Help via Ko-Fi

Henery's Literary Success

by J. W. Muller

THE Flying Squid lay in harbor. She had been doing it too long. The masters of prowling harbor craft had fallen mechanically into the habit of saluting with the friendliness of old neighbors. Henry had made himself hopelessly unpopular with his superior officers by entirely unnecessary discoveries as to the growth of sea-weed on the schooner's sides. The mental barometric pressure of Captain Julius Moses was low. He looked with a gloomy eye at the log wherein Mr. William Bowsun set forth continually and faithfully, with no attempt to disguise a great truth by puerile variety of wording: "Frates scares. So ends this day."

"Frates" were "scares" because business was "scares." Business was "scares" because the ant-heap of Uncle Sams and John Bulls and Jean Crapauds and John Chinos was at one of its chronic stages when each monomaniac ant had labored frantically at carrying rubbish into the hill till no ant wanted anything that any other ant had.

The ant that made shoes had made more shoes than there were feet. The ant that made combs had underestimated entirely the preponderating majority of bald-headed ants. The iron-mongering ant had produced more frying-pans than there were omelets. Even the financier ant had attained the feat of producing more stock certificates than there were fools.

That sort of thing is known by the human ants as business depression or financial stringency. Then financiers, who have worked on the simple ethics that sufficient for the day is to skin through it, fail to skin through and their golden hides are hung up as trophies by wiser financiers. Banks discover with ever-fresh amazement that when depositors stop bringing money, there is no money; and they count their securities and find them insecurities. Then the Flying Squid and other engines of human commerce sit idle. And the engineers of the engines have time to listen to words of wisdom.

Captain Julius Moses of the Flying Squid read everything that was printed, undismayed by the amount of it, hoping to get a great light on why "frates" were "scares." Unfortunately, financial experts and newspapers use the occult form of speech so justly popular with persons who write sonnets. Furthermore, it was discouraging, when he found an excellent explanation, to pick up the next paper and find an explanation still more excellent but entirely different.

Bill Bowsun shook his ornately carved but somewhat square head disapprovingly when Captain Moses laid before him the anthology of wisdom. "What's that there law of supply and demand, as they're talkin' about?" he grumbled. "Where is it? Here be we, waitin' for freight. We're a demand, ain't we? Why don't that there law bring that there supply o' freight?"

Captain Moses, struck by this clear point of view, pulled his little beard, and considered. "I'll tell you why!" said he, brightening. "Here it is, Bill! This paper says that supply always, in-ex-or-ably, follows demand—no! That ain't it. Here it is! This other paper, here! It says that demand follows supply. You see now, don't you?"

"Oh, yes, I see! I see!" responded Mr. Bowsun. "It's easy. If the wind didn't blow, the Flying Squid's sails wouldn't be no use, and if the Flying Squid didn't have sails, the blowin' of the wind wouldn't be no use. I know one thing, though. That feller as said that supply only follers demand, he never seen Henery. And I know another thing. That other feller as said demand follers supply, let him tell me why there ain't a demand for fleas."

Captain Moses mused. "It's a deep subject, Bill. It's deep. I can't rightly explain it, but it's got something to do with financial stuff. Listen to this."

Mr. Bowsun's eyes fixed themselves rigidly in the direction of the wide blue skies while Captain Moses read a long article in which a lately talented financier, whose bank had failed, declared that the salvation of the human race depended on an elastic currency. When he concluded, he looked expectantly at the Mate. That large marine vertebrate continued to search the zenith with the earnestness of a zoologist looking for a flock of angels. Captain Moses waited hopefully, knowing from experience that in this attitude Mr. Bowsun often gave birth to a great clear thought.

Slowly the Mate brought his eyes back to earth at last, with a visible effort as of one unscrewing something with main strength. "I wonder," said he, "how long it'd take that feller to get somethin' real off his mind. That ain't a bad idee, though, that there elastic currency—a sort of money, near as I can make out, that can be in our own pants' pockets and in the other feller's at the same time. That feller ought to build a ship that could be in two ports to once. Take my adwice, Cap'n Moses, take my adwice, and don't waste time readin' them sort o' yarns. Them bankers knows even less than them newspapers, and them newspapers knows even less than them bankers. And that," said Mr. Bowsun pausing to reflect long and deeply, "seems almost unpossible, too. But it's so. And the only one as knows less nor both of 'em is the Guv'ment."

Captain Moses sidled off. Mr. Bowsun was prone to become discursive on the subject of the Government. Though he based his reasoning less on wide study than on his personal recollection of an injustice once perpetrated by a constable, he had built up a complete political philosophy on it.

Despite the united thought of newspapers, financiers, governments and the captain of the Flying Squid, the financial stringency and the schooner continued in statu quo. The commander discharged the crew and spent most of his time ashore, searching vainly for a non-existent something that a non-existent somebody might wish to send to a non-existent somewhere. Mr. Bowsun, left aboard, and unable to distract his mind by teaching sailors the way they should go, devoted much thought to Henry. He had daily inspirations as to ship's work. He discovered two tasks where only one had been before. All day long he surrounded Henry with tender solicitude, undeterred by the fact that he was openly ungrateful.

Mr. Bowsun's paternal care was the more distasteful because Henry had laid in a stock of fishing-tackle, in order, as he explained in an incautious moment to Mr. Bowsun, to pass the time away. It harrowed him that Mr. Bowsun relieved him so entirely of the necessity. He lowered his lines surreptitiously, only to find them strangely missing when he went to inspect them. He could not forbear uttering a rebuke.

"Fishin'," said Mr. Bowsun thoughtfully, taking hold of Henry's ear, "fishin' is cruel, Henery, cruel. You don't ketch no fish and you mess up the deck with bait. It's cruel."

"You're awful kind-hearted all at once!" squealed Henry. "How about bein' cruel to me?"

"Ah, Henery," replied Mr. Bowsun with a kindly smile, "that's different. Nobody as has your interests at heart should be afraid of any amount of croolty to make a man out o' you. A nice thing you'd grow up to be," continued he, feeling absentmindedly for Henry's other ear, "if we didn't bring you up right. Lord, lord! what's a ear compared with a good charikter—or even a dozen ears!"

"Maybe," said Henry viciously, as he fled, "if they was ears like yours, that looks like fenders! But you leave mine alone!" The incident made excessive tension in an already strained situation, and it was a real relief to Mr. Bowsun when Captain Moses came on board. In the midst of his immediately subsequent sufferings, Henry comforted himself slightly with the reflection that it was two against one, and when his course of instruction in discipline was finished, he fled below to plan darkly.

At first his offended thoughts revolved only vast and tragic vengeances, such as had been wreaked by his most pleasing heroes amid the applause of nations; but his cooler mind remembered that he had to consider not only the deserts of Captain Moses and Bill Bowsun, but the important interests of another person, that person being named Henry Moses.

These considerations brought a nobler purpose in their train. He would slip away without a word of farewell, vanish without a word of reproach. His heart almost lost its bitterness when he pictured the awakening, upbraiding consciences of the erring men. He thought, with something akin to a great compassion, how they would yield to horror when they missed him in the morning, and how passionately their grief would increase when they found that they had to get their own breakfast.

Henry had a stern temperament; yet he felt an unwonted tenderness for the two mariners, sleeping in calm unconsciousness of the blow that was about to fall. "Snore away! Snore away!" he muttered, as he tiptoed around, gathering his possessions. "Snore away! You'll snore different when you wake up!"

It did not require many minutes for him to pack. Henry was of a large reasonableness as to the requirements of the toilet. A scarlet necktie, a shirt, a comb and four of his latest learner's hand-books on piracy sufficed him. Light in baggage and mind he crept to the deck and gained the wharf. He paused just long enough to shake a fist at the schooner. Then the form of a dauntless youth, evidently one accustomed to danger and privation, might have been seen swinging from the deserted waterside toward the beating heart of the great city.


ON THE third evening thereafter, the form of a youth, evidently one who had been through dangers and privations, might have been seen wandering at random through the beating heart of the great city. Henry Moses had found the great city to be only a Flying Squid on a large and dirty scale, full of Bill Bowsuns, harboring an invincible ignorance and an obstinate animosity against talent. He had offered his services in almost every branch of human endeavor, and they had been declined with almost breathless haste. The only thing for which the beating heart of the city beat at all warmly was his money.

Henry's eye, gazing misanthropically at the abodes of avarice, was arrested by a brilliantly lighted entrance into which many people were crowding. On a placard alongside he saw the words "Admission Free." He made his way in at once, without troubling himself to scan the less important remarks that followed, announcing that Miss Alma Grool would deliver an address on the "Wrongs of Civilization."

Miss Alma Grool was a devoted righter of wrongs. She was an anti-militarist, a dress-reformer, an anti-vivisectionist, a prohibitionist, a mothers' helper, an anticremationist, a hydropath, an Ibsenist, a Socialist, an anti-X-rayist and a vegetarian. She upheld the Baconian theory of Shakespeare and the righteousness of a tax on dogs. She was a spiritualist and a spelling reformer. She opposed the germ theory of disease and the nude in art.

Miss Grool was a flattish lady. Except in breadth and thickness, her tall form was a convincing refutation of the geometrical maxim that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. She was so entirely modem that she referred to last year as the superstitious past. She always carried an umbrella.

As in all other professions, the financial stringency had caused a business depression in the righting of wrongs. Persons who had been lavishing money cheerfully to enable her to fight race-suicide or vaccination discovered suddenly that in finance "investing" and "divesting" are synonymous terms. Miss Grool found herself forced to add some new wrongs to her repertoire, and her lecture on the "Wrongs of Civilization" was to launch them. Her placard, which stated that admission was free, did not mention that a collection would be taken up inside after the lecture. Many previous experiences had told her that persons who have wrongs are willing to pay attention, but not money.

Henry was incensed when he discovered what the free admission admitted him to. His first just impulse was to walk out. His second impulse was to take a nap.

A shuffling of feet awakened him from a gratifying dream of Captain Moses and Mr. Bowsun sobbing bitterly in each other's arms on the lonely deck of the Flying Squid.

He perceived without regret that he had slumbered throughout the entire lecture and that the sordid audience was hurrying to escape the collection-box. But Miss Grool had posted collectors at all the exits.

Henry Moses was entirely free from the weakness of liberality. He observed that the collectors were large and disquietingly successful. Glancing around him with the keen eye of the trained navigator, he spied a neglected side-door, hurried through it and discovered too late that it led into a room full of people.

Before he could retreat, he found himself face to face with Miss Alma Grool herself, holding a levee of admirers and fellow-righters. Miss Grool pounced on all strangers who ventured within pouncing distance, and her pouncing distance was kangarooian. She pounced on Henry.

During the next ten minutes he was mentally hove to in a conversational fog from which he emerged to hear his own voice recounting to Miss Grool the sad history of his life. It was not a true history, but it was very interesting. Henry never had read Byron, but he could have done so with the instant appreciation of a kindred soul. He poured forth a simple, artless tale of great wrongs on the seven seas that evoked gratified grief from Miss Grool and her colleagues.

"Poor boy!" said Miss Grool. "I will take up your case! Just let me have the names of the villains!"

Henry's prudence bitted the champing jaws of his Pegasus. The names of the Flying Squid and her commanders were his Secrets of State. He created a captain and mate instantly, and invented a steamship to fit his story, adding hastily that the vessel had sailed to Lisbon.

"Let 'em go!" said he magnanimously. "All I want is to earn a honest living."

"Earning a living is ignoble," pronounced an advanced disciple with baggy trousers and a tightly buttoned frock coat. "Mankind should work, not for a gross living, but an ideal."

"I got to eat," said Henry briefly. "Earthling!" sighed a fat lady in a green dress trimmed with pink.

Miss Grool raised her hand. "Come to my hearth," said she. "Alma Grool will be your friend."

She hurried Henry to her hearth, which was a hearth-less flat, and as soon as she had him safe she produced pen and paper and declared herself ready. Henry gazed at her unsympathetically.

"I—we—can make a splendid series of articles about the wrongs of sailors," said Miss Grool persuasively. "They would advert—" Miss Grool coughed, "help to reform' the ship business. Think of the good you will do!"

Henry's face assumed the cold suspicion of a codfish examining a poorly baited hook and expressed decided disapprobation. Miss Grool, accustomed to angling for philanthropists, much warier fish than codfish, hastily put a new bait on. "There will be some money in it," she hinted.

"I don't want to get in no trouble," said Henry. " I don't want my name to get out, nor I don't want to give the names of the captains and ships that I had trouble with. They might try to get me back, because I run away and so I'm what they call a deserter, at sea."

Miss Grool had not felt the least desire to destroy Henry's value as an asset by giving his name to a wrorld of predatory reporters. She intended to monopolize the wrongs of sailors herself. She assented graciously to the young mariner's conditions.

The newspapers viewed Miss Grool as a precious utility. They used her impartially as a subject for attack and cartoon, or as a valued contributor, according to the fitful fever of their circulation. Her offer of a series of articles about the wrongs of sailors was seized eagerly by a newspaper that had the largest circulation on earth, but was hard beset by others that had it also.

When Henry saw the first article, illustrated with intrepid fancy and crowned with volcanic ranges of head-line type, his artistic soul responded to the call. He thrilled Miss Grool with tales of cruelty and crime. Vengeance inspired him where imagination faltered; and though he invented ever new characters and ships, he impressed on each of his sea-villains some noteworthy and treasured characteristic of Captain Julius Moses or Mr. William Bowsun.


THOSE two, ignorant of treachery, had spent harrowing days seeking the lost. They searched public institutions, not neglecting even an old ladies, home and the colored orphan asylum, while Mr. Bowsun showed especial enthusiasm about madhouses. Finally, in an ill-starred moment, they had offered rewards in all the papers, and thereafter their lives were blighted, day and night, by the clamorous arrival of small boys, dragged to the Flying Squid by hopeful captors, who insisted indignantly on being paid for their trouble, while the furious youths expressed themselves in terse, pointed words.

After five long days full of trouble they rested on the Flying Squid during a blessed interval that was unbroken, temporarily, by the arrival of new boys. Captain Moses, idly scanning a newspaper, spoke pathetically of Henry, calling to mind many shining qualities that he had overlooked in the days of the past. Even Mr. Bowsun stifled within himself the still, small voice of candor, and ventured on the cautious statement that Henry probably meant well.

Suddenly Captain Moses stared hard at a headline. His mouth opened. "Bill!" said he, and gulped. "Bill! Listen to this! Here's something about ships. It's written by a chap, no—I guess it's a she—named Grool, and he—she says that the facts are from a young sailor. It's about cruelty at sea."

"Rubbish!" growled Mr. Bowsun. "What does people as write and print know about the sea?"

"Yes, but," said Captain Moses, "hear this!" His voice rose passionately as he read a few paragraphs that had a strange effect on Mr. Bowsun. "It's a lie!" roared he. "Let me see that there paper!"

"It don't mention your name," answered Captain Moses.

"You let me see!" bellowed Mr. Bowsun. Captain Moses had been reading some succeeding lines, and seemed suddenly reluctant. Mr. Bowsun snatched the paper and plodded slowly down the column. "Why, here's something about you, too!" he remarked. Ignoring his superior's outstretched hand, he read with careful clearness: "The cap-tain of the schoo-ner was a lit-tle man with a small brown beard and he spent most of his time—keep-ing his hair combed and his—beard nice—and—trim. He talked soft—and low, but he was a crimin-al at heart. His—mate——"

Mr. Bowsun stopped reading aloud and tried to peruse the rest in modest silence. Captain Moses seized the paper and continued with something faintly like satisfaction: "—was just the opposite in all except wickedness. He used to pull sailors' ears out by the roots. He was very ignorant, and very big and dirty!"

Captain Moses looked up and said lightly: "That's you, Bill!"

"What makes ye think that?" demanded Mr. Bowsun.

Captain Moses coughed. He leaped hastily to the next paragraph, reading a description of the vessel that fitted the Flying Squid too well to be denied. The two looked at each other and said with one voice: "Henry!"

Half an hour later they were in the office of the newspaper, striving to express themselves in fitting terms. A smiling editor listened with kindly toleration. "I don't know who you are," he comforted them, when they had exhausted themselves temporarily, "but I don't see what grievance you have. We didn't mention any names, you know. Now, for instance, did you ever pull a sailor's ear out?"

"No!" roared Mr. Bowsun. "It's a lie!"

"Or did you knock a man overboard with a punch from a binnacle or a hawse-pipe or whatever it was?" continued the affable editor.

"No! It's all lies, lies from beginning to end!" declared Captain Moses, breathing hard.

"There you are, then!" said the journalist. "If you want to claim that this article means you, why just say so, and we'll send for the police and you can settle it in court. And if you didn't do these things, like making a poor boy polish brass-work till he got bright green all over from blood-poisoning, why, then, this article doesn't mean you, and I wouldn't let it annoy me, you know."

"Annoy us!" gasped Mr. Bowsun. "Don't you tell me I'm annoyed! Annoyed! Why, that's a insult!"

"Come away, Bill, come away," exclaimed Captain Moses with somber dignity. "We'll go to this Miss Gruel and get hold of Henry."

"That's right, gentlemen," said the editor with sudden enthusiasm. "You see her, and if you get away with her, you let me have your pictures and I'll print 'em on the first page!"

Captain Moses and Bill Bowsun earnestly implored the editor to make a certain journey. Then they tracked Miss Grool's address to its lair in the directory and bearded her in her den. As they entered the den they felt sure that they spied the manly form of Henry Moses vanishing into a rear den; but all their indignation was unavailing to extract anything from Miss Grool. At last Mr. Bowsun's precariously sustained patience gave way and he burst forth wistfully, "I wish you was a man!"

"Don't let that interfere!" replied Miss Grool politely. "I'm equal to any man."

"Equal to any man!" repeated Mr. Bowsun, backing to the door as if he were choking for fresh air; "equal to any man! Miss Porridge, leastwise Puddin', you're equal to a whole ship's crew o' men, and them the most aggrawatin' kind!"

As the door closed behind them, their alert ears heard a faint snigger that was the unmistakable snigger of Henry Moses.

"Wait till we get hold on him!" announced Bill Bowsun. "Let's hurry to the police!"

"And get our names in the paper?" inquired Captain Moses. "It'd ruin us, and what could we do? Let him alone for a while and we'll think up something. For the time being, he's safe, that's one comfort. I've been real worried about Henry, Bill."

"Me, I'm worried a whole lot more about him now," responded Mr. Bowsun malevolently.


DURING the next days Henry's fancy made increasing flights, and the articles pictured so many utterly lost villains, with so many distinctly personal attributes of Captain Moses and his Mate, that self-respect forbade them from reading newspapers in each other's presence.

In privacy, however, they read every line of Miss Grool's articles until at last Mr. Bowsun began to have grave fears that he would lose his mind.

About this time, Henry, emerging from the apartment house for recreation after his literary labors, dodged back only just in time to escape the grip of two immense hairy hands.

He escaped to the flat and peered from the window to see the immense and hairy owner of the hands waiting patiently below, with his eyes fixed on the door. An hour later the avenging Mr. Bowsun was waiting still. Dusk came, and Mr. Bowsun was immovable, a fixed part of the municipal scenery, waiting with the implacable patience of a heart that treasures up a wrong.

Henry's mind, dwelling on the waiting avenger, lacked its wonted spring that evening when Miss Grool sat down to continue the sad story of his young life. His flow of invention ceased spasmodically. He refrained from telling her about the vigil below; but she discovered it herself when she happened to glance from the window.

"That's the man that came to see me with another man—a little one," she said. "I wonder what he's doing here."

"He's been hangin' around for a couple of days," said Henry, instantly awake to opportunity. " Maybe he's mad on account of the things you're writing."

"They were angry, those two," reflected Miss Grool aloud. "That's true—so angry they didn't even tell me who they were. I wonder whether he means harm."

Henry shook his head gravely, as one who does not know but fears the worst. Miss Grool was not a timid creature; but when an hour passed and Mr. Bowsun still remained at anchor in the offing, she called up the police on the telephone.

Mr. Bowsun's first intimation of disturbance came from behind, in the form of a club applied smartly to his legs with the injunction to move on. Mr. Bowsun obeyed instantly, but too literally. He moved on the policeman.

The city census was in imminent danger of being reduced by one, when a second policeman arrived. Mr. Bowsun explained hurriedly that it would take at least three to arrest him. Bill Bowsun's mental arithmetic was poor. It required five; and each of the five thought that the prisoner was a freak of nature with oaken mauls for hands.

Bill Bowsun himself needed repairs, but his wrath was so much greater than his pain that he succeeded in climbing half way over the desk in the station house in his effort to speak to the police lieutenant when that official demanded his name. Altogether he behaved so impatiently that at last the entire police garrison became vexed and deposited him in a cell without insisting on the ceremony of recording his pedigree.

A night in cool solitude restored Mr. Bowsun's mind to its normal lucidity. When he was haled forth in the morning, he gave his name as John Smith, landsman, a deep device to keep his identity secret from a prying Government. Later in the tragic day he had to listen to a police court justice who spoke with extraordinary freedom; and then, outwardly a dead calm but inwardly a hurricane, he hoisted from his hold a roll of cherished bills and paid a fine that left him financially dismasted.

Captain Moses had spent a grievous night searching for his Mate and partner. It was a moral mustard on the raw surface of his anguish when he beheld Mr. Bowsun's dismantled condition and heard his story. United by a great passion, they conversed brokenly of the great disasters that they longed to purvey to Miss Grool and to Henry.

It was a merciful thought of an otherwise thoughtless Providence that sent them something to change their train of reflections. Providence's agent had a dark, richly-colored face of mahogany, and bow legs. In hull he was modeled like Mr. Bowsun, with a broad, bluff bow and immense beam and counter. But he had a merry eye that rolled with gleeful recollection of jokes past and with gleeful anticipation of jokes to come, whereas Mr. Bowsun's fine eye looked fixedly into gloom.

"Ship ahoy!" roared he, rolling to the gangway. "This is the A. B. Hawser, Master, retired. Tumble up, ye lubbers, tumble up!"

Captain Moses and Mr. Bowsun tumbled up and led their guest into the cabin where Captain Moses produced a bottle and glasses. "No, thank you," said Hawser, Master, firmly. He held out his glass and looked at it with surprise when he found that Captain Moses had poured liquor into it. With a sigh he drank it off, and settled himself to listen while Captain Moses and Mr. Bowsun told him the tale of their griefs.

At certain passionate scenes he shook with feeling that he tried to suppress. He shook for a decidedly long period after they had concluded.

"Well, well!" said he. "Funny how—no, never mind. Drop Henry for a while, and let's get down to business. I've got a cargo for ye, shipmates—not common cargo, either. Freight and passengers, and me—I'll go along. I'm going along as a matter of business, but," and he shook again and slapped Bill Bowsun joyfully on the back, "ding me! I'd go along even if I had to pay my passage, just to—to see something."

"What's the something?" inquired Mr. Bowsun, viewing Mr. Hawser pessimistically.

"Your face, Bill, when you see the passengers!" roared Mr. Hawser, slapping Mr Bowsun's back with a stroke like a deckhatch falling.

The Mate' edged away. He and Captain Moses looked questioningly at their merry friend, retired. He, however, seemed suddenly far away. He was sitting in deep reflection, his eye fixed thoughtfully at his empty glass.

Captain Moses reached for the bottle. "Fill it up good, Cap'n Moses," said Mr. Bowsun with solicitous hospitality, "fill it up good, so's Cap'n Hawser won't have to pass his glass so of'en."

Captain Hawser drained the glass. He smacked his lips. He drew forth a handkerchief not quite half as large as a mainsail and wiped his mouth. Then a sudden thought appeared to strike him. "What did you mean by that remark just now, Bill?" he demanded.

"Mean?" asked Bill. "Mean? Why, Cap'n Hawser, I only meant to give ye rum as fast as you can drink it. Leastways," concluded Bill, warned by Captain Hawser's disapproving glance that something was wrong, "leastways, of course, not as fast as that! As fast as we could give it ye, don't ye see?"

"What Bill meant, Cap'n Hawser," interposed Captain Moses helpfully, "was that no matter how much rum you—no, he didn't mean that neither, of course! Here! Hold out your glass and I'll show you what he meant."

"No, thank ye!" answered Captain Hawser stubbornly. He held out his glass and cried "Hold! Enough!" at frequent intervals till the law of liquids prevented the glass from holding any more.

"Now," said he, after testing the liquor carefully, "now that Bill has explained what he meant by saying something that might have meant something different, I'll tell ye about this cargo and you can say if ye want it or not. But I guess you want it. Why, Cap'n Gaffers, that sails the Cockatoo steamer, he told me yesterday that freights was that scarce that he'd take a cargo of artesian wells if he could get it."

"The Cockatoo," said Bill, "don't look as if she could carry anything much heavier."

"Well," continued Captain Hawser, "the Cockatoo won't get this cargo, anyway. Now, these passengers, they're not common passengers. They're worse. Yes, sir, they're worse. They're the finest lot of assorted chandlery in the way of cranks that ever came together in any place excepting a lunatic asylum. Why, some of 'em, Bill, are worse cranks than even you! Each one of 'em believes in a different kind of crankery, all his own, and the only thing they ever managed to agree on was this trip.

"They're going down to the Antilles where the head-crank owns an island, and they're going to start a colony there and invite all the cranks that it'll hold to come down and live there when they've fixed things up. And they've hired me to fit 'em out and be a sort of a nurse to 'em till they get settled, and I'm hiring you to take the happy family and their stuff down there, Moses, old boy! The head-crank, he's got piles of money. It'll pay you well; but it's hustle, hustle, hustle, shipmates! Ship a crew, haul down the bay and anchor, and I'll be sending the freight all aboard by day after to-morrow."

Captain Moses nodded, brought pen and ink, and they drew up the papers. Then A. B. Hawser, Master, retired, looked long and earnestly at Bill Bowsun, slapped his back before Mr. Bowsun could dodge, and escaped to the deck.


THE days that followed were so full of labor that neither Captain or Mate of the Flying Squid had time to brood over the malicious articles that continued to flow from the brain of Henry Moses and the pen of Alma Grool; but whenever opportunity offered they cheered each other with gorgeous word-pictures of their intentions if they ever got hold of the erring youth.

At last the holds were filled with the provisions, clothing, implements, seeds, books, portable houses, typewriters and printing presses destined for the colony. "Now for them passengers," said Mr. Bowsun. "The sooner we get 'em aboard, the sooner we'll get rid on 'em again."

"That's not the right spirit, Bill," Captain Hawser rebuked him. "It's a bad spirit, and un-Christian. You won't get any improvement out of the v'yage if you look at it in that way, Bill. And I was hoping that the passengers would do you a lot of good. There's the lady I was telling you about, Bill, that eats everything raw. See what the Flying Squid would save if you and Cap'n Moses and the crew would only be willing to learn. You wouldn't have to carry a cook."

Mr. Bowsun grunted.

"And then there's the boss of the gang, Nutt, that's got a hundred thousand million dollars or so," continued Captain Hawser cheerily. "You make friends wuth him, Bill, and he'll never get tired telling you how fine it is to be poor. Take that man around, Moses, and introduce him to your crew, and they'll refuse to take any wages, see if they don't."

"Yes?" growled Bill. "Then why don't he give his money away?"

"Ah!" responded Captain Hawser. "There you go again! You know what I told you, Bill. He says money is such a curse that he wouldn't think of passing it on."

"Well," said Bill morosely, "let him stay away from me! If he don't, I'll curse him, and not with money, neither."

In this unsympathetic mood, Mr. Bowsun and Captain Moses paid only formal attention to the passengers when Captain Hawser brought them alongside in a tug about dusk. Their appearance justified Mr. Bowsun's gloomiest prognostications. They were only few in number: but they filled the Flying Squid with shrill sounds and obtrusive personality, and within five minutes they had succeeded in sitting or standing on every cable and rope that Mr. Bowsun's men were trying to haul.

He wiped his brow with his sleeve and rushed frantically at a lady in smoked glasses who was reposing in the middle of a loop of the main-sheet. "Scat, miss!" he yelled. "Sheer off the sheet, quick, or you'll be aloft!"

"Think of it!" he growled to Captain Hawser, who helped him pick her up and disentangle her barely in time to save her from a skyward trip, feet first. " I told her as plain as could be, and she just stood there, and never tried to move! And that there Nutt! Cap'n Hawser, I'll run aboard him if he don't go below! Listen to him, givin' orders as if he was the skipper!"

Captain Hawser beheld the signs of gathering epic grief in Mr. William Bowsun. With a skill that only chicken-breeders or pig-drovers could have appreciated justly, he gathered his flock and half drove, half led it, below.

"I've got 'em busy settling their belongings, Bill," he reported when he emerged. "Now you get all ready to sail. I got one more run to make ashore for some others that couldn't get ready before this, and I didn't have time to tell 'em the name of the ship or where she was, so I'll have to go and get 'em. We'll be aboard before turn of tide to-night, and the minute we come back you can start."

He reached his broad arm forth fondly and shook Bill from bow to maintop with an affectionate blow on the back.

"I'll eat on deck," said Bill to Captain Moses when the dinner call sounded. " And you'd better do the same."

"It wouldn't be polite to them down there," replied Captain Moses longingly.

"It'd be less polite to go down—leastways so far as I be concerned," announced Mr. Bowsun briefly. "That there Nutt———"

"All right, Bill, all right," answered Captain Moses. "I'll send your dinner up, and I'll eat with 'em—unless, unless, Bill," and he laid his hand in friendly pressure on the Mate's arm, "unless you should need me. You could send me word about five minutes after dinner's served, you know, Bill. I don't want you to have everything to attend to all alone."

"Oh, I won't need you," replied Bill, with a generosity that struck Captain Moses as hypocritical if not heartless. He sighed and pulled his little beard as he went below.

Left to himself, Mr. Bowsun exhorted his crew feverishly and had the Flying Squid ready for sea long before the lights of the returning tug came in sight.

"Ship ahoy!" bellowed the voice of A. B. Hawser, Master, retired. "Lend a hand here!"

He tumbled on deck and rolled to Bill's side. "I want you to meet the passengers, Bill," said he. His arm swung fondly at Mr. Bowsun, but found only empty air, for his friend had side-stepped with unexpected agility. Mr. Hawser clutched him and dragged him to the side. "Here they are, Bill," he whispered, with a strange quiver in his voice. "Here they are!"

The light fell on a form that came over the side from the tug's deck. It was the form of a tall, flattish lady. Behind her, urged by strong arms, came a smaller form that showed signs of a sudden coyness and reluctance. "Don't faint, Bill, don't faint!" shouted Captain Hawser bursting into a glad roar. "Sudden joy sometimes acts that way! " He turned to the side and snatched the small form. "Welcome aboard the Flying Squid!" he said breathlessly. "Miss Grool, Mr. Bowsun. Mr. Bowsun, Mr. Henry Moses!"

But Mr. Bowsun was busy already with Mr. Henry Moses.