Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 1

CHAPTER I

The weather door of the smoking-room had been left open to the
North Atlantic fog, as the big liner rolled and lifted, whistling
to warn the fishing-fleet.

"That Cheyne boy's the biggest nuisance aboard," said a man in a
frieze overcoat, shutting the door with a bang. "He isn't wanted
here. He's too fresh."

A white-haired German reached for a sandwich, and grunted between
bites: "I know der breed. Ameriga is full of dot kind. I deli you
you should imbort ropes' ends free under your dariff."

"Pshaw! There isn't any real harm to him. He's more to be pitied
than anything," a man from New York drawled, as he lay at full
length along the cushions under the wet skylight. "They've dragged
him around from hotel to hotel ever since he was a kid. I was
talking to his mother this morning. She's a lovely lady, but she
don't pretend to manage him. He's going to Europe to finish his
education."

"Education isn't begun yet." This was a Philadelphian, curled up
in a corner. "That boy gets two hundred a month pocket-money, he
told me. He isn't sixteen either."

"Railroads, his father, aind't it'?" said the German.

"Yep. That and mines and lumber and shipping. Built one place at
San Diego, the old man has; another at Los Angeles; owns half a
dozen railroads, half the lumber on the Pacific slope, and lets
his wife spend the money," the Philadelphian went on lazily. "The
West don't suit her, she says. She just tracks around with the boy
and her nerves, trying to find out what'll amuse him, I guess.
Florida, Adirondacks, Lakewood, Hot Springs, New York, and round
again. He isn't much more than a second-hand hotel clerk now. When
he's finished in Europe he'll be a holy terror."

"What's the matter with the old man attending to him personally'?"
said a voice from the frieze ulster.

"Old man's piling up the rocks. 'Don't want to be disturbed, I
guess. He'll find out his error a few years from now. 'Pity,
because there's a heap of good in the boy if you could get at it."

"Mit a rope's end; mit a rope's end!" growled the German.

Once more the door banged, and a slight, slim-built boy perhaps
fifteen years old, a half-smoked cigarette hanging from one corner
of his mouth, leaned in over the high footway. His pasty yellow
complexion did not show well on a person of his years, and his
look was a mixture of irresolution, bravado, and very cheap
smartness. He was dressed in a cherry-coloured blazer,
knickerbockers, red stockings, and bicycle shoes, with a red
flannel cap at the back of the head. After whistling between his
teeth, as he eyed the company, he said in a loud, high voice:
"Say, it's thick outside. You can hear the fish-boats squawking
all around us. Say, wouldn't it be great if we ran down one?"

"Shut the door, Harvey," said the New Yorker. "Shut the door and
stay outside. You're not wanted here."

"Who'll stop me?" he answered deliberately. "Did you pay for my
passage, Mister Martin? 'Guess I've as good right here as the next
man."

He picked up some dice from a checker-board and began throwing,
right hand against left.

"Say, gen'elmen, this is deader'n mud. Can't we make a game of
poker between us?"

"There was no answer, and he puffed his cigarette, swung his legs,
and drummed on the table with rather dirty fingers. Then he pulled
out a roll of bills as if to count them.

"How's your mamma this afternoon?" a man said. "I didn't see her
at lunch."

"In her state-room, I guess. She's 'most always sick on the ocean.
I'm going to give the stewardess fifteen dollars for looking after
her. I don't go down more'n I can avoid. It makes me feel
mysterious to pass that butler's-pantry place. Say, this is the
first time I've been on the ocean."

"Oh, don't apologise, Harvey."

"Who's apologising? This is the first time I've crossed the ocean,
gen'elmen, and, except the first day, I haven't been sick one
little bit. No, sir!" He brought down his fist with a triumphant
bang, wetted his finger, and went on counting the bills.

"Oh, you're a high-grade machine, with the writing in plain
sight," the Philadelphian yawned. "You'll blossom into a credit to
your country if you don't take care."

"I know it. I'm an American - first, last, and all the time. I'll
show 'em that when I strike Europe. Pif! My cig's out. I can't
smoke the truck the steward sells. Any gen'elman got a real
Turkish cig on him?"

The chief engineer entered for a moment, red, smiling, and wet.
"Say, Mac," cried Harvey, cheerfully, "how are we hitting it?"

"Vara much in the ordinary way," was the grave reply. "The young
are as polite as ever to their elders, an' their elders are e'en
tryin' to appreciate it.

A low chuckle came from a corner. The German opened his cigar-case
and handed a skinny black cigar to Harvey.

"Dot is der broper apparatus to smoke, my young friendt," he said.
"You vill dry it? Yes? Den you vill be efer so happy."

Harvey lit the unlovely thing with a flourish: he felt that he was
getting on in grown-up society.

"It would take more'n this to keel me over," he said, ignorant
that he was lighting that terrible article, a Wheeling "stogie."

"Dot we shall bresently see," said the German. "Where are we now,
Mr. Mactonal'?"

"Just there or thereabouts, Mr. Schaefer," said the engineer.
"We'll be on the Grand Bank to-night; but in a general way o'
speakin', we're all among the fishing-fleet now. We've shaved
three dories an' near skelped the boom off a
Frenchman since noon, an' that's close sailin', ye may say."

"You like my cigar, eh?" the German asked, for Harvey's eyes were
full of tears.

"Fine, full flavour," he answered through shut teeth. "Guess we've
slowed down a little, haven't we? I'll skip out and see what the
log says."

"I might if I vhas you," said the German.

Harvey staggered over the wet decks to the nearest rail. He was
very unhappy; but he saw the deck-steward lashing chairs together,
and, since he had boasted before the man that he was never
seasick, his pride made him go aft to the second-saloon deck at
the stern, which was finished in a turtle-back. The deck was
deserted, and he crawled to the extreme end of it, near the
flagpole. There he doubled up in limp agony, for the Wheeling
"stogie "joined with the surge and jar of the screw to sieve out
his soul. His head swelled; sparks of fire danced before his eyes;
his body seemed to lose weight, while his heels wavered in the
breeze. He was fainting from seasickness, and a roll of the ship
tilted him over the rail on to the smooth lip of the turtle-back.
Then a low, grey mother-wave swung out of the fog, tucked Harvey
under one arm, so to speak, and pulled him off and away to
leeward; the great green closed over him, and he went quietly to
sleep.

He was roused by the sound of a dinner-horn such as they used to
blow at a summer-school he had once attended in the Adirondacks.
Slowly he remembered that he was Harvey Cheyne, drowned and dead
in mid-ocean, but was too weak to fit things together. A new smell
filled his nostrils; wet and clammy chills ran down his back, and
he was helplessly full of salt water. When he opened his eyes, he
perceived that he was still on the top of the sea, for it was
running round
him in silver-coloured hills, and he was lying on a pile of half-
dead fish, looking at a broad human back clothed in a blue jersey.

"It's no good," thought the boy. "I'm dead, sure enough, and this
thing is in charge."

He groaned, and the figure turned its head, showing a pair of
little gold rings half hidden in curly black hair.

"Aha! You feel some pretty well now'?" it said. "Lie still so: we
trim better."

With a swift jerk he sculled the flickering boat-head on to a
foamless sea that lifted her twenty full feet, only to slide her
into a glassy pit beyond.
But this mountain-climbing did not interrupt blue-jersey's talk.
"Fine good job, I say, that I catch you. Eh, wha-at? Better good
job, I say, your boat not catch me. How you come to fall out?"

"I was sick," said Harvey; "sick, and couldn't help it."

"Just in time I blow my horn, and your boat she yaw a little. Then
I see you come all down. Eh, wha-at? I think you are cut into
baits by the screw, but you dreeft - dreeft to me, and I make a
big fish of you. So you shall not die this time."

"Where am I?" said Harvey, who could not see that life was
particularly safe where he lay.

"You are with me in the dory - Manuel my name, and I come from
schooner "We're Here" of Gloucester. I live to Gloucester. By-and-
by we get supper. Eh, wha-at?"

He seemed to have two pairs of hands and a head of cast-iron, for,
not content with blowing through a big conch-shell, he must needs
stand up to it, swaying with the sway of the flat-bottomed dory,
and send a grinding, thuttering shriek through the fog. How long
this entertainment lasted, Harvey could not remember, for he lay
back terrified at the sight of the smoking swells. He fancied he
heard a gun and a horn and shouting. Something bigger than the
dory, but quite as lively, loomed alongside. Several voices talked
at once; he was dropped into a dark, heaving hole, where men in
oilskins gave him a hot drink and took off his clothes, and he
fell asleep.

When he waked he listened for the first breakfast-bell on the
steamer, wondering why his stateroom had grown so small. Turning,
he looked into a narrow, triangular cave, lit by a lamp hung
against a huge square beam. A three-cornered table within arm's
reach ran from the angle of the to the foremast. At the after end,
behind a well-used Plymouth stove, sat a boy about his own age,
with a flat red face and a pair of twinkling grey eyes. He was
dressed in a blue jersey and high rubber boots. Several pairs of
the same sort of foot-wear, an old cap, and some worn-out woolen
socks lay on the floor, and black and yellow oilskins swayed to
and fro beside the bunks. The place was packed as full of smells
as a bale is of cotton. The oilskins had a peculiarly thick
flavour of their own which made a sort of background to the smells
of fried fish, burnt grease, paint, pepper, and stale tobacco; but
these, again, were all hooped together by one encircling smell of
ship and salt water. Harvey saw with disgust that there were no
sheets on his bed-place. He was lying on a piece of dingy ticking
full of lumps and nubbles. Then, too, the boat's motion was not
that of a steamer. She was neither sliding nor rolling, but rather
wriggling herself about in a silly, aimless way, like a colt at
the end of a halter. Water-noises ran by close to his ear, and
beams creaked and whined about him. All these things made him
grunt despairingly and think of his mother.

"Feelin' better?" said the boy, with a grin. "Hev some coffee?" He
brought a tin cup full, and sweetened it with molasses.

"Is n't there milk?" said Harvey, looking round the dark double
tier of bunks as if he expected to find a cow there.

"Well, no," said the boy. "Ner there ain't likely to be till
'baout mid-September. 'Tain't bad coffee. I made it."

Harvey drank in silence, and the boy handed him a plate full of
pieces of crisp fried pork, which he ate ravenously.

"I've dried your clothes. Guess they've shrunk some," said the
boy. "They ain't our style much none of 'em. Twist round an' see
ef you're hurt any."

Harvey stretched himself in every direction, but could not report
any injuries.

"That's good," the boy said heartily. "Fix yerself an' go on deck.
Dad wants to see you. I'm his son, - Dan, they call me, - an' I'm
cook's helper an' everything else aboard that's too dirty for the
men. There ain't no boy here 'cep' me sence Otto went overboard -
an' he was only a Dutchy, an' twenty year old at that. How'd you
come to fall off in a dead flat ca'am?"

"'Twasn't a calm," said Harvey, sulkily. "It was a gale, and I was
seasick. 'Guess I must have rolled over the rail."

"There was a little common swell yes'day an' last night," said the
boy. "But ef thet's your notion of a gale -" He whistled. "You'll
know more 'fore you're through. Hurry! Dad's waitin'."

Like many other unfortunate young people, Harvey had never in all
his life received a direct order - never, at least, without long,
and sometimes tearful, explanations of the advantages of obedience
and the reasons for the request. Mrs. Cheyne lived in fear of
breaking his spirit, which, perhaps, was the reason that she
herself walked on the edge of nervous prostration. He could not
see why he should be expected to hurry for any man's pleasure, and
said so. "Your dad can come down here if he's so anxious to talk
to me. I want him to take me to New York right away. It'll pay
him."

Dan opened his eyes, as the size and beauty of this joke dawned on
him. "Say, dad!" he shouted up the fo'c'sle hatch, "he says you
kin slip down an' see him ef you're anxious that way. 'Hear, dad?"

The answer came back in the deepest voice Harvey had ever heard
from a human chest: "Quit foolin', Dan, and send him to me."

Dan sniggered, and threw Harvey his warped bicycle shoes. There
was something in the tones on the deck that made the boy dissemble
his extreme rage and console himself with the thought of gradually
unfolding the tale of his own and his father's wealth on the
voyage home. This rescue would certainly make him a hero among his
friends for life. He hoisted himself on deck up a perpendicular
ladder, and stumbled aft, over a score of obstructions, to where a
small, thick-set, clean-shaven man with grey eyebrows sat on a
step that led up to the quarter-deck. The swell had passed in the
night, leaving a long, oily sea, dotted round the horizon with the
sails of a dozen fishing-boats. Between them lay little black
specks, showing where the dories were out fishing. The schooner,
with a triangular riding-sail on the mainmast, played easily at
anchor, and except for the man by the cabin-roof - "house" they
call it - she was deserted.

"Mornin' - good afternoon, I should say. You've nigh slep' the
clock around, young feller," was the greeting.

"Mornin'," said Harvey. He did not like being called "young
feller"; and, as one rescued from drowning, expected sympathy. His
mother suffered agonies whenever he got his feet wet; but this
mariner did not seem excited.

"Naow let's hear all abaout it. It's quite providential, first an'
last, fer all concerned. What might be your name? Where from (we
mistrust it's Noo York), an' where baound (we mistrust it's
Europe)?

Harvey gave his name, the name of the steamer, and a short history
of the accident, winding up with a demand to be taken back
immediately to New York, where his father would pay anything any
one chose to name.

"H'm," said the shaven man, quite unmoved by the end of Harvey's
speech. "I can't say we think special of any man, or boy even,
that falls overboard from that kind o' packet in a flat ca'am.
Least of all when his excuse is thet he's seasick."

"Excuse!" cried Harvey. "D'you suppose I'd fall overboard into
your dirty little boat for fun?"

"Not knowin' what your notions o' fun may be, I can't rightly say,
young feller. But if I was you, I wouldn't call the boat which,
under Providence, was the means o' savin' ye, names. In the first
place, it's blame irreligious. In the second, it's annoyin' to my
feelin's - an' I'm Disko Troop o' the "We're Here" o' Gloucester,
which you don't seem rightly to know."

"I don't know and I don't care," said Harvey. "I'm grateful enough
for being saved and all that, of course; but I want you to
understand that the sooner you take me back to New York the better
it'll pay you."

"Meanin'- haow?" Troop raised one shaggy eyebrow over a
suspiciously mild blue eye.

"Dollars and cents," said Harvey, delighted to think that he was
making an impression. "Cold dollars and cents." He thrust a hand
into a pocket, and threw out his stomach a little, which was his
way of being grand. "You've done the best day's work you ever did
in your life when you pulled me in. I'm all the son Harvey Cheyne
has."

"He's bin favoured," said Disko, drily.

"And if you don't know who Harvey Cheyne is, you don't know much -
that's all. Now turn her around and let's hurry."

Harvey had a notion that the greater part of America was filled
with people discussing and envying his father's dollars.

"Mebbe I do, an' mebbe I don't. Take a reef in your stummick,
young feller. It's full o' my vittles."

Harvey heard a chuckle from Dan, who was pretending to be busy by
the stump-foremast, and the blood rushed to his face. "We'll pay
for that too," he said. "When do you suppose we shall get to New
York?"

"I don't use Noo York any. Ner Boston. We may see Eastern Point
abaout September; an' your pa - I'm real sorry I hain't heerd tell
of him - may give me ten dollars efter all your talk. Then o'
course he mayn't."

"Ten dollars! Why, see here, I -" Harvey dived into his pocket for
the wad of bills. All he brought up was a soggy packet of
cigarettes.

"Not lawful currency, an' bad for the lungs. Heave 'em overboard,
young feller, and try ag'in."

"It's been stolen!" cried Harvey, hotly.

"You'll hev to wait till you see your pa to reward me, then?"

"A hundred and thirty-four dollars - all stolen," said Harvey,
hunting wildly through his pockets. "Give them back."

A curious change flitted across old Troop's hard face. "What
might you have been doin' at your time o' life with one hundred
an' thirty-four dollrs, young feller?"

"It was part of my pocket-money - for a month." This Harvey
thought would be a knockdown blow, and it was - indirectly.

Oh! One hundred and thirty-four dollars is only part of his
pocket-money - for one month only! You don't remember hittin'
anything when you fell over, do you? Crack ag'in' a stanchion,
le's say. Old man Hasken o' the "East Wind" - Troop seemed to be
talking to himself - "he tripped on a hatch an' butted the
mainmast with his head - hardish. 'Baout three weeks afterwards,
old man Hasken he would hev it that the "East Wind" was a
commerce-destroyin' man-o'-war, so he declared war on Sable Island
because it was Bridish, an' the shoals run aout too far. They
sewed him up in a bed-bag, his head an' feet appearin', fer the
rest o' the trip, an' now he's to home in Essex playin' with
little rag dolls."

Harvey choked with rage, but Troop went on consolingly: "We're
sorry fer you. We're very sorry fer you - an' so young. We won't
say no more abaout the money, I guess."

"'Course you won't. You stole it."

"Suit yourself. We stole it ef it's any comfort to you. Naow,
abaout goin' back. Allowin' we could do it, which we can't, you
ain't in no fit state to go back to your home, an' we've jest come
on to the Banks, workin' fer our bread. We don't see the ha'af of
a hundred dollars a month, let alone pocket-money; an' with good
luck we'll be ashore again somewheres abaout the first weeks o'
September."

"But - but it's May now, and I can't stay here doin' nothing just
because you want to fish. I can't, I tell you!"

"Right an' jest; jest an' right. No one asks you to do nothin'.
There's a heap as you can do, for Otto he went overboard on Le
Have. I mistrust he lost his grip in a gale we f'und there.
Anyways, he never come back to deny it. You've turned up, plain,
plumb providential for all concerned. I mistrust, though, there's
ruther few things you kin do. Ain't thet so?"

"I can make it lively for you and your crowd when we get ashore,"
said Harvey, with a vicious nod, murmuring vague threats about
"piracy," at which Troop almost - not quite - smiled.

"Excep' talk. I'd forgot that. You ain't asked to talk more'n
you've a mind to aboard the "We're Here". Keep your eyes open, an'
help Dan to do ez he's bid, an' sechlike, an' I'll give you - you
ain't wuth it, but I'll give - ten an' a ha'af a month; say
thirty-five at the end o' the trip. A little work will ease up
your head, an' you kin tell us all abaout your dad an' your ma n'
your money efterwards."

"She's on the steamer," said Harvey, his eyes fill-with tears.
"Take me to New York at once."

"Poor woman - poor woman! When she has you back she'll forgit it
all, though. There's eight of us on the "We're Here", an' ef we
went back naow - it's more'n a thousand mile - we'd lose the
season. The men they wouldn't hev it, allowin' I was agreeable."

"But my father would make it all right."

"He'd try. I don't doubt he'd try," said Troop; "but a whole
season's catch is eight men's bread; an' you'll be better in your
health when you see him in the fall. Go forward an' help Dan. It's
ten an' a ha'af a month, ez I said, an', o' course, all f'und,
same ez the rest o' us."

"Do you mean I'm to clean pots and pans and things?" said Harvey.

"An' other things. You've no call to shout, young feller."

"I won't! My father will give you enough to buy this dirty little
fish-kettle" -- Harvey stamped on the deck - "ten times over, if
you take me to New York safe; and - and - you're in a hundred and
thirty by me, anyway."

"Ha-ow?" said Troop, the iron face darkening.

"How? You know how, well enough. On top of all that, you want me
to do menial work" - Harvey was very proud of that adjective -
"till the Fall. I tell you I will not. You hear?"

Troop regarded the top of the mainmast with deep interest for a
while, as Harvey harangued fiercely all around him.

"Hsh!" he said at last. "I'm figurin' out my responsibilities in
my own mind. It's a matter o' jedgment."

Dan Stole up and plucked Harvey by the elbow. "Don't go to
tamperin' with dad any more," he pleaded. "You've called him a
thief two or three times over, an' he don't take that from any
livin' bein'."

"I won't!" Harvey almost shrieked, disregarding the advice; and
still Troop meditated.

"Seems kinder unneighbourly," he said at last, his eye travelling
down to Harvey. "I don't blame you, not a mite, young feller, nor
you won't blame me when the bile's out o' your systim. 'Be sure
you sense what I say? Ten an' a ha'af fer second boy on the
schooner - an' all f'und - fer to teach you an' fer the sake o'
your health. Yes or no?"

"No!" said Harvey. "Take me back to New York or I'll see you -"

He did not exactly remember what followed. He was lying in the
scuppers, holding on to a nose that bled, while Troop looked down
on him serenely.

"Dan," he said to his son, "I was sot ag'in' this young feller
when I first saw him, on account o' hasty jedgments. Never you be
led astray by hasty jedgments, Dan. Naow I'm sorry for him,
because he's clear distracted in his upper works. He ain't
responsible fer the names he's give me, nor fer his other
statements
nor fer jumpin' overboard, which I'm abaout ha'af convinced he
did. You be gentle with him, Dan, 'r I'll give you twice what I've
give him. Them hemmeridges clears the head. Let him sluice it
off!"
-
Troop went down solemnly into the cabin, where he and the older
men bunked, leaving Dan to comfort the luckless heir to thirty
millions.

Rudyard Kipling

Sorry, no summary available yet.