Two men sat by the sea waves.
"Well, I know I'm not handsome," said one gloomily. He was poking holes
in the sand with a discontented cane.
The companion was watching the waves play. He seemed overcome with
perspiring discomfort as a man who is resolved to set another man right.
Suddenly his mouth turned into a straight line.
"To be sure you are not," he cried vehemently.
"You look like thunder. I do not desire to be unpleasant, but I must
assure you that your freckled skin continually reminds spectators of
white wall paper with gilt roses on it. The top of your head looks like
a little wooden plate. And your figure--heavens!"
For a time they were silent. They stared at the waves that purred near
their feet like sleepy sea-kittens.
Finally the first man spoke.
"Well," said he, defiantly, "what of it?"
"What of it?" exploded the other. "Why, it means that you'd look like
blazes in a bathing-suit."
They were again silent. The freckled man seemed ashamed. His tall
companion glowered at the scenery.
"I am decided," said the freckled man suddenly. He got boldly up from the
sand and strode away. The tall man followed, walking sarcastically and
glaring down at the round, resolute figure before him.
A bath-clerk was looking at the world with superior eyes through a hole
in a board. To him the freckled man made application, waving his hands
over his person in illustration of a snug fit. The bath-clerk thought
profoundly. Eventually, he handed out a blue bundle with an air of
having phenomenally solved the freckled man's dimensions.
The latter resumed his resolute stride.
"See here," said the tall man, following him, "I bet you've got a
regular toga, you know. That fellow couldn't tell--"
"Yes, he could," interrupted the freckled man, "I saw correct
mathematics in his eyes."
"Well, supposin' he has missed your size. Supposin'--"
"Tom," again interrupted the other, "produce your proud clothes and
we'll go in."
The tall man swore bitterly. He went to one of a row of little wooden
boxes and shut himself in it. His companion repaired to a similar box.
At first he felt like an opulent monk in a too-small cell, and he turned
round two or three times to see if he could. He arrived finally into his
bathing-dress. Immediately he dropped gasping upon a three-cornered
bench. The suit fell in folds about his reclining form. There was
silence, save for the caressing calls of the waves without.
Then he heard two shoes drop on the floor in one of the little coops. He
began to clamor at the boards like a penitent at an unforgiving door.
"Tom," called he, "Tom--"
A voice of wrath, muffled by cloth, came through the walls. "You go t'
The freckled man began to groan, taking the occupants of the entire row
of coops into his confidence.
"Stop your noise," angrily cried the tall man from his hidden den. "You
rented the bathing-suit, didn't you? Then--"
"It ain't a bathing-suit," shouted the freckled man at the boards. "It's
an auditorium, a ballroom, or something. It isn't a bathing-suit."
The tall man came out of his box. His suit looked like blue skin. He
walked with grandeur down the alley between the rows of coops. Stopping
in front of his friend's door, he rapped on it with passionate knuckles.
"Come out of there, y' ol' fool," said he, in an enraged whisper. "It's
only your accursed vanity. Wear it anyhow. What difference does it make?
I never saw such a vain ol' idiot!"
As he was storming the door opened, and his friend confronted him. The
tall man's legs gave way, and he fell against the opposite door.
The freckled man regarded him sternly.
"You're an ass," he said.
His back curved in scorn. He walked majestically down the alley. There
was pride in the way his chubby feet patted the boards. The tall man
followed, weakly, his eyes riveted upon the figure ahead.
As a disguise the freckled man had adopted the stomach of importance. He
moved with an air of some sort of procession, across a board walk, down
some steps, and out upon the sand.
There was a pug dog and three old women on a bench, a man and a maid
with a book and a parasol, a seagull drifting high in the wind, and a
distant, tremendous meeting of sea and sky. Down on the wet sand stood a
girl being wooed by the breakers.
The freckled man moved with stately tread along the beach. The tall man,
numb with amazement, came in the rear. They neared the girl.
Suddenly the tall man was seized with convulsions. He laughed, and the
girl turned her head.
She perceived the freckled man in the bathing-suit. An expression of
wonderment overspread her charming face. It changed in a moment to a
This smile seemed to smite the freckled man. He obviously tried to swell
and fit his suit. Then he turned a shrivelling glance upon his
companion, and fled up the beach. The tall man ran after him, pursuing
with mocking cries that tingled his flesh like stings of insects. He
seemed to be trying to lead the way out of the world. But at last he
stopped and faced about.
"Tom Sharp," said he, between his clenched teeth, "you are an
unutterable wretch! I could grind your bones under my heel."
The tall man was in a trance, with glazed eyes fixed on the bathing-
dress. He seemed to be murmuring: "Oh, good Lord! Oh, good Lord! I never
saw such a suit!"
The freckled man made the gesture of an assassin.
"Tom Sharp, you--"
The other was still murmuring: "Oh, good Lord! I never saw such a suit!
The freckled man ran down into the sea.
The cool, swirling waters took his temper from him, and it became a
thing that is lost in the ocean. The tall man floundered in, and the two
forgot and rollicked in the waves.
The freckled man, in endeavoring to escape from mankind, had left all
save a solitary fisherman under a large hat, and three boys in bathing-
dress, laughing and splashing upon a raft made of old spars.
The two men swam softly over the ground swells.
The three boys dived from their raft, and turned their jolly faces
shorewards. It twisted slowly around and around, and began to move
seaward on some unknown voyage. The freckled man laid his face to the
water and swam toward the raft with a practised stroke. The tall man
followed, his bended arm appearing and disappearing with the precision
The craft crept away, slowly and wearily, as if luring. The little
wooden plate on the freckled man's head looked at the shore like a
round, brown eye, but his gaze was fixed on the raft that slyly appeared
to be waiting. The tall man used the little wooden plate as a beacon.
At length the freckled man reached the raft and climbed aboard. He lay
down on his back and puffed. His bathing-dress spread about him like a
dead balloon. The tall man came, snorted, shook his tangled locks and
lay down by the side of his companion.
They were overcome with a delicious drowsiness. The planks of the raft
seemed to fit their tired limbs. They gazed dreamily up into the vast
sky of summer.
"This is great," said the tall man. His companion grunted blissfully.
Gentle hands from the sea rocked their craft and lulled them to peace.
Lapping waves sang little rippling sea-songs about them. The two men
issued contented groans.
"Tom," said the freckled man.
"What?" said the other.
"This is great."
They lay and thought.
A fish-hawk, soaring, suddenly, turned and darted at the waves. The tall
man indolently twisted his head and watched the bird plunge its claws
into the water. It heavily arose with a silver gleaming fish.
"That bird has got his feet wet again. It's a shame," murmured the tall
man sleepily. "He must suffer from an endless cold in the head. He
should wear rubber boots. They'd look great, too. If I was him, I'd--
He had partly arisen, and was looking at the shore.
He began to scream. "Ted! Ted! Ted! Look!"
"What's matter?" dreamily spoke the freckled man. "You remind me of when
I put the bird-shot in your leg." He giggled softly.
The agitated tall man made a gesture of supreme eloquence. His companion
up-reared and turned a startled gaze shoreward.
"Lord!" he roared, as if stabbed.
The land was a long, brown streak with a rim of green, in which sparkled
the tin roofs of huge hotels. The hands from the sea had pushed them
away. The two men sprang erect, and did a little dance of perturbation.
"What shall we do? What shall we do?" moaned the freckled man, wriggling
fantastically in his dead balloon.
The changing shore seemed to fascinate the tall man, and for a time he
did not speak.
Suddenly he concluded his minuet of horror. He wheeled about and faced
the freckled man. He elaborately folded his arms.
"So," he said, in slow, formidable tones. "So! This all comes from your
accursed vanity, your bathing-suit, your idiocy; you have murdered your
He turned away. His companion reeled as if stricken by an unexpected
He stretched out his hands. "Tom, Tom," wailed he, beseechingly, "don't
be such a fool."
The broad back of his friend was occupied by a contemptuous sneer.
Three ships fell off the horizon. Landward, the hues were blending. The
whistle of a locomotive sounded from an infinite distance as if tooting
"Tom! Tom! My dear boy," quavered the freckled man, "don't speak that
way to me."
"Oh, no, of course not," said the other, still facing away and throwing
the words over his shoulder. "You suppose I am going to accept all this
calmly, don't you? Not make the slightest objection? Make no protest at
"Well, I--I----" began the freckled man.
The tall man's wrath suddenly exploded. "You've abducted me! That's the
whole amount of it! You've abducted me!"
"I ain't," protested the freckled man. "You must think I'm a fool."
The tall man swore, and sitting down, dangled his legs angrily in the
water. Natural law compelled his companion to occupy the other end of
Over the waters little shoals of fish spluttered, raising tiny tempests.
Languid jelly-fish floated near, tremulously waving a thousand legs. A
row of porpoises trundled along like a procession of cog-wheels. The sky
became greyed save where over the land sunset colors were assembling.
The two voyagers, back to back and at either end of the raft, quarrelled
"What did you want to follow me for?" demanded the freckled man in a
voice of indignation.
"If your figure hadn't been so like a bottle, we wouldn't be here,"
replied the tall man.
The fires in the west blazed away, and solemnity spread over the sea.
Electric lights began to blink like eyes. Night menaced the voyagers
with a dangerous darkness, and fear came to bind their souls together.
They huddled fraternally in the middle of the raft.
"I feel like a molecule," said the freckled man in subdued tones.
"I'd give two dollars for a cigar," muttered the tall man.
A V-shaped flock of ducks flew towards Barnegat, between the voyagers
and a remnant of yellow sky. Shadows and winds came from the vanished
"I think I hear voices," said the freckled man.
"That Dollie Ramsdell was an awfully nice girl," said the tall man.
When the coldness of the sea night came to them, the freckled man found
he could by a peculiar movement of his legs and arms encase himself in
his bathing-dress. The tall man was compelled to whistle and shiver. As
night settled finally over the sea, red and green lights began to dot
the blackness. There were mysterious shadows between the waves.
"I see things comin'," murmured the freckled man.
"I wish I hadn't ordered that new dress-suit for the hop to-morrow
night," said the tall man reflectively.
The sea became uneasy and heaved painfully, like a lost bosom, when
little forgotten heart-bells try to chime with a pure sound. The
voyagers cringed at magnified foam on distant wave crests. A moon came
and looked at them.
"Somebody's here," whispered the freckled man.
"I wish I had an almanac," remarked the tall man, regarding the moon.
Presently they fell to staring at the red and green lights that twinkled
"Providence will not leave us," asserted the freckled man.
"Oh, we'll be picked up shortly. I owe money," said the tall man.
He began to thrum on an imaginary banjo.
"I have heard," said he, suddenly, "that captains with healthy ships
beneath their feet will never turn back after having once started on a
voyage. In that case we will be rescued by some ship bound for the
golden seas of the south. Then, you'll be up to some of your confounded
devilment and we'll get put off. They'll maroon us! That's what they'll
do! They'll maroon us! On an island with palm trees and sun-kissed
maidens and all that. Sun-kissed maidens, eh? Great! They'd--"
He suddenly ceased and turned to stone. At a distance a great, green eye
was contemplating the sea wanderers.
They stood up and did another dance. As they watched the eye grew
Directly the form of a phantom-like ship came into view. About the
great, green eye there bobbed small yellow dots. The wanderers could
hear a far-away creaking of unseen tackle and flapping of shadowy sails.
There came the melody of the waters as the ship's prow thrust its way.
The tall man delivered an oration.
"Ha!" he exclaimed, "here come our rescuers. The brave fellows! How I
long to take the manly captain by the hand! You will soon see a white
boat with a star on its bow drop from the side of yon ship. Kind sailors
in blue and white will help us into the boat and conduct our wasted
frames to the quarter-deck, where the handsome, bearded captain, with
gold bands all around, will welcome us. Then in the hard-oak cabin,
while the wine gurgles and the Havanas glow, we'll tell our tale of
peril and privation."
The ship came on like a black hurrying animal with froth-filled maw. The
two wanderers stood up and clasped hands. Then they howled out a wild
duet that rang over the wastes of sea.
The cries seemed to strike the ship.
Men with boots on yelled and ran about the deck. They picked up heavy
articles and threw them down. They yelled more. After hideous creakings
and flappings, the vessel stood still.
In the meantime the wanderers had been chanting their song for help. Out
in the blackness they beckoned to the ship and coaxed.
A voice came to them.
"Hello," it said.
They puffed out their cheeks and began to shout. "Hello! Hello! Hello!"
"Wot do yeh want?" said the voice.
The two wanderers gazed at each other, and sat suddenly down on the
raft. Some pall came sweeping over the sky and quenched their stars.
But almost the tall man got up and brawled miscellaneous information. He
stamped his foot, and frowning into the night, swore threateningly.
The vessel seemed fearful of these moaning voices that called from a
hidden cavern of the water. And now one voice was filled with a menace.
A number of men with enormous limbs that threw vast shadows over the sea
as the lanterns flickered, held a debate and made gestures.
Off in the darkness, the tall man began to clamor like a mob. The
freckled man sat in astounded silence, with his legs weak.
After a time one of the men of enormous limbs seized a rope that was
tugging at the stem and drew a small boat from the shadows. Three giants
clambered in and rowed cautiously toward the raft. Silver water flashed
in the gloom as the oars dipped.
About fifty feet from the raft the boat stopped. "Who er you?" asked a
The tall man braced himself and explained. He drew vivid pictures, his
twirling fingers illustrating like live brushes.
"Oh," said the three giants.
The voyagers deserted the raft. They looked back, feeling in their
hearts a mite of tenderness for the wet planks. Later, they wriggled up
the side of the vessel and climbed over the railing.
On deck they met a man.
He held a lantern to their faces. "Got any chewin' tewbacca?" he
"No," said the tall man, "we ain't."
The man had a bronze face and solitary whiskers. Peculiar lines about
his mouth were shaped into an eternal smile of derision. His feet were
bare, and clung handily to crevices.
Fearful trousers were supported by a piece of suspender that went up the
wrong side of his chest and came down the right side of his back,
dividing him into triangles.
"Ezekiel P. Sanford, capt'in, schooner 'Mary Jones,' of N'yack, N. Y.,
genelmen," he said.
"Ah!" said the tall man, "delighted, I'm sure."
There were a few moments of silence. The giants were hovering in the
gloom and staring.
Suddenly astonishment exploded the captain.
"Wot th' devil----" he shouted. "Wot th' devil yeh got on?"
"Bathing-suits," said the tall man.
The schooner went on. The two voyagers sat down and watched. After a
time they began to shiver. The soft blackness of the summer night passed
away, and grey mists writhed over the sea. Soon lights of early dawn
went changing across the sky, and the twin beacons on the highlands grew
dim and sparkling faintly, as if a monster were dying. The dawn
penetrated the marrow of the two men in bathing-dress.
The captain used to pause opposite them, hitch one hand in his
suspender, and laugh.
"Well, I be dog-hanged," he frequently said.
The tall man grew furious. He snarled in a mad undertone to his
companion. "This rescue ain't right. If I had known--"
He suddenly paused, transfixed by the captain's suspender. "It's goin'
to break," cried he, in an ecstatic whisper. His eyes grew large with
excitement as he watched the captain laugh. "It'll break in a minute,
But the commander of the schooner recovered, and invited them to drink
and eat. They followed him along the deck, and fell down a square black
hole into the cabin.
It was a little den, with walls of a vanished whiteness. A lamp shed an
orange light. In a sort of recess two little beds were hiding. A wooden
table, immovable, as if the craft had been builded around it, sat in the
middle of the floor. Overhead the square hole was studded with a dozen
stars. A foot-worn ladder led to the heavens.
The captain produced ponderous crackers and some cold broiled ham. Then
he vanished in the firmament like a fantastic comet.
The freckled man sat quite contentedly like a stout squaw in a blanket.
The tall man walked about the cabin and sniffed. He was angered at the
crudeness of the rescue, and his shrinking clothes made him feel too
large. He contemplated his unhappy state.
Suddenly, he broke out. "I won't stand this, I tell you! Heavens and
earth, look at the--say, what in the blazes did you want to get me in
this thing for, anyhow? You're a fine old duffer, you are! Look at that
The freckled man grunted. He seemed somewhat blissful. He was seated
upon a bench, comfortably enwrapped in his bathing-dress.
The tall man stormed about the cabin.
"This is an outrage! I'll see the captain! I'll tell him what I think
He was interrupted by a pair of legs that appeared among the stars. The
captain came down the ladder. He brought a coffee pot from the sky.
The tall man bristled forward. He was going to denounce everything.
The captain was intent upon the coffee pot, balancing it carefully, and
leaving his unguided feet to find the steps of the ladder.
But the wrath of the tall man faded. He twirled his fingers in
excitement, and renewed his ecstatic whisperings to the freckled man.
"It's going to break! Look, quick, look! It'll break in a minute!"
He was transfixed with interest, forgetting his wrongs in staring at the
But the captain arrived on the floor with triumphant suspenders.
"Well," said he, "after yeh have eat, maybe ye'd like t'sleep some! If
so, yeh can sleep on them beds."
The tall man made no reply, save in a strained undertone. "It'll break
in about a minute! Look, Ted, look quick!"
The freckled man glanced in a little bed on which were heaped boots and
oilskins. He made a courteous gesture.
"My dear sir, we could not think of depriving you of your beds. No,
indeed. Just a couple of blankets if you have them, and we'll sleep very
comfortable on these benches."
The captain protested, politely twisting his back and bobbing his head.
The suspenders tugged and creaked. The tall man partially suppressed a
cry, and took a step forward.
The freckled man was sleepily insistent, and shortly the captain gave
over his deprecatory contortions. He fetched a pink quilt with yellow
dots on it to the freckled man, and a black one with red roses on it to
the tall man.
Again he vanished in the firmament. The tall man gazed until the last
remnant of trousers disappeared from the sky. Then he wrapped himself up
in his quilt and lay down. The freckled man was puffing contentedly,
swathed like an infant. The yellow polka-dots rose and fell on the vast
pink of his chest.
The wanderers slept. In the quiet could be heard the groanings of
timbers as the sea seemed to crunch them together. The lapping of water
along the vessel's side sounded like gaspings. A hundred spirits of the
wind had got their wings entangled in the rigging, and, in soft voices,
were pleading to be loosened.
The freckled man was awakened by a foreign noise. He opened his eyes and
saw his companion standing by his couch.
His comrade's face was wan with suffering. His eyes glowed in the
darkness. He raised his arms, spreading them out like a clergyman at a
grave. He groaned deep in his chest.
"Good Lord!" yelled the freckled man, starting up. "Tom, Tom, what's th'
The tall man spoke in a fearful voice. "To New York," he said, "to New
York in our bathing-suits."
The freckled man sank back. The shadows of the cabin threw mysteries
about the figure of the tall man, arrayed like some ancient and potent
astrologer in the black quilt with the red roses on it.
Directly the tall man went and lay down and began to groan.
The freckled man felt the miseries of the world upon him. He grew angry
at the tall man awakening him. They quarrelled.
"Well," said the tall man, finally, "we're in a fix."
"I know that," said the other, sharply.
They regarded the ceiling in silence.
"What in the thunder are we going to do?" demanded the tall man, after a
time. His companion was still silent. "Say," repeated he, angrily, "what
in the thunder are we going to do?"
"I'm sure I don't know," said the freckled man in a dismal voice.
"Well, think of something," roared the other. "Think of something, you
old fool. You don't want to make any more idiots of yourself, do you?"
"I ain't made an idiot of myself."
"Well, think. Know anybody in the city?"
"I know a fellow up in Harlem," said the freckled man.
"You know a fellow up in Harlem," howled the tall man. "Up in Harlem!
How the dickens are we to--say, you're crazy!"
"We can take a cab," cried the other, waxing indignant.
The tall man grew suddenly calm. "Do you know any one else?" he asked,
"I know another fellow somewhere on Park Place."
"Somewhere on Park Place," repeated the tall man in an unnatural manner.
"Somewhere on Park Place." With an air of sublime resignation he turned
his face to the wall.
The freckled man sat erect and frowned in the direction of his
companion. "Well, now, I suppose you are going to sulk. You make me ill!
It's the best we can do, ain't it? Hire a cab and go look that fellow up
on Park--What's that? You can't afford it? What nonsense! You are
getting--Oh! Well, maybe we can beg some clothes of the captain. Eh?
Did I see 'im? Certainly, I saw 'im. Yes, it is improbable that a man
who wears trousers like that can have clothes to lend. No, I won't wear
oilskins and a sou'-wester. To Athens? Of course not! I don't know where
it is. Do you? I thought not. With all your grumbling about other
people, you never know anything important yourself. What? Broadway? I'll
be hanged first. We can get off at Harlem, man alive. There are no cabs
in Harlem. I don't think we can bribe a sailor to take us ashore and
bring a cab to the dock, for the very simple reason that we have nothing
to bribe him with. What? No, of course not. See here, Tom Sharp, don't
you swear at me like that. I won't have it. What's that? I ain't,
either. I ain't. What? I am not. It's no such thing. I ain't. I've got
more than you have, anyway. Well, you ain't doing anything so very
brilliant yourself--just lying there and cussin'." At length the tall
man feigned prodigiously to snore. The freckled man thought with such
vigor that he fell asleep.
After a time he dreamed that he was in a forest where bass drums grew on
trees. There came a strong wind that banged the fruit about like empty
pods. A frightful din was in his ears.
He awoke to find the captain of the schooner standing over him.
"We're at New York now," said the captain, raising his voice above the
thumping and banging that was being done on deck, "an' I s'pose you
fellers wanta go ashore." He chuckled in an exasperating manner. "Jes'
sing out when yeh wanta go," he added, leering at the freckled man.
The tall man awoke, came over and grasped the captain by the throat.
"If you laugh again I'll kill you," he said.
The captain gurgled and waved his legs and arms.
"In the first place," the tall man continued, "you rescued us in a
deucedly shabby manner. It makes me ill to think of it. I've a mind to
mop you 'round just for that. In the second place, your vessel is bound
for Athens, N. Y., and there's no sense in it. Now, will you or will you
not turn this ship about and take us back where our clothes are, or to
Philadelphia, where we belong?"
He furiously shook the captain. Then he eased his grip and awaited a
"I can't," yelled the captain, "I can't. This vessel don't belong to me.
I've got to--"
"Well, then," interrupted the tall man, "can you lend us some clothes?"
"Hain't got none," replied the captain, promptly. His face was red, and
his eyes were glaring.
"Well, then," said the tall man, "can you lend us some money?"
"Hain't got none," replied the captain, promptly. Something overcame him
and he laughed.
"Thunderation," roared the tall man. He seized the captain, who began to
have wriggling contortions. The tall man kneaded him as if he were
biscuits. "You infernal scoundrel," he bellowed, "this whole affair is
some wretched plot, and you are in it. I am about to kill you."
The solitary whisker of the captain did acrobatic feats like a strange
demon upon his chin. His eyes stood perilously from his head. The
suspender wheezed and tugged like the tackle of a sail.
Suddenly the tall man released his hold. Great expectancy sat upon his
features. "It's going to break!" he cried, rubbing his hands.
But the captain howled and vanished in the sky.
The freckled man then came forward. He appeared filled with sarcasm.
"So!" said he. "So, you've settled the matter. The captain is the only
man in the world who can help us, and I daresay he'll do anything he can
"That's all right," said the tall man. "If you don't like the way I run
things you shouldn't have come on this trip at all."
They had another quarrel.
At the end of it they went on deck. The captain stood at the stern
addressing the bow with opprobrious language. When he perceived the
voyagers he began to fling his fists about in the air.
"I'm goin' to put yeh off!" he yelled. The wanderers stared at each
"Hum," said the tall man.
The freckled man looked at his companion. "He's going to put us off, you
see," he said, complacently.
The tall man began to walk about and move his shoulders. "I'd like to
see you do it," he said, defiantly.
The captain tugged at a rope. A boat came at his bidding.
"I'd like to see you do it," the tall man repeated, continually. An
imperturbable man in rubber boots climbed down in the boat and seized
the oars. The captain motioned downward. His whisker had a triumphant
The two wanderers looked at the boat. "I guess we'll have to get in,"
murmured the freckled man.
The tall man was standing like a granite column. "I won't," said he. "I
won't! I don't care what you do, but I won't!"
"Well, but--" expostulated the other. They held a furious debate.
In the meantime the captain was darting about making sinister gestures,
but the back of the tall man held him at bay. The crew, much depleted by
the departure of the imperturbable man into the boat, looked on from the
"You're a fool," the freckled man concluded his argument.
"So?" inquired the tall man, highly exasperated.
"So! Well, if you think you're so bright, we'll go in the boat, and then
He climbed down into the craft and seated himself in an ominous manner
at the stern.
"You'll see," he said to his companion, as the latter floundered heavily
down. "You'll see!"
The man in rubber boots calmly rowed the boat toward the shore. As they
went, the captain leaned over the railing and laughed. The freckled man
was seated very victoriously.
"Well, wasn't this the right thing after all?" he inquired in a pleasant
voice. The tall man made no reply.
As they neared the dock something seemed suddenly to occur to the
"Great heavens!" he murmured. He stared at the approaching shore.
"My, what a plight, Tommy!" he quavered.
"Do you think so?" spoke up the tall man. "Why, I really thought you
liked it." He laughed in a hard voice. "Lord, what a figure you'll cut."
This laugh jarred the freckled man's soul. He became mad.
"Thunderation, turn the boat around!" he roared. "Turn 'er round, quick!
Man alive, we can't--turn 'er round, d'ye hear!"
The tall man in the stern gazed at his companion with glowing eyes.
"Certainly not," he said. "We're going on. You insisted Upon it." He
began to prod his companion with words.
The freckled man stood up and waved his arms.
"Sit down," said the tall man. "You'll tip the boat over."
The other man began to shout.
"Sit down!" said the tall man again.
Words bubbled from the freckled man's mouth. There was a little torrent
of sentences that almost choked him. And he protested passionately with
But the boat went on to the shadow of the docks. The tall man was intent
upon balancing it as it rocked dangerously during his comrade's oration.
"Sit down," he continually repeated.
"I won't," raged the freckled man. "I won't do anything." The boat
wobbled with these words.
"Say," he continued, addressing the oarsman, "just turn this boat round,
will you? Where in the thunder are you taking us to, anyhow?"
The oarsman looked at the sky and thought. Finally he spoke. "I'm doin'
what the cap'n sed."
"Well, what in th' blazes do I care what the cap'n sed?" demanded the
freckled man. He took a violent step. "You just turn this round or--"
The small craft reeled. Over one side water came flashing in. The
freckled man cried out in fear, and gave a jump to the other side. The
tall man roared orders, and the oarsman made efforts. The boat acted for
a moment like an animal on a slackened wire. Then it upset.
"Sit down!" said the tall man, in a final roar as he was plunged into
the water. The oarsman dropped his oars to grapple with the gunwale. He
went down saying unknown words. The freckled man's explanation or
apology was strangled by the water.
Two or three tugs let off whistles of astonishment, and continued on
their paths. A man dozing on a dock aroused and began to caper.
The passengers on a ferry-boat all ran to the near railing. A miraculous
person in a small boat was bobbing on the waves near the piers. He
sculled hastily toward the scene. It was a swirl of waters in the midst
of which the dark bottom of the boat appeared, whale-like.
Two heads suddenly came up.
"839," said the freckled man, chokingly. "That's it! 839!"
"What is?" said the tall man.
"That's the number of that feller on Park Place. I just remembered."
"You're the bloomingest--" the tall man said.
"It wasn't my fault," interrupted his companion. "If you hadn't--" He
tried to gesticulate, but one hand held to the keel of the boat, and the
other was supporting the form of the oarsman. The latter had fought a
battle with his immense rubber boots and had been conquered.
The rescuer in the other small boat came fiercely. As his craft glided
up, he reached out and grasped the tall man by the collar and dragged
him into the boat, interrupting what was, under the circumstances, a
very brilliant flow of rhetoric directed at the freckled man. The
oarsman of the wrecked craft was taken tenderly over the gunwale and
laid in the bottom of the boat. Puffing and blowing, the freckled man
"You'll upset this one before we can get ashore," the other voyager
As they turned toward the land they saw that the nearest dock was lined
with people. The freckled man gave a little moan.
But the staring eyes of the crowd were fixed on the limp form of the man
in rubber boots. A hundred hands reached down to help lift the body up.
On the dock some men grabbed it and began to beat it and roll it. A
policeman tossed the spectators about. Each individual in the heaving
crowd sought to fasten his eyes on the blue-tinted face of the man in
the rubber boots. They surged to and fro, while the policeman beat them
The wanderers came modestly up the dock and gazed shrinkingly at the
throng. They stood for a moment, holding their breath to see the first
finger of amazement levelled at them.
But the crowd bended and surged in absorbing anxiety to view the man in
rubber boots, whose face fascinated them. The sea-wanderers were as
though they were not there.
They stood without the jam and whispered hurriedly.
"839," said the freckled man.
"All right," said the tall man.
Under the pommeling hands the oarsman showed signs of life. The voyagers
watched him make a protesting kick at the leg of the crowd, the while
uttering angry groans.
"He's better," said the tall man, softly; "let's make off."
Together they stole noiselessly up the dock. Directly in front of it
they found a row of six cabs.
The drivers on top were filled with a mighty curiosity. They had driven
hurriedly from the adjacent ferry-house when they had seen the first
running sign of an accident. They were straining on their toes and
gazing at the tossing backs of the men in the crowd.
The wanderers made a little detour, and then went rapidly towards a cab.
They stopped in front of it and looked up.
"Driver," called the tall man, softly.
The man was intent.
"Driver," breathed the freckled man. They stood for a moment and gazed
The cabman suddenly moved his feet. "By Jimmy, I bet he's a gonner," he
said, in an ecstacy, and he again relapsed into a statue.
The freckled man groaned and wrung his hands. The tall man climbed into
"Come in here," he said to his companion. The freckled man climbed in,
and the tall man reached over and pulled the door shut. Then he put his
head out the window.
"Driver," he roared, sternly, "839 Park Place--and quick."
The driver looked down and met the eye of the tall man. "Eh?--Oh--839?
Park Place? Yessir." He reluctantly gave his horse a clump on the back.
As the conveyance rattled off the wanderers huddled back among the
dingy cushions and heaved great breaths of relief.
"Well, it's all over," said the freckled man, finally. "We're about out
of it. And quicker than I expected. Much quicker. It looked to me
sometimes that we were doomed. I am thankful to find it not so. I am
rejoiced. And I hope and trust that you--well, I don't wish to--perhaps
it is not the proper time to--that is, I don't wish to intrude a moral
at an inopportune moment, but, my dear, dear fellow, I think the time is
ripe to point out to you that your obstinacy, your selfishness, your
villainous temper, and your various other faults can make it just as
unpleasant for your ownself, my dear boy, as they frequently do for
other people. You can see what you brought us to, and I most sincerely
hope, my dear, dear fellow, that I shall soon see those signs in you
which shall lead me to believe that you have become a wiser man."