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Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

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Memorial Day. Let's stay over that, anyway."

"What is this memorial business? They were talking about it at the
boarding-house," said Cheyne, weakly. He, too, was not anxious to
spoil the golden days.

"Well, as far as I can make out, this business is a sort of song-
and-dance act, whacked up for the summer boarders. Disko don't
think much of it, he says, because they take up a collection for
the widows and orphans. Disko's independent. Haven't you noticed
that?"

Well - yes. A little. In spots. Is it a town show, then?"

"The summer convention is. They read out the names of the fellows
drowned or gone astray since last time, and they make speeches,
and recite, and all. Then, Disko says, the secretaries of the Aid
Societies go into the back yard and fight over the catch. The real
show, he says, is in the spring. The ministers all take a hand
then, and there aren't any summer boarders around."

"I see," said Cheyne, with the brilliant and perfect comprehension
of one born into and bred up to city pride. "We'll stay over for
Memorial Day, and get off in the afternoon."

"Guess I'll go down to Disko's and make him bring his crowd up
before they sail. I'll have to stand with them, of course."

"Oh, that's it, is it," said Cheyne. "I'm only a poor summer
boarder, and you're -"

"A Banker - full-blooded Banker," Harvey called back as he boarded
a trolley, and Cheyne went on with his blissful dreams for the
future.

Disko had no use for public functions where appeals were made for
charity, but Harvey pleaded that the glory of the day would be
lost, so far as he was concerned, if the "We're Heres" absented
themselves. Then Disko made conditions. He had heard - it was
astonishing how all the world knew all the world's business along
the waterfront - he had heard that a "Philadelphia actress-woman"
was going to take part in the exercises; and he mistrusted that
she would deliver "Skipper Ireson's Ride." Personally, he had as
little use for actresses as for summer boarders; but justice was
justice, and though he himself (here Dan giggled) had once slipped
up on a matter of judgment, this thing must not be. So Harvey came
back to East Gloucester, and spent half a day explaining to an
amused actress with a royal reputation on two seaboards the
inwardness of the mistake she contemplated; and she admitted that
it was justice, even as Disko had said.
-
Cheyne knew by old experience what would happen; but anything of
the nature of a public palaver was meat and drink to the man's
soul. He saw the trolleys hurrying west, in the hot, hazy morning,
full of women in light summer dresses, and white-faced straw-
hatted men fresh from Boston desks; the stack of bicycles outside
the post-office; the come-and-go of busy officials, greeting one
another; the slow flick and swash of bunting in the heavy air; and
the important man with a hose sluicing the brick sidewalk.

"Mother," he said suddenly, "don't you remember - after Seattle
was burned out -and they got her going again?"

Mrs. Cheyne nodded, and looked critically down the crooked street.
Like her husband, she understood these gatherings, all the West
over, and compared them one against another. The fishermen began
to mingle with the crowd about the town-hall doors - blue-jowled
Portuguese, their women bare-headed or shawled for the most part;
clear-eyed Nova Scotians, and men of the Maritime Provinces;
French, Italians, Swedes, and Danes, with outside crews of
coasting schooners; and everywhere women in black, who saluted one
another with a gloomy pride, for this was their day of great days.
And there were ministers of many creeds, - pastors of great, gilt-
edged congregations, at the seaside for a rest, with shepherds of
the regular work, - from the priests of the Church on the Hill to
bush-bearded ex-sailor Lutherans, hail-fellow with the men of a
score of boats. There were owners of lines of schooners, large
contributors to the societies, and small men, their few craft
pawned to the mastheads, with bankers and marine-insurance agents,
captains of tugs and water-boats, riggers, fitters, lumpers,
salters, boat-builders, and coopers, and all the mixed population
of the water-front.

They drifted along the line of seats made gay with the dresses of
the summer boarders, and one of the town officials patrolled and
perspired till he shone all over with pure civic pride. Cheyne had
met him for five minutes a few days before, and between the two
there was entire understanding.

"Well, Mr. Cheyne, and what d'you think of our city? - Yes, madam,
you can sit anywhere you please. - You have this kind of thing out
West, I presume?"

"Yes, but we aren't as old as you."

"That's so, of course. You ought to have been at the exercises
when we celebrated our two hundred and fiftieth birthday. I tell
you, Mr. Cheyne, the old city did herself credit."

"So I heard. It pays, too. What's the matter with the town that it
don't have a first-class hotel, though?"

"Right over there to the left, Pedro. Heaps o' room for you and
your crowd. -Why, that's what I tell 'em all the time, Mr. Cheyne.
There's big money in it, but I presume that don't affect you any.
What we want is -"

A heavy hand fell on his broadcloth shoulder, and the flushed
skipper of a Portland coal-and-ice coaster spun him half round.
"What in thunder do you fellows mean by clappin' the law on the
town when all decent men are at sea this way? Heh? Town's dry's a
bone, an' smells a sight worse sence I quit. 'Might ha' left us
one saloon for soft drinks, anyway."

"Don't seem to have hindered your nourishment this morning,
Carsen. I'll go into the politics of it later. Sit down by the
door and think over your arguments till I come back."

"What good's arguments to me? In Miquelon champagne's eighteen
dollars a case, and -" The skipper lurched into his seat as an
organ-prelude silenced him.

"Our new organ," said the official proudly to Cheyne. "Cost us
four thousand dollars, too. We'll have to get back to high-licence
next year to pay for it. I wasn't going to let the ministers have
all the religion at their convention. Those are some of our
orphans standing up to sing. My wife taught 'em. See you again
later, Mr. Cheyne. I'm wanted on the platform."

High, clear, and true, children's voices bore down the last noise
of those settling into their places.

"O all ye Works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: praise him, and
magnify him for ever!"

The women throughout the hall leaned forward to look as the
reiterated cadences filled the air. Mrs. Cheyne, with some others,
began to breathe short; she had hardly imagined there were so many
widows in the world; and instinctively searched for Harvey. He had
found the "We're Heres" at the back of the audience, and was
standing, as by right, between Dan and Disko. Uncle Salters,
returned the night before with Penn, from Pamlico Sound, received
him suspiciously.

"Hain't your folk gone yet?" he grunted. "What are you doin' here,
young feller?"

"O ye Seas and Floods, bless ye the Lord: praise him, and magnify
him for ever!"

"Hain't he good right?" said Dan. "He's bin there, same as the
rest of us."

"Not in them clothes," Salters snarled.

"Shut your head, Salters," said Disko. "Your bile's gone back on
you. Stay right where ye are, Harve."

Then up and spoke the orator of the occasion, another pillar of
the municipality, bidding the world welcome to Gloucester, and
incidentally pointing out wherein Gloucester excelled the rest of
the world. Then he turned to the sea-wealth of the city, and spoke
of the price that must be paid for the yearly harvest. They would
hear later the names of their lost dead - one hundred and
seventeen of them. (The widows stared a little, and looked at one
another here.) Gloucester could not boast any overwhelming mills
or factories. Her sons worked for such wage as the sea gave; and
they all knew that neither Georges nor the Banks were cow-
pastures. The utmost that folk ashore could accomplish was to help
the widows and the orphans; and after a few general remarks he
took this opportunity of thanking, in the name of the city, those
who had so public-spiritedly consented to participate in the
exercises of the occasion.

"I jest despise the beggin' pieces in it," growled Disko. "It
don't give folk a fair notion of us."

"Ef folk won't be fore-handed an' put by when they've the chance,"
returned Salters, "it stands in the nature o' things they hev to
be 'shamed. You take warnin' by that, young feller. Riches
endureth but for a season, ef you scatter them araound on
lugsuries -"

"But to lose everything - everything," said Penn. "What can you do
then? Once I" - the watery blue eyes stared up and down, as
looking for something to steady them - "once I read - in a book, I
think - of a boat where every one was run down - except some one -
and he said to me -"

"Shucks!" said Salters, cutting in. "You read a little less an'
take more int'rust in your vittles, and you'll come nearer earnin'
your keep, Penn."

Harvey, jammed among the fishermen, felt a creepy, crawly,
tingling thrill that began in the back of his neck and ended at
his boots. He was cold, too, though it was a stifling day.

"'That the actress from Philadelphia?" said Disko Troop, scowling
at the platform. "You've fixed it about old man Ireson, hain't ye,
Harve? Ye know why naow."

It was not "Ireson's Ride" that the woman delivered, but some sort
of poem about a fishing-port called Brixham and a fleet of
trawlers beating in against storm by night, while the women made a
guiding fire at the head of the quay with everything they could
lay hands on.

"They took the grandam's blanket,
Who shivered and bade them go;
They took the baby's cradle,
Who could not say them no."

"Whew!" said Dan, peering over Long Jack's shoulder. "That's
great! Must ha' bin expensive, though."

"Ground-hog case," said the Galway man. "Badly lighted port,
Danny."

"And knew not all the while
If they were lighting a bonfire
Or only a funeral pile."

The wonderful voice took hold of people by their heartstrings; and
when she told how the drenched crews were flung ashore, living and
dead, and they carried the bodies to the glare of the fires,
asking: "Child, is this your father?" or "Wife, is this your man?"
you could hear hard breathing all over the benches.

"And when the boats of Brixham
Go out to face the gales,
Think of the love that travels
Like light upon their sails!"

There was very little applause when she finished. The women were
looking for their handkerchiefs, and many of the men stared at the
ceiling with shiny eyes.

"H'm," said Salters; "that 'u'd cost ye a dollar to hear at any
theater - maybe two. Some folk, I presoom, can afford it. 'Seems
downright waste to me. . . . Naow, how in Jerusalem did Cap Bart
Edwardes strike adrift here?"

"No keepin' him under," said an Eastport man behind. "He's a poet,
an' he's baound to say his piece. 'Comes from daown aour way,
too."

He did not say that Captain B. Edwardes had striven for five
consecutive years to be allowed to recite a piece of his own
composition on Gloucester Memorial Day. An amused and exhausted
committee had at last given him his desire. The simplicity and
utter happiness of the old man, as he stood up in his very best
Sunday clothes, won the audience ere he opened his mouth. They sat
unmurmuring through seven-and-thirty hatchet-made verses
describing at fullest length the loss of the schooner Joan Hasken
off the Georges in the gale of 1867, and when he came to an end
they shouted with one kindly throat.

A far-sighted Boston reporter slid away for a full copy of the
epic and an interview with the author; so that earth had nothing
more to offer Captain Bart Edwardes, ex-whaler, shipwright,
master-fisherman, and poet, in the seventy-third year of his age.

"Naow, I call that sensible," said an Eastport man. "I've bin over
that graound with his writin', jest as he read it, in my two
hands, and I can testify that he's got it all in."

"If Dan here couldn't do better'n that with one hand before
breakfast, he ought to be switched," said Salters, upholding the
honour of Massachusetts on general principles. "Not but what I'm
free to own he's considerable litt'ery - fer Maine. Still -"

"Guess Uncle Salters's goin' to die this trip. Fust compliment
he's ever paid me," Dan sniggered. "What's wrong with you, Harve?
You act all quiet and you look greenish. Feelin' sick?"

"Don't know what's the matter with me," Harvey replied. "Seems if
my insides were too big for my outsides. I'm all crowded up and
shivery."

"Dispepsy? Pshaw-too bad. We'll wait for the readin', an' then
we'll quit, an' catch the tide."

The widows - they were nearly all of that season's making - braced
themselves rigidly like people going to be shot in cold blood, for
they knew what was coming. The summer-boarder girls in pink and
blue shirt-waists stopped tittering over Captain Edwardes's
wonderful poem, and looked back to see why all was silent. The
fishermen pressed forward as that town official who had talked
with Cheyne bobbed up on the platform and began to read the year's
list of losses, dividing them into months. Last September's
casualties were mostly single men and strangers, but his voice
rang very loud in the stillness of the hall.

"September 9th. - Schooner "Florrie Anderson" lost, with all
aboard, off the Georges.
"Reuben Pitman, master, 50, single, Main Street, City.
"Emil Olsen, 19, single, 329 Hammond Street, City; Denmark.
"Oscar Stanberg, single, 25, Sweden.
"Carl Stanberg, single, 28, Main Street, City.
"Pedro, supposed Madeira, single, Keene's boarding-house, City.
"Joseph Welsh, alias Joseph Wright, 30, St. John's, Newfoundland."

"No - Augusty, Maine," a voice cried from the body of the hall.

"He shipped from St. John's," said the reader, looking to see.

"I know it. He belongs in Augusty. My nevvy."

The reader made a pencilled correction on the margin of the list,
and resumed:

"Same schooner, Charlie Ritchie, Liverpool, Nova Scotia, 33,
single.
"Albert May, 267 Rogers Street, City, 27, single.
"September 27th. - Orvin Dollard, 30, married, drowned in dory off
Eastern Point."

That shot went home, for one of the widows flinched where she sat,
clasping and unclasping her hands. Mrs. Cheyne, who had been
listening with wide-opened eyes, threw up her head and choked.
Dan's mother, a few seats to the right, saw and heard and quickly
moved to her side. The reading went on. By the time they reached
the January and February wrecks the shots were falling thick and
fast, and the widows drew breath between their teeth.

"February i4th. - Schooner "Harry Randolph" dismasted on the way
home from Newfoundland; Asa Musie, married, 32, Main Street, City,
lost overboard.
"February a 3d. - Schooner "Gilbert Hope"; went astray in dory,
Robert Beavon, 29, married, native of Pubnico, Nova Scotia."

But his wife was in the hall. They heard a low cry, as though a
little animal had been hit. It was stifled at once, and a girl
staggered out of the hail. She had been hoping against hope for
months, because some who have gone adrift in dories have been
miraculously picked up by deep-sea sailing-ships. Now she had her
certainty, and Harvey could see the policeman on the sidewalk
hailing a hack for her. "It's fifty cents to the depot" - the
driver began, but the policeman held up his hand - "but I'm goin'
there anyway. Jump right in. Look at here, Alf; you don't pull me
next time my lamps ain't lit. See?"

The side-door closed on the patch of bright sunshine, and Harvey's
eyes turned again to the reader and his endless list.

"April 19th. - Schooner "Mamie Douglas" lost on the Banks with all
hands.
"Edward Canton, 43, master, married, City.
"D. Hawkins, alias Williams, 34, married, Shelbourne, Nova Scotia.
"G. W. Clay, coloured, 28, married, City."

And so on, and so on. Great lumps were rising in Harvey's throat,
and his stomach reminded him of the day when he fell from the
liner.

"May 10th. - Schooner "We're Here" [the blood tingled all over
him]. Otto Svendson, 20, single, City, lost overboard."

Once more a low, tearing cry from somewhere at the back of the
hall.

"She shouldn't ha' come. She shouldn't ha' come," said Long Jack,
with a cluck of pity.
"Don't scrowge, Harve," grunted Dan. Harvey heard that much, but
the rest was all darkness spotted with fiery wheels. Disko leaned
forward and spoke to his wife, where she sat with one arm round
Mrs. Cheyne, and the other holding down the snatching, catching,
ringed hands.

"Lean your head daown - right daown!" she whispered. "It'll go off
in a minute."

"I ca-an't! I do-don't! Oh, let me -" Mrs. Cheyne did not at all
know what she said.

"You must," Mrs. Troop repeated. "Your boy's jest fainted dead
away. They do that some when they're gettin' their growth. 'Wish
to tend to him? We can git aout this side. Quite quiet. You come
right along with me. Psha', my dear, we're both women, I guess. We
must tend to aour men-folk. Come!"

The "We're Heres" promptly went through the crowd as a body-guard,
and it was a very white and shaken Harvey that they propped up on
a bench in an anteroom.

"Favours his ma," was Mrs. Troop's only comment, as the mother
bent over her boy.

"How d'you suppose he could ever stand it?" she cried indignantly
to Cheyne, who had said nothing at all. "It was horrible -
horrible! We shouldn't have come. It's wrong and wicked! It - it
isn't right! Why - why couldn't they put these things in the
papers, where they belong? Are you better, darling?"

That made Harvey very properly ashamed. "Oh, I'm all right, I
guess," he said, struggling to his feet, with a broken giggle.
"Must ha' been something I ate for breakfast."

"Coffee, perhaps," said Cheyne, whose face was all in hard lines,
as though it had been cut out of bronze. "We won't go back again."

"Guess 'twould be 'baout's well to git daown to the wharf," said
Disko. "It's close in along with them Dagoes, an' the fresh air
will fresh Mrs. Cheyne up."

Harvey announced that he never felt better in his life; but it was
not till he saw the "We're Here", fresh from the lumper's hands,
at Wouverman's wharf, that he lost his all-overish feelings in a
queer mixture of pride and sorrowfulness. Other people - summer
boarders and such-like - played about in cat-boats or looked at
the sea from pier-heads; but he understood things from the inside
- more things than he could begin to think about. None the less,
he could have sat down and howled because the little schooner was
going off. Mrs. Cheyne simply cried and cried every step of the
way, and said most extraordinary things to Mrs. Troop, who
"babied" her till Dan, who had not been "babied" since he was six,
whistled aloud.

And so the old crowd - Harvey felt like the most ancient of
mariners - dropped into the old schooner among the battered
dories, while Harvey slipped the stern-fast from the pier-head,
and they slid her along the wharf-side with their hands. Every one
wanted to say so much that no one said anything in particular.
Harvey bade Dan take care of Uncle Salters's sea-boots and Penn's
dory-anchor, and Long Jack entreated Harvey to remember his
lessons in seamanship; but the jokes fell flat in the presence of
the two women, and it is hard to be funny with green harbour-water
widening between good friends.

"Up jib and fores'l! "shouted Disko, getting to the wheel, as the
wind took her. "See you later, Harve. Dunno but I come near
thinkin' a heap o' you an' your folks."

Then she glided beyond ear-shot, and they sat down to watch her up
the harbour. And still Mrs. Cheyne wept.

"Psha', my dear," said Mrs. Troop; "we're both women, I guess.
Like's not it'll ease your heart to hev your cry aout. God He
knows it never done me a mite o' good; but then He knows I've had
something to cry fer!"

Now it was a few years later, and upon the other edge of America,
that a young man came through the clammy sea-fog up a windy street
which is flanked with most expensive houses built of wood to
imitate stone. To him, as he was standing by a hammered iron gate,
entered on horseback - and the horse would have been cheap at a
thousand dollars - another young man. And this is what they said:

"Hello, Dan!"

"Hello, Harve!"

"What's the best with you?"

"Well, I'm so's to be that kind o' animal called second mate this
trip. Ain't you most through with that triple-invoiced college o'
yours?"

"Getting that way. I tell you, the Leland Stanford Junior isn't a
circumstance to the old "We're Here"; but I'm coming into the
business for keeps next fall."

"Meanin' aour packets?"

"Nothing else. You just wait till I get my knife into you, Dan.
I'm going to make the old line lie down and cry when I take hold."

"I'll resk it," said Dan, with a brotherly grin, as Harvey
dismounted and asked whether he were coming in.

"That's what I took the cable fer; but, say, is the doctor
anywheres araound? I'll draown that crazy nigger some day, his one
cussed joke an' all."

There was a low, triumphant chuckle, as the ex-cook of the "We're
Here" came out of the fog to take the horse's bridle. He allowed
no one but himself to attend to any of Harvey's wants.

"Thick as the Banks, ain't it, doctor?" said Dan, propitiatingly.

But the coal-black Celt with the second-sight did not see fit to
reply till he had tapped Dan on the shoulder, and for the
twentieth time croaked the old, old prophecy in his ear:

"Master - man. Man - master," said he. "You remember, Dan Troop,
what I said? On the 'We're Here'?"

"Well, I won't go so far as to deny that it do look like it as
things stand at present," said Dan. "She was an able packet, and
one way an' another I owe her a heap - her and dad."

"Me too," quoth Harvey Cheyne.

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