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PAGE 3

The Rhyme Of The Three Sealers
by [?]

Then Reuben Paine cried out again before his spirit passed:
“Have I followed the sea for thirty years to die in the dark at last?
Curse on her work that has nipped me here with a shifty trick unkind —
I have gotten my death where I got my bread, but I dare not face it blind.
Curse on the fog! Is there never a wind of all the winds I knew
To clear the smother from off my chest, and let me look at the blue?”
The good fog heard — like a splitten sail, to left and right she tore,
And they saw the sun-dogs in the haze and the seal upon the shore.
Silver and gray ran spit and bay to meet the steel-backed tide,
And pinched and white in the clearing light the crews stared overside.
O rainbow-gay the red pools lay that swilled and spilled and spread,
And gold, raw gold, the spent shell rolled between the careless dead —
The dead that rocked so drunkenwise to weather and to lee,
And they saw the work their hands had done as God had bade them see.

And a little breeze blew over the rail that made the headsails lift,
But no man stood by wheel or sheet, and they let the schooners drift.
And the rattle rose in Reuben’s throat and he cast his soul with a cry,
And “Gone already?” Tom Hall he said. “Then it’s time for me to die.”
His eyes were heavy with great sleep and yearning for the land,
And he spoke as a man that talks in dreams, his wound beneath his hand.
“Oh, there comes no good o’ the westering wind that backs against the sun;
Wash down the decks — they’re all too red — and share the skins and run,
Baltic, Stralsund, and Northern Light — clean share and share for all,
You’ll find the fleets off Tolstoi Mees, but you will not find Tom Hall.
Evil he did in shoal-water and blacker sin on the deep,
But now he’s sick of watch and trick and now he’ll turn and sleep.
He’ll have no more of the crawling sea that made him suffer so,
But he’ll lie down on the killing-grounds where the holluschickie go.
And west you’ll sail and south again, beyond the sea-fog’s rim,
And tell the Yoshiwara girls to burn a stick for him.
And you’ll not weight him by the heels and dump him overside,
But carry him up to the sand-hollows to die as Bering died,
And make a place for Reuben Paine that knows the fight was fair,
And leave the two that did the wrong to talk it over there!”

Half-steam ahead by guess and lead, for the sun is mostly veiled —
Through fog to fog, by luck and log, sail ye as Bering sailed;
And if the light shall lift aright to give your landfall plain,
North and by west, from Zapne Crest, ye raise the Crosses Twain.
Fair marks are they to the inner bay, the reckless poacher knows
What time the scarred see-catchie lead their sleek seraglios.
Ever they hear the floe-pack clear, and the blast of the old bull-whale,
And the deep seal-roar that beats off-shore above the loudest gale.
Ever they wait the winter’s hate as the thundering boorga calls,
Where northward look they to St. George, and westward to St. Paul’s.
Ever they greet the hunted fleet — lone keels off headlands drear —
When the sealing-schooners flit that way at hazard year by year.
Ever in Yokohama port men tell the tale anew
Of a hidden sea and a hidden fight,
When the Baltic ran from the Northern Light
And the Stralsund fought the two.