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Mournful Sentinels of the Sea

By C. H. Claudy

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saddening is to

OYSK a traveler to name the waves are high, and the warning is

the saddest, weirdest needed, the sound is loudest. When the
sound of which he sea is quiet, the note is hardly more than
knows, and ten to one a sigh,—but such a sigh!
he will name the The Whistling Buoy now used in this
whistling buoy. So country is the invention of an American,
saddening is the influ- of J. M. Courtenay, of New York. It

ence of its mournful, consists of a huge pear-shaped bulb, with sighing notes, that the Light House the point to the top, to the base of which Board has to weigh well the advantages is connected a long steel tube. The tube of placing one of the buoys in any par- runs through the bulb and is connected ticular spot against a frenzy of protest to the whistle by a pipe. Two other and petition from every land dweller pipes, leading from the open air, connect within earshot. An earshot is a long with the tube and valves are so arranged way, anywhere from one to fifteen miles that the air can get in through the open or more, depending on the size of the tubes, but can get out only through the buoy, the roughness of the water, and whistle. The water, in which the buoy the condition of the atmosphere.

is placed of course fills the tube up to its One peculiarity of the whistling buoy own level outside. So when the waves is that the rougher the weather the passing under the bulb, lift it up, the louder the sound. When the wind and water in the tube runs out, partly, and its place is taken by air, rushing in the immense freshly-painted and numthrough the two tubes and valves. When bered buoy is carefully hoisted on board. the wave passes on and drops the buoy On the ship's arriving at the site the down in the hollow, the water rushes up great mass of iron is swung clear of the the tube, compressing the air and push- deck, in the powerful grasp of the hoisting it out through the whistle, which ing engine and deck crane, and it is here makes the note. The higher the waves, that the first danger comes in. If the the greater the air compression and the boat is rocking on the swells to any exmore air to a stroke, and consequently tent, the raised buoy becomes, from an the louder the note.

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inert mass of iron, a live pendulum, Every year, sometimes oftener, the whose irresistible swings are to be whistling buoy must be pulled out and re- dodged with agility, handled with skill placed with a fresh one, the old one to and speed and controlled with caution, be scraped, painted and carefully in- and not infrequently, the cry of “Lower spected for wear in its valves, chafing away, quick!" is heard several times, begear, etc. It is a work of considerable fore the buoy is balanced on the edge skill, and frequently much danger, to and, with a splash and gurgle, goes overchange these buoys. They are anchored board. Then the unusual sight is with immense iron sinkers, or with mush- seen of two whistling buoys side by side, room anchors, and hundreds of feet of one fresh and new and silent, the other chain, depending of course on the loca- old and dirty and noisy. The new buoy tion, depth of water, and similar factors. is silent, usually, for some minutes. The Whistling buoys, of course, are only put poet might say it hesitated about going in waters sufficiently rough to make to work on its saddening duties, but the them sound, and it requires the calm- tender's captain will tell you, "The tube est water which can be had to lift isn't full of water yet.”

Then comes the hard work of the job. The old buoy is secured with a rope and a chain, and lifted a little by the crane, getting a grip about the guarding irons surrounding the whistle. A rope, in a slip-noose, is slipped over the bulb, to fasten around the tube below, and still more lifting is done. Soon all the tackles and “springs” are in position and the word, “Hoist away, carefully now,” is given, and slowly, with a sucking, bubbling noise, as the water runs out and the air rushes in, the buoy


water. If the ship

rolls, the huge affair one of them out and replace it with an- may swing far outboard, and then, if the other. But suppose the water is suffi- crane man is not smart with his “lowerciently quiet to risk the operation. The ing away” of the buoy into the water deck of the vessel used in the work is again, the return swing will crash into cleared for action, and at the buoy depot the ship, very possibly catching some


careless unfortunate and hurting him badly. It is a matter of watching the waves and the buoy, the men, the ropes and the engine, all together and taking advantage of the proper moment to hoist this massive weight of iron with a single crane from water to the deck of the steamer and secure it before it does damage. Once over the deck it comes down with a run, and then, seemingly in the very face and front of danger a dozen men run at it to throw heavy chocks of wood beneath its advancing bulk.

Then the anchor has to be broken loose, after the chain is hauled in, and sometimes this is a troublesome job. For the anchor will have sunk into the soft bottom, become mired and seaweeded ·and barnacled down to the bottom until the powerful crane is powerless to move it, only succeeding in listing the ship or straining tackle to the breaking point. So, then, with a doubled two-inch spring (rope hawser) the chain is made fast to the ship herself and very slowly and tentatively she backs away. Then something happens. Either the anchor breaks away, or the rope breaks or the chain breaks. In the former case nothing remains to be done but to hoist it on board

-in the latter, things must stand from under, a cable or a chain breaking under

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With leaden arms she grasps the seeker's knees,

In silence pointing back at deeds undone,

At gifts unseized and bursts of song unsung,
Till numbing grayness colors all he sees.
Yet at his feet are other chances cast,

Right ready to his hand to have and hold.

This very day's warm sun might see him mold
A living present from an empty past.

-WARWICK JAMES Price in Munsey's Magazine.


(V THEN an Apache runner brought to God that Omstead would leave the

word to the camp that the Colo- great work to him! Let him but build the

rado, sixty miles away, had gone huge dam which was to turn the Spotted on a midsummer rampage, Omstead, the Snake into a watering-can and all these Chief Engineer, loaded a couple of bur- future fields and farms and distant vilros, and started at once for the danger lage would belong to him by right of crepoint. Farley, his assistant, stood on the ation. They would be his own—no mathigh lip of the canyon and waved him ter who held the title deeds. He would be good bye. To be left even in temporary their father and the great dam their charge of the work at Spotted Snake mother! Farley's eyes glanced down brought a sense of freedom and power to again into the pit, where the big gray the young engineer.

foundation blocks of steel and concrete That night he lay before his tent and were lying in their forms, with a look looked down into the deep red gorge that was close to love—though none but where the big dam was to be built. Then an engineer will understand it. he turned his wide, dreaming eyes to the The Colorado proved to be in one of East and saw the brown, flat floor of the her most stubborn and cunning moods Desert dropping down from his high and Omstead was detained far beyond his peak into the bottom of a cup that expected time. At the end of three weeks stretched away unbroken to the furthest the Swede, who totel the grub out from horizon. On that endless canvas he paint- the railroad to the camp on Spotted ed great green fields of alfalfa and In- Snake, brought with him a letter for Fardian maize; fat, red barns and white ley. “I must stay here for three months farm houses and, in the dim distance, the at least," the Chief wrote, “and you'll shining spire of a church. To the ears have to put through the Spotted Snake of his imagination came the click of dam on your own hook. It's up to you, mowers in the fields; the laughter of chil- my boy. Show me that my confidence is dren playing in the door-yards; the lowjustified.” of cattle ; the whistle of a locomotive; ail S obered by the sudden sense of responthe familiar sounds of human life and sibilty, Farley carried the letter up with human activity, breaking through the him to the headquarters tent at the top brooding silence of the desert.

of the gorge. He felt a need of being It was a wonderful picture and as it alone. How much those few lines of vanished the boy sighed deeply. Would good old Omstead's familiar scrawl

ved so he' disapp at the top of he sat

meant to him! This wonderful desert the desert floor towards the camp. He canvas was to be his, to paint on it such moved slowly, with long, easy steps. a picture as he was able. He closed his Presently he disappeared under the eyes and honestly took stock of himself shoulder of the peak at the top of which and of his abilities for the great work in stood the tents. An instant later he sat hand.

down beside the fire, calm and unpanting The plans were sound. He, himself, from the steep climb. had drawn them under the watchful eye "How do you do?" said the stranger. of Omstead. They had been studied and “Good evening," answered Farley, as approved by the head of the whole Rec- if he were greeting an old acquaintance. lamation Service. Remained, then, the “How's the folks?". business of fighting it out with the “Fine, when I heard from them last. treacherous river and with the great, How's yours?" still, patient, merciless Desert-of sink “I'm beginning to get kind a-worried ing the foundation stones down into bed- about 'em. I can't figger what's delayin' rock, of tying the concrete blocks togeth- 'em so long. I been a-waitin'-let's er with bars and braces of steel, of pro- see,” the old man stopped, laid one tecting the soft cement and gravel, until forefinger on the end of the other and it hardened and the mouth of the gorge pulled his eyebrows far down, as if makwas blocked forever by a single solid ing a puzzling calculation—"let's see, it monolith-a man-made mountain which must be pretty nigh thirty year.” should endure when the everlasting hills Farley looked sharply across at the anhad been worn and shaken and cracked cient. “That's a long time," he said. by the frost into bits of debris.

"Where your folks coming from?" In the sheer bottom of the canyon the “Through from Omaha. They lef' Crooked Snake was running along in a there April 3, in the year of '78. I'm thirty-foot creek of noisy water—a thing thinkin' they'll likely be along in the to laugh at. Yet Farley knew that it was mornin'. this same river which had carved the “I hope they may," Farley said. The wide gash six hundred feet deep in the old man stood up. “I must be goin',” he granite and he gave it all proper respect. announced. "Don't like to stay away He knew, most of the tricks of these de- from home long, you see, for fear they ceitful desert rivers and what was beyond might come and miss me." him fell well within the experience of Mc- “Where is your house?” Guire, the big Irish foreman of the ce- The caller shrugged his shoulders. “I ment workers, for “Mac" had been in haven't built jest what you'd call a house Arizona as a gold prospector for thirty yit,” he said, deprecatingly. “Didn't seem years before the first big irrigation dam worth while, till the folks comes. The was built. The two hundred Italian la- wife might not like the place I picked borers Omstead had sent over from out,” he added by way of explanation. Flagstaff were sober, experienced, steady “But where do you live?” men. Summing everything up, as care The old man waved his hand out across fully as he was able and making modest the Desert. “Over there about thirteen allowance for his own comparative youth, mile, where the Snake makes a sharp it was Farley's sane and confident con- turn to the left. It's only a hole in the clusion that he and his men were equal rocks I'm occcp'pyin' temporary 'till the to the work. He would write and teli folks comes. You haven't seen 'em, by Omstead not to worry.

eny chanst goin' by here today, hev ye?” When he lifted his eyes, the moon “No. I haven't seen them. I'm sorry.” a huge pearl, full of soft irridescent “They'd be two schooners," the old lights and colors—was slowly rising into man persisted. “Six cattle to a wagon. a vivid purple sky, pricked out with yel- My wife, she was a tall yeller-haired low stars. In the distance a coyote lifted young gal. They'd be two little boys a gaunt black muzzle against its disc and along—one about six, 'tother two years howled mournfully. Nearer by, a tall older. An' my brother, a tall strappin', man, with a long white beard, carrying red-headed young feller. Ef you see 'em nothing in his hands, was coming across please an’ let 'em know I'm gettin' most

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