MoboReader> Literature > The Belted Seas

   Chapter 6 — TORRE ANANIAS. WHY CAPTAIN BUCKINGHAM DID NOT GO BACK TO GREENOUGH.

The Belted Seas By Arthur Colton Characters: 31170

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:04


When we got under the lee of the lighthouse, the keeper came stalking down the rocks to meet us. He was a tall man with a long moustache, and a narrow grey beard, and a black coat and sombrero.

I heard the mate say:

"Here's the King of Castile come to Craney's funeral. Blamed if he ain't a whole hearse!"

"Without doubt" says the keeper, grave and deep, being asked about the fruit. Regarding sick boarders, he broke out sharp, "Since when has my house--But I ask your pardon! You are strange to me. No more. The gentlemen will do me the honour to be my guests."

Nobody appeared to have anything to say to that, but he looked too lean to recommend his board. His Spanish wasn't the kind I was used to. It was neither West Coast nor Mexican. I judged it was just Spanish.

They left us in canvas hammocks on the ground floor of the Tower of Ananias. It was three stories high, the top story opened to seaward, with its lanterns and tin reflectors.

The darkness came on, as its habits are in the tropics, like a lamp blown out. I could see the stars through the square seaward window of the tower, and heard the keeper go softly up the stairs, and I went to sleep, very weak and faint.

When morning came, and I pulled myself up to look through the square window, and saw the ship making sail, it seemed to me I was some sick and far away from everybody. I rubbed my eyes and looked around.

The door and stairway filled one side of the room. There were two wooden benches and a pile of earthen and tin ware on one of them. The hammocks hung between the windows, and in one of them lay Craney, looking like mouldy cheese, for his hair, eyebrows, and complexion were yellowish by nature, and he was some spotted at that time.

Beyond the door was a banana tree, with ten-foot leaves, and a little black monkey loping around under it, sort of indifferent. Beyond the banana tree came thick woods. A woman came out of them with a basket on her head, up the path to the tower. The monkey yelped and went up the banana tree. "Dios!" says the woman, when she came to the door, and she put down the basket and ran. The keeper came down the stone stairs and ran silently after her. The little black monkey dropped from his tree and loped after the keeper, and the woods swallowed them all. A sea-breeze was blowing into the tower, and below I could hear the pound of the surf. Craney slept as innocent as if he'd been fresh cheese, and I felt better.

Then the keeper came back with the woman, who appeared to be a scared Indian and screeched some. He said her name was Titiaca, and she would look after us, but otherwise had no culture. Craney woke up and took a look at things.

"I have already," the keeper says very solemn, "the advantage of your honourable names. My own is Gaspero Raphael de Avila y Mituas." He stated it so, and went up the stairs. I dropped one leg out of the hammock, and I says thoughtful:

"I always had hard luck. They just named me Tom and chucked me."

Titiaca knocked her head on the floor and screeched, but at that time I didn't see what for. She appeared to think the keeper was displeased.

It was monotonous lying all day in the tower, seeing only Titiaca, and now and then the black-cloaked keeper, stiff, silent, and solemn, and polite. But the days went by, and by-and-by we began to crawl out and lie in the seaward shadow, and sometimes under the banana tree, where the little black monkey loped around melancholy. We grew better. Titiaca gossiped, and told us the keeper was a magician, and master of the winds, and probably the bestower of rain and sunshine, and certain his light in the tower was connected underground with one of the volcanoes, so that he could tap different grades of earthquakes, graded as "motors, trembloritos, and tremblors," according to size.

"For, see!" she says; "at night it is the red smoke of the mountain-all night! it is the light in the tower-all night! it is himself in the tower-all night-all day! He speaks not. Is it not so? The ground shivers. He says nothing. It is the magic. Ah-h-h! The magic!"

Craney grew so well and restless after a week or two that he began strolling, and finally one day he went down the path that Titiaca came by. For she said there was a village, and, beyond other villages and cocoa plantations, fishermen along the shore, many people, though only footpaths ran through the woods. Her gossip lacked variety, and the little black monkey took no interest in me at all. It appeared to me things were unnatural dull, and I went to the tower and called. The keeper answered, and I went up, and hoped I wasn't in his way. The middle story was like the one below, except for a table, chair, bed, and a few plain articles.

"On the contrary," he says, "if you will do me the honour to precede," and motioned to the stair leading to the lantern story, which was roofed, but open on all sides, and along the seaward wall was a stone bench.

It's good, now and then, as a man lives on, if something or some one comes along that gives him a new notion of things. At first it surprises him; then he thinks there might be something in it; and then maybe he gets so waterlogged and cosmopolitan as to admit an oyster's notions might be as reasonable as his.

As near as I could come to it the keeper was a Spaniard of a run-down family,-at least one branch of it was run down to him. It was old and uncommon proud, and had different kinds of decorated names. It began with being a legend; then it seemed to have a deal of trouble with Moors, and got rich with the results of trouble; then it owned some of that section of the New World, including twenty to thirty thousand natives in the property. That was the story of the family. But what they had they spent, or lost, or had confiscated, till there was nothing much but the story. Now here's what surprised me. For the thought of his race was in his bones, same as the sea is in mine. For instance, it seems to me I'm more to the point than my ancestors, on account of being alive. I don't much know who they were. I'm a separate island, with maybe a few other islands, close by. My continental connections appear to be sort of submerged. That's the average American way of looking at it, and he wants to be a credit to himself, if he does to anybody. But the keeper's notion was to be a credit to all the grandfathers he could find between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Conquest of Peru. Those of the last hundred years or so he wasn't particular about, but if they'd been dead long enough he'd do anything to satisfy them. I didn't seem to surround the idea so as to find it reasonable, but I got so far as to see it was a large one, and there was some kind of a handsomeness in it.

Speaking of points of view, it seemed to me, so long as a man thought a heap of something besides himself, there was a good deal of leeway as to what the thing was; maybe his children and the folks that were coming after him; maybe the folks that went before him; maybe his country, or a machine he had invented, or a ship and those aboard he was responsible for, or the copper image of one of his gods. So long as he stood to stake his life on it, I wasn't prepared to sniff at him.

For a while he listened to my talk and said nothing. Then he began and went off like a bottle of beer that's been corked over-long. From what he said I gathered the facts just stated.

"The stream goes dry," he says slowly at last. "Therefore I came from Spain. What do I know of the new laws of the colonists, their republic? These lands are to my race in me, from the point to the bay, and north twenty leagues; so runs the charter: so witnesses my name, Mituas, given and decreed by Charles, the king and emperor, to Juan de Avila y Mituas, the friend of Francisco Pizarro, who was an upstart indeed, but a valiant man. They say to me: 'There is a lighthouse on Punta Ananias. For the keeping of the light is paid this much. Sir, be pleased in this manner to occupy your estate.' Do I care for their mocking? Is it the buzz of insects that is heard in Spain? Good, then! I wait for my end. But to hear an Avila mocked at in Spain I could not endure. You do not understand? It is natural. You were so kind as to tell me of your life-believe me, most interesting-a courtesy which has tempted me to fatigue you in this way."

I thought his yarn a sight more interesting than mine, and said so, and he looked sort of blank, as if he didn't see how you could get the stories of an Avila and a Yankee seaman near enough together to compare them, more than a dozen eggs with a parallel of latitude. But his manners stayed by him. He said I was so polite as to say so, and then was silent, sitting on his end of the stone bench and looking grim at the sea.

"Well," I says, "I've got nothing to speak of,-a little money, no relations,-but I'd hate to give up the idea of seeing Long Island Sound again, and the town of Greenough."

"Your hope is a possession excellent," he says very quiet. "I shall not see again my Madrid, nor those vineyards of Aragon."

By-and-by the keeper seemed too melancholy to be sociable, I went back to the banana tree.

Titiaca came. She said Craney had gone inland.

He didn't come back that night, and not till late afternoon of the next day. Then he came out of the woods, strolling along, and sat down under the banana tree, and acted as if he had something on his mind. I told him about the keeper, and laid out my theory about his having a handsome point of view, but one that needed property to keep cheerful with. Craney was thoughtful.

"Property, Tommy!" he says at last. "This is the remarkablest community I ever got to. The old man told you right, so far as he knew. I guess he applied for four hundred square miles of ancestral estate and they told him he could have the lighthouse job. That's so! But see here. He don't really know what his job is. Lighthouse keeper! My galluses and garters! He's the tin god of ten or fifteen thousand Injuns and half-breeds. I've been holding camp-meetings with them. Why, he's sitting on a liquid gold mine that's aching to run. I'll tell you. I went from here to Titiaca's village. It's on the shore and some of the people are fishermen, and I talked with them. Then I got a donkey and rode over by plantations where they raise cocoa, which appears to be a red cucumber full of beans, and growing on an apple tree. They dry it, and take it in boat-loads up a bay about forty miles, and get from five cents a pound upwards. I talked with them. Then I met an old priest, who was fat and slow and peaceable. I went in a sailboat with him up the coast to his house, and spent the night. He said the Injuns of this neighbourhood were more'n half heathen in their minds, but he was too old, and settled down now, and couldn't help it. It didn't appear to trouble him much. He wondered if Senor de Avila knew he was that gruesome and popular; and then he mooned along, talking sort of wandering, till near midnight. The Injuns don't think his credit with the gods and the elements amounts to much, anyway. This morning I crossed to the north shore and saw more villages and plantations, and came back to Titiaca's village in a catamaran rigged with a sprit-sail. Now, this is a business opening, Tommy. And look here! The old man's notions, as he put 'em to you, they're a good thing. I didn't know how he'd take it, but I guess we can fix it. You see, this section-why, Padre Filippo says it used to belong to that family more or less, but the titles were called off when the country set up for itself, and whether they'd collected rent up to that time he didn't know. He thought they hadn't regular or much. But the section's grown well-to-do lately on account of the cocoa trade, and I gather what the Injuns pay on it now is about ordinary taxes. Now, if the Injuns pay the old man a sort of blackmail to get him to moderate his earthquakes, and he calls it his proper rents, why, I say, a rose by any name'll smell as sweet, supposing the commission for collecting is the same. That's the idea. Why not? All he's got to do is to stay in his tower, or look like a cross between the devil and a prophet when he does show himself, same as usual, and leave us to work his tribute. It's what his tenth grandfather did. I guess it'll be mostly dried cocoa beans. The shed where the old man keeps his oil will do for a warehouse."

I says, "What's all this, anyway?"

"Oh," he says, "you'll see it's reasonable by-and-by. Why not? Why, the campaign's begun. Some of the stuff is coming in to-morrow. You've no notion how they cottoned to the idea. I says to 'em this way. 'Course,' I says, 'I'm a stranger, but it stands to reason the Don won't shake anybody out of bed nights that does his best to please him. Sure, he'd be reasonable. But here he's lived on the little end of this country now going on ten years, and what have you done? Nothing! Here he's been switching fire back and forth from the Andes,' I says, 'corking up one volcano and letting out another, and yet he ain't split a single plantation into ribbons so far. Has he, now? No. Well, ain't it astonishing? Why, he must have this whole territory riddled with pipe connections. Boys, I don't see how you can be so reckless,' I says, 'and ungrateful. How long do you expect him to look out for folks that don't appear to care whether they blow up or not? First you know, he'll get disgusted and turn the whole section into cinders. He must have been mighty cautious as it is. Shook you up a little now and then. Nothing to what he's liable to do. Suffering saints!' I says; 'can't you take a hint? What do you suppose he means when the ground wrinkles under your feet? Do you want him to pitch you all into the sea before you get his idea?' They said they hadn't thought of that before. Fact is, they surprised me. They must have some ancestral ideas of their own, so it comes natural to 'em to pay for their weather. Tell 'em they've got to bribe an earthquake, and they say, 'All right.' Queer, ain't it? 'Well, I says, 'tell you what I'll do. I'll arrange it with the Don.' You've no notion how they liked the idea, they're that scared of him. I guess they'll put up various amounts. They didn't understand a percentage. Maybe the details will be complicated. Let's go see the Don."

The keeper was in his lantern story, looking out over the sea very lonesome. Craney attacked the subject like a drummer selling a bill of goods, but the keeper didn't seem to understand. "Why," says Craney, "you see, these people have a sort of mysterious reverence for you. Maybe you have an idea of the reason." The keeper said it was probable that the peasantry were not unaware of his rank.

"Now, your ancestors employed agents, didn't they? Yes. Maybe they got about half the proceeds and the agents stole the rest." The keeper looked surprised, but thought that was probable too.

"Exactly. Now, we're offering, as a business proposition, to collect on the same antique terms, only we give you an itemized account this time. What do you say?"

"Senor Craney," said the keeper slowly, "are you asking me if I accept the acknowledgment of my rights? I do not understand a business proposition. I do not understand how the peasants have arrived suddenly, as you state, at this conviction of their obligations."

"Just so," says Craney. "That comes of having a capable agent. I talked to them and they saw reason. Fact is, though, the idea seems to have been gro

wing on them for some years."

The keeper looked at me, and I was studying different sides of Craney's scheme. I began: "It might mean the vineyards of Aragon. All the same, it's a queer business."

He started and muttered, "The vineyards of Aragon! My Madrid!" and dropped his head.

Craney winked and we went down.

I've heard it said that Francisco Pizarro was surprised when he found he'd conquered Peru with only a few objections.

Well, if we had any trouble in this business, it was only Craney that had it from the start, and he appeared to enjoy himself. He was off most of the time, pattering around on his shaggy grey donkey, and left me to take in and stow away those bags of cocoa beans. I used to sit in front of the shed, which was close to the shore, and smoke and admire the world. Once a week Craney would come down the coast in a clumsy catboat, and we'd take a load up to the town, which was called "Corazon,"-a considerable town forty miles off, where were French and Spanish agencies in the cocoa trade.

Every day a cautious, stringy-haired Injun, with a loaded donkey, would come trotting out of the woods to the shed, or maybe several of them at odd times. They all acted shy, and kept as far from the Torre Ananias as the space allowed. Sometimes they wouldn't say anything, except to state that this bag came from such and such plantations, and to hope Himself would take, note of it. Then they'd look pleased and peaceful to have it all written down neatly, and maybe they'd want the item read out, and then they'd nod and smile and trot away contented. Sometimes they'd hope Himself was feeling good on the whole. It didn't seem to strike any of them that the keeper's position, as they understood it, wasn't right and reasonable.

I used to sit in front of the shed and admire the world. I thought about the primitive mind, and how the civilised was given to playing it low on the primitive. I seemed to get around part of their point of view after a while and see it was reasonable. For the Mituans had got it fixed before we came that the keeper was somehow mixed up in the earthquakes. And when they'd once taken that idea, it made no difference if they'd felt little motors every few days all their lives, and trembloritos and tremblors pretty frequent. As a specimen of authority, even a little motor earthquake is too much. They happen along in that neighbourhood every now and then, maybe once a month, and you grow used to them, but still, they're vivid. If you got it once in your mind that Himself in the lighthouse was fingering the bowels of the earth, and Himself was doing it when the jerks came under you, and your house walls creaked and swayed, you'd give something to keep Himself amiable. There was no doubt about that.

But then, what made it appear to them that the keeper was inside his rights to be bothering them that way? They seemed to think no less of him for it; but rather more. They thought he was a fine thing. It puzzled me, and I studied it. Then I seemed to get an understanding of the primitive mind that was surprising.

But then, how did the case stand with Craney and me? As often as that troubled me, I had only to go up to the lantern story, and hear the keeper talk about Madrid and the vineyards of Aragon, and about his longing and his pride. Then I felt better. If the keeper's income kept up that way it was clear he could go back to Spain by-and-by with stateliness pretty respectable, and I says to myself:

"Why, the Injuns are happy, and the keeper's going to be, and I'm a sinner, and Craney can look after his own conscience. Shucks! He hasn't got any."

It made me feel virtuous to think how Craney had no conscience. Maybe he hadn't. He was the busiest man in South America for a while. I never knew of another to make a business asset out of earthquakes nor his equal for seeing an opening for enterprise. He was a singular man, Craney, a shrewd one, and yet romantic and given to ingenious visions. And yet again, when he talked his wildest, you'd find he had his feet on some rocky facts, and his one good eye would be hard and bright as a new tack. We used to sit in front of the shed sometimes, looking down on the sea that was blue and shining like rumpled silk, Craney smoking cigars and I with my pipe.

"Tommy," he'd say, "the world lies open before us. Everywhere is chances for a soaring ambition, everywhere is harvests for the man that's got talents. There's diamonds in rocks, and there's pearls in oysters. Richness grows out of the ground, and glory drops out of the clouds. Me, I'm a man of ideals. Give me room to spread. Let me strike my gait and I'll make the continents sizzle, and governments have fits. Expand, Tommy! Expand your mind! Small men has small ambitions. Large men has wings. That's me."

There were a number of heavy shocks, about the time when the eastern Mituas districts were picking the trees, and some of the Mituans were mad about it, but they had a big harvest. They brought cocoa-beans in caravans and boatloads for a while, and they said it was many years since they'd had such a harvest, or such a tremblor, and Himself was a great magician.

The time went by. I heard in Corazon one day that Captain Rickhart had put into port there on his back voyage, and inquired some for us, but that was a month before. Later Craney had a contract offered by the French agencies, and had to buy up most of the North Mituas cocoa crop to fill it.

One day we sat together in front of the shed. He was laying out different schemes. He said this tribute business was too small, and there wasn't much enterprise in it. The Injuns were terrible set in their ideas. He had a number of schemes. One of them for putting up a supply store in Corazon, running accounts there on the crops, but I didn't take to it; I was no storekeeper, but a sailor, and getting nervous to go to Panama.

It was hot by the shed, and we were going up by the banana tree, when we saw a large catboat coasting down to the point, and by the hang of her sail it was Padre Filippo's.

The Padre was aboard, and the two Mituans that sailed for him, and two men besides, one in a cocked hat and uniform. So they came ashore. Padre Filippo chuckled, and shook his fat finger at Craney.

"Ah, senorito, little rogue!" he says. "Alas! what behaviour!" and he chuckled and patted Craney on the arm.

The official was sociable too. He took out a cigarette, and explained there had been a complaint lodged with the authorities against the keeper, that he'd been drawing illicit gains from the peasantry. In fact, Padre Filippo had complained. The Padre laughed again.

"Why," says Craney, "I know something about that."

"Truly, I think so!" chuckles the Padre. "And if they've a mind to present him with a bag of beans now and then, whose business is it?" says Craney.

"The alcalde's," says the official, very calm. "It's not mine. I have but to take him before the alcalde, and here is the keeper of the lighthouse who takes his place. In candour I think Senor de Avila does not return. It is no affair of mine."

"Why," I says, "he'll never condescend to go before your alcalde! Why, an alcalde's too small for him to see."

"Chut!" says the Padre. "Speak in reverence of authorities, my son. You are both little rogues."

"He'll resign!"

"It is possible," says the official.

Craney lay on his back and thought a bit. Then he says to the official, "I'm thinking the keeper wouldn't mind resigning, supposing my friend Buckingham here went up and talked him over. He might go back to Spain, maybe. Maybe you don't know his popularity in this section, but I tell you this, he could make you plenty of trouble. You've got an idea he's going to be arrested and jailed and blackguarded by an alcalde. Well, he isn't, or these Mituas people of his will know why. Padre Filippo here, he'd always rather things were done peacefully."

"Surely," says the Padre, "surely."

"You'd better let us arrange it. Besides, in that case it might interest you-say, ten dollars' worth of interest."

"Fifteen," says the other, very calm. "It is no affair of mine."

Then I went up to the Torre Ananias, up to the lantern story where the keeper was looking over the sea and brooding.

"Senor," I says, "why don't you go to Aragon and buy vineyards?"

"True," he said quietly, "why not? But you have some reason for speaking, for suggesting."

"Why-yes. It's not the fault of the people on the estate, but there's a government somewhere around here, and they're getting offish, and it can't be helped. You don't want to squabble over the lighthouse. Why not buy some vineyards in Aragon? You can afford it now. The officials want to interfere with you. Why not get up and walk away?"

He stood up and wrapped his coat around him, and said, "I will go," and started downstairs for Spain.

We sailed for Corazon in the Padre's cat-boat and left the new keeper in the tower, and I never but once again have landed on the point. That was when I came some days after to gather a few things left behind.

It was in the evening, and there were great bonfires burning in the open space by the banana tree, and a crowd of figures around it, but all that was hidden when the sailboat drew under the bluffs. I stepped ashore and went into the shed, and some one rose in the dark and grabbed me, and I dragged him out into the starlight. It was the new keeper.

"Senor," he gasped. "Do not go up! They drove me with sticks and stones that I fled to the water. They are mad! Hear them! They mourn for Senor de Avila. They build a great fire and they sing thus in no Christian language. Come away in your boat. They are mad."

It seemed to me too they'd better be left to themselves. We drew out again from under the bluffs, and caught the breeze, and stood away. The shouting and the chant kept on, and the fire shone after us like a red path on the water.

I don't know any more about the Tower of Ananias. But I know the Mituas people were sore about losing the keeper, who went to Lima, meaning to go to Spain, and never knew he'd been supernatural. Craney told me afterwards he'd heard the keeper died on the voyage and was dropped overboard to punctuate the end of his story,-only, no name was given, and maybe it wasn't him but some other aristocracy.

Craney himself stayed on at Corazon in the cocoa trade, meaning to take up contracts with the French and English agencies. He asked me to stay with him, and when I wouldn't, he asked for reasons, and I gave him a reason. Not that I mentioned the hundred and forty lost at Colon. For if he took it (and I guessed pretty near he did) he'd paid it back with a long leeway by sharing the Mituas business with me, when the whole thing was his. I thought the less said the better. If he was nervous to know what was my mind about that point, why, I thought it was good for him to be nervous. I gave for a reason that I was thinking to go back to Greenough on Long Island Sound.

"Greenough!" he says. "It's next to where Abe Dalrimple lives? Adrian's the name of his town."

I says:

"What do you know of it, Craney?"

"I went there with Abe Dalrimple," he says, "and left him there planting lobster pots. That wouldn't do for me. None of it in mine. Abe's got no more ambition than to dodge the next kettle Mrs. Dalrimple throws at him, but me, I'm ambitious, I got to spread out. I'm a romantic man, Tommy. That's my secret. That's the key of me. Give me largeness. Give me space for my talents. What do you want with Greenough? You stay with me and I'll show you who's the natural lord of all lands that's fertile and foolish. Ain't I showed you what I could do in a small way? Why, I only just began. That's nothing, I'm a soarer, Tommy, I've got visions."

I took a look at his one hard bright eye, and thought him over, and I thought:

"You've got 'em all right, but they're slippery," and I says:

"Did you hear news of any one in Greenough?"

"Give 'em a name."

"Happen it might be the name of Pemberton," I says. "Madge Pemberton."

"There was a man in Adrian named Andrew McCulloch," he says, "that married a girl named Pemberton from Greenough. Aye, I recollect, Pemberton's was a hotel."

"Madge Pemberton?"

"It was that name."

I recollect it was a little cafe in Corazon, where Craney and I sat that evening. It was thick with smoke and crowded with round tables, at which mixed breeds of people, mostly square-shouldered little men, were discussing the time of day and the merits of wine-which hadn't any-in a way of excitement that you'd think they were crying out against oppression. Each table had a tallow candle on it, burning dim in the smoke.

I says, "Oh!"

Then Craney went on talking, but I don't know what it was about. Then I says, "It don't suit me in Corazon," and I got up. I went out in the steep cobbled street that runs down to the shore of Corazon Bay.

I lay all night on the shore and watched 'the waves come up and crumble on the shingle. I remembered the verse Sadler used to chant to me in the Hebe Maitland days, when I was acting more gay than he thought becoming to the uselessness of me. "Oh, sailor boy," he says.

"Oh, sailor, my sailor boy, bonny and blue,

You're rompin', you're roamin',

The long slantin' sorrows are waiting for you

In the gloamin', the gloamin'."

I remember, when it came morning, on the beach at Corazon, I got up, and I says:

"Clyde's mucky old bags can stay there till I'm ready," I says. "What's the use!"

I took a dislike to Clyde's money. I bought a passage to San Francisco, and came there in the year '75.

There I put the profits of six years on the West Coast into shares in a ship called the Anaconda, and shipped on her myself as second mate.

I found Stevey Todd cooking in a restaurant in San Francisco. He'd gone into gold mines, after getting loose from the Jane Allen. He'd left his profits from the Hotel Helen Mar in the gold mines. Every mine he'd invested in got discouraged, so he said, but I judge the truth was more likely Stevey Todd was taken in by mining sharks. He'd made up his mind property wasn't his stronghold and gone back to cooking, and never took any more interest in property after that, nor had any to take interest in. But he told me Sadler was in business and getting rich, and in partnership with a Chinaman, and living in a town called "Saleratus," sixty miles down the coast, which none of these statements seemed likely at the time. Stevey Todd didn't know why the town was named Saleratus. He thought maybe Sadler had named it, or maybe gone there on account of the name, foreseeing interesting rhymes with "potatoes" and "tomatoes." But I didn't look Sadler up at that time.

* * *

The Captain turned to Uncle Abimelech, and said:

"Happen you might remember Sadler's tune to that verse, 'Sailor, my sailor boy, bonny and blue'?"

"He never said no such impudent thing to me," said Uncle Abimelech wrathfully. "I'd 'a' whaled him good."

"Why, that's true, Abe," said Captain Buckingham. "You wasn't much on looks."

Stevey Todd said:

"They changed that name, Saleratus."

"That's true too," said Captain Buckingham. "An outlandish name is bad for a town, or a ship, or a man; same as the Anaconda, for the Anaconda had bad luck, same as Abimelech Dalrimple. He'd never've got his brains frazzled if he'd been named Bill."

He paused several minutes before going on, to think over this theory of names.

* * *

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