The Works on the Schooner Harvester

ON those rare occasions when a neighbor brought old Skipper Rufus Condon to the store in his sleigh, the latter took precedence over all others, and one of the three armchairs by the fire was at once vacated for him.

The stove door would then be closed and the draughts turned on for a few moments ; or likely enough Simeon would make a sudden blast with old paper and pine box covers, which latter he broke up underfoot so energetically that the crockery ware and bottles of medicine rattled again on their shelves.

It was on one of these visits that Cap’n Job Gaskett was present with a long-bearded stranger, whom he introduced as his “ woman’s cousin from up back here a piece,” and by way of entertainment to his guest soon urged Skipper Rufus to relate again his memorable experience on board the schooner Harvester, — a story always eagerly listened to by all, but which the old man could not often be induced to enter upon in so public a place.

Between him and Job Gaskett, however, there existed a strong bond of sympathy through their unwavering belief in the supernatural, and, moreover, Job had the knack of drawing out the old man.

“ It’s seldom ever I come down past them pore ole wracks up to the head o’ the Cove there,” said he, “ without it puts me in mind o’ the set-fired works you see aboard the ole Harvester that time, Skip’ Rufe. An’ speakin’ o’ her, it doos beat the ole Boy hisself the way that creetur makes out to hold her sheer all these years sence she died. Why, there’s a number o’ them hookers up there pretty much all flattened out now, that was counted tol’ble good vessels the time you folks give up the Harvester, an’ now she’s by all odds the bes’-lookin’ wrack o’ the whole kit of ’em ! ”

“ Bedide ef you ain’t got ’bout the rights on ’t! ” cried Skipper Rufus, evidently pleased at this tribute to his old craft. “ The ole Harvester was built for keeps. She wa’n’t jes’ merely hove together same’s a good many on ’em is, now I tell ye what! Wood an’ iron could n’t never be sot up stouter ’n what she was ; an’ time we hauled her up there, I cal’late three hunnerd dollars ’d made a better vess’l outen her ’n we could went to work an’ built.”

“ Wal, you folks was cal’latin’ to repair, wa’n’t ye ? ” asked Job.

“ Course we was ! ” answered the old man. “ Never had no idee o’ givin’ of her up. Cal’lated to give her a new deck an’ wales, mebbe ; but you see the thing of it was, there was sich an everlastin’ string o’ owners to her, we could n’t git ’em to pull together noways. There was Elder Pike, he had a little piece into her; an’ them two ole maid sisters o’ hisn, they had their little piece into her; an’ then there was one or two widder women up there to the Harbor, they’d got into her, too.

“ I can’t tell ye now jes’ who they all was, but that’s the way the creetur had got to be cut up into thirty-secon’s an’ sixty-fourths, chock to her timber heads ; so’s’t soon’s ever we commenced to talk repairin’, you never see sich another pullin’ an’ haulin’. Me an’ brother Ephe we held nigh onto a half on her betwixt us, an’ we knowed fast ’nough her top was gittin’ kind o’ tender, but you could n’t git them women folks an’ that there ole sky-pilot so’s’t they’d talk reas’nable nohow. One day they’d agree to repair, mebbe, an’ nex’ day they’d be possessed to sell the wusst way, but you could n’t git no price sot to save ye; an’ so it kep’ workin’, till bimeby the creetur died right there to Uncle ’Siah’s shore, an’ a dod-blasted shame it was, too ! ”

“ Jes’ merely heavin’ away the ables’ little hooker ever went out o’ this Cove,” remarked Cap’n Ormsby. “ I never ’ll forgit the time we come out by Halibut P’int in comp’ny ’long o’ you, into the ole Mirandy. ’T was gittin’ ’long late in the fall o’ the year, an’ screechin’ here from the nor’wes’ right out en’ways, so’s’t Ipswidge Bay was all feather white as fur’s you could see. I know we was kind o’ shakin’ her along through them flaws under single-reefed mains’l an’ jib, but blow my shirt ef you did n’t come walkin down past us in that there ole Harvester with a rap full, an’ wearin’ a stays’l at that! ”

“ Yas, yas ! ” chuckled Skipper Rufus. “ I rec’lec’ the time. Oh, she ’d lug sail 'long o’ the best of ’em, the old Harvester would. Me an’ brother Ephe had knowed her for a dretful able, smartgoin’ little packet ever sence she was launched, but ’t was jes’ by way of a slant we come to hear she was for sale at sich a trade down there to Burnt Coat. There was an ole rich feller by the name o’ McClintock that owned her an’ half a dezen sail besides down there to the islant, an’ fin’ly he went to work an’ died. Seems’s though his widder was possessed to get red on all the ole feller’s vess’l prop’ty quick’s ever she could. Seems’s though the Harvester had allus been a pertikler pet o’ hisn, bein’’s he’d turned to an’ had her built out o’ jes’ sich stock, an’ jes’ to suit hisself every ways, so’s’t everybody there to Burnt Coat ’lowed the ole feller sot a master store by her.

“ Wal, me an’ Ephe turned to an’ gafted onto her some quick soon’s ever we found what a trade she was, but we thought then it was ter’ble queer them folks should stan’ by an’ see that craf’ go out o’ town at sich a figger. Vess’ls was good-payin’ prop’ty in them days, ye know, an’ she was all took up here to the Cove inside o’ twenty-four hours; everybody that see her wanted to git holt on a piece.

“ ’Bout the middle o’ September, that nex’ fall, nigh’s I rec’lec’, we up an’ give it to her for the Bay Shelore, a-mackerelin’. I know we made the run from Mount Desert Rock chock to Canso in less ’n thirty-six hours, an’ the creetur wa’n’t in no trim to travel, neither; but you take an’ give her half a chance any time, an’ she was off same’s a scalt hog! But come to git down through the Gut o’ Canso, an’ the wind kep’ peterin’ out on us, so’s’t by night-time we was jes’ up off the no’thern p’int o’ Prince Edward’s Islant there, with a mere air o’ wind out here to the east’ard, so’s’t I cal’lated to see it shet in thick o’ fog ’mos’ any minute, an’ that kind o’ kep’ me dodgin’ on deck by spells all the fust o’ the night.”

“ I want you should twig every blame’ word o’ this here, Amos ! ” interrupted Job Gaskett, speaking to his “ woman’s cousin.” “ There never was nothin’ truer ’n what this makes out to be sence Adam was a yearlin’ ! ”

“ ’Long ’bout midnight ’t was,” continued Skipper Rufus, “ I took a turn forrard, an’ then I come aft ag’in, an’ stopped abreast o’ the main riggin’ to light up my pipe. Now ’t wa’n’t very dark that night; one o’ them whitish, hazy kind o’ nights, ye know, so’s’t you could see everythin’ tol’ble clear the length o’ the vessel easy ’nough. I know I see brother Ephe stannin’ aft there astraddle o’ the tiller, an’ cal’lated for sure he was all the one there was on deck besides me. Bimeby I sot out to walk aft ag’in, but I could n’t took a couple o’ steps afore Ephe up an’ says, ’s ’e, ‘ Who’s that turned out forrard there ?’’s ’e to me.

“ Wal, I s’posed o’ course it wa’n’t nobody, without it was some one of our own crowd had come on deck outen the fo’c’s’le for sumpin or other, so I turned round mod’rit’s you please, an’ bedide ef there wa’n’t a ter’ble short, chunky-built feller stannin’ chock forrard there, leanin’ ag’in’ the win’lass-bitt.

Did n’t ’pear to be doin’ nothin’ in pertikler ; only jes’ stannin’ there lookin’ dead away to loo’ard.

“ ‘ Wal,’ ’s I to brother Ephe, ’s I, ‘ I dunno who ’t is we’ve got aboard sawed off short’s that feller makes out to be. How long’s he been there ?’ ’s I.

“ ‘ I only jes’ this very minute see him,’ says Ephe. ‘ I can’t seem to place him, neither,’ ’s ’e. ‘ What’s that he’s got his head wropped up into ? ’

“ Bedide, now, thinks I to myself, thinks I, this here’s a little grain sing’lar, too, so I jes’ up an’ hailed the feller. ‘ Hi! There forrard ! What ye doin’ of there?’ ’s I. Never a yip come outen him, though, nor we could n’t see as he moved han’ or foot, nary one.

“ Wal, that air kind o’ riled my blood, that did, an’ I started forrard myself to sort o’ look into the thing a mite; for I commenced to think whether or no it wa’n’t one o’ them sleep-walkin’ scrapes, same ’s we hear tell on ; but ’fore ever I got ’s fur’s the scuttle I see blame’ well it wa’n’t none o’ our crowd, not by no means. He was a dretful little short chunk of a feller, reg’lar lumpfish build he was; pooty nigh’s beamy’s he was long overall. There was a longish gray beard onto him, an’ he had one o’ them knit jumpers onto him, same ’s we allus used to wear a sight ’board a vess’l in them days. The thing onto his head was a blame’ big fur cap, nigh ’s ever I could tell, an’ I commenced a-b’ilin’ inside right off, to think some strange feller had made out to stow hisself aboard on us so fashion.

“ ‘ Dod-blast your dirty pelt!’ ’s I, without no more ifs nor an’s about it. ' What the devil be you doin’ of here, you ? ’ ’s I.

“ But he never opened his face, nor stirred in no way, shape, nor manner.

“ ‘ We ’ll damn quick see ef you’ve got ary tongue into your gullet! ’ ’s I, an’ I fetched a leap for him, cal’latin’ to ketch a holt on his throat; but true ’s you ’re settin’ where you be, ’t wa’n’t only air ’t I grabbed, an’ I fetched up ag’in’ that win’lass so’s’t to knock the win’ clean outen me! S’ help me, that feller was gone quick’s ever you’d snuff a candle ; an’ of all the tarnation ole feelin’s ever I had, them that come acrosst me that minute was the cussedes’ ! Bedide ef I can’t feel ’em yit! The buckram was all took out o’ me for a spell, an’ I hed to sed down on the kile o’ cable there forrard. Brother Ephe, soon’s ever he see me close in with the feller, he lef’ the tiller, an’ come runnin’ forrard hellbent, so’s’t the vess’l come to into what little air there was goin’.

“ Them mainsheet blocks fetched a couple o’ slats acrosst the traveler, an’ woke one o’ the b’ys below, so’s’t he stuck his head outen the scuttle to see what was up, an’ Ephe he turned to an’ rigged up a yarn right off ’bout how I was took sick; for ’t would been ’s much ’s the trip was wuth ef them fellers into the fo’c’s’le had got wind o’ there bein’ sich works aboard. They’d took their dunnage an’ quit same’s so many rats, the very fust time we harbored anywheres. So Ephe an’ me we dassent say boo to nobody, without ’t was between ourselves.

“ Us two was consid’ble nerved up over the blame’ bus’niss ; but brother Ephe he was allus called a cool star, anyways, an’ it took a master sight to jar him any great, so fin’ly he come roun’ to ’low how, ef the ole feller showed hisself ag’in, he cal’lated to have a hack at him on his own hook, ef it took a leg.”

“ Reg’lar built daredivil, Ephe allus was, anyways,” explained Cap’n Gaskett to his guest.

“Wal,” the skipper went on, “we never see nothin’ outen the common run for much’s a fortni’t, till we was to anchor one night down to Bay Shelore there. ’T was jes’ pooty a night as ever growed, too : moon all out full tilt, shinin’ away for every mite she was wuth, an’ jes’ a little mod’rit air o’ wind drawrin’ offn the lan’, so’s’t you could smell them junipers ashore there good an’ plain. Yes, sir, an’ the smell o’ them woods has allus give me a start from that day to this.

“Wal, ’long about daybreak, or jes’ afore, the fust thing I knowed, brother Ephe he was a-pokin’ an’ rollin’ of me in my bunk to git me woke up. Me an’ him an’ ’Lish Perkins up the crik here, we three was all there was slep’ aft there, ye un’stan’; all the res’ was forrard.

“ ' He’s out there on deck ag’in ! ’ ’s ’e in a whisper, so’s’t not to roust up ’Lish. ‘ I’m goin’ to tackle the cuss jes’ once more, ef it shims the trip !’ ’s ’e.

“ Wal, fur’s I was consarned, I sh’d a blame’ sight sooner stopped jes’ where I was. That air bunk was plenty good for me ; I ’d had all the truck I was lookin’ for ’long o’ the ole fur-cap feller ; but Ephe he would have it I mus’ turn out, whether or no. I rec’lec’, though, my legs felt consid’ble wobbly und’neath o’ me when I was follerin’ him up that companion-way larder. Jes’ we was goin’ up, Ephe he reached an’ grabbed holt on a hard-wood stick ’bout two foot long we had for barrin’ to the scuttle slide with ; he took that air billet o’ wood an’ slipped her inside his pants leg.

“ Wal, sir, we got on deck, an’ I ’ll be jiggered ef there did n’t set that same ole sawed-off feller ag’in ; settin’ chock aft on the taffr’l he was, this time, jes’ beaft the house. The moon drawed right plumb onto him, so’s’t you could see the glint of his ole beard an’ the whole look o’ his face plain’s daytimes, ’mos’.

“ Brother Ephe he did n’t lose no time backin’ an’ fillin’, but jes’ edged ’long up pooty nigh him, an’ says, ’s ’e, ‘ Mod’rit kind o’ night, neighbor,’ ’s ’e.

“ The ole feller never give him so much’s a look, an’ Ephe he up an’ says ag’in, louder, ' What ails ye, cap’n, anyways ?’ ’s ’e. ‘ Be ye stone deef or

luny, or what in blazes is it’s the matter on ye ?’ ’s ’e.

“ Never a yip nor a move come outen the feller ; you might jes’ soon spoke to the mainmas’, eggsac’ly.

“ ‘ Now, then, squire,’ ’s Ephe, ‘ I cal’late to know who an’ what you be ’fore ever I git through with ye, an’ you better a damn sight put that in your pipe an’ smoke it, fust as las’ ! Ef you ain’t cal’latin’ to ac’ kind o’ half decent when you ’re spoke to civil, blame’ ef I don’t try an’ club a grain o’ manners into ye ! ’

“ An’ quicker ’n scat he up an’ fetched a lingin’ ole clip at the feller’s head with that air hard-wood billet.

“ Wal, sir, that stick o’ wood never brought up ag’in’ nothin’, — jes’ nothin’. She flipped outen brother Ephe’s han’, an’ went spinnin’ off toward Novy Scoshy, the las’ we see on’t, but there wa’n’t nothin’ to that feller with the fur cap no more ’n there was the time I run foul on him ; an’ Ephe he says kind o’ chokylike, ' That settles it!’ ’s ’e, an’ down below we tumbled, an’ turned in blame’ lively without another word spoke; but I took notice brother Ephe he wa’n’t never sighted on deck ag’in till past noontime nex’ day.”

“Wa’n’t there a mess on ’t! ” cried Cap’n Job. “ How’d ye like to been shipmates ’long o’ that ole feller, Amos ? ” said he, turning to his friend. “ Sooner stay up home there, with both feet good an’ solid on the turf, would n’t ye? ”

“ Gracious Evers! ” exclaimed the man “ from up back here.” “ I never see the salt water but once afore to-day, an’ guess I ’ll stop ashore a spell longer yit. It’s no wonder you give up that schooner, capting.”

“ ’T wa’n’t on that ’count we give her up, you! ” said Skipper Rufus, somewhat indignantly. “ We made out to run her twenty odd seasons after this here, an’ fin’ly come to reckon the ole feller good ’s an insurance onto her. You jes’ wait a spell an’ see how the thing worked !

“ After this last scrape, seems’s ef he sort o’ took the hint that he wa’n’t wanted roun’ no great ” —

“ Damn good reason he had, too, for feelin’ a grain sideways toward ye ! ” interrupted the sheriff. “ Ef ’t been some folks, they’d owed ye a gredge after a chokin’ an’ clubbin’.”

“ Wal, seems’s though he did n’t bear us no great gredge,” said Skipper Rufe, “ for he turned to an’ done us the bigges’ kind o’ good turn that same trip. Things got simmered down into the ole rut in a few days, but we could n’t seem to strike no fish into Shelore Bay there, an’ fin’ly I poked her across! to the Magdaleens; but there wa’n’t no sight there, neither, so I let her go down into the bight o’ Prince Edward’s Islant, an’ there we struck ’em solid. Had much ’s we could jump to a-savin’ them number one mack’rel fast’s we ketched ’em, so’s’t’t wa’n’t long ’fore we was countin’ up the days ’t would be ’fore we’d have her nose p’inted to the west’ard ag’in ; that is, ’lowin’ the weather held good, same’s she was. One mornin’, though, when we did n’t lack but a couple o’ days’ fishin’ to wet down all our salt, she commenced a-hermin’ up thick an’ nasty here to loo’ard, an’ my camphire bottle she commenced a-rilin’ up ter’ble sudden. I rec’lec’ by night-time that bottle she was chock-a-block full o’ blame’ big feathers, an’ streamers, an’ burgees like. Oh, ye never see sich another lookin’ mess on’t as that air bottle was into, come sundown, so’s’t we did n’t feel over an’ above easy at bein’ ’way down to loo’ard into that air bight.

“ By good rights, we had n’t no bus’niss into the bay’t all so late in the year. The cal’lation allus was to git outen the place all clear by the last o’ October, anyways, an’ here ’t was goin’ on the secon’ week o’ November. Ye rec’lec’ this bight ’s the wusst corner o’ the whole bay to git ketched into with the win’ anyways to the east’ard, for there ’s narry decent harbor to run for to loo’ard, ye see; so allst a man kin do, ef so be it he gits penned in there with a heavy eas’ly gale, is to crack on the muslin without no mercy, an’ drag his vess’l out by the land ef it’s a poss’ble thing. Jes’ a plain question o’ luggin’ sail or goin’ to hell, — that’s all.

“ Ef a feller feels anyways sartin he’s in for an eas’ly breeze o’win’ down there into that bight, it stan’s him in han’ to git up an’ git outen it quick’s ever he kin roun’ to it; but the gran’ trouble is, vess’ls gits doin’ well fishin’, same’s we done, an’ they keep a-hangin’ on, an’ hangin’ on, waitin’ to see what’s goin’ to amount to, till fus’ thing they know, they ’re ketched into a reg’lar ole twister of a breeze, like’s not.

“ Now, this time we was there we had three other ’Merican mack’rel ketchers in comp’ny ’long on us : one vess’l from down Plymouth ways, one Marbleheader, an’ a feller I was some acquainted with in an ole trap called the Light o’ Home, — b’longed up here to Castine. He laid jes’ a good fair berth to loo’ard on us, an’ ’bout sundown I up an’ hailed him ; asked him what he cal’lated we was goin’ to git for weather.

“‘Oh,’ ’s ’e, ‘guess this here won’t amount to nothin’ without’s a fog mull or a spatter o’ rain, mebbe ; ’ ’lowed how he was goin’ to stop right there, anyhow.

“ Wal, things was lookin’ kind o’ duberous like, ’cordin’ to my way o’ thinkin’, an’ I did n’t make no bones ’bout sayin’ so, neither, though I was jes’ loath’s the nex’ man to clear out an’ leave them big mack’rel. We chawed it over for a spell amongst us, an’ fin’ly agreed to let her hang where she was till mornin’, anyways, kind o’ hopin’ we sh’d be able to have another try at them big number ones.

“ There was jes’ a decen’ air o’ wind goin’ then from ’bout eas’-no’theas’; but she kep’ breezenin’ on stiddy all the time, I took notice, an’ ’fore long she shet in thick o’ fog an’ rain. I was on deck, you un’stan’ ; for I run away ’long o’ the idee the weather was up to some blame’ caper or other, an’ I did n’t feel jes’ easy down below playin’ keerds same ’s the res’ part was doin’ of. Fin’ly, thinks I, 'll take an’ oil up ’fore I git wet; an’ jes’ I shoved the scuttle back to go below, brother Ephe he poked his head up to have a look at the weather. The very minute he done so, there was a v’ice up an’ says as loud an’ plain ’s could be, ‘ Make sail on her to-night, an’ quick ! ’ It was dark’s a pocket, so’s’t we could n’t see the fust thing, but both on us heerd the v’ice right close aboard on us, an’ knowed blame’ well who ’t was back on her, too !

We took an’ give it out to the res’ how I ’d seed a forerunner, for o’ course it would n’t do to tell ’em jes’ the state o’ the case; an’ ef ever you see quick work gittin’ a vess’l under way, that was the time.

“ The Castine feller into the ole Light o’ Home, he heerd our blocks a-talkin’ when we was makin’ sail, an’ sung out to know what in the name o’ reason ailed us.

“ I tol’ him we was in for a gale o’ win’, sure, an’ I cal’lated to make a lee somewheres, ef I had to go chock roun’ to loo’ard o’ the islant to find it; tol’ him how he bes’ up anchor an’ foller suit, ef he knowed when he was well off. But the pore devil only got off some slang ’bout bein’ skeered of a little fog; so we filled away, an’ lef’ him an’ them two others to anchor.

“ Wal, sir, that breeze had kep’ prickin’ on an’ prickin’ on stiddy, so’s’t there was nigh a whole-sail breeze a’ready. Them flaws kep’ strikin’ nigher an’ nigher together, an’ ev’ry one had more heft into her ’n the las’ one. It could n’t been more ’n half an hour after our anchor was broke out ’fore that packet had all she could stivver to under her three lower sails. Now, I was dretful well acquainted down that way in them days, an’ did n’t cal’late to take a back seat for no livin’ man when it come to pokin’ roun’ in the fog by day or by night-times, ary one ; but allst that fretted me the mos’ was for fear ’t would overblow ’fore ever we could work out clear o’ the bight. We’d got to claw to wind’ard, out past Eas’ P’int or the No’the Cape, one of the two, or else there’d be hell to pay an’ no pitch hot, sure ’nough ; so I jes’ socked it to her the wusst way till she commenced bailin’ the water over her by hockshead ; but I would n’t show her no favors, an’ kep’ them three lower sails onto her till I dassent resk the gear another minute. Fin’ly, though, it come on so blame’ tough, Lord, thinks I, this won’t never do no longer!

“ She was washin’ herself clean fore an’ aft in them seas a’ready, every doggone clip, so we turned to an’ stuck single reefs into the mains’l fust. That eased her a grain for a spell, but we soon foun’ that air breeze was only jes’ commencin’ to take a holt. ’T wa’n’t half an hour more ’fore we was stickin’ reefs into the fores’l, an’, to cut it short, by midnight we was tied down to balance-reefed mains’l, cluss-reefed fores’l, an’ the bunnet outen the jib! That’s how much sail the ole Harvester was wearin’ ’bout that time, an’ by spells ’twas more’n what she could wag to then ; but our only squeak was to cart it onto her for all she was wuth, ef ever we cal’lated to drag her out by Eas’ P’int that night.

“ I was consid’ble in hopes she’d do it, though them wall-sided seas right in the face was a ter’ble setback to her ; but still I was in hopes she’d make out to do it, when all of a suddin, bang ! rip ! slat! away blowed that balance-reefed mains’l clean outen the boltropes, an’ I guess then there was our fat into the fire, an’no mistake! We had n’t nothin’ fittin’ to bend in room o’ the mains’l, an’ here she was with every mite o’ after - sail stripped offn her, so’s’t she would n’t p’int up nowheres, let alone clawin’ to wind’ard out clear o’ the lan’! ”

“ That air,” interrupted Cap’n Job again, “ that air was jes’ clear hell, I ’ll be jiggered ef 't wa’n’t! Bate your ole jaw dropped some quick when you see that sail go ! ”

“ I would n’t wonder a mite,” admitted the skipper. “ I know, thinks I right off, Guess this means a fresh crop o’ widders there to home, fas’ ’nough ; but still I knowed ef we could only once make out to git the creetur roun’ on t’ other tack, we’d have sea room for a spell, anyways, an’ p’intin’ the way she was then meant the name o’ every blame’ soul aboard was mud, sure’s death an’ taxes! ”

“ Gin’ral Jackson ! Yas ! ” exclaimed Simeon, hastily pulling off his spectacles. “ Tracadie would ha’ fetched ye up all stannin’, spite o’ fate ! ”

“ She’d laid her bones to the west’ard o’ Tracadie, ’cordin’ to the way we was headin’,” said the old man. “ I knowed that well ’nough, an’ so we took chances o’ wearin’ roun’ on the other tack ; a nasty, resky job’s ever was, too, but the ole Harvester was a hard one to drownd, now I tell ye ! Some on ’em made out to git the jib offn her, an’ there we was hove to under cluss - reefed fores’l; not much bigger ’n a tablecloth, anyways, but come to talk ’bout carryin’ sail! In ten minutes’ time after we’d wore ship she would n’t carry nothin’ ! I never see the like o’ that for blowin’ right out en’ways, not in the whole o’ my goin’! Why, she would n’t even so much’s look at it, but jes’ laid ri’ down on her broadside mos’ hatches to, an’ trembled all over !

“ An’ God knows that ole vess’l was able, too, — jes’ able’s they make ’em ! When that creetur would n’t stan’ up to it an’ take her med’cine like a major, them that would was some scatt’rin’, now I tell ye ! But this here breeze o’ wind was sumpin clean away outen the common run ; she was a proper harricane, that’s what she was, an’ there wa’n’t no livin’ man could stan’ up an’ face her for a secon’! ”

“ We don’t ’pear to git many o’ them kind o’ reg’lar ole-fashioned combustibles now’days,” observed Cap’n Job, as the skipper paused to refresh himself with a new quid of tobacco.

“ That’s a fac’! ” assented Cap’n Ormsby. “ It’s seldom ever we git a breeze ’t all, now’days, let alone one o’ them ole hell-rippers, same’s we used to git! ”

“ We dunno what a breeze o’ win’ ’s like, now’days,” resumed Skipper Rufus decisively. “ Wal, though, ’s I was sayin’, our fores’l was ’mos’ bran’ noo, an’ the res’ part o’ the gear was good, without ’t was the mains’l; but we was all lookin’ every minute for sumpin to carry away an’ disenable her so’s’t she’d fall off to loo’ard an’ dump the whole bus’niss down on them san’ bars Cascumpeque ways there ; for when them wusst flaws ’d jump on her, swan to man ef did n’t seem more ’n what wood an’ iron could stan’ ! She’d kind o’ lay down an’ scrouch under ’em, till she’d ’pear to git breath ’nough so’s’t to stan’ up a grain an’ buck into it ag’in. Blowed ef I did n’t fairly feel sorry for the creetur, seemed though she was tryin’ so hard to keep atop o’ water !

“ H’ever, the way it turned out, she wa’n’t spoke for, — not that breeze o’ win’. It eased up on us a bit in a couple o’ hours, an’ ’long toward mornin’ canted a p’int or two more to the east’ard, an’ that, o’ course, favored us more ’n a little ; so’s’t the amount o’ the story was, when that gale o’ win’ fin’ly leg-go, we was all o’ ten mile to wind’ard o’ Miscoe ! Yes, sir, that’s a fac’, an’ you kin turn to an’ figger out for yourselves ’bout how much leeway that creetur could ha’ made! Why, good gorry, man, she must ha’ eat to wind’ard ef anythin’ that night, when there wa’n’t one craf’ in a hunnerd but what would ha’ slid off to loo’ard same’s a blame’ crab! ”

“ Oh, she was a proper long-legged, offshore style o’ vess’l, she was! ” said Cap’n Job. “ But that was a weeked ole breeze o’ win’, ’cordin’ to all tell. That was when they los’ the Bueny Visty, wa’n’t it ? ”

“ Yas,” replied Skipper Rufus. “ Ole man Gardner piled her up on the Magdaleens that night, an’ los’ her whole crowd ; every soul on ’em belongin’ here to this Cove, too. Come to that, there was eight more o’ our ’Merican vess’ls went ashore betwixt Bay Shelore an’ Eas’ P’int, that time, not countin’ them three we lef’ to anchor there in the bight. Seems’s ef them three mus’ cal’lated to ride her out where they was, for I heern tell afterward how the wrackage from ’em was hove up in win’rows on shore dead to loo’ard.”

“ Them pore devils hung it out too long, an’ paid dear for it, too ; but I’m thinkin’ the ole feller did n’t start you out o’ that none too soon yourself, neither,” said Job. “ But now turn to an’ give us the res’ part o’ the yarn, Skip’ Rufe. I would n’t have Amos here miss hearin’ this kind o’ afterclap, not for a farm down Eas’ ! ”

“Wal, then,” began the old man again, “ quick’s ever that breeze o’ win’ give up, we kep’ her off, an’ let her go a-flukin’ down through Northum’lan’ Strait into Shediac, so’s’t to git things kind o’ tintrivated into shape ag’in ’fore we give it to her to the west’ard. There was half a dezen sail o’ vess’ls dragged ashore right there to that harbor, an’ comin’ down ’long we see more wracks everywheres ’n you could shake a stick to.

“Wal, when we was fin’ly makin’ the run home, we’d got up ’long so’s’t to sight Isle o’ Holt all good an’ plain, an’ we took one o’ these here smoky sou’westers right plumb in the teeth. I let her slam into it en’ways for a spell, but fin’ly thinks I, Bedide, thinks I, what sense is they, anyways ? I jes’ took an’ down hellum, an’ made a harbor ’fore noontime there to Burnt Coat, Swan’s Islant; the very same place we ’d bought the vess’l to that spring, ye rec’lec’ ?

“ Wal, soon ’s ever we’d got things all snugged up in good shape aboard, me an’ brother Ephe we took a dory an’ rowed ashore to the settlemint, by way o’ killin’ time like. There was an ole feller kep’ the store an’ pos’ office there to the w’arft, an’ seems’s though he knowed our vess’l quick’s ever she poked her nose in past the light. We set there talkin’ ’long o’ him a spell, an’ seems’s ef he was ter’ble anxious to hear what about her, how we ’d made it into her so fur; an’ a sight o’ questions he put to us, that ole feller did, till all to once he up an’ says right out, ' Cap’n,’ ’s ’e to me, ‘ I know’t ain’t the fus’ damn mite o’ my bus’niss,’ ’s ’e, ‘ but,’ ’s ’e, ‘ I should r’ally like to ask ef ever ye see ary works outen the gin’ral run sence you’ve been goin’ into that there schooner ? ’ ”

“ Whew ! ” whistled the man “from up back here,” softly. Cap’n Job delivered a resounding slap upon his thigh, and removed the pipe from his mouth to speak ; but Skip’ Rufe continued : —

“ Yas, siree ! Them’s his very words ! Wal, quick’s ever he up an’ says that air, why, Ephe an’ me commenced to git the loom o’ the lan’ right away, an’ fin’ly we turned to an’ give the ole feller the whole blame’ hist’ry o’ the bus’niss, so fur’s we knowed it; an’ come to take an’ pump him a grain, he give us to un’stan’ how there was any gris’ o’ folks right there to Burnt Coat that swore they see ole ‘ Shorty ’ McClintock, — seems’s ef that was a nickname like o’ hisn, —them folks swore how that they see him a-stannin’ anchor watch all soul ’lone aboard the Harvester, by nighttimes, while she was layin’ there into the harbor, inside a fortni’t after he’d been planted six foot un’neath the sod up back o’ the meetin’ house there ; an’ ’t was jes’ sich works sp’iled the sale on her all down through them parts.

“ Now,” the skipper went on, raising his voice as one or two of his hearers again threatened to interrupt, “ now, ’cordin’ to all tell down there to Burnt Coat, ’t was ole man McClintock we see ourselves twice aboard the vess’l that trip, an’ ’t was ole man McClintock that up an’ give us warnin’ to git out o’ the bight o’ the islant that night!

“ Ef ’t wa’n’t him, who ’n the name o’ Sam Hyde was it ? You jes’ turn to an’ tell, some o’ you knowin’ ones ! ”

George S. Wasson.