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HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
4 Park Street .... Boston, Mass.
The Riverside Press, Cambridge
85 Fifth Avenue, New York
Estered at the Post Office in Boston as second-class matter Copyright, 1906, by job, booo Mifflin and Compand Cono h
THE harbor lights were out; all the world of sea and sky and barren rock was black. It was Saturday, - long after night, the first snow flying in the dark. Half a gale from the north ran whimpering through the rigging, by turns wrathful and plaintive, a restless wind: it would not leave the night at ease. The trader Good Samaritan lay at anchor in Poor Man's Harbor on the Newfoundland coast: this on her last voyage of that season for the shore fish. We had given the schooner her Saturday night bath; she was hite and trim in every part: the fish stowed, the decks swabbed, the litter of goods in the cabin restored to the hooks and shelves. The crew was in the forecastle, a lolling, snoozy lot, now desperately yawning for lack of diversion. Tumm, the clerk, had survived the moods of brooding and light irony, and was still wide awake, musing quietly in the seclusion of a cloud of tobacco smoke. By all the signs, the inevitable was at hand; and presently, as we had foreseen, the pregnant silence fell.
BY NORMAN DUNCAN
With one blast, a swishing exhalation breaking from the depths of his gigantic chest, in its passage fluttering his unkempt mustache, -Tumm dissipated the enveloping cloud; and having thus emerged from seclusion he moved his glance from eye to eye until the crew sat in uneasy expectancy.
"If a lad's mother tells un he 've got a soul," he began, "it don't do no wonderful harm; but if a man finds it out for hisself"
The pause was for effect; so, too, the VOL. 98-NO. 2
"He come," Tumm began, "from Jug Cove, bein'," he added, indulgently, after a significant pause, "born there,an' that by sheer ill luck of a windy night in the fall o' the year, when the ol' woman o' Tart Harbor, which used t' be handy thereabouts, was workin' double watches at Whale Run t' save the life of a trader's wife o' the name o' Tiddle. I 'low," he continued, "that 't is the only excuse a man could have for hailin' from Jug Cove; for," he elucidated, “'t is a mean place t' the westward o' Fog Island, a bit below the Black Gravestones, where the Soldier o' the Cross was picked up by Satan's Tail in the nor'easter o' last fall. You
opens the Cove when you rounds Greedy Head o' the Hen-an'-Chickens an' lays a course for Gentleman Tickle t' other side o' the Bay. "Tis there that Jug Cove lies; an' whatever," he proceeded, being now well underway, with all sail drawing in a snoring breeze, "'t is where the poor devil had the ill luck t'hail from. We was drove there in the Quick as Wink in the southerly gale o' the Year o' the Big Shore Catch; an' we lied three dirty days in the lee o' the Pillar o' Cloud, waitin' for civil weather; for we was fished t' the scrupper-holes, an' had no heart t' shake hands with the sea that was runnin'. 'Tis a mean place t' be wind-bound, this Jug Cove: tight an' dismal as chokee, with walls o' black rock, an' as nasty a front yard o' sea as ever I knowed.
"Ecod!' thinks I, 'I'll just take a run ashore t' see how bad a mess really was made o' Jug Cove.'
"Which bein' done, I crossed courses for the first time with Abraham Botch,
- Botch by name, an' botch, accordin' t' my poor lights, by nature: Abraham Botch, God help un! o' Jug Cove. "Twas a foggy day, a cold, wet time: ecod! the day felt like the corpse of a drowned cook. The moss was soggy; the cliffs an' rocks was all a-drip; the spruce was soaked t' the skin, — the earth all wettish an' sticky an' cold. The southerly gale ramped over the sea; an' the sea got so mad at the wind that it fair frothed at the mouth. I 'low the sea was tired o' foolin', an' wanted t' go t' sleep; but the wind kep' teasin' it, -kep' slappin' an' pokin' an' pushin', - till the sea could n't stand it no more, an' just got mad. Off shore, in the front yard o' Jug Cove, 't was all white with breakin' rocks, as dirty a sea for fishin' punts as a man could sail in nightmares. From the Pillar o' Cloud I could see, down below, the seventeen houses o' Jug Cove, an' the sweet little Quick as Wink; the water was black, an' the hills was black, but the ship an' the mean little houses was gray in the mist. T' sea they was nothin',
just fog an' breakers an' black waves. T' landward, likewise, black hills in the mist. A dirty sea an' a lean shore!
"Tumm,' thinks I, 't is more by luck than good conduct that you was n't born here. You'd thank God, Tumm,' thinks I, if you did n't feel so dismal scurvy about bein' the Teacher's pet.' "An' then
"Good-even,' says Abraham Botch. "There he lied, on the blue, spongy caribou-moss, at the edge o' the cliff, with the black-an'-white sea below, an' the mist in the sky an' on the hills t' leeward. Ecod! but he was lean an' ragged: this fellow sprawlin' there, with his face t' the sky an' his legs an' leaky boots scattered over the moss. Skinny legs he had, an' a chest as thin as paper; but aloft he carried more sail 'n the law allows, — skyscraper, star-gazer, an', ay! even the curse-o'-God-over-all. That was Botch,
mostly head, an' a sight more forehead than face, God help un! He'd a long, girlish face, a bit thin at the cheeks an' skimped at the chin; an' they was n't beard enough anywheres t' start a bird's nest. Ah, but the eyes o' that botch! Them round, deep eyes, with the still waters an' clean shores! I 'low I can't tell you no more, but only this: that they was somehow like the sea, blue an' deep an' full o' change an' sadness. Ay, there lied Botch in the fog-drip, poor Botch o' Jug Cove: eyes in his head; his dirty, lean body clothed in patched moleskin an' rotten leather.
"Good-even, yourself,' says I.
"My name's Botch,' says he. 'Is n't you from the Quick as Wink?'
"I is,' says I; 'an' they calls me Tumm.'
"That's a very queer name,' says he. "Oh, no!' says I. "They is n't nothin' queer about the name o' Tumm.'
"He laughed a bit, — an' rubbed his feet together: just like a tickled youngster. 'Ay,' says he; 'that's a wonderful queer name. Hark!' says he. 'You just listen, an' I'll show you. Tumm,' says he,