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Cap'n Eri by Joseph Lincoln

Part 5 out of 6

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"Pashy," he said huskily, "I've been thinkin' of you consider'ble
lately. Fact is, I--I--well, I come down to-day a-purpose to ask
you somethin'. I know it's a queer place to ask it, and--and I
s'pose it's kind of sudden, but--will--will you-- Breakers! by

The carryall had suddenly begun to rock, and there were streaks of
foam about it. Now, it gave a most alarming heave, grounded, swung
clear, and tipped yet more.

"We're capsizin'," yelled Perez. "Hang on to me, Pashy!"

But Miss Patience didn't intend to let this, perhaps the final
opportunity, slip. As she told her brother afterward, she would
have made him say it then if they had been "two fathom under

"Will I what, Perez?" she demanded.

The carryall rose on two wheels and begun to turn over, but the
Captain did not notice it. The arms of his heart's desire were
about his neck, and he was looking into her eyes.

"Will you marry me?" he gasped.

"Yes," answered Miss Patience, and they went under together.

The Captain staggered to his feet, and dragged his chosen bride to
hers. The ice-cold water reached their shoulders. And, like a
flash, as they stood there, came a torrent of rain and a wind that
drove the fog before it like smoke. Captain Perez saw the shore,
with its silhouetted bushes, only a few yards away. Beyond that,
in the blackness, was a light, a flickering blaze, that rose and
fell and rose and fell again.

The Captain dragged Miss Patience to the beach.

"Run!" he chattered, "run, or we'll turn into icicles. Come on!"

With his arm about her waist Perez guided his dripping companion,
as fast as they could run, toward the light. And as they came
nearer to it they saw that it flickered about the blackened ruins
of a hen-house and a lath fence.

It was Mrs. Mayo's henhouse, and Mrs. Mayo's fence. Their
adventurous journey had ended where it began.

"You see, Eri," said Captain Perez, as he told his friend the story
that night, "that clock in the dining room that I looked at hadn't
been goin' for a week; the mainspring was broke. 'Twa'n't seven
o'clock, 'twas nearer nine when the fire started, and the tide
wa'n't goin' out, 'twas comin' in. I drove into the water too
soon, missed the crossin', and we jest drifted back home ag'in.
The horse had more sense than I did. We found him in the barn
waiting for us."

Abner Mayo had piled against the back of his barn a great heap of
damp seaweed that he intended using in the spring as a fertilizer.
The fire had burned until it reached this seaweed and then had gone
no further. The rain extinguished the last spark.

"Well, by mighty!" exclaimed Captain Perez for at least the tenth
time, as he sat in the kitchen, wrapped in an old ulster of Mr.
Mayo's, and toasting his feet in the oven, "if I don't feel like a
fool. All that scare and wet for nothin'."

"Oh, not for nothin', Perez," said Miss Patience, looking tenderly
down into his face.

"Well, no, not for nothin' by a good deal! I've got you by it, and
that's everything. But say, Pashy!" and the Captain looked awed by
the coincidence, "I went through fire and water to git you!"



Captain Perez made a clean breast of it to Captain Eri when he
reached home that night. It was after twelve o'clock, but he
routed his friend out of bed to tell him the news and the story.
Captain Eri was not as surprised to hear of the engagement as he
pretended to be, for he had long ago made up his mind that Perez
meant business this time. But the tale of the fire and the voyage
in the carryall tickled him immensely, and he rolled back and forth
in the rocker and laughed until his side ached.

"I s'pose it does sound kind of ridic'lous," said the accepted
suitor in a rather aggrieved tone, "but it wa'n't ha'f so funny
when 'twas goin' on. Fust I thought I'd roast to death, then I
thought I'd freeze, and then I thought I'd drown."

"Perez," said the panting Eri, "you're a wonder. I'm goin' to tell
Sol Bangs 'bout you next time I see him. He'll want you to enter
in the races next Fourth of July. We've had tub races and the like
of that, but a carryall sailin' match 'll be somethin' new. I'll
back you against the town, though. You can count on me."

"Now, look here, Eri Hedge, if you tell a livin' soul 'bout it,

"All right, shipmate, all right; but it's too good to keep. You
ought to write a book, one of them kind like Josiah used to read.
Call it 'The Carryall Pirate, or The Terror of the Channel,' hey?
Gee! you'd be famous! But, say, old man," he added more seriously,
"I'll shake hands with you. I b'lieve you've got a good woman, one
that 'll make it smooth sailin' for you the rest of your life. I
wish you both luck."

Captain Perez shook hands very gravely. He was still a little
suspicious of his chum's propensity to tease. It did not tend to
make him less uneasy when, a little later, Captain Eri opened the
parlor door and whispered, "Say, Perez, I've jest thought of some-
thin'. What are you goin' to say to M'lissy Busteed? Her heart
'll be broke."

"Aw, git out!" was the disgusted answer.

"Well, I only mentioned it. Folks have had to pay heavy for breach
of promise 'fore now. Good-night."

Perez manfully told of his engagement at the breakfast table next
morning, although he said nothing concerning the rest of his
adventures. He was rather taken aback to find that no one seemed
greatly surprised. Everyone congratulated him, of course, and it
was gratifying to discern the high opinion of the future Mrs. Ryder
held by Mrs. Snow and the rest. Captain Jerry solemnly shook hands
with him after the meal was over and said, "Perez, you done the
right thing. There's nothin' like married life, after all."

"Then why don't you try it yourself?" was the unexpected question.
"Seems to me we'll have to settle that matter of yours pretty soon.
I meant to speak to Eri 'bout it 'fore this, but I've had so much
on my mind. I will to-night when he comes back from fishin'."

Captain Jerry made no further remarks, but walked thoughtfully

So that evening, when they were together in Captain Jerry's room
after supper, Perez, true to his promise, said:

"Eri, it seems to me we've got to do somethin' 'bout Mrs. Snow.
She was hired to be housekeeper while John was sick. Now he's
dead, and she'll think it's queer if we don't settle that marryin'
bus'ness. Ain't that so?"

"Humph!" grunted Captain Jerry. "Perez is in a mighty sweat to git
other folks married jest 'cause he's goin' to be. I don't see why
she can't keep on bein' housekeeper jest the same as she's always

"Well, I do, and so do you, and you know it. We agreed to the
housekeepin' bus'ness jest as a sort of put off. Now we can't put
off no longer. Mrs. Snow come down here 'cause we advertised for a
wife, and she's been so everlastin' good that I feel 'most ashamed
every time I think of it. No use, you've got to ask her to marry
you. He has, hasn't he, Eri?"

"Yes," answered Captain Eri laconically.

The sacrifice squirmed. "I hate to ask," he said. "Why don't we
wait a spell, and let her say somethin' fust?"

"That WOULD be nice, wouldn't it? She's that kind of a woman,
ain't she?" sputtered Perez. "No, you bet she ain't! What she'd
say would be to give her opinion of us and our manners, and walk
out of the house bag and baggage, and I wouldn't blame her for
doin' it."

"P'raps she wouldn't have me. She never said she would."

"Never said she would! Have you ever asked her? She's had all
this time to l'arn to know you in, and I cal'late if she was
willin' to think 'bout it 'fore she ever see you, she'd be more
willin' now. Ain't that so, Eri?

And again Captain Eri said shortly, "Yes."

"I wish you'd mind your own consarns, and give me time," protested
Captain Jerry.

"Time! How much time do you want? Land of Goshen! I should think
you'd had time enough. Why--"

"Oh, let up!" snorted the persecuted. "Why don't you git married
yourself, and bring Pashy over to keep house? What we started to
git in the fust place was jest a wife for one of us that would keep
things shipshape, and now--"

The withering look of scorn that Perez bent upon him caused him to
hesitate and stop. Captain Perez haughtily marched to the door.

"Eri," he said, "I ain't goin' to waste my time talkin' to a--a
dogfish like him. He ain't wuth it."

"Hold on, now, Perez!" pleaded the discomfited sacrifice, alarmed
at his comrade's threatened desertion. "I was only foolin'. Can't
you take a joke? I haven't said I wouldn't do it. I think a heap
of Mrs. Snow; it's only that I ain't got the spunk to ask her,
that's all."

"Humph! it don't take much spunk," replied the successful wooer,
forgetful of his own past trepidation.

"Well," Captain Jerry wriggled and twisted, but saw no loophole.
"Well, give me a month to git up my courage in and--"

"A month! A month's ridic'lous; ain't it, Eri"


"Well, three weeks, then."

This offer, too, was rejected. Then Captain Jerry held out for a
fortnight--for ten days. Finally, it was settled that within one
week from that very night he was to offer his heart and hand to the
lady from Nantucket. He pledged his solemn word to do it.

"There!" exclaimed the gratified Captain Perez. "That's a good job
done. He won't never be sorry for it, will he, Eri?"

And Captain Eri made his fourth contribution to the conversation.

"No," he said.

Josiah went up to the post-office late in the afternoon of the next
day. The "able seaman" was behaving himself remarkably well. He
had become a real help to Captain Eri, and the latter said that
sailing alone would be doubly hard when his foremast hand went back
to school again, which he was to do very shortly, for Josiah meant
to accept the Captain's offer, and to try for the Annapolis
appointment when the time came.

The boy came back with the mail and an item of news. The mail, a
paper only, he handed to Mrs. Snow, and the news he announced at
the supper table as follows:

"Mr. Hazeltine's goin' to leave the cable station," he said.

"Goin' to leave!" repeated the housekeeper, "what for?"

"I don't know, ma'am. All I know is what I heard Mr. Wingate say.
He said Mr. Hazeltine was goin' to get through over at the station
pretty soon. He said one of the operators told him so."

"Well, for the land's sake! Did you know anything 'bout it, Eri?"

"Why, yes, a little. I met Hazeltine yesterday, and he told me
that some folks out West had made him a pretty good offer, and he
didn't know whether to take it or not. Said the salary was good,
and the whole thing looked sort of temptin'. He hadn't decided
what to do yit. That's all there is to it."

There was little else talked about during the meal. Captain Perez,
Captain Jerry, and Mrs. Snow argued, surmised, and questioned
Captain Eri, who said little. Elsie said almost nothing, and went
to her room shortly after the dishes were washed.

"Humph!" exclaimed Captain Perez, when they were alone, "I guess
your match-makin' scheme's up spout, Jerry."

And, for a wonder, Captain Jerry did not contradict him.

The weather changed that night, and it grew cold rapidly. In the
morning the pump was frozen, and Captain Jerry and Mrs. Snow spent
some time and much energy in thawing it out. It was later than
usual when the former set out for the schoolhouse. As he was
putting on his cap, Elsie suggested that he wait for her, as she
had some lessons to prepare, and wanted an hour or so to herself at
her desk. So they walked on together under a cloudy sky. The mud
in the road was frozen into all sorts of fantastic shapes, and the
little puddles had turned to ice.

"That thaw was a weather-breeder, sure enough," observed Captain
Jerry. "We'll git a storm out of this, 'fore we're done."

"It seems to me," said Elsie, "that the winter has been a very mild
one. From what I had heard I supposed you must have some dreadful
gales here, but there has been none so far."

"We'll git 'em yit. February's jist the time. Git a good
no'theaster goin', and you'll think the whole house is comin' down.
Nothin' to what they used to have, though, 'cordin' to tell. Cap'n
Jonadab Wixon used to swear that his grandfather told him 'bout a
gale that blew the hair all off a dog, and then the wind changed of
a sudden, and blew it all on again."

Elsie laughed. "That must have been a blow," she said.

"Yes. Cap'n Jonadab's somethin' of a blow himself, so he ought to
be a good jedge. The outer beach is the place that catches it when
there's a gale on. Oh, say! that reminds me. I s'pose you was
glad to hear the news last night?"

"What news?"

"Why, that 'bout Mr. Hazeltine's goin' away. You're glad he's
goin', of course."

Miss Preston did not answer immediately. Instead, she turned and
looked wonderingly at her companion.

"Why should I be glad, pray?" she asked.

"Why, I don't know. I jest took it for granted you would be. You
didn't want him to come and see you, and if he was gone he couldn't
come, so--"

"Just a minute, please. What makes you think I didn't want Mr.
Hazeltine to call?"

And now it was the Captain's turn to stare and hesitate.

"What makes me think--" he gasped. "Why--you told me so,

"_I_ told you so? I'm certain that I never told you anything of
the kind."

Captain Jerry stood stock-still, and if ever a face expressed
complete amazement, it was his.

"Elsie Preston!" he ejaculated, "are you losin' your mem'ry or
what? Didn't you pitch into me hot-foot for lettin' him be alone
with you? Didn't you give me 'hark from the tomb' for gittin' up
and goin' away? Didn't you say his calls was perfect torture to
you, and that you had to be decent to him jest out of common
politeness? Now, didn't you?"

"Oh, that was it! No, of course I didn't say any such thing."

"You DIDN'T! Why, I heard you! Land of love! my ears smarted for
a week afterward. I ain't had sech a goin' over sence mother used
to git at me for goin' in swimmin' on Sunday. And now you say you
didn't say it."

"I didn't. You misunderstood me. I did object to your leaving the
room every time he called, and making me appear so ridiculous; and
I did say that his visits might be a torture for all that you knew
to the contrary, but I certainly didn't say that they WERE."

"SUFFERIN'! And you ain't glad he stopped comin'?"

The air of complete indifference assumed by the young lady was a

"Why, of course," she said, "Mr. Hazeltine is a free agent, and I
don't know of any reason why he should be compelled to go where he
doesn't wish to go. I enjoyed his society, and I'm sure Captain
Eri and Mrs. Snow enjoyed it, too; but it is quite evident that he
did not enjoy ours, so I don't see that there need be any more said
on the subject."

Captain Jerry was completely crushed. If the gale described by the
redoubtable grandsire of Jonadab Wixon had struck him, he could not
have been more upset.

"My! my! my!" he murmured. "And after my beggin' his pardon and

"Begging his pardon? For what?"

"Why, for leavin' you two alone. Of course, after you pitched into
me so I see how foolish I'd been actin', and I--honest, I didn't
sleep scursely a bit that night thinkin' 'bout it. Thinks I, 'If
Elsie feels that way, why, there ain't no doubt that Mr. Hazeltine
feels the same.' There wa'n't but one thing to be done. When a
man makes a mistake, if he is any kind of a man, he owns up, and
does his best to straighten things out. 'Twa'n't easy to do, but
duty's duty, and the next time I see Mr. Hazeltine I told him the
whole thing, and--"

"You DID!"

"Sartin I did."

"What did you tell him?"

They had stopped on the sidewalk nearly opposite the post-office.
Each was too much engrossed in the conversation to pay any heed to
anything else. If the few passersby thought it strange that the
schoolmistress should care to loiter out of doors on that cold and
disagreeable morning, they said nothing about it. One young man in
particular, who, standing just inside the post-office door, was
buttoning his overcoat and putting on his gloves, looked earnestly
at the pair, but he, too, said nothing.

"Why, I told him," said Captain Jerry, in reply to the question,
"how you didn't like to have me go out of the room when he was
there. Course, I told him I didn't mean to do nothin' out of the
way. Then he asked me some more questions, and I answered 'em best
I could, and--well, I guess that's 'bout all."

"Did you tell him that I said his visits were a torture?"

"Why--" the Captain shuffled his feet uneasily--"seems to me I said
somethin' 'bout it--not jest that, you know, but somethin'. Fact
is, I was so muddle-headed and upset that I don't know exactly what
I did say. Anyhow, he said 'twas all right, so there ain't nothin'
to worry 'bout."

"Captain Jeremiah Burgess!" exclaimed Elsie. Then she added, "What
MUST he think of me?"

"Oh, I'll fix that!" exclaimed the Captain. "I'll see him some
time to-day, and I'll tell him you didn't mean it. Why, I declare!
Yes, 'tis! There he is, now! Hi! Mr. Hazeltine! Come here a

A mischievous imp was certainly directing Captain Jerry's movements.
Ralph had, almost for the first time since he came to Orham, paid an
early morning visit to the office in order to send an important
letter in the first mail. The slamming of the door had attracted
the Captain's attention and, in response to the hail, Mr. Hazeltine
crossed the road.

And then Captain Jerry felt his arm clutched with a grip that meant
business, as Miss Preston whispered, "Don't you dare say one word
to him about it. Don't you DARE!"

If Ralph had been surprised by the request to join the couple, he
was more surprised by the reception he received. Elsie's face was
crimson, and as for the Captain, he looked like a man who had
suddenly been left standing alone in the middle of a pond covered
with very thin ice.

The electrician bowed and shook hands gravely. As no remark seemed
to be forthcoming from those who had summoned him, he observed that
it was an unpleasant morning. This commonplace reminded him of one
somewhat similar that he had made to a supposed Miss "Gusty" Black,
and he, too, colored.

"Did you want to speak with me, Captain?" he asked, to cover his

"Why--why, I did," stammered poor Captain Jerry, "but--but I don't
know's I do now." Then he realized that this was not exactly
complimentary, and added, "That is, I don't know--I don't know's I--
Elsie, what was it I was goin' to say to Mr. Hazeltine?"

At another time it is likely that the young lady's quick wit would
have helped her out of the difficulty, but now she was too much

"I'm sure I don't know," she said coldly.

"You don't know! Why, yes you do? 'Twas--'twas--" The Captain
was frantically grasping at straws. "Why, we was wonderin' why you
didn't come to see us nowadays."

If the Captain had seen the look that Elsie shot at him, as he
delivered this brilliant observation, he might have been more,
instead of less, uncomfortable. As it was, he felt rather proud
of having discovered a way out of the difficulty. But Ralph's
embarrassment increased. He hurriedly said something about having
been very busy.

"Well," went on the Captain, intent on making the explanation as
plausible as possible, "we've missed you consider'ble. We was
sayin' we hoped you wouldn't give us up altogether. Ain't that so,

Miss Preston's foot tapped the sidewalk several times, but she
answered, though not effusively:

"Mr. Hazeltine is always welcome, of course." Then, she added,
turning away, "Really, Captain Jerry, I must hurry to school. I
have a great deal of work to do before nine o'clock. Good-morning,
Mr. Hazeltine."

The Captain paused long enough to say, "We'll expect you now, so
come," and then hurried after her. He was feeling very well
satisfied with himself.

"By mighty! Elsie," he chuckled, "I got out of that nice, didn't

He received no answer, even when he repeated the remark, and,
although he endeavored, as he swept out the schoolroom, to engage
the teacher in conversation, her replies were as cold as they were
short. The Captain went home in the last stages of dismalness.

That afternoon, when Captain Eri returned from the fishing grounds,
he found Captain Jerry waiting for him at the shanty. The
humiliated matchmaker sent Josiah up to the grocery store on an
errand, and then dragged his friend inside and shut the door.

Captain Eri looked at the woe-begone face with some concern.

"What ails you, Jerry?" he demanded. "Have you--have you spoken to
Mrs. Snow 'bout that--that marriage?"

"No, I ain't, Eri, but I'm in a turrible mess, and I don't know
why, neither. Seems to me the more I try to do for other folks the
wuss off I am; and, instead of gittin' thanks, all I git is blame."

"Why, what's the matter?"

"Well, now I know you'll think I'm a fool, and 'll jest pester the
life out of me. See here, Eri Hedge! If I tell you what I want
to, will you promise not to pitch into me, and not to nag and poke
fun? If you don't promise I won't tell one single word, no matter
what happens."

So Captain Eri promised, and then Captain Jerry, stammering and
hesitating, unburdened his mind of the whole affair, telling of his
first reproof by Elsie, his "explanation" to Ralph, and the
subsequent developments. Long before he finished, Captain Eri rose
and, walking over to the door, stood looking out through the dim
pane at the top, while his shoulders shook as if there was a
smothered earthquake inside.

"There!" exclaimed the injured matrimonial agent, in conclusion.
"There's the whole fool thing, and I 'most wish I'd never seen
either of 'em. I thought I did fust-rate this mornin' when I was
tryin' to think up somethin' to show why I hailed Hazeltine, but
no, Elsie won't hardly speak to me. I wish to goodness you'd tell
me what to do."

Captain Eri turned away from the door. His eyes were watery, and
his face was red, but he managed to say:

"Oh, Jerry, Jerry! Your heart's big as a bucket, but fishin' 's
more in your line than gittin' folks married to order is, I'm
'fraid. You stay here, and unload them fish in the dory. There
ain't many of 'em, and Josiah 'll help when he gits back. I'm
goin' out for a few minutes."

He went down to the beach, climbed into a dory belonging to a
neighbor, and Captain Jerry saw him row away in the direction of
the cable station.

That evening, after the dishes were washed and the table cleared,
there came a knock at the door. Mrs. Snow opened it.

"Why, for goodness sake! Mr. Hazeltine!" she exclaimed. "Come
right in. What a stranger you are!"

Ralph entered, shook the snow, which had just begun to fall, from
his hat and coat, took off these articles, in response to the
hearty invitation of Captain Eri, and shook hands with all present.
Elsie's face was an interesting study. Captain Jerry looked

After a few minutes' talk, Captain Eri rose.

"Mrs. Snow," he said, "come upstairs a little while. I want to
talk to you 'bout somethin'. You come, too, Jerry."

Captain Jerry looked from Elsie to the speaker, and then to Elsie
again. But Captain Eri's hand was on his arm, and he rose and

Elsie watched this wholesale desertion with amazement. Then the
door opened again, and Captain Eri put in his head.

"Elsie," he said, "I jest want to tell you that this is my doin's,
not Jerry's. That's all." And the door shut.

Elsie faced the caller with astonishment written on her face.

"Mr. Hazeltine," she said icily, "you may know what this means, but
I don't."

Ralph looked at her and answered solemnly, but with a twinkle in
his eye:

"I'm afraid I can guess, Miss Preston. You see Captain Jerry paid
Captain Eri a call this afternoon and, as a result, Captain Eri
called upon me. Then, as a result of THAT, I--well, I came here."

The young lady blushed furiously. "What did Captain Eri tell you?"
she demanded.

"Just what Captain Jerry told him."

"And that was?"

"What you told Captain Jerry this morning concerning something that
you told him before, I believe."

There was no answer to this. Miss Preston looked as if she had a
mind to run out of the room, then as if she might cry, and finally
as if she wanted to laugh.

"I humbly apologize," said the electrician contritely.

"YOU apologize? For what?"

"For my stupidity in believing that Captain Jerry was to be
accepted seriously."

"You were excusable, certainly. And now I must apologize; also for
taking the Captain too seriously."

"Suppose we pair the apologies as they do the votes in the Senate.
Then one will offset the other."

"I'm afraid that isn't fair, for the blunder was all on my part."

"Well, if we can't pair apologies, suppose we pair blunders. I
don't accept your statement of guilt, mind, but since you are
determined to shoulder it, we might put it on one side and on the
other we'll put--"


"'Gusty' Black."

And then they both laughed.

A little later Captain Eri knocked at the door.

"Is it safe for a feller to come in?" he asked.

"Well," said Elsie severely, "I don't know whether talebearers
should be admitted or not, but if they do come they must beg pardon
for interfering in other people's affairs."

"Ma'am," and the Captain made a profound bow, "I hope you'll be so
'kind and condescendin', and stoop so low, and be so bendin'' as to
forgive me. And, while I'm 'bout it, I'll apologize for Jerry,

"No, sir," said the young lady decidedly. "Captain Jerry must
apologize for himself. Captain Jeremiah Burgess," she called up
the stairway, "come into court, and answer for your sins."

And Captain Jerry tremblingly came.



It had begun to snow early in the evening, a light fall at first,
but growing heavier every minute, and, as the flakes fell thicker
and faster, the wind began to blow, and its force increased
steadily. Ralph, hearing the gusts as they swooped about the
corners of the house, and the "swish" of the snow as it was thrown
against the window panes, several times rose to go, but Captain Eri
in each instance urged him to stay a little longer. Finally, the
electrician rebelled.

"I should like to stay, Captain," he said, "but how do you think I
am going to get over to the station if this storm grows worse, as
it seems to be doing?"

"I don't think," was the calm reply. "You're goin' to stay here."

"Well, I guess not."

"I guess yes. S'pose we're goin' to let you try to row over to the
beach a night like this? It's darker 'n a nigger's pocket, and
blowin' and snowin' great guns besides. Jest you look out here."

He rose, beckoned to Ralph, and then opened the outer door. He had
to use considerable strength to do this, and a gust of wind and a
small avalanche of snow roared in, and sent the lighter articles
flying from the table. Elsie gave a little scream, and Mrs. Snow
exclaimed, "For the land's sake, shut that door this minute!
Everything 'll be soppin' wet."

The Captain pulled the door shut again, and dropped the hook into
the staple.

"Nice night for a pull, ain't it?" he observed, smiling. "No, sir,
I've heard it comin' on, and I made up my mind you'd have to stay
on dry land for a spell, no matter if all creation wanted you on
t'other side."

Ralph looked troubled. "I ought to be at the station," he said.

"Maybe so, but you ain't, and you'll have to put up at this
boardin' house till mornin'. When it's daylight one of us 'll set
you across. Mr. Langley ain't foolish. He won't expect you to-

"Now, Mr. Hazeltine," said the housekeeper, "you might jest as well
give it up fust as last. You KNOW you can't go over to that
station jest as well as I do."

So Ralph did give it up, although rather against his will. There
was nothing of importance to be done, but he felt a little like a
deserter, nevertheless.

"Perez won't git home neither," observed Captain Eri. "He's snowed
in, too."

Captain Perez had that afternoon gone down to the Mayo homestead to
take tea with Miss Davis.

"Git home! I should think not!" said Mrs. Snow decidedly.
"Pashy's got too much sense to let him try it."

"Well, Elsie," commented Captain Jerry, "I told you we'd have a
no'theaster 'fore the winter was over. I guess there'll be gale
enough to satisfy you, now. No school to-morrer."

"Well, that's settled! Let's be comf'table. Ain't there some of
that cider down cellar? Where's the pitcher?" And Captain Eri
hurried off to find it.

When bedtime came there was some argument as to where the guest
should sleep. Ralph insisted that the haircloth sofa in the parlor
was just the thing, but Captain Eri wouldn't hear of it.

"Haircloth's all right to look at," he said, "but it's the
slipperiest stuff that ever was, I cal'late. Every time I set
on a haircloth chair I feel's if I was draggin' anchor."

The cot was declared ineligible, also, and the question was finally
settled by Josiah and Captain Eri going upstairs to the room once
occupied by John Baxter, while Ralph took that which they vacated.

It was some time before he fell asleep. The gale seemed to be
tearing loose the eternal foundations. The house shook and the bed
trembled as if a great hand was moving them, and the snow slapped
against the windows till it seemed that they must break.

In the morning there was little change in the weather. The snow
had turned to a sleet, half rain, that stuck to everything and
coated it with ice. The wind was blowing as hard as ever. Captain
Eri and Ralph, standing just outside the kitchen door, and in the
lee of the barn, paused to watch the storm for a minute before they
went down to the beach. At intervals they caught glimpses of the
snow-covered roofs of the fish shanties, and the water of the inner
bay, black and threatening and scarred with whitecaps; then another
gust would come, and they could scarcely see the posts at the yard

"Think you want to go over, do you?" asked the Captain.

"I certainly do, if I can get there."

"Oh, we can git there all right. I've rowed a dory a good many
times when 'twas as bad as this. This ain't no picnic day, though,
that's a fact," he added, as they crossed the yard, and caught the
full force of the wind. "Lucky you put on them ileskins."

Ralph was arrayed in Captain Jerry's "dirty-weather rig," and
although, as Captain Eri said, the garments fitted him "like a
shirt on a handspike," they were very acceptable.

They found the dory covered with snow and half-full of slush, and
it took some few minutes to get her into condition. When this was
accomplished they hauled her down to the shore, and Captain Eri,
standing knee-deep in water, steadied her while Ralph climbed in.
Then the Captain tumbled in himself, picked up the oars, and
settled down for the pull to the outer beach.

A dory, as everyone acquainted alongshore knows, is the safest of
all small craft for use in heavy weather. It is unsinkable for one
thing, and, being flat-bottomed, slips over the waves instead of
plowing through them. But the high freeboard is a mark for the
wind, and to keep a straight course on such a morning as this
requires skill, and no small amount of muscle. Ralph, seated in
the stern, found himself wondering how on earth his companion
managed to row as he did, and steer at the same time. The strokes
were short, but there was power in them, and the dory, although
moving rather slowly, went doggedly on.

"Let me take her," shouted Ralph after a while, "you must be

"Who, me?" Captain Eri laughed. "I could keep this up for a week.
There ain't any sea in here. If we was outside now, 'twould be
diff'rent, maybe."

They hit the beach almost exactly at the right spot, a feat which
the passenger considered a miracle, but which the Captain seemed to
take as a matter of course. They beached and anchored the dory,
and, bending almost double as they faced the wind, plowed through
the sand to the back door of the station. There was comparatively
little snow here on the outer beach--the gale had swept it nearly
all away.

Mr. Langley met them as they tramped into the hall. The old
gentleman was glad to see his assistant, for he had begun to fear
that the latter might have tried to row over during the evening,
and met with disaster. As they sat round the stove in his room he
said, "We don't need any wrecks inside the beach. We shall have
enough outside, I'm afraid. I hear there is one schooner in
trouble now."

"That so?" asked Captain Eri. "Where is she?"

"On the Hog's Back shoal, they think. One of the life-saving crew
told McLaughlin that they saw her last night, when the gale first
began, trying to make an offing, and that wreckage was coming
ashore this morning. Captain Davis was going to try to reach her
with the boat, I believe."

"I should like to be at the life-saving station when they land,"
said Ralph. "It would be a new experience for me. I've seen the
crew drill often enough, but I have never seen them actually at

"What d'you say if we go down to the station?" asked the Captain.
"That is, if Mr. Langley here can spare you."

"Oh, I can spare him," said the superintendent. "There is nothing
of importance to be done here just now. But it will be a terrible
walk down the beach this morning."

"Wind 'll be at our backs, and we're rigged for it, too. What
d'you say, Mr. Hazeltine?"

Ralph was only too glad of the opportunity to see, at least, the
finish of a rescuing expedition, and he said so. So they got into
the oilskins again, pulled their "sou'westers" down over their
ears, and started on the tramp to the life-saving station.

The electrician is not likely to forget that walk. The wind was,
as the Captain said, at their backs, but it whistled in from the
sea with terrific strength, and carried the sleet with it. It
deluged them with water, and plastered them with flying seaweed and
ice. The wet sand came in showers like hail, and beat against
their shoulders until they felt the sting, even through their
clothes. Toward the bay was nothing but gray mist, streaked with
rain and sleet; toward the sea was the same mist, flying with the
wind over such a huddle of tossing green and white as Ralph had
never seen. The surf poured in in rollers that leaped over each
other's humped backs in their savage energy to get at the shore,
which trembled as they beat upon it. The ripples from one wave had
not time to flow back before those of the next came threshing in.
Great blobs of foam shot down the strand like wild birds, and the
gurgle and splash and roar were terrific.

They walked as near the water line as they dared, because the sand
was harder there. Captain Eri went ahead, hands in his pockets and
head down. Ralph followed, sometimes watching his companion, but
oftener gazing at the sea. At intervals there would be a lull, as
if the storm giant had paused for breath, and they could see for
half a mile over the crazy water; then the next gust would pull the
curtain down again, and a whirl of rain and sleet would shut them
in. Conversation meant only a series of shrieks and they gave it

At length the Captain turned, grinned pleasantly, while the rain
drops splashed on his nose, and waved one arm. Ralph looked and
saw ahead of them the clustered buildings of the life-saving
station. And he was glad to see them.

"Whew!" puffed Captain Eri as they opened the door. "Nice mornin'
for ducks. Hey, Luther!" he shouted, "wake up here; you've got

They heard footsteps in the next room, the door opened, and in
came--not Luther Davis, but Captain Perez.

"Why, Eri!" he exclaimed amazedly.

"For the land's sake, Perez! What are you doin' here?"

"What are YOU doin' here, I should say. How d'you do, Mr.

Captain Eri pushed back his "sou'wester," and strolled over to the
stove. Ralph followed suit.

"Well, Perez," said the former, extending his hands over the fire,
"it's easy enough to tell you why we're here. We heard there was a

"There is. She's a schooner, and she's off there on the Hog's
Back. Luther and the crew put off to her more 'n two hours ago,
and I'm gittin' worried."

Then Perez went on to explain that, because of the storm, he had
been persuaded to stay at Mrs. Mayo's all night; that Captain Davis
had been over for a moment that evening on an errand, and had said
that the schooner had been sighted and that, as the northeaster was
coming on, she was almost certain to get into trouble; that he,
Perez, had rowed over the first thing in the morning to get the
news, and had been just in time to see the launching of the
lifeboat, as the crew put off to the schooner.

"There ain't nothin' to worry 'bout," observed Captain Eri. "It's
no slouch of a pull off to the Hog's Back this weather, and
besides, I'd trust Lute Davis anywhere on salt water."

"Yes, I know," replied the unconvinced Captain Perez, "but he ought
to have been back afore this. There was a kind of let-up in the
storm jest afore I got here, and they see her fast on the shoal
with the crew in the riggin'. Luther took the small boat 'cause he
thought he could handle her better, and that's what's worryin' me;
I'm 'fraid she's overloaded. I was jest thinkin' of goin' out on
the p'int to see if I could see anything of 'em when you folks

"Well, go ahead. We'll go with you, if Mr. Hazeltine's got any of
the chill out of him."

Ralph was feeling warm by this time and, after Perez had put on his
coat and hat, they went out once more into the gale. The point of
which Perez had spoken was a wedge-shaped sand ridge that, thrown
up by the waves and tide, thrust itself out from the beach some few
hundred yards below the station. They reached its tip, and stood
there in the very midst of the storm, waiting for the lulls, now
more frequent, and scanning the tumbling water for the returning

"Schooner's layin' right over there," shouted Captain Perez in
Ralph's ear, pointing off into the mist. "'Bout a mile off shore,
I cal'late. Wicked place, the Hog's Back is, too."

"Wind's lettin' up a little mite," bellowed Captain Eri. "We've
had the wust of it, I guess. There ain't so much--"

He did not finish the sentence. The curtain of sleet parted,
leaving a quarter-mile-long lane, through which they could see the
frothing ridges racing one after the other, endlessly. And across
this lane, silent and swift, like a moving picture on a screen,
drifted a white turtleback with black dots clinging to it. It was
in sight not more than a half minute, then the lane closed again,
as the rain lashed their faces.

Captain Perez gasped, and clutched the electrician by the arm.

"Godfrey mighty!" he exclaimed.

"What was it?" shouted Ralph. "What was it, Captain Eri?"

But Captain Eri did not answer. He had turned, and was running at
full speed back to the beach. When they came up they found him
straining at the side of the dory that Luther Davis used in tending
his lobster pots. The boat, turned bottom up, lay high above tide
mark in the little cove behind the point.

"Quick, now!" shouted the Captain, in a tone Ralph had never heard
him use before. "Over with her! Lively!"

They obeyed him without question. As the dory settled right side
up two heavy oars, that had been secured by being thrust under the
seats, fell back with a clatter.

"What was it, Captain?" shouted Ralph.

"The lifeboat upset. How many did you make out hangin' onto her,
Perez? Five, seemed to me."

"Four, I thought. Eri, you ain't goin' to try to reach her with
this dory? You couldn't do it. You'll only be drownded yourself.
My Lord!" he moaned, wringing his hands, "what 'll Pashy do?"

"Catch a-holt now," commanded Captain Eri. "Down to the shore with
her! Now!"

They dragged the dory to the water's edge with one rush. Then Eri
hurriedly thrust in the tholepins. Perez protested again.

"Eri," he said, "it ain't no use. She won't live to git through
the breakers."

His friend answered without looking up. "Do you s'pose," he said,
"that I'm goin' to let Lute Davis and them other fellers drown
without makin' a try for 'em? Push off when I tell you to."

"Then you let me go instead of you."

"Don't talk foolish. You've got Pashy to look after. Ready now!"

But Ralph Hazeltine intervened.

"I'm going myself," he said firmly, putting one foot over the
gunwale. "I'm a younger man than either of you, and I'm used to a
boat. I mean it. I'm, going."

Captain Eri looked at the electrician's face; he saw nothing but
determination there.

"We'll all go," he said suddenly. "Mr. Hazeltine, run as fast as
the Lord 'll let you back to the station and git another set of
oars. Hurry!"

Without answering, the young man sprang up the beach and ran toward
the buildings. The moment that he was inside Captain Eri leaped
into the dory.

"Push off, Perez!" he commanded. "That young feller's got a life
to live."

"You don't go without me," asserted Perez stoutly.

"All right! Push off, and then jump in."

Captain Perez attempted to obey. He waded into the water and gave
the dory a push, but, just as he was about to scramble in, he
received a shove that sent him backwards.

"Your job's takin' care of Pashy!" roared Captain Eri.

Perez scrambled to his feet, but the dory was already half-way
across the little patch of comparatively smooth water in the cove.
As he looked he saw it enter the first line of breakers, rise amid
a shower of foam, poise on the crest, and slip over. The second
line of roaring waves came surging on, higher and more threatening
than the first. Captain Eri glanced over his shoulder, turned the
dory's bow toward them and waited. They broke, and, as they did
so, the boat shot forward into the whirlpool of froth. Then the
sleet came pouring down and shut everything from sight.

When Ralph came hurrying to the beach, bearing the oars, he found
Captain Perez alone.



Captain Eri knew that the hardest and most dangerous portion of his
perilous trip was just at its beginning. If the dory got through
the surf without capsizing, it was an even bet that she would stay
right-side-up for a while longer, at any rate. So he pulled out of
the little cove, and pointed the boat's bow toward the thundering
smother of white, his shoulders squared, his hands tightened on the
oar handles, and his under-jaw pushed out beyond the upper. Old
foremast hands, those who had sailed with the Captain on his
coasting voyages, would, had they seen these signs, have prophesied
trouble for someone. They were Captain Eri's battle-flags, and
just now his opponent was the gray Atlantic. If the latter won, it
would only be after a fight.

The first wave tripped over the bar and whirled beneath him,
sending the dory high into the air and splashing its occupant with
spray. The Captain held the boat stationary, waiting for the
second to break, and then, half rising, put all his weight and
strength on the oars. The struggle had begun.

They used to say on board the Hannah M. that the skipper never got
rattled. The same cool head and steady nerve that Josiah had
admired when the catboat threaded the breakers at the entrance of
the bay, now served the same purpose in this more tangled and
infinitely more wicked maze. The dory climbed and ducked, rolled
and slid, but gained, inch by inch, foot by foot. The advancing
waves struck savage blows at the bow, the wind did its best to
swing her broadside on, but there was one hundred and eighty pounds
of clear grit and muscle tugging at the oars, and, though the
muscles were not as young as they had been, there were years of
experience to make every pound count. At last the preliminary
round was over. The boat sprang clear of the breakers and crept
out farther and farther, with six inches of water slopping in her
bottom, but afloat and seaworthy.

It was not until she was far into deep water that the Captain
turned her bow down the shore. When this was done, it was on the
instant, and, although a little more water came inboard, there was
not enough to be dangerous. Then, with the gale astern and the
tide to help, Captain Eri made the dory go as she, or any other on
that coast, had never gone before.

The Captain knew that the wind and the tide that were now aiding
him were also sweeping the overturned lifeboat along at a rapid
rate. He must come up with it before it reached the next shoal.
He must reach it before the waves, and, worse than all, the cold
had caused the poor fellows clinging to it for life to loose their

The dory jumped from crest to crest like a hurdler. The sleet now
beat directly into the Captain's face and froze on his eyebrows and
lashes, but he dared not draw in an oar to free a hand. The wind
caught up the spindrift and poured it over him in icy baths, but he
was too warm from the furious exercise to mind.

In the lulls he turned his head and gazed over the sea, looking for
the boat. Once he saw it, before the storm shut down again, and he
groaned aloud to count but two black dots on its white surface. He
pulled harder than ever, and grunted with every stroke, while the
perspiration poured down his forehead and froze when it reached the
ice dams over his eyes.

At last it was in plain sight, and the two dots, now clearly human
beings, were still there. He pointed the bow straight at it and
rowed on. When he looked again there was but one, a figure
sprawled along the keel, clinging to the centerboard.

The flying dory bore down upon the lifeboat, and the Captain risked
what little breath he had in a hail. The clinging figure raised
its head, and Captain Eri felt an almost selfish sense of relief to
see that it was Luther Davis. If it had to be but one, he would
rather it was that one.

The bottom of the lifeboat rose like a dome from the sea that beat
and roared over and around it. The centerboard had floated up and
projected at the top, and it was about this that Captain Davis'
arms were clasped. Captain Eri shot the dory alongside, pulled in
one oar, and the two boats fitted closely together. Then Eri
reached out, and, seizing his friend by the belt round his waist,
pulled him from his hold. Davis fell into the bottom of the dory,
only half conscious and entirely helpless.

Captain Eri lifted him so that his head and shoulders rested on a
thwart, and then, setting his oar against the lifeboat's side,
pushed the dory clear. Then he began rowing again.

So far he had been more successful than he had reason to expect,
but the task that he must now accomplish was not less difficult.
He must reach the shore safely, and with another life beside his
own to guard.

It was out of the question to attempt to get back to the cove; the
landing must be made on the open beach, and, although Captain Eri
had more than once brought a dory safely through a high surf, he
had never attempted it when his boat had nearly a foot of water in
her and carried a helpless passenger.

Little by little, still running before the wind, the Captain edged
in toward the shore. Luther Davis moved once or twice, but said
nothing. His oilskins were frozen stiff and his beard was a lump
of ice. Captain Eri began to fear that he might die from cold and
exhaustion before the attempt at landing was made. The Captain
resolved to wait no longer, but to take the risk of running
directly for the beach.

He was near enough now to see the leaping spray of the breakers,
and their bellow sounded louder than the howl of the wind or the
noises of the sea about him. He bent forward and shouted in the
ear of the prostrate life-saver.

"Luther!" he yelled, "Lute!"

Captain Davis' head rolled back, his eyes opened, and, in a dazed
way, he looked at the figure swinging back and forth with the oars.

"Lute!" shouted Captain Eri, "listen to me! I'm goin' to try to
land. D'you hear me?"

Davis' thoughts seemed to be gathering slowly. He was, ordinarily,
a man of strong physique, courageous, and a fighter every inch of
him, but his strength had been beaten out by the waves and chilled
by the cold, and the sight of the men with whom he had lived and
worked for years drowning one by one, had broken his nerve. He
looked at his friend, and then at the waves.

"What's the use?" he said feebly. "They're all gone. I might as
well go, too."

Captain Eri's eyes snapped. "Lute Davis," he exclaimed, "I never
thought I'd see you playin' crybaby. Brace up! What are you,

The half-frozen man made a plucky effort.

"All right, Eri," he said. "I'm with you, but I ain't much good."

"Can you stand up?"

"I don't know. I'll try."

Little by little he raised himself to his knees.

"'Bout as fur's I can go, Eri," he said, between his teeth. "You
look out for yourself. I'll do my durndest."

The dory was caught by the first of the great waves, and, on its
crest, went flying toward the beach. Captain Eri steered it with
the oars as well as he could. The wave broke, and the half-filled
boat paused, was caught up by the succeeding breaker, and thrown
forward again. The Captain, still trying to steer with one oar,
let go of the other, and seizing his companion by the belt, pulled
him to his feet.

"Now then," he shouted, "stand by!"

The boat poised on the curling wave, went down like a hammer,
struck the sand, and was buried in water. Just as it struck,
Captain Eri jumped as far shoreward as he could. Davis sprang with
him, but it was really the Captain's strength that carried them
clear of the rail.

They kept their feet for an instant, but, in that instant, Captain
Eri dragged his friend a yard or so up the shelving beach. Then
they were knocked flat by the next wave. The Captain dug his toes
into the sand and braced himself as the undertow sucked back. Once
more he rose and they staggered on again, only to go down when the
next rush of water came. Three times this performance was
repeated, and, as they rose for the fourth time, the Captain
roared, "Now!"

Another plunge, a splashing run, and they were on the hard sand of
the beach. Then they both tumbled on their faces and breathed in
great gasps.

But the Captain realized that this would not do, for, in their
soaked condition, freezing to death was a matter of but a short
time. He seized Davis by the shoulder and shook him again and

"Come on, Lute! Come on!" he insisted. "Git up! You've GOT to
git up!"

And, after a while, the life-saver did get up, although he could
scarcely stand. Then, with the Captain's arm around his waist,
they started slowly up the beach toward the station.

They had gone but a little way when they were met by Ralph
Hazeltine and Captain Perez.

Mrs. Snow had been, for her, rather nervous all that forenoon. She
performed her household duties as thoroughly as usual, but Elsie,
to whom the storm had brought a holiday, noticed that she looked
out of the window and at the clock frequently. Once she even went
so far as to tell the young lady that she felt "kind of queer; jest
as if somethin' was goin' to happen." As the housekeeper was not
the kind to be troubled with presentiments, Elsie was surprised.

Dinner was on the table at twelve o'clock, but Captain Eri was not
there to help eat it, and they sat down without him. And here
again Mrs. Snow departed from her regular habit, for she ate little
and was very quiet. She was the first to hear an unusual sound
outside, and, jumping up, ran to the window.

"Somebody's drivin' into the yard," she said. "Who on airth would
be comin' here such a day as this?"

Captain Jerry joined her at the window.

"It's Abner Mayo's horse," he said. "Maybe it's Perez comin'

It was not Captain Perez, but Mr. Mayo himself, as they saw when
the rubber blanket fastened across the front of the buggy was
dropped and the driver sprang out. Mrs. Snow opened the door for

"Hello, Abner!" exclaimed Captain Jerry, as the newcomer stopped to
knock the snow from his boots before coming in, "what have you done
to Perez? Goin' to keep him for a steady boarder?"

But Mr. Mayo had important news to communicate, and he did not
intend to lose the effect of his sensation by springing it without
due preparation. He took off his hat and mittens and solemnly
declined a proffered chair.

"Cap'n Burgess," he said, "I've got somethin' to tell you--
somethin' awful. The whole life-savin' crew but one is drownded,
and Cap'n Eri Hedge--"

An exclamation from Mrs. Snow interrupted him. The housekeeper
clasped her hands together tightly and sank into a chair. She was
very white. Elsie ran to her.

"What is it, Mrs. Snow?" she asked.

"Nothin', nothin'! Go on, Mr. Mayo. Go on!"

The bearer of ill-tidings, gratified at the result of his first
attempt, proceeded deliberately:

"And Cap'n Hedge and Luther Davis are over at the station pretty
nigh dead. If it wa'n't for the Cap'n, Luther'd have gone, too.
Eri took a dory and went off and picked him up. Perez come over to
my house and told us about it, and Pashy's gone back with him to
see to her brother. I didn't go down to the store this mornin',
'twas stormin' so, but as soon as I heard I harnessed up to come
and tell you."

Then, in answer to the hurried questions of Captain Jerry and
Elsie, Mr. Mayo told the whole story as far as he knew it. Mrs.
Snow said nothing, but sat with her hands still clasped in her lap.

"Luther is ha'f drownded and froze," concluded Abner, "and the
Cap'n got a bang with an oar when they jumped out of the dory that,
Perez is afraid, broke his arm. I'm goin' right back to git Dr.
Palmer. They tried to telephone him, but the wire's down."

"Dear! dear! dear!" exclaimed Captain Jerry, completely demoralized
by the news. "That's dreadful! I must go right down there,
mustn't I? The poor fellers!"

Mrs. Snow rose to her feet quietly, but with a determined air.

"Are you goin' right back soon's you've got the Doctor, Mr. Mayo?"
she asked.

"Why, no, I wa'n't. I ain't been to my store this mornin', and I'm
'fraid I ought to be there."

To be frank, Abner was too great a sensation lover to forfeit the
opportunity of springing his startling news on the community.

"Then, Josiah, you'll have to harness Dan'l and take me down. I
mustn't wait another minute."

"Why, Mrs. Snow!" expostulated Captain Jerry, "you mustn't go down
there. The Doctor's goin', and I'll go, and Pashy's there already."

But the housekeeper merely waved him aside.

"I want you to stay here with Elsie," she said. "There's no
tellin' how long I may be gone. Josiah 'll drive me down, won't
you, Josiah?"

There was no lack of enthusiasm in the "able seaman's" answer. The
boy was only too glad of the chance.

"But it ain't fit weather for you to be out in. You'll git soakin'

"I guess if Pashy Davis can stand it, I can. Elsie, will you come
and help me git ready, while Josiah's harnessin'?"

As they entered the chamber above, Elsie was thunderstruck to see
her companion seat herself in the rocker and cover her face with
her hands. If it had been anyone else it would not have been so
astonishing, but the cool, self-possessed housekeeper--she could
scarcely believe it.

"Why, Mrs. Snow!" she exclaimed, "what IS it?"

The lady from Nantucket hastily rose and wiped her eyes with her

"Oh, nothin'," she answered, with an attempt at a smile. "I'm kind
of fidgety this mornin', and the way that man started off to tell
his yarn upset me; that's all. I mustn't be such a fool."

She set about getting ready with a vim and attention to detail that
proved that her "fidgets" had not affected her common-sense. She
was pale and her hands trembled a little, but she took a covered
basket and packed in it cloth for bandages, a hot-water bottle,
mustard, a bottle of liniment, and numerous other things likely to
be of use. Last of all, she added a bottle of whisky that had been
prescribed as a stimulant for John Baxter.

"I s'pose some folks would think 'twas terrible carryin' this with
me," she observed. "A woman pitched into me once for givin' it to
her husband when he was sick. I told her I didn't favor RHUBARB as
a steady drink, but I hoped I knew enough to give it when 'twas

Ralph and Captain Perez were surprised men when the housekeeper,
dripping, but cheerful, appeared on the scene. She and Josiah had
had a stormy passage on the way down, for the easy-going Daniel had
objected to being asked to trot through drifts, and Mrs. Snow had
insisted that he should be made to do it. The ford was out of the
question, so they stalled the old horse in the Mayo barn and
borrowed Abner's dory to make the crossing.

Mrs. Snow took charge at once of the tired men, and the overtaxed
Miss Patience was glad enough to have her do it. Luther Davis was
in bed, and Captain Eri, after an hour's sojourn in the same snug
harbor, had utterly refused to stay there longer, and now, dressed
in a suit belonging to the commandant, was stretched upon a sofa in
the front room.

The Captain was the most surprised of all when Mrs. Snow appeared.
He fairly gasped when she first entered the room, and seemed to be
struck speechless, for he said scarcely a word while she dosed him
with hot drinks, rubbed his shoulder--the bone was not broken, but
there was a bruise there as big as a saucer--with the liniment, and
made him generally comfortable. He watched her every movement with
a sort of worshipful wonder, and seemed to be thinking hard.

Captain Davis, although feeling a little better, was still very
weak, and his sister and Captain Perez were with him. Josiah soon
returned to the Mayo homestead to act as ferryman for Dr. Palmer
when the latter should arrive, and Ralph, finding that there was
nothing more that he could do, went back to the cable station. The
storm had abated somewhat and the wind had gone down. Captain Eri
and Mrs. Snow were alone in the front room, and, for the first time
since she entered the house, the lady from Nantucket sat down to
rest. Then the Captain spoke.

"Mrs. Snow," he said gravely, "I don't believe you've changed your
clothes sence you got here. You must have been soaked through,
too. I wish you wouldn't take such risks. You hadn't ought to
have come over here a day like this, anyway. Not but what the Lord
knows it's good to have you here," he added hastily.

The housekeeper seemed surprised.

"Cap'n Eri," she said, "I b'lieve if you was dyin' you'd worry for
fear somebody else wouldn't be comf'table while you was doing it.
'Twould be pretty hard for me to change my clothes," she added,
with a laugh, "seein' that there probably ain't anything but men's
clothes in the place." Then, with a sigh, "Poor fellers, they
won't need 'em any more."

"That's so. And they were all alive and hearty this mornin'. It's
an awful thing for Luther. Has he told anything yit 'bout how it
come to happen?"

"Yes, a little. The schooner was from Maine, bound to New York.
Besides her own crew she had some Italians aboard, coal-handlers,
they was, goin' over on a job for the owner. Cap'n Davis says he
saw right away that the lifeboat would be overloaded, but he had to
take 'em all, there wa'n't time for a second trip. He made the
schooner's crew and the others lay down in the boat where they
wouldn't hinder the men at the oars, but when they got jest at the
tail of the shoal, where the sea was heaviest, them Italians lost
their heads and commenced to stand up and yell, and fust thing you
know, she swung broadside on and capsized. Pashy says Luther don't
say much more, but she jedges, from what he does say, that some of
the men hung on with him for a while, but was washed off and

"That's right; there was four or five there when we saw her fust.
'Twas Lute's grip on the centerboard that saved him. It's an awful

"Yes, and he would have gone, too, if it hadn't been for you. And
you talk about MY takin' risks!"

"Well, Jerry hadn't ought to have let you come."

"LET me come! I should like to have seen him try to stop me. The
idea! Where would I be if 'twa'n't helpin' you, after all you've
done for me?"

"I'VE done? I haven't done anything!"

"You've made me happier 'n I've been for years. You've been so
kind that--that--"

She stopped and looked out of the window.

"It's you that's been kind," said the Captain. "You've made a home
for me; somethin' I ain't had afore sence I was a boy."

Mrs. Snow went on as if he had not spoken.

"And to think that you might have been drownded the same as the
rest," she said. "I knew somethin' was happenin'. I jest felt it,
somehow. I told Elsie I was sure of it. I couldn't think of
anything but you all the forenoon."

The Captain sat up on the couch.

"Marthy," he said in an awed tone, "do you know what I was thinkin'
of when I was pullin' through the wust of it this mornin'? I was
thinkin' of you. I thought of Luther and the rest of them poor
souls, of course, but I thought of you most of the time. It kept
comin' back to me that if I went under I shouldn't see you ag'in.
And you was thinkin' of me!"

"Yes, when that Mayo man said he had awful news, I felt sure 'twas
you he was goin' to tell about. I never fainted away in my life
that I know of, but I think I 'most fainted then."

"And you cared as much as that?"


Somehow both were speaking quietly, but as if it was useless longer
to keep back anything. To speak the exact truth without reserve
seemed the most natural thing in the world.

"Well, well, well!" said the Captain reverently, and still in the
same low tone. "I said once afore that I b'lieved you was sent
here, and now I'm sure of it. It seems almost as if you was sent
to ME, don't it?"

The housekeeper still looked out of the window, but she answered
simply, "I don't know."

"It does, it does so. Marthy, we've been happy together while
you've been here. Do you b'lieve you could be happy with me
always--if you married me, I mean?"

Mrs. Snow turned and looked at him. There were tears in her eyes,
but she did not wipe them away.

"Yes," she said.

"Think now, Marthy. I ain't very young, and I ain't very rich."

"What am I?" with a little smile.

"And you really think you could be happy if you was the wife of an
old codger like me?"

"Yes." The answer was short, but it was convincing.

Captain Eri rose to his feet.

"Gosh!" he said in a sort of unbelieving whisper. "Marthy, are you
willin' to try?"

And again Mrs. Snow said "Yes."

When Dr. Palmer came he found Luther Davis still in bed, but
Captain Eri was up and dressed, and there was such a quiet air of
happiness about him that the man of medicine was amazed.

"Good Lord, man!" he exclaimed, "I expected to find you flat on
your back, and you look better than I've seen you for years.
Taking a salt-water bath in mid-winter must agree with you."

"It ain't so much that," replied the Captain serenely. "It's the
pay I got for takin' it."

When the Doctor saw Perez alone, he asked the latter to keep a
close watch on Captain Eri's behavior. He said he was afraid that
the exertion and exposure might have affected the Captain's brain.

Perez, alarmed by this caution, did watch his friend very closely,
but he saw nothing to frighten him until, as they were about to
start for home, Captain Eri suddenly struck his thigh a resounding

"Jerry!" he groaned distressfully. "I clean forgot. I've gone
back on Jerry!"



Elsie and Captain Jerry were kept busy that afternoon. Abner
Mayo's news spread quickly, and people gathered at the post-office,
the stores, and the billiard room to discuss it. Some of the men,
notably "Cy" Warner and "Rufe" Smith, local representatives of the
big Boston dailies, hurried off to the life-saving station to get
the facts at first hand. Others came down to talk with Captain
Jerry and Elsie. Melissa Busteed's shawl was on her shoulders and
her "cloud" was tied about her head in less than two minutes after
her next-door neighbor shouted the story across the back yards.
She had just left the house, and Captain Jerry was delivering a
sarcastic speech concerning "talkin' machines," when Daniel plodded
through the gate, drawing the buggy containing Josiah, Mrs. Snow,
and Captain Eri.

For a man who had been described as "half-dead," Captain Eri looked
very well, indeed. Jerry ran to help him from the carriage, but he
jumped out himself and then assisted the housekeeper to alight with
an air of proud proprietorship. He was welcomed to the house like
a returned prodigal, and Captain Jerry shook his well hand until
the arm belonging to it seemed likely to become as stiff and sore
as the other. While this handshaking was going on Captain Eri was
embarrassed. He did not look his friend in the face, and most of
his conversation was addressed to Elsie.

As soon as he had warmed his hands and told the story of the wreck
and rescue, he said, "Jerry, come up to my room a minute, won't
you? I've got somethin' I want to say."

Vaguely wondering what the private conversation might be, Jerry
followed his friend upstairs. When they were in the room, Captain
Eri closed the door and faced his companion. He was confused, and
stammered a little, as he said, "Jerry, I've--I've got somethin' to
say to you 'bout Mrs. Snow."

Then it was Captain Jerry's turn to be confused.

"Now, Eri," he protested, "'tain't fair to keep pesterin' me like
this. I know I ain't said nothin' to her yit, but I'm goin' to. I
had a week, anyhow, and it ain't ha'f over. Land sake!" he burst
forth, "d'you s'pose I ain't been thinkin' 'bout it? I ain't
thought of nothin' else, hardly. I bet you I've been over the
whole thing every night sence we had that talk. I go over it and
GO over it. I've thought of more 'n a million ways to ask her, but
there ain't one of 'em that suits me. If I was goin' to be hung
'twouldn't be no worse, and now you've got to keep a-naggin'. Let
me alone till my time is up, can't you?"

"I wa'n't naggin'. I was jest goin' to tell you that you won't
have to ask. I've been talkin' to her myself, and--"

The sacrifice sprang out of his chair.

"Eri Hedge!" he exclaimed indignantly. "I thought you was a friend
of mine! I give you my word I'd do it in a week, and the least you
could have done, seems to me, would have been to wait and give me
the chance. But no! all you think 'bout's yourself. So 'fraid
she'd say no and you'd lose your old housekeeper, wa'n't you? The
idea! She must think I'm a good one--can't do my own courtin', and
have to git somebody to do it for me! What did she say?" he asked

"She said yes to what I asked her," was the reply with a half

Upon Captain Jerry's face settled the look of one who accepts the
melancholy inevitable. He sat down again.

"I s'posed she would," he said with a sigh. "She's known me for
quite a spell now, and she's had a chance to see what kind of a man
I be. Well, what else did you do? Ain't settled the weddin' day,
have you?" This with marked sarcasm.

"Not yit. Jerry, you've made a mistake. I didn't ask her for

"Didn't ask her--didn't-- What are you talkin' 'bout, then?"

"I asked her for myself. She's goin' to marry me."

Captain Jerry was too much astonished even to get up. Instead, he
simply sat still with open mouth while his friend continued.

"I've come to think a lot of Mrs. Snow sence she's been here,"
Captain Eri said slowly, "and I've found out that she's felt the
same way 'bout me. I've kept still and said nothin' 'cause I
thought you ought to have the fust chance and, besides, I didn't
know how she felt. But to-day, while we was talkin', it all come
out of itself, seems so, and--well, we're goin' to be married."

The sacrifice--a sacrifice no longer--still sat silent, but curious
changes of expression were passing over his face. Surprise,
amazement, relief, and now a sort of grieved resignation.

"I feel small enough 'bout the way I've treated you, Jerry,"
continued Captain Eri. "I didn't mean to--but there! it's done,
and all I can do is say I'm sorry and that I meant to give you your
chance. I shan't blame you if you git mad, not a bit; but I hope
you won't."

Captain Jerry sighed. When he spoke it was in a tone of sublime

"Eri," he said, "I ain't mad. I won't say my feelin's ain't hurt,
'cause--'cause--well, never mind. If a wife and a home ain't for
me, why I ought to be glad that you're goin' to have 'em. I wish
you both luck and a good v'yage. Now, don't talk to me for a few
minutes. Let me git sort of used to it."

So they shook hands and Captain Eri, with a troubled look at his
friend, went out. After he had gone, Captain Jerry got up and
danced three steps of an improvised jig, his face one broad grin.
Then, with an effort, he sobered down, assumed an air of due
solemnity, and tramped downstairs.

If the announcement of Captain Perez' engagement caused no
surprise, that of Captain Eri's certainly did--surprise and
congratulation on the part of those let into the secret, for it was
decided to say nothing to outsiders as yet. Ralph came over that
evening and they told him about it, and he was as pleased as the
rest. As for the Captain, he was only too willing to shake hands
with any and everybody, although he insisted that the housekeeper
had nothing to be congratulated upon, and that she was "takin' big
chances." The lady herself merely smiled at this, and quietly said
that she was willing to take them.

The storm had wrecked every wire and stalled every train, and Orham
was isolated for two days. Then communication was established once
more, and the Boston dailies received the news of the loss of the
life-savers and the crew of the schooner. And they made the most
of it; sensational items were scarce just then, and the editors
welcomed this one. The big black headlines spread halfway across
the front pages. There were pictures of the wreck, "drawn by our
artist from description," and there were "descriptions" of all
kinds. Special reporters arrived in the village and interviewed
everyone they could lay hands on. Abner Mayo felt that for once he
was receiving the attention he deserved.

The life-saving station and the house by the shore were besieged by
photographers and newspaper men. Captain Eri indignantly refused
to pose for his photograph, so he was "snapped" as he went out to
the barn, and had the pleasure of seeing a likeness of himself,
somewhat out of focus, and with one leg stiffly elevated, in the
Sunday Blanket. The reporters waylaid him at the post-office, or
at his fish shanty, and begged for interviews. They got them,
brief and pointedly personal, and, though these were not printed,
columns describing him as "a bluff, big-hearted hero," were.

If ever a man was mad and disgusted, that man was the Captain. In
the first place, as he said, what he had done was nothing more than
any other man 'longshore would have done, and, secondly, it was
nobody's business. Then again, he said, and with truth:

"This whole fuss makes me sick. Here's them fellers in the crew
been goin' out, season after season, takin' folks off wrecks, and
the fool papers never say nothin' 'bout it; but they go out this
time, and don't save nobody and git drownded themselves, and
they're heroes of a sudden. I hear they're raisin' money up to
Boston to give to the widders and orphans. Well, that's all right,
but they'd better keep on and git the Gov'ment to raise the
sal'ries of them that's left in the service."

The climax came when a flashily dressed stranger called, and
insisted upon seeing the Captain alone. The interview lasted just
about three minutes. When Mrs. Snow, alarmed by the commotion,
rushed into the room, she found Captain Eri in the act of throwing
after the fleeing stranger the shiny silk hat that the latter had
left behind.

"Do you know what that--that swab wanted?" hotly demanded the
indignant Captain. "He wanted me to rig up in ileskins and a
sou'wester and show myself in dime museums. Said he'd buy that
dory of Luther's that I went out in, and show that 'long with me.
I told him that dory was spread up and down the beach from here to
Setuckit, but he said that didn't make no diff'rence, he'd have a
dory there and say 'twas the reel one. Offered me a hundred
dollars a week, the skate! I'd give ten dollars right now to tell
him the rest of what I had to say."

After this the Captain went fishing every day, and when at home
refused to see anybody not known personally. But the agitation
went on, for the papers fed the flames, and in Boston they were
raising a purse to buy gold watches and medals for him and for
Captain Davis.

Shortly after four o'clock one afternoon of the week following that
of the wreck, Captain Eri ventured to walk up to the village,
keeping a weather eye out for reporters and smoking his pipe. He
made several stops, one of them being at the schoolhouse where
Josiah, now back at his desk, was studying overtime to catch up
with his class.

As the Captain was strolling along, someone touched him from
behind, and he turned to face Ralph Hazeltine. The electrician had
been a pretty regular caller at the house of late, but Captain Eri
had seen but little of him, for reasons unnecessary to state.

"Hello, Captain!" said Ralph. "Taking a constitutional? You want
to look out for Warner; I hear he's after you for another rescue

"He'll need somebody to rescue him if he comes pesterin' 'round
me," was the reply. "You ain't seen my dime show friend nowheres,
have you? I'd sort of like to meet HIM again; our other talk broke
off kind of sudden."

Ralph laughed, and said he was afraid that the museum manager
wouldn't come to Orham again very soon.

"I s'pose likely not," chuckled Captain Eri. "I ought to have kept
his hat; then, maybe, he'd have come back after it. Oh, say!" he
added, "I've been meanin' to ask you somethin'. Made up your mind
'bout that western job yit?"

Ralph shook his head. "Not yet," he said slowly. "I shall very
soon, though, I think."

"Kind of puzzlin' you, is it? Not that it's really any of my
affairs, you understand. There's only a few of us good folks left,
as the feller said, and I'd hate to see you leave, that's all."

"I am not anxious to go, myself. My present position gives me a
good deal of leisure time for experimental work--and--well, I'll
tell you in confidence--there's a possibility of my becoming
superintendent one of these days, if I wish to."

"Sho! you don't say! Mr. Langley goin' to quit?"

"He is thinking of it. The old gentleman has saved some money, and
he has a sister in the West who is anxious to have him come out
there and spend the remainder of his days with her. If he does, I
can have his position, I guess. In fact, he has been good enough
to say so."

"Well, that's pretty fine, ain't it? Langley ain't the man to
chuck his good opinions round like clam shells. You ought to feel

"I suppose I ought."

They walked on silently for a few steps, the Captain waiting for
his companion to speak, and the latter seeming disinclined to do
so. At length the older man asked another question.

"Is t'other job so much better?"


Silence again. Then Ralph said, "The other position, Captain, is
very much like this one in some respects. It will place me in a
country town, even smaller than Orham, where there are few young
people, no amusements, and no society, in the fashionable sense of
the word."

"Humph! I thought you didn't care much for them things."

"I don't."

To this enigmatical answer the Captain made no immediate reply.
After a moment, however, he said, slowly and with apparent
irrelevance, "Mr. Hazeltine, I can remember my father tellin' 'bout
a feller that lived down on the South Harniss shore when he was a
boy. Queer old chap he was, named Elihu Bassett; everybody called
him Uncle Elihu. In them days all hands drunk more or less rum,
and Uncle Elihu drunk more. He had a way of stayin' sober for a
spell, and then startin' off on a regular jamboree all by himself.
He had an old flat-bottomed boat that he used to sail 'round in,
but she broke her moorin's one time and got smashed up, so he
wanted to buy another. Shadrach Wingate, Seth's granddad 'twas,
tried to fix up a dicker with him for a boat he had. They agreed
on the price, and everything was all right 'cept that Uncle Elihu
stuck out that he must try her 'fore he bought her.

"So Shad fin'lly give in, and Uncle Elihu sailed over to Wellmouth
in the boat. He put in his time 'round the tavern there, and when
he come down to the boat ag'in, he had a jugful of Medford in his
hand, and pretty nigh as much of the same stuff under his hatches.
He got afloat somehow, h'isted the sail, lashed the tiller after a
fashion, took a nip out of the jug and tumbled over and went fast
asleep. 'Twas a still night or 'twould have been the finish. As
'twas he run aground on a flat and stuck there till mornin'.

"Next day back he comes with the boat all scraped up, and says he,
'She won't do, Shad; she don't keep her course.'

"'Don't keep her course, you old fool!' bellers Shad. 'And you
tight as a drumhead and sound asleep! Think she can find her way
home herself?' he says.

"'Well,' says Uncle Elihu, 'if she can't she ain't the boat for

Ralph laughed. "I see," he said. "Perhaps Uncle Elihu was wise.
Still, if he wanted the boat very much, he must have hated to put
her to the test."

"That's so," assented the Captain, "but 'twas better to know it
then than to be sorry for it afterwards."

Both seemed to be thinking, and neither spoke again until they came
to the grocery store, where Hazeltine stopped, saying that he must
do an errand for Mr. Langley. They said good-night, and the
Captain turned away, but came quickly back and said:

"Mr. Hazeltine, if it ain't too much trouble, would you mind
steppin' up to the schoolhouse when you've done your errand? I've
left somethin' there with Josiah, and I'd like to have you git it.
Will you?"

"Certainly," was the reply, and it was not until the Captain had
gone that Ralph remembered he did not know what he was to get.

When he reached the school he climbed the stairs and opened the
door, expecting to find Josiah alone. Instead, there was no one
there but Elsie, who was sitting at the desk. She sprang up as he
entered. Both were somewhat confused.

"Pardon me, Miss Preston," he said. "Captain Eri sent me here. He
said he left something with Josiah, and wished me to call for it."

"Why, I'm sure I don't know what it can be," replied Elsie.
"Josiah has been gone for some time, and he said nothing to me
about it."

"Perhaps it is in his desk," suggested Ralph. "Suppose we look."

So they looked, but found nothing more than the usual assortment
contained in the desk of a healthy schoolboy. The raised lid shut
off the light from the window, and the desk's interior was rather
dark. They had to grope in the corners, and occasionally their
hands touched. Every time this happened Ralph thought of the
decision that he must make so soon.

He thought of it still more when, after the search was abandoned,
Elsie suggested that he help her with some problems that she was
preparing for the next day's labors of the first class in
arithmetic. In fact, as he sat beside her, pretending to figure,
but really watching her dainty profile as it moved back and forth
before his eyes, his own particular problem received far more
attention than did those of the class. Suddenly he spoke:

"Teacher," he said, "please, may I ask a question?"

"You should hold up your hand if you wish permission to speak," was
the stern reply.

"Please consider it held up."

"Is the question as important as 'How many bushels did C. sell?'
which happens to be my particular trouble just now."

"It is to me, certainly." Ralph was serious enough now. "It is a
question that I have been wrestling with for some time. It is,
shall I take the position that has been offered me in the West, or
shall I stay here and become superintendent of the station? The
superintendent's place may be mine, I think, if I want it."

Elsie laid down her pencil and hesitated for a moment before she
spoke. When she did reply her face was turned away from her

"I should think that question might best be decided by comparing
the salaries and prospects of the two positions," she said quietly.

"The two positions are much alike in one way. You know what the
life at the station means the greater portion of the year--no
companions of your own age and condition, no society, no
amusements. The Western offer means all this and worse, for the
situation is the same all the year. I say these things because I
hope you may be willing to consider them, not from my point of view
solely, but from yours."

"From mine?"

"Yes. You see I am recklessly daring to hope that, whichever lot
is chosen, you may be willing to share it with me--as my wife.
Elsie, do you think you could consider the question from that

And--well--Elsie thought she could.

The consideration--we suppose it was the consideration--took so
long that it was nearly dark when Elsie announced that she simply
MUST go. It was Ralph's duty as a gentleman to help her in putting
on her coat, and this took an astonishingly long time. Finally it
was done, however, and they came downstairs.

"Dearest," said Ralph, after the door was locked, "I forgot to have
another hunt for whatever it was that Captain Eri wanted me to

Elsie smiled rather oddly.

"Are you sure you haven't got it?" she asked demurely.

"Got it! Why--why, by George, what a numbskull I am! The old
rascal! I thought there was a twinkle in his eye."

"He said he should come back after me."

"Well, well! Bless his heart, it's sound and sweet all the way
through. Yes, I HAVE got it, and, what's more, I shall tell him
that I mean to keep it."

The gold watches from the people to the heroes of the Orham wreck
having been duly bought and inscribed and the medals struck, there
came up the question of presentation, and it was decided to perform
the ceremony in the Orham town hall, and to make the occasion
notable. The Congressman from the district agreed to make the
necessary speech. The Harniss Cornet Band was to furnish music.
All preparations were made, and it remained only to secure the
consent of the parties most interested, namely, Captain Eri and
Luther Davis.

And this was the hardest task of all. Both men at first flatly
refused to be present. The Captain said he might as well go to the
dime museum and be done with it; he was much obliged to the Boston
folks, but his own watch was keeping good time, and he didn't need
a new one badly enough to make a show of himself to get it.
Captain Davis said very much the same.

But Miss Patience was proud of her brother's rise to fame, and
didn't intend to let him forfeit the crowning glory. She enlisted
Captain Perez as a supporter, and together they finally got
Luther's unwilling consent to sit on the platform and be stared at
for one evening. Meanwhile, Captain Jerry, Elsie, Ralph, and Mrs.
Snow were doing their best to win Captain Eri over. When Luther
surrendered, the forces joined, and the Captain threw up his hands.

"All right," he said. "Only I ought to beg that dime museum
feller's pardon. 'Tain't right to be partial this way."

The hall was jammed to the doors. Captain Eri, seated on the
platform at one end of the half-circle of selectmen, local
politicians, and minor celebrities, looked from the Congressman in
the middle to Luther on the other end, and then out over the
crowded settees. He saw Mrs. Snow's pleasant, wholesome face
beaming proudly beside Captain Jerry's red one. He saw Captain
Perez and Miss Patience sitting together close to the front, and
Ralph and Elsie a little further back. The Reverend Mr. Perley was
there; so were the Smalls and Miss Abigail Mullett. Melissa
Busteed was on the very front bench with the boys, of whom Josiah
was one. The "train committee" was there--not a member missing--
and at the rear of the hall, smiling and unctuous as ever, was
"Web" Saunders. In spite of his stage fright the Captain grinned
when he saw "Web."

Mr. Solomon Bangs, his shirt-bosom crackling with importance,
introduced the Congressman. The latter's address was, so the Item
said, "a triumph of oratorical effort." It really was a good
speech, and when it touched upon the simple sacrifice of the men
who had given up their lives in the course of what, to them, was
everyday work, there were stifled sobs all through the hall.
Luther Davis, during this portion of the address, sat with his big
hand shading his eyes. Later on, when the speaker was sounding the
praises of the man who "alone, forgetful of himself, braved the sea
and the storm to save his friends," those who looked at Captain Eri
saw his chair hitched back, inch by inch, until, as the final
outburst came, little more than his Sunday shoes was in sight. He
had retired, chair and all, to the wings.

But they called him to the platform again and, amid--we quote from
the Item once more--"a hurricane of applause," the two heroes were
adorned with the watches and the medals.

There was a sort of impromptu reception after the ceremony, when
Captain Eri, with Mrs. Snow on his arm, struggled through the crowd
toward the door.

"'Twas great, shipmate, and you deserved it!" declared magnanimous
Captain Jerry, wringing his hand.

"'Tain't ha'f what you ought to have, Eri," said Captain Perez.

"I haven't said much to thank you for savin' Luther," whispered
Miss Patience, "but I hope you know that we both appreciate what
you done and never 'll forgit it."

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