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Chapter 2

CHAPTER II

"I warned ye," said Dan, as the drops fell thick and fast on the
dark, oiled planking. "Dad ain't noways hasty, but you fair earned
it. Pshaw! there's no sense takin' on so." Harvey's shoulders were
rising and falling in spasms of dry sobbing. "I know the feelin'.
First time dad laid me out was the last - and that was my first
trip. Makes ye feel sickish an' lonesome. I know."

"It does," moaned Harvey. "That man's either crazy or drunk, and -
and I can't do anything."

"Don't say that to dad," whispered Dan. "He's set ag'in' all
liquor, an' - well, he told me you was the madman. What in
creation made you call him a thief? He's my dad."

Harvey sat up, mopped his nose, and told the story of the missing
wad of bills. "I'm not crazy," he wound up. "Only - your father
has never seen more than a five-dollar bill at a time, and my
father could buy up this boat once a week and never miss it."

"You don't know what the "We're Here's" worth. Your dad must hey a
pile o' money. How did he git it? Dad sez loonies can't shake out
a straight yarn. Go ahead."

"In gold-mines and things, West."

"I've read o' that kind o' business. Out

West, too? Does he go around with a pistol on a trick-pony, same
ez the circus? They call that the Wild West, and I've heard that
their spurs an' bridles was solid silver."

"You are a chump!" said Harvey, amused in spite of himself. "My
father hasn't any use for ponies. When he wants to ride he takes
his car."

"Haow? Lobster-car?"

"No. His own private car, of course. You've seen a private car
some time in your life?"

"Slatin Beeman he hez one," said Dan, cautiously. "I saw her at
the Union Depot in Boston, with three niggers hoggin' her run."
(Dan meant cleaning the windows.) "But Slatin Beeman he owns
'baout every railroad on Long Island, they say; an' they say he's
bought 'baout ha'af Noo Hampshire an' run a line-fence around her,
an' filled her up with lions an' tigers an' bears an' buffalo an'
crocodiles an' such all. Slatin Beeman he's a millionaire. I've
seen his car. Yes?"

"Well, my father's what they call a multi-millionaire; and he has
two private cars. One's named for me, the 'Harvey,' and one for my
mother, the 'Constance.'"

"Hold on," said Dan. "Dad don't ever let me swear, but I guess you
can. 'Fore we go ahead, I want you to say hope you may die if
you're lying."

"Of course," said Harvey.

"Thet ain't 'nuff. Say, 'Hope I may die if I ain't speakin'
truth.'"

"Hope I may die right here," said Harvey, "if every word I've
spoken isn't the cold truth."

"Hundred an' thirty-four dollars an' all?" said Dan. "I heard ye
talkin' to dad, an' I ha'af looked you'd be swallered up, same's
Jonah."

Harvey protested himself red in the face. Dan was a shrewd young
person along his own lines, and ten minutes' questioning convinced
him that Harvey was not lying - much. Besides, he had bound
himself by the most terrible oath known to boyhood, and yet he
sat, alive, with a red-ended nose, in the scuppers, recounting
marvels upon marvels.

"Gosh!" said Dan at last, from the very bottom of his soul, when
Harvey had completed an inventory of the car named in his honour.
Then a grin of mischievous delight overspread his broad face. "I
believe you, Harvey. Dad's made a mistake fer once in his life."

"He has, sure," said Harvey, who was meditating an early revenge.

"He'll be mad clear through. Dad jest hates to be mistook in his
jedgments." Dan lay back and slapped his thigh. "Oh, Harvey, don't
you spile the catch by lettin' on."

"I don't want to be knocked down again. I'll get even with him,
though."

"Never heard any man ever got even with dad. But he'd knock ye
down again sure. The more he was mistook the more he'd do it. But
gold-mines and pistols -"

"I never said a word about pistols," Harvey cut in, for he was on
his oath.

"Thet's so; no more you did. Two private cars, then, one named fer
you an' one fer her; an' two hundred dollars a month pocket-money,
all knocked into the scuppers fer not workin' fer ten an' a ha'af
a month! It's the top haul o' the season." He exploded with
noiseless chuckles.

"Then I was right? "said Harvey, who thought he had found a
sympathiser.

"You was wrong; the wrongest kind o' wrong! You take right hold
an' pitch in 'longside o' me, or you'll catch it, an' I'll catch
it fer backin' you up. Dad always gives me double helps 'cause I'm
his son, an' he hates favourin' folk. 'Guess you're kinder mad at
dad. I've been that way time an' again. But dad's a mighty jest
man; all the fleet says so."

"Looks like justice, this, don't it?" Harvey pointed to his
outraged nose.

"Thet's nothin'. Lets the shore blood outer you. Dad did it for
yer health. Say, though, I can't have dealin's with a man that
thinks me or dad or any one on the "We're Here's" a thief. We
ain't any common wharf-end crowd by any manner o' means. We're
fishermen, an' we've shipped together for six years an' more.
Don't you make any mistake on that! I told ye dad don't let me
swear. He calls 'em vain oaths, and pounds me; but ef I could say
what you said 'baout your pap an' his fixin's, I'd say that 'baout
your dollars. I dunno what was in your pockets when I dried your
kit, fer I didn't look to see; but I'd say, using the very same
words ez you used jest now, neither me nor dad - an' we was the
only two that teched you after you was brought aboard - knows
anythin' 'baout the money. Thet's my say. Naow?"

The bloodletting had certainly cleared Harvey's brain, and maybe
the loneliness of the sea had something to do with it. "That's all
right," he said. Then he looked down confusedly. "'Seems to me
that for a fellow just saved from drowning I haven't been over and
above grateful, Dan."

"Well, you was shook up and silly," said Dan. "Anyway, there was
only dad an' me aboard to see it. The cook he don't count."

"I might have thought about losing the bills that way," Harvey
said, half to himself, "instead of calling everybody in sight a
thief Where's your father?"

"In the cabin What d'you want o' him again?"

"You'll see," said Harvey, and he stepped, rather groggily, for
his head was still singing, to the cabin steps, where the little
ship's clock hung in plain sight of the wheel. Troop, in the
chocolate-and-yellow painted cabin, was busy with a note-book and
an enormous black pencil, which he sucked hard from time to time

"I haven't acted quite right," said Harvey, surprised at his own
meekness.

"What's wrong naow?" said the skipper "Walked into Dan, hev ye?"

"No; it's about you."

"I'm here to listen."

"Well, I - I'm here to take things back," said Harvey, very
quickly. "When a man's saved from drowning -" he gulped.

"Ey? You'll make a man yet ef you go on this way."

"He oughtn't begin by calling people names."

"Jest an' right - right an' jest," said Troop, with the ghost of a
dry smile.

"So I'm here to say I'm sorry." Another big gulp. Troop heaved
himself slowly off the locker he was sitting on and held out an
eleven-inch hand. "I mistrusted 'twould do you sights o' good; an'
this shows I weren't mistook in my jedgments." A smothered chuckle
on deck caught his ear. "I am very seldom mistook in my
jedgments." The eleven-inch hand closed on Harvey's, numbing it to
the elbow. "We'll put a little more gristle to that 'fore we've
done with you, young feller; an' I don't think any worse of ye fer
anythin' thet's gone by. You wasn't fairly responsible. Go right
abaout your business an' you won't take no hurt."

"You're white," said Dan, as Harvey regained the deck, flushed to
the tips of his ears.

"I don't feel it," said he.

"I didn't mean that way. I heard what dad said. When dad allows he
don't think the worse of any man, dad's give himself away. He
hates to be mistook in his jedgments, too. Ho! ho! Onct dad has a
jedgment, he'd sooner dip his colours to the British than change
it. I'm glad it's settled right eend up. Dad's right when he says
he can't take you back. It's all the livin' we make here -
fishin'. The men'll be back like sharks after a dead whale in
ha'af an hour."

"What for?" said Harvey.
"Supper, o' course. Don't your stummick tell you? You've a heap to
learn."

"'Guess I have," said Harvey, dolefully, looking at the tangle of
ropes and blocks overhead.

"She's a daisy," said Dan, enthusiastically, misunderstanding the
look. "Wait till our mainsail's bent, an' she walks home with all
her salt wet. There's some work first, though." He pointed down
into the darkness of the open main-hatch between the two masts.

"What's that for? It's all empty," said Harvey.

"You an' me an' a few more hev got to fill it," said Dan. "That's
where the fish goes."

"Alive?" said Harvey.

"Well, no. They're so's to be ruther dead - an' flat - an' salt.
There's a hundred hogshead o' salt in the bins; an' we hain't
more'n covered our dunnage to now."

"Where are the fish, though?"

"'In the sea, they say; in the boats, we pray,'" said Dan, quoting
a fisherman's proverb. "You come in last night with 'baout forty
of 'em."

He pointed to a sort of wooden pen just in front of the quarter-
deck.

"You an' me we'll sluice that out when they're through. 'Send
we'll hev full pens to-night! I've seen her down ha'af a foot with
fish waitin' to clean, an' we stood to the tables till we was
splittin' ourselves instid o' them, we was so sleepy. Yes, they're
comin' in naow." Dan looked over the low bulwarks at half a dozen
dories rowing towards them over the shining, silky sea.

"I've never seen the sea from so low down," said Harvey. "It's
fine."

The low sun made the water all purple and pinkish, with golden
lights on the barrels of the long swells, and blue and green
mackerel shades in the hollows. Each schooner in sight seemed to
be pulling her dories towards her by invisible strings, and the
little black figures in the tiny boats pulled like clockwork toys.

"They've struck on good," said Dan, between his half-shut eyes.
"Manuel hain't room fer another fish. Low ez a lily-pad in still
water, ain't he?"

"Which is Manuel? I don't see how you can tell 'em 'way off, as
you do."

"Last boat to the south'ard. He f'und you last night," said Dan,
pointing. "Manuel rows Portugoosey; ye can't mistake him. East o'
him - he's a heap better'n he rows - is Pennsylvania. Loaded with
saleratus, by the looks of him. East o' him - see how pretty they
string out all along with the humpy shoulders, is Long Jack. He's
a Galway man inhabitin' South Boston, where they all live mostly,
an' mostly them Galway men are good in a boat. North, away yonder
- you'll hear him tune up in a minute - is Tom Platt. Man-o'-war's
man he was on the old Ohio - first of our navy, he says, to go
araound the Horn. He never talks of much else, 'cept when he
sings, but be has fair fishin' luck. There! What did I tell you?"

A melodious bellow stole across the water from the northern dory.
Harvey heard something about somebody's hands and feet being cold,
and then:

"Bring forth the chart, the doleful chart;
See where them mountings meet!
The clouds are thick around their heads,
The mists around their feet."


"Full boat," said Dan, with a chuckle. "If he gives us 'O Captain'
it's toppin' full."

The bellow continued:

"And naow to thee, O Capting,
Most earnestly I pray
That they shall never bury me
In church or cloister grey."

"Double game for Tom Platt. He'll tell you all about the old Ohio
to-morrow. 'See that blue dory behind him? He's my uncle, - dad's
own brother, - an' ef there's any bad luck loose on the Banks
she'll fetch up ag'in' Uncle Salters, sure. Look how tender he's
rowin'. I'll lay my wage and share he's the only man stung up to-
day - an' he's stung up good."
-
"What'll sting him?" said Harvey, getting interested.

"Strawberries, mostly. Punkins, sometimes, an' sometimes lemons
an' cucumbers. Yes, he's stung up from his elbows down. That man's
luck's perfectly paralysin'. Naow we'll take a-holt o' the tackles
an' h'ist 'em in. Is it true, what you told me jest now, that you
never done a hand's turn o' work in all your born life? 'Must feel
kinder awful, don't it?"

"I'm going to try to work, anyway," Harvey replied stoutly. "Only
it's all dead new."

"Lay a-holt o' that tackle, then. Behind ye!"

Harvey grabbed at a rope and long iron hook dangling from one of
the stays of the mainmast, while Dan pulled down another that ran
from something he called a "topping-lift," as Manuel drew
alongside in his loaded dory. The Portuguese smiled a brilliant
smile that Harvey learned to know well later, and a short-handled
fork began to throw fish into the pen on deck. "Two hundred and
thirty-one," he shouted.

"Give him the hook," said Dan, and Harvey ran it into Manuel's
hands. He slipped it through a loop of rope at the dory's bow,
caught Dan's tackle, hooked it to the stern-becket, and clambered
into the schooner.

"Pull!" shouted Dan; and Harvey pulled, astonished to find how
easily the dory rose.

"Hold on; she don't nest in the crosstrees!" Dan laughed; and
Harvey held on, for the boat lay in the air above his head.

"Lower away," Dan shouted; and as Harvey lowered, Dan swayed the
light boat with one hand till it landed softly just behind the
mainmast. "They don't weigh nothin' empty. Thet was right smart
fer a passenger. There's more trick to it in a sea-way."

"Ah ha!" said Manuel, holding out a brown hand. "You are some
pretty well now? This time last night the fish they fish for you.
Now you fish for fish.
Eh, wha-at?"

"I'm - I'm ever so grateful," Harvey stammered, and his
unfortunate hand stole to his pocket once more, but he remembered
that he had no money to offer. When he knew Manuel better the mere
thought of the mistake he might have made would cover him with
hot, uneasy blushes in his bunk.

"There is no to be thankful for to me!" said Manuel. "How shall I
leave you dreeft, dreeft all around the Banks? Now you are a
fisherman eh, wha-at? Ouh! Auh!" He bent backward and forward
stiffly from the hips to get the kinks out of himself.

"I have not cleaned boat to-day. Too busy. They struck on queek.
Danny, my son, clean for me."

Harvey moved forward at once. Here was something he could do for
the man who had saved his life.

Dan threw him a swab, and he leaned over the dory, mopping up the
slime clumsily, but with great good-will. "Hike out the foot-
boards; they slide in them grooves," said Dan. "Swab 'em an' lay
'em down. Never let a foot-board jam. Ye may want her bad some
day. Here's Long Jack."

A stream of glittering fish flew into the pen from a dory
alongside.

"Manuel, you take the tackle. I'll fix the tables. Harvey, clear
Manuel's boat. Long Jack's nestin' on the top of her."

Harvey looked up from his swabbing at the bottom of another dory
just above his head.

"Jest like the Injian puzzle-boxes, ain't they?" said Dan, as the
one boat dropped into the other.

"Takes to ut like a duck to water," said Long Jack, a grizzly-
chinned, long-lipped Galway man, bending to and fro exactly as
Manuel had done. Disko in the cabin growled up the hatchway, and
they could hear him suck his pencil.

"Wan hunder an' forty-nine an' a half - bad luck to ye,
Discobolus!" said Long Jack. "I'm murderin' meself to fill your
pockuts. Slate ut for a bad catch. The Portugee has bate me."

Whack came another dory alongside, and more fish shot into the
pen.

"Two hundred and three. Let's look at the passenger!" The speaker
was even larger than the Galway man, and his face was made curious
by a purple cut running slantways from his left eye to the right
corner of his mouth.

Not knowing what else to do, Harvey swabbed each dory as it came
down, pulled out the foot-boards, and laid them in the bottom of
the boat.

"He's caught on good," said the scarred man, who was Tom Platt,
watching him critically. "There are two ways o' doin' everything.
One's fisher-fashion - any end first an' a slippery hitch over all
- an' the other's -"

"What we did on the old Ohio!" Dan interrupted, brushing into the
knot of men with a long board on legs. "Git out o' here, Tom
Platt, an' leave me fix the tables."

He jammed one end of the board into two nicks in the bulwarks,
kicked out the leg, and ducked just in time to avoid a swinging
blow from the man-o'-war's man.

"An' they did that on the Ohio, too, Danny. See?" said Tom Platt,
laughing.

"'Guess they was swivel-eyed, then, fer it didn't git home, and I
know who'll find his boots on the main-truck ef he don't leave us
alone. Haul ahead! I'm busy, can't ye see?"

"Danny, ye lie on the cable an' sleep all day," said Long Jack.
"You're the hoight av impidence, an' I'm persuaded ye'll corrupt
our supercargo in a week."

"His name's Harvey," said Dan, waving two strangely shaped knives,
"an' he'll be worth five of any Sou' Boston clam-digger 'fore
long." He laid the knives tastefully on the table, cocked his head
on one side, and admired the effect.

"I think it's forty-two," said a small voice over-side, and there
was a roar of laughter as another voice answered, "Then my luck's
turned fer onct, 'caze I'm forty-five, though I be stung outer all
shape."

"Forty-two or forty-five. I've lost count," the small voice said.

"It's Penn an' Uncle Salters caountin' catch. This beats the
circus any day," said Dan. "Jest look at 'em!"

"Come in - come in!" roared Long Jack. "It's wet out yondher,
children."

"Forty-two, ye said." This was Uncle Salters.

"I'll count again, then," the voice replied meekly.

The two dories swung together and bunted into the schooner's side.

"Patience o' Jerusalem! "snapped Uncle Salters, backing water with
a splash. "What possest a farmer like you to set foot in a boat
beats me. You've nigh stove me all up."

"I am sorry, Mr. Salters. I came to sea on account of nervous
dyspepsia. You advised me, I think."

"You an' your nervis dyspepsy be drowned in the Whale-hole,"
roared Uncle Salters, a fat and tubly little man. "You're comin'
down on me ag'in. Did ye say forty-two or forty-five?"

"I've forgotten, Mr. Salters. Let's count."

"Don't see as it could be forty-five. I'm forty-five," said Uncle
Salters. "You count keerful, Penn."

Disko Troop came out of the cabin. "Salters, you pitch your fish
in naow at once," he said in the tone of authority.

"Don't spile the catch, dad," Dan murmured. "Them two are on'y
jest beginnin'."

"Mother av delight! He's forkin' them wan by wan," howled Long
Jack, as Uncle Salters got to work laboriously; the little man in
the other dory counting a line of notches on the gunwale.

"That was last week's catch," he said, looking up plaintively, his
forefinger where he had left off.

Manuel nudged Dan, who darted to the after-tackle, and, leaning
far overside, slipped the hook into the stern-rope as Manuel made
her fast forward. The others pulled gallantly and swung the boat
in - man, fish, and all.

"One, two, four - nine," said Tom Platt, counting with a practised
eye. "Forty-seven. Penn, you're it!" Dan let the after-tackle run,
and slid him out of the stern on to the deck amid a torrent of his
own fish.

"Hold on!" roared Uncle Salters, bobbing by the waist. "Hold on,
I'm a bit mixed in my caount."

He had no time to protest, but was hove inboard and treated like
"Pennsylvania."

"Forty-one," said Tom Platt. "Beat by a farmer, Salters. An' you
sech a sailor, too!"

"'Tweren't fair caount," said he, stumbling out of the pen; "an'
I'm stung up all to pieces."

His thick hands were puffy and mottled purply white.

"Some folks will find strawberry-bottom," said Dan, addressing the
newly risen moon, "ef they hev to dive fer it, seems to me."

"An' others," said Uncle Salters, "eats the fat o' the land in
sloth, an' mocks their own blood-kin."

"Seat ye! Seat ye!" a voice Harvey had not heard called from the
fo'c'sle. Disko Troop, Tom Platt, Long Jack, and Salters went
forward on the word. Little Penn bent above his square deep-sea
reel and the tangled cod-lines; Manuel lay down full length on the
deck, and Dan dropped into the hold, where Harvey heard him
banging casks with a hammer.

"Salt," he said, returning. "Soon as we're through supper we git
to dressing-down. You'll pitch to dad. Tom Platt an' dad they stow
together, an' you'll hear 'em arguin'. We're second ha'af, you an'
me an' Manuel an' Penn - the youth an' beauty o' the boat."

"What's the good of that?" said Harvey. "I'm hungry."

"They'll be through in a minute. Sniff! She smells good to-night.
Dad ships a good cook ef he do suffer with his brother. It's a
full catch today, ain't it?" He pointed at the pens piled high
with cod. "What water did ye hev, Manuel?"

"Twenty-fife father," said the Portuguese, sleepily. "They strike
on good an' queek. Some day I show you, Harvey."

The moon was beginning to walk on the still sea before the elder
men came aft. The cook had no need to cry "second half." Dan and
Manuel were down the hatch and at table ere Tom Platt, last and
most deliberate of the elders, had finished wiping his mouth with
the back of his hand. Harvey followed Penn, and sat down before a
tin pan of cod's tongues and sounds, mixed with scraps of pork and
fried potato, a loaf of hot bread, and some black and powerful
coffee. Hungry as they were, they waited while "Pennsylvania"
solemnly asked a blessing. Then they stoked in silence till Dan
drew breath over his tin cup and demanded of Harvey how he felt.

"'Most full, but there's just room for another piece."

The cook was a huge, jet-black negro, and, unlike all the negroes
Harvey had met, did not talk, contenting himself with smiles and
dumb-show invitations to eat more.

"See, Harvey," said Dan, rapping with his fork on the table, "it's
jest as I said. The young an' handsome men - like me an' Pennsy
an' you an' Manuel - we 're second ha'af, an' we eats when the
first ha'af are through. They're the old fish; and they're mean
an' humpy, an' their stummicks has to be humoured; so they come
first, which they don't deserve. Ain't that so, doctor?"

The cook nodded.

"Can't he talk?" said Harvey, in a whisper.

"'Nough to git along. Not much o' anything we know. His natural
tongue's kinder curious. Comes from the in'ards of Cape Breton, he
does, where the farmers speak home-made Scotch. Cape Breton's full
o' niggers whose folk run in there durin' aour war, an' they talk
like the farmers - all huffy-chuffy."

"That is not Scotch," said "Pennsylvania." "That is Gaelic. So I
read in a book."

"Penn reads a heap. Most of what he says is so - 'cep' when it
comes to a caount o' fish - eh?"

"Does your father just let them say how many they've caught
without checking them?" said Harvey.

"Why, yes. Where's the sense of a man lyin' fer a few old cod?"

"Was a man once lied for his catch," Manuel put in. "Lied every
day. Fife, ten, twenty-fife more fish than come he say there was."

"Where was that?" said Dan. "None o' aour folk."

"Frenchman of Anguille."

"Ah! Them West Shore Frenchmen don't caount, anyway. Stands to
reason they can't caount. Ef you run acrost any of their soft
hooks, Harvey, you'll know why," said Dan, with an awful contempt.

"Always more and never less,
Every time we come to dress,"

Long Jack roared down the hatch, and the "second ha'af" scrambled
up at once.

The shadow of the masts and rigging, with the never-furled riding-
sail, rolled to and fro on the heaving deck in the moonlight; and
the pile of fish by the stern shone like a dump of fluid silver.
In the hold there were tramplings and rumblings where Disko Troop
and Tom Platt moved among the salt-bins. Dan passed Harvey a
pitchfork, and led him to the inboard end of the rough table,
where Uncle Salters was drumming impatiently with a knife-haft. A
tub of salt water lay at his feet.

"You pitch to dad an' Tom Platt down the hatch, an' take keer
Uncle Salters don't cut yer eye out," said Dan, swinging himself
into the hold. "I'll pass salt below."

Penn and Manuel stood knee-deep among cod in the pen, flourishing
drawn knives. Long Jack, a basket at his feet and mittens on his
hands, faced Uncle Salters at the table, and Harvey stared at the
pitchfork and the tub.

"Hi!" shouted Manuel, stooping to the fish, and bringing one up
with a finger under its gill and a finger in its eye. He laid it
on the edge of the pen; the knife-blade glimmered with a sound of
tearing, and the fish, slit from throat to vent, with a nick on
either side of the neck, dropped at Long Jack's feet.

"Hi!" said Long Jack, with a scoop of his mittened hand. The cod's
liver dropped in the basket. Another wrench and scoop sent the
head and offal flying, and the empty fish slid across to Uncle
Salters, who snorted fiercely. There was another sound of tearing,
the backbone flew over the bulwarks, and the fish, headless,
gutted, and open, splashed in the tub, sending the salt water into
Harvey's astonished mouth. After the first yell, the men were
silent. The cod moved along as though they were alive, and long
ere Harvey had ceased wondering at the miraculous dexterity of it
all, his tub was full.

"Pitch!" grunted Uncle Salters, without turning his head, and
Harvey pitched the fish by twos and threes down the hatch.

"Hi! Pitch 'em bunchy," shouted Dan. "Don't scatter! Uncle Salters
is the best splitter in the fleet. Watch him mind his book!"

Indeed, it looked a little as though the round uncle were cutting
magazine pages against time. Manuel's body, cramped over from the
hips, stayed like a statue; but his long arms grabbed the fish
without ceasing. Little Penn toiled valiantly, but it was easy to
see he was weak. Once or twice Manuel found time to help him
without breaking the chain of supplies, and once Manuel howled
because he had caught his finger in a Frenchman's hook. These
hooks are made of soft metal, to be rebent after use; but the cod
very often get away with them and are hooked again elsewhere; and
that is one of the many reasons why the Gloucester boats despise
the Frenchmen.

Down below, the rasping sound of rough salt rubbed on rough flesh
sounded like the whirring of a grindstone - a steady undertune to
the "click-nick" of the knives in the pen; the wrench and schloop
of torn heads, dropped liver, and flying offal; the "caraaah" of
Uncle Salters's knife scooping away backbones; and the flap of
wet, opened bodies falling into the tub.

At the end of an hour Harvey would have given the world to rest;
for fresh, wet cod weigh more than you would think, and his back
ached with the steady pitching. But he felt for the first time in
his life that he was one of a working gang of men, took pride in
the thought, and held on sullenly.

"Knife oh!" shouted Uncle Salters, at last. Penn doubled up,
gasping among the fish, Manuel bowed back and forth to supple
himself, and Long Jack leaned over the bulwarks. The cook
appeared, noiseless as a black shadow, collected a mass of
backbones and heads, and retreated.

"Blood-ends for breakfast an' head-chowder," said Long Jack,
smacking his lips.

"Knife oh!" repeated Uncle Salters, waving the flat, curved
splitter's weapon.

"Look by your foot, Harve," cried Dan, below.

Harvey saw half a dozen knives stuck in a cleat in the hatch
combing. He dealt these around, taking over the dulled ones.

"Water!" said Disko Troop.

"Scuttle-butt's for'ard, an' the dipper's alongside. Hurry,
Harve," said Dan.

He was back in a minute with a big dipperful of stale brown water
which tasted like nectar, and loosed the jaws of Disko and Tom
Platt.

"These are cod," said Disko. "They ain't Damarskus figs, Tom
Platt, nor yet silver bars. I've told you that every single time
sence we've sailed together."

"A matter o' seven seasons," returned Tom Platt, coolly. "Good
stowin's good stowin' all the same, an' there's a right an' a
wrong way o' stowin' ballast even. If you'd ever seen four hundred
ton o' iron set into the -"

"Hi!" With a yell from Manuel the work began again, and never
stopped till the pen was empty. The instant the last fish was
down, Disko Troop rolled aft to the cabin with his brother; Manuel
and Long Jack went forward; Tom Platt only waited long enough to
slide home the hatch ere he too disappeared. In half a minute
Harvey heard deep snores in the cabin, and he was staring blankly
at Dan and Penn.

"I did a little better that time, Danny," said Penn, whose eyelids
were heavy with sleep. "But I think it is my duty to help clean."

"'Wouldn't hev your conscience fer a thousand quintal," said Dan.
"Turn in, Penn. You've no call to do boy's work. Draw a bucket,
Harvey. Oh, Penn, dump these in the gurry-butt 'fore you sleep.
Kin you keep awake that long?"

Penn took up the heavy basket of fish-livers, emptied them into a
cask with a hinged top lashed by the fo'c'sle; then he too dropped
out of sight in the cabin.

"Boys clean up after dressin' down, an' first watch in ca'am
weather is boy's watch on the
43
"CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS"
'We're Here'." Dan sluiced the pen energetically, unshipped the
table, set it up to dry in the moonlight, ran the red knife-blades
through a wad of oakum, and began to sharpen them on a tiny
grindstone, as Harvey threw offal and backbones overboard under
his direction.

At the first splash a silvery-white ghost rose bolt upright from
the oily water and sighed a weird whistling sigh. Harvey started
back with a shout, but Dan only laughed. "Grampus," said he.
"Beggin' fer fish-heads. They up-eend thet way when they're
hungry. Breath on him like the doleful tombs, hain't he?" A
horrible stench of decayed fish filled the air as the pillar of
white sank, and the water bubbled oilily. "Hain't ye never seen a
grampus up-eend before? You'll see 'em by hundreds 'fore ye're
through. Say, it's good to hev a boy aboard again. Otto was too
old, an' a Dutchy at that. Him an' me we fought consid'ble.
'Wouldn't ha' keered fer thet ef he'd hed a Christian tongue in
his head. Sleepy?"

"Dead sleepy," said Harvey, nodding forward.

"'Mustn't sleep on watch. Rouse up an' see ef our anchor-light's
bright an' shinin'. You're on watch now, Harve."

"Pshaw! What's to hurt us? Bright's day. Sn-orrr!

"Jest when things happen, dad says. Fine weather's good sleepin',
an' 'fore you know, mebbe, you're cut in two by a liner, an'
seventeen brass-bound officers, all gen'elmen, lift their hand to
it that your lights was aout an' there was a thick fog. Harve,
I've kinder took to you, but ef you nod onct more I'll lay into
you with a rope's end."

The moon, who sees many strange things on the Banks, looked down
on a slim youth in knickerbockers and a red jersey, staggering
around the cluttered decks of a seventy-ton schooner, while behind
him, waving a knotted rope, walked, after the manner of an
executioner, a boy who yawned and nodded between the blows he
dealt.

The lashed wheel groaned and kicked softly, the riding-sail
slatted a little in the shifts of the light wind, the windlass
creaked, and the miserable procession continued. Harvey
expostulated, threatened, whimpered, and at last wept outright,
while Dan, the words clotting on his tongue, spoke of the beauty
of watchfulness, and slashed away with the rope's end, punishing
the dories as often as he hit Harvey. At last the clock in the
cabin struck ten, and upon the tenth stroke little Penn crept on
deck. He found two boys in two tumbled heaps side by side on the
main-hatch, so deeply asleep that he actually rolled them to their
berths.

Rudyard Kipling

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