The Cruise Of The
Willing Mind by A.E.W. Mason
The cruise happened before the steam-trawler ousted the
smack from the North Sea. A few newspapers recorded it in half-a-dozen lines
of small print which nobody read. But it became and — though nowadays
the Willing Mind rots from month to month by the quay — remains
staple talk at Gorleston ale-houses on winter nights.
The crew consisted of Weeks, three fairly competent hands, and a baker's
assistant, when the Willing Mind slipped out of Yarmouth. Alexander
Duncan, the photographer from Derby, joined the smack afterwards under
peculiar circumstances. Duncan was a timid person, but aware of his timidity.
He was quite clear that his paramount business was to be a man; and he was
equally clear that he was not successful in his paramount business. Meanwhile
he pretended to be, hoping that on some miraculous day a sudden test would
prove the straw man he was to have become real flesh and blood. A visit to a
surgeon and the flick of a knife quite shattered that illusion. He went down
to Yarmouth afterwards, fairly disheartened. The test had been applied, and
he had failed.
Now, Weeks was a particular friend of Duncan's. They had chummed together
on Gorleston Quay some years before, perhaps because they were so dissimilar.
Weeks had taught Duncan to sail a boat, and had once or twice taken him for a
short trip on his smack; so that the first thing that Duncan did on his
arrival at Yarmouth was to take the tram to Gorleston and to make
A fisherman lounging against a winch replied to them — —
"If Weeks is a friend o' yours I should get used to missin' 'im, as I tell
There was at that time an ingenious system by which the skipper might buy
his smack from the owner on the instalment plan — as people buy their
furniture — only with a difference: for people sometimes get their
furniture. The instalments had to be completed within a certain period. The
skipper could do it — he could just do it; but he couldn't do it
without running up one little bill here for stores, and another little bill
there for sail-mending. The owner worked in with the sail-maker, and just as
the skipper was putting out to earn his last instalment, he would find the
bailiffs on board, his cruise would be delayed, he would be, consequently,
behindhand with his instalment and back would go the smack to the owner with
a present of four- fifths of its price. Weeks had to pay two hundred pounds,
and had eight weeks to earn it in. But he got the straight tip that his
sail-maker would stop him; and getting together any sort of crew he could, he
slipped out at night with half his stores.
"Now the No'th Sea," concluded the fisherman, "in November and December
ain't a bobby's job."
Duncan walked forward to the pier-head. He looked out at a grey tumbled
sky shutting down on a grey tumbled sea. There were flecks of white cloud in
the sky, flecks of white breakers on the sea, and it was all most dreary. He
stood at the end of the jetty, and his great possibility came out of the grey
to him. Weeks was shorthanded. Cribbed within a few feet of the smack's deck,
there would be no chance for any man to shirk. Duncan acted on the impulse.
He bought a fisherman's outfit at Gorleston, travelled up to London, got a
passage the next morning on a Billingsgate fish-carrier, and that night went
throbbing down the great water street of the Swim, past the green globes of
the Mouse. The four flashes of the Outer Gabbard winked him good-bye away on
the starboard, and at eleven o'clock the next night far out in the North Sea
he saw the little city of lights swinging on the Dogger.
The Willing Mind's boat came aboard the next morning and Captain
Weeks with it, who smiled grimly while Duncan explained how he had learnt
that the smack was shorthanded.
"I can't put you ashore in Denmark," said Weeks knowingly. "There'll be
seven weeks, it's true, for things to blow over; but I'll have to take you
back to Yarmouth. And I can't afford a passenger. If you come, you come as a
hand. I mean to own my smack at the end of this voyage."
Duncan climbed after him into the boat. The Willing Mind had now
six for her crew, Weeks; his son Willie, a lad of sixteen; Upton, the first
hand; Deakin, the decky; Rall, the baker's assistant, and Alexander Duncan.
And of these six four were almost competent. Deakin, it is true, was making
his second voyage; but Willie Weeks, though young, had begun early; and
Upton, a man of forty, knew the banks and currents of the North Sea as well
"It's all right," said the skipper, "if the weather holds." And for a
month the weather did hold, and the catches were good, and Duncan learned a
great deal. He learnt how to keep a night-watch from midnight till eight in
the morning, and then stay on deck till noon; how to put his tiller up and
down when his tiller was a wheel, and how to vary the order according as his
skipper stood to windward or to lee; he learnt to box a compass and to steer
by it; to gauge the leeway he was making by the angle of his wake and the
black line in the compass; above all, he learnt to love the boat like a live
thing, as a man loves his horse, and to want every scanty inch of brass on
her to shine.
But it was not for this that Duncan had come out to sea. He gazed out at
night across the rippling starlit water, and the smacks nestling upon it, and
asked of his God: "Is this all?" And his God answered him.
The beginning of it was the sudden looming of ships upon the horizon, very
clear, till they looked like carved toys. The skipper got out his accounts
and totted up his catches, and the prices they had fetched in Billingsgate
Market. Then he went on deck and watched the sun set. There were no
cloud-banks in the west, and he shook his head.
"It'll blow a bit from the east before morning," said he, and he tapped on
the barometer. Then he returned to his accounts and added them up again.
After a little he looked up, and saw the first hand watching him with
"Two or three really good hauls would do the trick," suggested Weeks.
The first hand nodded. "If it was my boat I should chance it to-morrow
before the weather blows up."
Weeks drummed his fists on the table and agreed.
On the morrow the Admiral headed north for the Great Fisher Bank, and the
fleet followed, with the exception of the Willing Mind. The Willing
Mind lagged along in the rear without her topsails till about half-past
two in the afternoon, when Captain Weeks became suddenly alert. He bore away
till he was right before the wind, hoisted every scrap of sail he could
carry, rigged out a spinnaker with his balloon fore-sail, and made a clean
run for the coast of Denmark. Deakin explained the manoeuvre to Duncan. "The
old man's goin' poachin'. He's after soles."
"Keep a look-out, lads!" cried Weeks. "It's not the Danish gun-boat I'm
afraid of; it's the fatherly English cruiser a-turning of us back."
Darkness, however, found them unmolested. They crossed the three-mile
limit at eight o'clock, and crept close in under the Danish headlands without
a glimmer of light showing.
"I want all hands all night," said Weeks; "and there's a couple of pounds
for him as first see the bogey-man."
"Meaning the Danish gun-boat," explained Deakin.
The trawl was down before nine. The skipper stood by his lead. Upton took
the wheel, and all night they trawled in the shallows, bumping on the
grounds, with a sharp eye for the Danish gun-boat. They hauled in at twelve
and again at three and again at six, and they had just got their last catch
on deck when Duncan saw by the first grey of the morning a dun-coloured trail
of smoke hanging over a projecting knoll.
"There she is!" he cried.
"Yes, that's the gun-boat," answered Weeks. "We can laugh at her with this
He put his smack about, and before the gun-boat puffed round the headland,
three miles away, was reaching northwards with his sails free. He rejoined
the fleet that afternoon. "Fifty-two boxes of soles!" said Weeks. "And every
one of them worth two-pound-ten in Billingsgate Market. This smack's mine!"
and he stamped on the deck in all the pride of ownership. "We'll take a reef
in," he added. "There's a no'th-easterly gale blowin' up and I don't know
anything worse in the No'th Sea. The sea piles in upon you from Newfoundland,
piles in till it strikes the banks. Then it breaks. You were right, Upton;
we'll be lying hove-to in the morning."
They were lying hove-to before the morning. Duncan, tossing about in his
canvas cot, heard the skipper stamping overhead, and in an interval of the
wind caught a snatch of song bawled out in a high voice. The song was not
reassuring, for the two lines which Duncan caught ran as follows —
You never can tell when your death-bells are ringing,
Your never can know when you're going to die.
Duncan tumbled on to the floor, fell about the cabin as he pulled on his
sea-boots and climbed up the companion. He clung to the mizzen-runners in a
night of extraordinary blackness. To port and to starboard the lights of the
smacks rose on the crests and sank in the troughs, with such violence they
had the air of being tossed up into the sky and then extinguished in the
water; while all round him there flashed little points of white which
suddenly lengthened out into a horizontal line. There was one quite close to
the quarter of the Willing Mind. It stretched about the height of the
gaff in a line of white. The line suddenly descended towards him and became a
sheet; and then a voice bawled, "Water! Jump! Down the companion! Jump!"
There was a scamper of heavy boots, and a roar of water plunging over the
bulwarks, as though so many loads of wood had been dropped on the deck.
Duncan jumped for the cabin. Weeks and the mate jumped the next second and
the water sluiced down after them, put out the fire, and washed them, choking
and wrestling, about on the cabin floor. Weeks was the first to disentangle
himself, and he turned fiercely on Duncan.
"What were you doing on deck? Upton and I keep the watch to-night. You
stay below, and, by God, I'll see you do it! I have fifty-two boxes of soles
to put aboard the fish-cutter in the morning, and I'm not going to lose lives
before I do that! This smack's mine!"
Captain Weeks was transformed into a savage animal fighting for his own.
All night he and the mate stood on the deck and plunged down the open
companion with a torrent of water to hurry them. All night Duncan lay in his
bunk listening to the bellowing of the wind, the great thuds of solid green
wave on the deck, the horrid rush and roaring of the seas as they broke loose
to leeward from under the smack's keel. And he listened to something more
— the whimpering of the baker's assistant in the next bunk. "Three
inches of deck! What's the use of it! Lord ha' mercy on me, what's the use of
it? No more than an eggshell! We'll be broken in afore morning, broken in
like a man's skull under a bludgeon... I'm no sailor, I'm not; I'm a baker.
It isn't right I should die at sea!"
Duncan stopped his ears, and thought of the journey some one would have to
make to the fish-cutter in the morning. There were fifty-two boxes of soles
to be put aboard.
He remembered the waves and the swirl of foam upon their crests and the
wind. Two men would be needed to row the boat, and the boat must make three
trips. The skipper and the first hand had been on deck all night. There
remained four, or rather three, for the baker's assistant had ceased to count
— Willie Weeks, Deakin, and himself, not a great number to choose from.
He felt that he was within an ace of a panic, and not so far, after all, from
that whimperer his neighbour. Two men to row the boat — two men! His
hands clutched at the iron bar of his hammock; he closed his eyes tight; but
the words were thundered out at him overhead, in the whistle of the wind, and
slashed at him by the water against the planks at his side. He found that his
lips were framing excuses.
Duncan was on deck when the morning broke. It broke extraordinarily
slowly, a niggardly filtering of grey, sad light from the under edge of the
sea. The bare topmasts of the smacks showed one after the other. Duncan
watched each boat as it came into view with a keen suspense. This was a
ketch, and that, and that other, for there was the peak of its reefed
mainsail just visible, like a bird's wing, and at last he saw it — the
fish-cutter — lurching and rolling in the very middle of the fleet,
whither she had crept up in the night. He stared at it; his belly was pinched
with fear as a starveling's with hunger; and yet he was conscious that, in a
way, he would have been disappointed if it had not been there.
"No other smack is shipping its fish," quavered a voice at his elbow. It
was the voice of the baker's assistant.
"But this smack is," replied Weeks, and he set his mouth hard. "And,
what's more, my Willie is taking it aboard. Now, who'll go with Willie?"
Weeks swung round on Duncan and stared at him. Then he stared out to sea.
Then he stared again at Duncan.
"When I shipped as a hand on the Willing Mind, I took all a hand's
"And brought the willing mind," said Weeks with a smile, "Go, then! Some
one must go. Get the boat tackle ready, forward. Here, Willie, put your life-
belt on. You, too, Duncan, though God knows life-belts won't be of no manner
of use; but they'll save your insurance. Steady with the punt there! If it
slips inboard off the rail there will be a broken back! And, Willie, don't
get under the cutter's counter. She'll come atop of you and smash you like an
egg. I'll drop you as close as I can to windward, and pick you up as close as
I can to leeward."
The boat was dropped into the water and loaded up with fish-boxes. Duncan
and Willie Weeks took their places, and the boat slid away into a furrow.
Duncan sat in the boat and rowed. Willie Weeks stood in the stern, facing
him, and rowed and steered.
"Water!" said Willie every now and then, and a wave curled over the bows
and hit Duncan a stunning blow on the back.
"Row," said Willie, and Duncan rowed and rowed. His hands were ice, he sat
in water ice-cold, and his body perspired beneath his oil-skins, but he
rowed. Once, on the crest of a wave, Duncan looked out and saw below them the
deck of a smack, and the crew looking upwards at them as though they were a
horserace. "Row!" said Willie Weeks. Once, too, at the bottom of a slope down
which they had bumped dizzily, Duncan again looked out, and saw the spar of a
mainmast tossing just over the edge of a grey roller. "Row," said Weeks, and
a moment later, "Ship your oar!" and a rope caught him across the chest.
They were alongside the cutter.
Duncan made fast the rope.
"Push her off!" suddenly cried Willie, and grasped an oar. But he was too
late. The cutter's bulwarks swung down towards him, disappeared under water,
caught the punt fairly beneath the keel and scooped it clean on to the deck,
cargo and crew.
"And this is only the first trip!" said Willie.
The two following trips, however, were made without accident.
"Fifty-two boxes at two-pound-ten," said Weeks, as the boat was swung
inboard. "That's a hundred and four, and ten two's are twenty, and carry two,
and ten fives are fifty, and two carried, and twenties into that makes
twenty- six. One hundred and thirty pounds — this smack's mine, every
rope on her. I tell you what, Duncan: you've done me a good turn to-day, and
I'll do you another. I'll land you at Helsund, in Denmark, and you can get
clear away. All we can do now is to lie out this gale."
Before the afternoon the air was dark with a swither of foam and spray
blown off the waves in the thickness of a fog. The heavy bows of the smack
beat into the seas with a thud and a hiss — the thud of a steam-hammer,
the hiss of molten iron plunged into water; the waves raced exultingly up to
the bows from windward, and roared angrily away in a spume of foam from the
ship's keel to lee; and the thrumming and screaming of the storm in the
rigging exceeded all that Duncan had ever imagined. He clung to the stays
appalled. This storm was surely the perfect expression of anger, too
persistent for mere fury. There seemed to be a definite aim of destruction, a
deliberate attempt to wear the boat down, in the steady follow of wave upon
wave, and in the steady volume of the wind.
Captain Weeks, too, had lost all of a sudden all his exhilaration. He
stood moodily by Duncan's side, his mind evidently labouring like his ship.
He told Duncan stories which Duncan would rather not have listened to, the
story of the man who slipped as he stepped from the deck into the punt, and
weighted by his boots, had sunk down and down and down through the clearest,
calmest water without a struggle; the story of the punt which got its painter
under its keel and drowned three men; the story of the full-rigged ship which
got driven across the seven-fathom part of the Dogger — the part that
looks like a man's leg in the chart — and which was turned upside-down
through the bank breaking. The skipper and the mate got outside and clung to
her bottom, and a steam-cutter tried to get them off, but smashed them both
with her iron counter instead.
"Look!" said Weeks, gloomily pointing his finger. "I don't know why that
breaker didn't hit us. I don't know what we should have done if it had. I
can't think why it didn't hit us! Are you saved?"
Duncan was taken aback, and answered vaguely — "I hope so."
"But you must know," said Weeks, perplexed. The wind made a theological
discussion difficult. Weeks curved his hand into a trumpet, and bawled into
Duncan's ear: "You are either saved or not saved! It's a thing one knows. You
must know if you are saved, if you've felt the glow and illumination of it."
He suddenly broke off into a shout of triumph: "But I got my fish on board
the cutter. The Willing Mind's the on'y boat that did." Then he
relapsed again into melancholy: "But I'm troubled about the poachin'. The
temptation was great, but it wasn't right; and I'm not sure but what this
storm ain't a judgment."
He was silent for a little, and then cheered up. "I tell you what. Since
we're hove-to, we'll have a prayer-meeting in the cabin to-night and smooth
The meeting was held after tea, by the light of a smoking paraffin-lamp
with a broken chimney. The crew sat round and smoked, the companion was open,
so that the swish of the water and the man on deck alike joined in the hymns.
Rail, the baker's assistant, who had once been a steady attendant at
Revivalist meetings, led off with a Moody and Sankey hymn, and the crew
followed, bawling at the top pitch of their lungs, with now and then some
suggestion of a tune. The little stuffy cabin rang with the noise. It burst
upwards through the companion-way, loud and earnest and plaintive, and the
winds caught it and carried it over the water, a thin and appealing cry.
After the hymn Weeks prayed aloud, and extempore and most seriously. He
prayed for each member of the crew by name, one by one, taking the
opportunity to mention in detail each fault which he had had to complain of,
and begging that the offender's chastisement might be light. Of Duncan he
spoke in ambiguous terms.
"O Lord!" he prayed, "a strange gentleman, Mr. Duncan, has come amongst
us. O Lord! we do not know as much about Mr. Duncan as You do, but still
bless him, O Lord!" and so he came to himself.
"O Lord! this smack's mine, this little smack labouring in the North Sea
is mine. Through my poachin' and your lovin' kindness it's mine; and, O Lord,
see that it don't cost me dear!" And the crew solemnly and fervently said
But the smack was to cost him dear. For in the morning Duncan woke to find
himself alone in the cabin. He thrust his head up the companion, and saw
Weeks with a very grey face standing by the lashed wheel.
"Halloa!" said Duncan. "Where's the binnacle?"
"Overboard," said Weeks.
Duncan looked round the deck.
"Where's Willie and the crew?"
"Overboard," said Weeks. "All except Rail! He's below deck forward and
clean daft. Listen and you'll hear 'im. He's singing hymns for those in peril
on the sea."
Duncan stared in disbelief. The skipper's face drove the disbelief out of
"Why didn't you wake me?" he asked.
"What's the use? You want all the sleep you can get, because you an' me
have got to sail my smack into Yarmouth. But I was minded to call you, lad,"
he said, with a sort of cry leaping from his throat. "The wave struck us at
about twelve, and it's been mighty lonesome on deck since with Willie callin'
out of the sea. All night he's been callin' out of the welter of the sea.
Funny that I haven't heard Upton or Deakin, but on'y Willie! All night until
daybreak he called, first on one side of the smack and then on t'other, I
don't think I'll tell his mother that. An' I don't see how I'm to put you on
shore in Denmark, after all."
What had happened Duncan put together from the curt utterances of Captain
Weeks and the crazy lamentations of Rail. Weeks had roused all hands except
Duncan to take the last reef in. They were forward by the mainmast at the
time the wave struck them. Weeks himself was on the boom, threading the
reefing-rope through the eye of the sail. He shouted "Water!" and the water
came on board, carrying the three men aft. Upton was washed over the
taffrail. Weeks threw one end of the rope down, and Rail and Willie caught it
and were swept overboard, dragging Weeks from the boom on to the deck and
jamming him against the bulwarks.
The captain held on to the rope, setting his feet against the side. The
smack lifted and dropped and tossed, and each movement wrenched his arms. He
could not reach a cleat. Had he moved he would have been jerked
"I can't hold you both!" he cried, and then, setting his teeth and
hardening his heart, he addressed his words to his son: "Willie! I can't hold
you both!" and immediately the weight upon the rope was less. With each drop
of the stern the rope slackened, and Weeks gathered the slack in. He could
now afford to move. He made the rope fast and hauled the one survivor on
deck. He looked at him for a moment. "Thank God, it's not my son!" he had the
courage to say.
"And my heart's broke!" had gasped Rail. "Fair broke." And he had gone
forward and sung hymns.
They saw little more of Rall. He came aft and fetched his meals away; but
he was crazed and made a sort of kennel for himself forward, and the two men
left on the smack had enough upon their hands to hinder them from waiting on
him. The gale showed no sign of abatement; the fleet was scattered; no
glimpse of the sun was visible at any time; and the compass was somewhere at
the bottom of the sea.
"We may be making a bit of headway no'th, or a bit of leeway west," said
Weeks, "or we may be doing a sternboard. All that I'm sure of is that you and
me are one day going to open Gorleston Harbour. This smack's cost me too dear
for me to lose her now. Lucky there's the tell-tale compass in the cabin to
show us the wind hasn't shifted."
All the energy of the man was concentrated upon this wrestle with the gale
for the ownership of the Willing Mind; and he imparted his energy to
his companion. They lived upon deck, wet and starved and perishing with the
cold — the cold of December in the North Sea, when the spray cuts the
face like a whip-cord. They ate by snatches when they could, which was
seldom; and they slept by snatches when they could, which was even less
often. And at the end of the fourth day there came a blinding fall of snow
and sleet, which drifted down the companion, sheeted the ropes with ice, and
hung the yards with icicles, and which made every inch of brass a
searing-iron and every yard of the deck a danger to the foot.
It was when this storm began to fall that Weeks grasped Duncan fiercely by
"What is it you did on land?" he cried. "Confess it, man! There may be
some chance for us if you go down on your knees and confess it."
Duncan turned as fiercely upon Weeks. Both men were overstrained with want
of food and sleep.
"I'm not your Jonah — don't fancy it! I did nothing on land!"
"Then what did you come out for?"
"What did you? To fight and wrestle for your ship, eh? Well, I came out to
fight and wrestle for my immortal soul, and let it go at that!"
Weeks turned away, and as he turned, slipped on the frozen deck. A lurch
of the smack sent him sliding into the rudder-chains, where he lay. Once he
tried to rise, and fell back. Duncan hauled himself along the bulwarks to
"Leg broke. Get me down into the cabin. Lucky there's the tell-tale. We'll
get the Willing Mind berthed by the quay, see if we don't." That was
still his one thought, his one belief.
Duncan hitched a rope round Weeks, underneath his arms, and lowered him as
gently as he could down the companion.
"Lift me on to the table so that my head's just beneath the compass!
Right! Now take a turn with the rope underneath the table, or I'll roll off.
Push an oily under my head, and then go for'ard and see if you can find a
fish- box. Take a look that the wheel's fast."
It seemed to Duncan that the last chance was gone. There was just one
inexperienced amateur to change the sails and steer a seventy-ton ketch
across the North Sea into Yarmouth Roads. He said nothing, however, of his
despair to the indomitable man upon the table, and went forward in search of
a fish-box. He split up the sides into rough splints and came aft with
"Thank 'ee, lad," said Weeks. "Just cut my boot away, and fix it up best
The tossing of the smack made the operation difficult and long. Weeks,
however, never uttered a groan. Only Duncan once looked up, and said —
"Halloa! You've hurt your face too. There's blood on your chin!"
"That's all right!" said Weeks, with an effort. "I reckon I've just bit
through my lip."
Duncan stopped his work.
"You've got a medicine-chest, skipper, with some laudanum in it —
"Daren't!" replied Weeks. "There's on'y you and me to work the ship. Fix
up the job quick as you can, and I'll have a drink of Friar's Balsam
afterwards. Seems to me the gale's blowing itself out, and if on'y the wind
holds in the same quarter—" And thereupon he fainted.
Duncan bandaged up the leg, got Weeks round, gave him a drink of Friar's
Balsam, set the teapot within his reach, and went on deck. The wind was going
down; the air was clearer of foam. He tallowed the lead and heaved it, and
brought it down to Weeks. Weeks looked at the sand stuck on the tallow and
tasted it, and seemed pleased.
"This gives me my longitude," said he, "but not my latitude, worse luck.
Still, we'll manage it. You'd better get our dinner now; any odd thing in the
way of biscuits or a bit of cold fish will do, and then I think we'll be able
After dinner Duncan said: "I'll put her about now."
"No; wear her and let her jibe," said Weeks, "then you'll on'y have to
ease your sheets."
Duncan stood at the wheel, while Weeks, with the compass swinging above
his head, shouted directions through the companion. They sailed the boat all
that night with the wind on her quarter, and at daybreak Duncan brought her
to and heaved his lead again. There was rough sand with blackish specks upon
the tallow, and Weeks, when he saw it, forgot his broken leg.
"My word," he cried, "we've hit the Fisher Bank! You'd best lash the
wheel, get our breakfast, and take a spell of sleep on deck. Tie a string to
your finger and pass it down to me, so that I can wake you up."
Weeks waked him up at ten o'clock, and they ran southwest with a steady
wind till six, when Weeks shouted —
"Take another cast with your lead."
The sand upon the tallow was white like salt.
"Yes," said Weeks; "I thought we was hereabouts. We're on the edge of the
Dogger, and we'll be in Yarmouth by the morning." And all through the night
the orders came thick and fast from the cabin. Weeks was on his own ground;
he had no longer any need of the lead; he seemed no longer to need his eyes;
he felt his way across the currents from the Dogger to the English coast; and
at daybreak he shouted —
"Can you see land?"
"There's a mist."
"Lie to, then, till the sun's up."
Duncan lay the boat to for a couple of hours, till the mist was tinged
with gold and the ball of the sun showed red on his starboard quarter. The
mist sank, the brown sails of a smack thrust upwards through it; coastwards
it shifted and thinned and thickened, as though cunningly to excite
expectation as to what it hid. Again Weeks called out —
"Yes," said Duncan, in a perplexed voice. "I see something. Looks like a
sort of mediaeval castle on a rock."
A shout of laughter answered him.
"That's the Gorleston Hotel. The harbour-mouth's just beneath. We've hit
it fine," and while he spoke the mist swept clear, and the long, treeless
esplanade of Yarmouth lay there a couple of miles from Duncan's eyes,
glistening and gilded in the sun like a row of dolls' houses.
"Haul in your sheets a bit," said Weeks. "Keep no'th of the hotel, for the
tide'll set you up and we'll sail her in without dawdlin' behind a tug. Get
your mainsail down as best you can before you make the entrance."
Half an hour afterwards the smack sailed between the pier-heads.
"Who are you?" cried the harbour-master.
"The Willing Mind."
"The Willing Mind's reported lost with all hands."
"Well, here's the Willing Mind," said Duncan, "and here's one of
The irrepressible voice bawled up the companion to complete the sentence
"And the owner's reposin' in his cabin." But in a lower key he added words
for his own ears. "There's the old woman to meet. Lord! but the Willing
Mind has cost me dear."