As in His Youth
AS IN HIS YOUTH
CAPTAIN EDWARD DORLAND of the liner Centarus was not ready to believe himself an old man. Trimly erect was the spare figure in the uniform of blue, decisive the commands spoken from the lofty bridge. His mustache was white and the wrinkles of the thin, kindly face were graven deeper than those of exposure to wind and sun. After a long vigil in bad weather his bones ached and his knees were weary, but this he laid to a touch of rheumatism. His eyes had begun to reveal the indefinable expression, appealing and akin to sadness, that is common to the declension of life and which no artifice can conceal.
Nevertheless he was still efficient, indomitable, good for further service in the Atlantic trade. But he was about to be dismissed because he had reached the age limit of sixty-three years. The head of the Constellation Line, a Scotch baronet, regarded pensions as a foe to thrift. A man should save enough from his salary to stave off starvation when retired. In order to encourage thrift the salaries were pinchingly small. The company paid the shareholders ten per cent and the surplus made one's mouth water.
This was Captain Dorland's last voyage, bound out from New York to Liverpool. Standing behind a canvas weather-screen, on a night quiet and luminous, he dwelt with thoughts that brought unhappiness. In youth he had greatly dreamed of love and bold adventure, and a fireside waiting to welcome him near the end of life's long road. The wife, now dead, had quenched the spark of romance before it was fairly alight and he had made the best of a bad bargain. A son lost at sea as mate of an overloaded tramp; a childless daughter who had married no more wisely than her father; savings vanished in investments made with a sailor's guileless trust in shrewder landsmen. Nothing seemed to survive of the years of effort to do his utmost for his own and for himself.
Steaming to and fro, climbing a step at a time, his sea record had been singularly uneventful.
To his passengers he was courteous but avoided familiarity. The ship and her safety absorbed his attention and he ruled her like a just and vigilant despot. What happened at breakfast on the fifth day of this voyage was unusual. A chair at his table was vacant and he appeared perturbed, glancing at it several times in absent-minded silence before he asked the portly, consequential gentleman at his right hand:
"Nothing wrong with Miss Tyndall, I hope? She is too good a sailor to mind this bit of a roll. I have seen her out bright and early every morning."
"A bit of a headache, I believe," was the rather indifferent reply.
"Cousin Amelia Tyndall is plain lazy to-day, I guess," piped up the small daughter. "Mamma says I must be patient with her 'cause she isn't as spry and young as she was once."
The father laughed, but Captain Dorland's brown cheek flushed with anger. The family occupied "the royal suite," and this Mr. Sherman Underwood was a person of much importance in New York. It was the duty of the ship's officers to make his voyage agreeable. The captain offered no comment, but left the table sooner than the others and sent a stewardess to inquire concerning the welfare of Miss Amelia Tyndall. And when she appeared on deck two hours later he found it necessary to pass that way on the daily tour of inspection.
She was the younger by a very few years and her hair was as white as his own, a woman of a certain fine distinction of aspect. Her interest in life was zestful but unaffected. Not wholly lost was the bright wonderment of youth that the world should be so full of diverting people and things, while with a spirit reconciled and untroubled she watched the shadows grow longer.
Halting beside her chair, Captain Dorland held his gold-laced cap in his hand and bowed by no means clumsily.
"I was worried about that headache of yours!" he gravely exclaimed.
Miss Tyndall looked up, grateful, admiring.
"How very good of you, with this great ship to care for!" she said. In her sight the master of a liner was an immensely heroic figure, for she felt the magic and the mystery of the sea. His candid features reflected something more than admiration. He had the simplicity that scorns evasions.
"I have been thinking of you a good deal, Miss Tyndall. Such a passenger as you makes a voyage worth remembering. Would you care to come on the bridge at six bells—half an hour from now? It's a fine view of the ship and the sea from there."
The color delicately suffused her face, and the sweet, well-bred intonations were slightly startled as she replied:
"Thank you for the compliment. Captain Dorland. May I ask Mr. and Mrs. Underwood to join us?"
"I will invite them some other time, if you don't mind," he firmly dissented, "unless you think we are young and frivolous enough to need a brace of chaperons."
"Hardly that," she smiled, finding no offence in the frankness of this elderly mariner. "I shall be delighted to see your sacred precinct. Our table-steward told us that you were on the bridge three days and nights without rest on a voyage last winter, and your shoes had to be cut from your feet."
"A mere matter of routine duty—not worth mention—all in the day's work." he stammered like a self-conscious boy. "Which reminds me that I am neglecting my duty. Shall I find you here?"
"You will find me waiting, Captain Dorland."
He walked forward, his gait easy and alert, nor in all the Seven Seas was there a shipmaster who felt less like an old man. Holding himself even straighter than ordinary, he hummed a snatch of a chantey recalled from the brave days of his teens when he sailed before the mast. To this superannuated commander, about to be discarded from the service as human junk, there had unfolded the miracle of love for a woman, naught of passionate infatuation, for that lay far behind him, but an affection deep, serene, immutable.
Although so tragically deferred, it made him young in heart. Hopeless it was and utterly futile, yet he was glad nevertheless. She a woman of wealth and exalted social station, he a man so soon to face idleness and poverty, his achievements a finished chapter. Doubtless they would never meet again after this voyage.
When he escorted Miss Tyndall to the steamer's bridge, the soaring isolation of the structure thrilled her. It seemed a world removed from the noisy, populous decks and cabins. Two navigating officers and the quartermaster at the wheel—quiet, unhurried men—scanned the sea and held the liner to her eastward course.
"How many are there in your crew?" she asked the captain.
"Four hundred, all told. You wouldn't think so up here."
"Four hundred men, obedient to you," murmured Miss Tyndall. "And a thousand passengers or more to carry through night and fog and storm and ice, month after month, year after year. Do you feel the pride of power, Captain Dorland?"
"I don't quite understand what you mean," said he, but an inner voice told him that he was poignantly reluctant to lay this power down. "It is a big job, in a way, and I Like it. I have been at sea fifty years, Miss Tyndall. I know nothing else."
"As long as that? I shouldn't have dreamed it. But I suppose you have not begun to think of retiring. You are much more robust than some of our fagged business men who call themselves middle-aged."
This favorable verdict delighted him and he replied in his straightforward fashion:
"You are a remarkably young and handsome woman for your years, whatever they may be. I should say that you had cheerfully done your duty as you found it and let the worries take care of themselves. Those have been my sailing directions."
He could not bear to tell her that he would command the Centarus only three more days. She was to think of him, if she cared to recall the voyage, as she now beheld him, sovereign of his kingdom afloat. In her own soul she knew that she would many times think of him again, for romance can swiftly blossom as well for an elderly spinster as for a hoary master-mariner. Her sensitive lips trembled ever so little and she looked rather at the sea than at him as she said:
"I have found life both bitter and sweet, Captain Dorland. You are very flattering indeed, but if I am not really a withered old woman at sixty, perhaps it is because I have tried not to wither in spirit."
"And believed there was some goodness left in the world," he heartily added, "in spite of all the pessimistic drivel of a lot of half-baked lubbers ashore. I hear them now and then in the smoking-room, generally damning the universe."
"You and I preach the same gospel, I am sure," laughed Miss Tyndall.
"We think the same about a great many things, give us time to compare notes. How long do you expect to stay abroad?"
"About three months. We shall motor through France and Italy. The plan is to sail for home from Genoa on September 1st. I am sorry we can't return with you in the Centarus.
"I wish with all my heart we could sail together again. Miss Tyndall."
"Tell me something about yourself," said she. "Your references to me have been extremely personal, you know. Turn about is fair play. You have no home in England?"
"My home was in Liverpool. I am a Canadian by birth raised in St. John—went to sea from there as a boy. I may go back there—" he hesitated and his voice was not quite under control as he slowly repeated—"go back there—someday."
"When you are in port—in New York, I mean—between voyages—" Miss Tyndall was more confused than the words warranted—"I should be pleased to have you call. My cousins, the Underwoods, usually open their town house early in November."
"I—I—it would give me a tremendous amount of pleasure," he faltered. The trend of the conversation had become painful. To hide the truth gave him a sense of unworthiness. All he could think of was that he was to be turned out of the Constellation Line because he was guilty of the crime of sixty-three years. Go to see Miss Tyndall in New York? By another winter he might be begging his bread in the streets. More than one old shipmaster had asked alms of him. The impulse prompting his next remark was natural and unconsciously pathetic. This woman who so profoundly stirred his emotions should see and know him to the best possible advantage.
"Do you want to go through the ship with me, Miss Tyndall? She is a big, complicated piece of work at close range."
She accepted with charming enthusiasm. They went from the forecastle to the many decks, down, down to the clamorous engine-rooms and the inferno of the furnaces where the sweating stokers toiled in gangs. Everywhere throughout this vast and intricate fabric men respectfully saluted their commander, Norwegian seamen, pasty-faced stewards, white-clad scullions, grimy oilers, attentive engineers, all of them his servants, ready and willing, bound by the iron laws of the sea. The woman had sympathy to comprehend that this superb organization was dominated by the one masterful personality. When they came again under the open sky, she said:
"I shall not forget this experience. I have never known your kind of a man."
They stood forward, in the lee of a deck-house, apart from the passengers. As one who would say good-by to a friend, he took her hand and held it a moment. She let it rest there and her eyes met his unflinchingly. With a sigh he told her:
"I have never known your kind of a woman. I wish to God I could have met you years and years ago."
There was nothing more for him to say. Even this was more than he had meant to say. She stood as if waiting, but he was silent. Then she slowly returned to the promenade-deck while the captain climbed the stairway to the loneliness and the wide, empty spaces of the liner's bridge.
The wind veered that afternoon, increasing to a strident gale with an overcast sky. By sunset the weather was murky with rain and spray, and the commander did not appear at dinner. During the night the gale subsided, but a wet fog blanketed the gray sea and the Centarus crept cautiously to beware of other steamers. Nor did the sky clear until she had made a landfall off the Irish coast. It was decreed, therefore, that there should be no more interviews between the twain until the farewell, brief and outwardly commonplace, when the liner swung at anchor in the Mersey and the tender was alongside.
Captain Dorland cleared his ship of passengers and then put her in dock to discharge cargo. These final tasks accomplished, he laid aside the smart blue uniform, packed it in a chest with his other belongings, and went ashore to report to the marine superintendent. He received cordial commendation for his long and faithful service, including a formal letter from the Scotch baronet, and a bonus of a hundred pounds in token of the company's esteem. That same day the master of a smaller ship was promoted to the Centarus, and in as simple a manner as this did Captain Edward Dorland wind up an honorable career of fifty years on blue water.
He visited his daughter, who had inherited the mother's shrewish temper, and found that business misfortunes had again overwhelmed her luckless husband. Leaving with them a considerable part of the hundred pounds by way of succor, he took passage for St. John. It seemed useless to seek employment in England. Many friends would have been glad to offer tactful aid, but the thought of dependence was as bitter as death. By a sort of instinct he went homing back to the place of his boyhood, to the windy streets, the tall wharfs, and the roaring tides of Fundy. He had been a person of importance in maritime Liverpool and it was abhorrent to tarry there as a derelict.
Several weeks later than this, another elderly man trudged into the dooryard of a white cottage overlooking the harbor of St. John. His legs were short, his breath likewise, and his circumference more notable than his height. You might have been slow to twit him of the fact, for the beam of his chest was formidable and there was room for any number of chips upon his shoulders. Rolling into the kitchen, he shouted an affectionate greeting at a bright-eyed little woman with -the quick movements of a sparrow, whisked her into the air, and set her down on a table. This violent procedure she accepted as a matter of course.
"Caroline, something has got to be done about it, as sure as my name is Joel Bangs."
"I suppose so, whatever it is," amiably chirruped his wife, "but there's two cakes in the oven and with you trampin' and chargin' around this way they'll fall flat. You were a sea-cook long enough to know better."
With gingerly tread he sought a chair and explained:
"I saw Captain Dorland again this morning, Caroline. And I just can't stand it. He's agin' all of a sudden. The story that he's retired and living like a gentleman on his investments sounds flimsy to me. Trouble is eating the heart out of him. And I suspect he's plumb near on his beam-ends."
"It don't seem possible, Joel," absently observed Mrs. Bangs as she opened the oven door and anxiously peered within. "Master of big passenger ships like the Centarus? Deary me, and here you are, better off than him, with a home free and clear, money in the bank, and shares in three schooners!"
"It makes me ashamed as the devil," rumbled her husband. "When I sailed with him as chief cook he had the old Andromeda, in line for promotion to a better ship. I thought a lot of him, Caroline, after that ruction I've told you about. My first day aboard he sent a boy down for coffee. I burnt it a-purpose, to find out what kind of a man the skipper was. Readin' human nature was my long suit. If he swallowed the rotten bad coffee and had nothin' to say, I'd know I could do about as I pleased aboard that hooker."
"And what did he do to you?" she demanded with as much gusto as if the tale were new.
"Called me to the bridge, grabbed me by the neck, made me drink every drop of the blasted stuff, and broke the saucer over my head. Right there was where I quit readin' human nature with the aid of a coffee-pot."
"Why don't you ask him up to supper, Joel? I'll be very particular about the coffee. It's dreadful lonesome for him in lodgings, and he's been away from St. John so long that he can't have many friends here."
"Pshaw! I dassn't," he confessed. "You're not a seafarin' man, Caroline and you don't understand how the etiquette of it was hammered into me. The master of a big liner is a stupendous proposition, speakin' sailor-wise, and would you ask him to set at table with a ship's cook?"
"Nonsense, Joel," was the crisp comment. "You are just a pair of barnacles peaceably growin' old ashore, with all the frills and crinktum-cranktums left at sea, where they belong."
"He was down to the wharfs yesterday," resumed Mr. Hangs, "and when Naulty happened to say he needed a night watchman, Captain Dorland hinted he might consider the berth. Just think of it. I'm all stewed up."
Joel filled his pipe and sat sorrowfully cogitating until the brisk little woman observed with emphasis:
"If etiquette prevents your treatin' Captain Dorland like a fellow human, suppose you lug me in some wood. I'm not too proud to be helped by a retired sea-cook."
While they discussed the lamentable fortunes of the recent master of the Centarus, the elderly gentleman in question was thoughtfully considering the selfsame problem. He was drawing on his slender capital and had no source of income. Perhaps it would have been wiser to remain in England. A persistent quest might have discovered a clerkship in a ship-broker's or underwriter's office. He had professional knowledge to sell but there seemed to be no market for it in the hustling Canadian provinces.
It was difficult for him to comprehend that he was fit for nothing else than command upon the sea. He was afraid of the land. Already he had become vacillating, brooding, timorous, reluctant to thrust himself forward. St. John had welcomed and dined him as a distinguished native son and then taken it for granted that he was capable of looking after himself.
A burden of foreboding and discouragement made his shoulders sag and robbed his gait of its alert swing. The lines of his face deepened and his eyes were very tired. He no longer courageously warded off the conviction that he was a worn-out old man. The days of his splendid efficiency, so recent in time, began to appear vaguely remote.
He was reading in his room when Joel Bangs, having cogitated at much length and renewed the discussion with Caroline, came to see him. The prosperous sea-cook was hot and flustered. In his honest head was a magnificent idea, but all his resolution was required to disclose it. Standing stiffly at attention, just inside the door, he declined the proffered chair and hurriedly exclaimed:
"I'm fit and hearty, thank you, sir. Just a little call to wish you the same, which I hope you won't think presumin' of me."
"Oh, sit down and have a chat, Joel," cried Captain Dorland. "You and I are old friends. I have been intending to walk up the hill and pay my respects to your wife."
"We'd be prouder of our little place than ever, sir," broadly beamed the other. "Diggin' in the garden does me a heap of good. You ought to try it."
"They say there is nothing like a bit of land to putter about in, Joel. I am too old a dog to learn new tricks. You were wise to quit the sea so much sooner than I did."
"Do you think you'd feel better if you were at sea again?" queried Mr. Bangs, who had begun to breathe hard.
The master mariner brightened. The very thought of it was like a tonic.
"Go to sea again? Lord, I'd go in a barge! I am pickled and salted in brine to the bone. I am getting full of dry rot ashore, like a stick of old timber."
Joel wiped his bald brow. Even those stout legs of his seemed unable to support him satisfactorily and he slumped into a chair. After opening his mouth twice the words came with a rush:
"There, I've led up to it handier than I hoped. Caroline said I wouldn't have the spunk to do it. It sounds impertinent of a man that once sailed with you as chief pot-walloper, sir, and if you don't like it, why, heave me out by the slack of my breeches. But if you're sure you would enjoy better health at sea again—well, I'm managin' owner of a two-masted schooner that trades between St. John and Boston. The master of her wants to quit me and go deep water. If you want her, the schooner is yours to command as long as you live and as long as she stays afloat."
Joel Bangs lay back in his chair like one exhausted, murmuring under his breath by way of peroration:
"Me talkin' that way to the skipper of the Centarus? Could you beat it?"
Captain Edward Dorland gazed hard at the wall and blinked before he brushed a hand across his eyes. He was not insulted. Very different from resentment was the emotion which welled in his heart. Ashamed of himself as womanish, he rasped out in the old curt, incisive manner:
"I am ready to report aboard and take the vessel to sea whenever you say the word, Mister Bangs."
"I am greatly obliged to you, sir," humbly quoth the managing owner.
"You bully old fool, you," blurted the shipmaster. "The thanks are all on my side. I will do my duty to the best of my ability. You are the boss. Are you sure I'm not too old?"
"Good for ten years, sir, and then you take the little farm next to mine and we'll plant our gardens together. I pay decent wages in my vessels. You are a very fine gentleman, Captain Dorland. Only a thoroughbred could take it as you do. Now, if you want to come down to the wharf, we'll look the schooner over. She is seaworthy, and I'm willin' to spend some money to make her fit and comfortable for you."
A fortnight after this interview the two-master Caroline B. was ready for sea. Vainly had Captain Dorland protested against the lavish outlay for paint, stores, and furnishings. The owner was stubborn and his wife abetted him. The best they could do was not good enough for the new master of the schooner. She was to look as fresh and smart as a yacht.
"You were never aboard one of his crack ships, Caroline," declared her lord. "He had an eye like a hawk for dirty paint or brass-work, and a spot on the deck-plankin' gave him fits. It would drive him distracted to go in a disreputable vessel. God knows it's hard enough for him anyhow."
"The cabin looks mighty nice, Joel, with the new desk and chair and rugs. And I took real pride in makin' the window curtains. My best counterpane is on his bunk and there's plenty of new table linen."
"I'm givin' him a good crew," said the owner. "There's only five of 'em, instead of four hundred. Ain't it ridiculous? The mate is first-class and the seamen are sober. About the cook, I dunno. Captain Dorland is used to having things served in proper style."
Mrs. Bangs giggled like a girl as she observed:
"Well, you've had that long-legged cook from the schooner up here every night this week, drillin' and trainin' him to make fancy dishes and wait on table, and muss up my clean kitchen."
"I've polished him off as well as I could at short notice," he anxiously affirmed. "If he don't suit the captain I'll ship as cook myself next voyage."
With a fair wind the Caroline B. stood out of the harbor and laid her course to the southward. Pacing the tiny poop-deck was the spare, erect figure of her master in a uniform of blue from which the gilt buttons of the Constellation Line had been removed. Nothing of chagrin or humiliation was written upon his thin, kindly features, only thanksgiving that this opportunity for usefulness had been vouchsafed him. The crew showed solicitous eagerness to please him. They viewed him as a great man fallen to a very humble estate. The respectful friendliness touched him exceedingly. The seamanship which he had learned in sailing craft came back to Captain Dorland and he showed his men that he knew the business of handling a schooner. The good wind, the heaving deck, the spatter of spray, the slatting of canvas and the whining song of the blocks revived in him the ardent interest of the yesteryears.
When the Caroline B. was abreast of a bight of the Maine coast, a strong westerly breeze came bowling across a bright sea under blue skies. The captain hauled further in to find smooth water under the lee of the land and let the sturdy vessel drive with all sail set. The mate was upon the forecastle-head tinkering with a broken capstan-pawl. Straightening himself, he glanced beyond the bowsprit by force of habit and discerned a white motor-launch a little to starboard of the schooner's course and not far distant. It appeared to be drifting without headway, now lifting on the backs of the breaking waves, now wallowing in the small valleys between. He sang out to the man at the wheel and Captain Dorland, who was scanning a chart in the cabin, jumped on deck.
There were two persons in the launch, one of them a man who raised his coat on the end of a boat-hook and flourished it as a signal of distress. The captain caught up his binoculars and stepped to the rail, telling the mate to heave the schooner to.
The other occupant of the launch was a woman, slender, composed, who showed no signs of alarm. Her hair was as white as Captain Edward Dorland's. He stared, and the hands which held the glasses were so unsteady with excitement that the vision of the woman came and went. The woman with whom he had talked that day on the bridge of the Centarus? The shipmate who had inspired his yearning affection? He forgot to be ashamed that she should find him thus.
It was easy to perceive that the disabled launch had been blown off-shore. Cleverly manœuvred, the schooner ran close alongside and the mate, waiting his chance, leaped in and helped the man fend off. Captain Dorland dropped a short ladder from the bulwark, moving with the activity of a boy. Then, as he stood braced to catch her, Miss Tyndall recognized him. With a startled gesture she rose to her feet and clung to the coaming while she gazed up at the captain in wordless amazement. He flourished his cap and lustily shouted:
"You are Miss Amelia Tyndall or her ghost. Welcome aboard my vessel. Steady, now."
The mate picked her up, biding his time until the launch lifted again, and swung her to the ladder with a heave and a toss. Captain Dorland caught her, an arm around her trim waist, and helped her to mount the low bulwark. After her came a trunk and several pieces of hand-luggage. The navigator of the launch scrambled to the deck and his crippled craft was dropped astern in tow. The mate hovered in the background, expecting an order either to put the schooner on her course or to land the castaways at some near-by port. The crew, moved by lively curiosity that two old friends should meet in this odd fashion, edged within earshot. They heard Miss Tyndall say, in fluttered accents:
"Is it really, actually you? Are you quite sure you are not your own twin brother?"
"Thank God, I'm no twin brother nor anybody else but myself," devoutly exclaimed the skipper. "Bless my stars, how did you happen? Where do you hail from and whither bound?"
"I was on my way from Mr. Underwood's island estate off the coast yonder. My intention was to reach the mainland and take a train to Boston. But the motor-boat broke down."
"But you haven't returned from Europe, my dear woman."
"My cousin, Mrs, Underwood, died very suddenly in France," she explained. "And her husband brought home the little girl, Dorothea, and opened his place on the island. The child is delicate, the shock affected her seriously, and the physicians advised this bracing air. But you, Captain Dorland——"
"I am in command of the coasting schooner, Caroline B. of St. John."
He spoke with simple dignity and perfect poise, master of himself and the circumstances. Reminded of her plight he went on to say:
"You wish to be set ashore to continue the journey? With this off-shore breeze I'm afraid I can't fetch much nearer than Boothbay Harbor."
The man in charge of the launch stepped forward to assure him:
"That will suit me, sir. I can make repairs in Boothbay and go back to-morrow under my own power. It's very kind of you."
"Then ease off and keep her sou'-sou'-west," the skipper told the mate. "Now, Miss Tyndall, will you come below and let me try to make you comfortable while we spin our yarns? The cook will fetch tea and a bit to eat, presently."
They vanished into the cabin and the mate, who had left a sweetheart in St. John, sagaciously observed to the mainmast:
"If it isn't an old-folks' courtin'-match that we've crossed the hawse of, then you can call me seven kinds of a liar. Their faces were just shining."
Miss Amelia Tyndall dropped wearily into the armchair at the desk. For a spinster of her age the episode of the drifting launch had been excessively trying. She could not understand why, but as she looked at the captain and then at the pleasant room with its sense of simple homeliness, tears filled her eyes. He let her rest in silence for a few minutes before he gently began:
"I wanted you to think me a grand man, commanding a big ship. I put my best foot forward to win your favor. I am sorry I deceived you. It was my last voyage and I knew it. And I was due to be chucked ashore, stranded, finished."
"You were not guilty of false pretences, Captain Dorland. It must not make you unhappy. I—I admired you—not because of your ship——"
"And now you find me in this little schooner, earning my daily bread—doesn't it make a difference?" eagerly exclaimed the mariner.
"Why should it?" she asked with engaging sweetness. "I see no difference in you. Isn't it the finer thing to bear adversity with pride and fortitude? But you must hear my confession now. I deceived you. I am only a poor relation, nobody at all. While my cousin, Mrs. Underwood, was living, she gave me a home, and clothes—and I made myself useful. Her husband is a hard, unfeeling man. He sent me away—told me yesterday—I was too old. He wanted a younger woman with Borothea now that her mother is gone."
The distressing tidings brought no gloom to Captain Dorland.
"What do you expect to do with yourself?" he blithely inquired.
"What can a poor relation do when she has worn her welcome out? I shall try to find work of some kind," was the brave answer.
A moment later Miss Amelia Tyndall discovered that she was standing close to Captain Edward Dorland. He was patting her cheek with his hard, brown hand. His white mustache brushed her lips and she was not indignant. She heard him say:
"So you and I are in the same boat, my dear. Dismissed on account of old age. Are you willing to stay in the same boat with me, and call this schooner home—our home?"
"Nothing in this whole wide world could make me so happy," she murmured, radiant and content.
In the firm tones of one accustomed to command, he announced:
"You will stay aboard for the run to Boston, Amelia. It is perfectly proper for such superannuated lovers. You will have my quarters all to yourself. Then we shall have a wedding, as soon as I can get a boat ashore. And our honeymoon voyage will be back to St. John. And there will be dear, kind friends to welcome you, friends who have made this wonderful thing possible. It has all come true at last, all that I dreamed of when I was young."