The Salving of the Bark Fuller


To Captain Dixey, of the iron sea-going tug _Ice King_, lying tied up to
her dock in Boston Harbor, came one winter’s morning a man in a fur coat
and much bediamonded. “My name,” said the visitor, “is Wiley.”

“And wily is your nature,” thought Dixey, who, according to report, was
not too unsophisticated himself.

“And I want to know what it will cost me for the services of your tug
for one, two, three, or four days–a week, if necessary.”

“That will depend on the service.”

“Well, suppose I can’t just say what the service will be?”

“Then I can’t tell you just what the price will be.”

“Haven’t you a fixed price by the day?”

“For a fixed service, yes. A man comes to me and says, ‘What do you want
to run down to Newport News to tow a barge, or say two barges, of
coal–fifteen or eighteen hundred tons in a barge–to Boston?’ I tell
him. I’ll tell you, if it’s anything of that kind.”

“’Tisn’t quite that.”

“Well, a man comes to me and says, ‘Say, I have a vessel under the lee
of Cape Cod’–say it’s blowin’ a no’wester like now–a vessel say to
anchor at Provincetown or Chatham—-”

“Yes, yes, at Chatham—-”

“– And you ask me what I’ll go and get her for and tow her to Boston?
I’ll soon tell you, if you’ll tell me what her tonnage is.”

“Say a two-thousand-ton bark, and loaded with mahogany.”

“That’s a pretty big vessel and a pretty valuable cargo, and the wind’s
liable to stay no’west for a while–blowin’ hard as it promises to, and
a hard drag around Cape Cod and across the Bay in a no’wester—-”

“I know, I know–but how much?”

“Me to leave right away?”

“Well, maybe not at once–say in a few hours. But I’m ready to engage
you at once.”


“But wait–it isn’t exactly a tow from anchorage.”


“No. You see, it’s this way. I’m interested in this bark, and there’s a
desperate sort of captain aboard, and she’s leaking, and I’m afraid that
despite all instructions he’ll try and beat her around the Cape. And he
mayn’t make it. And if he tries it and anything goes wrong–if he has to
get help–say her sails blow off and she leaking– I’d like to be right
there and pick her up.”

“Why, that’s salvage, and a towboat could claim salvage–if she really
needed help.”

“The towboat could claim? You mean the owners of the towboat could claim
the salvage?”

“Why, of course, the owners.”

“Well, if I charter her I’d be the same as the owner, wouldn’t I?”

“M-m– I don’t know but what you would.”

“Well, there it is.”

“H’m–where’d you say she was layin’– Chatham?”

“I didn’t say.”

“No? I thought you did.”

“You think too fast. How much for your boat from now till the job’s

“Well, two thousand tons–her hull’d be worth a lot in itself. And
mahogany–a two-thousand-ton ship ought to be carryin’ about a couple of
million feet of lumber. And mahogany worth–how much a thousand is
mahogany worth, anyway?”

“I don’t know.”

“No? Well, it’s worth a whole lot, that’s sure. Here’s the _Morning
Commercial News_’ll tell. M-m–here’s pine, rough–spruce,
planed–m-m–oak–m-m–mahogany–whew! Say, mahogany’s away up, isn’t
it? Let me see now. I’ll do that job—-”

“Charter me your tug—-”

“Yes, charter you the tug for five thousand dollars for the whole job,
and two hundred dollars a day–the two hundred a day in case there’s
nothing doin’, in case that Skipper shouldn’t go clear crazy, you see,
and put out and she leakin’.”

Wiley put on his hat. “You don’t want much, do you? Five thousand
dollars! I’ll give you a thousand for the whole job, or two hundred for
every day you’re under charter if we don’t get her.”

“No, no–a cargo of mahogany. Five thousand or nothing.”

“Don’t be unreasonable. You know I can get plenty for a thousand—-”

“Not too many sea-going tugs right now. There’s always good pickin’ for
a big tug in the Bay this time of year. And there’s a risk in your

“A little. But I can get a tug just as good as yours for a thousand.”

“Can you? Then why don’t you?”

“Well, I will. Good-day.”

Captain Dixey gazed after Wiley going up the dock. “And so he can–for a
thousand–if he don’t tell them too much. But that would be a rich haul,
and I don’t see why I can’t do a little salvage business on my own
account. Why not? She’s anybody’s prize that can get her. Two thousand
tons and a bark–in the lee of the Cape somewhere, and loaded with
mahogany–he said something about Chatham. It oughtn’t be too hard to
find out.”

Within ten minutes Captain Dixey was sending off telegrams like an
Associated Press-man. He got the answer he wanted, and some hours later,
when the man in the fur coat was putting out in another iron sea-going
tug, the _Durlich_, Dixey, in the _Ice King_, was not half a mile behind
him going across the Bay.


At about the same hour that the _Durlich_ and the _Ice King_ had
breasted Cape Cod Light, the American fisherman _Buccaneer_, Crump
Taylor master, lay hove-to on the Western Banks. On her deck were the
two men on watch, alternately looking out for the big seas, and hailing
one to the other when a particularly high one threatened to break over
her rail.

Young Arthur Gillis, standing forward, suddenly called out to Sam Leary,
his watchmate, who was aft, “Here’s one coming aboard, Sam, I think.”

Sam turned, brushed the spray from his eyes with a wet woollen mitt, and
had a look. He did not have to look twice. “_Think_ she’s coming!
_Think!_” and leaped for the lee of the mainmast, where he hooked his
fingers to a couple of belaying-pins in the fife-rail. Another squint
then from around the mast. “_Think!_” and with a toe to the fife-rail
and both hands to the halyards of the furled-up mainsail, he began to
climb. “And climb you, too!” Another glance between the mast and
bolt-rope of the sail. “_Think_, do you? Climb’s all I got to say.
Climb, you alabaster idjit, and don’t stop till you’re to the masthead!
She’s a Himalaya mountain.”

Sam was by then strategically astraddle the main gaff, from where in
comfort he could observe Gillis, who was to the lantern-board in the
fore-rigging and still climbing. The sea struck her, and over rolled the
little _Buccaneer_, over, over, till her masts were all but flat out on
the water. Her waist must have been buried under ten feet of water, but
Sam from his perch could manage to keep his head clear of the sea.

He saw that his watch-mate was safe. “Hi, there! are the companion-way
hatches down?”

“I think so.”

“You think so! Some day you’ll think you’re alive, and you’ll wake up
dead. Is she lifting any for’ard? Can you tell from where you are? Will
she come up?”

“I think—-”

“Blast you and your thinkin’. Do you ever do anythin’ but think? Don’t
you ever _know_ anything?”

“She _is_ lifting.”

“All right, then. How’d you like to be below now, wonderin’ what’s
happened her?”

“Not me. ’Tain’t so bad up here, is it?”

“‘Twon’t be–if she comes up.”

“Was this one ever hove down before, Sam?”


“Worse than this were you ever?”

“Once ’twas worse. This same man in her–he’s a dog, is Crump–nothing
jars him. Both mastheads under that time.”

“And come up, did she?”

“And come up, did she?” snorted Sam. “Ain’t she here, and ain’t I here?
Watch out–she’s righting now.”

Up she came–a noble little vessel–slowly at first, but more rapidly as
she began to free herself of the weight of water on her deck. Her final
snap nearly threw Gillis from the rigging. A wild lunge, and he managed
to retain his grip in time to save his life.

Sam had to hide his emotion at his mate’s close call. “Didn’t I tell you
to hang on? Think you was in a swing at a picnic? H’m–there’s the
Skipper bangin’–the hatch is jammed.”

Indications of action were proceeding from the cabin. Calm taps followed
by quick strokes, and they seeming inadequate to proper results, one
final impatient smash with the axe. Out came the dripping head and
shoulders of Crump Taylor.

He surveyed the clean-swept deck. Disgust overcame him. “If that ain’t a
clean job–what? I was hopin’ there’d be somethin’ left, but Lord! not
so much as would make a boy’s size match to light a cigarette with.
Gurry-kids, booby-hatches–not even a stray floatin’ thole-pin left of
the dories.” After which he had time for the watch. “So there you are,
eh? And which of you two guardian angels was it left that hatch open?
Which? Nobody? It opened itself, I s’pose. It’ll get so a man won’t dare
to turn in for a nap ’thout he has a rubber suit on. If we get that
cabin dry in a month we’ll be doin’ well. And as fine a fire in the

“Wet the bunks, Skipper?” queried Gillis.

“Wet the bunks, you blithering idjit? Wet, is it?” He regarded Gillis
more curiously, then gave him up; and stepping on deck, followed by the
rest of the cabin gang, mingled in the waist with the crowd from the

All hands gazed disconsolately about the deck, but, wise men all,
allowed the Skipper to do the talking. “If this ain’t been the
twistedest, unluckiest trip! Five weeks from home, and what’ve we got to
show? Lost half our gear, and ’most lost four men and two dories. And
now we’ve lost the dories altogether–and every blessed thing that ain’t
bolted to her deck. Blessed if I don’t think when I get home I’ll go
coastering! Yes, sir, coastering. Cripes, but look–even the rails gone
from her! Look, will you, no more than the stanchions left to her.”

“A clean deck, Skipper, makes good sailin’,” put in Sam from the gaff.

“Does it, you–you– I b’lieve ’twas you, Sam Leary, left that slide
open. A clean deck makes good sailing, do it? Well, try her on sailing,
then. Come off that gaff, you menagerie monkey, and give the gang a
chance to loose that mains’l. That’s what. Slap it to her and put for
home. And _drive_ her. If we can’t do nothing else, we c’n make a good
passage of it.”

And with everything on, away went the deck-swept _Buccaneer_ to the


The master of the bark _Henry Fuller_, mahogany-laden and Boston-bound,
and, now to anchor in Chatham Harbor on the Cape Cod shore, stood
conning a telegram.

“In two hours or so now he ought to be outside and waiting for us. ‘Slip
your chains and let her go.’ All right. Only, instead of slipping I’ll
see that they part–in the most natural way in the world–and out we’ll
go proper.”

And out she went, threatening all sorts of destruction, but curiously
missing whatever lay in her road. Thus far all had gone well. But the
best-laid plans—-

Instead of a moderate gale, the master of the _Fuller_ found a blizzard
to combat–a northwester, which in winter is always cold. This one was
so cold that in the first sweep of it they almost froze up–in fact,
came so near to freezing that by midnight all hands were spending more
time below than on deck in the effort to keep warm.

“Why in the devil’s name didn’t he warn me of this?–up there in Boston,
where they have all kinds of weather-bureau information. Why in the
devil’s name didn’t he?” complained the master of the _Henry Fuller_.

The _Fuller_, to lend a good color by and by to the story of the
wreckage and rescue, had to have a leak. The leak had been provided for
at the same time that the cables were chiselled. So that was all right.
But the leak meanwhile had begun to grow. Whereas the _Fuller’s_ captain
had counted on two men to work pumps, or four seeming to be working
desperately as the rescuers approached, there were now four men who
really had to toil without cessation to keep the ship dry.

It grew colder. The coldest wind of all that ruffles the North Atlantic
is a northwester, and this was an exceptionally cold northwester. The
bark began to ice up fast, and so many extra men were needed to chop the
ice off her that there were not enough left to take sail off. When out
from the lee of the land they began to feel the real force of the wind,
and so unloosed sails were blown off before they could be set. Then they
hove her to. But a square-rigger doesn’t stay hove-to like a
fore-and-after, and the _Fuller_ went sliding off to leeward; and
sliding too far to leeward off the Cape Cod coast in a northwester means
to drift to Georges Shoals, where in places is no more than twelve feet
of water. The bark _Henry Fuller_ drew twenty-one.

The master of the _Fuller_, far from being as crazy as Wiley, to suit
his purposes, had described him to Dixey, was in reality a long-headed
chap and a good seaman, and here he began to think and act. Calling such
of the crew as were chopping ice off her deck and rail, he put them to
work setting such extra sail as he had below.

A tedious and difficult job that; and dangerous, with big seas
threatening to overpower the logey craft. But it had to be done; and it
was done after a long and wracking night.

Sail on her again, the Skipper tried to beat her around the cape. But as
a square-rigger won’t lay hove-to as snugly as a fore-and-after, neither
will she hold up to the wind like a fore-and-after. A fore-and-after
always for coasting work; a square-rigger for trade-winds and the wide
ocean wherein to navigate.

The _Fuller_ would not do it; nor could her master work her under the
lee of the land. What with the water in her hold, the ice on her hull,
and her insufficiency of sail, she only rolled and drifted in the trough
of the sea. And having left both anchors in the harbor of Chatham, he
could get no grip of bottom to hold her. However, he could do the next
best thing–he could lay her to a drag. So getting several of the
mahogany logs out of her hold, the crew lashed them together, and,
working under protest, mutinous almost in their free discussion of
things, they hoisted the drag up and dropped it over the rail after
great exertion.

It was again night, and still no signs of a rescuing tug. Another
private glance at the telegram revealed nothing new. “We’re altogether
too near the shoals for Wiley,” muttered the captain of the _Fuller_,
“and even if we weren’t, I guess he’s having all he wants to look after
himself in this gale. I wonder is she drifting fast? The lead there,
fellows–give her the lead, and see what’s under us.”

One man had life enough to take a sounding. “Forty-five fathom,” he

“Forty-five! God, but we’re going into it! Cut that drag adrift and
let’s get out of here. Get together, men, and make sail of some kind
till we’re by this place.”

“What place is it just, Captain?”

“It’s Georges North Shoal to looard of us.”

They asked no more, but worked with desperation. Frost-bitten, wet,
hungry, they made sail of it in some fashion. Anywhere for them now but
Georges North Shoal and sure death.

“And once by here, let her go where she will– I’m done with her,”
announced the tired captain of the _Henry Fuller_.


A schemer of fame was Dixey of the _Ice King_. He stayed by the
_Durlich_ till the gale drove her to harbor, and then to harbor he ran
with her. He proposed to stay by her, too, till further orders. A
proposition to tow a used-up tramp steamer to Portland he waved off
impatiently. He was playing for bigger game.

However, when after forty-eight hours in Provincetown Harbor the
_Durlich_ showed no signs of moving out, Dixey began to squirm. He
instituted inquiries. Between the firemen of the two towboats existed an
amity of feeling that might be turned to profit. So to the hold of the
_Durlich_ a begrimed party with a quart of the right stuff in his
overcoat pocket found his way; and returned after an unconscionably long
visit, somewhat befuddled, but able to report that the gentleman in the
fur coat didn’t calculate to expose his precious life in such weather
again off Cape Cod.

Dixey considered the situation again in this new light. A long
contemplation from all angles, and he went ashore to telephone. He came
back again and drew out his charts. “H’m! She’s left Chatham and she’s
not been reported yet in Boston. She must be out here somewhere. But
where, just?” A further thoughtful whirl of a pair of dividers on the
chart. “He may’ve beat up by the Cape, but I don’t think so. It’s a good
chance he went into the North Shoal, and if he did, of course he’s lost.
But in case he did get by–in case he did–” Dixey whistled down the
tube to his engineer. “Warm her up and we’ll get out of here.”

And so it came to pass that Dixey in time sighted the leaking bark, to
every appearance a sinking bark, with a crew of imploring, frost-bitten
men to her iced-up rail.

The master of the bark told a story of extreme hardship, of just
escaping being lost on the shoals of Georges.

“The North Shoal?”

“Aye, the North Shoal. We all but bumped, we were that handy to it. A
dozen times we thought we were lost. I don’t understand it myself, but
we worked by, and here we are–our hold full of water, everything soaked
in the cabin and forec’s’le, where the seas wet everything down. Nothing
to eat, no fire fore or aft, and we’re most froze up. Put a boat out
and take us off, for God’s sake!”

“Goin’ to abandon her?” Dixey’s voice almost betrayed his anxiety.

“Abandon her? Yes, and get as far away from her as anybody will take us.
Why, man, we’re froze up, and she’s sinking!”

“Don’t you think you could keep some of your men aboard pumpin’ her out
and take a line from me so I can tow you in? This steamer of mine could
walk you home at a six-knot clip, deep as you are. It’d mean a lot of
money to me. What d’y’ say?”

“No, sir. I wouldn’t stay aboard her another hour, let alone the men,
for millions. You haven’t any notion of how things are aboard of her.
Everything wet down below, grub and bedding both, and solid ice, man,
from rail to rail–likely to go down under our feet any minute. And
here’s some of these men half wild with suffering. Take us off, and do
what you please with her afterward. For all I care she’s yours–she’s
anybody’s that’ll take us off.”

“Blest if I don’t try and take them off just the same.” Dixey waved to
his mate to unlash the boat.

The deck-hands of the _Ice King_ seldom had occasion to launch a boat,
and now they made a mess of it. When they should have fended the boat
off, they allowed the sea to bear it in. Against the side of the towboat
it came crashing.

Dixey swore blue oaths from the pilot-house. “What in the name of
Beelzebub you tryin’ to do? Stove in, is she?”

“Yes, sir,” answered the mate.


“So bad that I wouldn’t want to ask any men to go in her–and the men
don’t want to go, either.”

“That so? A fine lot of able seamen! Well, they’ll have to take a
line–” He hailed the bark. “We can’t help you unless you’ll take a line
and let us tow you.”

“What’s the matter with your other boat?”

“They’d smash that, too, and—-”

“Ho, Captain–” it was the voice of one of the bark’s crew–“here’s a
sail bearing down.”


The sea-swept _Buccaneer_, bucking the northwester, was putting in great
licks on the southerly tack. Suddenly the forward watch, trying to keep
warm in the lee of a bit of canvas tacked to the weather fore-rigging,
spied an abandoned vessel.

“Wreck O!” his voice rang above the gale. Crump Taylor and half the crew
came piling up to the tumbling deck.

“Where away? Sure enough! Let’s see again. That’s what–a wreck!”

The fast-sailing _Buccaneer_ was soon abreast of her. “Jibe her over and
sail around her–let’s have a closer look,” said Crump, and the man at
the wheel did as bid.

“She’s pretty low, and all iced up. She looks bad, but you never can
tell. What the devil’s that big tug doin’, and not helpin’ her? But no
matter what he’s doin’–drop alongside there–not too close. One roll of
her atop of us and our names’d be in the papers with the fine notices
they give a man when he’s dead. ‘An honor to their profession,’ ‘Too bad
they died,’ and so on–all fine enough, but not healthy. Hi, aboard the
bark–what’s wrong?”

Again was the story told–of the harrowing drift past the edge of the
shoals and their present plight. “Take us off,” it was then–“for God’s
sake, take us off!”

“We got no boat,” said Crump to that. “But wait, there’s that tug,” and
motioning to the wheel, “Jog over to the tug.”

“Those men want to be taken off,” hailed Crump when he was close to the

“Well?” said Dixey.

“And you got two boats?”

“Yes, and one already smashed trying to put it over.”

“Well, there’s the other.”

“And smash that, too?”

“Well, I’ll be damned–and a frost-bitten crew alongside–and their
vessel sinkin’ under their feet. How about the busted one towin’

“It’s full of water.”

“Well, cast her adrift, and we’ll stand by and pick her up and patch her
up and take the bark’s crew off with her.”

“Lord, you’re the devil and all, ain’t you?”

“Now, _what_ d’y’ think o’ that?” was all the disgusted Crump could
splutter by way of condemnation. He turned to his crew. “All there’s to
it is, we’ll have to get ’em off ourselves.”

“But how’ll we get ’em off, Skipper, without a boat?”

“I know.” Sam Leary bobbed up. “Let ’em run a line from their masthead
to a block in our riggin’ and again a block on deck with a couple of men
standin’ by to haul and slack, and let them come down the incline like’s
if ’twas a breeches buoy.”

“Sam,” said Crump admiringly, “but you’re sure a wizard.”

Crump hailed to the bark and explained. The bark’s crew did their share.
One after the other they came whizzing down to the deck of the
fisherman. Her captain, the last to leave, set fire to the few dry
places below before he went. An excruciating half-hour it was, but at
last the crew of the bark were on the deck of the schooner. “And now go
below,” commanded Crump, “and turn into the dry blankets. In five
minutes the cook’ll have you full of hot coffee.”

Seeing the strangers on the way to comparative comfort, he returned to
active business. Crump was ever a man of action.

“Who’s in for salvage?”

“Me!” said eighteen members.

“And who’ll be the prize crew?”

“Me!” said nineteen, this count including the cook, just then running
aft with more hot coffee. The nineteen, and doubtless Crump also, had
visions of an adventure that might yet net them a good trip.

“And now to get aboard. How’ll we get a man aboard her for a starter?
How about that, Sam? We can’t go up the way they came down, can we? Get
your head to working.”

“Why, swing aboard by our dory taykles. When we roll down and our
mastheads are ’most over her deck, a man can let go and drop off.”

“And suppose a man misses?” Crump put the question like a lecturer in
front of a class.

“He must’nt miss–unless he’s an A1 swimmer. If he—-”

“O Skipper, they’re making ready to put over a boat from the tug!”

“The devil–tryin’ to steal our prize! Get a move on, fellows! If
they’re half-way smart they’ll beat us out, and you know marine
law–whoever puts the first man aboard c’n claim salvage rights. We got
to beat ’em, Sam, and that dory-taykle scheme’s not quick enough. How’ll
we do it now?”

“If you’re good and careful I’ll try the main-boom jump. But you got to
be careful–in this sea, Skipper.”

“All right. Sail around her again,” called Crump to the wheelsman. “Now,
fellows, when she’s comin’ afore it let her main sheet run to the knot,
and put the boom taykle to her and be sure to choke it up hard and
tight. This no place for accidents.”

Which they did, and as the _Buccaneer_ came flying down toward the stern
of the bark, Sam Leary ran out on the boom, which was then at right
angles to her rail, leaning against the sail as he ran. At the end of
the boom he gathered himself for the leap. “Steady, Skipper–you know
what it means if I miss.”

“Trust me, Sammie.” Crump held the wheel, and in the touch of his hand
was the full genius of steering. “Trust me, Sammie,” he repeated, while
Sam again gathered himself, and from under the stern of the bark, the
_Buccaneer_ lifting to a sea, he made the jump. It was a lesson in
helpfulness to see, at the psychological moment, the entire crew’s arms
unconsciously raised to waft him on.

Sam’s feet hit the icy rail, and away he went, skating half the length
of her quarter and coming down–bam! on the seat of his oilskins.

“Hurt you, Sammie?” came sympathetic voices from the deck of the

“Never jarred me,” affirmed Sam, and waved his hand at the discomfited
master of the tugboat.

“Yes,” commented Crump, looking over to the tug, “that does for _his_
salvage. And now I’ll put her alongside, Sammie, and we’ll try your
dory-taykle scheme.”

When Crump had his tackles rigged he called out: “I’ll hoist the men up
and let ’em drop aboard. Only you run an end of a halyard from the bark,
Sammie, to haul ’em well inboard.”

“And tell ’em what I said about not missing, Skipper.”

“I’ll give ’em written instructions,” said Crump to that.

“Just like putting fish out on the dock, ain’t it?” hallooed the first
man, while he was still in the air. Down he came–plump! and his teeth
rattled when he hit the upheaving deck.

“Hurry up, a few more of you, and help to put out the fire here–this no
place for jokes.”

When he had seven men, Sam waved an arm to Crump. “No more, no more,

“But me, Skipper, me!” appealed every individual one of those left


Despite that, “Just me!” a half dozen men with uplifted arms implored
the Skipper. “Just me, Skipper, just me!” Most persistent of all was
young Gillis. “Just me, and make a good prize crew. That’ll be eight men
and myself–nine men all told. Luck in odd numbers. Besides, I’m Sam’s
watch-mate, and Sam said he never had a watch-mate like me.”

“H’m– I cal’late that’s right. Just you, then, but hurry.”

Gillis hurried, so much so that instead of dropping aboard the bark he
fell into the sea between the bark and the schooner.

He came spluttering to the top. “Heave me a line, somebody!” A dozen
lines were hove at him and two draw buckets; one, hitting him on the
head, all but drove him under again.

“Lord, don’t kill me!”

“There’s a fine waste of draw buckets,” commented one of the prize crew
ere they had him safe on the bark.

“Oh, but that fire feels good!” chattered Gillis, and took station by
the main hatch, where he might heave buckets of water on the fire
without removing too far from the heat of it.

It took them the better part of two hours to master the fire. “To the
pumps!” said Sam then, and, double-manned by fresh vigorous men, the
pumps soon began to lessen the deluge in the hold.

“And now make sail, Sam,” called Crump from the _Buccaneer_.

“Aye. Who’s ever been square-riggin’?” asked Sam of his prize crew then.
Two men answered to that.

“You’ll be captain of one watch, and you of the other. That’s for
knowin’ about a square-rigger. And now let’s make sail.”

They could not make sail very well, however, because there was not sail
enough to make–that is, to set sail as it should be set on a
square-rigger. But there was enough for half-sails, and they made
half-sails for her accordingly.

“Now she’s a fore-and-after, isn’t she?” commented Sam. “All right,
now–we can do somethin’ with her now–hah, what?”

“Yes, and we won’t need any captains of watches in her, will we, Sam?”
queried Gillis, thereby betraying a slight jealousy of the superior

“That’s so–we won’t, will we? You two square-riggers, you Charlie and
you Dinnie, you’ll be just ordinary hands again.”

“Well, well, ordinary hands ain’t bad–there’ll be good prize money out
of this, Sam.”

“If we keep her afloat there’ll be.”

“Oh, we’ll keep her afloat, Sam.”

“It’s good you think so. But to the wheel now. Who’s first watch?”

“O Sam”– Gillis was peering into the binnacle–“her compass is busted!”

Sam ran aft to see for himself. “So it is. Man, but they’ve had crazy
doin’s aboard this one.”

“Aye, and her rudder’s been pounded off,” came from another.

“No compass and no rudder, hah? Wouldn’t that jolt you, though? Well–”
Sam looked around. “O Skipper,” he hailed to his vessel, “you’ll have to
come under our stern and make the _Buccaneer_ act as a rudder for this

“It’s easy done,” said Crump, and passed up the lines to hold the
_Buccaneer_ in proper fashion to the bark.

With everything fast and taut and the bark beginning to show signs of
life, the _Ice King_ ranged alongside the _Buccaneer_.

Dixey’s head was poked out the pilot-house. “I say, Captain,” he called,
“you’ll never be able to beat home with her. What d’y’ say if you take
our line and we tow you both to Boston–or Gloucester? It’s out of the
question you gettin’ her home under sail. You keep your gang aboard to
keep her pumped out, and I’ll tow her and we’ll split the salvage. What
d’y’ say? You’ll never see home and you hang on to her.”

“And you the man wouldn’t lend us your old boat?” called back Crump.

“That’s all right, Captain. Business is business. Better take my line.
You’ll never see home and you hang on to her that way.”

Sam had to put in a word here. “Don’t you take any old line from him,
Skipper. Fine days when steamboat men c’n tell us our business!”

“No fear of me, Sam. Sheer off, you,” and Crump waved the tug
contemptuously away.

With a final word from the pilot-house, “Well, don’t blame me if you
lose your prize and your men both,” the big sea tug moved toward the
northwest, where soon she was lost in the haze.


With the bark under weigh, Sam Leary organized his crew. Four men to the
pumps and four men to chop ice, and himself everywhere–alow and aloft,
pumping water, chopping ice, and back to the stern to advise with Crump
Taylor as to the course.

“How’s she doin’?” Sam would call.

“Fine! fine! Go on–all right. I think she’s liftin’ a mite.”

“Think so?” and Sam, much cheered, would dash around deck again.

The ice was a toilsome proposition. It made about as fast as they could
clear it. “I see them harvesting ice on the Kennebec one winter,” said
young Gillis, by way of drawing an extra breath–“horses and
ice-cutters–and that’s what we ought to have here.”

“I suppose so,” retorted Sam, “and wagons to carry it off, and ice-boats
sailin’ around with cushions and young ladies in furs in ’em, and a
little automobile engine to work the pumps, so all you’d have to do
would be to stand watch once in a while and go below and mug up whenever
you felt like it.”

“There,” exclaimed Gillis, “I knew there was something I forgot! What we
goin’ to do about eatin’? There’s no grub aboard this one.”

“None at all? How d’y’ know?”

“Oh, I been below.”

“Trust you. At eatin’ or watchin’ out for seas you’re a certificated
master. ‘Here’s one I _think_ is comin’ aboard,’ he says the other day,
and she high as Mount Shasta ’most, and comin’ like a railroad train.
And so no grub, eh? Well, the Skipper’ll have to manage some way to
heave some aboard. But quit your conversational chattin’ now and keep
pumpin’–and you others go to choppin’. Slack up, and the first thing
you know this one’ll go down–plumb! like a rock–and then where’ll we

“And our salvage, Sam–where’d that be, too, hah?”

“That’s so, our salvage. And ’tisn’t only salvage, but we want to show
that tug-boat crowd, and those bark people that cast her off, that we
c’n get her home. But how’s the pumps? Three thousand strokes yet? Isn’t
that the devil, though? And ice enough aboard yet to make a winter’s
crop for one of them Boston companies with the fleet of yellow wagons,
yes. But keep to it, fellows, and by’n’by we’ll see about grub.”

Later, Sam paid out a long line, which Crump took aboard the
_Buccaneer_ and attached to a great hunk of beef, wrapped in four
thicknesses of oilskins, and a can of hot coffee, tightly stoppered. The
beef reached the bark somewhat cooled, but in bulk entire. As to the
can, the stopper was buffeted out of that, and only salt water was there
when Sam hauled it in.

“Now what d’y’ think of that, Skipper?”

“That’s the devil, ain’t it? But better luck next time.”

“Lord, I hope so!”

All that night the prize crew labored. The sails needed but small
attention. Hauling in or paying out occasionally sufficed for them, she
being on the one tack all night; but the hull of the bark setting so low
made the trouble. The seas broke almost continuously over her, and added
to that were the icy decks, with footing so uncertain that at any moment
a man was likely to be picked up and hurled into the roaring black void.
When two or three men had been hove into the lee scuppers, and from
there miraculously rescued, Sam saw to it that thereafter every man
worked with a life-line about him.

Sam himself was fettered by no lashings. His work called for too
extensive an activity. He had to be not only aft, but forward, and aloft
as well as below. They could hear him moving in the blackness, grabbing
sheets or halyards, fife-rail or rigging, as he stumbled from one place
to another. Regularly did he disperse words of cheer. “We’ll get home
yet, fellows, and fool ’em all–and then! For you home-bound craft, you
that got families, there’s the wife who’ll have new dresses and the
children copper-toed boots, and a carriage for the baby, with springs in
it. Man, but the time you’ll all have! And the time _we’ll_ have, we
privateers–hah, Gillis?”

“M-m!” murmured Gillis from the region of the port pump-brake, and
forced new energy into arms that long ago he had thought were beyond

Morning came, and with it an increase of wind and cold. Crump, from the
end of the _Buccaneer’s_ bowsprit, where he managed to hang by the aid
of the jib-stay, hailed Sam and offered to put on fresh men.

“No,” said Sam, “we’ll stick it out a while longer.”

“But by’n’by it’ll be too rough, Sammie, and we won’t be able to take
you off.”

“Oh, well then, no harm–we’ll stick it out some way.”

“All right, have your way,” and Crump went back to the deck of his

That afternoon it began to look bad for the bark and the men aboard
her. It was her captain, refreshed from a twenty-four hours’ sleep
below, who thoughtlessly passed his opinion when he, the first of his
crew to revive, poked his head above the companion-way and was
astonished by the sight of the ship that he thought he had scuttled.
“What–she on top of the water yet!” From the bark his eyes roved to the
derailed ice-covered deck of the little _Buccaneer_, then up to Sam and
his toiling gang again. “Well, they are damn fools, ain’t they, to think
they’ll ever get her home?”

He said that to Crump, who answered softly: “Now, Captain, I don’t want
to jar your feelings any, but if you don’t do one of two things–go
below and stay there, or draw the hatch over your face if you stay up
here–then I’m afeared I’ll have to pick you up and tuck you away under
the run or somewhere else where you can’t be heard for a while. Damn
fools, eh?” snorted Crump, and in sheer derision of some people’s
judgment spat several fathoms to leeward.

It turned out as Crump had predicted in the morning–still heavier
weather for that afternoon and night. Just when Sam was demonstrating
with a long pole that there was at least a foot less water in her hold,
the wind and sea began to make. Crump offered to attempt to put fresh
men aboard, but Sam waved him off. “No use, Skipper, runnin’ extra risk
for the gang–you’d lose some of ’em. We’ll stick it out–we’ll make out
some way.”

Throughout that night the men on the bark toiled terribly. Chop ice and
man pumps it was, with not even time to crack a joke or indulge in
occasional cheering reminiscence. There was not time during most of the
night even to carry to the rail and throw to leeward the chopped ice. So
they cut it into large blocks and piled them up two or three tiers high
and there allowed them to stay until by and by, the bark heaving down
sufficiently, away they went in a grand slide overboard. “Everybody
sashay,” Sam would cry then, and waft them overboard with graceful arms.
And yet, exhausting as was the ice-chopping, the pumping was even more
so. It was so terribly monotonous to men accustomed to lively action. No
variety to pumping water out of a ship’s hold; never a chance to put in
a fancy stroke or shift hands, as in ice-chopping. Up and down–always
that–up and down; and when a ship is making as fast as she is
lightened, never an inch of encouragement from the sounding pole. Sam
had to cut down the spells from an hour to half an hour, and finally to
fifteen minutes, so terribly wearing did the grind become to the
exhausted men.

Sam himself had no exuberant vitality after that second night; but the
unobtrusive will was inflexible as ever, and he had ever an eye for
those on the _Buccaneer_. “Skipper, ain’t she been strainin’ through the

“A little bit, Sammie, a little bit.”

“More than a little, Skipper–there’s been too much pumpin’ aboard you,
too, for a _little_ strainin’. How many strokes?”

“Oh, maybe two thousand through the night.”

“I thought about that. And now let me tell you something, Skipper–that
kind of work won’t do your vessel any partic’lar good. It’s a terrible
strain. I know, I know–you can’t tell me a little vessel like the
_Buccaneer_ can be a rudder to a big logey rolling ship of this one’s
size and not show signs of it. I misdoubt you’ll be able to hang on much

“Much longer? Let me tell you, boy, we’ll hang on till you or me goes

“No, you won’t.”

“Why won’t we? Who’ll stop?”

“I will. See here.” Sam, balanced on the taffrail of the bark, poised a
sharp-edged axe above the lines that held the _Buccaneer_ astern. “One
slash here, and one slash there, and you’re adrift.”

“You just try it–just let me see you try it, Sam Leary!” Crump in his
wrath shook his fist at Sam, and followed that by furious orders to the
_Buccaneer’s_ crew. But that fit over, he shook his head. “I misdoubt
that bark’ll live the night out. Blast her, blast her, I wish we’d never
set eyes on her! What’s millions, let alone a few thousand dollars, to
men’s lives–and men that’s sailed with you, and summer breeze or winter
blow was always there when you wanted ’em? Damn you, Sam Leary, for an
obstinate mule, but if ever I see you aboard this vessel of mine again
you won’t leave it in a hurry again to go aboard any old sinkin’ hulk
for prize money!”

And still the wind and sea increased; and just before dark Sam appeared
at the stern of the bark with the sharp axe in his hand. “O Skipper,
Skipper!” he called.

“Aye, Sammie.”

“Time to part company.”

“No, no, Sammie–not yet awhile.”

“Yes, now’s the time. There’s nine of us here and twenty-seven of you
there. You lay tied to this one, and if we go down suddenly in the
night, down you go, too.”

“No, no, Sammie. I’ll have two men with axes to the lines. I’ll cut, if
I see you goin’–as sure as God’s above me, I’ll cut.”

“‘Twon’t do, Skipper. We could roll under in

[Illustration: “You just try it–just let me see you try it, Sam

the dark afore you’d know it and you’d get whirled in—-”

“And even so, Sammie–do you believe she’d draw us under?”

“Wouldn’t she? If you didn’t cut quick enough, say. And if she didn’t,
you’d be caught aback, and in this breeze you’d capsize in a wink. No,
’twon’t do, Skipper. If we’ve got to go, we got to go, and you goin’
with us won’t help. And there’s nine of us and twenty-seven of you.” He
looked all about him then–ahead, abeam, aloft, and once more astern at
Crump. “So long, fellows, if we’re not here in the mornin’.” Two sharp
slashes and the line parted; wide apart fell the big bark and the little

Crump, immediately he felt himself free, laid the _Buccaneer_ alongside
as near the bark as he dared, and he could dare a great deal.

“Keep off!” called Sam.

“No more than she is now, Sam. And if ever she should go down, tell the
fellows to lash themselves to something or other that’ll float high, and
we’ll be right there and maybe pick some of you up—-”

Sam waved, the last time they were able to see so much as a hand waved
ere black night rolled down on them.

From the little schooner all hands watched the night out for that spot
in the darkness where they conceived the bark to be–that is, those that
had time to spare from their work. Occasionally they could catch from
her deck a call that they knew to be the voice of Sam with his word of
cheer. They saw the attempts to light torches on her, the flash and
flare, and then the almost immediate dousing when the sea washed aboard.

But fortune attends the brave. She was there in the morning, rolling
worse than ever and lower in the water, but still afloat.

“Now, ain’t that amazin’?” demanded Crump of one after another of his
crew. “Ain’t it amazin’?” he demanded of the captain of the bark.

That intriguing party could only shake his head at the miracle of it.
“Still afloat! And when I left her I give her about an hour. I set her
afire myself with my own hand,” he explained, “so nobody’d be misled
into tryin’ to save her. ‘No salvage on _her_,’ I said. ‘Another hour
and she’ll be burned to the water’s edge, and then she’ll sink and
trouble nobody no more,’ I said. And a good job I thought it was, she
was that dangerous-lookin’. And if I’d never set a match to her, she was
leakin’ that bad, and that low in the water! And there she is still
afloat! Well, that’s past me.”

That afternoon, the weather moderating, Crump sailed close up and once
more offered to try to take off the worn-out gang of the now wildly
sailing bark and put his own fresher men aboard.

“What!” exclaimed Sam–“leave her, and after we got her this far? Why
we’re gettin’ to love the old hulk. Let’s finish the job, Skipper, so
long’s we started it. Another day and we’ll be home.”

“Sam Leary, am I skipper, or you?”

“Why, of course you’re skipper, and if you order it–_order_ it,
Skipper–we got to obey.”

“Well, come aboard here.”


“Rig up that taykle–the same that hoisted your gang aboard.”

“That taykle parted last night, Skipper, and it can’t be rigged.” If one
can imagine an impudent, unshaven, hollow-eyed man in iced-up boots,
beard, and oilskins, then it is possible to picture Sam Leary as he
leaned against the mizzen-rigging of the wallowing derelict and smiled
sweetly at his skipper. And imagine Sam Leary’s skipper, after a lot of
spluttering, smiling back, and even at last admitting himself beaten.

“All right, go ahead. There’s no gettin’ past you, Sam Leary. Finish
your cruise in her.”

And Sam Leary did finish his cruise in her. Three days later, such
weary, weary men– But let that pass. Three days later–and in broad
daylight it happened, so that their friends at home might share in the
full glory of their achievement–they sailed, the bark leading and the
little fisherman by way of a rudder astern, into the harbor of
Gloucester, where they fancy they know a seaman when they see one.


Of the sequence of events that threw that valuable prize into their
hands the crew of the _Buccaneer_ were not told at that time; but,
later, young Gillis, having journeyed to Boston–there in emulation of
more noted fishermen the more splendidly to disburse his
prize-money–had come back minus his roll, but fat with information.

“And there I was, Skipper, spending my money like a–like a—-”

“–a drunken fisherman.”

“No, that’s not how I was goin’ to put it, Skipper. But, anyway, there I
was dispensin’ refreshment like a gentleman to a few friends I’d met,
when along comes the skipper of the tugboat that wanted us to take his
line and we wouldn’t, you mind. And he looks at me hard, and at last
asks me was I _really_ one of that gang o’ fishermen that brought the
mahogany bark back to port. And I says, ‘Why ain’t I, _really_?’ ‘Well,’
he says, ‘you look so diff’rent dressed up.’ And I said that naturally a
man that’d been bangin’ around on the Banks for five or six weeks would
look handsome in oilskins and a gale of wind. That kind o’ struck him
amidships, I guess, for he said he didn’t mean anything by that, and
goes on to tell me how he figured it cost him twelve hundred dollars
chasin’ up that bark–in tows he missed that week; and his friend
here–he introduced the other steamboat man–’d got a thousand dollars
just for doin’ nothin’ but layin’ under the lee of the Cape for three
days while it blew, and then for joggin’ around two days off the cape
after it moderated. ‘Yes, and the man that paid me is down the wharf
now,’ goes on the second steamboat man, ‘and I think he’d like to meet
some of your crowd.’ And down the dock we went, and there he was. I
forget what he looked like in the face, but he had the swellest fur
coat, big enough to ’most make a mains’l for the _Buccaneer_ and fur
nigh long enough for reef-points on that same mains’l, and he shakes
hands with me and says he didn’t know whether to be sore or not. And
just then Sam come bowlin’ along, and he says, ‘This must be one of your
crowd, too?’ ‘_One!_’ I says–‘one! Why, he had charge!’ and just then
the first steamboat man he grabs Sam and says, ‘Well, I’ll be
damned–why, you’re the fellow made the main-boom leap!’ ‘What!’ says
fur coat, and has a good look at Sam. ‘Sure enough,’ he goes on, ‘you’re
the kind of men I ought to have hired to salve the bark.’ ‘Hired? what
d’y’ mean?’ says Sam. ‘Oh, nothing,’ says fur coat to that; ‘but I’m
done with the salvage business. Let’s have a drink,’ and then they came
so fast, reg’lar ring-a-ring-a-rounder fashion, that—-”

“That the next thing you knowed you had an awful headache, and not
enough money to pay for your ticket back to Gloucester.”

“Didn’t I, though! Trust me–me, Wise Aleck, goin’ to Boston ’thout a
return ticket. But Sam didn’t.”

“No, trust Sam to go the whole hog. How much does he want?”

“Twenty, or twenty-five, he thought would do.”

“Only twenty-five, hah? Mod’rate, ain’t he? Well, give me his address
and I’ll telegraph it to him. And how much do you want for yourself?”

“Oh, about fifteen cents for a drink’ll do me, unless—-”

“Unless what?”

“‘Less you’d lend me ten on the next trip.”

“No, I won’t lend you ten on the next trip. I’ll _give_ you ten dollars,
if that’ll do you.”

“And why not lend me the ten on the next trip, Skipper?”

“Because there ain’t goin’ to be no next trip this winter. I’m
cal’latin’ to stay ashore a while. This salvage business is good enough
for me this winter. A couple of months ashore won’t hurt any of us. And
then there’s the _Buccaneer_ needs calkin’ where steerin’ that bark
racked her, and new rail, and a few things around deck. And that’ll give
that streak of hard luck a chance to run itself out. So here y’are. I
s’pose you’ll go and blow that now as fast as you can?”

“I guess that’s right, too, Skipper,” and up the street rolled Gillis,
blithely singing.

Crump gazed after him. “There’s a man oughter be glad he’s alive to-day.
But no, he must try and keep up with men like Sam Leary that gets fat on
excitement. Where’s that card o’ Sam’s he give me? H’m-m–Élite Hotel,
Canal Street. And twenty-five dollars, eh? He must be cal’latin’ to come
home in a automobile. Well, after all, I dunno but he’s entitled to
automobiles at that.”