When Mr. Leonard Holbrook bought the fine yawl _Dartmoor_, he did so
with the clear understanding that his wife would accompany him on a
voyage through the inland waters of the eastern coast of the States to
Florida. The vessel was something over sixty feet on the water-line and
fitted up with as much magnificence as a small craft of that size could
well be. She had many trophies in solid silver, won in many hard-fought
races, which adorned her cabin, and when Mrs. Holbrook beheld her
interior she capitulated.
Mrs. Holbrook belonged to what was termed an “exclusive set.” She went
to church more than once a week, and the pastor of the million-dollar
edifice in New York had much to thank her for.
“A poor person might be pious, but–ugh,” he explained with a shrug
to the sexton one evening, and he made it his duty to keep alive the
fires of reverence which had been installed at an early age within Mrs.
Holbrook’s gentle breast.
It was with many misgivings that she finally became willing to trust
herself upon the _Dartmoor_, for although she had faith in abundance,
it was of the usual feminine variety which is best nurtured under
pleasantly artificial conditions. The dangers of the sea, however, were
shown to be very small indeed upon a fine craft, especially within
the confines of the sounds, and she had sailed as far down the coast
as Beaufort. Here it was decided to remain for a few days and enjoy
the rural life of the tar-heel, and while Holbrook fished and hunted
every minute of the too short days, Mrs. Holbrook passed the time
aboard in pious and profound repose. It was delightful to be able to
read the texts under the bright blue sky while sitting alone upon the
quarter-deck without being interrupted by talk of guns and fishing
lines. Then the small but cleanly kirk upon the shell-road could be
visited daily, and the good old man who attended to the religious
affairs of the fishing village was more than willing to be honoured by
so distinguished a visitor. Yachts were like manna, only they did not
drop from the sky, but were not the less appreciated for that fact.
The fourth morning the _Dartmoor_ broke out her blue pennant on the
starboard spreader, showing that Holbrook had gone away for a day’s
sport. John Bunyan came down to the dock and stepped aboard. Jubiter
John he was called among the pilots of the Core Bank, for he had lived
at the inlet just above the beginning of the Florida Reef. He sidled
aft and met the quartermaster, who stopped him, but as he was known
as a good pilot and had brought the vessel in behind the “bulkhead”
safely, he was allowed certain privileges. The master came forth to
“Mornin’, Cap’n,” said John, slouching up and pulling forth a rank
mullet roe from his pocket and nibbling the end.
The master acknowledged the salutation with a grunt.
“Youse don’t take no passengers on a yacht, hey?” he ventured.
“No,” said the skipper, decisively, with the vision of the possible
passenger before him.
“Youse ain’t allowed to, hey?”
“Exactly,” said the Captain.
“It’s too bad!” exclaimed John.
“Yes, it is,” answered the Captain, heartily, his face expressing
nothing of the sorrow he might have felt at the limitations of his
There was a moment’s silence during which the Captain looked aft at
the reclining form of Mrs. Holbrook. She sat reading in the shade of
the after awning with a rug over her feet to keep off the chill of the
“Did youse ever hear of the sanctified people?” asked Jubiter John,
The Captain had not.
“Well, they live down near the Jubiter Inlet where I used to run.
There’s one o’ the fellers ashore here now an’ he wants to go back
home. It would be a mighty big accommodation if youse could take him
with youse–don’t youse think it could be done, hey? He’d pay a little.”
“How much?” asked the Captain, slightly interested.
“Well, I can’t say in money, but then his services air wuth somethin’.
He’s an all round able man, an’ he’ll say the prayers fer yer.”
“I see,” said the Captain, with a grunt.
“There’s nothin’ doin’?”
“Nix,” said the Captain, shortly.
“Well, naow, that’s too bad. But think it over, Cap’n, think it over.”
The skipper edged to the rail and sniffed suspiciously.
“If it’s just the same to you, Jubiter, I’ll thank ye to get to lor’ard
with that mullet roe. Whew!” said the Captain.
Jubiter John looked pained. He put the rest of the fish roe into his
pocket and turned to go. At that instant the Captain started and looked
up the dock. A huge figure of a man hove in sight and came slowly down
the shell fill towards the yawl.
The figure was dressed in black cloth of clerical cut, the broad
shoulders squared across and the hands folded behind. The stranger’s
head was not visible owing to the fact that he bowed it over until
nothing but the top of a shiny tall hat showed in front of him, and he
looked almost like a huge turtle with his head drawn inside the shell.
The black tails of his coat flapped about his legs in the sea breeze
as he strode slowly down to where the _Dartmoor_ lay.
Mrs. Holbrook noticed the man about the time the Captain started up
the gangplank to intercept him coming aboard. Visitors were not always
welcome to the skipper of the yacht, and it was his duty to see what
they wanted. The Captain had hardly started well up the narrow way,
when the stranger, who had reached the inshore end of it and was about
to proceed down its length, suddenly raised his head. The motion was
not unlike that of a turtle poking forth his nose, for it increased the
man’s stature a full foot, and he stopped, looking at the Captain out
of eyes that seemed to hold both a challenge and a half-hidden fear.
His shaved chin had a stubble of black hair, but it failed to cover the
great square jaw except in spots. A line of white teeth showed between
the partly opened lips, and the Captain hesitated to take in the man’s
appearance more fully before ordering him off the boat. The vessel gave
a tug at her moorings and the gangplank took a sudden slue to one side.
The next instant the Captain gave a spring for the string piece of the
wharf. He missed it by a fraction of an inch and fell heavily against
the timber and overboard, landing in the water with a rousing splash.
The accident caused a cry of alarm from Mrs. Holbrook which brought
from the depths of the cabin her son Richard. He came bounding up the
companionway as rapidly as a boy of twelve could. Jubiter John stood
spellbound, looking over the side while the boy, the cook and a sailor
rushed to the rail to lend a hand and get the skipper back aboard.
The tall stranger, however, had anticipated their arrival by a few
seconds and, jumping on deck, leaned over the side and reached a long
thin arm down to the Captain, who came spluttering to the surface.
He seized the collar of the coat as it came clear of the water and
without apparent effort raised the Captain to the deck. The motion
was one of such ease, the Captain being a short, heavy fellow, that a
close observer would have marvelled at the man’s strength, but in the
excitement little notice was taken of it. The stranger had saved the
Captain from the sea, and Mrs. Holbrook, who had now advanced to the
rail, thanked him warmly for his services.
The look of challenge died away from the man’s eyes and one of fear
came in place. He shuffled uneasily under the woman’s gaze, but finally
controlled himself. Then without a word he lifted his face heavenward
and clasped his hands before him.
“The ways o’ Providence air unbeknownst,” said he, slowly, closing his
upturned eyes and standing like some huge statue carved in wood. His
voice was so soft and gentle that it brought a smile to the face of
the boy who stared at him insolently. But the rest were impressed by
the man’s manner and stood silently watching him until he brought his
head back to its normal position with a jerk. Then the Captain muttered
something about inquisitive strangers and went below to change, for the
air was cool.
“I am sure I should like to repay you for your bravery, Mr.–Mr.—-”
began Mrs. Holbrook, “but I hardly know how to thank you, sir.”
“Mr. Jones is his name, ma’am,” said Jubiter John, “an’ youse kin repay
him at once.”
Mr. Jones looked somewhat abashed at this, and the stranger’s look of
defiance came into his eyes again.
“He’s the sanctified man I ware tellin’ the Cap’n of jest before he
fell overboard,” went on Jubiter, “an’ all he wants is a passage down
the coast a ways. The settlement is down near where I used to run.”
“Ah, a clergyman,–a country clergyman, I see,” said Mrs. Holbrook.
“I reckon that’s about it,” said Jubiter John.
“Mr. Jones,” said Mrs. Holbrook, “I should be very glad, indeed, to
aid you down the coast. You know the yacht is small and you might have
to sleep in the Captain’s stateroom. If you would not object to that
arrangement, you are more than welcome to the voyage.”
“Ah, madam,” said the tall man, solemnly, in a small voice hardly above
a whisper, “I should be glad to have the opportunities you speak of,
and if the bed be rough an’ hard an’ the grub poor, I know it will be
the hand o’ Providence what makes it so, an’ I kin stand it. The ways
o’ Providence air unbeknownst.”
“Very well, then, we leave to-morrow morning at daylight. My husband
will be back before sundown and you may come aboard to-night,” said
Mrs. Holbrook. “Won’t you come aft? I am sure the walk must have tired
you. It is a long way to the village.”
The tall Mr. Jones glanced at Jubiter John and then followed the lady
to the quarter-deck, where he folded up like a huge jack-knife in a
deck chair, to listen to the somewhat vague but religious conversation
of his new patron. He sat there for a full hour, seldom even answering
questions which were put to him and not offering a single sentence
of his own volition. When he arose to go, he looked askance at Mrs.
Holbrook, then he raised his face heavenward and said, solemnly: “The
ways o’ Providence air unbeknownst.”
He turned in a moment and went rapidly to the rail near the dock,
leaving Mrs. Holbrook staring at him.
“Ain’t he a long one, say,” said young Richard, “an’ them legs–Gee
But at that instant the tall man sprang to the wharf and hurried off,
hearing nothing, and Richard received a severe rebuke.
“My dear,” said Mrs. Holbrook to her husband that evening, “I have
taken the liberty of inviting a country clergyman to accompany us down
the coast. He will be here this evening and I hope you will be civil to
“Huh,” said Mr. Holbrook, and went on deck to smoke his cigar.
“Is he really comin’ to go with us?” asked Richard.
“Yes, my dear, of course he is,” answered his mother.
“But ain’t he long, say?” and he bounded up the companionway to join
Before eight bells that evening the tall Mr. Jones made his appearance
and introduced himself to the Captain. As the latter had been
instructed to entertain the new arrival to the extent of giving up his
room, he received the tall man with scant ceremony.
“What’s the matter wid payin’ yer passage on a steamboat?” growled the
mariner, as he jerked his belongings out of the berth.
“My friend,” observed the sanctified man, “it is not my wish to cause
trouble, an’ I can’t help it. If your bed be hard I make no complaint;
I’ll try to sleep on it. If my grub is no good, I’ll try to forget it.
The way o’ Providence air unbeknownst.”
The short, stout skipper stood looking at him a moment, but the
sanctified man beamed down upon him until he turned with an exclamation
of a somewhat unconventional sort and left the room. Then the tall man
closed the door.
In the early morning the _Dartmoor_ was cast loose from the dock and
her mainsail hoisted. Jubiter John stood near the wheel and piloted her
safely over the bar and out into the green waters of the Atlantic. Then
he left her and took to his dory to row back.
The air was crisp with the tingle of a nor’wester and the sun rose
with a ruddy glow. The sea was smooth under the land, but the little
lumpy clouds which were running away from the northward, told of wind
behind. Before the sun was well above the horizon, Mr. Jones appeared
on deck. He was dressed in his black trousers with suspenders tied
about his waist in place of a belt. His once white shirt was open at
the neck displaying a deep and brawny chest. Two long white feet poked
themselves from beneath his trouser legs in most unpoetical fashion,
but showed he was ready for the washing down of the vessel’s decks. He
tailed on to the gaff-topsail halliards and sweated up that piece of
canvas until the block nearly parted from the masthead with the strain.
Even the Captain, who had spent the night sleeping upon the galley
floor, felt that he had, indeed, an able seaman in the sanctified man
who hurled buckets of water along the snow-white planks or hustled the
squeegee along the deck until the wood and seams fairly oozed water
like a sponge. The three foremast hands hurried along in his wake.
The _Dartmoor_ was fast making an offing. With all sail she was running
before the breeze which now began to get a heart in it, and the long
heave of the heavy sea coming around Cape Lookout told of something
behind it. There was a live kick and quick run to this swell that made
the skipper look anxiously to his lighter canvas, but it was his object
to get as far down the beach as possible while the wind lasted. A few
miserable hours of heavy weather and all might be well, but thrashing
down a nor’wester would cost him his job if he judged Mrs. Holbrook
The motion brought young Richard on deck, where he stood looking at the
tall man in amazement.
“I thought you was a minister, say?” he ventured, as the sanctified man
came near with the squeegee, “an’ ministers don’t work.”
“Well, some kinds do, sonny. I ain’t just what you might call a priest.”
“Naw, you look like you might be some good,” said the boy. “But ain’t
you a long one, say? When you get through I’ll come forward and talk to
you. Ma won’t care; she says she hates to have to sit around an’ try to
talk to people she don’t know nothin’ about.”
“Did she say that?”
“Sure, she don’t know nothin’ about you.”
The look of fear came into the tall man’s eyes and he squeegeed the
deck vigorously. Then he went slowly forward and put the tool away.
One of the sailors struck off six bells and the cook announced that
breakfast was ready for the Captain and the guest. As the saloon
was for the owner and his party, the meal was served in the galley,
the Captain and sanctified man sitting at the small table used to
manipulate the several ingredients which went to make a yacht’s meal.
“Do you think we’ll have good weather, Captain?” asked the tall man,
starting in at a plate of prepared oats.
“Naw,” snapped the skipper, who still held vision of his night’s rest
upon the galley floor.
“D’ye mind me sayin’ a thank ye fer the vittles, hey?”
“Do yer prayin’ to yerself,” snapped the Captain.
The long man raised his eyes and muttered something in his soft voice.
“No matter if the vittles is bad–an’ poor, I’m thankful. The ways o’
Providence air unbeknownst,” he said as he finished.
“What’s the matter with the whack?” snarled the Captain. “Ain’t it
good enough fer yer? I’ll lay it’s a sight better’n you been used to
gettin’, an’ that’s a fact.”
“I didn’t say it wasn’t good,” said the tall man, hastily, in a gentle
tone. “I only said I was thankful even if it wasn’t any good.”
“Huh,” snarled the Captain, “tryin’ to sneak out of it, hey?”
“A sanctified man never fights,” said the big fellow in a small voice,
“for if he did I would break you up in little pieces.”
“Well, a sailor fights an’ don’t you fergit it,” snarled the Captain.
“You want to try the breakin’ game a bit aboard here, you long-legged
sky-pilot. What the thunder d’ye call a sanctified man anyways, hey?”
“Don’t ye know?” asked the tall man, mildly, his eyes taking again that
peculiar look of fear they often held.
“Naw,” answered the skipper.
“Well, he’s one what’s been tried. A man that’s been off the path an’
come back again. He’s taken the oath to do no more harm–nothin’ but
good. He’s sanctified.”
“No more harm! What harm hev ye done, hey?” asked the Captain, sharply.
“Well, I served my time out–all but three years,” said the tall man,
“What?” gasped the skipper.
“I served my time out, nearly out. It was only fifteen years I got. I’m
all right and have papers to prove it. One of the men they thought I
killed got well again. The money was divided among my pals. I didn’t
get a cent of it; no, not a cent. But the past is past. Let it die!”
“An’ you calls yourself a sanctified man, you bloomin’ convict, hey?
Steward, set these things somewhere else. I may not be particular as to
friends aboard ship, but I draw the line at eatin’ with jailbirds.”
“I never was in jail–only for a month. It was the penitentiary,”
corrected the tall man, his small voice almost dying away. There was
something very sad in his tone; something so touching that even the
steward hesitated at obeying the skipper’s orders.
“An’ to think,” said the Captain, “that Jubiter John should play it so
badly on us.”
He ate his meal in silence on the other side of the little room, while
the vessel plunged and ran down the slopes of following seas, creaking
and straining so that he soon left for the deck.
The sanctified man sat eating slowly, in spite of the motion and cries
from above, as the men shortened sail to ease the racing craft in the
sea. He was lost in thought. The memories of his sufferings were upon
him, and as the sad years rolled back, he seemed to stand again upon a
ship’s deck giving orders to a crew who obeyed as only deep-water men
know how. His had been a long, hard road, indeed. The surly Captain was
forgotten and his insults were as though they had never been uttered.
While he sat there eating slowly and thinking over the past, he became
aware that the door leading to the main saloon was open. Through it he
caught a glimpse of shining silver as the _Dartmoor_ rolled heavily
to starboard, letting in a flood of sunlight through her side ports.
A huge urn or cup weighing many pounds, and of solid silver, was
firmly planted upon a shelf near the end of the saloon. Upon it was an
engraving of a yacht under full sail with the legend “Dartmoor” with
“1898” beneath. Evidently the trophy of that season and probably the
greatest she had ever won. It was a superb piece of ware, and the man
looked at it for a long time, while his face gradually took on a hard
expression and the strange look of defiance and challenge came again
into his eyes. He had suffered much, but there was something within him
that was stirred by the glint of that silver. Twelve long years among a
certain class of men had implanted new weaknesses and developed those
he had already possessed. He was forgetting himself under the flashing
of that reflected sunlight.
Suddenly he was aware of a small hand stealing within his own and he
turned with a cry of alarm. A look of despair came across his face and
his wide jaws set firm.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” said Richard, glancing backward at the
steward who was busy with the morning meal. “You don’t look like you
scare easily. I heard what old square-head said to you. Don’t you mind
him. He’ll eat with you–an’ afterwards you can tell me what you done.”
“Good God,” murmured the man, and seized the boy in his arms.
“Don’t hug me; I ain’t no girl” cried Richard, and the tall man sat him
on his knee and smilingly patted his head.
“I reckon we’ll go on deck,” said the sanctified man, in a few minutes.
“They’ll want some help reefin’ the mainsail–pretty big sea to run her
under all lower canvas.” And he took the lad’s hand and went forward
through the forecastle to the scuttle and so on up to the sunlight
The morning was now well advanced. Eight bells struck off, and the head
of Mr. Holbrook appeared emerging from the cabin companionway. The sea
was sparkling in the sunshine and the quick combers running before the
freshening breeze were covering the surface with patches of white.
The topsail had been taken in and all hands were lowering down the
mainsail to close reef it.
The sanctified man tailed on to the main sheet and soon had the boom
nearly amidships. Then the sail was lowered slowly, the men handing
in the canvas to ease it on the lazyjacks and toppinglift while the
_Dartmoor_ ran along under jigger and jib before a sea that was rapidly
shifting to the eastward. Mr. Holbrook came on deck and watched his
flying fabric, taking a hand and passing reef-points under the jackstay
along the boom, which were all carefully pulled out again and passed
under the foot-roping of the mainsail by the careful skipper.
Mrs. Holbrook decided that as the motion was very great she would
remain where it affected her the least. It would be time enough to go
on deck after dinner, when the beauties of an afternoon at sea might be
Mr. Holbrook soon went below to breakfast and took his son with him.
When they appeared again the mainsail was set close-reefed, and the
jigger rolled up, letting the yawl run easily with more head-sail. She
now rose on the following seas like a swan, and as she would reach the
crest she would rush wildly along the slanting side, her nose pointing
downward and the full weight of the gale in her canvas, until the sea
would run from under her, letting her sink slowly into the trough where
her canvas would flap in the almost calm spot between the seas. It was
a little thick to the westward, but although the land could not now be
seen there was a good stretch of water plainly visible.
The sanctified man stood near the wheel, looking occasionally into the
binnacle where the compass card swung a good three points each side of
the lubber’s mark, as the vessel broached or paid off in the sea.
“D’ye ever adjust that compass?” he asked, mildly, of Mr. Holbrook.
“Ever what?” asked the owner, contemptuously.
“Do you ever see that the card swings true?” asked the sanctified man.
Mr. Holbrook looked at the tall man with undisguised pity. What
should a clerical man know about navigation, he thought. The poor
country clergyman was evidently a bit ignorant concerning compasses,
although every schoolboy knew that the magnet swung north and south.
He attempted to explain the matter in a wearied tone, but when he had
finished the tall man only smiled and his expressive eyes showed traces
of amusement. He said nothing. Finally he ventured:
“If I were you, I would let her head a little more to the eastward.”
Mr. Holbrook walked away giving a little grunt of disgust as though
he had been holding intercourse with a lunatic. As he never spoke to
his Captain except to tell him where he wanted to go, he had a rather
lonely time on deck and took to playing with his son by sitting at one
end of the cabin-house and throwing a line to him at the other and
then pulling upon it.
The sea became rougher during the day, but in spite of it, dinner was
served in the saloon. Mrs. Holbrook appeared at last and bravely tried
to play the part of hostess to her guest. Holbrook had always shown an
aversion to piously inclined people, and a clergyman’s presence gave
him extreme annoyance, as it prevented his picturesque flow of words.
As adjectives were a weakness of his, the conversation would have
lapsed into monosyllables, had not Mrs. Holbrook determined to do her
“I suppose,” said that lady, “you have many sailor men in your
congregation, Mr. Jones.”
The tall man looked at her sharply. He thought of his “congregation”
and wondered. Did the lady know what he was? He had not meant to
deceive any one. Jubiter John had simply asked for a passage for a
sanctified man and had not thought it necessary to go into the man’s
history. His eyes held the strange look of alarm they had when he first
came aboard, and he answered in his thin voice.
“Yes, ma’am, there’s plenty of sailors get in, though they are no
worse’n landsmen. It don’t make much difference what callin’ a man
takes, there’s bad ones in all.”
Mrs. Holbrook glanced at her husband, who smiled his approval.
“Do you know Mr. Brown, the pastor in Beaufort?” asked the lady.
“He must be a very excellent man–I never heard of him,” said her
husband, with a touch of irony.
“I asked Mr. Jones,” said Mrs. Holbrook, sweetly.
“No, ma’am, I never did,” said the tall man, shooting his head upward
and looking at his host. “He never did time.”
“Never what?” asked the lady.
A sharp kick upon the shin bone from young Richard caused the
sanctified man to raise a full foot higher in his seat.
“What’s the matter?” he asked quickly.
“Aw, tumble,” said the irreverent Richard.
Mrs. Holbrook looked at her son sharply.
“What did you do? Do you want to be sent from the table?” she said.
The young man dropped his gaze into his plate and looked abashed. His
father smiled. The meal proceeded in silence until they had finished,
when Mr. Holbrook led the way on deck with a handful of cigars.
“That wasn’t a bad one on the country parson,” ventured the yachtsman.
“You fellows so seldom joke, a man never knows just when you will break
out. Ha, ha, ha–‘never did time’–Well, that wasn’t half bad.” And he
quite warmed to the tall man as he offered him a perfecto.
“But you see—-”
“Yes, I see well enough. I don’t blame you for kicking about such men.
Now _you_ can tail on to a sheet or pass a reef point like a _man_.
Will you have a good nip of grog before Mrs. Holbrook comes on deck?”
The sanctified man thought he would. They repaired to the forehatch,
where the steward passed up the spirits unseen.
The warmth of the liquor put new life in the tall man’s great frame. He
had eaten very little for days and the effects of good food and strong
drink were very strengthening. The look of challenge took the place
of alarm in his large expressive eyes and his great square jaw seemed
to set firmer. Half of his cigar disappeared between his teeth, which
closed upon it with the set of a vise.
They went aft again in time to meet Mrs. Holbrook coming on deck
assisted by the Captain, who placed rugs for her in a steamer chair in
the cockpit. It was getting thicker and the wind was now well to the
eastward of north, but there was no harbour nearer than Cape Fear, and
the Captain had many reasons for not wishing to stop there. He would
run along close to the land and after passing would be in Long Bay,
where he would have a fair wind to Charleston, one hundred and fifty
miles ahead, making a run of more than two hundred miles from Beaufort.
This would get the yacht well down the coast to where they might expect
“I think,” said the tall Mr. Jones, during a break in the conversation,
“I would head the vessel offshore a couple of points. You know the
Frying Pan runs well off here. It will be breaking in three fathoms
with this breeze. The ways o’ Providence air un—-
“Never mind about Providence, Mr. Jones,” said Holbrook, with a wave
of his hand. “The Captain will look out for the yacht. You needn’t
be scared. Tell us about the sailors you get in your flock. How you
learned all about boats from them.”
Mr. Jones drew himself up a good foot. His head went up in the air and
the look of defiance came into his eyes.
“The only fellows that got sent up with me were Jack Elwell and Bill
Haskins,” said he.
“How do you mean sent up with you?” asked Mrs. Holbrook.
“Well, they were caught straight enough,” said the tall man, sadly.
“You mean they had to be caught and sent to you for spiritual
teaching?” asked Mrs. Holbrook with a smile.
“Well, er–not exactly,” said the tall man, in a voice which died away
to a whisper.
“Ha, ha, ha, a good one on you, Mr. Jones,” said Holbrook.
“Well, you see,” went on the tall man, slowly, “you don’t seem to
understand just what I am.” He looked at the Captain, who stood near at
the wheel, but whose face was like a mahogany mask.
“Why, you are a clergyman, are you not?” asked Mrs. Holbrook.
“A convict,” said Mr. Jones, slowly. “I am Stormalong Journegan,
sailor, navigator, and was sent up for fifteen years. Bahama Bill an’
me got out.”
There was a long silence. Holbrook rose and went to the farther side of
the yacht. Mrs. Holbrook sat a few moments and looked out to sea. Then
she motioned to the steward, who was at the companionway, to take her
wraps below, and she disappeared down the steps without a word.
Holbrook saw something forward and made his way toward the bow followed
by his son, who turned to look back at the tall man.
“Serves her bloomin’ well right fer turnin’ me out,” growled the
Captain into the ear of the helmsman. “Next time she’ll be a bit more
careful about takin’ passengers.”
Mr. Jones, or Journegan, sat looking out over the sea. The veil of
mist that hung over the land held many images for him. He saw how it
was aboard. His year of reformation had taught him many things, and
the lesson he was learning was not entirely new. He gazed sadly at
Holbrook. He had felt drawn toward the man, but after all, in spite of
his assumed contempt for holy men, he was more of a hypocrite than the
veriest village parson he had ever met.
He arose slowly, unkinking his long frame like the opening of a
jack-knife. Then he tossed his cigar over the side and went to his
room. He was an outcast aboard that yacht and he knew it. The privacy
of his room was much better than the inhospitality of the deck.
All the long afternoon he sat there thinking. He was not a strong man
save for his great muscular frame. He had fallen before and he was now
trying to do what he could to atone for it. The thought of the silver
in the after-cabin came to him and his vacillating spirit could not
quite get the glistening vision out of his brain, for after all, these
people were his enemies. They could never be anything else as long as
human vanity and conceit endured. Even the miserable little prig of an
owner who ridiculed clergymen need not be spared. It might do his small
soul good to have to part with some of his treasures. He pondered,
while the light failed and the look of challenge came into his eyes.
He had a powerful frame and had nothing to fear. And all the time the
_Dartmoor_ ran to leeward with the lift of the northeast sea behind her.
It was just before eight bells, when a man who had gone forward on
lookout hailed the Captain.
“Something white dead ahead, sir,” he cried.
The sanctified man heard and thought of the untrue compass. The next
instant there was a dull reverberating snore alongside as a giant
breaker burst into a white smother and rolled away in the darkness. It
was breaking in three fathoms, and the yacht was racing to her end.
There was a rush of feet on deck. Wild cries came from aft, where
the Captain had rolled the wheel hard down and was struggling with
the sailor to get the jigger on her and force her offshore. She had
not touched yet, but as the yawl came to in the gale, she brought up
broadside in a sea that burst upon her with the weight of an avalanche,
heaving her on her lee beam and washing everything off her, fore and
aft. The water poured down the companionway and flooded the cabin.
The sanctified man reached the deck by dint of a fierce struggle up
through the forward companion. The men who were below followed as
best they could; swashing, floundering through the flood and loosened
fittings, and they managed to get aft in time to get a line to the
sailor who had been at the wheel and who was now close alongside. The
Captain was gone.
All the time the _Dartmoor_ was drifting to leeward and into the
breakers. She had swung off again under the pressure of her jib, and
just as the tall man seized the jigger halliards to get the after sail
upon her, she struck on the Frying Pan Shoals. The next sea rolled over
her and was the beginning of the end.
Mr. Holbrook had been below all this time, and he now appeared at the
companion with his wife and boy. The sea that fell over the wrecked
craft nearly drowned them and washed Richard back into the cabin. Mr.
Jones roared out for the men to get the only small boat left alongside,
and his voice rose to a deep sonorous yell. He led the way himself to
the falls, where the small boat trailed to leeward, the davits having
been torn out bodily with the weight of the breaking seas. The hauling
part was still on deck and he handed in the line quickly, the three
sailors and steward taking heart at his example and helping all they
could. Mrs. Holbrook was placed in the small boat and her husband
waited not for an invitation to follow, but floundered in after her.
The three sailors sprang aboard. At that instant a giant sea rose to
windward. It showed for a second in the ghastly phosphorescent glare of
the surrounding foam. Then it thundered over the doomed yacht.
When the sanctified man came up from the blackness below, he was just
aware of the vessel’s outline some fifty feet away to windward, and he
struck out strongly for her. In a few minutes he was alongside. A great
sea broke over her again, but he held well under the rise of her bow
and managed to cling to the trailing débris. Then he climbed on deck.
There was nothing living left there. He looked for the boat, but it had
disappeared. Then he was suddenly aware of a bright light and as he
looked he remembered the Bald Head tower which marks the dreaded shoals
of Cape Fear.
He knew he was a mile or more from the beach and all the way was the
rolling surf. It was a desperate swim at any time, but in a northeast
gale, with the sea rolling high, it was useless to think of anything
human attempting it without artificial aid. He clung to the stump of
the mainmast and tried to live through the torrents that swept over him
by getting directly in its lee. This was the only way he could stay
even a few moments aboard the vessel. She was lifting still with each
succeeding sea and driving higher and higher upon the bank, but she
had not broken up badly yet. Yachts like the _Dartmoor_ could stand a
tremendous pounding before going to pieces, but he knew that nothing
could stand the smashing long. Before daylight there would be not a
stick to show that a fine ship had gone ashore in the night.
The cabin scuttle was open and he wondered if the cabin was full of
water yet. The silver was still there and belonged to the man who could
save it. There was a chance for him and he was already looking about in
the blackness for a proper spar or piece of wood to float him for the
struggle in. It might be just as well to try to take in a little extra
weight along with him, for he would not start until he could get his
In a smooth between two seas he made a dash for the companion,
springing along the coamings of the skylight to get a footing, for the
deck was at a high angle. He reached it and clung under its lee for
shelter. Then he peered down into the darkness below. The cabin was not
quite full of water and he climbed down, feeling for the magnificent
cup he had seen there the day before. His hand touched it, although he
was now almost shoulder deep in the water. A mattress floated against
him and he seized it. The cork within would float him and his prize. He
tried to find something else that would float, but just then a torrent
of sea water rushed below and he saw that if he would get away at all
he must soon start. He lugged his prize to the steps and started to
drag it clear. He reached down in the water to get a better grip of
it and his great fingers closed upon a human hand. Then he made out
the form of the boy with his head still above water, clinging to the
topmost step of the ladder. He peered into the child’s face and saw
the frightened eyes open and look at him. Then he stopped and stood
motionless upon the ladder.
In all his work he had only been a few minutes, but those few minutes
had been minutes of his old life, the life of a sailor. The late past
had been forgotten and he was now a shipwrecked mariner, getting ashore
as best he could, saving what he might from a wreck. But the touch
of the boy’s hand brought him back again to the realization of his
condition. The hand of an enemy’s son, but the hand of one who had
treated him kindly. The mattress would not hold all three. It would be
between the boy and the cup. He swore savagely at the piece of silver,
held it for an instant, then started to hurl it from him. In the
precious seconds he was making a desperate fight. He gripped it again
with both hands and held it before him. A sea roared over the wreck and
half smothered him, pouring down the open companion.
He dropped the heavy cup, seized the half-fainting Richard and quickly
passed a lashing about him. Then he seized the cork mattress and boy
and plunged to leeward.
In the dim gray of the early morning, the keeper of the Bald Head
Lighthouse saw the tall form of a man staggering up the beach carrying
something in his arms. He ran down the steps of the tower and met the
tall stranger and relieved him of his burden of a still living but
“His mother and father are crazy with grief,” said the keeper. “The
woman is crying all the time that it was the will o’ God, because she
had a convict aboard her yacht. If you are the Captain, you had better
bring the lad to her yourself. I reckon she’ll be careful what kind o’
passengers she takes aboard again, and take your word for things aboard
“Does she think it was because a convict was aboard, the vessel went
ashore?” asked the tall man, drawing his half-naked figure up to its
“Sure, she says the Captain didn’t want him. A mighty fine religious
woman she is, too,” said the keeper.
“I reckon I won’t bother her just now,” said the tall man, in a voice
hardly above a whisper. “You take the little fellow to her–I’ll go and
get some clothes on.”
The light-keeper strode away with the boy in his arms. The tall man
stood still for several minutes, looking after him. When the keeper
reached the dwelling he turned and saw the tall man still standing
there in his soaking trousers, his giant torso looking like the statue
of a sea-god. “The ways o’ Providence air mighty strange,” muttered the
sanctified man, slowly to himself—-“But somehow I feel that I won.”