The Magnetic Hearth

“Clancy was laying his course that day,
Clipping it out o’ Fortune Bay—”

and so on to the further details, the fifteen hundred barrels of frozen herring in his hold, and a breeze that sang lullabies of home, when one of his crew had to fall sick.

“And of all times!” exploded his mates. “The first cargo of the season; and now Glover’ll beat us out—ready to sail when we left.”

But there was nothing for it but to put back to St. Mary’s and ship another man in his place.

The new man was but fairly over the rail—Man! but the jaunty chap he was!—when he had to break out with: “So this is the Tommie Clancy I’ve been hearing so much about? The great Tommie Clancy—Clancy the sail carrier! Well, I’ve yet to see the man that could carry sail enough for me.”

Of course that was too good for the crew to keep; and while they were getting under way again they started to tell the skipper of what the new man had said, thinking to touch his professional pride and sting him to one of his famous rejoinders, perhaps set him to teach the fellow a lesson. But they were grievously disappointed. He did not let them half finish. “To the devil with what he said!” exploded the irate Clancy. He had only himself just leaped aboard, after seeing the sick man attended to ashore. “Look now!” and held up a letter. “Ought to have been given me a week ago. Only I stepped into the post-office on the way down, I’d never got it at all. If I’d got it when I ought to, we’d been half-way home by now, with that sick man taking his chances out of the medicine-chest. And more than that,” and he held aloft a telegram, although, instead of telling them what that was about, he thrust it into an inside pocket.

“Hush!” warned one, a subtle one, a man who had essayed to report the new man’s words about sail- carrying. “Maybe he’s put out about Glover, who left for home last night,” meaning it to reach the skipper’s ears, which it did.

“To the devil with Glover!” said Clancy. “We won’t be home any later be he’s left before us.”

“But the market, skipper?”

“To hell with the market, too—what’s the matter with that anchor? Is that anchor cat-headed yet? No? Well, why isn’t it? And another heave or two on those throat-halyards. And, Lord in heaven! bend your backs. Some o’ you act as though you thought you were pulling on pack-threads.”

And in that spirit they left for home. At dark they had sunk the headlands of Cannargie, at dawn they raised the cliffs of Whitehead, which truly was going some, as Sam Leary put it when after an arduous trick to the wheel he dropped below, dodging, as he leaped from the lowest step, the heavy steel stays which held the Duncan together forward. “Them damn things—some day they’ll cut a man’s head off coming below in a hurry.”

“I cal’late by the way she’s hoppin’, Sammie, that it’s blowin’ some.”

This from the cook.

“Go up and have a look for yourself, cookie. Some water on her deck.”

“No need to go on deck to see loose water, Sam. I o’n get that here. I wish she was a little tighter. There’s blessed little comfort wearin’ rubber boots all the time below. Don’t you think she’s a bit loose for a winter passage, Sammie? Look at them things, now.”

He pointed to the heavy strengthening stays which Sam had dodged, and which stretched across the forec’s ’le just abaft the butt of the foremast.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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