The After House
I Plan A Voyage
By the bequest of an elder brother, I was left enough money to see me through a
small college in Ohio, and to secure me four years in a medical school in the
East. Why I chose medicine I hardly know. Possibly the career of a surgeon
attracted the adventurous element in me. Perhaps, coming of a family of doctors,
I merely followed the line of least resistance. It may be, indirectly but inevitably,
that I might be on the yacht Ella on that terrible night of August 12, more than a
I got through somehow. I played quarterback on the football team, and made
some money coaching. In summer I did whatever came to hand, from chartering
a sail-boat at a summer resort and taking passengers, at so much a head, to
checking up cucumbers is Indiana for a Western pickle house.
I was practically alone. Commencement left me with a diploma, a new dress-suit,
an out-of-date medical library, a box of surgical instruments of the same date as
the books, and an incipient case of typhoid fever.
I was twenty-four, six feet tall, and forty inches around the chest. Also, I had lived
clean, and worked and played hard. I got over the fever finally, pretty much all
bone and appetite; but - alive. Thanks to the college, my hospital care had cost
nothing. It was a good thing: I had just seven dollars in the world.
The yacht Ella lay in the river not far from my hospital windows. She was not a
yacht when I first saw her, nor at any time, technically, unless I use the word in
the broad sense of a pleasure-boat. She was a two-master, and, when I saw her
first, as dirty and disreputable as are most coasting-vessels. Her rejuvenation
was the history of my convalescence. On the day she stood forth in her first coat
of white paint, I exchanged my dressing-gown for clothing that, however loosely it
hung, was still clothing. Her new sails marked my promotion to beefsteak, her
brass rails and awnings my first independent excursion up and down the corridor
outside my door, and, incidentally, my return to a collar and tie.