The Sandman: His Sea Stories  by Willliam J. Hopkins

The Driftwood Story

O NCE upon a time there was a wide river that ran into the ocean, and beside it was a little city. And in that city was a wharf where great ships came from far countries. And a narrow road led down a very steep hill to that wharf, and anybody that wanted to go to the wharf had to go down the steep hill on the narrow road, for there wasn't any other way. And because ships had come there for a great many years and all the sailors and all the captains and all the men who had business with the ships had to go on that narrow road, the flagstones that made the sidewalks were much worn. That was a great many years ago.

The river and the ocean are there yet, as they always have been and always will be; and the city is there, but it is a different kind of a city from what it used to be. And the wharf is slowly falling down, for it is not used now; and the narrow road down the steep hill is all grown up with weeds and grass.

Many times, in the long ago, the brig Industry  had sailed from that wharf, on voyages to far countries, and had come back again to the wharf, bringing spices and tea and sets of china and pretty little tables inlaid with ivory and ebony, and camel's hair shawls, and cloth of goat's hair, and logs of teak-wood to make things of, and many another beautiful thing. And, when Captain Jonathan and Captain Jacob moved their office to Boston, she had sailed from a wharf in Boston to that far country. Captain Solomon was the captain of the Industry  then. And Captain Solomon married and had sons, and when those sons were beginning to get old enough to go to sea, Captain Solomon stopped being a captain and became a farmer. For he didn't want his sons to go to sea, and he thought that, if he had a farm, away from the salt ocean, they wouldn't go. So he bought the farm that it tells about in the Farm Stories. But little Sol ran away to sea, just the same; and he got to be the captain of the Industry.

And Captain Jonathan got to be an old man, and he died peacefully. And still the brig Industry  sailed to that far country and sailed back again. And the years passed, and Captain Jacob got to be a very old man, and he died, too; and Lois was an old woman, and little Jacob, her son, had grown to be a man, and little Lois, her daughter, had grown up and married. And still the brig Industry  sailed on her voyages and came back again, but she was getting to be old, too.

And, at last, after more years had passed, the Industry  was so old that she needed to have a lot done to her to make her safe. And her owners decided that it wasn't worth while to rebuild an old vessel, but they would build a new one instead; for they didn't build the kind of ship that the Industry  was any more, but they built a kind that they thought was better and faster. So, when she got in the next time from that far country, they told her captain what they had decided to do. That captain wasn't Captain Sol. He didn't go to sea any more, but he lived in Boston.

So, when she had been unloaded, the captain and some sailors sailed her down to the wide river that the little city was beside. It took them only about a half a day to go there from Boston, and the Industry  sailed into the river for the last time, and up to the wharf that was all falling down. And the men tied her to the wharf with great ropes. Many times had she been tied up at that wharf, and she had loaded there and had been unloaded there many times. But she now would never again go sailing out of the river into the great ocean.


Many times had she been tied up at that wharf.

And the captain went to the riggers of ships, and he had hard work to find them; but at last he found some riggers of ships that were left, and he told them to come to the wharf and take the sails and the yards off the Industry, and the masts out of her, because she was going to be broken up. And the riggers came, and they took the sails off the yards and they took the yards down; and they took down the topmasts, and they took off the bowsprit, and they took out the great masts that had felt the strain of the winds blowing on the sails for thousands and thousands of miles. And the Industry  was nothing but an old hulk lying at an old wharf that was falling down.

Then some junk men came, and they stripped off the copper sheets that were on her bottom, and they took the iron work out of her, and they carried the copper sheets and the iron to their shop. Then they untied the great ropes which held the hulk to the wharf, and they towed all that was left of the Industry  to a shallow place, up the wide river, and there they pulled it high up on the shore. And some more men came and began stripping off the sheathing of thin boards that had been put on outside of her planking, and they sawed this sheathing up until it was small enough to go in a fireplace, and they split it up into small sticks. For the sheathing, that has been next to the copper sheets and has gone in the salt water for so many years, would burn with pretty green and blue flames and little flashes of red. And then they began to take off her thick planking of oak.

Lois's son, that had been little Jacob, was Squire Jacob when he had grown up. And he heard of it, and he came to see the end of the Industry. And, when he saw the remains of the ship lying there on the shore, and saw where the men had taken the planks off, so that her great ribs showed, like a skeleton, the sight filled his heart with sadness. He thought of the voyage that he had made in her, when he was a little boy, and he thought of the many times that she had sailed to that far country and had always brought the sailors and the captains back safe; and he stood there, looking, for a long time. But, at last, he turned away, and he went to the men who had the sheathing all sawed and split into small sticks, and he bought that sheathing, every bit of it. And he told the men that he would like to have the rudder and one or two of the ribs. And the men said that they would be glad to give him the rudder and some of the ribs.

Then he went back to the little city, and he found an old sailor who had sailed in the Industry. That sailor was an old man and he didn't go to sea any more, he was so old; but he lived in a nice kind of a place that was for old sailors to live in, and he liked to whittle things with his knife. He could whittle pretty well, for sailors are great whittlers. And Lois's son, Squire Jacob, told this old sailor about the Industry, and how he had bought all the sheathing that there was, and that he would have the rudder and some of the ribs. And he asked the sailor if he could manage to make a model of the brig Industry  out of the rudder, and fit it with sails and everything just as the Industry  really had been. And the sailor was sorry when he heard about it, and he said he would like nothing better than to make the model, and it should be exactly like the Industry, down to the smallest block and the least rope. And he said that he would make the model for nothing if he might have the rest of the rudder to make a model for himself, too.

So Squire Jacob was glad, and he told the old sailor that he could have the rest of the rudder and welcome, and that he must come up sometimes and sit in front of his fire when the sheathing was burning; for he had a good deal of it, and it would be a long time before it was all burned up. And the old man thanked him and said that he would be glad to come.

Then Squire Jacob went to some cabinet makers, and he said that he would like to have them make a chair for him out of the ribs of the Industry. It would be an arm-chair and would have a picture of the brig carved in the wood up at the top of the back. And the cabinet makers understood, and they said that they would make him the arm-chair.

And at last the arm-chair was all done, and the model was almost done; but the arm-chair was done first. And, one evening, Squire Jacob was sitting in the arm-chair before the fire, and in his hand he held the little model of the Industry, that an old sailor had carved, with his jackknife, for his Christmas present when he went on that voyage to far countries as a little boy. The hull of that little model was made of ebony and the masts and spars were little ebony sticks; and the sails were of ivory, scraped thin, and the ropes were silk thread. And the sails were bulging, as if the wind was filling them and making them stand out from the yards. But the ivory sails were yellow with age, and the silk thread was all yellow and rotten.


That little model was only about three inches long, so that it rested easily on Squire Jacob's hand. He sat before the fire, looking at the little model, and his wife sat in another chair beside him. And their daughter, who was named Lois, was sitting in a low chair by her mother. That Lois was pretty nearly grown up. And Squire Jacob remembered, and he told his wife and his daughter Lois the things that it tells about in the Christmas Story.

When he had finished telling the Christmas Story, the door-bell rang; and Lois went to the door, and she came back and said that an old man was out in the hall, but he wouldn't come in. And Squire Jacob went out to the hall, and he came back with the old sailor who had carved the model of the brig Industry  out of the real rudder of the ship. He had that model in his arms. And he set the model that he had brought in the middle of the mantel, over the fire, and sat down in the arm-chair. And Squire Jacob didn't say anything, but he handed him the little model, made of ebony and ivory.

The old sailor took the little model, and it made him remember many things; and he remembered about the old man who had carved that model and about that very voyage, for he had been one of the crew of the Industry  when she went on that voyage to far countries and carried little Jacob and little Sol. And he told some stories about that sailor and that voyage that Squire Jacob was very glad to hear.

They all sat there for a long time, but they didn't say much. And the old sailor looked from the little model of the Industry, in his hand, to the big one, that was on the mantel before him; and Squire Jacob took some of the sheathing of the real Industry  and put it on the fire. And it blazed up with flames that were all green and blue, and red.

"A many miles o' ocean's in that flame," said the old sailor, "a many miles."

"And a good ship," said Squire Jacob.

"That she was," said the old sailor. "A good ship."

And they watched the sheathing burning, and Squire Jacob thought that he saw pictures in the flames. At first he saw a ship all alone on the great ocean, and nothing could be seen from the ship but miles of tossing water; and the flame died out. Then another flame blazed up, and Squire Jacob saw a great river with a city on the bank, and the brig Industry  was anchored in the river. And many little boats were rowed from the city to the ship and back again. The little boats were loaded with tea and spices and camel's-hair shawls and many other beautiful things. And he saw Captain Solomon on the ship and that flame died out. And another flame blazed up, and he saw the Industry  just coming up the river and tying up at the wharf that the narrow road led down to. And that flame died out quickly, and the piece of sheathing only glowed, for it was all burned to ashes, and the ashes dropped down where the other ashes were.

And that's all of this book.