Tom Hallett lived in an old town on the Atlantic seaboard, a port of New Hampshire that was wedged in between the rocky coast of Maine and the sandy beaches of Massachusetts. If he crossed the broad river to the north, the beautiful Pesumpscot, by the old toll-bridge that seemed as ancient as the town itself, he came into the Pine Tree State. If he sailed to the south, he had not far to go before he reached Cape Ann. Back of him, to the west, lay the foothills of the White Mountains, and he had often tramped far enough in that direction to see the noble outline of Mount Washington rise grandly against the sky. In front—for people who live along the seacoast always think of the ocean as being at their front door—was the harbor of Barmouth, a wide semi-circle, its two horns sticking way out to the east, its broad bosom dotted with many islands. Once Barmouth town had sent many ships to sea, merchantmen to the West Indies, around Cape Horn, to the fabled lands of India and China, fishing fleets to the Grand Banks off Newfoundland, whalers to the Arctic; now, however, ships were not so plentiful, sails had given place to steam, and the young men stayed ashore to make their living rather than seek the rigors and gales that were a part of the toll exacted by Father Neptune.