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A short story by Louis Becke


Title:     "Luck"
Author: Louis Becke [More Titles by Becke]


A "hard" man was Captain William Rodway of Sydney, New South Wales, and he prided himself upon the fact. From the time he was twenty years of age, he had devoted himself to making and saving money, and now at sixty he was worth a quarter of a million.

He began life as cabin boy on a north-country collier brig; was starved, kicked, and all but worked to death; and when he came to command a ship of his own, his north-country training stood him in good stead--starving, kicking, and working his crew to death came as naturally to him as breathing. He spared no one, nor did he spare himself.

From the very first everything went well with him. He saved enough money by pinching and grinding his crew--and himself--to enable him to buy the vessel to which he had been appointed. Then he bought others, established what was known as Rodway's Line, gave up going to sea himself, rented an office in a mean street, where he slept and cooked his meals, and worked harder than ever at making money, oblivious of the sneers of those who railed at his parsimony. He was content.

One Monday morning at nine o'clock he took his seat as usual in his office, and began to open his pile of letters, his square-set, hard face, with its cold grey eyes, looking harder than ever, for he had been annoyed by the old charwoman who cleaned his squalid place asking him for more wages.

He was half-way through his correspondence when a knock sounded.

"Come in," he said gruffly.

The door opened, and a handsome, well-built young man of about thirty years of age entered.

"Good morning, Captain Rodway."

"Morning, Lester. What do you want? Why are you not at sea?" and he bent his keen eyes upon his visitor.

"I'm waiting for the water-boat; but otherwise I'm ready to sail."

"Well, what is it then?"

"I want to know if it is a fact that you will not employ married men as captains?"

"It is."

"Will you make no exception in my favour?"


"I have been five years in your employ as mate and master of the _Harvest Home_, and I am about to marry."

"Do as you please, but the day you marry you leave my service."

The young man's face flushed. "Then you can give me my money, and I'll leave it to-day."

"Very well. Sit down," replied the old man, reaching for his wages book.

"There are sixty pounds due to you," he said; "go on board and wait for me. I'll be there at twelve o'clock with the new man, and we'll go through the stores and spare gear together. If everything is right, I'll pay your sixty pounds--if not, I'll deduct for whatever is short. Good morning."

At two o'clock in the afternoon Captain Tom Lester landed at Circular Quay with his effects and sixty sovereigns in his pocket.

Leaving his baggage at an hotel he took a cab, drove to a quiet little street in the suburb of Darling Point, and stopped at a quaint, old-fashioned cottage surrounded by a garden.

The door was opened by a tall, handsome girl of about twenty-two.


"Lucy!" he replied, mimicking her surprised tone. Then he became grave, and leading her to a seat, sat beside her, and took her hand.

"Lucy, I have bad news. Rod way dismissed me this morning, and I have left the ship."

The girl's eyes filled. "Never mind, Tom. You will get another."

"Ah, perhaps I might have to wait a long time. I have another plan. Where is Mrs. Warren? I must tell her that our marriage must be put off."

"Why should it, Tom? I don't want it to be put off. And neither does she."

"But I have no home for you."

"We can live here until we have one of our own. Mother will be only too happy."


"Absolutely, or I would not say it."

"Will you marry me this day week?"

"Yes, dear--today if you wish. We have waited two years."

"You're a brave little woman, Lucy," and he kissed her. "Now, here is my plan. I can raise nearly a thousand pounds. I shall buy the _Dolphin_ steam tug--I can get her on easy terms of payment--fill her with coal and stores, and go to Kent's Group in Bass's Straits, and try and refloat the _Braybrook Castle_. I saw the agents and the insurance people this morning--immediately after I left old Bodway. If I float her, it will mean a lot of money for me. If I fail, I shall at least make enough to pay me well by breaking her up. The insurance people know me, and said very nice things to me."

"Will you take me, Tom?"

"Don't tempt me, Lucy. It will be a rough life, living on an almost barren, rocky island, inhabited only by black snakes, albatrosses, gulls and seals."

"Tom, you _must_. Come, let us tell mother."

Three days later they were married, and at six o'clock in the evening the newly-made bride was standing beside her husband on the bridge of the _Dolphin_, which was steaming full speed towards Sydney Heads, loaded down almost to the waterways with coals and stores for four months.



Two months had passed, and the sturdy _Dolphin_ was lying snugly at anchor in a small, well-sheltered cove on one of the Kent's Group of islands. Less than a hundred yards away was one of the rudest attempts at a house ever seen--that is, externally--for it was built with wreckage from many ships and was roofed with tarpaulins and coarse "albatross" grass. Seated on a stool outside the building was Mrs. Lester, engaged in feeding a number of noisy fowls with broken-up biscuit, but looking every now and then towards the _Braybrook Cattle_, which lay on the rocks a mile away with only her lower masts standing. It was nearing the time when her husband and his men would be returning from their usual day's arduous toil. She rose, shook the biscuit crumbs from her apron, and walking down to the _Dolphin_, anchored just in front of the house, called--"Manuel."

A black, woolly head appeared above the companion way, and Manuel, the cook of the wrecking party, came on deck, jumped into the dinghy alongside and sculled ashore.

"Manuel, you know that all the men are having supper in the house to-night," she said, as the man--a good-natured Galveston negro--stepped on shore.

"Yes, ma'am."

"Well, I've done all _my_ share of the cooking--I've made two batches of bread, and the biggest sea pie you ever saw in your life, but I want two buckets of water from the spring."

"All right, ma'am. I'll tote 'em up fo' yo' right away.".

"Please do. And I'll come with you. Captain Lester and the others won't be here for half an hour yet, and I want to show you some curious-looking stuff I saw on the beach this morning. It looks like dirty soap mixed with black shells, like fowl's beaks."

The negro's face displayed a sudden interest. "Mixed with shells, yo' say, ma'am. Did yo' touch it?"

"No--it looks too unpleasant."

The negro picked up the buckets, and, followed by Mrs. Lester, set out along a path which led to a rocky pool of some dimensions filled with rain water.. "Leave the buckets till we come back, Manuel We have not far to go."

She led the way to the beach, and then turning to the left walked along the hard, white sand till they came to a bar of low rocks covered with sea-moss and lichen. Lying against the seaward face of the rock was a pile of driftweed, kelp, crayfish shells, &c;, and half buried in _debris_ was the object that had aroused her curiosity.

"There it is, Manuel," she said, pointing to an irregularly-shaped mass of a mottled grey, yellow and brown substance, looking like soap, mixed with cinders and ashes.

The negro whipped out his sheath knife, plunged it into the mass, then withdrew it, pressed the flat of the blade to his nostrils, and then uttered a yell of delight, clapped his hands, took off his cap and tossed it in the air, and rolled his eyes in such an extraordinary manner, that Mrs. Lester thought he had become suddenly insane.

"Yo' am rich woman now, ma'am," he said in his thick, fruity voice. "Dat am ambergris. I know it well 'nuff. I was cook on a whaleship fo' five years, and have handled little bits of ambergris two or three times, but no one in de world, I believe, ever see such a lump like dis."

"Is it worth anything then?"

"Worth anything, ma'am! It am worth twenty-two shillings de ounce!"

He knelt down and began clearing away the weed till the whole mass was exposed, placed his arms around it, and partly lifted it.

"Dere is more'n a hundredweight," he chuckled, as he looked up at Mrs. Lester, who was now also feeling excited. "Look at dis now."

He cut out a slice of the curious-looking oleaginous stuff, struck a match and applied the light. A pale yellow flame was the result, and with it there came a strong but pleasant smell.

Mrs. Lester had never heard of ambergris to her recollection, but Manuel now enlightened her as to its uses--the principal being as a developer of the strength of all other perfumes.

Such a treasure could not be left where it was--exposed to the risk of being carried away by the tide so the negro at once went to work with his knife, catting it into three pieces, each of which he carried to the house, and put into an empty barrel. Then he returned and carefully searched for and picked up the minutest scraps which had broken off whilst he was cutting the "find" through.

Just at sunset, Lester and his gang of burly helpers returned tired and hungry, but highly elated, for they had succeeded in getting out an unusual amount of valuable cargo.

"We've had great luck to-day, Lucy," cried Lester, as he strode over the coarse grass in his high sea boots; "and, all going well, we shall make the first attempt to pull the ship off the day after to-morrow."

"And I have had luck too," said his wife, her fair, sweet face, now bronzed by the sun, glowing as she spoke. "But come inside first, and then I'll tell you."

The interior of the dwelling consisted of two rooms only--a small bedroom and a large living room which was also used as a kitchen. It was quite comfortably furnished with handsome chairs, lounges, chests of drawers, and other articles taken from the cabin of the stranded ship. The centre of the room was occupied by a large deal table made by one of the men, and a huge fire of drift timber blazed merrily at one end. Manuel was laying the table, his black face beaming with sup-pressed excitement, and the rough, sea-booted wreckers entered one by one and sat down. Mrs. Lester bade them smoke if they wished.

"Well, boys," said their leader to the wrecking party--of whom there were thirty--"we all deserve a drink before supper. Help yourselves to whatever you like," and he pointed to a small side-table covered with bottles of spirits and glasses. Then Lucy, after they had all satisfied themselves, walked over to the cask containing her "find," and standing beside it, asked if they would all come and look at the contents and see if they knew what it was. Lester, thinking she had succeeded in catching a young seal, looked on with an amused smile.

One by one the men came and looked inside the cask, felt the greasy mass with their horny fingers, and each shook his head until the tenth man, who, the moment he saw it, gave a shout.

"Why, I'm blest if it ain't ambow-grease!"

Lester started. "Ambergris! Nonsense!" and then he too uttered a cry of astonishment as a second man--an old whaler--darted in front of him, and, pinching off a piece of the "find," smelt it.

"Hamble-grist it is, sir," he cried, "and the cask is chock-full of it."

"Turn it out on the floor," said Lester, who knew the enormous value of ambergris, "and let us get a good look at it. Light all the lamps, Lucy."

The lamps were lit, and then Manuel repeated his experiment by burning a piece, amid breathless excitement. No further doubt could exist, and then Manuel, taking a spring balance (weighing up to 50 lbs.) from the wall, hung it to a rafter, whilst the men put the lot into three separate bags and suspended them to the hook in turn.

"Forty-five pounds," cried the mate of the Dolphin, as the first bag was hooked on. "Come on with the next one."

"Thirty-nine pounds."

"_And_ thirty-four pounds makes a hundred and eighteen," said Lester, bending down and eagerly examining the dial.

"How much is it worth, skipper?" asked the tug's engineer.

"Not less than L1 an ounce----"

"No, sah," cried Manuel, with an _ex cathedra_ air, "twenty-two shillings, sah. Dat's what the captain of de _Fanny Long_ Hobart Town whaleship got fo' a piece eleven poun' weight in Sydney last June. And I hear de boys sayin' dat he would hab got L1 5s. only dat dere was a power of squids' beaks in it--and dere's not many in dis lot, so it's gwine to bring more."

He explained that the pieces of black shell, which looked like broken mussel shells, were in reality the beaks of the squid, upon which the sperm whale feeds. Then, for the benefit of those of the party, he and the two other ex-whalemen described the cause of the formation of this peculiar substance in the body of the sperm whale.

Lester took pencil and paper and made a rapid calculation.

"Boys, we'll say that this greasy-looking staff is worth only a pound an ounce--though I don't doubt that Manuel is right. Well, at L1 an ounce, it comes to eighteen hundred and eighty-eight pounds."

"Hurrah for Mrs. Lester!" cried Lindley, the mate.

"She has brought us luck from the first, and now she has luck herself."

The men cheered her again and again, for there was not one of them that had not a rough affection for their captain's violet-eyed wife. They had admired her for her pluck even in making the voyage to this desolate spot, and her constant cheerfulness and her kindness and attention in nursing three of them who had been seriously ill cemented their feelings of devotion to her. There was a happy supper party in "Wreck House"---as Lucy had named her strangely-built abode--that night, and it was not until the small hours of the morning that the men went off to sleep on the tug, and left Lucy and her husband to themselves.

"I'm too excited to sleep now, Tom," she said. "Come, I must show you the place where I found it. It is not a bit cold. And oh! Tom, I'm beginning to love this lonely island, and the rough life, and the tame seals, and the wild goats, and the fowls, and black Manuel, and, and--oh, everything! And look, Tom dear, over there at the lighthouse at Deal Island. I really believe the light was never shining as it is to-night. Oh! all the world is bright to me."



Two days later, and after nearly fifteen weeks of arduous and unremitting labour, there came, one calm night, a glorious spring tide, and the _Dolphin_, under a full head of steam, and with her stout, broad frame quivering and throbbing and panting, tugged away at the giant hulk of the stranded ship; and the ship's own donkey engine and winch wheezed and groaned as it slowly brought in inch by inch a heavy coir hawser made fast to a rock half a cable length ahead of the tug. And then the _Braybrook Castle_ began to move, and the wrecking gang cheered and cheered until they were hoarse, and the second engineer of the tug and two stokers, stripped to their waists, with the perspiration streaming down their roasting bodies, answered with a yell--and then, lying well over on her starboard bilge, the great ship slid off stern first into deep water, and Tom Lester's heart leapt within him with joy and pride.

Lucy, as excited as any one else, was on the bridge with him, her face aglow, and her hand on the lever of the engine-room telegraph.

"Half-speed, Lucy."

As the bell clanged loudly, and the heart of the sturdy tug beat less frantically, the wrecking gang on board the ship under Lindley slipped their end of the coir hawser from the winch barrel, and worked like madmen to get the ship on an even keel by cutting adrift the lashings of several hundred barrels of cement (part of the cargo) which were piled up on the starboard side of the main deck, and letting them plunge overboard As the ship righted herself inch by inch, and finally stood up on an even keel, Lester made an agreed-upon signal--blowing his whistle thrice--for Lindley to stand by his anchors, which were all ready to let go.

His device of getting up the barrels of cement from the lower hold, and stowing them against the iron deck stanchions (having previously cut away the bulwark plates) so as to give the vessel a big cant to starboard, had answered perfectly; for, high as was the tide that night, the _Dolphin_, though so powerful, could not have moved a ship of 1,500 tons with her keel still partly sustaining her weight on the rooks on which she had struck. By canting her as he had done, she had actually floated--and no more than floated--an hour before the tide was at its full.

Half an hour later the _Braybrook Castle_ had been towed round to a little bay just abreast of "Wreck House," and the tug's engines stopped.

"All ready, Lindley?" shouted Lester.

"All ready sir."

"Then let go."

At a tap from Lindley's hammer, the great anchor plunged down, and the flaked out cable roared as it flew through the hawse-pipes, drowning the loud "Hurrah" of the men on board.

"What is it, Lindley?" cried Lester, "ten fathoms?"

"Twelve, sir."

"Give her another twenty-five. It's good holding ground and there is plenty of room for her to swing. Lindley!"

"Yes, sir."

"We have had a bit of good luck, eh?"

"Yes, sir. That is because Mrs. Lester is on the tug. She brings us good luck."

Lester laughed and turned to his wife. "Do you hear that, Lucy?"

She was gazing intently over to the westward, but turned to him the moment he spoke.

"Tom, I can see a blue light over there.... Ah, see, there is a rocket! What is it?"

Lester took his night glasses and looked.

"There is a ship ashore somewhere between here and the Deal Island light," he said, and then he rang, "Go astern," to the engine-room.

"Lindley," he called as soon as the tug backed alongside the _Braybrook Castle_, "there is a ship ashore about four miles away from us to the westward. My wife noticed her signals a few minutes ago."

"More salvage, sir," bawled Lindley, "Mrs. Lester is bringing us more luck. What's to be, sir?"

"I want ten or a dozen men, and I'll go and see what I can do. You are all right, aren't you?"

"Right as rain, sir."

Fifteen, instead of a dozen men slid down a line on to the deck of the tug, and Lucy, at a nod from her husband, turned on "Full steam ahead," and Lester whistled down the speaking-tube.

"Hallo!" was the response.

"Give it to her, Patterson, for all she's worth. There is a ship ashore about four miles away. She is burning blue lights and sending up rockets."

Five minutes later, the Dolphin was tearing through the water at her top speed--eleven knots--and Patterson came up on the bridge.

"Who saw the seegnals first?" he inquired.

"I did, Mr. Patterson," said Lucy.

"Ay, I thoct as much, Mistress Leslie. Even that lazy, sheeftless Irish fireman loon ae mine, Rafferty, said ye'd bring us mair guid luck." Then he dived below again to the engines so dear to his Scotsman's heart.

The night was dark, but calm and windless, and the panting tug tore her way through a sea as smooth as glass towards where the ghastly glare of the last blue light had been seen. Twenty minutes later, Lester caught sight of the distressed ship. She was lying on her beam ends, and almost at the same moment came a loud hail--

"Steamer ahoy!"

"Clang!" went the telegraph, and the _Dolphin's_ engines stopped, and then went astern, just in time to save her from crashing into a boat crowded with men; a second boat was close astern of the first. They came alongside, and the occupants swarmed over the tug's low bulwarks, and an old greybearded man made his way up to Lester.

"My cowardly crew have forced me to abandon my ship. We were caught in a squall yesterday, and thrown on our beam ends." Then he fell down in a fit.

"Veer those boats astern," cried Lester to his own men, "I'm going to hook on to that ship!"

Bailey, one of his best men, gave a yell.

"More luck, boys. Mrs. Lester!"

As the poor captain was carried off the bridge into the little cabin, the _Dolphin_ went ahead, and in a quarter of an hour, Bailey and his men had cut away the masts and the tug had the ship in tow.

At daylight next morning Lester brought her into the little bay where the _Braybrook Castle_ lay, and Bailey anchored her safely.

When Lester boarded her he found she was the _Harvest Queen_, sister ship to the _Harvest Maid_, _Harvester_, and his own last command, the _Harvest Home_, all ships of 1,500 tons, and belonging to Captain James Rodway.

"Why didn't you cut away her masts?" he said to the unfortunate captain later on.

"Ah, you don't know my owner," the old man replied, "and besides that, I could have righted the ship if my crew had stuck to me. But after being eighteen hours on our beam ends, they took fright and lowered the boats. I'm a ruined man."

"Not at all. You have done your duty and I'll give you command of another ship to-day--the _Braybrook Castle_. You have nothing further to do with the _Harvest Queen_. She was an abandoned ship. She's mine now. Salvage, you know."

The old man nodded his head. "Yes, I know that. And you'll make a pot oat of her."

"What is she worth?"

"Ship and cargo are worth L80,000. We loaded a general cargo in London."

"That will be a bit of a knock for Rodway." "Do you know him?" asked Captain Blake in surprise.

"I do indeed! I was master of the _Harvest Home_. Now come ashore. My wife is getting as something to eat."



At the end of another four weeks, the _Braybrook Castle_, with three-fourths of the cargo she had brought from London, sailed for Sydney under the command of Captain Blake of the _Harvest Queen_, and the _Harvest Queen_ under jury masts, and with her valuable cargo undamaged, was ready to sail, escorted by the _Dolphin_ on the following day, with Lindley as master.

The last night at "Wreck House" was even a merrier and happier one than that on which the wrecking party celebrated Lucy's "find." But yet Lucy herself felt a little sad at saying farewell to this wild spot, where amid the roar of the ever-beating surf, and the clamour of the gulls and terns, she had spent the four happiest months of her life. The rough food, the fresh sea-air, and the active life had, Lester declared, only served to increase her beauty, and she herself had never felt so strong and in such robust health before. Almost every day in fine weather she had taken a walk to some part of the interior of the island, or along the many white beaches, filling a large basket with sea-birds' eggs, or collecting the many beautiful species of cowries and other sea-shells with which the beaches were strewn. Years before, another wrecking party had left some goats on the island, and these had thriven and increased amazingly. Her husband's men had shot a great number for food, and captured three or four, which supplied them with milk, and these latter, with their playful kids, and a number of fowls which had been brought from Sydney in the _Dolphin_, together with a pair of pet baby seals, made up what she called her "farmyard." On one part of the island there was a dense thicket of low trees, the resort not only of hundreds of wild goats, but of countless thousands of terns and other sea-birds, who had made it their breeding ground. It was situated at the head of a tiny landlocked bay, the beach of which was covered with the weather-worn spars and timbers of some great ship which had gone ashore there perhaps thirty or forty years before. The whole of the foreshores of the island, however, were alike in that respect, for it had proved fatal to many a good ship, even from the time that gallant navigator Matthew Flinders had first discovered the group.

On the morning of the last day of the stay of the wrecking party on the island, Lucy set out for this place, remembering that on her last visit she had left a basket of cowries there. Bidding her beware of black snakes, for the place was noted for these deadly reptiles, Lester went off on board the _Harvest Queen_.

An hour afterwards, as Lester was engaged with Lindley in the ship's cabin, a man on deck called down the skylight to him.

"Here is Mrs. Lester coming back, sir. She's running, and is calling for you."

With a dreadful fear that she had been bitten by a snake, Lester rushed on deck, jumped into a boat, and was ashore in a few minutes. Lucy, too exhausted to come down to the boat and meet him, had sat down in front of the now nearly empty house.

"I'm all right, Tom," she panted, as he ran up to her, "but I've had a terrible fright," and she could not repress a shudder. "I have just seen three skeletons in the thicket scrub, and all about them are strewn all sorts of things, and there are two or three small kegs, one of which is filled with money, for the end has burst and the money has partly run out on the sand."

Lester sprang to his feet, and called out to the two men who had pulled him ashore to come to him.

"Mrs. Lester's luck again!" he cried.

"Mrs. Lester's luck again!" bawled one of the men to the rest of the wrecking party on board the _Harvest Queen_, and in an instant the cry was taken up, and then came a loud cheer, as, disregarding discipline, all hands tumbled into a boat alongside, frantically eager to learn what had occurred.

Lester waited for them, and then Lucy gave a more detailed account of how she made her discovery.

"I found my basket where I had left it, and had just sat down to take off my shoes, which were filled with sand, when a goat with two of the sweetest little kids you ever saw in your life came suddenly out from behind a rock. The kids were not more than a day or two old, and I determined to catch at least one of them to take home. The moment the mother saw me she ran off with her babies, and I followed. They dived into the thicket, and led me _such_ a dance, for they ran much faster than I thought they could.

"I had never been so far into the scrub before, and felt a little bit frightened--it was so dark and quiet--but I was too excited to give up, so on I sped until the nanny and kids ran into what seemed a tunnel in the thick scrub. It is really a road made by the goats and is only about three feet high, the branches and creepers making a regular archway overhead. I stooped down and followed, and in a few minutes came to a little space which was open to the sky; for the sunlight was so bright that, coming out of the dark tunnel place, I was quite dazzled for a few moments, and had to put my hands over my eyes.

"When I looked about, I saw that the ground was strewed with all sorts of things--rotten boards and boxes, and ships' blocks, and empty bottles and demijohns, with all the cane covering gone. Then I saw the three kegs, and noticed one had burst open or rotted away, and that it was filled with what looked like very large and dirty nickel pennies. I went to it and took some up, and saw they were crown pieces! Of course, I was at once wildly excited, and thought no more of the dear little kiddies, when I heard one of them cry out--quite near--and saw it, lying down exhausted, about ten yards away. I was running over to it when I saw those three dreadful skeletons. They are lying quite close to each other, near some brass cannons and a lot of rusty ironwork. I was so terrified that I forgot all about the poor kid, and--and, well, that is all; and here I am with my skirt in rags, and my face scratched, and my hair loose, and 'all of a bobbery,' as Manuel says."

"Boys," said Lester, "I'm pretty sure I know how those poor fellows' bones come to be there. An East Indiaman--the _Mountjoy_--was lost somewhere on the Kent Group about sixty years ago; and I have read that she had a lot of specie on board. Now, as soon as Mrs. Lester has rested a bit, we'll start."

"I'll carry you, ma'am," said Bailey, a herculean creature of 6 ft. 6 in., and stepping into "Wreck House" he brought out a chair, seated Lucy on it, and amidst applause and laughter, lifted it up on his mighty shoulders as if she was no more weight than the chair itself.

She guided them to the spot, and within an hour, not only the three small casks--all of which were filled with English silver money, but the contents of two others, which were found lying partly buried in the sandy soil, were brought to the house. And then began the exciting task of counting the coins, which took some time, and when Lester announced the result, a rousing cheer broke from the men.

"Six thousand, two hundred and seven pounds, four shillings, boys; all with the blessed picture of good old George the Third on them. Lucy, my dear, let us drink your health."

Lucy drew him aside for a minute or two ere she complied with his request, and with sparkling eyes she talked earnestly to him.

"Of course I will, dear," he said.

"Now, hoys," he cried, as Lucy brought out two bottles of brandy, and some cups and glasses, "let us drink my wife's health. She has brought us good luck. And she and I are dividing a thousand pounds between you, with an extra fifty for Manuel; for I'm pretty well certain that the Home Government can't claim any royalty."

The rough wreckers cheered and cheered again, as they drank to "Mrs. Lester's Luck." They were all being paid high wages, and were worth them, for they had toiled manfully, and the most pleasant relations had always existed between them and Lester.

Immediately after breakfast on the following morning the anchors of the _Harvest Queen_ were weighed to the raising chanty of--

"Hurrah, my boys, we're Homeward Bound!" and then the _Dolphin_, with Lester on the bridge and Lucy beside him at the telegraph, went ahead, and tautened out the tow line, and Lindley made all sail on his stumpy jury masts.

Seventeen days later, the gallant little tug pulled the _Harvest Queen_ into Sydney Harbour. "Mrs. Lester's Luck," had been with them the whole voyage, for from the time they had left Kent's Group, till they passed between Sydney Heads, nothing but fine weather and favourable winds had been experienced.

As the _Dolphin_, with the hulking _Harvest Queen_ behind her, came up the smooth waters of the harbour to an anchorage off Garden Island, big Bailey, who was standing beside Lester and Lucy on the bridge, uttered a yell of delight.

"Mrs. Lester's luck again, by all that's holy! There is the _Braybrook Castle_ at anchor over in Neutral Bay!"

It was indeed the _Braybrook Castle_, which had arrived only one day previously, and when Lester went on shore a few hours later, he found that he was a richer man by over L17,000 than when he had left Sydney less than six months before.

And "Mrs. Lester's Luck" brought happiness to many other people beside herself and her husband in the city of the Southern Sea, and when a year later, in England, she stood on a stage under the bows of a gallant ship of two thousand tons, built to Lester's order, and broke a bottle of Australian wine against her steel plates, she named her "The Lucy's Luck!"

[The end]
Louis Becke's short story: "Luck"