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A Romance of Whooping Harbor by Norman Duncan


The trader Good Samaritan—they called her the Cheap and Nasty on the Shore; God knows why! for she was dealing fairly for the fish, if something smartly—was wind-bound at Heart's Ease Cove, riding safe in the lee of the Giant's Hand: champing her anchor chain; nodding to the swell, which swept through the tickle and spent itself in the landlocked water, collapsing to quiet. It was late of a dirty night, but the schooner lay in shelter from the roaring wind; and the forecastle lamp was alight, the bogie snoring, the crew sprawling at case, purring in the light and warmth and security of the hour.... By and by, when the skipper's allowance of tea and hard biscuit had fulfilled its destiny, Tumm, the clerk, told the tale of Whooping Harbor, wherein the maid met Fate in the person of the fool from Thunder Arm; and I came down from the deck—from the black, wet wind of the open, changed to a wrathful flutter by the eternal barrier—in time to hear. And I was glad, for we know little enough of love, being blind of soul, perverse and proud; and love is strange past all things: wayward, accounting not, of infinite aspects—radiant to our vision, colorless; sombre, black as hell; but of unfailing beauty, we may be sure, had we but the eyes to see, the heart to interpret....

“We was reachin' up t' Whoopin' Harbor,” said Tumm, “t' give the White Lily a night's lodgin', it bein' a wonderful windish night; clear enough, the moon sailin' a cloudy sky, but with a bank o' fog sneakin' round Cape Muggy like a fish-thief. An' we wasn't in no haste, anyhow, t' make Sinners' Tickle, for we was the first schooner down the Labrador that season, an' 'twas pick an' choose your berth for we, with a clean bill t' every head from Starvation Cove t' the Settin' Hen, so quick as the fish struck. So the skipper he says we'll hang the ol girl up t' Whoopin' Harbor 'til dawn; an' we'll all have a watch below, says he, with a cup o' tea, says he, if the cook can bile the water 'ithout burnin' it. Which was wonderful hard for the cook t' manage, look you! as the skipper, which knowed nothin' about feelin's, would never stop tellin' un: the cook bein' from Thunder Arm, a half-witted, glossy-eyed lumpfish o' the name o' Moses Shoos, born by chance and brung up likewise, as desperate a cook as ever tartured a stummick, but meanin' so wonderful well that we loved un, though he were like t' finish us off, every man jack, by the slow p'ison o' dirt.

“'Cook, you dunderhead!' says the skipper, with a wink t' the crew. 'You been an' scarched the water agin.'

“Shoos he looked like he'd give up for good on the spot—just like he knowed he was a fool, an' had knowed it for a long, long time,—sort o' like he was sorry for we an' sick of hisself.

“'Cook,' says the skipper, 'you went an' done it agin. Yes, you did! Don't you go denyin' of it. You'll kill us, cook,' says he, 'if you goes on like this. They isn't nothin' worse for the system,' says he, 'than this here burned water. The alamnacs,' says he, shakin' his finger at the poor cook, ''ll tell you that!'

“'I 'low I did burn that water, skipper,' says the cook, 'if you says so. But I isn't got all my wits,' says he, the cry-baby; 'an' God knows I'm doin' my best!'

“'I always did allow, cook,' says the skipper, 'that God knowed more'n I ever thunk.'

“'An' I never did burn no water,' blubbers the cook, 'afore I shipped along o' you in this here dam' ol' flour-sieve of a White Lily.'

“'This here what?' snaps the skipper.

“'This here dam' ol' basket.'

“'Basket!' says the skipper. Then he hummed a bit o' 'Fishin' for the Maid I Loves,' 'ithout thinkin' much about the toon. 'Cook,' says he, 'I loves you. You is on'y a half-witted chance-child,' says he, 'but I loves you like a brother.'

“'Does you, skipper?' says the cook, with a grin, like the fool he was. 'I isn't by no means hatin' you, skipper,' says he. 'But I can't help burnin' the water,' says he, 'an' I 'low I don't want no blame for it. I'm sorry for you an' the crew,' says he, 'an' I wisht I hadn't took the berth. But when I shipped along o' you,' says he, 'I 'lowed I could cook. I knows I isn't able for it now,' says he, 'for you says so, skipper; but I'm doin' my best, an' I 'low if the water gets scarched,' says he, 'the galley fire's bewitched.'

“'Basket!' says the skipper. 'Ay, ay, cook,' says he. 'I just loves you.'

“They wasn't a man o' the crew liked t' hear the skipper say that; for, look you! the skipper didn't know nothin' about feelin's, an' the cook had more feelin's 'n a fool can make handy use of aboard a Labrador fishin'-craft. No, zur; the skipper didn't know nothin' about feelin's. I'm not wantin' t' say it about that there man, nor about no other man; for they isn't nothin' harder t' be spoke. But he didn't; an' they's nothin' else to it. There sits the ol' man, smoothin' his big red beard, singin', 'I'm Fishin' for the Maid I Loves,' while he looks at the poor cook, which was washin' up the dishes, for we was through with the mug-up. An' the devil was in his eyes—the devil was fair grinnin' in them little blue eyes. Lord! it made me sad t' see it; for I knowed the cook was in for bad weather, an' he wasn't no sort o' craft t' be out o' harbor in a gale o' wind like that.

“'Cook,' says the skipper.

“'Ay, zur?' says the cook.

“'Cook,' says the skipper, 'you ought t' get married.'

“'I on'y wisht I could,' says the cook.

“'You ought t' try, cook,' says the skipper, 'for the sake o' the crew. We'll all die,' says he, 'afore we sights of Bully Dick agin,' says he, 'if you keeps on burnin' the water. You got t' get married, cook, t' the first likely maid you sees on the Labrador,' says he, 't' save the crew. She'd do the cookin' for you. It 'll be the loss o' all hands,' says he, 'an you don't, This here burned water,' says he, 'will be the end of us, cook, an you keeps it up.'

“'I'd be wonderful glad t' 'blige you, skipper,' says the cook, 'an' I'd like t' 'blige all hands. 'Twon't be by my wish,' says he, 'that anybody'll die o' the grub they gets.'

“'Cook,' says the skipper, 'shake! I knows a man,' says he, 'when I sees one. Any man,' says he, 'that would put on the irons o' matrimony,' says he, 't' 'blige a shipmate,' says he, 'is a better man 'n me, an' I loves un like a brother.'

“Which cheered the cook up considerable.

“'Cook,' says the skipper, 'I 'pologize. Yes, I do, cook,' says he, 'I 'pologize.'

“'I isn't got no feelin' agin' matrimony,' says the cook. 'But I isn't able t' get took. I been tryin' every maid t' Thunder Arm,' says he, 'an' they isn't one,' says he, 'will wed a fool.'

“'Not one?' says the skipper.

“'Nar a one,' says the cook.

“'I'm s'prised,' says the skipper.

“'Nar a maid t' Thunder Arm,' says the cook, 'will wed a fool, an' I 'low they isn't one,' says he, 'on the Labrador.'

“'It's been done afore, cook,' says the skipper, 'an' I 'low 'twill be done agin, if the world don't come to an end t' oncet. Cook,' says he, 'I knows the maid t' do it.'

“The poor cook begun t' grin. 'Does you, skipper?' says he. 'Ah, skipper, no, you doesn't!' And he sort o' chuckled, like the fool he was. 'Ah, now, skipper,' says he, 'you doesn't know no maid would marry me!”

“'Ay, b'y,' says the skipper, 'I got the girl for you. An' she isn't a thousand miles,' says he, 'from where that dam' ol' basket of a White Lily lies at anchor,' says he, 'in Whoopin' Harbor. She isn't what you'd call handsome an' tell no lie,' says he, 'but—'

“'Never you mind about that, skipper.'

“'No,' says the skipper, 'she isn't handsome, as handsome goes, even in these parts, but—'

“'Never you mind, skipper,' says the cook. 'If 'tis anything in the shape o' woman,' says he, ''twill do.'

“'I 'low that Liz Jones would take you, cook,' says the skipper. 'You ain't much on wits, but you got a good-lookin' hull; an' I 'low she'd be more'n willin' t' skipper a craft like you. You better go ashore, cook, when you gets cleaned up, an' see what she says. Tumm,' says he, 'is sort o' shipmates with Liz,' says he, 'an' I 'low he'll see you through the worst of it.'

“'Will you, Tumm?' says the cook.

“'Well,' says I, 'I'll see.

“I knowed Liz Jones from the time I fished Whoopin' Harbor with Skipper Bill Topsail in the Love the Wind, bein' cotched by the measles thereabouts, which she nursed me through; an' I 'lowed she would wed the cook if he asked her, so, thinks I, I'll go ashore with the fool t' see that she don't. No; she wasn't handsome—not Liz. I'm wonderful fond o' yarnin' o' good-lookin' maids; but I can't say much o' Liz; for Liz was so far t' l'eward o' beauty that many a time, lyin' sick there in the fo'c's'le o' the Love the Wind, I wished the poor girl would turn inside out, for, thinks I, the pattern might be a sight better on the other side. I will say she was big and well-muscled; an' muscles, t' my mind, courts enough t' make up for black eyes, but not for cross-eyes, much less for fuzzy whiskers. It ain't in my heart t' make sport o' Liz, lads; but I will say she had a club foot, for she was born in a gale, I'm told, when the Preacher was hangin' on off a lee shore 'long about Cape Harrigan, an' the sea was raisin' the devil. An', well—I hates t' say it, but—well, they called her 'Walrus Liz.' No; she wasn't handsome, she didn't have no good looks; but once you got a look into whichever one o' them cross-eyes you was able to cotch, you seen a deal more'n your own face; an' she was well-muscled, an' I 'low I'm goin' t' tell you so, for I wants t' name her good p'ints so well as her bad. Whatever—

“'Cook,' says I, 'I'll go along o' you.'

“With that the cook fell to on the dishes, an' 'twasn't long afore he was ready to clean hisself; which done, he was ready for the courtin'. But first he got out his dunny-bag, an' he fished in there 'til he pulled out a blue stockin', tied in a hard knot; an' from the toe o' that there blue stockin' he took a brass ring. 'I 'low,' says he, talkin' to hisself, in the half-witted way he had, 'it won't do no hurt t' give her mother's ring.' Then he begun t' cry. “Moses,” says mother, “you better take the ring off my finger. It isn't no weddin'-ring,” says she, “for I never was what you might call wed,” says she, “but I got it from the Jew t' make believe I was; for it didn't do nobody no hurt, an' it sort o' pleased me. You better take it, Moses, b'y,” says she, “for the dirt o' the grave would only spile it,” says she, “an' I'm not wantin' it no more. Don't wear it at the fishin', dear,” says she, “for the fishin' is wonderful hard,” says she, “an' joolery don't stand much wear an' tear.” 'Oh, mother!' says the cook, 'I done what you wanted!' Then the poor fool sighed an' looked up at the skipper. 'I 'low, skipper,' says he, ''t wouldn't do no hurt t' give the ring to a man's wife, would it? For mother wouldn't mind, would she?'

“The skipper didn't answer that.

“'Come, cook,' says I, 'leave us get under way,' for I couldn't stand it no longer.

“So the cook an' me put out in the punt t' land at Whoopin' Harbor, with the crew wishin' the poor cook well with their lips, but thinkin', God knows what! in their hearts. An' he was in a wonderful state o' fright. I never seed a man so took by scare afore. For, look you! he thunk she wouldn't have un, an' he thunk she would, an' he wisht she would, an' he wisht she wouldn't; an' by an' by he 'lowed he'd stand by, whatever come of it, 'for,' says he, 'the crew's g-g-got t' have better c-c-cookin' if I c-c-can g-g-get it. Lord! Tumm,' says he, ''tis a c-c-cold night,' says he, 'but I'm sweatin' like a p-p-porp-us!' I cheered un up so well as I could; an' by an' by we was on the path t' Liz Jones's house, up on Gray Hill, where she lived alone, her mother bein' dead an' her father shipped on a barque from St. Johns t' the West Indies. An' we found Liz sittin' on a rock at the turn o' the road, lookin' down from the hill at the White Lily: all alone—sittin' there in the moonlight, all alone—thinkin' o' God knows what!

“'Hello, Liz!' says I.

“'Hello, Tumm!' says she. 'What vethel'th that?'

“'That's the White Lily, Liz,' says I. An' here's the cook o' that there craft,' says I, 'come up the hill t' speak t' you.'

“'That's right,' says the cook. 'Tumm, you're right.'

“'T' thpeak t' me!' says she.

“I wisht she hadn't spoke quite that way. Lord! it wasn't nice. It makes a man feel bad t' see a woman hit her buzzom for a little thing like that.

“'Ay, Liz,' says I, 't' speak t' you. An' I'm thinkin', Liz,' says I, 'he'll say things no man ever said afore—t' you.'

“'That's right, Tumm,' says the cook. 'I wants t' speak as man t' man,' says he, 't' stand by what I says,' says he, meanin' it afore G-g-god!'

“Liz got off the rock. Then she begun t' kick at the path; an' she was lookin' down, but I 'lowed she had an eye on the cook all the time. 'For,' thinks I, 'she's sensed the thing out, like all the women.'

“'I'm thinkin',' says I, 'I'll go up the road a bit.'

“'Oh no, you won't, Tumm,' says she. 'You thtay right here. Whath the cook wantin' o' me?'

“'Well,' says the cook, 'I 'low I wants t' get married.'

“'T' get married!' says she.

“'That's right,' says he. 'Damme! Tumm,' says he, 'she got it right. T' get married,' says he, 'an' I 'low you'll do.'

“'Me?' says she.

“'You, Liz,' says he. 'I got t' get me a wife right away,' says he, 'an' they isn't nothin' else I've heared tell of in the neighborhood.'

“She begun to blow like a whale; an' she hit her buzzom with her fists, an' shivered. I 'lowed she was goin' t' fall in a fit. But. she looked away t' the moon, an' somehow that righted her.

“'You better thee me in daylight,' says she.

“'Don't you mind about that,' says he. 'You're a woman, an' a big one,' says he, 'an' that's all I'm askin' for.'

“She put a finger under his chin an' tipped his face t' the light.

“'You ithn't got all your thentheth, ith you?' says she.

“'Well,' says he, 'bein' born on Hollow eve,' says he, 'I isn't quite all there. But,' says he, 'I wisht I was. An' I can't do no more.'

“'An' you wanth t' wed me?' says she. 'Ith you sure you doth?'

“'I got mother's ring,' says the cook, 't' prove it.'

“'Tumm,' says Liz t' me, 'you ithn't wantin' t' get married, ith you?'

“'No, Liz,' says I. 'Not,' says I, 't' you.'

“'No,' says she. 'Not—t' me' She took me round the turn in the road. 'Tumm,' says she, 'I 'low I'll wed that man. I wanth t' get away from here,' says she, lookin' over the hills. 'I wanth t' get t' the Thouthern outporth, where there'th life. They ithn't no life here. An' I'm tho wonderful tired o' all thith! Tumm,' says she, 'no man ever afore athked me t' marry un, an' I 'low I better take thith one. He'th on'y a fool,' says she, 'but not even a fool ever come courtin' me, an' I 'low nobody but a fool would. On'y a fool, Tumm!' says she. 'But I ithn't got nothin' t' boatht of. God made me,' says she, 'an' I ithn't mad that He done it. I 'low He meant me t' take the firth man that come, an' be content. I 'low I ithn't got no right t' thtick up my nothe at a fool. For, Tumm,' says she, 'God made that fool, too. An', Tumm,' says she, 'I wanth thomethin' elthe. Oh, I wanth thomethin' elthe! I hateth t' tell you, Tumm,' says she, 'what it ith. But all the other maidth hath un, Tumm, an' I wanth one, too. I 'low they ithn't no woman happy without one, Tumm. An' I ithn't never had no chanth afore. No chanth, Tumm, though God knowth they ithn't nothin' I wouldn't do,' says she, 't' get what I wanth! I'll wed the fool,' says she. 'It ithn't a man I wanth tho much; no, it ithn't a man. Ith—'

“'What you wantin', Liz?' says I.

“'It ithn't a man, Tumm,' says she.

“'No?' says I. 'What is it, Liz?'

“'Ith a baby,' says she.

“God! I felt bad when she told me that....”

Tumm stopped, sighed, picked at a knot in the table. There was silence in the forecastle. The Good Samaritan was still nodding to the swell—lying safe at anchor in Heart's Ease Cove. We heard the gusts scamper over the deck and shake the rigging; we caught, in the intervals, the deep-throated roar of breakers, far off—all the noises of the gale. And Tumm picked at the knot with his clasp-knife; and we sat watching, silent, all.... And I felt bad, too, because of the maid at Whooping Harbor—a rolling waste of rock, with the moonlight lying on it, stretching from the whispering mystery of the sea to the greater desolation beyond; and an uncomely maid, wishing, without hope, for that which the hearts of women must ever desire....

“Ay,” Tumm drawled, “it made me feel bad t' think o' what she'd been wantin' all them years; an' then I wished I'd been kinder t' Liz.... An', 'Tumm,' thinks I, 'you went an' come ashore t' stop this here thing; but you better let the skipper have his little joke, for t'will on'y s'prise him, an' it won't do nobody else no hurt. Here's this fool,' thinks I, 'wantin' a wife; an' he won't never have another chance. An' here's this maid,' thinks I, 'wantin' a baby; an' she won't never have another chance. 'Tis plain t' see,' thinks I, 'that God A'mighty, who made un, crossed their courses; an' I 'low, ecod!' thinks I, 'that 'twasn't a bad idea He had. If He's got to get out of it somehow,' thinks I, 'why, I don't know no better way. Tumm,' thinks I, 'you sheer off. Let Nature,' thinks I, 'have doo course an' be glorified.' So I looks Liz in the eye—an' says nothin'.

“'Tumm,' says she, 'doth you think he—'

“'Don't you be scared o' nothin',' says I. 'He's a lad o' good feelin's,' says I, 'an' he'll treat you the best he knows how. Is you goin' t' take un?'

“'I wathn't thinkin' o' that,' says she. 'I wathn't thinkin' o' not. I wath jutht,' says she, 'wonderin'.'

“'They isn't no sense in that, Liz,' says I. 'You just wait an' find out.'

“'What'th hith name?' says she.

“'Shoos,' says I. 'Moses Shoos.'

“With that she up with her pinny an' begun t' cry like a young swile.

“'What you cryin' for, Liz?' says I.

“I 'low I couldn't tell what 'twas all about. But she was like all the women. Lord! 'tis the little things that makes un weep when it comes t' the weddin'.

“'Come, Liz,' says I, 'what you cryin' about?'

“'I lithp,' says she.

“'I knows you does, Liz,' says I; 'but it ain't nothin' t' cry about.'

“'I can't thay Joneth,' says she.

“'No,' says I; 'but you'll be changin' your name,' says I, 'an' it won't matter no more.'

“'An' if I can't say Joneth,' says she, 'I can't thay—'

“'Can't say what?' says I.

“'Can't thay Thooth!' says she.

“Lord! No more she could. An' t' say Moses Shoos! An' t' say M'issus Moses Shoos! Lord! It give me a pain in the tongue, t' think of it.

“'Jutht my luck,' says she; 'but I'll do my betht.'

“So we went back an' told the cook that he didn't have t' worry no more about gettin' a wife; an' he said he was more glad than sorry, an', says he, she'd better get her bonnet, t' go aboard an' get married right away. An' she 'lowed she didn't want no bonnet, but would like to change her pinny. So we said we'd as lief wait a spell, though a clean pinny wasn't needed. An' when she got back, the cook said he 'lowed the skipper could marry un well enough 'til we over-hauled a real parson; an' she thought so, too, for, says she, 'twouldn't be longer than fall, an' any sort of a weddin', says she, would do 'til then. An' aboard we went, the cook an' me pullin' the punt, an' she steerin'; an' the cook he crowed an' cackled all the way, like a half-witted rooster; but the maid didn't even cluck, for she was too wonderful solemn t' do anything but look at the moon.

“'Skipper,' said the cook, when we got in the fo'c's'le, 'here she is. I isn't afeared,' says he, 'and she isn't afeared; an' now I 'low we'll have you marry us.'

“Up jumps the skipper; but he was too much s'prised t' say a word.

“'An' I'm thinkin',' says the cook, with a nasty little wink, 'that they isn't a man in this here fo'c's'le,' says he, 'will say I'm afeared.'

“'Cook,' says the skipper, takin' the cook's hand, 'shake! I never knowed a man like you afore,' says he. 'T' my knowledge, you're the on'y man in the Labrador fleet would do it. I'm proud,' says he, 't' take the hand o' the man with nerve enough t' marry Walrus Liz o' Whoopin' Harbor.'

“The devil got in the eyes o' the cook—a jumpin' little brimstone devil, ecod!

“'Ay, lad,' says the skipper, 'I'm proud t' know the man that isn't afeared o' Walrus—'

“'Don't you call her that!' says the cook. 'Don't you do it, skipper!'

“I was lookin' at Liz. She was grinnin' in a holy sort o' way. Never seed nothin' like that afore—no, lads, not in all my life.

“'An' why not, cook?' says the skipper.

“'It ain't her name,' says the cook.

“'It ain't?' says the skipper. 'But I been sailin' the Labrador for twenty year,' says he, 'an' I ain't never heared her called nothin' but Walrus—'

“The devil got into the cook's hands then. I seed his fingers clawin' the air in a hungry sort o' way. An' it looked t' me like squally weather for the skipper.

“'Don't you do it no more, skipper,' says the cook. 'I isn't got no wits,' says he, 'an' I'm feelin' wonderful queer!'

“The skipper took a look ahead into the cook's eyes. 'Well, cook,' says he, I 'low,' says he, 'I won't.'

“Liz laughed—an' got close t' the fool from Thunder Arm. An' I seed her touch his coat-tail, like as if she loved it, but didn't dast do no more.

“'What you two goin' t' do?' says the skipper.

“'We 'lowed you'd marry us,' says the cook, ''til we come across a parson.'

“'I will,' says the skipper. 'Stand up here,' says he. 'All hands stand up!' says he. 'Tumm,' says he, 'get me the first Book you comes across.'

“I got un a Book.

“'Now, Liz,' says he, 'can you cook?'

“'Fair t' middlin',' says she. 'I won't lie.'

“''Twill do,' says he. 'An' does you want t' get married t' this here dam' fool?'

“'An it pleathe you,' says she.

“'Shoos,' says the skipper, 'will you let this woman do the cookin'?'

“'Well, skipper,' says the cook, 'I will; for I don't want nobody t' die o' my cookin' on this here v'y'ge.'

“'An' will you keep out o' the galley?' “'I 'low I'll have to.'

“'An', look you! cook, is you sure—is you sure,' says the skipper, with a shudder, lookin' at the roof, 'that you wants t' marry this here—'

“'Don't you do it, skipper!' says the cook. 'Don't you say that no more! By God!' says he, 'I'll kill you if you does!'

“'Is you sure,' says the skipper, 'that you wants t' marry this here—woman?'

“'I will.'

“'Well,' says the skipper, kissin' the Book, 'I'low me an' the crew don't care; an' we can't help it, anyhow.'

“'What about mother's ring?' says the cook. 'She might's well have that,' says he, 'if she's careful about the wear an' tear. For joolery,' says he t' Liz, 'don't stand it.'

“'It can't do no harm,' says the skipper.

“'Ith we married, thkipper?' says Liz, when she got the ring on.

“'Well,' says the skipper, 'I 'low that knot 'll hold 'til fall. For,' says he, 'I got a rope's end an' a belayin'-pin t' make it hold,' says he, 'til we gets long-side of a parson that knows more about matrimonial knots 'n me. We'll pick up your goods. Liz,' says he, 'on the s'uthard v'y'ge. An' I hopes, ol girl,' says he, 'that you'll be able t' boil the water 'ithout burnin' it.'

“'Ay, Liz. I been makin' a awful fist o' b'ilin' the water o' late.'

“She gave him one look—an' put her clean pinny to her eyes.

“'What you cryin' about?' says the cook.

“'I don't know,' says she; 'but I 'low 'tith becauthe now I knowth you ith a fool!'

“'She's right, Tumm,' says the cook. 'She's got it right! Bein' born on Hollow eve,' says he, 'I couldn't be nothin' else. But, Liz,' says he, 'I'm glad I got you, fool or no fool.'

“So she wiped her eyes, an' blowed her nose, an' give a little sniff, an' looked up, an' smiled.

“'I isn't good enough for you,' says the poor cook. 'But, Liz,' says he, 'if you kissed me,' says he, 'I wouldn't mind a bit. An' they isn't a man in this here fo'c's'le,' says he, lookin' around, 'that'll say I'd mind. Not one,' says he, with the little devil jumpin' in his eyes.

“Then she stopped cryin' for good.

“'Go ahead, Liz!' says he. 'I ain't afeared. Come on! Give us a kiss!'

“'Motheth Thooth,' says she, 'you're the firtht man ever athked me t' give un a kith!'

“She kissed un. 'Twas like a pistol-shot. An', Lord! her poor face was shinin'....”

In the forecastle of the Good Samaritan we listened to the wind as it scampered over the deck; and we watched Tumm pick at the knot in the table.

“Was she happy?” I asked, at last.

“Well,” he answered, with a laugh, “she sort o' got what she was wantin'. More'n she was lookin' for, I 'low. Seven o' them. An' all straight an' hearty. Ecod! sir, you never seed such a likely litter o' young uns. Spick an' span, ecod! from stem t' stern. Smellin' clean an' sweet; decks as white as snow; an' every nail an' knob polished 'til it made you blink t' see it. An' when I was down Thunder Arm way, last season, they was some talk o' one o' them bein' raised for a parson!

I went on deck. The night was still black; but beyond—high over the open sea, hung in the depths of the mystery of night and space—there was a star.