Flanagan and His Short Filibustering Adventure
by Stephen Crane
"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
Thereupon the warrior removed sadly, feeling that no salaams were paid
to valour in these days of mechanical excellence.
Valour, 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 from
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 credulous furniture.
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 axe, 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 over-turning 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, this pride.
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
law, soap, medicine, and bananas. It was a great pity
that the little cote of doves in Washington were 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
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 sea-faring 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 go?"
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
"Glory?" said the attorney at last.
"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 the deck.
This steamer had about her a quality of unholy mediŠval disrepair,
which is usually accounted the principal prerogative of the United
States Revenue Marine. There is many a seaworthy ice-house if she were
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 neighbour 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
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 any one 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 grey moustache, 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 captain.
"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
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 stoke-room.
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
north-east, and the steamer, headed south-east, 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
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 towardsthe shore. The captain was on the
bridge. "Four flashes at intervals of one minute," he said to himself,
gazing steadfastly towards 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 colour the crests of the inriding waves.
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 himself.
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 searchlight 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 grey 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 men call the
north-east. When the strong winds come from that direction they kick
up a turmoil that is not good for a Foundling stuffed with coals
and war-stores. In the gale which came, this ship was no more than a
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 sea-sick. And in truth they were sea-sick. 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 south-east, 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 floundered 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. "Hell!"
said he to himself, and the word was more in amazement than in
indignation or sorrow. "Thirty-nine sea-sick 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
sea-sick, 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
A third stoker was providently enraged at the scene, and assailed the
second stoker. They fought for some moments, while the sea-sick Cubans
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 on the shins.
When the second engineer came to separating 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 see?"
"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 them now?"
"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 on
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 waters.
"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 them.
"Well?" said the captain.
"All right," said the leader.
At the giving of the word it was not apparent that any one on board
of the Foundling had ever been sea-sick. 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-hold the firemen fidgeted silently around the
On the bridge Flanagan reflected. "Oh, I don't know!" he observed.
"This filibustering business isn't so bad. Pretty soon it'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," he said.
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, sir."
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
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 from the west'ard, sir." 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 fast, sir."
The Cuban leader came anxiously to the captain. "Do you think we can
save all the cargo? It is rather delicate business. No?"
"Go ahead," said Flanagan. "Fire away! I'll wait."
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 all the boats," said the captain. "That fellow is too
close." As the second boat came aboard, 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
Suddenly the light in the west vanished. "Hum!" said Flanagan, "he's
up to some meanness." Every one outside of the engine-rooms was set
on watch. The Foundling, going at full speed into the north-east,
slashed a wonderful trail of blue silver on the dark bosom of the sea.
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 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 bite 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 into 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
"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 pilothouse 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 everybody discovered that the old basket
was heading straight for the Spanish gun-boat. The ship lunged forward
like a draught-horse on the gallop.
This strange manoeuvre by the Foundling first dealt consternation
on board of the Foundling. Men instinctively crouched on the instant,
and then swore their supreme oath, which was unheard by their own ears.
Later the manoeuvre 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 northwards.
The captain went to his berth chuckling. "There, by God!" he said.
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 swiftly.
"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
The sky in the north-east was of a dull brick-red in tone, shaded here
and there by black masses that billowed out in some fashion from the
"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 colour 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 enough."
"Hell!" said the beaming Flanagan.
The steamer crawled on into the north-west. 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-shute, whistled softly to himself. Slowly, heavily,
the Foundling arose to meet another sea.
At night waves thundered mightily on the bows of the steamer, and water
lit with the beautiful phosphorescent glamour went boiling and howling
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 conditions.
The engineer shook his head dejectedly. "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 just do what I tell you, and no harm will come to anybody."
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 towards you.
"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."
Afterwards Flanagan turned to the chief engineer. "We can never beach,"
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-blow.
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. 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 grey 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 of landslides. The terrified machinery was making
But Flanagan took control of himself suddenly. 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 two bobbing
boats paused to witness this quiet death. It was a slow manoeuvre,
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 hand on
the gunwale. He sobbed for a time, and then he sobbed and swore also.
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 court-yard splashed softly, and couple after couple
paraded through the aisles of palms, where lamps with red shades threw
a rose light upon the gleaming leaves. The band played its waltzes
slumberously, and its music came faintly to the people among the palms.
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 not."
At last, however, a youth came violently from the beach. He was
triumphant in manner. "They're out there," he cried. "A whole
boat-load!" He received eager attention, and he told all that he
supposed. His news destroyed the dance. After a time the band was
playing beautifully to space. The guests had hurried to the beach. One
little girl cried, "Oh, mamma, may I go too?" Being refused permission
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 the opportunity to draw
the cloaks closer.
"Oh, dear!" said a girl; "supposin' they were out there drowning while
we were dancing!"
"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