Part 2 out of 4
glass to the northward, and in a moment I saw a black speck rise and
then disappear from the line of vision.
"Vessel to lor'ard, sir," I bawled to the captain.
"I don't care for forty vessels, Rolling. Get me that steward with the
liquor, or there'll be one afloat here without a second mate."
It was with no good feeling that I went below to get the old man a drink.
The steward met me and grinned as he brought forth the liquor.
"Yessah, it's nine ob dem he takes endurin' de watch. Lord, man, he's got
something pow'rful on his mind. Did yo' ebber feel the heft ob his trunk
he brought aboard, sah? No, sah, dat yo' didn't. Well, it's pow'rful
heavy fo' a man's baggage."
"What's in it?" I asked.
"'Deed, I doan know, man, jest what is in it, but I reckon it's something
what worries him. Dat an' Cap'n Andrews forrads worries him some. Chips,
he say as dey goes aft an' have matters straightened out a bit. Dey is
fo' either weldin' irons on de cap'n forrads or puttin' him on de beach.
Jim, Hans, Bendin, an' Frenchy an' a lot more are fo' doing' somethin'
with him. Yessah, dey is dat. Hab a leetle nip 'fore yo' goes?"
I took one and went back to the quarter-deck. The speck to leeward showed
a bit of storm canvas flying, and we soon could make out she was a large
ship hove to like ourselves on the port tack. Her hull showed now and
again on the seas, and after drifting down toward her for about an hour,
the light grew strong enough to make her out plainly. She was a large
ship, English built, with a turtle-backed stern, painted white on the
tumble-home of the quarter. Her hull was black, and the foam showed in
long white lines of streamers as it was blown across her topsides. She
was making heavy weather of it, and every now and again she would ram her
nose clear out of sight in the high-rolling sea. Then she would rise
heavily, with the white water pouring from her dripping forefoot and
wallow dismally, until her weather rail would appear to roll under.
The stump of a foremast showed forward and a stout maintopsail strained
away amidships, while aft, where the mizzen should have been, there was
nothing showing above her deck. Her main topgallant mast was also gone at
the cross-trees, but the maintopsail held strongly. Altogether she was
pretty well wrecked aloft.
While we watched her we drew nearer, and when she came within a couple of
miles I could make out a flag, the English ensign, union down, in the
main rigging. This showed pretty plainly that she was doing badly and
wanted help, but it was absolutely useless to think of doing anything for
her while the wind held and the sea showed no signs of going down.
Being much lighter than she was, we drifted off more, and we came nearer
and nearer as the morning brightened into a dirty day. In a short time we
had her close under our lee, not half a mile distant. Indeed, it looked
as though we might get closer than we wished to. The wind slacked
gradually, however, and before long we managed to get out our
main-topmast staysail. Then followed a close-reefed foresail balanced aft
by the mizzen lower topsail, which we had saved. This, with the spencer
and canvas already set, gave us a good hold of the ship in spite of the
sea, and we were ready to wear if necessary. The _Pirate_ drifted much
faster under the extra canvas and went to leeward so far that we saw that
she would go clear of the stranger. As we drew near, we now saw how deep
she sat in the water, the seas rolling over her, amidships, with every
plunge. Still she headed up well and was under control.
While we gazed, a string of flags fluttered from her yard-arm. I dived
below for the code and soon read the signal for help. They were sinking.
Trunnell turned out on deck, and we waited to see if Captain Thompson
would give the word to do anything. He stood near the rail and gazed
through his glass without saying anything or exhibiting any concern
whatever for the people we could now see upon the stranger's high poop.
Then he turned to the mate and asked:--
"What does he want, Trunnell?"
"Want's us to stand by him, I reckon," the mate replied.
"Can we do it without danger in this seaway, hey?" demanded Thompson.
"Answer me that. How the devil can we do anything for a fellow in this
seaway, when we might be rammed by him and sink ourselves?"
"We'll stand by that ship as long as she's above water," answered
Then came a sudden change upon the captain. He turned upon the mate
quickly, and his bright, glinting eyes seemed to grow to sharp points
on either side of his hooked nose, which worked and twitched under
the excitement. His hand went behind his back and he jerked forth a
"Who's captain of this here boat, Mr. Trunnell, me or you?" said he, in
his drawling voice.
"You," answered Trunnell, decisively.
"Do you presume to give any orders here what don't agree with mine?"
"No, sir," said Trunnell.
"Well, just let me hint to you, you bushy-headed little brute, that I
don't want any suggestions from my mates, see? You little snipe, you!
what d'ye mean, anyhow, by saying what we'll do?"
Several men standing on the poop to keep clear of the seas in the waist,
hitched their trousers a little, and felt for the sheath knives in their
belts. I noticed Jim, the young landsman, pass his hand behind him and
stand waiting. There was an ominous silence and watchfulness among the
crew which was not lost on the captain. He had inspired no respect in
their minds as a sailor, even though he had shown himself fearless. It
was evident that they were with Trunnell.
"I meant that we would stand by that ship as long as she floated," said
the little mate, looking straight into the pistol barrel, "and I expected
that it would be by your orders, sir."
Thompson was not a fool. He saw in an instant how the case was, and his
glinting eyes took in the whole outfit of men and mates at one glance. He
may not have wished to help the strangers, but he saw that not to do so
meant more trouble to himself than if he did.
"This time you expected just right, Trunnell. I mean to stand by those
people, and I order you to get ropes ready to hoist out the boat we have
on the house, there. What I don't want and won't have is orders suggested
by any one aboard here but me. I'm glad you didn't mean to do that, for
I'd hate to kill you. You can get the boat ready."
Then he put the revolver back into his pocket, and Trunnell went forward
along the shelter of the weather bulwarks and made ready the tackles for
hoisting the boat out.
By the aid of the powerful glass I made out a figure of a woman standing
upon the ship's poop. She appeared to be watching us intently. Soon a
little sailorly and seaman-like fellow named Ford, whose interest in the
strange ship was marked, came from the group near the mizzen and asked if
he should get the signal halyards ready. Thompson made no objection, and
we bent on the flags which told by the code that we would stand by them
until the sea went down enough to get out a small boat.
At seven bells the "doctor" managed to get some fire started in the
galley, and all hands had a drink of hot coffee. This was cheering, and
Trunnell soon had the watch hard at work getting out new canvas from the
lazaretto aft. The main deck was getting safer, and although she took the
sea heavily now and then, she was no longer like a half-tide rock in a
Topsails were hoisted out from below and gantlines bent. By the time all
hands had eaten something and eight bells had struck, we were ready to
get up new topsails and start the pumps.
Luckily there was little water below. In spite of the tremendous
straining the ship had made no more than could be expected, and in a
little over an hour at the brakes we had the satisfaction of having the
All that morning we worked aloft getting new gear up. The British ship
drew away on our weather beam, wallowing horribly in the seaway. The wind
died away gradually into a good stiff gale, and by noon we had a break or
two above us that let down the sunlight. This cheered all hands. A good
meal with extra coffee was served forward, and I sat down to the cabin
table with Chips and the steward, to eat ravenously of prime junk and
"'Tis a quare time ye had ag'in last night, forrads, hey?" said Chips.
"It was interesting for a few minutes," I answered. "I hope you fixed
the fellow's irons all right. Keys seem to have strange ways aboard
"Well, ye needn't be afear'd av th' raskil takin' leave ag'in. Sure, an'
I riveted his irons this time, as will take a file an' no less to cut
through. I votes we get th' old man to put him aboard th' first ship what
comes a-heavin' down nigh enough, hey?"
"It would suit me all right," I answered.
"Jim and Long Tom an' Hans an' a whole lot av us have th' matter in
mind, an' we'll speak wid th' skipper afore long. There's a divil's mess
below in th' fore-peak, where a barrel has bruk loose that I'll have to
mix wid first. Be ye a-goin' in th' boat aboard th' stranger whin th'
sea goes down?"
"I suppose so," I said; "that lot generally falls to a second mate."
"Be sure, thin, ye have th' plug in all right an' th' oars sound, fer th'
sea will be heavy fer a bad craft, and ye mind th' irons last night."
"I'll just take a look at them before I start. Chips," I said. "Thank you
for keeping tabs on the skipper."
"It's no great matter," he answered; and then we fell to with a will
until the meal was finished.
At three bells in the afternoon the sea had begun to go down enough to
allow us to get our new topsails on her and a main-topgallantsail. The
_Pirate_ went smoking through it under the pressure, trembling with each
surge, and throwing a perfect storm of water over her catheads. The
English ship was now a mere speck to windward, almost hull down, and we
would have to beat up to her if we could.
Just how badly she needed help we of course could not tell. If she were
sinking fast, then she would have to depend upon her own boats, for the
sea was too heavy until late in the afternoon to venture out in our only
one left. We could no longer see her signals, but carried all the sail
possible, without danger of carrying away our spars, in the effort to get
close to her again.
After standing along for an hour or more we wore ship, and found that we
could just about get within hailing distance to leeward.
Trunnell had the reef tackles rigged from the main yard, and the
life-boat was slung clear of the lee rail. Then, watching a chance, she
was let go with Hans and Johnson in her to keep her clear and dropped
back to the mizzen channels, where the volunteers were ready to get
Four men besides myself manned her, and she was instantly let go to keep
her clear of the sea, which hove her first high on the _Pirate's_
quarter, and then down until our faces were below the copper on her
bends. By dint of quick work we shoved her clear, and started on the
pull, dead to windward.
How small the _Pirate_ looked when we were but a few fathoms distant in
that sea! Our boat rode the waves nicely without shipping much water, and
several times I turned to look back at the ship, where Trunnell stood
beside the skipper, watching us through the glasses, and waiting to pick
us up on our return. I could see the "doctor's" face above the topgallant
rail forward and that of Chips in the waist.
It was a long pull. The sea was running high and the wind was still
blowing a half gale, breaking up the heavy oily clouds into long banks
between which the sun shone at intervals. It was a good half hour's work
before we could cover the short distance between the ships.
We came slowly up under her lee quarter, and when we were quite close I
could see that she was indeed very deep, if not actually sinking. The
words "Royal Sovereign, Liverpool," were painted in gold letters on her
stern, and on the circular buoys hanging upon her quarter-rail was the
same name in black. A group of men stood near the mizzen rigging, and one
short man with a black sou'wester and blue pilot coat hailed us through a
large-mouthed trumpet, which almost hid his bearded face.
"Boat ahoy! can you come aboard?" he roared.
"We'll try to come alongside," I bawled. "Stand by to heave a line."
A man had one ready and hove it well out with a yell to catch. Long Tom,
our lean Yankee sailor, who was pulling bow oar, seized it as it fell
across and took a turn around a thwart. The oars were shipped and we fell
under the vessel's stern, riding the seas without mishap.
"We're sinking," cried the short man, who was the captain. "Can you take
some of us with you?"
"Aye, aye; get them aboard here as quick as you can," came the answer.
There was no time lost now. Men swarmed toward the taffrail, and for an
instant it looked as if there would be something of a panic. The short
skipper, however, flung them aside without ceremony, and the next instant
a female figure appeared at the rail.
"Haul easy," came the order. Hans and Tom pulled in the line slowly until
the boat's bow was leading almost directly beneath the ship's stern. A
bridle was rigged from the spanker boom and made fast to a life buoy.
Then the lady who had appeared at the taffrail was slung in it rather
uncomfortably and carefully lowered away. She was seized by one of the
men forward, and handed aft to me.
The woman was quite young. She was slightly built, and I supported her
easily until she was safely in the stern sheets. A few strands of curly
blond hair blew across my face, and gave me a most peculiar feeling as I
brushed them aside. Then she turned up her face, and I saw that she had
most beautiful eyes, soft and gentle, with a trusting look, such as one
sees in children.
"Thank you, Mr. Sailorman," she said, with a smile. "I'm all right now."
"Except, perhaps, for a little wetting, you will stay so, I hope,"
A heavy woman was being lowered away, and Hans caught her boldly around
the body, trying to keep her from being thrown out of the tossing small
boat. She shrieked dismally.
"Don't be silly, mamma," cried the young lady aft. "You've been squeezed
tighter than that before, I am sure."
She was passed aft and took her place beside her daughter in the stern,
expostulating incoherently at the younger one's insinuations.
Then followed a little man, short and stout, who was evidently the ship's
carpenter, and he was followed by a dozen sailors.
"Haven't you any boats that will swim?" I asked of the mate, who hung
over the rail above me.
"We're getting them out now," he answered.
"Then let us go. We've got a big enough load already."
In a few moments we were on our way back to the _Pirate_, making good
headway before the wind and sea, and shipping little water.
The men explained as we went along that the _Sovereign_ had started a
butt during the gale, and she was full of water by this time. They had
kept at the pumps all day, but had given it up when they saw we were
coming for them. The ship's cargo of oil and light woods from the
peninsula had kept her from going to the bottom. She was homeward bound
to Liverpool, and it was the captain's wife and daughter we were bringing
aboard. The hurricane had caught them aback and dismasted them during the
night, and after six hours of plunging helplessly into the sea without
anything but the mainmast and stump of the foremast above the deck, she
had sprung a leak and filled rapidly. The maintopsail they had bent in
the morning after extraordinary exertion, and with this they had managed
to keep her partly under control.
"She will never go to the bottom with all the soft wood she has in her,"
said a sailor who was old and grizzled and had the bearing of a
man-of-war's man. "She can't sink for months. The water is up to her
lower deck already."
"So that's the reason you were not getting your boats out in a
hurry?" I asked.
"Sure," said he; "I'd as soon stay in her a bit longer as in many a
bleedin' craft that you sees a-goin' in this trade."
"I noticed you were one of the first to leave her," said the young girl,
with some spirit.
"Ah, mum, when you gets along in life like me, hardships is not good for
the constitootion. A sailorman, 'e gets enough o' them without huntin'
any more. Howsumever, if I see any chance o' gettin' the bleedin' craft
in port 'way out here in this Hindian Ocean, I'd be the last to leave.
Bust me, mum, if that ain't the whole truth, an' a little more besides.
You ask your pa."
Here he gave a sigh, and drew his hand across his forehead as if in pain.
His large pop eyes blinked sadly for a few moments, and his mouth dropped
down at the corners. Then his mahogany-colored face became fixed and his
gaze was upon the craft he had just deserted. What was in the old
fellow's mind? I really felt sorry for him, as he sat there gazing sadly
after his deserted home. Captain Sackett would stay aboard until the
last, his wife informed us, but as there was no necessity of any one
staying now, if their boats could live in the sea that was still running,
it was probable that they would all be aboard us before night. Jenks, the
old sailor, gave it as his opinion that they would have the boats out in
half an hour.
We came up under the lee of the _Pirate_ and then began the job of
getting our passengers aboard her.
Trunnell passed a line over the main-brace bumpkin, and held the tossing
craft away from the ship's side until a bridle could be bent and the
ladies hoisted aboard.
Mrs. Sackett trembled violently and begged that she would not be killed,
much to her daughter's amusement. Finally she was landed on deck, where
she was greeted by the third mate and escorted aft. Miss Sackett was of
different stuff. She insisted that she could grab the mizzen channel
plates and climb aboard. I begged her to desist and be hoisted on deck
properly, but she gave me such a look that I held back and refrained from
passing the line about her. As the boat lifted on a sea she made a spring
for the channel. Her hand caught it all right, but her foot slipped, and
as the boat sank into the hollow trough she was left hanging.
Trunnell instantly sprang over the side, and letting himself down upon
the channel, seized her hand and lifted her easily to a footing. The
ship rolled down until they were knee deep in the sea, but the little
mate held tight, and then, with one hand above his head, as she rose
again, he lifted his burden easily to the grasp of Jim, who reached over
the side for her.
After she was landed safely the men crowded up the best way they could,
and the boat was dropped astern with a long painter to keep her clear of
the ship's side.
Captain Thompson greeted his female passengers awkwardly. He declared in
a drawling tone that he was 'most glad that their boat was wrecked,
inasmuch as it had given him the opportunity to meet the finest ladies he
had ever set eyes on.
"May the devil grasp me in his holy embrace, madam," said he, "if I am
lying when I says that word. It is my most pious thought, says I."
Mrs. Sackett was somewhat taken aback at this candor, but managed to keep
her feelings well hidden. Her daughter came to the rescue. "We appreciate
your noble efforts, Captain Thompson. The fact is, we have heard so much
about your gallantry in saving life at sea that we are sure anything we
could say would sound weak in comparison to what you must already have
heard. If you have a spare stateroom, we would be very thankful if we
might have it for a time, as our clothes are quite wet from the sea."
The skipper was somewhat surprised at the young girl's answer, but he hid
his confusion by bawling for the steward.
When the mulatto came, he gave numerous orders in regard to bunks, linen,
drying of clothes, etc., regretting over and over again that he was a
single man, and consequently had no wife from whom he could borrow
wearing apparel while that of his guests was drying.
The third mate, also, took pains to be very civil to them, and his soft
voice could be heard in conversation with Miss Sackett long after they
had gone below.
I went forward and interviewed the men we had rescued, afterward getting
the "doctor" to serve them something hot, as their galley fire had been
out many hours and they had been eating nothing but ship's bread.
The _Pirate_ waited all the afternoon with her canvas shortened down to
her lower topsails to keep her from forging ahead too fast. But even when
it grew dark and the British ship could no longer be clearly made out,
her skipper had not gotten out his boats. It was evident that he would
try to save her if possible, and now that his family were safe he cared
little for the risk. Captain Thompson still held the _Pirate_ hove to
under easy canvas, drifting slowly with the wind, which was now no more
than a moderate breeze. The sea, also, was going down fast, and the sky
was showing well between the long lines of greasy-looking clouds which
appeared to sail slowly away to the northeast. The night fell with every
prospect of good weather coming on the following day.
I went on deck in the dog-watch and took a look around. The _Sovereign_
was a mere blur on the horizon, but her lights shone clearly.
"We'll stand by her all night," said Trunnell, "and then if the
skipper doesn't care to leave her,--which he will, however,--we'll
stand away again."
There was little to do, so the watch lounged around the deck and rested
from the exertion of the past twenty-four hours. Chips told me I had
better come forward after supper and take a smoke in his room, for they
were going to come to some conclusion about the fellow Andrews. There had
been some talk of putting him aboard the English ship, and if we could
get the captain to agree to it, it would be done.
I loafed around until I saw a light between the crack of his door and the
bulkhead. Then I slid it back, and entered.
The stuffy little box was full of men. The bos'n, a large man named
Spurgen, who had quite a swagger for a merchant sailor, was holding forth
to the quartermaster, Hans, on nautical operations.
"An' how'd ye do if ye had an anchor atween, decks widout nothin' to
hoist it out wid?" he was saying as I came in.
Hans affirmed, with many oaths, that he'd let the "bloody hancor go
bloomin' well to the bottom before he'd fool wid it." This made the bos'n
angry, and he opened with a fierce harangue, accompanied by a description
of the necessary manoeuvres. He also made some remarks relating to the
quartermaster's knowledge of things nautical.
I took occasion to look about the little room while this was going on and
my fingers warmed up some. I then seated myself on a corner of the chest
near Chips to make myself easy, during which time the bos'n had gained
sufficient ground to enforce silence upon his adversary, and relinquish
the subject of anchors. Then came a pause during which I could
distinguish the "doctor's" voice above the mutterings, and get a whiff of
my own tobacco out of the haze.
"--five fat roaches; they'll cure you every time," he was saying to
Chips. "It's old man Green's sure remedy, sah, yes, sah. I hearn him tole
his ole mate, Mr. Gantline, when he sailed in the West Coast trade."
"Faith, ye may stave me, shipmate, but that would be an all-fired tough
dish to swallow," the carpenter declared, with a wry face. "Supposen
they didn't die? They would make a most eternal disagreeable cargo
shiftin' about amongst your ribs. May the devil grab me, ye moke, if I
wouldn't rather swell up an' bust wid th' scurvy than swallow them
"Bile 'em, white man," said the cook. "Bile 'em in er pint er water--an'
then fling 'em overboard. Who the debble would eat er roach?"
"Right ye are, shipmate," assented Chips; "'tis an aisy enough dose to
take if all ye do is to throw th' critters to lor'ard. Sink me, though,
if I sees th' benefit av a medicine ye fling to David Jones instead av
placin' it to th' credit av yer own innerds."
"Yah, yah, Mr. Chips, but you beats me. Yes, sah, you beats me, but yer
haid is thick. Yes, sah, yer haid is thick ernuff, yah, yah," laughed the
"doctor." "What would yer do but drink the water, white man? yes, sah,
drink the water for the acid in the critter. It's salt in yer blood makes
scurvy, from libbin' so long er eatin' nuffin' but salt junk. Lime juice
is good, ef the ole man gives it to yer straight, but he nebber does. No,
sah, dat he nebber do. It's too expensive. Anyways, it doan' hab no
strength like er roach, ner no sech freshness, which am de main pint
Seeing himself out of the talk, and having completely growled down the
quartermaster, the bos'n started another subject. This was a tirade
against bad skippers and crimps who stood in too thick with the shipping
commissioners, and whom he swore were in league with each other and the
devil. He was an old sailor, and his seamed face was expressive when
launching into a favorite subject. Here was Jim's chance, and he spoke
out. "Whatever became of Jameson, what was took off by Andrews?" he
"Was he doped?" I asked.
"Didn't ye niver hear tell from O'Toole an' Garnett? They was Andrews's
mates for a spell, until th' Irishman, God bless him, knocked him
overboards an' nearly killed him in a scuffle on th' India Docks."
"Cast loose; I want to hear," said the bos'n.
There was a moment's silence, and Chips looked at me as though
questioning the senior officer of his watch. Then he fixed himself
comfortably on the chest by jamming himself against the bulkhead, locking
his hands about his knees, blowing smoke in a thick cloud.
I heard the hail of Trunnell from the bridge during this pause, asking
about a t'gallant leach-line. Thinking it well to take a look out, I did
so to see if the men obeyed his orders, and found them rather slow
slacking the line. This made it necessary for me to take a hand in
matters and instil a little discipline among them, which kept me on deck
for some minutes.
When I had a chance to slip back into the forward house, Chips had
already "cast loose" and was in full swing.
"There ain't no use of tellin' everything one sees aboard ship," he was
saying, "for you know whin things happen on deep water th' world ain't
much th' wiser fer hearing about them. There ain't no telegraphs, an'
th' only witnesses is the men concerned--or the wimmen. The men may or
mayn't say a thing or two after getting the run av th' beach, but as
th' critters have to wait half a year afore getting there, the news av
th' occurrence wears off an' regard for the effects on th' teller takes
place. It's just as often as not th' men keep mum. You know that as
well as I do.
"This same Andrews as is forrads in irons was running the _Starbuck_ with
Jameson as mate, an' old Garnett as second under him. Ye all know that
old pirit. But this time he didn't have any hand in Andrews's game.
Andrews wanted to marry the girl Jameson had, an' whin he found he had
lost her he played his devil's trick.
"Jameson hadn't been married a week afore Andrews took him around b' th'
foot av Powell Street in 'Frisco an' set up some drinks. That's the last
any one sees av Jameson fer a year or more on th' West Coast, fer whin he
comes to, he was at sea on that old tank, th' _Baldwin_, an' old man
Jacobs would as soon have landed him on th'moon as put him ashore."
"A purty bloomin' mean trick," interrupted the bos'n.
"Th' poor divil did have a hard time av it, fer he wasn't a very fierce
sort o' chap. He ware a gentil spoken, kind-hearted feller, an' ye know
well enough how a man what isn't made of iron wud git along wid Jacobs or
his mates. They hazed him terrible; an', as they ware one hundred an'
seventy days an' nights to Liverpool, he took the scurvy. Ye can reckon
what was left av him afterwards. Whin he left th' hospital, he was glad
enough to ship on a Chilean liner to get even as far to the West Coast as
"He ware aboard this Dago, puttin' in, whin he saw th' _Starbuck_
standin' out o' th' harbor. His wife ware on th' quarter-deck--"
"That's the way with most women," snarled the bos'n, interrupting.
"I don't know about that," continued Chips. "You see, after he had been
gone a few months, an' Andrews had been hangin' around all th' time
gettin' in his pisonous work, she began to have a little faith in th'
villain. It wasn't long afore he convinced her Jameson had deserted, fer
he proved fair enough he had shipped aboard th' _Baldwin_, without so
much as saying good-by. There ware plenty of men to back him on that,
includin' th' boatman what rowed them aboard. Finally, partly by
blandanderin' an' a-feelin' around, fer th' poor gal ware now alone in
th' world, he got her to step aboard th' bleedin' hooker _Starbuck_ the
day he ware ready for sea. Thin he jest stood out--an'--an'--well, after
they'd been out six months th' matter ended as far as Jameson ware
"Jameson took the news hard whin he got th' run av th' beach, but he was
that kindly disposed chap an' went along th' best he could until th' war
broke out. He ware still waitin' at Valparaiso whin they drafted him
into the Dago army, an' he was lucky enough to be on th' side what got
licked. Then there ware no use waitin' there fer th' _Starbuck_ to come
in again, so he made a slant for Peru as they niver took no pris'ners.
Two weeks afterwards Andrews came in again fer nitrates wid Garnett an'
O'Toole fer mates--"
"Lucky fer Andrews he wasn't there," said the bos'n; "he'd have had his
ornery hide shot full of holes."
"What's th' use av ye talking like a fool?" said Chips. "Is shootin' up a
feller a-goin' to undo a wrong like that? Th' shootin' was all done on
th' other side, an' Andrews is sound yet an' aboard this here ship. Some
men think av other things besides revenge. Especially kind-hearted
fellers like Jameson what niver cud hurt no one. As soon as some av
Jameson's friends who knew of th' affair told his wife, she wint right
into th' cabin where Andrews was, an' afore he knew what she ware up to,
she had shot herself. Andrews paid her funeral expenses, an' buried her
in th' little Dago cemetery out forninst th' city gate. An' thin Garnett,
who didn't know av his skipper's diviltry, sware vengeance on th' husband
who deserted her, fer she ware gentil and kind wid th' men forrads."
Here Chips paused and gave me a sidelong look as he refilled his pipe.
Then he lit it and smiled hopefully.
"They ware a quare pair, them mates, Garnett an' O'Toole," he said. "What
one wasn't th' other was, and _wice wersa_. They lay there two months
loadin' on account o' th' war having blocked th' nitrate beds.
"Wan day O'Toole saw an old woman come limpin' along th' dock where th'
_Starbuck_ lay. She hobbled on to th' gang-plank an' started aboard, an'
O'Toole began to chaff Garnett. He waren't half bad as a joker.
"''Pon me whurd, Garnett,' sez he, 'I do belave your own mother is comin'
aboard to visit ye--but no, maybe it's yer swateheart, fer ye have an
uncommon quare taste, ye know. B' th' saints, ye ware always a bold one
fer th' ladies.'
"We ware lying in th' next berth, not twenty feet away, an' from where I
sat on th' rail I cud hear thim talk an' see what was a-goin' on.
"'Stave me,' says old Garnett, solemn like, 'that's true enough. Sink her
fer a fool, though, to be a-comin' down here to win back an old
windjammer like me--What? ye mean that old hag driftin' along the deck?
Blast you for a red-headed shell-back, d'ye s'pose I'd take up wid wimmen
av your choice? No, I never makes a superior officer jealous;' an' wid
that he takes out his rag an' mops th' dent in th' top av his head where
there's no hair nor nothin' but grease, an' he draws out his little
pestiverous vial av peppermint salts an' sniffs.
"'Faith, an' ye'll need to clear yer old head, ye owld raskil, ye've been
too gay fer onct,' says O'Toole.
"She ware a tough-lookin' old gal, an' her hat brim flopped over her
face. O'Toole met her an' pointed to Garnett.
"'If it's th' leddy-killer av th' fleet ye're afther, there he Stan's.'
"Th' old woman looked an' stopped.
"'No,' says she, in a sort o' jangled tone, 'eets my little gal I looks
fer--she's aboard here wid th' capt'in,'
"'Ye can't see her,' says Garnett, 'an' ye better get ashore afore I
calls one av thim Dago soldiers to carry ye off an' marry ye.'
"I cud jest get th' glint av th' old woman's eyes, then she bent her
"'E--eets my leetle gal I must see,' an' there was somethin' in her voice
that made one pay attention, 'twas so deep an' solemn like. I ware
listening an' a few soldiers av th' army what was camped in th' town came
up an' stopped an' looked on.
"'She ware a good leetle gal--an' I cared for her--Yes, by God, she ware
a good gal,' said th' old one, hoarsely.
"I cud see O'Toole turn away his head an' Garnett sniff hard at his vial.
'Twas good, he used to say, fer things in th' head. Thin he turned to th'
"'Ye better get ashore, old gal, she ain't aboard here. We don't take
thim kind on deep water.'
"'I must see her afore I goes,' says th' old woman, an' her voice ware a
whisper that died away, but ware so full av force O'Toole turned to her.
"'Was it Mrs. Jameson ye wished to see?' he asked.
"The old woman nodded.
"'Well--er--faith, an' she--er,' an' thin he stopped to look at Garnett.
"'She had an accident, by yer lave, 'bout a month ago. How was it ye
niver hearn tell? Waren't ye here whin th' old man brought her ashore?'
"'I come from 'Frisco,' says she.
"'Well, I s'pose ye might as well know now as niver,' O'Toole blurted
out; 'she's dead, owld woman. Been dead a month gone. Th' old man buried
her dacent like, fer, as ye say, she ware a rale good gal, 'pon me whurd,
fer a fact, she ware that. 'Tis hard to tell ye, but it's th' truth, th'
whole truth, an' divil a bit besides.'
"While he talked th' old woman's head went lower, and whin he finished,
she gave a hard gasp. Thin she stood huddled forninst th' deck-house, an'
Garnett started forward to th' men at work stevin' th' last av th' cargo.
"All av a sudden like I saw her raise her face an' spit a button from her
mouth. Her eyes ware starin' an' lookin' at th' hill away off t' th'
eastward av th' town an' beyant to th' great southern mountings av th'
Andes range. Thin she slowly straightened up an' walked wid a firm step
along th' deck an' th' gang-plank.
"Th' soldier men made way for her on th' dock, but she looked straight
beyant her nose an' held her way firm an' strong until she went out av
sight, lavin' O'Toole starin' after her.
"''Pon me whurd, Garnett,' he called, ''tis a most wonderful
"''Tis a mother's love, ye haythen; 'pon me whurd, there's nothin' else
like it. See how th' news affected th' poor old crayther. It puts me in
mind av the time whin I had an old leddy t' look after me. 'Tis a rale
jewil av a thing, an' a man only has it th' onct.'
"'More's th' pity,' says Garnett. 'Sink ye, but ye sure are a tough one
to tell th' old gal on so short notice. But ye niver did have no
feelin's, ye bloomin' heathen.'
"''Pon me sowl, what cud I do else?'
"'O' course, 'tain't likely a rough feller like you could do any better,
but whin any wimmen folks come aboard agin, come to a man as is used to
thim. A man as can talk an' act in a way they likes. A man wid some ways
to him. A man--' Here he stooped an' picked up th' button th' old gal
"'Where did this come from?' he asked.
"'She had it in her mouth,' says O'Toole.
"'Well, it's one av th' buttons off a uniform that ain't healthy to be
wearin' around these parts just now.' An' then they both looked hard at
th' little thing.
"'D'ye s'pose it cud have been?' asked O'Toole.
"'Been what?' says Garnett.
"'Jameson, ye blatherin' ijiot. Jameson, th' same as left his wife,
a-comin' here huntin' for her. 'Twas so, fer a fact. He had it in his
mouth to kape us from knowin' his voice, an' by th' same tokin, I calls
to mind th' chokin' in his throat, the scand'lous owld woman he was.'
"'Stave me, but ye might have been right for onct in yer life, so bear a
hand an' let's stand away after him an' ketch th' old leddy an' see,'
"They started off without listenin' to my hail, so I climbed down to th'
dock an' follows. It was evenin' now, an' th' street was crowded, but
they pushed along ahead av me.
"Ye see it ware Jameson, sure enough, an whin he heard his wife ware
dead, he wint up that street like a man in a dream. He forgot all about
his dress, an' his face ware hard set like a man thinkin' over th' past.
He had some five minutes' start av th' mates, an' whin a poor beggar
woman spoke to him he scared her half to death with his voice when he
asked her th' way to th' cemetery. Thin he remembered his disguise,
stepped into a doorway, pulled off th' dress an' hat an' flung thim to
th' old beggar woman, an' went his way.
"Garnett an' O'Toole came along a few minutes later an' saw th' beggar.
"'There he is. That's him,' sung out the old sailor, pintin' to th' old
gal walkin' along wid her rags tied in a bundle tucked under her arm, fer
she had made shift to change thim fer Jameson's slops.
"''Pon me whurd, ye're right fer onct agin,' says O'Toole.
"'Well, don't go a-spoilin' th' thing this time. Let me sail inter him,
an' if I wants yer, I'll sing out, an' ye can bear a hand an' help.'
Garnett swung across th' street to overhaul th' old woman, an' came up
"'Evenin', old lady, I wants to have a talk wid ye;' an' he lays his hand
on her shoulder wid a grip to take a piece av flesh out. She stopped an'
"'_Caramba_!' she yells; 'I teach ye to insult a dacent old lady, you
Yankee dog. Help! Murder! ye bloody raskil! Help, help!' Thin she ware
upon him like a wild cat, a clawin' an' bitin', screechin' and yellin'.
"'Sink you for a bloody scoundrel, Jameson, I knows ye,' roared Garnett.
'Larry, there, bear a hand. I have him.'
"'Hold him thin, ye brave man,' sings out O'Toole, comin' up. 'Go it,
owld gal, give it to him. 'Tis a leddy-killer he is fer sure, 'pon me
whurd, fer a fact. Claw him, bite him, even though he's as tough as
nails. Yell him deaf, owld leddy. Do it fer his mether's sake, th'
scand'lous owld rake he is. Get his year in yer teeth an' hold on, fer
'tis a leddy-killer ye have in yer hands at last. Whang his hide off!
Whang him! Whang him!' An' I thought th' old raskil would die av laffin'.
"We ware crowdin' around thim to see th' fun, an' th' way that old gal
whanged an' lammed, an' lammed an' whanged, wud have brung tears to yer
eyes. 'Twas too much fer human natur' to stan', an' so away goes Garnett
down th' street as fast as his bow-legs can git him over th' beach, wid
his sheets slacked off a-runnin' free, an' likewise, b' th' same tokin,
away squares th' old leddy wid her skysails set an' everythin' drawin'
'cept her skirts, which she holds b' th' clews an' bunts.
"'After him! Catch th' blackguard!' bawls O'Toole, rolling on th'
pavement, laffin' an' bawlin'.
"That old beggar was clipper built, fer sure, for wid her skirts clewed
up she ware bearin' down fast on th' old mate an' kept his bow-legs
a-lurchin' afore th' crowd a-comin' along in th' wake a-yellin' an'
hootin' like mad. A man jumped out to stop him, but I knowed Garnett
would niver stop this side o' th' gangway av his ship, an' sure 'nuff,
out flashes his hand an? th' Dago rolls over an' over. They yelled harder
than ever, an' Garnett had to shake out another reef afore he could make
th' gang-plank, an' get aboard. He managed to get below jest as some
soldiers rushed up. Th' noise brought Andrews on deck in time to get men
to keep th' crowd off his ship, an' thin O'Toole comes up.
"'What's th' row?' he bawls to th' mate, but O'Toole ware laffin' so he
couldn't spake a whurd. Finally he got it out.
"'Faith, 'tis th' leddy-killer av th' fleet, Garnett, at his owld game,'
sez he. ''Pon me whurd, 'tis a hangin' matter this time, fer th' damage
he's done th' sex. He ware--' but he bruk down afore he could finish.
"'Twas five minits afore he could tell what had happened, th' old gal
cussin' an' swearin' an' th' crowd a-hootin' an' jeerin', but finally th'
skipper got some soldiers to carry th' old gal away. Thin out comes
Garnett on th' main deck a-smellin' av his little vial, but avoidin' av
th' skipper's eye.
"'What th' devil did ye mean?' asked Andrews; 'did ye take her to be
Jameson in disguise?'
"''Pon me whurd,' says O'Toole, 'th' first wan that comes aboard was no
other--an' this one looked enough like him from a stern view. 'Tis a bad
trade, though, this killin' av leddies.' An' he leered so at Garnett he
swore horrible an' went forrads.
"I ware standin' close enough to catch th' glint in Andrews' eye whin
this ware said, but he took no notice an' went ashore, an' as I followed
after him he was thinkin' hard."
Here Chips spat quietly into the corner, fingered his pipe, and rammed
the ash down. Then he looked up at the light, and a different
expression came upon him. The bos'n's smile died away, and all sat
listening for the finish. Far forward sounded the cries of men dressing
down the head sheets.
"I hadn't much to do," continued Chips, softly, "so I walked on an' saw
him stop at a flower stand an' buy a bunch av roses. I wint across to th'
cemetery where th' trees are good to look at an' th' grass is green as
th' sea nigh th' States. I hadn't gone far whin I sees a man standin'
nigh a grave wid another man lyin' on it. I couldn't tell who th' men
ware till I came close, fer 'twas now gettin' dark. Thin when Andrews
stooped an' lifted th' head av th' one lyin' down, I saw them both plain
enough. Jameson's head made me feel sick wid th' horror av it. Whin I
spoke, Andrews let th' poor fellow sink back again, an' as I stood
alongside I saw th' flowers th' skipper had bought lyin' on th' grave
nigh th' hand av poor Jameson, which still held his pistil. Th' old man
said nothin', but there ware a hard look in his eyes as I saw him lookin'
at th' tops av th' big Chilean mountings where th' sunken sun made them a
bloody red. He ware thinkin' hard, an' seemed to be watchin' a flock av
vultures a-comin' over th' range, stringin' out in a long line av black
specks. Thin all av a sudden he stooped an' picked up the flowers an'
placed thim gentle like on th' head av the grave--'twas the only gentil
thing I iver knew him to do--an' thin walked away without a word. That's
th' last I saw av him until I shipped aboard here, for he cleared from
Valparaiso th' next day."
"An' this is the beggar we're taking back to the States to be skipper of
some American ship, maybe this same one, if he gets clear of the killing
of his quartermaster off Melbourne," said the bos'n.
"An' that's the reason, by your leave, Mr. Rolling," said Jim, "I say
it's best to go back again and deliver this man up to the proper
"As far as I'm concerned," I answered, "I would just as soon see him safe
where the wind won't annoy him; but I'm not the skipper, and if you want
to get any satisfaction you'll have to go aft."
"We did," said the bos'n; "we asked the old man, but he wouldn't hear of
it, and Trunnell is with him."
"Trunnell is with him because he thinks it right," said Jim, with a
shrewd look at me; "but if you were to try to persuade him, I believe he
would come around all right."
"Why fo' not put him abo'ad the English ship, sah," put in the "doctor."
"I votes we ax the ole man to put 'im abo'ad her."
All were agreeable to this proposition and decided to go aft the first
thing in the morning watch. Jim stuck out for going back.
"If you were to go with us, Mr. Rolling, we might persuade
Trunnell," said he.
"It's no use, he never would--" Before we could continue the discussion
further the bells struck out loudly, and the bos'n and I went on deck for
It was a fine, clear night, and I was glad to get the course from the
mate and walk fore and aft on the weather side of the poop to enjoy it.
The morning dawned calm and beautiful. The heavy, oily swell, which still
ran from the effects of the blow, moved in long, smooth humps upon the
sea. Far to the eastward the light of the rising sun tinted the cirrus
clouds above with a rosy hue.
I was quite tired from the effects of the gale, and the morning watch is
always a cheerless one. The steward had coffee ready, however, and after
a good drink I felt better, and got out the glass to see if I could make
out the _Sovereign_. We had been drifting all night, so that in the
mid-watch Trunnell wore ship and stood up for her to keep in sight. There
she lay, about three miles away off our port beam. Her topsail was the
only canvas she had set, and she was so low in the water that I could not
see her deck amidships at that distance. All except a little of her high
poop appeared to be under, or so low that it was invisible. I wondered
why her captain had not put off sooner, and I knew that as soon as
Thompson came on deck he would be in a fury at his having waited so long.
There was not a breath of air now, so we were certain to be in company
for several hours at least.
While I looked over the expanse of heaving ocean I saw a black spot
between the ships. In a moment I made out a boat rising and falling,
propelled by four oars, and headed for us. Sometimes she would disappear
behind a high lump of sea and then she would be on top, and I made out
she was coming along right handily.
As she drew nearer I made her out to be full of men. She came up under
our mizzen channels and hailed. Half the watch was bending over the side
looking at her, and one man threw a line. This was seized, and the next
moment her crew came clambering over the rail.
Jenks, the old sailor who had come over in the boat with me the day
before, was on deck to receive his shipmates. The old fellow's face
wrinkled with amusement at the sight of his worn-out countrymen until it
looked like the slack of a bellows. There was an unholy twinkle in his
eye as he greeted them.
On the boarding of the officer of the boat, a tall Englishman who was the
ship's mate, the man Jenks stopped his pleasantry at the tired crew's
expense, but it was too late. He was ordered into the boat, with three
other men who were fresh, to be sent away for the remaining men on the
ship. Then the officer mounted the poop just as Captain Thompson emerged
The officer bowed and touched his hat deferentially, but the skipper
stood looking at him out of his glinting eyes, while his nose worked
"Don't seem to be in much of a hurry, hey?" said our captain, with
"We've been working steadily all night at the pumps, sir, hopin' to
keep her afloat, sir. The old man--I beg pardon, Captain Sackett,--says
as he'll not abandon her while she swims. The rest of us have
permission to go, sir."
"Is her cargo of any particular value, then?"
"Yes, sir. It's palm oil and valuable woods. There's eight hundred
barrels of palm oil in her, and the captain's got his all--every cent he
has in the world. He won't leave her."
"Do you know what you resemble, hey?" said our skipper, dryly.
"I do not, sir."
"Well, I don't want to hurt the feelings of a poor, shipwrecked sailor,
nor insinuate nothing sech as no gentleman ought. No, sirree. You are my
guest aboard here, and damned welcome to you. At the same time, if I ware
telling anybody as to what kind of a fellow you was, I should
say,--yessir, after thinking the matter over carefully, and taking all
points into consideration,--I might say that I thought ye an all-around
white-livered, cowardly cuss, an' that's a fact."
The English mate turned red. He started to say something, and then
checked himself. Finally he blurted out:--
"I've heard tell of some Yankee skippers who've given a bad name to your
infernal shipping, an' I reckon I've run up against one. But no fear! I
recognize you as our saviour, an' won't say a word, sir. The retort
courteous, as the saying is, would be a crack on the jaw of such a
fellow, but I don't say as I'll do it, sir. There's some fellows as needs
rippin' up the back, but you bein' captain of this here ship, I won't say
who they is, sir. No, sir, I won't say who they is, or nothin'. I just
ask that I be sent back aboard the _Sovereign_. The boat ain't gone yet,
and, by the Lord, I'll drown before I get into a ship like this."
"Well, by hookey, you won't, then," snarled the captain; "you'll stay
aboard this boat. A man that's born to be hung mustn't be drowned. Hey,
there, Rolling," he bawled, looking forward to where I stood, "get out
the boat and go with those fellows. Get all the rest afeard to stay
aboard, and come back. We won't stay here all day waiting for a lot of
fellows too afeard to know what they want."
The noise of the talking brought a female figure to the combings of the
companionway, and as the skipper finished, Miss Sackett stood on deck.
The mate of the _Sovereign_ greeted her, and told of her father's
determination to stay aboard his ship with three men who desired the
chance to make heavy salvage. He didn't suppose any of the crew of
the _Pirate_ cared to take chances, but if they did, he would let
them. He said he could work the wreck into some port, probably Cape
Town, and save her.
"But he will surely be lost," cried Miss Sackett. "I shall go to him
myself and persuade him not to do this foolish thing. You will let me go
in one of the boats, won't you, Captain Thompson?" she cried, turning to
Thompson was sour, but he admired nerve. The fact of the Englishman
staying alone aboard his wrecked ship appealed to him where nothing
"My dear madam," said he, with his drawl, "you shall certainly do jest
what you want to while I'm captain of this boat. But I wouldn't persuade
your father to do anything against his will. How could a sensible fellow
refuse you anything, hey?"
The young girl overlooked his insolence, and smiled her satisfaction. She
came forward to where the first boat was getting ready to shove off. The
men in her were sullen and ugly, for they had not had their breakfast,
and the row would be a long one. The old sailor, Jenks, with his pop
eyes, and face like the slack of a bellows, scowled sourly. At this
moment our third officer came on deck and to the lady's side. I was just
about to ask her to wait and go in my boat when I heard the shrill tones
of our Mr. Bell.
"Clear that boat, and stand by to pass this lady aboard," said he, with
some show of authority, and a clever nautical style. "Allow me?" he
continued, as he offered her his arm at the ladder.
His shrill voice caused a smile of wonder and amusement among the
strangers, but as they knew their own skipper's daughter, they said
nothing besides a few remarks among themselves.
"Won't you wait and have breakfast before you go," he asked her, as she
reached the top of the rail; but she refused, and decided that her
father's strange whim to stay aboard his sinking ship deserved first
"In that case I shall have to go along also, for you may be very much
exhausted before getting back."
Just what good he could do in such a case he did not stop to explain, but
climbed over the side, and after lowering her aboard, took his place
beside her in the stern sheets. Then he gave orders to get clear, and the
boat shot away, while I made shift to get my men something to eat before
taking the long pull.
In fifteen minutes we were ready to start. Chips wanted to go along to
see if anything could be done to help stop the leak in case Captain
Sackett still insisted staying aboard. Johnson, the little sailor with
the thin legs set wide apart, showing daylight between clear to his
waist, Hans, the heavy-shouldered Swede, and Phillippi, a squat Dago,
made up the rest of the boat's crew. Trunnell had come on deck while we
were eating from the mess-kids, and met the skipper on the poop, where he
stopped to talk over some important matter. This importance appeared to
increase in a moment, for the skipper swore harshly and pointed forward
just as my men were coming aft to go over the side.
"Rolling," he cried, "hold on with that boat a minute, and lay aft here,"
I came to the edge of the poop.
"Get that ruffian Andrews ready and put him aboard the _Sovereign_. The
men here are tired of his ways, and fair exchange is no robbery. We'll
take their men, they'll take one of ours, hey? Do you rise to that?"
I understood. The men had made it apparent they did not wish to have the
fellow aboard since he persisted in his murderous ways. The skipper had
been importuned by Jim to turn back and put him ashore. This he would not
think of doing, but to propitiate them he had struck upon this new method
of getting rid of his charge.
I called Jim, the young landsman, to lend a hand getting the fellow
ready. Andrews cursed us all around and demanded to know what we were
going to do with him. No attention was paid to him, however, and he was
bundled into the boat, handcuffed, with his legs free.
"Tell Captain Sackett I say he's welcome to him," drawled out Thompson,
over the poop rail. "Good luck to you, Andrews," he continued; "you'll
have a pleasant voyage with no enemies to rip and cut. So long!"
This drew forth a volley of oaths from Andrews, but the skipper smiled,
and we were soon out of earshot.
"What do you make of the weather, sir?" asked Jim, who pulled stroke oar.
I looked over the smooth, heaving surface of the quiet ocean, and there
was not the first sign of a breeze anywhere. The sun was partly obscured
in a thick haze which seemed to come from everywhere and fill the entire
atmosphere. The first boat was almost aboard the wreck, and we could see
her looking like a black speck in the distance.
"It looks as though it might come on thick," I answered Jim, "but
there's no danger of our parting company with the _Pirate_ yet. There
isn't enough wind to move her a knot an hour."
It was a long, hard pull to the _Sovereign_ and when we arrived her
captain was on deck with his daughter. She had finished trying to
persuade him to leave his fortune, and stood near our third officer,
who was ready to start back with the remainder of the crew. All but
four men had insisted on leaving. These were the steward, two
quartermasters, and a sailor.
"If there is any valuable stuff in the way of currency or spices, you can
turn them over to me, and our captain will give you his receipt for
them," I said, as I came over the side.
The little Englishman looked slowly up and down my six feet and more of
length as I stood on the rail, and I fancied he smiled slightly. He was
a florid-faced, bearded man, with clear blue eyes which had no sign of
fear in them.
"I reckon we'll risk taking in what we have," said he; "at the same time
I want to thank your captain for standing by and taking the men he has
already. You don't think he could spare a few volunteers to help me in,
do you? I'll give a hundred pounds to every man who'll stand by and run
"Well," I stammered, "I'm second mate myself, and therefore can't very
well leave; but he's sent you one extra hand. The fellow is a good enough
sailor, but he's in irons for fighting. He wants you to take him in
exchange for the men you've sent."
The florid face of the English captain grew redder. His blue eyes
seemed to draw to small points that pricked my inner consciousness. I
suppose I showed some of my embarrassment, for he spoke in a gentler
tone than I expected.
"Sir. I keep no one in peril against his wish. Neither do I run a
convict ship. You may take your desperado back to your captain with
the compliments of Captain Sackett, once of Her Majesty's Naval
Reserve, and tell him the laws of his country are sufficient to deal
with all persons."
"If I did," I answered, "you would have your men forced back into your
wrecked vessel." And I pointed to the main deck, upon which the sea
rolled and swashed in little foamy waves through the side ports, which
were now below the heave of the swell. She was clear under amidships, and
only the topgallant forecastle and poop were out of water, which was now
nearly level with the floor in the after cabin. Everything showed wreck
and ruin, from the splintered spars and tangled rigging to the
yellow-white gaps in her bulwarks where the masts had crashed through.
"The will of the Lord is not to be set aside," he went on, with solemn
and pious cheerfulness. "I would not risk so many lives for a man in
irons. If, however, he will recognize the laws of the Almighty, I shall
turn him adrift and trust that my mercy will not meet with ingratitude.
You had better get my men ready, and if you can, take the trunks and
cabin fixings in a boat. They might come to wrong here. My daughter will
show where the things are I should like saved. As for myself, I shall
stay where duty calls me, and will take this ship into some port and save
her cargo, or go down in her. If I lose her, I lose my all, and with a
wife and family I had better be gone with it. The Lord will temper the
wind to the shorn lambs."
I called to Hans and Johnson to pass up the prisoner, and he soon stood
on the _Sovereign's_ poop, where he glared around him and made some
inaudible remarks. The third mate, who stood near by, was about to speak
to him when Captain Sackett stepped forward.
"My man," said he, "your captain has asked me to keep you here and help
me work this ship in. You've been a master yourself, they tell me, so
you will appreciate my difficulty. The Lord, however, always helps
those who help themselves, and with his help we will land this vessel
safe in port."
Andrews looked at the stout skipper sourly for a moment. Then he gave a
deep snort and spat vulgarly upon the deck at his host's feet.
"What kind o' damn fool have I run up ag'in now, hey?" he mused in a low
tone, as though speaking to himself, while he looked the skipper over.
"Am I dreamin', or do I eternally run up ag'in nautical loonatic asylums?
That's the question."
"My dear fellow, you don't seem to relish the fact that you must serve
aboard here," said Sackett. "There's nothing irrational in trying to save
a vessel when it's your plain duty to do so. The Lord sometimes dismasts
us to try us. We must not give up our duty because we have hardships to
encounter. Your captain cannot take care of so many people, probably, and
wishes you to stay here with me. If you will pass your word to do your
share of the work, as I believe you will, I shall cast off those irons
this instant and put you second in command. There will then be five of
us, all able-bodied men, to get her in to the Cape."
"Of all the slumgullion I ever had stick in my craw, this beats me,"
observed the prisoner, in his even tone, without taking his eyes off
Sackett. "I pass my word, an' you turn me loose to do my duty. Well--say,
old man, can you tell me of a miracle you reads out o' your Bible? I
wants to make a comparison." Here he gave a loud snort and grinned.
"There's an old sayin' that any port is good in a storm," he went on,
"an' likewise any ship in a calm. I rise to it, old man. I'll be your
mate; for, if things ain't all gone wrong, I'll sail straight inter
Heaven with ye. Cast me loose."
"It shall be done at once," said Sackett. "I shall request, sir," said
he, turning to me, "that the irons be stricken off your man."
I told Chips to go ahead and cut them, and then followed Miss Sackett and
the third mate below, to get what belongings they wanted sent aboard the
_Pirate_ to be kept clear of water.
"It's a pity papa will do this absurd thing," said Miss Sackett,
impetuously, as she landed upon the cabin deck. I was following close
behind her on the companion and hastened to cheer her.
"There's not much danger," I said; "for the vessel can't possibly sink
with all the oil and wood in her. He will probably bring her in all right
and save many thousands of dollars. Maybe the carpenter can find the leak
and plug it. In that case she'll be as sound as a dollar and safe as a
house, when they get her pumped."
"I don't know about it," she answered; "I feel that papa is going to his
death, and I know that if mamma finds out he won't leave, she'll come
back aboard. Here is one trunk. That chest under the berth is to go also.
I'll get what clothes I can gather up, and bring them along in a bundle.
Goodness! hear the water slapping about under the deck; it is perfectly
dreadful to think of any one staying aboard a ship half sunk like this."
The steward, a very clever-looking young man with a brown mustache,
helped us get the things on deck, where they were taken in charge by the
rest of the men, seven in number, who were going with us.
While we were below, Chips, after cutting Andrews adrift, tried to find
out where the leak was located. The vessel's hold was so full of water,
however, that he gave up the search. Only a survey of her bilge outside
would help clear up matters, and allow work upon it.
Captain Sackett had taken an observation and had figured himself out to
be within six hundred miles of Cape Town. He was very thankful for our
kindness and stood near by, wishing us all kinds of good luck, while the
things were being lowered over the ship's low side. In a few minutes all
hands were called to get into the _Pirate's_ boat, the one of the
_Sovereign_ being left for the safety of those on board. Miss Sackett
took a tearful farewell of her father, and was placed aft. Then we shoved
off, and were soon leaving the half-sunken ship astern.
"Cap'n," said Jenks, who sat aft near me, "what d'ye make o' that?"
He pointed to a white bank of vapor which had rolled up from the
southward, and suddenly enveloped the _Sovereign_ while we were still two
cable lengths distant. I looked and saw the white mist, which we had not
noticed before to be so dense, rolling in long white clouds upon the calm
surface of the ocean. In a moment it had enveloped us, and all around us
was a white wall, the _Pirate_ disappearing ahead. The swell also
appeared to be getting a cross roll to it, and a light air now blew in
I made no answer to the leather-faced sailor, but tried to keep the
boat's head before a heavier roll of the sea, and the wake as much like a
straight line as possible. There was no compass in the craft, and it
would take some nice guesswork to find a ship three miles away.
We went along in silence for some time, the fog seeming to fall like a
pall upon the spirits of the men. The wash of the oars and the gurgle of
the bow-wave were the only sounds that were audible. After half an hour
of this I arose and sent a hail through the bank of mist, which I thought
would reach a vessel within half a mile. There was no sound of an answer,
the dank vapor appearing to deaden my hail and swallow up all noise a
short distance beyond the boat. It was uncanny to feel how weak that yell
appeared. I saw Jim looking at me with a strange light in his eyes as
though he felt danger in the air.
After an hour more of it, the faces of the men plainly showed their
anxiety. Phillippi, the Dago, was chewing the corner of his dank
mustache, and his eyes wandered aft and then forward. Jenks, with his
large wrinkled face gray with the vapor, sat staring ahead, straining his
ears for the slightest sound that would locate the vessel. I put both
hands to my mouth again, and strained away my hardest. There was no
response, the sound falling flat and dull in the wall of mist. Then I
knew we were in danger, and gave the order to stop rowing.
The silence around us was now oppressive. We were all waiting to hear
some sound that would locate either one or the other of the vessels. The
breeze carried the masses of vapor in cool spurts into our faces, and I
felt sure the _Pirate_ would soon change her bearings under its
influence. We had been running away from the main heave of the sea, as I
supposed, but now there appeared to be a sidelong motion running with the
swell and at an angle to its general direction.
"'Tis no manner av use tryin' to keep along as we are, d'ye think so?"
suggested Chips. "We must have passed her."
I hailed again, and after waiting for an answer, headed the boat around
in the hope that we had overreached the ship, and would come within
hailing distance on our way back. The order was given to pull very
easily, and listen for sounds.
"This is most disgusting," said Miss Sackett. "I'm as hungry as a bear,
and here we'll be out for the Lord only knows how long. I think you might
have seen to it that I had some breakfast." And she looked at Mr. Bell,
our third officer.
"There's water under the stern sheets," suggested that officer, meekly.
But the young lady gave a pretty pout, and shrugged her shoulders.
In a little while we stopped again and hailed loudly. The only sound in
answer was the low hiss of a sea, which had begun to make with the
breeze, and which broke softly ahead.
Suddenly we heard the distant clang of a ship's bell. It sounded far away
"Give way, bullies, strong," I cried, and the next instant we were
heading toward it. Then it died away, and we heard it no more.
After ten minutes' pull, we stopped again, for fear of overreaching our
mark. We hailed and got no answer. Then we rowed slowly along, listening
in the hope they would ring again. In a little while we lay drifting, and
all hands strained their ears for sound.
Suddenly something alongside gave a loud snort. I started up, and the
men turned their faces forward. A deeper shadow seemed to hang over us,
and the breeze died away. Then the snort was repeated, and a voice
"Of all the damned fools I ever see, that second mate stands way ahead.
Now I onct thought Trunnell didn't know nothin', but that young whelp is
a pizenous fool, an' must be ripped up the back. Sackett, old man, your
daughter can't leave ye. Here she be alongside with them boatmen agin."
The voice was drawling and not loud, but I recognized it fast enough.
In an instant the boat's bow struck the side of the _Sovereign_, and
we saw Andrews leaning over the rail near us, looking down with a
There was nothing to do but go aboard, for we had nothing to eat in the
small boat, and the danger of getting lost entirely was too great to make
another attempt to get back to the _Pirate_ while the fog lasted.
Miss Sackett was helped over the rail by her father, who came up
immediately, and the rest scrambled over with some choice English oaths
as they commented upon their luck. Andrews gave me a queer look as I
climbed past him, and for an instant I was ready to spring upon him. But
he gave a snort of disgust and turned away.
Chips, Jim, and the others of our crew came aboard, and the small boat
was dropped astern where she towed easily, the breeze just giving the
sunken ship steering way under the storm topsail.
The beef barrels were in no way injured by their immersion in salt water,
so Captain Sackett gave the steward orders to prepare a meal for all
hands upon the cabin stove. Salt junk and tinned fruits were served for
everybody who cared to eat them, and afterward all hands felt better. The
ship's water-tanks were full of good water, and as she listed
considerably to starboard under the gentle breeze, owing to her
water-logged condition, the port tank was accessible from the deck pipe.
I had enough to eat before coming out, and the predicament we were in did
not tend to strengthen my appetite. I, however, made out to sit down at
the cabin table with Captain Sackett, Andrews, who was now his mate, and
our third officer. Miss Sackett joined us, and we fell to.
No sooner had Andrews started to shovel in the good junk, and Mr. Bell
the fruit, than Sackett arose from the table and looked severely down
upon them. Fortunately, my satisfied appetite had prevented any
unnecessary hurry to eat on my part, for our new skipper frowned heavily.
"I wish to give thanks, O Lord," said he, raising his eyes toward the
skylight and dropping his voice into a dignified tone, "for thy kind
mercy in delivering us from the perils of the deep. Make us duly thankful
for thy mercy and for the food thou hast seen fit to place before us."
"Amen," sounded a gruff voice beside me.
I looked at Andrews, but he appeared to pay no attention whatever to what
was transpiring. Then I turned to Sackett to see if he had taken offence.
The stout, ruddy-faced skipper seemed to be changed to stone for an
instant, and his fixed glare was full upon Andrews.
The ruffian appeared to enjoy the situation, for he gave a fierce snort
and turned his face to the skipper.
"No offence, old man, sit down and eat your grub. There's no use working
up unchristian-like feeling between us simply because I'm not going to
let any damn foolishness stand between me and my vittles. Eat while ye
may, says I, and God bless you for a kind-hearted, gentle skipper. You
says yourself that the Lord helps them as helps themselves, which goes to
show I'll just make a stab for another piece o' that junk before some
other son of a gun runs afoul of it an' helps himself. Which would be
goin', o' course, agin the will o' the Lord."
Sackett hardly breathed. His face turned purple with rage. Andrews took
no notice of him save to draw a revolver from his pocket and place it on
the table beside his plate.
"Sit down and eat, papa," said Miss Sackett, who was at his right hand,
and as she did so she placed her hand upon his shoulder.
The touch of his daughter's hand seemed to bring the skipper back to his
senses, or rather seemed to enable him to thrust his present feelings
aside for her sake. He sat down and stared at Andrews for fully a minute,
while that ruffian ate and winked ofttimes at Mr. Bell. Once in a while
he would give a loud snort and hold his face upward for an instant. Then
a sour smile would play around his ugly mouth as though he enjoyed his
humor intensely. The third officer frowned severely at him several times,
and then asked in his silly voice if he would please behave himself.
The effect was altogether too ludicrous to be borne. Miss Sackett
smiled in spite of herself and I almost laughed outright. Then, feeling
sorry for my host, I began to eat as an excuse to hide my feelings.
Sackett ate little, and in silence. When he was through, he arose and
left for the deck, leaving the rest of us at the table. Miss Sackett
followed him quickly, as though she instinctively felt what might
happen if she remained.
I sat there looking at Andrews for some moments. He raised his head
several times and gave forth his peculiar snort, smiling at Mr. Bell.
"Young fellow," said he, slowly, "we've had a turn or two, an' nothin'
much has come of it. Let's shake an' call it square." And he held out his
hand toward me.
"I suppose you really had some cause to lose your temper," I answered,
"the day I hailed you from the poop, because you were used to commanding
there. I've heard many unpleasant things about you, Captain Andrews, but
if you will let matters pass, I'm willing. I never turned down a man yet
on hearsay when he was willing to see me half way."
Here I took his hard, muscular hand and held it for a moment. He smiled
sourly again, but said no more about our fight.
"Ye see," he went on, after a moment's pause, "I'm second in command
here now, and I'll show you no such treatment like what I got aboard the
_Pirate_. This gun I has here is only to let a man see his limit afore
it's too late. If I didn't show it, he might go too far, and then--well,
I reckon ye know just what might happen, being as Trunnell has told you
what a gentle, soft-hearted fellow I am. He's a rum little dog, that
fuzzy-headed fellow, Trunnell. Did ye ever see sech arms in anything but
an ape? 'Ell an' blazes, he could squeeze a man worse than a Coney
Island maiden gal. Speakin' of maidens, jest let me hint a minute in
regard to the one aboard here. She's a daisy. An out an' out daisy. An'
if there's a-goin' to be any love-makin' going on around, I'll do it.
Yes, sir, don't take any of my duties upon yourself. I'll do it. I'll do
it. Jest remind yourself of that, Mr. Rolling, an' we'll get along fust
rate. The old man don't know me yet, but Mr. Bell here--well, Mr. Bell
knows a thing or two concernin' captains which'll be worth a heap of
gold to some people."
The third mate looked at me with his boyish eyes for an instant, and his
ruddy cheeks seemed to blush. Then he said softly:--
"What he means is, that you and the rest are only passengers, now. All
the men from the _Pirate_, you know. There'll be some salvage for the
four who elected to stay aboard this vessel, and if you understand it in
this light, you, Chips, Jim, and the rest are welcome as passengers. If
you don't, the boat is at your disposal any time."
"I see," I said. "You are also of the party elected to stay with Captain
Sackett and draw salvage?"
"That's about the size of it."
I went on deck, and Chips, Jim, and the men went below to get something
to eat. Sackett was standing at the break of the poop as I came up, and
his daughter stood beside him. They were evidently in earnest
conversation over the scene below, for as I drew near, Miss Sackett
turned to me and said with some show of contempt in her voice:--
"Your captain was very kind to send us your volunteer, and we appreciate
it, Mr. Rolling. Perhaps the reason he had no more men offer their
services for a dangerous mission was because he was short of irons."
"If you mean that American sailors have to be ironed into danger, you are
mistaken," I answered, somewhat nettled. "However, I quite agree with you
in regard to this one as an awkward fellow. Better wait and see how he
acts in time of danger before condemning him."
I had not the heart to tell her what a ruffian they had turned loose upon
her father. It would do little good, for Sackett had passed his word to
make Andrews second in command, and I knew from what I had seen of this
religious skipper, that he would keep it at any cost. As for Chips,
myself, and the rest of the men, seven of the _Sovereign's_ crew and
ourselves, we were simply passengers, as Mr. Bell had informed us. We had
no right whatever to take any part in affairs aboard, for the salvage
would fall to those who elected to stay.
Captain Sackett moved away from me as I stood talking to his daughter and
showed he did not wish to discuss Andrews. He went to the edge of the
poop and stared down on the main deck where the water surged to and fro
with the swell. He had a badly wrecked ship under him, and there was
little time to lose getting her in better condition, for a sudden blow
might start to break her up, or roll the seas over her so badly that no
one could live aboard.
I stood for some minutes talking to the young girl, and when her father
spoke to me she held out her hand, smiling. "We'll be shipmates now and
you'll have a chance to show what a Yankee sailor can do. I believe in
heroes--when they're civil," she added.
"Unfortunately for the worshipper of heroes, there is a great deal left
to the goddess Chance, in the picking of them," I answered. "Admiration
for human beings should not be hysterical."
"From the little I've seen of men during the six voyages I've made around
the world in this ship with papa, your advice is somewhat superfluous,"
she said, with the slightest raising of the eyebrows. Then she went aft
to the taffrail and stood gazing into the fog astern.
"Mr. Rolling," said Sackett, "there's no use of thinking about leaving
the ship while the fog lasts, now. You might have made the _Pirate_ by
close reckoning before, but she must have changed her bearings fully a
half a dozen points since you started. She's under canvas, and this
breeze will send her along at least six knots and drift her two with her
yards aback. You might as well take hold here and get some of your men to
lend a hand. The foremast is still alongside, and we might get a jury rig
on her without danger of heeling her on her bilge. She's well loaded, the
oil and light stuff on top, so she won't be apt to turn turtle."
It was as he said. We were all in the same ship, so as to speak, wrecked
and water-logged to the southward of the Cape. The best thing to do was
to take it in the right spirit and fall to work without delay, getting
her in as shipshape condition as possible. The fog might last a week, and
the _Pirate_ might get clear across the equator before stopping a second
time in her course. I knew that even Trunnell would not wait more than a
few hours; for if we did not turn up then, it was duff to dog's-belly, as
the saying went, that we wouldn't heave in sight at all. The ocean is a
large place for a small boat to get lost in, and without compass or
sextant there would be little chance for her to overhaul a ship standing
along a certain course.
The dense vapor rolled in cool masses over the wreck, and the gentle
breeze freshened so that the topsail, which still drew fair from the
yard, bellied out and strained away taut on a bowline, taking the wind
from almost due north, or dead away from the Cape. The _Sovereign_ shoved
through it log-wise under the pull, the swell roaring and gurgling along
her sunken channels and through her water ports. She was making not more
than a mile an hour, or hardly as fast as a man could swim, yet on she
went, and as she did so, she was leaving behind our last hope of being
The first night we spent aboard the hulk was far from convincing us of
her seaworthiness. I had been in--a sailor is never "on board"--two ships
that had seen fit to leave me above them, but their last throes were no
more trying to the nerves than the ugly rooting of the _Sovereign_ into
the swell during that night. At each roll she appeared to be on the way
to turn her keel toward the sky, and, at a plunge slowly down a
sea-slope, she made us hold our breaths. Down, down, and under she would
gouge, the water roaring and seething over sunken decks amidships, and
even pouring over the topgallant rail until it would seem certain she was
making her way to the bottom, and I would instinctively start to rise
from the cabin transom to make a break for the deck. Then she would
finally stop and take a slow heave to windward, which started a Niagara
thundering below the deck, where the cargo was torn loose and sent
crashing about in a whirlpool.
I once read a description by an English landsman of a shipwreck, and he
told how the water would rest for an instant level with the rail, seeming
to pause motionless for a fraction of a second before flowing over and
sinking the ship, I lay a long time wondering vaguely at an imagination
that could make such a description possible, and as a heaving swell would
start along the rail at the waist, and go thundering along in a roaring
surf the entire length of the midship section over the edge, fetching up
with a crash against the forward cabin bulkhead, I heartily wished the
writer were aboard to share our sufferings. There was no spoon and teacup
business about that ship, and it sometimes seemed as though seven or
eight seas were rolling over her rails from all directions at once.
We were still below the thirty-eighth parallel, and consequently the
morning broke early, for it was January and midsummer. I arose from the
transom and went on deck at dawn, and found that the fog had lifted.
Andrews met me as I came from below, and gave me a nod as I took in the
horizon line at a glance.
"I reckon old hook-nose didn't care to wait any longer," he
I took up the glass from the wheel box, and scanned the line carefully.
There was not a thing in sight save the smooth swell, ruffled now by
the slight breeze, and turning a deep blue-gray in the light of the
early morning. The sun rose from a cloudless horizon and shone warmly
upon the wreck. The foam glistened and sparkled in the rosy sunlight,
and looking over the rail I could see deep down into the clear depths.
The copper on the ship's bilge looked a light gray, and even the tacks
were visible. She drifted slowly along with just steering way, and the
spar alongside, which the men had tried to get aboard again, made a
gurgling wake with its heel.
"What do you make of it, Chips?" I asked, as the carpenter waded out in
the waist and came up the poop ladder.
"Long cruise an' plenty o' water, that's about th' size av ut, don't ye
think, sir?" the carpenter answered. "Trunnell has been took off, fer
sure. I don't mind stickin' aboard th' bleedin' hooker if there was a
chanst to get th' salvage; but no fear o' that while Andrews is here.
He'll block any argument to divvy up. Seems as we might even get down
under her bilge durin' this spell av weather, an' see where th' leak is
located. 'Tis a butt started, most like. Them English stevedores
generally rams th' stuffin' out av a ship in spite av th' marks they
puts on 'em."
Captain Sackett came from below and joined us.
"I'd like to get that foremast aboard while it holds calm," said he; "and
if you'll start the men, we'll have it done by noon. The sooner we all
work together, the better. We ought to get sail on forward in less than a
week, and then, with a jury topmast, make enough way to get in while the
grub holds out."
The steward got breakfast in the after-cabin, and as soon as the men had
eaten they were turned to rigging tackles to hoist the dragging foremast
aboard. It was trailing by the lee rigging, which had held, and it had
thumped and pounded along the ship's side to such an extent during the
blow that several of her strakes were nearly punched through. It was a
beautiful morning,--the blue sky overhead and the calm, blue ocean all
around us. The men worked well, and even the sour ruffian, Andrews, who
stood near and took charge of part of the work,--for he was an expert
sailor,--seemed to brighten under the sun's influence. Chips went to work
at the stump of the foremast, and cut well into it at a point almost
level with the deck. This he fashioned into a scarf-joint for a
corresponding cut in the piece of mast which had gone overboard. Tackles
were rigged from the main-topmast head, and, by a careful bracing with
guys forward and at both sides, the wreck of the foremast was slowly
The _Sovereign_ forged ahead faster when relieved of this load. On the
second day, when we had the foremast fished, and the yards, which had
held to it, safe on deck, ready to be hoisted and slung again, we found
that the vessel had made over seventy miles to the westward along the
thirty-eighth parallel. This was over a mile an hour; but of course some
of this drift was due to the edge of the Agullas current, which was
setting somewhat to the southward and westward.
Andrews had little to say to me or to Chips. In fact, he appeared to be
satisfied with his lot now that he seemed sure of getting salvage money.
Only Jim, who seemed to have eyes everywhere, distrusted the man, and
spoke to me about him. We had now been on the wreck five days, working
and rigging away at the foremast, and the calm, beautiful weather held
with no signs of a change. Jim was hanging over the side, resting his
feet on the fore channels while he helped Chips to bolt in a deadeye
which had been torn out when the mast had gone. The sun was warm and
shone brilliantly, and Chips sweated and grunted as he pounded away at
the iron. There were no other men in our immediate vicinity, so after
pounding away in silence for a quarter of an hour, the carpenter spoke.
"'Tis bloody well we've been treated to get no share av the wreck, whin
here we are sweatin' our brains out wid th' work av refittin'," said he.
"And what the devil is a few hundred pounds of salvage to me?" growled
Jim, hot with his exertion. "See here, man! I've left ten thousand behind
me on the _Pirate_."
"And a pious regard fer the truth along wid it," added Chips, smiting the
Jim's face was so serious that I asked what he meant, and with the heat
of the work upon him and the absolute hopelessness of ever getting back
aboard our ship before his eyes, he spoke out:--
"Did you ever hear of Jackwell, the fellow who cracked the Bank of
Sydney?" he asked.
Chips and I both admitted that we had. He was the most notorious burglar
in the southern hemisphere.
"But what are ye askin' sich a question fer?" asked Chips. "What's
burglars got to do wid losin' salvage?"
"He was aboard the _Pirate_, and a reward awaits the lucky dog who lands
him. Just a trifle of ten thousand dollars," said Jim, fiercely.
Chips turned on him.
"Is it sure 'nuff truth ye're tellin', or jest a yarn to soothe our
feelin's?" he demanded. "I don't call to mind any gallus-lookin' chap in
"He never stood watch, and I wasn't certain of him until we were out to
sea and it was too late. What d'ye suppose I tried to get Trunnell to go
back for? 'Twas the old man, you stupid wood-splitter. You don't think
I'm a sailor, do you?"
"'Pon me sowl, how cud I? I niver had th' heart to hurt yer feelings,
Jim, me son, or ye'd have heard from me before. But what are ye, thin?"
And Chips leaned back against the rail.
"Nothing but a--" and Jim opened his coat which he had always worn since
coming aboard the _Pirate_. On the inside was a silver shield stamped
handsomely with the insignia of the detective corps of Melbourne.
"A sea lawyer aboard a derelict. Ye do fairly well, considerin'. An' th'
old man? You don't really mean it?"
"What?" I asked; "do you mean that Thompson's a burglar; and that he's
"Nothing else, and I'm out for the reward, which I won't get now. You
know now how he came aboard. If I'd only been a few hours sooner, it
would have been all right. He was about to buy his passage when he found
the real Captain Thompson wasn't there, and would probably not be down
until the last minute. That was enough for him. Trunnell was taken clear
aback by his nerve. It was a risky thing to do, but Jackwell takes risks.
The man has more real cheek and impudence than any above ground, or water
either, for that matter. He ain't much afraid of a fight when it comes to
it, although he'd rather use his wits than his gun. That's just what
makes me feel sore. But that isn't all. Andrews is going to get clear of
some of us."
"He's tried it several times on me," I said, with a smile. "What makes
you think he'll try again?"
"I heard enough of what was passing between that third mate and steward
last night to know it. But I don't want to scare you fellows," he added,
with a smile.
Chips gave a grunt of disgust, and I spat contemptuously over the side
without further remark. Our manner was not lost on Jim. He sobered
"You know we're in the way aboard, if we land the hooker all right," he
said slowly. "That's clear as mud. You know also that Trunnell and the
rest aboard the _Pirate_ know we don't belong here and haven't any right
to stay except as passengers. Trunnell saw us put off in the boat. He
could see us plainly when we started and was, of course, looking at us
all the time until the fog closed in. You follow this lay, don't you?"
Chips and I nodded.
"Well, if the _Sovereign_ turns up with our boat load missing and Sackett
dead, she'll be in good evidence of what all hands aboard the _Pirate_
saw, won't she?"
It dawned suddenly upon us that this was a fact. Trunnell and Thompson,
and in fact all hands, were looking after us, waiting for us to come back
aboard before swinging the yards and standing away again on our course.
There wasn't a man aboard the _Pirate_, we felt certain, who had not seen
the boat start away from the ship with our men and Miss Sackett aboard
her, for they had nothing in the world to do but watch. Then they had
seen the fog envelop us on our way. We had not turned up, and the only
thing to infer, if the _Sovereign_ came in without us, was that we had
missed our way and had gone adrift in the southern ocean. The word of
Andrews and the rest aboard the English ship could hardly be doubted
under the circumstances. If we cut adrift in the small boat or were done
away with as Jim suggested, our friends would be witnesses who would help
our enemies by any testimony they might give.
Chips dropped his hammer and drew a hand across his forehead, thinking.
"What did the third mate say in regard to our going?" I asked Jim.
"I couldn't hear the talk, only part of a sentence whispered by that
man-woman when the steward came into the cabin during the mid-watch last
night with a can of salmon and some ship's bread. They stood near the
door of the alleyway, talking, and I suddenly came bulging into them with
rubber boots on. He said something about Andrews being a fine captain and
perfectly capable of taking this ship in or out any port on the African
coast. That's all."
I stopped serving the end of the lanyard I was at work on and looked
across the deck to where Andrews stood with several men. His sinister
face with its sour smile was turned toward us as though he studied
"You're not over busy, Mr. Rolling," said Sackett, coming along the rail
to the rigging. "I wish you and the carpenter would try to get a gantline
over the side and look along under her for the butt. In this clear water
the chances are good for getting a sight of it if it's well up on her
bilge. We ought to stop her up some while the calm lasts."
At noon Sackett came on deck to take the sun. His second officer,
Journegan, a heavily built man with mutton-chop whiskers of a colorless
hue, was incapable of the smallest attempt at navigation, so he stood
idly by while his superior let the sun rise until it had reached its
"Eight bells," cried Sackett, and went below to work out the sight.
"By the grace of God," echoed Andrews, who had come upon the poop.
The second officer smiled at his attempted wit and struck off the bells.
He appeared to be quite friendly with Andrews and stopped a moment
afterward to chat with him.
When we went below to dinner the words of Jim were fresh in my mind. How
would Andrews try to get clear of us? The fact that he intended to do it
I firmly believed, for the ruffian had such a sinister character that I
felt certain his only reason for being apparently satisfied at present
was because he intended some treachery. What part the third officer of
the _Pirate_ would play in the affair I could hardly guess. Jim knew
nothing about him, but since he came aboard with Thompson, there was
every reason to believe that this rosy-cheeked youngster with the girl's
voice was an accomplished villain. That Andrews and he understood each
other was certain. Andrews was most blasphemous at meals, and would
endeavor to engage Sackett in an argument concerning devils, hell, and
many other subjects not relating to navigation of the Indian Ocean. At
such times the third mate would raise his piping voice and plead with
Andrews not to shock him with his profanity. The second officer of the
_Sovereign_ appeared to enjoy the situation, and would laugh until
ordered from the table by Sackett. Miss Sackett, of course, would not
dine with the rest, but had her meals served in her stateroom by the
steward, who did it with a very bad grace, grumbling and complaining at
the extra work. He was a good-looking young man, this steward, and the
fact that he complained told plainly that there was something between the
men that was doing away with discipline. The steward's name was Dalton,
and he was a fair specimen of the London cockney. Stout and strong, he
was as ignorant as an animal and about as easily persuaded into doing
things as an obstinate mule. He was also about as hard to dissuade. The
other men of the _Sovereign's_ crew were Bull England, a powerful sailor
who had served many years in the navy, and who was also a prize fighter,
and Dog Daniels, a surly old fellow, who was continually growling at
everything. He was six feet six inches and over in height, and as lean
and gaunt as the white albatross hovering over our wake. Journegan, the
second officer, made the last but not least of the select four who had
elected to stay aboard with Sackett to take in the ship and get salvage.
If Andrews had weapons, which I had reason to believe he had since his
show of a revolver upon the captain's table, there would be six armed men
against thirteen and a woman, for I had no reason to doubt Sackett was to
be done away with if the rest were.
I pondered while I ate the cold junk and ship's bread, listening to
Andrews holding forth to Mr. Bell and Journegan upon the fallacy of
trusting to a power that was highly unintelligible.
"For instance," said he, "for why should I give thanks fer this stinkin'
junk meat when I don't know but what Dalton, there, has put his dirty
hands on it an' pisened it fit to kill? How do I know if he washes his
hands afore cookin', hey? Look at them warts an' tell me if they ain't
ketchin'. Jest think of a stomach full o' warts. Is that anything to be
thankful for, I'd like to know."
The idea amused Journegan, but it set me to thinking about the medicine
chest in spite of myself. Sackett scowled while this sort of talk went
on, but said nothing to bring forth an outbreak from Andrews. I wondered
why he did not try to get his men with him and clap the fellow in irons.
There was every reason to believe they would have obeyed him at first,
but he hesitated for some religious purpose better known to himself,
until the fellow had obtained such a sway over the crew that it was now
doubtful if it could be done without an open fight between them and the
men he had to back him.
Sackett announced to me that we had made no westing to speak of, on
account of the ship now being in the southeasterly set of the Agullas
current. We had drifted along with the topsail and two staysails drawing
from the main, and a sort of trysail set from a preventer-stay leading
aft. In spite of this amount of canvas the breeze had been so light that
the sunken ship had not made a mile in two hours. It was disheartening,
but if we could only get at the leak and stop some of the water from
flowing into her, we might get her up a bit and then she would move
faster. Her hatch-combings were high, and the sea had not washed clear
over them yet, while her high strakes would be all the tighter, now that
they had been under water for days. This seemed to be a very fair
argument, but, while the skipper talked, my eyes were upon the glass case
at the end of the cabin, where a row of bottles showed through the front
and above the wooden frames. They contained the drugs usually carried
aboard ship, and while the skipper talked to me I wondered if there were
any poisons in that case which would be of service to Andrews. When we
were through, the captain and I left the cabin, for there had been no
watches at meals; all had eaten together in order to facilitate matters
of cooking, the men only eating at different times from the officers.
As we passed up the after-companionway, I looked into the case and
endeavored to interest the skipper in drugs for the men in case of
sickness. He showed me a bottle of arnica, one of squibbs, another of
peppermint, and many other drugs used as simple remedies. At the end of a
long row was one containing a white powder, unlabelled. I picked it up
and opened the vial, thinking to taste it to see if it was quinine. Its
weight, however, made me certain this could not be, and I was just about
to put a bit on my tongue when Sackett stopped me.
"It's bichloride of mercury. Don't taste it," said he.
I was not much of a chemist; for a mate's knowledge of the atomic theory
must necessarily be slight.
"What's that?" I asked.
"Oh, a poison. I only keep it for vermin and certain skin diseases. It's
too deadly to keep around, though, and I've a notion to heave it
"Steamer on starboard quarter, sir," came the cry of England, who was at
We were bounding up the companionway in an instant, and looking to the
northward as soon as our feet struck the deck. There, sure enough, was a
dark smudge of smoke on the horizon.
"Get the glass," said Sackett.
He took it and gazed hard at the dark streak.
"I can just make out her mastheads. She seems to be coming along this
way,'" he said, after a moment.
All hands gathered upon the poop and watched the smoke. Those who hadn't
had their dinner, hastily went below and came up again with the junk in
their hands, munching it as they stood gazing after the rising mastheads.
Soon the funnel of the steamer rose above the horizon, and showed that
she was standing almost directly parallel to our course. We had run up a
distress signal from the main, and now all waited until the stranger
should make it out and send a boat or heave to. Our own boat was towing
astern, so Sackett had her drawn up to the mizzen channels, ready for the
men to get aboard. Miss Sackett came from below and announced that she
was ready to accompany the boat.
"If you are silly enough to stay, papa, I can't help it," she said. "I am
tired of sitting around in a cabin with my feet in the water, eating
stuff fit for pigs. I think you really ought to give the old boat up."
"So do I, Missy," said Andrews. "I can't think of any good a-coming to
the old man by staying aboard a craft half sunken like this one. I think
your girl is giving you good advice, Captain Sackett."
"I think you heard me state just how I felt about the matter, Mr.
Andrews," replied the captain. "If you're disposed to quit, you can go in
"Oh, no," said the ruffian, "I intend to stay." And he lent such emphasis
to the last word that Sackett gave him a sharp glance to see if he meant
In half an hour the steamer was passing abreast, and we were in the boat
rowing hard to head her off. We set a signal on our mast forward, and
pulled desperately, but she never even slowed down, passing along half a
mile distant on the calm ocean. She must have seen us, for the day was
bright and cloudless as could be. We hailed and waved until she was a
speck to the westward, leaving us alone again save for the sunken ship
under our lee.
"It's just the way with a Dago," said Jenks. "They always leaves a fellow
just when they shouldn't, and when I first seen that yaller flag I felt
pretty sure we'd come in fer somethin' like this."
No one said anything further, for our disappointment was sharp. Even
Phillippi, the Portuguese, took no offence at the allusion to Dagos, but
rowed in silence back to the _Sovereign_.
"It seems like you can't leave us," said Andrews, sourly, when we
returned. "There ain't much room aboard this hooker, an' I don't see why
you forever turn back to her when you ain't wanted here."
Jenks climbed up the mizzen channels, which were now no higher than the
boat's bow, and made the painter fast on deck without remark. Chips
followed him closely.
"If ye mane there's no room aboard fer us, thin why in hell don't ye git
out th' way an' rid th' ship av a useless ruffian," said the Irishman.
Andrews scowled at him, but changed his look into a sour smile.
"By the grace of the good Lord, I never rips up a sailor for slack jaw
aboard the Lord's special appointed ship. Maybe we'll settle the matter
of leaving later on," said the ruffian.
"Let there be an end of this talk, sir," said Sackett. "Get your men to
work, Mr. Andrews, and you, Mr. Rolling, get the passengers out of that
boat and stand by to try to find the leak. I don't intend to have any
more of this eternal bickering."
Miss Sackett was helped aboard again. As she stepped on deck she
whispered, "There's no use, Mr. Rolling. We will have to get out. The
only trouble is that the water is gaining slowly in the cabin, and I'm
afraid for papa."
"It's a pity he won't desert her," I answered; "but if we get away,
Andrews and the rest will be more apt to help him honestly. They won't
while we're here, and he won't force any of his men to stay and obey
orders, as he should. If he only would, we might get the ship in before a
week more of it."
"It's his way," said the girl. "He believes no captain has the right to
endanger his men for gain. You couldn't take him by force, for he'd make
things warm after he got ashore. If we could only get some of the water
out of her and get away, he could get her in with England, Journegan,
Daniels, and Dalton. Your two men added would make seven. These men could
handle the canvas and steer her as well as twelve."
I didn't like to tell her that the devil himself would hardly be safe in
the same ship with Andrews. It was quite possible that the ruffian would
turn to and do good work for his share of the salvage when he got clear
of the rest of us, for the amount would be large and tempting. Sackett
would be of more service to him alive than dead.