“What’s a toothpick, Dan?”
“Them new haddockers an’ herrin’-boats. Fine’s a yacht forward, with yacht sterns to ’em, an’ spike bowsprits, an’ a haouse that ’u’d take our hold. I’ve heard that Burgess himself he made the models fer three or four of ’em. Dad’s sot agin ’em on account o’ their pitchin’ an’ joltin’, but there’s heaps o’ money in ’em. Dad can find fish, but he ain’t no ways progressive—he don’t go with the march o’ the times. They’re chock-full o’ labour-savin’ jigs an’ sech all. ‘Ever seed the Elector o’ Gloucester? She’s a daisy, ef she is a toothpick.”
“What do they cost, Dan?”
“Hills o’ dollars. Fifteen thousand, p’haps; more, mebbe. There’s gold-leaf an’ everything you kin think of.” Then to himself, half under his breath, “Guess I’d call her Hattie S., too.”
That was the first of many talks with Dan, who told Harvey why he would transfer his dory’s name to the imaginary Burgess-modelled haddocker. Harvey heard a good deal about the real Hattie at Gloucester; saw a lock of her hair—which Dan, finding fair words of no avail, had “hooked” as she sat in front of him at school that winter—and a photograph. Hattie was about fourteen years old, with an awful contempt for boys, and had been trampling on Dan’s heart through the winter. All this was revealed under oath of solemn secrecy on moonlit decks, in the dead dark, or in choking fog; the whining wheel behind them, the climbing deck before, and without, the unresting, clamorous sea. Once, of course, as the boys came to know each other, there was a fight, which raged from bow to stern till Penn came up and separated them, but promised not to tell Disko, who thought fighting on watch rather worse than sleeping. Harvey was no match for Dan physically, but it says a great deal for his new training that he took his defeat and did not try to get even with his conqueror by underhand methods.
That was after he had been cured of a string of boils between his elbows and wrists, where the wet jersey and oilskins cut into the flesh. The salt water stung them unpleasantly, but when they were ripe Dan treated them with Disko’s razor, and assured Harvey that now he was a “blooded Banker”; the affliction of gurry-sores being the mark of the caste that claimed him.
Since he was a boy and very busy, he did not bother his head with too much thinking. He was exceedingly sorry for his mother, and often longed to see her and above all to tell her of this wonderful new life, and how brilliantly he was acquitting himself in it. Otherwise he preferred not to wonder too much how she was bearing the shock of his supposed death. But one day, as he stood on the foc’sle ladder, guying the cook, who had accused him and Dan of hooking fried pies, it occurred to him that this was a vast improvement on being snubbed by strangers in the smoking-room of a hired liner.