“In Behring Sea they tell,”
“How Hansen, in the ‘Adele,’
Waiting for night, with never a light,
Dared the reefs and ocean swell.
“A rascal bold, in misdeeds grown
He had raided far and wide;
But never before in the sealers’ lore
Had the Pribilof reefs been tried.
“But an Aleut, by his sealskin
And the grave of his father, swore
For a keg of booze and a pair of shoes
To sell their secret, and more.
“So Hansen knew to a yard or two
Where the hidden ledges ran;
And the breakers’ roar on the reefs and shore
Were guides to the daring man.
“The trailing kelp and a flash might
Where the phosphorus burned bright,
For the deed was done past set of sun
When the stars were hid from sight.
“The schooner’s kedge to a
By a hempen cable tied,
With silent stealth, for the raiders’ health,
Was lowered overside.
“Then with muffled oars they reached
Near a crowded rookery;
Where the voice of seals, in loud appeals,
Drowned the moan of wind and sea.
“There were clubbed ten score and
some dozens more
Of the seals which in panic came
Like frightened sheep before the sweep
Of the raiders’ far-flung chain;
“For they took their stand, where
the rocky land
Slopes down to the surf-worn beach,
To intercept the herd that swept
Like a torrent, the sea to reach.
“Their dories lay in a tiny bay
On a bit of sandy shore;
And they loaded seals by heads or heels
Till the boats would hold no more.
“On many a trip to the little ship
The skiffs went back and fore,
Till she streamed with blood in a crimson flood
From the deck to the cabin door.
“The seals were piled in confusion
On deck, by a seaman there;
While the hold was stored and the cabin floored
Whenever he’d time to spare,
“For they had to sail before the
Light came of a breaking day;
Lest the sealing guard should follow hard
And capture them with their prey.”
* * * *
“In the dawn’s pale light
that followed the night
The sealing guard went round;
But the bloody turf, by the edge of the surf,
Was the only sign they found;
“For a curtain fell on the Behring
And hid the schooner’s flight;
But they lay the blame on Hansen’s name
For the lawless deeds that night.”
Pribilofs—a group of islands in Behring Sea, where the fur seal breeds.
Aleut—a native of the Aleutian Islands.
The Coast of British Columbia
On the far stretching coast of B. C.,
Where the hills and the seas interlace,
Is a cruising ground yet unexcelled,
Where the yachtsman can loiter or race.