The Courage of Captain Plum

James Oliver Curwood
The Courage of Captain Plum

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Title: The Courage of Captain Plum
Author: James Oliver Curwood
Release Date: May 20, 2004 [EBook #12388]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

Produced by Suzanne Shell, Kara Passmore, Leah Moser and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

[Illustration: "I am going to take you from the island!"]


On an afternoon in the early summer of 1856 Captain Nathaniel Plum,
master and owner of the sloop Typhoon was engaged in nothing more
important than the smoking of an enormous pipe. Clouds of strongly
odored smoke, tinted with the lights of the setting sun, had risen above
his head in unremitting volumes for the last half hour. There was
infinite contentment in his face, notwithstanding the fact that he had
been meditating on a subject that was not altogether pleasant. But
Captain Plum was, in a way, a philosopher, though one would not have
guessed this fact from his appearance. He was, in the first place, a
young man, not more than eight or nine and twenty, and his strong,
rather thin face, tanned by exposure to the sea, was just now lighted up
by eyes that shone with an unbounded good humor which any instant
might take the form of laughter.
At the present time Captain Plum's vision was confined to one direction,
which carried his gaze out over Lake Michigan. Earlier in the day he
had been able to discern the hazy outline of the Michigan wilderness
twenty miles to the eastward. Straight ahead, shooting up rugged and
sharp in the red light of the day's end, were two islands. Between these,
three miles away, the sloop Typhoon was strongly silhouetted in the
fading glow. Beyond the islands and the sloop there were no other
objects for Captain Plum's eyes to rest upon. So far as he could see
there was no other sail. At his back he was shut in by a dense growth of
trees and creeping vines, and unless a small boat edged close in around
the end of Beaver Island his place of concealment must remain
undiscovered. At least this seemed an assured fact to Captain Plum.
In the security of his position he began to whistle softly as he beat the

bowl of his pipe on his boot-heel to empty it of ashes. Then he drew a
long-barreled revolver from under a coat that he had thrown aside and
examined it carefully to see that the powder and ball were in solid and
that none of the caps was missing. From the same place he brought
forth a belt, buckled it round his waist, shoved the revolver into its
holster, and dragging the coat to him, fished out a letter from an inside
pocket. It was a dirty, much worn letter. Perhaps he had read it a score
of times. He read it again now, and then, refilling his pipe, settled back
against the rock that formed a rest for his shoulders and turned his eyes
in the direction of the sloop.
The last rim of the sun had fallen below the Michigan wilderness and in
the rapidly increasing gloom the sloop was becoming indistinguishable.
Captain Plum looked at his watch. He must still wait a little longer
before setting out upon the adventure that had brought him to this
isolated spot. He rested his head against the rock, and thought. He had
been thinking for hours. Back in the thicket he heard the prowling of
some small animal. There came the sleepy chirp of a bird and the
rustling of tired wings settling for the night. A strange stillness hovered
about him, and with it there came over him a loneliness that was
chilling, a loneliness that made him homesick. It was a new and
unpleasant sensation to Captain Plum. He could not remember just
when he had experienced it before; that is, if he dated the present from
two weeks ago to-night. It was then that the letter had been handed to
him in Chicago, and it had been a weight upon his soul and a prick to
his conscience ever since. Once or twice he had made up his mind to
destroy it, but each time he had repented at the
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