WHH Short Fiction: “The Home-Coming of Captain Dan”

Essay: “The Home-Coming of Captain Dan”, William Hope Hodgson, 1918.

NSB Vol 2
Cover by Jason Van Hollander

Like “Mr. Jock Danplank”, this is another treasure hunt story for an inheritance.

Captain Dan returns to his home after being gone 20 years. He’s rich with plunder because he’s been a pirate. He makes a great show of displaying his wealth publically, most of it in some chests, and he vigorously and humorously defends it against the inevitable thieves.

He asks after one Nancy Drigg, a girl he knew before he left and who he asked to marry after he returns from the sea. She’s now a widow, Nancy Garbitt. She has seven daughters.

She agrees to put him up in her house if he behaves and leaves her daughters alone. He gives her money weekly and eventually dies which starts the last third of the story.

While living at Nancy’s house, Captain Dan had a treasure house built at a distance away with imported architects and craftsman (to maintain secrecy) and shaped like a ship. Captain Dan’s will says his treasure is in that house. However, it can only be searched for one day out of the year, from sunrise to sunset, and, if it is not found within seven years, a hidden codicil to his will will reveal who gets the money.

The day for the authorized searches is September 27th, the date that Dan left Nancy for the sea.

The treasure is not found. At sunset, at the end of the seventh and final search, the codicil is read to reveal a bittersweet ending.

It leaves Dan’s gold to Nancy, and it’s buried under the living room of her own home.

She had seven children by another man, so Dan has made her wait seven years for the money because she did not wait for him. The bitterness is that, by this point, Nancy has been dead a year having died during the previous year’s search.

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