The Commodore

I REMEMBER him as well as though I had seen him yesterday. There are some figures that memory does in silhouette, and that of my grandfather is one, — the lines all definite and clear, and standing out above the flotsam and jetsam of the human tide like some grand old figurehead. A tall man, a little stooped about the shoulders, with long, thin arms and legs which seemed to be without bones, so that he could tie them up and twist them about, and fling them out in a rattling old hornpipe, such as I have never seen performed by any one else, before or since.

His ship, the Grampus, was a fullrigged man-of-war, with more stays and halyards in her rigging than there were threads in the piece of Honiton lace which my grandmother wore on her head.

She lay at anchor, — the ship, I mean, although the same might be said of my grandmother ; for in proportion to my grandfather’s love for a roving life was her aversion to going abroad. Well, as I said, she lay at anchor off the Navy Yard, over which the Commodore was in command. Every day of his life — and he was an old man then — he went down to the dock, threw off his land togs, took a header into the water, and, with a splash and a yell, struck out with a bold stroke for his ship, a good two miles distant. He rode the waves like a cork and climbed the rigging like a cat, scrambling up the ship’s side, over the rail, and never drawing breath till he had put betwixt fingers and toes every blessed spar and rope, from stem to stern, fo’castle to mizzentop.

Summer or winter, it was the same to him. My grandmother, who was a very aristocratic and proper personage, poor, dear lady, went to great pains to prepare a bathing-suit and bath-towel for these aquatic exploits. One fine day the whole Navy Yard was startled to behold Hard Tack, my grandfather’s great Newfoundland dog, going from pillar to post in a full suit of bed-ticking trimmed with scarlet braid, and with a towel wound around his head like the “ turbaned Turk.” After that, no lady could take her walk abroad until after the Commodore had completed his constitutional tub and donned his clothes.

Nothing more characteristic than those clothes could be imagined. They seem now to me very beautiful, but to my childish vision they were exceedingly queer, and something to be just a bit ashamed of. The finest and best quality of broadcloth was used in the manufacture of the garments which made him the central figure of our little community. Their color was the regulation navy blue. The trousers were bellshaped, very wide at the ankles, and flapped when he walked, and they came up almost to his chin, under his waistcoat of yellow nankeen, with gilt buttons. The coat had long, full skirts, with lapels in front, over which rolled a wide linen collar with a flaring black silk tie. His headgear was a cap of cloth, like his clothes, which bulged out all around, and had a visor of patent leather. This came down well over his nose, which was Roman, and quite on a par with his chin as to firmness. The finishing touches to his attire were patent - leather pumps and a white silk handkerchief the size of a sail. These, and a fresh shave every morning, with a plentiful sprinkling of bay rum, made up the sum total of his extravagances. But I must not forget the carnations which all the year round he wore in his buttonhole, and which vied in color with the rosiness of his cheeks.

His eyes had the greenish gray-blue of the sea, and his hair on either temple was soft and white as the crest of a wave. He carried under his arm a brass spyglass, which he delighted in leveling upon certain ladies who on sunny afternoons took coy promenades, under funny little parasols, on the parade-ground. He had one habit which my grandmother had tried in vain to break. This was to whittle. Wherever he went he carried an old black clasp-knife and a piece of pine wood. Clothes-pins were his predilection, and he could be tracked all over the Navy Yard, from one end to the other, by a trail of shavings; and as he whittled he hummed in a monotonous voice, which seemed to start somewhere under his cap and come down through his nose, The Girl I left behind Me. This was his favorite tune; I do not think he ever knew any other, and he could never quite master that, but after a few bars would run foul of Days of Absence, and get beached on Oft in the Stilly Night, two exhilarating ditties much affected by my grandmother. At this he would pull up taut, with a pucker and a long breath, back water, and go at it afresh, until he had launched his original theme successfully on waters which were not always confluent.

Everybody loved the Commodore, but I think the two human beings who were perhaps the most reckless in their admiration were myself and a wretched old hulk of a creature, whom my grandfather, for reasons best known to himself, called “ Shuttlecock.” No one knew him by any other name, and no one knew where he hailed from, except that the Commodore had picked him up somewhere during the war of 1812, and brought him home with him, — that is to say, as much as was left of the poor fellow after the battle of Lake Erie. Not only did my grandfather give to this remnant of humanity a living, but he bestowed upon him in addition a wooden leg, a glass eye, an ear-trumpet, and a piece of white plaster to cover the place where his nose had been. For alas! Shuttlecock’s nose had been blown off on the field of battle. His winter quarters were in a small, square house, built of stone, with neither doors nor windows. It had a chimney on top and an iron scuttle, and it was a blood-curdling sight to see old Shuttlecock, with a rope ladder twisted about his waist, crawling, in the dusk of winter, like a huge limpet over the gray walls, to drop mysteriously down through the roof. This rude dwelling was set where the beach was bleak and the waves rolled high. But when summer set in he betook himself to a fishing - cabin, which was simply a small one - roomed hut set on a raft, which my grandfather had brought up from Chesapeake Bay, and which, by his orders, had been anchored under the protection of the lee shore. Here old Shuttlecock fished, smoked his pipe, and sat and stewed in the hot sun from its rising to its setting. A more harmless, happy soul than he never breathed. My grandfather knew this, and I knew it too, and it little mattered to old Shuttlecock that he was an object of aversion and terror to everybody else for miles around, my grandmother included, who invariably explained him as a pensioner of her husband’s. This made the Commodore angry, and he would hasten to correct the impression of patronage which her term implied. “ Crony, sir, — Shuttlecock is my crony, sir, I beg you to understand; and if it is a question of pensioner, then the term should be applied to me, and not to him.” No one ever knew what the service rendered ray grandfather had been, but, whatever its nature, it had bound the two men together with bonds which no worldly consideration could break.

Mrs. Catherine Cull had been my mother’s nurse, and now was mine. Every Saturday afternoon, when the weather allowed, my grandfather would take her and me, and Hard Tack the dog, and Plum Duff the tiger cat, and a large white canvas bag in which he had put ’baccy and grog and fruit and all sorts of goodies. Then we would be tumbled into a rowboat, and the Commodore would pull us across the bay to Shuttlecock’s cabin. Such ecstatic afternoons! The light in the old fellow’s one eye, when he turned it on my grandfather, seemed to illuminate all the place. We made lemonade in a conch shell, and we ate strawberries out of little black and blue mussel shells, and we had bread and butter spread by Nurse Cull with the Commodore’s knife when he was not whittling, and he and old Shuttlecock would drink their grog and spin their yarns, the wooden leg bobbing up and down the little cabin with a gentle hospitality which I have missed in many a grander host since then. Plum Duff on my grandfather’s knee, and Hard Tack at his feet, looked on with superior approval.

My grandfather loved animals. I was a little shaver in long clothes when he came home from his three years’ cruise along the African coast and through the Indian Ocean. But Nurse Cull would tell me how, when his lady went down to the dock to meet the Commodore, after their long separation, she was scandalized to behold a flaming macaw flapping its gaudy wings on top of his head, an ape perched on his shoulder, and in his arms a huge tiger cat, the subsequent Plum Duff. He had made the ship’s gig which conveyed him to the shore a veritable Noah’s ark. Now, as my grandmother could not abide animals, the sight did not add to the rapture of her welcome. What she would have done had she been aware that a ring-tailed lemur was sound asleep in his roomy coat-tail pocket, I do not dare to think. Matters went from bad to worse, till one day a baby basket, an elaborate affair with its quilted lining of rosecolored silk and lace and ribbon bows, which had been prepared against an expected event, disappeared. Not a trace could be found of it, until some days later it leaked out, after the arrival of my little sister, that my grandfather had appropriated the basket for Plum Duff.

That, certainly, was bad enough, but wait until you hear what happened to the baby herself. Like the basket, she too disappeared, one fine day. She was just two months to a day when this occurred, and she came very near never being a day older. Nurse Cull, as was her custom, had left the little creature sound asleep under the mosquito-netting of her bassinet, after first preparing for her a decoction greatly in vogue at that time for babies. It was a wad made of bread and milk and brown sugar rubbed together and tied up in white cambric. Babies whose mouths closed upon this detestable mess were supposed to go to sleep without a whimper. The afternoon was hot and drowsy. Nurse Cull, I fancy, must have dropped off herself, in the next room, for she asserted, on the honor of an honest woman, that she heard no sound from the nursery, but that, at five o’clock, when she put down her sewing to take the baby up, she found the cradle empty. Then there was a hue and cry, not only up the street, but down the street. The man in the sentry-box, the marines on dress parade, the men in the brass band, everybody, men, women, and children, in the Yard, turned out in the hunt. My poor mother grew wildeyed and wan as she went here, there, and everywhere, to return to the empty cradle. Her white face must have scared even my grandfather, when he came home from a long afternoon down the bay. " What is it, Polly, my girl ? ” he said. My mother could only wail out, “ My baby, — oh, my baby ! ”

I did not tell you, I think, that on land the Commodore was one of the most absent-minded of men. But at sea no one ever caught him napping. A sudden rush of recollection at the sight of my mother sent the blood from his face, until it was as white as her own. He jerked the timepiece from his fob pocket. It lacked fifteen minutes to the sunset gun. We all thought he had gone stark, staring mad when he ran down the stairs, three at a time, and out at the door, no hat on his head, his hair streaming, and tore down the road like one possessed. The men in the ship’s boat which had fetched him ashore were well on their way back, but his whistle, loud and shrill, brought them to with a vengeance, and in a jiffy he had leaped into the stern sheets and was commanding the men to pull as they had never pulled before. “ A twenty-dollar gold piece to every Jack Tar of you, if you get me within speaking distance of the ship before that” — shaking his fist in the face of the great dog-day sun which was fast sliding into the water —“goes ! down His voice, ringing out like a trumpet, was the only sound except that of the oars in the rowlocks. No one, not even my mother, knew exactly what terrible thing was impending, but every one surmised that it must have something to do with the missing baby. Under the sharp, strong strokes of the sailors the boat slid over the glassy sea as fast as a fish could swim. The Commodore’s eyes glared at the great red ball rolling down toward the water’s edge as though he would fix it stock-still in the sky.

We on the dock could see the gunner come on the ship’s deck, his figure standing out black and grim against the crimson west. Clinging to my mother’s hand, which trembled in mine, I looked back to the house to see that my grandmother stood in her open window, very pale and more proud than ever. I think she was the only one who knew that my grandfather was at the bottom of this excitement, as indeed he was of everything that ever caused a stir in our quiet lives. Nurse Cull caught the glass, which my mother had no strength to hold, and, looking through it, saw that the gunner carried his iron rammer, bag of powder, and wad of cotton, — it being before the days of the percussion cap. The sun grew redder and bigger as it neared the heaving water-line. There was not the length of an oar between sea and sun when we could see my grandfather spring to his feet in the boat and roar something at the men who were pulling for dear life. The tone was so terrible that we could hear it even on shore. The sailors bent their backs till their noses were flattened on their knees and the ribbons on their caps stood out straight behind. And then, with a pull that lifted the boat clean out of the water, with a tremendous spurt, they brought it well up to the ship’s side. Again did the Commodore thunder out something in that awful tone, this time to the man who was about to ram the charge into the black belly of the cannon, so that he let everything fall upon the deck. The great red disk of the sun was now drawing itself under the waves. But before it had quite disappeared my grandfather had cleared the bulwarks of the Grampus and snatched from the black mouth of the gun a something long and white and fluttering, — something which at a distance looked like a bolster-case, but which caused my poor mother to faint dead away.

A great crowd had gathered on the dock by this time, and oh, what a shout they sent up ! " The baby ! the baby ! the baby is saved ! Hurrah for the baby I With a three times three and a tiger for the baby ! ” This brought my mother to, and I remember how she laughed and cried and kissed me, and how all the women had their handkerchiefs out, and the men, too, as many as had them. Then across the water came the great boom of the sunset gun, — for the first time in its history just one minute after the sun had dipped below the horizon. This was the signal for the sky to unfurl itself like a rose, and, blown by some invisible wind, to disperse in little clouds, which floated rosy and pink in the golden twilight. So that, in my childish fancy, quickened by Hans Andersen, I thought the good angels were scattering rose leaves upon the boat which was bringing my little sister back to us. She lay in my grandfather’s arms, with her long white dress floating out in the breeze, and his cheek pressed against hers. Then, as the boat came dancing over the waves, the marine band struck up the Commodore’s favorite tune, The Girl I left behind Me, and to its spirited measures and amid general rejoicing he landed his precious cargo.

After this little pleasantry on my grandfather’s part, he did own up to the baby’s abduction, but he would never acknowledge having forgotten her in the cannon’s belly. He said that it was only a joke to shake us up out of our dumps and doldrums. But for all that he was very meek and well behaved up to the day of the baby’s christening, and then he took umbrage at both my grandmother and my mother because they objected when he, as sponsor, sprang the name “ Grampussina ” upon my sister’s unoffending head. Fortunately, the clergyman was deaf, and this gave my mother a chance to set matters straight. Having most effectually put both the women in the east by nor’east, as he expressed it, the Commodore went off in high dudgeon for a week’s visit in New York.

The relations between my maternal grandparents were most certainly strained. I doubt if my grandmother said good-by to her husband, when he started out for New York, a considerable journey in those days. Young as I was, I marveled at this, because over and over again I had heard my mother tell what a romantic love-match theirs had been, and how the fashionable world of Baltimore was up in arms when the beautiful young heiress, Cornelia MacTavish Dulaney Hopkins, stole away from her father’s house, in the dead of night, with a flowered bandbox and a dashing young officer, who had risen by bravery from ship’s cabin boy to lieutenant. I have told you what an aristocratic name was my grandmother’s, but my grandfather, who had no use for the grandiloquent, always called her Polly Hopkins.

Well, he did not stop out his week in New York, but came back after the third day. It was in the afternoon of a scorching day in September, — not a breath on land or sea. My grandmother and I and the baby were sitting under the shade of a great butternut tree which grew on the lawn in front of the Commodore’s house. At the sight of my grandfather coming up the pebbled walk with its high box border, my mother, dear soul, whose heart was too gentle to harbor a grudge, gave a little cry of joy, and ran to meet him, and to receive on her sweet face a sounding smack. But my grandmother, who thought kissing vulgar, turned away her cheek, so that the salutation meant for her fell on empty air. For all that, however, I think that in her heart she was as glad to have him home as we were, although she did ask him in an icy tone if he had brought any pets in the form of orangoutangs, elephants, boa constrictors, or lions from the menagerie of a certain Mr. Barnum, who at that time was causing the wonders of his show to burst upon the metropolis. Meanwhile I was busying myself with the spyglass, my grandfather lying on the grass with “ Grampussina ” — he insisted upon calling her that without benefit of clergy — crawling all over him.

“ Hello ! ” I cried, after scanning the offing.

Something in my tone made my grandfather ask, “ What’s up, bub ? ”

“ A flag, sir,” said I.

“ Where ? ”

“ On old Shuttlecock’s fishing-cabin.”

“ Well,” exclaimed my grandmother, “ I declare, the airs of that good-for-nothing old pauper, setting up his colors as if he were the Lord High Admiral ! ” “ It’s a funny-looking flag,” said I, ignoring this interpolation, with my eyes screwed up to the glass. “ It hangs all limp, but I can see its color, and it’s bright yellow.”

This brought my grandfather up with a bound. He reached for the glass, and clapped it to his eyes.

By Beelzebub’s buttons, you ’re right, boy ! It’s the yellow jack, and old Shuttlecock ’s down with some infernal, devilish, damned disease. And,” jumping to his feet, “ I’m going to him.”

This was a bombshell. My grandmother expostulated, my mother wept, and I put my nose up in the air and howled. All to no avail. Go he must, go he would, and go he did. We all rose and followed him into the house to the medicine closet, to help him pack the old canvas bag with such remedies as he selected from its shelves. In addition to these there was a large bottle of brandy, one of cherry bounce, a roll of red flannel, and a box of mustard. Hanging on the wall was an old-fashioned warming-pan of polished brass. My grandfather started off with this over his shoulder. But when my grandmother beheld him thus equipped, she declared he was insulting the family pride of the Dulaneys, and that her grandmother’s heirloom should not be desecrated. Under ordinary conditions this would have thrown the Commodore into a towering rage, but now he only sighed, “ Put the warming-pan back on the wall,” and stood on the threshold of the door, gazing with a long, wistful look at my grandmother. But she went on fanning herself, and made no sign. So he turned and left the room.

My mother and I accompanied him down to the dock; he, on the way, giving us careful directions for the feeding of Hard Tack and Plum Duff, who both followed him to the water’s edge. There were little knots of sailors and marines huddled together on the planks, speaking with horror of that yellow rag hanging limp in the humid air.

There were whispers of yellow fever, Asiatic cholera, and, dreadest of all, leprosy. The men were all scared to death. My grandfather knew this, and when the boat was lowered, and two stalwart fellows with blanched faces stepped forward to take their places at the oars, he ordered them back. “ I am going alone,” he said in a firm, low voice. He kissed my mother and me a long goodby. “ Bear up, my girl,” he whispered. “ It’s only my duty I’m doing, and I should do for old Shuttlecock what he has done for me. If I never come back, take good care of your mother.” And then he stooped and stroked the backs of his two faithful comrades, the cat and the dog.

We watched him, through our tears, setting out alone on that awful errand. Under the hot sun the sea lay dead as pulp. At each scoop of the oars might be seen on either side of the boat a yeasty streak, which gleamed livid for a second, like the belly of some skulking shark before it slunk away beneath the waveless waters.

The unspeakable depression which hung over the landscape was no match for that which had settled upon the house when we returned to it. We passed from room to room, each one more empty than the others, with the vital presence gone, perhaps forever. On the table in the hall lay the copy of Robinson Crusoe and the wax doll he had brought my sister and me from New York, together with a hamper of fruit from Fulton Market for my mother and grandmother. I choked at the sight. Then we went up to my grandmother’s room. The door was shut and the key turned from the inside. In answer to my mother’s voice she explained that she had gone to bed with a headache from the excessive heat; would my mother preside for her over the tea-table ?

I held back my sobs till the wretched meal was over ; but once alone in my little room, I flung myself down in a wild passion of tears, such as only childhood knows. Then I undressed and crept into bed, to dream that a great hero was being buried. The marine band was playing the Dead March in Saul, I thought, and all the soldiers were marching with arms reversed, and the marines had crape bands on their arms, and the barracks were hung with long black streamers. So were Plum Duff and Hard Tack. The drums were muffled, and the flags -were flying at half - mast, and the minute guns were booming, and in the distance I could hear the church chimes in the city ringing out across the water Adeste Fideles. Then, amid the tumult, there fell upon my ears a sound I had never heard before: my grandmother was crying to break her heart.

I awoke from my dream to hear the night-watch shouting, “Twelve o’clock, and all’s well ! ” The moonlight flooded my room, and there, leaning over my bed, was the last person in the world whom I should have ever expected to find there, — my grandmother ! I raised myself on my elbows and rubbed my eyes to make sure that I was not still dreaming. But no ; there she was, her face all wet with tears. She had thrown a black lace veil over her head, across her arms she had a white camel’s hair shawl, and in her hand she held nothing more nor less than the warming-pan of my great - great - grandmother Dulaney. I gaped at her, too astonished for words.

“ Frank,”she said in a broken voice, “ would you mind getting up and dressing, and going down with me to the dock ? I could not have been more dumfounded had my grandmother then and there proposed our mounting the warming-pan and flying up to the moon.

“ I am sorry to disturb you, child, but I thought it might create comment if I were seen going across the yard so late at night, by myself.”

Now, the sheer idea of my grandmother walking across the parade-ground at the dead of night, with no other protector than the family warming-pan, struck me as so preposterous that I almost laughed aloud. But I was soon in my clothes, and we started off on our nocturnal expedition. As my grandmother felt the warm, sweet-scented night on her cheek, she drew a long breath. I think, too, she softly sighed. I wondered if she thought of that other night, so many years ago, of which I had heard my mother tell.

“ Frank,” she asked, as we hurried across the empty parade-ground, “ have you any idea what I am going to do ? ”

“ Not the dimmest, grandmother,” replied I stoutly, which was a deliberate lie.

“ Well, my child, I will tell you : I am going to carry this over to your grandfather.” In her agitation she brought the warming-pan down with a clang upon the paving-stones. It rang out like the tocsin of war, and I thought that we should surely have the whole barracks tumbling out about us. As it was, we startled the sentinel; but I was ready for him with the password, and he let us go unchallenged.

Fortunately for us, the streets were deserted. As we neared the dock, my grandmother again spoke.

“ I am wondering, child,” said she, “ how we are to find a boat, at this late hour. I would have ordered one earlier in the day, but,” with a slight hesitancy, “ I only resolved to do this half an hour ago.” Actually, she was proceeding on the impulse of the moment !

“ Don’t you worry about the boat, grandmother,” I answered. “ I have a beauty of my own. Grandad gave it to me on my last birthday, when I was ten years old. I have the key of the boathouse in my pocket. See ! ” I cried, holding it up in the moonlight.

Then, after a few minutes, a more serious question arose.

“Frank,” said my grandmother, “do you think there will be any one on the dock to row me over ? I am a littla nervous in trusting myself to a strange man whose habits I do not know.”

“ You leave that to me, grandmother,” I called out to her over my shoulder, for I was now preceding her upon the dock. “ I know a fellow who will go with you, and his habits are all right.”

This seemed to reassure her, and without more ado I brought the boat around, and helped her down the steps and into the stern. She gave herself up to the novelty of the situation, having, however, before she embarked, drawn on a very fine pair of lavender kid gloves. No lady, born and bred, could think of going abroad with bare hands. I took the oars, and, righting the boat, got clear of the small craft bobbing up and down about the dock.

“And now, Frank,” she asked, peering about in the moonlight, and resting her gloved hands on the gunwale of the boat, “ where is the man you promised you would get to row me ! ’

I pulled steadily ahead for several lengths before I answered, smiling up at her as I leaned on my oars, “ Here be is, grandmother.”

The kid gloves became deprecatory.

“ Oh, Frank, Frank, you have deceived me! ” she cried. “You said you would get me a man.”

“No, grandmother, I beg your pardon, I did not. I said ‘a fellow.’ I said, ‘ I know a fellow, and he will go with you, and he has no bad habits,’ — which is true, is n’t it ? ” I kept on rowing and talking with an audacious persistency which was too much for the lady in the stern.

“ But I cannot allow you to run into such danger, child. You must let me out.” She said this with a sudden return to her old air of authority. “ You must stop the boat and let me out this instant, — I insist upon it !”

“ But you will drown if I let you out here, unless you can use the warmingpan as a life-preserver.”

“It is ridiculous,” she gasped, “a baby like you riding over his grandmother in this way. What will your grandfather say ? ”

“ I do not know what he will say, but I do know what he would do, if I did not go with you.”

“ But your strength will give out, child, before we get halfway over,” she urged in a mollified tone.

“ Then we can rig up a mast and sail out of your shawl and the warming-pan, and trust to them to carry us over ! ”

This was too much for her, and she sank back resignedly on her cushions, conquered as much by the beauty of the night as by me; for the night was beautiful beyond words. The great harvest moon was overhead, and beneath its light the sea lay in a golden languor. Under the spell of its enchantment, youth knew the wisdom of age without its weariness, and age knew the freshness of youth without its folly. It made my grandmother young, and me old, so that, rocked on that golden tide, the hearts of the woman and child became one. For the first time in my life I loved my grandmother. All the grief and despair of the day had vanished ; I was ecstatically happy, and so, I think, was she. It mattered little to either of us that the burnished pathway over which we were passing led up to the house of death, for we both knew that that which was dearer than life awaited us there. It was the unreal which held sway. I was a very young child to learn, as I did that night, that it is by the unreal that the soul is encouraged, and that he who would endure must be a dreamer.

“ How young you look, dear grandmamma.” I said, resting on my oars and letting the boat drift, “ and how beautiful, — just like the ivory miniature which grandad wears about his neck !

“ How odd, child ! ” she answered. “ I was just about to tell you how old you seem to have grown, quite like a man, since we started out together.”

Her face was tender in the golden light, and she trailed one hand, the gloves having been removed, in the water, as a girl would have done.

“ Do I look like that picture ? ” she sighed. “ I feel to-night just as I did when I had it painted to give your grandfather. That was a long time ago. I was only eighteen.”

When she spoke again, it was to echo my own thoughts.

“ I have been thinking, child,” she said, “ that your grandfather will not be at all surprised to see us. Everything to-night seems so natural to me, and just as it should be. And so, I am sure — yes, very sure — that when he sees us he will say that it is just what he thought we would do. I have no right to expect that he should think this of me,” she continued sadly, “ but I believe he knew all the time that I would come.”

We were now quite close to old Shuttlecock’s cabin. A red lantern swung under the yellow jack, which hung black in the shadown. My grandfather must have seen us a long way off, for he stood on the raft’s edge, as if waiting for us. But there was no surprise on his face, only a great happiness. His eyes w’ere riveted on my grandmother. After a little space of silence, she was the first to speak.

“ Did you think I would come, dear ? ” she asked.

“ Yes, Polly,” he replied, “ I was sure of it.”

“ Why ? ” she asked, and lowered her eyes.

“ Because you love me,” said my grandfather.

“ No,” she answered, “ that was not the reason.”

“ Then, for God’s sake, what was it? ” he cried, catching his breath.

“ Because you love me,” she said, lifting her eyes, and reaching out her arms for him to take her from the boat.

But at this my grandfather drew back, and broke out in vehement self-denunciations. He had been weak and cowardly to allow us to approach so near this awful danger, and then he drew the most harrowing and alarming pictures as to what the consequences would be if we stayed a moment longer in that pestilential place.

Old Shuttlecock, it appeared, had been discovered by the Board of Health in a seemingly critical condition, and they had diagnosed the case as Asiatic cholera, and taken themselves off in great alarm.

“ That is more than I shall do,” declared my grandmother from the boat. “ I have come to share the danger with you.”

“ But are you not afraid ? ” said he.

“ I am afraid of nothing where you are,” she replied.

“ Not even death ? ” he asked.

“No,” said she, again reaching out her arms to him.

“ Then bring the boat alongside, bub.”

I did so, and he caught my grandmother in his arms, and kissed her for dear life, I too coming in for my share. For at least five minutes my grandmother and I tasted all the joy of our beautiful act of self-abnegation, and during that time my grandfather made himself sure of something that many times in his life he had had to doubt. Now, both by word and by look, my grandmother gave him the assurance of her affection.

“ And now,” he said at last, “ now it is my turn to make a confession. Old Shuttlecock is no more down with Asiatic cholera than I am. The Board of Health is all a lot of jackasses, who don’t know when a man has had too much watermelon.”

At this turn of affairs, which was truly a let-down for everybody but old Shuttlecock himself, who was blissfully sleeping off the effects of cherry bounce, my grandmother began to grow hysterical.

“ Come,” said the Commodore, “it is getting late; we must go home. I am going back with you. But what in thunder is this ? ” For in jumping into the boat he had landed plump on the warming-pan, which in the excitement of the moment had been forgotten. “ By all that’s sacred, it’s the warming-pan of the Dulaneys! Polly,” he asked, pinning the camel’s hair shawl about her shoulders, " tell me one thing more : did you bring that,” with a look at the warming-pan, “ to me ? ”

But my grandmother evaded his question.

After I was safe and sound in my own little bed my grandfather came into my room.

“ Bub,” said he, “ you ’re a brick ; I am proud of you. But tell me one thing : what was your grandmother doing out on the high seas with her warmingpan ? ”

“ She was fetching it to you, sir,” I said.

“ On your word of honor, bub ? ”

“ Yes, on my word of honor,” I rejoined.

“Well, women beat the Dutch ! ” he exclaimed. “ Good-night, my boy.”

Justine Ingersoll.