"I HAVE got twenty men at me back who will fight to the death," said the
warrior to the old filibuster.
"And they can be blowed for all me," replied the old filibuster. "Common
as sparrows. Cheap as cigarettes. Show me twenty men with steel clamps on
their mouths, with holes in their heads where memory ought to be, and I want
'em. But twenty brave men, merely? I'd rather
have twenty brave onions."
Thereupon the warrior removed sadly, feeling that no salaams were paid to
valor in these days of mechanical excellence.
Valor, in truth, is no bad thing to have when filibustering, but many
medals are to be won by the man who knows not the meaning of pow-wow, before
or afterwards. Twenty brave men with tongues hung lightly may make trouble
rise from the ground like smoke from grass because of their subsequent fiery
pride, whereas twenty cow-eyed villains who accept unrighteous and
far-compelling kicks as they do the rain of heaven may halo the ultimate
history of an expedition with gold and plentifully bedeck their names,
winning forty years of gratitude from patriots, simply by remaining silent.
As for the cause, it may be only that they have no friends or other
If it were not for the curse of the swinging tongue, it is surely to be
said that the filibustering industry, flourishing now in the United States,
would be pie. Under correct conditions, it is merely a matter of dealing
with some little detectives whose skill at search is rated by those who pay
them at a value of twelve or twenty dollars each week. It is nearly
axiomatic that normally a twelve-dollar-per-week detective cannot defeat a
one-hundred-thousand-dollar filibustering excursion. Against the criminal
the detective represents the commonwealth; but in this other case he
represents his desire to show cause why his salary should be paid. He
represents himself, merely, and he counts
no more than a grocer's clerk.
But the pride of the successful filibuster often smites him and his cause
like an ax, and men who have not confided in their mothers go prone with
him. It can make the dome of the Capitol tremble and incite the Senators to
overturning benches. It can increase the salaries of detectives who could
not detect the location of a pain in the chest. It is a wonderful thing,
Filibustering was once such a simple game. It was managed blandly by
gentle captains and smooth and undisturbed gentlemen who at other times
dealt in the law, soap, medicine, and bananas. It was a great pity that the
little cote of doves in Washington was obliged to rustle officially, and
naval men were kept from their berths at night, and sundry custom-house
people got wiggings, all because the returned adventurer pow-wowed in his
pride. A yellow and red banner would have been long since smothered in a
shame of defeat if a contract to filibuster had been let to some admirable
organization like one of our trusts.
And yet the game is not obsolete. It is still played by the wise and the
silent, men whose names are not display-typed and blathered from one end of
the country to the other.
There is in mind now a man who knew one side of a fence from the other
side when he looked sharply. They were hunting for captains then to command
the first vessels of what has since become a famous little fleet. One was
recommended to this man, and he said: "Send him down to my office, and I'll
look him over." He was an attorney, and he liked to lean back in his chair,
twirl a paper-knife, and let the other fellow
The seafaring man came, and stood, and appeared confounded. The attorney
asked the terrible first question of the
filibuster to the applicant. He said: "Why do you want to
The captain reflected, changed his attitude three times, and decided
ultimately that he didn't know. He seemed greatly ashamed. The attorney,
looking at him, saw that he had eyes that
resembled a lambkin's eyes.
"Glory?" said the attorney at
"No-o," said the captain.
"No-o. Not that, so much."
"Think they'll give you a land grant
when they win out?"
"No. Never thought."
"No glory. No immense pay. No land
grant. What are you going for, then?"
"Well, I don't know," said the captain, with his glance on the floor, and
shifting his position again. "I don't know. I guess it's just for fun,
mostly." The attorney asked him out
to have a drink.
When he stood on the bridge of his out-going steamer, the attorney saw
him again. His shore meekness and uncertainty were gone. He was clear-eyed
and strong, aroused like a mastiff at night. He took his cigar out of his
mouth and yelled some sudden language at
This steamer had about her a quality of unholy mediaeval disrepair which
is usually accounted the principal prerogative of the United States revenue
marine. There is many a seaworthy icehouse if she was a good ship. She
swashed through the seas as genially as an old wooden clock, burying her
head under waves that came only like children at play, and on board it cost
a ducking to go from anywhere to anywhere.
The captain had commanded vessels that shore people thought were liners,
but when a man gets the ant of desire-to-see-what-it's-like stirring in his
heart, he will wallow out to sea in a pail. The thing surpasses a man's love
for his sweetheart. The great tank-steamer "Thunder Voice" had long been
Flanagan's sweetheart, but he was far happier off Hatteras, watching this
wretched little portmanteau boom down the
slant of a wave.
The crew scraped acquaintance, one with another, gradually. Each man came
ultimately to ask his neighbor what particular turn of ill-fortune or
inherited deviltry caused him to try this voyage. When one frank, bold man
saw another frank, bold man aboard, he smiled, and they became friends.
There was not a mind on board the ship that was not fastened to the dangers
of the coast of Cuba and taking wonder at this prospect and delight in it.
Still, in jovial moments, they termed each
other accursed idiots.
At first there was some trouble in the engine-room, where there were many
steel animals, for the most part painted red, and in other places very
shiny, bewildering, complex, incomprehensible to anyone who don't care,
usually thumping, thumping, thumping with
the monotony of a snore.
It seems that this engine was as whimsical as a gas-meter. The chief
engineer was a fine old fellow with a gray mustache, but the engine told him
that it didn't intend to budge until it felt better. He came to the bridge,
and said: "The blamed old thing has
laid down on us, sir."
"Who was on duty?" roared the
"The second, sir."
"Why didn't he call you?"
"Don't know, sir." Later the stokers had occasion to thank the stars that
they were not second engineers.
The "Foundling" was soundly thrashed by the waves for loitering while the
captain and the engineers fought the obstinate machinery. During this wait
on the sea, the first gloom came to the faces of the company. The ocean is
wide, and a ship is a small place for the feet, and an ill ship is
worriment. Even when she was again under way, the gloom was still upon the
crew. From time to time men went to the engine-room doors and, looking down,
wanted to ask questions of the chief engineer, who slowly prowled to and fro
and watched with careful eye his red-painted mysteries. No man wished to
have a companion know that he was anxious, and so questions were caught at
the lips. Perhaps none commented save the first mate, who remarked to the
captain: "Wonder what the bally old thing will do, sir, when we're chased by
a Spanish cruiser?"
The captain merely grinned. Later he looked over the side and said to
himself with scorn: "Sixteen knots! Sixteen knots! Sixteen hinges on the
inner gates of Hades! Sixteen knots! Seven is her gait, and nine if you
crack her up to it."
There may never be a captain whose crew can't sniff his misgivings. They
scent it as a herd scents the menace far through the trees and over the
ridges. A captain that does not know that he is on a foundering ship
sometimes can take his men to tea and buttered toast twelve minutes before the disaster; but let him fret for a moment in the loneliness of
his cabin, and in no time it affects the liver of a distant and sensitive
seaman. Even as Flanagan reflected on the "Foundling," viewing her as a
filibuster, word arrived that a winter of discontent had come to the
The captain knew that it requires sky to give a man courage. He sent for
a stoker and talked to him on the bridge. The man, standing under the sky,
instantly and shamefacedly denied all knowledge of the business.
Nevertheless a jaw had presently to be broken by a fist because the
"Foundling" could only steam nine knots and because the stoke-room has no
sky, no wind, no bright horizon.
When the "Foundling" was somewhere off Savannah, a blow came from the
northeast, and the steamer, headed southeast, rolled like a boiling potato.
The first mate was a fine officer, and so a wave crashed him into the
deck-house and broke his arm. The cook was a good cook, and so the heave of
the ship flung him heels over head with a pot of boiling water, and caused
him to lose interest in everything save his legs. "By the piper," said
Flanagan to himself, "this filibustering
is no trick with cards."
Later there was more trouble in the stoke-room. All the stokers
participated save the one with a broken jaw, who had become discouraged. The
captain had an excellent chest development. When he went aft, roaring, it
was plain that a man could beat carpets with
a voice like that one.
ONE night the "Foundling" was off the southern coast of Florida and
running at half speed toward the shore. The captain was on the bridge. "Four
flashes at intervals of one minute," he said to himself, gazing steadfastly
toward the beach. Suddenly a yellow eye opened in the black face of the
night, and looked at the "Foundling," and closed again. The captain studied
his watch and the shore. Three times more the eye opened and looked at the
"Foundling" and closed again. The captain called to the vague figures on the
deck below him. "Answer it." The flash of a light from the bow of the
steamer displayed for a moment in golden color the crests of the inriding
The "Foundling" lay to and waited. The long swells rolled her gracefully,
and her two stub masts, reaching into the darkness, swung with the solemnity
of batons timing a dirge. When the ship had left Boston she had been as
encrusted with ice as a Dakota stage-driver's beard; but now the gentle wind
of Florida softly swayed the lock on the forehead of the coatless Flanagan,
and he lit a new cigar without troubling
to make a shield of his hands.
Finally a dark boat came plashing over the waves. As it came very near,
the captain leaned forward and perceived that the men in her rowed like
seamstresses, and at the same time a voice hailed him in bad English. "It's
a dead sure connection," said he to
At sea, to load two hundred thousand rounds of rifle ammunition, seven
hundred and fifty rifles, two rapid-fire field guns, with a hundred shells,
forty bundles of machetes, and a hundred pounds of dynamite, from yawls and
by men who are not born stevedores, and in a heavy ground swell and with the
search-light of a United States cruiser sometimes flashing like lightning in
the sky to the southward, is no business for a Sunday-school class. When at
last the "Foundling" was steaming for the open, over the gray sea, at dawn,
there was not a man of the forty come aboard from the Florida shore, nor of
the fifteen sailed from Boston, who was not glad, standing with his hair
matted to his forehead with sweat, smiling at the broad wake of the
"Foundling" and the dim streak
on the horizon which was Florida.
But there is a point of the compass in these waters which men call the
northeast. When the strong winds come from that direction, they kick up a
turmoil that is not good for a "Foundling" stuffed with coal and war-stores.
In the gale which came, this ship was no
more than a drunken soldier.
The Cuban leader, standing on the bridge with the captain, was presently
informed that of his men thirty-nine out of a possible thirty-nine were
seasick. And in truth they were seasick. There are degrees in this
complaint, but that matter was waived between them. They were all sick to
the limits. They strewed the deck in every posture of human anguish; and
when the "Foundling" ducked and water came sluicing down from the bows, they
let it sluice. They were satisfied if they could keep their heads clear of
the wash; and if they could not keep their heads clear of the wash, they
didn't care. Presently the "Foundling" swung her course to the southeast, and the
waves pounded her broadside. The patriots were all ordered below decks, and
there they howled and measured their misery one against another. All day the
"Foundling" plopped and foundered over a blazing bright meadow of an ocean
whereon the white foam was like flowers.
The captain on the bridge mused and studied the bare horizon. He said a
strong word to himself, and the word was more in amazement than in
indignation or sorrow. "Thirty-nine seasick passengers, the mate with a
broken arm, a stoker with a broken jaw, the cook with a pair of scalded
legs, and an engine likely to be taken with all these diseases, if not more.
If I get back to a home port with a spoke of the wheel gripped in my hands,
it'll be fair luck."
There is a kind of corn whisky bred in Florida which the natives declare
is potent in the proportion of seven fights to a drink. Some of the Cuban
volunteers had had the forethought to bring a small quantity of this whisky
aboard with them, and being now in the fire-room and seasick, and feeling
that they would not care to drink liquor for two or three years to come,
they gracefully tendered their portions to the stokers. The stokers accepted
these gifts without avidity, but with a certain
earnestness of manner.
As they were stokers and toiling, the whirl of emotion was delayed, but
it arrived ultimately and with emphasis. One stoker called another stoker a
weird name, and the latter, righteously inflamed at it, smote his mate with
an iron shovel, and the man fell headlong over a heap of coal which crashed
gently, while piece after piece rattled down
upon the deck.
A third stoker was providentially enraged at the scene, and assailed the
second stoker. They fought for some moments, while the seasick Cubans
sprawled on the deck watched with languid, rolling glances the ferocity of
this scuffle. One was so indifferent to the strategic importance of the
space he occupied that he was kicked in the
When the second engineer came to separate the combatants, he was sincere
in his efforts, and he came near to disabling
them for life.
The captain said, "I'll go down there and -- " But the leader of the
Cubans restrained him. "No, no," he cried, "you must not. We must treat them
like children, very gently, all the time, you see, or else when we get back
to a United States port they will -- what you call -- spring? Yes -- spring
the whole business. We must -- jolly them.
"You mean," said the captain, thoughtfully, "they are likely to get mad
and give the expedition dead away when we reach port again unless we blarney
"Yes, yes," cried the Cuban leader, "unless we are so very gentle with
them they will make many troubles afterwards for us in the newspapers and
then in court."
"Well, but I won't have my crew --
" began the captain.
"But you must," interrupted the Cuban. "You must. It is the only thing.
You are like the captain of a pirate ship. You see? Only you can't throw
them overboard like him. You see?"
"Hum," said the captain, "this here filibustering business has got a lot
to it when you come to look it over."
He called the fighting stokers to the bridge, and the three came meek and
considerably battered. He was lecturing them soundly, but sensibly, when he
suddenly tripped a sentence and cried: "Here! Where's that other fellow? How
does it come he wasn't in the fight?"
The row of stokers cried at once eagerly: "He's hurt, sir. He's got a
broken jaw, sir."
"So he has. So he has," murmured
the captain, much embarrassed.
And because of all these affairs the "Foundling" steamed toward Cuba with
its crew in a sling, if one may be allowed
to speak in that way.
AT night the "Foundling" approached the coast like a thief. Her lights
were muffled so that from the deck the sea shone with its own radiance, like
the faint shimmer of some kinds of silk. The men on deck spoke in whispers,
and even down in the fire-room the hidden stokers, working before the
blood-red furnace doors, used no words and walked tip-toe. The stars were
out in the blue-velvet sky, and their light with the soft shine of the sea
caused the coast to appear black as the side of a coffin. The surf boomed in
low thunder on the distant beach.
The "Foundling's" engines ceased their thumping for a time. She glided
quietly forward until a bell chimed faintly in the engine-room. Then she paused, with a flourish of phosphorescent
"Give the signal," said the captain. Three times a flash of light went
from the bow. There was a moment of waiting. Then an eye like the one on the
coast of Florida opened and closed, opened and closed, opened and closed.
The Cubans, grouped in a great shadow on deck, burst into a low chatter of
delight. A hiss from their leader silenced
"Well?" said the captain.
"All right," said the leader.
At the giving of the word it was not apparent that anyone on board of the
"Foundling" had ever been seasick. The boats were lowered swiftly, too
swiftly. Boxes of cartridges were dragged from the hold and passed over the
side with a rapidity that made men in the boats exclaim against it. They
were being bombarded. When a boat headed for shore, its rowers pulled like
madmen. The captain paced slowly to and fro on the bridge. In the
engine-room the engineers stood at their station, and in the stoke-hole the
firemen fidgeted silently around the furnace
On the bridge Flanagan reflected. "Oh, I don't know," he observed, "this
filibustering business isn't so bad. Pretty soon I'll be off to sea again,
with nothing to do but some big lying when
I get into port."
In one of the boats returning from shore came twelve Cuban officers, the
greater number of them convalescing from wounds, while two or three of them
had been ordered to America on commissions from the insurgents. The captain
welcomed them, and assured them of a speedy
and safe voyage.
Presently he went again to the bridge and scanned the horizon. The sea
was lonely like the spaces amid the suns. The captain grinned, and softly
smote his chest. "It's dead easy,"
It was near the end of the cargo, and the men were breathing like spent
horses, although their elation grew with each moment, when suddenly a voice
spoke from the sky. It was not a loud voice, but the quality of it brought
every man on deck to full stop and motionless, as if they had all been
changed to wax. "Captain," said the man at the masthead, "there's a light to
the west'ard, sir. Think it's a steamer,
There was a still moment until the captain called: "Well, keep your eye
on it now." Speaking to the deck, he
said: "Go ahead with your unloading."
The second engineer went to the galley to borrow a tin cup. "Hear the
news, second?" asked the cook. "Steamer
coming up from the west'ard."
"Gee!" said the second engineer. In the engine-room he said to the chief:
"Steamer coming up to the west'ard,
The chief engineer began to test various little machines with which his
domain was decorated. Finally he addressed the stoke-room. "Boys, I want you
to look sharp now. There's a steamer coming
up to the west'ard."
"All right, sir," said the stoke-room.
From time to time the captain hailed the
masthead. "How is she now?"
"Seems to be coming down on us pretty
The Cuban leader came anxiously to the captain. "Do you think we can save
all the cargo? It is rather delicate business.
"Go ahead," said Flanagan. "Fire
away. I'll wait for you."
There continued the hurried shuffling of feet on deck and the low cries
of the men unloading the cargo. In the engine-room the chief and his
assistant were staring at the gong. In the stoke-room the firemen breathed
through their teeth. A shovel slipped from where it leaned against the side
and banged on the floor. The stokers started
and looked around quickly.
Climbing to the rail and holding on to a stay, the captain gazed
westward. A light had raised out of the deep. After watching this light for
a time he called to the Cuban leader, "Well, as soon as you're ready now, we
might as well be skipping out."
Finally the Cuban leader told him: "Well, this is the last load. As soon
as the boats come back you can be off."
"Shan't wait for the boats," said the captain. "That fellow is too
close." As the last boat went shoreward, the "Foundling" turned, and like a
black shadow stole seaward to cross the bows of the oncoming steamer.
"Waited about ten minutes too long,"
said the captain to himself.
Suddenly the light in the west vanished. "Hum," said Flanagan, "he's up
to some meanness." Everyone outside of the engine-room was set on watch. The
"Foundling," going at full speed into the northeast, slashed a wonderful
trail of blue silver on the dark bosom of
A man on deck cried out hurriedly,
"There she is, sir." Many eyes searched the western gloom, and one after
another the glances of the men found a tiny black shadow on the deep, with a
line of white beneath it. "He couldn't be heading better if he had a line to
us," said Flanagan.
There was a thin flash of red in the darkness. It was long and keen like
a crimson rapier. A short, sharp report sounded, and then a shot whined
swiftly in the air and blipped into the sea. The captain had been about to
take a bit of plug tobacco at the beginning of this incident, and his arm
was raised. He remained like a frozen figure while the shot whined, and
then, as it blipped in the sea, his hand went to his mouth and he bit the
plug. He looked wide-eyed at the shadow with
its line of white.
The senior Cuban officer came hurriedly to the bridge. "It is no good to
surrender," he cried; "they would
only shoot or hang all of us."
There was another thin red flash and a report. A loud, whirring noise
passed over the ship.
"I'm not going to surrender," said the captain, hanging with both hands
to the rail. He appeared like a man whose traditions of peace are clinched
in his heart. He was as astonished as if his hat had turned into a dog.
Presently he wheeled quickly and said: "What
kind of a gun is that?"
"It is a one-pounder," cried the Cuban officer. "The boat is one of those
little gunboats made from a yacht. You see?"
"Well, if it's only a yawl, he'll sink us in five more minutes," said
Flanagan. For a moment he looked helplessly off at the horizon. His under
jaw hung low. But, a moment later, something touched him like a stiletto
point of inspiration. He leaped to the pilot house and roared at the man at
the wheel. The "Foundling" sheered suddenly to starboard, made a clumsy
turn, and Flanagan was bellowing through the tube to the engine-room before
anybody discovered that the old basket was heading straight for the Spanish
gunboat. The ship lunged forward like a draught-horse
on the gallop.
This strange manoeuver by the "Foundling" first dealt consternation on
board. Men instinctively crouched on the instant, and then swore their
supreme oath, which was unheard by their
Later, the manoeuver of the "Foundling" dealt consternation on board of
the gunboat. She had been going victoriously forward, dim-eyed from the fury
of her pursuit. Then this tall, threatening shape had suddenly loomed over
her like a giant apparition.
The people on board the "Foundling" heard panic shouts, hoarse orders.
The little gunboat was paralyzed with astonishment.
Suddenly Flanagan yelled with rage and sprang for the wheel. The helmsman
had turned his eyes away. As the captain whirled the wheel far to starboard,
he heard a crunch as the "Foundling," lifted on a wave, smashed her shoulder
against the gunboat, and he saw, shooting past, a little launch sort of a
thing with men on her that ran this way and that way. The Cuban officers,
joined by the cook and a seaman, emptied their revolvers into the surprised
terror of the seas.
There was naturally no pursuit. Under comfortable speed the "Foundling"
stood to the northward.
The captain went to his berth chuckling. "There, now," he said. "There
WHEN Flanagan came again on deck, the first mate, his arm in a sling,
walked the bridge. Flanagan was smiling a wide smile. The bridge of the
"Foundling" was dipping afar and then afar. With each lunge of the little
steamer the water seethed and boomed alongside and the spray dashed high and
"Well," said Flanagan, inflating himself, "we've had a great deal of a
time, and we've come through it all right,
and thank heaven it is all over."
The sky in the northeast was of a dull brick-red in tone, shaded here and
there by black masses that billowed out in some fashion from the flat
"Look there," said the mate.
"Hum," said the captain. "Looks
like a blow, don't it?"
Later the surface of the water rippled and flickered in the preliminary
wind. The sea had become the color of lead. The swashing sound of the waves
on the sides of the "Foundling" was now provided with some manner of ominous
significance. The men's shouts were hoarse.
A squall struck the "Foundling" on her starboard quarter, and she leaned
under the force of it as if she were never to return to the even keel. "I'll
be glad when we get in," said the mate. "I'm going to quit then. I've got
The steamer crawled on into the northwest. The white water sweeping out
from her deadened the chug-chug-chug of the
tired old engines.
Once, when the boat careened, she laid her shoulder flat on the sea and
rested in that manner. The mate, looking down the bridge, which slanted more
than a coal-chute, whistled softly to himself. Slowly, heavily, the
"Foundling" arose to meet another
At night, waves thundered mightily on the bows of the steamer, and water,
lit with the beautiful phosphorescent glamour, went boiling and howling
along the deck.
By good fortune the chief engineer crawled safely, but utterly drenched,
to the galley for coffee. "Well, how goes it, chief?" said the cook,
standing with his fat arms folded, in order to prove that he could balance
himself under any condition.
The engineer shook his head slowly. "This old biscuit-box will never see
port again. Why, she'll fall to pieces."
Finally, at night, the captain said: "Launch the boats." The Cubans
hovered about him. "Is the ship going to sink?" The captain addressed them
politely. "Gentlemen, we are in trouble, but all I ask of you is that you do
just what I tell you, and no harm will come
The mate directed the lowering of the first boat, and the men performed
this task with all decency, like people at
the side of a grave.
A young oiler came to the captain. "The chief sends word, sir, that the
water is almost up to the fires."
"Keep at it as long as you can."
"Keep at it as long as we can, sir."
Flanagan took the senior Cuban officer to the rail, and, as the steamer
sheered high on a great sea, showed him a yellow dot on the horizon. It was
smaller than a needle when its point is toward
"There," said the captain. The wind-driven spray was lashing his face.
"That's Jupiter Light on the Florida coast. Put your men in the boat we've
just launched, and the mate will take you
to that light."
Afterward Flanagan turned to the chief engineer. "We can never beach
her," said the old man. "The stokers have got to quit in a minute." Tears
were in his eyes.
The "Foundling" was a wounded thing. She lay on the water with gasping
engines, and each wave resembled her death
Now the way of a good ship on the sea is finer than sword-play. But this
is when she is alive. If a time comes that the ship dies, then her way is
the way of a floating old glove, and she has that much vim, spirit,
buoyancy. At this time many men on the "Foundling" suddenly came to know
that they were clinging to a corpse.
The captain went to the stoke-room, and what he saw as he swung down the
companion suddenly turned him hesitant and dumb. He had served the sea for
many years, but this fire-room said something to him which he had not heard
in his other voyages. Water was swirling to and fro with the roll of the
ship, fuming greasily around half-strangled machinery that still attempted
to perform its duty. Steam arose from the water, and through its clouds
shone the red glare of the dying fires. As for the stokers, death might have
been with silence in this room. One lay in his berth, ;his hands under his
head, staring moodily at the wall. One sat near the foot of the companion,
his face hidden in his arms. One leaned against the side, and gazed at the
snarling water as it rose and its mad eddies among the machinery. In the
unholy red light and gray mist of this stifling dim inferno they were
strange figures with their silence and their immobility. The wretched
"Foundling" groaned deeply as she lifted, and groaned deeply as she sank
into the trough, while hurried waves then thundered over her with the noise
But Flanagan took control of himself suddenly, and then he stirred the
fire-room. The stillness had been so unearthly that he was not altogether
inapprehensive of strange and grim deeds when he charged into them, but
precisely as they had submitted to the sea so they submitted to Flanagan.
For a moment they rolled their eyes like hurt cows, but they obeyed the
voice. The situation simply required a voice.
When the captain returned to the deck, the hue of this fire-room was in
his mind, and then he understood doom and
its weight and complexion.
When finally the "Foundling" sank, she shifted and settled as calmly as
an animal curls down in the bush grass. Away over the waves three bobbing
boats paused to witness this quiet death. It was a slow manoeuver,
altogether without the pageantry of uproar, but it flashed pallor into the
faces of all men who saw it, and they groaned when they said: "There she
goes!" Suddenly the captain whirled and knocked his head on the gunwale. He
sobbed for a time, and then he sobbed and
There was a dance at the Imperial Inn. During the evening some
irresponsible young men came from the beach, bringing the statement that
several boatloads of people had been perceived off shore. It was a charming
dance, and none cared to take time to believe this tale. The fountain in the
courtyard plashed softly, and couple after couple paraded through the aisles
of palms where lamps with red shades threw a rose light upon the gleaming
leaves. High on some balcony a mocking-bird called into the evening. The
band played its waltzes slumberously, and its music to the people among the
palms came faintly and like the melodies
Sometimes a woman said: "Oh, it is not really true, is it, that there was
a wreck out at sea?"
A man usually said: "No, of course
At last, however, a youth came violently from the beach. He was
triumphant in manner. "They're out there," he cried. "A whole boatload!" He
received eager attention, and he told all that he supposed. His news
destroyed the dance. After a time the band was playing delightfully to
space. The guests had donned wraps and hurried to the beach. One little girl
cried: "Oh, mamma, may I go too?"
Being refused permission, she pouted.
As they came from the shelter of the great hotel, the wind was blowing
swiftly from the sea, and at intervals a breaker shone livid. The women
shuddered, and their bending companions seized opportunity to draw the
cloaks closer. The sand of the beach was wet, and dainty slippers made
imprints in it clear and deep.
"Oh, dear," said a girl, "supposin' they were out there drowning while we
"Oh, nonsense!" said her younger
brother; "that don't happen."
"Well, it might, you know, Roger.
How can you tell?"
A man who was not her brother gazed at her then with profound admiration.
Later she complained of the damp sand, and drawing back her skirts, looked
ruefully at her little feet.
A mother's son was venturing too near to the water in his interest and
excitement. Occasionally she cautioned and reproached him from the
Save for the white glare of the breakers, the sea was a great
wind-crossed void. From the throng of charming women floated the perfume of
many flowers. Later there floated to them a body with a calm face of an
Irish type. The expedition of the "Foundling" will never be historic.