Read CHAPTER IV - SNATCHED FROM A FROZEN DEATH of The Boy With the U. S. Life-Savers , free online book, by Francis Rolt-Wheeler, on ReadCentral.com.

“Father! Father! What do you think?” cried Eric, bursting into the sitting room at breakfast one morning, a couple of weeks after his encounter with his young mining friend, “I’m going into the Life-Saving work right away!”

“What’s the excitement?” his father asked, speaking for the rest of the family. “Cool down a bit, my boy, and tell us all about it.”

“I’ve I’ve just got a letter from the Captain Commandant,” replied Eric, fairly stuttering in his haste to tell the good news, “and he says I can enlist in one of the lake stations until the close of navigation. I’ll get some real practical training that way, he says, and then I can take up prep. work for the Academy all winter.”

In view of the fact that there had been considerable correspondence between the ruling head of the Coast Guard and Mr. Swift, the old inspector was less surprised than the boy expected. Not for the world would the lad’s father have let him think that there had been any consultation about this plan. He wanted the boy to have the sense of being “on his own”!

“I remember now,” he said, “you said something about writing along that line a couple of weeks ago.”

“I did write, Father, I did want so awfully to get a chance. But I hardly believed that they’d actually let me do it.”

“I don’t see why they wouldn’t. After all you told me about your swimming, they ought to have made a special bid for you,” he added smiling.

“You don’t mind my going, do you?”

“I’m perfectly willing, my boy,” his father said. “I’m sufficiently on to your curves, Eric, to know that it isn’t much use trying to pin you down to books while there are a few weeks of summer left. You’ll be out of mischief at a Coast Guard station, that’s one sure thing. I think I’ll take you out to meet old Icchia, the veteran of the Lakes. He holds the record for one of the most sensational rescues in the history of the service. I’ve often heard your Uncle Jim tell the story, but I won’t spoil the yarn for you by telling it myself, I’ll let Icchia do that.”

“When can we go to see him, Father?”

The old inspector smiled at his son’s enthusiasm.

“It happens that I’ve got to start off on an inspection trip to-morrow, which will take me away for a week or so,” he answered, “so, if you have no other plans, we might go to-day.”

“I’ll get ready now!” cried Eric, jumping up from the table.

“You’ll do nothing of the kind,” his father said rebukingly, while his mother smiled at the boy’s impetuosity, “we won’t go until after lunch, that is if you can wait so long!”

“All right, but isn’t it bully!” and, unable to contain himself, Eric launched into a panegyric of the Life-Saving Service, most of the history of which he knew by heart.

The lad’s excitement increased tenfold when, that afternoon, they approached the little cottage of the old keeper. It was right on the seashore in an outlying suburb looking out over the peaceful stretch of Lake St. Clair.

“Mr. Icchia,” said the old inspector, after greetings had been exchanged, “my boy here is going to join one of the lake stations and, to give him an idea of what the service can do, I want you to tell him the story of that night off Chocolay Island.”

“It’s a deal like beatin’ a big drum,” began the old keeper in a quavering voice, “to bid an ol’ fellow like me tell of his own doin’s!”

“But you’re not doing it to show off,” Mr. Swift said, “I wouldn’t ask you to do that. It’s because I know you think a good deal of the Service that I wanted my boy to meet you, and to hear a real story of life-saving told by one of the men who was in it.”

“It wasn’t so much at that ” the old man began. But the lighthouse inspector interrupted.

“Spin the yarn, Icchia,” he said, “it’s a poor trick to make a lot of excuses! Besides, it spoils the story.”

Now the old keeper had a firm belief in his own value as a story-teller and it piqued his pride to have it thought that he was spoiling a good yarn, so without further preamble he began.

“I don’ know what the world is comin’ to,” he said, after he had filled his pipe and lit it, “but there’s no sech winters to-day as there was in my young days. I kin remember, when I wasn’t no older’n that bub there, there was more snow in one winter ‘n we have in five, now; an’ Lake Huron was always friz up. Life-savin’ was a lot harder in them days, ye’d better believe me, an’ not only in the winter but all year round.”

“Why?” asked the boy.

“There wasn’t no sech lights then as there is now, for one thing, an’ a skipper had to keep his eyes peeled an’ his lead goin’. An’, for ’nother thing, in the days I’m talkin’ of, they was mostly all sailin’ craft. Now I’m not sayin’ nothin’ in favor of steamers I was raised on an ol’-time clipper. I will say that when a gale ain’t too bad, a steamer kin handle herself more easy-like ‘n a sailin’ craft, when there ain’t but a little seaway. But when she’s blowin’ good an’ strong, an’ the gale’s got more heft ’n a steamer’s screws, what use is her machines to her?”

“Not much,” said the boy.

“Ye’re sayin’ it,” the old keeper continued. “An’ in the ol’ days, when steamers first run on the Lakes, they weren’t no such boats as ye see now. Our worst wrecks in them days were the steamers. This one, that your pappy wants me to tell ye ‘bout, was a steamer an’ a three-masted fore-an’-after she had in tow.

“This yarn I’m a spinnin’ reely begins down at Marquette Breakwater. It was on the seventeenth day of November, an’, let me see, it must have been in ’eighty-six, the same year my youngest was born. The winter had broke in early that year, not with any reel stormy weather, but jest a bunch o’ pesky squalls. An’ cold! We was in the boat mighty near every day, an’ I used ter forget what bein’ warm felt like. There was allers somethin’ hittin’ a shoal or tryin’ to make a hole in the beach. It was squally an’ shiftin’, ye see. An’ the mush-ice set in early.”

“What’s mush-ice?” interrupted Eric.

“Mush-ice,” said the old keeper, “is a mixture of frozen spray, an’ ice, an’ bits o’ drift, an’ everythin’ that kin freeze or be friz over, pilin’ up on the beach. It’s floatin’, ye understan’, an’, as a rule, ‘bout two or three foot thick. Owin’ to the movin’ o’ the water, it don’t never freeze right solid, but the surf on the beach breaks it into bits anywheres from the size of ‘n apple to a keg. An’ it joggles up ‘n’ down, ‘n’ the pieces grin’ agin each other. It’s jest a seesawin’ edge o’ misery on a frozen beach.”

“That’s as bad as Alaska!” exclaimed the boy.

“It’s a plumb sight worse,” the other answered. “I ain’t never been no further north ‘n Thunder Cape, jest by Nipigon. An’ what’s more, I ain’t goin’! But even up there, the ice freezes solid ‘n’ you kin do somethin’ with it. Mush-ice never gits solid, but like some sort o’ savage critter born o’ the winter, champs its jaws of ice, waitin’ for its prey.”

“How do you like that, Eric?” asked his father. “That’s some of the ‘fun’ you’re always talking about.”

“Can’t scare me, Dad,” replied Eric with a laugh. “I’m game.”

“Ye’ll need all yer gameness,” put in the old life-saver. “Wait till ye hear the end o’ the yarn! As I was sayin’, it was in November. The fust big storm o’ the winter broke sudden. I never see nothin’ come on so quick. It bust right out of a snow-squall, ‘n’ the glass hadn’ given no warnin’. We wa’n’t expectin’ trouble an’ it was all we c’d do to save the boats. Ye couldn’t stand up agin it, an’ what wasn’t snow an’ sleet, was spray.

“All mornin’ the gale blew, an’ in the middle o’ the afternoon the breakwater went to bits. The keepers o’ the light at the end o’ the breakwater lighted the lantern, ‘n’ you take my word for it, they were takin’ their lives in their hands in doin’ it. Jest half ’n hour later, the whole shebang, light, lighthouse, ‘n’ the end o’ the breakwater, went flyin’ down to leeward in a heap o’ metal ’n splinters.

“Jest about that time, some folks down Chocolay way, lookin’ out to sea, took a notion they saw what looked like white ghosts o’ ships ’way out on the bar. She was jest blowin’ tiger cats with the claws out! ’Twa’n’t a day for no Atlantic greyhound to be out, much less a small boat. But I tell ye, boy, when there’s lives to be saved, there’s allers some Americans ‘round that’s goin’ to have a try at it. Over the ice ‘n’ through the gale, eight men helpin’, the fishermen o’ Chocolay carried a yawl an’ life-lines to the point o’ the beach nearest the wreck. Four men clumb into her.”

“Without cork-jackets or anything?” asked Eric.

“Without nothin’ but a Michigan man’s spunk. Well, siree, those four men clumb into that yawl, an’ a bunch of others jumped into the mush-ice an’ toted her ’way out to clear water. With a yell, the fisherman put her nose inter the gale an’ pulled. But it wa’n’t no use. No yawl what was ever made could have faced that sea. The spray friz in the air as it come, an’ the men were pelted with pieces of jagged ice, mighty near as big ’s a bob-cherry. Afore they was ten feet away from the mush, a sea come over ‘n’ half filled the boat. It wa’n’t no use much ter bail, for it friz as soon’s it struck. They hadn’t shipped more’n four seas when the weight of ice on the boat begun to sink her.”

“Fresh water, of course,” said Eric. “It would freeze quickly. I hadn’t thought of that.”

“In spite o’ the ice,” continued the veteran of seventy Lake winters, “two o’ the men were for goin’ on, but the oldest man o’ the crowd made ’em turn back. He was only jest in time, for as the yawl got back to the edge o’ the mush she went down.”

“Sank?”

“Jest like as if she was made o’ lead.”

“And the men?” asked the boy eagerly.

“They was all right. I told you it was nigh the beach. The crowd got to the yawl ‘n’ pulled her up on shore. They burned a flare to let ’em know aboard the wrecks that they was bein’ helped an’ to hold out a hope o’ rescue, but there wasn’t no answer. Only once in a great while could any one on shore see those ghosts o’ ships ‘way out on the bar. An’ every time the snow settled down, it was guessin’ if they’d be there next time it cleared away, or not.

“Seein’ that there was nothin’ doin’ with the yawl, the crowd reckoned on callin’ us in to the deal. We was the nearest life-savin’ station to Chocolay bar, an’ we was over a hundred miles away.”

“A hundred miles!”

“All o’ that an’ more. We was on Ship Island, six miles from Houghton. As I was sayin’, seein’ that nothin’ could be done from their end, Cap’n John Frink, master of a tug, hiked off to the telegraph office at Marquette, ‘n’ called up Houghton. That’s a hundred ‘n’ ten miles off, by rail. He told ’em o’ the wrecks ‘n’ said he thought as we could get ’em off if we could come right down. The wires were down between Houghton ‘n’ Ship Islan’ and there wa’n’t no way o’ lettin’ us know. The operators sent word all over, to try an’ get a message to us, an’ mighty soon nigh everybody on the peninsula knowed that we’d been sent for.

“The skipper of a big tug in Houghton heard about it, jest as he was goin’ to bed. He come racin’ down to the wharf an’ rousted out the crew. His engineer was still on board an’ they got steam up like winkin’. The gale was blowin’ even worse up our way, but the old tug snorted into it jest the same. Out into the dark an’ the snow an’ the storm she snubbed along, tootin’ her whistle like as if it were the Day of Jedgment. An’ if it had been,” continued the old man in parenthesis, “no one would’ve known it in that storm!”

“When did you see the tug?” queried the boy.

“Couldn’t see nothin’,” was the answer, “we jest heard that ol’ whistle toot. One o’ the men guessed it was the big tug all right an’ wondered if she was ashore somewheres with a tow. But, fust thing we know, she come up out o’ the muck o’ snow an’ sleet an’ the ol’ skipper bellered to us through a speakin’-trumpet that he was come to take us to a wreck. We snaked the gear on to that tug in about half no time, takin’ the big surf-boat an’ all the apparatus. The tug was a blowin’ off steam, like as if she was connected to a volcaner. I tell you there must have been some fire under them boilers. An’ when we started I’m an old hand, boy, but I’m tellin’ ye that I never thought to see Houghton. The ol’ skipper sent that tug through at racin’ speed like as if it was a moonlight summer night an’ he had all the sea-room in a couple of oceans.

“‘Air ye goin’ to stop at Houghton?’ I asks him, sort o’ sarcastic, ’or are ye gittin’ up speed enough to run on a mile or two after ye hit the shore?’

“‘Don’t ye worry,’ he said, with a short laugh, ‘ye c’n tie my ears an’ eyes up doorin’ a hurricane, ‘n’ I can smell my way to port!’

“An’ I’m tellin’ ye he did. Without nary a light nor nothin’ to guide him for the snow was worse ‘n any fog he went full speed ahead. An’ when he tinkled that little telegraph bell to the engine room, I was wonderin’ if he was within ten miles o’ the place. But as that craft slowed down, ye can b’lieve me or not ’s you like, she glided up to her own pier like as if it was a ferry-boat in a dead calm.

“‘I’ve got to hand it to you, Cap’n,’ I says to him, ‘I wouldn’t ha’ believed it unless I seen it.’

“‘That’s my end,’ say the cap’n, ’I know my work, same’s you know yours. I’m bettin’ my pile on you fellers makin’ good ‘most any ol’ time.’ Made me feel good, all right.”

“It sure does make a difference,” put in Eric, “when you know that people have confidence in you.”

“Right you are, boy,” said the old keeper, and continued his story. “That pier was jest a mass o’ folks, thick as they c’d stand. An’ when they saw the tug with us on board, they cheered, ‘n’ cheered, ‘n’ cheered. There was a dozen to grab the lines ‘n’ make ’em fast, ‘n’ before she was even tied up, a mob grabbed our boat an’ apparatus an’ rushed it to the railroad.

“While we was a-comin’ over the strait, the superintendent o’ the railroad division was got up, ‘n’ told all about the wreck. He was a spry man, too, ‘n’ by the time the tug was in, he had orders out to clear the track ‘n’ a special train was waitin’ in the station. She was ready fitted up with a couple of open cars for the boat an’ apparatus, an’ one coach for us.

“They didn’t let us touch nothin’.

“‘Keep your strength, men,’ the superintendent said to the crew, ’my boys will put your stuff aboard.’

“They did. That boat an’ the apparatus an’ everything else was aboard that special, jest about as quick as we could climb into the cars. We had a special train all right! She jest whizzed along that track, not worryin’ about nothin’. Signals didn’t matter, for the track had been cleared in advance. The superintendent had come on the train with us. He’d wired ahead to Marquette, an’ when we slowed up there was another bunch in the station to welcome us. The train was covered in ice an’ snow, an’ the front of the locomotive looked like a dummy engine made out o’ plaster o’ Paris.

“The station was alive with men, all just on edge with waitin’. They had sleighs but no horses, the footin’ was too bad. An’ so the boat an’ the apparatus-car was put on the sleighs, an’ the men dragged it along themselves at a whole of a clip! They wouldn’t even let us walk, but toted us along in a sleigh, too.”

“Why?” asked Eric.

“To keep us from bein’ tired. We needed all the strength we had. An’ we made good time, I’m tellin’ ye. They carried out the boat an’ the cart to the beach an’ then their end of it was done. It was up to us, now. An’ I tell ye, I was anxious. There was somethin’ mighty thrillin’ in that wild train ride through the night. I’ve often run big chances in a boat, but this was different-like. Usooally no one knows what we’re doin’, but this time, the news was bein’ flashed all over the country.

“When we actooally got on the beach it didn’t look so bad. The boats were lyin’ right on the bar ’bout two hundred ‘n’ fifty foot, off shore. We rigged the gun, loaded her, ‘n’ fired. I dropped a line jest abaft the pilot-house, where we figured the men must be waitin’. It was a good shot an’ I reckoned that there wa’n’t goin’ to be no trouble at all. It heartened me right up. We’d got there in time, an’ first crack out o’ the box, there was a line, right across the steamer. The path o’ rescue had been made!

“But there was one thing I hadn’t figured on.”

“What was that?” queried Eric excitedly.

“The weather ‘n’ the cold. The seas had come up, over ‘n’ over that steamer, ontil the decks were one straight glare of ice. There wa’n’t nothin’ a man could get hold of. If a sailor stepped out on that ice, he couldn’t stand, for she was heelin’ over to port like the side of a hill. An’ the lee bulwark was torn away. Worst of all, the waves kep’ a dashin’ over ‘n’ over without stoppin’. Our line wa’n’t more’n fifteen feet from the pilot-house, but no one couldn’ get to that line without bein’ washed off.

“In a way, we’d done all that was necessary. We’d dropped a line where they’d ought to be able to get it. We couldn’t know there wa’n’t no way for ’em to do it. But when the minutes went by ‘n’ there was no sign from the steamer, it begun to look bad. If it hadn’t been for the ice on the decks they was as good as rescued, but with the way it was, they wa’n’t no better off, even with rescue fifteen feet away, than when our crew was a hundred miles off in Ship Island. There wa’n’t nothin’ for us to do but tackle the job ourselves.

“The fishermen, the ones that had been out in the yawl, came aroun’ an’ said it couldn’t be done. My coxswain agreed it couldn’t be done, but we’d do it just the same.”

“And you?” asked the boy.

“I jest started gettin’ the boat ready,” the old keeper said, simply. “It was ‘way after midnight, reckon it was nearly one o’clock, an’, if anything, the sea was wilder. An’ I felt nothin’ so cold afore in all my life. The women o’ Chocolay, they was out that night, bringin’ steamin mugs o’ coffee. There’s a deal o’ credit comin’ to them, too, the way I look at it.”

“I don’t see that they could have done much less,” said Eric.

“Maybe aye, maybe no,” said the veteran, “but I reckon, no matter how little a woman does, the right kind o’ man’s goin’ to think it’s a lot. Well, as I was sayin’, I turned to the boys to launch the boat. We got hold of her by the rails an’ waded in through the mush-ice, same as the fishermen had done. I tell you, it guv me a big sense o’ pride in men like our Michigan fishermen when I tackled what they’d tackled. They hadn’t no cork-jackets, and they wa’n’t rigged up for it. Their boat wa’n’t built for no such work but they didn’t stop to think o’ their own lives or their own boat. An’ a fisherman’s boat, like’s not, is all he’s got to make a livin’ with. It makes a man feel good to think there’s other men like that!

“That mush reached two hundred yards f’m land. I don’t know how them fisher chaps ever got through the ice at all. It took us nigh half ’n hour to make the last hundred yards. When the water deepened so’s we could get into the boat, every man’s clothes was drenched an’ they friz right on to him. Every time we dipped the oars in that mush they’d stick, ‘n’ onless we’d pulled ’em out mighty fast they’d have friz right there. ’Bout every ten yards we had to chop the oar-locks free of ice an’ the only part of our slickers what wa’n’t friz was where the muscles was playin’. The cox’n, he looked like one of them petrified men ye read about.

“At last we got through the mush. All the way through it, with the load o’ floatin’ ice ‘n’ muck, the sea wa’n’t tossin’ much. But jest the very minute we got clear of it an’ started out, the sea hit us fair. I was pullin’ stroke an’ it didn’t git me so hard, but the cox’n, who was facin’ bow, got it full. The wind was dead ahead an’ the sea was a-tumblin’ in as if there wa’n’t no land between us an’ the North Pole.

“The blades o’ the oars got covered with ice, makin’ ’em round, like poles, instead of oars, an’ we couldn’t get no purchase. I hit up the stroke a bit, exhaustin’ though it was, ‘n’ maybe we made about twenty feet further. She was self-bailin’ or we’d ha’ been swamped right away. Every sea that come aboard left a layer of ice, makin’ her heavier to handle. Then, suddenly, along comes a sea, bigger’n any before, an’ it takes that lifeboat ‘n’ chucks us back on the mush-ice, bang! The shock smashes the rudder ‘n’ puts us out o’ business. I forces the boat ashore for repairs.

“‘Too bad,’ says the railroad superintendent, to me; ’for a minute, there, I thought you were going to make it.’

“‘We jest are goin’ to make it,’ says I, ‘if we have to swim!’

“Then one o’ those fisher chaps had a good idée. While we was a-fixin’ up the rudder an’ gittin’ ready for another trip, the rest o’ the crowd chops the ice off’n the boat, ‘n’ off’n the oars. Then this fisher chap I was a tellin’ about, he comes back with a can of tallow an’ smears that thick all over the boat an’ the oars an’ our slickers an’ near everything that he c’d find to put a bit o’ tallow on.”

“What was that for?” queried Eric.

“So as the water’d run off, o’ course,” the old man answered. “It worked, too. In about twenty minutes we was off again, in the mush-ice, jest as afore. We hadn’t had no chance to get warm, an’ our clothes was wet an’ friz. I thought sure some o’ the men would be frost-bit. But I guess we was all too tough.

“The second trip started jest the same. As soon as we got out o’ the ice a breaker come along ‘n’ hove that boat ’way up, ‘n’ then chucked it back on the ice, smashin’ the new rudder same’s the old one.

“I wa’n’t goin’ to have no monkey-business with rudders any more, ‘n’ I yelled to Brown, he was the cox’n,

“’Take ‘n oar, Bill!’

“He grabs a spare oar ‘n’ does all he knows how to steer with that. Again we druv our oars into it an’ got out o’ the ice, ‘n’ again it threw us back. We did that five times ‘n’ then one of the fellers got hurt, when his oar struck a chunk of ice, ‘n’ we went ashore again. I reckon we’d been at it nigh four hours, then.”

“I suppose you hadn’t any trouble finding a volunteer?” the boy said.

“We could ha’ got nigh every man on the beach. But we took one o’ the fishermen who had gone out on his own hook afore. If we was goin’ to do any savin’ it was on’y fair he should have a share o’ the credit. An’ then, any chap who was willin’ to resk his life in a bit of a yawl in that weather was worth puttin’ in a boat.

“So we’d had to make three starts afore we really got away an’ clear o’ the ice. I never see no such gale in all my days. It was an hour an’ more, steady pullin’ with every pound o’ muscle in the crew, before we got in reach o’ the tug. An’ then, when we was right up on her, there wa’n’t one man aboard who come out to catch a line. We found out why, arterwards. The gale took us by her like we was racin’, ‘n’ the boys had to work like Sam Patch to get back. I guess it took nigh half ’n hour to creep up to wind’ard of her again.

“One o’ my crew, a young fellow from Maine, as lively a little grig as ever I see, volunteered to board her. We ran under her bow, an’ somehow or other he clumb up on board, I swear I don’t see how he ever done it, an’ snaked a line round her funnel. I went aboard an’ one other o’ the crew, a man we used to call Ginger.

“Then we found out why the men aboard the steamer hadn’t come out to pick up our line. The door o’ the pilot-house was smothered in ice, more’n an inch thick. Every window was friz in. We was sure up against it. We couldn’t stand on the glassy deck, ‘n’ there was no way to get the men out. The surf-boat was a-ridin’ twenty fathom behind, we’d let her out on a long line, an’ there was another cold wait while we hauled her up an’ got an ax out of her. We lashed ourselves fast or we’d ha’ gone over the side, sure.

“When Ginger, who was an old lumber-jack, gits the ax, he slides along to the pilot-house, an’ starts to chop. He’d been choppin’ jest about a minute when along comes a sea, smashes one o’ the ventilators an’ hurls it along the deck. The cussed thing hits Ginger jest as he’s swingin’ the ax, ‘n’ sweeps him overboard.

“The crew in the surf-boat see him go an’ they cast off the line an’ picked him up. But, with two men shy, it was a full hour afore the boat worked back to place to catch our line. They must ha’ pulled like fiends to git thar at all. By the time they’d made it, we’d managed to get through that door an’ the crew o’ the tug was ready to be taken in the boat. It was jest six hours from the time we landed on the beach at Chocolay before we got the first man ashore.”

“And the crew of the schooner?” queried the boy.

“We got them off without no trouble. They was sailors! We jest hove a line aboard ‘n’ got ’em into the boat. They hadn’t suffered much. The schooner was higher on the shoal ‘n the tug, bein’ lighter, ‘n’ the men’d been able to stay below. They’d kep’ a couple o’ lookouts on the job, relievin’ ’em every hour shipshape and Bristol fashion.”

“How many men did you rescue?” the boy asked.

“Nine men from the steamer ‘n’ six from the schooner. It was nigh eight in the mornin’ before they was all ashore, drinkin’ coffee an’ gittin’ eats. The women o’ the commoonity was still on the job. I’m doubtin’ if we could ha’ ever made it without somethin’ like that. We wa’n’t any too soon, neither.”

“Why not?”

“In less ’n an hour after we got ’em ashore the tug capsized ‘n’ went to pieces. The old schooner stood it out better, but she was pretty much a wreck, too, when the weather cleared. We’d our work to do, ‘n’ we done it. Jest the same, I’ve allers had a feelin’ as if there was as much to be said for the fishermen, ‘n’ the train-hands, ‘n’ the cap’n o’ the tug, ‘n’ all the rest that j’ined in.

“It’s the biggest rescue on the lakes, but there’s nothin’ more wonderful in it to me than the way it shows how everybody gets in ‘n’ gives a hand when help is needed. Don’t ye ever forget, in times o’ need, that ye’ve only got ter call, ‘n’ some one’s goin’ to hear. An’ ye’re like enough ter need help in the life-savin’ business. I ain’t saying as storms is as bad now as they was, but there’s enough of ’em still ter keep any crew right on the jump.”

“I’ll remember, Mr. Icchia,” the boy replied, “and I’ll be mighty proud if I can ever do half as well. I’m proud enough, now, just to be given the chance.”

The old man knocked the ashes from his pipe on his horny and weather-beaten hand and answered,

“As long as there’s life-savin’ to be done, there’s goin’ ter be life-savers to do it. I don’ hold with none o’ this nonsense ye hear sometimes about the world gittin’ worse. If ever I did get that idée, I’d only have to go ‘n’ look at a surf-boat, ‘n’ I’d know different. It’s a good world, boy, ‘n’ the goodness don’t lay in tryin’ to be a hero, but jest in plain bein’ a man.”