The Custom of the Captain
THE CUSTOM OF THE CAPTAIN
By Henry C. Rowland
Illustrations by Henry Hutt
THE Honorable Helen Maltby indicated a tumbledown boathouse ahead.
"This must be the place," she said, to her companion. "Drive down to the beach. There is a man there."
Mr. Reginald Stuyvesant, who was driving the buckboard, pulled in the hard-mouthed cob as quickly as a pair of unathletic arms would permit.
"But there is no road ..." he began.
"Oh, gammon!" exclaimed the Hon. Helen, impatiently. She thrust out a pair of graceful, but muscular, young arms, grasped the reins in one small, strong hand, and laid the whip across the cob's plump back with the other. Mr. Stuyvesant's patrician head was not set over firmly upon his somewhat narrow shoulders, and the wrench that preceded the cob's sudden breasting of the sand-dune, to the side of the road, came near sending it into their tracks. As it was, his narrow-brimmed, straw hat was the only thing lost in the scramble. This insignificant item was totally disregarded by the Hon. Helen.
They coasted down the other side of the dune, and found themselves on a narrow strip of beach. A little schooner lay at anchor a few rods from the shore, and near the boathouse, that stood a little above high-water mark, a man was hard at work painting a dory. Farther up the stretch of sand there were a few fishermen's houses.
"Whoa! " said the Hon. Helen ... to the man that was painting the boat.
As he straightened up and swung around to face them, the pair in the buckboard saw that he was very broad, rather young, and, as far as the smears of paint across his face would permit, good to look at. He wore a battered sou'-wester, a sleeveless shirt, which showed a pair of powerful arms, which seemed thewed and sinewed in a manner surprising for one so young, and a pair of oil-skin overalls, that were caught around his small waist in a manner that struck the Hon. Helen as insecure.
"Is your name Perkins?" she asked, pulling in the cob in a way that made him shake his gamy little head viciously.
"No!" answered the man, calmly, and dipped his brush in the paint-pot. The Hon. Helen made a mental note, which she decided to have entered in the Journal with the Art Nouveau cover, that she had bought in London just before sailing for America, that "The natives of the State of Maine were endowed with a spirit of independence not to be found in the better classes of the larger cities of the United States."
"Where can I find Mr. Perkins, my good man?"
"Don't believe you can; I couldn't!"
(Note 2. "This spirit of independence occasionally manifests itself in an inclination toward disrespect.")
"See if you can find him for me. Here's a shill ... a twenty-five cents, for you."
The man, who was about to resume his work, turned, sharply, and stared. Then his features relaxed, and he smiled.
(Note 3—for the Journal: "Some of the males of the coast tribe of Maine have exceedingly handsome—that is, intelligent, faces, keen, gray eyes, and remarkably fine teeth. Their figures are beautiful—that is, well proportioned, and their ...")
The mental note for the Journal was interrupted by its object. He walked to the side of the buckboard, and looked thoughtfully at the proffered coin.
"Can't possibly do it so cheaply," he answered, with a serious face. "You see he's probably fifty miles at sea. He went up to Eastport yesterday, to bring down a new pinkey."
Mr. Stuyvesant nudged the Hon. Helen respectfully, but an emphatic dig of her rounded elbow in his own meagrely padded, costal arch, was the only reply.
"When do you expect him?" she asked, sharply. She did not quite like this youth's flippant tone.
"I don't expect him at all," was the placid reply. ... "In fact," he went on, with a burst of ingenuousness, ... "Do you know, I wouldn't much care if he never came back, ... except that I would rather like the chance of wringing his neck for sticking me on that schooner." He nodded to the offing.
The Hon. Helen became interested. Here, possibly, was an opportunity for some valuable notes for the Journal, on the subject of kidnapping, ... or "Shanghaiing," as she had learned the nautical term to be.
"Did he place you on the schooner without your consent?" she asked, leaning toward him with sparkling eyes. There was much that was combative about the English girl. The young man did not seem to see the fresh, ruddy prettiness of the face that was thrust toward him, nor did he note the dainty curve of the defiant little chin that was pushed out, inquiringly. He was looking at the schooner, and musing on her words.
"No, ... he didn't put me on the schooner, ... he put the schooner on me. I bought her; and paid about twice what she was worth to the sku ... to the scoundrel!"
The girl clapped her hands. "Oh, you bought her, ... so much the better ..."
"Don't see it. Why, ... do you want her?"
Well, ... r-a-ther! ... that is, I wish to charter her!"
"Oh! ... so that's the game. Well, I'm sorry, but you see I didn't buy her to hire out. ... I bought her for a ya ..."
"You bought her to fish in, of course. I understand. But don't you see that you can do much better by chartering her? Of course, I should want to engage your services also."
"Oh" (thoughtfully), ... "that alters the question, ... as sailing-master, I suppose?"
"Yes. ... Do you live here?"
"I am living on the schooner just now."
"But you are familiar with this part of the coast?"
"Oh, yes. Where did you want to go?"
"We want to sail up to Seal Harbor and stop there for a day or two and then come back. We can do that in a week, I suppose?"
"Easily. How many are there to be in the party?"
"Six: three ladies and three men. Can they be accommodated on the boat?"
"Yes, ... that is, if two of the men are willing to sleep up forward."
The Hon. Helen flushed, slightly. "I had counted on having them all sleep up forward. I understand that a vessel like that has no regular state-rooms, ... so it would hardly do, that is, we would not care ..."
The young man grinned, in a manner most impudent.
"Oh, it would be proper enough, if that is the trouble. You see, I have had her remodelled inside, with the idea of taking out parties. There are four state-rooms aft and an extra bunk in the cabin. There are also four bunks in the forecastle, but two of them would be occupied by the cook and a sailor."
The Hon. Helen regarded him coldly.
"In that case, it seems to me that it would be necessary for only one of the men to sleep forward."
"Oh, no. You see, one of the state-rooms aft is occupied by the Captain, ... myself."
The girl regarded him for a moment in strong disapprobation, for there was a note in his voice which was displeasing to her.
"I have always understood," she began, drawing herself up a trifle, "that aboard a chartered yacht it was the custom for the—er—captain ..."
"To bunk with the crew? No, indeed. Aboard an American sailing-vessel the dignity of the captain is invi—that is, is equal to that of any of the passengers."
"In that case," remarked the hitherto silent Mr. Stuyvesant, "we do not wish to charter ..."
"Oh, do be still ... I am arranging this matter," interrupted the Hon. Helen, impatiently. "I suppose," she resumed, a trifle ironically, "the captain would also expect to sit at the same table with the passengers?"
"Why, of course. He presides" (calmly).
Mr. Stuyvesant fidgeted. The Hon. Helen pondered. The young man wiped his dripping paint-brush, reflectively, upon the bottom of the dory.
"If that is the usual custom here," began the girl, "I suppose there ... would ... be ... no objection ... Now, in regard to the accommodation. Is the boat perfectly clean?"
"Absolutely. As clean as fresh paint can make her. She has not been occupied since she was put in commission this spring, ... except, of course, by myself."
"We would bring our own bedding," remarked the girl.
"That would be advisable, as all I have is my own. There is crockery enough, ... and all of that. Would you like to take a look aboard?"
"If you please. Can you get someone to hold the horse?"
"Yes." The Captain put his hands to his face and emitted a musical howl. A frowsy head was immediately thrust up through the fore-hatch of the schooner.
"That is my crew," remarked the Captain. "Come ashore," he bawled.
The man aboard the schooner dropped into a dory, alongside, and in a few strokes reached the beach.
"Come and hold this horse!" ordered the Captain.
The Hon. Helen scrutinized the crew critically, and found him satisfactory. She and Mr. Stuyvesant then entered the dory and were pulled out to the schooner by the Captain.
"You row very well," she remarked, approvingly, after the first dozen strokes. "What does that 'Y' on your guernsey mean, may I ask?"
"That stands for 'Yosemite,' "remarked the Captain, smoothly. "She was a vessel I served on last year."
"I see ... A large vessel?"
"No, ... she only carried a crew of eight."
"What was your position on her?"
"I ... er ... was partly in charge of, ... that is, I was captain, of course."
"Was she a yacht?"
"Yes, ... sort of a yacht." The Captain seemed a trifle embarrassed.
"A racing-yacht?" asked the girl, with interest.
"Precisely. ... She was the fastest thing on the river, ... well here we are. Don't step on the gunnel, ... that's it."
The Hon. Helen was delighted with the schooner. Even Mr. Stuyvesant seemed pleased. As the Captain had said, she was as fresh as paint could make her. The state-rooms were large and comfortable, and there was even a bath-room. When they entered the cabin, the Captain produced sherry and biscuits from a locker, and the girl so far relaxed as to partake.
"This is all very satisfactory," she remarked, at length. "Now" (in a business-like tone), ... "as to terms."
The Captain flushed a trifle beneath his tan.
"Let us say fifty dollars for the week; you to find the rations, and I to supply the schooner and crew."
The girl conferred with Mr. Stuyvesant for a moment. Then she turned to the Captain.
"That seems very reasonable, ... very! Now, here is my card. Can you have the schooner around at the Shoal River Wharf to-morrow at ten?"
"Very well, ... we will have everything in readiness. What is your name, Captain?"
"Hopkins. ... George Washington Hopkins, at your service."
(Note for the Journal. The males of the Eastern United States have a strong predilection for patriotic names.)
They returned to the beach. As they drove away, the Hon. Helen turned to her companion.
"Why don't you say something, Reggie? Don't you know it's ripping? I had no idea we could get such a nice, clean boat. She seems absolutely free from vermin, and don't you think the Captain is awfully good ... intelligent-looking? He struck me as quite a swell!"
"He did me, too," remarked Reggie. "Too much of a swell for a Maine fisherman. Oh, rot, ... he's no fisherman ... he's a gentleman, Helen. And I'm positive I've seen him somewhere."
"Oh, fudge. ... You Americans are all gentlemen! Show me an American who is not a gentleman, and I'll show you a freak of nature."
"There's one, now! " remarked Reggie, dryly.
"Where?" She looked around, with interest.
"That pretty girl carrying the pail of milk."
"Oh, ... pshaw! You silly ...!"
Reggie collapsed with a gasp as the butt of the whip was dug viciously into his side.
When Helen went down to the steamboat-wharf the following morning, she found the Merry Maid moored alongside, but no one in sight. She hailed once or twice, but getting no reply, picked up the loose end of a plank that was lying near, and threw it down upon the deck, or intended to throw it on the deck, but, with a woman's usual accuracy of aim, managed to send it down the main companion-way, the hatch of which was slid back. She had intended to discover whether there was anyone aboard, and in this was entirely successful. A muffled roar followed the clatter of the plank-end, and then a voice issued from below, ... in advance of the speaker.
"Holy smoke! What the dew ..." At this moment the head of the Captain emerged, ... and suddenly discovered Helen standing alone upon the wharf above. Followed a sudden alteration in the Captain's tone.
"I beg your pardon, ... but did you knock?"
(Note for the Journal. Despite their roughness of speech, some of the male fisher-folk are possessed of great delicacy and tact.)
"No, ... I called, and then, as no one answered, I threw. ..."
"I heard the call," he answered, soberly, "but I mistook it for music up at the hotel!"
"I see the supplies have not arrived," remarked the girl, coldly.
"Oh, yes, ... they're all aboard. I was superintending the stowing of them by the crew when that beam landed on my head, ... that is, rolled down the companion-way," he added, hurriedly.
"But I wanted to make an inventory ..."
"Here is my tally. You can compare it with yours. It is easier."
He handed her up a slip of paper, not entirely immaculate, which she took as though it were infected.
"Then we are all ready to start?" she asked.
"As soon as you can chase the push ... assemble your party."
The girl turned to go, then hesitated a moment, half turned, colored slightly, and then remarked:
"Captain, there is one thing that I forgot to ask you yesterday, and which is very important, as it concerns our safety. Besides, my aunt, who is to chaperon the party, insists upon knowing. Do you drink?"
"Not so early in the morning, thank you. A little later, when we are under way, I may join you, if you insist."
She regarded him haughtily for a moment, but his air of honest geniality was disarming.
"You evidently fail to catch my meaning. What I wish to discover is whether you are ever in the habit of drinking to excess. We do not feel that it would be safe ..."
"Oh, don't worry about that. I understand, ... you were thinking of the consignment of boo ... of wines that came aboard this morning. They are stowed in the cabin-locker, aft. Here is the key. There is no duplicate." He gravely handed her a small, flat key.
The girl's blue eyes sparkled, and the corners of her mouth twitched, but she gave him a searching look, and found his face perfectly serious. She was about to speak, when steps behind her announced the approach of two of the men of the party.
Helen turned. "This is the boat, and the Captain," indicating him with a toss of her chin, "tells me that we are all ready to start."
The men stared at the skipper, and one of them nudged the other. There were a few whispered words, but all that the girl caught was: "I'd swear to it on a stack of Bibles. Saw him at New London ..."
The Captain returned the stares, unmoved, and touched the visor of his cap with two fingers.
"Morning, gents," turning to Helen. "There's a good, fresh breeze coming in, Miss Maltby, and I would advise that we get out as soon as possible."
"Very well. Here come the others now." A three-seated buck-board, loaded with people and plunder, had appeared at the end of the wharf.
"All right. Below there! Tumble up and give a hand with this truck!"
The perspiring crew appeared on deck, and the work of embarking was quickly accomplished. The Hon. Helen presented, or more properly showed, the Captain to the others of the party, and the state-rooms were assigned. Evidently the comfort and cleanliness of the vessel was rather a pleasant surprise to all, but the personality of the skipper seemed still more surprising. The Hon. Helen, however, utterly refused to discuss him.
Shortly after the mooring-lines were cast off, and as soon as the schooner had drifted clear with the tide, the men of the party assisted the solitary "crew" to make sail, under the orders of the Captain. Some joke appeared to be current in the air, for there was much laughter and a slight attempt at frivolity, which the skipper promptly quashed. Half an hour later, with everything taut and straining, the little vessel dashed through the narrow inlet and stood out, close-hauled, into the freshening breeze.
Most of the party were good sailors, and only three were bowled over by the graceful polka of the Merry Maid, as she glided and swung in the clasp of the frolicsome swell. She was a full-bosomed damsel, however, and soon the spray began to fly as the play grew rougher. The Captain, seeing that the English girl was coming in for rather more than a due allowance of the romp, dove below and presently emerged with a long and somewhat jaded-looking mackintosh.
"Stow yourself in this, Miss Maltby. It isn't much to look at, but it will turn sea-water."
The girl regarded the garment with disfavor. "Thank you," she remarked stiffly, "but I have one of my own below. Mr. Stuyvesant, will you kindly wake up for a moment and fetch me my ..."
"The salt water will ruin it," remarked the captain, indifferently. "Besides, this will cover you right down to the deck." He held the garment temptingly before her.
"It looks clean inside," she remarked, yieldingly, ... "but don't you want ..."
"No, no," he replied with a touch of impatience. "Slip it on. I have some oilers if it gets very sloppy."
For the first time in her life, the English girl yielded to a will stronger than her own. The Captain rolled back the sleeves, and then held out his hand.
"Come back to the wheel, and I will show you how to steer."
Her eyes sparkled. She had been longing to get the wheel in her hands, but did not like to ask, for fear that she might be told that it would not be safe—or some other equally reasonless denial.
"Why, you know already—don't you?" said the Captain, in a disappointed tone, when she had held the spokes for five minutes in her strong little hands. Although she had often taken her trick aboard finely balanced sailing-yachts, the sturdy little schooner was quite a different craft to handle, and at first she had managed very badly. But, although she had twice "starved" her until the jib and hoist of the fore-sail were aback and flapping, and once paid her off until they were two points off their course, the Captain had made no remark. Nothing that he could have done could have been half as much appreciated by the pretty, independent helmswoman as this implied confidence in her ultimate ability to take sole charge. When presently he left her and went below, the girl felt that she could almost hug him. The excitement of her responsibility, together with the really considerable effort of keeping the schooner on her course without luffing or falling off as the big, lumbering seas hurled up against the weather-run, had set the warm blood tingling through her quickened pulses and completely thawed her insular reserve.
Fifteen minutes later, when the Captain, pipe in his mouth, hauled himself sinuously up through the hatch, he found quite a different lady at the wheel. He had left her struggling, but self-contained; clear-eyed and watchful, but cold as the nor'-wester that was humming through the shrouds. As he swung into the cockpit, another picture was framed against the wall of dark-green sea astern: the tall, graceful figure of a Viking maid, with eyes that matched the sparkling blue of the sun-kissed white-caps dancing to leeward; errant wisps of flying hair that flickered with a sheen that made the new manila look like straw, and cheeks all aglow under the rude kisses of the flying spume. She gripped the heavy spokes in two stubborn little British hands, and swung from the waist with the swing of the sea, and at each lithe undulation the dripping folds of the rain-coat brought out the graceful curves in gleaming silhouette against the foaming wake. And as she sailed she sang; not in throaty, harp-like tones, tempered to the song of the wind aloft, nor with the sense-stealing hiss beneath the bilges, but a defiant chantey, thrown with a challenge in every note, straight into the teeth of the freshening gale. It was an inspiring lay, and an old. Such a saga as Gudrun might have sung as her galley clove the uncurbed waters off the coast of Hegelingen.
The Captain felt the madness in the song and passed on forward, for to listen long would be to lose command. For awhile he stood far up in the bows, and, from behind the belly of the fore-staysail, stealthily watched the songstress. Soon it ceased, and he passed himself aft, for he knew the untiring strain of the heavy wheel on arms unused to wrestle with it just as he had known from the list when below, how the schooner was being handled.
He took the wheel from the not unwilling hands; then turned to the girl.
"Some day, when you are kind, please show me how to steer!" he said. "Never has this plump lassie sailed so close to the wind!"
She turned to him, smiling, and a trifle dreamy-eyed, for the work had been heavy, and the white caps, scudding past, were hypnotizing.
"I know how the Merry Maid must feel. It is a pleasure to be made to go against your will, ... if the driver understands ..." (a change of tone to the sedate). "Thank you, Captain, now I will go below."
The waning day had turned the bristling mountains into downy, purpling pillows, when, late the following evening, the Merry Maid crept wearily into the harbor against the first light puffs of the landward night-breeze. The little party on deck were silent, held in respectful sympathy for the last sad rites of the dying day. Then cheerful shore-sounds broke the spell, and lights began to twinkle in the shadows.
The bowsprit of the Merry Maid swung shoreward until it pointed at the big hotel, from which there came a swelling ripple of voices and laughter. Then the jib came sliding down with a raw scraping, discordant to the soft night-sounds. The foresail dropped more musically, and the splash of the anchor tore the calm surface of the bay.
"Great luck," said Reggie. "We're in time for the hop. All hands turn to and shift into glad rags. 'The uniform is clean whites,' as they say in the Navy."
Helen went below somewhat thoughtfully. She was thinking of the Captain sitting alone on the deserted deck, listening wistfully to the distant music of the band. She knew that he must be tired, as he had stood watch and watch every four hours through the night before, and finally she decided that it was better for him to turn in early.
Consequently, when, a little later, radiant in white and blue, she came on deck to go ashore, she was somewhat disconcerted to find the Captain in irreproachable, summer evening-clothes, sitting on the deck-house, smoking a cigarette.
(Note for the Journal. Among the shore-dwellers of the New England States of North America, occupation and environment appears to have no lowering influence upon the speech, customs, and appearance—particularly the latter—of the adult males.)
"I see that you are going ashore, Captain," she remarked, rather disapprovingly.
"Yes. Going to dine with some friends, and take in the dance later on. By the way, ... being, unfortunately, English, I don't suppose, that you are aware of the fact, that aboard of an American sailing-vessel, it is the customary etiquette for the Captain to have the first dance with the first lady to appear on deck, after the anchor is dropped in a new port."
"I confess that I have never heard of the custom, ... but, ... of course, if—if it is the usual thing ..."
"Oh, anyone will tell you so. I will look for you as soon as the game is call—as soon as the ball opens."
The rest of the party began to appear. One of the gentlemen looked upon the Captain with disfavor.
"Who is going to look after the boat—"
"The crew!" interrupted the Captain, sternly. "Moreover, aboard an American sailing-vessel, it is neither safe, nor good form, to criticise the actions of the Captain. Permit me," he handed the Hon. Helen to the dory lying alongside. "The boat will return immediately for the gentlemen!"
Mr. Stuyvesant grinned, hopelessly, as he seated himself on the rail.
"I have decided not to be President of the United States, or Ambassador to the Court of St. James," he remarked, as the boat, containing the Captain, crew, and ladies of the party, shoved off. "I would rather be the captain of an American sailing-vessel!"
A broad-shouldered youth, in flannels, who was standing on the wharf, assisted the ladies to disembark, and showed much enthusiasm on seeing the Captain. As the latter walked up to the hotel with the Hon. Helen, she asked him who his friend might be.
"He was one of my crew——"
"On the Yosemite?" she questioned, demurely.
"Yes, ... How did you know?"
"Oh, I saw the 'Y' on his cap."
He looked at her suspiciously, but the pretty face was inscrutable.
Later in the evening, as the Hon. Helen was walking over to the ball-room with the others, they met the Captain.
"I believe the first dance is mine, he remarked, quietly taking possession of Helen's wrap.
"Mr. Green seems inclined to dispute the point," she remarked.
The Captain glowered at Mr. Green.
"Aboard an American——"
"Oh, rot," remarked Mr. Green. "You're not aboard your American——"
"No—but I was when this engagement was made. Sheer off!"
Mr. Green growled, but the Captain's manner was peremptory. The other men laughed. And the Hon. Helen sighed, as the Captain, without further remark, led her onto the floor.
"You dance as well as you steer," said the Captain, after the first few steps. When the dance was over, he led her to a seat on the veranda.
"When ashore," he said, impressively, "the Captain, etc., is entitled to as many dances as ..."
From under the drooping lids, the blue shot at him a glance, half rebellious, half amused.
"Who were all of those people that were bowing to me when we passed? I have never met them; I am sure."
"That is simply an American custom of courtesy to a stranger. I took the liberty of returning the bows, because my countrymen are very sensitive ..."
"Oh, ... I thought that perhaps it was the customary homage paid to the captain of an American sailing-vessel."
"It was partly that," he admitted; "but you see ..."
"I fail to see. The honor is too conspicuous for one of my retiring disposition. You shall have no more dances to-night!"
"But surely you ..."
"I don't care if you are the captain of the ark! Now you had better go aboard the boat and get some sleep. Here comes Mr. Stuyvesant. This is his dance!"
The Captain sighed deeply. "It looks as if my jig was up ..."
"And Mr. Stuyvesant's waltz has just begun. Good-night!"
The Captain looked after her, mournfully, ... then wandered disconsolately off in search of Scotch and soda.
Three days later, sorely against the Captain's will, the party re-embarked for the return voyage. All day they drifted slowly through a hot haze, and, when night fell, had sailed not more than fifteen miles from the harbor-mouth. An hour before sunset, a damp, wet, threatening breeze came creeping stealthily out of the east. The Captain anxiously studied the sea and sky; then went below to consult the new barometer. He tarried not, but returned swiftly to the deck.
"Hard-a-lee!" he said to the Hon. Helen, who held the wheel.
"Why?" she asked, in surprise.
"Don't question orders, ... obey them!"
"But this breeze is just what we want ..."
The girl frowned; but slowly, and as if against an adverse pressure, the spokes went round.
"What's up, Captain?" asked one of the men.
"Don't like the weather indication, I'm going back. There's an easter brewing."
The Hon. Helen stamped her little foot, "Indeed, we're not going back, at least, I'm not ..."
"The walking is very bad," remarked the Captain, ... "but if you insist on leaving us ..."
"Oh, gammon! Just because it looks a little threatening, you must get frightened ..." She twirled the spokes impatiently.
A large, sinewy hand forced them gently, but firmly, back.
"A priceless cargo makes a nervous skipper, " remarked the Captain, gently. "You are an old sailor, Miss Maltby. Go down and look at the glass."
"Oh, hang the glass ..."
"Helen, ... Helen!" remarked the chaperon. "The Captain is ..."
"Somewhat bolder in his speech than in his actions," interrupted the girl, sarcastically. "All right. Go back again if you're afraid to go on!"
"I plead guilty," said the Captain, grimly, as the schooner swung back to the harbor-mouth.
The party slept in the hotel again that night. Twice during the night the girl was awakened by the roaring of the wind, as the gale, now sweeping in from the sea, shook the wooden structure from ridge-pole to cellar. The following morning, when she looked from her window, the sight of the sea frightened her. The thunder of the surf, half-a-mile away, drowned all other noises. The bath-houses were tumbled this way and that, and near the corner of the building lay two great uprooted trees. In the bay, beneath, the Merry Maid was lying in a smother of foam, and tugging like a frightened horse at the long drift of three stout hawsers that ran out far ahead of her. Black, dirty scud was flying so low that it was torn by the tops of the struggling pines, and the sunlight was dead and buried.
When Helen went down to breakfast, she met the Captain in the office. He bowed coldly, but did not stop to speak with her.
All that day the gale increased, and through the night. The following morning it was even worse. The sight of the sea sent shudders down the spines of the party from the Merry Maid. They remained at the hotel, waiting for the storm to break. The Captain chummed with the others of the party, but for the Hon. Helen he had only frigid bows.
The third day she met him on the veranda of the sheltered side of the hotel. He was talking to the crew.
Helen coughed; but he did not look around.
"Captain!" she interrupted, angrily.
He swung in his tracks, and removed his cap.
The girl's eyes flashed, defiantly. "Captain," she began, "the week for which we chartered your vessel is up, and we have decided to return by train to Shoal River. I wish to thank you for your wisdom in not going out, ... or, rather, in returning; also, ... to, ... ah, ... settle our indebtedness." She lifted her pretty chin, and looked straight in his clear, gray eyes, as she offered him a fifty-dollar bill.
He took it without a smile, and bowed his thanks. A faint sparkle gleamed in the blue eyes.
"We will contribute the rest of the stores to the ship," she continued, and (with a vindictive flash), "ah, ... Captain, I have heard that your habits are not of the best, and I sincerely trust that you will not drink or gamble with that ten pou ... those fifty dollars!"
An answering gleam shone from the Captain's eyes.
"I acknowledge the temptations with which, under the circumstances, I am beset. Perhaps, it would be wiser to place them out of reach. Charley!" He called to the crew, who had withdrawn to a respectful distance. The crew approached.
"Charley," said the Captain, "our passengers are not going back with us. They have heard that you are to be married in the fall, and they want to give you this for a wedding present." He handed the bill to the astonished and delighted crew. "Now, get out aboard, and see if she is dragging any."
The crew departed, spouting thanks. The Captain took the unresisting lady by the hand, and led her to a sheltered corner of the piazza.
Time—a month later; place—the seaward side of one of the sand-dunes that flank a deserted strip of beach. The Hon. Helen and the Captain furnish the vital spark that gives the scene a soul.
The Captain sits silent; elaborating an argument. The Hon. Helen is writing notes in a journal, with an Art Nouveau cover. The Captain's voice finally puts the little sand-pipers in front of them to flight.
"It is the custom, when the captain of an American sailing-vessel is engaged to marry the daughter of a hundred earls for her to give him as many ..."
(Note for the Journal, ... written aloud: "The adult males of the coast tribes ...")
There is a sudden movement on the part of the "adult male," and the Journal goes spinning, face downward, on the sand.