitations to parties
and the like.  All these Miss Fuller passed by quickly, some of
them very quickly, but over the pages in the latter portion of the
book she seemed to linger just a little.  And suddenly Calvin,
bending beside her, became aware that these recent pages were
filled with clippings dealing with the exploits of the Setuckit
crew, his own crew.

There was a picture of the crew, with himself as Number One man,
prominent in the foreground.  There were long stories of wrecks
and, in each--he could not help noting--his own name was mentioned.
In two or three instances, the name was underscored in pencil.  He
felt an odd thrill.  She must be very much interested in him, this
attractive young woman beside him, to keep and treasure all these.
And why had she penciled his name more than those of his comrades?
It was flattering--yes; but to him it was more than that.  A
sophisticated person might have felt it a trifle obvious, but
Calvin was anything but sophisticated, so far as the opposite sex
was concerned.  He had been a shy boy, and he was now a man's man.
Women were scarce at Setuckit, even in the summer months, and when
they visited the station he had made it a rule to keep out of their
way.  He turned again to look at the rich gold of the head beside
him and the thrill returned--and lingered.  The rustle of the pages
ceased, the book remained open.  There was silence in the room, a
significant, dangerous silence.

It was Calvin who broke that silence, and his voice trembled a
little as he spoke.

"Why have you kept all those, Myra?" he asked, in a low tone.

She did not answer immediately, and when she did her tone, too, was
almost a whisper.

"Oh, I--I don't know," she faltered.  "I--I wanted to keep them."

"Have you read them all?"

"Yes, I--I think I know them about by heart."


"I don't know. . . .  Please don't ask me!"

So of course he did ask her.  His hand moved toward hers, clasped
it.  She did not withdraw her own.

"Why have you kept all these?" he repeated.

"I don't know, Calvin."

"But you say you know them by heart.  Do you, really?"


"Myra--I--was it because you--you liked to read about--about me?"

The golden head turned, the big blue eyes looked up into his.  As
has already been said, they were expressive eyes.

"Oh--oh, Calvin!" she breathed.

The inevitable followed as, time, place and personalities
considered, it was bound to follow.  He kissed her.  A few minutes--
or more than a few--later he came out of a giddy sort of daze to
find himself seated there upon the haircloth sofa, holding a
handsome young woman in his arms, and stammering various things--
he was not quite sure what.

But the young woman seemed to be sure.  If she also had been in a
daze there was little trace of it remaining.  She snuggled
comfortably in his arms and looked up at him again.

"Oh, Calvin," she murmured, "isn't it wonderful?"

It was wonderful, certainly, so far as he was concerned, so
wonderful that he scarcely realized what it was all about, least of
all what it really meant.  And then, at that psychological moment,
the door from the dining room opened and Mrs. Fuller entered.  If
she had been listening at the other side of that door the moment
could not have been more psychological.

She uttered a little scream.  So did Myra.  Calvin said nothing--
words were not among his possessions just then.

"WELL!  Why, I never!" gasped Sarepta.  Her daughter gently
disengaged her waist from the partially paralyzed arms encircling
it, and rose.

"Mother," she said, "Calvin and I are engaged to be married.  Isn't
it WONDERFUL? . . .  Calvin dear, it is only mother.  Can't you
speak to her?"

He could not, of course, but it really made little difference, for
Mrs. Fuller did sufficient speaking for the two.  At first she
declared she believed she should faint right straight away; but it
was an erroneous belief--she did not faint.  She exclaimed, and
choked, and wept a little, and then kissed Myra over and over
again, after which she threw her arms about Mr. Homer's neck and
kissed him.  Calvin, whose kissing experiences, outside of his own
family, had been pretty closely limited to games at boy-and-girl
parties and a few casual flirtations on straw rides or returns from
dances, was overwhelmed with guilty embarrassment.  There was no
reason why he should feel guilty, but somehow he did.  And even yet
he could scarcely comprehend the situation; the after effects of
the daze were still with him.

Mrs. Fuller wept and hugged him, and she and Myra hugged each
other, and then the former declared she was so glad she did not
know what to do.

"If I had had the picking of a son-in-law," she vowed, "I couldn't
have found a better one.  And, oh, Calvin, I don't believe even you
realize what a dear, lovely, smart wife you're going to have.  She
is a blessing.  We'll all be so happy together, won't we?"

And so on, for a time.  Then Sarepta turned to the door.  "I must
run back to my dishes," she said, and added archly, "I guess likely
you can spare me.  Engaged folks aren't very particular about
having other company around.  At least, I know _I_ wasn't when _I_
was engaged.  Of course I'll see you again, Calvin dear, before you
go.  Oh, I'm SO glad, for all our sakes!"

She went away, carefully closing the door after her.  Myra sat down
again upon the sofa and Calvin, still giddy, sat down beside her.
It was nearly ten when he rose to go.  He had told Peleg that he
would meet him at the wharf at nine, and his odd sense of guilt was
not lessened by this knowledge.  He and Myra had said many things
since her mother left them; Miss Fuller said most of them.

She had spoken of the future--their future together--but she had
spoken of his own even more.  She was very ambitious for him, she
declared.  He was going to get that appointment as keeper, that was
sure already, but that was to be only the beginning.

"You are going right on," she said with confidence, "right on up
and up.  My husband isn't going to be just a life-saver, he is
going to be more than that.  Superintendent Kellogg is getting
pretty old for such a place as he has.  He won't be there very much
longer; he'll make some mistake or other, and then some one else
will be appointed district superintendent."

Calvin protested.  "Oh, no," he said.  "Cap'n Kellogg is a fine man

She put her fingers on his lips.  "He's an old man," she insisted.
"And he's an old fool, too."

"Now, Myra--"

"He is, or he would have appointed you keeper two weeks ago.  And
he wouldn't have allowed those idiots of newspaper men to print all
those lies about that Bartlett and the rest.  I hate that

"Why?  You don't know him, do you?"

"No, but I know his daughter, or I did know her over at Bridgewater.
She was there for a little while, a freshy when I was in my senior
year.  I met her three or four times and I didn't like her a bit.
She is a silly, goody-goody thing, pretending to be too honorable to
have any fun, or--Oh, I hate hypocrites, don't you? . . .  But
there, dearest, we won't talk about her, will we?  We'll talk about
you.  I want you to promise you'll do everything you can after you
are keeper to push yourself forward.  I'll help you--oh, I can!
There are ways.  I know lots of people, and some of them--the men
especially--like me pretty well.  We'll make you superintendent some
day.  But we won't stop there.  You're not going to stay in the
life-saving service, you know."

"Well, I don't suppose I shall, always.  There isn't much future in
it.  But I shall hate to give it up.  I do like it.  The fellows in
it are--"

"They aren't your kind and you don't belong with them.  You're
going to be a rich man some day.  I always said I should marry a
rich man, and I'll make you one before I'm forty.  You just promise
me to push yourself forward all you can, and we'll show some of
those narrow, self-satisfied Orham ninnies a few things. . . .
Now, don't look so frightened, dear. . . .  Kiss me, Calvin."

They said good night at the side door, an affectionate, lingering
farewell it was, on Miss Fuller's part especially.  He was to write
her every day and she would write him.  And he must not forget his

"Keep yourself in the front of things all the time," she urged.
"If the reporters come down there don't let them talk to any one
but you.  And I shall be helping and contriving here.  You'll be
surprised at what I can do to help.  A girl that--well, that isn't
TOO homely and that knows a thing or two can help a lot.  Good
night, you dear boy.  Remember the promise."

Homer, walking briskly along the deserted sidewalks on his way to
the wharf, was in a curious state of mind.  If there was one thing
certain it was that, when he came to the Fuller home that evening,
he had no intention of leaving it an engaged man.  He had given
little thought to marriage.  His plans for the future had been
indefinite enough; they had centered about his work and the new
responsibilities of command which seemed likely to be his, and
women had no part in them.  And now--why, now one woman had taken
charge of them, would--and ought to--monopolize them.  Myra Fuller
was a pretty girl, an attractive and very clever girl, but--

There should be no "buts," he realized that keenly, and his
conscience smote him.  It was wonderful to think that such a girl
loved him; he did not understand it.  And yet she did love him; she
had said so and he must believe it.  He should be very proud.  She
was one of the most popular girls in Orham.  When other girls had
been neglected by masculine followers Myra had always had at least
one hanging about.  He remembered rumors of her engagement--or
rumors that she was "just as good as engaged"--to this fellow or
that.  And now, of all the list, she had chosen him.  As his wife--
the word smote him almost like a chill.  He was to take a wife.  He
was engaged to be married.  HE was!

She herself had suggested that the engagement be kept a secret for
the present.  He had agreed to this--had, in fact, felt a sort of
relief in agreeing.  He did not quite understand why she wished to
delay the announcement; the delay, apparently, had something to do
with those ambitious plans for his future which she talked so much
about.  It was fine of her to be so interested in him.  She had
said he was to become a rich man; she was to make him one.  He had
never dreamed of riches; the acquiring of money had never attracted
him greatly.  But it attracted her; she meant to make him rich in
spite of himself.  And she would do it--yes, when a girl like that
set out to do a thing, she would and could achieve her object.  He
felt perfectly certain of that, and with the certainty came a sense
of helplessness, almost as if he were in a trap with no way out.

His walk to the landing was not the path of glory which a
triumphant lover is supposed to tread.  The loom of the sail of
Peleg's boat at the end of the wharf brought him out of his mental
maze and Mr. Myrick's voice impatiently hailing him awoke him from
the future to the immediate reality.

"Well, so here you be at last," vouchsafed the skipper of the Wild
Duck.  "I began to think you'd got lost in the dark somewhere.
Been roostin' here over an hour, I have.  I don't know's you
realize it, but it's beginnin' to breeze on and I've got a couple
of aches in my port knee jint that means blow, if they don't mean
more'n that.  Where you been cruisin' to, anyhow?  I'm pretty nigh
froze to a crisp.  This ain't no Fourth of July night; didn't you
know it?  Good thing I had comp'ny or I'd a lost my grip on to
myself and swore a few.  Climb aboard!  Lively!  My fingers are so
numb I don't know's I can unlimber 'em enough to cast off."

To most of this tirade Homer paid no attention.  He swung over the
stringpiece of the wharf and dropped into the cockpit of the
catboat.  Then he became aware that he and Myrick were not the only
persons aboard the Wild Duck.  Some one else was seated there in
the stern near the tiller.  This individual rose to his feet.  A
heavy, bulky man he was and, against the background of starlit sky
and water, Calvin caught sight of the fringes of a thick beard
stirring in the wind.

He did not recognize the man, but he took it for granted that the
latter must be some one he knew.

"Why, hello!" he said.

The man held out a mittened hand.  His voice, when he spoke, was
deep and his method of speech what Cape Codders describe as

"How are you, Mr. Homer?" he said.  "Glad to know you."

Calvin shook the proffered hand, but he was puzzled.  The man was a
stranger.  Myrick grinned the grin of superior knowledge.

"Don't know who 'tis, do ye, Cal?" he observed.  "Well, it's
somebody that we've all heard consider'ble tell of lately.  Cal,
let me make you acquainted to Mr. Benoni Bartlett.  Crooked Hill
Shoals--you know, Cal.  He's cal'latin' to sail down to the pint
along with us, Mr. Bartlett is.  Ain't ye, Mr. Bartlett?"

Bartlett bowed, gravely and deliberately, as he seemed to do

"Goin' to ask you to take care of me at the station for a little
while, Homer," he said.  "I'm goin' down there to--well, to kind of
look things over, the Lord willin'."

Calvin stared at him.  Why was Bartlett going to Setuckit Station
to look things over?  What on earth did it mean?  What MIGHT it

The catboat swung away from the wharf.  Myrick came aft to the

"All set, be ye?" inquired Peleg.  "Um-hum.  And time enough, too,
I'd say.  Let 'er go."


During the sail down to Setuckit Peleg did most of the talking.
Bartlett seemed disinclined to converse, and his answers to
Myrick's questions were monosyllabic.  These questions dealt with
almost every conceivable topic, but centered, naturally enough,
about the great storm, and the disaster at Crooked Hill Shoal, the
tragic happening of which the Wild Duck's unexpected passenger was
the sole survivor.  And of this particular subject it was
increasingly plain that Bartlett was determined not to speak.

"You've had a turrible time, ain't you, Mr. Bartlett?" observed
Peleg, hopefully.

Silence.  Myrick tried again.

"I say, you and the Crooked Hill crew had a turrible time," he
repeated.  Still no acknowledgment.

"Eh?" persisted the hermit, by no means discouraged.  "What did you
say, Mr. Bartlett?"


"Why, just now."

"I didn't say anything."

"No, I don't know's you did, come to think of it.  I was sayin'
that you Crooked Hill fellers had a turrible time in that wreck
scrape of yours. . . .  I guess likely you didn't hear me."

"I heard you."

"Oh!  Oh, I want to know! . . .  Well--er--well--?"


"Why--why, I thought you was just goin' to say somethin' about it."

"I wasn't."

Mr. Myrick swallowed hard, opened his mouth, closed it, and then
attempted another attack, strategical this time and addressed by
way of his other passenger.

"Me and Calvin and all the boys down to Setuckit, we've been
talkin' about you Crooked Hill folks a lot lately," he observed.
"Been readin' the papers every chance we could get, ain't we,

But this move, too, was a failure.  Homer was as sparing of speech
as Bartlett.  He had no wish to talk.  He was doing a vast amount
of thinking and his thoughts were speculative and distrusting.
Benoni Bartlett, the newspaper sensation, was on his way to the
Setuckit station to "look things over."  Why?  Again he remembered
his recent talk with Superintendent Kellogg and the latter's
evident ill humor and his hint at interference in high places.  The
hint had made him uneasy at the time, but he had tried to forget
it.  Now it came back to him, with all its possible implications,
including one of which he had never dreamed as a possibility.  Even
the mental disturbance following realization of the fact that he
was engaged to be married was crowded out of his mind.  So he, too,
snubbed the garrulous Myrick.

Peleg, however, was not the type to accept a snub.  If the others
refused to talk to him, he, at least, could talk to them, and he
continued to do so.  The wind was so far but a mild and steady
breeze, and the weather, in spite of the prognostications of his
various "joints," as fine as could be wished.  His task as skipper
and pilot was, therefore, an easy one and his mind and tongue were
free.  He used the latter unsparingly.  It was not every night--or
day, for that matter--that the Wild Duck carried a real live hero,
one whose name and photograph were published abroad.  Once, years
before, he had acted as cook for a party a member of which was an
ex-governor of the state.  Peleg had talked of that happy week ever
since.  The subject was, except with strangers, utterly worn out;
his Setuckit acquaintances hailed the least reference to it with
derisive jeers.  Now, by good luck, he was thrown in contact with
another celebrity, some one else to furnish floods of embellished
reminiscence in the months to come.  So Mr. Myrick's exultant
tongue wagged alone.

Neither of his passengers paid the least attention to him.  They
sat, one on each side of the cockpit each engrossed in his own
musings.  Bartlett, his heavy beard blown by the wind and his cap
pulled down over his eyes, was a bulky shadow, mysterious, silent
and, in Homer's eyes, increasingly ominous.  Calvin, his knees
crossed and one arm resting upon the rail, stared ahead over the
water.  He lit his pipe and then, remembering that he had bought
some cigars at the store in the village, offered them to his fellow
voyagers.  Peleg seized his with enthusiasm.  Bartlett refused.

"I don't smoke," he said gravely.  "Much obliged."

Myrick thought he saw a possible crack in the social ice and jumped
at it.

"Don't care about terbacker, Mr. Bartlett?" he asked.  "Don't like
it, eh?"


"Eh?  What?  Oh, you do?  But you don't smoke?  Hum. . . .  Well,
some folks had ruther chew, I know.  And some of 'em had ruther do
both to once.  I knew a man one time--used to play the bass fiddle,
he did, along with me, up to Thanksgivin' and Fourth of July balls;
that man--"

The heavy beard lifted.  "I don't chew and I don't smoke," said
Bartlett, slowly.  "And I don't go to dancin' times, either."

"Humph!  Sho!  Don't you believe in dancin'?"

The reply was prompt this time.  "Believe!" scornfully.  "I believe
in the devil--so far as that goes."

Even Mr. Myrick was stumped for the moment.  The stumping was but
momentary, however, and, although he changed the subject, he
continued to talk.  The next time he struck fire was with what
should have been a much less inflammable topic than tobacco.  He
had wandered, by circuitous ways, back to the Crooked Hill wreck.

"Well, Mr. Bartlett," he observed, "I presume likely you ain't
feelin' quite yourself even yet, be you?"

His passenger straightened in his seat.

"What do you mean by that?" he demanded, sharply.

"Eh?  Why--why, nothin' special.  I was just thinkin' that,
considerin' all you'd been through, you couldn't scurcely be what
you'd call fit yet awhile, so--"

Bartlett lifted a big hand.  "Fit!" he repeated.  "Did anybody tell
you I wasn't fit?"

"Tell me?  Why, no, nobody told me.  I just thought--"

"I'm as fit to-day as ever I was.  As ever I was.  Do you

"Why--why, sartin I understand.  I only--well, all I meant was
that, considerin' how you'd been next door to drownded--just saved
by luck, as you might say--"

"It wasn't luck that saved me."

"No?  No-o, of course 'twasn't, not really.  Them fellers on the
beach they--"

"They didn't save me, either."

Peleg was surprised; so was Homer.

"They didn't?" cried Myrick.  "Why, do tell!  Is that so!  The
newspapers, they said--Why, who did save you, Mr. Bartlett?"

The answer was solemnly given, there was a tremendous earnestness
in it.

"God A'mighty saved me," declared Bartlett.  "Him--and nobody

Mr. Myrick gasped.  "Eh?  Sho!  Why--I never thought of HIM," he

The big beard nodded.

"Most folks don't," declared Bartlett.  "It would be better for 'em
if they did."

He did not speak again until the end of the trip was at hand.  Then
occurred an incident which, in the light of after events, was
prophetic.  At the time, however, it seemed odd--that was all.  The
Wild Duck had drawn up to her moorings in the sheltered cove in the
bay side of the point.  Peleg's dory was anchored there and he had
picked up her anchor rope with the boat hook and drawn the dory

"All ashore that's goin' ashore," he announced.  "Hop in, Cal.  Git
right aboard, Mr. Bartlett."

Homer swung over the side into the dory.  His fellow passenger
followed suit, but more slowly and carefully, and seated himself on
the after thwart.  Myrick, having lowered the sail of the catboat
and anchored her, tumbled after them with the ease and lightness of
a hippopotamus.  The dory heeled down until her rail touched the
water.  Calvin laughed.

"Great Scott, Peleg!" he exclaimed.  "You're as spry and handy as a
ton of coal, aren't you?"

Bartlett did not laugh.  He, too, uttered an exclamation, but it
was more like that of a nervous woman.

"Careful!" he cried, sharply.  "Look OUT!"

It was not so much the words as the tone which was odd.  Homer
stared at him in surprise.  Even Myrick seemed to share the
surprise, for he, too, stared.

"Sit still, you!" snapped Bartlett.

Peleg grinned as he fitted the oars between the thole pins.

"Sartin sure, Mr. Bartlett," he agreed.  "Settin' still is my job
for a few minutes now.  Think I was goin' to upset ye, did ye?
Well, I ain't.  This old dory of mine is kind of a crank, if you
aren't used to her, but she'll stay right side up, give her her own
way.  Strangers, though, she makes 'em kind of fidgety sometimes
and I don't know's I blame 'em."

The passenger in the stern laughed then, and in an uneasy and
embarrassed fashion.  It was the first time Homer had heard him
laugh, and even now he seemed to do it with an effort.

"I began to think I was in for another spill," he explained.  "So
this is Setuckit, eh?  I haven't been here for over ten years."

They landed on the beach, said good night to Myrick, who was booked
for another long sail before reaching his home moorings opposite
his shanty, and walked together through the heavy sand up to the
station.  The mess room was untenanted, all the crew, except the
man on beach patrol and the watchman in the tower, having turned in
hours before.  Bartlett looked about the room with interest.

"Keep things taut and shipshape aboard here, don't you?" he
observed.  "Well, I cal'late I'll go aloft and turn in myself.
I presume likely you've got an empty berth up in the spare room,
haven't you?"

Homer told him that the room was empty; it had been unoccupied
since the departure of the men from the David Cowes.

Bartlett nodded.  "First rate," he said.  "Well, I'll sleep there,
then--for to-night, anyhow.  I'm goin' to stay here for a day or so
and er--well, look around, same as I said.  You and I'll have some
talks together to-morrow or next day."

Homer offered to go up with him and light the lamps, but the offer
was declined.

"I guess likely I know the ropes aboard here," was the answer.
"I've been in the service long enough to know 'em.  Thank you just
the same.  Good night."

Slowly and heavily the bulky figure climbed the stairs.  Calvin
watched it go.  Then he sat down by the stove to think.  His
thoughts were more bewildering than ever and no more pleasant.
When, a half hour later, he passed the door of the spare room--the
quarters for wrecked sailors--on his way to the tower, he noticed
that the door of that room was ajar and that the lamp was still
burning.  Glancing in as he passed, he saw Benoni Bartlett seated
beneath the bracket lamp reading a book.  It was a small, leather-
bound book, and Homer judged it to be either a pocket Bible or a

Next morning the appearance of the unexpected guest at the
breakfast table aroused tremendous interest and much speculative
gossip among the men.  The guest himself was as uncommunicative as
Myrick and Homer had found him the previous night.  He was
agreeable enough in his solemn way and answered when spoken to--on
all subjects except those dealing with the Crooked Hill tragedy and
his own narrow escape.  Of these he simply would not talk.  He
inspected the station and its surroundings thoroughly and without
waiting for an invitation.  The barn, the horses, the boats and
their appurtenances, all these he seemed to find most interesting.
This interest, considering the fact that he had spent years of his
life in the life-saving service, was deemed peculiar, to say the

Seleucus Gammon, watching his chance, spoke to Homer concerning it.

"What in the nation is he loafin' down here at Setuckit for, Cal?"
demanded Seleucus.  "Just now I caught him in the boat room pawin'
over the breeches buoy gear.  'How do you like the looks of 'em?'
says I, lookin' to see him squirm a little mite; 'most anybody
would, you know, bein' caught nosin' around where 'twan't any of
his partic'lar business.  But no, sir-ee!  Crimustee!  Nary a
squirm did HE squirm.  Just said everything 'peared to be all
right, fur's he could see; and that's all he said.  I swear if he
didn't seem to be waitin' for me to clear out so's he could do some
more pawin'.  I said one or two more things and he never said
nothin', so after a spell I had to go.  But what's it all mean?
What's he here for?  Who told him to come?"

Calvin shook his head.  "I don't know any more about it than you
do, Seleucus," he said.  "He's here--to look things over, that's
what he told me.  And that's all he told.  Of course he wouldn't
have come on his own accord.  Probably we shall know more by and

"Humph!  Maybe.  But what do you cal'late it means?"

"Don't know, Seleucus.  And there isn't much use guessing."

"I cal'late not. . . .  But say, Cal, he's a queer critter, ain't
he?  I'd heard he was, and maybe this narrer squeak of his has made
him queerer.  Don't talk much, and don't laugh once in a dog's age.
Only time I see him get the least mite stirred up was when Josh
Phinney hove out some joke or other about Noah and the ark.  Josh
was sayin' he cal'lated old Noah must have took some of the animals
aboard in the breeches buoy, 'long towards the last of the high
water.  'Twan't much of a joke, but 'twas as good as most of Josh's
reg'lar run.  The rest of us laughed, but old Bologny--that's what
the gang is beginnin' to call him behind his back; Bologny sausage,
you know--Bologny never laughed; no sir!  Phinney winked at us
fellers, and asked him if he didn't think 'twas prob'le that Noah
shot a line over the tree where the monkeys was and took 'em off
that way.  Now if it had been me I'd have said that one thing was
sartin, he got 'em aboard somehow, because one of their great,
great grandchildren was settin' right in front of me.  But all
Bologny done was get up and go out.  Well, I always heard he was
pious as Jabez Lothrop's dog that wouldn't eat his Sunday dinner
nowheres but on the meetin'-house back steps.  Humph! . . .
What did you say, Cal?"


"Ain't much use of sayin' anything, is there?  The boys are sayin'
it, though.  Josh vows he cal'lates Bologny must have been one of
Noah's fo'mast hands.  Says his whiskers remind him of some of the
pictures in the Sunday-school books. . . .  Say, Cal--"

"Well?  What is it?"

"Cal," Seleucus was serious enough now, "you don't s'pose it's
possible that--that Superintendent Kellogg's gone crazy, do you?"

"What do you mean?"

"I shouldn't wonder if you know what I mean.  Don't you?"

Homer hesitated, "I don't know anything," he answered after a
moment.  "And if I did it wouldn't be my business--or yours--to
talk about it."

"Humph!  Well, all we can do is wait and see, I s'pose likely, same
as the old woman waited for the pullet to lay so's to make sure the
critter wa'n't a rooster. . . .  Ah hum!  I always knew there was a
lot of plaguy fools in this world, but it don't hardly seem as if
the plaguiest ones could be plaguy enough to--All right, A-ALL
right; I'm through.  But don't worry, Cal; this crew's behind you."

All that day Calvin waited, expecting one of the promised "talks"
with his visitor.  But the latter made no move toward a
confidential interview.  He was, as always, quiet, solemn and for
the most part gentle of speech and mild in demeanor.  He treated
Homer with marked politeness, but he made no explanation concerning
the real reason for his visit.

And on the following forenoon, the mystery was solved.  Kellogg
drove down the beach in the buggy behind a sturdy little bay horse.
It needed but a glance at his superior's face to show Calvin that
the district superintendent was not in a pleasant frame of mind.
His first question was concerning Bartlett's whereabouts.  The
latter was, at that moment, in the boat room and thither went
Kellogg, closing the door behind him.  The two men remained there
for more than half an hour.  When the superintendent emerged he
looked more gloomy than when he entered.  He laid a hand upon
Homer's arm and motioned toward the keeper's room.

"Come along with me, Calvin," he said.  "I want to talk, with you."

They entered the bedroom and sat down.  Homer upon the bed and
Kellogg on the only chair.  There they looked at each other.
Kellogg seemed to find it hard to begin the conversation, but as
his companion remained silent he was obliged to begin.  He drew a
long breath and spoke.

"Calvin," he said, "I've got some bad news for you.  I never found
that it did any good to mope around and growl when I had the
toothache; better have the thing out and be done with it.  Benoni
Bartlett is going to be keeper of this station.  He's got the
appointment and the only question was whether, after he'd come down
here and looked the place over, he'd want to take it.  He does want
to take it--fact is, he's just told me that he has made up his mind
to take it--so that's settled.  He's the new keeper here at

Calvin did not answer; at the moment he had no comment to make.
It was what he had feared, what he had increasingly expected ever
since his meeting with Bartlett aboard the Wild Duck.  The
confirmation of his forebodings, however, was not the less a shock.
The injustice of it and the bitter disappointment were overwhelming.
He did not trust himself to speak--yet.  There were many things to
say, and he intended to say them, but he would let Kellogg finish

His feelings showed in his face and the superintendent needed no
words to understand them.  He leaned forward and laid a hand upon
the young man's knee.

"I don't want you to blame me for this, Cal," he said, earnestly.
"Speaking between ourselves here, with the door shut, I don't mind
telling you that you can't feel any worse about it than I do.  It's
a shame and, if it would do any good, I'd write those fellows at
Washington a letter that would blister the paper, and finish up by
handing in my resignation.  I'm district superintendent down here
and I generally figure to know what's what and who's who a whole
lot better than a parcel of politicians.  I recommended you as high
as I ever recommended any man for any job.  You were in line for
keeper here.  You were fit for it; you'd earned it; the men wanted
you and I wanted you.  As a general thing the department lets me
have my way and my word goes.  But here was a case where, for once,
it didn't go.  'Twas the papers and the politicians that did us
both.  Bartlett's been played up as a hero from Dan to Beersheba.
He's been preached about and speeched about every since he was
lucky enough to be hauled out of the surf there at Crooked Hill.
He'd got to be rewarded--that's all there was to it.  And some
smart Aleck decided that the fitting reward for him was to make him
skipper of the newest and best station on this section of the
coast.  So they shoved you and me to one side and made him that.
And now he IS keeper.  See how it was, don't you?"

Calvin nodded.  "I see," he said, shortly.  "I don't blame you,
Cap'n Kellogg."

"I don't want you to.  But let me say this much more:  Last time
I talked with you I could see what was in the offing and I did my
level best to steer it off on another tack.  They were bound to
make Bartlett cap'n of something and I suggested making him keeper
of his old station, at Crooked Hill Shoal.  Nothing doing.  Crooked
Hill was a smaller station than this one, not so new nor so well
found.  And, for some reason or other, Bartlett himself didn't want
to go there.  Just why he didn't I'm not sure.  He was always queer
and cranky, but since his narrow squeak he's been queerer and
crankier still.  He won't talk about Crooked Hill, won't go near
the place, acts--well, if you asked me, I'd say he acted scared of
the very name of it.  He wouldn't hear of being captain of a
Crooked Hill crew, that was that.  But when the dumb fools at
Washington--is that door shut tight?--when they nosed in and began
to talk of Setuckit he pricked up his ears.  And now it's gone
through. . . .  Calvin, what are you going to do about it?"

Homer smiled.  "I'm going to look for another job," he said.

"Meaning you're going to quit the service?"

"Of course."

"I expected to hear you say so, but I'm hoping you'll change your

"Why should I?  Look here, Cap'n Kellogg.  I hope I'm not a
quitter, generally speaking, but here is a case where quitting is
the only sensible thing for me to do.  I like this job here.  I
don't know why I do, but I do, and if I had been made cap'n of this
crew I should have stayed on and done my darndest to make good.
How long I should have stayed I don't know, for of course I realize
that there is mighty little future in it, but I'd have stayed for a
good while; until I decided I must make the move that I shall have
to make some time.  But now--well, this looks like the time,
doesn't it?"

"Maybe it does--maybe it does, Cal, in a way.  But you know what
all hands will say, don't you?  They'll say that, when you couldn't
play the game your own way, you took your dolls and went home.  You
won't call it that; maybe I won't; but about everybody else will."

"Let them; I shan't care."

"Oh, yes, you will, you'll care a lot.  It's no fun to be misjudged
and lied about.  You might lick some of the liars, but you couldn't
lick 'em all, and two thirds of the lying will be done behind your
back.  You say you like the service, and I know you do; you and I
are made that way--we can't help liking it.  You tell me you were
bound to quit it some time.  Well, I guess likely that's pretty
good judgment, for an ambitious young fellow.  But when you do quit
you'll find considerable satisfaction in doing it just when you
want to, not when other folks expect you to. . . .  Eh?  What is

Calvin had smiled again, a sudden and bitter smile.  Kellogg was
talking to him much as he--Homer--had talked to Wallie Oaks that
day of the big storm.  The irony in the situation was, in its way,
funny.  But the smile lasted only a moment.

"I suppose you're right, Cap'n," he admitted.  "All you say is true
enough, but the fact is that this business--oh, I guessed it when
Bartlett came here; even before that, when you were here last--this
business has made me sick of the whole game.  I thought the United
States Life-Saving Service was one line that was out of politics.
I'm no politician.  I don't belong with 'em.  I'm going to try for
a job ashore.  I ought to be getting on in this world, if I'm ever
going to.  It is high time I did, I guess. . . .  There are reasons
why I must."

Kellogg regarded him with interest.  "Special reasons?" he asked.
"What do you mean?"

Homer had said more than he meant to say.  He had been thinking
aloud and the last sentence had slipped by his guard.  He hastened
to protest.

"Oh, nothing, nothing," he evaded.  "I guess I didn't mean anything
in particular, Cap'n."

"Humph! . . .  Well, here's another thing for you to consider
before you hand in your papers.  This isn't the only open job in my
district.  Maybe I've got a little influence left, in spite of
politics.  Somebody's got to be keeper at Crooked Hill.  How would
you like to go down there, Cal?"

Calvin's reply was prompt and decisive.

"I don't know how I should like it," he said.  "I do know I
wouldn't take it if it was offered me.  This was my station--and
the only one I care about."

Kellogg nodded.  "I understand," he said.  "I thought likely you'd
feel that way.  I didn't think you'd be interested in 'seconds.'  I
shouldn't if I was in your shoes.  But, Homer, there is one thing
you ought to care about.  Something that, knowing you, I honestly
believe you do care about, same as I care--it's the good of this

He had lighted a cigar.  Now, tossing it, still alight and
smoldering, upon the little table, he leaned forward once more and
tapped his friend's knee with his forefinger.

"The good of the United States Life-Saving Service," he repeated.
"That service you was talking about a minute ago.  I'm not much a
hand to preach sermons--I ain't a minister, and you know it, boy--
but sometimes I do feel like climbing into the pulpit and letting
her go.  What keeps men like you and me on the jobs we've got?  It
isn't the pay--God knows we don't get any pay worth talking about.
We get into the work, first because of the--of the--well, of the
kind of risk and snap and fun there always is in taking chances,
and then we stay in it because we like it better than anything
else.  And pretty soon we don't think of anything BUT the work and
shoving it through.  Don't think of our own selves hardly at all,
do we?  Course that don't hold with the bulk of surfmen, lots of
them are here to-day and gone to-morrow; but it does hold with
fellows like Oswald Myrick, and me--and you, unless I'm mighty
mistaken.  That being the case, when things don't go as we want 'em
to, it looks to me as if we didn't have any right to jump overboard
and wade ashore.  We ought to stick by the boat closer than ever.
Calvin, you've got to stay down here at Setuckit, a spell anyhow,
on just one account--the good of the service. . . .  Where did I
heave that cigar?"

He found the cigar, which had fallen to the floor, relighted it,
and gazed intently at his friend, plainly anxious to see what
impression his "sermon" had made.  And it was just as plain that it
had made little or none.  It did resemble the preachment Calvin had
delivered to Oaks--Calvin himself was obliged to admit that--but
this--this was different.  He was still stubborn.

"I can't see that my staying here will help the service," he said.
"And, honestly, Cap'n, I think it is time I thought about myself a

"Maybe it is, in a way, but in another way it isn't.  The service--"

Homer interrupted.

"The service hasn't thought much about me, I should say," he broke
in impatiently.  "Why should I think of it?"

"Because you should.  Hang it all, Cal, you know you ought to.  It
hasn't thought of me--much.  It has turned down the strongest
recommendation I ever made.  Turned it down flat.  I'm as mad over
this thing as you are and, just like you, I was all for resigning.
But I've made it a habit to think a spell before I act and, after I
had thought, I decided I couldn't resign.  'Twas my job to stay and
keep the craft off the shoals.  And it's yours, too.  You're going
to be needed, or I miss my guess."

Calvin looked at him and the look was returned, intently and

"Just what do you mean by that?" demanded Homer.

"What I say.  Cal, how much have you seen of this Bartlett?"

"Seen of him?  Why, I sailed down with him in Myrick's boat, and I
have talked with him a dozen times since.  What do you--"

"Wait!  I'm going to tell you.  Have you noticed anything funny
about him?"

"Why, I don't know.  He is a sort of crank on the Bible.  The men
have noticed that.  Any one would notice it."

"I know.  He's that, and always was; but more so since the wreck
scrape.  But have you noticed anything else?  Pretty--er--well,
nervous sometimes, isn't he?"


"Yes.  I ran across Peleg Myrick driving down just now and Peleg
told me how Bartlett yelled at him to be careful when you fellows
got aboard the dory.  Course he told me a lot more than that--he'd
have been talking yet, if I'd stopped to listen--but he did tell
that about the dory.  You noticed it, of course?"

"Why--yes, I noticed that he did seem rather--er--nervous then, as
you say."

"Um-hum.  And he's been as nervous as that every time we have
talked about the wreck and the upsetting of the lifeboat.  He
doesn't want to speak of that, and when he and I drove down to
Crooked Hill from Trumet a little while ago he acted so queer that
I couldn't keep my eyes off him.  I caught him standing staring off
at the breakers where the schooner went to pieces--and it was a
cold day, but I give you my word the sweat was standing out on his
forehead like melting frost on a window."

"I don't know that that was so queer, considering how near he came
to being drowned with the rest in those very breakers."

"Maybe not.  Maybe not; but there was a look in his eyes that I
didn't like.  I've seen that look in a man's eyes before, and--Cal,
sometimes a close shave same as Benoni Bartlett has been through
has an effect that you wouldn't expect.  Particularly where the man
is as high strung and odd as this fellow has been ever since I've
known him--yes, and getting more so every year.  Sometimes--and
I've seen cases--a thing like that gets a man--'gets his goat,' as
the boys tell about.  If it does get it, get it good, he--well,
that man isn't liable to be the right one to take out a Setuckit
life crew in gales such as we have down here. . . .  There!  I
shouldn't say this to anybody but you.  And of course you'll keep
it under your hat."

"Of course.  But, see here, Cap'n, you don't think--"

"I don't think anything--special.  The appointment wasn't mine, and
I've told you so.  But this district is mine, and this station is
under me, and I'm responsible for it.  Calvin Homer, I want you to
stay here, for a while anyhow, as Number One man of this crew.  I
can depend on you and the crew depend on you, too.  Will you stay

Homer was silent.  Kellogg waited a moment and then made another

"There's one thing more I might say," he went on.  "Politics or
not, the skipper of one of my crews has got to make good.  There'll
be no favorites played while I'm district superintendent.  Now
Bartlett will probably make good enough.  But if he doesn't--well,
then I WILL have the say as to who takes his place.  And you know
who that will be."

This move was a mistake.  Calvin frowned.

"Never mind that," he said.  "I shouldn't stay anywhere with the
idea of taking another man's place."

"Nobody expects you to," sharply.  "Leave yourself out of it for a
minute, can't you?  Your own concerns don't count a mite.  Neither
do mine, in one way.  What does count is what I've been preaching
at you for half an hour--the good of the service.  _I_ tell you the
good of the service calls for a man down here just now that this
crew knows and likes and will stand by.  They don't know Bartlett
yet.  They do know you.  If you've GOT to have something personal
in it--why, I'll be the person.  _I_ want you to promise me you'll
hang on here as Number One man for three months, anyhow.  _I_ need
you.  You can cuss the service if you want to, but stick by it for
three months--and stick by me.  Come--will you?"

For the first time Homer's determination was really shaken.  He
liked and respected his superintendent; every man in the service
did that.  Kellogg he counted as a firm friend, and, in spite of
his assumed indifference, the appeal to his loyalty to the service
was effective also.  He hesitated.

Kellogg grinned, and sighed in relief.

"You will," he said.  "I thought you would.  And I don't believe
you'll lose out in the long run.  You stay the three months and
then we'll see."

"But--er--how do you know Bartlett will want me as his Number One?"

"'Cause he said he did just now.  Told me he liked what he'd seen
of you first rate and did hope you'd stay.  But if he didn't it
wouldn't make any difference.  I want you as Number One, don't I?
Damn it all, man! do you think the politicians have taken ALL the
backbone out of me?  My name is Cyrus G. Kellogg, by holy!  When I
change it to Mush and Skim Milk I'll let you know."

Even then the matter was by no means settled.  The most that Calvin
would concede was that he would think matters over and give his
decision to his superior before the latter's departure.  Kellogg,
however, seemed satisfied.

"That's all right," he declared.  "I'll be here till after dinner.
You can say yes then, just as well as now, if you'd rather. . . .
There!  I feel considerable better.  Now we'll go and give
Bartlett a few points.  He's going to ride up to the main along
with me.  He'll be down to-morrow or next day to take charge."

His optimism concerning the decision was justified.  When dinner
was over Calvin took his friend aside and gave the latter his
promise to remain at Setuckit as Number One man until the first of
March.  It was now the middle of December.

"But I tell you, Cap'n," he added, "I still don't like the idea a
bit.  The way you argued it I don't see how I can do anything else,
but I don't like it.  And you didn't say so, but I realize that you
have another reason, besides those you mentioned, for wanting me to
stay a while.  You figure the crew--some of them--will flare up a
little at having an outsider rung in as skipper, and you're hoping
I can smooth them down.  I'll do what I can, of course.  But I do
think it puts me in a rotten position."

Kellogg slapped him on the shoulder.  "It puts you in just the
right position--for now," he vowed.  "And I'll put you in a better
one the first chance I get.  And, meantime, I shall sleep a little
better nights.  Thanks, Calvin. . . .  And now--here's another
tooth to be hauled--we'll collect Benoni and break the news to the

The crew--even the man in the tower was called down for the moment--
were brought into the mess room and there the superintendent told
them of the new appointment.

"Cap'n Bartlett is to be your skipper now," he said, in conclusion.
"The rest of you will keep your rankings just as they are, with
Homer as Number One.  I shall count on every one of you to do your
best for the new keeper and for me.  Anybody that doesn't will hear
from me in a hurry.  Now maybe Cap'n Bartlett would like to say a

Bartlett, thus appealed to, stepped forward.  He was as grave and
unsmiling as ever, and his eyes, beneath their heavy, grizzled
brows, regarded the group before him.

"Men," he said, "I didn't take this appointment without a whole lot
of prayerful thinkin'.  It does seem to be a call on me that I
hadn't ought to put by.  I've got a daughter and she seems anxious
to have me get on, and I'm takin' it full as much for her sake as
my own.  Course I realize that, same as Cap'n Kellogg says, I've
got to count on you to help.  You'll find me, I cal'late, a just
man to them that do justly by me and their work.  I ain't liable to
be very strict--it ain't my way to be--but of course I can't stand
for any rum drinkin' or nothin' like that.  Rum's a curse--one of
the worst on earth--and sailors and men alongshore suffer from it
full as much or more 'n anybody.  I've been life-savin' a long
spell and I tell you I've seen--"

He had raised his hand in a gesture, but Kellogg touched his
shoulder and, with a start, he dropped it and turned.  The
superintendent whispered and Bartlett nodded.

"Yes--yes, that's so," he said, in acknowledgment of the whisper.
"Cap'n Kellogg says he and I have got to be goin'," he added,
turning to the men.  "So I sha'n't say any more now--nor any other
time," with an apologetic smile.  "I cal'late we'll all be too busy
to make speeches or listen to 'em.  I'll do my best to be square
with you, and you will with me, I know.  And, with the good Lord's
help, we'll make a go of it. . . .  Er--I guess that's about all."

A few minutes later he and the superintendent climbed into the
buggy and moved away up the beach.  The men, silent so far, watched
them go.  But Homer was quite aware--and the expressions on their
faces proved it--that they would not remain silent long.  There
would be talk enough as soon as they recovered from their
astonishment.  Would it be talk and nothing more serious?  That was
the question which troubled him most.  His foot was on the
threshold of his own room--the room which, in a day or two, he must
relinquish to another man--but he turned back.

"See here, boys," he said, earnestly, "I want you to listen to me a
minute.  We're going to have a new skipper here and when he comes
I'll be Number One man again; but until he shows up I'm in charge.
And I don't want any growling or fool business.  Now get to your
work.  Rogers, you're on watch in the lookout, aren't you?  Tumble
up there, lively.  Peleg says we're going to have a blow before
night.  He may be right--he is sometimes.  On the job, all hands."

He did not wait to see what effect his orders may have had, but
went into the skipper's room.  As he closed the door he heard one
word, it was Josh Phinney who uttered it.

"HELL!" exclaimed Josh.  That was all, but no more, and no deeper
disgust could have been expressed in a volume.

All the rest of that day a gunpowdery atmosphere pervaded the
Setuckit Life-Saving Station.  It was apparent always; wherever
Calvin happened to be he was aware of it.  In the mess room, in the
kitchen, on the beach during signal drill--wherever a group of the
crew were gathered, there was always that air of sullen rebellion
and obstinate discontent.  During supper, usually the jolliest of
station meals, the jokes were few and most of these Homer himself
supplied.  The men ate in silence, with occasional mutterings or
sidelong whispers.  But when they were alone, when he was not of
the company, he knew they talked much.  Seleucus Gammon admitted
it, under cross-examination.  Calvin called Seleucus into his room
and there the admission was made.

"Of course the fellers are sore," grumbled Gammon.  "Why wouldn't
they be?  The heft of 'em are like me, they've been at Setuckit a
long time.  Oaks is the only new one and he ain't much account and
shouldn't ought to be here, by rights.  We had Oz Myrick as skipper
for years.  He was a good man, one of our own crowd and the boys
liked him and was for him.  They like you, too, Cal--you're one of
the gang they know--and all hands figgered you'd be made keeper,
and they wanted you to be.  But now they've put this Bartlett over
us, a feller from outside.  What for?  That's what all hands are
askin'.  What for?  Kellogg--"

Homer interrupted.  "You mustn't blame Kellogg," he said.  "Not a
bit.  He is under orders, same as the rest of us, and he obeys
those orders and keeps his mouth shut.  That's what you fellows are
expected to do, and you will--as long as I am in charge, anyhow."

Seleucus flapped an enormous paw in protest.  "Who said we
wouldn't, Cal?" he demanded.  "YOU won't have no trouble.  It's
this draggin' in a whisker-faced, Bible-backed outsider that makes
the row.  And shovin' an able man like you to one side.  Why--"

"Hold on there!  I'm the one who was shoved aside, as you call it.
And that is my business and not yours nor Josh Phinney's.  You say
you're for me.  That's what you said, wasn't it?"

"You bet, Calvin!" with enthusiasm.  "We're on your side, every man

"All right.  Then do what I tell you to do, and go to work and shut
up.  And when Cap'n Bartlett gets here give him as fair a show as
you would have given me.  If you want to prove you are on my side
prove it that way."

Seleucus pulled his mustache.  "I don't blame you for bein' touchy,
Cal," he said, with an air of sympathetic tolerance which was
exasperating.  "Heave ahead and lay into me all you want to.  I can
stand it; I feel just the same as you do."

Calvin's patience was on a hair trigger that afternoon.  "Oh, get
out, you idiot!" he ordered.  "But if you or any one else shirks on
his job and I find it out I'll make him step lively.  And if you
take my advice you'll stop growling and whispering and behave
yourselves.  As for the skipper's appointment, do as I'm going to
do--forget it."

Which was comparatively easy as advice to give others, but
tremendously hard for the adviser to live up to.  Calvin could not
forget; he thought of little else during his waking moments, and
they were many, that night.  Myrick's prophesied "blow" amounted to
little or nothing.  The fair weather continued and the crew were
not called out.  Homer devoutly wished they might be.  A risky
launching and a hard, strenuous adventure in the line of duty would
be heaven-sent distractions just then.  Disappointment, resentment--
yes, and discouragement, were his and he could not shake them off.
A dozen times he repented of his promise to Kellogg.  How could he
hang on here, wasting his time, for another three months?

And what would Myra Fuller say when she heard the news?  She had
promised to marry him--he had promised to marry her.  The thought
of that promise and what it meant was more overwhelming than all
else.  Myra was ambitious; she had boasted of it.  She was, most of
all, ambitious for him.  He was to make good--in the service first
and in larger fields of endeavor afterward.  She had declared that
she would make him successful--and the first step toward that
success was to have been his captaincy at Setuckit.  He groaned at
the thought of her disappointment.  She was a wonderful girl--so
clever and handsome, and so greatly sought after.  Why she should
have chosen him he could not comprehend, had given up trying to do
so.  But she had so chosen and he ought already to be proving
himself worthy of his luck.  And now, within a few hours of their
betrothal, she would learn that he had been passed over and the
appointment upon which they had both counted had gone to another.
If it had happened before--if Kellogg had told him the truth when
he came to Setuckit on his former visit, if he had spoken out
instead of hinting--then--why, then he and Myra might not have
become engaged.  He might not have called at the Fuller house,
would not have felt like calling anywhere, and the disappointment
would have been his alone and, therefore, so very much easier to
bear.  Almost he found himself wishing that he had not made that
call.  Then he realized that such a wish was ungrateful and
disloyal--even dishonorable.

It was a pretty bad night, and he was glad when morning came.  A
clear, bright morning it was, so the distraction of hard work for
him and the discontented crew was not likely to come that day.  The
discontent and undercurrent of rebellion were just as evident at
breakfast.  His pointed counsel to Gammon had had apparently no

Yet a distraction did come that forenoon and in an unexpected way.
A distraction not so much for him as for the crew and, in
particular, for Seleucus.  The latter's brother-in-law, a man named
Philander Jarvis, was what Cape Codders call a "boat fisherman."
He owned a catboat and went off to the fishing banks along Orham's
borders after cod.  He made his trips daily, except on Sundays,
winter and summer, and it took more than an ordinary gale to keep
Philander on shore.  He owned a shanty, a tiny four-room house at
Setuckit, within a few hundred yards of the station.  This
particular fall, and thus far into December, he had been making his
daily voyages from South Orham, and living with his sister Jemima--
Seleucus's wife--at the Gammon home in that village.

It has been already noted in this chronicle that Seleucus was a
married man.  The casual stranger, seeing how closely he stuck to
his work at the Setuckit Station, how seldom he visited the
mainland, and how infrequently he availed himself of the one day in
nine, the "shore liberty" allotted each surfman under the
regulations, might never have suspected the fact that he possessed
a wife.  But he did--or she possessed him--and all Orham knew it
and had talked and chuckled over it for years.  Seleucus was quite
aware of the gossip and the chuckles, but he never joined in them.
The jibes which he failed to appreciate were those dealing with
matrimony.  The surest way to stir him to wrath was to hint that
his excuses for remaining at the station when he might be at home
were rather flimsy.  One sly reference to that effect and Seleucus
was ready to fight.  He boasted loudly of Jemima's smartness as a
money-saver and housekeeper; he often remarked that he missed her
"like fury," and when the first of July came and the crew--the
keeper excepted--left Setuckit for their month's vacation, he was
loud in proclaiming joy at the prospect of getting back to the
society of his life partner.  But when, at the beginning of August,
the rest of the crew returned to duty, they usually found that Mr.
Gammon had arrived there a day ahead, and with a more or less
plausible excuse for so doing.

Never, except on rare occasions, and then only to particular
friends like Calvin Homer, did he even intimate that his married
life was not a dream of bliss.  Once--during Captain Myrick's
illness, when the latter's wife was at the station--Homer had found
him, an open letter in his hand, gazing dolefully from the tower

"What's the matter, Seleucus?" Calvin asked.  "You look as if you
had given up hope.  Bad news from home?"

Seleucus stuffed the letter into his pocket and turned away from
the window.

"Cal," he demanded, with apparent irrelevance, "do I look like a
fellow that would be liable to try to be shinin' up to an old
married woman with a sick husband?"

Calvin laughed.  "I shouldn't say that you did--no," he replied.

"I guess not.  And there ain't no other females--except hens and
cats--down in this neighborhood this time of year, is there?"

"Not many."

"Many?  There ain't nary one.  Then what's the use of heavin' out
hints about not knowin' what I may be up to, and the like of that?
And all on account of my not writin' no letters for three weeks.
Crimus!  One letter a month ought to be enough for anybody--anybody
that's married, anyhow.  And 'why don't you get liberty days same
as the other men?--It looks pretty suspicious to me.'  Why don't I?
With all I have to do down here, now Cap'n Ozzie's laid up!

On the forenoon of the day following the announcement of Bartlett's
appointment, Homer happened to be in the keeper's room, writing a
letter to Myra.  It was a letter he dreaded to write, for in it he
would be obliged to tell her of the dashing of their hopes.  It was
a hard task, but he had rather she learned the news from him than
from any one else, so he settled himself to it.  The letter was
scarcely begun when he heard a commotion outside the station.  Some
one was running up the beach, shouting as he came.

The men in the mess room heard the shouts and Calvin heard them
rising and moving to the door.  Then that door was flung open and
Hezekiah Rogers's voice was raised in delighted announcement.

"Oh, boys!" yelled Rogers.  "Boys, here's the best fun since they
killed the pig.  Haw, haw, haw!  Who do you think's just come--come
here to Setuckit to stay the rest of the winter?  Haw, haw!  If it
ain't rich, then _I_ don't know!"

They demanded, in concert, to be told what he was talking about.
Who had come?

Hezekiah's joy made him scarcely articulate, but he did his best.

"Philander Jarvis has just landed," he proclaimed, "come down in
his catboat, he did.  He's goin' to open up his shanty and go
coddin' from here, 'stead of South Orham. . . .  Oh, hold on a
minute! that ain't nothin'; the rich part's astern.  Who do you
cal'late's come to keep house for him?  Come to live right next
door?  Haw, haw, haw!  Jemima Gammon, that's who.  Seleucus spied
'em from the tower and he was down to the beach when they landed.
You'd ought to see his face.  He's there now, helpin' get the
dunnage ashore.  Come on, fellows, quick!"

There was a howl of ecstasy from the mess room and a tumultuous
exit.  Calvin, leaving his letter, rose and followed.  In the cove
the Jarvis fishing boat was anchored, a dory was pulled up on the
beach, and from that dory Mr. Gammon and a stolid individual whom
Homer recognized as Philander Jarvis were lifting bundles and a
battered trunk.  Superintending the trunk's transfer was a little,
sharp-featured woman, with a protruding chin, and lips which
snapped together like the spring lid of a tin tobacco box.
Surrounding the trio was the group of delighted life savers.

The little woman's lips were shut only occasionally.  For the most
part they were open and words--many words--issued from between

"For mercy sakes be careful of that trunk!" she commanded, shrilly.
"Look out!  Look OUT, you'll drop it right souse into the water.
Seleucus Gammon, if you get them things of mine wet I declare I'll
make you go in swimmin' after 'em.  Be CAREFUL!  Of course," with
some sarcasm, "a lady might think there was grown men enough
standin' around here to bear a hand, but it appears everybody's too
busy.  I've heard," the sarcasm more emphatic, "about how busy SOME
folks are down here, but--Oh, how d'ye do, Mr. Homer?  I'm havin' a
time, ain't I?  Seleucus, you be careful of that box!  It's got my--
well, never mind what's in it; I don't want it wet, anyhow.  Nice
day, ain't it, Mr. Homer?"

She and Calvin shook hands.  Some of the men, apparently a bit
abashed by the lady's hint, stepped forward and assisted with the
luggage.  Mrs. Gammon continued to talk.

"I guess likely you're surprised to see me comin' here to live,"
she said.  "Well, I'm kind of surprised to be here, myself.  But
when a person's got a brother who's set on livin' in such a Lord-
forsaken place, and a husband that just seems to LOVE that place a
good sight better than he does his civilized home and them that's
in it--WELL, then maybe it's time that husband's wife came to find
out what there is makes him love it so much.  One letter in six
weeks, and no sight nor sound of the man you're married to, may do
for some folks, but it don't for me.  Thinks I'll--Now, Ph-lan-der,
you and Seleucus take them things right up to that shanty of yours
quick 's ever you can.  And then you get a fire agoin'.  I'm as
nigh to bein' froze as I want to be in THIS world."

Philander and Seleucus took up the trunk.  Phinney and Bloomer
followed carrying packages.  Mrs. Gammon, carrying nothing but an
umbrella, brought up the rear.  The little procession was
suggestive of a funeral, so Homer thought.  Then he caught a
glimpse of Seleucus's face and the suggestion changed; it was much
more like a march to the scaffold.  Jemima, of course, was the
sheriff and there was no doubt whatever as to the identity of the


The joyful surprise of Mrs. Gammon's arrival--joyful to every one
with one possible, even probable, exception--furnished the
distraction for which Homer had been hoping.  The surfmen at
Setuckit Station forgot for the time their discontent and incipient
rebellion and laughed and joked and behaved more than ever like
school children.  Their treatment of Seleucus was that of a group
of sympathetic friends congratulating a comrade upon his good
fortune.  They were so kind and thoughtful and so ready to suggest
opportunities for him to be with his wife.  If he happened to be
busy at some task not immediately in the line of duty one of them
was certain to offer to take it off his hands.  For example:

"Now, now, Seleucus," urged Phinney, "there ain't any need for you
to be stayin' in here paintin' that door.  Let me do it for you.
You run over and see Jemima.  She's lonesome, I'll bet.  You cruise
right along and cheer her up."

Mr. Gammon, dripping paint brush in hand, was not as grateful as he
should have been.

"She knows I've got this door to do," he growled.  "It'll take me
half the mornin' to finish it.  I told her so.  You've done your
part, Josh.  'Tain't likely I'll shove mine off on to you."

Phinney's generosity was touching.

"No shovin' about it," he declared.  "If I couldn't oblige an old
chum that much I'd be ashamed.  Give me that brush.  Yes, yes; you
will too.  Jemima's expectin' you.  I told her I could do the
paintin's well as not and that you could come right over."

Seleucus turned.  "You did!" he exclaimed.  "What are you
interferin' with my affairs for?"

"Interferin'?  Why, how you talk!  I'm doin' you a favor, if you
only knew it.  Philander's off coddin' and she says she wants you
to chop up some kindlin' wood.  Said you promised to do it this
mornin', afore you left, but you never done it.  She says she can't
understand why 'tis you have so much work to keep you here at the
station; said the rest of us seem to have loafin' time enough.
Seemed to think 'twas kind of mysterious.  I told her you was a
whale of a feller for workin', was doin' odd jobs about all the
time since Olive Myrick went; kind of takin' up your mind, seemed

Mr. Gammon started and frowned.  He deposited the brush in the
paint pot.

"What in time did you tell her that for?" he snapped.  "What's Oz
Myrick's wife got to do with my mind, I want to know?"

"She wanted to know that, too,--Jemima did," confided Josh
solemnly.  "I told her nothin', of course--only that when there was
a nice pleasant woman around lots of odd jobs got done of
themselves, as you might say.  I said you was a great hand to help
Olive when she was here, and probably you kind of got in the habit
of it."

Seleucus rose and slammed out of the room.  At the door he turned,
as if to speak, but meeting Mr. Phinney's gaze of kindly solicitude
he changed his mind and said nothing.

The mess room now was minus his society during the off hours of the
day or evening, but his comrades called on him at the Jarvis shanty
quite frequently and seemed to find happiness in so doing.  During
these calls Seleucus said little, but his conversation was not
missed.  Wherever Mrs. Gammon was there was sure to be talk

Calvin had written Myra Fuller the fateful letter telling her the
bad news of his loss of the captaincy, and was now awaiting her
still more fateful reply.  He and she had had two conversations
over the phone since the evening of their betrothal, but these
talks were brief and necessarily not intimate.  The telephone
instrument was on the wall of the mess room where the men spent
much of their time, and, as the engagement was to be kept a secret,
no word of it or other closely personal subjects could be
mentioned.  He told her, during the most recent of these talks,
that he had written an important letter, but she had not then
received it.  He promised to come up to Orham just as soon as he
could get away, but added that that was not likely to be for some
time.  She would understand why when she read his letter.  She must
have received and read it before this, but he had not heard from
her again.

And, three days after his first visit, Benoni Bartlett came again
to Setuckit and took formal charge of the station.  Homer vacated
the skipper's room and stepped back into his old place as Number
One.  The newspapers--Peleg Myrick brought them down--gave columns
to the Bartlett appointment and much praise to the department for
its wisdom in fitly rewarding the hero of Crooked Hill Shoal.
These praises were read by all at the station and its vicinity--
which included the Jarvis shanty and the home of the lightkeeper
two miles up the beach.  There was lively comment concerning those
praises, comment which might have burned the ears of the new
skipper, had it reached them.  Calvin took care that it did not.
Nor would he listen to any of the sympathy which his fellow surfmen
were eager to hand him.  The thing was done--it was settled and
over--forget it and attend to business, these were his orders.
And, in a way, the men did appear to be forgetting it.  Nevertheless,
he was quite aware that they were watching Bartlett and waiting to
see what sort of leader he was.  Prejudice was still there, plenty
of it, but the new skipper could overcome that, if he proved

He was a peculiar man; that had been his reputation and of its
truth there was no doubt.  Big, strong, and, to all outward
appearance, experienced and adequate; but as odd and moody an
individual as Homer had ever seen.  In all matters pertaining to
the station routine he was alert and exacting.  The daily drills,
beach, boat, signal, or the practice in resuscitating the nearly
drowned, went on under his eye precisely as they should.  The watch
and the patrols were not permitted to shirk.  He was likely to be
up and about at any hour of the night, and this the crew learned.

It was in his manner and habits that the peculiarities showed.  The
men commented on them.

"He's the queerest old skate I ever come across," declared Phinney.
"Talk with you sociable and folksey as can be one minute, and the
next march right by you and not see you at all.  Talks to himself,
too, he does.  Have you noticed that?  And he has the Bible right
along his bed, so's he can gaffle into it night or day.  Takes a
dose of that Bible a mighty sight more regular than he does his
meals.  I've found out one way to start him goin'.  Tell him you
think rum is a cuss to creation and he'll tune up like a hand
organ.  Grind away on that hymn for a week, he would, I cal'late.
Wallie Oaks has found that out.  Wallie's beginnin' to pull a
strong oar with him already.  Never mind, he'll tumble to Wallie
pretty soon--if there's any tumble to him."

"It's his eyes I notice 'special," observed Seleucus, who--because
it was his turn to go out on the next patrol--was temporarily free
from the apron-string tether.  "He's got the funniest eyes ever I
see.  One minute they're blazin' under them big eyebrows of his
like a clam-bake fire under a heap of seaweed.  And, next time you
see him, they're as flat and fishy as them in the head of a dead
haddock.  Seems to know his work, he does, too; but if he ain't
cracked somewheres then he's liable to crack afore he dies.  We
ain't had a wreck to go off to yet since he's been here.  We can
tell better about him after we see how he handles one of them

The opportunity to watch the new skipper under stress of active
duty came the very next day.  A thick fog, complicated with a light
snowstorm, decoyed a lumber schooner off her course early that
morning and daylight found her aground on the lower end of the
Hog's Back, with distress signals set.  The fog had cleared and
Bearse sighted her from the tower.  There was but a moderate sea
running and the job looked like an easy one.

Bearse called Homer and the latter notified Bartlett.  The two men
went up to the lookout and each gazed at the stranded vessel
through the spyglass.  Calvin expected a prompt order to get out
the boat, but that order was not given immediately.  Bartlett
turned away from the telescope and stood there, pulling at his

"Come down to my room, mate," he said, after a moment.  Homer
followed him down the stairs to the skipper's room.  There he
waited, wondering at the delay.  Benoni walked the floor, his hands
in his pockets and--so it seemed to his companion--a peculiar
expression on his face.  Then he turned.

"What do you think of it, Homer?" he demanded.

Calvin did not understand.  "Think of what?" he asked.

"Her--that schooner?  I suppose we better go off to her, hadn't

If he had asked whether or not the crew should be fed that day, the
question, to Homer's mind, could not have been more extraordinary.

"Why--why, she is signaling for us, isn't she?" he stammered in

"Yes, yes, looks's if she was.  You think--you think, then--
Hum! . . .  All right.  Turn out the crew.  Go ahead.  I'll be
right with you."

Calvin hurried out to give the orders.  At the door he happened to
look back.  The skipper was standing by the little table, his eyes
closed, his head bent and his lips moving.  Was he praying?  It
certainly looked so.

But he was businesslike enough during the next few hours.  The boat
was dragged to the shore, launched and headed for the Hog's Back.
Calvin, tugging at the oar in his place as Number One, could see
the skipper's face as he stood in the stern and he watched it
keenly.  Bartlett, except for the necessary orders, said not a
word.  He steered well, he gave his orders crisply and in a voice
that carried command.  His gaze was fixed on the vessel ahead and
his lips, except when he issued those orders, were shut in a grim
line.  Homer could find no fault with his actions or manner.  He
seemed to know what to do and how to do it, as of course he should,
considering his long experience.  The only possible criticism might
have been that, for such an ordinary expedition, with conditions as
favorable as these, he appeared to be under an unnecessary mental
strain.  But it was his first trip as captain of a crew and Calvin,
realizing this, found it sufficient excuse.  In fact, he never
would have noticed it--or fancied that he did--had it not been for
Superintendent Kellogg's hints and forebodings.  And, doubtless,
Kellogg's words were founded on prejudice and his own suspicions
merely imaginative.

He was more than ever convinced of this by Bartlett's behavior when
they boarded the schooner.  She was in no pressing danger, lying
easily on the very edge of the shoal, and on an even keel.
Moreover, the tide was rising and the wind moderate and favorable.
She could be floated at high water, and this Benoni plainly
realized and set about bringing to pass.  Her anchors were carried
off to deep water, her deck load of boards were cast overboard or
shifted, and her jib and foresail made ready for hoisting when the
time came.  In all this--and it deepened Calvin's favorable
impression--Bartlett was in absolute command and permitted no
interference.  The vessel's captain was anxious and irritable, but
his suggestions and protests were ignored and, when the schooner
did swing off the shoal and started on her course once more, the
profuse thanks were ignored also.

"All right, all right," said Bartlett, gruffly.  "You needn't thank
us--we ain't nothin' but the Lord's instruments.  Thank Him; He's
the one to thank. . . .  And keep a sharper lookout when you come
over these shoals next time."

Altogether the new keeper's first salt-water test was a personal
success.  The crew--even the most exacting and anxious to find
fault--were obliged to admit that he had come through satisfactorily.
Gammon and Phinney, of course, admitted it grudgingly.

"He handled everything all right enough," agreed the latter; "but
he'd ought to.  'Twas a cinch.  Only I wish he wouldn't be so
everlastin' solemn about everything.  Every time I looked aft while
we was rowin' out, there was his old owl face starin' at me.  Never
cracked a joke nor so much as a grin.  Don't make things any
easier, that don't.  Look how jolly Cal Homer was when we went off
to the David Cowes.  And that cruise was somethin' to be solemn
about.  I don't mind ownin' up I didn't feel much like grinnin'
THAT day.  But Cal was singin' out his funny sayin's half the time.
That's the kind of skipper I like to ship along with."

This was, of course, mild exaggeration.  Homer's jokes on that
strenuous trip had been few and these few limited to its start and
finish.  During the rest of the time the uproar of wind and wave
would have prevented the hearing of his witticisms, even if he felt
like uttering them--which he most decidedly did not.  But the crew
remembered the one or two, and willing imagination supplied the
rest.  Seleucus chimed in.

"That's so," he declared.  "I like to laugh when I get my orders.
Ain't any preachin' against laughin' in the Scriptur's that I know

Just here the door opened and the diminutive figure of Mrs. Gammon
bounced in.  As Bloomer described it afterward, her feathers were
all on end.

"Oh, there you are!" she snapped, addressing her husband.  "Settin'
here spinnin' yarns and I not knowin' whether you'd got back safe
or had been drownded off to that schooner.  Wonder you wouldn't
come far's the door and holler, anyhow.  Long's I've got a husband
I wouldn't mind bein' sure that he was alive."

Seleucus stared at her in bewildered amazement.  "Why, Jemima," he
protested, "how you talk!  If I'd been drownded I guess likely
you'd have heard of it afore this.  I was comin' acrost in a
minute.  I was just settin' here warmin' my feet; they got kind of
chilly off yonder."

It seemed a reasonable excuse, but the lady's reception of it was
as frigid as her husband's toes.

"You can bake your feet just as well over to my cook-stove," she
announced.  "That is, after you do what you promised to the very
first thing this forenoon--fix it so's a body can build a fire in
it without bein' choked to death with smoke.  Come right along now.
I'll keep you busy enough to stay warm, if that's all that ails

She bounced out again--most of her movements were bounces.  Mr.
Gammon slowly rose from his comfortable chair.  His expression was
of funereal gravity.

"Well, Seleucus," drawled Bloomer, "it looks to me as if you'd got
your orders.  Why don't you laugh?"

Mr. Gammon did not laugh; perhaps he thought that, under the
circumstances, more hilarity would be superfluous.

Homer, naturally, was more in the company of the new keeper than
any one else.  Bartlett consulted him on various points of station
routine and, little by little, the pair grew better acquainted.
The acquaintanceship never developed into anything closer.  Benoni
Bartlett's peculiar character was not one to make friends easily.
His moods were much more variable than the weather which, in spite
of Peleg Myrick's dire predictions, continued surprisingly good for
the beginning of the week before Christmas.  There were hours
during which the new keeper scarcely spoke to his Number One man
and others when he was almost confidential and mentioned intimate
matters not connected with work.  He told of his religious
experiences, how he had been a "mighty tough customer" in days gone
by and how, later, at a revival meeting in Trumet he had "seen the
great light."

"I tell you, boy," he said, his eyes smoldering beneath the shaggy
brows, "I never knew what comfort of mind was till I found the
Lord.  Since then I've cast my burdens on to Him and He's hauled me
through.  Why was I the one picked out to be saved over yonder on
Crooked Hill--the only one of a dozen men?"

It was the first time Calvin had ever heard him mention his recent
harrowing experience, and he looked at him curiously.  Bartlett was
quite unconscious of the look.

"Why was I saved?" repeated the keeper.  "I know why--know it just
as well as I know you and I are standin' here this minute.  'Twas
because the Almighty was provin' to me that He looked out for His
own.  In all that mess over there--when the boat capsized, and they
was drownin' all around me--hollerin' for help and--and screamin'--
Lord above!  I--I hear that screechin' yet--nights I hear it.  I--

He stopped abruptly.  Homer spoke to him but he paid no attention.
Nor did he say more at the time.  Instead he walked away, his head
bent and his lips moving.

These were the times when Calvin was inclined to be doubtful of his
complete sanity.  But there were others when he was chatty and
reminiscent and even likable.  This was especially true when he
spoke of his daughter, Norma, who was, he said, a librarian in a
mid-Massachusetts city.  He was tremendously proud of her.  Here
the sternly literal follower of the Scriptures had broken the law
and set up an idol to be worshiped.

"She's an awful smart girl, Norma is," he confided.  "I don't care
if she is my daughter and I say it--she is, and you'll say so, too,
when you see her.  She'll be comin' down here to see me some of
these days, she says so in her letters.  Writes me every twice a
week, she does, and I write her full as often.  I don't know's I'd
have felt like takin' this job here at Setuckit if she hadn't been
so set on my doin' it.  I--I didn't seem to have any hankerin' for
any more life-savin'.  I've been around boats and on salt water
'bout all my life, but after that--that Crooked Hill business, I--

He stopped again, just as he had in their former conversation.
This time, however, Calvin brought him back by a reference to his

"She wanted you to take it, did she?" he suggested.

"Hey? . . .  Oh, yes!  yes, she did.  All those pieces in the paper
they seemed to--well," with an odd air of shy apology, "they seemed
to make her kind of proud of her old papa.  That's what she calls
me--'papa'--same as she used to when she was little.  You see, she
ain't like me, she's like her mother.  I'm rough and tough and
onedicated--never had much chance for schoolin', I didn't--but her
mother, now, she was pretty and smart, and knew everything.  A
school-teacher, she was--yes, sir, a school-teacher.  And she
married me! . . .  I never could understand it--or I never used to.
Now, of course, I realize that 'twas the Lord's doin'.  He had
reasons of His own, same as He always does.  Same as He see fit to
take her away when Norma wa'n't much more'n a baby.  'He moves in a
mysterious way His wonders to perform.'  That's poetry, boy.  A
hymn tune.  Did you ever read it?  Mary--that was my wife's name--
she used to read it to me.  I get Norma to read it sometimes.  And
it's true, too.  It ain't for us to go pryin' into God A'mighty's
affairs.  He knows--"

And so on.  He was off again, his eyes alight.  But this little
glimpse into his heart and of the love he bore his daughter made
Homer like him better and feel more charitable toward him.  He was
eccentric--almost unbalanced on some subjects--but he was human and
rather pitiable.  Calvin was still sore at the loss of the
appointment which should have been his, but he could not hold a
grudge against the man who had received it.

Myra Fuller could hold that grudge, however.  Her letter, when at
last it did come, proved that.  Badger, returning from his "liberty
day," brought down the station mail, and the letter which Calvin
had been expecting was there with the others.  He opened the
envelope with fingers which trembled a little.  Considering that it
was the first written word he had received from the girl who was to
be his wife his feelings were strange--there was more dread than
eagerness in them.  He feared to read what she had written.

Yet, in a way, the fear was unjustified.  Myra did not blame him in
the least.  She said so, and more than once.  The manner in which
he had been treated was mean and wicked, but it was not his fault,
of course.  Superintendent Kellogg was to blame, he and the idiots
at Washington, and the newspapers.  She hated that Kellogg, never
did like him, and Calvin was to remember that she had said he was
an old fool.  "But he IS old, Calvin dear," she wrote, "and that is
what we mustn't forget.  He can't keep that position of his much
longer and when he resigns--or is forced out--you and I know who
should have the superintendency, don't we?  And _I_ know a few men
in politics, myself.  Perhaps you think I am only a girl and can't
do anything to help.  There are some things a girl can do--with
men--better than men can do them.  Wait and see.  Just wait and

It was upon Bartlett that her resentment seemed to center most
fiercely.  "I hate him, hate him, HATE him," she declared.  "I
never met him, of course, but I have met that daughter of his and
so I know what the family is like.  We'll get even with them,
though, you and I.  And it may not take so very long, either.  He
is captain there at Setuckit, but he is only on trial and you are
Number One man under him and the men all like you.  It will depend
on you and them whether he makes good or not, after all.  I mustn't
write any more about what I mean--you understand why--but you must
make an excuse for coming to Orham very soon and when you come we
will have a long talk.  But I am sure you understand how to act and
what to do every minute of the time until then.  You must not miss
a chance, and for my sake you won't, will you, dearest. . . ?"

There was more, but the remainder was very intimate indeed, and
dealt not at all with Benoni Bartlett nor the captaincy.  And,
after the signature, was an underscored P. S.

"Burn this letter just as soon as you have read it."

Homer followed instructions, so far as the burning was concerned.
He read the letter through twice and then put it carefully upon the
hot coals in the kitchen stove, not replacing the lid until he had
seen the closely written sheets crumble to ashes.  Then he went out
and took a walk up and down the beach, thinking.

Myra had not blamed him--even in her great disappointment she had
not done that--and so much was--or should be--comforting.  She
still trusted in him and believed in him.  But it was evident that
she was by no means resigned to the situation.  She considered it
to be but temporary and more than hinted that, at least, it could
be made so.  She was going to help and she expected him to do so.
But how?  If the meaning between her lines was what it seemed to be
he--well, but, of course, after all, she did not mean that.  But
she was absolutely wrong about Kellogg.  Kellogg was not at fault.
He was a fine fellow and a friend and any scheme which involved
forcing him out of the superintendency must not be considered for a
moment.  He must make her see that.  He must contrive an excuse for
getting to Orham for that "long talk."

And on the second day before Christmas the excuse came.  There were
supplies, in the way of holiday "extras," to be brought down from
the village, and there were also presents and Christmas boxes
waiting there at the express office and post office.  Josh Phinney
was the lucky man who was to have liberty on Christmas day, but
Josh had received permission from Bartlett to remain overnight.  An
expected baby in the Phinney household was the reason for the
extension of time and the happy father played that reason for all
it was worth.  Possibly a little more than it was worth, according
to some of the skeptics.

"What's the matter with you, Hez?" demanded the exultant Mr.
Phinney.  "Don't blame Bologny for lettin' me have a few hours
extry, I hope.  He see the right thing, Bologny did, and done it.
He'd ought to.  Don't have a baby every day."

"Humph!  Some folks have one every year.  And the last couple or so
I've heard you do more growlin' than hurrahin' over.  Didn't know
what you was goin' to pay for their board and clothes with, you

"That's all right.  I haven't got to worry about this one's board
yet awhile.  It's provided for.  Go on, Hez! you're jealous, that's
what ails you."

But the men expected their Christmas mail and boxes before the
holiday and, as Peleg was not going to Orham at the time, some one
else, they felt, should go.  So Calvin, seizing the opportunity,
intimated to Bartlett that he had a few necessary errands which
should be done and the keeper gave him permission to make the trip,
provided he got back before supper that same afternoon.  Philander
Jarvis was laid up with an attack of lumbago and his catboat was
idle, so Homer and Phinney borrowed it.

The morning was mild and hazy, and the wind light but fair.  The
pair got an early start and landed at the Orham wharf before ten.
Josh wished his comrade a merry Christmas and hurried up to the
shops to buy small presents for a large family.  Calvin waited
until he was out of sight and then walked away in the general
direction of the Main Road.  He, too, intended visiting those
shops, but his errand was entirely personal to himself--and one

After a perplexing half hour in the store of Laban Bassett,
"Jewelery, Silver, Notions and Fancy Articles, Watches and Clocks
Repaired," he at last, bought a ring which cost more than he could
afford but which Laban assured him was "the newest and most stylish
thing out." With this, neatly boxed and in his pocket--a pocket now
otherwise very nearly empty--he left the Main Road and, walking
across the fields, came out upon the West Main Road close to its
juncture with the Neck Road.  Into the latter he turned, and, a few
minutes later, into the gateway of the Fuller home.  He fondly
imagined himself unobserved.  But he was not; Nellie Snow was
watching him, so also was her mother.  To be unobserved in Orham
was then, as it is now, almost an impossibility, especially in the
winter months.

Mrs. Fuller answered his knock.  She was in her morning wrapper and
her hair was somewhat disarranged.  Altogether her appearance was
in marked contrast to what it had been on the occasion of his
former visit, and she seemed quite aware of the fact.  If Calvin
had been of a critical turn of mind he might have considered her
expression, when she opened the door, and saw him standing there on
the step, not one of overwhelming joy.  She colored, frowned, and
was evidently embarrassed.  But he, too, was embarrassed so he did
not notice these things.  And her confusion was but momentary.

She was SO glad to see him.  And so surprised.  Myra had not told
her he was coming.  He explained that his visit was unpremeditated
and asked if Myra was in.  Why no, she was not; she was at school.
The vacation did not begin until the following day; he had
forgotten that?  He had, of course, and apologized.  Oh, that was
all right.  It didn't make a bit of difference.  Myra would be at
home for dinner, and he must come right in and visit.  Oh yes, he
must.  And he would dine with them?  She wouldn't take no for an
answer--that is, provided he wasn't TOO particular and would be
satisfied with just an everyday, picked up meal.  You see, having
to do her own housework, they lived VERY simply, and just got along
with as little as possible.  Myra insisted on that.  She would NOT
let her mother work TOO hard.  She was the most thoughtful daughter
that ever lived, so Mrs. Fuller really did believe.  It was a good
deal of a come-down for them both, for in the old days, when the
captain was living, everything was SO different.  Then, when
company came unexpectedly it was all right.  They kept help then,
of course, and--

Homer, more embarrassed than ever, interrupted when the lady paused
for breath, and said that he guessed he would not wait, but would
come back later.  He had not intended to stay for dinner anyway,

But Sarepta would not hear of his going.  He must come right in.
And he wouldn't mind if the dinner wasn't much, would he?

"After all, you're one of the family now, Calvin," she announced,
with a smile, the archness of which was a sort of faded reminder of
her daughter's.  "And home folks aren't fussy, are they?"

So he entered the house and Mrs. Fuller, still protesting her
pleasure in seeing him and lamenting over the dinner and begging
his pardon for "looking so like fury" because she had not had a
minute to change her clothes, relieved him of his hat and coat,
ushered him into the sitting room and departed, tucking up the
stray fringes of her hair as she went.  Calvin was vaguely
conscious that that hair did not seem to be as plentiful as when he
last saw it.

Left alone in the sitting room, with the haircloth set and the
portraits of the departed, he waited.  His hostess bobbed in and
out occasionally, to ask questions concerning affairs at the
station, or to deliver an item of local gossip.  She would have
talked much concerning the Bartlett appointment, but he was
discouragingly silent on that point.  She declared it to be a sin
and a shame, and that everybody was saying so--"Everybody that
amounts to anything, that is," she added, with a somewhat tart
emphasis.  "There's a few that pretend to believe Kellogg did the
best he could, but they don't say it when WE'RE around.  Cap'n
Ziba, here at the corner, was standing up for the Kellogg man the
other day and Myra heard him.  She told him what she thought of it,
you better be sure of that.  Myra says Cap'n Ziba's all right
enough--she and the cap'n are nice and friendly--but it's that
daughter of his--that Nellie Snow--she can't bear.  So many of the
girls here in Orham are jealous of Myra.  She gets along real well
with the men--the school committee now, she can do anything she
wants to with them, but some of the women and girls are hateful as
they can be.  Just jealousy, that's all it is.  They can't stand
superiority, and Myra is superior.  I guess YOU think she is, don't
you, Calvin?  Ha, ha!"

With each appearance she was a trifle more ornamental.  The wrapper
vanished, and was replaced by a becoming gown.  Her hair was neatly
arranged, and it must have been Homer's fancy which had deemed it
scanty, for now there was an abundance.

He was alone when he heard Myra's step on the walk.  The sitting
room door was slightly ajar, and he heard her enter--also her
mother's greeting.

"Why, Myra, where have you been?" cried Mrs. Fuller.  "You're much
as ten minutes late."

Myra's reply was tart in its impatience.

"Oh, I had to stop and listen to that ninny of a Ezra Blodgett,"
she explained.  "He didn't really have a thing to say, but he is
rich and is going to be on the committee next year, so I had to
look sweet and pretend I liked it.  Silly thing!  Deliver me from
soft-headed old men.  And the married ones or the widowers are the
worst.  I only wish that old-maid sister of his could have seen the
way he looked at me. . . .  Well, what are you making signs about?
What's the matter with you?"

Then followed a brief silence--silence as far as the visitor in the
sitting room was concerned.  Then Miss Fuller said, "Oh!" and
followed it with, "My goodness!"

But there were no traces of ill temper when she ran in to greet her
lover.  And she was so pretty and so vivacious, and her expressions
of joyful surprise were so flattering, her welcoming hug and kiss
so intoxicating, that Calvin--whose opinion of Mr. Blodgett--an
opinion founded upon the latter's local reputation--was anything
but favorable--forgot his momentary resentment.  She closed the
door, with elaborate and playful carefulness, and they sat together
once more upon that ancient sofa.

There was so much to say, so Myra declared, and such a provokingly
short time to say it in.  Wasn't he going to stay for supper and
the evening?  Oh, he must!  She had to go back to that horrid
school right after dinner and--just think--they hadn't seen each
other for ages.  And so on.  It was pleasant, and as wonderful as
ever.  But when he explained that he had promised Captain Bartlett
to be back at the station by supper time, the young lady's smile

"Promise!" she repeated, scornfully.  "You don't have to keep a
promise to that man, I hope.  What right has he got to ask favors
of you?"

It was not a favor asked, but an order given, so Homer explained.
The explanation did not help greatly.

"The idea of his giving you orders!  He!  YOU ought to be the one
to give orders down there.  And you will be giving them before
long.  Tell me, how is he getting on with the men?  They hate him,
I know that."

Calvin turned to look at her.  "You know they hate him?" he
repeated.  "Why, who said they did?"

"Ellis Badger for one.  He told me lots of things.  He was up here
on liberty, you know, a little while ago, and I made it my business
to see him.  At first he wouldn't say much, he was afraid to, I
guess; the poor thing doesn't dare call his soul his own when he is
within a mile of home.  But I was ever so nice to him"--she laughed
at the recollection--"and before we finished our talk he told me
all he knew.  That wasn't too much, for he doesn't know more than
enough to get out of his own way, but he told me how mad the crew
were because you had been slighted and Bartlett made keeper.  He
said every man was on your side, and would do anything to help you.
Of course I couldn't speak plainly--I wouldn't have him guess what
I was up to for the world--but I think I dropped some hints that
will do good.  From what he said I don't imagine that Bartlett will
have the smoothest time that ever was.  We'll see that he doesn't,
won't we?  And now tell me; what have YOU done. . . ?  Why do you
look at me like that?  What is it?"

He was regarding her uneasily.  All this sounded like confirmation
of the meaning he had at first fancied lay between the lines of her
letter, and which he had dismissed as impossible.  Even now he
could not believe she really meant it.  She could not expect him

Then came a discreet knock at the door and Mrs. Fuller called to
announce that dinner was ready.  The meal was by no means a bad
one, in spite of Sarepta's profuse apologies for its "picked-
upness."  Homer would not have noticed if it had been.  His
appetite was not hearty just then.  Myra had not said much, it is
true, but she had said enough to trouble him greatly.  The
consciousness of impending crisis was strong upon him.

And back once more in the sitting room, with the door closed, she
repeated her question.  What had he done at the station since the
new keeper came?

He hesitated.  "Done?" he said.  "Why, I have done my regular work,
of course."

"Oh, I know," impatiently.  "You have to do that, or pretend to.
But what else have you done--to help our plan?"

He looked at her and then looked away again.

"I'm not sure that I know just what you mean," he said.  This was
not true; he was beginning to fear that he did know only too well.

She laughed incredulously and tossed her head.

"Rubbish!" she exclaimed.  "Of course you know.  I mean what are
you doing to help yourself--to help us--down there?  I haven't done
much yet, I haven't really begun, but I have done something.  I
gave Ellis Badger--oh, if he wasn't such a fool!--as broad hints as
I dared about Bartlett's being unfit to be keeper, and how people
felt about it, and how no one expected him to get on with the crew,
and that no one blamed them for not paying attention to what he
said.  I told him--I said he mustn't breathe a word to any one, but
of course he will and I meant him to--that everybody worth while
here in Orham expected Bartlett to fail, and was only waiting to
see it happen.  And I praised you to the skies--not out and out, I
had too much sense for that--but in a roundabout way, and he agreed
with every bit of it.  Oh, he will tell the others.  You see if he
doesn't.  And it will help a lot.  Now I want to know about you.
Are you keeping yourself in the front of everything as you promised
me you would?"

"I am doing my work as Number One. . . .  And I am making the men
do theirs."

She cried out, sharply.  "But you mustn't," she protested.  "That
is the very thing.  Never mind the men.  If they don't do as they
should that isn't your affair--now.  It is his--that Bartlett's.
Don't you see?  If he can't keep order, and if things don't go
right, as they used to go when Oswald Myrick was keeper--or when
you took his place--then there will be no one to blame but
Bartlett.  And everything that goes wrong will be so much the worse
for him and so much better for you.  Don't you see, dear?  Oh, you
must see!"

He saw.  The crisis had arrived.  He drew a long breath.

"You mean," he asked, slowly, "that you don't WANT things at the
station to go right?"

"Why, of course!  The worse they go the sooner there will be a
change.  Kellogg will have to put him out and you will get the
appointment.  That is what we both want, what we are both working
for, isn't it?"

He did not answer.  She was regarding him now and she leaned
forward to see his face.

"Well?  What ails you?" she demanded, crisply.  "Why don't you say
something?  Look at me."

He turned then and looked, but his look did not please her.

"Calvin," she cried, "what is the matter with you?  What are you
thinking. . . ?  Has something happened that you haven't told me

He shook his head.  "No," he answered.  "Nothing has happened.  I--
I--See here, Myra, you don't expect me not to play straight with
Cap'n Bartlett, do you?"

"Captain!  For mercy's sake, don't YOU call him captain.  And what
do you mean by playing straight?"

"Why--why, working against him, behind his back, with--with the
men, and all that.  You wouldn't want me to do that?"

"Why wouldn't I?  Has he played straight, as you call it, with

"Yes, I guess he has.  It isn't his fault that they made him
keeper--not really, it isn't."

"Nonsense!  Of course it is.  He knew well enough that you should
have the place.  But he schemed and planned until he sneaked in.
The miserable, contriving--"

"Now, now, Myra.  He isn't contriving.  He wouldn't know how to be.
He's just--well, simple, sort of.  And queer.  I kind of pity him,
sometimes.  Honestly, I do."

Miss Fuller moved away from him on the sofa.  Her eyes were
sparkling now, but the sparkle could hardly be called a love light.

"Pity him!" she cried shrilly.  "Pity HIM!  Calvin Homer, are you

"No-o, I guess not.  No more crazy than usual.  But, you see, Myra,
I do pity him.  He's so--so all alone.  He must know the men don't
like him.  I think he realizes, in a way, that he wouldn't be liked
by most people.  He talks to me more than he does the rest.  I
don't know why, unless it is because--because--"

"Because he is trying to keep you friendly, of course.  He knows
you could make trouble for him--and ought to--and he is smart
enough to make up to you and head that trouble off.  If he can soft
soap you, why, he thinks you will help him with the men--and the
superintendent.  It is plain enough.  I should think any fool could
see that."

Calvin shifted uneasily.  "It isn't that, Myra," he declared.  "You
haven't seen him.  You haven't heard him talk.  If you had you
would know that he couldn't soft soap anybody. . . .  Oh, I don't
like him, especially--"

"I should hope NOT!"

"But I don't hate him, or anything like that.  And--and, honest,
Myra, I don't like the idea of working underhand against him while
he is my skipper.  It doesn't seem fair to me."

"It is just as fair as he has been to you--yes, and fairer.  Can't
you see this is a fight for your rights?  Are you going to knuckle
down and let him walk all over you?  What ails you?  Haven't you
any fight in you?"

"I guess I have.  But that kind of fight isn't square.  Men--decent
men--don't fight that way.  If it was a fair, stand-up scrap I

"Oh, DON'T be so ridiculous!  And how about being fair to me?  You
are going to be my husband some day.  I tell you here and now, I
don't intend to marry a man who is contented to play second fiddle
in a life-saving station.  You and I promised each other to work
ever and ever so hard for each other.  You were going to try in
every way to push yourself forward and I was going to help you.
And I am doing my part.  What have you done?  Nothing--except make
friends with the very person who stands most in our way.  Is that
fair to me?"

Calvin hesitated.  His resolution was as strong as ever, but the
question made a certain appeal to his sense of justice.  After all,
she had been planning and working to help him.  And they had
promised to work and plan for each other.  At the time when the
promise was made he had had no clear idea of its meaning--surely
not of any such meaning as hers must have been--but she, perhaps,
thought he had.  And, always with him, was the conviction of her
superiority, her beauty, her popularity, the incomprehensibility of
her choosing him from her list of suitors.  He shook his head.

"No," he admitted.  "Maybe you're right, Myra--from your way of
looking at it.  Perhaps it isn't just fair to you. . . .  I guess
it isn't. . . .  But--"

"But what? . . .  Go on!"

"But I--I can't--it seems as if I couldn't play politics down there
at Setuckit.  And such dirty back-door politics, too."

"Thank you for the compliment, I'm sure."

"Oh, I don't mean you see it that way.  I know you don't.  But I
can't see it any other. . . .  And I can't do it, that's all. . . .
I just can't."

She rose from the sofa.  The fire in her eyes was ominous.

"You can't?" she sneered.  "That means you won't, I take it."

He nodded, wretchedly.  "I hate to have you put it that way," he
said.  "But I can't do what you want me to, Myra."

"Indeed! . . .  Then I suppose you understand what that means, so
far as you and I are concerned?"

"Yes. . . .  I suppose I do. . . .  I am sorry.  It isn't your
fault.  It's mine, I guess. . . .  I'm afraid it was all a mistake,
anyway, your taking a fellow like me."

She made no answer to this confession.  He, too, rose from the sofa
and stood there, waiting for his dismissal.  But that dismissal was
not given.  There was a long moment of silence and then, to his
amazement, she came to him, put her arms about his neck and looked
up into his face.

"Calvin," she breathed.

Were there tears in those expressive eyes of hers?  There must be,
for her voice trembled as she spoke his name.

"Calvin--oh, Calvin, dearest!" she whispered.

He groaned, in conscience-stricken misery.

"I--It isn't fair to you, Myra," he stammered, chokingly.  "I know
it isn't.  You're doing everything for me, but--but I can't help
it.  I'm made stubborn, I guess. . . .  Oh, I don't know what is
the matter with me."

She kissed him.  "I do," she declared.  "You're just a dear, sweet
innocent boy, who is so honest himself that he thinks every one
else is the same.  And he needs some one to look after him, doesn't
he?  Yes, he does.  And he has some one, only he mustn't be cross
to her and he must pay attention when she tries to help him,
because she knows best. . . .  And now we won't quarrel any more,
will we?  We won't say another word about the old life-saving
station.  We'll sit here on the sofa and talk about no one but just
our very selves."

And they did, Miss Fuller doing most of the talking.  The station,
nor Bartlett, nor her plans, nor the sharp difference of opinion
concerning them, were mentioned at all.  And when he attempted to
mention them she would not let him do so, but whispered that he
must not be naughty any more--and wasn't he ever and ever so happy?
Of course he said he was--but even as he said it, a disturbing
doubt returned to trouble him.

When the time came for her to go back to the school he walked with
her as far as the turn of the Main Road.  There they separated.
The real farewells had, of course, been said in the Fuller sitting
room; this public parting was but a casual handshake and good-by,
for the benefit of watchful Orham.

He called at the post office, the express office and the grocery
store.  The various boxes and heavy packages he arranged to have
sent to the wharf in the grocer's delivery wagon.  And toward that
wharf he strolled, meditating deeply.  He took the longest way,
over the fields and around the two-mile curve of the Shell Road.
There was plenty of time--he must wait until the grocer's boy came--
and meanwhile he did not care to meet acquaintances.  He wanted to
be alone--and think.

He had foreseen a crisis and that crisis had come--and burst--and
then apparently was not.  But had it gone, definitely and forever,
or was it merely waiting around the next corner, ready to jump at
him later on?  Had Myra been convinced that she was wrong and he
was right, and would she hereafter be contented to let matters at
Setuckit take their regular course, trusting to luck and his own
hard work to bring him promotion and advancement, there or
elsewhere?  Knowing her and her ambitions he could scarcely believe
it.  She had yielded for the time--or, at least, had refused to let
him go--but had she actually given up one iota of her schemes for
ousting Bartlett--and Kellogg?  And wouldn't she continue to "play
politics" and do her best to make him play them, too?  He would not
play them--he was as resolute as ever on that point--but would she
understand that and not keep trying?  He went over their recent
disagreement and reconciliation word for word and he could not
remember that she had said anything which indicated relinquishment
of her designs.  If she meant to go on, then the final settlement
between them had been only postponed.  Nothing at all was really

He almost wished it had been.  If she had bade him go and never
speak to her again--well, then at least, his trouble would have
been present and tangible.  He would have known the worst and could
face it, whereas now it was clouding his whole future, like a fog
bank, with all sorts of possible perils behind it.  He wished it
was ever and done with.

He wished--

Then he awoke to a realization of what he was wishing and felt
ashamed of himself.  He swore aloud, jammed his hands into his
pockets and one of them came in contact with a small, square

It was the package containing the ring he had bought of Laban
Bassett that forenoon.  He had meant it as an engagement ring and a
Christmas present combined.  The distressed scene in the Fuller
sitting room had driven all thought of it from his mind.  He had
actually forgotten to give it to her.  Now he KNEW there was
something the matter with him.


His first move, after realization of his criminal forgetfulness,
was to look at his watch.  Was there time in which to return to the
Fuller home and leave the ring?  Scarcely--and yet he could do it
if he hurried.  But Myra would not be there, she was at school, and
Sarepta had said something about going to sewing circle.  If he ran
he might reach there before she left, but what would the neighbors
think if they saw him galloping up to the door as if he were going
to a fire?  The idea of visiting the school-house and facing a
brigade of sniggering youngsters was not tenable.  He could not
present the ring in person, he must send it by a messenger--if he
could find one.

Wide awake now and with the thought of that messenger foremost in
his mind, he walked briskly on.  As he climbed the hill where the
Shell Road emerges from the pines beyond the big swamp, and came in
sight of the bay, he realized that he had lingered too long.  The
morning haze--a haze more befitting a day in May than December--had
become something more definite and disturbing.  The whole western
horizon was piled high with fog.  The mainland of the Cape beyond
Denboro was gone, the beach ended just past Harniss.  Setuckit was
still visible--that is, he could see the speck which he knew was
the tower of the life-saving station above the last low-lying dune--
but behind it was but a gray curtain.  The breeze had died almost
entirely; there was scarcely enough left to give steerage way.  If
he was to make good his promise to Bartlett and get back to the
station before supper he must start at once.  Even then, unless the
wind freshened, he would barely make it.

He heard the rattle of a cart on the road below and to his left
and, turning, saw the grocer's wagon approaching.  That was good;
he would not be kept waiting for his Christmas freight.  The cart
was a covered affair and he could not see the packages and boxes,
but of course they were there.  There seemed to be two persons on
the driver's seat.  He did not stop to look longer; it was the
contents of the vehicle, not its passengers, which interested him.
He left the road, vaulted the rail fence, and hurried down through
the bayberry and beach-plum bushes to the landing.

The cart reached there before he did and was drawn up at the outer
end of the wharf, only its rear showing beyond the walls of the
fish house.  Jimmie Kelley, the grocer's boy, a chubby youth of
seventeen, was unloading the bundles and boxes and piling them on
the planks at his feet.  Among them, to Homer's surprise, was a
leather suit case.  Jimmie heard his approach and greeted him with
a grin.

"Hello, Cap'n Cal," hailed Jimmie.  "Beat you to it, didn't I?
Here's your stuff.  Want me should help you stow it aboard?"

Calvin shook his head, "I guess I can handle it," he said.  Then,
mindful of his determination not to do any more forgetting, he
added, "I'd rather you took the time to go back by way of the Neck
Road and do an errand for me.  Can you?"

Jimmie's grin widened.  "Sure thing," he declared.  "Where's the
errand to; up to Myra's?"

Homer's hand was in his pocket and the package containing the ring
was in the hand.  But there it stayed.  He hesitated.

"Take it just as well as not," urged Jimmie.  "Glad to.  Myra ain't
to home now, though; she's up to school."

The hand was removed from the pocket--empty.  Its owner frowned.

"Who said anything about--about her?" he demanded tartly.  Was it
absolutely impossible to keep a secret in Orham?

"Why--why, nobody did, as I know of.  Only you said the Neck Road--
and she lives there--and of course--well, everybody says--I just

Calvin interrupted.  "Never mind," he snapped.  "Let the errand go.
You can help me with these things here.  Whose suit case is that?"

But Jimmie was troubled.  "Ain't mad, are you, Cap'n Cal?" he
queried.  "I didn't mean nothin'.  I was just--"

"Oh, forget it!  What is that suit case doing here?"

Young Kelley's grin returned.  He winked, and pointed over his

"It's hers," he said.

"Hers?  Whose?"

"Sshh!  She'll hear you.  She's right here on the wharf.  Gee,
she's a pippin, too!  You won't be mad when you see HER, Cap'n Cal.
She's goin' down to Setuckit along with you.  Her old man don't
know it; it's his Christmas surprise."

Homer stepped forward and peered around the corner of the fish
house.  At the further edge of the wharf a girl was standing.  Her
back was toward them and she was looking out over the water.  He
stepped back again.

"Who is it?" he whispered.  Jimmie was eager to supply the

"It's that--er--what's-her-name--Normal Bartlett.  Tain't Normal,
but it's something like it.  Old man Bartlett's girl, you know; the
one they put the picture of in the paper; the one that 'tends
libr'y up to Fairborough.  She came down on to-day's train and
wanted to be took to Setuckit right off.  Nobody didn't know how
they was goin' to get her there, until Mr. Eldridge at the store,
he recollected you was up to town and was goin' back this
afternoon.  He cal'lated you'd just as soon take her down as not.
Old Seth Burgess, he was hangin' 'round as usual, and he says--He,
he!--he said, 'Cal won't mind takin' her.  Judas!' he says, 'I'd be
willin' to take her 'most anywheres, myself. . . .'  And he was
dead right, too.  Say, she's a peach, Cap'n.  Honest she is!  Wait
till you see her."

Calvin did not speak.  At that moment he was profoundly irritated.
In his present state of mind solitude and his own thoughts were
unpleasant enough, but they were far preferable to the society of
any one else, least of all a stranger--and a girl.

Young Kelley chattered on.  He was an impressionable youth, and

"She said she'd ride down to the wharf along of me in the team," he
confided, "and she done it.  Asked me a lot of questions about
things down to the station, and the like of that.  Gee, she's all
right!  Not a mite stuck up, lots of fun to her.  And you ought to
hear her laugh--and see her do it! . . .  Gee!"

Homer could not help smiling.  "She hit YOU hard, didn't she, Jim?"
he observed.

Jimmie blushed under his freckles, but he stuck to his guns.

"I don't care; she's all RIGHT," he declared.  "I ain't the only
one.  You'd ought to seen old Ezra Blodgett stare at her when she
came out of the store.  He was goin' by and he stopped dead still
and just gawped.  He--"

But Calvin had no more time to waste.  "Come, pick up some of this
stuff and put it aboard," he ordered.  "I'll take the rest.  Hurry

Jimmie made a grab for the handle of the suit case.

"I might's well take this," he said quickly.  "It's handy to lug.
Come on, Cap'n."

The girl turned to meet them as they came out from behind the
wagon.  Calvin, although in no mood to receive favorable
impressions, was nevertheless willing to concede that Jimmie's
enthusiasm was not altogether unwarranted.  A pair of clear gray
eyes, a provoking nose, a wide mouth parted in a smile which seemed
not at all forced, and a firm little chin.  She wore a heavy coat
of rough cloth, with the collar turned up, and a neat and becoming
turban.  Under the edges of the hat and against the background of
her coat collar her brown hair was bunched in rebellious masses.
She was a good-looking girl--there was no doubt of that--not
handsome and statuesque like Myra Fuller--no, not at all like Myra.
And least of all like what he had expected Benoni Bartlett's
daughter to be.  Benoni had spoken of his daughter, and more than
once, but if he possessed her photograph, he had never shown it to
his Number One man.

She came to meet them, smiling and unembarrassed.

"I suppose you are Mr. Homer," she said.  "I am Norma Bartlett.
How do you do. . . ?  Oh, please don't trouble to shake hands--now.
Your hands are full."

They were, both of them.  And Calvin WAS embarrassed, as he usually
was when meeting strange young women.  He started to put down his
load of boxes and bundles, then decided not to do so, and
immediately wished he had.

"How do you do, Miss Bartlett?" he stammered, inanely.  "I--I--"

She saw that he was embarrassed, and helped him out.

"You are surprised, of course," she said.  "I don't wonder.  But I
hope I am not making you a lot of trouble.  I came to spend
Christmas week with father.  I didn't write I was coming, for I
wanted to surprise him.  It never occurred to me that the station
might be such an out-of-the-way place to get to.  When they told me
you were going down there I--well--I invited myself.  If there
isn't room--"

He assured her there was plenty of room.

"Get the dunnage aboard, Jim," he ordered.  "We'll have to hustle,
with no more wind than this."

The packages and the suit case were stowed in the little cabin of
the catboat.  Jimmie personally attended to the stowing of the
case; he refused any assistance so far as that was concerned.  He
would have helped Miss Bartlett into the boat, but she did not
appear to need help, catching a halyard and leaping lightly from
the stringpiece to the deck as if she were used to boats.  Homer
lingered a moment before following her.  Young Kelley reluctantly
clambered up and stood beside him.

"How about that errand, Cap'n Cal?" he queried.

Calvin frowned.  Then he took the ring box from his pocket.

"Leave this at the Fullers'," he said.  "Tell Mrs. Fuller it is
something I meant to--well, something I forgot.  Tell her I'll
write, or telephone, and explain."

Jimmie regarded the little parcel with consuming curiosity.

"'Tain't for Sarepta, is it?" he queried.  "Shall I say it's for

"No, no," sharply.  "You tell her what I told you.  She'll

Jimmie winked.  "I'm on, Cap'n," he declared.  "I know what to say,
I guess likely.  And I guess likely you don't want me to say
nothin' to nobody else neither.  Eh?  Ain't that so?"

Homer did not answer.  His passenger did not appear to be
listening, but she must have overheard the dialogue.  Not that that
made any difference, but the whole business was vexing.  He had a
feeling that Myra would not like the idea of his having forgotten
to give her the ring.  She might not like his sending it in this
offhand fashion.  He was tempted to change his mind for the third
time and wait and deliver his gift in person later on.  But
Jimmie's next remark decided the matter.

"I understand, Cap'n," he whispered.  "Day after tomorrow's
Christmas, eh?  I'll fix things all right for you.  I'm used to
doin' errands and things for folks.  Why, one time old man Blodgett
give me a quarter for takin' a letter to--well, never mind who
'twas to.  I told him I'd never tell, and I ain't--so far."

It was apparent that he wanted to tell very much, but he received
no encouragement.  Calvin took a coin from his pocket--it happened
to be a half dollar--and gave it to him.

"There! take that," he commanded.  "And clear out."

He jumped aboard the catboat and set about hoisting the sail and
casting off.  As the boat swung lazily away from the wharf Jimmie
called after them.

"Merry Christmas, Cap'n," he shouted.  "Merry Christmas, Miss

The young lady returned the wish.  She laughed merrily.

"He isn't exactly a shy boy, is he?" she observed.

Calvin grunted.  He was busy with the wheel and the sheet.

"He talked steadily all the way to the wharf," continued the
passenger.  "I asked him one or two questions and he answered at
least twenty.  He likes you, Mr. Homer.  He told me ever so many
things about you."

Homer glowered at her.  He wondered just exactly what had been
told.  Jimmie Kelley, in his opinion, was altogether too wise for
his age.

The breeze had freshened a little by the time they reached the
harbor entrance, but there was no promise of constancy in it.  The
fog was drawing nearer.

Miss Bartlett gazed ahead over the smooth, oily waves of the bay.

"Where is it we are going?" she asked.  "Where is Setuckit?"

Homer pointed.  "About ten miles off yonder," he replied.  "If it
was clear you could see the lighthouse and the tower of the

"But you can't see them now.  That is fog ahead, isn't it?"

"Yes.  It is coming in fast.  It will be thick enough in half an


"Yes.  But there is nothing to worry about.  We'll get there all
right, and before supper, if the wind holds."

"Oh, I'm not worried.  I suppose you will steer by compass when the
fog comes."

"Yes.  You're used to boats, I guess."

"I ought to be.  I lived in Trumet until I was fifteen, before I
went away to school.  I was in a boat, or about boats, a great deal
of the time.  I love all this--the salt water and the sand and the
gulls--yes, even the fog.  You don't, I imagine--the fog part, at

"No.  I've seen too much trouble come from the stuff."

"Of course.  Father hates it, too.  So do all the men in the life-
saving service. . . .  Tell me a little about father, Mr. Homer.
How is he?"

"Why--he is all right, I guess.  He is well--or he was this

"Do you think he is quite himself?  Does he seem nervous or
anxious?  Oh, you know what I mean!  Does he eat and sleep as he

"Yes, I should say so.  He is--of course he is new to his job there
at Setuckit and new to the station.  Naturally, getting used to
things may worry him a little at first."

"So you think he does worry?  I was afraid of it."

"I don't know that he worries any more than any other man would.
There is a good deal of care about the keeper's job and--well,
Cap'n Bartlett has been through a lot lately.  It was enough to
upset any man's nerves, that Crooked Hill business."

She shuddered.  "I know," she said.  "It was terrible--terrible!
I knew all the men who were drowned.  Some of them I had known since
I was a baby.  I went down there, you see, just after it happened,
and stayed with father until he was well enough for me to leave.
I was there when they picked up the bodies, and I met some of the
widows and--But I don't want to talk about that.  I won't.  I dream
about it even now.  I MUST get it out of my mind."

She paused.  Homer remembered her father's confession concerning
his own dreams.

"You said something about upset nerves," she went on.  "Do you mean
you think father's nerves are upset?"

"Why--why, no, not especially.  I mean--I meant it wouldn't be
surprising if they were."

"I'm afraid his are.  Mr. Homer, I suppose you think my father is a
very odd man.  You do think that, don't you?"

It was not at all the question he expected, and he was not ready
with an answer.  She noticed his hesitancy and drew her own
conclusions.  Her tone changed.

"I can see you do," she said quickly.  "Most people do.  They don't
know him, that's all.  There is no better man in this world than my

"Why--why, I don't doubt it, Miss Bartlett.  I didn't say--"

"It doesn't make any difference what any one says.  I know him--and
they don't, that's all.  He is very religious, and that is unusual,
goodness knows, in the life-saving service; and those that don't
understand him call him a crank, behind his back.  They never call
him one before his face--or mine," with a defiant toss of her head.

Homer had--in thought at least--more than once called his new
keeper a "crank."  He did not know what to say.

"How is he getting on with his work?" she persisted.  "Do the men
like him?"

Here was another embarrassing question.

"Why--why, yes, sure," he answered, with almost too much emphasis.
"He's doing first rate.  We haven't had but one call since he has
been there.  That was a lumber schooner aground on the Hog's Back
and he got her off in no time.  I never saw a job handled better.
Didn't he write you about that?"

"Yes."  She turned and looked at him, and again her expression had
changed.  "He writes me every day," she said.  "Sometimes I don't
get the letters for three or four days, but then I get them
together.  He writes me everything.  He has written me often about

"Oh--has he?"

"Yes.  He says you are as dependable a mate as he ever signed with.
That is a good deal for father to say.  You ought to be proud, Mr.

He did not feel particularly proud.  He was rather glad to know
that Bartlett had seen fit to praise him in those letters.  And
undeniably thankful that, in his own conversations with Kellogg and
the men, while they had hinted and criticized, he had said nothing.
It made him feel less like a hypocrite.  A girl as straightforward
and outspoken as this one seemed to be would have little use for
hypocrites.  Not that her opinion was of great importance to him,
but his own was.

"Father says you obey orders and he thinks he can trust you," she
went on.  "Loyalty is a strong point in his religion.  He is a
crank on THAT, if you want to call him so.  So am I, for that

Calvin murmured that loyalty was a fine thing.  He was thinking of
Myra Fuller and the after-dinner scene in the sitting room.

"The fog is almost on top of us now," he observed.

But she would not look at the fog.  "I want to ask you a little
more about father," she said.  "I may not have as good a chance as
this again.  Mr. Homer, please tell me the exact truth; do you
think his taking this place at Setuckit was a mistake?"

This girl should be a lawyer.  She certainly had a talent for

"Why--I don't know what you mean," he said.

"I mean just that.  Do you think it would be better--for him--if he
had not accepted the appointment?"

"Why shouldn't he accept it?  He wanted it, didn't he?"

"He didn't apply for it.  Of course you know that.  It was offered
to him and I think no one was more surprised than he when the offer
was made.  And he wasn't sure that he ought to take it.  Neither
was I."

This statement was surprising.  Calvin looked at her.

"He told me--yes, and he told the men--that he took the place on
your account," he said bluntly.  "He said you wanted him to do it."

She was troubled.  "Did he say that?" she asked.  "I'm sorry.  And
yet it is true, in a way.  If I had said no, he would have refused.
He would do anything to please me.  But of course I wouldn't say
it.  He had been in the service for years and it was time he got
some recognition.  And he certainly deserved the appointment--or
anything they could do for him.  Didn't he?"

"Why--why, yes."

"What makes you say it that way?  Don't you KNOW he deserved it?
Can you think of any one who should have had it rather than he?"

He could, but he could not tell her so.  And he was growing tired
of the witness stand.

"Look here, Miss Bartlett," he said in good-natured desperation, "I
don't just see what you are trying to get at.  _I_ didn't say Cap'n
Bartlett shouldn't be keeper at Setuckit.  I didn't say anything
like it.  You were the one who started this thing.  You asked me if
I thought his taking the job was a mistake."

She caught the change in his tone instantly.  She, too, smiled, and
then burst into a laugh.  That laugh was all that Jimmie Kelley had
said of it--pleasant to hear--and see.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Homer," she cried.  "I beg your pardon.  You and I
haven't known each other but a few minutes and I have been scolding
at you like a schoolma'am.  I am sure you must think that, no
matter whether father is a crank or not, there isn't a bit of doubt
about his daughter.  You see, I am very anxious about him.  That is
what I meant by a mistake.  I am, I suppose, in a way responsible
for his staying on in the service and taking those new cares.
Perhaps he shouldn't have done it.  Perhaps I should have insisted
on his getting away from the Cape and the sea and everything
connected with them.  It might have been better for his health--and
happiness.  That is why I flew at you so.  I have been flying at
myself in just the same way.  It is my conscience.  Don't you wish
sometimes you didn't have any--any conscience, I mean?"

Here was something to be answered without the least equivocation.

"You bet!" he exclaimed devoutly.

She laughed again.  "And now I'll try to behave," she declared.
"Oh, my! here IS the fog."

It was--plenty of it.  It dropped upon them like a blanket, but
with none of the blanket's warmth.  Heavy, wet and raw it swept
over the boat and the sea.  The moment before all astern had been
pleasant and, for the season, almost warm.  Now there was nothing--
astern, ahead, and at the sides--nothing.  They were cut off from
the rest of creation, wrapped in a salty, soggy stillness.  And the
raw chill penetrated through wraps and underclothing to the skin.
Fog at any time is likely to be cold, but this was a December fog.

Miss Bartlett buttoned her coat and drew the collar more closely
about her face.  Homer was looking up at the sail.  There were
flabby bulges in its surfaces.

"Is anything wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing but the wind.  And the only thing wrong with that is that
there isn't any worth talking about.  It's next door to a flat

"You'll have to use the compass now, won't you?"

"Yes.  The compass box is in the cabin, I suppose.  Could you take
this wheel just a minute?"

She took his place beside the wheel.  There was no hesitancy in her

"It seems like old times," she said.  "I used to love to steer."

He disappeared in the cabin, the interior of which was a
conglomerate of oilskins, rubber boots, nautical odds and ends,
semidarkness, bad air and odors.  She heard him rummaging.

"Have you found it?" she asked.

"Not yet.  I've found about everything else.  Phew!  Smells like a
codfish graveyard.  Here! here's something for you."

His head and shoulders appeared through the hatchway and he tossed
a stained and crumpled oilskin "slicker" in her direction.

"Put that on over your other things," he said.  "That is, if you
don't mind fish scales.  There's nothing like oilclothes for
keeping out cold."

She donned the slicker.  It engulfed her from ears to toes.  She
was obliged to turn back several inches of sleeves in order to free
her hands.

"Now I do feel like a sailor," she announced.

"Might as well make a clean job of it.  Better give me your hat.
The fog will turn it into a dishrag in no time."

"Never mind.  It isn't a new one--not very."

"No use spoiling it.  There's half a barrel of sou'westers down
here, more or less.  Try that one."

He threw out an ancient sou'wester, creased and sticky, and, like
everything else aboard Mr. Jarvis's boat, decidedly odoriferous.
He watched as she, in seamanlike fashion, steadied the wheel with
her body, and then used both hands to remove her hat.  She caught
his look and laughed.

"I know I'm a sight," she said, the eternal feminine prompting the
eternal observation.  "But I don't care.  This is fun."

He could have told her what sort of sight she was, bareheaded and
laughing, against the gray background.  But complimenting young
ladies was not one of his accomplishments.  And the thought was but
momentary and casual.  What did cross his mind, as it had crossed
it more than once before during their very brief acquaintance, was
the incredulity of the fact that the grumpy rough old fanatic who
commanded at Setuckit should have a daughter like this.  Benoni had
said she was like her mother.  It must be true--certainly she was
not like him.

She pulled the sou'wester down upon her head and buttoned it
beneath her chin.

"There!" she exclaimed, leaning forward to hand him the discarded
hat.  "Now I'm ready for anything.  But how about you?  Are there
more things like these in that place?"

"Enough to fit out a Banks schooner--if the hands weren't
particular.  There is everything here except money--and that
compass.  I haven't found that yet."

Nor did he find it.  Ten minutes of rummaging and overhauling the
contents of that cabin resulted only in absolute proof that the
compass was not there.

"By George!" he exclaimed emerging.  "I remember now.  Philander
said that he had got to make himself a new compass box.  Said it
last week.  I'll bet he took the old one, compass and all, ashore
with him and it's in his shanty now. . . .  Humph!"

"Then you can't tell how to steer, can you?"

"Not very well, so long as this fog holds. . . .  Oh, we'll be all
right.  There is nothing to be frightened about."

"I'm not frightened."  Indeed she did not look as if she were.  He
struggled into another of the Jarvis slickers and, after several
trials, found a sou'wester which fitted well enough.

"I'll take the helm now," he said.

"Do you want to?  I don't mind steering, if you have anything else
to do.  I like it--really I do. . . .  But there isn't anything to
steer for."

"No, not much.  The foghorns ought to help a little, but unless the
wind breezes on we shan't make any headway.  The tide is about
full.  When it begins to go out it'll carry us along some."

"Then there really isn't anything to do but wait. . . .  And there
are so many foghorns, aren't there?"

There were, a dozen of them.  Some faint and distant, others
nearer.  They sounded from aft, ahead and to port.  And their tones
varied from thunderous bass to querulous treble.

"Those little ones are aboard vessels off yonder," he explained.
"The big one astern is at Orham.  There! hear that?  That's the one
we want to head for, if we can.  It's at Setuckit light, a couple
of miles this side of the station.  Two long toots and then a
short.  Get it?"

She listened.  "I think I do," she said, doubtfully, "but they're
awfully mixed up.  There is hardly ANY wind now.  How far away is

"About five--no, about six miles."

"It will take us a long time to get there at this rate."

"Take forever if we don't get a breeze. . . .  But don't worry.
There isn't any danger."

"I'm not worried about THAT," scornfully.  "I'm not a landlubber.
But I know you feel you ought to be there.  I suppose they know
we're on the way--know you are, at any rate.  They must have seen
us through the glass before the fog came, don't you think?"

He smiled.  "You do know the ropes, don't you?" he observed.

"I ought to.  I've looked through the Crooked Hill glass ever so
many times.  It was a treat I used to tease for when I was a little
girl.  Oh!" suddenly.  "You don't suppose they saw me, do you?  If
father knew I was coming it would spoil the surprise.  And HE might

"Nobody down there knows you but Cap'n Bartlett.  And the fog hit
Setuckit long before it did us.  No, they may have seen the boat,
but they couldn't tell who was aboard of her.  One thing we've got
to look out for, and that is not to get aground.  There isn't too
much water around here.  If you don't mind hanging on to that wheel
I'll go for'ard and watch for shoals.  Every chance you get keep
her in towards that foghorn."

He left her and going forward stood there, in the little space
between the mast and the catboat's bow, peering into the fog, or,
stooping, tried to see the sand or weeds on the bottom.  This, easy
enough in the sunshine, was practically impossible now.  An hour
passed.  The breeze was as light as ever.

Once she called to him.  "Do you think that foghorn sounds any
nearer?" she asked.

"Precious little.  The tide is setting out and it may have carried
us further out into the bay."

At last he gave up his task as lookout and came aft again.

"This is too bad, Miss Bartlett," he declared.  "It looks as if we
might be here all night.  It is half past four and getting dark
already.  Are you frozen?"

Her laugh was reassuring.  "Frozen!" she repeated.  "With these
things on?  I'm roasted--or boiled.  A roast doesn't drip.  Look at

The fog was hanging in drops on her sou'wester and slicker and her
cheeks were beaded with it.  He knew she must be uncomfortable,
because--toughened by experience as he was--he was chilled.  And
even as she spoke he saw her shiver.

"Here!" he exclaimed.  "This won't do.  We've got to get ashore

"I don't mind, except on your account.  I'm having a real
adventure.  This is a change from handing out books in the
Fairborough library.  But I know you feel you should be back on
duty.  If the Setuckit people saw us don't you suppose they might
send a boat. . . ?  Oh, I beg pardon!  That WAS a landlubber's
question, wasn't it?"

He grinned.  "If they sent a boat for me," he said, "in Orham Bay,
in a flat calm--well, I'd jump overboard when I saw it coming.  It
would be better than waiting to hear what the men said when they
got here.  If Cap'n Bartlett knew you were aboard he might send for
you, but not for his Number One man.  Well, hardly."

"Of course.  It was stupid of me.  When I was ten or twelve I knew
better than to dream such a thing.  So we'll just keep on waiting
and hoping for less fog and more wind.  We ought to whistle for a
breeze, hadn't we?  I wonder if I could whistle.  I used to."

She tried and succeeded remarkably well.  The effort, too, was
becoming, particularly when the whistle changed to a laugh.

"I was thinking how father used to scold me for whistling," she
said.  "He was forever quoting the proverb about 'whistling girls
and crowing hens.'  Mr. Homer, you brought him down to Setuckit on
his first trip, didn't you?  I remember now, he wrote me you did.
And now you are bringing me.  That's an odd coincidence.  Father
will say it is the workings of Providence.  He sees special acts of
Providence in everything.  But he means it; he is absolutely
sincere," she added, loyally.

Calvin sniffed.  "If it is Providence that got us into this scrape,
it must have a grudge against me," he vowed.  Then, realizing that
the speech was not altogether gracious, he added, "Of course I
don't mean that I wasn't glad to bring you down, Miss Bartlett.
But I don't see how sticking us out here in a fog is going to help
anything much.  Do you?"

"Well, it makes us better acquainted."

"Yes.  Yes, I--"

He could not think of anything to add to the affirmative.  And she
did not wait for more.  She changed the subject.

"I know what is the matter with me," she exclaimed.  "I'm actually
hungry.  And it isn't five o'clock.  It must be the sea air.  I'm
ashamed of myself."

He looked at her.  "Where did you get your dinner?" he asked.

She hesitated.  "Oh, that was all right," she replied hurriedly.
"My dinner was all right."

"Did you have any?"

She colored slightly.  "Well, no, I didn't," she confessed, after a
moment.  "But that doesn't make any difference.  I quite often go
without lunch.  It is good for me.  And I just know I shall eat too
much down here. . . .  Why, what is it?"

He had been sitting on the wheel box.  Now he rose, briskly and
with determination.

"There's a little more breeze," he announced.  "We're going

"You mean we can get to Setuckit?"

"I don't know about that--how soon we'll get to the station; but
we're going ashore as straight as we can and without any more

He put the wheel over and the sail swung lazily across.

"Here, Miss Bartlett," he ordered, "you take the helm and keep her
just as she is.  I'm going forward again."

For another twenty minutes he peered over the bow.  Then he came

"I'll take her now," he said.  "And would you mind going up there
and keeping a lookout?  We ought to be getting in close by this
time and I don't want to run on a flat.  If you see anything either
ahead or underneath, sing out."

She obeyed.  "It seems to me that big foghorn sounds nearer than it
did," she said, pausing a moment and listening.

"It ought to.  We must be pretty close to the beach."

"But I don't see how you can tell where the beach--or anything
else--is now."

"It's all beach--miles of it--on this side.  We'll hit it

"And then?  When we do hit it?"

"Then we'll anchor this craft and go ashore.  Unless I'm completely
turned around we can't be far from Halfway Point and there are some
shanties there.  Somebody lives in one of 'em--an old fellow named
Myrick.  He'll give us a cup of coffee and maybe something more
substantial.  After that--well, we'll see."

"Mr. Homer, you're not doing this just because I was silly enough
not to eat any lunch?"

His answer was emphatic.  "I'm doing it," he declared, "because I'm
sick of roosting out here in this ice chest.  Keep a sharp lookout
and be sure and sing out if you see anything."

Seeing anything was next to an impossibility, for, between the fog
and the lateness of the hour, it was almost dark.  The boat moved
slowly on before the fitful breeze.

"Sighted anything yet?" he called, after an interval.


A few moments later she spoke.

"Mr. Homer," she said, eagerly, "look!  Look off there--there to
the right.  Isn't there something there?  Something tall like--like
a tree--or a pole?  Yes--yes.  It's a mast, isn't it?"

He peered under the sail.

"It's a boat," she cried.  "It's another boat, with the sail down."

It was a boat, at anchor.  He steered close by its stern.

"Good!" he exclaimed.  "It's the Wild Duck.  She belongs to the old
fellow I was telling you about.  We're luckier than we have any
right to be.  We've hit Halfway Point right in the bull's-eye.
Come aft now.  I'm going to anchor."

A minute more and their catboat, its anchor over the side, swung
lazily in the tideway.  The sail lay in a crumpled heap on the

"And now what?" asked Miss Bartlett excitedly.

"Now I'm going to yell.  You can help, if you want to."

Leaning over the rail he began to shout.

"Peleg!" he roared.  "Peleg Myrick!  Ahoy there, Peleg!"

She called, too, but stopped, breathless and laughing.

"All I can think of to scream is 'Fire!'" she declared.

"That'll do as well as anything.  Oh, Peleg!  Peleg Myrick!  Here!
Turn out!  Pe-leg!"

From the darkness came the sound of a door banging open.  Then a
hoarse voice made answer.

"Here I be," it bellowed.  "Who is it?  What's the matter with ye?"

"It's me, Cal Homer.  We want to come ashore.  Got your dory

"Eh?  Yes, I've got her.  Hold on a minute and I'll come off to ye.
Keep ahollerin'."

They kept "ahollerin'."  Then followed the clatter of oars, grunts
and profane ejaculations.  Then the measured click and squeak of
those oars moving between thole pins.  Out of the darkness emerged
the dory and Mr. Myrick.

"Hello, Cal," observed the latter, bringing the dory scraping along
the catboat's side.  "What's the matter with ye?  Kind of off your
course, looks like to me.  Ain't took sick, be ye?  Eh?  Who's
that?  Anybody I know?"

"No.  I'll tell you all about it when you get us up to that shanty
of yours.  Now, Miss Bartlett.  Easy does it."

The caution was unnecessary.  She was in the dory even as he spoke.
And, once in, she showed none of her father's nervousness.  Calvin
followed.  Peleg pushed off.

"I don't see how you can tell where to go," observed the young
lady.  "It all looks alike to me."

Myrick grunted.  "Chuck me overboard anywheres in Orham Bay and I'd
guarantee to drift here or hereabouts," he declared.  "It comes
natural to me, I cal'late.  I can smell home, same as a cat."

By way of proof he jammed the dory's bow hard and fast on the slope
of the beach.  Above, on the crest of that beach, a blur of yellow
lamplight showed.

     "'And see, amid the darkness,
       Shine out the lights of home,'"

quoted Miss Bartlett joyfully.

"Eh?" said Peleg.  "Yus-yus.  And it's nine chances to one the durn
lamp's smokin', too.  'Twas startin' out to when you folks
hollered.  I've got to buy a new wick next time I go up to the
main.  The robbers charge six cents apiece for 'em, too, they do.
Livin's expensive these days, Cal, did you know it?  I wisht I was
rich, then I might be wuth money."


"And now what?" asked the young lady.  She and Homer were seated at
the oilcloth-covered table in Mr. Myrick's combined parlor, dining
room and kitchen.  Peleg had played the hospitable host so far as
in him lay.  He had set before them warmed-over baked beans, pilot
crackers, half of an "evaporated apple" pie and a decoction which
he called coffee.  There was more of the latter left than of
anything else.  Miss Bartlett had eaten until, as she said, she was
thoroughly ashamed but thoroughly happy.  "Have another cup, won't
you, Cal?" begged Peleg, flourishing the by no means glittering
coffee pot.

Calvin declined.  His fellow voyager had refused already.  "What's
the matter?  Good and hot, ain't it?" demanded Peleg.

"Yes, it's hot."

It was the only good thing he could truthfully say concerning it.

"Flavored right, too, ain't it? . . .  Hey?  Ain't it?"

"It is flavored."

"I bet ye!  That's good coffee.  You came just the right time for
it.  I made that potful fresh day afore yesterday.  Well, if you
won't you won't.  Git down, you Sou'west!  Think I set table for
you to eat off'n?  Beats the divil what dumb animals know, don't
it?  Got sense same as a human, that cat has.  Leave anything to
eat around and he'll locate it inside of ten minutes.  Seems to
KNOW--he does."

The cat, a huge gray and white one, was anything but dumb just
then.  He made another attempt to jump on the table.  His master
caught him just in time.

"Sshh!" he ordered.  "There, there!  I'll put you outdoors if you
don't stop bellerin'.  Make more noise than the Setuckit foghorn.
There's another thing about that cat; when he's hungry he'll ask
for his grub just same as a Christian.  Smartest cat as ever I
owned, that Sou'west is."

"Is that his name--Southwest?" asked Miss Bartlett.

"Um-hum.  I named him that 'cause he's so nice and pleasant, same
as a sou'west wind is liable to be.  I had one one time and I
labeled him No'theaster.  He was cranky--don't talk!  Brush past
him with your breeches' laig and he was just as liable as not to
haul off and fetch you a scratch that would make you hop to
Jericho.  Had claws on to him like the teeth on a clam hoe.  I
don't wear no shoes and stockin's 'long in summer--don't need 'em
down here, you understand--and I give you my word that critter made
my underpinnin' look like a piece of plowed ground.  I got tired of
it after a spell and give him away--to a friend of mine."

"That dog of yours died, didn't he, Peleg?" inquired Homer.  "Let's
see; what was his name?"

"Skeezicks?  Yes, he died.  The weather down here kind of worked
through and killed him finally, seemed so.  He was one of them
Mexican Chinee dogs, them kind that don't have no fur on 'em, you
understand.  Bald all over, like--like an egg.  A feller off an
English ship that was wrecked abreast here give him to me one time.
He was a good dog, too, but he couldn't seem to stand the winters.
He'd set there back of the cookstove and shake and shiver and
shiver and shake till I cal'lated he'd come apart.  And the worst
of it was the kind of sad, blamin' sort of way he'd look at me with
them big pop eyes of his--as if 'twas my fault 'twas so cold."

Calvin laughed.  "Probably he thought it was," he said.  "He knew
you were the boss weather prophet in these latitudes."

Myrick shook his head reminiscently.  "I don't know about that," he
observed.  "All I know is he just shook himself to death, as you
might say.  Got thinner and thinner--Say, Cal, you know how sort
of--er--loose the hide is on one of them kind of dogs; hangs slack,
and slats like a sail in a calm?  Um-hum. . . .  What is it,

Miss Bartlett, whose eyes were sparkling, chokingly declared that
she had not spoken.  Peleg nodded.

"Oh, I thought I heard you say somethin'," he said.  "Well, the
skin on that Skeezicks dog was slack enough to begin with, but it
kept gettin' slacker and slacker till I snum if he didn't look like
somethin' sewed up in a bag.  Finally he hauled down the flag and
died.  I was sorry enough to lose him, poor thing; but 'twas a kind
of relief, in a way, to have him quit shiverin'.  Yes, 'twas.  I've
stuck to cats ever since.  The colder it gets the more hair a cat
gets on, seems so.  And the warmer it gets the more comes off onto
everything else," he added, regretfully. . . .  "Well, Cal, to
change the subject, what you figgerin' to do now?  That was what
you was askin' a minute ago, wan't it, Miss What's-name?"

The young lady answered that it was.  "I wondered what the next
part of your plan might be, Mr. Homer," she said.  "I am on dry
land, thanks to you; and, thanks to Mr. Myrick, I'm not a bit
hungry.  But what am I to do next, please?"

Calvin was ready with an answer.  "You'd better stay right here for
a while," he said.  "I've been thinking it over and I guess the
quickest way to get things moving is for me to go across the beach
and up to the halfway shanty.  I can telephone from there to the
station and probably your father will get one of the men to come
down here with the horse and cart after you.  That is, if you don't
mind riding in a cart.  It's too dark for anybody to see you--and,
anyway, we aren't very fussy around here; are we, Peleg?"

But Miss Bartlett was not entirely satisfied with this arrangement.
It was not riding in the cart to which she objected--it was riding
at all.

"All this telephoning and harnessing, and everything will take time
and make a lot of trouble," she declared.  "YOU are not going to
wait for any cart, I suppose, Mr. Homer?"

"Oh, no, I'm going to walk.  It is only three miles or so."

"That is what I thought.  Well, I am going to walk, too.  And we'll
start this very minute."

Calvin protested.  It would be difficult walking, part of it, at
least.  And it was wet and pitch dark and--

"And you think I'm a city girl and might collapse and have to be
carried, I suppose.  Well, I'm not, and I shan't.  I walk more than
three miles every day of my life, for exercise.  As for the wet--do
you think it will be any wetter than it was aboard that boat?  And
we can borrow those oilskins, can't we?  Or keep on borrowing

She had her way of course.  Homer left the Jarvis catboat in
Myrick's charge; he would come after it in the morning, or send
some one.  He borrowed a lantern of Peleg, a battered and smelly
affair, which even its owner confessed gave "about as much light as
a white bean."

"It's liable to go out on you," he explained; "the wick's kind of
short in the reach.  And you can't see much by it, the glass is so
smurry.  But you better take it, Cal.  It'll be kind of company for

So, arrayed once more in the oilskins, they started, Myrick and
Sou'west whooping farewells from the door of the shanty.  Into the
dripping, soggy blackness they trudged, he leading the way with the
lantern and she following.  Up and over and down dunes, sometimes
through sand more than ankle deep, then through tangles of
blackberry vines and stunted bayberry bushes; or stretches of
coarse beach grass amid which bits of driftwood and sun-bleached
wreckage were scattered like the white bones of long-drowned
sailors.  After one particularly trying ascent she stopped.

"What is it?" he asked, turning.  "Are you tired?  Shall we rest a

"No-no, I'm all right," she panted, "I'm out of breath, that's all.
These oilskins are so dreadfully long.  I try to hold them up, but
I can't seem to do it."

"I told you you shouldn't try the walk," he said anxiously.  "We
might go back, you know.  We haven't got very far yet."

"Go back!" indignantly.  "I guess NOT!  I was just wondering if--


"Why, I thought perhaps if I took your arm we might get ahead
faster.  I--you see, I should be nearer the lantern and I could see
where to step.  But it would tire you, I'm afraid."

He was angry at himself for not having thought of it.  As a matter
of fact, his thoughts had wandered from Setuckit beach and were
hovering about the Neck Road in Orham.  He was again wondering what
Myra would think of his having forgotten to give her the ring, and
then sending it by the Kelley boy.  And the scene in the sitting
room; he went over it once more.  No, it had not settled anything.
Why hadn't it?  It should have.  He should have gone on with it to
the finish.  If he had not been a coward--

His musings had brought him to this unpleasant conviction when Miss
Bartlett's breathless appeal shook him out of them and back to her
and the present.  He turned hastily.

"I--I'm sorry," he stammered.  "I don't know what--Pshaw!  What
ails me, anyhow?"

He went back to where she was standing and offered his arm.  She

"You're sure it won't tire you?" she asked.  "I'll try not to hang
too heavily."

"No, no.  The only thing that makes me tired is that I didn't have
sense enough to think of it.  Cruising on ahead there and leaving
you to get along on your own hook in the dark!  I don't know what
your father will say to me for getting you into this scrape."

"But you didn't get me into it.  I invited myself into your boat
and you couldn't get me out of it.  Besides, it has been a lot of


"Why, yes.  I'm enjoying every minute of it.  It is just what I
told you it was--the whole of it--an adventure.  Of course
adventures don't mean anything to a life-saver, but they do to
librarians.  Now I've got my breath again.  Shall we go?"

They floundered on, but now Calvin was not thinking of Myra Fuller
and the late unpleasantness.  How could he, with this girl clinging
to his arm, stumbling occasionally, but never complaining, treating
it all as a joke and making light of briers and bushes and holes
and hummocks?  Another half mile of this and they came over a high
dune and down upon hard, sloping sand.  Before them--and close to
them--were the surge and boom and liquid hiss of great waves in
tumultuous advance and retreat.

"There!" he exclaimed.  "Here is the outer beach.  We're across,
thank goodness!  Now it will be plainer sailing for you.  Are you
tired to death?"

She was breathing quickly, but she could still laugh.

"Of course not," she declared.  "Why should I be?  What DO you
think I am?"

His reply was involuntarily uttered, but it was emphatic.

"You're a good sport," he declared.  "I'll say that for you."

The way thereafter was, as he said, almost plain sailing.

The tightly-packed sand uncovered by the ebbing tide was easy to
walk upon and they could really hurry.  The fog was as thick as
ever and the darkness as pitchy, but the exercise and the oilskins
kept them warm and the knowledge--on Homer's part, at least--that
the anxiety of their adventure was happily past, brought a care-
free sense of relief much more stimulating than the Myrick coffee.
Miss Bartlett chatted and questioned and, without realizing it, he
began to speak of himself, to tell her of his early life, his
father's death and his boyhood with his mother at Orham.  This led,
naturally enough, to his entering the service, and then to the
Setuckit crew and what fine fellows they were.  He told of the life
down there, the jokes and gossip, of Seleucus Gammon and of Mrs.
Gammon's unexpected arrival.  As he thought it over afterward, it
seemed to him he had told this comparative stranger, this girl,
everything even remotely connected with himself or those associated
with him.  But he had not; he had never mentioned his hopes and
disappointment in the matter of the keeper's appointment; nor had
he so much as hinted at the existence of Myra Fuller.

Peleg's lantern had sputtered itself out long before, but they did
not need it now.  They passed the lighthouse, its beacon a yellow
smudge high up in the fog an eighth of a mile from the beach; and
the clamorous screech of the foghorn vibrated against their
eardrums.  They made a wide circle where the shore curved inward
and began to mount a high dune which, so Homer told her, was only a
little way from the station.  And, as they climbed, a new sound
made itself heard, a whistle and dry rush and rustle quite
different from the tumult of the sea.

"Hello!" cried Calvin.  "Hear that?  That's wind through the grass
and bushes.  Here comes a good breeze at last.  That ought to blow
things clear."

It was a true prophecy.  The wind met them at the top of the dune,
crisp, sharp and piercing.  It whipped the light sand against their
faces.  And, in another minute, the fog had gone.  They stepped
from wet blackness out into the clear cold of a starlit night.
Below them, and only a little way off, was Setuckit Station, its
lighted windows agleam.

"Oh, how lovely!" exclaimed Miss Bartlett.  "It is--it is like
getting home, isn't it?"

"It is home," declared Calvin.  "And here's the patrol going out."

The patrolman was Sam Bearse, oilskinned, sou'westered, Coston
signal at his belt and lantern in hand.  He met them at the foot of
the dune and raised the lantern to peer into their faces.

"Why, hello, Cal!" hailed Sam in surprise.  "What in time you doin'
out here on the beach?  We cal'lated you was becalmed off in the
bay somewheres.  Hez spied you from the tower just after you left
Orham and we didn't know but you'd anchored to wait till it blew
clear.  The old man's havin' a conniption fit.  A body'd think
you'd never been to sea afore.  Of all the fuss--"

Homer hastily interrupted.  He explained the situation.

Bearse nodded.  "I see--yes, yes," he said.  "Hez said it looked to
him as if you had a passenger aboard.  So 'twas the cap'n's
daughter, eh?  Pleased to meet you, ma'am.  Your father'll be glad
enough to see you both, I guess likely.  So long."

Five minutes more--minutes during which both were silent--they
opened the door of the station mess room.  The men there, off duty,
greeted their associate with a shout and then, seeing his
companion, stopped abashed.

"Where's Cap'n Bartlett?" asked Calvin.

He was in his room, they told him.

"In there, through that door," he said.  "Go right in, Miss

She did so.  They heard a gasp of surprise and then a choking
exclamation.  The door closed and Homer turned to face the eager
questions of his fellow surfmen.  His romantic adventure as squire
of dames was over, but the talk concerning the unexpected visitor
had only begun.

She occupied her father's room that night, as, in fact, she did
during the nights to follow, Bartlett sleeping in the spare room on
one of the cots.  She did not join the crew at their five o'clock
breakfast, but she came to the table for the eleven o'clock dinner
and that meal was more decorous and orderly in consequence.  Not
that she "put on airs" or was unduly dignified, but the men
themselves were bashful and quiet.  She insisted on helping with
the cooking--and the results of the latter were apparent and
welcome.  After the dishwashing she called Homer to one side and
announced that she was going to try to make the place look a little
more "Christmassy."

"I don't suppose there is a bit of evergreen on this beach, is
there?" she asked.

He shook his head.  "Not a bit nearer than the Orham woods, so far
as I know," he said.

"Oh, why didn't I think to bring some holly or something from
Boston?  I could have just as well as not.  Doesn't ANYTHING grow
around here--anything that stays green all winter, I mean?"

He thought it over.  "Well," he said, doubtfully, "seems to me
there's a little patch of hog cranberry in the hollow up back of
the lighthouse.  That might be better than nothing."

"It would be splendid.  Now tell me just where to find it."

"Some of the men would be glad to get it for you, I know.  I'll ask
'em to."

"Indeed you won't!  They are busy and I haven't anything to do.
I'll get it myself."

And she did, returning from her quest with an oat sack full of the
glistening vines of the wild cranberry.

"Now," she said, this time addressing her remark to Mr. Gammon, who
happened to be in the mess room, "I wish I had some of those
bayberry plums--or the branches with the plums on them.  There must
be lots around here."

Seleucus snorted.  "Them bayberry balls, you mean?" he queried.
"Crimus! if that's all you want I can get you a bushel in no time.
Bayberries ain't no more good to nobody than miskeeters and
hoptoads; that's why there's so many of all of 'em runnin' wild in
these latitudes."

He brought a huge armful of the fragrant bayberry limbs, with their
clusters of gray berries.  She looped the windows and the lamp
brackets with the green vines and tucked the bayberry sprays among
them.  Seleucus and Ed Bloomer and Ellis Badger watched the
decorating and expressed approval.

"There!" vowed Gammon.  "Ain't that pretty?  Ed, you and me and
Ellis never'd thought of that.  If anybody'd told me that hog
cranberry vines was good for anything but to catch your feet in and
trip you and set you to swearin' I'd have laughed at 'em."

"And all I ever cal'lated bayberry balls was for," said Badger,
"was to load a young one's blowgun with and shoot around in school
when teacher wan't lookin'.  You never can tell, can you?"

"Not till you try.  I'm standin' here larnin'.  Next summer I'm
goin' to hang some strings of hoptoads and wood ticks up around and
see how THEY look.  I'll let you catch 'em for me, Ed."

Mr. Bloomer grunted.  "Won't be any trouble to catch the ticks," he
declared.  "All I'd have to do is cruise a little ways through the
beach grass yonder, and then brush off my pant laigs."

Hez Rogers had walked up to Myrick's after breakfast and the Jarvis
catboat was now at anchor before its owner's shanty.  Its cargo of
bundles and boxes, and Miss Bartlett's suit case, was brought
ashore.  As Sam Bearse said, they were now "all sot" for Christmas.

"Be our luck though," he added, "to have it blow a howlin'
no'theaster and snow like a busted feather bed by to-morrer
mornin'.  'Member last Christmas, fellers?  We spent two thirds of
the day tryin' to haul a three-master off the Sand Hill.  And we
had to give her up finally, at that, and be satisfied to get the
crew ashore.  We've been luckier this year, so fur's weather's
consarned, than I can remember since I've been at the station.
We'll make up for it by and by; maybe to-morrer'll be the
beginnin'.  Course the Gov'ment signals are set for fair, but they
ain't final.  Peleg Myrick's the real thing.  Pity old Peleg ain't
here so's we could hear from his port elbow."

Apparently, however, the Myrick joints were in normal condition and
the Government's weather prophets right, for Christmas day was,
although much colder, clear and fine.  After breakfast the various
bundles were opened.  There were the presents from home; every man
had some, inexpensive always, homemade very often; but down there
at Setuckit the value of home or gifts was not judged by price or

"Look at that!" shouted Rogers, proudly exhibiting a mysterious
casket, gorgeous in crimson and blue silk tufting.  "My Emeline
made that all herself, out of a cigar box and a shirtwaist of her
mother's--yes, and a piece of her grandmother's weddin' dress.  And
only nine year old, too."

"Which is nine year old?" demanded Badger.  "Her grandmother or the
weddin' dress?"

"What's your wife doin' with a cigar box?" asked Bearse.  "Gettin'
kind of extravagant, ain't she?  If I was you I'd tell her to stick
to a pipe and save money. . . .  There, there, Hez, keep your hair
on.  Can't you take a little foolin'?  It's real kind of cute and
pretty, though, ain't it?" examining the gift, and sniffing at the
tufting.  "All dolled up with smell-um-sweet, too.  What's it for,

The proud parent looked a trifle foolish.

"She got the receipt for makin' it out of a magazine or somethin',"
he explained with a grin.  "She says it's for me to keep my
neckties in.  Ha, ha!  Yes, neckties is what she says.  All right,
I'll keep all I've got there, except on liberty days--then I'll
have to wear it."

There was an abundance of this sort of thing; the jokes, like the
presents, were crude and homemade, but nobody was overcritical.
Seleucus was on tower watch that morning, but had breakfasted at
the Jarvis shanty.  He returned to duty looking rather glum and
Homer, noticing this, tried to cheer him up.

"How is Philander this morning?" he asked.

"He's all right again, pretty nigh.  Him and--and HER 'll be over
for dinner."

There was no doubt as to the identity of the "her"; the gloomy
emphasis was unmistakable.  Mr. Gammon seemed inclined to say more,
but hesitated.

"What is it?" queried Calvin.  "Nobody can hear you--they're making
too much noise.  What have you got on your mind?"

"Say, Cal, look here.  You know that crazy bed-comforter I won up
to the Harniss Odd Fellers' Fair; the one Cap'n Ozzie took a ten-
cent chance for me on?"


"Well, I've had it down here, you know, ever since Olive fetched it
for me.  I was cal'latin' to take it home some one of my liberty
days, but I ain't had but one since, and then I forgot it.  So,
after Jemimy come, thinks I, 'I'll give it to her for Christmas.'
'Twas sort of bright and--er--gay, Cal; I'll leave it to you if

"It was gay, all right.  Did your wife like it?"

"Like it!" Seleucus groaned.  "Say, Cal, when she found it 'twas
Olive fetched it down she--she--Oh, crimustee!  I TOLD her Olive
never made it nor give it to me, neither.  I told her I won it in a
ten-cent raffle."

"Well, that ought to have settled it, I should say."

"Settled it!  She switched round and laid into me for givin' her a
ten-cent present."

"What did she give you?"

"Eh?  All she give me was the divil--but I got plenty of that."

Bartlett took his Number One man aside and showed the latter a
sweater and a pair of fur-lined gloves which his daughter had
brought.  He was overflowing with pride.

"She didn't forget the old man, Calvin," he boasted.  "Course those
gloves are too good for me to use, but I don't tell her so.  I'll
keep 'em to look at and for goin' ashore.  And here's somethin'
else she brought.  I haven't showed it to anybody and I don't want
you to say anything about it.  Those men out yonder are wanderin',
in darkness, most of 'em, and they wouldn't understand.  But you--
well, I shouldn't be surprised if the Lord had put his mark on you,
boy, and he'll lead you to the fold some day. . . .  That's the way
I feel about her--Norma.  It troubles me sometimes, when I realize
that she ain't found salvation yet, and what might happen if she
was took away sudden afore she done it.  Yet--and yet"--he seemed
to be arguing the matter with himself--"I can't think she'd go to
hell.  Seem's if the Almighty'd make allowances.  Don't you think
he would?"

Homer stared at him.  "What are you talking about?" he exclaimed,
in amazement.

"Eh? . . .  Oh, nothin', nothin'.  Was I sayin' somethin' I hadn't
ought to?  I--I--humph!  I get to thinkin' too hard, I guess.
Comes over me by spells, lately, it does, seems so.  Well, this is
what else she brought me.  Look at it, boy."

It was a leather-bound Bible with his name on the cover.  He held
it in his big hands and patted it reverently.

"I opened it when I was alone in my room just now," he went on,
"and what do you suppose 'twas I found?  Hadn't been readin' but a
little ways afore I come to it.  Listen.  'Many daughters have done
virtuously, but thou excellest them all.'  'Thou excellest 'em
all.'  That's what I found, boy.  Those are the words He sent to
me.  And they're right to the point.  She does excel 'em all. . . .
Amen!  Praise the Lord!"

Calvin made no comment.  His mind was in a state between pity and
foreboding.  And yet Benoni's next speech was rational enough.

"She tells me--Norma does," he went on, "that you was mighty kind
and accommodatin' to her the other afternoon.  She says nobody
could have been nicer and more thoughtful than you was, gettin' her
down here.  She's much obliged and so am I.  I tell her that I've
come to count on you a whole lot, Calvin.  You're straight with me,
and--and I ain't so sure about some of the rest of 'em."

The interview ended there, before Homer could ask what he meant.
But the concluding sentence was surprising, for it showed a degree
of perspicacity which he had not believed his eccentric commander

The Christmas dinner was an elaborate affair.  Its materials had
been ordered in Orham and, of course, brought down in the Jarvis
catboat with the presents.  They--the turkey and canned plum
pudding and the rest--were paid for with the contents of the
station "kitty."  This was a time-honored institution in the
service.  On the mantel in the mess room stood a battered earthen
bean pot.  Each pay day every member of the crew--keeper included--
put a certain very small percentage of his wage into this pot.
Sometimes extra dimes and nickels were added--as, for instance, if
some one had had a windfall or happened to be "flush."  This
accumulation was the kitty and was to be spent to provide the
wherewithal for special celebrations, such as Thanksgiving,
Washington's Birthday, or Christmas.

Mrs. Gammon and Philander Jarvis joined them at dinner.  It was the
first time the former had met Norma Bartlett, and her gimlet eyes
looked as if they might bore holes in the young woman.  Norma and
her apparel were scrutinized and itemized from head to foot.  If a
vote of the rest of the assemblage had been taken it would have
been unanimous in the opinion that she was worth any amount of
scrutiny.  The men's gaze followed her as she bustled about, clear
eyed, laughing, self-possessed and unaffected.  Ed Bloomer tapped
Wallie Oaks on the knee beneath the tablecloth.

"Steady, Wallie, steady," he whispered.  "Remember that wife of
yours ashore."

Oaks started and grinned sheepishly.

"For thunder sakes, Ed," he whispered in return, "how did old
Bologny come to have a girl like that?"

It was the question Calvin Homer had asked himself during the
voyage down in the Jarvis catboat--and which, at that moment, he
was asking again.  It is possible that Seleucus Gammon also was
asking it, for he, like the rest, watched Miss Bartlett intently,
and then, turning, caught his wife's eye.  Jemima, evidently, had
been watching him.  Seleucus was a large man and he filled his
clothes well, but, under the influence of that searching glare, he
seemed to shrink into them.  As Hezekiah Rogers described it, he
"puckered up like a baked apple."

At five o'clock was performed a ceremony which, ordinarily, was a
part of the Sunday routine.  The keeper was supposed to be the
principal performer--Captain Myrick had always filled that
position--but, as Benoni Bartlett was a newcomer and unacquainted
with the families of his surfmen, Homer had by request taken charge
and kept it.  He did so now.  Standing before the telephone
instrument in the living-room wall, he called up, one after the
other, the houses of his comrades, in Orham, in South or West
Harniss, wherever they might be.  Some of the men had no telephones
of their own, but these had arranged by letter for some
representative of the family to be at the house of a neighbor
possessing one, to receive and exchange news and gossip.

Calvin did all the telephoning.  The men stood about in an eager
circle.  They took their turns, according to ranking, and were
allowed three minutes each--no more.

"You're next, Hez," announced Homer.  "Yes. . . .  Is that you,
Mrs. Rogers? . . .  Yes, he's well and wishes all hands a merry
Christmas. . . .  No, we haven't been turned out for a week; having
an easy time down here just now. . . .  Eh? . . .  She wants to
know how your chilblains are and if you're using the Eureka
liniment same as she told you to. . . .  Yes, he says they're
better and he'll need another bottle pretty soon. . . .  Yes, he
liked the mittens and they fitted tip-top. . . .  He wants to know
what's the news? . . .  I see. . . .  Hez, she says your Willie got
into a scrap with the Bearse boy--that's your Ike, Sam--and blacked
his eye.  She says it was all Ike's fault."

A strenuous protest here from the indignant Mr. Bearse.

"I know a darn sight better.  Ikey's as quiet a kid as ever lived.
Me and his ma tell him to mind his own business and he does.  That
young one of yours, Hez, is all the time raisin' hob over in our
yard and--"

"Sshh!" this from Homer, at the phone.  "Settle that by and by.
All right, Mrs. Rogers; I'll tell him what you say.  Good-by. . . .
Time's up, Hez. . . .  Wallie, you're next."

And so on.  The after-supper hour was a lively discussion of the
telephoned news, spiced with spirited argument between the fathers
of the recently-embattled William and Isaac.

Norma was hugely amused by all this.  She listened eagerly, her
eyes shining.  Her father, grave and absent-minded did not seem to
heed, but she was tremendously interested.  When she and Calvin
happened to be alone for a few moments, she voiced her thought.

"How like children they are, every one of them," she declared.
"Just like grown-up boys, that's all.  Interested in little
childish things, and making so much of them.  And yet they are all
grown men with families.  Isn't it funny--and queer?"

He smiled.  "It's funny enough," he admitted.  "Sometimes a lot
funnier than it was just now.  Mrs. Oaks and Josh Phinney's wife
got into a row a while ago over a hen that some kid had killed with
a sling shot, and Wallie and Josh all but had a mix-up right in the
mess room.  They didn't speak for ten days and even now it isn't a
safe subject to play with.  Yes, it's funny, but I don't know that
it is so queer.  When things do happen around a life-saving station
they are big things, but they happen only once in a while.  The
rest of the time nothing happens and the little things get to look
big, that's all.  Yes, we are like children.  And the longer we
stay in the service the more childish we get, I suppose."

She looked at him.  "But you are not," she said, with the
directness which seemed so essentially a part of her.  "You are not
childish at all, Mr. Homer.  And you aren't like the rest of the
men here, either."

"That is because I haven't been here but a year or two.  Give me
time and I'll develop--backwards."

"I don't know.  I don't believe you will.  But, at any rate, I am
very glad you are here now."


"On father's account.  On the way down in the boat you remember I
asked if you thought he was worried--if the cares and responsibilities
here were troubling him.  I can see for myself now, and they are.
And I am almost certain that it was a mistake, his accepting the

There was no "almost" in Calvin's certainty, although he made a
pretense of protesting.

"Oh, he's all right," he said.  "He'll get along first-rate, I

It was merely a Yankee habit which added the "I guess," but it was
an error in addition.  Those two words were the ones she pounced

"You guess?" she repeated.  "Why do you only guess?"  Then, before
he could reply, she put out her hand.  "Oh, never mind, Mr. Homer,"
she added.  "Of course you didn't mean anything in particular.  And
please don't think I am going to persecute you with more questions,
as I did in that boat.  Father is perfectly able to get along as
keeper of this station.  I never had a doubt of THAT," with a
scornful little laugh.  "What I started out to say was that I am
glad he has a mate like you to relieve him of some of his petty
worries.  You will help him all you can, won't you?"

"Why--why, I'll do my best, Miss Bartlett."

"He knows you will--and so do I.  We are both relying on you, you
see.  Thank you, Mr. Homer."

She nodded and went away, leaving him in what might be called a
mixed state of mind.  It was--yes, it was pleasant to have her say
such things, and think them.  But they made his position more
difficult, and additional difficulties were quite unnecessary.  If
things went wrong she would blame him.  She would think he had
failed to give the help he had promised, and he did not wish her to
think that.  She had said she trusted him.  It was quite wonderful--
to be selected as a confidant by a girl like Norma Bartlett.

But there was Myra Fuller.  She, too, believed in and trusted him.
His conscience smote him.  Before turning in he wrote Myra a long
letter, explaining his forgetfulness in the matter of the ring, and
asking her forgiveness.  He said nothing concerning their
disagreement.  That subject he avoided in the letter, but he could
not avoid it in his thinking.  For both she and Norma were
demanding of him loyalty--and a kept faith.

The next morning Josh Phinney should have returned to duty, but he
did not.  At ten the telephone bell rang and Bloomer answered the
call.  He chuckled as he hung up the receiver and went to the tower
to report to Captain Bartlett.  Later he made a more elaborate
report to his fellow surfmen.

"Josh just called up," he said.  "There's a new Phinney up to his
house.  A boy--and all hands gettin' along fine.  Josh says for us
to drink an extry dipperful of water to George Dewey Phinney,
that's the young one's name.  He'll be down--Josh will--this
afternoon.  Orrin Hendricks is goin' to drive him down with a horse
'n' team.  Say," he added, in a whisper and with a significant
wink, "I shouldn't be surprised if Josh had had more'n one dipper
of somethin' stronger'n water.  He sort of sounded so to me.  Hope
he don't land here scuppers under.  Cal'late old Bologny'd froth up
some if he did.  Eh?"

As it happened Captain Bartlett and his daughter were not at the
station when the missing member returned from his "liberty."  The
afternoon drill was over and the skipper and his daughter had gone
for a walk to the lighthouse.  Homer was in the boat room,
inspecting some of the gear which he was inclined to think needed
replacement.  He heard the station dog--"Hard Luck" was the
animal's name, and it looked it--barking excitedly, but paid little
attention.  A few minutes later, however, he heard shouts of
laughter in the mess room.  Sauntering leisurely in he found a
group of surfmen gathered about the stove and firing questions at a
man, who, bundled in heavy coat, mittens and sweaters--shore-going
togs--was sprawled in a chair, his countenance expressing the most
hopeless misery.  This was Joshua Phinney.  In another chair a
person whom Calvin recognized as Orrin Hendricks, an Orham
longshoreman, was reclining.  Mr. Hendricks, however, was smiling--
broadly, even vacuously.

No one noticed Homer's entrance.  The crew were enjoying themselves.

"Brace up, Josh," advised Ed Bloomer.  "It might be worse, you

"If you're goin' to cry, Josh," observed Sam Bearse, "let me fetch
the slop bucket to catch the tears.  No use splashin' up the clean
floor.  Look at Orrin.  He ain't cryin', be you, Orrin?"

Mr. Hendricks, thus appealed to, declared that he wasn't crying by
a considerable sight.  To prove it he burst into song.  He
stridently advised his audience to "Drop the anchor, furl the sail.
We are safe within the--within th' jail.  Haw, haw!  Thash good
one, ain't it?  Eh, Cal?  That's stuff, ain't it?  Merry Chris'mas
'n' 'appy New Year.  Let 'er go!"

Bearse, Bloomer and the others, thus apprised of the presence of
their Number One man, looked somewhat abashed and a trifle
apprehensive.  Hendricks favored the company with another
selection.  This time his choice was "After the Ball."

Homer turned to Gammon, who was grinning in the doorway.

"When did they get here?" he asked.

"Few minutes ago.  Come in Orrin's hors' 'n' buggy.  It's outside
here now."

"All right.  Put Orrin aboard the buggy and one of you drive him
down as far as the Orham Station.  Seleucus, you do it.  Then turn
him over to the men there and let them get him home.  Hurry up!

Seleucus looked peeved.  "And then I'll have to hoof it all the way
back, I presume likely?" he said.


"Well, say, Cal--"

"You can say it afterwards.  Do you want Cap'n Bartlett to see 'em
here--like this?"

Seleucus was stirred to instant life.

"You're dead right, I don't," he declared.  "Come on, Orrin; come
on.  You can do the rest of your Moody and Sankyin' outside.
Nobody'll have to hear you there but me and the gulls.  And the
gulls ain't particular.  Come on!"

He pulled the protesting vocalist to his feet and piloted those
feet to the door.  Homer crossed to where Phinney was sitting and
laid a hand on his shoulder.

"You better turn in, Josh," he ordered.  "The skipper 'll be back
pretty soon and he'd better not see you."

To his surprise Mr. Phinney burst into tears.  He sobbed bitterly.

"What's the matter with you?" demanded Calvin.  "Stop that crying.
Stop it."

But Josh did not stop.  He lifted up his voice and wept.  "You--you
don't know's what's--whash happened up to my house," he sobbed.

Calvin remembered the important event which had called the man
home.  His tone changed.

"Why, what is it, Josh?" he asked sympathetically.  "The baby
isn't--nothin's happened to the new baby?"

The tears flowed down the Phinney cheeks, but the Phinney head was

"Baby's all right," said Josh.  "Baby's fine.  George Dewey--thash
name.  Little Georgie Dewey Phinney.  Poor little kid!"

"POOR little--!  Why, what--Is your wife--?"

"My wife's fine.  She's fine woman.  SHE'S all right.  But--oh

Homer's apprehensions were relieved, but his patience was wearing.

"What are you crying about?" he demanded sharply.

Josh raised his head.  Then he gave utterance to a remark which was
destined to be added to the list of Setuckit Station jokes and to
go down in history.

"I--I cal'late you'd cry if--if your mother-in-law had--had burned
her foot with a flatiron," he wailed.

Even Calvin was obliged to join in the hilarious howl which greeted
this touching disclosure.  But he was the first to recover.

"Get him to bed," he commanded.  "And hurry up.  Keep him quiet
there, if you can, and he'll feel better in the morning. . . .
And, look here," he added gravely, "don't say anything about this.
If Cap'n Bartlett hears of it--well, you know how he feels about

The grief-stricken son-in-law of a scorched parent was dragged up
to the sleeping quarters.  When the Bartletts returned all was
quiet.  Calvin reported that Phinney had come back, but that he was
pretty well used up and, under orders, had turned in.

"They've got a new baby up there," he added, "and Josh is tired
out, I guess."

The explanation was accepted as satisfactory and Homer was
relieved.  Phinney, when on duty, was a first-class surfman--his
lapses from rectitude were few--and Calvin did not care to have him
get into trouble.  It looked as if that trouble had been avoided.

But, later on that evening, Wallie Oaks touched his arm, winked,
and asked him to step outside for a moment.

"Say, Cal," he whispered, "you know what's happened this afternoon,
don't you?  About Josh and Orrin, I mean?"

"Happened?  They were both drunk; I know that."

"Um-hum.  Sure!  But that ain't the whole of it.  They fetched down
a jug along with 'em.  It's hid around here somewheres, too."

Homer turned on him.  "How do you know?" he asked, sharply.

"Sshh!  Don't talk so loud.  I wouldn't want none of 'em to know I
was tellin' you.  I didn't see the jug myself, but I smelled whisky
on Hez Rogers's breath when he went out on patrol just now, and
I've seen him and Ed and the rest of 'em whisperin' and laughin'
together.  They never told ME--they've got a grudge against me,
anyhow--but I tumbled all right, and I thought you ought to know
about it.  Only," anxiously, "don't let 'em know I give the thing
away, will you?"

Calvin hesitated.  This was not entirely unexpected.  Smuggling
liquor to the life-saving stations was done occasionally.  Not that
the men were drunkards, far from it, but liquor was strictly
forbidden--therefore, obtaining it was in the nature of a lark.  It
was one more instance of the schoolboy's delight in outwitting his
teacher, that was all.  But the situation must be handled with
diplomacy, as the clever teacher handles mischief in the
schoolroom.  Over-severity would be a fatal mistake.  And Benoni
Bartlett was a fanatic.

Wallie whispered again.

"You'll tell the cap'n, won't you, Cal?" he asked.

In his eagerness he clutched his companion's arm.  Homer shook him

"No, I shan't tell him," he said, emphatically.  "And don't you do
it, either.  You keep your mouth shut; do you understand?  I'll
attend to this thing myself."

Wallie's disappointment was obvious.

"Why, see here, Cal," he protested, "one of the very things
Bologny--Cap'n Bartlett, I mean--said when he took this job was
that he wouldn't stand for any rum drinkin'!  If he knew--"

"He mustn't know.  There is no need of his knowing.  I'll see there
is no more drinking.  But as for you, Wallie, you keep still.  If
the men knew you were telling tales they would--well, it wouldn't
help that grudge you were talking about."

"But--but, Cal--good Lord! you ain't goin' to give me away, are

"Not if you keep quiet."


Phinney came to breakfast with the rest.  His appetite was far from
robust and his spirits were still low.  There was a general
atmosphere of the "morning after" surrounding him, but he made no
reference to the accident which had befallen his wife's mother and
Homer was certain that Bartlett would notice nothing unusual in his
manner.  So far the situation was satisfactory.  It remained to be
seen, however, what might develop later on.  If Oaks's suspicions
concerning the jug were founded on fact, developments were to be

The first symptoms of these developments appeared before the
forenoon was over.  The weather was thick and threatening, so beach
patrol was necessary.  The spirits of certain members of the crew
were unusually high.  The skylarking in the mess room became so
noisy that Norma remarked it.  She was quite unsuspecting.

"They are full of fun this morning, aren't they, Mr. Homer?" she
observed.  "They were making such a racket just now that father
said he was going to tell them to stop; but I wouldn't let him do
it.  Rogers and Bloomer were teasing Walter Oaks, plaguing him
about something he said when you were all off at some wreck or
other.  Something about his wife.  They were shouting so that I
couldn't help hearing it.  They're boys, just as I've said so many
times, but they are more boylike than ever to-day, it seems to me."

Calvin made some sort of excuse for leaving her and went to
investigate.  Outside, at the rear of the station, he found the two
she had mentioned.  Badger was there also, an interested spectator.
Wallie Oaks, a sullen expression on his face, was backed against
the wall, while Hez and Ed were putting him through some sort of

"Hello there, Cal!" hailed Bloomer.  "You're just in time.  It's
Wallie's birthday and he's goin' to sing a song for us.  He's goin'
to sing 'Nancy Lee.'  It's one of his pet songs, all about his wife

     "'And there she stands
       And waves her hands,
       And waits for me--'

Come on, Wallie, now!  Go to it!  We'll all join in the chorus."

Oaks puffed sullenly at his pipe.  Rogers, a broad grin on his
face, slapped his big hands together.

"Go on, Wal," he ordered.  "If you won't sing, then Ed and I'll
walk you Spanish three times around the station.  A man's got to
either sing or dance on his birthday.  Maybe Ed and I can't make
you sing, but we can make you dance--and step high, too; eh, Ed?
Ho, ho!"

Oaks took his pipe from his mouth.  "You lay a hand on me and
you'll wish you hadn't, Hez Rogers," he threatened.  "I can stand
foolin' all right, but enough of it's enough.  Especially when--"

The remainder of the sentence was an inarticulate mutter.

"Eh?  What's the last of that?" demanded Bloomer.  "Say it out

"I'll say it when I get good and ready.  And maybe I'll say it--"

Homer broke in.

"That'll do, Wallie," he snapped.  "No, you keep still.  Look here,
Hez, you and Ed and Ellis are making more noise than a camp
meeting; did you know it?  You'll have the skipper out after you,
first thing you know."

Rogers laughed.

"Let him come," he proclaimed.  "We ain't scared of any Crooked
Hill heroes, I guess.  Let him come!  Maybe he'll sing a hymn tune
for us, after Wallie gets through.  Ho, ho!  Good idea; ain't that
so, Ed?"

Bloomer joined in the laugh.  "Sure thing," he agreed.  "What are
you buttin' in for, Cal?  You ain't skipper nowadays, worse luck.
And YOU ain't playin' up to old Bologny--after the mean trick he
worked on you!"

Calvin smiled.  "I'm not playing up to anybody and you know it,
Ed," he said.  "But we've got a visitor down here.  You don't want
her to think we're a gang of rough-necks, do you?  She says you are
the finest crew she ever saw.  You've made a hit with her, boys."

Hez grinned.  "Say, she's a peach, that girl, even if she is old
Bible-back's daughter," he announced.  "We're the finest crew
afloat, eh?  Good for her!  Good judgment, that is, and I can lick
any man that says we ain't.  YOU say we ain't, will you, Wallie?"

"She won't think so if you start a fight with her father.  If
you've got to raise a ruction this morning why not raise it where
she can't hear you?  Take your racket somewhere else."

Badger offered a suggestion.  "I tell you what let's do, boys," he
said.  "Seleucus is over to the shanty cleanin' fish for Jemimy's
dinner.  Let's go over and start him and her goin'.  We'll tell her
Seleucus is dead gone on this Bartlett girl, follers her around
like a dog.  That ought to raise one or two sprouts--eh?"

The idea was received with delight.  Oaks was forgotten.

"But where's Josh?" asked Hez.  "He'll want to be in on this.  Oh,

From the door of the stable Phinney himself made answer.  His
morning-after depression had mysteriously disappeared.  He appeared
to be in high good humor.

"Here I be, fellers," he answered.  "Ahh. . . !  I feel better. . . .
Where you bound?  I'm with you, wherever 'tis."

He concluded with another "A-ah," expressive, apparently, of
complete satisfaction.  Also he smacked his lips.  Bloomer and
Rogers explained matters in concert.  The trio, accompanied by
Badger, moved noisily away in the direction of the Jarvis shanty.
Oaks and Homer were left alone.

"Wallie," said Calvin, "you go on patrol as soon as Bearse comes
off.  You'd better go now and get ready.  It's my tower watch.  The
skipper's up there now, but I'll relieve him in a minute."

Oaks turned toward the door of the station.  He was still gloomy
and morose.

"I'll stand this kind of thing from those fellers about so far and
no farther," he muttered.  "I'm gettin' sick of it.  You know
what's the matter with that gang, don't you, Cal?  You know what I
told you last night?"

Homer did not answer.  As soon as he was alone, however, he walked
briskly to the stable, entered, and closed the door carefully
behind him.  Port and Starboard turned their heads to regard him
over the sides of their stalls, and "Slabsides," one of the station
cats, in the barn on a mouse hunt, came running to rub against his
legs.  He and Slabsides were great friends, but just now the latter
was not treated to his customary petting.  Calvin, too, was on a
hunt, and he must locate his prey quickly, if he hoped to do so

He sniffed the air in the dark, shut-up stable.  There were the
usual smells, of course--horse, hay and leather.  But--unless his
imagination was affecting his nostrils--there was, also a faint
suspicion of another fragrance, an odor which he had noticed while
in conversation with Bloomer and Rogers, and in particular when
Josh Phinney passed him as he came out of that barn a minute or two
before.  He sniffed again.  Then he began a systematic search of
the lower floor.  The mow, according to his experience, was as
likely a place as any, but he would try the lower floor first.

The mangers, under the horses' noses, were empty except for the
rations of hay which should be there.  Leaving them he walked over
and threw up the lid of the oat bin.  The moment he lifted that lid
he knew he had found the hiding place.  That bin was redolent less
of oats than of rye.  His fingers, burrowing amid the grain,
encountered a smooth, rounded surface.  He dragged from the bin a
gallon jug, the contents of which gurgled liquidly.

He thrust the jug beneath his coat, lowered the lid of the bin, and
walked to the door, Slabsides galloping playfully before him.  His
idea was to go somewhere among the dunes at the rear of the barn,
pour out the whisky, and then bury the empty jug in the sand.  But
as he stepped across the threshold he realized that this ceremony
must be postponed.  Not only was Sam Bearse returning from patrol,
approaching the station, but Norma Bartlett was standing by the
back door and had seen him.  Moreover, she was already walking in
his direction.

The morning was raw and damp and, when he left the station, he had
hurriedly donned a long oilskin slicker--one which he had borrowed
from Philander Jarvis's store in the catboat's cabin and which had
not yet been returned.  It was hanging by the kitchen door and he
had taken it because it was more convenient than his own heavy
coat, which was in the sleeping quarters.  Now he blessed the luck
which had prompted the action.  A gallon jug is hard to conceal,
but the skirts of a long slicker hide it as well as any garment

Nevertheless, a jug doesn't hide itself and it requires support.
To cling to the handle beneath one's coat and appear unconscious
and casual while carrying on a conversation with a young woman is
no easy task.  Also, the jug was bulky and, although the slicker
was large, Calvin was conscious of a manifest bulge of the garment
in its vicinity.

Miss Barlett, however, did not seem to notice the bulge.  Nor, at
first, did she appear aware that Homer was ill at ease.  She walked
briskly to meet him.  She was wearing her father's pea jacket,
which enveloped her from chin to knees, and above its turned-up
collar her hair tossed in the wind, for she was bareheaded.
Already the sea air and breeze had replaced the city pallor with a
light coat of tan.  Her cheeks were crimson and her eyes bright.

"Where are the men?" she asked.  "It was so quiet, all at once,
that I came out to see what had happened.  I hope you didn't take
too seriously what I said about their being so noisy.  I didn't
mind a bit, really.  You didn't send them away on my account, did

He shook his head.  "No--oh, no," he replied uneasily.  "I believe
they've gone over to the Jarvises' to see Seleucus. . . .  It--it's
a nice day, isn't it?"

She laughed.  "Is it?" she repeated.  "It doesn't seem so very nice
to me.  Almost as if it were going to rain--or snow.  And father
has just hoisted the weather signals and they forecast high winds
and a storm of some kind.  But I suppose Mr. Myrick might give us a
real prophecy if he were here.  I hope I shall see him again,
before I go.  He is lots of fun."

Homer agreed, absent-mindedly.  The jug was occupying his thoughts.

"And you can't think the weather so very good," she went on.  "You
are wearing your oilskins.  Where have you been?"

"Oh, just--just out to the barn, that's all.  To--to see the

"Is it your turn to do that?  I understood father to say Mr.
Bloomer was stable man this week.  But I suppose you, as Number
One, have to keep a sort of general eye on everything."

"Yes--er--sort of.  Er--going for a walk, were you?"

"No, I just came out, as I said, to see why it was so quiet all at
once. . . .  What is the matter, Mr. Homer?  Has anything gone

"Wrong?  No, no.  Nothing is wrong.  Why--what made you ask that?"

"There is nothing wrong with the crew?  No trouble of any kind?"

"Trouble?  What sort of trouble could there be?  Everything is all
right.  Where is your father?"

"He is in the tower with Walter Oaks."

"Eh?  With Wallie?  What is Wallie doing there?  He ought to be
starting on patrol."

"He is going to, I believe.  He is dressed for it.  But he went up
to see father.  Said he wanted to see him about something. . . .
Are you sure everything is all right, Mr. Homer?"

"Eh?  Yes--yes, Miss Bartlett.  I'm sure.  Yes, indeed."

"Have you hurt your arm?  Why do you hold it that way?"

"Eh. . . ?  Oh, that's all right.  I--er--well, I must be going.
It's my watch in the tower."

He walked hastily away.  With every step a musical "swash" sounded
from beneath the skirt of the slicker.  As he turned to enter the
station he looked back; she was watching him intently.  He felt
remarkably like a fool and was quite sure that he must look like

He went directly to the crew's quarters--fortunately there was no
one else there--for Bearse was warming his hands by the kitchen
stove--and, turning back the blankets of his cot, hid the whisky
jug beneath them.  Then he hastened up to the tower.  He met Oaks
on the stairs.

"What are you doing up here, Wallie?" he asked, suspiciously.
"You're late for patrol, did you know it?"

Oaks scowled.  "I don't know's that's any of your business," he
said.  "You ain't skipper no more, are you?"

Calvin ignored the question.  "What are you chasing the cap'n for?"
he demanded.

Wallie stopped.  "Who said I was chasin' him?" he blurted.  "Who

"Miss Bartlett said you told her there was something you wanted to
see him about.  Look here, Wallie; you remember what I told you
about keeping your mouth shut?  It was mighty good advice, if I did
give it."

The other's face flushed.  "I ain't sayin' 'twasn't, am I?" he
protested.  "I went up to ask Cap'n Bartlett if I couldn't have an
extry day off next week.  That's all, if you must know."

Bartlett, when Homer reached the tower room, had almost nothing to
say to his mate.  He seemed, so the latter thought, gloomy and
morose, and, a few minutes later, went below.

Rogers returned from the Jarvis cottage a short time afterward and
visited Calvin in the tower.  It was his week as cook, so he had
left Bloomer, Badger and Phinney and come back to get dinner.  He
was full of chuckles.

"They're raisin' heigho over there, them fellers," he declared.
"Stringin' Seleucus about this Bartlett girl.  You recollect
Norma's readin' that piece out of last week's Globe about the
seagull--piece of poetry 'twas?  Um-hum.  Well, Josh he sort of
hinted that she was readin' it to Seleucus especial, and that set
Jemimy goin'.  She wanted to know if that was all Seleucus had to
do in his spare time, set around and read poetry with women.  Well--
you know Seleucus--he got all het up and laid into Josh, and
course that only made things worse so far as his wife's concerned.
How any sane critter can be jealous about a homely old pickle tub
like Seleucus mercy only knows; but Jemimy AIN'T sane--she's crazy
as a loon on them subjects.  If _I_ was married to her I'd
straighten her out with a tholepin; but Seleucus he just sets and
takes it.  And he's big enough to eat a shrimp like her for
breakfast, at that.  Only if he did I cal'late she'd pison him."

"You'd better get down to your cooking, hadn't you, Hez?" suggested

"Yes, I cal'late likely I had, but there ain't any rush--not to-
day.  I've got a second steward, did you know it?  Norma's making
turkey soup out of the Christmas leftovers.  Yes, and she's makin'
a sugar cake for us, too.  What do you think of that?  We'll live
high while she's around, won't we, Cal?  Well, I guess I'll go down
and give her a hand.  Ain't a bad job, standin' close alongside of
that kind of steward.  I wouldn't mind signin' up for a consider'ble
cruise with a pippin like her.  Eh?  What do YOU say, Cal?"

Calvin looked at him.  "If I were you, Hez," he observed, "I
wouldn't stand too close to her just now."

"Why not?"

"Because she might notice that you'd been taking something besides

Rogers's hand moved involuntarily to his lips.

"Sho!" he muttered.  "Humph!  I'll have to chew a stick of cinnamon
or somethin'.  Wouldn't want old Bologny to get on.  Say, Cal,
how'd you tumble?  Josh tell you?"

"Nobody needed to tell me.  Stuff like that advertises itself.
Don't forget that cinnamon, Hez."

The turkey soup and cake received high praise, but Homer had little
appetite.  He was awaiting the explosion which he believed was in
the air.  Benoni Bartlett's behavior was what troubled him most.
The skipper was silent and frowning all through the meal.  Calvin,
remembering Oaks's conference with Bartlett and, putting two and
two together, was fearful.  There was the incriminating evidence
hidden in his bed.  He must get rid of it somehow, but opportunities
for doing so before nightfall and unobserved were likely to be few.
Bartlett, bigoted and fanatical, might do almost anything.  His
standing with the crew was precarious enough already.  If he made a
mistake now--if, by some ill-advised action, he changed the men's
prejudice to active enmity--then the situation at Setuckit Station
would become serious indeed.

For himself, Homer cared little.  Nothing that could happen to him
was worth consideration.  If the worst did happen and the whisky
was discovered where he had hidden it, he made up his mind to say
nothing and take the consequences.  Later he could tell Kellogg the
truth and the superintendent, a wise man of long experience, would
understand.  But the fat would be in the fire, so far as Bartlett's
relationship with the crew was concerned.  That relationship would
become impossible.  A life-saving crew that hated its captain could
and would--for similar experiences at other stations were matters
of service gossip--make the latter's life miserable and, more than
all, absolutely wreck the efficiency of the outfit.  Tact, tact,
and more tact--that was what was required.  And Benoni Bartlett, so
Calvin Homer believed, possessed no tact whatever.  And there was
his daughter!  SHE would not understand.

The dinner ended without any untoward happenings, but within an
hour the trouble came.  It was the afternoon set apart by
regulation for beach drill, but the keeper gave no orders to that
effect.  Instead he left the table and went away, apparently to the
boat room.  The surfmen, those off duty, lounged in the mess room
or went outside.  Calvin, anxious and apprehensive, joined the
outside group a little later.  Rogers, Bloomer and Phinney were
standing near the back door, whispering excitedly.  The whispering
ceased when he appeared.  Bloomer turned to him.

"Say, Cal," he queried, "what's the old man doin' out in the barn?"

Homer looked at him.  "Out in the barn?" he repeated, with as
casual an appearance of unconcern as he could muster.  "I don't
know.  Is he there?"

"Yes.  Come out of the front door a few minutes ago and went
straight to the barn.  I sung out to him, but he never answered.
What's he up to, anyway?"

"Give it up.  Looking things over, I suppose.  What of it?"

"Nothin'.  Only what set him--"

He was interrupted.  Ellis Badger came hurrying to join the group.

"Say, boys," he whispered, excitedly, ignoring Calvin altogether,
"he's pawin' around in there like a dog chasin' rats.  He's been to
the bin."

His comrades stared at him, then at each other.  Phinney spoke.

"To the bin!" he exclaimed.  "He has. . . ?  Well?"

"That's the funny part of it," went on Badger.  "I peeked in
through the side window just as he lifted up the lid.  I see him,
with his head and shoulders down inside that bin for much as five
minutes.  He took time enough to count the oats, seemed so to me.
And then he just slammed down the cover again.  That's all there
was to it."

His comrades continued to stare.  "What do you mean--that's all?"
demanded Rogers.

"I mean just that.  He never found nothin', or, if he did, he--Eh?
Oh, hello, Cal!  Well, what of it, Hez?  Cal's all right; he's no
tattletale.  Anyhow, Bologny never found anything.  I saw his face
when he slammed down that cover and 'twas sour as last week's milk.
He was huntin' and he didn't strike ile, I'll bet on it.  He's up
in the mow now.  Huntin' there, I presume likely."

Bloomer turned to Phinney.  "You was the last one in that barn,
wasn't you, Josh?" he asked.  "Nobody's been there since dinner?"

Josh shook his head.  "Nobody that I know of," he declared.
"Seleucus came over from his shanty with you and me and Ellis; and,
anyhow, he didn't know anything about--we didn't tell him.  He
relieved you up in the tower, didn't he, Cal?"

Homer nodded.

"Um-hum," grunted Josh.  "I thought so; he's up there now.  And
Sam's inside smokin'; you can see him.  And we didn't tell him yet,
either.  And Wallie--Eh?  Where's Wallie?"

Calvin answered.  "He is out on patrol," he said.  "It's time he
was back.  You go out next, don't you, Ellis?"

They paid no heed to the question.  Phinney was frowning.

"Wallie was on, I guess likely," he observed thoughtfully.  "He as
much as said so when we was guyin' him a spell ago.  And he's
always playin' up to the old man, makin' out to us that he ain't
got any use for him, but playin' pet dog to him every chance he
gets.  Say! you don't suppose Wallie--"

Again Homer cut in.  It seemed to him high time.

"What are you fellows talking about?" he asked.  "Wallie went on
patrol just after you went across to Philander's.  And he hasn't
got back yet.  What is all this, anyway?"

Bloomer laughed, sheepishly.  "Oh, nothin', Cal," he answered.
"Just a little joke, that's all.  Tell you some time.  Josh, if it
wan't Wallie, then who was it?  The only one left is Cal here, and
HE didn't know.  And Norma--where's she?"

"She's readin' a book in the keeper's room.  Sshh! here's Bologny.
He looks like heavy weather, don't he?  Be innocent.  All hands."

Bartlett, his hands in his coat pockets, came striding from the
barn.  His brows were drawn together and his jaw, beneath the
beard, was set.  He stopped before the group.  "Well, Cap'n,"
observed Rogers cheerfully.  "Be gettin' ready for drill pretty
soon, I presume likely, won't we?"

The skipper grunted.  "Come inside, all hands of you," he ordered.
"I've got a word to say."

They followed him into the station.  As they did so, Oaks appeared
returning from patrol.  He joined them in the mess room.  Bearse
was already there.  Seleucus was in the tower, but Bartlett called
him down.  The men stood or sat.  Their captain paced the floor a
moment, then he swung about and faced them.  He was tugging at his
beard and in his eyes was that peculiar glitter which Homer had
seen there before when the man was excited.

"Look here," he began, suddenly.  "Look here, you.  When I first
came here to this station, when I took this job, Cap'n Kellogg
asked me to say a word and I did it.  You was here, all hands of
you, and you heard me.  You recollect I said I'd act square with
you and I expected you to act square by me?  That's what I said and
I told you that, with the help of the Lord A'mighty, we'd get along
together.  You heard me say that, didn't you?"

No one answered.

"Eh?  Didn't you?" he repeated, raising his voice.

Still no answer.  Calvin, glancing at his companions, saw the look
of puzzled bewilderment on the faces of Bearse and Gammon, the pair
not in the secret.  Phinney, Bloomer and Badger were, according to
instructions, pictures of bland innocence.  Wallie Oaks was the
most interesting study.  Unless Calvin was very much mistaken,
Wallie was frightened.

"Why don't you say somethin'?" demanded Bartlett, almost in a
shout.  "You heard me say that about actin' square, didn't you?"

Seleucus grinned.  "I did, for one," he observed.  "I can hear you
now, too.  You don't need to holler."

The door of the skipper's room opened and Norma came out.  She
looked at the men, then at her father, and, coming over, put her
hand on his arm.

"Why, father!" she exclaimed.  "What is it?  What is the matter?"

Bartlett looked at her.  Then he shook his arm free.

"Never mind," he growled.  "I don't want you to bother me now.  I'm
talkin' to the crew."

"But, father, what is it?"

"Sshh!  Let me alone.  I know what it is--and so do they.  You--you
men--you heard me say that one thing I wouldn't stand for was rum
drinkin'.  I said I wouldn't have rum around this station.  I meant
it.  Rum is the devil's work.  I tell you I know it.  I've seen it.
I tell you--"

"Father--father!  Don't shout so.  They hear you."

"They're goin' to hear me.  I know somebody has brought liquor down
here.  I tell you I know it.  There's been rum drunk here--to-day.
And there's some of it hid somewheres, I ain't found it yet, but I
will find it.  And I'll find out who brought it and who hid it.

He paused, choking and inarticulate, his clenched fists shaking.
His daughter again put her hand on his shoulder.  "Father--please
don't!" she begged.  She looked at the faces of the crew.  Her gaze
met Calvin's and rested there.  There was appeal in the look.  He
had not meant to speak, but he found himself doing so.

"Cap'n Bartlett," he said, quietly, "don't get excited.  Tell us
about it.  What makes you think--"

Benoni interrupted.  "Think!" he shouted.  "There's no thinkin'
about it.  I KNOW.  I know rum was brought here and I can guess who
brought it.  I don't know where it is now, but I know where 'twas.
'Twas in the grain box out yonder in the barn.  I smelt it.  That
bin is rank with it.  Don't tell me I was mistaken.  I know the
smell of the devilish stuff too well.  Too well I know it.  When I
was a young man, afore I found salvation, I--I--'It biteth like a
sarpent and stingeth like an adder.'  I won't have it here.  I--"

"There, there, father!  Hush, hush, you'll make yourself sick.  You
frighten me.  Please, for my sake. . . !  That's better.  Now tell
them quietly."

Bartlett's fist opened.  He drew his hand across his forehead.

"Well--well, all right, Norma," he said.  "I--I didn't mean to let
the thing run away with me so.  And--and I didn't want you to know
about it; I knew 'twould plague you.  Now, you men, listen to me.
I won't have liquor here.  I won't have it.  I'm a just man--I am--
but I won't stand that.  No, and I ain't through with this either.
I've only begun.  Somebody took that bottle, or jug, or whatever
'twas, out of that bin and hid it somewheres else.  I'll find it,
though.  I will if I have to hunt through every man's kit--every
one.  And the man that's got it had better look out, that's all.
He better look out.  I--Oh, all right, Norma.  What made you mix up
in this. . . ?  All right, I'm through for now.  But," with an
ominous scowl in the direction of the others, "I ain't through with
the man who fetches rum to this station--or drinks it after it gets
here.  I ain't through with him.  And I'll find where it's hid. . . .
Now go back to duty.  We'll turn out for drill in five minutes."

He drew his hand across his forehead once more and turned away.
His daughter put her arm about him.

"Come in here, into my room, father," she said gently.  "You must
rest.  And I want to talk to you."

The men looked at each other.  Homer led the way to the back door
and the others followed.  Once outside, feelings were expressed,
and with fluent emphasis.

"Gosh!" exclaimed Bearse, with contemptuous disgust.  "That was a
pretty piece of play actin', wan't it?  What the blue blazes does
he mean talkin' to us like that!  Say, I'll tell you one thing; the
man that starts overhaulin' MY kit is goin' to wake up on the floor
with a black eye--no matter who he is, keeper or not."

"Crimus!" snorted Seleucus.  "Don't call HIM a keeper of no life-
savin' station.  He's a Sunday-school teacher, and a loony one at
that.  Well, I told you he looked like a damn fool when he come
here.  Eh?  Now didn't I?  Crimustee!"

Homer put in a word.  "He's cracked on temperance, boys," he
observed.  "But we knew that before.  Now let's take it easy and
pay no attention.  He'll get over it.  He isn't going to search
anybody's kit.  Besides, his daughter is here, and we don't want a
row to spoil her vacation.  She's going to-morrow.  Think of that
cake she made for dinner--and be thankful."

Oaks spoke next.

"Anyhow," he protested, eagerly, "what's he mean by sayin' there's
rum hid around the station?  _I_ ain't heard of none.  There ain't
any, is there?"

Ed Bloomer's laugh was not entirely humorous.  "Maybe that ain't
the main question, Wallie," he said.  "The thing some of us want to
know is who told the skipper there was."

Drill passed without unusual incident.  Bartlett conducted it in
businesslike fashion.  He seemed nervous and shaken--and, or so
Homer fancied--rather abashed and self-conscious.  Nothing further
was said by him during that afternoon or evening in reference to
the liquor or his outburst concerning it.  But heavily upon
Calvin's mind weighed the thought of the jug hidden in his cot.  He
must get that away, out of the station and out of sight--and soon.

He turned in with the rest of the crew--except those on duty in the
tower or on patrol--at ten o'clock.  He lay there wide awake, his
feet touching the jug, until eleven.  Then, certain that his
comrades were asleep, he cautiously rose, partially dressed,
slipped on the Jarvis slicker once more, and tiptoed downstairs,
through the mess room and out at the back door.  The jug was
clutched tightly in his hand.

Outside, in the raw cold of the winter night, he breathed easier
and walked faster.  Behind a dune he dug a hole in the sand and,
after pouring out the whisky, put the jug in the hole and covered
it carefully.  Then he walked back to the station.  That source of
trouble was dead--and buried.

But his self-congratulation was short lived.  He was tiptoeing
cautiously through the mess room, past the door of the skipper's
room--his daughter's room now--when that door opened.  Miss
Bartlett herself came out.  She was fully dressed.  Apparently she
had not been in bed at all.

He looked at her and she looked at him.  He wanted very much to say
something, but he did not know what to say.  She spoke first.

"Well, Mr. Homer?" she asked, coldly.

"Why--why, Miss Bartlett!" he stammered, inanely.  "Are you--are
you up?"

"Yes.  And so are you.  Why?"

"Why--why, I just--I was--"

She motioned toward a chair.  "Would you mind sitting down a
minute?" she went on.  "I want to talk with you.  I have been
waiting for you.  I saw you when you went out."

He hesitated, and then sat down by the table.  She sat opposite

"I saw you when you went out," she repeated.  "I expected to see
you.  Mr. Homer, I think you and I ought to have a plain
understanding.  I know what you have been doing--or I can guess."

"You--er--I don't know what you mean."

"Of course you do," impatiently.  "You know exactly what I mean.
You have been getting rid of that whisky that father is so excited
about.  And you were the one who took it out of the grain bin.  You
had it under your coat when I met you coming from the barn this
afternoon. . . .  Oh, don't deny it, please!  I'm not quite an
imbecile.  I knew then that you were hiding something.  When you
walked I could hear it.  And I didn't need to hear; your face was
enough.  You looked--but there! we won't waste time arguing over a
certainty.  I want to hear your explanation--if you have one."

Her tone was coldly sarcastic, and it was a mistake.  It helped him
to recover from his surprise and chagrin; also it aroused his
resentment.  After all, why should he answer her questions?  And he
had done nothing of which to be ashamed.

"I don't know that there is any explanation," he said.  "If there
is, I--well, why should I make it to you?"

Her eyes flashed.  "Why should you make it to me?" she repeated.
"Because you owe it to me.  I am Captain Bartlett's daughter."

"But you aren't Cap'n Bartlett.  If he asks me I shall tell him--
perhaps.  Or perhaps not.  I'm not sure of even that."

She rose and stood facing him.  "Indeed!" she exclaimed,
scornfully.  "I see.  You might tell father--perhaps!  But you
DIDN'T tell him.  You knew how he felt about--about such things.
And how nervous and--and broken he is just now.  You knew all this,
and yet, instead of helping him, you--you help the SNEAKS that are
working against him.  Oh, they are!  Do you think he doesn't know
it?  Do you think _I_ haven't seen it since I have been here?  How
some of them hate him--and are jealous of him--and--Oh, it is
wicked!  Wicked!"

He was silent.  She looked down at him, her fiery indignation
flaming in her cheeks.

"And he trusts you.  You know that.  He has told you so, and he has
told me.  Yes, and I told you that very thing; how he liked you and
believed in you.  And I trusted you, too.  I was going away from
here to-morrow believing that, at least, father and I had one loyal
friend whom we could count on.  You promised me you would help him
all you could.  You promised--oh, but you are like the rest!  You
are worse, because you know more than they do.  You are different
altogether--or I thought you were.  And yet, all the time, while
you were pretending to him and to me, you have been--Oh, I'm
ashamed!  I am ashamed of you.  But I'm more ashamed of myself for
believing in you. . . .  There!  We have had our understanding.
That is all that is necessary.  It is quite sufficient."

It might be sufficient for her, but it was not for him.  She had
turned her back upon him and was on the way to her room, but he
sprang after her and caught her arm.

"Miss Bartlett," he said.

She tried to free herself.  "Let me be," she commanded.

"No, I won't--not yet."

She tried again to shake off his grip, but he merely tightened it.

"You hurt me," she cried.  "Let me be.  I shall call father."

"All right, call him.  I'm perfectly willing he should hear what
I've got to say.  But if I were you I should hear it myself first.
After that, if you still want to, you may call him and welcome.
Now come back here and sit down, please."

She hesitated.  She was almost in tears, but, inexperienced with
the sex as he was, he did not make the mistake of thinking them
tears of grief.  Then she drew herself erect.

"Very well," she said icily.  "If you will take your hand away I
will sit down and listen.  I suppose I shall have to.  But I shall
never speak to you again as long as I live."

"All right.  At any rate, I'll do the speaking for a while.  All
you need do is listen. . . .  Now then:  Miss Bartlett, I suppose
you think, because you caught me with that whisky jug this
afternoon and to-night, that I brought the stuff down here and am
responsible for the drinking and for your father's trouble with the
crew.  Well, I'm not."

She kept her word, so far as speaking was concerned.  He might have
been on a different planet if entire indifference to his existence
could be offered as evidence.  But he went doggedly on.  Mentioning
no names, he told of his suspicions concerning the drinking and the
liquor smuggling, of his finding the jug, of the recent internment
behind the dune.  Also he told why he had acted as he did.

"I didn't intend that your father should know anything about it,"
he said.  "I didn't tell him for two or three reasons.  One of them
is that I knew what a--well, what prejudices he had against
drinking, and that, if he found it out, he was likely to act and
speak as he did this afternoon.  That performance of his was about
the worst mistake he could have made--with this kind of a crew.
ABOUT the worst; the very worst would have been to start
overhauling their chests and kits as he talked of doing.  I was
trying to save him--yes, and you--from going on the rocks.  Another
thing was the crew themselves.  They're good fellows; there isn't
another bunch alongshore that can match them when it comes to doing
the jobs they're put here for.  But they have to be handled
carefully.  They aren't drunkards--not a bit of it.  So far as I
know there isn't one who really cares a red cent for whisky.  But,
as you yourself have said a half-dozen times, they are like kids in
some ways.  Shut off down here they're looking for fun, mischief,
skylarking--whatever you want to call it.  You can't lick 'em--they
won't stand it--and the fellow that tries it had better quit before
he begins.  To get along smoothly you must pretend not to see some
things.  To get rid of those things you must use reason, not force.
Your father ought to know all this, I say--he has been in the
service long enough--but it begins to look as if he didn't know it."

He paused momentarily.  She was looking at him now, and her
expression had changed.  He noticed the change, but he went on.

"Suppose Cap'n Bartlett had found that whisky," he said, "and who
brought it here?  The regulations are pretty strict.  He might,
being as cranky as he is--Oh, I know that is pretty plain, but I'm
telling the straight truth now--he might start in to fire that man
out of this station and out of the service.  What then?  Well, in
the first place, a good man--yes, a GOOD man and a mighty good
life-saver--is lost to Setuckit, and, more than that, his wife and
family lose their bread and butter for a while.  All that man
needs--really needs--is to have somebody, a fellow he knows and
believes in, talk a little common sense to him and ask him to play
the game.  That was what I was going to do, if I had had a chance."

She spoke then.

"Who was the man?" she asked, impulsively.  "Oh, but of course you
won't tell.  You shouldn't.  I beg your pardon."

"That's all right.  No, of course I won't tell.  And I guess that
is about all there is to say, Miss Bartlett.  As for my being a
sneak and working against your father, that is--well, it isn't so,
that's all.  I had an idea I was working for him.  I've still got
it--the idea.  But I tell you, honestly, he has made the job a lot
harder by his blow-up this afternoon."

He nodded and walked towards the stairs; but now it was she who

"Mr. Homer," she cried, "please don't go--yet.  I am so sorry.  I
beg your pardon--oh, I do!  And I am really ashamed of myself now.
I might have known--yes, I think I did know even when I pretended
not to--that you weren't the kind of man I said you were.  I
understand now.  And I thank you for making me understand, and for
being such a friend to father--and me.  Will you--will you shake
hands--and forgive me?"

He took her hand.  The look in her eyes now was not one to be
avoided.  He certainly had no wish to avoid it.  And her fingers
were like electric points sending a peculiar and entirely
unfamiliar shock throughout his system.  He forgot everything else
except that look and that handclasp.  Yet he should not have
forgotten; as an engaged man he should have remembered another hand
and another pair of eyes.  He should, there is no doubt of that;
but there is just as little doubt that he did not--at that moment.

It was she who broke the little tableau of reconciliation.  She
withdrew her fingers from his, and smiled.  The smile was a happy
one, though there might have been a shade of embarrassment in it.
Her eyes, too, were smiling, but there was a mist in them.

"I shall tell father in the morning," she said.  "Oh, not what you
have told me, of course.  But I shall try and make him see that he
must be more diplomatic and careful with the men.  I shall let him
think that the advice is all due to my own brilliant sagacity.  Of
course it isn't; it is all yours.  And I am ever and ever so much
obliged to you, Mr. Homer."

"Oh, that is all right.  I knew you didn't understand."

"I didn't, but I do now, and try to forgive me for saying those
dreadful things.  Good night."

They separated.  Calvin went up to the sleeping quarters,
cautiously undressed and climbed into bed.  For at least an hour
the darkness surrounding that cot was decorated with eyes, misty
gray eyes, looking at him--looking into his in a way that--that--

Then other thoughts crept in.  The eyes disappeared.  Before he did
fall asleep, which was a good while afterward, he had made up his
mind to write Myra Fuller another long letter at once.  She had not
replied to his recent one, but that should make no difference.  He
would write her because he ought to--because he wanted to--at any
rate, because he ought to want to.


Miss Bartlett left Setuckit for Fairborough and her work there, the
following afternoon.  That morning Calvin took Phinney aside and
had a straightforward talk with him.  He told Josh that it was he
who had removed the jug from the grain bin, and got rid of it and
its contents.  At first Phinney was inclined to be angry and
resentful.  What did Homer mean by butting in?  What business was
it of his?

Calvin, keeping his temper, explained carefully.

"I did it mainly on your account, Josh," he said.  "You know what a
crank the old man is.  He might have thrown you out of the

"Well?  Suppose he had?  This ain't such a fancy job, as I know of.
Sixty-five a month and find my own grub ain't liable to make a
millionaire out of me.  I guess likely I could strike somethin'
ashore that would fetch me in as much as that--and not wait very
long for it, neither."

"Maybe you could.  If you had quit here on your own hook, of course
you could.  But if the whole Cape knew you were fired because you
were drunk and were in the habit of carrying a jug of whisky around
with you, that might make it harder.  And it wouldn't be the nicest
piece of news for your wife to hear.  Not just now it wouldn't."

Phinney thought it over.

"I guess maybe you're right, Cal," he admitted, after a moment.
"But, good land! it ain't such a turrible wicked thing, is it?  It
has been done as much as once afore, I cal'late.  Why, when Oz
Myrick was skipper he--"

"He was pretty easy--yes.  He knew you fellows and knew you were
straight enough--or meant to be--and that you didn't drink because
you couldn't get along without it.  But even he would have cut your
liberty for three months.  And you remember Frank Jameson?  Cap'n
Oz sent him packing."

"Humph!  Frankie J. was a reg'lar souse, that's why."

"Yes, and the cap'n knew it.  He gave him three or four chances and
then discharged him.  He knew him.  But Cap'n Bartlett doesn't know
you.  If he had seen you the other night, as the rest of us did--
and it is only by luck that he didn't--and if he had found that jug
with Orrin Hendrick's name on the express tag tied to the handle--
well, wouldn't he have had a pretty fair excuse for thinking you
were as much of a souse as Frank?"

Josh grinned sheepishly.  "Maybe so," he agreed.  "I'm glad he
didn't.  I wouldn't want Sarah and the kids to hear about it.  Much
obliged, Cal."

"That's all right.  It was your wife and the kids I was thinking

"Um-hum.  The whole business was kind of darn foolish for a man as
old as I am.  I was all nervous and worked up on account of Sarah;
and then, when 'twas all over, and she and the baby was doin' well,
I--" he stopped and groaned.  "Godfreys, Cal," he confided, "there
was a spell there when even the doctor wan't sure she'd pull
through.  When he was sure--that next day--I--I went outdoors and
run acrost Orrin, and he'd had a couple of gallons sent down for
Christmas, and--humph!  That's how it started."

"Of course.  I understand.  But if I were you--I'm no parson, you
know that--"

"Old Bologny is--or worse."

"Never mind him.  I'm preaching now.  If I were you, Josht with a
good wife and six smart children, I'd keep out of Orrin's way when
I went on liberty."

"I know I ought to.  Guess likely I will.  Orrin's lots of fun, but
he ain't much account.  All right, Cal.  I'm glad you done what you
did.  Shall I tell the boys?"

"Yes, tell those that know about the whisky.  No need to say
anything to Sam, or Seleucus--or Wallie.  It would only start them

"Well, Wallie--Say, Cal, how did Bologny find out, anyway?  You
didn't tell him; you say you didn't."

"No, I didn't tell him.  He just got on to things, I suppose.  It
was plain enough.  All he had to do was to watch the way you
fellows acted, and get near enough to you.  But there's one more
thing, Josh:  I want you to help me keep things running smoothly
down here.  Don't make any more trouble for the cap'n than you can

Phinney stared.  "Good Godfreys mighty!" he cried.  "YOU ain't
playin' pet to Bartlett, are you?"

"I'm not playing to anybody.  All I'm thinking of is this Setuckit
Life-Station.  It's got a reputation.  The last thing Cap'n Ozzie
asked was for us to keep that reputation where it is.  I'm asking
you and the rest to help do it."

Josh whistled.  "All right, Cal," he said again.  "But we'll have
one sweet job--with the keeper we've got."

"He hasn't done so badly."

"He hasn't had any chance to do anything--yet.  We've only had one
craft to go to since he come, and that didn't amount to anything.
Let's see how he acts in a February snorter, with a five-mile row
and a toss-up between keepin' afloat and goin' to the bottom.
Let's see how he handles that."

"Probably he'll handle it all right."

"Perhaps--maybe.  But Seleucus Gammon don't think so.  Seleucus
still sticks to it that he's got a yellow streak.  Well, time'll
tell, I cal'late.  I'll fix you up with the boys, Cal--about the
rum jug, I mean."

Norma's good-bys to the crew were said at the dinner table.  They
were more in the nature of au revoir than farewells, for she
declared she should see them all again before very long.

"I have had a perfectly lovely time," she said.  "You have all been
very nice to me and I shan't forget it.  Thank you ever and ever so

With Calvin Homer she was a little more explicit and confidential.

"I am going to try and come down again next month," she said.  "I
am still troubled about father.  I hate to leave him.  But I feel
better since our talk last night, Mr. Homer.  I know that he has
one loyal friend here.  You will do all you can to make it easy for
him, won't you?"

He nodded.  "I told you I would do what I could," he said.

"And that is a great deal.  No one else could possibly do as much.
And you have forgiven me for being so stupid--and hateful--last
night?  I hope you have, because I haven't forgiven myself.  You
will just forget it all, won't you?  Promise."

He promised, but even as he did so, he knew he was not speaking the
whole truth.  Forgetting that midnight meeting in the mess room was
not going to be easy.  He had arisen that morning with the fixed
resolve to put certain memories from his mind, to keep them from
his thoughts, but even now, as she stood there before him, his
thoughts were playing traitor to that resolution.  If only she
would not look at him like that.

She put out her hand.

"Good-by," she said.

"Good-by, Miss Bartlett.  I hope you have a good trip."

She rode away, a few minutes later, in the buggy for which her
father had telephoned the night before.  Benoni accompanied her.
He was going as far as Orham, to see her safely aboard the train,
then Peleg Myrick was to bring him down in the Wild Duck.  The
crew, those not on duty, waved to her as the buggy moved off.  She
waved in return.

"She's a mighty smart, nice girl," declared Seleucus.  As his wife
was not present he was free to express his opinion.  "We're goin'
to miss her, I swan if we ain't.  Too bad she had to go so soon.
Eh, Cal?"

Calvin did not answer.  He was inclined to the opinion that, for
his peace of mind, it was an extremely good thing that Norma
Bartlett had gone.  As for missing her--well, that was different.
He went in to write the letter to Myra Fuller.  It was not a love
letter exactly, but it was more intimate and affectionate than it
might have been if his conscience had not troubled him so acutely.
He could not help feeling guilty.  He had promised the Bartlett
girl to help her father.  Myra expected him to do just the
opposite.  This last he could not and would not do; he had told
Myra so, and there was some comfort in that thought.  But, also,
there was foreboding concerning the future.  Why had he been so
foolish as to yield to Kellogg's pleading and remain at Setuckit?

Captain Bartlett returned that evening from his trip to Orham and
was, for the next day or two, more than usually silent and
noncommunicative.  He spent his spare time in his room--that so
recently occupied by his daughter--and Homer, visiting that room to
report or ask for orders, found him either reading in his new Bible
or sitting by the window gazing out at nothing in particular.  He
was as watchfully strict as ever in matters of daily drill and
routine, but he never again alluded to the smuggled whisky.  His
threat to search the men's belongings had either been forgotten,
or, as Calvin was inclined to think, its fulfillment had been
abandoned because of Norma's reasoning and persuasion.  Josh
Phinney had, apparently, kept his promise to help in soothing the
ruffled feelings of his comrades, for rebellious murmurings ceased
and good nature was the rule.  Only Wallie Oaks appeared peevish
and discontented.  Wallie's popularity, never at summer heat, was
now below zero.

Then came the long-expected break in the stretch of good weather.
The Government signals, day after day, were set for high winds and
cold.  Peleg Myrick's elbows and knees were filled with disquieting
pangs and his prophecies were gloomy and disturbing.  On the first
Thursday of the new year the Setuckit crew was called out at four
o'clock in the morning to the aid of a coasting schooner in trouble
near the Sand Hill.  The sea was high and the wind steadily
increasing, but there was no danger--as danger was reckoned at

And yet the skipper was nervous--very nervous.  For some minutes
after the call came he was in the tower, watching the schooner
through the glass, and when Homer ventured to hint that they were
losing time he made no answer.  At last, however, he gave orders
for the launching, and they started.

The job was an easy one.  The vessel--a three-masted coaster, on
her way down from Nova Scotia with a cargo of lumber and shingles--
was badly iced and some of her crew were sick.  She was short
handed and her skipper, worn out and half sick himself, had lost
courage and set distress signals.  They boarded her, cleared away
the ice as best they could, made hot coffee for all hands and
brought her out of the dangerous rips into the comparatively safe
waters of the ship channel.  There, a revenue cutter happening
along, they turned her over to the cutter's protection and pulled
back home.  "A reg'lar pudd'n," so Seleucus characterized the whole
proceeding.  "But look at the old man," he added, in an undertone.
"Blessed if he don't look as if he'd been through somethin' tough.
Solemn as an aowl in a meetin'-house steeple, ain't he?  Well, if
this gale keeps on to blow he may have somethin' to be solemn
about.  Ah, hum-a-day! this world's a sea of trouble and them
that's got wives ashore better larn how to swim.  Eh, Wallie?"

Oaks, this time, was provided with a ready retort.  "All right," he
observed.  "You can start your swimmin' right now.  Here comes
Jemimy, lookin' for you.  Take long strokes, Seleucus."

The signals, flying at the top of the pole, spelled "Easterly winds
increasing to gale velocity."  By noon the gale had arrived.  The
sea was pounding and thundering along the outer beach and all to
the southeast was a tumbling smother of green and white against an
iron-gray sky.  Far out, against the horizon, were scattered white
dots, vessels making an offing, edging away from the shoals.

Homer, on his way to the tower to relieve Badger, met the latter
coming down.

"What are you quitting for, Ellis?" he asked.  "I'm ahead of time."

"Sure you are," was the reply.  "But the old man told me I needn't
stay if I didn't want to.  And I knew you'd be right along.  He's
up there, with his starboard eye glued to that spyglass.  And he's
all of a twitter, seems so.  Uneasy as a tomcat out in a rainstorm.
What's the matter with him?"

"Oh, nothing in particular, I guess.  He has been down in the dumps
ever since his daughter left.  We'll all have to make allowances
till he gets his bearings.  That Crooked Hill business knocked him
on his beam ends and he feels the care of this job more than he
would if it hadn't.  Even an easy thing like that schooner this
morning is a good deal of a strain for him.  He'll be all right;
give him time."

"Humph!  Maybe so.  But he's liable to be strained again before
long.  There's a little two-master off back of the Sand Hill that's
makin' heavy weather of it.  I pointed her out to him and he ain't
taken his eye off her since.  Keeps talkin' to himself, he does.
Gospel talk, too--most of it.  Sounds as if he was runnin' a
missionary meetin' all on his own hook.  I begun to be afraid he'd
be askin' me to sign a subscription paper for the heathen next.
Say, Cal, do you cal'late he's crazy?"

"Crazy!  Do you think Cap'n Kellogg would give that job to a crazy

"Huh!  I tell you what I DO think.  I think Kellogg was crazy when
he give it to him.  But there!  I'm goin' below to rest up a little
mite.  It'll be our luck to have to go off to that two-master afore
the day's over.  We've had a soft time so far this winter.  Now the
trouble will come in bunches, same as bananas--see if it don't."

Homer found the skipper at the telescope.  He spoke to him, but
Bartlett did not answer.  Calvin paced back and forth by the
windows overlooking the bay and the group of fish shanties on the
beach below.  There was activity there, centering in the vicinity
of the shanty occupied by Philander Jarvis and his sister.
Philander and another Orham fisherman named Alvin Crocker had
recently purchased a fish weir which had belonged to one Laban
Poundberry of Harniss.  Poundberry was dead and the weir was a part
of his estate.  It had been--like all the fish traps along Setuckit
beach--taken up when the winter set in, and the poles and nets were
stored in another building a mile or so up the shore.  Jarvis and
Crocker intended resetting it in the spring, before the mackerel
began running.  They were to work it in partnership.

The weir--its nets and ropes and floats--needed overhauling and
mending and Crocker had come down from Orham that morning, bringing
with him four men, longshoremen like himself, who, being out of
work, were glad of the opportunity to earn a few dollars by helping
with the mending.  They--Crocker and the men--were planning to
sleep and eat aboard the craft in which they came, an antique but
seaworthy affair, once part of the outfit of a New Bedford whaler,
but now decked over forward and fitted with a mast and sail.  She
was anchored in the cove alongside the Jarvis catboat.

The men, a quartette of tanned and square-shouldered huskies, were
ashore.  They had had dinner and were grouped about the door of the
Jarvis shanty, smoking, chatting and apparently awaiting orders.
Alvin and Philander, their employers, were, so Homer guessed,
inside, probably discussing ways and means.  Jarvis, although a
hard worker, never did things in a hurry and his partner had the
reputation of being "mighty moderate."  Calvin, glancing at the
clock on the wall of the tower room, was inclined to think that
little, if any, net mending would be accomplished that day.  The
consultation would probably last an hour or two longer and end in
the decision to begin operations bright and early the next morning.

He stood by the window, looking down at the group by the Jarvis
shanty.  It was now augmented by three members of the Setuckit
crew, Gammon among them.  There were shouts of laughter and Calvin
surmised that, as usual, Seleucus was furnishing the cause.  The
gale was fierce and the cold penetrating.  Ordinary weak mortals
would have found it pleasanter inside by the stove, but these
fellows were weatherproof.  And, besides, Philander's domicile was
not planned for the housing of a convention.

"Lord A'mighty!"

It was Bartlett who uttered the exclamation.  Homer turned hastily
from the window.  The skipper was still peering through the
telescope.  His right hand steadied the glass, but his left was
outstretched and shaking.

"What's the matter?" demanded Calvin.  "What is it, Cap'n?"

Bartlett turned.  His face, beneath its tan, was pale.

"She--she's struck," he gasped.  "She's aground.  Look!"

Calvin, stepping forward, bent and gazed through the telescope.
Its rim framed a dismal circle of tumbling water, gray and white.
In the center of that circle was the little schooner, reefed fore
and mainsails set, the remnant of a jib whipping, the whole seen
through fringes of flying spray.  The masts leaned at an angle, but
they did not move.  Ellis Badger was a true prophet.  The schooner
had not been able to fight clear of Sand Hill Shoal.  She was hard
and fast aground upon it.  Here was another job for the Setuckit
crew, the second that day--and the day but half over.

Homer straightened and turned to his commander.

"Shall I order 'em out?" he asked.  "All ready, are you, Cap'n?"

Bartlett did not speak.  He was again peering through the glass.
Calvin tried again.

"Shall I get out the boat?" he asked, moving toward the door.  His
hand was on the knob when the skipper shouted at him.

"Where are you goin'?" he demanded.

"Why--why, I thought--don't you want to order out the crew?"

"No.  Not yet.  Wait."

Homer waited.  What there might be to wait for was beyond his
understanding.  The Sand Hill, on a day like this, was not likely
to wait for them; it was already busy with that schooner.

But he had been ordered to wait and it was his business to obey
orders.  Bartlett still stared through the glass.  Steps sounded on
the stairs and Hezekiah Rogers opened the door.

"Oh, Cal," said Hez.  "I want to speak to you just a minute.
Nothin' special, only I wanted to ask if you knew whether that box
of salt in the kitchen is all we've got.  It's runnin' low and,
bein's I'm cook, I--"

"Sshh!" ordered Bartlett savagely.  He was still at the telescope.
Homer motioned to Rogers and stepped out on the landing.

"Never mind the salt now, Hez," he whispered.  "Tell the boys to
get ready.  That two-master is on the Sand Hill and we'll be
starting for her in a minute."

Rogers nodded and hurried down.  Calvin reentered the tower room.
Bartlett was waiting for him.

"What did you tell him?" he asked sharply.

"Why, nothing except that the men had better get ready.  I thought--"

"You thought!  You don't have to think, do you?  I'm cap'n of this
crew, ain't I?"

"Of course you are.  But--"

"Never mind then.  When I get ready to give my orders I give 'em.
You understand that?"

Calvin did not reply.  He was furiously angry, and to speak would
have been a risky proceeding.  He swung on his heel.

"Where are you goin'?" demanded Bartlett.

"Nowhere in particular.  Outside, that's all."

"You're on duty here, ain't you?"


"Stay here, then."

Calvin hesitated.  Then he walked back to the window.  Below, on
the beach, he saw Rogers hurrying from the back door toward the
group by the Jarvis shanty.  He joined that group.  There was an
instant of eager talk and then Hez, Seleucus and the other two
members of the crew--they were Bloomer and Bearse--started on the
run for the station.  He felt a hand on his arm.  Looking over his
shoulder he saw the skipper's face close to his own.  It was still
pale, but it wore a feeble, half-apologetic smile.

"Don't mind the way I talked to you, Calvin," stammered Benoni.
"I--I'm nervous and--dreadful worried.  I ain't mad at you, or--or
anything like that.  I just don't know what to do about this thing.
I don't know what it's my duty to do."

Homer thought he understood.  On other occasions--one that very
morning--he had seen his commander hesitate when called to the
rescue of a stranded vessel.  He had seen him hesitate and linger
when waiting seemed quite inexcusable.  But, when the moments of
hesitation were over, he had carried the rescue work through with
adequacy and dispatch.  No doubt he would do the same now.  The man
was not strong; his nerves were in a wretched state.  Yes, as he
had told Badger, allowances must be made, irritating though the
making of them might be.

"That's all right, Cap'n," he said.  "Don't worry.  We'll be in
time.  She looks to me as if she was lying fairly easy.  We'll get
there before she breaks up.  I'll order out the boat."

Again he started to go and again he was stopped.  The keeper once
more caught him by the arm.

"Wait," he commanded.  "Wait.  I--I've got to think this out.  I've
got to."

He stooped again to the telescope.  Calvin, his own anxiety
increasing, looked out of the window.  The four longshoremen--the
Jarvis and Crocker quartette--had hastened to the top of the dune
behind the shanty and were standing there gazing off to sea.
Philander and Alvin came out and joined the watchers.  Mrs. Gammon,
an apron over her head, stood in the doorway looking after them.

Bartlett left the glass and began pacing up and down the floor.  He
was muttering disjointed phrases and sentences.  They sounded like
Scriptural quotations or prayers.  Suddenly he stopped.

"What would you do, boy?" he demanded, his voice quavering.  "What
do you think ought to be done?  Speak out.  Say somethin', why
don't you?  Do you think it's right for us to go off to that

"Right?  Safe, do you mean?"

"Yes.  Have I got a right to risk lives, the lives of them that's
dependent on me--risk 'em again, right off like this?"

Homer was thoroughly alarmed now.  There was a risk, of course--
there was always risk in their work--but no unusual risk.

"Cap'n Bartlett," he began.  "I don't see--I don't think you need
to worry.  We'll make it, easy.  And there is time enough if we
start now.  The longer we wait--"

Bartlett interrupted.  "I didn't ask you that," he shouted.  "I'm
cap'n here, ain't I?  I didn't ask you whether we'd wait or not.
I asked you if--if--Why don't you answer me?"

"I'm trying to answer you.  You asked if it was safe.  I say it

"YOU say so?  What do you know about it?  You ain't seen the wrath
of God A'mighty movin' over the face of the waters the way I have.
You ain't seen the fellers you've lived with and been with for
years drownin' alongside you.  You ain't--oh, you ain't seen
anything!  You say go--of course you do.  But what does it mean to
you?  Nothin', except your own chance, and you can take that, same
as I'd take mine.  But what about the lives of them I'm responsible
for?  What about them that's put in my charge?  Eh?  Eh?"

Homer thought he understood at last.  It was not personal
cowardice, it was the overwhelming sense of responsibility for the
safety of his crew which was breaking Benoni Bartlett's nerve.
Gently but firmly he shook off the clutch on his sleeve.

"There, there, Cap'n," he said.  "It's all right.  You're tired and
worn out.  This morning's job was too much for you.  You go and
turn in.  Leave it to me.  I'll attend to everything.  We'll get to
that schooner and handle her all right.  You turn in and leave it
to me.  I'll tell the boys you are sick."

"Eh?  What's that?  Who said I was sick?"

"Why--well, you are next door to it.  You aren't long out of the
doctor's hands and you had a hard strain this morning.  I--"

"Quiet--you!  I ain't sick.  And I won't have any lies told on my
account.  I ain't responsible to you nor this crew for what I do.
I'm responsible to God A'mighty.  He's the one.  When he tells me
what's my duty I'll do it.  You can go now.  I want to be alone."

"But, Cap'n, we've GOT to go.  What shall I tell the crew?"

"Eh. . . ?  Well, you tell 'em to get ready to turn out.  Then you
and they can wait for orders.  That's all. . . .  That's all.  Go
below and tell 'em."

Calvin went.  The telling was not likely to be an easy task.  The
truth--the bare truth without attempt at explanation--would never
do.  The men would not understand and would think--almost anything.

They were in the mess room when he reached there, oil-skinned,
sou'westered, booted--ready for work.  They greeted him with a

"Well, here you be at last," cried Phinney.  "Thought you and
Bologny had gone to sleep aloft there.  What are we waitin' for?"

"The old man converted you, has he?" queried Badger.  "He was
holdin' special service when I left.  What did you--stop to sing
the last hymn?"

Seleucus chimed in.  "Wallie here is just chompin' the bit," he
declared.  "I had to hold him to keep him from swimmin' off to that
schooner all on his own hook.  He's one of them dare-devils, Wallie
is.  Shall we start, Cal?"

Homer shook his head.  "Not yet, boys," he said.  "Cap'n Bartlett
isn't--well, he'll be down in a minute.  He told me to tell you to
be ready when he came."

There was a roar of laughter.  "Be ready!" repeated Phinney.
"We've been ready for much as ten minutes.  All hands are here but
Ed and Sam and they're out harnessin'.  Ready--huh!  If Bologny'd
left it to us we'd have had the boat through the surf by now."

"The orders are to wait," said Calvin.

"But, Cal--"

"Oh, take it easy, Josh!  We needn't worry if the skipper doesn't."

Five minutes passed; then five more.  Philander Jarvis opened the
outer door and looked in.

"What are you fellers hangin' around that stove for?" he demanded.
"All dead, are you?  That craft 'll go to pieces if you don't get
to her some time this week."

The Setuckit crew were sufficiently critical themselves but they
did not brook criticism from outsiders.

"Go pick the herrin' scales out of your hair, Phil," ordered
Seleucus.  "This ain't your funeral."

Jarvis grunted.  "There'll be a few funerals if you fellers don't
get on to your job," he announced.  "And if you don't want that job
I cal'late I can find somebody that does.  That schooner would pay
for her salvage, maybe."

A lump of coal missed his head by an inch or two and he dodged out
of the door.

"For crimus sakes where IS Bologny?" fidgeted Gammon.  "Oz Myrick--
yes, or any other live man--would have been halfway off there by
this time."

Another five minutes elapsed before the skipper made his
appearance.  And when he did they were amazed to see him in
ordinary clothes instead of his rough-weather rig.  He was paler
than ever, or so it seemed to Calvin, and his glance wavered a
little as it surveyed the crew.  Yet the hand which he raised for
silence was steady enough.  His tone was conciliatory; Homer
thought it almost pleading.

"Men," he said, "there's a schooner ashore on the Sand Hill.  She
seems to lay easy and I think there's no present danger.  We may
most likely have to go off to her, but we'll wait and rest a spell
first.  There's a rugged sea runnin' and it's blowin' a gale.
'Twould be a hard pull for you, after the one you had this mornin'.
I'll go aloft now and keep an eye on her through the glass.  Stand
by till you hear from me."

He turned and they heard him climbing the stairs.  The crew stared
at each other in silence for a moment.  But only for a moment; then
the silence was broken.  Every one had something to say and said
it.  They crowded about Homer, demanding to know what it meant,
what they were waiting for.

"It's blowin' harder every minute," protested Phinney.  "She'll
break up afore we get to her.  What's the matter with him, Cal?
Don't he know that?"

"Rest!" snorted Bloomer, who had come in from the stable.  "Does he
think them seas off yonder are restin'?  Is he loony?  What did he
say to you, Cal?"

Seleucus was at his eblow.  "Yellow, that's what's the matter,
Cal," he whispered.  "It's the yellow streak showin'.  He's scared,
that's what ails him."

Homer tried to quiet the tumult.  He was as perturbed and as
disgusted as the rest, but, as Number One man, he felt that he must
not show his feelings.  He had promised Kellogg to use his
influence for order and obedience.  And he had promised Norma.
Yes, it was up to him.

"Here, hold on, boys!" he urged.  "Don't go up in the air.  The old
man must know what he's doing.  And it's his business, not ours."

There was another babel.

"His business!"--"To set around here and rest while that schooner's
goin' to pieces?"--"What do you think Oz Myrick would say to
that?"--"Cal, what's the matter with you, anyway?"--"Godfreys! it's
catchin' and Cal's got it now"--

These were some of the angry protests.

"Come on, boys!" yelled Phinney.  "This place makes me sick.  Come
on outside.  To hell with Bologny!  Come on!"

Calvin blocked the doorway.  "Hush!" he shouted.  "Josh, you fool,
use your common sense, if you've got any.  What do you want to do;
get this whole crew fired?  You've had your orders.  I don't like
'em any better than you do, but they are orders.  Shut up!  Stay
where you are, I tell you!"

They stayed, but only because he was at the door and they could not
pass without a fight.  He went on talking.

"The skipper's made his plans, I suppose," he said.  "He never
starts until he thinks it is the right time.  He has never backed
out yet, has he?  He says wait.  Well, then, wait.  Do you want to
be hauled up before the superintendent--every one of you?"

This had some effect; they ceased attempting to push by him, but
they were still rebellious.

"Scared," repeated Gammon, aloud this time.  "He's scart blue.
Couldn't you see it in his eye?  He--"

"Shut up, Seleucus!  Because a skipper is careful of his men it
doesn't follow that he's scared.  He orders you to wait.  Well, I
say it, too.  Do any of you think I'm scared?  If anybody does let
him step out and say it. . . .  Come, Seleucus," with a laugh.
"You're doing most of that kind of talking; tell me that I'm
frightened and see what happens.  Come on!"

It was a grand-stand play, and was so intended, but it had an
effect.  It distracted attention from the main issue and focused it
upon Mr. Gammon.  The uproar changed to gleeful shouts.

"Go on, Seleucus!"--"That's the boy!"--"Put up your fists; square
off!"--"Battlin" Seleucus, the holy terror"--"Look out for the
solar plexus punch, Cal."

Seleucus grinned.  "I'm a little mite off trainin'," he answered.
"Besides, Cal and me ain't in the same class.  You wouldn't fight a
man that wan't your weight, would you, Cal?"

Calvin was smiling, too, but there was a certain grimness in his

"Anybody else, then?" he inquired, his glance moving from face to
face.  "How about you, Wallie?  You're talking to yourself back
there.  Say it out loud."

Oaks immediately became the center of interest.  An unwilling and
much surprised center, but an overwhelmingly popular one.  Homer
seized the opportunity.

"Go outdoors, if you want to," he suggested, "but hang around and
be ready.  We'll start any minute now, you can bet on that."

It was Oaks who led the way out and he was pursued by a hectoring
crowd.  The telephone bell rang.  Calvin answered the call.  He
came away from the instrument more troubled than ever.  It was the
Orham Station which had called.  They were watching the stranded
schooner and wanted to know why Setuckit had not started to her
rescue.  Homer assured them that Setuckit was about to start . . .
but was it?

He moved toward the stairs.  He was strongly tempted to make
another trial at urging prompt action by his skipper.  What caused
him to hesitate was the habit of obedience which service under
Myrick and Kellogg had made part of his nature.  Discipline in a
life-saving station might be lax enough in minor matters, but, at
the final test, the orders of the keeper were not to be questioned
nor disputed.  Nothing excused disregard of those orders.

So he hesitated.  And, as he stood there, suddenly, outside the
station, arose a tumult of shouts and excited profanity.  He ran to
the window.  The crew had been standing near the door; now he was
just in time to see the last man running in the direction of the
Jarvis shanty.  He threw open the door and hurried out.

In the cove the Crocker whaleboat, under the merest rag of sail,
was moving out into the bay.  It was filled with men, Crocker
himself was at the tiller, and with him were Jarvis and the four
longshoremen from Orham.  The boat was headed, not down the beach
toward the weir shanty, but in the other direction, toward the
point and the open sea.

For a moment Calvin did not understand.  Where on earth were they
bound--those men in that whaleboat--in such a gale and through such
a sea?  And then the meaning of it flashed to his mind.  He ran
headlong down to the beach where his comrades were standing.  He
seized the nearest--Bearse, as it happened--by the shoulder and
swung him violently round.

"Are they going off to that schooner?" he demanded savagely.

Sam Bearse was, ordinarily, a quiet, sober man.  Now his answer was
decorated with a savage fringe of oaths.  Yes, that was just where
the whaleboat was going.  Crocker and Philander had learned of the
orders to "wait" and had stolen a march on them.  If they salvaged
that schooner they could claim payment from the underwriters.  It
was a risk, but those fellows were a tough crowd and would risk
anything for money.

"And we," bellowed Bearse, "WE stand here and see 'em go.  For God
sakes, Cal, what do you think the whole Cape'll say about us when
it hears the yarn?  We loafin' here and--and that blanked dashed
yellow dog up there in that tower--"

Calvin heard no more.  He was racing up the slope to the station.
Up the stairs he bounded and into the tower room.  Bartlett was on
his knees, his hands clasped and his head bent.  He did not look up
when his subordinate entered; apparently he did not hear him.

Homer seized his shoulder and shook him.  The skipper's eyes opened
and he turned dazedly.

"What--what is it?" he faltered.  "What's the matter?"

Calvin told him and wasted no words in the telling.  Bartlett rose
to his feet.

"Eh?  I--I--say that again," he ordered.

Calvin said it again.  Benoni did not wait for him to finish.  He
sprang to the window, stared after the rapidly moving whaleboat,
and then whirled back.

"Turn out all hands!" he roared.  "What are you standin' here for?
Turn 'em out!  Lively!"

That was enough.  Homer leaped to the stairs.

The boat, on its car, was out of the house before the skipper
dashed from the door of the station.  He was bareheaded, his
oilskin coat unbuttoned.  He shouted orders as he came.

"Lively!" he bellowed.  "Get her goin'!"

The oars fell into place with a clatter.  Homer and Seleucus jumped
to their seats in the bow.

"Off with her!" roared the skipper.

He was, of course, the last aboard, and, so reckless was his
frenzied disregard of personal safety that Bearse had to literally
drag him over the stern out of the boiling surf.  The bottom of the
boat was awash as they swung up to the crest of the first breaker.

"Row!" ordered Bartlett.  "Row!  Lay to it, you loafers!  Haul, why
don't you?"

It was a row--that one.  Not that the seas were higher than many
they had found, or even as high, nor the gale as strong, nor the
cold as punishing.  But with every stroke the skipper bullied them,
roared at them, drove them on.  Seleucus, swinging his great
shoulders back and forth, managed to turn his head and gasp a word
to his nearest neighbor.

"Plumb crazy, Cal," he panted.  "Plumb crazy--if you ask me."

Crazy or not--and Homer was inclined to share Gammon's, opinion--
the torrent of abuse and bullying was achieving results.  They were
gaining on the whaleboat.  Crocker and his companions had given up
trying to make headway with the fragment of sail they could carry,
and were also rowing.  And they were not novices at the work.  The
Setuckit boat gained steadily, but it gained slowly.  They were
perhaps, fifty yards apart as they came down the stretch, the Sand
Hill Shoal and the stranded schooner a quarter of a mile away.

But the whaleboat made it first.  She was drawing under the little
vessel's lee, as the lifeboat came leaping up.  The schooner's men--
there were but four of them--were in the rigging.  Crocker and
Jarvis were preparing to make fast to the rail.

"Lay to it!" screamed Bartlett.  "Haul, you weak-livered swabs!

The lifeboat swung on, its bow headed straight for the little space
between the schooner and the whaleboat.  A collision was certain,
and it meant the staving and perhaps sinking of the Crocker craft.
The life-savers gazed at their skipper; their stroke involuntarily
slackened.  Bartlett noticed it.

"Pull!" he roared.  "What are you hangin' back for?  Pull!"

The rival crew was growing anxious.  Jarvis had not yet made fast
to the schooner and unless he did--

Crocker shouted.

"Look out!" he warned.  "Keep off!"

Benoni Bartlett, erect in the liftboat's stern, did not move his
steering oar one inch.

"Out of my way!" he cried.  "Damn your black souls!  Get out--or
I'll ram straight through you!"

And the whaleboat did get out of the way.  The men aboard her were
anything but cowardly, but they had no time to think or prepare for
resistance.  Their boat swung off just in time and that of the
Setuckit crew shot into the space it had occupied.  Seleucus and
Homer seized the schooner's rail.  Bartlett, abandoning the
steering oar, tumbled on board.  Phinney would have followed, but
Calvin got ahead of him.

"Hold her, boys!" he shouted.  "I'm going."

The skipper had attempted to scramble up the sloping deck, but a
sea, breaking over the forequarter, threw him headlong back.  Homer
caught him as he reeled to the rail, and held him tight.

"Let go of me," gasped Bartlett.  "Let go of me, or I'll kill you."

But Calvin did not let go.  It was perfectly obvious that nothing
could save the schooner.  The vessel's crew were climbing down the
rigging.  Two of them were already in the lifeboat.

"Steady, Cap'n, steady," he pleaded.  "We can't do anything here.
She'll go any minute.  The men are in the boat now.  Come on."

Bartlett fought like a wild man.  He ordered, begged, even--to
Calvin's amazement--swore.  Then, all at once, he seemed to wilt--
to collapse completely.

"What do you want?" he panted, feebly.  "I--I--what shall we do?"

"We can't do anything.  We've got the men.  Get back into the

He pushed his commander to the rail.  Bearse and Oaks reached up to
help.  The skipper, passive enough now, was assisted aboard.  Homer

"Shove her clear, boys," he ordered.  Bartlett had not spoken; he
seemed to be in a trance.  The lifeboat swung clear of the wreck.
Calvin, at his place in the bow, looked anxiously aft.  The skipper
had taken up the steering oar, but he was not using it.

"Are you all right, Cap'n Bartlett?" shouted Homer.  "I'll take her
in if you say so?"

Bartlett's shoulders straightened.  "Give way," he ordered.  The
oars dipped, and the pull home began.  They had progressed not more
than an eighth of a mile when the mainmast of the little vessel
they had just left went over the side.  Above the bellow of the
breakers the crack and crash were audible.


They passed the whaleboat on the way in.  The Crocker and Jarvis
crew were taking it easy now and they made no attempt to race with
their successful rivals.  The dangerous "rips" were navigated
safely and the landing in the cove made without trouble.  The
lifeboat was beached and the schooner's men helped ashore.  Homer,
busy with the rest, had paid no heed to Bartlett.  When he did turn
to the latter, to ask for further orders, he found him gone.

"He's up to the station long ago," volunteered Seleucus.  "Started
just as soon as we made the beach.  Didn't get hurt out yonder, did
he?  He looked pretty sick to me."

Calvin superintended the transfer of the practically helpless
sailors from the shore to the station.  Then he hurried back to
attend to the housing of the boat.  The whaleboat had arrived by
this time and its recent occupants were exchanging repartee with
the life-savers.

"Little mite late on gettin' started, wan't you, Josh?" queried
Crocker with a grin.  "What was the matter; somebody's feet chilly,
or somethin' like that?"

Phinney's retort was prompt, even if the reference to the late
start was ignored.

"You ought to learn how to row, Alvin," he declared.  "We walked up
on you as if you was restin'.  Kind of tired, it looked like to me.
You're a healthy lot of salvagers, you are.  You remind me of Hard
Luck, our dog up to the station.  You'd think he was goin' to eat a
cat alive, judgin' by the way he starts after it.  But when the cat
turns 'round he slacks up and changes his mind.  You fellows
started fine, but when the pinch come you changed your mind.  Ho,

Philander Jarvis put in a word.  "Well, we started, anyhow," he
observed.  "We didn't set around the stove waitin' for somebody
else to show us the way."

"They was warmin' those cold feet of theirs," explained Crocker.
"That's why they stuck so close to the stove.  The cold-foot life-
savers!  Haw, haw!"

"Cal'late Bartlett's warmin' HIS feet now," added one of the
longshoremen.  "I don't see him around here anywheres."

Sam Bearse smiled serenely.  "Looked to me as if you saw him out
there," he drawled.  "You got out of his way about as spry as any
crowd ever I saw.  You're lovely bluffers.  You talk--talk--talk,
but you don't prove much."

Jarvis was on his way to the shanty, but he paused to shout a final

"WE don't have to prove nothin'," he taunted.  "You fellers will
have to do the provin'.  Wait till they hear this yarn up to the
village.  There'll be talk enough then."

Homer's first question--when the lifeboat was back in the boat room
and the shipwrecked men warmed, fed, and stretched on the cots in
the spare room--was concerning the whereabouts of his superior.
Hezekiah Rogers, who, as cook, had remained ashore while his
comrades went off to the schooner, answered the question.

"He's in his room yonder," said Hez.  "Come straight in, the minute
you fellers landed, and marched by me without sayin' a word.  I
asked him if he didn't want a cup of coffee, but he never peeped.
He was talkin' to himself, seemed so, and, if you could judge by
his face, he didn't like to hear what he said.  Is he sick, Cal?
They tell me he was a reg'lar bucko mate on the way off to the
shoal.  Swore a blue streak!  Godfreys!" with a chuckle, "I didn't
think he knew how.  Must be more of a man than we give him credit

Calvin knocked at the door of the keeper's room.  There was no
answer to his first knock, nor the one which followed.  He bent to
the crack of the door and listened.  He heard the steady murmur of
a voice within.  Bartlett obviously was alone.  Therefore, just as
obviously, he must still be talking to himself.

Calvin opened the door, looked, and then, entering, closed the door
carefully behind him.  The skipper was lying halfway across the
bed, his legs trailing upon the floor, his head upon his arms.  His
sou'wester lay at his feet, and the water which had run from his
dripping oilskins and rubber boots was in puddles about him.  He
was groaning and muttering.

"Oh, Lord, forgive me!" Homer heard him say.  "Forgive a poor, weak
sinner.  Send down your forgiveness upon him.  Be merciful, Lord,

Calvin called his name.  "Cap'n Bartlett," he cried sharply.

"Cap'n Bartlett!"

Bartlett ceased to groan and mutter.  Slowly he raised his head,
turned, and looked.

"Eh?" he stammered.  "Eh?  Did somebody--Who is it?  What do you

"It's me--Homer.  What's the matter?  Are you sick?"

The keeper blinked at him for a moment.  Then he raised himself to
his knees.

"What are you doin' in here?" he asked.

"Why--why, I came to see what ailed you.  I knocked and you didn't
answer, so--so I thought you were sick, or hurt, or something.  I
heard you groan."

Bartlett stood erect; he swayed a little, and caught the bed's head
to steady himself.

"I--I--" he faltered, "I guess maybe I don't feel very good.  I
don't know what--Was I groanin', you say?"

"I thought you were."  He said nothing concerning what he had heard
after he entered.

"Maybe I was--maybe so.  I don't know.  My--my head feels kind of
funny.  Did any of the rest of 'em out there hear me?"

"No.  I shouldn't if I hadn't listened to make sure you were in

"That's good . . . that's good.  They wouldn't understand. . . .
Well," after an interval, "do you want me?  Is--is everything
attended to?"


"Those men off that schooner?  Are they--"

"They're up aloft, and all right.  The boat is taken care of.  I've
seen to everything."

"That's good . . . that's good.  I'm much obliged to you.  Yes, I
am. . . ."

"Don't you think you had better take off your wet clothes and turn
in for a rest?  And let me get you some coffee?  You look pretty
well played out."

The skipper's figure stiffened.  He shook his head.

"When I get ready to turn in I'll do it," he said gruffly.  "I
don't need any orders from you--or anybody else.  Who's been
talkin' about my bein' sick?  Who has?  I suppose they think I
ain't capable of handlin' this job?  That's it, eh?"

Calvin ignored the rasping irritation in the tone.  The man was
swaying on his feet even as he spoke.

"They know better than to think that, Cap'n," he protested, with a
smile.  "They saw how you handled the job we just finished."

To his surprise the effect of this speech was one of alarm, rather
than reassurance.  The keeper looked bewildered and frightened.  He
drew a hand across his forehead.

"Did I do it all right?" he asked anxiously.  "Do you--do they
think I handled it all right?"

"Why, of course they do.  You know you did."

Bartlett drew a long breath, "That's good . . . that's good," he
sighed.  "Tell me--was I kind of--kind of rough?"


"Yes.  I--boy, I used to be a pretty hard ticket in the old days.
Used to act rough--and talk rough.  Even now when I get excited--I--
I'm liable to lose my temper and do things--and say things--that--
Well, never mind, never mind.  It's a hard fight for a man like me
to keep His commandments--yes, 'tis.  We're all poor weak sinners
and I'm as weak as the rest.  Maybe He'll make allowances for me;
don't you cal'late He will?"

Calvin shook his head.  "There, there, Cap'n Bartlett," he said,
"don't worry.  Nobody could have done better than you did.  You're
tired and you need rest, that's all.  Turn in for a while."

Bartlett sat down upon the bed.  "Maybe I will," he said feebly.
"Maybe I will.  I--I do feel sort of beat out.  I don't know what's
the matter with me these days.  I ain't the man I used to be, seems
so.  That Crooked Hill business took it out of me more'n I thought,
I guess.  Do you know, boy," he added, looking up, with a pathetic
appeal in his eyes, "it's a funny thing to say, but I can't hardly
seem to remember much about goin' off to that schooner.  I remember
startin', but after that it's all sort of--of mixed up. . . .
Don't you tell nobody I said that, will you?"

"Of course not."

"No.  And I'll be all right, soon's I rest a spell.  You attend to
things, will you?  Not makin' out the reports," sharply.  "I'll
take care of them. . . .  I guess that's all.  I'll be all right.
I AM all right.  Tell the men so."

Homer did tell the men so.  He told them that the skipper was tired
after his strenuous exertions and was resting.  They accepted the
explanation.  As a matter of fact, Bartlett had raised himself in
their estimation.  They were jubilant at having beaten the
whaleboat's crew in the race to the wreck and, so far as their
skipper's "roughness" was concerned, it had a tendency to make him
more popular.

"He's a reg'lar feller, after all, I shouldn't wonder," commented
Badger.  "Talked to us like a Dutch uncle, didn't he?  Cap'n Ozzie
couldn't have given it to us any hotter than old Bologny did there
for a spell.  And when he started blastin' Al Crocker's soul I felt
like hollerin' for three cheers.  The old man may be a little mite
late gettin' on the job, but when he does get on it he's there.  He
may turn out better'n we thought; eh, Cal?"

Most of the comment was as favorable, but there were a few
reservations.  Seleucus Gammon crowed over his brother-in-law and
exalted Bartlett's behavior as loudly as the rest--except in
Jemima's presence--but with Homer he was more pessimistic.

"That's all right, Cal," he observed.  "The old man's helped
himself with the boys just now.  They're so tickled at cheatin' the
Crocker gang out of that salvage that they ain't had time to think
things over.  But you and I know that that whole business was
queer.  Bologny acted like a man off on the Sand Hill and on the
way out--but 'twas like a crazy man, not a sensible one.  He's sane
enough now--all except his prayer-meetin' foolishness--but if he
wan't loony then I never saw anybody that was.  And, more'n that,
here's another thing maybe you ain't thought of:  We saved that
schooner's crew, by the skin of our teeth, but if we'd started
three quarters of an hour sooner we might have saved the schooner.
The boys have forgot that, but Crocker and Philander and their
bunch haven't forgot it.  Wait till they go up to Orham; they'll do
some talkin' and start other folks talkin', too.  There'll be
questions asked, you see.  Crimustee!  Cal, there's trouble comin'
from this yet; you mark my words."

Homer said he guessed not, but his confidence was but pretense.
Seleucus's forebodings were but faint echoes of his own.  He, too,
believed there would be talk in Orham, when the news reached there.
Not only would Crocker and his men spread abroad their version of
the Setuckit crew's delay in starting for the wreck, but the life-
savers at the Orham Station would comment also.  They had been
watching and wondering--the telephone message proved that.  The
tale would spread and grow.  It would reach Kellogg's ears; it was
bound to reach them sooner or later.  Myra Fuller would hear it.
And, when she did, what would she say?  What would she expect him
to say--and do?

The answer to these last questions he might have learned if he had
been privileged to drop in at the Fuller home on the Neck Road late
in the evening of the following day.  He might have learned other
things, too.  He might have found interest in a conversation
between Mrs. Fuller and her daughter which took place at the supper
table before the news from Setuckit came.  Sarepta was scolding
because Myra had insisted upon changing her gown before coming to
the table.  The young lady was now arrayed in her best and was
quite indifferent to her mother's ill humor.

"Oh, be still, mother!" she said.  "You're mad because I'm going
out and you're not.  I should think you would be glad to have me
enjoy myself once in a while.  You can't expect me to stick around
that everlasting school all day and sit around this poky old house
every night.  What harm is there in my going to a dance with Ezra
Blodgett, I'd like to know?  He's an old fool, of course, but he's
got lots of money and he isn't afraid to spend it.  You used to
tell me to get all I could out of him.  You know you did."

Mrs. Fuller sniffed.  "I'd tell you so now," she declared, "if you
wasn't engaged to somebody else.  Ezra Blodgett is rich and you
could have had him as well as not if you hadn't gone silly over
that Calvin Homer.  'Twould have been a good job, too.  Then you
wouldn't have to teach school and I wouldn't have to stay in this
house and make a slave of myself.  I'd like to know what your poor
dead father would say if he could know that I had to wash the very
dishes you eat off of while you go traipsing to Odd Fellows' dances
over at Harniss.  I guess he'd be some surprised at the way his
child treated me."

Myra tossed her head.  "I never noticed you were so anxious to find
out what he said when he was alive," she observed.  "You generally
did about what you wanted to."

"Is that so!  Well, I guess you never saw me going off with one man
when I was engaged to marry another.  I guess you never saw me do

"Probably not; I wasn't here.  Besides, I'm not doing anything out
of the way.  Calvin would want me to have a good time.  He may be
having one himself.  How do I know what he's doing there at

"Humph!  I don't think he's going to many dancing times out on the
beach.  And, besides, you know well enough I don't care what you do
except for what folks will say.  Everybody knows you're keeping
company with Calvin and they'll talk--see if they don't.  He'll
hear it, pretty soon, and then 'twill be just as it's been with
every other fellow you've had."

"Oh, no, it won't.  I can manage Calvin.  He likes me pretty well.
Yes, and I like him, too.  He's a nice boy."

"Nice boy!  He's nice lookin', that's why you are so crazy over
him.  But all he is is just a common everyday life-saver.  I
wouldn't care so much for that, though, if you would only marry him
and settle down.  How in the world he is ever going to support us I
can't see--but he'd be SOMEBODY."

"He isn't going to be a life-saver all his life.  He is smart and
he'll get ahead.  I'll make him."

"Yes, so I've heard you say; but you haven't made much of him yet."

"I haven't had the chance.  It's coming, though.  That Bartlett
won't last long, and when he goes Calvin will have his place.
Cap'n Kellogg told me as much as that--or, if he didn't tell me, he
told somebody else who did tell me.  _I_ know."

"Yes, you always know.  I suppose you know that that daughter of
Bartlett's has been visitin' down at the station?"

"Of course I know it," sharply.  "What of it?"

"Oh, nothing.  And you know that your nice Calvin boy took her down
in his boat the very night after he left here?"

"Yes, I know that, too.  But how did you know?"

"Oh, I heard.  I don't miss everything that goes on, even if my own
daughter don't tell me.  They say the Bartlett girl is awful
pretty, too."

Miss Fuller's expressive eyes were becoming very expressive.

"Look here, mother," she snapped, "are you trying to make me
jealous?  Because if you are you're wasting your time.  If I can't
take care of myself so far as a namby-pamby kid like that Norma
Bartlett is concerned then I'll jump overboard.  She couldn't have
Calvin Homer, even if she wanted him.  I've got him.  And I'm going
to keep him."

"All right.  Then I wouldn't take too many chances, that's all.  I
see you've got his ring on.  Going to let Mr. Blodgett see that?"

"Why not?  He doesn't know it is an engagement ring, does he?"

"I don't know why he should.  _I_ wouldn't guess a thing like that
was anybody's engagement ring.  Didn't cost OVER thirty-five
dollars, if it did that.  And if your father had bought MY
engagement ring at Simmons's right here in Orham I'd have had
something to say about it.  He got HIS ring at Jordan Marsh's, in
Boston, and it cost 'most a hundred dollars, too."

"How do you know?  He told you so, I suppose?  You shouldn't
believe all you hear, mother."

Sarepta bounced to her feet.  "I don't believe everything I hear
from YOU," she announced bitterly.  "And I'll tell you something
else," she added.  "Your father--and I should think you'd be
ashamed to talk about him as you do--"

Myra's provoking drawl interrupted.  "Oh, but think," she said
sweetly, "how I used to hear you talk TO him, mother dear."

Her mother winced at the shot, but she fired a volley in return.

"I'll tell YOU something, young woman," she repeated.  "When your
father bought my engagement ring he gave it to me himself.  He
didn't send it 'round in the grocery cart like--like a quart of
onions.  If he had I'd--I'd have thrown it at him."

This time she had scored.  Miss Fuller's sweetly sarcastic smile
disappeared.  Her lips closed tightly.

"I'll never forgive him for that," she said, between her teeth.
"And I'll make him pay for it, too.  See if I don't."

Sarepta nodded in triumph.  "Better make sure you get him first,"
she advised.  "And if I wanted him I wouldn't set folks talking too
much about you and Ezra Blodgett."

Myra also rose.  "You mind your own business, mother," she

"Oh, I'm minding it.  If I was minding yours--or if you had let me
mind it--I should have told you to grab Ezra long ago.  He is old,
and he's kind of soft headed, but he's got lots of money.  You
could wind him around your finger, and that isn't a bad kind of
husband to have.  Your life-saver is handsome enough, and he's good
enough, but he hasn't got a cent and never will have."

Her daughter regarded her steadily.  "You think so, do you?" she
said.  "Well, I know a man when I see one and I'm smart enough to
make him amount to something in the world.  I mean to marry Calvin
Homer; I like him better than any one I ever saw in my life.  As
for his getting on--well, wait and see.  I'm attending to that part
of it."

"Humph!  Maybe you are.  But, unless you want to spend your
honeymoon in a fish shanty down at Setuckit I should attend to it
pretty soon. . . .  There; see what you've done!  Cups cost money.
You haven't married your rich life-saver yet, so you can't afford
to break dishes in your tantrums.  Sshh! here's Ezra now.  Take him
into the sitting room.  I'll clean up the mess you made--AS usual."

When Myra returned home, at one o'clock the next morning, from the
Odd Fellows' "Grand Ball" in the Harniss town hall, she went
straight to her mother's room.  Sarepta was sleeping soundly and
was not too good natured at being wakened.  But her irritation
vanished as she heard the news her daughter had to tell.

"My sakes alive!" she exclaimed.  "Do you suppose it is true?"

Myra nodded.  "Of course it is true," she declared.  "They were
talking about it the whole evening.  They say the schooner could
have been saved just as well as not, but Bartlett wouldn't let the
crew go off to her.  Alvin Crocker told Henry Mullett and Henry
told Ezra and Ezra told me that Bartlett ordered the Setuckit crew
to stay ashore and rest.  Just think of it!  Rest!"

"But he did order 'em to go, finally?"

"Yes, he did, but not until Crocker and Philander Jarvis and their
crowd had started first.  And old Blodgett said that Henry said
Alvin said--"

"My soul and body!  Do stop saying 'said' and tell me WHAT they
said.  It must be pretty close to morning and I want to get a
little sleep before I have to get up and get your breakfast.  What
was it they said?"

"Alvin said he didn't believe Bartlett would have started at all if
they hadn't shamed him into doing it.  Everybody says there will be
an investigation.  If Superintendent Kellogg hears of it--"

"Well, do you think he will hear of it?"

Miss Fuller laughed triumphantly.  "You just bet he will!" she
declared.  "I'll see that he does.  Oh, yes, he'll hear of it all

"Humph!  You act pretty sure, seems to me.  Who is going to tell
him, I want to know?  You won't see him, it isn't likely."

"I shan't need to.  Ezra Blodgett is going to Provincetown to-
morrow or next day and he'll see him.  He promised me he would."

Sarepta raised her head from the pillow.

"What!" she exclaimed.  "You don't mean to tell me that you've got
Ezra Blodgett working to make Calvin Homer keeper at Setuckit?  He
isn't quite such a numbskull as to help you marry another man, is

Her daughter laughed again.  "He doesn't know that he is helping,"
she announced.  "I told him I thought it was his duty as a good
citizen to give Cap'n Kellogg a tip as to how things were going
down there, that's all."

"I want to know!  Well, I never heard anybody brag about Ezra
Blodgett's being such a good citizen as all that comes to.  He
isn't liable to put himself out for anybody but himself.  I
wouldn't put much trust in that notion, if I were you."

Myra laughed again.  "You told me this very evening," she said,
"that I could wind him around my finger.  He winds beautifully. . . .
And he likes it, mother dear--oh, yes, he likes it."

"Well, all I can say is he must be an old fool."

"He is," sweetly, "but I'm not.  And I am going to make Calvin
Homer keeper of Setuckit Station.  Good night, mother."

Mrs. Fuller gave it up in disgust.

"You're bound to marry that life-saver, aren't you?" she sneered.

The sneer was wasted.  Myra's certainty of coming triumph was too

"Yes, I am," she said.  "Come, mother, what is the matter with you?
You were as sweet as syrup when Calvin and I got engaged."

"Maybe I was.  I thought 'twas high time you married somebody."

"He's somebody, isn't he?"

"Humph!  I'm not so sure.  It looks to me as if he was pretty close
to being a nobody."

Myra turned quickly.  "The man who marries me won't be a nobody
long," she declared sharply.  "You may as well understand that now.
And as for him--"

"Well?  What about him?"

The young woman's eyes flashed.  "I'll make him understand it,
too," she said.  "But I'll marry him first."


When Peleg Myrick came down to Setuckit two days after the storm he
brought the station mail.  In it was a letter addressed to Calvin.
He recognized the writing on the envelope and waited until he was
alone before opening it.  The note was short--for a letter from an
engaged young woman to her fiancÚ it was astonishingly so--but it
was urgent.  Practically every other word was underscored.

"Dearest [wrote Myra], I must see you VERY soon.  I have some
IMPORTANT things to say to you.  Just as soon as you possibly can I
want you to take a day off and come up here.  I know you wonder why
you have not heard from me before.  No doubt you are beginning to
think I have forgotten my precious boy altogether.  THAT is NOT
true, you may be sure.  Far, far from it.  I have been planning
and planning for us both every minute since you left me, and that
seems ages and ages ago, doesn't it?  If I had not had your dear
letters to comfort me I don't know what I should have done.  Of
course I understand how hard it is for you to get away, with the
responsibility of the station ENTIRELY on your shoulders, but now
you MUST come.  I have heard what has been going on down there--
every one is talking about it--and I am as excited as can be.  Now
is our time.  You understand what I mean, Calvin dear, don't you?
And we must make the most of it.  Come to me at once.  I must see
you.  Write, or get word to me somehow, when you are coming.  But
make it very soon.  In a very little while, if things go as they
should--and as we must MAKE things--we can announce our engagement.
Then I shall be the happiest girl in the world.  And you will be
happy, too; won't you, dear. . . ?"

The remainder of the letter would not be particularly interesting
to the world in general.  Nor, to tell the exact truth, was it as
interesting to Calvin as such assurances are assumed to be to the
person most concerned.  If Miss Fuller was on the verge of becoming
the happiest girl in the world he was by no means the happiest man.
The underscored sentences in the letter troubled him, not so much
by what they expressed as by what he feared they might imply.
Well, she was right in one thing--they were in complete agreement
there--he must go to Orham and see her immediately.  He could
write, of course, and make his position perfectly clear, but
writing seemed cowardly.  No, he must see her.

But when he thought of putting this determination into action
difficulties began presenting themselves.  Benoni Bartlett was not
well, plainly not at all well.  His exertions and the mental strain
of two wrecks in one day had had an effect which--to Homer at
least--was obvious.  The keeper was up and about and attending to
his duties, but he seemed depressed and more nervous and careworn
than ever.  He was silent, even morose, during the days, and at
night the men on duty were likely to meet him wandering about the
station at any hour.  He talked to himself more than ever and
Calvin noticed that the little Bible which his daughter had given
him was always open upon the table in his room.  He developed a
habit of asking peculiar questions, questions upon points of
religious belief and at the most unexpected times.

The occasion when Homer first mentioned the "liberty day" which he
desired was one of these times.  Calvin, knowing that the skipper
was alone in his room, visited that room and stated his case.  He
explained that he had not taken a day off for a long while, that he
had some business in Orham which needed attention, and suggested
that he be allowed to go up to the village the next day.  Bartlett,
seated in the chair by the window and gazing out, did not turn his
head.  He heard--or appeared to hear--his subordinate through to
the end, but when he did speak his answer was not an answer at all;
it contained no reference to the matter of the requested liberty.
He pulled slowly at his beard and asked:

"Boy, do you read the Word reg'lar?"

Calvin did not catch his meaning.

"Word?" he repeated.  "What word?"

Bartlett turned then.  He was frowning and his eyes had that
strange glint upon which Seleucus had commented when he first saw

"There ain't but one Word, is there?" he demanded gruffly.
"There's only one that's worth readin', and if you read it oftener
you'd be a better man.  I read it night and day--night and day, I
do--and it's balm in Gilead to my soul.  But there's some hard
parts in it, parts that's kind of--kind of discouragin' to a sinner
like me.  Boy," with an eagerness that was pathetic, "do you
cal'late He'll be too hard on a feller that slips up once in a
while?  Don't you cal'late He'll make some allowances and not bear
down on him too hard?  Eh?  Don't you?"

Homer, not catching his meaning and completely taken by surprise,
was not ready with a reply.  Bartlett did not wait for one.

"It says right here," he went on, tapping the open pages of the
Bible with his forefinger, "that except ye keep His commandments
you'll go to hell.  That's what it says.  Boy," in an agitated
whisper, "I broke one of His commandments t'other day.  Yes, I did.
I don't know much about what I done that afternoon, but I know I
did that.  I took His name in vain.  Do you cal'late He'll--He'll
stick to what He says?  Eh?  Why don't you say somethin'?  You
don't think I'll be lost just for that one slip, do you?  You don't
think He'll be as hard on a poor feller as all that?"

Calvin, stifling his impatience, soothed him as best he could,
fortifying his consolation with such Scriptural quotations
concerning forgiveness as he could remember.  After a time, when
his assurances seemed to be producing an effect, he ventured once
more to speak concerning the day in Orham.  Benoni heard and
understood, but he shook his head.

"I'd rather you didn't go just now, if you wouldn't mind," he said;
and added, apologetically, "It don't seem hardly as if I could
spare you.  I--I'm kind of--of tired and sort of wore out these
days, seems so, and you're about the only one down here I know I
can depend on.  Hadn't you just as soon put off goin' for a little
spell?  Hadn't you, Calvin?"

There was but one reply to make and Homer made it.

"If you feel that way, Cap'n," he said, "of course I'll wait."

"Yes--yes," eagerly, "you wait.  I'm feelin' better every day and
you won't have to wait long. . . .  Say," with sudden sharpness,
"them men out there--the crew, I mean--they don't find much fault
with me nowadays, do they?  They're satisfied with the way I got
'em off to that schooner and--and beat out that other gang?  They
think I did pretty well then, don't they?"

"Yes, indeed, Cap'n Bartlett."

"That's good, that's good.  Wallie Oaks he says the same.  He says
they liked that first rate.  I used to be a pretty able man in
times like that.  There wasn't much that scared me in the old days.
Well," firmly, "it don't scare me now, either.  I'm just as good as
ever I was--and nobody hadn't better forget it.  Nobody!  You tell
'em I said so; do you hear. . . ?  Why, there, Mr. Homer, I guess
that's all you wanted of me, wasn't it?  We'll see about your
liberty before long.  There'll be drill this afternoon, of course.
See that all hands are ready on time."

So Calvin was forced to write Myra a note explaining that he could
not leave the station immediately, but would come to her at the
first possible moment.  Events which followed compelled still
further postponement.  Crocker and Jarvis and their men were
working at the nets in the weir shanty up the beach, and had had no
opportunity to visit the village and tell their story there.  But
they had had visitors, members of the Orham life-saving crew and an
occasional fisherman, and had told it to them.  The news spread
and, as Myra Fuller told her mother, practically every one in Orham
and the neighboring towns was talking about it, magnifying rumors
and prophesying trouble and probable investigation by the district
superintendent.  Peleg Myrick brought the news of these rumors and
prophecies to Setuckit and told the men there.  Seleucus Gammon,
too, heard the story from his brother-in-law.  He and Homer talked
it over.

"I don't cal'late much'll come of it this time, Cal," confided
Seleucus.  "If we hadn't beat out Philander and Alvin and their
gang and got the men off that vessel there would have been the Old
Harry to pay.  But we did, you see.  Old Bologny was a kind of late
starter, but when he got agoin' he sartin did make things hum.
Crimustee, how he did lay into Alvin!  It done me good to hear him
cuss.  Proved he was HUMAN, you understand.  It helped him with the
boys more'n anything else could.  They've been talkin' about it, of
course, and we've all made up our minds, if Kellogg should breeze
down here askin' questions, to stand by the old man.  Give him
another chance, anyhow."

"Humph!  You've changed your mind about the skipper since the last
time we talked, Seleucus.  Then, if I remember, you figured that he
was crazy."

"I think he is yet.  Crazy as a bug on a hot plate--when it comes
to prayer-meetin' talk and the like of that.  And I own up he acted
crazy off to that wreck.  But THAT was sensible crazy.  That's the
kind of craziness that counts for somethin'.  The crazier he gets
that way the better skipper of Setuckit Life-Savin' Station he'll
be.  That's the way the boys feel.  They want to give him another
chance and see how loony he'll be next time.  They want to hear him
swear some more.  Ho, ho!  Crimus!  I wouldn't have missed that for
two months' pay."

"But--remember, you said it yourself, Seleucus--we might have got
that schooner afloat if we had started in time."

Gammon stopped laughing and nodded gravely.  "You and me know that,
Cal," he admitted, "but the boys don't; or, if it did come acrost
their minds, they've forgot it.  And they won't let Cap'n Kellogg
know they ever thought of such a thing.  No, we're all agoin' to
stand by Bologny, unless--well, unless you want the keeper's job
yourself, Cal.  If you do--well, IF you do then we'll talk

"I don't.  Not that way.  You and all hands are not to mention my
name.  You understand that?"

"Sartin sure.  We know how you feel, Cal.  We don't blame you for
feelin' that way. . . .  That Norma Bartlett is a mighty fine

Calvin swung about to glare at him.

"What on earth has she got to do with it?" he demanded hotly.

"Eh?  Why, nothin'.  Who said she had?  I was just sayin' what a
nice girl she was, that's all.  No need for you to get red faced
and foam up over that, as I know of.  But the boys like her first-
rate and they're more for Bologny right now than they've been afore
since he was wished on to us.  If you doubt it you notice how
Wallie Oaks is playin' puppy dog to him again these days.  Wallie's
a pretty fair piece of drift to show which way the tide's settin'."

Homer was still unreasonably ruffled and he could not resist giving
his comrade's serene self-satisfaction a shake.

"How is your wife these days?" he inquired.  "Does she like the
Bartlett girl as well as you do?"

The self-satisfaction vanished like a puff of pipe smoke in a gale.
"Don't you let on to anybody that I ever said I liked Norma,"
ordered Seleucus hastily.  "Don't you do it.  Say, Cal," he added
hurriedly, "ain't there some way you can fix it so's I'll have to
stay here at the station all the time for a spell?  Between
Philander raggin' me about our bein' scared to go to that wreck and
Jemima sailin' into me because I don't talk back to him like a man,
home, sweet home is pretty toler'ble sour these days.  Crimustee!"

"Well, why don't you talk back to him?"

"'Cause when I do she jibes over and takes his side and I have to
talk back to the pair of 'em.  That's like whistlin' for a breeze
and startin' up a hurricane.  Cal, if you ever do get married,
don't marry a woman with relations.  And don't marry one that's
jealous.  Don't marry a woman, anyhow--that's my advice, and I
don't charge nothin' for givin' it.  And, look here, don't you
never tell I said THAT, neither."

Kellogg drove down to Setuckit before the week ended.  Homer had
been expecting him, so he was not surprised.  He was astonished,
however, when the buggy stopped at the station door, to see Norma
Bartlett on the seat beside the superintendent.  It was a snowy
day, but cold and windy, and the long drive had reddened her cheeks
and blown her hair about.  She leaped lightly to the ground and
shook hands with the group of surfmen by the door.  Their tanned
faces were agrin as they bashfully returned her greetings.

"Isn't this a surprise party!" she exclaimed.  "Of course you
didn't expect to see me so soon; but you know what they say about
the bad penny.  How have you all been since I went away?  You have
been busy, I know.  I read about you in the Boston paper.  Why do
all the exciting things happen when I am not here?"

Seleucus, who had just emerged from the mess room and to whom this
last question was addressed, shuffled his feet and coughed.

"Well," he said, "I don't know's I know exactly.  Maybe it's
because the A'mighty figgers we couldn't stand too many kinds of
excitement down here to Setuckit all to once.  Ain't used to 'em,
you see.  Have to take the bitter separate from the sweet, I

She laughed delightedly.  "Why, that is a very pretty speech, Mr.
Gammon," she declared.  "You must have been practicing since I
left.  Thank you very much."

She and he were shaking hands as she said it.  The other surfmen
were smiling and their smiles broadened as, from the Jarvis shanty,
came a shrill hail.

"Seleucus!" screamed Mrs. Gammon.  "Seleucus, is that you?  Come
over here right away; I want you."

Seleucus dropped the young lady's hand as if it had bitten him and
hastened to obey.  A roar of laughter followed his exit.

"See him run, fellers," cackled Phinney.  "He knows there's more of
the sweet over home there waitin' for him."

Norma entered the mess room.  There she and Calvin met.  There was
no sensible reason why he should have felt the least embarrassed at
the meeting, yet he did, and when they shook hands he found it
difficult to speak.  The embarrassment may have been contagious,
for she, too, hesitated momentarily.  But she recovered at once and
her greeting was cheery and quite matter of fact.

"Why, how do you do, Mr. Homer?" she said.  "I have surprised you,
just as I have all the others.  And father will be the most
surprised of all.  Where is he?"

"He is in his room, Miss Bartlett.  He'll be awfully glad to see
you.  Go right in."

She moved toward the door of the keeper's room, but paused, and
turned back.

"Tell me," she whispered cautiously; "how is he?  Is he well?  He's
not sick--or--or anything like that?"

"Sick?  No, indeed; he's all right.  What made you think he was

"Oh, I don't know.  Something in his last letter--something he
said--or the way he said it--worried me a little.  Has there been
trouble here?  Any unusual trouble, I mean?"

"No."  He tried to say it promptly and in a way to carry
conviction, but it was evident that the attempt was not a complete
success.  She was looking at him, looking him through and through
with those clear eyes of hers.

"Are you sure?" she demanded.

"Why, yes--yes, of course.  But how does it happen you come back so
soon?  We--your father didn't expect you for another three weeks at

"I know; but something happened there at Fairborough which made it
possible for me to come now.  And father's letter troubled me and--
I'll tell you all about it by and by.  I must see him before I say
another word to anybody."

"Of course.  And I'll keep Cap'n Kellogg busy for a while.  Tell
the skipper he needn't hurry."

"Thank you."  Again she paused and looked at him.  "The
superintendent brought me down here," she said.  "I met him up in
the village.  He knew me, of course--we saw a good deal of each
other there at Crooked Hill while father was so ill--and he said he
was coming here and offered to take me with him.  Why is he coming
here at this time, Mr. Homer?"

Calvin was expecting this question, or one like it, and this time
he was ready.

"Oh, he comes every so often," he said carelessly.  "It is part of
his job.  He has to inspect all the stations."

"Yes, I know, but--Oh, here he is!  I'll see you all by and by."

She knocked softly at the keeper's door, and entered, closing it
behind her.  Homer turned to greet the superintendent.

He had dreaded the meeting, but Kellogg's manner was so good
natured and casual that, after the first few minutes, he began to
believe his dread unwarranted.  The superintendent inquired
concerning Bartlett, learned that the latter was with his daughter,
and nodded comprehendingly.

"We won't disturb 'em," he said.  "I shall be here the better part
of the day and I'll have time enough to see him later on.  Well,
Calvin, how are you?  How are things going nowadays; all taut and
shipshape, are they?"

Calvin answered in the affirmative.  He expected a sharp cross-
examination, but the few questions Kellogg asked were quite general
in scope.

"How is the cap'n getting on with the crew?" he wanted to know.
"Do they like him better than they did at first?"

"Yes, I think they do."

"How do you like him?"

"Why--why, all right.  He is queer in some ways, but he is on the

"Handles things pretty well, take 'em by and large, does he?"


"You haven't any fault to find, then?"


"I see.  Well, I'm going to hang around here for three or four
hours.  Don't pay any attention to me.  I'll see you again before I

That was all, and Homer was greatly relieved.  He was busy with
various duties and he saw the superintendent only at dinner and at
brief and casual intervals during the day.  The dinner was a jolly
meal, for Norma and Kellogg were at the table and there was much
joking and story-telling.  Bartlett was in better spirits than he
had been since the day of the wreck, and there were no symptoms of
"queerness" in his manner or conversation.  His melancholy had
vanished and he told a story or two himself.  Evidently his
daughter's arrival was the tonic he needed.

Beach drill was carried through with a snap and finish which
brought a word of commendation from the official visitor.  Homer's
apprehensions concerning trouble were pretty thoroughly dispelled
by this time.  Apparently the visit was but a matter of routine,
after all.  Peleg Myrick's disturbing yarns of investigations and
all the rest were but exaggerations of village gossip, nothing
more; Peleg was always a sensation monger.  And the hints in Myra's
letter, and Seleucus's forebodings based upon his spiteful brother-
in-law's confidences were parts of the same magnifying of unfounded
rumor.  People were bound to talk, anyhow, and in winter there was
so little to talk about.  Captain Kellogg was not the man to heed
gossip; he, probably, had paid no attention to it whatever.

But Calvin's ease of mind lasted only until four o'clock that
afternoon.  Then, as he sat reading in the mess room Kellogg came
out of the keeper's room, where he had been closeted with Benoni
for a half hour or more, and laid a hand on his shoulder.

"Cal," he said, in a low tone, "come out to the barn with me.  I
want to talk with you.  Better put on your sweater and cap.  It's
liable to be chilly out there."

Calvin obeyed orders, so far as the sweater and cap were concerned,
and followed his superior out to the chill, shut-up stable.  The
superintendent carefully closed the door behind them and seated
himself on the grain box.

"Sit down here alongside, Cal," he ordered.  "Sorry I have to lock
you and me up in this God-forsaken hole, but it seems to be the
only place where we won't be disturbed.  I don't want the men to
see us talking together.  And I don't want that daughter of
Bartlett's to catch on, either.  She's as smart as a red-pepper
plaster, that girl, and somehow or other she's tumbled to the fact
that there's something going on.  She asked me as much as fifty
questions on the way down, and it took all my diplomatics to make
her believe I was coming here to-day just because it was my regular
time for coming.  Even when I got through perjuring myself I doubt
if she really believed it.  Cal, if I was a young man, instead of a
fifty-nine-year-old ruin--and thirty-five years married, at that--
I'd get a line over the side for that girl.  She's good to look at--
no need to tell you young fellows that--and she's got something in
her head besides dough.  Yes, sir-ee!  With a wife like her to
cruise along with him the right kind of man might travel far."

He paused, chuckled, and went on.  "That ain't what I towed you out
here to talk about," he said, "but I just heave it in with the rest
of the cargo.  Now then: I want some straight-from-the-shoulder
stuff out of you.  No guesses and shouldn't wonders, nothing but
aye, yes, or no.  What about this Rosie Cahoon wreck?  How about
the yarn Alvin Crocker and his gang are telling?  I want the whole
truth from you, son.  That's part of what I came here to get.
Overboard with it."

Homer hesitated.  The barn was cold and dark and gloomy.  The wind
wailed and rattled the windows.  The horses stamped and stirred in
their stalls.

"Come on," urged Kellogg.  "Spin your yarn.  Give me the whole of
it, and don't leave out anything.  Begin at the beginning.  How
long did you fellows wait before you started to that schooner?"

Calvin told the story.  He told it as truthfully and as
comprehensively as he could; how Bartlett himself had first sighted
the stranded schooner, of his delay in ordering out the boat, of
his expressed reasons for the delay, of the departure of the
whaleboat, and then of the mad race to the wreck and the rescue of
the crew.  The superintendent heard him to the end, without
comment.  Then he nodded.

"Um-hum," he grunted.  "That's just about as I got it from the
other men.  I don't suppose you noticed it--I didn't mean you
should--but I've been at the pumps pretty steady ever since I
landed here, and I've got the yarn from every one of 'em.  They all
bear you out, Cal.  Now then, what is your idea of it all?  Do you
think the keeper stayed on shore because he was scared, himself, or
because he really thought it was too much risk to take out a tired
crew twice in a few hours, unless it was absolutely necessary. . . ?
Eh?  I want it straight.  What do you think?"

Homer waited a moment before replying.  He would have given much to
evade the obligation of replying at all.

"Well, sir," he said, after the moment of consideration, "to be
honest, I don't know.  At first I couldn't understand.  When he
hung back and wouldn't give the order, I was as mad as the rest.
Then--well, yes, I did think he was scared.  But after he did start
he soon took that idea out of my head.  He wasn't scared then, you
can take my word for that.  I never saw a man think less about his
own skin than he did.  When we got that boat off he was up to his
neck in the surf and didn't seem to know it.  He drove us off to
that shoal as if he was a steam engine.  Honestly, I believe he
would have jammed our bow straight through that whaleboat if they
hadn't got her out of the way.  If I had had any breath left I'd
have given three cheers for him then."

Kellogg chuckled once more.  "I'd like to have seen that," he
vowed.  "I understand he told Crocker where to get off, and named
the part.  Ho, ho!  Every one of the boys took pains to tell me
that part.  I wish I had been there. . . .  Well, that's all of
that.  Answer me this:  Do you figure that, provided he had started
sooner, you might have floated the schooner?"

Calvin had been expecting that question, and dreading it.  He
hesitated again before answering.  There was a face before his
mind's eye--not the face of Benoni Bartlett, but another.

"Why, I don't know, Cap'n Kellogg," he said again.  "At first it
rather seemed to me that we might.  But, thinking it over since,
I'm not sure about it.  It was blowing a gale, and the seas were
running high.  They were breaking clean over her when we got there.
We MIGHT have got her off--and then again we mightn't.  It was a
toss-up, I guess."

"Um-hum.  But, if it had been up to you, you would have started and
had a try, wouldn't you?"

"Yes.  I suppose I should."

"I know plaguy well you would.  Now, one more thing.  Do you think
Bartlett is right--right in his head, I mean?"

"I think--Well, I think he may be a little off on religious
matters.  He is--"

"Oh, never mind that," impatiently.  "The smartest sea cap'n I ever
sailed with used to read the second mate and me a chapter out of
the Bible every night before he turned in.  And we had prayers
along with the saleratus biscuits for breakfast.  But I've seen
that same cap'n take the ship through an Indian Ocean typhoon and
stay on deck for thirty hours running and grin and whistle a hymn
tune when it looked as if every sea was going to drive all hands to
the bottom.  I don't care how crazy Benoni is that way.  What I'm
asking you is whether you think he's too crazy to be keeper at

"No, I don't think he is."

"And you don't think he's yellow?"

"How could I think so after seeing him head for that whaleboat?"

"Humph!  That's dodging the question a little mite, isn't it?
Well, never mind; you don't dodge it any more than the rest of the
boys.  If you were me, then, you'd let him stay on here--give him
another chance?"

"Yes, I would."

"You say that prompt enough.  Sure it is Bartlett and not his good-
looking daughter you are giving the chance to. . . ?  Well, well!
you needn't bite me.  Maybe I feel like giving her the chance,
myself.  She believes in her cranky dad, I'll say that for her.
And the men are for him now.  I own up that surprises me.  Yes, it

Homer ventured to ask a question of his own.

"What does Cap'n Bartlett say about not starting sooner for the
wreck?" he asked.  "Of course it isn't my business, sir--"

"Not a mite.  But I'd just as soon tell you.  He talks rational
enough about it.  Says he thinks maybe he should have started; but
he was so worn out and tired himself that he felt as if he hadn't
the right to order another pull like that for the men unless he had
to.  Says he realizes that he isn't quite up to the mark yet, after
that Crooked Hill strain, but he's getting better all the time and
that the Lord is helping him every day to get better yet.  I don't
know about that last part--I haven't heard from the other end of
the line; 'fraid I ain't in as close touch as he thinks he is--but
I do feel inclined to make some allowances for his nerves.  That
Crooked Hill smash was plain hell for any man, cracked or whole,
there's no doubt about that."

Homer made no comment.  They sat in silence for some time.  Then
Kellogg slid off the grain bin and stood erect.

"Cal," he said, "when I came down here, after the yarns they're
spilling up in Orham, I had about decided to give Bartlett his
walking ticket.  I won't have a yellow skipper or a yellow surfman
in a station under me.  But since I've talked with all hands down
here I've changed my mind.  I'm going to let him stick on a spell
and see what happens.  You're all for him, I can see that, and
you're all good picked men--except Oaks, maybe, and I don't think
he'll be in the service long.  If I had appointed Bartlett on my
own hook I doubt if I should be so favorable toward giving him
another chance.  But I didn't appoint him, you see; and if I fire
him without absolute sure cause those blasted Washington
politicians will be in my wool. . . .  Yes, and there's another
reason.  Al Crocker and Philander Jarvis are sore as a couple of
stubbed toes because you fellows licked 'em off yonder.  They want
to take out their spite on Benoni or anybody else at Setuckit.
Well, I'll see 'em in a whole lot hotter place than this barn is
just now before I help 'em pull the nuts out of the stove.  When I
discharge a life-saver it's because _I_ see fit--not because
somebody else does."

At the stable door he spoke again.

"Don't talk about any of this, Calvin," he said.  "You won't, I
know.  Bartlett will be keeper here for a while yet.  But--yes,
I'll say it right out loud here to you--I'm still a long way from
being sure that he ain't yellow underneath.  I don't care if he is
just crazy, so long as he is brave and up to his job.  But if he is
a coward--if he turns out to be--if there is any more hanging back
or waiting to 'rest'--out he goes.  And all the politicians from
the Boston State House to Jericho won't stop his going, either."


Norma was planning to remain at Setuckit for a week, so she
explained at supper that evening.  The happening which had afforded
her the unexpected opportunity to visit her father was a fire which
had partially destroyed the reading room of the Fairborough library
and necessitated the closing of the building to the public for a
time.  An overheated furnace was presumed to be the cause, and
although the blaze had been discovered before great damage was
done, there were repairs to be made, and it was thought best to
give the carpenters and painters free scope for their work.

"So I saw my chance," she said, "and came.  I have until next
Monday afternoon, and I mean to make the most of it.  You can't get
rid of me until my time is up, you see, so you might just as well
pretend you like to have a girl around here, interfering with your
cooking and getting in the way."

There was a chorus of protests.  Ed Bloomer voiced the opinion of
the majority.

"Don't fret about the cookin'," he said.  "It's Ellis's turn again
this week, and what his kind of cookin' needs is to be interfered
with.  The more interference gets into that coffee of his the
better it tastes."

"I hope this weather holds for you, Miss Norma," observed Phinney.
"It's fine enough just now, and there don't seem to be any symptoms
of it changin'."

The visitor announced that she did not want fair weather all the
time.  "I want to see a real storm," she said.  "There wasn't the
slightest hint of a storm while I was here before.  Everything was
as peaceful and serene as midsummer.  I might as well have been in
Fairborough as far as excitement was concerned.  But the very day I
left the gales began.  Now I don't think that is at all polite.  I
must see Mr. Myrick and try to coax him into arranging a tornado
for my benefit."

Hez Rogers laughed.  "Well," he said, "the last time Peleg was down
here he was prophesyin' clear and calm for a month.  That ought to
encourage you a little mite, for Peleg's prophecies generally work
stern foremost."

Captain Bartlett spoke, from his place at the head of the table.

"Don't joke about serious things, Norma," he commanded sternly.
"If the Lord is good to those that go down to the sea in ships, and
gives 'em fair winds and smooth seas, it's our place to be thankful
to Him.  Don't let me hear anybody around here wishin' for storms."

The subject was changed promptly, but the weather did not change.
Mr. Myrick was proven a true prophet, so far as that week was
concerned.  Day after day was cold but clear, and the procession of
sailing craft and steamers, of tugs and tows, moved by Setuckit
unhindered by gales or even fogs.

Norma spent a large portion of her days out-of-doors.  Muffled and
wrapped against the cold, she tramped the beaches, exploring the
dunes, or visiting the lighthouse, where the lightkeeper and his
assistant endured lonely vigil, and were in consequence glad to see
visitors, particularly attractive young persons of the other sex.
A few of these excursions she made alone, but, for the most part,
one or more of the surfmen accompanied her.  They pointed out spots
where famous wrecks had taken place in the past, showed her
fragments of these wrecks protruding, like skeletons, from the
sand, told her yarn after yarn of rescues and risks of which only
the barest outlines had been printed in the papers.  And, without
realizing it, they gave her details of the life at her father's
station and intimate glimpses of their feeling toward the new
keeper, glimpses which were reassuring and tended to dispel her
doubts concerning their loyalty to the latter.  As a matter of
fact, the loyalty really existed now.  Bartlett had, as the crew
felt, showed himself a man.  By threatening to sink the whaleboat
he had won their support--even a measure of respect--for the time.
The feeling was not deep-seated as yet--it might easily be
dispelled--but it was there at present.  And their liking for Norma
strengthened it.

They did like her, and she liked them.  And, in consequence, they
grew more confidential and spoke of matters personal, of their
homes and families.  She learned how hard it was for the Phinney's
to get along on the meager wage of a surfman; how Elsie May, the
oldest girl, was "cal'latin'" to help out by washing dishes at the
Ocean House during the coming summer and how Joshua, next younger,
had earned over eleven dollars that fall trapping muskrats and
selling their skins.  She heard more gossip concerning the troubled
marital relations of the Gammons and agreed that what Jemima needed
was to be strenuously "put in her place," wherever that place might
be.  And, also, she heard from man after man what a fine young
fellow Calvin Homer was, how all hands liked him, swore by him, and
would follow him anywhere.

"Your pa can count himself mighty lucky to have a Number One man
like Cal to back him up," declared Rogers, who chanced to be escort
that morning.  "Some fellers would have been so sore at bein'
passed over for keeper, and havin' a man from outside run in right
over their heads, that they'd have laid down on the job and left
the new feller to get along best he could.  I don't know but I
would, myself.  Fact is, we was pretty sore, all hands of us, on
Cal's account, but he wouldn't listen when we told him so.  Said
the superintendent knew what he was doin', and what was best for
the service and 'twas our job to shut up growlin' and work hard for
Cap'n Bartlett.  That's what he said, and it's what he's done ever
since the first go-off.  I don't know's the skipper hardly realizes
what he owes Cal Homer for smoothin' things out here at Setuckit
and makin' 'em slide along right."

Hezekiah was walking a few steps in advance of his companion at the
moment, and so he did not notice her manifest surprise nor the look
she gave him when he first mentioned the "passing over" of Homer as
keeper, and her father's appointment in his stead.  When he did
turn back she had stopped and was gazing at the surf as it reared
and broke along the beach.

"What is it?" he asked.  "See somethin' adrift there, do you?"

She shook her head.  "No," she said.  "I was looking at the
breakers, that is all.  Let's go on a little farther; I'm not a bit
tired.  Tell me some more about yourself and--and the other men,
Mr. Rogers.  Naturally you were all disappointed at Mr. Homer's
losing the appointment.  I understand that.  But you--and he--knew,
of course, why it was given to father.  You don't blame father for
taking the place?"

"Eh?  No, no.  Can't blame any man for takin' a good job when it
comes his way."

"Of course not.  And Mr. Homer himself was very nice about it; I
agree with you there.  I suppose he had counted on promotion, being
Cap'n Myrick's Number One man?"

"Sure!  We all thought 'twas as good as settled--Cap'n Oz and all.
Kellogg did, too, I guess likely, from some things he said.  But
you never can tell about jobs like that.  Same way with gettin'
made postmaster or port collector.  Just as all hands are settled
down to a Democrat, there comes an election and, first thing you
know, they stick in a Republican.  Politics is politics; they're
reg'lar vanes, for switchin' round."

"Yes.  Yes, of course. . . .  Oh, there IS something in the surf
there ahead.  What is it, Mr. Rogers?"

It was nothing but an empty box, thrown over from a passing vessel,
but it served to distract attention and to change the subject.
Rogers talked a good deal during the remainder of the walk, but
Norma said little.  She encouraged him to chat by asking an
occasional question, but for the most part she was silent.  Calvin
Homer's name was not mentioned again that morning.

It was, however, mentioned by other surfmen during other strolls
along the shore.  Norma saw to that.  Little by little she learned
practically the whole story of the dashing of Calvin's hopes.  Each
man, if accused, would have vowed that he had told her nothing she
did not know before, but from each she gained the fragment which,
when added to the others, helped toward the entirety.

Calvin, at the beginning of her visit, had sometimes accompanied
her on her walks.  And then he ceased to do so--seemed to purposely
avoid her.  When, after breakfast, she announced her intention of
going out for what she called her "constitutional," he was always
busy at some task or other.  She must have noticed that these
compelling duties were trivial, that they might just as easily have
been done at another time, but, if she did notice it, she never
commented on the fact.  But, more than once, he caught her
regarding him with an odd expression.  It was an expression by no
means disagreeable, quite the contrary, but it merely strengthened
his own resolution to avoid her society.  The young man was more
than ever realizing that the sooner the first of March was
proclaimed by the calendar the better for him.  Setuckit Station
had suddenly become a dangerous locality.  He had dreaded the day
when he must decide whether to remain in the service or leave it
forever.  Now Fate had made the decision for him.  He must go.
Loyalty to Kellogg had kept him there.  Loyalty to Myra Fuller was
driving him away.  Loyalty! he was beginning to hate the word.

The week drew to its end.  The society of his daughter had had a
wonderful effect upon Benoni Bartlett.  His lassitude and sullen,
moody fits had disappeared.  He had ceased to ask Homer questions
concerning the possibility of eternal damnation as the punishment
for profanity.  He spent less time in his room reading the Bible.
His morose nocturnal wanderings about the station ceased.  He was,
for him, in remarkable good spirits.  He was tolerant of the jokes
and horse play at meal times.  Occasionally he went so far as to
offer a joke himself.  They were feeble antiquities, those jokes,
but, coming from him, as rarities, they were enthusiastically
received.  Calvin was glad to remark the change in his superior,
but it puzzled him.  Perhaps the mental relief following Kellogg's
examination was responsible; possibly Norma's companionship was the
cause of her father's good humor; no doubt it was the combination
of both, added to the recovery of his strength, and the rest
afforded by the stretch of good weather.  Whatever the reason, the
change was welcome and it lifted the skipper still higher in the
present favorable opinion of the men.  Only Seleucus, the always
contrary minded, expressed pessimism.

"Um-hum," grumbled Gammon, "I know.  But it won't last--mark my
words, Cal, 'twon't last.  Wait till Norma's gone and then see if
he don't slump back to worse 'n he ever was.  He ain't right up
aloft, Bologny ain't.  His main topmast is sprung and, if the next
gale of wind don't carry it away, there'll come one that will.
He's cracked, I tell you; and I've cruised along with cracked folks
afore.  They're always either way down below zero or clean up to a
hundred and ten in the shade.  He's up now, but it won't last;
he'll be down again.  And some day--SOME day, Cal Homer--his whole
upper rig is goin' by the board.  You hear me!"

Sunday, Norma's last day at Setuckit on this visit, offered the
nearest approach to bad weather she had seen.  The morning sky was
thickly overcast, and the Government's warnings of "For Southern
New England, cloudy, followed by snow or rain" seemed likely to be
fulfilled, with snow as the stronger probability.  There was a high
course of tides just then and, backed by three days of fresh,
onshore winds, the sea was running over the beach in places,
causing lengthy and provoking detours for the men on patrol at
night.  The days had been so clear that no patrols were necessary
from sunrise to sunset.

But this Sunday morning was different.  There was a heavy murk
overhanging the horizon, and, as the forenoon advanced, it crept in
closer and closer, until satisfactory watch from the tower became
impossible.  Bartlett ordered the patrolman out.  It happened to be
Calvin's turn, and he donned his heavy rig and prepared to start.
As he emerged from the station door he was surprised to find Miss
Bartlett, also wrapped and booted against the cold and wet,
apparently waiting for him.  He had supposed she was with her
father in the latter's room.

"Do you mind company, Mr. Homer?" she asked.  "I hope you don't,
because this is the last beach tramp I shall have for ever so long,
and father says it is almost sure to snow, and he doesn't like to
have me go out alone.  He was planning to go with me himself, but
he is busy with his reports and papers, and I don't want to disturb
him.  So I am going with you, unless you tell me I shan't."

He could scarcely tell her that, yet he hesitated.  He had welcomed
the opportunity afforded by patrol duty because it would take him
away from the station.  To watch her, as she moved about, chatting,
laughing, and brightening the bare, homely mess room like the
sunshine of a May morning, was pleasant, but it was a pleasure in
which he knew he must not indulge.  Yet he watched her in spite of
his resolution, just as a confirmed drunkard trying to reform might
be fascinated by a bottle of liquor kept continually displayed on a
shelf before his eyes.  The safest procedure for the drunkard would
be to run away from the room where the bottle was kept.  He had
tried to run away--was trying that very morning.

She noticed his hesitation and drew her own conclusions.

"Oh, it is all right," she said, quickly.  "I suppose it is against
the regulations.  I can go alone perfectly well."

Here was his opportunity, and he should have grasped it, knew
perfectly well that he should.  But instead, as the drunkard might
have done, when the temptation became acute he yielded to it.

"Oh, no--no!" he protested.  "I shall be glad of your company, Miss
Bartlett.  Yes, indeed!  You can come with me as well as not."

"Truly?  Thanks, ever so much.  Walking alone IS stupid, on such a
gloomy day as this.  And, besides, I feel like talking, don't you?"

If he did he repressed his feelings.  He said scarcely a dozen
words for the first mile of their tramp.  She talked much, however,
principally about what a happy visit she had had, how she hated to
leave--as she must that very afternoon--about her delight in
finding her father so well, and what dear, good fellows the members
of the Setuckit crew were.

"I like them all," she declared, "every one.  And I feel as if I
knew them now.  I have had chances to be with them this time and
learn to know them.  They have told me all about themselves, and
their families--and much more about other people. . . .  Yes, I
have learned a great many things this week, Mr. Homer; things which
I am very glad to know--and understand."

They had reached the edge of a wet, dully shining stretch of sand
which, frescoed with little rippling trickles of clear water,
marked a spot where the sea at high tide had run over the beach
between the grass-topped dunes.  The blanket of cold, raw fog had
swept in by this time, and was all about them, surrounding them as
that other fog had inclosed the Jarvis catboat on the afternoon
when he and she first met.  Homer paused for a moment and she asked
him why.

"Because I don't know whether we shouldn't turn inland here," he
replied, "and go around the end of this stretch.  The tide is
coming in and when it is full and runs as high as it does this
week, there will be some mighty cold water off there.  That flat
will be covered in another hour."

"What--that?  Why, it is almost as dry as where we are standing
this minute.  I am sure we can get over without the least trouble.
I have my heavy boots and rubbers on.  Let's try to cross.  I know
you would if I weren't here.  Now, wouldn't you?"

"Yes, I should.  But I know just where to go and I am rigged for

"So am I.  Come along then."

They crossed the fifty-yard stretch without much difficulty.  The
sand, here and there, was soft and, in one place, Homer was obliged
to lift her over the deepest and wettest spot.  She seemed to enjoy
what she called the adventure of it, and, as for him, he had quite
forgotten his good resolutions and the imminent danger of her close
presence and enjoyed it, too.

When they reached the dunes at the other side she laughed gayly.

"That was fun," she declared.  "Oh, how I hate to leave all this,
the out-of-doors, and the sea and all the rest, and go back to that
stuffy old library.  I like my work, too--when I am there--but I
like yours and father's better."

He shook his head.  "My work doesn't amount to much," he said.  "I
like it, too, of course--I can't help it.  But I can't stay at it
much longer.  I must look for something that will pay me better,
and offer a chance of getting on.  I don't want to settle down to
being a Seleucus Gammon.  Not that Seleucus isn't a fine chap, you
understand; he is."

"I know.  I think I understand just what you mean.  What have you
planned to do?"

"Oh, I haven't any real plans--yet.  I may try to go to sea, mate
of a steamer, perhaps.  Or to get in with some ship-broking house
in Boston.  It will have to be something to do with salt water," he
added, with a laugh.  "I shouldn't be happy, I guess, unless it

She turned to look at him.  "Then you have given up all idea of
being keeper of a life-saving station?" she asked.  "You did want
to be one, didn't you?"

The tone of the question was so casual that he did not realize what
might be behind it.

"Yes," he answered.  "I did want to be cap'n of a station before I
quit the service.  But I don't care to go to Crooked Hill--or--"

"Or anywhere but your own station--Setuckit," she put in, quickly.
"Were you VERY disappointed when father was given the place, Mr.

It was his turn to stop and look.  She met his gaze frankly and in
her eyes were pity, comprehension, tenderness--something which
caused him to catch his breath and look away again.

"Why--why--" he stammered; "how did you know--who told you--"

She did not wait for him to finish.  "I know," she said, with a nod
and smile.  "I know all about it.  It is one of the things I have
learned since I came here a week ago.  I know that you expected the
appointment, that Captain Myrick and the superintendent wanted you
to have it, and that the men all wanted you, too.  And then father
was made keeper and every one at Setuckit was bitter about it.  I
know all that."

He did not answer.  Some one--probably several some ones--had been
telling tales; telling them to her, the very person who should not
have heard them.

"It is true, isn't it?" she asked.  "You were disappointed--and

He frowned.  There was no use in lying; one couldn't lie to this
girl.  Those eyes of hers would see through any lie.

"That is all over and done with.  Let's talk about something else,"
he suggested rather stiffly.

"No, it is what I came with you to talk about.  I came for just
that. . . .  Do you suppose if I hadn't had a particular purpose, I
should have forced my company on you as I did?  I was waiting for
you there at the door.  You couldn't get rid of me--even though you
did try very hard, Mr. Homer."

Here was another revelation of her capacity to see through
pretense.  It staggered him.  She had seen that he was trying to
get away from her.  She had noticed his hesitancy when she offered
to accompany him.  What else had she seen--or guessed?

She answered that question herself.

"You have avoided me very carefully for some time," she went on.
"Oh, yes, you have.  It was plain enough.  I noticed it almost the
very first day I came.  Or, if not the very first, then the second
surely.  I couldn't understand--until I found out how you felt
about the appointment.  Then I understood, of course."

So she did not understand at all.  That was a mercy.  But being
misunderstood was not wholly agreeable.

"Now, Miss Bartlett," he began.  Again she interrupted.

"Oh, don't pretend," she protested hastily.  "We haven't time.  I
must leave you and go back to father very soon; I ought to go now.
But I was determined to talk with you before I left, and this was
my only chance.  I don't blame you for feeling bitter and hard
about father's being made keeper, when you had so counted upon it.
And I think it is very splendid of you to be as loyal to him as you
have been.  I can't thank you enough for that.  And he appreciates
it, too, even though he doesn't know--what I know now."

He broke in sharply.  "Don't you tell him," he ordered.

"Of course I shan't.  I promise you that.  You promised me to help
him with his work and you have done it.  I keep my promises, too;
he doesn't know, and he shan't know, so far as I am concerned.  But
I have been thinking this matter over--I haven't really thought of
anything else since I learned about it--and I'm afraid I am not
going to be satisfied with the promise you have already given.  I
want another from you.  I want you to be more than just loyal to my
father.  I want you and him to be friends."

"Why, we are friends.  I don't hold any grudge against your father;
if that is what you mean.  I certainly don't blame him for taking
the place when it came his way."

"Don't you?  Are you sure?  I'm afraid you do.  It is natural you

"I don't.  I did want the appointment; I may as well be honest
about that.  I wanted it--yes, and I expected it; but I didn't get
it, that's all."

"And you realize, don't you, that father deserved it?"

"I suppose he did."

"I wish you wouldn't say 'suppose.'  If he hadn't deserved it, if
he hadn't earned it by his years and years in the service, risking
his life over and over again--yes, and almost losing it there at
the last--if he hadn't deserved it and won it fairly why was it
given to him?"

He did not answer.  It was on the tip of his tongue to retort that
the politicians gave it to him.  That they had responded, as was
their habit, to newspaper sensation, and had not troubled to look
into the rights and wrongs of the matter at all.  He thought this,
but he did not say it.  He said nothing.

"You are still bitter, aren't you?" she observed regretfully.  "I
am awfully sorry."

"I am not bitter--against your father.  I wish you would believe

"I should like to believe it.  Will you prove it by being his

He turned toward her.  "Miss Bartlett," he said, "I don't get
exactly what you mean.  When you went away, when you were leaving
after Christmas, you told me you were glad that the skipper had one
loyal friend here.  You meant me, of course.  I promised to do all
I could to help him.  I have.  Now you seem to think I haven't been
as friendly as I ought to have been.  Why?"

"I don't think any such thing.  You have been perfectly splendid."

"Then what is it you are asking me to do?  What more do you want?"

"I want you to stay on here at the station for a while longer than
you think of doing.  You are planning to leave the first of March,
aren't you?"

"Who told you I was?  I haven't said so to a soul."

"You just said it to me--or what amounts to the same thing.
Captain Kellogg gave me the first hint while we were driving down
together.  He said he didn't know whether you would be here much
longer than March.  He said you promised him you would stay until
then.  And now you yourself tell me you are going to look for
another place outside of the service.  It didn't need an especially
brilliant mind to put the two together."

He was annoyed at Kellogg.  The latter should not have mentioned
the argument between them.

"Well, I was going to leave," he admitted.  "I did tell you I had
concluded I ought to do it before long.  I didn't say anything
about the first of March, and Cap'n Kellogg shouldn't have said it,
either.  That was supposed to be our own affair entirely."

"Then you are going then?"

"Yes.  But you said you understand my reasons.  I thought you
agreed with them."

"I do, in a way, so far as staying in the service always is
concerned.  But I know perfectly well that if you, instead of my
father, had been made the Setuckit keeper, you would have stayed--
for some time longer.  And I don't want you to leave for such a
reason as that.  It troubles me very much."

"It shouldn't.  It isn't his fault--or yours."

"I feel as if it was.  You would have stayed, wouldn't you, if it
hadn't been for--for us?"

"If I had been made keeper I should have stayed for a while, I
suppose.  Not always."

"Won't you stay now--and wait--and see what happens?"

"I can't.  Besides, what is likely to happen?"

"Oh, I don't know.  Father--sometimes I think he isn't well enough
to keep on here.  He says he is, but I can see.  If I had my way I
think I should ask him to give it up--the worry and care and all---
and come to Fairborough and live there with me.  I don't earn a
great deal, of course, but I have a little money in the bank, and
we could get along, if we were careful.  I have even hinted at it
since I have been here this time, but he won't listen.  It makes
him angry and stubborn.  He says he is going to stay in the life-
saving work until he dies.  He can't bear contradiction, and is
furious if I suggest that he isn't as strong as he used to be.
Perhaps he is--perhaps it is all my imagination--but there may come
a time, and sooner than he expects, when he will be willing to give
up and retire.  Then--why then, you would have his place, and I
shouldn't feel as wicked and guilty as I do now."

Her voice broke in the last sentence.  He looked at her in

"Guilty!" he repeated.  "You don't feel guilty on my account, do
you, Norma--Miss Bartlett, I mean?"

She smiled faintly.  "Oh, call me Norma," she said.  "You are the
only one down here who doesn't.  Yes, I do feel guilty.  I urged
father to accept the appointment; he wouldn't have done it, if I
hadn't.  But I didn't realize I was helping him to take it from
some one else--and--and the very one who has been the kindest, most
considerate--No, I just can't bear to have you go away feeling
resentful towards father and me."

"But I don't.  I have told you so half a dozen times.  As for
having any feeling against you, that is ridiculous."

"No, it isn't.  Don't you suppose I can see?  At first I didn't
notice, or, if I did, I paid no attention.  But now, when I see how
you avoid me, and understand the reason, I blame myself.  I am so
grateful to you for helping us as you have--a thousand times more
grateful since I have learned of your disappointment, and how hard
it must be for you to be so nice, or even nice at all.  But I can't
bear to have you give up your hopes and ambitions and feel that,
even in the least, it is my fault, and that you feel that it is."

"But I don't.  It is nobody's fault--nobody's here, at any rate.
My quitting the service hasn't anything to do with Cap'n Bartlett
or you."

"Oh, yes, it has.  If it hadn't you would stay.  Won't you stay,
for a while longer, and wait--and see what may happen?  I wish you
would.  It would make me feel very much better.  Please say that
you will."

It was the thing he could not say.  For reasons quite different
from those she imagined, remaining at Setuckit Station had become
for him impossible.  He shook his head.

"I'm afraid I can't," he said.  "I must leave on March first."

"Why should you hurry?  A few months more can't make much

"No, I must go then."

"Father needs you so much."

"Oh, he'll be all right."

She was silent and, although he did not dare look at her, he knew
she was looking at him.  Then she sighed.

"I see," she said.  "You are as stubborn as father.  I wonder if
all men are like that.  I am sorry.  Yes, and hurt a little,
although perhaps I shouldn't be.  To ask you to forget and forgive,
under the circumstances, is more than I should expect, I suppose.
Well, you have been a good friend, outwardly at least, and I shall
always think of you as a friend.  And, until you do go, you will
keep on being father's friend, so far as standing by him is
concerned?  You will promise that once more, won't you?"

"Yes.  But I--I don't want you to--you mustn't.  You don't

"Yes, I do.  I understand everything.  Well, I don't suppose I
shall see you again, Mr. Homer.  I hope you will be successful, and
find just the sort of business opening you are looking for.  Good-

She put out her hand.  He gazed at it and at her.

"You are not going to walk any further with me?" he stammered.

"No.  I'm going back to the station to pack my bag and to be with
father for the little time I have left.  I shall leave early this
afternoon.  The man from Orham is coming for me with his horse and
buggy.  I suppose he is on his way down now.  It will be a wet,
disagreeable ride. . . .  Good-by.  You will shake hands with me,
won't you?"

He took her hand.  Even then he could not realize that this was
their final parting.  That she was really going away, out of his
life, out of his future--that although they might meet again it
would be under quite different circumstances; that the intimacy,
the confidences between them, were over forever.  No, he did not
realize this; he realized only that something was wrong--
completely, absolutely wrong, and that it must not be.

"Why--why, you--you mustn't--" he stammered.  She withdrew her

"Oh, yes, I must," she said.  "And I must hurry, too.  Thank you
again for all you have done.  Good-by."

She turned and walked away.  He took a step toward her.

"Norma!" he cried.

She waved her hand.  Then the heavy, cold fog came between them.
His last glimpse of her was but of a slender shape, a shadow which
disappeared into the grayness.

For some minutes he stood there.  Then he moved slowly on down the
beach in the opposite direction.  He was supposed to be on patrol.
He should be keenly alert to any unusual sound from the sea.  Sight
was impossible, the fogwas so thick as to hide everything further
than fifty feet from the shore, but he should be trying to look,
and listening always.  Incidentally he was late.  His time for
arriving at the halfway shanty had already passed.  He ought to
have hurried, but he did not, he tramped on slowly, very slowly,
and his thoughts were as far removed from duty and wide-awake
vigilance as they could possibly be.

Behind him the great foghorn at the lighthouse blared its mighty
tremolo.  From distant Orham and from the invisible ship channel
other horns howled or screamed or tooted.  He did not hear nor heed
them.  Realization was his at last.  It was forcing itself upon
him.  He and she had said good-by, not only for the present, but
for always.

He could not have it so.  The thought made him desperate and
savagely rebellious.  He forgot that he ought to be thankful she
had gone; forgot entirely that he had been doing his best to get
away from the fascination of her presence; forgot the obvious fact
that for a man in his position--a man betrothed to another woman
and therefore bound by all that was honorable and decent--her
departure was the very best thing that could happen; he forgot all
this and was fiercely angry at the fate which separated them.  It
was not until he had tramped another half mile and was almost at
the halfway shanty that reason began to return and resentment to

He opened the door of the little building and entered.  His first
move was to telephone the station and report that he had sighted
nor heard nothing during his walk down.  Phinney answered the phone
and would have asked questions, but Homer did not wait to hear
them; he hung up the receiver and sat down by the stove to think
for a few moments before starting on his return trip.

There was a dash of common sense in his thinking now.  Yes--yes,
perhaps it was better that she had gone.  Of course it was; better
for him, certainly, and possibly better for her.  The latter
possibility was remote, because, after all, he could never have
counted in the life of a girl like that, except as what she had
asked him to be--a friend.  He was a common longshoreman, nothing
more, and because she had chosen to trust him as a confidant it did
not mean that she could ever consider him an equal.  And as for her
thinking of him in a closer, dearer way, why--why, it was
ridiculous.  He laughed aloud at the insane idea; but it was not a
cheerful laugh.

And, except when she had said good-by and since, he, himself, had
never really thought of such a thing.  He had tried to avoid her
company because he knew that Myra would not have liked him to walk
and talk with another girl.  Myra was waiting for him, up there in
Orham, waiting and working for him, and willing to wait, too.  She
was wonderful, and true, and patient--and he!--He had not been true
to her, in thought at least.  He had been thinking crazy thoughts,
mean ones.  He leaned back in the rickety chair and squared his
shoulders.  Those thoughts were gone with the girl who, although
she was quite unaware of it and would have been confused had she
known, was their inspiration.  It was a good thing for him that she
had gone.  It was much better for everybody.  It was all right.

Thus spoke reason and common sense.  But if, for an instant, he
ceased to cling to these faculties, he was only too conscious that
it was all wrong.

The shanty door was thrown open and George Sears, patrolman from
the Orham Station, came in.  They exchanged greetings.  Sears
observed that the fog outside was thicker than potato soup.  Calvin
agreed that it was.  Sears added another item of information.

"We're goin' to have some tide to-day," he declared.

"It's runnin' acrost the beach down yonder at the marsh hole two
foot deep already.  I had to wade halfway up my boot laigs to get
through.  Have to go clear around the inside end when I go back, I
cal'late.  Guess likely it'll be worse up your way, Cal, 'specially
there between them two high sand hills.  How was it when you come

"It was pretty wet in spots.  The tide is coming in fast, I

"Runnin' like a down-hill cranberry swamp ditch when the snow
melts.  Godfreys!  I was thinkin' that it was a good thing I knew
my way.  A feller that didn't, in this fog--it's half snow now--
might get caught out in the middle of one of them stretches and
get next door to afloat.  Might have to swim--don't know's he
wouldn't. . . .  Hey?  Where you goin'?  What's your hurry?"

Homer had sprung to his feet and was pulling his cap down upon his
head.  There was an expression on his face which caused Sears to
ask another question.

"What's struck you all to once?" he demanded.  "You took sick?"

"I'm all right," was the unsatisfying reply.  "I must go, that's
all.  See you later, George."

He hurried out of the door and started, with long strides, up the
shore in the direction of Setuckit.  The Orham man's words had
caused him to forget all that he had been thinking and remember
something else.  Norma!  She did not know the way, along that
beach, in a fog, as the surfmen did.  She might not realize the
rush with which the tide came in at times like these.  She and he
had crossed the stretch between the sand hills on the way down, but
even then it was difficult.  And the worst of it was that after
crossing the shallow channel on the one side, the side nearer the
halfway shanty, there was a comparatively dry space--almost an
island--in the middle.  And on the other was a second channel
which, at ordinary high tide, must be waded.  At this tide, such
tides as were running now, it would be more than waist deep, and
with a current strong enough to throw a man from his feet, to say
nothing of a girl.  If she attempted to cross that stretch on her
way back to the station she might be caught by the tide.  She would
surely be wet through in that icy water.  She might--yes, there was
even some danger.  And he, because he had not warned her, was

Under ordinary circumstances, for any one else, he would not have
been greatly alarmed.  The possibility of real danger was remote.
But for her any such possibility, the remotest, was terrifying.
He was by no means a nervous man, and not given to unreasonable
apprehending, but now, as he strode along the shore he was
thoroughly frightened.

The fog--it was now more of a sleety drizzle than a mist--was
thicker than ever, and there were occasional flurries of snow.  The
wind whistled and wailed in from the sea, whipping the dead beach
grass and cutting his face with its chilling gusts.  The foghorns
screeched and bellowed.

He reached the edge of the low stretch at the foot of the high
dune.  The tide was pouring past, running in a frothing current,
two feet deep even there.  He stopped and called her name.  There
was no answer.  The whistle of the wind, the boom of the surf, the
gurgle of the rushing tide, the foghorns, and the raucous screech
of an invisible gull, were the only sounds.  He called again, at
the top of his voice, but received no answer.

Then it occurred to him that she might not have attempted the
crossing, after all.  She might have realized that the water was
too deep, and have turned inland to go around the end of the cut
through.  If she had, all was well.  He stooped and searched the
sand for footprints.  He found some, but they were his, and hers--
those they had left on the way down.  He walked along the edge of
the channel.  The sand was loose and shifting at the higher spots
and footprints there would be vague and ill defined.  It was only
at the tide edge that the marks would be plain and unmistakable.

It was not until he had gone perhaps fifty yards further that he
found them.  The marks of a feminine foot, and leading straight out
across the flat.  The water was but a few inches deep here, and it
was plain to see why she had crossed at this point.  She must have
thought this the end--or nearly the end--of the tideway.  But it
was not.  The other and deeper channel was beyond, barring her way.
If she attempted to cross that--

He splashed through, following the footprints.  On the hardpacked,
wet sand at the further edge they were clearly defined, but even
now the rising tide was filling the impressions.  It rippled
against his rubber boots as he ran.  Again he called.

"Norma!  Norma!  Where are you?"

This time the answer came.  Faint, and some distance to the left.

"Here I am!  Here!" she cried.

The driving sleet prevented his seeing her, but he kept on shouting
and listening for her replies.  When, at last, he did sight her,
she was standing in what appeared to be the middle of a shoreless
sea.  The current was over her shoe tops.  He came splashing to her

"Are you--are you all right?" he gasped.

She was shivering, but she managed to smile.

"Of course," she said.  "I am cold, that is all.  And completely
turned around.  I hadn't the least idea which way to go.  It all
looks alike, doesn't it?"

He did not answer.  All his resolution was needed to keep from
saying things which must not be said.

"I was glad enough when I heard you call," she went on.  "I was
sure you would come pretty soon. . . .  What are you doing?  You
mustn't try to carry me.  I am too heavy."

Still he did not reply.  Instead he picked her up in his arms and
waded out into the rapidly deepening current.  She protested.

"You can't; you mustn't," she exclaimed.  "You can never do it.
Gracious, how deep it is getting!  Put me down, please.  I can wade
just as well as you can.  And I can't be any wetter than I am this

The partial falsity of this statement was proven before the
following minute ended.  The tide was pouring past Calvin's knees,
and with every step it deepened.  He was midway of the channel, and
almost waist deep, when a bit of wreckage, washed from its grave in
the sand of the beach, was dashed against his shins with sudden
violence.  It caught him unawares in the middle of a stride, and
threw him off his balance.  Norma, also very much surprised,
uttered a startled exclamation and struggled involuntarily in his
arms.  Her struggle was the final straw.  He tottered, tried to
keep his feet, and then went over with a tremendous splash.  He had
no time to think and his hold upon his passenger loosened.  When,
after a choking instant beneath the icy water, his head and
shoulders emerged, his arms were empty.  Norma had disappeared.

Her disappearance was but momentary.  He saw her a few yards from
him, stumbling and trying to stand, only to stumble and fall again.
He wallowed after her, seized her with a grip that nothing short of
dynamite could have loosened, and plowed madly on, through the
deepest part, up the shelving shore of the cut, to the dune, to the
highest point of that dune.  There he stopped, still holding her in
his arms.  Save for that first startled "Oh!" when he stumbled, she
had not spoken a word, nor had she screamed once.

He stood there, his arms about her.  Her eyes were closed.  The
fear that she had been hurt crossed his mind.

"Norma!" he cried, anxiously.  "Norma!"

She opened her eyes.  "I am all right," she panted.  "I shall be--
in just a minute. . . .  My breath--I haven't any. . . .  You can
put me down. . . .  I am all right."

But he did not put her down.  Her head was on his shoulder and her
face was close to his.  A disinterested person, noticing the
tableau, might have found it rather funny.  Both were dripping
water from every thread of their garments, from their hair, from
their boots, from their fingers.  And still he held her close.
Fortunately there were no disinterested persons present.

She looked up at him and, perhaps seeing the look in his eyes,
tried to escape.

"Put me down--please," she gasped.

Instead he kissed her--kissed her again and again, murmuring all
sorts of things, mad things.  Myra Fuller was quite forgotten.
But, even if he had remembered her, he could not have prevented
himself from saying those things now.  For this was real, this was
different, this was--he could not have told what it was, nor wished
to; it was, and that was quite enough.

As a matter of fact, he remembered nothing; honor, and brave
resolutions had been swept completely from his thoughts, and he had
fallen, head over heels, helplessly--just as he had gone down when
the bit of wreckage struck against his legs out there in the
channel.  That drifting wreckage was responsible for both upsets--
but this was by far the more serious.

She had reddened at his first kiss; then she had turned pale.  And
now, at the first opportunity, she spoke.  Was it the very first?
Well, perhaps not.

"Calvin," she begged.  "Please!  Put me down."

He obeyed, but he seized her hand, and she did not take it away.
He began to stammer something, an incoherent jumble of somethings.

"Norma," he cried, breathlessly.  "I--I don't know why I--I didn't
mean to. . . .  Oh, yes, I did!  I did!  I couldn't help it!
Norma, I know I must be crazy to--to think you could--a girl like
you--and--and a no-account fellow like me--it is--"

She interrupted.  "Don't, Calvin," she said.

"But it is true, you know it is.  I am no-account, and you are so
wonderful.  But I--I AM crazy about you.  I haven't thought of
anything but you for--forever, I guess."

A remarkably short forever, and a remarkably short memory; but he
believed he was speaking the truth--then.

"I didn't mean to tell you--ever," he declared.  "I said to myself
I mustn't--I wouldn't.  But now--just now--when I thought you might
be hurt, and--and it was my fault--I--I--"

Again she interrupted.  "Don't, Calvin," she urged.  "Because--"


"Why, because you mustn't say that.  It wasn't your fault and,
besides, I--Yes, I am very glad you did say the--the other things.
I--I wanted you to."

He stared, incredulous.

"You WANTED me to?" he gasped.

She smiled.  A tremulous smile, but with a trace of mischief in it.

"Why, yes.  You see, I was afraid you--you weren't going to."

"Norma!  You don't--you can't mean you really love me?  Love ME?"

The smile was still there.  "Of course," she said.  "I don't know
why you didn't see it.  I was sure every one else must."

There followed another tableau.  And, in the midst of it, out of
the sleet-streaked dimness came a hail, a series of yells.

"Hello. . . !  Hello. . . !  Norma. . . !  Norma. . . !
Calvin. . . !  Hello!"

The tableau dissolved.  Norma turned in the direction of the

"Who is it?" she asked, in a startled whisper.

"Somebody hunting for us.  Seleucus, I guess.  Your father must
have got worried and sent him out to look for you. . . .  And
you're soaking wet, and you must be half frozen.  And I have kept
you here. . . ."

She put out her hand.  "Did you think I didn't want to be kept?"
she whispered.  "But I MUST go now.  Answer him."

So Calvin shouted in reply.  A moment later the bulky form of Mr.
Gammon loomed up through the sleet, a sea elephant in wet and shiny

"Here you be, eh?" he grunted.  "I've been bellowin' my head off
for ye.  The old man's scart to death.  He thinks you've drownded
or somethin'.  Crimus, you look as if you was drownded!  What's the
trouble; been in swimmin', have ye?"

Norma answered.  "I tried to cross the flats here," she explained,
"and got into trouble.  Mr. Homer pulled me out and got in himself.
That is all."

"That's all, eh?  Well, I'd say 'twas enough, too--in the middle of
winter!  Ain't you froze stiff?"

This was not all exaggeration; their wet garments were beginning to
freeze.  Norma shivered.

"I didn't realize it," she declared, with a quick glance at her
fellow adventurer, "but I do believe I am."

"Yes, and you will be a whole lot more if we don't get you home in
a hurry.  Come on now, both of ye.  Move!  Run--if you can."

They could and they did.  There was no more breath wasted in
conversation during the rush to the station.


He did not see her again for an hour, and after that only when
others were present.  She had changed her wet clothes for dry ones,
had packed her bag, and was ready to leave for Orham before she
came out of her room.  Captain Bartlett, the shadow of her
departure already heavy upon him, did not leave her side, and
during the eleven o'clock dinner the other men were there and any
chance of a private interview was precluded.

Frank Hammond, the livery stable keeper, arrived just before the
meal and ate with them.  He reported the weather mean enough, but
the "going" not so very hard, and that the drive up along the
inside--the bay side--of the beach was perfectly feasible and
presented no great difficulties.  He and his passenger climbed into
the buggy, and the curtain and "boot" were tightly fastened about
them.  She shook hands with every one.  When it was Calvin's turn
he ventured a whisper.

"You will write?" he begged.

"Of course.  And you will?"


"And you will be very careful of father--and yourself?"


"Don't tell him about--about us.  It will be better for me to tell
him by and by."

"Of course."

That was all, because Benoni, jealous of every last moment, crowded
by to say a final farewell, and to caution Hammond about taking no
chances in his driving.  Norma was to stay at the Ocean House in
Orham that night and to take the six o'clock train for Boston the
next morning.  She would arrive in Fairborough the following

The sleet had turned to a light, fine snow, and, as the buggy
disappeared into the dimness, Seleucus uttered a prophecy.

"Settin' in for a reg'lar stretch of it," he declared.  "We ain't
had much snow so fur this winter, but we generally get our
allowance sooner or later."

Bartlett, who had been gazing after the vehicle, turned.

"You don't figger it'll snow hard enough to bother her about
gettin' to the village all right, do you?" he asked anxiously.

Gammon shook his head.  "No, no," he said.  "This don't amount to
nothin' now.  Be more flurries like this, and sleet, and the like
of that, but nothin' to hurt nobody, as I judge it.  What I'm
tryin' to say is that I shouldn't wonder if we had some real winter
from now on."

Ed Bloomer grunted.  "You've been sayin' those very words ever
since Thanksgivin'," he declared.  "And the more you talk the finer
the weather is.  Just 'cause there's one or two snow squalls that
don't mean we're in for a blizzard.  You make a noise like Peleg.
The prophet habit must be catchin'."

Seleucus regarded him with lofty contempt.

"If some things was catchin'," he observed, "I'd never have ate
them cod tongues and sounds you cooked for dinner, Ed.  There's
enough tongue--yes, and sound, too--around where you be already
without riskin' takin' aboard any more.  But I do think we're in
for foul weather now, or pretty soon, and I'll tell you why."

He glanced in the direction of the skipper, who had turned to enter
the station, and repeated, "I'll tell you why.  It's because she's
gone--Norma.  Long as she stops it's fine as summer, no wrecks, and
we don't have nothin' to do; but just the minute she goes it
thickens up and a half-dozen schooners start to run ashore.  You
think it over and see if 'tain't so.  Crimustee!  I'm beginnin' to
believe it!  Gettin' stooperticious, I be.  Look at the old man's
face--did you notice it?  He's been hoppin' 'round here, spruce and
lively as a sand flea.  Now he's all overcast, and he was talkin'
to himself when he went in that door.  He'll be holdin' solitaire
meetin' all afternoon, see if he don't.  Yes, and look at the rest
of us.  Don't look very chipper, do we?  Course part of that's the
kind of grub we have to put under our hatches when Ed's cook, but
part of it's somethin' else.  Look at Josh there--a settled,
married man, with children enough to man a fleet of tugs.  Look at
Wallie, with a wife ashore.  Look at--eh?  Yes, look at Calvin.
Crimus, Cal, don't cry!  She may come back again.  She'll come to
see me; she told me she couldn't stay away from me very long."

Hez Rogers pricked up his ears.  "Did she now!" he drawled.  "Well,
well, ain't that interestin'!  I'll tell Jemima.  She'll be proud
to know how popular you are, Seleucus."

Calvin was grateful to Hezekiah for the distraction of interest
from himself to Mr. Gammon.  He was not crying, far from it, but he
was very solemn.  His feelings were curiously mixed.  He was happy--
madly, radiantly happy.  It seemed impossible that such happiness
could be his, that Norma Bartlett really loved him.  But she did--
she did--she had said so.  And there was no shadow of a doubt as to
his love for her.  His regard for Myra Fuller had been merely a
fancy, a delusion born of passion and impulse.  From that first
evening when, after leaving her, he had walked to the wharf to his
meeting with Benoni Bartlett, he had felt--when he permitted
himself to think honestly--like a mouse in a trap.  Their next
interview, that in which they had come so near to a separation, had
strengthened this feeling.  She did not see matters as he did.  She
was ambitious, and to further her ambitions, she expected him to do
things he could never have done.  She would always have expected
it.  They never could have been happy together.  She was a clever,
handsome girl, but she was not the girl for him.  He did not love
her.  Now, when real love had come to him, he knew that he had
never loved her.

He must tell her so, and at once, there was no question as to that.
In fairness to her, to himself, and, above all, to Norma, he must
tell her and without delay.  As a matter of fact, he had delayed
too long already.  For weeks he had been restless and ill at ease,
and his uneasiness and dissatisfaction had reached their crisis
when realization of his feeling toward Norma had been forced upon
him.  Not that he had meant Norma should ever know of that feeling.
Bound in honor to another, as he was, even though that bond had
become hateful, still he would not have spoken.  Now that fate, in
the shape of a bit of floating wreckage in the cut through, had
overthrown--not only him--but all his brave resolutions of self-
renunciation and repression, the necessity for the immediate
breaking of that bond was imperative.

He must see Myra and ask her to release him from their engagement,
and at the first possible moment.  There was no faltering in his
mind, but he dreaded the ordeal.  And, although he knew it to be
the only thing to do, the only honorable thing, his unreasonable
conscience troubled him.  He did not love Myra.  Did she love him?
She had said so.  There had been times when he doubted if her love
was strong enough to embrace the slightest element of self-
sacrifice, when he had been inclined to believe that she loved
herself and her own whims and ambitions first, and everything else
second; but his conscience told him that this, after all, might be
only surmise.  She had not yielded when he told her that he could
not further those schemes of hers in the way she expected; she had
merely temporized and changed the subject.  And her letters seemed
to prove that she had not conceded anything.  But she said she
loved him.

He felt guilty, and disloyal--almost wicked--as he thought of her,
but to hesitate or equivocate would be a thousand times more
wicked.  He was troubled to think that Norma did not know.  He
would have told her if he had had an opportunity, but she and he
had not been alone together since Seleucus interrupted them there
on the beach.  He would tell her at once, would write her the whole
story; but first he would see Myra and tell her.  That "liberty
day," which Bartlett had been reluctant to grant him, must not be
longer postponed.

He spoke concerning it to the keeper that very afternoon.  Bartlett
was, as Gammon had said, very much "overcast."  His face was
solemn, almost haggard.  He listened absently to his subordinate's
plea and Calvin noticed that the little Bible was once more upon
the table.  He had remained in his room ever since his daughter's

"I can't spare you now, Homer," he said.  "By and by I can arrange
it, maybe, but not just now.  I need you around here."

"But, Cap'n, I really must go.  I shouldn't ask if it wasn't
important.  It is--very."

"Um-hum.  Well, you wait a little while, a few days or so.  Perhaps
the first of next week."

"Cap'n Bartlett, really I don't see how I can wait as long as

"Can't you?  Why not?  What is it that's so important it can't be
put off when I say I need you here?"

Calvin hesitated.  "Why," he said, "it is--well, it is a personal
matter that--that--"

"It ain't your turn for liberty, is it?"

"No, but I can arrange that with Rogers.  It is his turn this week
and I can fix it with him, I'm sure."

"I'll do the fixin' of those things, myself.  I'm head of this
station, I guess, although some of you fellows seem to think I

"I don't know what you mean by that."

"Don't you?  No, I don't know's you do, boy.  I haven't got any
fault to find with you.  You're all right, even though you do put
your trust in things of this world more'n I wish you did.  I used
to myself afore--afore His great light was sent to my soul.  I was
just readin' the Psalm where it tells--"

Homer broke in.  "Cap'n," he insisted, "I hate to keep saying it,
but I wish you would let me have my day off.  Perhaps half a day
would be enough."

"All right, all right," testily.  "You're goin' to have it, ain't
you?  Wait till the first of next week, and then I'll see. . . .
Run along now; I want to read a spell longer."

Calvin found it hard to restrain his anger.  There was no earthly
reason why he could not be spared.  Bartlett spoke again.

"Boy," he said with a sigh, "I don't want you to think I'm mean, or
anything like that.  I just feel as if--as if somethin' was goin'
to happen to me, and I want you to be on hand.  That's how I feel."

Here was a new freak, or fancy.  There had been enough before.
Calvin did his best to seem interested, but it was hard work.

"Going to happen?" he repeated wearily.  "What?"

"I don't know what.  I just feel so, that's all.  As if somethin'
was goin' to happen--somethin' bad.  I wonder if," relapsing into a
sort of gloomy retrospection, "I've done anything the Lord don't
like.  Don't seem as if I had, I can't recollect anything, but why
should He lay His hand as heavy on me, if 'twan't for some reason
like that?  I feel--I feel as if there was a kind of--of a great
black cloud settlin' all around me.  That's strange, ain't it?"

"That's easy, Cap'n.  You're lonesome, that's all.  Your daughter
has been here.  Now she has gone and you're lonesome."

"Cal'late that's it, do you?  Maybe you're right.  I don't know's I
ought to set so much store by that girl.  I don't know but it makes
God kind of jealous.  It says in the book that He's a jealous God;
don't you remember it does?"

"I don't believe He is jealous that way."

"Think not?  Seems hardly as if He would be jealous of a feller's
carin' for his daughter. . . .  Humph!  She's an awful nice girl,
Norma is.  She likes it down here, likes the crew, she does; yes,
and the critters, too.  Notice how the cats and the dog cruise
around in her wake when she's here?  She likes you, too, Cal.
Didn't she never tell you she does?"

The little room was rather dark and Calvin, at that moment, was
thankful for the shadows.

"Why--why, she has said something--er--of that kind," he admitted.

"Um-hum.  Well, she does.  That's one reason why I hate to have you
go away just this time.  'You trust Mr. Homer, papa,' she says.
'I've told him to look out for you, and he will.'  Course I told
her my trust was laid on somebody higher than a Number One life-
savin' man, but, all the same, I don't like you to go on leave just
now.  She wouldn't want you to; that's the way I feel."

There was no answer to be made to this.  Calvin surrendered for the
time, but he determined to try again, and within a day or two.  He
must see Myra.  Writing her would be, he felt, more than ever
cowardly.  He must see her before he wrote Norma to tell the latter
the story of his unfortunate entanglement.  Break that entanglement
first, and then write the whole truth to Norma.  She would
understand, he dared to hope, and forgive him for being such a fool
as to dream he could ever have loved any one but her.

He wrote her that very night, but in his letter he did not mention
Myra's name.  It was a long letter, too--a very long letter.  And
when it was sealed his conscience still troubled him, and he was
tempted to write another, telling the whole story and begging for
understanding and pardon.  Yet she MIGHT not understand.  No, he
must see Myra first.

It was the same decision he had made before; yet he unmade and
remade it again and again before morning came.  And the next day he
once more sought the skipper and asked the latter for a few hours
of liberty.  Bartlett's answer was still the same.  Wait a little
while; he could not be spared now.  Calvin gave it up in disgust.
He determined to write Myra.  Writing might or might not be
cowardly, but, in any event, it was not as meanly impossible as
further postponement.

So that evening, after supper, when the skipper was in his room,
and the men off duty playing seven-up in the mess room, he sat down
at the little table in the sleeping quarters--the only place where
he could be alone--and wrote the fateful letter.  It was quite the
hardest task of composition he had ever tackled, and he tore up and
rewrote many pages.  He tried to be absolutely frank, to be
straightforward and honest.  He explained how the sense of their
unfitness for each other had grown upon him, had, in fact, been
increasingly with him ever since the evening of their betrothal.
She and he did not think alike, their ideas and aspirations were
quite dissimilar.  It was another sort of man entirely whom she
should marry, a cleverer, more ambitious man.

"And, most of all, Myra [he wrote], is the thing that is so hard to
say, but must be said because it is true.  I thought at the very
first that I loved you the way a fellow should love the girl he
means to marry.  I know now that I don't, and never did, love you
like that.  I ought to, of course.  I realize that you are a
hundred times more clever than I am, and that everybody would
think, and probably be right in thinking, I was not half good
enough for you.  I shouldn't wonder if you really felt that way
yourself, even though you haven't said so.  If we were married I
should be disappointing you all the time and you would be disgusted
with me.  If I really cared for you the way I ought to perhaps
these other things wouldn't count, and I should marry you, anyhow,
and take the risk.  I don't--that is the truth--not enough for
that.  And, to be honest, I don't think you care for me in that
way.  I am almost sure you don't.  It is better to end it now, like
this, than to go on pretending, and be sorry by and by.  Of course
you will hate me when you read this letter and think I am
everything that is mean and sneaking.  But I hope that, some day,
when you have thought it over, you will agree that we never were
fitted for each other, and that you are well out of it.  Then,
maybe, you will forgive me.  I hope so.  I meant to see you and
tell you all this, but I couldn't get the leave I asked for, and so
I had to write.  It was the only decent thing I could do."

He put the letter in the envelope, addressed and sealed it.  Then,
after a struggle with his conscience, he tore it open and added a

"I wasn't going to tell you now [he wrote], but I think I ought to.
And you will have guessed it, anyway.  There is some one else.  Not
that she makes the least difference in my deciding that I am not
the right fellow for you to marry.  My mind has been made up to
that for a long time, and I should have told you so when I saw you.
But there is some one, that is the truth."

This time the envelope remained sealed.  He took it downstairs and
put it in the bag with the other letters, those which were to go to
Orham whenever some one from Setuckit could take them.

Peleg Myrick, as it happened, was that some one.  The hermit, in
the Wild Duck, came to the station the next forenoon.  He had just
come from Orham, and was going back there, and he brought a packet
of letters and papers in exchange for the one he took away.  Calvin
was out while he was there, and did not arrive until he had
departed.  There were two letters bearing Homer's name upon the
mess-room table.  One was from Norma.  He read that first.  It was
short, but very satisfactory.  He read it over and over again.  She
loved him.  It seemed impossible, but there it was, in black and
white.  The letter was mailed in Boston--she had written it on the
train.  He was to take good care of her father and especially good
care of himself.  She had two people there at Setuckit now, so she
said, to think about and dream about, and which was the more
precious she wasn't going to permit herself to consider.  He must
write every day and tell her everything--everything.  She would
write again just as soon as she reached Fairborough.

The handwriting upon the other envelope was familiar and he opened
it with a twinge of conscience.  The twinge disappeared as he read.
It was from Myra Fuller, and the young woman was in anything but a
good humor.  SHE had wasted no space in telling him that she loved

"If what people up here are saying is true [she wrote], and I guess
there is no doubt that it is, I am pretty well disgusted with you.
I have been waiting for you to come and see me.  I expected you to
come, I wrote you that it was very important you should come.  But
you didn't.  Telling me that you couldn't get away from the station
is a pretty poor excuse.  Other men get away on leave, and if you
wanted to very much, I imagine you could.  But never mind that now.
It is too late, anyway, and I am beginning not to care a great deal
whether you ever come or not.  If YOU don't care to see me, there
are others who do, and who would come often enough if I would let
them.  You may as well understand that.  But what makes me
perfectly FURIOUS are the stories I hear about the things that have
happened there at Setuckit.  Kellogg came down there to find out
about old Bartlett's cowardice when that schooner came ashore, and
Alvin Crocker's crowd went off to her in their boat.  According to
the stories he questioned everybody, including you, and the end of
it all was that Bartlett is still keeper there.  Now why?  That is
what I want to know from you.  You knew perfectly well that he was
on the very edge of being discharged, that he ought to be, the
cowardly old thing, and that you, by just saying a word, just the
bare truth, could have had him put out of the service.  Why didn't
you say it?  You knew there was your chance, OUR chance, and that I
would count on your taking it.  And you didn't take it.  I hear,
and it came straight from old Kellogg, that you were in favor of
giving Bartlett another chance, just as the rest of the idiots
there were.  Oh, I am so mad I can hardly write.  And I shan't
write any more.  It is up to you now.  I have been working and
planning and contriving for us, and all for your sake, of course,
and when our chance comes you do the very thing you know I wouldn't
want you to do.  If you have any excuse, any REASONABLE one, I am
willing to hear it.  But I am not the kind of girl, I'll have you
know, who has to COAX and BEG a fellow to do what she wants him to
do.  I am distinctly NOT that kind.  And I should advise you to see
me very soon--VERY soon.  It is high time we had a plain talk and a
complete understanding."

Whew!  This was a different kind of Myra altogether, and a
different kind of letter from the sweetly affectionate epistles she
had written before.  Calvin was surprised when he read it, but, if
Myra had seen him when the reading was ended, she might have been
even more so.  He smiled, drew a long breath, a breath of relief,
tore the letter into fragments and put them in the stove.  His
conscience was sufficiently salved now.  He need not have worried
concerning Myra's grief when she received his statement of feeling
toward her.  Apparently he had sent it just in time.  Well, he was
glad he had sent it before her letter came.  She would, at least,
know that her fiery ultimatum had not influenced him in writing as
he did.  It was all over.  It was settled.  He was out of the trap.
And, best of all, the escape would be equally satisfactory to both

He began another letter to Norma that very evening, but he did not
finish it.  He was in the midst of his confession, writing her the
whole foolish story of Myra Fuller, and his own insane, and very
brief, delirium of fancied regard for that young person, when he
was interrupted.  He put the unfinished letter in the drawer of his
chest, and there it stayed.  Many things were to happen before he
saw it again.

At five o'clock that afternoon, the afternoon of the third day
following Norma's departure, it had begun to blow.  By nine that
evening a gale had developed which, for velocity and general
wickedness, had been, so far that winter, rivaled only by the
November no'theaster during which Calvin, because of Captain
Myrick's leaving, was in temporary command at Setuckit.  It was
Bartlett who interrupted Homer at his letter writing.  The skipper
was extremely nervous.  Just as Seleucus had prophesied, the
reaction on his spirits since his daughter's departure had been
marked.  During her stay at the station he had been an active,
almost normal and cheerful man.  The morning of the day of her
departure he began to fidget and grow melancholy, and since then he
had slumped back into his former moody, silent habit.  As Phinney
said, the only man he talked to was himself.  With the coming of
the great storm, and as it hourly increased, his eccentricities
increased with it.  He prowled about the station and, finding
Calvin in the sleeping quarters, led him away to inspect the boat
and gear, a perfectly unnecessary procedure.

The wind continued to blow, and with it came thick snow.  It
stopped snowing at daybreak, but cold succeeded, a cold which
forced the mercury down to the zero mark, with the gale as strong
as ever.  The weather bureau's warnings, sent out the day before,
had cleared the ship channel of the majority of vessels; their
skippers had decided to remain in port or had anchored their craft
in sheltered and safe localities.  As always, however, there were a
few reckless adventurers who scorned such warnings.  Their vessels
were out there, in the thick of it, fighting the wind and tide,
trying to claw away from the dangerous coast.  And it was for these
that the Setuckit keeper was ordered by telephone from the Orham
Station--the message relayed from Superintendent Kellogg at
Provincetown--to keep a sharp lookout.

Bartlett was up and about all night.  His nerves were more jumpy
than Calvin had known them to be, which was saying much.  He paced
the floor of the mess room, went to his room again and again, only
to emerge a few minutes later and climb the stairs to the tower,
read the barometer, peer from the windows into the snow-streaked
blackness, and come down to question the men when they came in from
patrol.  Homer urged him to turn in and sleep, but the suggestion
was gruffly, almost savagely, dismissed.  By morning he was in a
wretched condition, a condition which all hands noticed and
commented upon.

Calvin was thoroughly alarmed.  He, too, had been awake practically
all night, for he was far too apprehensive concerning his superior
to sleep.  Remembering the so recent happening when the skipper
refused to heed the call of the Rose Cahoon until forced into
action by the whaleboat crew, he dreaded what might take place
should another call come.  As he lay there on his cot, he was
forced to admit that he could remember no instance where Bartlett
had been eager to order out the boat, or even prompt to do so.
Never had he shown that keen energy, amounting almost to grim joy,
with which Oswald Myrick had been wont to leap down the stairs from
the tower, ordering his men into action.  Benoni had shown
something like it when driving the boat in pursuit of Crocker's
volunteers, but that was sheer desperation.  He was obliged to be
desperate then or be dismissed for cowardice.  And his muttered
confession, made afterwards to Calvin, that he remembered very
little of what he had done, was not a comforting reassurance for
the future.  There were times that night when Calvin was far from
certain that he had done right in expressing so confidently to the
superintendent his belief that Bartlett should be given another
chance.  It might have been better had the skipper been
diplomatically forced into resigning, on the score of ill health.
For, when that other chance came, who knew how he might meet it?
Something infinitely worse might happen.  Yes, even for Norma's
sake, a resignation then might have been better.  He dreaded the
developments the day might bring.

At eleven o'clock, while the men were at dinner, the telephone bell
rang.  Orham Station reported a schooner--at that period seven
eighths of the craft passing Broad Rip were schooners--in sight off
the Sand Hill and plainly making a hard fight of it.  Calvin
answered the call and listened to the words of the Orham keeper.
"She's pretty well out," the latter said, "and she may make it all
right, but I thought I'd tell you to keep an eye on her.  Guess
likely this is the last chance we'll have to talk, because the
telephone between here and town is out of kilter--poles down
somewheres, I presume likely--and it's only by luck some of them
between us and you ain't carried away.  They're liable to be any
minute, in this gale.  Is it cold down to Setuckit?  'Tain't summer
'round here, I'm tellin' everybody.  This is the worst we've had
yet this winter.  I--"

There the conversation broke off, and no amount of ringing awoke a
response.  In all probability the prophecy concerning the carrying
away of the poles had been fulfilled.

The skipper was in his room at the moment, and to him Calvin bore
the message concerning the schooner.  Bartlett, pale and red eyed
after his night's vigil, went immediately to the tower.  Calvin
accompanied him.  Bearse, the lookout, reported having already
sighted the schooner, but a snow flurry over that part of the sea
had intervened, and she was now invisible.  "Pretty well out, she
was," said Bearse.  "And headin' sou'west by south.  She's a two-
master, and heavy loaded, by the look of her.  She didn't seem to
be in any trouble.  Long's she can keep that course she's all
right.  Don't you think so, Cap'n?"

Bartlett did not reply.  He swept the sea with the glass and
Calvin, when he had finished, followed suit; but it was still
snowing off there in midchannel, and the schooner could not be
seen.  The skipper turned to the stairs.  Homer lingered to caution

"Watch her all the time, Sam," he ordered.  "And report if there
are any signs of her being in trouble."

Sam nodded.  "Aye, aye," he answered, and added in a whisper, "Say,
Cal, what ails the old man?  Did you notice how wild he looks?
Ain't gettin' another streak of the 'restin'' disease, is he?  He'd
have some excuse for it this time.  This would sartin be one lovely
day for a picnic cruise to the Sand Hill."

Calvin caught up with the skipper at the foot of the stairs.

"I think she's all right, Cap'n," he said; "don't you?"

Bartlett did not seem to hear.  On the threshold of his room he

"Let me alone, don't bother me, boy," he said, solemnly.  "I'm
goin' in here to have a talk and I mustn't be disturbed."

Calvin was bewildered.  The little room--he could see it through
the open door--was quite empty.

"To talk?" he repeated.  "To talk with one of the men, you mean?"

"No, no.  Why should I talk with the men?  They don't know

"Then who--?"

Benoni smiled, a queerly condescending smile.  He laid a hand on
his companion's sleeve.  He spoke as one might to an inquisitive

"Don't say nothin' to the rest of 'em, boy," he whispered.  "They
might want to peek in, or listen or somethin', and He wouldn't like
it.  It's just between Him and me, you understand."

"Him?  Who?"

"God.  He's in there now, waitin' for me.  He's goin' to tell me
what to do.  Don't say anything."

With another smile, and a reassuring wink, he closed the door
behind him.  For an instant Calvin remained where he was.  Then he
turned away.  This was sheer insanity.  This was worse than
anything his misgivings of the night before had conceived.

He walked through the mess room, where the men were back at their
everlasting game of seven-up, to the kitchen.  Wallie Oaks was
there and Wallie evidently had something to say.

"Sst--Cal," he whispered beckoning from the further corner, "come
here a minute.  I want to ask you sornethin'."

Calvin, his thoughts busy only with the skipper and partial
realization of what the latter's condition might mean, walked
absently across the room.

"Well, what is it?" he asked, rather impatiently.

Oaks peered cautiously over his shoulder.  "Cal," he whispered, his
voice trembling, "the old man ain't goin' to take us out to-day, is
he?  He wouldn't try it, you don't think, do you?"

Calvin looked at him.

"Here!" he snapped.  "What the devil is the matter with you,
Wallie?  What are you talking about?"

The man's fingers were twisting and untwisting.

"I'm talkin' about the old man--Bartlett," he declared.  "That
schooner off yonder.  The one they phoned from Orham about.  You
don't think the skipper 'll try to go to her?"

"He doesn't have to go yet.  She's all right so far.  When she
isn't, and if she needs us, we'll go, I suppose."

"By Godfreys, _I_ won't go!"

Homer frowned.  He seized Oaks by the shoulder.

"Are you drunk?" he demanded.  "You talk like a fool. . . .  Oh, I
see," contemptuously, "you're scared again."

"It don't make no difference whether I'm scared or not.  If
Bartlett orders us out a day like this he's crazy, that's all.
Lots of folks think he is crazy and that would prove it.  Why, it's
five below zero, Cal.  And blowin' worse than I ever saw it blow.
We'd freeze to death, if we wasn't drownded first.  We couldn't get
off there anyhow.  I ain't goin' to be killed to please a crazy
man.  Not for no sixty-five a month, I ain't.  The boys won't
neither, if you say not to, Cal.  If he orders us out let's say we
won't go.  If you say it the fellows 'll stand behind you, and--Let
go of me!  What are you doin'?"

Homer was shaking him savagely.  "Shut up, you fool!" he whispered.
"Pull yourself together.  Do you want the rest to hear you?"

"I don't care if they do hear me.  I tell you I won't go out in
that boat to-day.  I'm goin' to quit this damned job, anyhow.  And
I'd just as soon quit it now.  Aw, Cal, have some sense. . . .
Stop that, will you!"

Calvin had shaken him again.  This new complication, following
Bartlett's weird behavior, had put his nerves on edge.

"Shut up, I tell you!" he growled.  "And listen to what I say.
You're going to quit the job all right.  You bet you are!  I'll see
to that.  But you won't quit it now.  If you say another word about
backing out or lying down, I'll knock your head through that wall.
I will. . . .  Now you behave yourself."

He threw the fellow away from him and walked back to the mess room.
As he entered it Sam Bearse came hurrying down the stairs.

"Where's the skipper?" he demanded.  "That schooner's give up
tryin', I guess.  She's histed distress signals.  She's singin' out
for us.  Oh, my, what a sweet job it's goin' to be!  Where's Cap'n

Calvin caught him as he was about to open the door of the keeper's

"Wait a minute, Sam," he said.  "Let me have a look at her first.
Don't call the cap'n until I come down."

He ran up the stairs and bent to the telescope.  The snow squall
had passed and the schooner was in plain sight.  Still, very far
out, at least eight or nine miles from the station, she was
wallowing along under a fragment of sail, and the signal for help
was flying at her masthead.  Calvin watched her for a moment.  She
seemed to be still under control, but if not--and she drifted
before the gale--she might pass clear of the Sand Hill; but unless
aid came very shortly she would strike upon the southern edge of
the Hog's Back, or, missing that, pile up on the even more
dangerous Tarpaulin.  There was a possible chance of reaching her
in time if they started at once.  The slightest delay would
eliminate that chance.

He ran down again.  The men--with the exception of Oaks, who, white
faced and rigid, was standing in the doorway leading to the
kitchen--were already pulling on their layers of sweaters and
oilskins.  Homer, not stopping to knock or hail, threw open the
door of the keeper's room.

"Cap'n," he called.  "Cap'n Bartlett."

Benoni was sitting by the table.  He turned, and rose slowly to his

"Cap'n," announced Calvin, "that schooner is signaling for us.
We'll have to start right off.  I'll attend to everything while
you're getting ready."

He was hurrying out when the skipper called his name.  Bartlett had
taken a step in his direction and was standing there, his hand

"What is it?" asked Calvin.

The keeper was smiling, that same odd, reassuring smile which Homer
had noticed at their parting of a few minutes before.  His heart
sank as he saw it.  Bartlett nodded.

"It's all right, boy," he said calmly.  "It's all right.  We ain't
goin' to that schooner."

Calvin's ears noted behind him the sudden cessation of movement as
the men paused in their hurried dressing.  He stared at his

"You're not going--?" he repeated.  "But we must go.  If we don't
start now we shall be too late."

Bartlett nodded again.  "It's all right, it's all right," he said
once more.  "We ain't goin' to start.  I've had my orders and we
stay here.  That schooner's bein' looked after.  We don't need to

"Being looked after?  Why--"

"Sshh!  Don't worry, I tell you.  God A'mighty is lookin' after
her.  She's in His hands.  He's told me so, right here in this
room.  He and I had a talk about it and I--"

Calvin waited to hear no more.  He swung about and faced the amazed

"Get out the boat," he ordered.  "Lively."

For an instant there was silence.  The men looked at each other and
at him.  Then Seleucus spoke.

"Aye, aye, Cal," he said.  "Out she comes.  Come on, fellows.  Sam,
you and me'll attend to the horses.  Come on!"

He led the way to the outer door.  Bearse started to follow him,
but paused.  The others did not move, they were watching Bartlett.

The skipper had stepped forward, his hand upraised.  The smile had
left his face.  He was scowling now, and his deep-set eyes were

"Stay where you are!" he growled.  "Don't you move, not a man of
you.  Take off those oilskins and go and sit down.  I'm cap'n here.
Sit down."

The authority in his voice and manner had an effect.  Absolute
obedience was a long-established habit in this veteran crew.  It
was one thing to talk of mutiny.  To mutiny, in fact, was quite
another.  The men hesitated, and as they did so, Wallie Oaks sprang
to the front.

"That's the talk, Cap'n," he shouted.  "That's the talk!  You're
boss.  All of you--here, you, Josh--you stop and think what you're
doin'.  Didn't you hear Cap'n Bartlett say to stay ashore?  He's
skipper, ain't he?  Tain't our business to--"

Calvin interrupted.  He came running back, pushing his comrades
aside.  His right fist was clenched and he raised it.

"Shut up, you!" he commanded, fiercely.  "Boys--Josh, Hez, all of
you--this fellow is scared, that's what ails him.  He was out there
in the kitchen just now, almost crying, and coaxing like a kid to
make me promise we wouldn't go to that schooner if the skipper
ordered us, because it wasn't safe and was too cold.  Too cold!
Think of that!"

Oaks snarled a protest.  "It ain't so," he cried.  "It's a lie.
I just said--"

Calvin's fist caught him on the cheek and he went backwards, over a
chair, to the floor.  The blow, and the crash accompanying Wallie's
upset, seemed to have a curious effect upon the skipper.  His face,
which had been crimson with rage, went white.  He wrung his hands.

"Don't!  Don't!" he pleaded.  "You don't understand, none of you.
The Lord told me not to send a boat to that schooner.  He was in
that room there, talkin' to me same as I'm talkin' to you--talkin'
right TO me.  He says, 'You and your crew stay ashore.  Those are
my orders,' He says.  I heard Him say it.  I--"

Homer broke in.  "What are you waiting for, boys?" he shouted.  "Do
you want another mess like the Rosie Cahoon?  You'll have a worse
one if we don't start now.  I'll take the responsibility for going.
Don't pay attention to HIM.  Can't you see he's crazy?"

"Crazy as a June bug," bellowed Seleucus, from the kitchen doorway.
"Cal knows what he's doin'.  Come on, you darn fools!  Come on!"

They came then and wasted not another moment.  Bartlett tried to
stop them, but they pushed him out of the way.  Oaks remained where
he was, prostrate in the corner, his hand to his cheek.  Bearse
paused to say a word as he passed on the way to the stable.

"Ain't comin', are you, Wallie?" he inquired.  "All right.  Stay
where you are and think about your wife to home.  You'll be with
her pretty soon, and to stay there, I cal'late."


The crew of the Setuckit Station had been through many trying
experiences during their terms as surfmen, but if you ask one of
them, even now, which, of all these experiences was the worst, he
will unhesitatingly specify the trip begun that February afternoon,
under Calvin Homer's leadership, to the two-masted schooner
Flyaway, of Portland, bound west with a load of building sand.
When the lifeboat left Setuckit she was short handed.  Ed Bloomer,
as cook, should have remained behind--was entitled to do so--but he
went with the rest.  Oaks was not in his place, nor was Bartlett.
The whole affair was irregular, so one more breach of regulations
made little difference.

The schooner was still miles out when they left the beach, but she
was drifting in a diagonal direction toward Tarpaulin Shoal.  She
was moving rather slowly, so Homer judged an attempt had been made
to anchor and that the anchor--or anchors--were dragging.  He
ordered the lifeboat's sail set, three-reefed, and attempted to
reach to windward of the vessel.  After a half hour of weary
battling with the screaming gale they dropped the sail and took up
the oars.  The exercise was welcome, for the cold was piercing
beyond belief.  The flying spray froze almost as soon as it struck.
The boat, inside and out, was soon coated with ice.  The men's
shoulders, their sou'westers, their eyebrows and eyelashes and
mustaches were hung with icicles.  Their mittens were armored
gauntlets hooked about the oar handles.  Calvin, swinging at the
steering oar in the stern, was a glistening statue.  The seas were
so high that, in the hollows between them, the force of the wind
noticeably abated and it was not until they climbed to the next
crest that it struck them with the whole of its cruel force.

They made their objective at last and drew alongside the
practically helpless schooner.  Her load of sand brought her low
in the water and the seas were breaking across her amidships at
intervals.  She was a mass of ice from stem to stern.  Sails,
ropes, windlass and gear, everything was incased in it, buried
under the weight of shining white.  She looked like a floating berg
rather than a vessel.  One anchor chain was dragging over the
stern, and that, above water, was white also.

But two figures were on her deck.  One was bent over the wheel.
The other, when Seleucus threw a rope aboard, crawled from
somewhere forward of the mainmast and seized it.  This man, so they
learned when they scrambled over the rail, was the skipper.

They left the lifeboat to tow astern and set to work.  There were
six men in the schooner's personnel.  The two on deck, the skipper
and the hand at the wheel, were the only ones able to be about.
The rest were below, frostbitten, helpless, and half conscious.
The skipper and his companion were for abandoning ship at once and
being taken immediately ashore.  They had had enough; they were
through.  Save all hands and let the Flyaway fly to destruction,
that was their advice, given whole-heartedly.

But Calvin and his men had no such idea.  The Flyaway could be
saved and they were there to save her.  She was a dingy, forlorn
old craft and when the Setuckit men had made a hasty examination of
her and her outfit they were pretty thoroughly disgusted.  Homer
ordered the pumps tested and found she was leaking but a very
little, so that was a ray of comfort.  But it was the only one.
The next move was to warm his own men and the schooner's frozen
crew, to build a roaring fire in the galley and make boiling
coffee, and a great deal of it.  But when this procedure was
attempted, the disheartening discoveries came one after the other.

Both anchors had been put over; but one, chain and all, was gone.
The other was dragging and they let it drag for the time, hoping
that it might eventually catch and hold.  Calvin ordered the
majority of his men to chop the ice from the ropes and windlass, to
keep the schooner on a safe course down the channel, if possible,
and to report if that possibility became alarmingly endangered.
Then he and Gammon went to the galley to make the fires and boil
the coffee.

Here they found a wretched state of affairs.  The galley was a
dirty, roach-infested hole.  The back of the rusty cookstove was
broken and was held in place by a brace of plank.  A thorough
search disclosed no food except four potatoes.  There was no fuel,
and but a gill of water.  The only kerosene was that in the
binnacle light.  The captain of this floating ruin explained
afterwards that he had intended to run into the Vineyard and refit,
and, having a good wind--this was no exaggeration--had kept on with
the idea of making that port the previous night.  Then the storm
got him and he tried to put to sea.  What had happened after that
was obvious.

Phinney came down with the word that the anchor had caught and
seemed likely to hold--for a time, at least.  He added that the
gale seemed to be lessening but that it was colder than ever.

"Not that that makes much difference," he announced.  "When you're
froze stiff you don't care how much stiffer you get.  For thunder
sakes where's that coffee, Cal?  We'll all die if we don't get it.
Them poor fellers in the fo'castle are pretty nigh dead already."

Calvin curtly explained that coffee was out of the question.  There
was water, however, in the lifeboat and he ordered Phinney to get
it immediately.

"Send one of the men--Bloomer, I guess--down here," he added.  When
Bloomer came he ordered him and Seleucus to chop wood for fires.

"Cut up some of the cabin berth boards," he said.  "Fires we've got
to have--or die."

He left them in the cabin, tearing the mate's berth to pieces, and
went on deck.  The sun was setting, its redness glimmering through
the low-lying clouds, and it would be dark before long.

The anchor was still holding and the sails, what was left of them,
were down on deck.  The worst of the danger, as far as the vessel
was concerned, seemed to be over.  Unless another storm developed
they could save the schooner, provided she did not start to leak in
earnest.  The hold was filled with loose sand and, in that sea,
there was some danger of its shifting, but he could not stop to
worry about that.  What did worry him were the lives of the men
aboard.  They would freeze to death unless warmth was provided and
at once.  As for taking them ashore in the lifeboat that was out of
the question now.  They would, some of them, surely die before that
long trip could be made.

Seleucus came up with an armful of wood.  In a few minutes he
reported a fire in the galley and water on to boil.

"If that durn stove don't cave in," he observed, "we'll have
somethin' hot to load up our bilers with.  Mine's full of ice just
now.  I can hear the chunks clinkin' against each other.

Homer ordered fires built in the cabin and in the fo'castle.  He
set Rogers and Badger at work rubbing the limbs of the half-frozen
sailors.  Then came a yell from the cabin.  Josh Phinney came
tumbling up.

"Ed's hurt himself, Cal," he panted.  "Broke his arm, or neck, or
somethin'.  He's sufferin' dreadful."

What had happened was this:  Bloomer had been chopping the bottom
boards of a berth and had rested the end of one upon the second
step of the cabin stairs.  The ax, like everything else aboard the
Flyaway, was practically good for nothing and, having hacked the
board partially through, he had tried stamping upon it to break it
off.  An unusually heavy sea had thrown him off his balance and he
was pitched headlong, striking upon and dislocating his shoulder.
He was lying where he had fallen, his face white, and groaning
between his set teeth.  The pain was agonizing.

Calvin made a hasty examination.  Then he spoke to Phinney.

"His shoulder is out," he exclaimed, "We've got to get it back
somehow.  Hold his other arm.  Now, Ed, this is going to hurt, but
it won't take long--I hope."

His hope was more genuine than his confidence.  The injured man was
laid flat on his back upon the floor and Homer, grasping the
helpless arm by the wrist, jammed his rubber-booted foot close up
under the armpit.  Then he pulled with all his might.

It was a savage sort of surgery.  The vessel was reeling and
rocking in the seas, the loose boards and the chopped fragments of
others were sliding and tumbling back and forth.  The perspiration
poured down Bloomer's face.  He was brave enough, but he could not
keep back an occasional groan, and Phinney groaned in sympathy.
Homer, though equally sympathetic, was too busy to groan.  He
pulled with all his strength.

"Don't hold your breath, Ed," he panted.  "And don't twist.  Slack
up.  Give a little."

"You're--you're stavin' in my ribs," gasped the patient.  "You're
killin' me."

And then the shoulder snapped back into place.  Bloomer's yell was
a combination of agony and exultation.

"It's in!  It's in!" he screamed.  Then he fainted.

There was one berth still untouched and into it, beneath the musty
blankets, Bloomer was lifted.  He was whole once more, but very

"It's a plaguy shame, Cal," he murmured feebly, "when you need me
so.  I was a fool to be so careless."

"Never mind that, Ed.  You'll be all right pretty soon.  Stay where
you are till I tell you to turn out."

All that night the Flyaway rolled and wallowed.  Not a man of the
Setuckit crew slept for a moment.  The fires in the stoves were
kept going, although Seleucus vowed he cal'lated that, if he kept
on, he'd have a hole chopped clean through the old hooker's
broadside.  The schooner's own men were all in bed now, for the
captain and his only able helper had collapsed when the pressing
danger was over.  The live-savers took turns as watch on deck,
coming down at intervals to toast their chilled bodies by the
stoves and to drink scalding water by way of internal refreshment.

The morning broke as cold as ever, but clear.  It was still blowing
hard.  Badger came down to the cabin, to which Calvin had descended
a few minutes before to look after his injured man.  Bloomer
declared that he was as fit as a fiddle now and insisted upon
getting up to do his share of work.  Homer was urging him to take
it easy for a little while longer when Badger appeared.

"'Light in the darkness, sailor,'" he quoted gleefully.  "There's a
revenue cutter in sight.  She sees us and she's headed this way.
Looks like the Amgansett.  If it is, old Ben Higgins is in command
and he'll know how to handle things.  Brace up, Ed.  We'll be bound
back for home and hot grub afore long.  This bunch of trouble is
pretty nigh over."

But it was not entirely over.  Calvin went on deck at once, saw the
cutter steaming rapidly in their direction and recognized, with a
huge sense of relief, the well-known lines of the Amgansett.
Higgins, her commander, was a former towboat captain, and a man of
rugged common sense and long experience in just such jobs as the
one before him.  Homer, remembering Oswald Myrick's tales of
encounters with some cutter captains--pompous young men with
exalted ideas of rank and dignity--was glad to know that Ben
Higgins was here instead of one of these.

And then, just as the Amgansett passed slowly by, awaiting her
opportunity to cast a line, the Flyaway's anchor chain parted with
a bang like a cannon shot.  It had held bravely all night, but to
expect anything pertaining to that ancient craft to hold longer was
too much.  It broke and the schooner drove off before the gale,
leaving the slowly steaming cutter far astern.

Homer ordered all hands on deck and bade them haul the lifeboat
alongside.  The boat had been riding at the end of its towline and
was now leaping and veering along behind the drifting schooner.
They dragged it up to the rail and Calvin sprang into it.

"Crimus, Cal," roared Seleucus, "come back here!  'Tain't safe.
What you doin'?"

Homer did not answer.  He took up the steering oar and pushed the
boat free.  That lifeboat was the property of Setuckit Station and
he did not intend to have it smashed if he could help it.  He set
the oar in its chock over the stern and held the boat straight.

The cutter had turned and was racing in pursuit.  It caught up with
the Flyaway and slackened speed.

"Stand by for a line," roared Higgins, through his speaking
trumpet.  He was at the after rail, his cap pulled down on one side
of his gray head, chewing the stump of a cigar, imperturbable as

"Look out, you in that lifeboat," he bellowed.

The seas were more huge than ever.  The time-worn description in
the sea stories, of "billows mountains high," would not have been
as much of an exaggeration as usual, if applied to the waves that
morning.  Calvin, in the boat, one moment looked down at the
Amgansett's deck, and the next up at her stern with its threshing

"Look out!  Stand by!" shouted Higgins.

A mighty sea threw the Flyaway high in air.  It broke as it passed
her and, frothing and surging, poured down and over the lifeboat.
Homer had pulled in his oar and, crouching, clung to the after
thwart.  The water went over his head; he was buried in it.  It
seemed to him that he was never coming up.  If the boat had not
been a new one, one of the recently adopted self-bailing variety,
she never would have risen again.  But up she came at last, and
with her occupant still there in the stern.

Gammon and the rest, watching fearfully from the Flyaway's rail,
set up an exultant yell.  A few minutes later the cutter got a line
to the schooner; one hawser and then another was hauled aboard and
made fast.  The lifeboat, with its drenched and rapidly-freezing
man, was brought alongside.  They were in tow and safe.  The long,
wicked job was done.  Now they could go home.

Calvin thawed out a bit at the cabin stove and then gave orders to
start.  They left the schooner's men in the bunks.  They would be
all right.  The Flyaway was in charge of Captain Ben Higgins from
then on.  He would tow her to Vineyard Haven.  The responsibility,
so far as the Setuckit life crew was concerned, was over.

But not the hardship.  They had a twelve-mile journey yet to make
before they could reach dry clothes and heat and food.  The three-
reefed sail was set and they headed for the station.  It was long
after noon before they beached the boat in the cove.

Calvin had been too busy since he left the station to think of
anything except the work in hand.  Even on the way in, his steering
and the burden of responsibility had kept his mind occupied.  But
now, as, worn out and chilled to the bone, he staggered stiffly
through the sand to the door, he began to think--and to realize.
His first move, after entering, was to go straight to the skipper's
room.  Bartlett was there and Oaks was with him.

"Cap'n," began Calvin; but Bartlett interrupted.

"Don't talk to me," he ordered sternly.  "And don't call me cap'n.
I ain't your cap'n any more.  You don't belong to this station.
You're a mutineer and you're discharged.  Now you get out."

Oaks, his cheek swollen, scowled vindictively.  "Cap'n Bartlett and
me have made out our reports," he announced.  "Your goose is
cooked, Cal Homer. . . .  Here.  Don't you touch me again."

Calvin had no idea of touching him.  His attention was centered
upon Benoni.  He had expected to find the man a stark lunatic.  He
had certainly been something akin to that when he last saw him.
Now, however, he appeared sane enough.  He was pale and his eyes
still showed a trace of their peculiar glitter, but he spoke
quietly.  Homer was hesitating, wondering whether to say more, when
Josh Phinney and Rogers appeared in the doorway.

"Where's that Wallie?" demanded Josh.  "Oh, there you are!  We've
been lookin' for you.  You're goin' to get busy, did you know it?
We want coffee, and grub--and plenty of both.  And you're goin' to
get 'em for us.  Come on, you loafer!  Come ON!"

Oaks sprang to his feet.  "You let me alone!" he whined.

That was all he was permitted to say.  Phinney and Rogers were upon
him and dragged him, profane and protesting, through the mess room
to the kitchen.  The sound of a brace of hearty kicks punctuated
the scuffle.  Calvin did not interfere, nor did he attempt further
speech with the skipper.  He turned and climbed painfully to the
sleeping quarters.  Chips of ice fell from his oilskins as he

Later, after he had changed and drunk cup after cup of coffee, he
tried again.  But Bartlett would not talk.  He gruffly ordered him
from the room and, as Calvin reluctantly obeyed, he saw the keeper
turn to his Bible reading.  He would not talk to any of the men,
Oaks excepted, nor did he issue a command or give the least
attention to the routine of the station.  Upon Homer, therefore,
fell the responsibility which must be assumed by some one.

He was utterly worn out; fatigue, care and the loss of food and
sleep were bringing their reaction and his aching muscles and tired
brain refused to function clearly.  Yet he knew that the other men
were in the same condition and that the station work must go on.
Oaks, under compulsion, was preparing supper.  Assistance along
that line arrived when Jemima Gammon and her brother came over from
the Jarvis shanty and offered their services.  Jemima, after
expressing a candid opinion concerning her husband's lack of common
sense in staying on a job that didn't pay anything anyhow and was
just an excuse for keeping him away from home two thirds of the
time and half dead the remainder, shooed all hands, Oaks included,
out of the kitchen and took charge of the culinary operations.

Jarvis also volunteered to help in any way he could.  His
resentment at losing the race to the Rosie Cahoon seemed to have
vanished, for the time, at least, and his offer was whole hearted.
Calvin accepted it.

"We'll have to send out patrol to-night, I suppose," he said, "but
there isn't a man fit to go, except Wallie, and I wouldn't trust
him.  You used to be in the service, Philander.  If you'll go out
first, I'll follow you.  When I get back I'll send some one else--
Seleucus, I guess.  He's pretty tough and a few hours' sleep will
fix him up.  Here's hoping we don't get another call.  I don't see
how we could handle it if we did.  It is clear enough now, and the
glass keeps rising.  I guess we'll have a stretch of fair weather.
It is due us, I should say."

Immediately after supper--a meal in which an unbelievable quantity
of food was consumed and during which Mrs. Gammon alternately urged
them to eat more and made pointed remarks concerning "pigs"--Calvin
ordered the men to their bunks.  He turned in, himself, and slept
like a dead man until Philander, at midnight, shook him into
something approaching wakefulness.  Then he rose, donned his
clothes, and staggered out for his patrol.  That tramp was a
nightmare, almost literally so, for he found himself falling asleep
whenever he paused for breath.  Fortunately the wind had gone down
and the sky was clear and starlit.  No vessels were visible upon
the sea.  The great gale had cleared the channel of craft, both
steam and sail.

He returned at four, dragged Seleucus from his cot, and sent him
forth.  Oaks he sent to the tower, with orders to keep his eyes
open unless he preferred to have them forcibly closed.  Wallie at
first refused to go, but thought better of it, and went, sullen and
ugly.  Homer was going to pay for this, the man muttered; he'd find
out before it was over and done with.  If there was any law
anywhere he--Oaks--would have damages for being struck in the face
when he wasn't looking.

Calvin tartly suggested that the damage would be immediate and a
great deal worse if he said any more at that moment.  Having
disposed of that point, he went again to the sleeping quarters and
tumbled into bed.  When he awoke it was ten o'clock in the
forenoon.  The crew met his angry protests with broad grins.  He
needed the sleep, they declared, and they had cal'lated he should
have it.

Peleg Myrick's boat was in the cove and Peleg himself was below in
the mess room.  His nose for news had scented sensation and he had
sailed down in the hope of finding it.  Also, he was stoutly
protesting that he had known the storm was coming, and had been
saying so for a week.

"Aw, go on, Peleg, go on!" cackled Rogers derisively.  "Last time I
saw you you was singin' out nothin' but fair weather.  Said it was
liable to be so calm you didn't know but what 'twould be good
business to swap the sail of that catboat of yours for an extry
pair of oars."

"I never neither," vowed Myrick in high indignation.  "I said 'twas
calm then, and 'twas too; but about last Saturday--seems to me
'twas Saturday, might have been Sunday mornin'--I got a twitch in
my port laig, down in the latitudes of my ankle, that fetched me
right out of bed.  'Twas a reg'lar pain, 'twas--sharp, as if
somebody'd raked me with an iyster knife."

Seleucus offered a suggestion.  "Probably 'twas that cat of yours
raked you," he observed.  "Probably the critter wanted to sharpen
his claws and mistook your old tanned-up laigs for the bedposts.
They're about the color of black walnut."

Calvin came in just here and interrupted to ask if Peleg was going
to Orham and, if so, if he would take a message to the telegraph
office.  Peleg said that he would, provided the message was ready
in five minutes.

"I don't know whether there's any telegrams gettin' through yet,"
he added, "but I can leave it to be sent soon's there is.  Hurry
up, that's all.  I ain't got time to waste with a gang like this."

Homer wrote the message hurriedly.  It was addressed to Captain
Kellogg at Provincetown and urged the latter to visit Setuckit
without delay.  He gave no reasons for his request.  The
superintendent, he thought, should learn the situation from him,
rather than from exaggerated gossip which might leak from the
telegraph office.  He cautioned Myrick to be silent.

"Don't you do any talking, Peleg," he said.  "If you do I shall
hear of it, and you may get into trouble."

The skipper of the Wild Duck promised volubly, but Calvin put
little faith in his protests.  Peleg was wont to be long on
promise, but, under stress of temptation to act as a special news
"extra," inclined to be short of fulfillment.

Bartlett was still in his room, so the men said.  He had come out
for breakfast, but had eaten little, and addressed no word to any
one of them.  He looked pretty well "shook up," as Badger described
it, and his hand trembled so that he could scarcely hold his coffee
cup.  Oaks--but no one seemed to know exactly where Wallie was.  He
was keeping out of the way, they opined; perhaps he was writing to
his wife ashore.

But he appeared, a few minutes later, dressed in shore-going togs
and with a battered suit case in his hand.  He hastened through the
group in the mess room and followed Mr. Myrick to the beach.  The
crowd, therefore, promptly followed him.  Calvin went with them.

"Here, Wallie, where are you going?" he asked.  Oaks answered
without stopping or turning.

"None of your business," he snarled.

"Oh, yes, it is my business.  Hold on there."

Wallie threw the suit case into the Myrick dory before he spoke.
He picked up an oar and shoved the dory into deep water.

"No, it ain't your business neither, Cal Homer," he declared.
"It's nobody's business but Cap'n Bartlett's, and I've told him.
You may think you're skipper here, but you ain't--not yet.  There's
a whole lot of things to be said afore you are, too.  Go on, Peleg.
What are you waitin' for?"

Myrick, seated at the oars, was hesitating.

"Cal," he cried, "Wallie asked me to take him up to Orham along
with me.  It's all right for me to take him, ain't it?"

Calvin thought for an instant.  Then he nodded.  "Yes, take him,"
he replied.  "He's no use here."

And yet, as he thought more of the matter, he almost wished that he
had detained Oaks, even by force, if necessary.  The man, of
course, was doing what he declared he meant to do, quitting the
station and the life-saving service.  That was all right; he was
certain to be discharged, anyway.  But with him had gone all hope
of keeping the story of the mutiny at Setuckit from the eager ears
of Orham.  Oaks would tell and what he would tell was likely to be
a version not in the least creditable to him, Calvin Homer, or
within a mile of the real truth.  Kellogg, after all, would hear
the Oaks version first.  Well, it could not be helped now.  It was
one more straw added to the weight of trouble to come.

For the realization of how much trouble there was sure to be, was--
now that he was thoroughly awake and himself once more--being
driven into his mind.  Bartlett had been insane when he refused to
go to the Flyaway and babbled of his orders from the Almighty--
there was no doubt whatever on that point.  But his was a peculiar
kind of insanity which developed acutely under anxiety and fear,
but subsided when the crisis was over.  Now, the average person
seeing and speaking with him, might consider him rational and
sensible enough.  And his behavior, since the crew's return, was--
Calvin was obliged to confess it--such as any man, in similar
circumstances, might adopt.  His authority had been defied and
assumed by another.  Therefore he had since refused to reassume
that authority, but was waiting to tell his story to the district
superintendent.  Which was, to all intents and purposes, precisely
what Homer himself would have done if placed in a similar position.

Calvin had hoped to see Kellogg before any one else saw him, tell
the plain truth, and await the consequences, whatever they might
be.  He had done right--there was nothing else to be done.  He and
the men from Setuckit Station had saved the Flyaway and the lives
of those aboard her.  If it had to be done over again he should act
in exactly the same way.  The men would substantiate his story.  He
was not in the least fearful of the outcome.  Kellogg was a man,
not an office martinet, and he would understand and approve.  In
the very unlikely event of his refusing to excuse the extreme
breach of discipline Calvin did not greatly care.  His conscience
was clear.

But the thought of a distorted story, a story backed by hate and
revenge, being spread from one end of the Cape to the other, was
not agreeable.  It would make matters harder for Kellogg.  It would
have to be referred to Washington.  It might even get into the
papers.  Norma might read it there.  Thoughts of her had been with
him since he rose from his bed.  She had left her father in his
care.  She had trusted him.  He must get word to her, must tell his
story to her before she heard the other.

So, while the Wild Duck sailed toward Orham, he sat down at the
table beside his cot to write to her.  He wished now--how he
wished!--that he had sent a letter, or even a telegram, to her by
Peleg, as he had sent the message to Kellogg.  But he could have
told so little in a telegram, and, at all events, it was too late
for that now.  He would write and try to get his letter up to the
post office that very night, somehow.

There was the unfinished letter in his chest, the one in which he
had begun his confession concerning Myra.  He thought of it, but
this new complication seemed so much more important--for the time,
at least--that he left the former letter where it was and began
another.  This was brief, but he made it as straightforward and
honest as he could.  He asked her to try and understand, begged her
forgiveness, and again promised to be as fair to Benoni Bartlett as
if the latter were his own father.  And he asked her to write at
once--or, better, telegraph--saying that she did understand, in
order that he might know he was forgiven.

The letter he intrusted to Hez Rogers, who was to hand it to the
patrolman from the Orham Station, when they met at the halfway
shanty, and the Orham man was to get it over to the post office by
the next morning, if he could.  After Hez had gone he thought of
many more things he might have said, or said better, but it was too
late.  For better or worse the thing was done, and all he could do
was to wait--and hope.

The telephone lines were repaired the next day and, before noon of
the day after that, Homer received a call from the telegraph
office.  A message had come for him.  It was from Norma and was
brief and to the point.  "Am coming the moment I can get away.
Take care of father."  That was all.  There was no mention of
understanding or forgiveness.  Yet she must have received his
letter, otherwise how could she have learned of the trouble at
Setuckit?  His reason told him that she could say little in a
telegram, but, nevertheless, the brevity of the message was
disturbing and a little disappointing.

And, before dinner was over, his thoughts were busy with other
matters.  Kellogg came, and wasted no time in getting down to
business.  He greeted Calvin pleasantly but curtly and went
immediately to the skipper's room, where he and Bartlett were
closeted for more than an hour.  When the district superintendent
emerged he took aside and questioned one member of the crew after
the other.  Then, at last, he sought out Homer and led the latter
to their former place of conference--the barn.  They sat together
once more upon the grain bin.

Kellogg produced cigars and offered one to his companion.  The
latter declined.  He did not feel that he should enjoy smoking just
then.  The superintendent lighted and puffed for a moment in
silence while Homer fidgeted and waited for him to speak.  The wait
seemed interminable.  Would he never begin?

But when he did he came immediately to the point.

"Well, Mr. Homer," he observed, "there's been some considerable of
a mess down here, I should judge.  What have YOU got to say about

Calvin glanced at him.  The formality of the "Mr. Homer" was
somewhat ominous.

"What do you want me to say?" he asked.

"Eh? . . .  Well, I want you to say just as much and no more than
will tell me the truth.  That's what I want."

"That was what I intended to tell you.  I guess there will be
nothing you haven't heard before, from the rest of the fellows."

"I've heard a lot.  But never mind that.  I want to hear it from
you now.  Is it true that Cap'n Bartlett ordered the crew to stay
in the station and not to go off to the Flyaway?"

"Yes, sir."

"And, in spite of those orders, you made 'em get out the boat, took
charge yourself, and went on your own hook?"

"Yes, sir."

"You knew that was dead against the rules of the service?"

"Yes, sir, I knew that."

"But you did it just the same.  And what's this about Wallie Oaks?
Wallie says that, when he tried to stand by the keeper, as was his
duty to do, you struck him when he wasn't looking, and knocked him
down.  Is that true?"

"Partly.  Yes, sir.  He was looking--but I struck him."

"I see.  Well, now tell me the whole yarn--about the schooner, what
you did aboard her, how things have gone since you got back here,
and all the rest of it."

Calvin told the tale, omitting nothing, and excusing himself not in
the least.  Kellogg listened, smoking steadily.  The interview so
far was, to all intents and purposes, a repetition of the former
session between these two in that barn.  And now, as then, when the
story ended the superintendent waited a minute or more before
offering a comment.  Then he took the stump of the cigar from his
lips and knocked off the ash with his finger.

"Humph!" he grunted.  "You disobeyed the keeper's orders and those
of the Lord A'mighty besides, eh?  Seems to me that was taking
considerable on your shoulders. . . .  Eh?  Wasn't it?"

"Yes, sir, I guess it was."

"Um-hum.  Well, now that you've had time to think it over, what
excuse have you got to make?"

The answer was prompt and sharp.

"Not any, sir.  If things were as they were then, I guess I should
do it again.  Yes, I know I should."

"And take the consequences?"


"Humph!  Ready to hand in your resignation, are you?"

"Whenever you ask for it."

To his surprise Kellogg laughed.

"You're different from Bartlett, son," he observed.  "I hinted that
he'd better get ready to hand in his and he told me he'd see me
damned first--or words to that effect.  Course he didn't say
'damn.'  I'd have known better how to answer him if he had.  He
told me the Almighty was looking out for his interests and that He
wasn't bothering with understrappers like me.  That's what he
meant, anyhow.  Well, if he's got the official papers to show for
it, I shouldn't worry, if I were he.  But, meanwhile, I've given
him a little while longer to make out that resignation in."

Calvin rose to his feet.

"You've asked HIM to resign!" he exclaimed.

"I certainly have.  He's CRAZY, Cal, just as I knew he was. . . .
Now, now, don't say any more; let me finish.  I've been busy since
I got your telegram.  I've heard from the Flyaway cap'n.  I've
heard from Higgins of the Amgansett.  By the way, son, old Higgins
gave it to me straight about how you handled that job.  He praised
you up to the main truck, and when HE praises a man that man has
done something.  The Flyaway bunch say just as much or more.  Well,
I guess likely they ought to.  They'd every one of 'em be dead--
drowned and frozen, if it hadn't been for you.  All the Setuckit
men say the same.  So does Jarvis; I talked with him a spell ago.
The only ones who don't praise you are Bartlett and Wallie Oaks.
Wallie got after me up in Orham before I came down here.  Ho, ho!"

He rolled back and forth on the grain chest.

"Wallie didn't praise you--no," he went on, when his laugh was
finished.  "But, so far as that goes, I didn't praise Wallie much.
I told him that the thing I was sorriest for was that I wasn't here
to see you black his eye.  Ho, ho!  I meant it, too."

Calvin did not speak; his emotions were in a curious jumble.

"I told him," continued Kellogg, "that, even if he had anything
worth saying to say, I wouldn't listen to a man who ran away from
the service the way he had.  And when he went on talking I told him
to be careful or something would happen to his other eye.  Don't
worry about Wallie Oaks.  He doesn't count and never did.  I
intended to discharge him just as soon as I could pick up a likely
man to take his place. . . .  Don't worry any more anyhow, Calvin.
You did the right thing; the thing I would have expected you to do.
I'm proud of you, son, and I'll stand back of you.  That's all."

He, too, rose to his feet.  Homer was still silent.  The
superintendent regarded him keenly.

"Well?" he queried.  "What's the matter now?  Haven't you got
anything to say?"

Calvin drew a long breath.  "Why--why, I want to thank you, sir, of
course," he stammered.  "I'm glad you think I did right, and--and
all that.  I'm ever so much obliged to you.  But--"

"But you're worried about Bartlett.  Eh?  Is that it?"

"Why, yes, I--you see--"

"You needn't be.  I have been expecting something like this to
happen.  The man is crazy.  He is sane enough by spells; he acted
sane enough when I went into his room to talk to him a little while
ago.  But before I left he was raving at me like a Bedlamite,
quoting the Bible, and telling how the Lord came to see him that
day and told him this and that--and I don't know what all.  It's
settled.  If he won't resign, then he'll have to be discharged.  He
isn't fit to stay here and he shan't stay.  If he does I go; that's
all about that."

"But, Cap'n Kellogg, I wouldn't want you to--"

"Never mind me.  I'll get along.  And--just between us now, son--
let me tell you that I've been getting ready for something like
this for a couple of months.  The department at Washington knows
how matters have been going.  They're prepared, and I'm willing to
bet they'll stand behind me.  The politicians and the newspapers
have forgotten all about the Setuckit Station by this time.  It's
an old story with them by now.  They won't interfere.  And, if some
of 'em did, it wouldn't make any difference.  I'll have my way now,
same as I'm used to having it.  Yes, sir, Benoni Bartlett goes. . . .
And, you come in.  You're going to be what you should have been
last November--keeper here at Setuckit."

Calvin spoke now and with decision.  This was what he feared.

"No, sir--no," he protested.  "I can't take the appointment.  I
thank you very much.  I appreciate your thinking of me, but--well,
I can't take it, that's all."

Kellogg stared in surprise.  "Can't take it?" he repeated
irritably.  "Of course you'll take it.  I want you to take it.
Have wanted just that all along.  And so have you.  You told me so.
Eh?  Didn't you?"

"I told you last November that I wanted to be keeper here--yes.
But I have changed my mind.  You see--well, I can't tell you, Cap'n

"But what?  Are you crazy, too?"

"I hope not.  But--"

"Oh, be hanged.  You'll have to take the job--to help me out, if
for no other reason. . . .  There, there!  I can't spend any more
time arguing.  You can think it over; there'll be time enough.  And
there are a few days yet before the first of March.  You can't quit
before then without breaking your word to me.  And until then,
anyhow, you'll act as keeper.  You've got to.  I need you."

"But--but Cap'n Bartlett will be here."

"Maybe he will, and maybe he won't.  That's up to me.  I'm inclined
to let him down easy, mainly on his daughter's account, so I'm
going to give him a few days to resign in.  Resigning doesn't mean
much to outsiders.  A man can resign for a whole lot of different
reasons.  He can be fired for only a certain kind, and they are the
kind that hurt.  I'm going to forward my report and recommendations
to Washington.  He'll have until I hear from there to resign in.
And I mean to write to his daughter, explaining everything, and
telling her to use her influence to get him to quit and save a lot
of talk, talk that will hurt him.  I think she'll understand and do
it. . . .  Meanwhile, Calvin, you're keeper here.  Yes, you've got
to be.  Afterwards--well, we'll see how you feel when the time
comes. . . .  There! that's enough.  Come on!  I'm going home."


Calvin's letter to Norma Bartlett had been duly delivered to the
member of the Orham Station crew at the halfway house.  He took it
back with him when he returned from patrol.  But, when he reached
the station, the mail had already gone over to the mainland and so
he put the letter on the shelf in the mess room where, in the
ordinary course of events, it would have been taken on the
following day.  But, as it happened, no one went to the village
that day, or the next.  There was nothing very unusual in this, for
often several days elapsed before the station mail reached the post
office.  In this case Norma's letter did not leave Orham until the
afternoon of the fourth day following that of the great storm.  And
that same afternoon Norma left Fairborough for Boston, on her way
to Setuckit.  She had read the accounts in the newspapers of the
rescue of the Flyaway.  These accounts were brief, but in one of
them was a hint of trouble at her father's station.  It was but a
hint, derived from a local correspondent's interview at Vineyard
Haven with the Flyaway's skipper.  The latter had learned from one
of the Setuckit life-savers a little of what had happened before
the lifeboat was launched, and the paper printed a distorted story
made up, for the most part, of rumor and surmise.  Captain
Bartlett, keeper at Setuckit, had not, so it said, led his crew to
the helpless schooner.  Instead a man named Homer was in command,
and this same Homer was, according to the reports of the Flyaway's
men and judged by the few words vouchsafed by Captain Higgins of
the revenue cutter Amgansett, extremely able and very much on the
job.  But the question as to why he, instead of Bartlett, had led
the Setuckit crew that day was still a question at the time the
article was written.  There were rumors of dissatisfaction,
culminating in open rebellion.  More particulars were to follow.

This was the tale which Norma read in the Boston newspaper.  It was
disturbing enough and sufficiently alarming of itself.  She slept
but little that night and made up her mind, provided she heard
nothing more next day, to telegraph to Calvin, asking for
explanation and reassurance.  There was not the slightest doubt in
her mind of her lover's loyalty.  He had promised to keep faith
with her father and he would do it, she was sure of that.  What she
feared was that her father's health had broken, that he was ill.
If so she must go to him.  It would be difficult to leave her desk
at the library, but those difficulties should not matter.  She
would go, even if it meant giving up her position there at

The morning mail brought no word.  The papers, when they came,
contained none of the promised "particulars."  She had not really
expected Calvin to write; if there had been or was serious trouble
he would be too busy for that.  But she had hoped he might
telegraph.  And no telegram came.

The evening mail, however, brought a letter with the Orham
postmark.  The writing on the envelope was unfamiliar; it was
neither her father's nor Calvin Homer's.  An awkward scrawl and her
name misspelled.  When she tore open the envelope her first glance
was at the signature on the final page.  To her great surprise the
letter was signed "Walter B. Oaks."  As she read her surprise
increased and her alarmed forebodings changed to even more alarming

Oaks, when he left the station to board Peleg Myrick's catboat, had
that letter in his pocket.  He posted it in Orham that very night.
He had written it partly at Benoni Bartlett's dictation, but its
phrasing and a large share of the accusations and implications
contained in it were his own.  Bartlett, at the time, was far too
agitated and irrational to think or speak connectedly.  He had
wailed that "she ought to know--Norma's got to know," and when Oaks
volunteered to write her the offer was eagerly accepted.  The
letter was written that evening when Homer and the crew were aboard
the Flyaway.  Wallie sat at the table in the skipper's room, while
Benoni paced the floor, alternately railing at his men, particularly
Calvin, for their desertion and disobedience, and calling upon the
Almighty for self-justification and aid.  If Oaks had written what
his superior ordered him to write, the letter would have carried
with it, even to as fondly prejudiced a person as Norma, absolute
conviction of her father's insanity.  But the writer ignored all the
incoherences, the quotations from Scriptures and revival hymns, and
wrote only what his own hatred and spite inspired.  These feelings,
long present but suppressed, had reached their culmination that day
and Wallie, to whom the task of writing an ordinary letter was
drudgery, thoroughly enjoyed himself.

He overdid it a little, of course, and Norma--who had disliked and
distrusted him from the first--read the spite between the lines and
believed only partially.  But even partial belief was dreadful.
According to Oaks, there had been open mutiny at Setuckit.  Her
father's orders were flatly disobeyed and, so the letter said,
there had been violence and blows.

"Captain Bartlett [wrote Oaks] wasn't very well and he hadn't been
for two or three days, and yet Cal Homer and the rest pushed him
around and would have hit him if I hadn't staved them off.  Cal
Homer did hit me in the face when my back was turned and knocked me
down and injured me pretty bad.  I shall see a Doctor soon as I can
on account of it.  But I don't mind that so much.  I done my duty
in standing by my captain which is according to rules and
regulations.  And your father was right in not ordering out the
boat.  He was looking out for his crew and that is what he is there
for.  But the real reeson for the trouble is way back of all that.
It is part of a plan that has been going on for a long time to get
your father in bad and make Cal Homer keeper.  He has been working
for the place all the time and doing Captain Bartlett dirt every
chance he got.  And pretending to the district superintendent and
you to I guess likely that he is captain Bartlett's best friend.
He isent and I have known it all along.  He and Seleucus Gammon and
Josh Phinney are the head ones in the plan but they are all in it.
They will swear all sorts of lies but dont believe them because
what I am telling you is the truth so help me god.  I have not got
nothing to gain by telling you this for I am going to quit my job
here right off.  I made up my mind to that a long spell ago.  But
you ought to know what is what and how Cal Homer and them have
worked underhand against him all the time."

The letter was long and hard to read, but Norma read it all several
times.  At the end of the final reading her scornful contempt for
the writer was greater than ever and her trust in Calvin still
unshaken.  The idea that he had offered violence to her father was
ridiculous and if he had knocked Wallie Oaks down it was because
the fellow deserved it.  But it was certain that something very
serious had taken place, that her father needed her, and that she
must go to him at once.  He must be ill, otherwise he would have
written the letter himself.  And, in spite of her trust in Calvin,
she could not understand his silence.  He might, at least, have
telegraphed just a reassuring word.  He must realize that she was
bound to hear something concerning the trouble, and that she would
be alarmed and worried.

That very evening she wired him of her intention to come to
Setuckit, and the following day she asked for leave and obtained
it.  When that day, too, passed with no word from him her anxiety
began to be tinged with a shade of resentment.  How could he be so
neglectful of her peace of mind?  She was disappointed and hurt,
and, as she brooded over the matter during her journey to Boston
her reflections concerning his remissness were not too charitable.
How could he be so thoughtless of her?  The next morning Calvin's
letter reached Fairborough, but she was not there to receive it and
they held it at the library awaiting her return.

From Boston she telegraphed Hammond, the Orham hotel proprietor and
livery man, asking him to arrange for a vehicle and driver to meet
her on her arrival and to convey her to Setuckit.  When she
alighted at the railway station she was surprised, and far from
overjoyed, to find that the person who stepped forward to greet her
was not Hammond, but a deputy, and that deputy, of all persons,
Wallie Oaks.

Wallie was polite to the verge of obsequiousness.  He explained
that Mr. Hammond had "another drivin' job on this mornin'," and
therefore could not be at the depot to meet her.  "He's cartin' one
of them New York hat-and-cap drummers around this forenoon," went
on Oaks, "and, bein' as I happened to stop in at the stable a
couple of hours ago, he asked me to take the hoss 'n' team and come
after you and fetch you to the Ocean House.  He's goin' to drive
you down to the station this afternoon, though.  He's fixed that up
all right for you, Norma.  Frank's a dependable kind of feller.
Him and me are chums, as you might say."

The young lady's reply was limited to a very brief acknowledgment
of the information.  Her hitherto favorable opinion of Mr. Hammond
was not helped by the statement that he and Wallie Oaks were
"chums."  Nor was she pleased to be hailed as "Norma" by the last
named gentleman.  It was true that most of the members of her
father's crew had fallen into the habit of dropping all formalities
of address during her recent visit, but down there, somehow, it was
different.  And there was a certain sly implication of confidential
intimacy in Wallie's use of her Christian name on the present
occasion which was irritating.  It made her long to slap him.

She yielded to the temptation to the extent of making her first
remark a pronounced snub, but snubs meant nothing to Wallie.  He
led her past the loungers on the station platform with an air of
solicitous protection which was provoking, and handed her into the
buggy with a flourish.  He did not speak, nor did she, until, as
they moved away from the depot, he turned the horse's head to the
right instead of the left.

"This isn't the way to the village, is it?" she asked quickly.

Wallie, beside her on the seat, turned his head and winked.

"It ain't the shortest way--no," he whispered.  "But I knew you'd
want to talk with me a little mite and so I thought we'd drive
around by the West Main Road and come up that way.  See, Norma,
don't you?"

She looked at him.  "I don't know that I do," she answered
frigidly.  "What should I want to talk with you about, in

"Eh?  Why--you got my letter, didn't you?"


"Yes.  Yes, I knew you must have.  I mailed it right off the day
after--after it happened, you understand."

The last sentence was accompanied by another wink and a
confidential lowering of the voice.  She moved impatiently on the

"You needn't whisper," she said.  "No one is likely to hear us.
Not that I should mind if they did."

"Eh. . . ?  Yes, that's so.  I guess maybe you're right; only--only
there ain't but a mighty few that's on to the real insides of
what's been goin' on down there to Setuckit, and so I--so we have
to be a little mite careful, that's all."


"WHY. . . ?  Say, DID you get my letter?"

"I told you I did."

"Um-hum.  Well then. . . !  Say," suddenly, as the thought seemed
to strike him, "you haven't got a letter from anybody else about
it, have you?"

She was on the point of saying that she had not, but she would not
give him that satisfaction.

"If I have, what of it?" she asked.

"Why--why, there might be consider'ble of it.  If somebody wrote
you a pack of lies you might have come to believe 'em, instead of
the truth.  That's what I mean."

"Well," significantly, "YOU wrote me!"

"Eh?  Yes, you bet I did!  I and your father wrote that letter
together.  He was too shook up and sick to hold a pen steady and so
I helped him out.  He told me what to say and I said it.  He--"

"Wait!  You said he was sick.  Is he?"

"Is he?  Well, if he ain't, then he'd ought to be."

"But is he?"

"I don't know whether he is or not--now.  But he was next door to
it then.  And no wonder, the way he'd been treated.  If I hadn't
been there to stand up for him there's no tellin' what that Cal
Homer and the gang would have done to him."

"Did you stand up?  I thought you wrote that you were knocked

The sarcasm was entirely wasted.  Wallie's anger was boiling over
at the memory of his humiliation.  His tone became anything but a

"Knocked down!" he snarled.  "I was struck in the eye when I wan't
lookin'.  If I had been lookin' there'd have been somebody else
knocked down instead of me.  See there," pointing to his bruised
cheek.  "That's what Cal Homer done to me.  The sneakin' scamp!  He
had his gang around him or else--or else--eh?  You see what he
done, don't you?"

"Yes, I see that something must have happened to you."

"Well, he's goin' to pay for it.  I'm goin' to see a lawyer fust
chance I get.  He'll spend part of his keeper's wages settlin'
damages with me, that's what he'll do."

She made no answer and, turning, he became aware that she was
looking at him intently.  It was the first sign of interest she had
shown and he was gratified by it.

"Yes, sir!" he repeated.  "I'm goin' to sue him if it takes--"

"Wait!  You said something about wages--keeper's wages.  Mr. Homer
is a Number One man, not a keeper."

"Humph!  We ain't none of us too sure of that.  The story goin'
'round is that he's keeper down at Setuckit Station right now, and
that he's goin' to be made the reg'lar one just as soon as they fix
things up to Washin'ton."

"But my father is keeper of Setuckit Station."

"Huh!  He WAS keeper, but is he now?  That's a question.  And is he
ever goin' to be again?  That's another one.  The story is that he
ain't.  It wouldn't surprise me, because--"

"Stop!  Do you mean that my father has been discharged and that--
that Mr. Homer has been given his place?"

"Well, he couldn't get it no other way, could he?  I tell you,
Norma, Cal and his bunch have been workin' and lyin' and contrivin'
for it all along.  Why, I wrote you that very thing in my letter.
I wrote you--"

"Oh," impatiently, "I know what you wrote me!  I didn't believe it,
of course."

Wallie gasped.  His involuntary jerk of the reins brought the horse
to a walk.

"You didn't believe it!" he repeated.

"No," with scornful contempt, "of course I didn't.  And I don't
believe it now.  Tell me, is that story of Mr. Homer's taking my
father's place anything BUT a story?  Do you know that it is true?"

"Well--well, I can't say as I know it just exactly, but it's bein'
said.  There's all sorts of yarns--"

She interrupted once more.  "And they are yarns, of course," she
declared.  "You really KNOW nothing about it."

"Well--well, I--Say, Norma, you don't seem to realize what's been
goin' on down there to that station.  I thought I wrote you plain
enough, but it looks as if you didn't quite get a hold of it.  Let
me tell you.  That sneakin', lyin' Cal Homer is--"

She turned on him with a swiftness that took his breath away.

"Stop!" she ordered.  "I don't want you to say another word of that
kind.  I don't believe you.  If you try to say any more I shall get
out and walk the rest of the way."

"But, say--look here--Norma--"

She leaned forward and pulled at the reins.  The horse--he was no
fiery animal--stopped.

"Let me out," she said.

"You--you don't mean it, do you?"

"I certainly do--unless you are willing to drive me to the hotel at
once and without saying another word about my father or Mr. Homer.
That is precisely what I mean."

Wallie glared at her.  Then he hit the horse a vicious slap with
the end of the reins.

"Git dap!" he snarled, and then added, viciously, "By Godfreys, I'm
beginnin' to believe you're stuck on that Homer, like a lot of
other darn fool girls in this town.  I swear I do!"

She did not deign a reply and the remainder of the journey to the
Ocean House was made quickly and in silence.

Frank Hammond and Norma were acquainted.  She had stayed overnight
at the Ocean House after leaving Setuckit on her way back to
Fairborough and he and his wife had done their best to make her
brief sojourn pleasant.  They were a kindly middle-aged couple,
looked up to and respected in the town, and Hammond was a member of
the Board of Selectmen and a man of substance in the community.
Norma liked them both.

Mrs. Hammond, she learned, was in Boston on a visit.  Her husband
gave this information during dinner, a meal which he and Norma
shared with Ezra Blodgett, a dapper and tiresome elderly person
whom she had never before met and soon began to hope she might
never meet again; Braddock, the local druggist; and a breezy young
man named Thornton, who, it appeared, was the "hat-and-cap drummer"
mentioned by Wallie during the drive from the railway station.
Norma had hoped to learn from the Hammonds a few reliable
particulars concerning the recent happenings at Setuckit, but
Blodgett and the drummer, more particularly the latter, seemed to
feel it their duty to entertain her and they took charge of the
conversation.  The young gentleman in the hat-and-cap line was so
extremely attentive that he became a nuisance and she was obliged
to snub him rather pointedly in order to force some realization of
this fact upon his mind.  At another time, and under different
circumstances, she might have been more tolerant, for Mr. Thornton
undoubtedly meant to be agreeable.  But Norma's charity that day
was not of the kind which suffers long and is kind.  She was more
anxious than ever and therefore inclined to be impatient.  Wallie
Oaks's spiteful fabrications she did not believe and had refused to
hear.  The little she had heard she meant to forget.  But, in spite
of this determination, she was troubled.  What was the real truth
about it all?  And why--WHY, if it was as serious as it seemed, had
Calvin neither written nor telegraphed?  Unless his reason were
very convincing she would find it hard to forgive that neglect.

Beside Mr. Hammond, on the seat of the buggy, as it rocked and
shook along the deeply rutted sandy lane between the dunes, her
thoughts dealt unceasingly with these questions.  Even her worry
concerning her father was temporarily forced into the background;
she did not realize this, but it was so.  The rumors in the paper,
the outrageous accusations in Oaks's letter and those he had made
that morning--she could not help thinking of them.  After all, she
knew so little of the man she loved.  What did she really know--
except that she did love him and that he had said he loved her?
Suppose--and then she awoke to a realization of what she was
thinking and hated herself for the thought.  Her idea of asking her
driver for particulars concerning affairs at Setuckit was
abandoned.  No, she would wait until Calvin himself told her.  And
she was on her way to him now.  He and she would be together once
more; he would tell her everything and she would know and
understand and be happy.  She was happy at that moment.

And then Hammond, who, like her, had been silent for some minutes,
spoke.  He turned to look at her and his expression was grave.

"Miss Bartlett," he said, "I don't know as I ought to say it, it
isn't any of my business in a way, but I've been thinking not much
of anything else since I got word you was coming.  I suppose likely
you know what's happened down at your father's station?  That's why
you're here, isn't it?"

She answered his look with one quite as grave.  "I know something
has happened there," she admitted.  "I read an article in the
paper, and then I got--a letter."

"I see.  From your father, of course.  Well, he told you, didn't

She hesitated.  "The letter wasn't from father," she said after a
moment.  "It was from Mr. Oaks."

His surprise was evident.  "Oaks!" he repeated.  "Wallie Oaks?"


"Wallie Oaks!  How in the world did he come to write--you?"

She explained briefly.  Oaks had written the letter because he was
with her father that night and the latter was too nervous and ill
to do it himself.

"At least that is what Mr. Oaks said in the letter," she added.
"And he told me so again this morning."

"Humph!  I shouldn't wonder.  He told you a good many things,
didn't he?"

"Yes, in the letter.  And he would have told me many more to-day,
if I had let him.  I wouldn't listen.  I didn't believe him, and I
said so, quite plainly."

Hammond sniffed.  "Wallie isn't sweet enough to feed to a decent
pig," he observed.  "How as smart a man as Kellogg ever let him get
into the service I don't know, and I'm surprised he stayed in it as
long as he did.  Well, he's out of it now, and the service won't
keel over and quit on that account.  I was sorry I had to send him
to the depot to meet you this morning, but I was busy with that
drummer, and my regular driver is at home, sick.  Wallie came
loafing along--looking for a job, he said--so I gave him one.
I beg your pardon, I do so."

She smiled.  "I see," she said.  "I shan't hold it against you, Mr.
Hammond.  I detest that Oaks man, I must admit.  I think he is
everything that is mean and contemptible."

"I vote yes on that.  Well, he told you plenty, you say?"

"One of the things he told me was that you and he were great
friends--chums, he called it."

Her driver shook his head.  "Tut, tut, tut!" he observed.  "And in
spite of that you came down and had dinner along with me.  Your
appetite must have been stronger than your judgment, Miss

"Oh, I didn't believe that any more than I did the other things he
told me."

"THAT judgment was sound, anyhow.  No, Wallie's a liar three
hundred and sixty-five days in any year but leap year--and even
then his average don't suffer.  Just now he's loaded to the rails
with spite and meanness.  Calvin Homer knocked him in a heap, so
they say, and if Cal was runnin' for office just now he could get
elected on account of it. . . .  Yes, if that was all, Calvin would
be the most popular man in the township limits."

The last sentence was spoken in a tone different from those
preceding it.  The change was slight, but she noticed it.

"Do you mean that he isn't popular?" she queried.

Hammond seemed to be troubled about something.  As he did not reply
she repeated the question.

"What do you mean; 'if that were all'?" she asked.

"Eh?  Oh, I don't know as I meant anything in particular. . . .
Yes, I did, too, but it is nothing to do with your father, Miss
Bartlett.  I guess Homer is popular enough, so far as that goes.
There are some people who don't like him, and lately a thing has
come to my notice that--But that wouldn't interest you, either."

"Anything to do with--with what has happened at father's station
interests me very much.  It does indeed."

"This thing I meant hasn't anything to do with what's happened down
there, not really.  Of course it might help to explain--it might--
well, it set me to thinking when I heard it.  Yes, and I've been
thinking about it ever since.  You know when you like a person a
lot and then learn something about him that kind of shakes your
faith--why, then you get kind of mistrustful when you hear other
things.  You begin to think up reasons, reasons you never would
have thought of thinking before.  You say to yourself, 'If he would
play a mean trick like that on one person, mightn't he be playing
mean tricks right along?'  That's what you say. . . .  Humph!  I
guess likely you're wondering what I'M trying to say now, don't

She did not answer the question.

"So you don't like Mr. Homer," she said slowly.

"Eh?  Oh, I wouldn't say that.  I always used to like him, same as
everybody else did.  He's a smart, able young fellow.  Yes, there's
no doubt about that."

"But you don't like him now?  You don't trust him, you said so."

"Humph!  I said more than I meant to, I guess.  I do hate to
mistrust Calvin.  Maybe I haven't got any business to.  Only now,
when they're saying he has been made keeper there at Setuckit--Eh?
What is it?"

She had uttered a low exclamation.  When he turned toward her he
saw that she was regarding him intently.

"What's the matter?" he demanded.  "What--"

She interrupted.  "Nothing, nothing," she declared.  "But, tell me,
please--HAS he been made keeper?"

He was surprised.  "Didn't you know?" he asked.  "Didn't your
father write?"

"Father hasn't written me at all.  This morning Mr. Oaks said
something about--about Mr. Homer's being the new keeper--and
father's being--well, he said discharged; but I didn't believe him;
I didn't believe anything he said.  Is it true?  Tell me, Mr.
Hammond, please."

Hammond was disturbed.  "Sho!" he exclaimed.  "I thought of course
you had heard from your father about it and that that was why you

"I came because I thought father must need me.  I didn't know--but
do you really know?  Is it a fact?  Are you certain it is true?"

He hesitated and then nodded.  "It hasn't been given out from
headquarters," he replied, "but--well, yes, I should say that, nine
chances to one, it was true.  All sorts of stories have been
leaking out from Setuckit and the Orham Station, and the gist of
'em seems to be that Cap'n Bartlett isn't cap'n any more and that
Homer is in command.  Whether or not it's just temporary command I
can't say--very likely 'tis.  But, from all I hear, if it isn't
permanent now, it is going to be.  I'm sorry I had to be the one to
tell you this, Miss Bartlett.  I thought probably you knew as much
or more about it than I did or I wouldn't have dropped a hint.  I'm
real sorry I did."

She was trying to be calm, but it was hard work.  Nevertheless she
made a brave attempt.

"I am glad you told me," she said.  "I am glad I found it out
before I saw father.  He must be dreadfully sick, ever so much more
so than I thought.  If he were not he never would have given up his
command.  It meant everything to him.  Now that you have told me so
much, Mr. Hammond, won't you please tell me the rest--the whole
story just as it happened?  Then when I see father I shall be
prepared.  Please tell me."

So, though with reluctance, he did tell her the story, as much of
it as had come to Orham.  He omitted the charges of cowardice on
Bartlett's part--and those charges had been at least as specific as
any other part of the tale--and substituted surmises such as, "I
guess your father was pretty nigh sick, same as you say."  But,
taken as a whole, his narrative adhered closely to the facts.
Norma heard him through and, to his surprise, she seemed less
troubled at the end than at the beginning.

"Father was ill and I am afraid he still is," she said.  "That is
it.  Oh, I wish I had come sooner!  But I am glad he had a man like
Mr. Homer to take command during his sickness.  I know father was
glad, too.  As for all those ridiculous and wicked--oh, lies!--they
aren't anything else--about Mr. Homer's leading a mutiny and
planning to get father's place as keeper, they are--I know they are
not true."

The conviction in her tone was absolute.  He did not contradict
her, neither did he make any comment.  Perhaps she noticed the
omission, for when, after an interval of silence, she next spoke,
it was to return to the subject which had led to his telling the

"You say you don't like Mr. Homer," she repeated.  "I'm very sorry.
I like him and so does my father.  Why don't you like him?"

Hammond moved uneasily.  "Oh, I wouldn't go so far as to say I
didn't like him," he said.  "He's able and smart and--"

"Every one knows that.  But you said you were beginning to doubt
him, or suspect him--which is the same thing.  You said something
about a mean trick he had played which shook your faith in him.  I
can hardly believe that, Mr. Hammond.  I think you are mistaken.
He is not the kind of man to do a mean thing.  I know he isn't."

"Well--well, maybe you are right.  Perhaps it didn't seem so mean
to him.  Anyhow, it really hasn't anything to do with the fuss at
Setuckit, so what's the use of our talking about it, Miss

She was reflecting.  "I think you believe it may have had something
to do with it," she said musingly.  "You spoke of its suggesting
possible reasons for--for your changing your mind in regard to
other matters.  I wish you would tell me what Mr. Homer did that
you consider mean?  I may be able to show you that it wasn't.  I
can't conceive of his being mean to any one.  Perhaps it is
something I know about."

"No.  No, you don't.  There's only a few do know about it.  And I
shouldn't tell you or anybody.  I'm sorry I mentioned it."

"But you did mention it.  And--and Mr. Homer and I are friends,
close friends.  Are you going to give him a chance to explain?"

He laughed shortly.  "I don't imagine he would thank me for the
chance," he observed.  "There, there, Miss Bartlett, let's forget

But she had no intention of forgetting or permitting him to do so.
There was a flash in her eyes and a crispness in her voice as she
asked her next question.

"Why do you think he would not thank you for the chance?" she

"Oh--oh, well," a little impatiently, "because it isn't one of
those things one man would explain to another.  And, if what I've
heard is true, explaining would be a pretty hard job.  I judge he
didn't bother to do much explaining to her."

"To her?"

"Why, yes. . . .  Look here, Miss Bartlett, I can see you think I'm
cut a little mite on the Wallie Oaks pattern and run around
spreading lies about people.  That is what you do think--or about
that, isn't it?"

"No, of course I don't.  But I--yes, I do think you should not have
hinted to me that Mr. Homer is capable of a mean action, and then
refuse to explain why you think so.  I shall--yes, I shall tell him
you said it, and then I am sure he will ask you for the explanation,

He stared.  "You will tell him?" he repeated.  "For the Lord sakes
why should YOU tell him?"

"Because I am a friend of his--and so is father.  And I try to be
fair to my friends, Mr. Hammond.  If any one dropped such hints
about me I should be glad if a friend told me of them."

Frank Hammond whistled between his teeth.  This was an unexpected
development.  His hint--which was merely an echo of his thought,
and dropped without premeditation--had got him into trouble.  She
would speak to Homer concerning it; it was plain that she meant
what she said.  And the insinuation that he was unfair nettled him.
His tone changed.

"All right," he said bluntly, "then I will tell you.  I don't know
as there is any good reason why I shouldn't.  It is a sort of
secret, in a way, but I'm not going to let you get the idea that I
tell lies about people behind their backs.  I did say it seemed to
me that Calvin Homer had played a mean trick; I meant it.  If being
engaged to marry a girl and then writing her half a dozen lines
saying he is sick of her and breaking the engagement isn't a mean
trick, then I don't know what you would call it."

He heard her catch her breath.

"Nonsense!" she exclaimed indignantly.  "Mr. Homer engaged to be
married and breaking the engagement!  How ridiculous!  It isn't

"Oh, yes, it is!  I ain't Wallie Oaks.  I wouldn't say a thing like
that if I didn't know it was true--and about a fellow I used to
like as well as I did Cal Homer.  He was engaged to marry--well, I
won't mention any names, but the girl is a relation of mine; her
mother is my first cousin by marriage.  He and this girl had kept
company for a good while.  I knew it, so did about everybody else.
Things like that are what folks, especially the women folks, talk
about in a place like Orham.  Only a few of us knew he was engaged
to her, but he was.  I saw the ring he gave her.  She never showed
it to me, but her mother told me about it and I've seen it on her

He paused, giving his attention to the horse, which had strayed off
the road.  He guided the buggy back into the ruts again and then
resumed his story.

"Oh, yes, they were engaged all right," he began.  She interrupted.

"When was this?" she asked.

"Eh?  When did they get engaged, you mean?  Oh, a few months ago.
I heard of it--seems to me 'twas along the first of December.  The
idea, so her mother told me, was not to say anything--not make any
announcements, you understand--for a while, because Calvin didn't
feel he was in any position to get married, and he was hoping to
get a better job.  What he planned to do--yes, and all hands
thought it would happen--was to be made keeper at Setuckit.  The
pay isn't so much better, but a station keeper can have his wife
with him.  Besides I judge, knowing Myra, that neither he nor she
would have been contented even with a keeper's job long.  She, this
girl I'm speaking of"--he was quite unconscious that he had
mentioned her name--"is mighty clever and ambitious.  She would
make her husband get on in the world.  Well, then Cap'n Bartlett--
your father--was made keeper and that plan was knocked in the head,
for a time, anyhow.  I don't think 'twas given up--her mother says
neither of 'em gave it up.  The idea was to wait and see how
Bartlett made out.  If he didn't make good, why, then Cal was next
in line.  See?"

He waited for a reply, but she made none.  After a moment he

"Well, so they were engaged and she had the ring, and the girl and
her mother thought it was all settled; naturally they would.  I was
surprised when I heard it, because, to be honest, I wouldn't have
believed either of those women would have been satisfied with
anything so everyday as a life-saver.  They aren't that kind.
Cap'n Fuller, my cousin, was an easy-going plain man enough, but
his wife and daughter are different.  Plain things, so I'd have
said, didn't satisfy either of 'em. . . .  Eh?  What say?"

She had murmured something.  Now she spoke aloud.

"So her name is Myra Fuller," she said.  "Does she live here in

He turned in amazement.  "How did you know her name?" he demanded.
"Did you know about the engagement?"

"No."  She smiled wearily.  "No, I didn't know.  You told me her
name, yourself, just now.  You didn't realize it, but you did. . . .
Oh, never mind!  When was the engagement broken?"

"Less than a fortni't ago.  Not much more than a week ago, I guess.
It was after you was down here the last time.  Sarepta--now I've
let out so much of the names, the whole of 'em don't matter--told
me about it day before yesterday.  'Cording to her tell, it was
pretty mean business on Calvin's part.  Myra was anxious about him,
on account of the wrecks and all, but he hadn't written for weeks.
And he had promised to take a liberty day and come to see her.
Next to the last letter she had from him he promised that and was
as sweet and loving as any girl could ask.  But he didn't come, and
then, next thing the Fullers knew, he sent the letter saying he was
sick of it all and she could go to blazes, or what amounted to
that.  Now you may not call that mean treatment of a girl, Miss
Harriett, but I do."

Again he waited for her to speak, but when she did, it was far more
to herself than to him.  "I don't believe it," she murmured.  "Oh,
of course I don't believe it!"

He was angry.  "All right," he snapped.  "If you don't believe me
go and ask Sarepta--yes, or Myra.  I rather think they'd tell you.
But I'd have you understand that I'm speaking the truth."

"Yes; yes, I know you think you are.  I am sure of that.  I beg
your pardon, Mr. Hammond.  It was only that--that it didn't seem
possible.  Mr. Homer has always seemed so--so honest, and
straightforward, and--and true--that--"

"Sure!  It was pretty hard work for me to believe it myself.  But
I got it straight from headquarters, so I had to believe.  Course
Myra won't talk about it.  She's mighty proud and when I asked her
she flew at me like a wildcat and vowed and declared 'twas she who
had given Cal his walking papers, and not him her at all.  She
couldn't say hard enough things about him, how she got tired to
death of him, had realized her mistake long ago, and had sent him
packing.  If she hadn't been so darned spiteful against him I might
have believed her side of the story; but she called him too many
names.  No, Sarepta's yarn is the true one; I don't think there's
any doubt about that."

She was thinking.  "Myra Fuller," she said slowly.  "Myra Fuller.
I used to know a girl of that name.  She was at the Bridgewater
Academy when I was there.  But it couldn't be THAT girl."

"I shouldn't wonder if it was.  Myra went to Bridgewater; she
studied to be a teacher up there.  Kind of a big, fine-looking
girl, with sort of reddish hair and a way of looking at you with
her eyes that--well, if you're a man, it kind of gets you.  They're
nice eyes and she can make 'em say a whole lot.  Yes, and she knows
it," with a chuckle.

"THAT girl!  And he was engaged to HER!"

"Eh?  Oh, yes, he was engaged to her all right.  That much I do
know for sure."

They drove on for some minutes without further conversation.  It
seemed to him that having substantiated his accusation against
Homer, so far as the latter's being capable of a mean trick was
concerned, he had said enough.  But she, apparently, was not
finished with the subject.

"Was she--was she very much in love with him?" she asked.

"Who--Myra?  Why, yes, I guess so.  More than she's ever been with
anybody else, I'd say.  She's always been a great hand with the
boys, and some of her beaus wasn't exactly what you'd call boys,
either.  She did like Calvin a lot, though, according to Sarepta.
You see, he's a fine-looking young fellow, Cal is, and Myra don't
mind good looks a bit."  He paused to chuckle again, and then
added:  "I wouldn't say her heart was broke altogether.  Not so's
the pieces can't be stuck together, anyhow.  There's an old rooster
named Blodgett--eh?  Why, you saw him at the dinner table this
noon; he takes his meals along with us.  He's willing to help with
the repair job, I judge, if she'll give him the chance.  The story
is that he's beginning to call on her fairly regular.  He's pretty
well off, and--"

She did not appear to be interested in Mr. Blodgett.

"Mr. Hammond," she broke in, "you hinted that you were beginning to
believe Mr. Homer might have done what--what that horrid Wallie
Oaks said he did, work against my father and plan to get himself
made keeper of the station.  Do you really believe that?  Have you
any reasons, more than you have already told me, for believing it?"

He shook his head.  "No, no, no," he protested.  "I haven't.  And I
don't say it, either.  I can't think Cal would do a thing like
that.  As I told you, I'd have sworn he was straight as a T square
if I hadn't found out how he treated Myra.  That shook my
confidence in him, same as 'twould anybody's.  Don't you think so,
Miss Bartlett?"

She drew a long breath.  "Yes," she said.

"Um-hum.  But, so far as his contriving and scheming against your
father behind his back goes, I won't believe it--not yet.  That
would be TOO low-down mean.  Of course Sarepta says that's what
he's been doing, and so does Wallie, but they're both chock full of
spite, and their testimony needs considerable salt before I'd
swallow it."

He went on talking, but, if she heard, she had no comment to make.
She did not speak again during the drive to Setuckit Station.


Homer happened to be in the tower when the Hammond horse and buggy
appeared among the dunes.  Through the glass he saw Norma on the
seat beside the driver.  He was, in a way, prepared to see her; she
had telegraphed that she should come soon, and when he first
sighted the approaching vehicle he felt almost sure that she was
there.  Now, as he watched her through the telescope, his pulse
quickened at the thought of seeing her again.  So much had happened
since they parted.  The care and worry and responsibility had been
wearing indeed.  He had longed for her; there was so much to tell
her, so much to explain; he had needed her help and understanding
sympathy so greatly.  Now she was here.  He darted to the door and
ran down the stairs.

At the closed door of the skipper's room he paused.  He knew that
Bartlett was in that room.  Benoni had spent practically all his
time there since the day of his crew's rebellion.  He came out when
called to meals, but at the table he said scarcely a word, and of
those words not one was addressed to Calvin.  He ignored the latter
altogether and refused to answer if Homer spoke to him.  Calvin,
after several attempts, had given it up.  It was evident that
Bartlett did not care to have anything to do with him.  So he kept
out of the way of the deposed keeper and, although when they met at
breakfast he always bade him a respectful good morning, he tried to
avoid troubling him by sound or sight.  But now, at the door, he
paused, wondering whether or not he should tell him of his
daughter's arrival.

As he stood there the door opened, but it was Seleucus Gammon, not
Benoni Bartlett, who came out of the little room.  Homer was
surprised.  So far as he knew no one save Kellogg had visited
Bartlett in that room since the day of Wallie Oaks's leaving.

Gammon saw him standing there and raised a warning finger.  He
closed the door carefully behind him.

"What is it, Cal?" he asked.  "What's up?"

Calvin explained.  Norma Bartlett was coming, would arrive in a few
minutes, and he had thought of telling her father the good news.

Seleucus shook his head.  "I wouldn't if I was you," he said.  "The
old man is havin' one of his bad spells, seems so.  He opened that
door a little spell ago and sung out to me to come in; said he
wanted to talk to me.  It was about the first word he'd said to me
for three days and I couldn't guess what he wanted, but I went in.
He's in a state, I tell you.  Seems he's been tryin' to write Norma
a letter, tellin' her what he calls the truth about everything
that's happened, and there was sheets of scribbled-on paper all
over the table and on the bed and the land knows where.  He wanted
me to hear what he'd wrote.  He read some of it to me out loud.
Such a mixed-up mess you never heard.  All full of talk about the
Lord and his duty as a follower of the way and the light, and about
bein' tempted by the Old Harry, and how the devil's agents had
worked against him, and I can't tell you what.  I judge you and
Cap'n Kellogg are the head agents, Cal.  He's down on you especial,
and when I tried to put in a word on your side he jumped on me with
both feet.  Fact is, he got so kind of wild in his talk that I shut
up.  Thought 'twas good judgment, you understand.  No, if I was
you, I wouldn't go nigh him now.  You're the last man 'twould do
him any good to see."

Calvin was greatly troubled.  Bartlett had been morose and gloomy
since the break with the men, but he had shown no signs of violent
aberration.  This was most unfortunate.  He dreaded the shock to

"He asked me one or two questions that kind of scared me," went on
Seleucus.  "Wanted to know if I'd noticed anything 'special in the
noise the surf on the outer beach was makin'.  Said it seemed to
him to be callin' to him, singin' out, 'Benoni Bartlett, come here!
Come here!' Said there was times when he felt as if he just had to
go.  Yes, sir, that's what he said.  That meant drowndin' himself,
as I figgered it.  Course _I_ told him the surf wasn't say in'
nothin' but 'Boo!' same as it always says.  I tried to soothe him
down best I could, but 'twas consider'ble of a job.  I cal'late
'twas writin' Norma that riled up his brains so.  It's a mighty
good thing she's here.  Maybe she can handle him.  Anyhow, the rest
of us couldn't, least of all you, Cal.  You steer clear of him,
that's my advice. . . .  Hello! here comes the team now, ain't it?"

The buggy was nearing the station.  The crew gathered outside the
door to meet it.  Homer and Phinney hastened forward to help Norma
alight, but it was Josh's hand she took.  She looked, so Calvin
thought, white and careworn.  His eager welcome she met by a look
so peculiar that he stepped back aghast.

"Norma!" he cried, forgetting that none of the others knew of their
intimate relation.

She turned to him, but only to ask a question.  "Where is father?"
she asked.

"He is in his room!  Shall I--"

"I am going there. . . .  No, thank you, Mr. Rogers, you needn't
tell him.  I'll go right in."

That was all she said; not a word of inquiry, or greeting--not a
smile, nor a glance implying that she was glad to be with him
again.  And her tone was formal, almost coldly so.  He stared after
her in hurt amazement as she hurried into the station.  When he
entered the mess room the skipper's door was shut.  She and her
father were together.

She was in that room all the remainder of the afternoon.  They
called her and Bartlett to supper, but neither heeded the call.
When Calvin knocked she told him that they were not hungry and
that, if they should be later on, she would prepare the food
herself.  Her tone and manner then were just as coolly impersonal,
and she offered no explanation nor excuse.

Hammond had driven back to Orham immediately after leaving his
passenger.  Homer tried to talk with him, thinking that perhaps she
might have told him something concerning herself, might have
offered some reason, ill health or anxiety--anything which might
help to account for her strange behavior.  But the hotel proprietor's
manner also was odd.  Ordinarily a cheerful, garrulous man, he was
now almost taciturn.  He seemed eager to get away and did so at the
first opportunity.

It was, for Calvin Homer, a wretched afternoon and evening.  All
his joyful relief at seeing her had gone and the disappointment and
gloom which succeeded were crushing.  Also, with them, came a heavy
sense of impending trouble.  He had had care and anxiety sufficient
of late, but these he could face, and had.  Through them he had
clung to the thought of her, of her faith in him, of their love and
its wonderful happiness.  Her coming had been a burst of sunlight
breaking through the clouds.  Now the clouds were thicker than

Something had happened, something was wrong--something--whatever it
might be--had come between them.  Her first thought would be for
her father--yes, he could well understand that.  But why was she so
cold toward him?  Why had she refused his hand and turned to take
Phinney's?  Why had she looked at him--Calvin--so strangely?  There
had been little of trust or love in that look.

He tried to think of possible explanations.  She could not believe
that he had been a traitor to her father.  He had written her the
plain, unornamented truth about that.  She must believe his story
and therefore believe in his honesty and loyalty; she would, she
was so honest herself.  Could it be that she had not received his
letter?  He had sent it early enough.  She should have received it
days before.  But perhaps she had not.  She might think he had
neglected her and that would explain her attitude--partially
explain it, at least.  Yes; yes, that must be the explanation, it
must be.

His conscience was clear in that respect, but in another it was
not.  He had not told her of his affair with Myra.  The letter in
which he had begun his confession still remained, unfinished, in
his chest in the sleeping quarters.  He would have finished it had
it not been for her telegram saying she was coming to Setuckit.  To
tell her, rather than to write, seemed so much more satisfactory.
He had planned to tell her the moment that he and she were alone.
His determination to do so was unshaken.  But her strange behavior
toward him made the telling appear more difficult than ever.
Nevertheless he must do it--and would.  That she could have heard
the story already, from another, did not enter his mind.

At ten the men, the patrolmen on duty excepted, went aloft to turn
in.  Bartlett, who had given up his own room to his daughter, had
already gone to his bunk in the spare quarters.  Homer lingered in
the mess room, still hopeful of seeing Norma.  Apparently she, too,
had been waiting for that opportunity, for a few moments later she
came out and joined him.

He rose to meet her and stepped forward, his hands outstretched.
But she did not respond to his greeting and his eager utterance of
her name she met only with a steady look of grave scrutiny.

"Norma!" he exclaimed.  "Norma!  What is it?"

He would have taken her in his arms, but she eluded him and, moving
to the other side of the table, stood there, still regarding him,
unsmiling and aloof.

"Norma!" he cried again.  She motioned to a chair.

"Please sit down," she said.  "I want to talk with you.  I have
been waiting to do it."

He took the chair she indicated.  She took another, but on the
opposite side of the table.  Then, with her chin upon her hands,
she looked at him fixedly.

"Norma," he pleaded, "what is the matter?  Why do you treat me like
this?  What--"

She interrupted.

"Don't," she said hastily.  "I am going to ask you some questions.
Will you answer them--plainly and honestly?"

"Of course.  Why do you say that?  Did you think I would answer
them in any other way?"

She did not reply, nor did she appear to heed the surprised
resentment in his tone.

"First of all," she went on, "I want you to tell me the exact truth
about what has happened here since I went away. . . .  Oh, yes,
father has told me, and so have others, but I want to hear it from

"But you did hear it from me.  I wrote you all about it in my

This statement did have an effect.  She raised her head.

"When did you write me?" she asked slowly.

"The day after we got back from the Flyaway.  I wrote you a long
letter, telling everything just as it happened, and I sent the
letter to the office by way of the Orham Station.  Do you mean that
you didn't get that letter?"

She shook her head.  "I have not heard a word from you since it
happened," she said.

So his surmise was correct.  Those careless idiots at the Orham
Station were responsible.  This was the reason for her coldness;
she believed he had neglected her.

"That is too bad," he declared angrily.  "Confound those fellows!
I sent word that the letter must go right away.  It is a shame,
Norma dear.  I'm awfully sorry.  No wonder you thought--"

Again she interrupted.  "Never mind," she said.  "Tell me the story

He had expected this and was ready.  He told her everything, as
briefly as he could, omitting nothing of importance, offering no
excuses for his own action in disobeying Bartlett's orders, but
giving the reasons which had seemed imperative at the time.

"I hated to do it, Norma," he declared.  "I can't tell you how I
hated to, but it was that or letting that schooner drift on the
shoals and drown every man on board.  Your father wasn't well; you
see how he is now.  He was worse then.  What else could I do?"

She seemed to ponder.  "And you wrote me all this?" she asked.
"You are sure?"

"Sure!  Why, I told you I did.  Don't you believe--"

"Hush, please!  I don't know what I believe--now.  But I must know.
Are you keeper here at Setuckit?"

He hesitated.  "I am a sort of keeper, I suppose," he admitted.
"Superintendent Kellogg put me in charge temporarily.  He came down
here to investigate--that is his duty, you know--and--"

"Yes; yes, I know all that.  But father says that he--the
superintendent--offered him the choice of resigning or being
discharged.  Is that true?"

Again he hesitated; but she had demanded the truth and he must tell
it.  "Why--yes," he admitted.  "I'm afraid it is.  Cap'n Kellogg
told me that was what he had done."

"And has he offered you the appointment as keeper?"

"Yes.  Of course it doesn't rest altogether with him.  The matter
would have to be referred to Washington, and perhaps--"

"Oh, don't beat about the bush.  You accepted the appointment."

"No, I didn't."

"You did not. . . !  Why?"

"You ought to know why."  Her sharp, almost contemptuous, tone and
manner were having their effect, and he was finding it hard to be
patient.  "You ought to know why, Norma," he repeated.  "Is it
likely I could see your father lose his place and then take it
myself?  Your father!  I told Kellogg I wouldn't consider the
appointment for a minute."  Her manner changed then.  The look in
her eyes softened just a little.  He pressed his advantage.

"I said I would take charge here until a regular keeper was
appointed," he went on.  "Cap'n Kellogg asked me to, and the men
seemed to want me.  I didn't like to do it.  I would a lot rather
have resigned myself.  But some one had to do it, some one that had
experience.  And your father isn't--well, I am afraid he isn't sane
altogether.  He certainly wasn't sane that day.  I hate to say it.
You must know how I hate to say it to you, of all people.  But it
is true. . . .  And I wrote you all this, all except my being put
in charge here for the time--that I didn't know then."

The scornful contempt was no longer in evidence.  Her eyes had lost
their hardness.  Now they filled with tears.

"Poor father!" she sighed.  "I--I don't know what to say--or think--
about him.  He was in a dreadful condition when I came.  He had
been trying to write me and--and--oh, the way he spoke and acted
frightened me.  I must get him away from here.  That is certain, no
matter what else may be; I must take him somewhere where I can be
with him, and look out for him.  He is better now, and quieter.  He
has told me the story, himself.  And he says--yes, he insists that
you were the leader against him.  If it hadn't been for you, he
declares, the men would have obeyed his orders."

"But suppose they had?  We saved that schooner, with all hands.  If
we had obeyed Cap'n Bartlett's orders the vessel and her crew would
have gone to the bottom.  And your father, Norma--did he tell you
why he wouldn't order out the boat?  Did he tell you about God's
coming to his room there, and talking to him--and all the rest of

She nodded.  "He told me that," she admitted.  "I'm afraid he
isn't--right.  Oh, it is dreadful!  But, except for that, except
for his religious mania--that is what it is--he talks quite
rationally.  And he says he knows now that you have been working
against him all the time.  That you were only waiting for the
chance to get him into trouble, so that you might have his place.
And, so he says, when that chance came you took it."

He stared at her.  "You don't believe that!" he cried.  "Norma, do
you believe that of me?"

She shook her head.  "I don't want to believe it," she said.  "No,
no, I don't believe it.  It would be TOO contemptible.  But I have
heard it from others."

"What others?"

"Well, I received a letter, a letter written from this station the
very day when yours--when you say yours was written.  It seems odd
that that letter reached me and yours did not, then nor since."

The doubt, or the hint of doubt, had come back to her voice.
Calvin noticed it.

"What letter was that?" he demanded.  "Who wrote it?  Not your

"No.  Father has been in no condition to write, I am afraid."

"Then who did write?  Eh?  Good Lord! was it Wallie Oaks?"

She colored slightly and was confused.  "Why, yes, it was," she
admitted.  "But of course--"

"Wallie Oaks!  You didn't believe THAT pup?"

"Of course I didn't.  But his letter came.  He wrote me."

"And _I_ wrote you.  I told you so.  I'm not lying.  Oh, Norma
dear, how can you speak like this to me?  What has changed you so?"

She was looking at him again, looking him through and through.

"Have you been absolutely truthful to me?" she asked, slowly.
"Have you been loyal, in every way, to my father?"

"Yes, indeed I have."

"And to me?  You have told me everything--everything?"




"Then why have you never told me about Myra Fuller?"

He did not answer.  He tried to do so, but he could not.  The words
he wanted were not at his command, then.  The suddenness of her
question, the knowledge that she had learned the secret from other
lips than his, the overwhelming realization of what her learning it
in that way might mean--all this confounded him, made speech
impossible at the moment.  He reddened, stammered, and stared at
her aghast.  In her eyes he was a picture of guilt discovered.  He
knew that he must be, and the thought merely rendered more acute
the general paralysis of his faculties.

She was watching him intently, waiting for his reply.  It did not

"Well?" she said, after a moment.

He caught his breath.  He knew that he must say something, must
explain--or attempt an explanation.  It was now or never.

"Norma," he stammered, "I--I--Oh, I don't know what to say to you
about that.  I--I didn't know you knew.  I--"

She broke in.  "I can well imagine that," she observed crisply.
"But I do know--a little.  And I think you had better tell me the
rest.  Is it true that you were engaged to marry that girl?"

He nodded, overwhelmed.  "Yes," he confessed.  "I was.  But, oh,

"Wait.  When did you and she become engaged?"

"A good while ago, months ago.  But I never really meant to be.  I
don't know how it happened.  I didn't really care for her at all.
It--it just--just happened.  Oh, I know that sounds foolish.  Of
course you wouldn't believe it, or understand, but it is the truth.
I was sorry the minute afterward.  I would have given anything to
have been out of it. . . .  Oh, but what is the use!  What can I
say to make you understand?"

She shook her head.  "I don't know," she said.  "I don't
understand, I confess."

"Of course you don't.  But it is true.  I never did love her
really.  She--she--"

He broke off, the hopelessness of his attempt at justification
heavy upon him.  In the letter he had begun but never finished--
yes, and a hundred times before and since--he had rehearsed the
plea he meant to make to her.  But now, when she sat there opposite
him, looking at him, searching him through and through with that
look, demanding the explanation which it was her right to demand--
now, the confession of the whole truth, plain, absolute and without
excuse--the confession which he had determined to make--seemed as
hopelessly impossible of belief as the most transparent lie.  How
could a girl like Norma Bartlett ever believe that he, Calvin
Homer, could have been attracted, even temporarily and lightly, by
a girl like Myra Fuller?

Nevertheless, in his desperation, he tried again.

"Norma," he pleaded, "please try to believe me.  I never did care
for her, really, at all.  I didn't.  I never cared for any one but
you.  It wasn't until I saw you that I began to understand what it
meant to--to really care.  I had read about it, in stories, and all
that, but I thought it was all book nonsense.  I never believed any
one could--could love any one as I love you.  You see, I--I--"

She broke in again.  "Did you say these things to--Miss Fuller?"
she inquired.

The chilling sarcasm of the question was like a plunge into ice
water.  But the plunge had the effect of restoring a little of his

"Of course I didn't," he retorted.  "I tell you I didn't care for
her--never did.  And when I saw you I realized it."

"Yet you were engaged to her."

"I was--yes.  But I had made up my mind to break it off.  And I
have done it."

"When did you do it?"

"A little while ago; about a week ago, I think it was.  I wrote her
a letter telling her I couldn't marry her, that I had found I
didn't care for her in that way, and that the whole thing had been
a mistake."

"That was only a week ago.  And when--" she paused an instant;
then, with a lift of her head, continued: "and when you spoke to me
there on the beach, when you told me--what you did tell me--then,
at that very time, you were engaged to another girl.  Then--when
you said those things to me."

He sighed.  "Yes," he admitted, "I was.  And I didn't intend to say
them to you, Norma.  I didn't, that is the truth.  I had intended
to write Myra, telling her just what I did tell her in the letter I
wrote afterward, and then--and then, perhaps, if I was ever brave
enough to do it, I meant to ask you.  It didn't seem possible you
could care for me, but--but I knew I must find out whether you did
or not.  I had to."

"But you did--say them to me then."

"Yes.  When I saw you there in the channel and was afraid you--that
you were drowning or--or hurt--I--well, I said them.  But I hardly
knew I did.  The words just came of themselves.  They did."

"I see.  They just happened, I suppose.  As your engagement to Myra
Fuller just happened.  You seem to have had a number of such

"Norma!" indignantly.  "How can you say that?  How can you--"

"Oh, don't!  Why didn't you tell me then about her?  If you had,
perhaps I--but never mind; you didn't."

"I couldn't.  Seleucus came and you and I didn't have a word in
private together before you went back to Fairborough."

"Yes.  Yes, that is true.  But you have written me since.  I
received a letter from you--not the one you say you wrote, and
which I didn't receive, but another.  There was no word of your
other love affair--or one of those affairs--in that letter.  Why
wasn't there?"

He shook his head.  The hopelessness of the tangle in which fate
had wound him was always more and more apparent.

"There wasn't," he said, "because I didn't feel that I ought to
write you until I had written her or seen her.  At first I meant to
go and see her and tell her.  It seemed to me the squarer thing to
do, to tell her how I felt instead of writing it.  But your father
kept putting me off when I asked for liberty and so, at last, I did
write.  Then came the Flyaway business, and the trouble here at the
station--and I was so busy that--"

"That you could not write me anything as important as that.  Or
possibly you thought your being engaged to another girl while you
were making love to me was a mere trifle in which I wouldn't be
interested.  I should have been, I assure you.  I am not as
experienced and blasÚ in such affairs as you seem to be."


"Tell me this, then:  In this second letter, the one which I never
got, did you tell me of--of this Myra Fuller in that?"

"No . . . no, I didn't.  You had telegraphed me you were coming
here and I thought I would wait until you came and then tell you.
I meant to do it, would have done it before now if you had let me
speak to you alone, if you had given me a chance.  But I did begin
a letter to you, telling you the whole story.  I began it the
afternoon before the big storm.  The storm came, and all the rest
of the trouble here, and afterwards you telegraphed.  So the letter
wasn't finished.  It is upstairs now in my trunk.  May I get it and
show it to you?"

She shook her head.  "No," she said slowly, "it is rather late now,
it seems to me.  That is all you have to say?"

"Why, yes . . . except that I am very sorry you found this out
before I could tell you myself.  I should have told you in my first
letter, perhaps.  I wish now I had.  But waiting to break off with--
with her before I told you seemed the square, honest thing to do

She sprang to her feet, her eyes ablaze.

"Oh, don't--don't!" she cried.  "Don't speak of honor any more.
Your ideas of honor and loyalty don't seem to be mine at all, Mr.
Homer.  And, I may as well say this:  I am beginning to doubt your
loyalty to father.  The stories I have heard about your pretending
to be loyal to him and working against him behind his back don't
seem as impossible to me as they did.  I am by no means sure they
aren't true."

He had risen, also.  His face was white.

"Those stories are lies," he said firmly.  "And you know they are
lies--or will know it when you think them over by and by."

"Perhaps.  And you consider that you have been loyal to me?"

"Yes.  I'm sorry I didn't write you right off, after you left.  But
I explained why I didn't.  I thought I ought to see Myra and tell
her first."

"And do you think that you were loyal to--to HER?"

"Yes.  I tried to be."

"Then, as I said, your ideas of loyalty and honor are very
different from mine.  Good night."

She turned toward the door of the skipper's room--hers, as always,
during her stay.  He spoke her name.

"Norma," he said quietly.  "I suppose this means the end of--of
everything between you and me, doesn't it?"

She did not reply, but entered the little room and closed the door.
He turned wearily away.  He had had his answer.

Two days later she and her father left Setuckit.  Hammond, who had
been telephoned for, came for them with a two-horse vehicle, and
drove them to Orham.  Meanwhile Superintendent Kellogg had made
another visit and the Bartletts' departure was the result of it.
The district superintendent's errand was to receive from Bartlett
the resignation asked for, or, failing the receipt of that,
to notify him of his discharge to take effect at once.  The
Washington authorities had not deemed it necessary to make further
investigation.  The testimony forwarded by Kellogg seemed conclusive
and they had left the matter in his hands.

The superintendent and Homer had only a brief interview.  Its
brevity was entirely due to Calvin's disinclination to talk.
Kellogg told him that Bartlett flatly refused to resign, even
though his daughter begged him to do so, and railed against the
treason of the crew, his Number One man in particular.  The tirade
was interspersed with quotations from Scripture, appeals to heaven,
and rambling prophecies as to the vengeance of the Almighty which
was to descend upon the heads of those responsible for his downfall
and disgrace.

"If there was ever any doubt about the man's being crazy," declared
Kellogg, "there isn't any now.  He's clean off, and even Norma had
to admit as much to me.  Of course she thinks that his craziness is
all due to the way he's been treated since he came here, and though
I tried to tell her that wasn't so, I don't think she believed me.
Natural enough she shouldn't, I suppose--he's her father.  But I
declare I'm sorry for her.  She's a mighty fine girl, and she's got
an awful proposition on her hands.  The old man keeps vowing and
declaring he won't go; says the Lord ordered him to stay here and
put this whole section of coast in his charge, or words to that
effect.  How he'll act when he has to go, I don't know.  She don't
say much, but anybody can see she realizes what she's in for.  I
told her I'd like to do all I could to help her through her
trouble, but she wouldn't take my help.  She's down on me, and I
don't blame her, although the land knows I'm not to blame.  If I'd
had my way you'd have been keeper here at Setuckit in the first
place, Cal, and all this would never have happened.  I'd like to
hang half a dozen politicians out here at the end of the point, as
a warning to the rest of 'em to keep hands off what ain't any of
their business."

He again asked Homer to take the appointment as keeper, but once
more the offer was declined.  The refusal was so curt that Kellogg
was surprised; however, he still vowed not to accept it as final.
"I'm going to wait a little spell longer, Cal," he said, "and let
you think it over.  The service needs you here, and, by holy, _I_
need you.  You'll be doing me a tremendous favor by taking the job.
I've been, and am yet, a pretty good friend of yours.  You can
think that over, too, if you have a mind to."

The most Calvin would concede was that he would not leave at once,
even though the time set--March first--had arrived.  He would
remain another week, possibly two, but no longer.  He would not
have done that were it not for Kellogg's personal plea of
friendship, with its accompanying hint of obligation owed.  He had
no idea of staying on at Setuckit as captain.  He wanted to get
away from there, as far away as he could.

He saw almost nothing of Norma during the two days of her stay.  He
made it a point to keep out of her way, because he felt that his
presence, even the sight of him, would annoy her.  She and her
father ate in the latter's room, for she left him scarcely at all.
He slept in the spare room upstairs, and she in the room below, but
she tiptoed up to peep in at him very often during the night, and
her own sleep must have been fitful and scanty.

Seleucus Gammon was the only one to whom she vouchsafed the
slightest intimacy or confidence.  Just why Seleucus was chosen
nobody seemed to know.  Josh Phinney offered the surmise that it
might be because he looked so everlasting dumb that she didn't mind
having him around any more than she would a dog.

"Come to think of it," observed Josh, "Seleucus does look like a
dog.  When he stares at you with them pop eyes of his and wabbles
that straw mustache up and down he puts you in mind of one of them
big poodles, the kind with whiskers.  You sort of expect him to set
up on his hind legs and say 'bow wow' for a bone, or somethin'.
Probably she used to own a dog once that looked like him.  If she
did I presume likely somebody shot the critter for bein' so

Seleucus, who was, of course, within hearing when this remark was
made, bristled and blew out the big mustache.  "If they killed
folks for bein' homely," he declared, "you'd have been drownded
right after you was born, Josh.  It's a wonder to me they ever let
you live, anyway.  Probably thought they could make money if they
saved you and showed you off in a dime show along with the rest of
the outrages they have in them places.  Norma takes to me because
she knows I've got sense.  Maybe I ain't got much, but even the
least little mite is so scurse 'round here that it sticks up like
Bunker Hill monument."

To Calvin he confided his fears concerning Benoni Bartlett's

"He's in an awful state, Cal," he said.  "Norma called me in there
to ask if she could possibly have a little soup or somethin' for
his dinner; said he wouldn't eat much of anything at all, and she
wanted to try and tempt him.  I didn't know but I might kill that
old brindle hen that's been here since Kingdom Come.  The critter's
too old to lay and I'm darn sure she ain't no good for ornament.
If I killed her now and biled her all night I might get half a pint
of soup out of the ruins, don't you think?  Then you could maybe
use what was left of her for somethin'--make a rubber ball out of
it, maybe.  I cal'late 'twould bounce fust rate; she's tough enough
to bounce, I bet ye.

"I'd get Jemima to make the soup," he added, "only she's so
prejudiced that if I told her 'twas the Bartlett girl that wanted
it she'd probably flavor it up with rat pison.  She gets worse and
worse that way, Jemima does, seems so.  And I swear I ain't never
give her no cause," plaintively.  "_I_ don't care about women, Cal--
never did. . . .  And I care about 'em less every day, by crimus!
I've got reason."

He expressed his belief that Bartlett was a pretty sick man.  "I
dread the time when he has to start from here," he said.  "The land
knows what he'll do or how he'll behave.  Lay right flat down and
have to be dragged out by main force, maybe.  That would be tough
on her, wouldn't it?"

Homer spoke without looking at him.  "If anything like that should
happen, Seleucus," he said, "do everything you can for her, won't
you?  And--and make it plain to her that she and her father needn't
go until they're ready.  There is no hurry at all.  Just tell her
that they can stay here as long as they want to.  That it won't
trouble us a bit.  Tell her that, will you?"

Seleucus nodded.  "I'll tell her you said so, Cal," he said.  Then
he added doubtfully, "I wish you'd say it to her yourself, but I
don't suppose you'd hardly want to.  Maybe 'twouldn't be best if
you did.  She won't talk about you at all, and she won't let me,
neither.  I've tried over and over again to show her that what
happened that day of the Flyaway business wan't your fault, that
you couldn't do nothin' else, and that the rest of us was in it
just as much as you was.  But she won't listen, don't seem to even
want to hear you named, she don't.  That's women's prejudice.
Jemima's like that, only tuned up consider'ble more.  You can't
argue with 'em; all you have a chance to do is set and listen to
them arguin'.  Norma, she's an awful nice girl, but she's
prejudiced against you, I'm afraid.  Don't seem to be much doubt of

Calvin walked away.  "Do everything you can to help her, Seleucus,"
he said.  "And if there is anything I can do--without her knowing
it, of course--call on me.  Be sure you do that."

He was in the tower, looking down through the window where he could
see without being seen, when Norma and her father came out to board
the Hammond two-seater.  Benoni was quiet and docile enough.
Gammon's fears of violence and insane obstinacy had not been
justified.  He seemed to be in a sort of daze, and to realize
little of the circumstances attending his departure.  Norma was
outwardly calm, but she was pale and looked very tired.  She shook
hands with each of the men in turn and Hammond helped her up to the
back seat of the carriage.  It was a rather cold, disagreeable day,
and the curtains of the vehicle were buttoned down.  Just before
she closed the door she glanced up at the tower.  Calvin had,
without realizing it, moved close to the window and she saw him.
Their eyes met.  She made no sign nor did he.  Hammond picked up
the reins and spoke to the horses.  A moment later and the carriage
moved away.  She had gone--gone--and to Calvin it seemed that
everything which made life desirable, even endurable, had gone with

His feelings, since their final interview there in the mess room,
had changed.  Then he had been resentful, even angry.  She had
misjudged him, had refused to accept his explanations, would not
believe even that he spoke the truth.  But, afterward, as he
thought it over--and he had thought of nothing else--his reason
told him that she had acted as any self-respecting girl would have
done.  If he had been in her place, if she had treated him as she
was convinced he had treated her, would he have believed and
forgiven?  He was forced to doubt it.  She thought he had been a
traitor to Myra, had played a double game with her, had been from
the first dishonorable, and, to say the least, cowardly.  He could
not blame her for thinking so; appearances were against him, his
excuses must have sounded feeble indeed.  He had tried to do right,
had meant to be honest and fair.  He could think now of a hundred
things he might and should have done--if he had insisted upon
seeing her again that very day when the confession of his love had
been forced from him; if he had told her then; even if he had
finished the letter he had begun; if--but what was the use of "ifs"
now?  It was too late.  Fate, or ill luck, had been too much for
him.  They had beaten him; he was down and out.

He did not even speculate concerning the manner in which she had
learned of his engagement to Myra Fuller.  He did not care.

He tried to lose himself in the responsibilities of the station
routine, but these were but ordinary just now; the weather
continued fair and clear, and there were no wrecks or calls to
action.  Each day was like the day before, a dull monotonous round
of drill and minor duties; there was no excitement, nothing to help
him forget, even temporarily.

Peleg Myrick came to Setuckit with reports which the life-savers
found interesting.  Benoni Bartlett had collapsed entirely during
the drive to Orham.  He had had to be helped from the carriage into
a room at the Ocean House, and he was there now, his daughter with
him.  There were rumors that he flatly refused to go with her to
Fairborough; that he insisted the Almighty had commanded him to
remain in charge of the coast, and any hint that those orders
should be disobeyed threw him into a frenzy which endangered his
reason, even his life, and caused the doctor to counsel pretended
agreement and longer delay.  In fact, Peleg heard that Norma had
resigned her position as librarian, and was contemplating taking
rooms, or even a small house, in Orham and living there with her

"You see," confided Myrick, "the yarn is that the old man is quiet
and peaceable as anybody'd ask for so long as he's let stay down
here.  Frank Hammond says he's pretty nigh sensible so long as they
don't drop no hints about carryin' him off.  The doctor thinks that
his health--yes, and his mind, too--is liable to stay fairly good
if they let him have his way.  But if they don't--if they start any
mutiny against the Lord A'mighty's orders--then he's apt to fly out
to wind'ard and flap himself to pieces like a loose jib.  So
Norma's goin' to give up all her own plans and stick by him so long
as he holds together.  That's what they say, and the story is that
she's been lookin' over that little five-room house of Obed Ryder's
down on the hill at the lower end of the village, the fust one you
sight on your port bow when you're drivin' up overland from the
pint here. . . .  Oh, and say, I forgot to tell you, there's a
whole lot of talk about Ezra Blodgett's keepin' steady company
nowadays with Myra Fuller.  Course Myra's had so many beaus that
all hands are a little mite doubtful--you remember there was one
spell when folks cal'lated she had a line over the side for Cal
Homer--but now it does look as if 'twas old Ezra that had swallowed
the hook.  Well, if she lands him she'll get money, but not much
else except skin and bones and a red necktie.  You remember the
yarns they used to tell about Ez?  Why, one time he--"

There was much more, as there always was when the Myrick tongue, as
Josh Phinney described it, "got under way with a gale astern."  The
rumors, of course, reached Homer's ears, but he asked no questions
concerning them.  Those dealing with Miss Fuller and Mr. Blodgett
interested him not in the least.  The others did, far too much for
his peace of mind.  During the night following Peleg's visit he
again made up his mind to resign from the service and go somewhere--
anywhere--where forgetting was more of a possibility than he was
finding it at Setuckit.

But the day after that came a southeast rain accompanied by high
winds, and that night a call to a coal barge which had broken from
its towline and grounded on the Hog's Back.  There were three men
aboard and getting to them in time to save their lives was an
adventure, and a risk which came as a blessed distraction to
Calvin.  His reckless daring that night caused even the old timers
like Gammon and Phinney to grin and shake their heads.  They
admired and liked him for it, but Seleucus expressed the general
opinion when he said:

"Of course doin' your best is what you're here for, Cal, and takin'
risks is part of the trade, but there's some risks that's foolish.
You done everything to-night but walk on the water, and even Saint
Peter couldn't get away with that, they tell me.  You acted as if
you thought 'twas up to you to get them coal heavers off all by
yourself even if you drownded doin' it.  It wan't; there was a
whole boatload of us there to help you, and, besides, they wasn't
wuth drowndin' for.  Two of 'em was drunk and the other would have
been if the whisky had held out.  Take it a little easy, Cal.
We've had one crazy skipper here and that's a plenty."

Homer laughed.  He was tired, actually so tired that he believed he
could sleep a little.  Sleep, with no dreams, and a few hours from
the torture of bitter self-disgust and unavailing regrets, were
worth all the fatigue they had cost.  From the time the boat was
launched until it had landed on the beach he had been too busy to
think of Norma Bartlett.  There were some compensations, other than
the extra ten dollars a month pay, in the keeper's job at Setuckit

And when Kellogg came down the next forenoon and again urged him to
accept that position as a permanency, he hesitated.  After all, why
not?  He liked the work, had always liked it.  He liked the crew
and they liked him.  Norma would, of course, consider her judgment
justified, would feel sure that he had been disloyal to her father,
and was now reaping the reward of successful treason.  But she
could not think worse of him than she did already; she had said she
believed him a liar and a traitor.  What did it matter?  What did
anything matter--now?

He drew a long breath.

"All right, Cap'n Kellogg," he said.  "I'll take the job."


The district superintendent brought with him the news of the
enlistment of two new men to fill the ranks of the Setuckit crew,
short handed since the departure of Oaks and Bartlett.  Both of
these were veterans in the service and one, James Poundberry, was a
South Orham man whom Homer had known since boyhood.  The other,
Baxter Cahoon, was a transfer from the Wellmouth Hollow Station.
Both were certain to prove valuable additions to the Setuckit group
and their selection was pleasing to Calvin.  They reported for duty
the next day and Philander Jarvis went back to his preparation for
the spring fishing, a work which his partner, Alvin Crocker, had
carried on at the shanty up the beach.

The weather was good.  The March winds were in evidence, and the
blown sand made patrol duty rather uncomfortable, but the sky was
clear and traffic over the shoals and past the rips uninterrupted.
Homer, striving to keep busy, found himself almost wishing that
another storm might come.  So long as he had plenty to do his mind
was occupied.  But the days were long and, although he tried to
keep his thoughts from dwelling upon the wreck of his hopes and
their cause, he could not do so.  He dreaded the idle monotony of
the summer to come.  July was certain to be a long, miserable month
for him.  The other men were already looking forward to it and
planning what they should do during their four weeks' furlough, but
he, as keeper, would be obliged to remain there at Setuckit, with
no one to talk to except the occasional boatloads of summer
visitors, and they would expect him to talk far too much.  Well, he
had yielded to Kellogg's urging and was keeper now.  He could not
go back on his word; but already he was sorry that he had not
obeyed his first impulse, and gone away perhaps to Boston or New
York.  Yet he knew perfectly well that, wherever he might be,
forgetfulness would not go with him.  Norma's face was in his
dreams, her eyes looked at him from the darkness when he blew out
his lamp at night.  Every corner of the skipper's room, his own
room now, was redolent of her.  He realized that all this was quite
unavailing, that he must forget, and face the future as if the past
had never been.  Work, hard work, was his only cure and he tried to
find it.

Every detail of routine was strictly looked out for under his
regime.  Drills were performed exactly on time, and with no
toleration of slackness.  The few calls to active duty were
answered the instant they came, and from the moment the men were
ordered to their posts until the boat was back again in the
station, he drove his crew like the old-time master of a tea
clipper.  They didn't mind.  There was no grumbling.  They liked
it.  If he did not spare them he certainly spared himself less.
But they noticed that his appetite was poor, that he was growing

Seleucus spoke to him about it.

"Cal," he said, "you're makin' yourself sick.  There's no sense in
it.  That three-master we went to yesterday didn't need us no more
than Peleg Myrick's cat needs an extry set of claws.  All ailed her
skipper was that he got lost in the fog and sung out like a young
one for mother to come and lead him home by the hand.  You know
that, but you went after him as if you WAS his mother and he was
your only kid.  And then, when we got back here at one o'clock in
the mornin', you set up till four makin' out your report.  What's
the good of it?  Reports 'll keep.  You won't, if you don't sleep
once in a while.  Why don't you take a liberty day yourself--you
ain't had one since afore Christmas--and have a cruise up to town
and enjoy yourself?  Play a game of pool, or go to a dance, or
somethin' reckless.  Say, Hez tells me there's an Uncle Tom show
comin' to the town hall Tuesday night.  One of them big ones with
two Topsies and three or four bloodhounds and a live jackass, and I
don't know what all.  Why don't you go to that?  It will do you
good to see that Lawyer Marks and--what's his name?--Gumption Cute--
and the rest of 'em cut up.  I've seen 'em myself so often I know
every blessed thing they'll do and say next, but I enjoy it just
the same.  I'd go quick enough if I had the chance."

Calvin smiled.  "Well, why don't you go?" he suggested.  "We can
spare you all right."

Seleucus sighed.  "I don't go," he retorted, "for the same reason a
hen don't do much flyin', 'cause what I get out of it ain't wuth
all the fuss.  If I hint at such a thing my wife begins heavin' out
talk about my not takin' any liberty in a thousand years when she
was up to the village, but sence she got here, she says, I'm always
hankerin' to take it. . . .  Ah hum. . . !  But say, Cal, you ain't
married; you can do what you want to.  Go--and have a change.  See
the girls and have a good time.  Only see a lot of 'em to once;
they ain't any risk in that."

Calvin laughed, or tried to.  But he did not accept the suggestion.
Shore liberty in Orham was the least appealing of all things to

The other men took their allowance of liberty, however, and they
brought back all the village news.  The rumor that Norma Bartlett
had hired the Ryder cottage, furnished, and was living there with
her father, was confirmed.  There had been a consultation of
doctors, so the story went, and they had recommended Benoni
Bartlett's being committed to some sanitarium or institution.  But
at the slightest hint of leaving the Cape, or even Orham, the
patient's mental condition became so alarming that Norma refused to
consider the idea.  Taking the Ryder cottage was the alternative
and that she had done.  She was there alone with her father during
the days and at night Elsie May--Joshua Phinney's oldest girl--came
in to stay with her.  It was from Josh that this authentic bit of
news was learned.  He had more to tell.

"Elsie May says," declared Josh, "that Bologny's real quiet and
sensible most of the time.  He ain't well; fact is, he's gettin'
kind of feeble.  The doctors say his general health's breakin' up,
whatever that means--cal'late maybe they don't know themselves.
Elsie May says he don't give no trouble at all, night or day, so
long's the weather's good.  But when there's a gale or a storm,
even a little one same as we had t'other night, it seems to sort of
froth up his brains, and he's all for startin' out and doin' all
sorts of things.  Seems to cal'late he must order out the lifeboat,
and go to save somethin' or somebody.  He's still got that loony
notion that God's put him in command of all alongshore in these
latitudes, and he must get right on the job.  T'other night, Elsie
says, he tiptoed past her, and was all but outdoor afore she
noticed him.  She was settin' up, too, and on the lookout while
Norma tried to get a little sleep.  Yes sir-ee!  He'd have been out
in that pourin'-down rainstorm with nothin' on but his nightshirt
and a sou'wester if she hadn't grabbed him and hollered for Norma.
Pretty tough on his daughter, ain't it?  She had a nice well-payin'
job at Fairborough, they tell me, and she had to write 'em and give
it up.  Well, I guess the old feller won't live very long, and
that's a good thing, when you think about it sensible.  Say, Ed,
how's Cal been while I was off?  He don't look fust rate.  More
peaked and thin than ever, seems to me.  What do you cal'late ails
him, anyhow?"

There were many things "ailing" Calvin just then.  The mental and
physical strain under which he had been since the day of the
meeting, and the shock and agony attending and following the wreck
of his love affair, had brought the reaction which might have been
expected.  The harder he worked to forget, the greater the strain
upon his nerves.  He was in what Cape Codder's call a "run-down"
condition, and therefore, the wet and exposure to which he had been
subjected when leading his crew to a three-master in the fog, had
given him a slight cold which he, so far, had not been able to
throw off.  In fact, it grew daily worse, and one thick,
threatening morning he awoke from a troubled sleep to find himself
shaking with a chill.

The chill was followed by fever fits, not severe but uncomfortable.
Seleucus--now Number One man by official appointment--tried hard to
keep his superior in bed, but Calvin refused to heed his advice.
He insisted upon getting up, and he remained up all day, trying to
attend to his work, and succeeding after a fashion.  By night,
however, he was worse and, at last, he was obliged to admit that,
if he wished to avoid real illness, he must turn in and stay there
for a while, at least.  The wind had risen, and it was then blowing
steadily, sweeping before it a fine wet drizzle which Seleucus
called a "caow storm," a combination of fog and rain, which made it
hard to see for any distance.  The barometer, however, was
reassuring, nor had the bulletins of the weather bureau indicated
any protracted or alarming disturbance.

He slept heavily, a sleep filled with dreams, in which he and Norma
were again together, and she refused to listen while he explained
and explained, over and over, each explanation more weird and
futile than the one preceding.

He awoke to find Gammon standing by the bed.  Seleucus was wearing
oilskins, rubber boots and sou'wester.  The dim light of a wet,
early April dawn shone faintly through the window.  The panes of
that window were streaming with water.  Calvin started and
attempted to rise, but Seleucus's big hand held him down.

"Steady, Cal, steady," ordered Gammon.  "No, you ain't goin' to get
up; you're goin' to be sensible and stay right where you be.
Listen to what I'm sayin'.  There's a two-master off back of the
Sand Hill signalin' us to come to her.  Poundberry sighted her
fifteen minutes ago, when the drizzle blowed clear a little mite.
She ain't in no danger, nigh as we can make out; in deep water off
in the channel, and gettin' along all right, seems so.  Probably
there's somebody sick aboard, or the skipper's lost his bearin's or
somethin'.  Anyhow, they're signalin' for us, and we're goin' off
to her. . . .  No, you ain't goin'.  There's no need of it at all.
The wind ain't much more 'n moderate, and a ten-year-old kid could
handle the job.  It's wet and raw and no kind of weather for a sick
man to take chances in.  You stay right where you be, and leave the
rest to me and the boys.  If I can't take care of it, with a crew
of old timers like this one to help, then I'm goin' to quit life-
savin' and take to crochetin' pillow shams.  You go to sleep again.
We'll be back in a couple of hours.  Lay down and sleep, I tell

Homer, of course, refused to lie down.  He insisted upon getting
up, climbing to the tower, and inspecting the schooner through the
telescope.  She, as Gammon had said, appeared to be in no danger
whatever, yet the call for help was flying.  He looked out at the
soaking miserableness cloaking sea and land and sky, and another
chill set his teeth chattering.  Seleucus noticed his condition and
pulled him toward the stairs.

"You come down and turn in again," he commanded.  "You're sick now,
and if you go off yonder you'll be dead.  A dead skipper ain't no
good to anybody but the undertaker.  Come on, Cal, come on!  Don't
worry.  It's a kid's job, and I'm the spryest young one this
mornin' ever you see.  You turn in and leave it to me.  There's no
use arguin', because you ain't goin'.  The boys are all agreed on
that; they'll tie you in bed afore they let you.  Use your sense,
Cal.  You don't want another mutiny here at Setuckit, do ye?"

The chill had been succeeded by a flash of fever.  Calvin gave it
up.  He would be no help aboard the lifeboat, and it was likely to
be an easy job.

"All right," he muttered reluctantly.  "Go ahead then.  But take
all hands with you.  You may need them, and I certainly don't need
any one here with me."

"You sure?  It's Phinney's cook week, and he's got the right to
stay ashore, you know."

"Right or not, he's got to go, if I don't.  And I guess it's as you
say, Seleucus; I should hinder more than I helped.  Hurry now!  Get
her out.  Good luck to you."

"Don't you cal'late I'd better telephone for the doctor?"

"Don't be foolish.  Clear out--and hurry."

He waited there in the tower until he saw the lifeboat leave the
shore and swing off over the lines of surf.  Then he stumbled down
the stairs and, partially dressed as he was--for he had donned some
of his clothes before leaving the room--tumbled into bed once more.
This time he did not sleep, but lay there, watching the dim light
brighten the window, and worrying about the safety of the schooner
and his own men.  It seemed as if he should have gone--but how
could he?

The telephone bell rang.  It rang again.  He crawled from the bed,
and, going into the mess room, took down the receiver.  It was
Nelson, keeper of the Orham Station, who was calling.  He had news.

"Who is it?" he asked.  "Oh, that you, Cal?  Why ain't you off with
the crew?  I saw the boat leave a spell ago and, of course--Oh yes,
yes!  I see.  Sorry to hear it.  This ain't any day for a sick man
to be out in, that's a fact.  And I don't cal'late there's much the
matter with that schooner.  Cap'n's got the toothache or has run
out of chewin' tobacco or somethin'. . . .  Yes, I was goin' to
tell you.  We've just had word from Orham that Benoni Bartlett's
run off somewheres in the night.  Eh?  Yes, run off is what I said.
You've heard how the least little mite of wind or rough weather
kind of goes to his head, and makes him wild. . . ?  Um-hum.  Well,
seems he began to act funny last evenin' when it commenced to
breeze on and rain.  Norma--that's his daughter--she was worried
and she stayed up with him till two o'clock or so and then, as he'd
turned in and seemed to be sound asleep, she took a little nap
herself, in her own room, you understand.  She left the Phinney
girl--that one of Josh's--to set up and keep watch in the settin'
room.  Well, seems the young one dozed off, and when she woke
Benoni'd gone. . . .  Eh?  No, they don't know where.  He'd put on
his ileskins and boots and sou'wester, so they figger he might have
got the notion of cruisin' down the beach here somewheres, to
Setuckit, maybe.  You know he still hangs to the idea that the
Lord's ordered him to look after everything up and down the shore
or in the channel.  They phoned for us to watch out for him and
notify you folks. . . .  You ain't seen anything of him, 'tain't
likely, have you, Cal?"

Homer had quite forgotten his chills and fever flashes.  The aches
in his head and limbs had gone.  The thought of Norma--her
frightful anxiety and dread and fear; she alone, there, while her
crazed and sick father was wandering in the cold and rain, no one
knew where and upon no one knew what insane errand--these thoughts
had driven all others from his mind and all pains and discomfort
from his body.  He poured question after question into the
telephone.  Nelson did his best to answer.

"No, they ain't found a trace of him so far," he declared.  "He
don't seem to be anywheres around his part of the town.  He's
either trampin' the beach, they think, down this way or back
towards Trumet; or else he may be out in a boat. . . .  Eh?  Yes,
boat's what I said.  There's a chance he's done that.  There's half
a dozen catboats and a dozen dories down there by the wharf and,
crazy as he is, he may have took one of them.  No tellin' what a
loony will take it into his head to do, that's a fact.  Cooper, he
went up to the tower when he come in from patrol, to see how you
folks was gettin' along with that schooner, and he see a sailboat
off in the bay, headed down, with what looked to be one man aboard.
He couldn't see plain, but he took it for granted 'twas Philander
or Alvin Crocker gettin' an early start.  It thickened up right off
and since then it's been so thick you can't see nothin' on the bay
side from here.  You better take a look yourself; you'd ought to be
able to see better from where you are.  Anyhow, I'd keep my eye
peeled.  Let me know if you do see anything looks suspicious. . . .
Yes; sure I'll keep you posted."

Homer waited to hear no more.  He dropped the receiver into its
socket and hastened to the tower.  The hurry of his ascent caused
his head to swim giddily, but he clung to the door jamb until the
dizziness became less acute and then, whirling the telescope toward
the windows facing the bay, opened one of those windows, and peered
through the glass.

Rain--fine, thick, and driving at a steady slant--with gray water
showing dimly through it, this was all he saw at first.  He swung
the outer end of the glass as far as possible to the west, and then
moved it slowly back, searching the bay--or the little he could see
of it--for a boat.

The rain was so heavy and close that, looking through it,
especially at that early hour, was as unsatisfactory as trying to
look through a succession of gauze curtains.  The beach and cove
showed plainly enough, but out, beyond them, the dimness increased
with every rod.  There was nothing to the west, or southwest, so
far as he could see.  Nothing afloat on the rips at the end of the
point.  Yet if Bartlett had left Orham as early as two, or even
three, he should, with that wind, have been well out into the bay
by now.  If it was Setuckit he was making for he should be almost
at his destination.  Of course it was possible--even most probable--
that he had not taken a boat at all.  Calvin devoutly hoped he had

He moved the end of the glass in its half circle until, through it,
he glimpsed the blotch of white water which indicated the outer
edge of the Scallop Flat, the shoal a mile or so out in the bay to
the northwest of Peleg Myrick's shanty, and perhaps three miles in
a direct line from the Setuckit Station.  At low tide the Scallop
Flat was dry, but at high water the larger part of it was navigable
for the average sailboat, and the waves, breaking along the outer
boundary, marked the danger line.  It was just past high water now;
the tide was beginning to ebb.

And in the midst of that white and troubled water he did see a
boat.  A catboat she looked to be, and aground on the edge of the
flat.  Her reefed sail was swung off to leeward, apparently at the
end of a loose sheet, and she was heeled down against the high bar
at the edge of the shoal.  He could not make out whether or not
there was any one aboard.  If there was he was not moving, was not
making any apparent effort to get his craft afloat.  Calvin gazed
intently.  Then a squall drove a thicker curtain of rain across the
view and he could see her no longer.

Nor did he wait to see.  He had little doubt that the stranded boat
was the one in which Benoni Bartlett had left Orham.  She was in no
great danger as she lay, and if she was as firmly aground as she
appeared to be, the ebbing tide would soon leave her high and dry.
But there was a possibility that the increasing strength of that
tide, with the wind to back it, might swing her off again into deep
water.  There she would be in real danger, she might careen and
sink.  Bartlett--if he was aboard her--was certainly doing nothing
to help himself or to insure the boat's safety.  In all
probability, if he was there, his exertions had already been too
much for him and he was prostrated.  A sick man, an insane man,
helpless, in that drenching rain!  And that man was Norma
Bartlett's father!

Calvin, his own brain spinning in giddy circles, ran down the
stairs to his room.  There were certain obvious things to be done,
and, had he been his normal self, he would have done them.  He
would have telephoned the Orham Station, told Nelson what he had
seen, and a squad from that station would have started immediately
to the rescue.  He might have gone to the Jarvis shanty and
enlisted Philander's aid.  But Homer, just then, was far from
normal.  The fever was blazing in his veins, and thinking and
acting clearly and sensibly were beyond his capabilities.  Norma's
father was out there in that boat, alone, helpless, and in danger;
these were the essential facts, and the only ones he seemed able to

He donned his wet-weather rig--he had sufficient common sense for
that--but even this was done automatically and afterward he could
not remember doing it.  He ran out of the station and down to the
shore of the cove where, hauled up on the beach, were two or three
dories, Philander Jarvis's among them.

Launching that dory was an amazingly hard struggle.  There was no
reason why it should be, for the beach had an easy slope, and the
tide was high.  But it seemed to him that he would never get her
afloat, that she fought against him with the obstinacy of a living
thing, and spun around and around--always around and around--
instead of going ahead.  But she was afloat at last, and he
scrambled, or fell, aboard, took up the oars, and began to row.
He headed down the beach, keeping close to land.  The wind was
offshore, and the shoal water was scarcely rippled.

At first the exertion of rowing seemed to clear his brain, and he
began to realize more clearly what he was doing, and what must be
done.  The first mile he covered at a good clip, rowing the short,
deep strokes always used by one accustomed to the idiosyncrasies of
that touchy, but dependable craft, the fisherman's dory.  Then the
rowing became harder, his shoulders were shot with pain, there was
a pain in his chest, each breath hurt, and his brain again became a
sort of merry-go-round.  He set his teeth and pulled and pulled and

He saw, just ahead of him, the lines of tumbling water which
indicated the inshore edge of the Scallop Flat.  At this stage of
the tide, however, there was more than depth enough to float the
dory, so he kept on over what, a few hours later, would be
stretches of white sand.  Then he turned and rowed out toward the
bay.  Another quarter of a mile, and the growl and surge of the
breakers on the bar sounded near at hand and, peering through the
rain ahead, he saw the stranded catboat.  She was there, just where
he had seen her through the glass.  She had not gone adrift.

As he drew near to her on the windward side, he shouted.  There was
no answer, and as shouting caused the pain in his chest to become
more acute, he gave it up.  He gave a final stroke, then drew in
the oars and, as the dory shot alongside the upturned rail of the
catboat, he seized the rail and held fast.  He shouted again, but
no one answered.

He picked up the rope which, coiled in the dory's bow, was attached
to her anchor, and, with the loop of rope in his hand, scrambled
over the rail into the catboat.  He pulled the anchor aboard after
him.  The dory, of course, swung away at the end of the line, but
the anchor in the larger craft held her fast; she could not get

There was a man lying on the floor of the catboat's cockpit.  His
feet were toward the wheel, and his body stretched between the
centerboard box and the thwart, on the starboard side.  That side
was lower than the other and she had shipped some water.  The man
was lying in a pool.  The rain was driving down upon him.  He was
dressed in oilskins, and the strap of a black sou'wester was
buttoned beneath his chin.  Calvin, bracing himself by the
centerboard, stooped over the figure and pulled back the brim of
the sou'wester.  The man lying there, his beard in the water, was
Benoni Bartlett.  Calvin was not surprised; he had been practically
certain of it from the first.

He grasped his former skipper by the arm and dragged him a little
way out of the puddle of salt water.  Then he tried to shake him
into consciousness.

"Cap'n Bartlett!" he shouted.  "Cap'n Bartlett!"

For at least a minute his shouts and shakings had no effect.  Then
Bartlett stirred and groaned.  Homer gasped in relief.  There was
life there; the man was not dead.

"Cap'n!" shouted Calvin.  "Cap'n Bartlett!  Here!  Get up!  You
must get up!"

Bartlett's eyes opened, he rolled over on his back, leaning against
Calvin's knee.

"Aye, aye, sir!" he muttered.  "Comin'.  On deck in a minute."

Calvin put his hands under the other's armpits and, exerting all
his strength, dragged him from behind the center-board box until
his shoulders rested against the closed lower half of the cabin
hatch.  Then, holding him steady, he strove to awaken him to full

"Cap'n Bartlett," he urged.  "Wake up!  Wake up and listen to me.
You're all right now, aren't you?  You aren't hurt?"

Benoni moved again, tried to rise.

"Who said I was hurt?" he demanded feebly.  "I'm all right.  What
are you standin' here for?  Turn out the crew.  Get out the boat.
Don't you hear me?  Get her out!"

Homer, his own brain almost as queerly muddled as that of his
companion, still had sufficient comprehension of the situation to
try and humor him.  "All right, skipper," he said cheerfully.  "The
crew are getting her out all right.  Now you want to hurry or
you'll keep 'em waiting.  Can you stand up?  Sure you aren't hurt?"

Bartlett could not have stood alone, but with Homer's arm about him
and clinging to the rail, he managed to do so.  His wanderings took
a new turn.

"Got all hands off her, boy?" he queried.  "Saved all of 'em, have
you?  That's good! that's good!  That's accordin' to the Lord's
orders.  He says to me, 'Benoni,' He says--that's how He calls me,
by my first name; that shows how I stand along of Him--'Benoni,'
says He to me, 'here's another call for you.  You save that bark,'
He says.  'Turn out and go off to her.'  I did it, too.  I didn't
let Norma know.  She don't know I started, but--eh?  Where is
Norma?  Ain't she to the station?"

"Yes, yes; of course she is.  You've saved everybody, Cap'n.  Now
you sit down on that thwart a minute and then we'll get aboard the
lifeboat. . . .  That's it.  Sit down and wait--just a minute."

He forced Bartlett down upon the bench bordering the upper edge of
the tilted cockpit.  It required little force.  A hand upon his
shoulder and the rescued man's knees gave way, and he sank in a
huddled heap by the rail, his chin upon his breast, muttering
disjointedly.  Calvin crawled forward, loosened the halyards, and
let the sail go by the run.  It fell into the water, but he did not
heed that.  Somehow he felt an extraordinary responsibility for
that catboat.  He must make sure of her safety before he left her.
That catboat--but was she a catboat?  Cap'n Bartlett had said she
was a bark.  Well, it did not make any difference, he must make
sure she did not get adrift again.  He found the anchor, cast it
loose, and threw it overboard.  She would hold.  And now he must
get Bartlett ashore.

He drew the dory alongside and held it there.  Then followed a
long, tangled argument.  Which side of that argument was the more
insane it would have been hard to say.  Benoni was babbling about
the bark and the bark's crew, of his responsibility to the
Almighty, and his doubt concerning Norma's whereabouts.  Homer
answered all his questions, and agreed with him whenever possible.
The one point upon which he insisted was that they must get aboard
the lifeboat--that is, the dory.  And, at last, his insistence
prevailed.  Bartlett climbed over the rail, Calvin holding him
tightly by the arm, and sank down in the dory's stern.  His
rescuer, the anchor of the smaller craft in his hand, followed him.
Then he took up the oars and rowed toward the beach.

The tide had ebbed somewhat, of course, but there was still water
enough on the flat.  The row in was a long one, but, to Calvin, it
seemed to last forever.  He swung back and forth automatically, the
pains in his chest and shoulders causing him agony; and wondering
why they had not been seen from the Orham Station before this and
help sent.  Had he been able to think clearly he would have
understood.  The rain--Gammon's "cow storm"--had ceased to fall,
and had left in its place a fog so thick that objects a hundred
yards off were invisible.  Nelson and his men had been watching
from the tower, but they could not see even the bay shore, to say
nothing of the Scallop Flat.

Calvin tugged at the oars.  He had lost all ideas of time and
place, and was conscious only that he must row and keep on rowing.
Consequently the dory's bow struck the beach with such force as to
throw him backwards, off the thwart, and into the bottom of the
dory.  Bartlett, too, had been upset, but he did not seem to be
aware of it.  He lay where he had fallen, muttering, and singing a
verse of a hymn.  Homer got to his feet, climbed wearily over the
boat's side and pulled her as far up the shore as his depleted
strength would allow.  Then, after a struggle, and more argument,
he managed to get his passenger out of the dory.  Benoni could
walk, but scarcely that; Calvin's arm supported him, and his weight
leaned heavily upon the latter's shoulders.

It was obvious, even to Homer's cloudy brain, that to attempt the
long, circuitous tramp over the dunes and through the sand to
Setuckit was out of the question.  Bartlett could not walk so far,
nor could Calvin carry him, for the support amounted to that.  The
Orham Station was, perhaps, a little nearer, but it, also, was too
far.  Calvin, desperately trying to consider possibilities,
remembered Peleg Myrick's hut.  That was a long mile down the
beach, but one mile was better than two--or four.  And Peleg would
look out for them, if he was at home.  If he was not the shanty was
certain to be unlocked, and they could get in and find rest and

So, down the beach toward the hermit's shanty the pair started.
Bartlett leaned more and more heavily as they walked and appeared
to be oblivious of what was going on.  At first he had muttered or
shouted orders to the crew he evidently imagined himself leading,
but soon he ceased to do even that.  Calvin, alarmed by his
silence, and his labored breathing, spoke to him occasionally, but
received no reply.

The hermit's shanty loomed through the gray fog, a spark of yellow
lamplight in its window.  Evidently Peleg was up and stirring.
Calvin pantingly staggered up the slope of the beach, his
companion's head bumping against his shoulder.  He turned the
corner of the little building and, seizing the latch of the
weather-beaten door, shook it.

"Peleg," he gasped.  "Peleg."

Inside the shanty a chair was pushed back.  An instant later the
door was opened.  Mr. Myrick, in a state of extremely careless
negligee, his scanty hair tumbled, blinked at them.

"For thunder mighty sake!" exclaimed Peleg.  "What--'"

Homer interrupted.  "Help me with him--quick," he ordered.  "Get
him in there.  I--I can't hold him up much longer."

Between them Benoni Bartlett was assisted into the shanty.  They
put him in a chair, removed his boots and hat and oilskins.  Then
they carried him into the adjoining, and only other, room and laid
him on the bed.  He made no objection; his eyes were closed and he
did not speak.  If it had not been for his stertorous breathing
Myrick declared he would have thought him dead.

"But where'd he come from, Cal?" Peleg demanded, "How'd you get
aholt of him?  What's it all about?"

Calvin's explanation was as brief as it could possibly be.  A cup
of the hermit's horrible coffee, already prepared for breakfast,
had in a measure warmed his chilled interior and cleared his
swimming brain.  The pains in his chest and shoulders and limbs
were as severe as ever.

"Don't ask me any more questions," he ordered irritably.  "Give him
some of that hot coffee, if you can make him swallow it, and cover
him up warm.  Then you hustle across to the Orham Station and tell
Nelson you've picked him up, and that he's here and needs to be
looked after.  Tell them to get word to Norma right off.  Now don't
talk any more.  Go!"

"But what you cal'late to do, Cal?  Say, you look mighty well beat
out yourself.  Hadn't you better turn in, too?  I can fix up a
shakedown for you on the floor, and a--"

"No, no, no!  I've got to get back to my own station.  The boat's
out and I ought to be there this minute.  I'm going now.  But you
do as I tell you.  Be sure they get word to Norma."

"I'll see to that.  But, Cal--"

"Be still, can't you?  You tell them that. . . .  But--but don't
you let them tell her anything about me.  No, and don't you tell
THEM either.  There is no need of it.  Tell them you saw that
catboat--it's Taylor Gould's, I guess, by the look of it--tell 'em
you were the one who sighted her off on the flat, and went off and
picked Cap'n Bartlett up.  Tell them you did it, and don't mention
my name at all.  That's what I want you to do.  Understand?"

"But I never picked him up, Cal.  You done it.  What should I tell
all that pack of lies for?"

"Because I tell you to.  I want you to.  See here, Peleg, you leave
me out of this.  You've got to.  I don't want anybody but you to
know I was mixed up with Benoni Bartlett.  There has been enough
talk about me already--too much."

"But--but he'll tell 'em himself, won't he?"

"I'm afraid he'll never tell any one much of anything after this.
And, if he should, no one would pay any attention; he is out of his
head.  You say you found him and brought him here, Peleg.  You've
GOT to promise me you'll tell everybody that; do you hear?"

"There, there, Cal, don't fly up this way.  You look half crazy,
yourself, I declare if you don't.  Course I'll tell 'em if you say
so.  But I don't see why.  'Tain't nothin' to be ashamed of, as I
see it.  More t'other way 'round.  And as for talk about you and
Benoni, why--"

"Shut up!"  Oh, why did this idiot persist in opposing his every
suggestion?  "Don't you see?" he demanded.  "I've left my station
all alone.  I don't want any one to know I did it.  That's it--
that's the reason.  Now you get it, don't you?  Be a good fellow,
Peleg, and don't say a word about me."

Peleg nodded.  "Oh, now I cal'late I do get you, Cal," he said.  "I
don't believe anybody'd find much fault on account of your leavin',
considerin' what made you leave. . . .  But there, there! don't fly
up again.  I'll tell all the lies you want, if it suits you better.
I'm a pretty fair average liar when I set my mind to it.  But have
you got to go right now?  Won't you have some more coffee?  Won't

But Homer had gone.  He was already plowing through the sand, on
his way back to Setuckit.  When he entered the hermit's shanty he
had had no idea of forbidding its owner to tell of his part in the
rescue of Benoni Bartlett.  The conviction had come upon him
suddenly, out of the whirl of queer thoughts in his fever-stricken
brain.  It was a brilliant thought, too--he was certain of that,
and proud of it.  And the real reason prompting it had nothing
whatever to do with his leaving the station unguarded.  That was a
trifle of no importance.  The important thing--yes, that was it,
the important thing--was to prevent Norma from hearing his own
name; she must not again be troubled with any thought of him.  He
had troubled her enough.  She was trying to forget him, probably
had forgotten him already and must not be reminded.  He was a
traitor--and disloyal--and--and--It was hard to remember what he
was, hard to remember anything at that moment--even the way to
Setuckit--and he must remember that.

He did remember it somehow and staggered into the mess room to the
accompaniment of a tinkling of bells.  It was queer that they
should ring the dinner bell so early in the morning.  And queerer
still considering that there was no dinner bell in the station.
But the bell continued to ring and, after a while, he decided it
must be the telephone bell.  It was, and Nelson was speaking from
the Orham Station.

"Hello, Cal!" hailed Nelson.  "That you finally?  Asleep, I presume
likely.  Sorry I turned you out.  Hope you're feelin' better.  I
just thought you'd like to know the news.  Peleg Myrick's been
here, and he's got Benoni Bartlett over to his shanty.  The old
feller was aground in somebody's catboat on the Scallop Flat and
Peleg sighted him and went off in the dory and fetched him in.
We've telephoned and they'll get word to Norma.  Some of the men
have gone across to Peleg's already and I'm goin' in a minute.
Benoni's in pretty bad shape, so Myrick says, but it's a mercy he
isn't at the bottom of the bay.  Good thing old Peleg was awake and
had his eyes open. . . .  Yes. . . .  Yes, I told you we'd sent
word to his daughter.  I'll let you know how things go with 'em.
Take care of yourself and--"

Calvin had hung up the receiver.  He scarcely knew that he did it.
The door to his room looked a long way off, but he reached it, and
threw it open.  When, an hour later, the crew returned from an
entirely unnecessary trip to the two-masted schooner, Gammon found
his skipper lying upon the bed in that room, dressed in dripping
oilskins and boots, groaning with pain and delirious.


Rheumatic fever--that is what the old-fashioned doctors used to
call it--is not a cheerful disease.  They give it another name
nowadays, but the change does not make it less painful.  Calvin
Homer was a sick man and a sick man he remained for weeks.
Seleucus, Phinney, and Hez Rogers held a consultation that morning,
and, as a result of it, Doctor Palmer, the Orham physician, was
telephoned for, and he drove to Setuckit that afternoon.  Calvin
was not dangerously ill, so the doctor declared--that is, there was
no immediate danger to be apprehended--but he must be kept in bed,
and he should have constant attention and care.  His removal to
Orham was out of the question.

"He ought to have some one with him all the time, night and day,"
declared the doctor, "and who that somebody will be I'm sure I
don't know.  There is a good deal of sickness up in the village,
and about every available woman who goes out nursing is busy.  I
might get a nurse from Boston, but it will take some coaxing to
find one who will come down and stay at a place like this."

"Couldn't you get a man that would do?" inquired Phinney.

Doctor Palmer shook his head.

"I can't think of one," he said.  "Can you?  Old Henry Pepper is
the only one who does that sort of work, and he is sick, himself.
Besides, the last patient of mine that Pepper took care of swore he
had rather be alone.  It was Cap'n Tom Doane.  Henry is deaf, you
know, and Cap'n Tom vowed that the exertion of yelling every time
he wanted anything made him sicker than going without that thing.
And, so the cap'n said, Pepper had a habit of dropping asleep on
watch, and once asleep no amount of yelling would wake him.  Then
Cap'n Tom had to climb out of bed, and go and shake him and howl
into his ear what it was he needed.  'He makes me so darned mad,
Doc,' says the cap'n, 'that, if I wasn't so weak, I'd have killed
him afore now.  Then you'd have been called into court to swear
'twas justifiable suicide.'  He meant homicide, of course; he's a
dry old chap, Doane is.  But I had to admit that Pepper, as a
nurse, was a little worse than nobody.  And, even if he was good
for anything, he is out of the question now.  Isn't there some one
down here you could get?"

Rogers suggested Peleg Myrick.  Seleucus expressed doubt.

"I don't believe Peleg would take the job," he observed.  "He's
independent as an eel in a grass channel, and he'll do what he
cal'lates to do and nothin' else.  Besides, the season for clammin'
and quahaugin' is just openin' up and that's when he makes what
little money he needs.  Oh, yes, yes, I know he could make maybe as
much by nursin' Cal, but that wouldn't be any argument with Peleg.
He'd say no to begin with, and after that he'd stick to it just out
of stubbornness, same as he sticks to his weather prophesyin'.
He'll come down here, with the sun shinin', and swear it's a
howlin' snowstorm only we ain't got sense enough to find it out."

Phinney grinned.  "Yes," he agreed, "and if he did come he'd want
to fetch that fiddle of his and his old Sou'west cat, and then
there'd be the Old Harry to pay.  His cat wouldn't get along with
our cats, and between cat fights and that fiddle squeakin' poor Cal
would wish he was dead, even if he lived through it.  No, my vote
goes in against Peleg--hard."

"We'll think it over, Doctor," said Rogers.  "And, while we're
thinkin', we'll take turns lookin' out for Cal.  It's comin'
spring, so we ain't likely to be very busy."

Doctor Palmer said he would come again next day, and would
telephone that evening.  He left medicine and directions for the
care of the patient.  He must hurry now, he declared, to the Orham
Station and Benoni Bartlett.  He had stopped there on the way down.
Asked concerning Bartlett's condition, he looked grave.

"He is in bad shape," he admitted.  "Doesn't seem to know much of
what is going on and I am inclined to think he may have had a
slight shock.  His daughter came down with me.  We are going to try
and take her father back with us when we go; that is, if he is in a
condition to stand the trip."

After the doctor's departure the entire crew discussed the
situation.  No one had a satisfactory suggestion to make as to a
possible nurse for Homer.  But when Seleucus next went over to the
Jarvis shanty his wife offered one very much to the point.

"What's the matter with me?" she asked tartly.  "I don't set up to
be any trained nurse, as I know of, but I guess likely I could do
as well as old Henry Pepper.  If I couldn't I'd sell out cheap."

Her husband, much surprised, pulled at his mustache.  "Why--why, I
never thought of you Jemima," he admitted.

"No, 'tain't likely you would.  I'm the last one you think of.  If
I was Olive Myrick or that Norma Bartlett--if I was anybody else
but your own married wife, you'd think of me.  I know that."

"Eh?  Now, Jemima, don't talk foolish.  You're always thinkin' I'm
thinkin' about other women.  That's silly, that is.  Look at me!
Crimustee, LOOK at me!  What do you cal'late a woman's liable to
see in me?"

"I don't know, I'm sure.  _I_ must have seen somethin' in you or I
wouldn't have married you.  That was a long spell ago, though, and
my eyesight was always poor.  But I can take care of Calvin Homer,
and whatever the pay for doin' is I can find ways to use it.
Besides, I'd just as soon spend my time over in that station as
not.  There must be somethin' turrible attractive about it, or
you'd leave it oftener than you do.  I have to use main strength
afore you'll come home long enough to split me a mess of kindlin'
wood. . . .  Yes, and while you're strainin' your brains thinkin'
up reasons why I shouldn't take the nursin' job, you can be
splittin' some right now."

Mr. Gammon, obediently chopping, did venture one or two possible
objections.  They were not weighty--the weighty ones were so
intimately personal that he kept them to himself.  He wished to
know who would look after Philander's cooking and housework if she
took up residence at the station.  Jemima soon disposed of that.
Her brother, she declared, would be at the weir shanty most of the
time.  "And, besides," she added, "Philander is used to lookin' out
for himself.  He ain't so helpless as some folks.  He can get along
without a woman to wait on him; yes, or one to tag around after,

Seleucus, badgered into silence at home, reluctantly carried the
news of his wife's offer to Phinney and the others.  They accepted
it with enthusiasm.  "Fine!"  "First rate!"  Why had they not
thought of it themselves?

"Good stuff!" exclaimed Josh.  "A woman is the only kind of a nurse
that's good for much and Jemima's right here on deck.  Besides,"
with a wink over his shoulder, "it'll be such a nice thing for you,
Seleucus, to have her with you every minute of the time.  All the
comforts of home, as you might say."

So that very evening Mrs. Gammon came to the station and took
charge of the sick man.  Hers were no light duties.  Calvin's pain
was incessant and agonizing, his fever made him delirious, and he
groaned and muttered.  When, in his delirium, he attempted to turn
in bed, he shrieked with pain.  Several times that night Seleucus
was called by his wife to come and help her with the patient.  His
own temper was severely frayed by each successive summons, but
Jemima's was so much worse that he swallowed his wrath and meekly
obeyed orders.

"Kind of hard work, ain't it, Jemima?" he said with a sigh.

Mrs. Gammon sniffed.  "Hard!" she repeated.  "'Twouldn't be so hard
if you was like some husbands, and was willin' to set up and do a
little of it yourself.  But all you want to do is sleep."

"But I never got to sleep till after twelve.  I was out on patrol."

"Yes, and if I'd set up as late as that I'd just as soon stay up
the rest of the night.  I'd be used to it by then."

"Well, you WAS up, wan't ye?  I heard you up when I come in."

"Oh, don't talk so foolish!  Course I was up.  I've been up all
night, ain't I?"

"Um-hum.  I suppose you have.  But you said somethin' about bein'
up till twelve makin' you used to it.  Seems to me--"

"Oh, mercy on us, do go to bed again!  I don't know what they'll
pay me for doin' this, but whatever 'tis I'll earn it."

She was a faithful nurse, and never neglectful of her duties,
although the exacting nature of those duties rendered her a
difficult problem for the life-savers to contend with.  One or the
other of the men relieved her during the hours in the middle of the
day when she went back to the Jarvis shanty for a scanty measure of
rest and sleep.  Doctor Palmer came regularly, rain or shine.  The
journey down and back was a hard one, but a country general
practitioner, in those pre-automobile days, was accustomed to hard

The doctor pronounced Homer's condition satisfactory.  There was
little to do except ease his pain as much as possible, keep careful
watch, and let the disease take its course.  Calvin was young and
strong and, barring accidents--that is, provided his heart was not
affected--he was, so Palmer said, almost sure to come out all
right.  The days and nights passed, with their round of fever, pain
and delirium.  Superintendent Kellogg visited Setuckit, inquired
solicitously concerning Homer, and placed Seleucus in temporary
charge of things at the station until the regular keeper should
again be fit.

These visitors--and Peleg Myrick, when he came--brought news from
Orham.  Benoni Bartlett was still alive, but little more than that.
The doctor's surmise that he had suffered a slight paralytic stroke
was confirmed.  They had taken him back to the little Ryder
cottage, where he now lay, attended by Norma, the Phinney girl, and
occasional volunteers among the kindly neighbors.  He was conscious
only at rare intervals and then only partially so.

"He may slip off any minute," Doctor Palmer confided to Seleucus.
"That is the truth.  And, for his own sake, not to mention Norma's,
the sooner he does the better.  His mind is gone, and he is
paralyzed.  Who could want him to live in that condition?  That
girl of his is a wonder.  She shows what she has been through, but
she doesn't complain and won't talk about herself.  She's spunky--
by George! she is!"

This statement was made at the door of the sick room, just as the
doctor was leaving.  Jemima, in the room with Calvin, heard it.
She tiptoed forward and asked a question.

"Have you told her about"--with a motion of her hand toward the
bed--"about HIM bein' so sick?" she asked eagerly.  Something in
her tone caused her husband to glance at her in surprise.  Doctor
Palmer, however, noticed nothing unusual.

"Oh, yes, I told her that first day when we took Cap'n Bartlett
back to town," he replied.

"I see.  Um-hum.  Kind of interested, was she?"

"Yes.  Of course she was.  As much as any one in her position just
then was likely to be.  Her father was almost dead and most of her
thoughts were taken up with him.  But she was interested, I guess.
She asked a good many questions about Homer."

"Um-hum.  Asked some since, has she?"

"Yes.  I always tell her how he is getting on when I go there.  But
everybody is interested.  The whole business is keeping Orham
talking nowadays.  By the way, has anybody found out what Calvin
was doing after you fellows left him here at the station that
morning?  Where he went--and why he went?  You left here, you say,
Seleucus; and, when you came back he had evidently been out in the
rain, for he was wet through.  Have you any idea what got him up
and out-of-doors--a sick man, in such weather?"

Seleucus shook his head.  Those were questions over which he and
his fellow surfmen had puzzled and speculated much.

"No," he admitted.  "Cap'n Nelson, down to the Orham Station, says
that soon as they got word to him that Bologny--Cap'n Bartlett, I
mean--had got loose and might be trampin' the beach or adrift in
the bay, he telephoned here.  He says Cal answered the phone.  Cal
told Nelson he was sick and we'd had to go to the schooner without
him, and seemed to be dreadful interested about Bartlett.  After
Peleg had fetched Bologny ashore to his shanty and had left there
and hustled over to the Orham Station, Nelson telephoned again.
Cal answered that time, too, but Nelson said he couldn't get much
out of him, or make much sense of what he said.  When we found Cal
he had his ileskins and boots on, and the water from 'em had run
all over the floor.  We sort of figger--we fellers here--that he
might have been down to the shore maybe, trying to see if he could
catch sight of Bologny, or a loose boat or somethin'.  That sounds
the most reasonable of anything we can think of.  Of course we
ain't asked him about it.  He's out of his head a lot of the time
and when he ain't he's too weak to bother with questions.  Ain't
said nothin' to you about it, has he, Jemima?"

Mrs. Gammon's answer was prompt.

"No," she declared.  "He says enough, land knows.  He's jabberin'
away half the time, but it's mostly about--well, 'tain't about

Palmer smiled.  "Peleg Myrick has made a hit without knowing it,"
he observed.  "His sighting the Gould boat and getting off to it
right away were the saving of Bartlett's life, for the time,
anyhow.  The man would have died from exposure in a little while,
there is no doubt about that.  Old Peleg is quite a hero.  Did you
read the piece in this week's Item about him?  And there was a
story in one of the Boston papers, too.  The hermit business will
be good this summer, I imagine, and Peleg will grow fat on it.  He
dearly loves to show off before the summer people."

Seleucus laughed.  "I bet you!" he agreed.  "Crimus! how he will
strut and lie!  The yarns he'll tell will grow and spread like the
green hay tree in the Bible.  By the end of next August he'll have
saved half of Cape Cod and only just missed savin' the other half.
Funny thing he won't talk to us about it.  He's down here every
other day to ask how Cal's gettin' along.  He's took a tumble shine
to Cal, seems so.  We've asked him a lot of questions about how
'twas he come to be up and sight the boat, but he shies every time.
Preach his head off about his fool weather prophesyin', and name
over every bone and jint he's got aboard himself; but he won't talk
about pullin' Bologny out of the drink.  Savin' that up for the
city folks, I guess likely."

After the doctor had gone Seleucus asked his wife what she meant by
asking if Norma had seemed interested in Homer's condition.  She
smiled--a knowing smile, it seemed to him--but refused to give him
any satisfaction.

"Maybe I didn't mean anything," she said.  "And, then again, maybe
I did.  Anyhow, it ain't any of your affairs, as I know of."

"But you did mean somethin', Jemima.  I could tell you did.  I've
lived along with you enough to tell when you've got somethin' up
your sleeve."

Mrs. Gammon sniffed.  "Most of the time you've been livin' with
me," she observed, "you've been doin' your best to keep away from
me.  Just now you want to hang around.  You trot off and attend to
some of that work you're forever tellin' me about.  _I_ don't need
you.  I ain't Olive Myrick, nor the Bartlett girl, nor any of the
rest of 'em.  I'm just your wife and I'm used to doin' without

So Seleucus went, but, as he went, he thought.  And, although he
did not mention his thoughts to any one, he continued to think.
His provoking better half certainly had some reason for her
coupling of Calvin Homer's name with that of Benoni Bartlett's
daughter.  As he told her, he had lived with her a long time, and
that air of sly triumph and smug satisfaction meant something.  She
had learned something which he and the others did not know.  And it
must be something concerning Calvin and Norma.

Mr. Gammon had heard, as had all Orham and its neighborhood, the
rumors of Homer's "keeping company" with Myra Fuller.  He did not
approve of the match, for although every Setuckit life-saver,
married or single, was willing to agree that Myra was "some girl"
and a "pippin," her name was usually mentioned with a grin and a
wink.  If Calvin was cal'latin' to marry her, they opined, he was
in for a lively and watchful future.  They hoped, for his sake,
that she might not get him.  And now it appeared that she had given
up any idea of getting him.  Ezra Blodgett was reported to be the
latest candidate for Miss Fuller's favor and a successful one.  In
fact, Cooper, of the Orham Station, had told Ed Bloomer that his
wife heard from some one else, who had learned it from another some
one, that Ezra and Myra were engaged.

But Seleucus had never seriously dreamed of the possibility of a
love affair between Calvin and Norma.  Those two had known each
other but a little while, and that only during her visits to
Setuckit.  She had at first seemed to like him, but, for that
matter, every one--Oaks and Bartlett excepted--liked him.  She had
asked questions about him; she had talked with Seleucus about him,
or, rather, had led Seleucus to talk.  And, that foggy afternoon,
when Bartlett had sent the latter out in search of his daughter,
and he had come upon the pair at the edge of the cut through, for
just a moment his suspicions had been aroused.  They had seemed a
little embarrassed or confused, Calvin especially.  Yes, then, and
for a short time thereafter, Mr. Gammon had wondered and
speculated, although he had kept his speculations to himself.

But the idea that Calvin Homer and Norma Bartlett might be keeping
company--Seleucus never, even in his thoughts, designated the
relation in any other way--did not last long.  Norma's behavior on
the occasion of her final visit to Setuckit settled that, he
believed, conclusively.  She was very cool to Calvin; she had kept
out of his way, had not talked with him, nor would she permit
Seleucus to talk about him.  As he told Homer, she seemed
prejudiced against him, and, greatly as Seleucus regretted the
prejudice, nothing he could say changed her attitude.  He had been
forced to believe she shared her father's mistaken conviction that
Calvin was at least partially responsible for Bartlett's disgrace
and the loss of his position.

Therefore any surmise of attachment between those two seemed
ridiculous and impossible; but it was the only explanation he could
think of to account for his wife's peculiar questions and manner.
She must know something, but, if she did, he would be the last one
she would take into confidence.

But the very next day he learned the secret himself.  Jemima had
gone to the Jarvis shanty for her midday allowance of sleep and
Seleucus took her place as watcher in the skipper's room, by
Calvin's bedside.

Of late, and as a usual thing, Calvin's days were comparatively
quiet.  Any one who has endured the long torment of the disease
from which he was suffering knows that the daylight hours are, for
the patient, the comparatively easy ones.  The sunshine and the
movement in the room, the sense of safety and watchful care which
they bring, tend to lull the tortured nerves and quiet the fevered
fancies.  Calvin dozed much during the day and, when awake, was
very weak, but usually rational.  It was at night that he moaned
and muttered and talked aloud in his delirium.

This day, however, it was different.  He had passed a more
comfortable night, and was awake when Mrs. Gammon left him.  Then
he dozed again and from the doze awoke to call a name and to carry
on a long conversation with some one whom he fancied to be present.
He was making a plea, an earnest, agitated plea for forgiveness for
some wrong he had done.  He made it over and over again, in a half-
dozen different ways, and Seleucus, listening, began to comprehend.
He had found the answer to the riddle.  He was learning what, he
was sure, his wife had learned already.

He turned, to find Jemima standing in the doorway.  She nodded, a
grim smile on her thin face.

"Humph!" she sniffed.  "So you're gettin' it, too, be you?  Well,
it's a wonder to me you, or some of the rest of 'em, haven't picked
it up long afore this.  If you'd been here with him nights, same as
I have, you'd have got it long ago.  This is the way he's been
about every night since I come with him.  Talkin' about her all the
time, ain't he?"

Her husband nodded.  "Yes," he answered.  "He was sleepin' quiet as
you'd ask for, and I guess likely I was half asleep myself.  All to
once he sung out 'Norma!  Norma!' and I jumped as if a crab had
nabbed hold of me. . . .  Shut that door, Jemima, won't ye?  We
don't want anybody else to hear.  He wouldn't want 'em to, that's

Mrs. Gammon, obedient for once, closed the door.  She crossed to
the bed and proceeded to give the patient a dose of the quieting
medicine left by the doctor.

"It's the aches and pains that starts him goin'," she declared.
"They come on to him by spasms.  I don't know what this doctor
stuff is, but it generally soothes him down and gets him to sleep
again.  Some kind of morphine or such dratted trash, I presume
likely.  Well, 'tain't none of my business, but I tell you this, if
'twas YOU I wouldn't give it to you.  I don't believe in dopin'
sick folks.  No, sir, you'd have to groan it out."

Seleucus shuddered.  "I'm darn glad it ain't me," he announced
fervently.  "You sure that door's shut tight?  I wouldn't want none
of the boys to hear the kind of talk he's been firin' off.  Say,
you don't cal'late any of 'em have heard it, do you?"

His wife tossed her head.  "It's a wonder they ain't," she said,
"but I guess they haven't.  If they had they'd be talkin' about it.
They're like you and about every other man I ever run acrost.  You
can't any one of you keep a thing to yourself.  It takes a woman to
keep her mouth shut, and her ears open.  I've been sittin' here
listenin' and learnin' and if folks in Orham knew what I know
there'd be tongues awaggin', now I tell you."

"But what do you know, Jemima?"

"I know that he's plumb crazy about that Bartlett girl, and that
there's been things goin' on between 'em that nobody ever
suspected.  As nigh as I can find out she was as gone on him as he
was on her--for a spell, anyhow.  And then they had a rumpus and
she gave him his walkin' papers.  Just why I ain't quite sure, but
I am almost.  'Twas somethin' to do with Myra Fuller."

"Myra Fuller!  What on earth could she have to do with it?  How you
talk, Jemima!"

"Humph!  You ought to hear HIM talk when he gets goin'.  There's
been nights here, when he was the worst, that he just chattered,
chattered, chattered till I thought the top of my head would come
off.  I guess 'twould if I hadn't been so interested.  Nigh's I can
get at the truth from his crazy jabber he and Myra Fuller was goin'
'round together and was engaged to be married."

"Jemima, how you do talk!"

"Mercy on us, do stop tellin' me that!  I know how I talk and what
I'm talkin' about.  He and Myra was engaged or what amounted to
that.  And I judge that when this Norma come along he forgot all
about Myra and took up with her.  But he didn't tell her about
Myra; there was where the trouble come in.  And, somehow or other,
she--the Norma one--found it out from somebody else.  That settled
Mr. Calvin, and no wonder.  Tryin' to keep two strings to his bow.
Humph! that sort of trick is always found out, sooner or later--and
generally sooner."

"But--but, Jemima, did Cal tell you all this?"

"He didn't know he was tellin' it, of course, and he didn't tell it
right straight along.  I had to pick it up a little bit here and
there, and piece it together, same as a body might string rags for
a mat.  She won't have anything to do with him, nigh's I can find
out, but he is as gone on her as he ever was.  Keeps beggin' her to
forgive him and listen to what he's tryin' to tell, how it happened
he never told her about Myra afore, and the like of that.  Such a
lot of mushy, soft-soapy talk _I_ never heard.  I declare there's
been times when I've been glad I was blessed with a strong stomach.
All that sugar and syrup is enough to upset anybody's appetite for
their meals.  And over a stuck-up, highfalutin' chit like that
Norma Bartlett, too.  My soul!"

"Why--why now, Jemima!  Norma ain't stuck up.  She's a real nice
everyday kind of girl.  Everybody thinks so."

"Oh, I know YOU think so.  She ain't your wife, so of course she's
lovely.  You ought to be ashamed of yourself.  I'm ashamed for you.
Now don't you tell a soul I've told you this.  If you do I'll--I
don't know what I'll do to you."

"Eh?  Why, of course I won't tell.  'Tain't likely I would, is it?
Crimus! it makes me kind of ashamed to think I let you tell it to
me.  'Tain't a thing I ought to have heard--no, nor you either.
I--I 'most wish you hadn't heard it, Jemima."

"What!  You do, eh?  I want to know!  Well, I'm glad I heard it.
It's kept me from dyin' of the fidgets those long lonesome nights.
I have heard it, and I mean to hear more.  There is more.
Somethin' about a letter he started to write her, tellin' her the
whole yarn, and never finished.  There's spells when he gets goin'
about that letter and goes on and goes on.  He must finish it--he's
got to finish it; that's what he keeps sayin'.  He's got that
letter somewheres, I'll bet you.  I wish I knew where it was.  If I
could read that letter then I WOULD know what was what for sure."

Seleucus jumped from his chair.  "Jemima Gammon!" he cried, aghast.
"You--you wouldn't read that letter, would you?  Course you
wouldn't!  You're foolin'."

"Foolin'?  Why?  Why shouldn't I read it?  I'd read it quick enough
if I got the chance.  'Twould be mighty interestin', I guess. . . .
And he'd never know I read it; I'd take care of that."

For the first time her husband showed signs of rebellion--active,
open rebellion.

"Don't you read that letter," he commanded.  "Don't you dast to
read it!  That letter ain't any of your business.  How'd you like
to have anybody else read your letters?"

"Humph!  If it was one of your letters to me it wouldn't take long
to read.  And the letters you write me are so scurse that a person
wouldn't be able to find more than one or two in a lifetime.  Don't
you talk to me like that, either.  Tellin' me what I dast to do!
The idea!  You get right out of here now, and if you whisper a
single word about what I've just told you I'll--oh, you'll see what
I'll do!  You go right along."

The rebellion was crushed in its infancy.  Mr. Gammon sighed.  "I
didn't mean to order you around, Jemima," he explained, with
unconscious humor.  "I'm sorry I spoke so.  But when you told me
you was cal'latin' to read a letter that--that Cal here wrote to
his girl, I--I--well, of course I know you don't mean it."

"Never you mind what I mean.  I'm sorry I told you as much as I
did.  And," triumphantly, "I haven't told you the whole, either.
There's somethin' else, somethin' about that night when Benoni
Bartlett got adrift in the bay.  You'd give your head--if it was
worth anything and anybody'd take it--to know what I'm findin' out
about that, too. . . .  No, I shan't tell you a word.  You get out
of this room.  You--a married man--tellin' your poor wife she don't
dast to do this or that!  Ain't you ASHAMED of yourself?"

Seleucus, as usual, obeyed orders.  He left the skipper's room
under fire.  But during the weeks which followed his newly acquired
habit of thinking grew upon him.  What he had heard from his wife
explained much.  He was tremendously fond of Calvin Homer.  He
liked him, admired him, and was grateful to him for his own advance
in the service.  These feelings had grown and deepened during their
comradeship at the station.  And he liked Norma Bartlett.  If
marriage was a necessary, although disagreeable, part of life--and
it did appear to be--then Norma was the sort of girl a man like
Calvin ought to marry.  And Myra Fuller, whom he had never liked--
she had a superior way of patronizing and poking fun which he
resented--was not the right sort at all.  It troubled him to think
that Myra had come between his two friends.  He devoutly wished
there might be some way in which he could help them.  But he could
not think of any.  He tried several times to learn more particulars
from his wife--to find out if she had learned more--but she would
not vouchsafe another word on the subject.  She seemed to regret
having told him anything.

April went and May came.  Good weather almost every day, and few
calls from the sea for the help of the Setuckit life-saving crew.
These few were of little consequence; the season for severe storms
and serious disasters was passing--had practically passed already.
Calvin began to improve and to regain strength.  His fever left
him, and he began to sit up and develop an appetite.  Doctor Palmer
told Phinney that his recovery would be much more rapid if his
spirits were better.

"He doesn't seem to take much interest in anything," confided the
doctor; "not even in getting well.  He used to be good-natured and
cheerful enough, but now he doesn't seem to care whether school
keeps or not.  What has happened to put him so far into the dumps?
Does anybody know?"

Seleucus knew, but he could not tell.  Jemima knew, but she merely
looked wise and there was an air of malicious triumph about her
which her husband noticed and distrusted.  That letter of Calvin's--
had she found and read it?  He could scarcely believe she would do
such a thing, but experience had taught him that if there was one
thing in the world which his wife loved it was to burrow into the
intimate details of other people's affairs.  She did not gossip
more, nor perhaps as much, as some of her Orham acquaintances.  She
seemed to find the keenest satisfaction in knowing things which
others did not know, hiding them in her thin bosom, and gloating
over them like a crow over a hoard of glittering odds and ends.

By the middle of May Calvin was strong enough to get out-of-doors
and sit in the sunshine for short periods on pleasant days.  An
important item of news had come to Setuckit, an item which the men,
at Gammon's suggestion, did not impart to their commander.  Benoni
Bartlett was dead.  He had never recovered from the night of
exposure and the paralysis which followed.  He grew gradually
weaker, spoke scarcely at all, and never naturally, and at last
died, quietly and without suffering.  He was buried in the Trumet
cemetery beside his wife.  Norma, after the burial, came back to
Orham, but she was not going to remain there.  Her former position
in the Fairborough library had been offered to her and, after a
week of rest--for she was very tired--she would, so people said,
close the Ryder cottage and go away for good.

One morning, two days after the Bartlett funeral, Seleucus and
Peleg Myrick had an interview which developed consequences.  Peleg
had been up to town early and, taking advantage of a good breeze,
sailed down to Setuckit in the Wild Duck.  He was freighted with
the Orham gossip, the rumors concerning Norma, the village guesses
as to the amount of Benoni's life insurance, and the news that
Wallie Oaks and his wife had had a violent disagreement, and that
she had gone over to her mother's at Denboro--people said, never to

"Nobody blames her much," declared Mr. Myrick.  "Wallie ain't done
a real lick of work since he quit life-savin', and I guess likely
she got tired of takin' in washin' so's he could eat three square
meals a day, and sleep and talk between times.  Him and Cap'n
Kellogg run afoul of each other at the post office, and the
superintendent told him a few things about himself that made all
hands happy--all hands but Wallie, I mean.  Obed Halleck says he
never heard anybody get such a goin' over as Wallie got from the
cap'n.  Says 'twas more fun than the Uncle Tom show, and the whole
post-office crowd was invited free.  Dear, dear!  I wished I'd been

His wish was shared by the station men.  Peleg delivered his usual
consignment of prognostications concerning the weather, but he
seemed to have something even more important on his mind.  He
inquired particularly about Mr. Gammon.  "Where's Seleucus?" he
wished to know.  "I want to see him a minute."

Seleucus, as it happened just then, was over at the Jarvis shanty.
He and his wife were concluding an argument based upon the question
of his going to Orham.  There were certain station errands to be
done in the village and Homer, not yet strong enough for the trip,
had suggested his Number One man's making it in his stead.
Seleucus was willing, but Jemima was not.  Her patient was now able
to get on without her care during the day, although she still spent
her nights at the station.

"No, you ain't goin'," she told her husband.  "Let Josh Phinney or
Hez Rogers or some of the rest of 'em go, if somebody's got to.
You say right here where you belong.  When I was up there you could
find excuses enough to keep from comin' to see me, but now you're
crazy to get away.  What for?  That's what I want to know.  What

"I told you what for, Jemima," pleaded Seleucus.  "Cal asked me to
go, and he's my boss, ain't he?"

"He ain't MY boss, and I say you shan't.  You're altogether too
anxious.  Want to cruise around and see how your precious Norma's
gettin' along, I presume likely.  That's one place you was goin',
wasn't it?"

Seleucus tried hard not to appear confused, but the attempt was a
failure.  He stammered and hesitated.

"Why, I was cal'latin' to stop there just a minute," he admitted.
"The boys wanted me to.  Her father's dead, and she's goin' away,
and it did seem as if some one of us had ought to say good-by, and
tell her how sorry for her we all was, or--or somethin'."

"Yes," sarcastically.  "I knew that was it.  You can't fool me,
Seleucus Gammon.  You'll stay right here, that's what you'll do."

"But what'll I tell Cap'n Cal?"

"Tell him--well, you needn't tell him anything. . . .  Say,"
suspiciously, "HE hasn't given you any message to take to that
Bartlett girl, has he?"

"No, course he ain't."

"Hasn't finished that precious letter he started to write so long

"I don't know whether he has or not.  Why should I?"

Mrs. Gammon chuckled.  "_I_ know he hasn't," she observed.  "Not
that one, anyhow.  Tell me," she added quickly, "has he said
anything to you about--about missin' anything?  Anything out of his
trunk--or anywheres?"

Seleucus stared at her.  "Missin' anything?" he repeated.  "What do
you mean?  What would he be likely to miss?"

"Oh, nothin'--nothin' at all.  If there is anything missin' he'll
find it again pretty soon, I shouldn't wonder. . . .  Now don't
stand there with your mouth open like a codfish.  Clear out.  I'm

But her husband still continued to stand and stare.  "Jemima," he
said slowly, "what is it you're talkin' about?  You don't mean to
tell me that YOU took anything out of Cal Homer's trunk? . . .
Jemima, you didn't take--"

He was interrupted by a strident hail from without the shanty.  It
was Peleg Myrick, who shouted his name.  Mrs. Gammon seized the
opportunity to end the interview.  She opened the door.

"There, there!" she called to the hermit.  "Don't holler any more,
he's here."  Then, turning to her husband, she ordered, "Go out and
see what he wants, why don't you?"

Seleucus went.  Mr. Myrick greeted him with an air of relief, but
also with a certain air of embarrassment and secrecy.

"Seleucus," he whispered, "are you busy just now?  I've got to be
startin' home right off.  Got to make another trip to Orham, I
have, and I wanted to talk with you a little spell afore I went."

Gammon sniffed.  Whatever Peleg had to talk about was not likely to
be important, and he was in a troubled state of mind.

"All right, here I be," he said rather impatiently.  "Go ahead, get
it off your mind."

But Myrick still hesitated.  "It's--it's kind of--er--what you
might call a secret," he whispered.  "I wouldn't want nobody
else to hear it.  I ain't sure as I'd ought to tell even you, but
seems 's if I'd got to tell somebody.  It's about--about Cap'n Cal,
and I know you're about the best friend he's got down here.  Can't
we--well, walk acrost the beach a little ways while I tell it to

Seleucus's interest was aroused.  He took the hermit by the arm.
"Come on," he ordered.  "We'll walk over towards the outer beach,
and you can talk while we're doin' it.  What about Cap'n Cal?"

Peleg glanced over his right shoulder, then over his left.  "I snum
I don't know's I ought to tell you," he confided.  "He made me
swear I'd never tell anybody. . . .  I ain't so far."

Gammon's patience had been much tried that morning.  "And it don't
look as if you was liable to tell ME in this lifetime," he observed
tartly.  "Come on, come on!  IF you're goin' to tell--tell.  What
is it all about, anyway?"

His companion breathed heavily.  "It's about my goin' off to Taylor
Gould's catboat that mornin' and fetchin' Benoni Bartlett up to my
shanty," he said.  "You see--you see, Seleucus, I never done that."

Seleucus stopped short and gazed down into the leathery face at his

"YOU never done it!" he repeated.  "Then who did?"

"Cal Homer done it. . . .  Yes, he did.  'Twas him that took
Philander's dory and rowed off to the Scallop Flat and got Benoni.
The first I knew of the whole mess was when Cal pounded on my
shanty door, and I went there and see him holdin' Bartlett up.  I
cal'late Benoni'd have fell down flat if Cal hadn't been holdin'
him by main strength.  They was both of 'em all in--I could see
that--but, afterwards, when Cal made me promise I'd never tell
'twas him done it, I didn't realize he was sick and kind of out of
his head.  Since then I've thought of it and thought of it, and--"

Gammon stopped the flow of words with a shake.  "Never mind what
you thought," he commanded.  "Begin at the beginnin' and tell me
the whole yarn.  The whole of it.  Crimus. . . !  Crimustee. . . !
This makes it plain where Cal had been that mornin'.  Nobody knew,
and we ain't dared mention it to him. . . .  Well, heave ahead!  Go

Myrick told his story, rambling and commenting and protesting, but
dragged back to essentials by Seleucus's shakes and orders to hurry

"So I kept my word to Cal," concluded Peleg, "and ain't told
anybody.  When all hands was praisin' me up for bein' so smart and
findin' Benoni when nobody else could, I felt consider'ble mean and
foolish, but I never said a word.  But yesterday afternoon Norma
Bartlett, she run acrost me up on the Main Road, and SHE commenced
to praise me up, and tell me how thankful she was to me for savin'
her poor pa from dyin' off there in the cold and wet.  I declare,
Seleucus, I felt as if I'd been caught stealin' hens' aigs!  I did
so!  And she was in mournin', you know, and looked so sort of white
and--and sorry, that--that--well, by Godfreys, the more I thought
of it the meaner I felt.  Thinks I, 'When I go to Setuckit to-
morrer I'll tell the whole yarn to Seleucus and see what he says.'
Course I could have kept it to myself; 'twas kind of nice when they
printed them things about me in the newspapers and all; but--but--"
he paused, and then added ingenuously, "I realized that some day
they might find out I never done it, and then 'twouldn't be so
nice, you see.  That's how 'twas, Seleucus.  Of course I promised
Cap'n Cal, and--"

But Seleucus had heard enough, quite enough.  "Sshh!" he ordered.
"Hush, be still!  Let me think, can't you. . . ?  You say Norma
don't know a thing about this?  She thinks 'twas you saved her
father that time?"

"Why, course she does!  Why wouldn't she?"

"She don't know that 'twas Cal, and she's goin' away, to stay,
believin' that--By crimus! she's GOT to know!  She has, somehow.
Say, Peleg, are you startin' right back to Orham?"

"Just soon's I can get to the Wild Duck."

"All right, you get aboard.  But don't you start till you hear from
me.  Get sail on to her, if you want to, but don't you haul anchor
till I give the word.  Understand that?"

"Hey?  Sartin I understand. . . .  What you goin' to do?  Where you

Seleucus was not exactly sure what he was going to do, but he
intended to do something.  And, at that moment, he was on his way
to find Calvin Homer.  What he should say to the latter when he did
find him was another matter.  He had not thought as far as that.

He strode across the eighth of a mile of sand which he and Myrick
had traversed in their walk and hurried in at the side door of the
station.  Calvin was, at that moment, strolling along the edge of
the outer beach, faithfully carrying out the doctor's orders
concerning daily exercise.  This Seleucus did not know.  He
hastened through the mess room and, without knocking, opened the
door of the skipper's room and entered.

Homer was not there, but some one else was.  Mrs. Gammon was there.
She was kneeling on the floor before the trunk, or chest, which
belonged to Calvin and in which he kept his spare clothes and
personal property.  Jemima was kneeling before that trunk and
fitting a key into the lock.  Beside her, on the floor, lay several
sheets of note paper with writing upon them.

When her husband made his hurried entry she started violently,
sprang to her feet, and leaned against the wall in the corner
behind the trunk.  She was pale and during their long and
tempestuous married life Seleucus had never seen her as taken aback
or at a loss for words.

"Eh?" he exclaimed.  "What are you doin' in here all alone?  What
makes you look like that?  What ails you?"

Jemima did not answer.  A look of relief came to her face.
Evidently she had not expected to see her husband, but had
expected--and feared--to see some one else.  She was still pale and
agitated, however.  A thief, caught in the act, could not have
looked more guilty.  She did not speak and Seleucus suddenly
transferred his stare from her countenance to the trunk and then to
the sheets of paper beside it.  Upon the upper sheet--it had never
been folded--he could read from where he stood the words, "My own
dearest Norma."  And he recognized the handwriting.  An inkling of
the truth flashed to his brain.

"Crimus!" he cried.  "My crimustee!  That letter of Calvin's!  You
was--you was takin' it out of his chest!"

The color came back to Jemima's face, came with a rush.  Her voice
returned also.

"I was not," she retorted shrilly.  "I wasn't.  I was puttin' it
back.  Don't you tell him I took it.  Don't you tell him I ever saw
it.  Don't you dare!  Get right out of here!"

She made a dive for the letter, but her husband dived in the same
direction.  Her hand seized the letter first, but Seleucus's huge
paw clutched her wrist and held it tight.

"Let go of me!" she cried, twisting and struggling.  "You--you oh,
you let go of me!"

But he did not let go.  Instead, holding her wrist with his right
hand, he bent her fingers back with his left, and took the letter
from them.  Then, clutching it, he turned to the door.  Frantic,
she sprang after him and caught him by the arm.

"You give me that!  You give me that!" she shrieked.  Seleucus
swung about and picked her up in his arms.  It was the first time
he had ever dared to assert himself in his dealings with his wife,
and, so far as is known, he never so dared again--but the
assertion, although short and temporary, was complete.  He bore
her, struggling and kicking, across the room and deposited her
forcibly upon the bed.

"You stay where you be," he ordered.  Then he ran from the room.

The mess room was untenanted at the time, for the men were all down
at the shore, amusing themselves by teasing Peleg.  Rogers and
Cahoon had pulled his dory up on the beach during his absence, and
the crowd was enjoying itself watching his struggles to get it
afloat unaided.  He had at last succeeded, however, and now, with
oars in place, paused a stroke or two from the shore, to express
his candid opinion of his tormentors.

The first hint of disturbance at the station was brought to the
group by Seleucus himself, who came plunging toward them like a
charging rhinoceros.  They demanded to know what was the matter,
but he neither stopped nor answered.  He was wearing, not rubber
boots, but a thin pair of canvas shoes of the variety called
"sneakers."  In spite of this he dashed into the cold water, waded
above his knees to the dory and clambered, heedless of Myrick's
frantic pleadings to "look out," over her side.

"Lay to it," he panted.  "Row!"

Peleg began rowing toward his anchored catboat.  Then, from the
doorway of the life-saving station came a series of shrieks in a
shrill and angry female voice.  The men heard them and turned to
look.  Peleg heard them, too, and might have ceased rowing if his
passenger had permitted.

"Go on!" roared Seleucus.  "Go on, or I'll heave you overboard!
Faster!  Lay to it!"

The Wild Duck was reached and boarded.  Myrick sprang to the
halyards, Gammon to the anchor rope.  The sail rose, so did the

From the beach came a shout.

"Hi, Seleucus!  Seleucus!" bellowed Bloomer.  "Your wife wants you.
She says for you to come back."

And then Mr. Gammon gave utterance to an answer which was destined
to be added, one of the choicest gems in the collection, to the
history and traditions of Setuckit Station.

"She can go to hell!" roared Seleucus.  Then he went to Orham.


Seleucus returned late that evening.  Myrick brought him down as
far as his--the hermit's--hut on the beach, and he had walked the
rest of the way.  The members of the crew were already in bed when
he entered the station.  Calvin was in his room and asleep.  Mrs.
Gammon, for the first time, was not sitting in that room--nor, as
she had since his convalescence, in the mess room, awaiting a
possible call from him.  Her attendance was no longer really
necessary and, even if it had been, he would have been obliged to
do without it that night.  Jemima, after her husband's hurried
departure, went straight to her brother's shanty, and there she
stayed.  The men, after watching the Wild Duck sail away, found the
lady gone when they came up to the station.  They were loaded with
curiosity and dying to ask questions, but she was not there to hear
or answer them.  They talked about her, however.  Her husband's
amazing performance, and his final order, the shouted suggestion
that she might journey to a distant and tropical port, were topics
which prevented that evening from dragging.  The exclamations of
delight and the roars of laughter must have been heard at the
Jarvis dwelling, but, if they were, the occupant of that dwelling
made no sign.  Philander was away, down at the weir shanty, but a
lamp burned in his sister's room, and was still burning when the
Setuckit crew went aloft to turn in.

"She's settin' up for him," announced Phinney, peering out at the
light.  "She's there waitin' for him. . . .  Oh, my! oh, my!  And
when he does come home--Whew!"

Bloomer, looking over Josh's shoulder, hummed a verse of a
sentimental ballad.

     "'There's a light in the window
       Burns brightly for me'"

he sang.  "Humph!  Do you suppose he'll EVER come home?  I wouldn't
if I was him.  No sir!  If it was me that told Jemima Gammon to go
to Tophet I'd go there myself afore I'd come back where she was.
'Twouldn't be any hotter one place than the other, and I'd ruther
face the Old Harry than that woman.  What did he do it for?  Was he
drunk?  Was he crazy?  Has HE caught the fever, now Cal's got rid
of it, and gone off his head?"

Calvin himself had offered a reason for Seleucus's going with
Myrick to Orham.  He had asked him to go there because there were
certain errands to be done.  This might explain the going, but it
did not explain the manner of Mr. Gammon's departure, nor his
public defiance of his wife.  Nothing explained that.

"If I hadn't heard it with my own ears I wouldn't have believed
it," declared Hez Rogers.  "No, and I don't believe it yet.  I've
been dreamin'.  Pinch me, somebody, so's I'll wake up. . . .  Ow!
Consarn you, Josh, you needn't pinch so hard!"

Phinney paused at the skipper's door on his way to the stairs.  He
opened the door and peeped cautiously in.  Homer heard him and
stirred.  Josh was conscience stricken.

"There now!" he exclaimed remorsefully, "we've been makin' so much
noise you couldn't sleep, Cap'n.  I'm sorry.  We ought to had more
sense.  But since Seleucus blew up and went loony I cal'late it
sort of touched the rest of us in the head.  I'm sorry enough.  You
all right?  Anything we can get you?"

Calvin declared he was perfectly all right, and would probably fall
asleep soon.  He asked questions about the weather, told Phinney to
call him if anything happened and bade the latter good night.  He
was all right, so far as his bodily health was concerned; although
still weak, he was quite free from pain, and was traveling back to
normal at a satisfactory rate.  But as for sleeping--that was not
easy.  The doctor had told him that he must, that sleep was the
finest tonic in the world, and he did try to obtain that tonic.
But, while trying, he invariably fell to thinking, and his thoughts
were dreary and pessimistic.  He must do his best to get well,
completely well; he supposed it was his duty to do so.  But, facing
the situation, there alone with his thoughts, he realized that he
cared little what happened to him.

He was still awake when Mr. Gammon tiptoed into the mess room.
Seleucus meant to be very careful, but in his nervousness he bumped
against a chair and Calvin heard him and called.  Seleucus opened
the door and fearfully thrust in his head.

"Eh?" he queried.  "That you, Cap'n Cal. . . ?  Oh!" with a sigh,
apparently of relief, "you're all alone, ain't ye?  She--Jemima, I
mean--she ain't here?"

Homer informed him that his wife had not been there since his
departure.  "I think she is over at the shanty," he added.  "You'll
go over, I suppose?  You aren't on duty to-night."

"No-o.  No, I ain't.  Unless," hopefully, "there's somebody that--
that ain't feelin' well--or--or somethin'.  Then I could go on
patrol for 'em.  I'd just as soon as not."

"No, all hands are first rate.  You go and see your wife.  She must
be expecting you. . . .  I hear you left in a hurry."

"Eh. . . ?  Um-hum.  Yes, I did.  Er--you see--well, Peleg was
goin' up to the village and--and I thought maybe I'd better go
along with him.  Didn't know when I'd get another chance, you see."

"I see.  Well, what did you do up there?"

"Eh? . . .  Oh, I done the errands all right.  I don't think I
forgot nothin'.  The stuff from the store 'll be down to-morrer or
next day.  Peleg's got some of it aboard his boat right now, and
he'll fetch it to-morrer--I mean this afternoon; it's after twelve,
ain't it?  There was a little mail, and I've got that in my pocket.
Nothin' for you, Cal. . . .  Well, I guess that's all.  I--I
presume likely I might's well go up aloft and turn in. . . .  Eh?"

"Wait a minute.  Did you hear any news up there?"

"News. . . ?  Why, no, I guess not. . . .  I'll be gettin' on
now. . . .  Good night."

"Wait.  Who did you see up there?  Where did you go?"

Mr. Gammon uneasily shifted his feet.  He was thankful that the
room was dark.

"Oh, I just went--er--around," he said vaguely.  "Just kind of
'round and--and around.  I see the fellers at the store and the
post office, of course."

"Didn't you go anywhere else?"

"Who?  Me. . . ?  Why, where was there to go?  There ain't anything
stirrin' up to the village, no town-hall time nor nothin'. . . .
Well, I guess I'll go aloft.  That is, unless, you bein' sick,
you'd like to have me stay here and keep watch."

"I'm not sick.  And it's a fine clear night.  You'd better go over
to the shanty and see your wife.  She'll be expecting you.  Tell
her all the Orham news."

"There ain't no news--that is, none she don't know already."

"Well, go and see her, anyway."

Seleucus shifted his feet again.  "It seems too bad to--er--disturb
her, don't it?" he stammered.  "She--she don't like to be waked up,
you know."

"She probably is awake now.  She'll be glad to know you're back.
Go and see her."

"We-ll," doubtfully, "if you think I better.  I suppose--Say, sure
you don't need me to set up along with you?  Give you your medicine
or somethin'?"

"Of course not.  I'm not taking any medicine to speak of.  And, if
I do, I don't need any one to give it to me.  Go on.  I must get
some sleep."

The door slowly closed.  Seleucus, alone in the mess room, sighed.
Then he pulled at his mustache, looked at the clock, and sighed
again.  Sighing did not help matters.  He walked to the window and
looked out.  The lamp in the Jarvis shanty burned brightly.  Mr.
Gammon's next sigh was accompanied by a shiver.  He tightened his
belt, groaned aloud, and went out into the night.  A minute later
he entered the Jarvis living room.  Jemima was there, waiting for

The patrolman--Baxter Cahoon--returning after midnight saw the
Jarvis window still illumined.  From behind the drawn shade the
sound of a voice, a shrill, animated voice, drifted across the
stillness.  It was Mrs. Gammon's voice.  Cahoon, lingering at the
corner of the station to listen, could not hear what she was
saying.  Her husband, apparently, was saying nothing.

And yet Seleucus did say something, something which came to him in
the nature of an inspiration, and which, like a life preserver
thrown to a man who had fallen overboard, was destined to keep him
afloat for many days to come in the stormy seas of his life as
Jemima Gammon's husband.  Whenever those seas threatened to go over
his head and drown him, he took a firm grip on that life preserver
and the fury of Jemima's wrath was thwarted for the time.

He had listened silently and hopelessly to the tirade with which
she greeted his appearance in the Jarvis living room.  He bore her
reproaches meekly, acknowledged that maybe he had been a "little
mite rough" when he threw her down upon the bed in Homer's room at
the station; he was "dreadful sorry" for that, he confessed and for
consigning her to perdition when aboard the Wild Duck at the moment
of departure.  "I guess likely I hadn't ought to said that,
Jemima," he admitted, abjectly "but, you see, I was all sort of het
up.  Peleg had just told me somethin' that--that upset me--and then
when I see you with Cal's letter, it--it just--"

She interrupted.  "Where is that letter?" she demanded.  "You give
me that letter this minute."

"Why--why, Jemima, you see--"

"Give it to me!  Hand it right over, do you hear?"

Seleucus groaned.  "I can't," he confessed.  "I ain't got it.  I--I
give it to--to somebody else."

She sprang from her chair.  "You--you give it to somebody else!"
she repeated.  "You give it to--WHAT!  Seleucus Gammon, did you
give that letter to--to HER?"

Mr. Gammon nodded, "That's what I done, Jemima," he said, in
complete surrender.  "You see, 'twas her letter--Cal was writin' it
to her and--and, bein' as she was goin' away so soon--for good--I--
I--well, I went right up to where she lives soon's I got ashore and
give it to her. . . .  Whether 'twas the thing to do or not don't
make any difference now.  We can't change it; Norma's got the

His wife's face had been crimson; now it turned white.

"Did you--did you tell her how you got it?" she cried.  "Did you
tell her about--about ME?"

Seleucus shook his head.  "I never mentioned your name, Jemima," he
declared.  "Course I didn't.  She don't know you ever see it.  She
thinks I--I found it on the floor in Cal's room.  That's what she

Jemima caught her breath.

"She--she better think so," she declared, with savage emphasis.
"If you ever let her think anything else--if you ever tell one soul
that I took that letter out of Cal Homer's trunk, I'll--I'll--
O-o-oh, if you ever do!"

And it was here that inspiration came to Seleucus.  He raised his
head; there was a new note in his voice.

"I shan't, Jemima," he said, slowly; "I shan't tell, never--unless--"

"Unless!  Unless what?"

"Why, unless you make me desperate, same as you done over there
this morn.  If you keep on pitchin' into me and--and layin' me out
same as you're doin' now, if you get me all worked up and--and
reckless--why, you can't tell what I might do.  You couldn't tell
what any man might do if he was drove half crazy.  So long's you
treat me--er--kind of decent and--and reasonable I'll never tell a
soul, you can bet on it.  But if--if I get where I can't stand it
any longer, I--I"--with earnest solemnity--"I might blow up and
tell all hands.  I wouldn't swear I wouldn't.  A desperate man
ain't responsible for what he does or says in them cases.  You'll
have to be--er--kind of--well, considerate of me, Jemima."

Mrs. Gammon's face was crimson again, and now, as she struggled
with her emotions, it became purple.  She choked, panted, and
stared at her husband.  Seleucus remained silent, but there was
determination in his look and attitude.

Jemima's clutching fingers slowly straightened.

"Oh, go to bed!" she gasped.  "Go to bed!"

Mr. Gammon gratefully obeyed the order, but he hugged the life
preserver to his breast.  It could be used again--even, perhaps,
again and again.

A weary and silent Seleucus Gammon appeared in the mess room at
breakfast time.  He was warmly greeted.  His comrades were very
glad to see him back, they said so.  They said many things, but
Seleucus was noncommunicative.  He would not talk, but apparently
would have been quite willing to fight.  In fact, his manner became
so truculent, and his few remarks so personal, that the men, acting
upon a hint from the keeper, let him alone.

"He's had trouble enough, boys," said Homer.  "And he is a good
fellow.  Don't nag him into punching somebody.  We've had all the
trouble down here we need.  I have, at any rate.  Let him alone."

So, for the time, they did let him alone; but the surcease was but
temporary.  As long as he remained in the service he was destined
to be favored with casual reminders of his one assumption of power
as head of his household.

"Now--now--now, Seleucus!" one man or another would protest.
"Don't get up on your high horse.  Don't try to bully the rest of
us around the way you do that poor little wife of yours.  We can't
stand it; we're scared of you.  Be easy on us as you can.  Save
your bullyraggin' and cussin' for Jemima."

Seleucus pretended to ignore these jocularities and bore them with
fortitude.  There were times when, in spite of the life preserver,
he almost wished he had been less energetic, certainly less public,
in his one outbreak against petticoat tyranny.  But there were
other moments when the memory of the uprising was pleasant to dwell
upon.  It had been wonderfully comforting while it lasted.

Spring, real and genuine, came to Setuckit a few days later.  One
morning the sun rose in a sky unsmirched by the smallest cloud.
The wind, blowing lazily from the south, was almost warm.  The
great sea gulls, their wings glistening in the light, dipped and
sailed and circled above their fishing grounds along the edge of
the point rip.  Where the long sand flat thrust a yellow fringe out
into the cove the terns--"mackerel gulls" or "kyaks," the life-
savers called them--were clustered in bunches that, from a
distance, looked like banks of snow.  The roofs and steeples of
Orham rose in clean-cut outline above the eastward horizon.  The
entire crescent of sea, from Broad Rip back to the Crow Ledge, was
dotted with white sails or black tugs and scows.

"She's come, boys," declared Ellis Badger, stretching himself
luxuriously before the door of the station.  "Here she is.  Reg'lar
spring weather and no make-believe.  No more no'theasters for a
long spell.  No more icicles on your eye-winkers when you go for a
little cruise off yonder in the channel."

"Not till next winter, anyhow," agreed Josh Phinney.  "Well, it's
time we had it fair and smooth.  We've earned a rest, we fellows
here at Setuckit.  We've hauled the old boat through a whole lot of
mighty rugged water since last fall."

"It's pretty nigh time," went on Badger, "to think about plantin'
garden up home.  My wife's cal'latin' to pick consider'ble many
strawberries this season.  She done pretty well last year, but the
bed'll be better now.  Strawberries and cream!  How's that notion
set on your digestion, eh, old salt-hay mustache?" smiting Mr.
Gammon a mighty thump on the back.

Calvin went out after dinner that forenoon for a walk along the
outer beach.  Doctor Palmer had examined him the day before and
pronounced him well.  "I shan't come again unless you send for me,"
said the doctor.  "All you need now is to keep out-of-doors in good
weather and inside when it is bad.  Eat--or try to eat.  And don't
let the station work fret you.  The busy season is over; there
won't be any storms to amount to anything, and if a vessel should
get into trouble, let Gammon handle the boat.  Another month, and
you can do it yourself; but what you need now is strength.  I've
told Cap'n Kellogg that and he told me that those were his orders
to you.  He is coming down to see you pretty soon, and he'll give
them to you himself.  And, one other thing!  Cheer up!  Get hold of
your nerves.  Grin once in a while.  You've got a lot to be
thankful for.  Don't go around looking as if you'd lost your last
friend.  You haven't, you know."

To Calvin, however, it seemed that he had done just that.  The one
friend that counted--who had been so much more than friend--had
left him and her leaving was his fault.  He wondered what she was
doing, how she was getting on with her sick father.  The tidings of
Bartlett's death and burial had been carefully kept from his ears.
"Don't tell him yet awhile," commanded the doctor.  "This rumpus
down here was, more than anything else, responsible for his getting
into the condition where he was ready for any sort of sickness that
came along.  He worries over it.  I think he is afraid people may
say he put Bartlett out so as to get the keeper's place.  Everybody
knows he didn't--every one worth while, that is--but don't tell him
Benoni is dead.  Wait until his nerves are stronger."

Seleucus, too, was very insistent on that point.  "Cal thought
consider'ble of the old man," he declared.  "Yes, he did, even if
he did stand up against him when he had to.  If we tell him
Bologny's petered out he'll figger he helped kill him.  We'll break
it to him by and by, when he is better.  Maybe Kellogg'll tell him
when he comes; Kellogg or--or somebody."

So Calvin remained in ignorance of this additional blow which had
befallen Norma.  His memories of the strenuous morning when he
rescued his former captain from the stranded catboat on the Scallop
Flat were still rather vague, almost as foggy as that morning had
been, but they were coming back to him.  He remembered forcing
Peleg Myrick into promising to keep silent concerning the fact that
it was he who had brought Bartlett ashore.  As he thought of it now
he wondered why he had been so stubborn in that matter.  There was
no essential, sensible reason why Norma should not have known that
he found and saved her father.  Nevertheless, he was glad she did
not know.  It would only remind her of him, and she would not wish
to be reminded.  Yes, he had used common sense even when half
crazy.  Strange, for he could, even now, remember next to nothing
of what had happened after he left the hermit's door.  The
telephone message by which Captain Nelson informed him that Peleg
had reported Benoni's presence at the shanty he had forgotten
altogether.  And yet he had taken down the receiver and listened to
that message.

He walked on, by the water's edge, in the glorious sunshine of that
May morning, thinking these thoughts and others, until he reached
the end of the point.  Then he turned up the beach and sat down
upon the sand at the foot of a high bank, which--the lightly waving
beach grass fringing its top--shut him from view from the station,
even from the tower.  There was no intention in his mind of getting
out of sight; the bank cut off the breeze, that was all, and the
sunlight was warmer there.

He sat there for some time.  If he had not been so lost in his
thoughts, none of them too agreeable, he would have heard the
rattle of a vehicle approaching over the rutted road leading
between the dunes to the station.  He did not hear it and it was
only when he chanced to look up and glance down the beach that he
became aware some one was walking toward him, following the
footprints he had left in the moist sand just below high-tide mark.
He looked--and looked--not believing the evidence of his eyes.
Then he sprang to his feet.

The person walking toward him, now only a little way off, was the
one person whom he had never expected to see again--Norma Bartlett.

She saw him, too, and waved her hand.  He stood there, weak and
pale and trembling, his newly and partially regained strength
scarce proof against the shock.  Norma!  She was here--at Setuckit!
Why had she come?  What could her coming mean?

And, as she drew nearer, he noticed something strange, something
different, in her appearance.  She was in black--a small black hat,
a black shirt, a white shirt waist.  Not a touch of color about her
anywhere.  Why, she was--she must be in mourning!  And then the
truth came to him.  Her father must be dead.  Bartlett must have
died while he, Homer, was sick, and, because he was sick, they had
not told him.

The realization of this obvious truth and of the grief she must be
suffering, made him forget even the tremendous surprise at seeing
her there; he ceased to wonder why she had come.  He stepped toward
her, holding out his hands.  "Norma!" he cried.  "Norma!  Oh, I'm
so sorry!  So sorry for you.  It--it is your father, isn't it?  He--"

She took his hands.  Her acceptance of them was, of itself,
something quite different from what he might have expected--would
have expected if he had had time to think clearly.  He looked into
her face and she into his.

"Oh, how white and--and tired you look!" he exclaimed.

She smiled bravely.  Yet, as she looked at him, her eyes grew wet.

"You are so white and thin," she said.  "And you have been so sick,
haven't you?"

"Oh, I'm all right now.  Yes, I am all right.  But you--it is your
father, of course?  When--"

"A week--yes, nearly ten days ago.  But I thought you didn't know.
They said no one had told you."

"No one had.  But when I saw you--dressed like this--I guessed.
I knew it must be.  I am so sorry.  You believe that, don't you?
It. . . .  I think perhaps I had better sit down again.  I am a
little shaky on my pins still, and this--this seems to--"

She put her hand upon his arm.  "Yes, sit down," she urged.
"Please sit down."

He hesitated.  "But you--you won't go--"

"No, I will sit beside you. . . .  You are all right now?  You are
not going to--to faint, or anything?"

He laughed, weakly, at the idea.  "Faint!" he repeated.  "I never
did faint and I never saw any one do it but once.  That was when Ed
Bloomer keeled over after we pulled his shoulder into place.  No, I
shan't faint.  I was dizzy, that's all.  That confounded rheumatism
took it out of me, I suppose, and that is why I am acting like a
kid. . . .  But you?  You have been through all that and I didn't
know!  Why didn't they tell me?  They ought to have told me!"

He flushed angrily at the thought.  She saw his agitation, and,
sitting beside him, put her hand upon his.

"I am very glad they didn't tell you," she said gently.  "It would
only have worried you and you have had worry and trouble enough on
our account--poor father's and mine.  Calvin, I came here to-day to
ask your forgiveness.  Can you forgive me?"

He gazed at her.  "Forgive you!" he repeated.  "_I_ forgive
YOU. . . !  Norma, why--why--"

"Hush!  Don't look like that.  You frighten me.  I shall think you
are going to be ill again.  Listen, please.  I have so much to tell

"Yes--yes, I'll listen, of course.  But, Norma, why did you come?
How did you get here?  What--?"

"Please be quiet and listen.  Please!  I'll tell you all about it.
Captain Kellogg brought me.  I rode down with him.  Mr. Gammon said
you were walking here at the point and I came, as soon as he told
me, to find you.  Captain Kellogg has been very, very kind to me.
He has been a wonderful friend when I needed friends so much.  And
he is your friend, too.  So is Mr. Gammon.  We both have good
friends, Calvin.  And oh, how much we owe to them!"

She had called him Calvin again.  And her tone, her look, her
manner toward him!  Why--He seized her hand in both of his.

"Norma!" he cried once more.

"Hush!  Remember you promised to listen.  And there is so much to
tell.  Calvin, I have treated you dreadfully.  I realized it--I
think I began to realize it almost that very day after father and I
went away from here.  But I wouldn't admit it, even to myself.  You
see, I--well, I was jealous, I suppose.  Yes, I know I was.  I
couldn't understand how you could ever possibly have cared for that
Fuller girl.  I--I never liked her and--oh, she isn't nice!  I--but
there, we won't talk about her, will we?"

He colored and looked away.  "I don't wonder you can't understand
that," he said.  "I don't understand it, myself, now.  She--she--
well, what I told you was the truth.  I never did care for her
really, and--oh, I am ashamed of it all. . . !  But there! it was
all my fault.  You did the right thing in getting rid of me.  I
have never blamed you in the least.  Any decent girl would have
given up a fellow who treated her as I did you.  And then, when I
wasn't man enough to tell you--"

She leaned toward him.  "Don't!" she pleaded.  "You mustn't say
that.  You did tell me.  You tried to tell me."

"Yes, after you found it out from some one else."

"No, before that.  In the letter you wrote me.  Calvin, I have read
that letter."

He turned and stared.  "Which letter?" he asked.

"Both of them.  The letter you wrote to me at Fairborough; they
forwarded it to me afterward."

"But there was nothing about--about her in that."

"No.  But there were ever so many other things, about father and
your reasons for taking out the boat when he told you not to.
Everything you told me you had written.  I was almost happy when I
read that letter; or I should have been if I had not been so
ashamed of myself.  I--you know I had doubted whether you ever
wrote it.  I had."

"I don't wonder you did.  You had reason enough to doubt my doing
anything decent and honest."

"No.  No, I hadn't.  I should have known--for I knew you.  But I
was jealous and hateful and generally wicked just then.  But I
thought and thought--and grew more sensible, I hope, and when they
told me how ill you were, I--well, I think I should have come to
you even then, if it had not been for father. . . .  And then, when
I got the other letter--"

"Other letter!  What letter?"

"The one you began to write me and never finished.  The one in
which you told me the whole truth about--about her.  When I got

"But wait--wait!  I didn't send you that letter.  It was in my
trunk.  I was writing it the night before your father--before the
trouble happened.  You couldn't have got THAT letter."

She smiled.  "Yes, I did," she said.  "Mr. Gammon brought it to me
three days ago.  He came to the cottage with it.  He said he had
found it on the floor of your room and saw my name at the beginning
of it and brought it to me."

"But--but it wasn't on the floor of my room.  It couldn't have
been.  It was locked up in my trunk.  How could he have got it?"

"Hush! hush!  You mustn't excite yourself so.  Never mind how he
got it.  I think, myself, there is some mystery about his getting
it; he was very much fussed and behaved queerly enough when he was
there.  But what does it matter?  Why should we care about that?  I
read it as soon as he had gone, and I have read it I can't tell you
how many times since. . . .  And that wasn't all he came to see me
about.  He told me that it was you, and not Peleg Myrick, who went
out in that storm, as sick as you were, and found father and
brought him to the shore. . . .  Oh, what is it?  Are you feeling
badly?  Shall I call some one?"

She would have risen but he held her hand and prevented her doing

"No--no!" he protested.  "I'm all right.  These things are coming
pretty fast, that's all.  They make my head swim. . . .  Let me get
it straight.  Seleucus told you that I--Seleucus told you that?"

"Yes.  He told me all about it."

"But how did he know?  No one knew that but Peleg, and Peleg
promised me he wouldn't tell.  He must have told, though.  Confound
him, of course he did!"

"Yes, he did, he told Mr. Gammon.  Oh, you mustn't blame him.  He
didn't tell for ever so long, but when, so Seleucus says, I met him
on the street in Orham and thanked him for saving father, he
couldn't keep it to himself any longer.  His conscience troubled

"Humph!  Conscience!  I guess the real reason was he was afraid
some one might find it out, and he would get into trouble.  Well,
he is in trouble now.  Wait until I see him, that's all.  And
Seleucus, too."

"Hush!  You mustn't say that.  Can't you understand how grateful I
am to both of them?  Suppose I had found it out, afterwards.  Long
afterwards, after I had gone away.  Suppose I never found it out,
any of it, but had gone away thinking--what I did think. . . .
Calvin, why didn't you want me to know?  Tell me, please."

He did not answer.  It was something else she had said which caught
his attention.

"Going away," he said, slowly.  "Where are you going?"

"I am going back to Fairborough.  They have offered me my position--
the one I used to have--in the library.  I must go, you know.  I
must earn something.  Father's sickness, and all the rest, have
taken almost all the money I had saved.  I must get back to work at

He did not speak.  She was watching him intently, and she saw his
expression change.

"I shan't try to thank you for--for doing that for father," she
said.  "You were ill, and--and you risked your own life. . . .
Don't say you didn't.  I know you did.  Of course you did.  And,
because you did, you--you almost lost it."

She paused.  Then, after a moment, she continued.

"But why did you make Mr. Myrick promise not to tell?" she asked.
"Calvin, why didn't you want any one to know?  Tell me that,

He was not looking at her, and he stirred uneasily.

"Oh, it was just a crazy notion of mine," he muttered.  "I guess I
must have been half crazy that morning, anyway."

"But you had some reason, you must have had.  What was it?"

He smiled, rather bitterly.  "Well," he confessed, "I thought--I
suppose I thought you had had trouble enough on my account.  You
wanted to forget me, and you should, of course.  If you heard I was
mixed up with finding your father it would remind you of me again,
and only make more trouble for you.  You might think you ought to
thank me, perhaps--think it was something you had to do.  I didn't
want you to feel that way."

He heard her draw a quick breath.  "Thank you!" she exclaimed.
"Surely you couldn't believe I wouldn't want to thank you!"

"There is no reason why you should.  Looking after people and boats
that have gone adrift is part of my job, that's all.  That's what
they pay me my seventy-five a month for.  Don't say any more about
it, Norma.  And you shouldn't have come way down here for that."

She, too, was silent, for an instant.  Then she said quietly, "But
I didn't.  That wasn't why I came.  I think--yes, I am almost sure
I should have come even if Mr. Gammon had never brought me your
letter or told me of your saving father.  I think I should have
come, anyway.  Or, perhaps, written you to come to Orham and see

He looked at her now.  The color came to her cheeks as he did so,
but her eyes met his, brave and unfaltering.

"Why?" he demanded.

"Can't you imagine why?  I should think it was plain enough."

He did not try to imagine.

"Why did you come?" he insisted.

"I came because--oh, because I was ashamed of myself!  And I wanted
you to know it.  I don't believe I could have gone away without
telling you so.  I--"

But now he interrupted.  He put his arms about her, quickly, almost
roughly, and drew her to him.

"Norma!" he cried, "Norma, do you mean--do you care for me now?  Do
you?  Do you?"

She looked up at him, then down.

"I should think that was almost apparent," she said.  "This looks
as if I did, doesn't it?"

There was an interval here, a rather long interval.  She was the
first to speak; perhaps she would have spoken sooner if she could,
if he had permitted it.

"Calvin dear," she said, "don't you think you had better go back to
the station now?  You have been out here a long while.  And you
have been sick, you know."

Sick!  He laughed aloud.  "I'm better this minute than I've ever
been before since I was here," he declared.  "And I'm not going
yet.  Why, I've got a million things to say to you, and that I want
you to say to me. . . .  Did you--did you REALLY come way down here
just to tell me that you were willing to forgive me?  Did you?"

"No, of course I didn't.  I came to tell you how ashamed I was of
myself, and how proud I was of you--and some other things, perhaps,
although I rather hoped you might tell them to me first."

He told them then; as a matter of fact, he had been telling them
over and over again for five minutes or more.  She, however, seemed
willing to listen to the repetitions.  But, at last, she insisted
upon their discussing other, although less important, matters.

"We have so much to say," she declared, "and such a little time to
say it in.  You must go back to the station--you must.  They will
be coming to look for you pretty soon."

He looked at his watch.  "Yes," he admitted reluctantly, "I suppose
I must.  It is almost drill time--and Kellogg is there, isn't he?
But we've got a few minutes yet.  Norma, you believe I never really
cared at all for Myra Fuller, don't you?"

She put her hand to his lips.  "Hush!" she said.  "You and I are
not going to mention that person's name again--EVER.  Are we?"

"You bet we aren't!" he declared, and meant it.

"No.  And now we must be very sensible and talk about ourselves and
our plans.  I am going to Fairborough day after to-morrow. . . .
Oh, yes, I must!  And you must stay here, and do your work, of
course.  We will write each other every day and, perhaps, see each
other once in a while.  And we must work very hard and save all we
can, because--well, you know why, don't you, dear?"

He nodded.  "I'll work, you may be sure of that," he declared.
"But I'm not going to be satisfied with this kind of work long.
I'm going ahead now; I've got something to work for.  Life-saving
is the best fun on earth, for me, anyhow--but I'll get fun enough
out of something with a better future and that pays better.  I
shall stick here until Kellogg can find another keeper.  I hope
he'll give the chance to Seleucus; he is a good fellow, and an able
man, although his reports might be hard to read.  I shall stay at
Setuckit as long as the superintendent feels he can't do without
me.  I owe him that much.  But, while I'm here, I shall be putting
over my lines for something worth while.  Why, he told me, himself--
Cap'n Kellogg did--that, if I really wanted it, he guessed he
could place me with one of the Boston and Savannah steamship lines.
It might not be so much of a job to start with, but I'll make it
more in a hurry.  You watch me, Norma.  With you to work for, if I
don't earn money and get ahead, then--"

She laughed happily.  "Hush! hush!" she said.  "Goodness, how
excited you are!  Of course you will get ahead.  There isn't a bit
of doubt about that.  And as for the money, I shall earn some
myself.  And, after all, what does all that matter to you and me--
now?  It doesn't seem to me that anything really matters now--
except this. . . .  And we MUST go back to the station."

He rose to his feet.  She, too, rose and stood beside him.  He drew
a long breath.  She was right, absolutely right.  With her beside
him he could--and would--get on in the world.  He was young and,
therefore, for him that world was full of opportunities.  The
harder the fight the better he should like it.  And it would be for
her that he fought.  They would be together.  That was the
essential thing, the only thing that really mattered.

He squared his shoulders, and, figuratively speaking, snapped his
fingers at the future.  He, Calvin Homer, twenty-six years old,
and, at present, keeper of the Setuckit Life-Saving Station at a
wage of seventy-five dollars a month and found, had that future
conquered, or as good as conquered, already.  Twenty-six, and the
girl he loved beside him!  Why--it was easy!

He pulled his cap down upon his head.

"Now watch me handle that boat drill," he announced triumphantly.


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