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From The Royal-Yard Down
by [?]

As night descended, cold and damp, the wind hauled, and by nine o’clock the ship was charging along before a half-gale and a rising sea from the port quarter. When the watch had braced the yards, the mate ordered the spanker brailed in and the mizzen-royal clued up, as the ship steered hard. This was done, and the men coiled up the gear.

“Let the spanker hang in the brails; tie up the royal,” ordered the mate from his position at the break of the poop.

“Aye, aye, sir,” answered a voice from the group, and an active figure sprang into the rigging. Another figure–slim and graceful, clad in long yellow oilskin coat, and a sou’wester which could not confine a tangled fringe of wind-blown hair–left the shelter of the after-companionway and sped along the alley to the mate’s side.

“The foot-rope, Mr. Adams,” she said hurriedly. “The seizing was chafed, you remember.”

“By George, Miss Freda!” said the officer. “Forgot all about it. Glad you spoke. Come down from aloft,” he added in a roar.

The sailor answered and descended.

“Get a piece of spun yarn out o’ the booby-hatch and take it up wi’ you,” continued the mate. “Pass a temporary seizing on the lee royal foot-rope. Make sure it’s all right ‘fore you get on it, now.”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

The man passed down the poop steps, secured the spun yarn, and while rolling it into a ball to put in his pocket, stood for a moment in the light shining from the second mate’s room. The girl on the poop looked down at him. He was a trim-built, well-favored young fellow, with more refinement in his face than most sailors can show; yet there was no lack of seamanly deftness in the fingers which balled up the spun yarn and threw a half-hitch with the bight of the lanyard over the point of the marlinespike which hung to his neck. As he climbed the steps, the girl faced him, looking squarely into his eyes.

“Be careful, John–Mr. Owen,” she said. “The seizing is chafed through. I heard the man report it–it was Dutch George of the other watch. Do be careful.”

“Eh, why–why, yes, Miss Folsom. Thank you. But you startled me. I’ve been Jack for three years–not John, nor Mister. Yes, it’s all right; I—-“

“Get aloft to that mizzenroyal,” thundered the mate, now near the wheel.

“Aye, aye, sir.” He touched his sou’wester to the girl and mounted the weather mizzen-rigging, running up the ratlines as a fireman goes up a ladder. It was a black night with cold rain, and having thrown off his oiled jacket, he was already drenched to the skin; but no environment of sunshine, green fields and woodland, and flower-scented air ever made life brighter to him than had the incident of the last few moments; and with every nerve in his body rejoicing in his victory, and her bitter words of four years back crowding his mind as a contrasting background, he danced up and over the futtock-shrouds, up the topmast-rigging, through the crosstrees, and up the topgallant-rigging to where the ratlines ended and he must climb on the runner of the royal-halyards. As the yard was lowered, this was a short climb, and he swung himself upward to the weather yard-arm, where he rolled up one side of the sail with extravagant waste of muscular effort; for she had said he was not a man, and he had proved her wrong: he had conquered himself, and he had conquered her.

He hitched the gasket, and crossed over to the lee side, forgetting, in his exhilaration, the object of the spun yarn in his pocket and the marlinespike hung from his neck, stepped out on the foot-rope, passed his hands along the jack-stay to pull himself farther, and felt the foot-rope sink to the sound of snapping strands. The jackstay was torn from his grasp, and he fell, face downward, into the black void beneath.