Strategy and Seamanship


Harry Glover, master of the _Calumet_, was generally admitted to be a
great diplomat; he himself allowed he was a little something that way.
And everybody said he must be–diplomat, strategist, or whatever it
was–else how could he, a man who had never had even ordinary luck at
bank fishing, induce so shrewd a man as Fred Withrow, something of a
schemer too, to build him a fine vessel like the _Calumet_ and send him
to the Newfoundland coast for frozen herring on a trip wherein an owner
stood to lose more money possibly, should things go wrong, than in any
other venture of fishermen.

The _Calumet_ was lying into Little Haven, Placentia Bay, when Glover,
sitting in his cabin, heard a hail and an inquiry for Captain Marrs of
the _Lucy Foster_.

Glover, ever wide awake, was on deck in an instant. It was a man in a
boat and looking tired. “Captain Marrs, did you say?” asked Glover.

“Yes, sir– Captain Wesley Marrs.”

“Why, he was here, but he’s gone.”

“Been gone long?”

“Oh, two days now.”

The messenger looked discouraged. “Did he say where he was going to,

“Why, yes–but you look froze up. Come aboard. You don’t never take a
little touch of anything–something nice and warm from Saint
Peer–something that’ll melt the frost inside your chest afore you know
you got it down–or do you? On a cold day like this,” insinuated Captain
Glover, “with frost in the air and maybe a long row ahead of you.”

“It is more than a common cold day,” assented the messenger.

“Cold day! I should say! Why, I don’t know how you ever stood it comin’
as far away as you did–ten miles, did you say you came?”

“Ten mile? Ten mile?” snorted the messenger.

“Ten miles. Why, yes. Ain’t that what it is to Saint Mary’s?”

“Saint Mary’s? I didn’t come from no Saint Mary’s. I came from Folly
Cove–eighteen mile.”

“Lord, but you don’t tell me! What d’y’ say, now–another little touch?
Let me see. Who’s that fellow down there who’s such a great hand to get
herring? Let me see now– Johnson? Burke? No, not Burke. Robbins? No, not
Robbins, nor Lacey. That’s queer– I know him so well and yet can’t
remember his name.”

“Do you mean Rose, John Rose?” suggested the messenger.

“Rose, is it? Is it Rose you’ve come from?”

“Yes, sir– John Rose.”

“That’s it, come to think of it, old John Rose.”

“Why, he ain’t so old.”

“No? Well, it’s so long since I’ve seen him. Have another little touch,
and don’t be afraid of it. There’s another jug when that one’s empty.
Seen John lately?”

“Seen him? I should say. Last man I spoke to before I left.”

“That so? Any herring down there?”

“A few. But I must be getting along. Rose’d talk to me if he knew I’ve
been loafing here. Which way, Captain, did you say I’d find Captain

Glover carefully headed the messenger about as far off Wesley Marrs’s
course as the length and breadth of Placentia Bay would admit. He waited
just long enough for the messenger to double the nearest headland, then
up anchor, made sail, and away for Folly Cove. It was ten in the
morning when he weighed anchor, and early afternoon found him knocking
at the door of John Rose’s little house.

He at once introduced himself. “Captain Glover of the _Calumet_. But
maybe you’ve been expecting me.”

“Not that I knows of,” said Rose.

“What, ain’t Captain Marrs sent word yet?”

“Word from Captain Marrs? Why, it was him I was expecting.”

“I know– I know, but he’s sailed for home. By this time I cal’late he’s
to the west’ard of Miquelon, streaking it across the Gulf, laying to it
for home. Filled up, did Wesley, night afore last, at Little Haven.”

“Filled up at Little Haven? Why, when did any herrin’ hit in there?”

“Two days ago. And Wesley got ’em. And the last thing he said afore
wearing off was, ‘Harry, you know I got some good friends across the
bay, and maybe one or two of ’em’ll be having some herrin’ saved up for
me after this cold snap. If you hear of any and can help any of ’em out
by taking ’em off their hands at a fair price, why, I’ll consider it a
great favor–a great favor to me, Harry. There’s John Rose down to Folly
Cove, a great friend of mine. I’ll send him word ’bout you, Harry, so
in case he gets hold of any he’ll maybe let you have ’em.’ Wesley and
me’s great friends, you see, Mr. Rose, and Wesley, no doubt, thinkin’
there mightn’t be any market, wanted to do you a good turn too.”

“Oh, there’s plenty market. Herrin’s been that scarce this winter that
people been from everywhere lookin’ for a load–yes. But I was savin’
them for Wesley. But if Wesley’s gone, and you’re such a great friend of
Wesley’s–any friend of Wesley’s a friend of mine–and sailin’ from the
same firm in Gloucester, you say?”

“The same firm, the Duncans.”

“That so? Well, I can’t say as ever I heard Wesley speak of you or any
mention of your name down this way before–but that ain’t extraor’nary,
maybe. Anyway, being as you’re a friend of Wesley’s, you can have them
herrin’ just the same as if you was Wesley himself.”

The loading of the _Calumet_ was a record performance. By dark she was
off and away.

And as she cleared the last headland of Placentia Bay, as she squeezed
by Shag Rocks and left Lamalin astern, Captain Harry Glover had to laugh
aloud. “O Lord, but I call that getting ahead of a man!” he chuckled.
“It was too easy. Talk about strategy!”


The _Lucy Foster_ was lying into Big Whale Gut with Wesley Marrs chafing
to complete his cargo. Five hundred barrels would just about fill her
up–fill her up nicely.

A man in a rowboat came into the cove. The one sail on the boat had
evidently been blown away, for only some strips of canvas were tied to
the little mast.

Wesley Marrs, leaning against the main rigging of the _Lucy_, watched
the weary oarsman approach.

“Looks as if he’d been boxin’ the compass in strange waters,” commented
Wesley meditatively. “What’s wrong?” he hailed.

“Captain Marrs?”


“I’ve been three days looking for you, Captain Marrs. But I don’t
cal’late you have such a thing as a drink of good liquor aboard, have
you, Captain? I’m most famished.”

Wesley said no more–only led the way to the cabin and handed out a jug,
a jug so full that from it the cork was yet to be taken for the first
time. The messenger took the cork out and without help. He bit it out,
and let the red rum of old Saint Pierre gurgle down after the manner in
which all men said it should.

“Good?” asked Wesley.

The messenger sucked in his cheek and his lips kissed together
lingeringly. “Good–m–m–you ought to try it yourself, Captain Marrs.”

Wesley did try it–a small, safe drink. “It is good, ain’t it?” and was
about to put it back in the locker of his stateroom–was about to, but
looking around and observing that wistful gathering he hadn’t the heart.
Six of his own crew and a dozen natives were there, and they passed it
along the locker, though not too rapidly. When Wesley got it back he
“hefted” it. It felt pretty light. He shook it up. Gauging by sound was
a good way, too, when the jug itself was heavy. It was light. “Lucky
’twas the little jug,” said Wesley, and he laid it at his feet with a
sigh. “But what was it you was goin’ to say?” he asked of the boatman he
had rescued from famishing.

“John Rose, of Folly Cove–you know him, Captain?”

“For more than twenty year. But what of him?”

“Well, John’s got five hundred barrels of as fine frozen herrin’ as ever
a man laid eyes on, and he says for you to come and get ’em.”

“Five hundred barrels? Man, but that’s good news–better have another
little touch.”

After that second drink, the boatman, who had been nursing a few little
suspicions for two days now, thought he had better tell Captain Marrs of
his meeting with Captain Glover. And he did, or rather began to. He was
about one-quarter through when Wesley jumped for the companionway.
“Break out the anchor and make sail,” ordered Wesley, and then, dropping
back into the cabin, and suggesting to the boatman that he had better
have one more drink, he started to fill his pipe. With his pipe going
freely Wesley could think more rapidly–could fathom things more surely.

“Harry Glover,” said Wesley, to himself as he supposed, but really half
aloud, “I know you, Harry Glover, and your father and your grandfather
afore you, and all the rest of your fore-people on Cape Ann by hearsay,
and not one of you I’d trust with so much as the price of a
bait-knife–no. Now, let’s see– Glover, he’s got them herrin’.”

“But how’s he going to get ’em, Captain? John Rose is keepin’ ’em for
you,” said the belated boatman at this point.

“Who in the devil,” began Wesley, but recovering himself, pushed the jug
toward the messenger. “About one more drink is what you need, and that
about empties the jug, too. Take it and keep quiet, or I’ll carry you up
on deck and heave you over the rail, and heave the jug after you to make
sure you go down.

“Let’s see, now”– Wesley resumed his meditations–“he’s got them herrin’
and off long afore this. Now, where’ll he go first? To Saint Peer?
That’s it, to Saint Peer for a few cases of wine to take home. And then?
To Canso, of course, to see that girl that’s makin’ such a fool of him.
Yes, and he’ll make a great fellow of himself by givin’ a case of cassy
wine to her people. It’s most Christmas-time, and he’ll make a great
hit, and it won’t cost him too much–a dozen bottles of cassy. And then?
Then he’ll tell the girl, and everybody else in Canso, that he’s the
first vessel to leave Newf’undland with anything like a load of frozen
herrin’ this winter. And he’ll be right–he’ll be easy the first to
Gloucester this season–or oughter be. And ‘Let me tell you how I filled
up,’ he’ll say, and go on to spin a fine yarn on how he got the best of
Wesley Marrs. Never let on he lied and cheated, not Mister Glover. And
they’ll think he’s a devil–yes, sir, a clean devil of a man. ‘And
Wesley Marrs,’ he’ll go on to say, ‘Wesley’s all right–he can handle a
vessel pretty well, can Wesley, but when he gets to figurin’ against
Harry Glover–’” Wesley drew a breath–“If I get near enough to lay my
hands on him and don’t welt the head off him, then may the dogfish get
me and—-”

“Anchor’s hove short up, sir,” came down the companion-way.

Wesley took the jug from the messenger and locked it up. Then he went on

Five minutes later the _Lucy Foster_ was off and away. “I’ll chase him,”
muttered Wesley, “chase him clear to Gloucester, but I’ll get him,” and
himself standing close to the wheel, he drove the _Lucy_ out of Big
Whale Gut and across Placentia Bay.

“Just a minute at Folly Cove to drop this blessed fool of a messenger
John Rose sent, and just another minute to hail John himself and make
certain, and then across the Gulf to Canso,” said Wesley, and stood on
the _Lucy’s_ quarter and watched her go along.


It was night, and a northeast gale and falling snow was making the thick
night thicker. The _Lucy Foster_ had come across the Gulf like a runaway
horse, and now they were expecting to strike in somewhere.

Wesley was standing aft, when a long, low, warning moan came to them
over the water. “There’s the whistle–we ought to see Cranberry Light
soon–watch out.”

The forward watch, hanging on to her fore-rigging and peering sharply
ahead, soon called out: “There it is–no–it’s a vessel’s port light.”

Wesley looked. “’Tis a vessel, sure enough, and hove-to, ain’t she?
Maybe we’d better speak her”–this last to the man at the wheel. The
helmsman brought her up, and “Hi-i!” roared Wesley.

“Hi-i!” came back–“who’re you?”

Wesley swore softly. “Harry Glover, by the Lord! Here, Charlie, you
answer him. There ain’t many knows you. Ask him what’s wrong–and don’t
get too near him, you to the wheel.”

“What’s wrong?” called Charlie Green.

“Nothin’–just waitin’ for a chance to go into Canso.”

“Well, why don’t you go in–what’s holdin’ you back?”

“Why? Too thick to make the harbor to-night.”

“Ask him, Charlie,” said Wesley, “what kind of a man he holds himself
that he’s afraid to make a harbor to-night?” Which Charlie did, in a
tone that Wesley could never have achieved.

“Who in the devil are you that’s so all-fired smart?” queried Glover.
“Who’re you, anyway?”

“Give him your own name, Charlie,” said Wesley, and Charlie did. “Lord,
but you do put up a pert twist with your voice, Charlie. If a man was to
talk to me like that, I’d run him down.”

“Charlie Green? I never heard of you afore–nor nobody else aboard here.
What vessel is that?” came from Glover.

“Never mind what vessel. Whatever vessel’s here I’m not too frightened
to put her into Canso to-night.”

“That so? You’re the devil and all, ain’t you? And when are you goin’

“Right away.”

“That so? And maybe you’ll show me the way?”

“Yes, if you ain’t too scared to follow. And I’ll have a good story to
tell when we get to Gloucester–not alone being scared to go in, but too
scared even to follow behind when another man shows you the way.”

“That so? Well, I don’t see you goin’ in, nor I don’t see no ridin’
light hangin’ from your stern.”

“No? Well, s’pose you follow on and stop talkin’.”

A lantern was dropped over the stern of the _Lucy Foster_, Wesley put
her wheel up, and the _Lucy_ was off. Another moment, and they made out
the green light of the _Calumet_ coming after.

Wesley, chuckling to himself, sailed scandalous courses with the _Lucy_.
“If I don’t scare him ’bout half to death, and if him and me don’t have
a heart-to-heart talk after we come to anchor inside–if ever he comes
to anchor inside! Let’s see now, Charlie. There’s Kirby Rock under our
lee. I hope the _Calumet_ carries a weather helm–for the crew’s sake, I
mean. And now west half no’the– I’ll give him a scare. There’s Black
Rocks ahead–he’s got to keep on now. And now for the Bootes–a nice
little lot of ledges, the Bootes–but not to make a landin’ on–six feet
in spots and the surf breakin’ fine over ’em. Hear it roar? Lord, yes,
and see it. We’ll hold up a bit, Charlie, or it’s the _Lucy_’ll be
gettin’ into trouble. And now for Man-o’-war, another fine little
spot–six or eight feet of water there–no’the three-quarters west. Oh,
man, hear it roar! How’s he makin’ out behind? There he is, and scared
blue, I’ll bet, for fear she’ll swing a foot out of the way. Let’s see,
now, where we ought to be! Let’s see–man, but it’s thick here!–let
her go–off, now, Charlie, west no’west and a hair west, just a hair
now, ought to take us inside Mackerel Rock. If Glover knows his business
now, it won’t matter; if he don’t, then Lord help his name for master of
a vessel. Enough on that course–shoot her up now by the Rock no’the,
quarter west. Go ahead, the _Lucy_’ll make it, don’t fear. Man, she’ll
sail in the wind’s eye, the _Lucy_. Don’t fear for the _Lucy_–a weather
helm she carries. She’ll shy off herself if we get too close. That’s the
girl–there she is–a good place to be by, that! And now for the reg’lar
channel–no’west by west–and let her go! But how are they makin’ out on
the _Calumet_, I wonder?”

They were not making out on the _Calumet_ at all. Evidently she did not
carry a weather helm. From the _Lucy_ they could make out her port
light–for a while they thought she was past the ledge and all safe.
Then the red light swung off to leeward. They soon heard a hail. Then a
series of hails.

“Lord,” said Wesley, “d’y’ s’pose she struck?” and himself jumped to the
wheel again. His first thought was to put the _Lucy_ right back to the
Rock; his second, and the one he acted on, was to get her lights out of
sight and then to turn back, sail wide, and come up to the _Calumet_ as
though he had just come in the harbor himself. “They’re safe for a while
there, and there was no reason in the world why he couldn’t have got by
there if we did,” said Wesley, and began to nose her way back. It was
his seaman’s extra sense that brought him safely to the _Calumet_ again.

He found her on the edge of the ledge, with the sea washing over her.
She was pounding, and from her deck they heard the sounds that meant
that a dory was to be launched. There was much talking, some free
comment, and not a little profanity.

“Hi-i!” hailed Wesley, in his own person. “What vessel’s that?”

“What? That you, Wesley?” came Captain Glover’s voice.

“Why, is that you, Harry?” answered Wesley.

“When’d you come in?”

“Just shot in.”

“Shot in! A night like this!”

“Why, yes. But what’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong? Everything’s wrong. Some bloody pirate piloted us ashore
and then went up the harbor and left us. What bloody ledge is this we’re

“I’m not sure, not having a chart handy; but it’s a bad place, whatever
it is.”

“A bad place? I should say. We’ve just smashed our dory, and I’m afraid
some of us will be washed over if the sea makes a little more. What’ll
we do?”

“Well, that’s for you to say. You’re master of your own vessel, and, of
course, you know your own business. But I’ll drop over a dory, if you
say so. I’d rather handle live men now than corpses in the morning,

“Well then, for the Lord’s sake, hurry up, won’t you?”

Wesley took off the crew of the _Calumet_. On his own deck he met Glover
and spoke a little of his mind. “’Twas my intention, Harry Glover, to
take it out of your hide, for stealin’ them herrin’ at Folly Cove, but
as you’re shipwrecked now it makes a difference. I’ll take you up the
harbor and leave you there.” Which he did, and, further, let them have a
dory to take them to the dock.

To Glover, at parting, he said, “You and me, Harry, better have no words
over this–you know why. The consul here’ll send your crew home at the
expense of the Gover’ment, so they’ll be all right.”

“But the _Calumet_– I s’pose she’ll break up where she is?”

“She may, and then she mayn’t.”

“Then I’d better go down when it moderates and see what I can do.”

“That,” answered Wesley, “is your business. As it is now, she’s
abandoned, and anybody’s property that wants to board her.”

“Oh, nobody’ll board her in this weather–they’d be smashed on the
ledges. Just as soon as it moderates–some time to-morrow, maybe– I’ll
be down with a tug and lighten her up.”

But Wesley did not wait until it moderated. That same night, at high
water, the _Calumet_ floated off. Five hundred barrels of frozen herring
transferred to the _Lucy Foster_ helped materially in the floating of
the _Calumet_.

“Only eight hundred barrels of salt herring in her now–we oughter be
able to get her home. She’s squattin’ pretty low in the water, but we
oughter get her home. And do you, Charlie, take Dan and George and
Tommie and follow on behind the _Lucy_,” said Wesley, and in the morning
light he led the way out of Canso Harbor.


The _Lucy Foster_ came sailing into Gloucester Harbor, and in her wake
was the _Calumet_. The _Lucy_, under not more than half sail, was
acting like a vessel that was trying to coax along the other, which was
moving most painfully. Wesley, from the _Lucy’s_ quarter, kept hailing
out encouragement. “‘Most home, Charlie–keep her goin’. There’ll be
good salvage for all hands, but a little extra for you, Charlie–keep
her goin’. And them men to the pumps–ain’t there just a little touch
left all around in that big jug to hearten ’em up a little? It’d be too
bad to have her sink on us now, and she into the dock, you might say.
I’ll run a bit ahead now, Charlie, and hail the steamboat people, so
there’ll be a lighter alongside by the time you’re ready to anchor.”

Knowing nothing of all this, but talking matters over with Mr. Duncan,
was Fred Withrow, the owner of the _Calumet_, in Mr. Duncan’s office.
“Here’s a telegram came four days ago from Glover. Says that the
_Calumet_ went ashore the previous night while she was trying to make
Canso Harbor. And now here’s the second telegram, came three days ago,
saying that as soon as the weather moderated he took a tug and went down
to see how she was, but couldn’t find her. And now, here’s this long
letter, came this morning, saying that he don’t know what to make of
it–that when he went down to look for her he could not find a trace of
her. He says he thought she

[Illustration: The _Lucy_ was acting like a vessel trying to coax the

may have slipped off the ledge–whatever ledge it is he does not seem to
know, it was such a black night and blowing so hard when he came in. But
that she must have slid off and sunk, rolled over on her side and sunk,
he is certain; because otherwise the spars at least would show. Now he’s
thinking of sounding the harbor, but wants to know my opinion of it

“Yes?” said Mr. Duncan. He and Withrow were not the best of friends.

“Yes. But I suppose you’re wondering what it’s all got to do with you.
Well, Glover mentions in his letter that Wesley Marrs came into the
harbor just after the _Calumet_ went ashore. It was Wesley took the crew
off. But next morning, when he went down to look for the _Calumet_,
Wesley was gone. I didn’t know but what you had heard from Wesley.”

“I haven’t heard from Wesley since he left for Newfoundland, six weeks
ago. I don’t generally hear from him till he gets home. Wesley isn’t
much of a letter-writer.”

It was just then that they heard a commotion, and, looking out of the
window, saw the _Lucy Foster_ and the _Calumet_ coming to anchor in the

“What!” exclaimed Withrow, and waited, after he had looked again, no
longer than to glance doubtfully at Mr. Duncan before he flew out of
the door.

After Mr. Duncan also had had another look and seen for himself that it
was true, he sat down in his chair and tried to think it out. He was
still trying to think it out when Wesley himself came in the door.

“Hi-i!” hailed Wesley, and taking one of Mr. Duncan’s longest cigars,
sat down and answered Mr. Duncan’s first question by beginning to tell
the story. It took just about the length of a cigar to tell it, for,
while Wesley smoked fast, he also talked fast, and with that told barely
more than the cold facts.

Barely more than the cold facts, and yet, to get the real color of it,
one should have heard Wesley tell it; should have seen him hunch his
shoulders wrathfully in the beginning when he was picturing Glover’s
sending the messenger astray; should have seen him bring his fist down
on the desk when he drove the _Lucy_ across the Gulf to head off Glover
at Canso; then should have seen him lean back and laugh when he told how
Glover abandoned his vessel. And, finally, one should have caught a
glimpse of his eyes through the halo of smoke when he said, “And
’twarn’t no joke takin’ them frozen herrin’ out of the _Calumet_ that
night, and ’twas pump, pump, pump, and stand by on the _Lucy_ all along
the Cape shore ready to take the crew off her any minute. Yes, sir. She
leaked a little, did the _Calumet_, and she cert’nly did set
scandalously low in the water at times, but we wiggled her home. Yes,
sir, and there she is, out in the stream.”

Having smoked out his cigar, Wesley naturally slowed up. “And I misdoubt
that she’d stayed afloat of herself another half hour. There’s a hole
under her quarter that most of them herrin’, if they knowed enough or
didn’t happen to be put away in pickle, could’ve swum their way through.
A good man, that Charlie Green, Mr. Duncan; and if you could only’ve
heard the twist he put into his voice when he was talkin’ to Glover just
afore he went into Canso Harbor that night! But a week on the railway
oughter fix up the _Calumet_ so she’ll be as good as ever.

“But ain’t that a good one on Glover, though? Hah, what? Glover,
the–the–strategist? That’s it–strategist–strat-e-gist! Ho-ho!”
Wesley leaned back in his chair and blew the last ring up at the
ceiling. “And John Rose– I don’t cal’late John Rose’ll feel so bad when
he hears the whole story–hah, what? And Glover–ho-ho!–think of him
tellin’ his friends up to Canso how it happened–and leave it to him to
tell it right; and after he gets through tellin’ them that, of him
hirin’ a tug to go down and pull her off, and him cruisin’ around
lookin’ for her–and not findin’ her–ho-ho! But I s’pose we got to talk
business now. What’s the salvage law about this, Mr. Duncan? I’ve picked
up a few vessels at sea in my time, but never one quite this way. How
about the salvage, Mr. Duncan?”

“The vessel was abandoned, you say?”

“She cert’nly was.”

“Well, then, our lawyer ought to be able to fix that up easily enough.
There’ll be a big salvage, don’t you worry about that. And however it
comes out, it will cost her owner a good many times more than if he
hadn’t got so oversmart a skipper for her. But you’re laughing again,
Captain–what is it?”

“I couldn’t help laughin’ to think of Withrow, too. I never did
partic’larly like Withrow, either. What does he think, d’y’ s’pose, Mr.

“Withrow? M-m– I wouldn’t want to say. But I know what I’d think if it
happened to one of my vessels, and I know what I’d say–and what I’d do,

“And what’s that now, Mr. Duncan?”

“If it was one of my vessels, I’d see that the next vessel I built went
to a skipper that ran a little more to seamanship and not quite so much
to strategy.”

“That’s if she’s to go fishin’?” commented Wesley.

“Of course–if she’s to go fishing,” agreed Mr. Duncan.

“That’s me, too–a little plain, ordinary seamanship for me. But I’ll be
goin’, I think. That oughter be a pretty good story to tell up the
street–hah, what? And John Rose– I think I’ll have to write a letter to
John Rose about it. Yes, I think that’s worth a little note to
John–hah, what? Yes. But first I think I’ll tell ’em up the street, for
cert’nly up to the rooms they’ll all admire to hear about Fred Glover
and his strategy. Yes, sir, Fred and his strategy–ho, ho, ho,
strategy!” and out the door and up the street went Wesley.