Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

a

a

of the blast as it beats against the window- sail away past the lighthouse, leaving me and pane, and my thoughts and sympathies turn the Folly to wonder how we are most easily to toward the man at the wheel, the fishermen get back to breakfast, I hear the wheezing echo in their dories on the Banks, or the helpless of a laugh as some one calls, “ Push on the schooner, broken from her moorings on the mast, mister, and let her bile.” As I laboriGeorges, going to destruction, and carrying ously get the Folly's head around, and haul in death in her path to another.

the sheet to drift home any way she kindly will, Sunshine gladdens the earth when I wake; the mackerel-schooners are coming out. Their the wind is fresh from the west, and a clear sails are in deep blue shadow, tipped and edged blue sky reflects itself in the water. Already with brilliant white where they belly around to those transient guests, the steamers, are cross- the sunlight, their gently rising bows awaking ing the Dog Bar, pitching in the brilliant seas, the water into a bright ripple. and rising with a white mantle of foam. The In summer the fishermen are off after mackrattle of the pawls, the creaking of blocks, the erel, following the schools of fish up and down clank, clank of the windlass, and the slowly the coast. Very often they only chase delurising white sails, tell that soon all will be tear- sive hopes. They catch the mackerel in long ing on their courses with a bone in their teeth. seines, and sometimes they take more than they It is a very forlorn old hooker that cannot shine can handle, the net breaks, and then instead as a beauty on such a morning. High up in of joy there is interlarded sorrow. When the the heavens white clouds throw down again the catch has been good, the schooner floats in at brilliant sunshine. It is a day when darkest life sundown, generally with just wind enough to seems good.

give the skipper at the wheel excuse for idleMy dory is called the Folly, but her name ness, while the crew are busy splitting and must have been a jest. I never knew a steadier cleaning the mackerel. As they come to anchor boat at her moorings, and in going about, un- off the farm-house, flares are lighted, and the less you put the helm hard alee long before work goes on. Then the bay looks like an you intended to bring up into the wind, she'd American Venetian fête, if there is such a thing, bump into anything a quarter of a mile away. and daylight finds a tired crew sleeping the Had she only been worthy of her name, I could sleep of men who have earned their wages have blessed her with other than my ordinary honestly. thoughts on such an occasion. She has carried The fisherman's life on the Banks and the me out many a time at sunrise when the 'long- Georges in winter is a very hard one, though shore fishermen were at their nets and lobster- they live well on board — better than on shore. pots, set only a few rods from land. Their boats They have to, that they may stand the exceswere of all colors, faded by the wind and sea into sive cold; and their pay is like their lives, a perfect harmony with the water and sky. Their floating doubt. The voyage is made on shares. sails were of all shades of brownish gray and From the gross profits of the catch are deducted blue-white, all massed together around a her- the cost of bait and ice, and one fourth of one ring- or mackerel-net, where men in yellow oil- per cent. for the Widows' and Orphans' Fund. skins were scooping in the fish, glistening as One half of the net“ stock," as it is called, goes they shook off the last drop of their dear home to the owners of the vessel, the other half to with energetic flappings, and accommodated the crew, from which is deducted each man's themselves to circumstances by losing their share of the crew's expenses; that is, cook's breath. Then as the Folly bore down upon wages, water, medicine-chest, etc. They sail them, just as likely stern first as not, threaten- away full of hope and with a full larder. Aring to break up their pleasant and fishy con- rived on the grounds, they anchor in about forty versation into uncomplimentary fragments, I or fifty fathoms, and set their trawls. These are would bring up alongside of a kind, considerate long lines,anchored on the bottom, and extendfriend whom I had paid high for fresh fish, and ing out from the schooner many hundreds of watch the scene. Many of the men in the dories yards. To these, at intervals of a fathom (the were old commanders of schooners, their eyes distance varies for different fish), are attached bloodshot from long watching and driving salt shorter lines. These lines have to be attended spray. Too old to go on voyages, they cannot in dories, each containing two men, who haul, cast aside the habit of a life, but sail daily out bait, and land the fish in the boat, to be transto sea with a few clams or herring for bait, to ferred to the schooner. Herein lie the danger haul in uncertain rock-cod, to jig for mackerel, and hardship, for the strong tides of the Banks or to have an old-time swear at cunners, dog- and the shoal water pile up great combing seas. fish, and sculpins. I know one who is blind, but The cold is cruel, and the work hard. Sudwho hires a man to sail him out to sea in his denly down comes a fog, not the soft mist of dory every day, in order that he may not go to summer or autumn, but a thick, heavy bank, pieces on land. As they jibe the booms over and soaked through with the penetrating cold of the icebergs further north. Horns are blown with the skipper and his crew, and the dread from the vessel, but every year many dories are that must be theirs of telling who it is that is lost. One would think that common sense, if missing. Once I used to see an old man and not law, would make each dory carry a breaker a young woman on the rocks where I was paintof water and pilot-bread; but none do, and ing. They came regularly every morning and either experience does not teach or the fisher- afternoon, and carried an ancient telescope with men like such chances, for year after year comes which they searched the horizon. But the sea the same old story of a lost dory and two men kept its secret from them, and the overdue

[graphic][merged small]

starved or dead of thirst. When the fog lifts schooner never came. She had been out for
they are many miles from their schooner, and four months, a long time for a voyage, but they
are carried by the swift tides they know not could not give up that hope which was then
whither. Then come days of hunger and thirst; their sole interest in life.
hands are frozen to the oars; madness haunts But a schooner's home-coming is generally
them; and then— death. Sometimes they of a brighter cast, and you find yourself quite
make land or are picked up by a passing as much in sympathy with the fishermen's joys
vessel, in which case they often return before as with their sorrows. Usually they sweep in
their own schooner; but that great happiness from the northeast over a blue sea, and, pass-
is rare. Then their vessel, which so gaily sailed ing the red buoy on the Dog Bar, turn the tiller
out past the light, comes home with her flag for a straight and fair course up the harbor past
at half-mast.

Ten Pond Island. But they may come with a

heavy fog. Then there is a screeching tug that I HAVE sat under the trees on a morning seems to go out to patrol the coast, warning when returning spring softens and lights up vessels off the rocks. She really hopes to find everything, and the birds have come, and the one so near danger that her assistance will be leaves are just breaking from their winter grateful to a wearied crew; or if the wind is sheathing. Slowly a schooner rounds the light, as it generally is in a fog, she counts on Point, with her flag at half-mast. It is impos- the crew's impatience to get ashore. The fee sible to be careless in thought for that day; no is made up by the tired-out fishermen, and they matter what joy may be in your heart, you feel pass up the harbor in luxurious ease.

R. Cleveland Coxe.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic]
[graphic][merged small]

“| WAS NOT LOOKING AT YOU – 1 WAS LOOKING AT ALAN."

THE CHOSEN VALLEY. -- IV.

BY MARY HALLOCK FOOTE,
Author of “The Led-Horse Claim,” “ John Bodewin's Testimony," etc.

WITH PICTURE BY THE AUTHOR.

XII.

scraper-teams, hung like the smoke of an ar

tillery engagement along the crests of the mesa. HE physical shock Alan had Where Dunsmuir had been wont to watch for suffered worked no sudden the light of one lone cabin twinkling close to regeneration of his charac- the shore, a galaxy blazed by night along both ter, but the joy of his resto- sides of the gulch above Job's cabin; and on ration floated the business the beach below were tents and camp-fires, of the compromise off the and men and cattle, and all the dirt and parareef on which it had struck. phernalia of a huge contractor's-outfit.

Norrisson was now the The cabin was no longer a possible place for generous host, the fatherly sympathizer, and Margaret. She lived, now, at the house, and Dunsmuir's great boom of happiness swept all Job camped with the force and visited her on contention and bitterness out of his soul. For Sundays, as he used before they were married. the time he had ceased to think of his wrongs; But they were not at home, as they had been in he was ashamed to haggle about the terms of their bit of a room below, where Margaret was a surrender which had lost for him its vital sig- mistress and Job was man of the house. Dolly nificance. What mattered who built the ditch, tried to lure them out of the hot kitchen into or how ? He blessed God that he had his son. the parlor off the dining-room, where she and

The question of managerial dictation to the Margaret held their domestic consultations ; chief engineer was not again raised; it was but it was not the same to Margaret — going noticeable that all parties avoided it, and Wes- deliberately to sit there with Job in his best terhall sailed for the other side with the tacit clothes, with nothing to do, and members of understanding that all radical points of dispute the family passing in and out with smiles of were settled.

“How do you do, Job ? " and affable questions Alan had meant to take no advantage of his about the work. temporary importance. The household was Nothing in life persists like the essential naprostrate before him; none of the old issues ture of our individual needs and peculiarities; were revived between him and his father, except the smallest of them are often the most insisas he himself chose to revive them, in honest tent. The household, having been drugged contrition. He had planned a different and with extreme joy, came to itself after a while, much humbler home-coming. He had ar- and discovered that nothing, not even Alan, ranged the meeting in his own mind, very mod- had changed: only the work had “started up” estly, if also effectively; his father was to have and jostled them all out of their old places; and seen him, first, with a pick in his hand, at work if it had brought them the long-looked for rest with the men. Perhaps he had counted on the and triumph and security, none of the elders robe and the ring and the feasting afterward. had yet found it out. Job missed his old imHowever, it had all been taken out of his hands, portance to the work; he missed Margaret, and and his father had only his bare word for the thought that she worked too hard; and he sorely intentions he was not strong enough as yet to missed his home. He was not a skilled laborer. put in practice: but Dunsmuir asked nothing, His record counted for little in the new organnot even his boy's word. It was a specious con- ization, unless Dunsmuir found time to rememtent which could not last.

ber it. He had not been able to procure for Summer was advancing, ever deeper in dust. Job any position better than that of a “pickThe sky was tarnished with haze. The sunsets handle boss" under one of the sub-contractors. were longer burning out in the west, in colors Job knew that his place could be filled at a more tragic. The river had sunk in its bed, day's notice. Dunsmuir was feeling keenly his and the eery laugh was no more heard. There private indebtedness to these tried friends, now was another sound as night fell, which made that he had come, apparently, into his kingmusic in Dunsmuir's ears — the roll of the con- dom. He had intimated to Job that the clostractor's wagon-trains moving into the cañon, ing deal had been hard upon him, financially. as the force on the work increased. By day Job knew the water-right had not been susclouds of dust, from the slow procession of tained, and was not surprised; but he asked no

1 Copyright, 1892, by Mary Hallock Foote. VOL. XLIV.- 69.

[graphic]

525

« AnkstesnisTęsti »