The Belted Seas by Arthur Colton
CHAPTER II. THE
CHAPTER III. THE
HOTEL HELEN MAR.
CHAPTER V. END
OF THE HOTEL
NOT GO BACK TO
THE LOSS OF THE
CHAPTER IX. KING
CHAPTER X. THE
CHAPTER XI. THE
VOYAGE OF THE
CHAPTER XII. THE
ANDREW AND MADGE
Cold are the feet and forehead of the earth,
Temperate his bosom and his knees,
But huge and hot the midriff of his girth,
Where heaves the laughter of the belted seas,
Where rolls the heavy thunder of his mirth
Around the still unstirred Hesperides.
CHAPTER I. PEMBERTON'S.
The clock struck one. It was the tall standing clock in the front
room of Pemberton's Hotel, and Pemberton's stands by the highway that
runs by the coast of Long Island Sound. It is near the western edge of
the village of Greenough, the gilt cupola of whose eminent steeple is
noted by far-passing ships. On the beach are flimsy summer cottages,
and hard beside them is the old harbour, guarded by its stone pier.
Whalers and merchantmen used to tie up there a hundred years ago, where
now only fishing boats come. The village lies back from the shore, and
has three divisions, Newport Street, the Green, and the West End; of
which the first is a broad street with double roads, and there are the
post office and the stores; the second boasts of its gilt-cupolaed
church; the third has the two distinctions of the cemetery and
The hotel is not so far from the beach but you can sit in the front
room and hear the surf. It was a small hotel when I used to frequent
it, and was kept by Pemberton himself—gone, now, alas! with his
venerable dusty hair and red face, imperturbably amiable. He was no
seaman. Throughout his long life he had anchored to his own
chimneyside, which was a solid and steady chimney, whose red-brick
complexion resembled its owner's. His wife was dead, and he ran the
hotel much alone, except for the company of Uncle Abimelech, Captain
Buckingham, Stevey Todd, and such others as came and went, or townsfolk
who liked the anchorage. But the three I have named were seamen, and I
always found them by Pemberton's chimney. Abe Dalrimple, or Uncle Abe,
was near Pemberton's age, and had lived with him for years; but Stevey
Todd and Captain B. were younger, and, as I gathered, they had been
with Pemberton only for some months past, the captain boarding, and
Stevey Todd maybe boarding as well; I don't know; but I know Stevey
Todd did some of the cooking, and had been a ship's cook the main part
of his life. It seemed to me they acted like a settled family among
Captain Thomas Buckingham was a smallish man of fifty, with a
bronzed face, or you might say iron, with respect to its rusty colour,
and also it was dark and immobile. But now and then there would come a
glimmer and twist in his eyes, sometimes he would start in talking and
flow on like a river, calm, sober, and untiring, and yet again he would
be silent for hours. Some might have thought him melancholy, for his
manner was of the gravest.
We were speaking of hotels, that stormy afternoon when the distant
surf was moaning and the wind heaping the snow against the doors, and
when the clock had struck, he said slowly:
“I kept a hotel once. It was in '72 or a bit before. It's a good
And none of us disputed it was a good trade, as keeping a man
indoors in stormy weather.
“Was it like Pemberton's?”
“No, not like Pemberton's.”
“No, inland a bit.”
“Aye, summer hotel. Always summer there.”
“It must have paid!”
“Aye, she paid. It was in South America.”
“Aye, Stevey Todd and I ran her. She was put up in New Bedford by
Smith and Morgan, and Stevey Todd and I ran her in South America.”
“How so? Do they export hotels to South America?”
“There ain't any steady trade in 'em.” And no more would he say just
then. For he was that kind of a man, Captain Tom, He would talk or he
would not, as suited him.
Uncle Abimelech was tall and old, and had a long white beard, and
was thin in the legs, not to say uncertain on them, and he appeared to
wander in his mind as well as in his legs. Stevey Todd was stout, with
a smooth, fair face, and in temperament fond of arguing, though
cautious about it. For that winter afternoon, when I remarked, hearing
the whistling wind and the thunder of the surf, “It blows hard, Mr.
Todd,” Stevey Todd answered cautiously, “If you called it brisk, I
wouldn't maybe argue it, but 'hard' I'd argue,” and Pemberton said
agreeably, “Why, when you put it that way, you're right, not but the
meaning was good, ain't a doubt of it;” and Uncle Abimelech, getting
hold of a loose end in his mind, piped up, singing:
“She blows aloft, she blows alow,
Take in your topsails early;”
whereas there was no doubt at all about its blowing hard. But Stevey
Todd was the kind of a man that liked to argue in good order.
The meanwhile Captain Buckingham had said nothing so far that
afternoon, except on the subject of hotel-keeping in South America. But
when Stevey Todd offered to admit that it blew “brisk, but when you say
hard, I argue it;” and when Uncle Abimelech piped:
“She blows aloft, she blows alow,
Take in your topsails early;”
Then Captain Buckingham, who sat leaning forward smoking, with his
elbows on his knees, staring at the fire, at last, without stirring in
his chair, he spoke up, and said, “She blows all right,” and we waited,
thinking he might say more.
“Pemberton,” he went on, “the seaman follows his profit and luck
around the world. You sit by your chimney and they come to you. And if
I was doing it again, or my old ship, the Annalee, was to come
banging and bouncing at this door, saying 'Have a cruise, Captain
Buckingham; rise up!' I'd say: 'You go dock yourself.'“
“She might, if she came overland, maybe,” said Stevey Todd, “seeing
it blows brisk, which I admits and I stands by, for she was a tall
sailing ship was the Annalee.”
“She was that,” said Captain Tom; “the best ship I ever sailed in,
barring the Hebe Maitland.”
Whereat Stevey Todd said, “There was a ship!” and Uncle
Abimelech piped up again, singing these singular words:
“There was a ship
In Bailey's Slip.
One evil day
We sailed away
From Bailey's Slip
We sailed away, with Captain Clyde,
An old, old man with a copper hide,
In the Hebe Maitland sailed, Hooroar!
And fetched the coast of Ecuador.”
“Aye,” said Captain Tom. “Those were Kid Sadler's verses. There's
many of 'em that Abe can say over, and he can glue a tune to 'em well,
for he's got that kind of a memory that's loose, but stringy and long,
and he always had. There's only Abe and Stevey Todd and me left of the
Hebe Maitland's crew, unless Sadler and Little Irish maybe, for I
left them in Burmah, and they may be there. But what I was going to
say, Pemberton, is, I made a mistake somewhere.”
“Why,” said Pemberton, “there you may be right.”
“For I was that kind of young one,” the captain went on, “which if
he's blown up with dynamite, he comes down remarking it's breezy up
there. I was that careless.”
Then we drew nearer and knew that Captain Buckingham was hauling up
his anchor, and maybe would take us on a long way, which he surely did.
The afternoon slipped on, hour by hour, and the fire snapped and cast
its red light in our faces, and the kettle sung and the storm outside
kept up its mad business, and the surf its monotone.
“I was so, when I was a lad of eighteen or nineteen,” Captain
Buckingham said. “I was a wild one, though not large, but limber and
clipper-built, and happy any side up, and my notion of human life was
that it was something like a cake-walk, and something like a Bartlett
pear, as being juicy anywhere you bit in.”
CHAPTER II. THE “HEBE MAITLAND.”
CAPTAIN BUCKINGHAM'S NARRATIVE.
“I was that way,” he said, “full of opinions, like one of those
little terrier pups with his tail sawed off, so he wags with the stump,
same way a clock does with the pendulum when the weight's gone —pretty
chipper. I used to come often from the other end of Newport Street,
where I was born, to Pemberton's. But that wasn't on account of
Pemberton, though he was agreeable, but on account of Madge Pemberton.
Madge and I were agreed, and Pemberton was agreeable, but I was
restless and keyed high in those days, resembling pups, as stated.
“No anchoring to Pemberton's chimney for me,” I says. “No digging
clams and fishing for small fry in Long Island Sound for me. I'm going
And Madge asks, “Why?” calm and reasonable, and I was near stumped
for reasons, having only the same reason as a lobster has for being
green. It's the nature of him, which he'll change that colour when he's
had experience and learned what's what in the boiling. I fished around
“When I'm rich,” I says, “I'll fix up Pemberton's for a swell
Madge says, “It's nice as it is,” and acted low in her mind. But if
she thought the less of me for wanting to go to sea, I couldn't say.
I left Greenough in the year '65, and went to New York, and the
wharves and ships of East River, and didn't expect it would take me
long to get rich.
There were fine ships and many in those days in the East River
slips. South Street was full of folk from all over the world, but I
walked there as cocky as if I owned it, looking for a ship that pleased
me, and I came to one lying at dock with the name Hebe Maitland
in gilt letters on a board that was screwed to her, and I says, “Now,
there's a ship!” Then I heard a man speak up beside me saying, “Just
so,” and I turned to look at him.
He didn't seem like a seaman, but was an old man, and grave-looking,
and small, and precise in manner, and not like one trained to the sea,
and wore a long, rusty black coat; and his upper lip was shaven.
“You like her, do ye?” he said. “Now I'm thinking you know a good
one when you see her.”
I said I thought I did, speaking rather knowing. But when he asked
if I'd been to sea, I had to say I hadn't; not on the high seas, nor in
any such vessel as the Hebe Maitland. She was painted dingy
black, like most of the others, and I judged from her lines that she
was a fleet sailer and built for that purpose, rather than for the
amount of cargo she might carry.
“Why, come aboard,” he said, and soon we were seated in a cabin with
shiny panels, and a hinge table that swung down from the wall between
us. He looked at me through half-shut eyes, pursing his dry lips, and
he asked me where I came from.
That was my first meeting with Clyde. I know now that my coming from
Connecticut was a point in my favour; still I judge he must have taken
to me from the start. He surely was good to me always, and that
“You want a job,” he says. “You've sailed a bit on fishing smacks in
the Sound. But more'n that, the point with you is you're ambitious, and
not above turning a penny or two in an odd way.”
“That depends on the way,” I says pretty uppish, and thinking I
wasn't to be inveigled into piracy that way.
“Maybe I've got scruples,” I says, and not a bit did I know what I
was talking about. Captain Clyde rapped the table with his knuckles.
“I'm glad to hear you say it. Scruples! That's the word, and a right
word and a good word. I don't allow any vicious goings-on aboard this
ship. Wherever we go we carry the laws of the United States, and we
stand by them laws. We're decent and we stick to our country's laws as
duty is. Why now, I'm thinking of taking you, for I see you're a likely
lad, and one that will argue for his principles. Good wages, good food,
good treatment; will you go?” The last was shot out and cut off close
behind, his lips shutting like a pair of scissors. I says, “That's what
I'll do,” and didn't know there was anything odd about it. It might
have been the average way a shipmaster picked up a man for aught I
knew. I shipped on the bark Hebe Maitland as ordinary seaman.
The shipping news of that week contained this item:
“Sailed, Bark, Hebe Maitland, Clyde, Merchandise for Porto
Now, there is such a place as Porto del Rey, for I was there once,
but not till twenty years later.
The Hebe Maitland didn't always go to the place she was
billed for, and when she did she was apt to be a month late, and likely
couldn't have told what she'd been doing in the meantime. Somebody had
been doing something, but it wasn't the Hebe Maitland. Ships may
have notions for aught I know, and the Hebe Maitland was no
fool, but if so, I judge she couldn't have straightened it out without
help; and if she argued and got mad about it, that was no more than
appropriate, for we all argued on the Hebe Maitland.
I've spoken of Captain Clyde. The crew, except one man called
“Irish,” were all Yankee folk that Clyde had trained, and most of them
had been caught young and sailed with him already some years. I never
saw so odd an acting crew in the way of arguing. I've seen Clyde and
the bos'n with the Bible between them, arguing over it by the hour. It
was a singular crew to argue. Stevey Todd here, who was cook, was a
Baptist and a Democrat, and the mate he was a Presbyterian and
Republican, and the bos'n he was for Women's Rights, and there was a
man named Simms, who was strong on Predestination and had a theory of
trade winds, but he got to arguing once with a man in Mobile, who
didn't understand Predestination and shot him full of holes, supposing
it might be dangerous. It was a singular crew, and especially in the
matter of arguing.
They were all older than I. Stevey Todd was a few years older. I
recognised Abe Dalrimple here, for he came from Adrian, though I'd seen
him but seldom before. Three more I'll name, Kid Sadler, J. R. Craney,
and Jimmy Hagan, who was called Irish; for they were ones that I had to
do with later. I never met another crew like the Hebe Maitland's. I guess there never was one.
Aboard and under Clyde's eye they were a quiet crew, even Sadler,
who wasn't what you'd call submissive by nature, but in port, Clyde
would now and then let them run riotous. He was a little, old, dried
up, and odd man with a vein of piousness in him, and he could handle
men in a way that was very mysterious.
The fourth day out of New York, as I recollect it, was fair, the sun
shining, and everything peaceful except on board the Hebe Maitland. But on the Hebe Maitland the men were running around with paint
pots and hauling out canvas from below. Nobody seemed to tell me what
was the matter. The Hebe Maitland's hull was any kind of a dingy
black, but the rails, canvas, tarpaulins, and companion were all white.
By the end of the day almost everything had modified. They'd got a kind
of fore-shortening out of the bowsprit, and another set of canvas
partly up that was dirty and patched. The boats were shifted and
recovered, cupola taken off the cabin, and the whole look of the ship
altered in mid-sea. Then Clyde came out of his cabin with a board in
his hand, and they unscrewed the Hebe Maitland's name from
forward under the anchor hole, and the Hebe Maitland in gilt was
the Hawk in white.
I went off and sat down on a coil of rope, and the more I thought it
over, the more I didn't make it out.
After that I heard lively talking forward a little, and there was
Captain Clyde, the bos'n, mate, Stevey Todd, and some others arguing.
The bos'n was saying he hadn't “sworn no allegiance to no country
but the United States, an' there ain't no United States laws,” he says,
“against dodging South American customs that I ever see nohow, and
being I never see a South American man that took much stock in 'em
either, I ain't so uppish as to differ.”
Then Stevey Todd chimed in and made a tidy argument, quoting
Scripture to prove that “actions with intent to deceive, and deception
pursuant,” weren't moral, and, moreover, he says: “Shall we lose our
souls because S. A. customs is ridiculous? Tell me that!”
“Shucks!” says the mate; “we're saved by grace!”
Then Captain Clyde took it up and his argument was beautiful. For he
said S. A. customs were oppressive to the poor of that country by
wrongfully preventing them from buying U. S. goods; so that, having
sworn to the U. S., we weren't bound by S. A. laws further than
humanity or the Dago was able to enforce; “which,” he says, “I argue
ain't either of 'em the case.”
“That's a tart argiment, Captain Clyde,” says the bos'n. “I never
heerd you make a tarter.”
They went on that way till it made my head ache, and before I knew
it I was arguing hard against the bos'n, the captain egging me on.
I sailed with that crew four years. They were smugglers. I'm free to
say I loved Clyde, and liked the crew. For, granting he was much of a
miser and maybe but a shrewd old man, to be corrupting folks with his
theories, though I'm not so sure about that, not knowing what he really
thought; yet, he was a bold man, and a kind man, and I never saw one
that was keener in judgment. You might say he had made that crew to
suit him, having picked out the material one by one, and they were most
of all like children of his bringing up. I judge he had a theory about
arguments, that so long as they talked up to him and freed their
opinions, there wouldn't be any secret trouble brewing below, or maybe
it was only his humour. It was surely a fact that they were steady in
business and a rare crew to his purpose, explain it as one may. He
taught me navigation, and treated me like a son, and it's not for me to
go back on him. I don't know why he took to me that way, and different
from the rest. He taught me his business and how he did it. I was the
only one who knew. He was absolute owner as well as captain, and his
own buyer and seller as well. He carried no cargoes but his own, which
he made up for the most part in New York or Philadelphia, and would
bill the Hebe Maitland maybe to Rio Janeiro. Then the Hawk
would maybe deliver the biggest part off the coast of Venezuela in the
night, and the Hebe Maitland would, like as not, sail into Rio
by-and-by and pay her duty on the rest, and take a cargo to New York as
properly as a lady going to church.
There were a good many countries in South America to choose from. It
wasn't wise to visit the same one right along, though there was apt to
be a new government when we came again. Clyde knew all about it. I'm
not saying but what an odd official of a government here and there was
acquainted with the merits of a percentage, being instructed in it by
the same. For all that there was excitement. It was a great life.
Sometimes I catch myself heaving a sigh for the old man that's dead,
and saying to myself, “That was a great life yonder.”
My recollection is, it was a sub-agent in Cuba who turned evidence
on Clyde at last, for a gunboat missed us by only a few miles coming
down by St. Christopher, as I heard afterward. Then a Spanish cruiser
ran us down, at last, under a corner of a little island among the
Windwards, about thirty miles east of Tobago, where Clyde's cleverness
came to nothing.
It was growing twilight, we driving close off the low shores of the
island. The woods were dark above the shore, and half a mile out was
the black cruiser, with a pennon of smoke against the sky, and the
black water between. I went into Clyde's cabin and found him talking to
“We'll be scuttling her, Tom,” he says.
With that he gave a jerk at the foot of his bunk, and the footboard
came off, and there underneath were four brown canvas bags tied up with
rope. Now, I never knew before that day that Clyde didn't keep his
money in a bank, same as any other civilised gentleman, and it shows
how little I knew about him, after all. He sat there holding up eagles
and double pesos to the lamplight, with his eyes shining and his
wrinkled old mouth smiling.
“What are you going to do with that?” I says, surprised at the sight
of it, and he kept on smiling.
“I guess you and I will take the shiners ashore,” he says; “I'd give
you a writing, but it would do you no good, Tommy. I'm what they called
“I don't know what you mean by that,” I says. “Scuttled she is, if
you say so. Shall we row for Tobago?”
“Well, I'll tell you how it is, Tommy,” he says. “I don't know what
the Dagos will do, and they're pretty likely to get us anyhow, but
we'll give 'em a hunt. But I've got a fancy you ain't got to the end of
your rope yet, lad,” and he says no more for a minute or two, and then
he heaves a sigh and says: “The shiners are yours if they cut me off. I
won't give you no more advice, Tommy, but I wish you luck.”
But I don't see why he had such a notion that he was near his own
It was a hard thing to do, to blow a hole in the bottom of the good
ship. The night was dark now, but the lights of the cruiser in plain
sight, and we knew she'd stand off until morning, or as long as the
Hebe Maitland's lanterns burned at the masts. The crew put off in
three boats to round the island and wait for us, and Clyde and I took
the fourth boat, and stowed the canvas bags, and went ashore, running
up a little reedy inlet to the end. We buried them in the exact middle
of a small triangle of three trees. Then we rowed out, and I threw the
spade in the water, and when we rounded the island, taking a last look
at the Hebe Maitland, she was dipping considerable, as could be
seen from the hang of her lanterns. Clyde changed to another boat and
put Sadler, Craney, Irish, Abe Dalrimple, and Stevey Todd, into mine.
I noticed it as curious about us, that so long as the old man was at
hand, telling us what to do, we all acted chipper and cheerful, but as
soon as we'd drifted apart, we grew quieter, and Stevey Todd began to
act scared and lost, and was for seeing Spanish cruisers drop out of
the air, and for calling the old man continually. Somehow we dropped
apart in the dark.
I've sometimes fancied that Clyde put me in that boat with those men
because it was the lightest boat, and because Sadler, Craney, and
Little Irish were powerful good rowers, and Abe he had this that was
odd about him for a steersman, for though he was always a bit wandering
in his mind, yet he could tell land by the smell. Put him within twenty
miles of land at sea, no matter how small an island, and he'd smell the
direction of it, and steer for it like a bullet, and that's a thing he
don't understand any more than I. I never made out why Clyde took to me
that way, as he surely did, and left me his shiners as sure as he
could, and gave me what chance he could for getting away, or so I
fancied. Just so surely I never saw him again, when once we'd drifted
apart that night among the Windwards.
A New Orleans paper of the week after held an item more or less like
“An incoming steamer from Trinidad, reports the overhauling of a
smuggler, The Hawk, by the Spanish cruiser, Reina Isabella. The smugglers scuttled the ship and endeavoured to escape, but were
captured, and are thought to have been all hanged. This summary action
would seem entirely unjustifiable, as smuggling is not a capital
offence under any civilised law. The disturbed state of affairs under
our Spanish-American neighbours may account for it. The Hawk is
stated to be an old offender. No American vessel of this name and
description being known however, it is not likely that there will be
The New York Shipping News of three months later had this:
“The bark, Hebe Maitland, Mdse., Clyde, Cap., which left this
port the 9th of April, has not yet been heard from.”
So the Reina Isabella thought she got all the crew of the
Hebe Maitland, likely she thinks so yet, for I don't know of
anybody that ever dropped around to correct her; but being as we rowed
all night to westward and were picked up next morning by an English
steamer bound for Colon on the Isthmus of Panama, and were properly
landed in course of time, I argue there were some of them she didn't
get. Their names, as standing on Clyde's book, were, “Robert Sadler,
James Hagan, Stephen Todd, Julius R. Craney, Abimelech Dalrimple,
Kid Sadler, as he was known there and then and since, was a powerful
man, bony and tall, with a scrawny throat, ragged, dangling moustache,
big hands, little wrinkles around his eyes, and a hoarse voice. I
wouldn't go so far as to say I could give you his character, for I
never made it out; yet I'd say he was given to sentiment, and to
turning out poetry like a corn-shucker, and singing it to misfit and
uneducated tunes, and given to joyfulness and depression by turns, and
to misleading his fellow-man when he was joyful, and suffering remorse
for it afterward pretty regular, taking turns, like fever and chills;
which qualities, when you take them apart, don't seem likely to fit
together again, and I'm not saying they did fit in Sadler. They
appeared to me to project over the edges. I never made him out.
Hagan I never knew to be called any name but “Irish,” or “Little
Irish,” except by Clyde himself. He was small and chunky in build, and
nervous in his mind, and had red fuzzy hair that stuck up around his
head like an aureole. Generally silent he was, except when excited, and
seemed even then to be settled to his place in this world, which was to
be Sadler's heeler. He followed Sadler all his after days, so far as I
know, same as Stevey Todd did me. I don't know why, but I'd say as to
Irish, that he was a man without much stiffness or stay-by, if left to
himself, whereas Sadler was one that would rather be in trouble than
not, if he had the choice.
As to Craney, I'll say this. When Clyde and I were coming out of the
inlet, he gave me a hundred and forty dollars, and he says,
“Look out for Craney,” but I had no notion what he meant by it. Now,
soon after we landed in Colon, Craney and Abe Dalrimple got a chance
for a passage to New York, and my hundred and forty went off somewhere
about the same time. Sadler, Irish, nor Stevey Todd didn't take it, for
they didn't have it, not to speak of other reasons. Abe's given to
wandering in his mind, but he don't wander that way either. Now, there
were thieves enough in Colon, and Craney never owned to it, but I'll
say he showed a weakness afterward for putting cash into my pocket,
that I shouldn't have said was natural to him without further reasons.
But supposing he'd been there before, he surely put more back in the
end than he ever took out. On the other hand, if I'd had the money in
Colon I might have gone back to the Windwards and to the triangle of
three trees, with Sadler, Irish, and Stevey Todd, and so back to
Greenough and Madge Pemberton, and been a hotel-keeper maybe, which is
a good trade in Greenough. Craney was ambitious and enterprising. He
had, as you might say, soaring ideas, and he'd been a valuable man to
Clyde for the complicated schemes he was always setting up. He was a
medium-sized man, with light hair and eyebrows, and a yellowish face,
and a frame lean, though sinewy, and had only one good eye, the other
pale like a fish's. His business eye always looked like it was boring a
hole in some ingenious idea. As an arguer on the Hebe Maitland
his style was airy and gorgeous, contrary to the style of Stevey Todd,
who was a cautious arguer, and gingerly.
Craney was about forty years old at the time of the Hebe
Maitland's loss, and Sadler about the same.
There were four of us then, left at Colon, after Craney and Abe had
gone. Pretty soon we were badly off. We couldn't seem to get berths,
and not much to eat. One day I up and says:
“I'm going across the Isthmus. Who else?” and Sadler says, “One of
'em's me,” and we all went, footing thirty miles the first day, and
slept among the rocks on a hillside.
The fourth day we went down the watershed to the town of Panama.
There we found a ship ready in port that was short of hands, and
shipped on her to go round the Horn. She was named the Helen Mar.
* * * * *
Captain Buckingham paused to fill his pipe again, and Stevey Todd
“'Intent to deceive and deception pursuant,' was my words, and I
never give in,” and Uncle Abimelech piped up to a crazy tune:
“You can arguy here and arguy there,
But them that dangles in the air
They surely was mistook somewhere,
They ain't got good foundations.”
“Aye,” said Captain Buckingham thoughtfully. “It was so. I heard
Sadler tune that to his banjo the night we got to Colon. Abe's got that
kind of a memory, which is loose but gluey. It was so. Sadler meant old
CHAPTER III. THE HOTEL HELEN MAR. THE
Most ships trading round the Horn to the West Coast in those days
would take a charter on the Gulf Stream to clean them well, on account
of carrying guano. The Helen Mar carried no guano, and charged
freightage accordingly for being clean. Drygoods she'd brought out from
New York, linens, cottons, tinware, shoes, and an outfit of furniture
for a Chilian millionaire's house, including a half-dozen baby
carriages, and a consignment of silk stockings and patent medicines.
Now she was going back, expecting to pick up a cargo of rubber and
cocoa and what not, along the West Coast. Captain Goodwin was master,
and it happened he was short of hands, including his cook. He hired
Stevey Todd for cook, and shipped the rest of us willing enough. It was
in October as I recollect it, and sometime in November when we came to
lie in the harbour of the city of Portate.
Portate is about seven hundred miles below the equator, and has a
harbour at the mouth of a river called the Jiron, and even in those
days it was an important place, as being at the end of a pass over the
Cordilleras. There's a railroad up the pass now, and I hear the city
has trolleys and electric lights, but at that time it hadn't much
excitement except internal rumblings and explosions, meaning it had
politics and volcanoes. Most of the ships that came to anchor there
belonged to one company called the “British-American Transport
Company,” which took most of the rubber and cocoa bark, that came over
the pass on mules—trains of mules with bells on their collars. But the
Helen Mar had a consignment promised her. The pack mules were due
by agreement a week before, so they naturally wouldn't come for a week
after. “Manana” is a word said to mean “tomorrow,” but if you took it
to mean “next month” you'd have a better sight on the intentions of it.
That's the way of it in South America with all but the politics and the
climate. The politics and the climate are like this; when they're
quiet, they're asleep; and when they're not, politics are revolutions
and guns, and the climate is letting off stray volcanoes and shaking up
But it was pleasant to be in the harbour of Portate. Everything
there seemed lazy. You could lie on a bunch of sail cloth, and see the
city, the sand, and the bluffs, and the valley of the Jiron up to the
nearer Andes. You could look up the level river to some low hills, but
what happened to the Jiron there you couldn't tell from the Helen
Mar. Beyond were six peaks of the Andes, and four of them were
white, and two blue-black in the distance, with little white caps of
smoke over them. The biggest of the black ones was named “Sarasara,”
which was a nasty volcano, so a little old boatman told us.
“Si, senor! Oh, la Sarasara!”
His name was Cuco, and he sold us bananas and mangoes, and was
drowned afterwards. The Sarasara was a gay bird. The mule drivers
called her “The Wicked Grandmother.”
It came on the 23d of November. Captain Goodwin and all the crew
were gone ashore, excepting Stevey Todd and me left aboard. Sadler and
Irish had been ashore several days without showing up, for I remember
telling Captain Goodwin that Sadler wouldn't desert, not being a
quitter, at which he didn't seem any more than satisfied. I was feeling
injured too, thinking Sadler was likely to be having more happiness
than he deserved, maybe setting up a centre of insurrection in Portate,
and leaving me out of it. Cuco come out in his boat, putting it under
the ship's side, and crying up to us to buy his mangoes.
Stevey Todd came out of the galley to tell him his mangoes were no
good, so as to get up an argument, and Cuco laughed.
“Si, senor,” he says, “look! Ver' good.” Then he nodded towards the
“La Sarasara! Oh, la Sarasara!” laughing and holding up his mangoes.
The smoke-cap over the Sarasara was blacker than usual and uncommon
big it looked to me. Just then it seemed to be going up and spreading
out. Stevey Todd looked over the side, and gave a grunt, and he says,
“Something's a-suckin' the water out of the harbour.”
Then I felt the Helen Mar tugging at her anchor, and the
water was going by her like a mill race, and Cuco was gone, and on
shore people were running away from the wharves and the river toward
the upper town.
I saw the trees swaying, though there was no wind, and a building
fell down near the water.
Then Stevey Todd whirled around and flung up his hands.
“Oh!” he says; “Oh! Oh!”
I never saw a scareder cook, for he dropped on the deck, and clapped
his legs around a capstan and screamed, “Lord! Lord!”
For the whole Pacific Ocean appeared to be heaving out its chest and
coming on, eighty feet high. I tied myself around another capstan, and
I says, “Good-night, Tommy!”
The tidal wave broke into surf an eighth of a mile out, and came on
us in a tumble of foam, hissing and roaring like a loose menagerie, and
down she comes on the Helen Mar, and up goes the Helen Mar
climbing through the foam. Me, I hung on to the capstan.
The next thing I knew we were shooting past the upper town, up the
valley of the Jiron, and there wasn't any lower town to be seen. We
were bound for the Andes. The crest of the wave was a few rods ahead,
and the air was full of spray. I saw the Sarasara too, having a nice
time spitting things out of her mouth, and it looked to me like she
waggled her head with the fun she was having. But the Helen Mar
was having no fun, nor me, nor Stevey Todd.
It was four miles the Helen Mar went in a few minutes, going
slower toward the end. By-and-by she hit bottom, and keeled over
against a bunch of old fruit trees on the bank of the river, and lay
still, or only swayed a little, the water swashing in her hold. Right
ahead were the foothills of the Cordilleras, and the gorge where the
Jiron came down, and where the mule path came down beside the river.
The big wave went up to the foot of the hills, and now it came back
peaceful. Then it was quiet everywhere, except for the sobbing of the
ebb among the tree trunks, and afterward lower down in the bed of the
river. The ground rose to the foothills there, and the channel of the
river lay deep below, with a sandy bank maybe twenty feet high on
either side, and on the bank above the river lay the Helen Mar,
propped up by the fruit trees.
By dusk there was no water except in the river, and some pools, but
there were heaps of wreckage. Stevey Todd and I got down and looked
things over. Down the valley we saw pieces of the town of Portate lying
along, and beyond we saw the Pacific. And Stevey Todd wiped his face on
his sleeves, and he says, “Maybe that's ridiculous, and maybe it ain't"
he says, “but I'd argue it.”
We swabbed off the decks of the Helen Mar, and scuttled the
bottom of her to let the water out. Then the next day we went down to
Portate. There were a sad lot of people drowned, including Captain
Goodwin and most of the crew. Sadler and Irish we didn't find, and some
others, and there was a man named Pickett who wasn't drowned. He went
south to Lima by-and-by.
Afterwards we did up the ship's papers, and the cash and bills in
the Captain's chest, thinking them proper to go to the ship's owners.
And Stevey Todd says:
“A wreck's a wreck. That river ain't three foot deep. How'd they
float her out of this? You say, for I ain't made up my mind,” he says,
which I didn't tell him, not knowing how they'd do it.
For a few days Stevey Todd and I lived high on ship's stores,
loafing and looking down the valley at the damaged city. All the river
front was wrecked. Halfway up the long sloping hill the streets were
sloppy, and any man that had a roof to sleep on, slept drier there than
inside, but the upper city was well enough.
We woke up from sleeping on the shady side of the Helen Mar
one afternoon, to hear the jingle of bells, and soon the mule train
pulled up alongside, and the drivers weren't used to seeing ships in
that neighbourhood. They were expecting trouble from the Helen Mar
for their being two weeks late; but still, finding the Helen Mar
up by the foothills looking for them, it appeared to strike them as
impatient and not real ladylike. But what seemed strange to me was to
see Sadler and Irish, that were taken for drowned beyond further
trouble, standing in front of the mule-drivers, looking down at us, and
then up at the Helen Mar, and Sadler seeming like he had a
satirical poem on his mind which he was going to propagate.
I says, “No ghosteses allowed here. You go away.”
“Tommy,” says Sadler, and he came and anchored alongside us in the
shadow of the Helen Mar, “I take it these here's the facts. Your
natural respectfulness to elders was shocked out of you, and you ain't
got over it.”
“Why, she must've got tanked up bad,” he says. “She must have been
full up and corked before she'd ever have come prancin' up here. My!
my! It's turrible when a decent ship gets an appetite for alcohol. Here
she lies! Shame and propriety forgotten! Immodestly exposed to grinnin'
“You let the Helen Mar alone,” I says pretty mad. “She ain't
so bad as drowned corpses riding mules.”
Then Stevey put in cautiously, and said he'd never really made up
his mind, and had doubts of it which he was ready to argue, supposing
Sadler had any facts to put up as bearing on his and Irish's condition
Sadler said they had gone up the mule path expecting to climb
Sarasara, but getting near the top of her, she began to act as if she
disliked them, Sarasara did, and she threw rocks vicious and more than
playful; so that they left her, and went on up the pass to look for the
mule train. They didn't know anything had happened in Portate.
We put the mule-drivers up that night and charged them South
American rates. That was the way Stevey Todd and I started keeping the
Helen Mar as a hotel. Sadler and Irish didn't care for the
business. They went down to Portate and got jobs with the Transport
Company, but Stevey Todd and I stayed by the Helen Mar, and ran
All the year through or nearly, the mule trains might come jingling
at any day or hour, coming from inland over the pass to the sea, with
the packs and thirsty drivers, who paid their bills sometimes in gum
rubber and Peruvian bark. Tobacco planters stopped there too, going
down to Portate. Men from the ships in the harbour came out, and
carried off advertisements of the hotel, and plastered the coast with
them. I saw an advertisement of the “Hotel Helen Mar” ten years after
in a shipping office in San Francisco, and it read:
“Hotel Helen Mar, Portate, Peru. Mountain and Sea Breezes. Board and
Lodging Good and Reasonable. Sailor's Snug Harbour. Welcome Jolly Tar.
Thomas Buckingham and Stephen Todd.”
That was for foreign patronage. The home advertisements were in
Spanish and went up country with the mule trains. Up in the Andes they
knew more about the Hotel Helen Mar than they did of the Peruvian
Government. We ran the hotel to surprise South America.
It was nearly a year before we heard from the ship's owners, though
we sent them the proper papers; and then a man came out, and looked at
the Helen Mar, and says:
“I guess she belongs where she is. Running a hotel, are you?” and he
carried off the sails and other rigging.
She was propped up at first only by the bunch of fruit trees, but
by-and-by we bedded her in stones. We painted a sign across her forty
feet long, but cut no doors, because a seaman won't treat a ship that
way. You had to climb ladders to the deck.
Inside she was comfortable. No hotel piazza could equal the Helen
Mar's deck on a warm night, with the old southern stars overhead,
when a bunch of mule-drivers maybe would be forward talking, and I and
Stevey Todd aft with a couple of Spanish planters, or an agent, or the
officers of a warship maybe from England or the States. Over on the
hillside lay Captain Goodwin and most of the crew of the Helen Mar, wishing us well, and close to starboard you heard all night the tinkle
of the Jiron River down in its channel. It was twenty feet from the
deck of the Helen Mar to the ground, and twenty feet from there
to the river.
Portate was a pleasant little city in those days. It had
pink-uniformed soldiery for the city guard, and a fat, warm-tempered
Mayor, who used often to come up to the hotel and cool off when
something had stuck a pin into his dignity that made him feverish.
Stevey Todd was cook and I was manager. Business was good and the
company good at the Hotel Helen Mar.
CHAPTER IV. SADLER IN PORTATE. THE
I don't know how Sadler got to be Harbour Master for the Transport
Company, but so he did, and he was a capable harbour master. The
Transport Company thought much of him, only they said he was reckless,
and he surely acted youthful to belie his looks. He used to go around
in a grimy little tugboat called the Harvest Moon, with Irish
running the engine below, and himself busy thrashing and blackguarding
roustabouts, joyful like a dewy morn; but at night he'd be found on the
deck of either the Helen Mar or the Harvest Moon, playing
a banjo very melancholy, and singing his verses to tunes that he got
from secret sources of sorrow maybe, which the verses were interesting,
but the tunes weren't fortunate. He was particular about his poetry
being accurate to facts, but he'd no gift as to tunes.
The trouble he got into all came from throwing Pedro Hillary off the
stern of the Harvest Moon, so that Pete went out with the tide,
because no one thought him worth fishing out, till it was found that he
was a member of some sort of Masonic Society among the negroes in
Ferdinand Street, and a British subject too, who came from Jamaica to
Portate. But before that time Pete was picked up by a rowboat, and came
back to Portate and Ferdinand Street. He and Ferdinand Street were very
mad. It was a street occupied by negroes, and Sadler wasn't popular
He came up to the Helen Mar the afternoon of the day that
Pete went out of the harbour, and lay in a hammock on deck, where one
could look down past the fruit trees toward the town and the mouth of
the Jiron. He was making a requiem for Pete Hillary, such as he thought
he ought to do under those circumstances, though the requiem was no
good and the tune vicious. “Pete Hillary,” it began,
“Pete Hillary, I make for you
This lonesome, sad complaint.
Alive you wa'nt no use, 'tis true,
And dead you prob'ly ain't.
“Pete Hillary, Pete Hillary,
I don't know where you are.
Here's luck to you, Pete Hillary,
Beyond the harbour bar.”
Just then Irish came running up the path, and climbed the ladder on
deck, and he cried:
“It's a warrant for ye, Kid I Run! Oh, wirra! What did ye do it
for?” He was distracted.
Sadler paid no attention. He only twanged his banjo, and sang casual
poetry, and Little Irish ran on:
“'Tis Pete Hillary himself was pulled out forninst the sand-bar,” he
says, “an' he's back in Ferdinand Street, swearin' for the bucket o'
wather he swallyed. An' 'tis the English consul up to the City Hall
says he come from Jamaica, an' a crowd of naygers from Ferdinand Street
be the docks. Ah, coom, Kid! Coom quick, for the love of God!”
And Sadler says: “Gi'n me a kiss,” he says,
“Gi'n me a kiss, sweetheart, says he;
Don't shed no tears for me, says he,
And if I meet a lass as sweet
In Paraguay, in Paraguay,
I'll tell her this: 'Gi'n me a kiss;
You ain't half bad for Paraguay.'“
And Irish says: “An' there's two twin sojers with their guns,” he
says, “an' belts full of cartridges on the Harvest Moon, an' the
gentlemen at the Transport says, Hide, dom ye! he says, till they can
ship ye wid a cargo to Californy.”
“The little islands fall asleep,
The little wavelets wink.
Aye, God's on high; the sea is deep;
Go, Chepa, get some drink.
“Calm, Irish! Get calm!” he says.
“You mean to say there's twins like that occupying the Harvest
First I seen her
Underneath an orange-tree—
“They are,” says Irish.
“Well—ain't they got nerve!”
“She was swashin'
Suds and washin'
Shirts beneath her orange-tree,”
he says. “Why, I got to go down and spank 'em!” he says, and he
rolled out of the hammock and went off down the road toward Portate
with Irish pattering after him.
We saw no more of them that day, and we didn't hear any news until
the noon following. There was a gale from the northwest in the morning.
I went down to the city in the afternoon, and found the Plaza boiling
It seemed that Sadler had gone aboard the Harvest Moon and
surprised the two soldiers, and dipped them in the water with their
artillery, and sent them uptown with the wet warrant stuck in the
muzzle of a gun. Then he paraded the Harvest Moon the length of
Portate's water-front, tooting his steam whistle. Then the Jefe
Municipal—that's the Mayor—fell into his warmest temper, and sent a
company of pink soldiery of the City Guard in the morning, packed close
in a tugboat. Then Sadler led them seaward, where the gale was blowing
from the northwest and the seas piled past the harbour; so most of the
pink soldiers were seasick, not being good mariners, and the gale
standing the tugs on their beam-ends, which was no sort of place for a
City Guard. They came back unhappy. The Harvest Moon was in
again, and now anchored in the harbour. I passed the Jefe myself on the
City Hall steps, and heard him b-r-r-ring like a dynamo. Then I went
down to the harbour.
The Harvest Moon lay rolling a half mile out. I took a
rowboat and rowed out. When I drew near, I saw Sadler standing by the
rail with the black nozzle of a hose pipe pushed forward, and shading
his eyes against the glint of the water. When he saw it was me he took
me aboard. But he was thoughtful and depressed. He sat himself on the
rail and dangled his boots over the water and described his state of
“What makes a man act so?” he says. “There's my fellow-man. Look at
him! I'm sorry for him. Most of him had hard luck to be born, and yet
when he gets in my way I just walk all over him. I can't help it. He's
leathery and he's passive, my fellow-man. He goes to sleep in the
middle of the road. When I ketch one of him, I kicks a hole in his
trousers first, and then it occurs to me, 'My sufferin' brother! This
is too bad!' Why, Pete Hillary was one of the dumbdest and leatheriest,
and here's the Mayor's pink sojers been fillin' me with joy and sorrow,
till I laughed from eleven till twelve, and been sheddin' tears ever
since. Irish's been three times around his rosary before he got the
scare kinks out of him, and between Irish bein' pathetic, and the Mayor
and his sojers comin' out pink and going back jammed to the colour of
canned salmon, my feelin's is worked up to bust. What makes a man act
so? It must be he has cats in him.”
He pulled his moustache and looked gloomy, and I judged his remorse
was sincere. I says:
“That's what I don't put together. Why, Kid, look here! If you feel
as bad as that three-for-a-cent requiem to Pete Hillary sounded, it's
cats all right. It's the same kind that light on back fences and feel
sick, and express themselves by clawing faces,” I says, “and
blaspheming the moon with sounds that never ought to be. That what you
mean by 'cats in him'?”
“Precise, Tommy, precise.”
“Well, I don't put it together,” I says. “I wouldn't feel like that
for the satisfaction of drowning all Ferdinand Street. Why, poetical
habits and habits of banging folks don't seem to me to fit. Why,” I
says, “a poet he's one thing, and a scrapper he's another, ain't they?
They don't agree. One of 'em feels bad about it, and takes to laments
and requiems nights, same as malaria.”
“It's this way,” he says. “Those are just two different ways of
statin' that things are interestin'. And yet, you're not far from the
facts. It was a shoemaker in Portland, Maine,” he says, “that taught me
to chuck metres when I was a young one, and the shoemaker's son taught
me to fight in the back yard, more because he was bigger than because
he was interested in educatin' me. By-and-by I beat the shoemaker on
metres and the son in the back yard, and then I left 'em, for they was
no more use to me. But I never found anything else so much satisfaction
as them two pursuits. But I'll go away, Tommy,” he says, “I'll leave
Portate. I will, honest. I'll be good. I wish they'd quit puttin'
temptations on me. But they won't. They're comin' out again! Look at
'em! They've borrowed the Juanita, and she's comin' with only
the steersman in sight, and a cabin full of sojers that can't keep
their bayonets inside of the windows. My! ain't they sly!”
He went to the companion way and called Irish, telling him to “start
The Juanita was one of the Transport Company's tugs. She
appeared to be engaged in a stratagem. She passed the Harvest Moon, then swung around and came up, on the other side. The Harvest Moon
made no effort to escape her anchorage, though the engine below began
Sadler went aft, dragging the long black hose, and sat on the rail
till the Juanita drew in to forty feet away, and through the
deckhouse windows you could see the tufted caps of the suppressed
soldiery. Then he let a steaming arch out of the hose pipe, that
vaulted the distance and soaked the steersman, who howled and lay down.
Then the Juanita ploughed on, and Sadler played his hose, as she
passed, through the windows of the deck house, where there were crashes
and other noises, and Irish's engine kept on chug-chugging in the chest
of the Harvest Moon. The Juanita went out of reach, and
the soldiery poured out on deck disorderly and furious, and Sadler
pulled me flat beside him, supposing they might open a volley of
musketry on us, but they didn't. Then he got up. “They give me the
colic,” he says, and Irish put his head up the companion way, and says:
“The wather was too hot,” he says and blew his fingers, and Sadler gave
“There's my luck!” he says. “I meant to tell Irish to take the boil
off and forgot it. Now their skins'll peel. You go away, Tommy. You go
ashore. You can't do me no good.”
He looked sheepish and troubled. When I pulled away, he sat staring
down, with his back turned, his boots dangling over the water, and his
shoulders bent. He certainly felt bad.
The Superintendent of the Transport Company was named Dorcas, a
bustling, heavy-bearded man that you couldn't hold still and that
talked fast and jerky like a piston rod.
I met him in the Plaza next morning going into the City Hall.
“Come on,” he says. “We'll fix it. What? Jefe was stuck. Come to me.
Now then. Got an idea. Suit him first-rate. You see. Struck me this
morning,” says Dorcas. “Suit everybody.”
We came to the Mayor's office, and found Sadler, sitting alone by
the window and looking moodily down on the Plaza, where the chain gang
from the City Jail was pretending to mend the pavement, but mostly
loafing and quarrelling.
“Got him!” said Dorcas joyfully. “Thumped up the Jefe. First he
cussed, then he calmed. That's his way. Be up pretty soon. Hold on!
Wait for the Jefe.”
Sadler nodded, and we sat and watched the chain gang, till the Mayor
came in out of breath. He was a small, stout man with a military
goatee, and his temper was such as kept the resident consuls happy with
their diplomacy. He snorted at Sadler, and sat down.
“Now, Excellency,” Dorcas says, “this way. Understand your position.
All right. Reasonable. First, if Pete Hillary is Jamaican, he's no
citizen of Portate. See? No good, anyway. No. British consul, he don't
care, except for the principle. Not really. No. You want to pacify him,
meaning his principle. That's so. Then that Hottentot Society. Got to
fix them. Course you have. Don't want to disoblige honest voters of
Ferdinand Street. No. Third; you got to celebrate the majesty of laws
and municipal guards. Good. Last; the Transport Company. We don't want
the Kid to chew his thumbs in jail for wetting folks. Good land! No!
You want to satisfy us. Complicated, ain't it? But you're equal to it.
You're a good one, Jefe. Sure. Now what's needed? Something bold.
Something skilful. We have it! Get him banished, Excellency. Get him
banished. Executive Edict from the President. Big gun. Hottentots
pleased and scared. Majesty of Great Britain pacified. Majesty of
municipal guards celebrated. Transport Company don't object. Everybody
happy. There, now!”
He put his thumbs in the armholes of his vest, leaned back and
“Hum! You assist?” says the Mayor.
The Mayor gazed at him fierce for a minute, then he smiled and
patted his knee.
“It is, perhaps, Senor Dorcas, not impossible.”
“There now, Kid! Fixed you.”
Sadler said nothing, but looked down at the chain gang below. The
Plaza was full of people, women talking under the stiff palms, and men
sitting on wicker chairs on the hotel piazza opposite. The butcher on
the corner was chasing away a dog.
“It won't do,” says Sadler mournfully, at last. “It's more
interestin' than I'd suppose you was up to, but comparatively it's
dull. Besides, it ain't safe. I'd have to come back and see how bad I
was banished. That's certain. Not that I'd throw you down this way,
Excellency,” he says with sad eyes on the Mayor and a deep voice, “I
wouldn't do it,” he says, “without puttin' up another scheme, for it
wouldn't be treating you upright. But makin' a supposition, now,
suppose I was arrested some, and set to bossin' that gang out there for
the benefit of Portate, and quartered, for safe keepin' till the trial,
at the Hotel Republic, as a partial return for being exhibited in
disgrace. And suppose it took me three days to finish that little job
they're potterin' with, by that time I'd be ready to, let's say, to
escape, say, on the steamer that sails for Lima on Thursday. I'm a
broken and tremblin' reed, Jefe. That's me. I shrinks, I fades away.
The majestic law's too much for me. And suppose you was to fix up a
Proclamation subsequent and immejiate, offerin' a reward for me. Now,
as to fugitive, or as to exile, lookin' at it from my standpoint, I
makes my choice. I says, fugitive. It suits me better. It's elegant and
inexpensive. I ain't worthy of an Executive Edict. As a fugitive I
wouldn't have to fidgit to get even with you. But take your standpoint,
Excellency. There's iniquitous limits to you. For instance, you can't
put up an Executive Edict by yourself. Consequence is, there's no glory
in it for you. But you can put up a Proclamation, runnin' like this:
'Five hundred dollars reward for capture and return of one Sadler, that
committed humiliatin' assault on one Hillary, and sp'iled the stomachs
and b'iled the skins of patriotic municipal guardsmen, which shameful
person is more'n six feet of iniquity, and his features homely beyond
belief, complexion dilapidated, and conscience dyspeptic.' Of course,
Excellency, there couldn't anybody give you points on a Proclamation. I
ain't doin' that, but I was supposin' it was printed in the national
colours, with a spectacular reward precedin' a festival of language.
Printed, posted, and scattered over Ferdinand Street and the British
Consulate, what happens? British majesty pacified, Ferdinand Street
solid for a Mayor that puts that value on Pete Hillary, Transport
Company don't object. Everybody happy, except me. Don't mind me. I go
my lonesome way.”
Sadler turned away, depressed, and looked at the chain gang in the
Plaza. The Mayor's eyes glistened. Dorcas pulled his beard, and he
“There'd be more in it for you, Excellency, that's a fact.”
The Mayor came over and patted Sadler on the shoulder, and his voice
“My friend, be not sad. To be sacrificed to public policy is noble.”
“Recollect that Proclamation, Excellency,” says Sadler. “You can't
describe me too villainous.”
“I will remember,” says the Mayor in a broken voice. “I will
“And you won't go under five hundred,” says Sadler. “It'll be a
tribute to your private respect, just between you and me, as friends
that might never meet again.”
“I will remember. My friend! Yet be firm,” says the Mayor.
Sadler left the hall with a file of pink soldiers, who acted sly and
kept aside from him, as not knowing in what direction he might be
dangerous. He was put in charge of the chain gang, and introduced them
to sorrow and haste, and he spent his three days at the Hotel Republic,
taking things joyful at the bar at municipal expense. There were
soirees on the hotel piazza and terror in the chain gang. By the rate
the work went on in the Plaza, he was worth the expense. The only point
where he didn't appear scrupulous was going around to bid people
good-bye, which seemed simple-hearted and affecting in a way, but it
harrowed the Mayor's feelings. He said they were harrowed. He got
nervous. For if a man agrees to be a fugitive, and to escape in a way
described by himself as a shrinking and fading away, it stands to
reason he oughtn't to make too much fuss about it; nor tell the British
consul that the Mayor was going to assassinate him, which was the
reason for “these here adieus,” to which the British consul said,
“Gammon!” Yet this seemed to be the idea current in Ferdinand Street,
and was why the Hottentot Society were peaceful for the time being. But
it made the Mayor nervous the way Portate was keyed up for tragedy, and
the way Sadler acted as if he wasn't going to escape real mysterious.
For the Mayor had to please the British consul and Ferdinand Street and
the Transport Company; but the Hottentots were skittish, and the Mayor
On Thursday morning the dock was crowded with Sadler's friends, come
to watch him escape, and some who heard he was to try it, and thought
to see him grabbed by the City Guard. They expected a surprise. It
puzzled them when the strip of water widened between the steamer and
Irish wasn't there, though I had supposed he would go with Sadler;
but the British and American consuls were there, and Dorcas, with
others of the Transport Company, people from the Hotel Republic, and
Hillary, and a lot of negroes from Ferdinand Street. I heard the
British consul say to the American consul: “You know, of course, that's
what you call a 'put up job'—one of your Americanisms,” he says.
“Shucks! You don't care,” says the American consul.
“But really, you know, it's not decent,” says the British consul.
Sadler stood on the after deck of the steamer with his hat off, same
as if he was asking a benediction on Portate.
An hour later the steamer was out of sight and the proclamations
were posted in Ferdinand Street, and the Plaza, and at the consulates:
“Three hundred dollars reward for the capture and return, dead or
alive, of one known as 'Kid Sadler,' a fugitive from public justice,
who committed felonious and insulting assault on Pedro Hillary, the
well-known and respected resident of Ferdinand Street. It is
suspected,” says the Proclamation, “that, if still in the city, he will
endeavour to escape by steamer in disguise. Description.”——
Which description of him was remarkable for length and scorn.
I heard the American consul say to the British consul; “I'll tell
you what that is, old man. That's a porous plaster. It has some holes,
but it's meant to cover your indecency.”
That Thursday night I sat alone on the deck of the Hotel Helen Mar.
It was near ten o'clock. I saw a flamingo rise from the river, and it
flew over the Helen Mar, like a ghost, trailing its legs.
And the ladder creaked, and Sadler came over the side. He stepped
soft and long like a ghost.
“How do?” he says, and sat down, and twankled his banjo.
Then I asked, “Why? What for?” I says, “I don't see it,” I says. “It
ain't reasonable.” It was well enough for a flamingo, but a man has
responsibilities. It's not right for him to be a floating object that's
no such thing. He's got no business to be impossible, unless he
explains himself. I stated that opinion pretty sharp, but Sadler was
“Irish hooked the Harvest Moon” he says, “and lay outside for
the steamer. I jumped overboard.”
“Changed your mind?”
“Well, I'd thought some of enlisting for the Chilian War, but Irish
don't like war. Gives him the fidgits. I made a 'Farewell' going out. I
thought I'd come round and tell it to you.” He sang hoarsely as
“Tommy and Dorcas, now adieu;
I drops a briny tear on,
Mayor, my memories of you;
Stevey that brought the beer on;
Farewell across the waters blue,
“Farewell the nights of ba'my smell,
Farewell the alligator,
Special them little ones that dwell
In the muck hole with their mater.
Farewell, Portate, oh, farewell,
“You see,” he says, “the point of going to war is this way, because
“The damage you do
Ain't totted to you
But explained by the habits of nations.
“Government pays the bills, commissary, sanitary, and them that's
sent to God Almighty. I guess so. But it'd give Irish the fidgits. Then
the Transport's got a three-master billed for San Francisco, and she
sails to-morrow morning, and we're going on her.” He seemed subdued,
and hummed and strummed on his banjo, as if he couldn't get hold of
what he wanted to let out. At last he struck up a monotonous thing that
had no tune, and sang again: “One day,” he says,
“One day I struck creation,
And I says in admiration,
'What's this here combination?'
Then I done a heap of sin.
I hain't no education,
“There's something I would say, boys,
Of the life I throwed away, boys,
It cackles, but don't lay, boys,
There's a word that won't come out.
The hell I raised I'll pay, boys,
“Tommy,” he says then, “I'm leaving you. You ain't going to have my
sheltering wing no more. Write down these here maxims in your memory,
supposing I never see you no more. Any game is good that'll hold up a
bet. Any sort of life is good so long as it has a good risk in it. The
worth of anything depends on how much you've staked on it. Him that
draws most of the potluck in this world is the same that drops most in.
The man that puts up his last coin as keen as when he put up his first,
he'll sure win in the end. Lastly, Tommy, if you want a backer inquire
for Sadler. So long.”
He got up to leave, and stood a moment looking away into the
moonlight. I says:
“The Mayor's Proclamation's out, Kid.”
“Yep. I got it somewhere about. I just been to see him.”
He had the Proclamation in his hand.
“Durned little runt,” he says. “He cut me down two hundred dollars
on that reward, plump! And he'd gi'n me his word! Why, you heard him!
He ought to be ashamed. I told him so. I says, 'You're no lady.' Nor he
ain't. Nor sporty, either. Squeals and wriggles.”
“Paid you the reward, did he?”
“Why, of course, he couldn't miss his politics. It took him sudden,
though. He had a series of fits that was painful, painful.” Then he
moved away, muttering, “Painful, painful!” climbed over the side, and
down the ladder, and went to California.
CHAPTER V. END OF THE HOTEL HELEN
MAR. CONTINUATION OF CAPTAIN BUCKINGHAM'S NARRATIVE.
Sadler and Irish were gone, but Stevey Todd and I stayed on at
Portate, running the Hotel Helen Mar. Three years we ran her
altogether, and made money. I had a thought that by-and-by I'd go to
the Isthmus, and charter some kind of sloop, and dig out Clyde's canvas
bags, and so go back to Greenough sticky with glory. Whether it was
laziness or ambition kept me so long at Portate I couldn't say. It was
a pleasant life. It's a country where you don't notice time. Yet its
politics are lively, and the very land has malaria, as you might say;
it has periodic shakes, earthquakes, “tremblors,” they call them, or
“trembloritos,” according to size.
It was early one morning, in the spring of the year '73, that Stevey
Todd woke me up, and he says:
“I'm feeling unsteady like. Seems like the Helen Mar
“She's took sick,” I says, sarcastic, “she's got the toothache.”
The only thing I had against Stevey Todd was, he was timid and had
bad dreams. He rode a tidal wave every two or three nights, according
to account. But it wasn't right to be messing another man's sleep with
tidal waves that didn't belong to the other man. I never set any tidal
waves on him. I spoke up to Stevey Todd that time, and went on deck,
and saw the Sarasara with an umbrella over her head, and I thought,
maybe, there had been a little shake, and maybe she was out looking for
It came on the middle of the morning. The drivers that put up with
us that night were gone down the valley with their mules. I heard
Stevey Todd whoop down below, and he came on deck and he says, “She's
wobbling again!” meaning the Helen Mar. She was swaying to and
fro. We got down the ladder and stood off to look at her.
Then the land began twisting like snakes under our feet, and cut
figure eights, till I felt like soapsuds, and lay down on my face. Then
I sat up, and looked at the Helen Mar, which shook and groaned
like a live thing. We heard the trees crack and snap behind her. She
seemed to hang a moment as if she hated to go; and over she went with a
shriek and crash. The water splashed and the dust went up. Stevey Todd
and I ran to the bank, and there lay the Hotel Helen Mar, ridiculous,
bottom side up in the Jiron River.
Stevey Todd sat down and cried.
I was disgusted with seeing the hotel standing on her roof-garden
and thinking of the mess there was inside her, all come of a
tremblorito no bigger than enough to cave in the bank and tip the
Helen Mar over, and enough tidal wave to wash the streets of
Portate, which needed it. I saw the Sarasara shaking her old umbrella
at us, and I was mad. I says to Stevey Todd, “Go on! Run your blamed
old hotel standing on your head!” I says, “I'm going to Greenough,” and
I lit out for Portate, leaving him standing on the bank, with the tears
running down his face, like his heart was broken.
When I came to the harbour I found there were two ships in port
bound for California, and one by way of Panama. She was named the
The captain's name was Rickhart, a rough man, and the Jane Allen
was an unclean boat, a brigantine, come from bad weather around the
Horn. I went aboard to look her over, and didn't like her. I was making
up my mind to go and see if the other mightn't be going by Panama too.
And then, coming through the forecastle, some one spoke to me from a
bunk and he says:
“When'd you drop in, Tommy?” and I stopped, and stared, and pretty
soon I made him out. It was Julius R. Craney.
He certainly was sick. He said he had shipped with Rickhart from New
York, to go to California and make his fortune, but thought now he
wouldn't live so far. He had the scurvy and was low in his mind, and
disappointed with fortune. I thought:
“If he took my money at Colon, he hasn't got it now.” He was poor
enough then. I guessed we'd have to call that off, and I says:
“The Jane Allen it is. I'll go see the Windwards and
Craney was a yellow-looking man at that time, and glad enough when I
told him I was going to bring him some fruit, and take passage to
Panama, and look after him. Then I bargained with Rickhart for a
passage for two.
The next day I went back up to the Helen Mar, and found
Stevey Todd had a board fence in front of her, and was charging
admission, and he had a new advertisement tacked on the fence.
“Unparalleled Spectacle!” says Stevey Todd's bill-poster. “The Hotel
Helen Mar. On her chimneys, with her cellar in the Air! Built in the
United States! Exported to South America! Freighted Inland by a Tidal
Wave! Stood on her Head by an Earthquake! Only 10 cents!” And he was up
on a box himself encouraging the populace, and he seemed to think he
had a good business opening. But I says:
“Stevey,” I says, “come off it. We're going to Panama.”
He wanted to argue it was an unparallelled show, but I took him by
the suspenders and ran him down to Portate, arguing, and the populace
went in free, and we went aboard the Jane Allen. He thought the
Helen Mar was a better boat upside down than the Jane Allen
any side, and he was right there, for the Jane Allen was full of
smells and unhealthiness. But Craney was glad to see us.
We hadn't been a week at sea before her cook came down with ship's
fever and died in five days, but Craney picked up a bit for the time.
Rickhart came straight for Stevey Todd, and handed him his passage
“You're no passenger” he says. “You're a cook. You hear me!” Which
appeared like a rash statement, that Stevey Todd wasn't one to take
off-hand like that without argument, but Rickhart shoved him into the
galley before he got his ideas arranged right.
“You're the Jane Allen's cook,” says Rickhart, and appeared
to be right, though his style of argument wasn't what Clyde had trained
us to. Stevey Todd had no proper outfit to meet it. The victuals he had
to serve up on the Jane Allen was a worriment to his conscience
too, being tainted and bad, and by-and-by I came down too with ship's
fever, and Craney got sicker again with scurvy.
There's a long promontory, that the coasters see on the West Coast
of South America near the Line, with a square white tower on a bit of
high rock at the head of it. The promontory is called Mituas, and the
point, Punta Ananias. That may be because some one ran aground sometime
on the sand-bar off the end, and thought it deceitful. Some people say
the tower was built as an outlook against pirates long ago, but I judge
the facts are everybody has forgotten who built it or what he did it
for. It's a lighthouse now. If a man doesn't mind a curve in his view
and a few pin-head islands, there's nothing particular to interrupt his
view half round the world. The Andes make a jagged line on the east,
and ten of them are volcanoes. Those snow mountains and two or three
ocean currents got together, and arranged it with the equator that one
part of the year should be a good deal like another there, and all the
months behave respectful, and the Tower of Ananias have a breeze. It's
a handsome position with a picked climate.
The scurvy is a disease not so common now, but it used to act as if
all the bad salt pork you'd eaten were coming out through the skin,
till you looked like a Stilton cheese, and what you wanted was to be
fed on vegetables, and put ashore so as to get the bilge-water dried
out. Probably that wouldn't be possible, and you'd be sewed up in
canvas, and resemble an exclamation point, and be dropped overboard to
punctuate the end of the story. Chunk! you goes, and that's the end of
Ship's fever is a nautical brand of typhoid, due to bad conditions
aboard. The best thing for it is to get out of those conditions. Craney
had the scurvy, and I had ship's fever. Sometimes I was out of my head.
But when we sighted Punta Ananias, I was clear enough to tell Captain
Rickhart he'd have a burial shortly, or put me on shore.
“I've got no fancy for that,” he says, and took a look at me. I
didn't suppose he'd haul up, but he did. He'd buried two men already
down the coast, and the thing must have got on his nerves, for he
anchored overnight, and sent Craney and me to the lighthouse in a boat.
“You forfeit your passage money,” he says, and told the mate to buy
what truck he could, and tell the Dago in the lighthouse he could keep
Rickhart was a rough man, and his ship was a rotten ship. I never
knew a meaner ship, though I've known meaner men than Rickhart on the
Stevey Todd said he was going with us, and there Rickhart disagreed
with him again, and his argument was the same as before.
“You ain't,” he says, and seemed to prove it, though Stevey Todd
claimed he wasn't convinced.
CHAPTER VI. TORRE ANANIAS. WHY
CAPTAIN BUCKINGHAM DID NOT GO BACK TO GREENOUGH.
When we got under the lee of the lighthouse, the keeper came
stalking down the rocks to meet us. He was a tall man with a long
moustache, and a narrow grey beard, and a black coat and sombrero.
I heard the mate say:
“Here's the King of Castile come to Craney's funeral. Blamed if he
ain't a whole hearse!”
“Without doubt” says the keeper, grave and deep, being asked about
the fruit. Regarding sick boarders, he broke out sharp, “Since when has
my house——But I ask your pardon! You are strange to me. No more. The
gentlemen will do me the honour to be my guests.”
Nobody appeared to have anything to say to that, but he looked too
lean to recommend his board. His Spanish wasn't the kind I was used to.
It was neither West Coast nor Mexican. I judged it was just Spanish.
They left us in canvas hammocks on the ground floor of the Tower of
Ananias. It was three stories high, the top story opened to seaward,
with its lanterns and tin reflectors.
The darkness came on, as its habits are in the tropics, like a lamp
blown out. I could see the stars through the square seaward window of
the tower, and heard the keeper go softly up the stairs, and I went to
sleep, very weak and faint.
When morning came, and I pulled myself up to look through the square
window, and saw the ship making sail, it seemed to me I was some sick
and far away from everybody. I rubbed my eyes and looked around.
The door and stairway filled one side of the room. There were two
wooden benches and a pile of earthen and tin ware on one of them. The
hammocks hung between the windows, and in one of them lay Craney,
looking like mouldy cheese, for his hair, eyebrows, and complexion were
yellowish by nature, and he was some spotted at that time.
Beyond the door was a banana tree, with ten-foot leaves, and a
little black monkey loping around under it, sort of indifferent. Beyond
the banana tree came thick woods. A woman came out of them with a
basket on her head, up the path to the tower. The monkey yelped and
went up the banana tree. “Dios!” says the woman, when she came to the
door, and she put down the basket and ran. The keeper came down the
stone stairs and ran silently after her. The little black monkey
dropped from his tree and loped after the keeper, and the woods
swallowed them all. A sea-breeze was blowing into the tower, and below
I could hear the pound of the surf. Craney slept as innocent as if he'd
been fresh cheese, and I felt better.
Then the keeper came back with the woman, who appeared to be a
scared Indian and screeched some. He said her name was Titiaca, and she
would look after us, but otherwise had no culture. Craney woke up and
took a look at things.
“I have already,” the keeper says very solemn, “the advantage of
your honourable names. My own is Gaspero Raphael de Avila y Mituas.” He
stated it so, and went up the stairs. I dropped one leg out of the
hammock, and I says thoughtful:
“I always had hard luck. They just named me Tom and chucked me.”
Titiaca knocked her head on the floor and screeched, but at that
time I didn't see what for. She appeared to think the keeper was
It was monotonous lying all day in the tower, seeing only Titiaca,
and now and then the black-cloaked keeper, stiff, silent, and solemn,
and polite. But the days went by, and by-and-by we began to crawl out
and lie in the seaward shadow, and sometimes under the banana tree,
where the little black monkey loped around melancholy. We grew better.
Titiaca gossiped, and told us the keeper was a magician, and master of
the winds, and probably the bestower of rain and sunshine, and certain
his light in the tower was connected underground with one of the
volcanoes, so that he could tap different grades of earthquakes, graded
as “motors, trembloritos, and tremblors,” according to size.
“For, see!” she says; “at night it is the red smoke of the mountain
—all night! it is the light in the tower—all night! it is himself in
the tower—all night—all day! He speaks not. Is it not so? The ground
shivers. He says nothing. It is the magic. Ah-h-h! The magic!”
Craney grew so well and restless after a week or two that he began
strolling, and finally one day he went down the path that Titiaca came
by. For she said there was a village, and, beyond other villages and
cocoa plantations, fishermen along the shore, many people, though only
footpaths ran through the woods. Her gossip lacked variety, and the
little black monkey took no interest in me at all. It appeared to me
things were unnatural dull, and I went to the tower and called. The
keeper answered, and I went up, and hoped I wasn't in his way. The
middle story was like the one below, except for a table, chair, bed,
and a few plain articles.
“On the contrary,” he says, “if you will do me the honour to
precede,” and motioned to the stair leading to the lantern story, which
was roofed, but open on all sides, and along the seaward wall was a
It's good, now and then, as a man lives on, if something or some one
comes along that gives him a new notion of things. At first it
surprises him; then he thinks there might be something in it; and then
maybe he gets so waterlogged and cosmopolitan as to admit an oyster's
notions might be as reasonable as his.
As near as I could come to it the keeper was a Spaniard of a
run-down family,—at least one branch of it was run down to him. It was
old and uncommon proud, and had different kinds of decorated names. It
began with being a legend; then it seemed to have a deal of trouble
with Moors, and got rich with the results of trouble; then it owned
some of that section of the New World, including twenty to thirty
thousand natives in the property. That was the story of the family. But
what they had they spent, or lost, or had confiscated, till there was
nothing much but the story. Now here's what surprised me. For the
thought of his race was in his bones, same as the sea is in mine. For
instance, it seems to me I'm more to the point than my ancestors, on
account of being alive. I don't much know who they were. I'm a separate
island, with maybe a few other islands, close by. My continental
connections appear to be sort of submerged. That's the average American
way of looking at it, and he wants to be a credit to himself, if he
does to anybody. But the keeper's notion was to be a credit to all the
grandfathers he could find between the fall of the Roman Empire and the
Conquest of Peru. Those of the last hundred years or so he wasn't
particular about, but if they'd been dead long enough he'd do anything
to satisfy them. I didn't seem to surround the idea so as to find it
reasonable, but I got so far as to see it was a large one, and there
was some kind of a handsomeness in it.
Speaking of points of view, it seemed to me, so long as a man
thought a heap of something besides himself, there was a good deal of
leeway as to what the thing was; maybe his children and the folks that
were coming after him; maybe the folks that went before him; maybe his
country, or a machine he had invented, or a ship and those aboard he
was responsible for, or the copper image of one of his gods. So long as
he stood to stake his life on it, I wasn't prepared to sniff at him.
For a while he listened to my talk and said nothing. Then he began
and went off like a bottle of beer that's been corked over-long. From
what he said I gathered the facts just stated.
“The stream goes dry,” he says slowly at last. “Therefore I came
from Spain. What do I know of the new laws of the colonists, their
republic? These lands are to my race in me, from the point to the bay,
and north twenty leagues; so runs the charter: so witnesses my name,
Mituas, given and decreed by Charles, the king and emperor, to Juan de
Avila y Mituas, the friend of Francisco Pizarro, who was an upstart
indeed, but a valiant man. They say to me: 'There is a lighthouse on
Punta Ananias. For the keeping of the light is paid this much. Sir, be
pleased in this manner to occupy your estate.' Do I care for their
mocking? Is it the buzz of insects that is heard in Spain? Good, then!
I wait for my end. But to hear an Avila mocked at in Spain I could not
endure. You do not understand? It is natural. You were so kind as to
tell me of your life—believe me, most interesting—a courtesy which
has tempted me to fatigue you in this way.”
I thought his yarn a sight more interesting than mine, and said so,
and he looked sort of blank, as if he didn't see how you could get the
stories of an Avila and a Yankee seaman near enough together to compare
them, more than a dozen eggs with a parallel of latitude. But his
manners stayed by him. He said I was so polite as to say so, and then
was silent, sitting on his end of the stone bench and looking grim at
“Well,” I says, “I've got nothing to speak of,—a little money, no
relations,—but I'd hate to give up the idea of seeing Long Island
Sound again, and the town of Greenough.”
“Your hope is a possession excellent,” he says very quiet. “I shall
not see again my Madrid, nor those vineyards of Aragon.”
By-and-by the keeper seemed too melancholy to be sociable, I went
back to the banana tree.
Titiaca came. She said Craney had gone inland.
He didn't come back that night, and not till late afternoon of the
next day. Then he came out of the woods, strolling along, and sat down
under the banana tree, and acted as if he had something on his mind. I
told him about the keeper, and laid out my theory about his having a
handsome point of view, but one that needed property to keep cheerful
with. Craney was thoughtful.
“Property, Tommy!” he says at last. “This is the remarkablest
community I ever got to. The old man told you right, so far as he knew.
I guess he applied for four hundred square miles of ancestral estate
and they told him he could have the lighthouse job. That's so! But see
here. He don't really know what his job is. Lighthouse keeper! My
galluses and garters! He's the tin god of ten or fifteen thousand
Injuns and half-breeds. I've been holding camp-meetings with them. Why,
he's sitting on a liquid gold mine that's aching to run. I'll tell you.
I went from here to Titiaca's village. It's on the shore and some of
the people are fishermen, and I talked with them. Then I got a donkey
and rode over by plantations where they raise cocoa, which appears to
be a red cucumber full of beans, and growing on an apple tree. They dry
it, and take it in boat-loads up a bay about forty miles, and get from
five cents a pound upwards. I talked with them. Then I met an old
priest, who was fat and slow and peaceable. I went in a sailboat with
him up the coast to his house, and spent the night. He said the Injuns
of this neighbourhood were more'n half heathen in their minds, but he
was too old, and settled down now, and couldn't help it. It didn't
appear to trouble him much. He wondered if Senor de Avila knew he was
that gruesome and popular; and then he mooned along, talking sort of
wandering, till near midnight. The Injuns don't think his credit with
the gods and the elements amounts to much, anyway. This morning I
crossed to the north shore and saw more villages and plantations, and
came back to Titiaca's village in a catamaran rigged with a sprit-sail.
Now, this is a business opening, Tommy. And look here! The old man's
notions, as he put 'em to you, they're a good thing. I didn't know how
he'd take it, but I guess we can fix it. You see, this section—why,
Padre Filippo says it used to belong to that family more or less, but
the titles were called off when the country set up for itself, and
whether they'd collected rent up to that time he didn't know. He
thought they hadn't regular or much. But the section's grown well-to-do
lately on account of the cocoa trade, and I gather what the Injuns pay
on it now is about ordinary taxes. Now, if the Injuns pay the old man a
sort of blackmail to get him to moderate his earthquakes, and he calls
it his proper rents, why, I say, a rose by any name'll smell as sweet,
supposing the commission for collecting is the same. That's the idea.
Why not? All he's got to do is to stay in his tower, or look like a
cross between the devil and a prophet when he does show himself, same
as usual, and leave us to work his tribute. It's what his tenth
grandfather did. I guess it'll be mostly dried cocoa beans. The shed
where the old man keeps his oil will do for a warehouse.”
I says, “What's all this, anyway?”
“Oh,” he says, “you'll see it's reasonable by-and-by. Why not? Why,
the campaign's begun. Some of the stuff is coming in to-morrow. You've
no notion how they cottoned to the idea. I says to 'em this way.
'Course,' I says, 'I'm a stranger, but it stands to reason the Don
won't shake anybody out of bed nights that does his best to please him.
Sure, he'd be reasonable. But here he's lived on the little end of this
country now going on ten years, and what have you done? Nothing! Here
he's been switching fire back and forth from the Andes,' I says,
'corking up one volcano and letting out another, and yet he ain't split
a single plantation into ribbons so far. Has he, now? No. Well, ain't
it astonishing? Why, he must have this whole territory riddled with
pipe connections. Boys, I don't see how you can be so reckless,' I
says, 'and ungrateful. How long do you expect him to look out for folks
that don't appear to care whether they blow up or not? First you know,
he'll get disgusted and turn the whole section into cinders. He must
have been mighty cautious as it is. Shook you up a little now and then.
Nothing to what he's liable to do. Suffering saints!' I says; 'can't
you take a hint? What do you suppose he means when the ground wrinkles
under your feet? Do you want him to pitch you all into the sea before
you get his idea?' They said they hadn't thought of that before. Fact
is, they surprised me. They must have some ancestral ideas of their
own, so it comes natural to 'em to pay for their weather. Tell 'em
they've got to bribe an earthquake, and they say, 'All right.' Queer,
ain't it? 'Well, I says, 'tell you what I'll do. I'll arrange it with
the Don.' You've no notion how they liked the idea, they're that scared
of him. I guess they'll put up various amounts. They didn't understand
a percentage. Maybe the details will be complicated. Let's go see the
The keeper was in his lantern story, looking out over the sea very
lonesome. Craney attacked the subject like a drummer selling a bill of
goods, but the keeper didn't seem to understand. “Why,” says Craney,
“you see, these people have a sort of mysterious reverence for you.
Maybe you have an idea of the reason.” The keeper said it was probable
that the peasantry were not unaware of his rank.
“Now, your ancestors employed agents, didn't they? Yes. Maybe they
got about half the proceeds and the agents stole the rest.” The keeper
looked surprised, but thought that was probable too.
“Exactly. Now, we're offering, as a business proposition, to collect
on the same antique terms, only we give you an itemized account this
time. What do you say?”
“Senor Craney,” said the keeper slowly, “are you asking me if I
accept the acknowledgment of my rights? I do not understand a business
proposition. I do not understand how the peasants have arrived
suddenly, as you state, at this conviction of their obligations.”
“Just so,” says Craney. “That comes of having a capable agent. I
talked to them and they saw reason. Fact is, though, the idea seems to
have been growing on them for some years.”
The keeper looked at me, and I was studying different sides of
Craney's scheme. I began: “It might mean the vineyards of Aragon. All
the same, it's a queer business.”
He started and muttered, “The vineyards of Aragon! My Madrid!” and
dropped his head.
Craney winked and we went down.
I've heard it said that Francisco Pizarro was surprised when he
found he'd conquered Peru with only a few objections.
Well, if we had any trouble in this business, it was only Craney
that had it from the start, and he appeared to enjoy himself. He was
off most of the time, pattering around on his shaggy grey donkey, and
left me to take in and stow away those bags of cocoa beans. I used to
sit in front of the shed, which was close to the shore, and smoke and
admire the world. Once a week Craney would come down the coast in a
clumsy catboat, and we'd take a load up to the town, which was called
“Corazon,”—a considerable town forty miles off, where were French and
Spanish agencies in the cocoa trade.
Every day a cautious, stringy-haired Injun, with a loaded donkey,
would come trotting out of the woods to the shed, or maybe several of
them at odd times. They all acted shy, and kept as far from the Torre
Ananias as the space allowed. Sometimes they wouldn't say anything,
except to state that this bag came from such and such plantations, and
to hope Himself would take, note of it. Then they'd look pleased and
peaceful to have it all written down neatly, and maybe they'd want the
item read out, and then they'd nod and smile and trot away contented.
Sometimes they'd hope Himself was feeling good on the whole. It didn't
seem to strike any of them that the keeper's position, as they
understood it, wasn't right and reasonable.
I used to sit in front of the shed and admire the world. I thought
about the primitive mind, and how the civilised was given to playing it
low on the primitive. I seemed to get around part of their point of
view after a while and see it was reasonable. For the Mituans had got
it fixed before we came that the keeper was somehow mixed up in the
earthquakes. And when they'd once taken that idea, it made no
difference if they'd felt little motors every few days all their lives,
and trembloritos and tremblors pretty frequent. As a specimen of
authority, even a little motor earthquake is too much. They happen
along in that neighbourhood every now and then, maybe once a month, and
you grow used to them, but still, they're vivid. If you got it once in
your mind that Himself in the lighthouse was fingering the bowels of
the earth, and Himself was doing it when the jerks came under you, and
your house walls creaked and swayed, you'd give something to keep
Himself amiable. There was no doubt about that.
But then, what made it appear to them that the keeper was inside his
rights to be bothering them that way? They seemed to think no less of
him for it; but rather more. They thought he was a fine thing. It
puzzled me, and I studied it. Then I seemed to get an understanding of
the primitive mind that was surprising.
But then, how did the case stand with Craney and me? As often as
that troubled me, I had only to go up to the lantern story, and hear
the keeper talk about Madrid and the vineyards of Aragon, and about his
longing and his pride. Then I felt better. If the keeper's income kept
up that way it was clear he could go back to Spain by-and-by with
stateliness pretty respectable, and I says to myself:
“Why, the Injuns are happy, and the keeper's going to be, and I'm a
sinner, and Craney can look after his own conscience. Shucks! He hasn't
It made me feel virtuous to think how Craney had no conscience.
Maybe he hadn't. He was the busiest man in South America for a while. I
never knew of another to make a business asset out of earthquakes nor
his equal for seeing an opening for enterprise. He was a singular man,
Craney, a shrewd one, and yet romantic and given to ingenious visions.
And yet again, when he talked his wildest, you'd find he had his feet
on some rocky facts, and his one good eye would be hard and bright as a
new tack. We used to sit in front of the shed sometimes, looking down
on the sea that was blue and shining like rumpled silk, Craney smoking
cigars and I with my pipe.
“Tommy,” he'd say, “the world lies open before us. Everywhere is
chances for a soaring ambition, everywhere is harvests for the man
that's got talents. There's diamonds in rocks, and there's pearls in
oysters. Richness grows out of the ground, and glory drops out of the
clouds. Me, I'm a man of ideals. Give me room to spread. Let me strike
my gait and I'll make the continents sizzle, and governments have fits.
Expand, Tommy! Expand your mind! Small men has small ambitions. Large
men has wings. That's me.”
There were a number of heavy shocks, about the time when the eastern
Mituas districts were picking the trees, and some of the Mituans were
mad about it, but they had a big harvest. They brought cocoa-beans in
caravans and boatloads for a while, and they said it was many years
since they'd had such a harvest, or such a tremblor, and Himself was a
The time went by. I heard in Corazon one day that Captain Rickhart
had put into port there on his back voyage, and inquired some for us,
but that was a month before. Later Craney had a contract offered by the
French agencies, and had to buy up most of the North Mituas cocoa crop
to fill it.
One day we sat together in front of the shed. He was laying out
different schemes. He said this tribute business was too small, and
there wasn't much enterprise in it. The Injuns were terrible set in
their ideas. He had a number of schemes. One of them for putting up a
supply store in Corazon, running accounts there on the crops, but I
didn't take to it; I was no storekeeper, but a sailor, and getting
nervous to go to Panama.
It was hot by the shed, and we were going up by the banana tree,
when we saw a large catboat coasting down to the point, and by the hang
of her sail it was Padre Filippo's.
The Padre was aboard, and the two Mituans that sailed for him, and
two men besides, one in a cocked hat and uniform. So they came ashore.
Padre Filippo chuckled, and shook his fat finger at Craney.
“Ah, senorito, little rogue!” he says. “Alas! what behaviour!” and
he chuckled and patted Craney on the arm.
The official was sociable too. He took out a cigarette, and
explained there had been a complaint lodged with the authorities
against the keeper, that he'd been drawing illicit gains from the
peasantry. In fact, Padre Filippo had complained. The Padre laughed
“Why,” says Craney, “I know something about that.”
“Truly, I think so!” chuckles the Padre. “And if they've a mind to
present him with a bag of beans now and then, whose business is it?”
“The alcalde's,” says the official, very calm. “It's not mine. I
have but to take him before the alcalde, and here is the keeper of the
lighthouse who takes his place. In candour I think Senor de Avila does
not return. It is no affair of mine.”
“Why,” I says, “he'll never condescend to go before your alcalde!
Why, an alcalde's too small for him to see.”
“Chut!” says the Padre. “Speak in reverence of authorities, my son.
You are both little rogues.”
“It is possible,” says the official.
Craney lay on his back and thought a bit. Then he says to the
official, “I'm thinking the keeper wouldn't mind resigning, supposing
my friend Buckingham here went up and talked him over. He might go back
to Spain, maybe. Maybe you don't know his popularity in this section,
but I tell you this, he could make you plenty of trouble. You've got an
idea he's going to be arrested and jailed and blackguarded by an
alcalde. Well, he isn't, or these Mituas people of his will know why.
Padre Filippo here, he'd always rather things were done peacefully.”
“Surely,” says the Padre, “surely.”
“You'd better let us arrange it. Besides, in that case it might
interest you—say, ten dollars' worth of interest.”
“Fifteen,” says the other, very calm. “It is no affair of mine.”
Then I went up to the Torre Ananias, up to the lantern story where
the keeper was looking over the sea and brooding.
“Senor,” I says, “why don't you go to Aragon and buy vineyards?”
“True,” he said quietly, “why not? But you have some reason for
speaking, for suggesting.”
“Why—yes. It's not the fault of the people on the estate, but
there's a government somewhere around here, and they're getting offish,
and it can't be helped. You don't want to squabble over the lighthouse.
Why not buy some vineyards in Aragon? You can afford it now. The
officials want to interfere with you. Why not get up and walk away?”
He stood up and wrapped his coat around him, and said, “I will go,”
and started downstairs for Spain.
We sailed for Corazon in the Padre's cat-boat and left the new
keeper in the tower, and I never but once again have landed on the
point. That was when I came some days after to gather a few things left
It was in the evening, and there were great bonfires burning in the
open space by the banana tree, and a crowd of figures around it, but
all that was hidden when the sailboat drew under the bluffs. I stepped
ashore and went into the shed, and some one rose in the dark and
grabbed me, and I dragged him out into the starlight. It was the new
“Senor,” he gasped. “Do not go up! They drove me with sticks and
stones that I fled to the water. They are mad! Hear them! They mourn
for Senor de Avila. They build a great fire and they sing thus in no
Christian language. Come away in your boat. They are mad.”
It seemed to me too they'd better be left to themselves. We drew out
again from under the bluffs, and caught the breeze, and stood away. The
shouting and the chant kept on, and the fire shone after us like a red
path on the water.
I don't know any more about the Tower of Ananias. But I know the
Mituas people were sore about losing the keeper, who went to Lima,
meaning to go to Spain, and never knew he'd been supernatural. Craney
told me afterwards he'd heard the keeper died on the voyage and was
dropped overboard to punctuate the end of his story,—only, no name was
given, and maybe it wasn't him but some other aristocracy.
Craney himself stayed on at Corazon in the cocoa trade, meaning to
take up contracts with the French and English agencies. He asked me to
stay with him, and when I wouldn't, he asked for reasons, and I gave
him a reason. Not that I mentioned the hundred and forty lost at Colon.
For if he took it (and I guessed pretty near he did) he'd paid it back
with a long leeway by sharing the Mituas business with me, when the
whole thing was his. I thought the less said the better. If he was
nervous to know what was my mind about that point, why, I thought it
was good for him to be nervous. I gave for a reason that I was thinking
to go back to Greenough on Long Island Sound.
“Greenough!” he says. “It's next to where Abe Dalrimple lives?
Adrian's the name of his town.”
“What do you know of it, Craney?”
“I went there with Abe Dalrimple,” he says, “and left him there
planting lobster pots. That wouldn't do for me. None of it in mine.
Abe's got no more ambition than to dodge the next kettle Mrs. Dalrimple
throws at him, but me, I'm ambitious, I got to spread out. I'm a
romantic man, Tommy. That's my secret. That's the key of me. Give me
largeness. Give me space for my talents. What do you want with
Greenough? You stay with me and I'll show you who's the natural lord of
all lands that's fertile and foolish. Ain't I showed you what I could
do in a small way? Why, I only just began. That's nothing, I'm a
soarer, Tommy, I've got visions.”
I took a look at his one hard bright eye, and thought him over, and
“You've got 'em all right, but they're slippery,” and I says:
“Did you hear news of any one in Greenough?”
“Give 'em a name.”
“Happen it might be the name of Pemberton,” I says. “Madge
“There was a man in Adrian named Andrew McCulloch,” he says, “that
married a girl named Pemberton from Greenough. Aye, I recollect,
Pemberton's was a hotel.”
“It was that name.”
I recollect it was a little cafe in Corazon, where Craney and I sat
that evening. It was thick with smoke and crowded with round tables, at
which mixed breeds of people, mostly square-shouldered little men, were
discussing the time of day and the merits of wine —which hadn't
any—in a way of excitement that you'd think they were crying out
against oppression. Each table had a tallow candle on it, burning dim
in the smoke.
I says, “Oh!”
Then Craney went on talking, but I don't know what it was about.
Then I says, “It don't suit me in Corazon,” and I got up. I went out in
the steep cobbled street that runs down to the shore of Corazon Bay.
I lay all night on the shore and watched 'the waves come up and
crumble on the shingle. I remembered the verse Sadler used to chant to
me in the Hebe Maitland days, when I was acting more gay than he
thought becoming to the uselessness of me. “Oh, sailor boy,” he says.
“Oh, sailor, my sailor boy, bonny and blue,
You're rompin', you're roamin',
The long slantin' sorrows are waiting for you
In the gloamin', the gloamin'.”
I remember, when it came morning, on the beach at Corazon, I got up,
and I says:
“Clyde's mucky old bags can stay there till I'm ready,” I says.
“What's the use!”
I took a dislike to Clyde's money. I bought a passage to San
Francisco, and came there in the year '75.
There I put the profits of six years on the West Coast into shares
in a ship called the Anaconda, and shipped on her myself as
I found Stevey Todd cooking in a restaurant in San Francisco. He'd
gone into gold mines, after getting loose from the Jane Allen.
He'd left his profits from the Hotel Helen Mar in the gold mines. Every
mine he'd invested in got discouraged, so he said, but I judge the
truth was more likely Stevey Todd was taken in by mining sharks. He'd
made up his mind property wasn't his stronghold and gone back to
cooking, and never took any more interest in property after that, nor
had any to take interest in. But he told me Sadler was in business and
getting rich, and in partnership with a Chinaman, and living in a town
called “Saleratus,” sixty miles down the coast, which none of these
statements seemed likely at the time. Stevey Todd didn't know why the
town was named Saleratus. He thought maybe Sadler had named it, or
maybe gone there on account of the name, foreseeing interesting rhymes
with “potatoes” and “tomatoes.” But I didn't look Sadler up at that
* * * * *
The Captain turned to Uncle Abimelech, and said:
“Happen you might remember Sadler's tune to that verse, 'Sailor, my
sailor boy, bonny and blue'?”
“He never said no such impudent thing to me,” said Uncle Abimelech
wrathfully. “I'd 'a' whaled him good.”
“Why, that's true, Abe,” said Captain Buckingham. “You wasn't much
Stevey Todd said:
“They changed that name, Saleratus.”
“That's true too,” said Captain Buckingham. “An outlandish name is
bad for a town, or a ship, or a man; same as the Anaconda, for
the Anaconda had bad luck, same as Abimelech Dalrimple. He'd
never've got his brains frazzled if he'd been named Bill.”
He paused several minutes before going on, to think over this theory
CHAPTER VII. LIEBCHEN. THE
EWIGWEIBLICHE. THE NARRATIVE RESUMED, WITH THE LOSS OF THE “ANACONDA”.
I invested the profits of the Hotel Helen Mar and the Ananias
plantation in shares in the Anaconda, and shipped myself as
second mate. She was carrying a cargo of steel rails for a railroad in
There was a man named Kreps who came aboard at Honolulu. He was a
round-faced, chubby man, with spectacles and a trunk full of preserved
specimens, and out of breath with his enthusiasm; and he was a German,
too, and a Professor of Allerleiwissenschaft, which I take to mean
Things in General. He was around gathering in culture and twelve-sided
fish in the Pacific, and had a pailful of island dialects and
sentiments that were milky and innocent. But I liked him.
I had no objection to the Anaconda either, except that she
went to the bottom of the Pacific without any argument about that, and
left me stranded on a little island there along with Kreps, and a hen
named Veronica, and a Kanaka named Kamelillo. There was a fourth that
got stranded there too. We called her “Liebchen” and she surely acted
singular, did Liebchen, but I liked her too. Kreps said she was
“symbol,” but his ideas and mine didn't agree. He said she was a type
of the “Ewigweibliche,” which is another good word though a Dutch one.
Maybe she was. Maybe Veronica was another type. I guess it's a word
that's got some varieties to it.
Veronica belonged to the ship, but had never been cooked, being thin
and stringy; and Kamelillo was a silent, sulky Kanaka that had lived up
and down the Pacific, and harpooned whales, and been shipwrecked now
and then, and was sometimes drunk and sometimes starved, and had no
opinion on these things, except that he'd rather be drunk than starved.
I never knew one that took less interest in life, provided he was let
alone. I liked them all well enough, too. I took things as they came in
those days. I'd as soon have bunked in with an alligator as a
It was south of Midway Island that we ran into the typhoon come over
from Asia. A typhoon is to an ordinary storm what a surf is to a
deep-sea wave, for it's short but ugly. When it was done with us the
Anaconda began to leak fearful in the waist, and I dare say the
typhoon was excuse enough if she'd broken in two. She went down easy
and slow, with all I had and owned sticking in her. It's bad luck to
give a ship an outlandish name.
There were two large boats and a small one, and trouble came from
Kreps' tin cans of specimens, for the captain wouldn't take them in his
boat, nor the first mate in his, so Kreps wanted to put them in the
small boat. He shed tears and got low in his mind.
“Dey are von der sciences ignorant, obtuse,” he says.
I says, “So's the Pacific Ocean.”
“But you, so young, so intelligent! Not as de Pacific Ocean, hein?”
I allowed there was difference between me and the Pacific. Kreps got
his tin cans in, and I put the boat off. Kamelillo was spreading the
cat-sail and had no opinion. Veronica came flapping over the rail with
a squawk, and lit on Kamelillo, and fell into the bottom of the boat.
We got away after the other boats, the night coming on clear, and
Kamelillo talked island dialects at Veronica for scratching him when he
wanted to be let alone. Kreps sat over his specimens, innocent and
happy and singing German lullabies.
The next morning the other boats were not in sight. We steered
north, for there were odd islands in that direction by the chart,
without names enough to go around them; and on the second morning we
saw a high shore to port, with surf like a white rag sewed along the
bottom, and rags of mist sticking to the black bluffs.
“Ach,” says Kreps, and the tears trickled down under his spectacles.
“Gott sei dank! I am mude of the sea. It iss too large.”
“How she get up them high?” Kamelillo says. “No! Maybe dam hen fly
up. Not me. No!”
We coasted by the east side a little way and came to a place where
the water was quiet and black in a slip of maybe a hundred feet in
width, where the bluff had broken in two. The channel appeared to
curve, so that you could only see a little way up. We dropped sail and
pulled through. It might have been twenty feet deep in the channel,
being high tide, and running in slow. Wine-palms and cocoanut trees
grew on the bluffs on each side. Some leaned over, with roots out where
the earth had caved away. We came about the curve and saw a closed bay,
shut in by the bluffs from the outer sea and even the winds. It was
wooded on the north and very rocky on the south, and might have been a
quarter of a mile across. We landed on the north side and camped, and
set a signal on the bluffs, and then we laid off to wait for accidents.
I knew there were whalers cruising in the neighbourhood, and thought
likely it would be seen.
Now Liebchen came in one day at high tide, chasing those little
goggle-eyed squids that lived so many in the harbour. The first we saw
was tons of her gambolling around in the water. She was a medium-sized
whale, and might have been forty feet in length, but I never was in the
whaling business, and Liebchen was the only one I ever got real
acquainted with. I've heard it's common for them to be stranded on
shallow shores, and get off again if let alone. The harbour may have
been Liebchen's boudoir for aught I know. Maybe she'd come there
before. She surely knew how to get out if let alone. After an hour or
so she was over by the entrance trying to leave. She seemed to be in
trouble, and then we saw the tide had gone out, and left the channel
too shallow to heave over.
When Kreps understood that she was penned in, he acted outrageous,
and pranced like a red rubber balloon.
“Gieb mir das axe! Ich will de habits of de cetacean studieren!” he
He ran away through the woods around the north shore, and I ran
after, to see him study the habits of the cetacean. Liebchen had sidled
off and was rolling about in the middle of the harbour when we came to
the bluffs, where the wine-palms and cocoanut trees leaned over and the
channel was narrow. Kreps fell to chopping the landward roots, and I
saw he wanted to block the channel.
We slid a tree down under the water, and then another, and so on,
till it was a messy-looking channel, a sort of log jam, with roots and
palm-tree tops mixed in, which I thought the tide would float out, and
it did afterward, some of it.
Then we went back to where Kamelillo was cooking, squatted on the
shore with his bare back turned to the water. He took no interest in
Liebchen. He was making a kind of paste of ground roots, called “poi,”
which wasn't bad, if you rolled a fish in it, and baked it on the
coals, and thought about something else. But at that time Liebchen came
round the north shore in a roar of foam, bringing her flukes down now
and then with a slap to make the harbour ache, and she slapped near a
barrel of water over Kamelillo and his fire and his poi. Kamelillo
“Why for? She not my whale. You keep her out a my suppa. Why for?”
Kreps was disgusted because Kamelillo didn't like Liebchen. He went
and stood on the bank, in the interest of science, and studied the
habits of the cetacean, but he got no results. She had no habits, to
speak uprightly, only notions. They weren't any use to science.
Sometimes she'd flutter with her fins, and twitter her flukes, and
sidle off like she was bashful, and then she'd come swooping around
enough to make the harbour sizzle, and stick her nose in the bottom and
her tail in the air, trembling with her emotions, and then she'd come
up and smile at you a rod each way. I judged she meant all right, but
she didn't understand her limitations. Her strong hold was the
majestic. She appeared to have it fixed she wanted to be kittenish.
That was the way it seemed to me. But Kreps studied her mornings and
afternoons and into the night, and day after day it went on, and she
bothered him. Then he saw he was on the wrong tack, and put his helm
about, and he says:
“She is de Ewigweibliche. She is not science. She is boetry. She is
de sharm of everlasting feminine,” and he heaved a sigh. I says:
“Ewigweibliche!” I says. “Everlasting feminine! What's the use of
I took to studying Liebchen too, and it appeared to me Kreps' idea
wasn't useful He was a man to have sentiments naturally. He'd sit out
on the end of a log moonlight nights, with his fat face and spectacles
shining, and Liebchen would muzzle around with a ten-foot snout like an
engine boiler, and a piggy eye; and he'd sing German lullabies; “Du
bist wie eine Blume.” I didn't think she was like a flower. She was
more like an oil tank.
So Kreps would sing to her in the moonlight, but Kamelillo didn't
like her. Veronica didn't like her either, and would stand off and
cackle at her pointedly. She seemed to think Liebchen carried on
improper and had no refinement. Why, I guess from her point of view sea
bathing wasn't becoming, and when Liebchen stood on her head in the
water, Veronica used to take to the woods with her feelings pretty
rumpled. Kamelillo disliked Veronica on account of her fussiness, and
because she had lit on him and scratched him when he wanted to be let
alone. He wanted to make Veronica into poi, but I didn't think there
was any real nourishment in her; and he wanted to break the log jam and
let the whale out, but I told him it was Kreps' jam.
“Ain' harbour belong him,” said Kamelillo. “Ain' him slap harbour on
me. Thas whale bad un. I show him.” He went to Kreps. “I tell you, dam
Dutchman,” he says, meaning to be soothing and persuasive. “I tell you,
we cutta bamboo, harpoon whale. Donnerblissen! Easy!”
“Du animal!” says Kreps. “Mitout perception, mitout soul, mitout
“Oh!” says Kamelillo; “girl whale. All right, dam Dutchman, me fren.
You break jam. Letta go.”
“It iss not of use,” said Kreps, and he sighed. “You understand not
de yearning, de ideal. Listen! Liebchen, she iss de abstraction, de
principle. Aber no. You cannot. De soul iss alone, iss not comprehend.”
“All right,” says Kamelillo. “You look here. Go see thas girl whale
on a bamboo raft. No good sit on log all night, sing hoohoo song.”
Kreps was taken with that notion. “So, my friend?” he says.
“You teach her like missionary teach Kanaka girl,” says Kamelillo,
getting interested. “You teach her to she wear petticoat, no stan' on
her head. You teach her go Sunday school.”
I says, “Look out, Kreps. That whale'll drown you. She's got no
But Kreps was calm. “I vill approach Liebchen more near,” he says.
“It iss time to advance. I vill go mit Kamelillo, my friend.”
Kamelillo spent the morning making a bamboo raft, and in the
afternoon they put out. Liebchen was over by the harbour entrance,
lying low in the water and maybe asleep. Kamelillo had a bamboo pole in
his hand to pole the raft with, but he had shod it with his harpoon
head. They drew alongside, and Kreps was facing front, with his back to
Kamelillo. He lifted his oar to slap the water, and Kamelillo drew off,
and cast the harpoon. Liebchen, she came out of her maiden fancies. She
acted plain whale. That's a way of acting which calls for respect, but
it's not romantic. She slapped the bamboo raft, and there was no such
thing. She swallowed the harbour and spit it out. She whooped and
danced and teetered. She let out all her primeval feelings. She put on
no airs, and she made no pretences. She turned everything she could
find into scrambled eggs, and played the “Marseillaise” on her
blow-hole. She did herself up into knots to break whalebone, and untied
them like a pop of a cork. She was no more female than she was science.
She was wrath and earthquakes and the day of judgment. She scooped out
the bottom of the harbour and laid it on top, and turned somersets
through the middle of chaos. Veronica took to the woods. I ran along
the north shore, thinking they were both scrambled, but I found
Kamelillo pulling Kreps through the shallows by his collar, and shaking
the water out of his eyes, and not seeming to be disturbed. But Kreps
took off his spectacles and wiped them, and he says:
“Ach, Liebchen!” he says. “She iss too much.”
“Thas whale!” says Kamelillo. “Thas all right!”
“Liebchen iss too much of her,” says Kreps very dignified, and
stalked to the camp.
“Thas whale!” says Kamelillo. “Thas all right!”
He chopped the jam that afternoon, and it floated out in the night
or early morning with the ebb. We went to the bank when the tide was in
again to watch Liebchen go out. Kreps was pretty tearful.
“Aber,” he says, “she iss too much of her.”
She came feeling her way through the channel with her snout under
water. Kamelillo's bamboo stuck out of her fat side six feet or more.
Veronica cackled at her, and her feathers stood up, so that you could
see she thought Liebchen was no lady. Liebchen passed close beneath us.
Seemed like she felt mortified. Kreps broke down, but Kamelillo was
“Dam hen!” he says, and grabbed Veronica with both hands. “Go too!”
and he flung her at Liebchen, and she went through the air squawking
and fluttering. She lit on Liebchen's slippery back, and she slid till
she struck the bamboo, and roosted. If she had had time to think she
might have flopped ashore, but she was flustered, and Liebchen got out
of the channel and steered into the Pacific. Veronica squawked a few
times, and no more. The sea was quiet. The two moved off, going
eastward very slow. Kamelillo went back to his camp fire and made poi,
but Kreps and I watched, expecting that Liebchen would go under and
Veronica be lost. But they kept on till there was only a black spot
near the edge of the sky.
It came on afternoon. The tide was out, and we lay about. There was
not enough wind to flutter the signal on the bluffs, which was Kreps'
red shirt, and hung there to entertain any one that might come by.
Kamelillo suddenly sat up. “Hear im?” he says.
There was a great noise over in the channel out of sight, a kind of
splashing, thumping, and blowing, and the waves rolled into the
harbour. We ran along the shore and came to the bluffs. There was
Liebchen! She appeared to have grounded in the channel, trying to get
in quick at low tide. But there were two harpoons, more than the
bamboo, sticking in her very deep, and the lines were hitched to a
longboat, the longboat coming inshore now full of men. Veronica
squatting on the thwart of the same, comfortable and dignified.
Kamelillo says, “Whale ain't got sense, thas whale!” And Kreps says,
She struck her last flurry, and filled the air with spray. The
longboat held off, seeing she was likely to stay there and needed all
the room. After a while she grew quiet. A few motions of her flukes,
and that was all. The longboat came in, and we slid down the bluffs.
The man in the stern says, “That your hen?”
I said I was acquainted with her.
“Oh! Maybe that's your whale?”
“Ach, Liebchen!” says Kreps.
Kamelillo waded in, and looked at the harpoons, and shook his head,
for he knew the laws and rights of the trade.
“No,” he says. “Thas your whale.”
“Been cast up, have ye?” says the steersman, looking around. “We
struck that whale ten miles out. We comes up quiet, and I see that
bamboo sticking in her, with that hen squatting on it. 'Queer!' says I.
And just as Billy here was letting her have it, the hen gives a squawk
and comes flopping aboard; and Billy lets her have it, and Dick here
lets her have it, and she goes plumb down sudden. Then up she comes and
starts, like she was going to see her Ma and knew her own mind, and up
this channel she comes, and runs aground foolish. I never see a whale
act so foolish. Thought she might be a friend of yours,” says he,
“meaning no reflections.”
I said I was acquainted with her, and Kreps took off his glasses and
wiped his eyes.
“She vass of de tenderness, das Zartlichkeit.” It made him sad to
see Liebchen dead, that was full of sensibility, and Veronica come back
with dignity, she being a conventional hen and scornful and cold by
“Ach, Liebchen!” he says; and we went back to gather up his tin
cans; and I says:
“Ewigweibliche's a good word, though a Dutch one;” then we came away
on the whaler.
But all I owned went down on the Anaconda. I got back to San
Francisco in course of time, but no richer than when I left Greenough,
and ten years or more older.
Kreps was a man very given to sentiments, in particular about
“Ewigweibliche,” and I never knew a man that kept himself more
entertained. He settled down for the time, with Veronica and Kamelillo
for his family, in a fine house in the upper town of San Francisco.
Kamelillo used to cook unlikely things which Kreps and Veronica ate
peaceable between them. Kreps was well-to-do, and he seemed cut out for
a happy life. Any kind of cooking suited him. The whole world grew
knowledge for him to collect. He could suck sentiment out of a
hard-boiled egg. But I went to live with Stevey Todd where the cooking
was better, and loafed about the streets and docks, wondering what I'd
do next. I never knew what became of Kreps after we left San Francisco.
CHAPTER VIII. SADLER IN SALERATUS.
THE GREEN DRAGON PAGODA. THE NARRATIVE GOES ON.
One day I was by the docks, where some people were busy and some
were like me, loafing or looking for a berth; and I came on a
neat-looking, three-masted ship, named the Good Sister, which
appeared to me a kindly name. She was being overhauled by the
carpenters. I asked one of them, “Where's the captain?”
“She ain't got any,” he says. “It's the owners are doing it.”
“Maybe you'll remark,” I says, “who they happen to be.”
“Shan and Sadler of Saleratus,” he says.
“I believe you're a liar,” I says, surprised at the name.
“Which there's a little tallow-faced runt in perspective,” he says,
climbing down the stays, “that I can lick,” he says, being misled by my
size. And when that was over, I started for Saleratus.
It was a town to the south, down near the coast. That's not its name
now, because it's reformed and doesn't like to remember the days before
it was regenerated. At that time some of it was Mexican, and more of it
was Chinese, and some of it wasn't connected with anything but
Shan and Sadler did a mixed mercantile business, and they seemed to
be prosperous people, but I take it Fu Shan mainly carried on the
business, and Sadler was the reason why the firm's property was
respected and let alone by the Caucasians. There is a big Chinese
company in Singapore, called “Shan Brothers,” whose name is well known
on bills of lading, and Fu Shan was connected with them. But a man
wouldn't have thought to find Sadler a partner in banking, mercantile,
and shipping business, with a Chinaman. He'd been the wildest of us all
in the Hebe Maitland days, and always acted youthful for his
years. There were two things in him that never could get to keep the
peace with each other, his conscience and his sporting instinct. Yet he
was a capable man, and forceful, and I judge he could do 'most anything
he set his hand to.
He and Fu Shan lived just outside the town of Saleratus in two
ornamented and expensive houses, side by side, on a hill that was bare
and mostly sand banks, and that hung over the creek which ran past the
town into the bay. Sadler lived alone with Irish, but Fu Shan was
domestic. He was a pleasant Oriental with a mild, squeaking voice, and
had more porcelain jars than you would think a body would need, and fat
yellow cheeks, and a queue down to his knees. He wore cream-coloured
silk, and was a picture of calmness and culture. Irish hadn't changed,
but Sadler was looking older and more melancholy, though I judged that
some of the lines on his face, that simulated care, came from the kind
of life folks led in Saleratus to avoid monotony. We spoke of Craney
among others, but Sadler knew no more of Craney than I did. Likely he
was still in Corazon.
We were sitting one evening on Sadler's porch, that looked over the
creek, waiting for supper. Fu Shan was there, and Sadler said Saleratus
was monotonous. Yet there were going on in Saleratus to my knowledge at
that moment the following entertainments: three-card monte at the Blue
Light Saloon; a cockfight at Pasquarillo's; two alien sheriffs in town
looking for horse thieves, and had one corralled on the roof of the
courthouse; finally some other fellows were trying to drown a Chinaman
in the creek and getting into all kinds of awkwardness on account of
there being no water in the creek to speak of, and other Chinamen
throwing stones. But Sadler said it was monotonous.
“I don't get no satisfaction out of it,”
Over the top of the town you could catch the sunset on the sea, and
the smoke of the chimneys rose up between. There were red roses all
over the pillars and eaves of the porch. Seemed to me it was a good
enough place. Fu Shan smoked scented and sugared tobacco in a porcelain
pipe with an ivory stem. The fellows down by the creek ran away,
feeling pretty good and cracking their revolvers in the air, and the
Chinamen got bunched about their injured countryman.
“Have no water in cleek,” says Fu Shan, aristocratic and peaceful.
“Dried up. Played out,” says Sadler, not understanding him. “Fu
Shan's a dry-rotted Asiatic. Doesn't anything make any difference to
him. Got any nerves? Not one. Got any seethin' emotions? Not a seeth.
He's a wornout race in the numbness of decrepitude.”
Fu Shan chuckled.
“But me, I'm different,” says Sadler, “The uselessness of things
bothers me. Look at 'em. I been in Saleratus five years, partner with
Fu Shan. Sometimes I had a good time. Where is it now? You laugh, or
you sigh. Same amount of wind, nothing left either way.
What's the use?
You chew tobacco and spit out the juice.
What's the use?
If there's anybody with a destiny that's got any assets at all, and
he wants to swap even, bring him along. Look at this town! Is it any
sort of a town? No honesty, for there ain't a man in it that can
shuffle a pack without stackin' it. No ability, for there ain't more'n
one or two can stack it real well. No seriousness, for they start in to
drown a Chinaman in a dry creek, and they cut away as happy as if
they'd succeeded. I sits up here on my porch, and I says, 'What is it
but a dream? Fu Shan,' I says, 'this here life's a shadow!' Then that
forsaken, conceited, blank heathen, he says one of his ancestors
discovered the same three thousand years ago. But, he says, another
ancestor, pretty near as distinguished, he discovered that, if you put
enough curry on your rice, it gives things an appearance of reality.
Which, says he, they discovered the uselessness of things in Asia so
long ago they've forgot when, and then they discovered the uselessness
of the discovery. They discovered gunpowder, he says, long before we
did, but they use it for fireworks in the interests of irony. They've
forgotten more'n we ever knew, says he, the stuck-up little cast-eyed
pig. Go on! I'm disgusted. Haven't I put on curry till it give me a
furred mouth and dyspepsia of the soul? What's the use?”
Fu Shan chuckled again.
“What's the use?” says Sadler. “Things happen, but they don't mean
anything by it. You hustle around the circle. You might as well have
sat down on the circumference. Maybe the trouble is with me, maybe it's
Saleratus. One of us is played out!”
Fu Shan took the ivory pipestem from his mouth, and spoke placid and
squeaking. “My got blother have joss house by Langoon. Velly good joss
house, velly good ploperty. Tlee hundred Buddha joss and gleen dlagons.
My ancestors make him. Gleen dlagon joss house. Velly good.”
“My! You'd think he's an idjit to hear him,” says Sadler, and looked
at Fu Shan, admiring. “But he ain't, not really.”
Fu Shan chuckled a third time.
He took no more stock in the happiness of his countrymen than Sadler
did in the morals of his. They seemed to be a profitable combination,
but I didn't make out to understand Sadler, though I went as far as to
see that he had a variegated way of putting it.
Then I told him I wanted a first mate's berth on the Good Sister, supposing he was willing, either on account of old times or because he
might happen to be convinced I was good enough for it. I told him the
experiences I'd had. What had happened to the Helen Mar I told
him, and about the Mituas business, and the loss of the Anaconda, and even about Kreps and Liebchen.
“My! My! Tommy,” he says, after the last. “That's a lyric poem,” he
says, referring to Kreps and Liebchen.
But he said nothing then about the Good Sister, and I decided
to hang around till he did, and one day he brought me a bundle of
“Here's your papers, Tommy,” he says.
“Which?” I says.
“Captain's articles for Tommy Buckingham. Sign 'em,” he says, “and
don't be monotonous,” and I was that scared I signed my name so it
looked like a rail fence. I contracted to be master of the ship Good
Sister, the same to go to Hong-Kong Manila, Singapore, and return.
“You go up to 'Frisco and 'list the crew,” he says. “I'm coming
myself by-and-by to look 'em over.”
It was my first ship, and long ago, but the pride of it sticks out
of me yet.
I went back to 'Frisco and hired Stevey Todd for cook, and I
recollect taking for ship's carpenter the man that called me a “tallow
little runt,” which he got misled, there, and he went by the name of
“Mitchigan.” I took Kamelillo too, who wanted to go to sea again, but
Kreps stayed where he was.
On the day the Good Sister sailed, Sadler came aboard with a
valise in his hand, and after him, carrying a valise, was Irish, and
after Irish was an old Burmese servant of Fu Shan's that I used to see
sweeping the porch, whose name was Maya Dala.
“I'm going along,” says Sadler, and Irish says, “Soime here.” But
neither of them said what for, and I thought maybe Sadler was thinking
he'd see me safe through the first trip, or maybe it occurred to him to
go and take a look at Asia. How should I know?
We went through the Golden Gate that afternoon, and we sat that
night in the cabin, while Maya Dala and Irish cleared the table. The
oil lamp swung overhead with the lift and fall of the ship, and Sadler
spread himself six feet and more on the cabin lounge, and unloaded his
“You remember what Fu Shan said of his brother's joss house?” he
says. “It's this way. Why, Fu Shan had a father once, named Lo Tsin
Shan, and he was a sort of mandarin family in China. He went to
Singapore and started in the tea business. He had a large hard head. He
went into a lot of different enterprises, and cut a considerable swath.
He died and left ten or twelve sons, who scattered to look after his
enterprises. That's how Fu Shan came to Saleratus six years ago. Fu
Shan was always some stuck on his own intellect, and at that time he
thought he could play cards, but he couldn't. I cleared him out of two
hundred and fifty one night, and we went into partnership, but that's
neither here nor there. Now, Lo Tsin Shan appears to have been a little
fishy as to his feelings, but he had brains. Fu Shan's opinion is
reverential, and he don't admit the fish. Lo Tsin had an agency at
Calcutta, and Burmah lies on the way, but it wasn't commercial in those
days. Now, in Burmah there's a navigable river that runs the length of
the country, and all along it are cities full of temples, some of 'em
deserted, and some of 'em lively. One of the best is at Rangoon on a
hill, and it's called the Shway Dagohn Pagoda. There's a lot of relics
in it, and smaller temples around, and strings of pilgrims coming from
as far as Ceylon and China. Remarkable holy place. Old Lo Tsin, he
drops down there one day and looks around. His fishy feelin's got
interested, and he says to himself, 'Guess I'll come into this.' He
went sailin' up the river till he found a king somewhere, who appeared
to own the whole country. This one's pastime was miscellaneous murder,
but his taste for tea was cultured and accurate. Then Lo Tsin got down
on the floor and kowtowed to this king for an hour and a half, the way
it comes natural if you have the right kind of clothes. Then he bought
a temple of him. It stands at the foot of the south stairway of the
Shway Dagohn. Fu Shan ain't sure what the old man's idea was, whether
it was pure business or not. Anyway he worked up the reputation of the
temple, till there was none in the place to equal it, except the Shway
Dagohn, which he didn't pretend to compete with. He advertised it on
his tea. 'Shan Brothers' have a brand still called 'Green Dragon Pagoda
Tea.' There wasn't no real doubt but the income of the temple was
large, and yet it didn't appear at Lo Tsin's death that he'd ever drawn
anything out of it. The whole thing was gold-leafed from top to bottom,
and full of bronze and lacquer statues, and two green dragons at the
gate, and ministerin' angels know what besides. Maybe Fu Shan's
information ain't complete on that point, but this was a fact, that Lo
Tsin, by the will he made, instead of going back to his ancestral
cemetery in China, he had himself carried up from Singapore and buried
in that same temple; and there he is under the stone floor in the
temple of the Green Dragon, but that's not to the point. Now, when they
came to split up his enterprises among his sons, one of 'em took the
temple for a living. His name was Lum Shan. But Fu Shan says, Lum would
rather come over to America and go into business in Saleratus. Lum Shan
don't like his temple, but I don't know why. Well, then, I says, 'Speak
up, Fu Shan. Don't be bashful, Asia. If you've got a medicine for the
hopeless, let it come, Asia. What's five thousand years got to say to a
man with an absolute constitution, a stomach voracious and untroubled,
who looks around him and sees no utility anywhere? Ebb and flow, work
and eat, born and dead, rain and shine, things swashin' around, a heave
this way and then that. You write a figure on the board and wipe it
out. What's the use? Speak up, Asia, but don't recommend no more
curry.' 'Hi! Hi!' says Fu Shan, the little yeller idjit! 'My got
blother have joss house by Langoon. All light. He tlade. You go lun
joss house by Langoon. Vely good ploperty.' That's what he said. Why
not? That's the way I looked at it.”
He paused and blew smoke. Maya Dala and Irish were gone. I asked,
“Are you learning Burmese off Maya Dala?” and he nodded.
“Now,” I says, “what I don't see is this temple business. Where was
the profit? Don't temples belong to the priests?”
“Seems not always,” he says. “They're a kind of monks, anyway. It's
where old Lo Tsin Shan was original to begin with and mysterious
afterward. Suppose a Siamese prince brings a pound of gold leaf to gild
things with, and some Ceylon pilgrims leave a few dozen little bronze
images with a ruby in each eye. They've 'acquired merit,' so they say.
It goes to their credit on some celestial record. Their next existence
will be the better to that extent anyway, now. Suppose the temple's
gilded all over, and lumber rooms packed to the roof with bronze images
already. Do they care what becomes of these things? Don't seem to. Why
should they? They're credited on one ledger. You credit the same to the
business on another. Economic, ain't it? That was the old man's
perception, to begin with. But afterwards,—maybe his joss house got to
be a hobby with him. Oh, I don't know! Nor I don't care. Fu Shan says
it's good property. What he says is generally so. Profits! I don't care
about profits. What good would they do me? I'm going to run that temple
if it ain't too monotonous.”
That was the limit of Sadler's knowledge of this thing. Maya Dala
remembered the Shway Dagohn, but as to the other pagodas and
monasteries,—there were many—he didn't know—he thought they belonged
to the monks, or to the caretakers, or to no one at all, or maybe the
government. What became of the offerings? He thought they were kept in
the pagodas. Sometimes they were sold? It might be so. He thought it
made no difference, for it was taught in the monastery schools, that
the “Giver acquires merit only by his action and the spirit of his
giving, wherefore are the merits of the poor and rich equal.” Why
should they care what became of their gifts? From Maya Dala's talk one
seemed to catch a glimpse of the idea, which occurred to old Lo Tsin
Shan, that fishy Oriental, one day forty years before, and sent him up
the river to interview King Tharawady on his gold-lacquer and mosaic
throne. Yet he had let the profits lie there, if there were any, maybe
thinking all along of the handsome tomb he was putting up for himself,
when his time came. You couldn't guess all his Mongolian thoughts, nor
those of his son, Fu Shan, of whom Sadler asked medicine for a
dyspeptic soul. Fu Shan said, “Go lun joss house by Langoon.” Sadler
didn't seem to care about the business part of it either, though it
looked interesting. He only wanted the medicine.
Days and nights we talked it over, and got no further than that, and
drew nearer the East. The East is a muddy sea with no bottom, and it
swallows a man like a fog bank swallows a ship.
Sadler made some verses that he called his “Prayer;”—“Sadler's
prayer,” and he told me them one wet day, when a half gale was blowing,
and he sat smoking with his feet hitched over the rail. He appeared to
be trying to get a bead on infinity across the point of his shoe. It
ran this way, beginning, “Lord God that o'erulest”:
“Lord God that o'er-rulest
The waters, and coolest
The face of the foolish
With the touch of thy death,
I, Sadler, a Yankee,
Lean, leathery, lanky,
Red-livered and cranky,
And weary of breath,
“That hain't no theology
But a sort of doxology,
Here's my apology,
Maker of me,
Here where I'm sittin',
Smooth as a kitten,
Smokin' and spittin'
Into the sea.
“The storm winds come sweepin',
Come widowed and weepin',
Come rippin' and reapin',
The wheat of the loam,
And some says, it's sport, boys,
It's timbrels and hautboys,
And some is the sort, boys,
That's sorry he come.
“Lord God of the motions
Of lumberin' oceans,
There's some of your notions
Is handsome and free,
But what in the brewin'
And sizzlin,' and stewin'
Did you think you was doin'
The time you done me?
“Evil and good
Did ye squirt in my blood?
I stand where I stood
When my runnin' began;
And the start and the goal
Were the same in my soul,
And the damnable whole
Was entitled a man.
“Lord God that o'er-gazest
The waste and wet places,
The faint foolish faces
Turned upward to Thee,
Though Thy sight goeth far
O'er our rabble and war
Yet remember we are
The drift of Thy sea.”
Sadler left the Good Sister at Singapore, and disappeared.
He dropped out of sight. Afterward his name went from the letter
heads of “Sadler and Shan.” They read, “Shan Brothers, Saleratus, Cal.
Fu Shan—Lum Shan.”
He was a singular man was Sadler. He held the opinion that this life
was an idea that occurred to somebody, who was tired of it and would
like to get it off his mind. I took him for one that had got too much
conscience, or too much restlessness, one of the two, and between them
they gave him dyspepsia of the soul. Sometimes that dyspepsia took him
bad, and when he had one of those spells he'd light out into poetry
scandalous. Some folks are built that way, some not. J. R. Craney, for
instance, he was a romantic man, and gifted according to his own line,
and had airy notions ahead of him that he pretty near caught up to; but
as to metres, he couldn't tell metres from cord-wood. Yet the first
time I saw him again, after leaving him at Corazon, he heaved some at
me, but he didn't know it was poetry. It was some years later. I sailed
the Good Sister quite a time, and did pretty well by her.
CHAPTER IX. KING JULIUS.
It was back in San Francisco and several years after, and I was
master of the Good Sister still, but not feeling agreeable at
the time, because Fu Shan and the agent at 'Frisco kept me sitting
around collecting barnacles. They didn't seem to know what they wanted
me to do with her. I guess the business of Sadler and Shan didn't
prosper well for a while after Sadler left, on account of sportive
I was leaning over the rail one day, looking across the wharf, and I
saw J. R. Craney come strolling down with one hand in his pocket and
the other pulling a chin beard. He hadn't changed so much, except that
he looked older and had a chin beard and wore a long black coat and
plush vest. He looked at the Good Sister, and he looked at me,
and neither of us said anything for a long time, and his business eye
was absent-minded and calm, and the blind one pale and dead-looking.
Then I says:
“Why don't you get a glass eye, Craney?” and he says, “I wished
you'd call me J. R. Phipp. What you doing with that there ship?” which
was a promising rhyme, but he didn't know he'd done it. I judged his
family name had been collecting barnacles, till it wasn't worth
cleaning maybe, or maybe he was a fugitive or exile from Corazon, or
maybe he'd speculated in matrimony, and was fleeing from hot water, or
maybe kettles, or maybe he'd assassinated his great aunt's second
cousin's husband, which was no business of mine, any of it.
“Look here,” I says, not feeling agreeable. “Here's my programme.
You go up to 22 Market Street, and ask the agent. Then he'll say he
don't know. Then you'll tell him he's a three-cornered idiot, because
you'll admire the truth, and come back and we'll have a drink.”
“All right,” he says, absent-minded and calm, and went off up Market
Street. By-and-by the agent came down with Craney floating behind.
“This is Mr. J. R. Phipp,” says the agent, “who has chartered the
Good Sister. Get her ready. Mr. Phipp will superintend cargo
himself and sail with you.”
That was the way it happened. Craney spent days going round the
stores in the city and buying everything that took his eyes. He bought
house-furnishings and pictures, toys, horns, drums, cases of tobacco
and spirits, glass ornaments and plaster statues, crockery and cutlery,
guns, clothes, neckties, and silk handkerchiefs, and cheap jewelry.
He'd go in and ask for a drygoods box. Then he'd potter around the shop
till the box was full. He'd buy out a show case of goods, and maybe
he'd buy the show case. He bought barrels full of old magazines and
books on theology and law, and a cord or two of ten-cent novels, and
some poetry that was handy, and three encyclopaedias, and two or three
kinds of dogs, and a basket phaeton with green wheels, and a printing
press, and a stereopticon. The agent says to me:
“He has a scheme for trading in the South Pacific. He's a lunatic,
and he's paid for six months. Send me news when you get a chance, and
come back by Honolulu for directions. He's a lunatic,” he says, “and
you'd better lose him somewhere and get a commission on the time
Then he hurried off the way you'd think he was a man with energy,
instead of one that would sit still and let the weeds grow in his hair.
But Craney went on buying chandeliers and chess-boards and clocks and
women's things, such as dresses and ostrich-feathers hats, and baby
carriages, and parasols, and an allotment of assorted dinner-bells, and
one side of a drug store. I don't know all there was in his cases, only
I judged there wasn't any monotony. I says:
“Maybe now you might be done.”
He came aboard and looked thoughtful. Then he felt in his pocket and
pulled out a bunch of knitting needles, and looked thoughtful.
“Well,” he says. “I rather wanted to look up some front porches,
ready made, with door-knockers, but I didn't get to it. It's just as
We dropped out of the Gate with the tide on a Saturday night, and
stood away to the southwest.
Craney was always a talkative man, liking to open out his point of
view. At first I thought he'd gone lunatic of late, and then again when
he showed me his point of view, I found he hadn't changed so much, as
got more so.
Many nights we sat on deck in the moonlight and with a light breeze
pushing in the sails, for the weather in the main was steady, and he'd
smoke a fat cigar, and look at the little shining clouds. He'd talk and
speculate, sometimes shrewd, and then again it was like a matter of
adding a shipload of pirates to the signs of the zodiac, and getting
the New Jerusalem for a result. By-and-by, I felt that way myself, as
if, supposing you kept on sailing long enough, you might run down an
island full of mixed myths and happy angels. Sure he was romantic.
“I'm a romantic man, Tommy,” he says. “That's my secret. Yes, sir,
Romance, that's me! That's the centre of my circumference, that's the
gravity of my orbit, that's the number of my combination. Visions,
ideals! I'm a man to get up and look for the beyond. I want to expand!
I want to permeate! I want the beyond! Here I am, fifty years old. I
gets up and looks out on to the world. I says: 'J. R., this won't do.
Is it for nothing that you're a man of romance? Is it for nothing that
you long to permeate, to expand? The soul of man' I says, 'is airy;
it's full of draughts. Your soul, J. R., flaps like a tent,' I says,
'in the breezes of dawn. The world is round. Time is fleeting. Is man
an ox? No. Is he a patent inkstand? No. Was he created to occupy a
house and fit his head to a hat? No. Then why delay? Why smother your
longings?' I says; 'J. R., this won't do. This ain't your destiny.
Rise! Be winged! Chase the ideal! Get on the vastness! Seek and find!'
But what? I says, 'Fame, fortune, a vocation that's worthy of you.'
Where? I says, 'In the beyond.' Then I took a map, Tommy, and looked
over the world; I examined the globe; I took stock of the earth, and
compared lands, seas, climates. The likeliest-looking place appeared to
be the South Pacific Ocean. Why? It appeared to be, in general, beyond.
It was the biggest thing on the map. It was tropical. Palm-trees, spicy
odours, corals, pearls. 'All right,' I says: 'J. R., it wouldn't take
much to be a millionaire in those unpolluted regions. You'd be a
potentate. You'd wear picturesque clothes, and lie on poppies and
lotuses. You'd be a Solomon to those guileless nations. You'd instruct
their ignorance and preserve their morals. You'd lead their armies to
victory on account of your natural gifts. You'd have your birthdays
celebrated with torch-light processions. You'd be a luxurious patriot.'
Now that's a pleasant way of looking at it. But it seemed to me the
likeliest thing was to go out as a trader. Now as to trading. Sitting
on a stool and figuring discounts is business, and trading cheese-cloth
for parrots is business too. A horse is an animal, and so's a
potato-bug. But I take it where society is loose and business isn't a
system, there's always chance for a man with natural gifts. But you're
going to ask me: What for is all this mixture I've got aboard? If some
of it's tradable, you'd say, there must be a deal of it isn't. And I
ask you back, Tommy: Take it in general, haven't I got a mixture that
represents civilisation? Did you ever see a ship that had more
commodious, miscellaneous, and sufficient civilisation in her than
this? I'm taking out civilisation. Maybe I'm calculating on a boom.
Now, the secret of a boom is to spread out as far as you can reach, and
then flap. That's business. When you've got people's attention, you can
settle down and make your bargains. Mind you,” says Craney, turning on
me an eye that was cold and calm—“mind you, I don't say that's what
I'm going to do, nor I don't say what I'm calculating to trade for.
Maybe I have an idea, and maybe I haven't.”
I says, “Course you have.”
“You think so?” he says. “It's no more than reasonable. But look at
all this now”—with one thumb in the armhole of his vest and waving his
cigar with the other hand toward the moon and sea—“look at this here
hemisphere. It's big and still. The kinks and creases of me are
smoothing out. I'm expanding, permeating. I look out. I see those there
shining waves. I says to myself, 'J. R., as a romantic man, you may be
said to be getting there.'“
He used to read some in the daytime, but mostly he'd smoke and
meditate and pull his chin beard, sitting on deck in a red
plush-covered easy-chair, with his feet on the rail. One time he had a
volume of poetry in his hand, turning over the leaves.
“Some of it appears to be sawed down smooth one side,” he says, “and
left ragged on the other, and some of it's ragged both sides.”
Then he read a bit of it aloud, but it didn't go right, for
sometimes he'd trot, as you might say, when he ought to have galloped,
and sometimes he'd gallop when he ought to have trotted, and sometimes
he'd come along at a mixed gait. As a rule, he bumped.
He was no hand at poetry. Nor was he romantic to look at, but thin,
and sinewy, and one-eyed, and some dried up, clean shaven except for a
wisp of greyish whisker on his chin, and always neatly dressed now.
When he'd laugh to himself, the wrinkles would spread around his eyes,
one blind, and the other calm and calculating, and absent-minded. He'd
sit with his cigar tilted up in one corner of his mouth, and his hat
tilted forward, and whittle sticks. He'd talk with anybody, but mostly
with me and Kamelillo, whom he appeared to be asking for information.
Kamelillo knew island dialects about the same as he did English, but
wasn't much for conversation. Craney came one day with a bundle of
charts, and he collected me and Kamelillo in a corner and spread his
charts on the deck. They were old charts.
“Now,” he says, “here is the lines of trade.”
He had the regular routes all marked on his charts.
“There appears to be some vacant spaces,” he says. And there did.
“And here's about the biggest!” And it was. “There don't seem to be any
island there, but here's a name, 'Lua,' only you can't tell what it
belongs to.” No more you could. The name appeared to be dropped down
there so that section of the Pacific wouldn't look so lonely. I brought
out the ship's chart, but it didn't give any name, only two or three
islands sorted around where Craney's chart said “Lua.” It looked as if
you might find one of them, and then again you might not.
“Ever been on any of 'em?” he asked. I hadn't and Kamelillo didn't
know, but looked as if he might have swallowed one without remembering
“Nor I,” says Craney, “but I know there's likely to be natives when
the islands are sizable.”
“These might be only coral circles,” I says.
“Well, I guess we'll go and look at 'Lua,' anyway,” he says. “A man
don't put 'Lua' on a map without he's got some idea.”
It was nearly two months from the day we left the coast of the
States when we came to the edge of the letter “L,” as according to
Craney's chart, and we sailed along the bottom of it and around the
curve of “U,” and up the inside on the right, where the ship's chart
had an island, but we missed it, if it was there. Then we came to the
top of the right leg of “U,” where there might be an island on Craney's
chart, except that it looked more like part of the letter. Craney says:
We cut across into “A.” It was in the curve of the twist at the end
of the “A” that we sighted land at last. The ship's chart had an island
in the neighbourhood, but somewhat to the north. Likely Craney's notion
of coasting the edge of the letters was as good as any. I never claimed
the ship's chart was a good one, for it wasn't. I only told him I'd
rather sail by the advertisements in a newspaper than by his.
There was a reef at the north end of the island, and we ran south
down the coast some miles to where it fell away to the southwest, and
dropped anchor at night in a bay with a white beach and a long row of
huts back from it under the trees. A bunch of natives ran down and
stood looking at us. Some of them swam out a little, or paddled on a
log, and then went back. There was a splashing and calling all night,
and fires shining on the beach. Kamelillo thought he'd been there
before, but he didn't remember when; but if he had, it stuck in his
mind, there was some trouble connected with it, and with one he called
a “bad-lot chief”; but I told Craney that Kamelillo had seen too many
islands and too much strong drink in his career, and he might be
thinking of something that happened in New Zealand.
In the morning Craney took Kamelillo and went ashore. I saw the
natives gathered around him. They all went up the beach and
disappeared, and the boat came back with word from Craney that he and
Kamelillo were going inland and wouldn't be back before night. I didn't
think he ought to go off careless like that; but they came back safely
about seven o'clock, only Craney seemed to be thoughtful and not
talkative. He said there was a business opening there, and he guessed
he'd speculate; and he sat on deck in his red plush chair till past
twelve, smoking fat cigars and staring at the shore. The next day he
had up three or four cases from the hold. There was a crowd waiting for
him on the beach, and I saw him tying the boxes on poles, and some of
the barbarians shouldered the poles, and they all went off in
procession. I didn't ask him when he'd come back, and he didn't come
for near a week. Only every day there would be a native come down and
dance around in the shallow to attract attention, or maybe swim out to
the ship with a bit of paper in his mouth. And the paper would read:
“O. K. Business progressing. Yours, J. R.” or; “I'm permeating. Yours,
Julius R.” So I judged it was a peaceful island, and likely Craney had
found something worth trading for. We went ashore every day, but not
inland. We were satisfied to stay on the beach, and to watch the naked
little children dive in the surf, and to play tag with the population.
But one day I followed a path a mile inland, and climbed a hill and
saw an open valley to the south with several hundred palm-leaf huts,
and farther up was more open country and some hills beyond thickly
wooded. I judged the island was twenty miles north and south, but
couldn't see how far it went westward, and coming back, found a note
for me: “O. K. I never see folks so open to conviction. Yours, J. R.”
It was Craney's business, and not mine. I thought to myself,
sometimes these men you'd think lunatic weren't that way, only they had
their point of view. Next day there was another note: “Two of 'em are
dead. I guess it's a good thing. I bought it anyway. Julius R.” And
while I was thinking it over, and thinking sometimes these men that
claimed they'd got a point of view were really lunatic, Craney came
back. He must have had three hundred natives following him, and they
camped on the beach and seemed to rejoice, for they danced and sang
most of the night, while he and I sat on the deck and talked it over,
“This island,” says Craney, “is full of politics. I'll tell you.
They had a king lately, and, according to accounts, he was old and fat,
and his morals were bad. But he died, and up came five candidates for
the place, and their claims to it I didn't make out, but if it was a
question of votes, I gathered the ballot was tolerable corrupt, and if
it was inheritance, I took it the late royalty had so many heirs they
were common like anybody else. But everybody was busy, and it looked as
if business would be dull for me, and they told me it was no use trying
to be neutral. I'd have to back one of 'em. Course, I didn't know. Each
of the candidates occupied a corner of the island, and now and then
they'd meet in the middle for slaughter. What could I do? Well, I tell
you what I did. I hired five messengers and invited the candidates to a
congress. I says:
“'Not more'n ten to each party.' And they came.
“Kamelillo's a good enough interpreter, only he's sort of condensed.
If a man makes a speech of half an hour, Kamelillo gives a grunt to
cover most of it, and then he states what he guesses is the point of
the rest. But he did well enough.
“Then I got in the middle of 'em and I argued. I says:
“'Gentlemen, this is a peaceful interview. Pile your weapons.'
“I got 'em piled in a heap and I sat on 'em, and argued, and the
candidates argued. They did pretty well, considering only one of 'em
had a shirt. He was old, too, and had chicken bones in his hair, and,
it was curious, but he knew considerable English, and could cuss
skilful in it. The other four were younger, and they appeared a good
deal surprised with the way I argued it. I says:
“'Gentlemen, there ain't room in this island for a Civil War. You
see it for yourself. Now I'll show you. Each of you five take one spear
and one shield, and get into the middle here and fight it out. The rest
of us'll watch.'
“I appealed to the fifty followers, and they all agreed that was a
good thing. The five candidates were doubtful. The old man said he
wasn't any good at that. I says:
“'Venerable, what you want is comfort, not to say luxury, for your
declining years. I'll guarantee you that. You stay quiet.' Then I
knocked open a box and showed him assorted drygoods, and says, 'What do
“He thought it looked luxurious, and said he'd think it over. By
this time the others were willing to fight, for their followers all
agreed it was a good thing.
“I never saw the equal of it, Tom, never! I never saw a dog-fight
come up to it for prompt execution. I won't harrow your feelings as
mine were harrowed. I won't puncture you with thrills as I was
punctured. We buried two of 'em decent. The other two were cut up and
played out quite a little. I collected weapons, and I says:
“'Now there are two ways. Either you two can have it out, and when
you're through, anything that's left can have it out with me, or I'll
buy you as you stand.'
“They looked surprised to see it put that way. They were low in
their spirits. They said they didn't want to fight any more that week.
I knocked open the boxes and spread the goods, and then they acted
avaricious, particularly the old man with the chicken bones. Burying
two of 'em was economic. I says:
“'Gentlemen, what's the value you put on your claims? State 'em, and
state 'em reasonable.”
“I dribbled out gingham dresses, and hair-brushes, and pocket
mirrors, and colored prints, and bottles of bay-rum. I never saw folks
act happier. I bought up the claims. I scattered what was left of the
goods among the crowd. I got on the empty boxes, and I says:
“'Here's your monarch. That's me, Julius the First, and only. If
anybody else from now on claims he's a monarch in these regions, he
shall be skinned and melted.' And they all cried: 'Hoi! Hoi!' or words
to that effect. They were unanimous. Kamelillo said they 'liked it
Craney was silent a while, and I didn't say much. I didn't know how
to get along with monarchs, anyway. The men forward were working by
lantern, hauling up stuff from the hold, and piling it on deck to start
unloading in the morning.
“I'm going out of trade,” he went on. “I'm going into royalty.
That's my retinue on the beach. What's more, it's most of the male
population, including nobility and masses. I'll show 'em. The old king
was a bad lot. I'll be a benevolent monarch. I'll give 'em free schools
and a constitution.
“Tommy,” he says after a long silence, “you'll be going back to San
Francisco, and maybe you'll see some folks that are looking for me, and
maybe they'll be hostile. Very good. You come back with 'em and you
watch me. You're an old friend of me, Tommy. You're a man capable of
expanding. You can get on to large ideas. You can take in vastness. You
come back, and I'll make you heir to the throne.”
But I didn't hanker for Craney's throne. The last I saw of him for
that time was bidding him good-bye on the beach. He appeared to have
most of the public to carry up his cargo, and he appeared to be
popular. Kamelillo stayed with him as interpreter.
At Honolulu there came two men aboard with a letter from the agent
in San Francisco, which agent was irritating on account of slowness,
and had weedy-looking hair. But the letter said:
“Put the Good Sister at service of bearers. They have a
warrant for Phipp.” I says:
“Warrant for Phipp! What for?”
One of them was a sheriff named Breen, a slow, temperate man, and
the other a detective named Jessamine, a yellow-bearded one with light
open eyes, who seemed a pleasant talker, but to the best of my
recollection was one you might call obstinate. They showed me their
papers, and these appeared to be correct. Jessamine's papers stated
that he represented parties in St. Louis, whose names don't count.
“Warrant!” I says. “What for?”
“Why,” says Jessamine, “Phipp isn't his name, as you will see by the
warrant;” which was no particular news to me. But I didn't like the job
of going back after Craney. I didn't seem to take much interest in
parties in St. Louis, but it set me arguing again whether he was a
lunatic, or had a point of view. And so, though I thought it might be
they were going to be surprised when they came to Lua, I said nothing
about that, but fitted up a bit in Honolulu, taking my time, and set
sail once more for Lua. We came there in a high wind on a rainy
morning, about six weeks since I'd left it.
No one was in sight on the beach at first, but the sky clearing, I
went ashore with Breen and Jessamine, and several natives ran out of
the huts and across the beach to meet us. I says, “Man, Ship,” and
pointed inland, at which they seemed to be pleased and set off; and we
followed them by a long trail that came at last in the cleared valley,
where were long-strung-out villages, leading inland to the open country
this side of the wooded hills. By this time we were a procession. We
knew when we had arrived, for there appeared a long range of roofs
through the stems of a palm grove, and a broad path led to it through
bushes covered with red thick-scented flowers. It was King Julius's
palace. The front of it was all one piazza, maybe two-hundred feet long
and forty deep, with slim bamboo pillars; and men seemed to be still
shingling one end of it with layers of plantain leaves. But the king
was out in a sort of square to one side, and had about fifty warriors
with feathers in their hair, practising spears at a mark. Then he saw
us, and then he said something sharp, and the fifty fell into line
behind, with spears and shields in disciplined order. They marched very
pretty, and came down on us in a way to make a man feel shy. I says,
“Which of you is going to arrest him, and how's he going to do it?”
Breen says, “You have me!” And Jessamine says: “Let's see.”
Then the king halted his company and came on alone, looking calm,
with the thumb of one hand in the armhole of his vest, and the other
pulling his chin beard. And Jessamine stepped forward and says:
“J. R. Craney, I arrest you for embezzlement.” And the king looked
him over calm and benevolent. He says, “You don't mean it! Better be
careful. Why, the trouble is, the army ain't really disciplined yet.
They'd jab you full of holes, when I wasn't looking, if they caught
your idea. Better come and have tea. I didn't expect you'd be along for
two months yet.”
It appeared he calculated on three or four months, and my meeting
Jessamine at Honolulu had cut him short. But I didn't see but he held
the cards. Jessamine might arrest till he was blown. The crew of the
Good Sister hadn't shipped to be speared by a king's bodyguard, and
I didn't care much for parties in St. Louis.
Soon we were eating comfortably, sitting on the big piazza around
one of Craney's black walnut tables. The palace seemed to be fitted and
furnished so far mainly from the cargo. Each of us had two or three
waiters back of his chair, some men, some women. The warriors squatted
in line out in front among the flowers. Whenever we were through with a
dish, Craney would send the rest of it down to the warriors, and they'd
gobble it, and watch for more, with their eyes shining, but very quiet.
I recollect there was something that was like a duck, and some canned
tomatoes, and a kind of fruit with a yellow rind.
“There's two hundred in my army,” says Craney sociably, “in four
divisions. This is a special one. Mighty fond of drilling they are.
Fact, 'most everybody's in the army. They're softening under
discipline, but some of 'em are bloodthirsty yet.”
“J. R.,” says Jessamine, “I hate to do it. It's a painful duty.”
Craney says: “Just so. Say no more. You couldn't be expected to know
the law of this state touching the person of the king. Fact is,
foreigners ain't allowed to arrest royalty here. Fact, it's a new law.
I just passed it the other day. You didn't mean any harm. We'll say no
Jessamine looked hurt. “Come now, J. R., it's no use. You're not
going to resist the law.”
“I'm going to maintain it, Jessamine, maintain it.”
“I say, I got the authority of the States of Missouri and
“I asks you, what authority they've got here? First place, you want
extradition papers. You can't have 'em. I won't give 'em to you.
Trouble with you, Jessamine, is you're narrow. You're small, there
ain't any vastness about you, Jessamine.”
“J. R.,” says Jessamine, remonstrating, “this isn't right, and you
“You don't expand, Jessamine,” says Craney. “You don't permeate. You
ain't got on to large ideas.”
Craney here distributed cigars, lit a fat one himself, pushed back
from the table, crossed his legs, stuck a thumb in the arm-hole of his
plush vest, and went on unfolding his mind.
“It ain't the king's pleasure to leave this island, nor it ain't the
ways of monarchs, as I take it, to apologise. But putting aside all
that, and supposing you was expanded enough to take that in, I'm going
on to state the way it appears. You says, 'J.R., how'd you come to take
the cash of parties that trusted you?' I answers, 'It comes from being
romantic.' You ain't romantic, Jessamine? That's too bad. You don't see
it. You don't expand to my circumference. You don't permeate my orbit.
You don't get on to me. It was this way. I got up and looked out on the
world. I says: 'J. R., it's clear you haven't enough cash for your
ambitions. But you've got a opportunity. Throw it in. Be bold. If your
conscience squirms, let it squirm. If it wriggles, let it wriggle. Take
the risk. Expand to large ideas.' I took it. Say, I made parties
unwilling investors in me. Now, then, there they are, as delegated in
you. Here's me, Julius R., monarch by purchase and election of the
sovereign state of Lua. You asks, 'What next?' I says: 'This. I'll pay.
I'll settle the claims with interest on investment' But I've got to
have time. Pay with what? Now there's the point. I've been
investigating the produce of this island, the pearl-fishing, the coral,
the hardwood. The pearl-fishing is good. As a business man, I tell you
it can be done.”
Jessamine shook his head. “I haven't any authority to settle the
case. I'm told to go and bring you. I've got to do it. It's a painful
The king smoked a while silently, then said something to his
warriors, who got up and marched away around the corner. “Mighty,
Jessamine!” he says, “you're slow. Most mulish man I ever saw. Well,
let it go. You can't do it. Recollect, attempting the person of the
king is a capital crime. That's the law of this land. It's decided and
it don't change. We'll drop it.”
So nothing more was said of the matter, and we talked agreeably.
Whether Craney's account of his motives was accurate I couldn't say. It
didn't seem likely he ever expected to settle, when he started, or he
took all the chances that he never would. Maybe he cooked up the theory
to suit things as they stood. Maybe not. I don't defend him, and I'm
not clear where he lied or where he fancied. But it seemed to me if
he'd made a long calculation, his luck was standing by him at that
When the king left us we went for a walk through the village,
talking it over. Breen said they'd better take the offer, and I thought
they'd have to, but Jessamine wasn't satisfied. He says:
“We haven't the authority. How do you know we wouldn't get into
trouble at home? We've got to take him back. But you see, that isn't
the point. The point is, here's where we make a hit. It's professional
with me. It's reputation. It's the chance of a lifetime.”
I say: “But where's the chance?”
“We'll see. But J. R.'s been the one white man so far. Now we're
three to one. If he can usurp a crown, I don't see but what we can get
up an insurrection.”
The village was a long row of huts built of bamboo and big brown
leaves, and stretched up and down the valley. There was a large hut
with two doors opposite us, and sitting on mats in front was a fat man
with little bones stuck at angles in his grizzled hair. He wore a pink
shirt with studs and a pair of carpet slippers, and around his neck a
lot of glass pendants from a chandelier, and he looked surly and
sleepy. I says:
“You can leave me out. I think you ought to take the offer. If you
slip up, the king'll hang you for treason. If he's the government here,
he's got a right to say what the law is. I'm going back to the ship.
You needn't ask me for backing, for you won't get it.”
We stopped beside the fat man, and I asked him if he hadn't been one
of the rival candidates, thinking it might be the old one with the
chicken bones that spoke English; and he set to work swearing, so I
knew it was; and I judged from the style he swore in he'd been intimate
one time with seamen, and I judged; too, he felt dissatisfied. He said
he was rightly chief of the island, and that man, all of whose
grandfathers were low and disgusting, meaning Julius R., was living in
his house, and, moreover, had given him only three pink shirts.
Jessamine sat down by him, and said nothing, but listened, and I went
and found some of the beach natives, and came back with them to the
That night passed, and it came the morning of the next day, and I
heard nothing from them. I went ashore, but found no one about the huts
there but children and a few old women. The old women jabbered at us
I took six of the men and started inland through the hot woods,
where the green and red parrots screamed overhead. When we came out to
look up the valley to the open country, we saw no signs of fighting,
nor any one moving about. Through the valley, as we went up it, there
was no smoke from the huts, no women bruising nuts and ground roots
into meal, no fat man before the hut with two doors sitting on his
mats, not a soul in the village.
But coming near the palace we could see all the red flower shrubs
were trampled and smashed. Then we came on a dead body by the path;
then more bodies, bloody and spitted with spears; and one man, who was
wounded, lifted himself, and glared, and dropped again among the red
flowers. Through the palm stems we saw the roofs of the palace, and the
piazza with the bamboo pillars. The line of the bodyguard was squatted
on the piazza, with their spears upright before them. Everything was
Then we heard a cry behind us, and looked, and saw Jessamine and
Breen, but no others with them, running through the village towards us.
They came up to us, and said they had been in the woods hunting for the
villagers who had run away, but found none. We sat down not far from
the wounded man. Jessamine had his arm in a sling, and he told what had
happened, so far as he made it out.
“It was the way I fancied,” he says; “J. R. wasn't so solid with his
army as he thought, except the bodyguard, but I'd no idea they'd go off
like a bunch of fireworks. The old fat one sent messengers around in
the afternoon, and at night we went with him over back of that hill,
and met a crowd who had a few torches, but it was pretty dark, and I
couldn't see how many there were along the hillside. I made them a
speech: how J. R. had run away from his land, and was ruling them here
when he had no right, and they oughtn't to stand it; but I don't know
that the fat one interpreted it. I guess he made a speech of his own.
All I know is they went off like gunpowder. Whether all of them yelled
for battle and rebellion I don't know; some of them might have been
yelling against it. They all yelled, and pretty soon they started
hot-foot across the country for the palace, fighting some with each
other, so I gathered they disagreed. There are corpses all along
between here and the hill, and it was there I caught a cut in the arm.
Breen and I agreed to slide out of it. We went and sat on the hillside
and watched. Maybe J. R. had word of what was coming. He seemed to be
ready for them. I judged the bodyguard met them just above here, and
there was a grand mix-up, but we couldn't see well at the distance. It
was an awful noise. And suddenly it died out. Not a sound for a while.
By-and-by a gang of forty or more ran by us a hundred yards away, and
into the woods before we'd decided what to do; and later, after a long
time, there was a sort of chanting like a ceremony over here at J. R.'s
palace, and this came at intervals all night. This morning we came and
found the village empty, and came up a little beyond here, till some
one threw a spear past Breen's head, and we went away to look for the
villagers. I don't know what J. R. is up to. He appears to be laying
low with his wild-cats around him.”
While we were speaking there came someone past the bodyguards, and
down to meet us, and it was Kamelillo. Kamelillo didn't have much to
say, except that the king wanted to see us, but he answered some
questions. He thought that in the attack on the palace the other two
candidates and the fat one fell to quarrelling, and their followers
joined, and it might be the first two had been inclined to stand by the
king, only they thought it was time to have some fighting. But they
weren't going to put up with the fat one. Instead of having it out
then, they had all gone off to different corners of the island, the
same as they used to do, and that suddenly. Kamelillo didn't know how
it came about, and doubted if the candidates knew either. He said they
were a “fool lot,” and the king could settle them, give him time to
hang the fat one. But it was no use now—“Too damn quick,” he said. The
women and children had all run to the woods in the beginning. Being
asked about King Julius, Kamelillo only grunted, and not having any
expression of face, you couldn't gather much from that. But when we
came to the piazza, where the bodyguard squatted, what was left of it,
with reddened spears, ghastly to make you sick, Kamelillo grunted again
and said, “He gone die,” and passed in. The guard broke out wailing and
chanting, and rocked to and fro, but only a moment, after which they
held their spears up stiff, as the king had taught them, and sat still.
Now we followed Kamelillo to a great room, where it seemed the king
held audiences and gave out laws and justice. The red plush chair was
on a raised platform at the far end, and over and on three sides were
heavy red curtains, and glass chandeliers hung from the rafters of the
roof, and a row of mattresses covered with carpet was laid in front,
maybe so that subjects could prostrate themselves comfortable. But the
room was dusky, and still. It seemed to be empty. But we passed up it
and stopped, for on the carpeted mattresses before the throne lay
Craney, all alone.
His coat and vest were put back, his shirt torn open, and his
breastbone split by a spear or hatchet, and it was clear he hadn't long
A ribby chest he had, and a dry, leathery skin. The blood soaked out
from under the cloth he held there against it, and ran down the little
gullies between the ribs. Jessamine sat down and acted nervous. He
“I'm downright sorry for this, J. R.,” but Craney didn't seem to
hear, but motioned with his hand and says softly:
“You'd better clear out.”
Jessamine says, “Now, we can't leave you this way.”
But Craney didn't hear and says, “Call in the guard.” The spearmen
came filing in, barefooted, stepping like cats, and took position on
each side, so that you could see it was according to discipline, and
maybe they'd done it every day when he'd held a court or something. We
slid back, feeling shy of the spears, and J. R. looked pleased, and he
“You're narrow, Jessamine. You don't permeate. You don't expand. You
don't rise to large—Oh, Jessamine! I'm dying, and I'm sick of your
face. Tommy,”—he says, speaking hoarse and low—“you'd better go.” His
eyes wandered absent-minded to the plush chair with the curtains and
chandeliers and the spearmen standing around it, and down the long
room, like he was taking his leave of things he'd thought of, and
things he'd been fond of, and things he'd hoped for, and things he'd
meant to do. He muttered and talked to himself: “I sat there,” he said,
“and I did the right thing by the people. Gentlemen, these black idjits
are friends of mine. If you don't mind, I'd rather you'd go. But you
can stay, Tommy, if you want to.”
So I stayed until he was gone. When I came away I left the spearmen
chanting over him.
That was Julius R. Craney. Why, I don't praise him, nor put blame on
him. Kamelillo said he was “old boy all right,” but Kamelillo's notions
of what was virtuous weren't civilised notions. A man ought to be
honest. I've known thieves that were singular human. He was mighty
happy when he was a king, was Julius R.
CHAPTER X. THE KIYI
It happened in the year '84 that I took in sailing orders at
Hong-Kong to go round to Rangoon for a cargo of teak wood. It's a hard
wood that's used in shipbuilding. That was a new port to me, and it
wasn't a port-of-call at all till the English took it. You go some
thirty miles up the Rangoon River, which is one of the mouths of the
Irrawaddy, which is the main river of Burmah; and the first you see of
the town is the Shway Dagohn Pagoda, the gilded cone above the trees.
Rangoon had already a good deal that was European about it, hotels and
shops, stone blocks of buildings, the custom house, offices of the
Indian Empire, and houses of English residents. The gilded pagoda looks
over everything from a hill. The crowds in the streets are Eastern,
Chinamen, Malays, and Bengalees, and mainly the Burman of the
Irrawaddy. I was anchored over against the timber yards. I says to
“Rangoon! Pagoda! Why, Green Dragons and Kid Sadler!” I wondered if
he was there to be asked, “How's business? How's the dyspeptic soul?”
and whether he had an office maybe near the custom house, and exported
gold leaf and bronze images of Buddha. I started to find the temple of
Green Dragons, and followed a broad street, leading to the right, for
nearly a mile. Then it grew wooded on each side. Gateways with carved
stone posts and plaster griffins, took the place of shops, and behind
them you could see the slanting roofs of the monasteries, and their
towers, strung to the top with rows of little roofs. A stream of people
moved drowsy in the road, monks in yellow robes with their right
shoulders bare, women with embroidered skirts, men with similar skirts,
men with tattooed legs, and men in straw hats with dangling brims.
There were covered carts looking like sun-bonnets on wheels and pulled
by humped-necked oxen. There were little skylarking children, and
Chinamen, and black-bearded Hindoos.
Then I saw a stone stairway going up the side of the hill. I went
on, staring ahead at the cone that shone in the air, and getting
bewildered to see so near by the quantity of dancing statues on the
roofs of the temples that crowded the hill, and those acres of
tangled-up carving. So I came to the foot of the stairs.
Close to the right was a gateway in a white wall, and on each side
was a green lacquer dragon, that had enamelled goggle eyes and a size
that called for respect. The gateway led under a row of roofs held up
by shiny pillars. Over the wall you could see a gilded cone pagoda with
a bell on top.
It looked pretty inside of the gate, with flowers and trees and
little white and gold buildings. A yellow-robed man sat under a roof
near the gate with some children squatted around. He wasn't Sadler. He
didn't look as if an inquiry for Sadler would start anything going in
his mind. There was a faint tinkle of bells, and the far-off mutter of
Anyway there were green dragons. I went in, thinking of the years
gone, of Fu Shan, who used to sit, sucking his porcelain pipe on
Sadler's porch, and looking down on the creek where the boys were
rowing with his countrymen, and looking down on Saleratus that was a
pretty unkempt community, and saying, “Vely good joss house, gleen
dlagon joss house by Langoon;” and then of Sadler saying: “Stuck-up
little cast-eyed ghost! Speak up, Asia, if you've got any medicine for
Farther on another man in a blue robe sat under a tree, with his
feet stuck out in front. By the black clay pipe he was smoking, and by
his hair that was red enough to keep a man surprised as not harmonious
with his robin's-egg blue robe, the same was Irish.
He whooped joyful to see me, and said I'd find Sadler over “beyont
the boss pagody.”
“Tommy boy,” he says anxious, “ye won't be shtirrin' oop the Kid. He
ain't been into anything rampageous, nor the women, nor the drink, nor
clawin' to do nothin', since we coom, and me gettin' fat with the
pacefulness of it. Lave him aisy for the love of God!”
In the cone pagoda there were people praying on the floor, and it
was ringed with little bronze Buddhas and big wooden Buddhas, standing,
sitting, and lying, that all smiled, three hundred identical smiles.
Then I came out beyond to a small temple on a mound, a sort of pointed
roof on a circle of lacquer pillars. A yellow-robed man sat on the
floor, with right shoulder bare, leaning against a pillar. A woman
stood in front of him, talking fast. Three children were playing on the
grass. You could look over the wall, and see the shuffling crowd in the
streets, and those going up and down the stairway to the Shway Dagohn.
The yellow robe was smoking a pipe. Moreover he was Sadler.
The woman stared at me and scuttled away, and I says, “How's
business? How's the dyspeptic soul?”
“Business good,” he says. “Dyspeptic's took a pill. Sit down, Tommy.
Glad to see you.” Those were his remarks, and it didn't look as if the
East had swallowed him, except that he was remarkable calm, and his
head was shaved, and his clothes didn't seem proper on a white man.
Then bit by bit, he unloaded his mind, which appeared full of little
things, like a junk shop. He says: “See that woman that left?” he says.
“She has four children, all girls, and she's mad over it. Around here,
when a woman's going to have a child, she generally puts in a bid at
the temple for a boy. Queer, ain't it! Well, that one has had four
girls. Every time she comes around afterwards and lays down the law.
Sometimes she brings her man, and they both lay down the law. Well,
it's lively! That one on the left,” he says, pointing to the children,
“that's Nan, proper name Ananda. She's one of their four. She's got the
nerve of a horsefly! The chunky one in the middle, his name's Sokai,
but I call him Soaker for short. His folks work in the rice fields. The
littlest one's Kishatriya, which I call him Kiyi on account of his
solemnness. Seemed to me it ought to cheer things up, to call him Kiyi.
His folks died of cholera. He keeps meditatin' all the time.
“Business,” he says. “Oh! Fu Shan—Lum Shan. Why. Yes! Saleratus!”
He seemed to have trouble getting his mind to those long-past things. I
says, “Fu Shan introduced you to his brother, didn't he?”
“Why, Fu Shan gave me a letter. You remember that? Well, as I
recollect, it turned out this way. Lum Shan, he just says, 'All light,'
and lit out. All there was to it. He left me kind of surprised. I
thought, 'There must be some poison around here,' but there wasn't. But
it don't suit him. Then I looked up the title to the temple. Old Lo
Tsin had got it recorded in the English courts in '53, when they
annexed the town, and the title appeared to be good. I investigated
some more. There were twenty yellow monks teaching school here. There's
forty now. I got 'em in. But they appeared to think Lum Shan, or me,
was a sort financial manager, that managed affairs mysterious. They
said, 'Why should the holy be troubled? All things are one.' I thought
they were pretty near right there, but I didn't see any advantage in
it. I thought it was an all-round discouragin' statement. It was the
oneness of things that was tiresome. I strolled around and thought it
over. Then I says: 'Lend me one of them robes.' 'But,' says they, 'it
is the garment of the phongyee. You are not a holy one.' 'Think not?' I
says. 'Right again. Any kind of a blanket will do.'
“They gave me a blue cotton sheet, and recommended I go and sit
three or four weeks in the pagoda, and consider that 'All things are
one.' I says, 'All right,' I squatted every day before them bronze or
wooden individuals, and remarked to each one some fifty times a day,
'All things are one,' till it seemed to me every one of 'em was
thinking that identical thing too, and every one of 'em had the same
identical and balmy smile over it. 'Take it on the whole,' I says,
'that's a singular coincidence, ain't it?' After three or four weeks I
says, 'All things are one,' and felt about it the same way as they
looked. There was no getting away from the amiableness of 'em. Then I
says: 'How's this? Is monotony a benefit? Is enterprise a mistake? Is
the Caucasian followin' up a blind trail? What's up?' I says.
“Then I went out and strolled around. A lot of yellow monks live
over the west wall, and pass the time, meditatin' on selected subjects
and teachin' school. Monks, now, are the mildest lot of old ladies out.
The institution furnishes two meals a day, and they all go into the
city mornings with begging bowls to give people a chance to acquire
merit by charity. Then they come back and give away what they've
collected to poverty that's collected at the gate. That way they
acquire merit for themselves. Economical, ain't it? Then I saw how old
Lo Tsin felt. He admired the economy of it anyway. I guess he admired
it all around. He stood pat by his own temple, and then got himself
buried there. The thing give him a soft spot on the head.
“Now, they think I'm a sort of an abbot, and folks come in from
everywhere to show me a cut finger and discuss their sinfulness, and if
Nan's mother ain't mad because the temple keeps puttin' her off with
girls, then Kiyi's got the fever and chills, or somethin' else is goin'
on. Always something to worry about. But a man can go over to the
Pagoda, and tell 'em 'All things are one,' and get three hundred
identical opinions to agree with. Cheers you up remarkable. Look at
Kiyi! Ain't he great?”
Sadler went on in this way unloading his mind of odds and ends. Down
on the slope below Nan was thumping Soaker on the back to make him mind
her. She wore a striped cloth and a string of beads for her clothes.
Laying down the law appeared to run in her family. Soaker took his
thumping in a way that I judged it was a custom between them. Little
Kiyi crept up the steps and squatted on the stone floor in front of us.
He had a big head, and arms and legs like dry reeds. He sat, solemn and
still, while Sadler was unloading his mind, and it seemed to me that
Kiyi was mysterious, same as the bronze Buddhas in the cone pagoda.
“He's got it,” says Sadler, speaking husky. “Worse'n I did.”
“Got what?” I says.
Sadler's face had grown tired, sort of heavy and worn, while he was
looking down at Kiyi. “Born with it. He got injected with the extract
of misery beforehand,” he says. “He was born wishing he wasn't. I know
what it is, but he don't know what it is, Kiyi don't. He don't know
what's the matter. First thing he saw was the cholera.”
All about the gardens there was a tinkle of bells made by the wind
blowing them, and a gong kept muttering somewhere. Kiyi rolled over on
the edge of Sadler's yellow robe, curled up, and shut his eyes, and
went to sleep. He had no clothes but a green loin cloth. His hair was
done up in a topknot. Then I looked at Sadler, and then at Kiyi, and
then I thought he was the littlest and saddest thing in Asia.
When I was about ready to sail, I took the Shway Dagohn road again,
with Stevey Todd, thinking Sadler might have messages to send. It was a
windy afternoon. The hot dust was blowing in the road. The yellow old
man sat inside the gate alone. There were no children under the trees.
He came out of his dream, and motioned to stop us, and mumbled
something about “Tha-Thana-Peing,” which was the Kid's title in that
neighbourhood. Whether it meant “His Solemn High Mightiness,” or meant
“The Man That Pays the Bills,” I didn't know. “No go, no go,” mumbles
the yellow old man.
“Ain't you keeping school to-day?” I says.
“Dead,” mumbles the yellow old man.
“Who? Not Sadler! No. Tha-Thana!”
“Kishhatriya,” he mumbles, “Kiyi,” and he fell back into his
absent-mindedness. So we went past him to the little temple behind the
gilded cone. Most of the monks were sitting around it on the grass, and
Irish, with his hair remarkable wild, among them, and against a pillar
sat Sadler, bent over Kiyi's body that was on his knees. One of the
yellow robes recited a monotonous chant. Maybe it was a funeral
service, or maybe they were going over their law and gospels for the
benefit of Sadler. He looked up, and the reciter stopped, and it was
all quiet. Sadler says:
“See here, boys, what's the use? They can't make an Oriental of me.
This ain't right, Tommy. Now, is it? No, it ain't right.” He looked old
and weighted down. He looked as old as a pyramid. “See here,” he says,
“Tommy, what's the idea of this?”
Then we backed out of that assembly. Seemed to me it was a
proposition a man might as well dodge. Only, I recollect how little
Kiyi looked like a wisp of dry hay, and Sadler uncommon large, with his
fists on the stone floor on either side, and his head hung over Kiyi,
and how the yellow men squatted and said nothing.
Maybe Sadler is studying the “Kiyi Proposition,” still, to find out
how the three hundred bronze Buddhas can give three hundred cheerful
agreements to the statement that “All things are one,” when, on the
contrary, some things have Kiyi luck and some don't. I don't know. The
rights and wrongs of this world always seemed to me pretty complicated.
There was Julius R. that was slippery and ambitious; there was Sadler
that had a worm in his soul; there was Clyde that kept one conscience
for argument, and another for the trade; there was Tommy Buckingham who
was getting older and troubled about the intentions of things. And yet
again there was folks like Kreps and Stevey Todd, say, mild and warm
people, and a bit simple, each in his way, and yet they always kept
themselves entertained somehow. “All things are one,” are they? I
couldn't see it either, no more than Sadler. For this is the Kiyi
Proposition. You says: “Here's a bad job. Who did it?” I says: “I don't
know.” You says: “Well, who pays for it?” I says: “Ain't any doubt
about that. It's Kiyi.”
It was quite a parcel of years I sailed the Pacific, ten years, or
thereabout, altogether. The time I saw Sadler behind the Green Dragons
was my last cruise there. I says to myself:
“Tommy, you ain't a 'bonny sailor boy' any more. Why don't you sail
your own ship? Haven't you got a bank in the West Indies? Why don't you
liquidate on Clyde? Why don't you quit your foolishness?” and when
Stevey Todd and I got back to San Francisco, I left Shan Brothers and
the Good Sister for good, and we came east by railroad to New
CHAPTER XI. THE VOYAGE OF THE
Monson was the man's name that I came to deal with in New Orleans.
He had a schooner named the Voodoo, a coast cruiser that never
went further to sea than the Windwards. There was another white man on
the crew, but the rest were negroes. Monson was billed already for
Martinique and Trinidad, and that was why I dealt with him, and got him
cheap for a short trip beyond Tobago.
Stevey Todd set out for the north to find some relatives he thought
he had, but found none to his mind, and concluded he was an orphan. But
he found a restaurant to his mind in South Street in New York, and
there he settled himself and waited for me to come along. It's a place
where seamen generally turn up sooner or later, and I told him I would
come there. Monson and I set sail the third of September in the year
Now, Monson was a man of great size and long yellowish hair and
beard, and shy, innocent-looking eyes. It always gave me a start to
look up six feet of legs and chest, and end in an expression of face
which seemed about to remark that the world was a strange place, and
might be wicked. The other white man and the negroes were a bad lot,
and given to viciousness, but Monson ruled them with a heavy fist. He
hadn't been three hours away from the river before he was banging a
negro with a board, the others looking on and grinning. He was spanking
him, in a way. He ran to me with tears in his eyes. “I'll throw that
nigger overboard!” he shouted, dancing about, and shortly after he
appeared to have forgotten the matter. I thought I should get along
with him, but I thought I'd have to keep cool and calm in dealing with
him. He was such a man as it seemed better to be acquainted with in a
big open space where there was room for him to explode. He was apt to
be either gay or outrageous, and that about any little thing. He was
simple and furious and very hearty, and that all made him good company.
The negroes looked murderous, and the other white man shifty and dirty,
but he was a competent seaman.
Three weeks later we passed Tobago and were looking for Clyde's
little island. We dropped anchor there one evening about eight o'clock.
The moon was high and the sea bright. It was sixteen years since I'd
seen that shore last, the night I rowed old Clyde up the inlet, and we
buried his canvas bags. It was hard won enough by the old man, that
money, with twenty years' dodging South American customs. We'd buried
it in the middle of a triangle of three trees. I remembered how black
the sea had been, and rough off shore. I remembered the black cruiser
with its pennon of smoke. The inlet had been reedy, and the water there
quiet, and the soil we dug in punky and wet.
I sat in the stern of the dingey now and let Monson row, which he
did powerfully. His forearm was like a log of wood, the muscles coming
out of it in knots. I was glad enough there was no danger to seaward,
and wished I could carry Clyde's money away in a check, instead of the
meal bags we had in the dingey.
We rowed along and came to the inlet. There was a lot of marsh grass
and deep-growing reeds, and clear water between that stretched away
inland. It made a straight line between the water reeds leading up to a
triangle of three trees. There was a little white house in the middle
of the triangle, with two lit windows.
I says: “Monson! Somebody's squatted on it!”
“What!” he says.
Somebody was singing in the house. Monson looked around from his
rowing, and found it very funny to his mind, for he laughed with a
roar, and the singing stopped short.
“Turn into the reeds!” I says, and we crouched there in the boat.
“It's just where the house is,” I says, “or it was. There wasn't any
Monson shook with laughter though he kept it quiet, and I don't know
what pleased him. It would have pleased me then to see him dead, I was
that savage for the people in the house. One spot on a mean little
island, and they'd squatted on it! Yet it was plain enough, for the
inlet led up to the three trees, which seemed to invite a man to do
there whatever he had planned to do.
“Stuff 'em up their chimney,” says Monson. “Tip the hut into the
creek. That joke's on them, ain't it?”
I didn't see how the joke was on them.
“Why, I never knew an Injy islander to dig a cellar,” he says: “They
lie on the ground and get ague. Course, they might dig a hole.”
The door of the little house was closed, when we came soft along the
muddy shore and crept up to the window. There were five men inside,
around a table, leaning forward, whispering together and drinking
aguardiente. That's what Kid Sadler on the Hebe Maitland used to
call “affectionate water.” They were small men, but fierce-looking and
black-eyed, and they appeared as if they were talking state secrets, or
each explaining his special brand of crime. Monson roared out and
struck the door with his fist, and they disappeared. Three of them went
under the table.
Monson had to bend his head to enter, and his shaggy hair pressed
along the ceiling. He pulled some by their legs from under the table,
and one from a bench in a dark corner by the hair, whom he left
suddenly, for it was a woman, and the two others he hauled from a
“Bring us some more!” he shouted in Spanish, laughing uproariously.
I don't know, or forget, how he quieted them, but pretty soon we
were seven men about the table, and the woman was serving us with
“affectionate water.” One of them, with the woman, was owner of the
house, and the others, it seemed, lived across the island. They had
heard Monson's laugh, and afterward, hearing and seeing nothing more,
they'd taken it to be ghosts and were afraid. They were fierce-looking
little men, but pleasant enough and simple-minded. “Doubtless,” they
said, “the senores were distinguished persons, who had come on a ship
and would buy tobacco.” We arranged that the four, who lived across the
island, should come back in the morning with their tobacco. So the four
went away affectionate with aguardiente, and we were left alone with
the fifth. His name was Pedronez and his wife's Lucina. Then I asked
how long they'd lived there.
“One year, six months,” he says, counting on his fingers.
“Build the house?”
“Si, senor. A noble house! A miracle!”
“Ever dig a hole here?”
“A hole! But why a hole? In the ground of the noble house! Ah, no!
By no means!”
Monson roared again, to the fright of Pedronez and Lucina, who
flattened herself against the wall. He went out and brought in the
spade, and the bags. I guarded the door, and Monson dug where I pointed
in the hard trodden earth of the floor. Pedronez and Lucina backed into
corners and chattered crazy. They seemed to think the hole was for
them, and Monson meant to bury them in it, which had as reasonable a
look as anything.
Clyde's money was there still, lying no more than two feet from
where Pedronez and Lucina had walked over it eighteen months, grubbing
out a poor living. The brown bags were all rotted away and the coin was
sticky with clay. I laid a handful on the table, and told Pedronez to
buy the tobacco of the others in the morning, but I didn't suppose he
would. It seemed a hard sort of joke played by luck on the little
Windward Islander, Clyde's money lying there so long, twenty-four
inches from the soles of his feet. I remember how Pedronez clutched his
throat and shrieked after us into the night. He had shiny black eyes
and skin wrinkled about the mouth, and Lucina was draggled-looking.
When we were out of the inlet we could hear him yelling, and I had an
idea he and Lucina took to fighting to ease up their minds.
We came under the dark of the ship's side. One of the negroes leaned
over above us, and Monson told him to turn in, so short that he
scuttled away with a grunt. We heaved the stuff aboard, and took it
below, and stowed the whole four meal bags under my bunk. We got up
sail before daybreak and slipped away while the stars were still
Now, I took Monson to be a simple man, though sudden in action, and
a man with an open mind, and sure to blow up with anything it was
charged with, and in that way safe, as not having the gifts to deceive.
I don't say the estimate was all gone wrong, but I'd say a man may act
so simple as to take in a cleverer man than me. He came to me the next
day and took me down below, acting mysterious, and he put on an
expression that was like a full moon trying to look like a horse
trader, which wasn't a success. Then he jerked his beard, and looked
“Why,” he says, “it's this way. I think I'll have half that pile,
don't you see?”
I says: “What?”
I felt like an empty meal bag with surprise. Then I says, “Of course
I was meaning to make you a present, Captain,”
“No,” he says. “That's not it. It's this way. The niggers is so
tricky, they'd drop you overboard, tied to a chunk of iron, if I told
'em they might, don't you see? And if I don't tell them they might,
seems as if I ought to have half. Because,” he says, “they'd love to do
it, because they're that way, those niggers, and it seems that way, as
if I'd ought to have half, don't it?”
“Why don't you take it all?” I says, sarcastic and mad.
“Why?” he says, looking like a full moon that was shocked. “No! That
wouldn't be fair, don't you see?”
I kept still a while, and then I thought maybe there'd be a way or
two out, and I spoke mild.
“There's some reason in it, when you put it that way.”
“That's right,” he says, and acted joyful and free. “It's that way;"
and he went above, and I heard him banging the negroes, likely for the
wickedness they were capable of. I sat on my bunk and wondered why a
man like me was always having trouble.
Then I took a lantern and went exploring down in the hold of the
ship, which was pretty much empty of cargo, and foul, and smelt as if
things had rotted there a hundred years. There were barrels and boxes
and old canvas, and heaps of scrap iron, and some lead pipe, and coils
of bad rope. Afterward I came on deck, and had supper and talked with
Monson. He kept nudging me now and then, and saying, “It's that way;"
and me answering, “There's reason in it, when it's put that way.”
About nine o'clock I went below. By ten Monson and all the negroes
were asleep, except two with the other white man on watch. I waited an
hour, and then took a saw and a lantern, and crept from the cabin down
the ladder to the hold. The sea was easy, though moving some, and
slapping the ship's sides and the hold was full of loud echoes,
smelling bad, and very black beyond the space of lantern light, a slimy
cold place, and full of sudden noises. I worked till far in the
morning, sawing lead pipe into thin sections of maybe an eighth of an
inch thick, and thinking about Monson and whether he was deep or not. I
thought he was right about the negroes, but I thought Monson wasn't
deep, but simple by nature. It was the same as when one small boy says
to another, “You give me your jackknife and I won't tell anybody to
lick you.” That gives him a sense of good morals that's comfortable
I carried up maybe thirty pounds of lead pipe in eighth-inch
sections, and emptied out two of the bags, and shovelled in the lead
pipe. I put in enough sticky coin on top to cover it well, and the rest
I put some in the other two bags, but most in a leather satchel under
some clothes. Then I tied up the bags and shoved them under the bunk,
with the lead pipe ones in front. Eighth inch sections of lead pipe
aren't so different from gold coin, so long as they're in a meal bag
with the proper deceptiveness on top. Then I turned in and went to
In the morning I went to Monson and said, as glum as I could, that I
guessed he'd do as he liked, and as to the negroes dropping me
overboard he was probably right. Then he acted shy and timid. He
followed me back to my cabin, and stood around like he was part ashamed
and part confused, kicking his heels together nervous, and smoothing
“Why,” he said, “you see, it's this way. I think I'll take 'em now.”
Then he fished out the two front bags, opened them, squinted in,
tied them up, and walked off. I sort of gaped after him, and sat down
on my bunk, and wondered why a man like me should have that kind of
trouble, and how soon Monson would take to fooling with his bags, and
find out he owned so much lead pipe. But I heard him banging one of the
negroes, and judged he was cheerful yet. I went up on deck and lay down
on some cordage. Monson left the deck soon after.
I'd calculated on the bags staying under my bunk till we came to New
Orleans, thinking to pass off the two that were doctored on Monson in a
hurry, and then to get out of reach hot-footed. I calculated now that,
as soon as he found his bags had been doctored, he'd mention it candid
and loud, and meanwhile I might as well get my gun in working shape for
trouble. Maybe I might make a bargain with the shifty-looking white
man, and organize an argument as to which should be dropped overboard,
Monson or me. But I hadn't got to the point, when Monson came lounging
up the gangway, still acting apologetic. I judged maybe he'd stowed
away his bags without digging into them. I says:
“Let bygones be, Captain,” and he says, “That's right! It's that
It was a remarkable thing how friendly and kind we got, hoping there
was no hard feeling.
That day the wind rose to a gale and the sea went wild. It kept
Monson on deck night and day for four days. It kept us in a boiling
pot, and on the fifth we entered the mouth of the Mississippi. Then
Monson went down to sleep, and he hadn't waked when we anchored off the
levee at New Orleans, which was six o'clock in the evening. By eight I
was on a train going north, with a new trunk in the baggage car.
I've never happened to see Monson since. I guess he was contented.
When I opened the bags, one of them was mainly full of eighth-inch
sections of lead pipe.
Maybe he'd heard me go down to the hold in the first place, but
probably he found first his lead pipe at the time he left me on the
deck, and then he'd changed things a bit more to his ideas of what was
right, bearing in mind the natural wickedness of the negroes. He didn't
appear to have noticed that some of the stuff was stowed in my leather
satchel, but he got nearly a third of Clyde's savings.
I came to New York and I walked along South Street, thinking of the
day, twenty years back, when I first walked along South Street, cocky
and green. Then I came toward the slip where the Hebe Maitland
had lain that day, and where I'd looked at her and said, “Now, there's
a ship.” I thought of Clyde and that odd talk in the cabin of the
Hebe Maitland, where all my deep-sea goings began. And I looked up
and I says, “Now, there's a ship!”
The prow of her came up to the sidewalk, and the bowsprit stretched
over the street, pointing at a house on the other side that was a
restaurant by its sign. The Annalee was the ship's name in gilt
lettering, and the clean lines of her and her way of lying in the water
would give you joy. I walked alongside her on the dock, and I went
across the street to look at her that way, and stood in front of the
restaurant. And there I sniffed around a bit, and there I smelt hot
waffles. “It's a tasty smell,” I says. “Smells like Stevey Todd,” and I
went into the restaurant, and there was Stevey Todd. “Stevey,” I says,
“if you'll give me some hot waffles and honey, I'll buy that ship out
there if she's buyable.” And Stevey Todd gave me hot waffles and honey,
and I bought the Annalee.
It might be thought, and some would say so, that the trouble I had
with Monson came of Clyde's money being unclean, as not got honestly,
but through dodging South American customs, and I'm free to admit it
was sticky when I dug it up. But it's never acted other than
respectable since that time. I never agreed with Clyde in argument,
more than did Stevey Todd. A man falls in with various folks by sea and
land, and he finds many that are made up of ill-fitting parts. Clyde
was an odd man and a bold one, though old and dry. Monson I took for a
loud and joyful one, simple and open in his mind, and violent in his
habits and free of language, and yet he acted to me both secret and
moderate, and I guess I mistook him.
Stevey Todd and I went to sea again in the coasting trade, and
mainly to the south, and saw the coasts and parts we knew in the
Hebe Maitland days. So I passed several years more.
CHAPTER XII. THE FLANNAGAN AND
IMPERIAL—CONTINUING THE NARRATIVE.
I was taking a cargo of machinery and carts one time to the city of
Tampico in Mexico, and from there I was to go for return cargo to a
little republic to the south that we'll call Guadaloupe, whose capital
city we'll call Rosalia. The real names of them sounded that way, soft
and sleepy, and warm and sweet, like hot waffles and honey. According
to reputation it was a place where revolutions were billed for Mondays,
Wednesdays, and Fridays, and the other days left for siestas and
argument. They were fixed that way in respect to entertainment.
But there came to me in Tampico a man named Flannagan, who said he
was manager of “The Flannagan and Imperial Itinerant Exhibition,” a
company composed of three Japanese performers, a tin-type man from New
England, and a trick dog who was thoughtful and spotted. Flannagan said
he wanted to go far, far from Tampico, because, he says, “Thim Tampican
peons ain't seen tin cints apiece since they sold their souls,” he
says, “at that price,” he says, “to the divil that presides over
loafers.” I told him I was going to Rosalia in Guadaloupe which had a
local system of entertainment already, and he says, “Guadaloupe!” he
says, “Rosalia! D'ye moind thim names! It's like sthrokin' a cat”; and
the company came aboard at five dollars a head, three polite Japanese
tumblers and rope-walkers, the thoughtful dog, whose name was David,
and the tin-type man, who was cynical He'd gone into tin-typing,
Flannagan said, so as to express contempt and satire for his
“But,” says Flannagan, “it do be curious how thim Dagoes in this
distimpered climate rejoice to see thimsilves wid a villyanous
exprission an' pathriotic attichude in a two be four photygraph.”
We sailed away down the Gulf, through the Strait of Honduras and
into the Caribbean Sea, with quiet weather, so that the Japanese could
rope-walk in the rigging and tumble peaceable about the deck. The only
trouble was the feeling created by the vicious photographs the
tin-typer took of the crew. David used to sit quiet mostly, and look
over the sea, and scratch his spots, for some of them were put on.
Flannagan was a fiery-eyed and easy-spoken man, who had picked up
the tumblers in California and the tin-type man somewhere on the
plains. But David was a friend of his of years' standing, and he was a
dog I should call naturally gifted, and with that of a friendly nature,
sober, decent, middle-aged, comfortable, and one who took things as
they came. But Flannagan had hair that was wild and red, and his
complexion was similar. He was large and bony. His voice was windy, his
manner oratorical, and his nature sudden. The Japanese spoke little
English and couldn't be told apart, but as to that there was no need of
it. They were skilful, small, and dark, with rubber bones and extra
joints, and they could smile from a hundred and thirteen classified and
labelled attitudes. We came one afternoon into the harbour of Rosalia.
Speaking of Rosalia, it's a green and pink and white town, in a
valley that opens on the sea, with mountains behind it. It's a prettier
town than Portate. In the centre is the little square or plaza, filled
with palms and roses and bushes. There's a lamp-post near the middle
and the ruins of a stone fountain. Around three sides of the plaza are
shops, where you can buy your hands' full of bread and fruit for a cent
or two; and casinos or saloons where they play monte and fight
gamecocks; and a hotel, with men asleep on the steps of it. On the
fourth side is the Palazio del Libertad, which they commonly call it La
Libertad. It contains the government and the families of most of it.
There are the offices and residences of the President and the
departmental ministers, the legislative chambers, courtrooms, soldiers'
barracks, and other things. It's the pride of Guadaloupe and the record
of its revolutions. It's been sixty years in building, and each new
government adds something to remember it by. It has white stucco
fronts, and towers, doors, inner courts, and roofs. If you are looking
for a department, you walk along the fronts till you see a
likely-looking sign that seems to refer in figures of speech to that
department. Then you go in. But when the government changes by
revolution—or by election, which sometimes happens, when no one is
looking—why, then the departments shift around in La Libertad to suit
themselves better, and they're apt to leave their signs behind them.
Besides that, each new minister will decorate himself and his
department with names to fit his ideas of beauty and usefulness, and
he'll proclaim these in the official gazette for the intention of his
department. The Guadaloupeans argue the competence of a minister
according as he has a department with titles that sweep the horizon and
claim kin with the Antipodes and the Resurrection. Only it seemed to me
that these things tended in time to make the figures of speech on the
signs sort of far-fetched.
It was that way that Flannagan and I, with David, the tin-type man
and the tumblers, fell on the “Department of Military and Internal
Peace,” when we were looking for permits to ship cargoes and deliver
Japanese performances, under the sign “Office of Discretionary
Regulations.” That may have been all right enough, for most of the
departments were that accommodating they would do any agreeable
business that came their way; but it appeared to me, the revolutions
left the government too full of idioms.
There we waited till Flannagan became fierce with the heat and the
impatience of him.
“Discretionary!” he says, striding around with his nostrils full of
wrath, and banging at doors. “Would they be boilin' us the night wid
the discreetness of 'em?”
With that there was an opening of a door, and there waddled in a
little fat mestizo, both shorter and fatter than seemed right or
natural. He wore red and yellow livery and shining buttons, and we
thought he was likely the official butler or door boy. He seemed to
have eaten too much, as a rule, and looked sleepy and in a bad temper.
“Boy” says Flannagan, striding up to him, “where's the misbegotten
and corrupt official of Disthressionary Regularities? Do we wait here
till the explosion of doom? Spheak, ye lump of butther!” he says. “Or
do we not?”
“Carambos!” says the extraordinary clothes, backing off and speaking
snappish. “If you don't like it, get out!”
“Carambos, is it?” says Flannagan, enraged and grabbing him by the
collar. “Impidence!” he says, “an' ye talk so to the Manager of the
Flannagan and Imparial!”
With that he gets him also by his new trousers and heaves him into
the corridor, where was a handsome half-caste Spanish woman, more
Spanish than Indian, who looked dignified and happy in a purple dress.
She fell against the wall to avoid him, and appeared surprised. He
scrambled up. Then he clutched his hair, and waddled down the corridor,
shrieking, and the purple dress began to gobble with her laughter.
“Why,” she says, in a mellow voice—“Ho! ho! haw! haw! Why does the
distinguished senor cast the Minister of Military and Internal Peace
thus upon his digesting, immediately his too great meal thereafter?”
“Hivins!” says Flannagan.
“Now he will say the internal peace is disturbed, meaning his
digestion, and bring the military, to the end that the distinguished
senors shall be placed in the dungeons of La Libertad, which,” she says
kindly, “beyond expectation are wet, and the senors will probably
decay. He is my husband—Ho, ho! haw, haw!” she says. “He is a pig”
Flannagan was speechless for a moment. The tin-type man pointed his
camera at the purple dress, and was going to take a misanthropic
photograph, and David went and stood on his head before her, so that
she laughed harder: “Ho! ho! haw! haw!” and spread out her hands, which
had two rings to a finger, and the mixed stones of her necklace clicked
together with her laughter.
“Put up yer camery, typist” says Flannagan, getting hold of his
diplomacy. “None of your contimptimous photographs of the lady. Sure,”
he says, “it's wid great discomposure I'm taken to be treatin' so the
iligint buttons an' canned-tomato clothes enclosin',” he says, “the
milithary an' internal digestion of the husband of yourself,” he says,
“as foine a lady, an' that educated, as me eyes iver beheld. 'Tis me
impulses,” he says, “'tis me warm an' hearty nature. But your ladyship
won't be allowin' a triflin' incident to interfere wid enjoyin' the
exhibition by me Japanese frinds of the mystherious art of ancient
Asia, an' me that proud of your ladyship's approvin'!”
“What can they do?” she says, looking interested, while the three
Japanese bowed in a limber manner, and smiled thin and mystical Asiatic
“Oh, hivins!” said Flannagan. “Oh, that I might see thim again for
the first time, in the bloom of me innocence of marvels! For a thousand
years by the imerald seas of the Orient,” he says,—and then one of
them bent backward, and brought his head up between his legs, and
smiled; and the purple dress fell against the wall with pleasure and
“Come after me,” she says, opening a door in the corridor,
“heretofore the arrival of my pig husband.”
We went up twisting staircases that appeared unaccountable and
weren't counted. We saw furnished rooms through open doors, and at last
we came to a large room, high up under a tower, and looking out over
the Plaza, and in another direction over the roofs of La Libertad. It
seemed to be unused, and was darkened with shutters, and littered with
the miscellaneous and upset furniture of past administrations.
The Minister of Military and Internal Peace was named “Georgio
Bill,” from which a man might argue the origins of his family. The
purple dress was called “Madame Bill,” because French titles were
popular with the official ladies. She left us there in a stately
manner, and then fell down the stairs through mixing her feet. She was
dignified and cheerful, but she had large feet.
Through the shutters we saw the Plaza beginning to stir with the
evening crowds. A few blocks over the flat roofs of houses, we saw the
harbour, and the Annalee floating at anchor.
When Madame Bill came back she brought with her two negresses with
baskets, who straightened the furniture and laid the table. The
shutters were closed, and a lamp or two lit, and we dined sumptuous to
the elegant dialogue of Flannagan and Madame Bill. “For a thousand
years,” says Flannagan, “by the imerald seas of the Orient”; and the
Japanese did moderate after-dinner tumbling, with mild but curious
bow-knots. David marched and saluted, and after that he climbed into
his chair, and got his pipe, which Flannagan lit for him; he got it
fixed between his teeth, laid his head on his paws, pulled a few puffs,
and went to sleep. He was a calm one, David, as I said, and ingenious,
and experienced. Madame Bill lit her cheroot thoughtful, and there was
“The Senor Bill,” she says, “is at the present pursuing the
foreigners throughout Rosalia and La Libertad with a portion of the
Guadaloupean army. It was not wise to cast the Minister of Military and
Internal Peace so upon his digestion, which is to him important. But
without doubt you are distinguished and experienced, especially the
Senor David. They will not look for you perhaps here, which is over my
apartments, but will attack, it may be, the ship of your coming here,
and in that way be imbecile and foolish.”
“Hivins!” says Flannagan. “But I'm thinkin', wid great admiration
for yourself, ma'am, I'm thinkin' this country wid its interestin'
people in pajamies, its scenery resemblin'a lobster salad, an'
government illuminated by figures of spache an' inspired wid
seltzer-wather—I'm thinkin' it would make its fortune, sure, by
exhibition of itself in the capitals of the worrld, ma'am. Not
Barnum's, nor the Flannagan an' Imparial, would compare with it. An'
'tis thrue, ma'am, as a showman in the profession, I couldn't be
exprissin' betther me wondher an' admiration.”
Then the tin-type man put in, and he sneered some: “I ain't much on
admiration and wonder.”
“You're not, typist,” says Flannagan. “'Tis curdled like he is,
ma'am, wid inveterate scorn, the poor man!”
“The human bein' is vicious from original sin,” says the tin-type
man. “It comes out in the camery,” he says. “You can't fool the camery.
It tells ye the Bible truth,” he says. “Nor I ain't expectin' anything
from a broiled and frizzled country like this, where the continent's
shaved down so narrow you could take a photograph of two oceans. And
yet it's as good as anywhere else. I takes tin-types and says nothing.”
“Santa Maria!” says Madame Bill.
And Flannagan says proudly: “'Tis as I told ye, ma'am. There's not
such an other to be seen for extinsive scornful-fulness.”
“Speaking of the ship, ma'am,” I says, “I guess it's all right.
Ain't you afraid your husband will get internationally complicated?”
She gestured and grinned.
“Afraid! I! My Georgio! Neither for him nor of him. Moreover, I
think,”—pausing with her cheroot in the air—“that he has heard from
below, and is now outside the door. He pants. He has climbed the stairs
in haste, the little pig. Ho, ho! haw, haw!”
At that the Minister of Military and Internal Peace burst in, with
the sweat of his fatness on his face, his teeth sticking out, and his
features expressing intentions.
“You do, you Madame,” he says, “you woman! You hide them, my
“You would do best,” she says to Flannagan, “without doubt, now to
enclose and suppress him, my Georgio.”
“I go! I return!” he says, stamping his feet.
“Nayther,” says Flannagan, enclosing his collar with one hand, and
suppressing his features with the other. “Ye sits in the chair, me
little man. Ye smokes a cigar in genteel conviviality afther coolin'
down to be recognised by a thermometer—an' ye listens to the advice of
your beaucheous an' accomplished lady,” he says, “that has in moind a
bit of domestic discipline.”
He dropped him in a chair facing Madame Bill. David, in the next
chair, woke up, and appeared to say to himself, “They're doing
something else,” and went to sleep again. The tin-type man sat by the
window and looked through the shutters at the Plaza. They were making a
noise on the Plaza. Now and then a military let off his gun, and the
people shouted as if they wanted him to do it again. The Japanese bowed
to Bill across the table, and smiled mystical.
“By the tomb of my mother, you shall pay!” gurgled Bill.
“Come off!” says Flannagan kindly. “She hadn't any tomb, an' ye
disremember who she was.”
“Why,” says Madame Bill, “the Senor Flannagan on that point speaks
nearly the truth.”
“A-r-r-r! I'll have your blood!” says the Minister.
“An' me givin' ye the soft word,” says Flannagan, “an' apologies for
takin' ye for a decorated rubber ball, an' bouncin' ye on the floor!
'Twas wrong of me. Sure, now, Misther Bill, an' is there more needed
between gentlemen?” He looked for help to Madame Bill, who gazed at the
smoke of her cheroot and seemed absent-minded.
“Listen, my Georgio,” she began at last, “I have considered, and I
say you have done foolishly to scatter the soldiers about the city to
hurry and to inquire, so that the people become excited. Hear in the
Plaza already how they cry out like children, and each one is angry at
a different thing.”
The Minister started, and listened, and wiped his wet forehead with
his sleeve. The roar in the Plaza was increasing. He sprang to his
feet, and puffed, and he says:
“The military is scattered! It is a mob! I must go! Attend me, my
But Flannagan enclosed his collar. “Respict for me own intherests,”
he says, “is me proudest virtue. Would ye have me missin' the sight of
a rivolution from a private box, an' the shpectacle of explodin'
liberty? An' ye'll be havin' me blood to-morry by the tomb of your
mother? Ah, now!”
“Let me go!” he says, shrieking and struggling. “I accept your
apology! Say no more!”
Flannagan looked at Madame Bill. The crowd was shouting more in
unison now. They says, “Vivo Alvarez!” and “Bill al fuego!” which the
latter means, as you or I might say, “To hell with Bill!” The Minister
shivered and struggled, but more moderate.
“The military will be confused, will do nothing without order!” he
pleaded to Madame Bill.
“The military,” says the tin-type man, from the shutters, speaking
through his nose, soft and scornful, “they appear to feel tolerable
good. There's a batch of 'em on the steps under here, a-sittin' in
their sins, and shoutin' 'Down with Bill!' very hearty like.”
“Mutiny!” howled the Minister. “Alas!” and he sat down, wiped his
forehead with his sleeve, and panted, and appeared more composed.
Flannagan sat down, too. “I do be feelin' warm the same,” he says.
“Shall we have a drink?”
Madame Bill was still turning things over in her mind. “Doubtless
they so shout,” she says. “They are not without sense. Listen again, my
Georgio. I have considered. It is perhaps not bad. Moreover, it is
done. But the Department of the Military is not good for you. It
worries you, therefore you disturb it, therefore it does not like you.
Also, we have lost popularity in Rosalia. But in the interior, as yet,
no. Therefore, consider. Senor Alvarez is perhaps generous. If he
overthrow the government, he will desire there come an election, and
who knows? We may for him go to the interior, and in reward be Minister
of Agriculture, which is cooler. But if he overthrow not the
government, but by compromise become Minister of Military and Internal
Peace, then my Georgio will be in innocence a victim, and perhaps will
have to hide, which is hot and dull, or go to the dungeons of La
Libertad, which is dull and wet; or we would escape from the country in
the distinguished ship of the Senor Buckingham, or in the Imperial
Company of Senor Flannagan, which would be better.”
“An' it's proud I'd be to have ye,” says Flannagan, “as I said,
ma'am, in the capitals of the world. Hivins!” he says, “the tropical
advertisements! By the mimory of Ireland, 'tis a filibuster expedition
I foresee! Me genius is long suppressed.”
Madame Bill shrugged her shoulders. “Who knows? Therefore be calm,
little one. We will see what they do in the Plaza.”
The fallen or falling Minister emptied a glass of iced wine, and
looked more contented than before. He was a pleasant enough man as a
rule, except when not digesting well, and generally submissive to
Madame Bill. We put out the lights and opened the shutters, and all
looked out on the Plaza except David, who woke up, and taking things
in, appeared to say to himself, “They're doing something else,” and
went to sleep again.
The Plaza was a boiling mess, but the military were enjoying
themselves in good order. They were collected on the steps of La
Libertad below, about five hundred of them. They seemed to be leading
the cheering. The hotel across the Plaza was lit up and the windows
full of heads.
Then a hush fell everywhere, and the faces were turned toward the
portico, with the six great pillars and lamps on each, that formed the
centre of the Plaza front of La Libertad. Two men stood on the top
step, one in a sombrero, and the other in black coat and tall hat. The
tall hat, by his gestures, was addressing the crowd, but we couldn't
“The President and Alvarez,” says Madame Bill, very calm. “They
compromise. My Georgio will be hot and dull.”
The crowd cried “Vivo” everything except Bill. They wanted him “al
fuego” just the same, which, as you might say, means something like:
“Oh, take him away. Put him somewhere and boil him!” They seemed
distressed with him that way, and I took it Madame Bill was right that
he'd been too lively with his military, and it was up with him. A band
began to play by the hotel.
“My wife is ever right,” says Bill, and began feeling toward the
table for the iced wine. “Carambos! It is not with Madame Bill to be
discouraged. No! Bueno! All right, my wife. What did you say?”
Madame Bill said we'd leave him there, which we did, after closing
the shutters. We left him drinking iced wine, eating mangoes, blowing
smoke, and looking like a porpoise in respect to complexion, but
shorter and fatter than a porpoise, and remarkable youthful.
It came on the Monday following and my cargo was shipped. There was
a platform put up on the Plaza, and I heard Flannagan making a speech
there, in which the feeling was eloquent, and the languages as they
came along. The tin-type man, under the platform, was taking tin-types
to make a man remember how he was depraved. David's spots were running
with the heat, but he scratched them and made no trouble. The Japanese
sat on their heels and smiled.
“For a thousand years,” says Flannagan, “by the imerald seas of the
Orient, have the ancesthors of me frinds on me right developed the
soopleness of limb an' the art that is becalled by the Mahatmas an'
thim Boodhists 'the art of the symbolical attichude,' as discovered and
practised in the Injian Ocean's coral isles, which by the same they do
expriss their feelin's till ye get a mysthical pain in your stomick wid
lookin' at 'em. 'Twas so done,” he says, “by the imerald seas of the
That evening they came secretly aboard, Flannagan and the Company,
and with them Bill and Madame Bill. We weighed anchor the next morning,
and got away. The Bill family became an addition and a credit to the
Flannagan and Imperial, as it turned out.
CHAPTER XIII. FLANNAGAN AND STEVEY
TODD—CAPTAIN BUCKINGHAM RETURNS TO GREENOUGH— THE NARRATIVE
The Flannagan and Imperial was the last cargo I carried, but I
carried it near five years. It was what you might call a continuous
cargo; the Annalee was in partnership with it; that is,
Flannagan and I went into partnership together. Madame Bill's influence
appeared to act expansive on Flannagan's ideas, and they expanded the
Company. She was an uncommon woman, with a pushing mind, and exhibited
as “The Princess Popocatapetl, Lineal Descendant of Montezuma and Queen
of the Caribbeans.” Flannagan engaged Bill to exhibit as “The Fat Boy,”
and he was very successful in this way, weighing two hundred, and in
height four feet eight inches, though thirty to forty years old. His
face was round and smooth as an apple, and he wore a little jacket and
sailor hat, and carried a piece of gingerbread in general, when on
exhibition; and in that way he looked as young as might be needed, and
satisfactory to every one. Flannagan used to rent the advertising space
on Bill's legs, for “Infants' Foods” and “Patent Medicines for
Dyspepsia,” which was popular and profitable. But I was saying Madame
Bill was a handsome woman, and valuable, and Flannagan himself hadn't a
better eye for giving the public sensations. She expanded his ideas.
Yet Flannagan had a knack. He was grand at speech-making, and sudden
and spectacular by nature.
He shipped with me then from Rosalia to the different ports I was
billed for that voyage, picking up more additions to the Company, till
it was a large company. I was free to admit he made good profits out of
the seaport cities between South America and Charleston; so at
Charleston, when he offered me a partnership, I felt agreeable, and
took it, on this agreement; I to put in the use and management of the
Annalee, and he to put in “The Flannagan and Imperial;” I to run
the ship and he to run the show. The profits should be divided
half-yearly, after paying expenses of ship and show.
We ran under this agreement several years, and exhibited all the way
from Boston to Rio, according to the season, and sometimes went inland
up navigable rivers, such as to Albany and Philadelphia. We summered
northward and wintered southward, and did better than most shows on
transportation expenses, besides having an open season through the
year. Prosperity kept us together until after Bill died, which came
from his being too ambitious, and proud of his line in the profession,
and having his heart set on two hundred and fifty pounds. Stevey Todd,
here, he got too interested in helping Bill along in his career, and
fattening him up to a high standard. But Bill's digestion was never
good. He died rather young.
Stevey Todd has cooked for me so long, that it's got to the point
that other victuals than Stevey Todd's seem unfriendly strangers,
likely to be hostile. I claim that, as a cook, Stevey's a bold and
skilful one, and enterprising. But outside the galley he's a backward
man and caution's his motto, and in argument he's, as you might say, a
gradual man. His nature, as differing there from Flannagan's, might be
seen in this way. For when Bill was dead, Flannagan and Stevey Todd
each wanted to marry Madame Bill, and their notions of it were as
different as sharks are different from mud-turtles, Flannagan's notion
mainly resembling a shark's, as follows. He says:
“Popo,” he says, pretty quick, “Bill's off. Here's to him, an' may
his ghost weigh two hundred and fifty. I'm on,” he says. “Whin shall it
Then a madder woman than Madame Bill was seldom seen, for she threw
Montezuma's crown at Flannagan, and chased him under the tent ropes
with the gilt-headed and feather-tufted spear of the Queen of the
Caribbeans, which ruined an eighteen-dollar crown and stuck Flannagan
vicious in the shoulder-blade with the spear.
Whereas Stevey Todd bided a while, as a cautious man would do, until
some decent time had gone by; and then he gets me, as a friend, in
ambush inside the cabin window for precaution and testimony, and plants
the scornful typist at a distance to take photographs that might be
useful, and then he brings Madame Bill to the window.
“Now,” he says to her, “supposing there was a man that we'll call
middle-aged, and that might be a cook maybe by profession, for it
wouldn't do no harm if we took it he had leanings that way, and if you
said he was as good a one as ever stepped into a galley, I wouldn't go
so far as to say so myself, nor yet deny it, for Bill had that opinion
himself, and he was a man of good judgment on things that had to do
with his line, though when his feelings moved him he was apt to put it
warm, nor I ain't denying that when his digestion was otherwise, his
remarks was sometimes contrary. Now, supposing there was a lady, whose
merits I wouldn't nowise try to state, but if you was to say her
talents was good, and her weight a hundred and forty, I wouldn't say
you was wrong, which I've heard it put that as a Lineal Descendant she
was worth climbing the volcano to see, which supposing she complimented
it by borrowing that name, it's no harm if she did. Now, supposing
those parties was talking of this thing and that, as anybody might do,
and, say, they got to talking of the show business maybe, or, say, they
happened to mention such a thing as matrimony, now,” says Stevey Todd,
“what would be your idea of that last as a subject of conversation
between those parties?”
Madame Bill didn't answer the question, though it seemed to me put
delicate, but she burst into melodious laughter, and ran away, and the
tin-type man, whose natural expression was dislike of his fellow man,
he looked disgusted more'n you'd believe, and went away too. Then
Stevey Todd put his head through the window, and he says:
“Now, supposing a party acted in such or such a way to one party,
which acted another way to another party, what would you say might
happen to be her meaning?”
I gave my opinion candid, and truthful. I said, as to Madame Bill, I
judged something or other pleased her, and by her behaviour to
Flannagan it looked as if there was something then which she hadn't
liked, though what it might be in either case was more than I could
say, but speaking generally it looked hopeful for Stevey Todd, and I
stated that same opinion. Stevey Todd went back to the galley, and it
seemed to me the difference between his nature and Flannagan's was
something to wonder at and admire, and when I saw Flannagan he seemed
to have the same opinion with me, for he says:
“Powers an' fryin' pans! Thot cook!” he says. “Thot galley shlave!
Thot boiled pertaty widout salt! Shall a barrel of flour put me in the
soup? Tell me thot!”
At the time we were exhibiting in the larger towns about Long Island
Sound, where it happened we'd never exhibited before, dropping into
harbours and setting up the big tent on any bit of land convenient to
the pier. We stayed a long or short time, according to patronage.
Whether it was that Flannagan was too busy, or angry at Madame Bill
for her actions, and didn't know if he wanted a wife with a spear, or
one that was reckless with her headgear, I couldn't have said at that
time; but he surely said no more to Madame Bill that I knew of, whereas
Stevey Todd kept arguing with her all over the ship, and mainly under
the cabin window. Sometimes he'd trim his sails close in to the subject
of matrimony, and sometimes he'd be sailing so far off the quarter that
I couldn't but call out to him through the window and tell him, “Hard a
lee there, Stevey! You'll never fetch it that tack;” when he'd shift
his helm, feeling the edge of the breeze with as neat a piece of
seamanship as a man could ask, and come up dead into the wind, his
sails dropping back stiff on his yardarms, and the subject of matrimony
speared on the end of his bowsprit; then Madame Bill would get up, and
run away laughing. She seemed to enjoy those arguments, and I judged
Stevey Todd would fetch port maybe in course of time. Meanwhile I sat
smoking peaceful at my cabin window, and watched the shore slipping by,
that I knew so well of old. By-and-by I saw Telford Point, and then the
Musquoit River mouth by Adrian. Stevey Todd sat under the window
putting fine edges on his arguments. And I says:
“Stevey,” I says, “I was born and bred on this coast,” but Stevey
Todd was that taken up with his points of argument to Madame Bill that
he didn't have any interest in my beginnings, and I went off to find
“Flannagan,” I says, “I got a sentiment.”
“Sintimint, is it!” he says. “Come off! Ye salted codfish! If I
ain't got tin to your one, I'm another,” he says.
It made me mad to hear him talk that way, and I set him down on the
starboard anchor and I argued it. I told him of the little town of
Greenough, and then I told him of Madge Pemberton, that afterwards was
Madge McCulloch, and how the old shore village lay, its street and
white houses and its church with the gilded cupola, till Flannagan got
interested. And there we talked a long time.
“Why, ye are salted, Tom,” he says, “but I'm not just sayin' ye're
canned. We ain't due in New London till Thursday, an' it's on me moind
we'll exhibit a bit in this town of Greenough.”
That afternoon, then, we hauled into the harbour, by where the
fishing boats lay, and moored the Annalee to the old stone pier.
Flannagan saw the tent, platform, and benches put up, and in the early
evening he went inland to the village and didn't come back for some
It was a moonlight night, and the show people were still getting
ready for the next day. I was at the deck-cabin window, smoking an
evening pipe, looking at the tent that stood on the sandy piece of land
beyond the pier. I could see the trees of the village, and the church
spire against the sky, and I thought of the way I'd meant to come back
to Greenough, when I left it to go “romping and roaming,” as Sadler had
said, and how now I was come home with grey hairs.
There was the hill between Newport Street and the harbour, and far
along to the west I could see where Pemberton's stood, and see what
might be its lights.
Pretty soon I heard David, the trick dog, barking, and I looked out,
and saw Stevey Todd and Madame Bill coming along in the wake of David,
and I judged that Stevey Todd was meaning to put in an odd moment or
two arguing, and that Madame Bill was going to be joyous about it.
David appeared to be feeling tolerable cheerful, as if saying to
himself, “They're going to do something now, sure.” They sat down by
the window, and Madame Bill was speaking:
“Stevey Todd,” she says, “I think it would not be such advantage,
not at all. Because it is not good to my looks that I become two
hundred pounds like my Bill, and if now I have a husband who cook so
delicious, so perfect, as you, and who make me laugh between meals
without rest and without pity, as you, which gives the appetite
enormous, so that I have gained five pounds since I weigh before, and
by this am alarmed, disconsolate, helas! what do I do? Am I elephants
in this show? But how? I observe you do not ask that I marry you, but
you say, 'It is a good time to talk here or there, about this or that
—eh? Well, perhaps about matrimony.” Haw! haw! ho! ho! But how so? If
you do not say, 'Will you?' how can I say 'No'?”
“Taking that argument so stated,” says Stevey Todd, “it might be
called a tidy argument and no harm done, or you might say there was two
arguments in it. Now, taking the first one, a man might make this point
as bearing on it: for you take the tin-typist, who's a good eater and a
well-fleshed man, and yet he's a gloomy man, as you might say, not
putting it too strong; and on the other hand here's David, who's what
you'd call a joking dog, and as an eater without an equal of his size,
though an elderly dog, and yet he's a thin dog, as his business in the
show makes needful for him. Which, I says, might be put up as an
argument by such as wanted to use it, if any one was speaking contrary
to cooks as being dangerous to parties in the show business, on account
of interests not being along the line of weight, nor yet advertising
space on legs which they're able to furnish. Now, taking the second
argument, I wouldn't deny you might be right, and there's the point.
For not to speak of giving no cause for crowns throwed around
expensive, or spears stuck into parties disrespectful to memory of
deceased, I says, here's the point. For if you can't say 'No,' till I
say 'Will you?' it follows you can't do it till I say those words.”
“I can too!” says Madame Bill.
“No, ye can't! No, ye can't!” says Stevey Todd.
Madame Bill began to laugh, and Flannagan, who was coming over the
ship's side, he stopped at hearing her, and slid across the deck behind
the companion. Then Madame Bill went below, ha-ha-ing melodious, and
Flannagan called in a loud whisper over the roof:
“Hoi! Stevey Todd! Are ye done wid it?”
“She ain't said no,” says Stevey Todd. “She ain't said no.”
It came afternoon of the next day, and the show was opened, and the
people came flocking in. Near by the tent door was Stevey Todd's
“Cocoanut Cake, Hot Waffle and Fizz Table.” On the platform the company
sat in a half-circle, ready for Flannagan's opening speech to explain
the qualities and talents of each. It was a show to be proud of, and in
point of colour resembling solar spectrums, or peacocks' tails. Madame
Bill had charge of costumes, and her tastes were what you might call
exhilarated. Flannagan began:
“Ladies and gintlemen,” he says. “The pleasure I take in
inthroducin' 'The Flannagan an' Imparial Itinerant Exhibition,' to this
intelligent aujunce, has niver been equalled in me mimory.
“I see before me,” he says, “a ripresentative array of this grreat
counthry's agricultural pursuits, to say nothin' of thim that fish. I
see before me numerous handsome an' imposin' mathrons, to say nothin'
of foine washed babies. I see before me many a rosy girrl a-chewin'
cocoanut candy that ain't so swate as herself, an' many a boy wid his
pockets full of paynuts an' his head full of divelthries.
“Is it the prisence of such an aujunce which gives me the pleasure
unequalled in me mimory? No!
“Ye see before ye 'The Flannagan an' Imparial Itinerant
Exhibition,'“ he says. “Yonder is the three Japanese tumblers from the
private company of the Meekado, trained to expriss by motion an'
mysthical attichude, the eternal principles of poethry as understood by
Orientals, Hinjoos, an' thim Chinaysers: forninst the same, the
beaucheous Princess Popocatapetl, whose royal ancesthors was discovered
by Columbus, an' buried by another cilibrated Dago, that ought t'have
been ashamed of it; nixt her, the Hairy Man, wid a chin beard on the
bridge of his nose an' the hair of his head growin' out of the shmall
of his back; nixt, the cilibrated performin' dog, David, that you'll
recognise by his shmilin' looks an' polkadot complexion; an' so on, the
others in due order, that will soon be increasin' your admiration for
the marvels of creation, an' servin' as texts, I doubt not, for the
future discoorses of me frind, the venerable clergyman of this parish,
that sits in the front row—May Hiven bless him!—all mimbers of the
Flannagan an' Imparial, includin', aye, even down to the poor
wake-minded man that sells hot waffles at the door, which if ye tell
him, afther this performance, that his waffles is the same kind of
waffles that a shoemaker pegs on for the sole of a shoe, it's me
private opinion he'll be in no timper to arguy the point.
“Is it pride in this grreat show that gives me the pleasure on this
occasion unequalled in me mimory? No!
“What is it, ladies and gintlemen? What is it?
“Gintlemen and ladies,” he says, “'tis no other than the approach of
the public ciremonial of the rite of mathrimony between mesilf, Michael
Flannagan, an' a party that has no notion what I'm talkin' about, but
is further named in this docyment, which if your riverence will now
shtep up on the platform, he will find to be signed and sealed by the
honourable town clerk of this pasthoral an' marine community. Ladies
an' gintlemen, was ye iver invited before to the weddin' of a man of me
impressive looks an' oratorical gifts, that first published his own
banns, an' thin proposed, in your intelligent an' sympathetic prisence,
to a lady of exalted ancesthry an' pre-eminent fame? Ye was not? Ye
have now that unparallelled experience. For, as ye see by this license
an' authority, this lady, the Lineal Descendant of Mexican Emperors, is
known an' admired in private life as Madame Anatolia Bill.'“
With that he stepped back, and offered his hand, and said something
to Madame Bill that was lost in the cheering of the audience. Madame
Bill near fell off her chair with surprise, and began ha-ha-ing
melodious. What with the roaring and clapping of the crowd, Flannagan
and Madame Bill were up in front of the minister before Stevey Todd
could be heard from the door, crying, “She ain't said no, Flannagan!
She ain't said no! It ain't right!”
“Will somebody near the door,” says Flannagan, “kindly take the
hot-waffle-man an' dhrop a hot waffle down the back of his neck, to
disthract his attintion while the ciremonies proceed?” Stevey Todd ran
out of the door. But the people of Greenough was happy in front, and
the show was hilarious behind. David turned handsprings till he sweated
his spots into streaks.
But I've always had my doubts what may have been previous in Madame
Bill's mind as regards intentions to Flannagan and Stevey Todd. Which
is not saying but Flannagan's ambush was what you'd call a good ambush,
as arranged by one that knew Madame Bill well, and knew her to be a
show-woman by nature and gifts, that would never have the heart to
spoil a fine act in the middle of it, when it was coming on well. The
facts are no more than that she did nothing to spoil the act. She let
it go through. Her statement was she hadn't made up her mind before.
Stevey Todd's opinion was that she'd have taken himself, barring
Flannagan's laying that stratagem, desperate and unrighteous. On the
other hand, Flannagan thought it was predestined on account of his
natural gifts. As for me, I had my doubts.
But Stevey Todd wouldn't stay with the show after that. We went on
east, and left him here, boarding at Pemberton's. He said he liked
Pemberton's and would stay there a bit. I says, “There's good points in
a quiet life, Stevey;” and Stevey Todd says, showing what was on his
“Aye, but Abe Dalrimple, he argues matrimony ain't quiet, and I
don't go so far as to dispute he may be right, and that's a point to be
allowed, for she throwed Montezuma's crown, not to speak of spears.”
“Didn't neither,” says Abe Dalrimple. “It was kettles. It wa'n't
none of them things,” he says, alluding at Mrs. Dalrimple.
But as to Madame Bill, she was tropical, but not balmy, and
matrimony that wasn't balmy wouldn't have been good for Stevey Todd.
“But,” says Stevey Todd, “as to her leanings to me and intentions
pursuant,” he says, “I'd argue it, as shown by actions previous.”
It was Pemberton told me Madge McCulloch was dead. She died ten
years back, about the time I was leaving the Pacific. He told me she
left a daughter grown up since, and that Andrew McCulloch was an
irritated man by nature.
I went on with the show, but I kept thinking of a quiet life, and
about Greenough and Pemberton's, and about things that were long gone
by. And then, eating other victuals than Stevey Todd cooked was come to
seem to me like taking liberties with strangers. Then I kept wondering
if I hadn't had enough going up and down the seas. I says:
“What's the use of it? A man had best get cured of his restlessness
before he comes to lie still for aye, and that's the truth,” I says.
At the end of October I sold out the Annalee. Flannagan took
his show inland, and I came back, thinking to sit down at Pemberton's
and get over being restless.
CHAPTER XIV. CAPTAIN BUCKINGHAM
VISITS ADRIAN. ANDREW AND MADGE MCCULLOCH AND BILLY CORLISS. CAPTAIN
BUCKINGHAM'S NARRATIVE ENDS.
One day I left Pemberton's and took the road to Adrian. It was an
afternoon in November. The church in Adrian stands on the edge of the
graveyard, in the middle of the village, and there I went about looking
for the McCulloch lot, and found it, and there was Madge's stone. It's
a flat grey stone. There's many more like it, set along on rows. It
seemed a neighbourly sort of place to rest in, if a man chose, after a
roaming life. I stood there till the shadow came along across the
churchyard from the church steeple. Then it grew dusk, and it seemed
like now and then I heard a bell tolling. Aye, it was like a bell
tolling. It seemed to me I could hear it. But there was no bell.
Then I came out and went to look for Andrew McCulloch's house. It
stands north of the Green, looking across the churchyard. I knocked at
the door, then I backed off the step, when it opened, thinking there
must be a mistake about the date, and maybe inscriptions on gravestones
was exaggerated; there was a girl in the doorway that looked and acted
like Madge Pemberton complete. Moreover an old seaman falling off the
doorstep didn't seem to upset her balmy calmness. She says:
“What is it?”
“It's Tom Buckingham come home,” I says. “But I guess you're the
next generation,” and I asked for Andrew McCulloch.
He's a red-faced man with short side whiskers, a chunky, fussy, and
hot-tempered man, but whether Madge Pemberton had managed him, or
whether he'd worn her out, I couldn't make up my mind about the
likelihood. I sat a while talking with him, and watching Madge
McCulloch, his daughter, lay the tea table. I thought how I'd give
something to get her to lay the tea table for me as a habit, and I
didn't see how that was likely to come about.
Andrew McCulloch appeared to think most people in Adrian would be
more to his mind if buried with epitaphs describing them accurate.
It was eight o'clock when I came out and started for Pemberton's. I
came past McCulloch's fence, and heard some one speak near by, and
there was a man sitting on the top rail near the corner. It was
“Been in to see King Solomon?” he says.
“What's that?” I says.
“Major General McCulloch,” he says. “Why, I believe you stayed to
tea! Why, I haven't fetched that in three months!”
“Oh,” he says, “why, you see, the venerable ecclesiastic he's afraid
I'd want to come to breakfast too. He thinks I am a grasshopper and a
I thought it looked like a promising conversation, and climbed on
the fence beside him, and took a look at him in the starlight.
He said his name was “Billy Corliss,” and explained why he sat on
the fence. He said it was on account of Andrew McCulloch. He said he
and Madge McCulloch were agreed, but Andrew McCulloch wasn't agreeable.
That was partly because Andrew wanted Madge to stay where she was,
partly because Corliss had no assets or prospects, and partly because
Andrew had an unreasonable low opinion of him, as a roaming and
unsettled sort. He spoke of Andrew by various and soaring names,
implying a high opinion of him, and especially in speaking of Andrew's
warm temper, his respect got remarkable. He'd call him maybe, “St.
Peter,” in that connection, or maybe “Sitting Bull.” For candour, and
opening his mind, and asking the world for sympathy, I took him to be
given that way. He said the town of Adrian was divided into two parties
on the subject of him, and Madge, and Andrew McCulloch, so I took it
Andrew's temper had had some reasonable exercise.
“St. Peter's got a good run of warm language,” he says, “but his
fence is chilly. He's got a toothache in his shoes, he has, that man.”
“Why don't you elope?” I says.
“That's the trouble,” he says. “When I ask Madge, 'Why not?' she
says, 'Where to?' I'd been thinking I'd take a look around the world
“Don't you do it,” I says. “When you get around the other side, it's
a long way back. It took me thirty years.”
“You don't mean it!” he says. “Why, that wouldn't do.”
“Assets take time,” I says, “but you might get some prospects.”
Then I fell to thinking how it could come about that Madge McCulloch
might get into the habit of making tea for me, seeing I was too old to
marry her, besides her being spoken for. Then I thought she might do it
by keeping a hotel, and I says:
“Speaking of keeping hotels—”
“Who's speaking of it?”
“I am. I kept a hotel once.”
“Seaside?” he says.
“No. Inland a bit.”
“Aye, summer hotel. Always summer there.”
“Why, she must have paid!”
“Aye, she paid. She was put up in New Bedford,” I says, “and run in
“You don't mean it!”
“It's a good business if tended to,” I says. “But you don't tend to
business, you don't. That's the trouble with you. That hotel fell into
the river more'n twenty years ago, and it ain't to the point, but here
Madge McCulloch's been jerking the window shade up and down like she
had something on her mind.”
“It's a signal,” he says, and with that he dropped off and
disappeared toward the back of the house. He left me on the fence.
I thought of the four men that had stood by me most in my time; now
one was a miser and smuggler, and got himself hung; and one was a
thief, and died of a split wishbone, on what he called “a throne;” and
one was a fighter and gambler and poet, and he had a heavy fist, and he
turned remorseful into a Burmese monk; and one was Stevey Todd. And
Madge Pemberton thought at one time I was all right, but she was wrong
there. And I thought how here was Andrew and another Madge, and here
was Billy Corliss, and here was the world galloping along lively. I
couldn't but admire the way it was so made as to keep going, and me
thinking it had come pretty near to a standstill.
By-and-by, Corliss and Madge McCulloch came across the yard from the
back of the house, and climbed on the fence, and Madge hooked her feet
on the lower rail and talked cheerful. They spread out what was on
their minds pretty confident. I never knew a couple so open-minded.
“Billy wants to run away,” she says, “but he doesn't know where to
yet, unless it's to be a summer hotel in South America that fell into a
river. He thinks it was an interesting hotel,” she says. “Do you think
it would be nice? But how would we get there?”
“It's wrong side up now,” I says; and Billy Corliss says, “Why,
there's a chance for housekeeping ingenious! Let's be social! 'Sure
Mike!' says the dowager duchess, wishing to be democratic. Why, look
here!” he says. “What right's a chimney got to be haughty over a
“Oh, keep still, Billy!” says Madge McCulloch, and he closed up,
sudden but cheerful, as if he'd been hit by a kettle.
I said I wouldn't recommend the Helen Mar now, but I'd
recommend hotel keeping as a good and sociable business.
“For,” I says, “the seaman travels around the world seeking profit
and entertainment, but the hotel keeper sits at home comfortable, and
they come to him. I've been a hotel-keeper in South America” I says,
“and might have been one in Greenough for the asking. I chose to be a
seaman, and take a look around the world, being foolish and curious.
Now, that was a mistake, for the man that bides in his place for the
main of his life, has the best of it. He knows as much of the world as
another; for if a man goes romping and roaming, and knows no neighbours
and no family of his own, why, sure there's a deal of the world that he
never knows. That's the moral of me,” I says, “that's the moral of me.
Now, as to hotel keeping,” I says, “I liked that business as well as
anything I ever did. I liked it well,” I says, and I looked around both
sides of me, and stopped, for no Madge and no Billy Corliss was sitting
on the fence. Nothing there but lonesome sections of fence.
“Why,” I says, “here's an open-minded couple. And it's an energetic
couple. Where in the nation did it go to?”
Then I saw Andrew McCulloch coming down from the front door to the
gate, but he turned to the right at the gate, and went stumping away up
the street, and Madge and Billy Corliss got up from crouching beside
the fence, and Madge says:
“Let's go in and get warm.”
And I says to myself, “It's a couple that's got good sense, too,”
for Andrew's fence was chilly.
We went in the house and sat down by the stove.
“As to hotel keeping,” I says, “I've talked that over with
Pemberton, and Stevey Todd, who was the man that run the emigrant hotel
with me, and Pemberton's agreeable, and Stevey Todd don't argue against
it. I've been thinking of building on to Pemberton's, and making a big
summer hotel. It stands in sight of the sea, and it's a likely spot.
Now,” I says, “hotel keeping is a combination of hospitality and
profit. The secret of it is advertising and a peaceable mind to take
things as they come. A good hotel keeper is a moderate man. He sees
folks coming and going from day to day, and how many does he see as
comfortable as himself? Hotel keeping is a good life, you can take my
Then there was a noise in the hall outside, but I went on:
“It's a good life,” I says, and I looked around on both sides of me,
and I saw no Madge McCulloch and no Billy Corliss. Nothing but empty
chairs, and two open doors behind me.
I says, “That's a singular coincidence.”
By the noise in the hall I judged Andrew McCulloch was come back
unexpected, and I judged he might come in ambitious and inquiring, and
not easy to take as he came. I started for the open doors, and got
through one of them hasty, and shut it behind. It was soon enough to
escape Andrew, and too soon to see if it was the right door. It was
dark there except for the starlight through a window, showing crockery
on shelves. The place was no more than a pantry.
I've been in different circumstances by sea and land, but I didn't
recollect at that moment ever being planted in just those, and it
seemed to me a couple, that could plant an experienced seaman that way
must be ingenious as well as open-minded. I heard Andrew McCulloch
talking to himself like the forerunnings of an earthquake, and I says:
“An experienced seaman might get out, but not that way. Experienced
seamen don't put off on the windward side. But,” I says, “it seems to
me experience and ingenuity could keep a hotel.”
With that I put up the window softly and climbed out and dropped to
the ground. I went round the house looking for ingenious couples, and
then across the yard, and there they sat on the same fence, with their
feet hooked as previous, and they appeared to feel calm and candid.
“As to hotel keeping,” I says, climbing on the fence, “it's a good
life,—” and there I stopped.
I looked over at the old churchyard on the Green. It was dark and
still over there. The rows of flat tombstones were grey, like planted
ghosts. “Hic Jacet” means “here lies,” as I'm told. Those folks that
once got their “Hic jacets” over them wouldn't ever get up to argue the
statement; but those that left good memories behind, I guessed they
were glad of it. As for the living, if they were elderly, they'd best
go to bed. With that I got down from the fence.
“Madge,” I says, “do you know why I'm backing you?”
“Yes,” she says, “I know.”
How the nation did she know?
“Happen Billy Corliss may want to run away still” I says, “and maybe
you'll be asking, 'Where to?' and maybe he'll remark, 'Pemberton's.'
Then if you and he should drop into Pemberton's most any time, with a
notion of connubiality, I guess likely he'd have prospects to modify
Andrew McCulloch with afterward, 'Pemberton's seaside Hotel. Peaceful
Patronage Welcome. No Earthquakes nor Revolutions Allowed.'“
Then I left them on the fence and came back to Greenough.
CHAPTER XV. CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE.
When Captain Buckingham ended, it was late and dark, the afternoon
long gone into evening. The storm still roared around Pemberton's, and
we five sat anchored close to the chimney. It might have been a quarter
of an hour went by, and it was past time when Pemberton or Stevey Todd
should be getting the supper ready, when there came a sudden tumult in
the hall without, and some one bounced in, the snow flying after him,
and he cried, “I've eloped and I want a minister!” That was how he
stated it: “I've eloped and I want a minister!”
Then Pemberton said:
“I dare say now you're right there,” and Captain Buckingham said
nothing, nor looked up.
I knew it must be Billy Corliss, though I didn't know him, nor did
Uncle Abimelech, nor Stevey Todd. He might have blown down from
Labrador, or eloped out of Nova Scotia.
Pemberton and Corliss went out together. Then Stevey Todd spoke up
“When I look at it,” he said, “when I asks myself: 'Is he right or
is he not?' I don't hear no objections. And further,” he said, leaning
forward and speaking low, “it's my opinion there's a woman out there.”
Uncle Abimelech lifted his eyes from the kettle that hung over the
fire, and stared about and seemed to be alarmed.
“Where?” said Uncle Abimelech.
Stevey Todd pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. Uncle
Abimelech followed the direction slowly along the dark ceiling, and
seeing nothing alarming there, seemed relieved. He turned back to the
fire and muttered:
“She throwed kettles, some.”
Then Corliss came in again and after him Pemberton, and with them
was a tall girl in layers of cloaks and veils, and layers of snow,
which being taken off, she came out as balmy and calm as a tropic
coast, and enough to make a man forget his old troubles and lay in new
ones. Captain Buckingham only looked at her, and said nothing.
Corliss was a slim young man with a candid manner. For two that had
run away to look for matrimony in the snow they both seemed remarkably
calm. He looked us over, and inquired our names, and appeared to be
satisfied with them, and to like the looks of us.
“Why, that's good,” he said. “Now, Miss Madge McCulloch is Mr.
Pemberton's granddaughter, as you likely know, and she's ambitious to
be Mrs. Billy Corliss. That's a good idea, isn't it? But there are
parental objections, hot but reasonable. Parent has no sort of an
opinion of me, and wants her to run parental establishment. Both
reasonable, aren't they?” he said in his candid way. Madge McCulloch
was kneeling before the fire and warming her hands. She looked up and
“You'd better hurry, Billy, or the minister will be snowed in.”
“Why, that's reasonable, too,” he said, “I was only going to say
that those reasons, as stated, were warm;” and he once more went out
After a time she laughed again.
“If daddy should come here, what do you think would happen?” and she
looked at Captain Buckingham, who looked at her and said nothing, his
thin brown face as still as an Indian's.
Stevey Todd said cautiously:
“I'd almost think, Miss, in that case, you'd be in hot water.”
“It's in the kettle,” said Uncle Abimelech, and Madge McCulloch, “So
it is! I wonder if there's tea.”
Then she and Stevey Todd laid the table, and we sat watching her
make tea, and saw no objections.
“Shall I tell you about it?” she said calmly, pouring tea.
“If so be it's agreeable, Miss,” said Stevey Todd; and Uncle
Abimelech said, “I takes no sugar in mine,” but Captain Tom was silent.
She said she had run out of the back door before it was beginning to
grow dusk, and climbed the fence and gotten into Corliss' sleigh, but
she was afraid they were seen by neighbours; so that it appeared likely
Andrew McCulloch would hear about their going. “He might come after
by-and-by, and do something that would be very hot,—Wouldn't it?”
Stevey Todd said, “It might be as you say, Miss,” and Uncle
Abimelech, “It's better when it's hot,” looking into his teacup as if
disappointed, but Captain Tom said nothing.
“It was snowing and drifting,” she went on, “and we kept falling
into ditches, but at last we saw the light of the hotel by the roadside
and were glad.”
So Billy Corliss had come and bounced at the door, and said he
wanted a minister, and quite right he was with respect to those
circumstances and Madge McCulloch, as Stevey Todd hinted, though
When Pemberton and Corliss came back with the minister, it was clear
that Pemberton agreed with Stevey Todd on that point. It may be he was
not in the habit of agreeing with Andrew McCulloch. Certainly he gave
Madge McCulloch away in marriage to Billy Corliss. And she, saying that
she wanted a maid-of-honour, chose Uncle Abimelech for that purpose,
which seemed scarcely reasonable, but the minister married them and
went his way. Then Stevey Todd could not get over thinking he would
have been a better maid-of-honour than Uncle Abimelech, more suitable
and more according to the talents of each, and he said this, though
indirectly and warily; and Uncle Abimelech said that he recollected
licking Stevey Todd thirty years back on the Hebe Maitland,
“took him across his knee and whaled him good;” and Stevey Todd, though
cautiously, seemed to hint that some one who might be Abe Dalrimple,
couldn't do it again, and in other respects resembled a dry codfish.
Billy Corliss stood up and said:
“Gentlemen, the elements are raging. In the town of Adrian the ear
of imagination detects explosions. But Pemberton's is dedicated to
peace and connubiality.”
Then they retired with their connubiality, and paid us no more
attention, and Pemberton, Captain Buckingham, Stevey Todd, Uncle
Abimelech, and I sat by the fire.
Uncle Abimelech seemed to have something on his mind that he would
like to get off, for his eyes wandered uneasily, and he muttered:
“Throwed 'em, did she?” said Pemberton to encourage him, and Uncle
“Some,” and cast his eyes and jerked his thumb vaguely upward,
toward the ceiling.
“If she throws 'em at him—Aye—” He struggled with the thought,
bringing it slowly out of dim recesses to the light. “She ought to pour
the bilin' off first. It ain't right.”
Silence fell over us again. At last Captain Tom said:
“Supposing a man is loose-jointed in his mind, like Abe, or Billy
Corliss a trifle, and gets took back of the ear with something hard,
that steadies him, it's no great harm if it's warm.”
“She ought to pour off the bilin',” said Uncle Abimelech uneasily.
After that we sat for a while, each taken with his own thoughts,
until Pemberton was knocking out his pipe, like one approaching the
idea of a night's rest, when there came a noise in the outer hall, and
the wind blew snow under the crack below the inner door. Some one
bounced into the room like a storm. He was a short, thickset man with
white side whiskers, and looked like an infuriated Santa Claus, for he
was covered with snow.
“Most miserable, infernal, impossible night ever made, Mr.
Pemberton! Forty thousand devils—-Ah! Give me some of that, hot!
“It is so, Andrew,” said Pemberton, soothing and agreeable. “You're
“As referring to weather,” said Stevey Todd, “though not putting it
so strong, you might—”
But the newcomer broke in, and beat the table with his fist.
“Weather! No! Not weather. Mr. Pemberton, I'll tell you what's the
matter. Here's my daughter run away to be married with the coolest,
freshest, limber-tongued young codfish that ever escaped salting. Not
if I know it! I'll salt him! I'll pickle him! I will, if my name's
He puffed hard, and sat down. Stevey Todd looked at Andrew
McCulloch, then he looked at the others and winked cautiously, and
Pemberton winked back. But Captain Tom did not look up. Uncle Abimelech
too kept his eyes on the fire. He seemed to be following his old train
of thought, which Andrew McCulloch's coming had started again in his
mind, for he began:
“Before I was married, her mother she used to throw kettles at me.
They was kettles,” he said bitterly, “with spouts and handles. Aye,
afterward she did too, some.”
Andrew McCulloch puffed and looked surprised and Pemberton said:
“Ran in the family?”
“Aye. Then she come across the bay in a rowboat, and I was diggin'
clams, and she says. 'If you dasn't come to the house, what dast you
do?' I see the minister down the beach, diggin' clams, an' he had
eleven children, he had, diggin' clams, and she looked at him too, and
I says, 'I das' say he'd rather'n dig clams.' We went fishin'
afterward, and got eight barrel o' herring.”
“You don't say!” says Andrew McCulloch, puffing and looked
Uncle Abimelech kept his eyes fixed on the kettle and wandered away
in his mind. Then Captain Tom roused himself, and spoke thoughtfully.
“It was different with me,” he said. “Her parents wanted another
one. He was richer, but nowise so good-looking. I says to her, 'Cut and
run!' but she wouldn't, as being undutiful. She took him. His name was
Jones. He went bankrupt, and got paralysis, and is living still. Her
parents died in different poorhouses.”
Pemberton looked surprised at this too, and then thoughtful, and
then he winked at Stevey Todd, who passed it back.
“I got my wife out of the back window of a boarding school, second
story,” said Pemberton. “She came down the blinds.” And he wiped his
face with his coat sleeve.
“Mine came through the cellar,” said Stevey Todd. “She brought a pot
of jam in her pocket, or else,” he added cautiously, “or else it was
pickles. It might've been pickles, but it runs in my mind it was jam.”
But Pemberton's wife had been a widow first, as he once told me, and
Captain Tom's and Stevey Todd's romances didn't run that way, by
accounts. But as to Uncle Abimelech, it may be what he said was true.
They all fell silent again, except Andrew McCulloch, who whistled:
“Whew, whew, whew!” and pulled his whiskers, now this one and that, and
“Bless my soul! You don't mean it!” and fidgeted in his chair. “I
didn't suppose it was so usual, I didn't! God bless my soul!”
“It's their nature,” said Captain Buckingham at length. “They're
made that way.”
“You don't mean it!”
“The best thing for 'em is hotel keeping.”
“Nothing like it, you can take my word. 'Pemberton's Hotel.
Pemberton and Buckingham, Owners and Proprietors. B. Corliss, Manager.
Peace, Propriety, and Patronage.' Aye, that's it. They get restless. If
they elopes, let 'em keep a hotel. Nothing like it.”
“Whew, whew!” whistled Andrew McCulloch. “But they've gone!” he
says. “See here! How you going to catch 'em? How you going to set 'em
to hotel keeping when they elope off your hands? Where've they gone?
That's the point. Where've they gone?”
“Up,” said Uncle Abimelech.
“Connubilated,” said Uncle Abimelech, pointing. “Gone up.”
“Prayed over fifteen minutes,” said Stevey Todd, “which I wouldn't
so state without watching the clock.”
“What!” cried Andrew McCulloch. “Do you mean to say, you aided and
abetted, Mr. Pemberton—”
“Peace and connubiality was his last words,” went on Stevey Todd,
following his train of thought. “Peace and connubiality, he says, and
he meant the same.”
“Ain't the same!” said Uncle Abimelech.
“Do you mean to say,” cried Andrew McCulloch—
“Don't throw nothin' till you pour off the bilin',” said Uncle
Abimelech uneasily. “It ain't right.”
Andrew McCulloch puffed, “Whew! whew! whew!” as if blowing off the
steam of his boiling. Then he said:
“Give me some of that, hot!”
And we all fell silent again.
The kettle sang, the chimney coughed in its throat. One heard
outside the whistle of the wind, the moan of the surf far off in the
night, and the snow snapping against the windows.
The clock struck ten.