The Ennui of Cap'n Peek

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The Ennui of Cap'n Peek

BY CLARENCE B. KELLAND


"ONE time," announced Cap'n Saturn Horgin, "Cap'n Peek he sails with a French cook, and fr'm this here person he up and accumulates a vocab'lary consistin' of one furrin word, namely and to wit, ong-wee.

"This here Cap'n Peek," beamed the old sailorman, "was monstrous proud and elated over them ling-u-istic accomplishments of his'n and uses it consecutive and plenty, sprinklin' it through his reemarks like buoys in the Lime Kiln Crossing.

" 'Ong-wee,' explains Cap'n Peek to me, 'is that there species of laziness that's glad it's hopin' somethin' will happen it 'll be sorry for.'

"He suffers from this here defec' stiddy and perseverin'. Heave to alongside of him in ca'm or storm and Cap'n Peek he'll elucydate conjectures concernin' his condition.

P479, Harper's Magazine, 1910--The ennui of Cap'n Peek.jpg

" 'Ong-wee is infestin' me,' mourns he. 'I'm that rammed full of ong-wee that a lumber schooner with a deck load of shingles is roomy and vacant beside me. Cap'n Horgin,' he utters, doleful, 'rheumatiz and hay fever and all the ailments patent medicine can't cure has boarded this here ol' hulk, Cap'n Horgin, but none of them ain't so discomfortin' as this here ong-wee!'

"Cap'n Peek he ain't no care-free, single sailorman—not him. He's related to a wife who mostly reemains to home accumulatin' gossip and averdupoise. Cap'n he discovers that this here connubial partner of his'n harbors consid'able cookin' art, so w'en his cook takes sick he pervails onto Emmeline to sign articles and uplift the culinary department.

"Emmeline she takes to cookin' for all them sailormen like a Presbyterian cat does to a Methodist dawg. By the time she's completed purveyin' the first reepast she's run aground onto the idee that she's cookin' for about 'leven more fellers than Nature intended she oughter—whereat she becomes morose and irate.

"When this here first meal is vanished distinct and concloosive, Emmeline she stands silent runnin' over the sitywation, gloomy an' portentious. Of a suddin she rises up onto her feet and shouts:

" 'Stack!'

"Seein' from her bearin' and angry mien that Emmeline means business and is expressin' her true sentymints, ev'ry feller piles his dishes neat and rapid. Follerin' this, Emmeline she emits a baleful silence for some minnits, then she reaches out eager for the part of Cap'n Peek's anatomy that he wears under his collar. Bein' some spry and muscular, this here lady h'ists Cap'n outen his chair, brushes the crums off'n the table with his person, and final she flirts him onto the floor alongside of her, vig'rous and inflexible.

" 'Who be yuh?' she requests to know. Emmeline's v'ice reesembles the edges of two hunks of glass bein' scraped tigether, and chills go aloft on each feller's spine.

" 'Who be yuh?' she reepeats.

" 'Why, Emmeline,' gags Cap'n Peek—'why, Emmeline dear, I'm Cap'n Peek, master of this here vessel and your own lovin' wedded husban'.'

" 'Huh!' grunts Emmeline.

"For a spell nobody exhibits no signs of vocal conversation and Cap'n perduces a expression of gloom and melancholy. Howsumever, he soon gits to thinkin' the matter over, as Emmeline clutches onto the scruff of his neck, and that there expression jogs along to make room for another that ain't neither gloomy nor sorrowful. It's a expression that states emphatic that Cap'n Peek is hopeful of reesults.

"Some of the crew confers with a heroic view to effectin' a rescue, and Cap'n detec's them in the act of makin' a hostile demonstration at Emmeline.

" 'Boys!' he calls, choked but commandin'. 'Boys, avast. Stand by, boys. Don't none of yuh go interferin' between man and wife! Don't yuh do it, boys! Let this here thing go on. For twenty year I've been sore afflicted with ong-wee. I ain't so afflicted at this here minnit, boys. Go 'way and leave me with my joy!'

" 'She'll' kill yuh!' sobs Hannibal, the mate.

" 'She won't do no sich thing—and if she does I'm dyin' a amused and contented skipper. There ain't no ong-wee here, boys. I leaves it to yuh if a man could suffer with ong-wee in these here circ'mstances.'

" 'He could not,' reeplies Hannibal.

" 'Shut up,' grates Emmeline.

" 'Ya-as'm,' agrees Hannibal.

" 'Who be I?' she asks Cap'n.

" 'Yuh be Emmeline, my loved wife and the cook of this here craft.'

" 'I ain't,' screams Emmeline.

" 'Be yuh denyin' the husban' of yer bosom that yuh've jined in holy wedlock?' pants Cap'n.

" 'I am not,' asserts Emmeline.

" 'What be yuh denyin'?' Cap'n wants to know.

" 'I ain't no cook of no vessel,' snorts Emmeline.

" 'Oh,' says Cap'n, s'prised.

" 'Ya-as,' emits Emmeline, 'and further and in addition yuh ain't the cap'n of no vessel, either.'

" 'Oh,' reepeats Cap'n, interested and expectant.

" 'I'm cap'n,' announces Emmeline.

" 'This here's mutiny!' squeals Hannibal.

"Cap'n looks at him reproachful.

" 'Mutiny nothin', Hannibal,' says he. 'Don't the Scriptures and the statutes in this here case made and pervided state emphatic that a woman can't mutiny agin' her husban'? Don't they so state, Hannibal?'

" 'I'm cap'n of this here vessel,' repeats Emmeline.

" 'Gosh!' stutters Cap'n.

" 'I be,' asserts Emmeline.

" 'Go ahead,' agrees Cap'n. 'Go on and be it. What am I?'

" 'Yuh?' sniffs Emmeline. 'Yuh—yuh ain't nothin'—onl' maybe the cook!'

" 'Great!' smiles Cap'n, reeflective and happy. 'This here is knockin' my ong-wee higher'n a kite.'

" 'I'll knock somethin' besides ong-wee higher'n two kites,' promises Emmeline.

" 'Do it,' dares Cap'n.

"There was a dish of mashed pertaters onto the table, and Emmeline she grabs them there vittles and squashes Cap'n's visage into their midst.

" 'Take that and shut up,' says she.

" 'Fellers,' splutters Cap'n, emergin' from the dish with 'taters clingin' to his whiskers, 'this here is eventful, fellers. There ain't no room for ong-wee in these here perceedin's, fellers. Now is there?' This last was sort a pleadin'.

" 'There ain't,' comments Hannibal, at the same time assumin' a posture of readiness for flight near the door.

" 'I'm cap'n of this here craft,' announces Emmeline agin.

" 'Yuh makes that there statement before,' says Cap'n.

" 'I'll make it agin,' snarls Emmeline.

" 'Do it,' says Cap'n.

" 'I won't,' says Emmeline.

" 'She's went crazy,' Hannibal allows in a whisper.

" Emmeline she turns to him impressive and threatenin'.

" 'Yuh git out a here and swab that there deck,' she orders.

" 'Me?' roars Hannibal. 'Yuh don't mean me. I'm mate of this here vessel.'

" 'Yuh ain't; I'm cap'n and mate and the whole passel,' growls Emmeline. 'Yuh git to swabbin' that there deck or I'll git to swabbin' yuh.'

"Some benighted sailorman laughs at Hannibal.

" 'Yuh scrub, too,' roars Emmeline. 'Everybody scrub. Every man onto this boat scrub—exceptin' this here cook,' she orders.

"When she makes a promisin' step towards that there crowd every feller makes a break for a bucket. In no time ev'ry sailorman is swabbin' deck like he was expectin' to find gold dollars in the cracks.

"Emmeline leaves them and strides forrud. She sees the feller at the wheel.

" 'What be yuh doin' here?' she wants to know.

" 'Wheelin',' says the man.

" 'Git out a here and go scrubbin' with the rest,' she commands; 'I'll steer this here ship. I didn't like the way she was headin', anyhow.'

"Whereupon Emmeline she grapples aholt of the spokes and begins pilotin' the craft on a course that reesembles the business edge of a saw. The on'y direction Emmeline don't head in the next quarter of a hour is straight up.

"Meantime Cap'n Peek is dancin' with glee. He struts out on deck and converses with Hannibal and the crew.

" 'Ho!' he says, proud and satisfied. 'Ho! This here is entertainin', Hannibal. This here is divertin'. I say, Hannibal, do yuh detec' any ong-wee in the offing, Hannibal? I bet yuh don't, Hannibal. And say, Hannibal, how do yuh like scrubbin' decks?'

"Hannibal he ceases laborin' for a minnit.

" 'Yuh that was Cap'n Peek,' says he. 'Wen that there demented creature forrud runs into a mental ca'm and this here ol' vessel regains her normal aspec', I promises yuh I will beat yuh up so a instalment-house collector wouldn't recognize you on yer own front stoop.'

" 'Ho!' says Cap'n again. 'Ho!'

" 'Don't Ho at me,' growls Hannibal.

" 'Fine sailormen,' beams Cap'n to the whole crew. 'Nice sailormen. All busy. Not a feller sufferin' from ong-wee, I bet. This here is a gladsome day—a gladsome and a gleeful minnit.'

"Then he perceeds to the pilot-house.

" 'Emmeline,' says he, 'yuh are occupyin' a man's shoes and holdin' down a man's job, Emmeline.'

" 'I be,' she snaps, 'and they're too small.'

" 'Ho!' says Cap'n agin.

"Emmeline she lets go the wheel and grabs for Cap'n.

" 'Look out,' yells he. 'She's a-fallin' off. Yuh'll be runnin' her aground, Emmeline.'

" 'I don't care,' reetorts Emmeline, makin' another grab.

" 'Neither do I,' says Cap'n. 'She's insured—and yuh're insured—and I kin swim. Go ahead, Enmeline.'

"He dances out of reach.

" 'Emmeline,' he says, lovin' and gentle, 'I hain't never appreciated yuh before. I'm proud and fond of yuh, Emmeline, I be. Yuh're curin' that there ong-wee of mine quick and painless.'

"Then he hurried aft to speak with Hannibal again.

" 'Ho!' he addresses the mate. 'Ho! I've a notion to up and chuck a pail of water onto yuh, Hannibal. Yuh dastn't touch me if I do, Hannibal, and yuh know it.'

" 'Wait,' glowers the mate.

"All to oncet Cap'n and Hannibal and the crew hears a scream emanatin' from the pilot-house.

Thought I heard a woman holler,' stated Hannibal.

" 'Yuh did,' Cap'n assures him.

" 'Who was it?' demands the mate.

" 'I guess,' reflects Cap'n, 'that that there voice emitted from Emmeline.'

" 'Never,' argues Hannibal. 'She ain't got no feminine screech into her—not her.'

" 'We'll see,' suggests Cap'n.

"All of a sudden the ship sort a jerks to port—then she jars to starboard—then back to port agin. Back shakes like she was a puppy's mouth.

" 'Gosh,' says Hannibal.

" 'I agrees,' says Cap'n. 'Now ain't that there woman reemarkable? Ain't she? Who'd 'a' thought she had them there marked abilities for dissipatin' ong-wee? Now what d'yuh s'pose she's up to now?'

" 'Gawd knows,' reemarks Hannibal, full of resignation.

" 'We'll see,' reepeats Cap'n.

"Scream after scream comes piercin' from the pilot-house, and Cap'n and the mate rushes forrud. Wonderin' and brimmin' with curiosity, they peeks into the pilot-house.

" 'Gosh,' says Hannibal.

" 'Agin I agrees with yuh,' says Cap'n.

P481, Harper's Magazine, 1910--The ennui of Cap'n Peek.jpg

"There was Emmeline a-climbin' up that there wheel like she thought it was a ladder. As fast as she steps onto a spoke down it goes, and she has to leap over to the other side of the wheel onto another spoke, which goes down likewise and immediate. Emmeline she weighs up at two hundred ten and some over. Over she plunges and down she goes. Plunge and down—plunge and down. This here exercise throws the wheel starboard and then port and so on, keepin' the vessel twitchin' back and forth like it had the St. Vitus's dance.

" 'Help!' squeals Emmeline, terror-struck and plaintive.

" Agin and agin she essays clamberin' up them spokes. Meantime she gazes at Cap'n and Hannibal with beseechin' eyes.

P482, Harper's Magazine, 1910--The ennui of Cap'n Peek.jpg

" 'Help! ... help!' she yells.

" 'What's the matter?' Cap'n asks.

" 'Oh! ... wow! ... help!' screams Emmeline. 'Look—there!' She takes a hand off'n the wheel long enough to p'int to the floor.

" 'Where?' asks Cap'n. Then he beholds a rat. It ain't no big man-stealin' rat, nor one of them ravenin' rats that breaks into pastures and carries off cattle—no sirree. This here rodent is a little rat—a skinny, hungry, homely rat. It's a weazened, pale, sickly, non-combatant rat—and it was scairt worse'n Emmeline.

" 'Save me,' moans the lady.

" 'Maybe,' hesitates Cap'n.

" 'Horrid brute,' squeals Emmeline.

" 'Who be yuh?' asks Cap'n, smilin' and pleasant.

"Emmeline says nothin'.

" 'Who be yuh?' repeats the officer.

" 'Emmeline Peek,' she moans.

" 'Is that all?' demands Cap'n. 'What be yuh aboard this here vessel?'

"Emmeline wept.

" 'I'm the cook,' she wails.

" 'Who be I?'

" 'Yuh're Cap'n Peek— my husband—and the master of this here ship.' She states this prompt and hopeful.

" 'Is that there job of your'n permanent?'

" 'Y - a - as,' mourns Emmeline.

" 'Yuh ain't goin' to have no more hankerin' to be Cap'n?'

" 'O-oo-h! Take it away. No. ... Never.'

" 'Emmeline,' Cap'n states, impressive, 'yuh disappoint me. I thought yuh was a reemarkable woman, Emmeline. I s'posed yuh was goin' to prove a everlastin' cure for this here ong-wee—but yuh ain't. But yuh have give me a day of relief, and fer that I'll buy yuh a new silk dress in Duluth—but yuh're a sad disappointment, Emmeline.'

"Almost weepin', Cap'n steps into the room, grabs the poor, sufferin' rat, and heaves it over the rail. Emeline looks at him with admiration and affection shinin' from her eyes as she clambers down off'n the wheel. Then she up and weeps onto his shoulder.

" 'Ho,' says Cap'n Peek. 'Ho, ... hum, ... h-a-a-wr!' he yawned. 'Doggone that there ong-wee. She's a comin' onto me agin. Wimmin, they ain't the equal of men. Now a man would 'a' kept that there ong-wee off'n me a spell longer.'

" 'Ahem!' coughs Hannibal.

" 'What is it?' asks Cap'n.

" 'D'yuh recall a while back?' asks the mate.

" 'I do so,' responds Cap'n.

" 'I promised to lick yuh for them words and acts of your'n while I was engaged in scrubbin' deck.'

" 'Yuh did,' remembers Cap'n, and a smile of hope crosses his face.

" 'I'm a-goin' to do it,' says Hannibal.

"A grin of joy breaks through the remains of Cap'n's grief.

" 'Hannibal,' he cooes, 'put it off till to-morrow, Hannibal. Do that fer me, Hannibal—fer me, yer skipper. Lookin' forrud to that there chastisement will save me from a night of ong-wee and pervide me with a eventful future.'

" 'I will do so,' complies Hannibal.

"Which he done," finished Cap'n Horgin.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.


The author died in 1964, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.