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About The Hesperian / (Lincoln, Neb.) 1885-1899 | View Entire Issue (April 11, 1896)
Captain Dennis' cheerful whistle yet
yet sounded as lie "turned in" to his broad
hammock. It was his fancy to sleep in a
hammock, a good fancy, ho said, that gavo
him a cruise every night and made him con
tent to stay on land evory day. But tonight
ho did not have a happy voyago. From
stormy seas ho reached a stormior port,
waking with a start, from a crazy dream in
which ho had boon captured by South Sea
Ialandors, and bound hand and foot to the
earth, while a tall savage danced "Yankee
.Doodle" on his aching arm.
Ho told Lucy, at breakfast, that ho would
take his cruise in a now craft hereafter.
Lucy poured out a clear, hot amber stream
into his cup. It was a dainty cup. There
was only one more liko it this side the water
so the captain said: that was Lucy's. Ho
had picked them up in somo odd corner of
the world ho had never told anyone where
but Lucy. They were very white and clear,
witn a delicate tracery of greon, a long spray
running round half way up to the rim. Lucy
filled the cup just past the edge of the green
uYo8," she said smiling, "You will have
to sail as I do, now." Then she stopped.
But the captain, watching her day after
day, tried to whistle away the voice that
was telling him, louder and loudor, 4iYou
will have to sail with Lucy, now.'
And ho looked hard at the great chair by
the sunny south window where Lucy was
always asking him to sit and read to her.
His laugh sounded merrily as ho reached
his awkward left hand for his tea-cup. His
good right arm must be put away liko the
old hammock. Ho could not use it any
more. And Lucy smiled. But she was look
ing at the fingers that hold the white cup.
Was it her nervous fancy, or did the loft
hand shake slightly. The captain knew.
He had felt it creeping closer. His tales
wore longer and jollier than over, and his
whistle did not tremble. But his face grew
dark when he was alono, and ho said to him
self, "It's all the time, all the time. Only
so much as an ant's foot goes, but I never
got it back."
But on Thanksgiving day tho captain al
ways "colobratod." The evening had always
tho same ending the stories and the "South
Soa Island jig." It made him feel like him
self, ho said. Even when ho had come to
sit all day in the wide chair, ho would start
with a Hush in his face when the clock struck
cloven and, springing from his seat, chal
lenge Martha to equal his time. Martha
always said sho was too old and sriff. And
the captain answered, sometimes, that it was
harder to keep still than to dance all the
It was a gloomy Thanksgiving on which
Lucy must first feed him at tho table. It
had long boon her task, but ho had kept it a
part of the Thanksgiving celebration to do
this himsolf. And John and Martha had
protended not to see how ho spilled his tea
and dropped his cranberry jelly on the
pickles. Tho South Sea Island jig made all
tho spectators laugh that evening till their
handkerchiefs went to their eyes.
It is evening. Lucy sits beside the cap
tain's chair and reads to him. It had seem
ed to him that ho would bo cutting his last
shore lino, if he must give up his reading.
Sitting in his arm chair, his book and papers
before him, ho sailed long cruises and visit
ed the old ports again. He could not give
it up, and he steadied his shaking hands, and
held his papers with a grasp that slowly,
slowly failed, until one day Lucy gently
took them away. She knelt down before
him and put her hands on his knee, and
placed his trembling fingers on her brown
hair. It was not long until sho must lift
those fingers, soft and white, wherever the
captain's quiet voice told her. Only Lucy
can clearly distinguish all his words, now.
And the captain does not hear all that she
is reading. He is beginning to lose even
her voice out of the narrow, darkening space '
that closes slowly, slowly about him.
He sits in his chair and sees, through, the
shadows, a tall, leafless, towering, tree
against a crimson sky.
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