To the Bitter End
by Richard Matthews Hallet
The feud between Hat Tyler and Mrs. Elmer Higgins sprang out of a chance laugh of Elmer’s when he was making his first trip as cadet. Hat Tyler was a sea captain, and of a formidable type. She was master of the Susie P. Oliver, and her husband, Tyler, was mate. They were bound for New York with a load of paving stones when they collided with the coasting steamer Alfred de Vigny, in which Elmer was serving his apprenticeship as a cadet officer.
The old cadet had just come up on the bridge from taking a sounding—he even had a specimen of the bottom in his hand, he said later, sand with black specks and broken shell—when something queer attracted his attention half a point on the starboard bow. It was a thick foggy night, ships bellowing all round, and a weird-looking tow coming up astern with a string of lights one over another like a lot of Chinese lanterns. It was probably these lights that had drawn the mate’s attention away from the ship’s bows.
At all events he was standing with a megaphone to his ear hearkening for noises on the port hand when Elmer took him by the elbow and called out: “What in the name of Sam Hill would you call that great contraption mouching across our bows? My sorrows, Fred, it’s a schooner!”
The mate went cold along his spine, and the vertebræ distributed there jostled together like knucklebones on the back of a girl’s hand, and he yelled “Port helm!”
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