Part 4 out of 4
them. You don't think a man follows the sea after his first voyage
because he likes it, do you?" I said.
"Then for Heaven's sake why don't they stay ashore?" she demanded.
"Would you care for a man who would stay out of a thing that he was
fitted for, simply because it was hard?" I asked her.
She blushed and turned away.
"I was not speaking of caring for any one, Mr. Rolling," she replied.
And then she added quickly, "I think we will go below and see what they
have for us."
"No, wait just one minute, Jennie," I said, taking her hand and stopping
her gently without attracting the attention of the men forward. "This is
the first time we've had a chance to talk of ourselves in two months. I
want to ask you if you really meant that?"
"Meant what?" she said, stopping and turning around, facing me squarely.
"That you didn't care for any one?" I stammered, and I remember how my
She let me hold her hand and looked up into my eyes.
"I never said any such thing--that I didn't care for any one," she
"Then do you, Jennie?"
She made no answer, and let her eyes fall. I let go her hand and drew
myself up, for I was uncertain.
"I say, Rolling, what the deuce are you two doing?" bawled the voice of
Jackwell from the companion, and then I realized that there was little
privacy aboard a ship of three hundred tons.
We went aft guiltily, and met the rest coming up the companion with
bottled beer and sandwiches which were served as refreshments. Chairs
were set out by the old mate and two harpooners who had come aft, and the
cook spruced himself up to get us out a plum-duff for lunch. From where
we sat behind the poop rise, nothing could be seen forward, and here we
ate and drank while Jackwell laughed and talked incessantly, being a
completely changed man from the sarcastic and somewhat truculent skipper
I had known for the last three months. It was finally suggested that as
the awning was stretched, the plum-duff could be served on deck better
than below in the stuffy cabin, so here we enjoyed the meal.
While we ate, Jackwell expanded more and more under the influence of duff
and beer. He leaned back in his chair and gazed at the mainmast.
"What makes the top of your mast so black, hey? Is it the smoke from the
kettles, or have you been afire? Sink me, Henry, there couldn't have been
any such luck as your old hooker afire and being put out, hey? Ha, ha,
hah! that would have been asking too much of the devil."
"It's hollow," said the old mate.
"What? Hollow? What the deuce is your mast hollow for?"
"Well, that is a question, isn't it, Mrs. Sackett?" said Henry. "Perhaps
he asks you sometimes what a smoke-pipe is hollow for, don't he? I never
seen such a funny man. But he'll never get over it, I want to know."
"Is it really hollow?" asked Jennie of the old mate.
"Yessum, it certainly is. Why, it's the smoke-pipe, you know," was the
reply. "We have an engine in the lazarette that'll take us along more'n
three knots in dead calm weather. It's been a lot o' help, when the wind
has been light and ahead, fer picking up the boats. Ye know a whale
always makes dead to windward, mostly, an' if the wind is light and we've
got to go a long ways, the poor devils would most starve waitin' fer us,
like they used to do in the old times. The lower mast is iron. There's
lots of them that way now. The soot makes the canvas black sometimes, but
there ain't no sparks to speak of ever comes out of that top, as it's
mostly blubber we burns."
Jackwell became silent for several minutes, and then, as his eyes were
still directed at the masthead, I looked again and noticed the topsail
yard settled below the lower masthead.
"How do you suppose he keeps it up like that?" I asked Jackwell, trying
to be civil.
"Keeps what up like what?" he said, in his old tone.
"The yard," I answered shortly.
"Oh, mostly by force of habit, I reckon," said he, nodding sarcastically
at me and wrinkling his nose. "That's it, ain't it, Henry? Your yards
stay mastheaded mostly by force o' habit, hey? They don't need no ropes."
I saw I was not forgotten, so afterward I kept quiet when he spoke. In a
moment or two after this there was a wild yell from forward. This
terminated into a deep bass roar, and we all jumped up to see what was
The form of a man sat on the starboard cat-head, and in his mouth was a
horn of enormous size, the mouth being fully three feet across.
"Sooaye, Sooa-a-aye!" he roared. "Make way fer the great king o' the
I saw the fellow had on a long, rope-yarn beard and a wig to match, while
a pair of black wings hung from his shoulders.
While he called, creatures swarmed over the bows. Men with beards and men
without, some holding long spears and streamers, and some with
three-pronged tridents, all having huge heads with grotesque faces, and
forked tails which hung down behind.
"Hooray fer the king o' the sea!" bawled the fellow through the horn; and
then the motley crowd yelled in chorus, some blowing huge conch-shells,
and all making a most hideous racket.
Jennie stopped her ears and gazed, laughing at the throng. She had been
across the line before in some of the older ships with her father, and
knew of the practice. Mrs. Sackett and Captain Henry cheered and waved
their handkerchiefs, but Jackwell sat silently looking on. Finally all of
us went to the break of the poop, where we could get a better view, and
just as we arrived, a monstrous form came over the knight-heads and stood
forth on deck.
The fellow had a beard fully a fathom long, and he stood nearly two
fathoms high, his feet being hoof-shaped. Gigantic black canvas wings
hung from his shoulders, and a huge wig of rope-yarn, with the hair
falling to his waist, sat on his head. He was escorted unsteadily to a
seat upon the trying-out furnace.
"All who have to worship the king, come forth, an' stan' out!" yelled the
man with the horn. This was greeted with cheers and blasts on the
Some of our men had never been over before, and one of the boat's crew
confessed. He was quickly seized and brought before King Neptune.
"Sit ye down, right there in that there cheer," said the king,
The fellow sat down and stared, smiling at the monster.
"Have ye paid fer comin' acrost this here latitood, me son?" asked the
"No," said the sailor.
"No, what?" roared the king.
The chair was placed on the edge of the main kettle and the monster
simply raised his hand to one of his retainers. This fellow tilted it up,
sailor and all, into the smother of suds and water. Instantly there were
roars of laughter, as all hands watched the man trying to get clear of
the slippery iron tank. Every time he would get a hold, his fingers would
be rapped sharply, and down he would go, floundering about. He was
finally let off with a fine of a plug of tobacco, all his belongings save
the clothes he had with him.
Other men followed, for the whaler had a crew of thirty-five. Some were
shaved with a barrel hoop for a razor, and tar for lather, being finally
released for some tobacco.
"Come aft, O king," bawled Henry, after the fun had grown fast and
furious. "Come aft, and get a donation from the ladies."
The great fellow was escorted unsteadily to the poop, where he saluted
"Have ye never paid toll to go to the other world, yet?" asked the king.
"No," said Jackwell, who was getting tired of the fun, "I ain't never
been acrost, and I ain't a-going to pay toll."
"Shall he pay?" asked the king of Henry.
"Sure," was Henry's response.
Instantly the giant sprang upon the deck, getting clear of his stilts by
some means or other. He seized Jackwell tightly around the body, and
rushing to the rail, sprang into the sea, his followers yelling
themselves hoarse with delight.
When they were hauled aboard, Jackwell was in a fury. I expected him to
shoot the sailor who had the audacity to pitch him overboard, but he
controlled himself. The incident, however, ended the fun aboard the brig,
Henry, between fits of laughing, telling the mate to serve all hands with
all the grog they wanted.
"Do not wait for me, madam," said Jackwell, to Mrs. Sackett. "I shall not
come aboard my ship in this condition. You get Mr. Rolling to take you
and your daughter, and I'll follow, after Captain Henry has given me a
new suit of clothes."
This appeared to be the best thing to do, as the brig's men were now
getting boisterous with the grog, and our men were drinking also. The
ladies were tired of the performance, although they had enjoyed some of
it very much, and they were glad when I called away the boat's crew to
take them back to the _Pirate_.
Jackwell appeared at the rail as we started off.
"Rolling," said he, "tell Trunnell not to stay awake at night worrying
about my health. This bath will not strike in and tickle me to death as
you might be agreeable enough to suppose."
"Hurry and change your clothes, captain," cried Mrs. Sackett.
"Madam," said he, with great solemnity as the oars were dropped across,
"do not grieve for me. It will make me unhappy for the rest of my pious
existence if you do. Fare thee well."
We were now on our way back to the ship, and he stood a moment, waved his
hand, and then disappeared down the companionway.
In ten minutes we were aboard again, and I met Chips in the waist as I
stopped to get a piece of tobacco.
"Well, what was it?" I asked.
"Faith, an' I got caught," said Chips, with a sickly grin.
"How was it?" I asked. "Come, tell me, while Ford and Tom get the
cushions out of the boat;" and I drew the carpenter into the door of the
forward cabin where Trunnell couldn't see us.
"'Twas a fine thing ye made me do, but no matter," he began. "Ye see,
whin ye had started well on yer way to th' fisher, I thinks now is th'
time av me life. Trunnell ware sitting and smokin' on the wheel-gratin',
an' all ware as quiet as ye please. I wint below whistling to set him off
his guard, like; an' whin I sees me way clear I takes me chance at the
afther-cabin, an' in I goes. I stopped whistlin' whin I makes th' enthry,
an' I steered straight fer th' chist forninst the captin's room. The door
ware open, an' I see the chist ware a little trunk av a thing, no bigger
than a hand-bag, so to speak. Up on top av it ware a pile av charts an'
things sech as th' raskil sung out to Trunnell not to touch. 'Twas a cute
little thing to do; fer how I could get inter th' outfit without a-movin'
them struck me.
"I finally grabs th' side av th' trunk an' tries to lift it. Ye may say
I lie, but s'help me, I cud no more lift that little trunk than th'
"Gold? Why, how cud it 'a' been anything but solid gold? I cud lift that
much lead easy. I stopped a minit and took out me knife, me mind made up
to thry th' lock. I give wan good pick at ut, an' thin I hears a sort av
grunt. There ware Trunnell a-lookin' right down at me from th' top av th'
"Sez he, 'An' what may ye be a-doin' wid th' old man's trunk,' sez he.
"'Sure 'tis me own I thought it ware, by th' weight av it,' sez I.
"'Is it so heavy, thin?' sez he.
"'Faith, ye thry an' lift it,' sez I.
"He come down th' ladder an' took a-hold, shutting th' door to keep th'
steward from a-lookin' in. Thin he takes hold av th' thing an' lifts fer
th' good av his soul. Nary a inch does it move.
"'I wud have opened it, but I heard th' captin's order not to disturb th'
charts atop av it,' sez I.
"'Ye would, ye thafe,' sez he. 'An' if ye had, inter irons would ye go
fer th' raskil ye are. I never thought ye ware so bad, Chips,' sez he.
"'Tis a victim av discipline I am, fer sure, thin,' sez I. 'Ye know I wud
no more steal th' matther av a trunk than fly.'
"'An' who give ye th' order, ye disciplinarian?' sez he.
"'Me conscience,' sez I.
"'Ye better go forrads an' tell yer conscience th' fact that it's a bad
wan fer an honest man to travel wid,' sez he. 'An' tell him also to mind
what I says about obeyin' orders aboard this here ship. If yer conscience
iver wants to command a ship, he don't want to forget that discipline is
discipline, an' whin it comes to thavery, discipline will get ye both in
irons. Slant away afore I loses my temper an' sails inter ye,' sez he.
"So here I am, all in a mess wid that little mate. But th' trunk av gold
is safe on th' cabin floor."
I had nothing to say further than that the matter couldn't be helped. If
the trunk was all right, we might land a fortune yet in the reward Jim
had told us about. Jackwell must have made off with a snug little sum. I
climbed over the side again with some of the skipper's clothes, and we
started slowly back to the brig to get him.
Ford was rowing bow oar, and Johnson aft, and both rowing easily made us
go very slow. However, there was no hurry. Jackwell would in all
probability take several drinks after his bath, and we would only have to
wait aboard the whaler for him until he was ready. The sea was so smooth
that the boat hardly rippled through it, and the sun was warm, making me
somewhat drowsy. The two men rowed in silence for some time, and then
Ford suddenly looked ahead to see how we were going.
"What's the matter with the bloomin' brig?" said he, rowing with his chin
on his shoulder.
I looked around, and it seemed as though we had already gone the full
distance to her, and yet had as far again to go. The _Pirate_ was
certainly half a mile away and there was the brig still far ahead.
"Give way, bullies," I said. "Break an oar or two."
The men made a response to the order, and the boat went along livelier. I
looked at the brig, and suddenly I noticed a thin trail of smoke coming
from her maintop where the opening in the lower masthead should be.
We were now within fifty fathoms of her, when Jackwell came to the rail
aft and looked at us.
"Give way, bullies, you're going to sleep." I said.
In a few moments we were close aboard, but as we came up, the brig slewed
her stern toward us, and then I noticed for the first time that she was
moving slowly through the water. There was no wind, and I knew in a
moment that she was under steam. She drifted away faster, and the men had
all they could do to keep up. Jackwell leaned over the taffrail and gazed
calmly down at us.
"That's it, boys, give it to her. You'll soon catch us and be towing
us back again. Sink me, Rolling, but you're the biggest fool I ever
saw," he said.
I saw the water rippling away from the brig's side, and now could see the
disturbance under her stern where a small wheel turned rapidly.
"Throw us a line," I cried to Jackwell.
"What d'ye want a line fer? Are ye a-going with us to the Pacific, or are
ye jest naturally short of lines, hey?"
"Throw us a line or we'll have to quit," I cried; "the men can't keep up
as it is."
Jackwell let down the end of the spanker sheet, and Ford grabbed it,
taking a turn around the thwart. The boat still rushed rapidly along.
"Rolling," said the captain of the _Pirate_, "hadn't you better go home
and tell Trunnell he wants you? Seems to me you'll have a long row back
in the hot sun. I'd ask you all aboard, but this ship ain't mine. She
belongs to a friend who owes me a little due, see? Now be a sensible
little fellow. Rolling, and go back nicely, or I'll have to do some
target practice, or else cut this rope. Give my kindest regards to the
ladies, especially Mrs. Sackett. Tell her that I wouldn't have dreamed of
deserting her under any other circumstances, but this brig has got the
devil in her and is running away with me. I can't stop her, and I can't
say I would if I could. That infernal King Neptune has got hold of her
keel and is pulling us along. Good-by, Rolling; don't by any possible
means disturb the charts on my trunk. There, let go, you Ford."
Ford cast the line adrift, and the boat's headway slacked. The brig
drifted slowly ahead, going at least three knots through the smooth
water. A long row of smiling faces showed over the rail as we came from
under her stern. One fellow, waving his hand, cried out to report Bill
Jones of Nantucket as "bein' tolerable well, thank ye." It was evident
they knew nothing of Jackwell and treated the going of the brig as a good
joke on greenhorns.
"That beats me," said Ford, panting from his last exertions.
"An' me too," said Johnson. "If we'd had Tom and one or two more along
we'd have beat her easy. But ain't he a-comin' back at all at all?"
"I hardly think we'll see Captain Thompson any more this voyage,"
I answered savagely; "but by the Lord Harry, he's left his trunk
When we rowed back to the ship, Trunnell was looking at us through the
glass up to the time we came under the _Pirate's_ counter. He evidently
could see that our skipper wasn't with us, and it seemed as if he could
not quite make up his mind to the fact, but must keep looking through the
telescope as though the powerful glass would bring the missing one into
view. We ran up to the channels, and he looked over the side. A line of
heads in the waist told of the curiosity among the men forward.
I said nothing, and nothing was said until the painter was made fast and
Ford had sprung on deck.
"He ain't with ye, Rolling?" asked Trunnell.
I was too much disgusted to answer. The empty boat was enough to satisfy
any reasonable person.
Chips came to the rail and leaned over as I came up the chain-plates.
"'Twas so, then? Th' raskil! But what makes th' bloody hooker move? She's
slantin' away as if th' devil himself ware holdin' av her fore foot!"
"Steam, you poor idiots," I cried out, in disgust, for it was evident
that even Trunnell couldn't tell what made the _Shark_ get headway,
although now the smoke poured handsomely from her masthead.
Trunnell scratched his bushy head and seemed to be thinking deeply. Then
he put down the glasses and led the way aft without a word, Chips and I
following. We went below and found Mrs. Sackett and Jennie in the saloon.
"Where's the captain?" they asked in a breath.
"Faith, an' he's changed ships, if ye please," said Chips.
"And left a little thing behind he would have liked to have taken with
him," I said.
"What was the matter?" they both asked.
Chips and I tried to tell, but we soon made a tangle of it, the only
thing coherent being the fact that the fellow was a crook and had left
his trunk behind. This was so heavy that Chips had failed to lift it.
"I always knew he was not a sea-captain," cried Jennie. "I don't see how
you men let him fool you so badly."
Chips and I looked at the mate, but he simply scratched his head.
"Discipline is discipline," he said. "He ware capting o' this here ship,
an' there ware no way to do but obey his orders. No, sir, discipline is
discipline, an' the sooner ye get it through your heads, the better."
"But he isn't captain any longer," I said.
"Well, I don't know about that," said Trunnell. "If he ain't a-comin'
back, he ain't capting, sure. But ye can't tell nothin' about it. He may
come aboard agin in a little while an' want to know why we didn't wait
dinner for him."
"He sho' would take his trunk," said Gunning, "an' dat's a fact."
"Why would he?" asked Mrs. Sackett.
"'Cause he take good care o' dat trunk, ma'm. He sleep wid one eye on it
an' his gun handy. I come near gettin' killed onct when I come into de
cabin, suddin' like, while he was at work ober de things inside."
"For Heaven's sake, let's look at it," said Mrs. Sackett.
"'Tis th' best thing we cud do," said Chips. "'Tis no less than solid
gold he stowed in it. Faith, it's as heavy as th' main yard."
Mrs. Sackett led the way to the captain's room, and Trunnell made no
farther resistance. She opened the door, and we crowded inside. There lay
the trunk on the floor or deck ahead of us.
"Try yer hand at th' liftin' av th' thing," said Chips to me.
I reached down and took hold of the handle at the side. Pulling heavily,
I lifted with all my power. The trunk remained stationary.
"Dere's nothin' but gold in dat thing, sho'," said Gunning.
"Well, for Heaven's sake! why don't some one open it?" cried Jennie.
"An' have him a-comin' back aboard, a-wantin' to know who had been at it,
hey?" said Trunnell. "I didn't think ye ware that kind o' missy."
"Nonsense!" I said. "He isn't coming back. Even if he is, it won't hurt
to lift it, will it?"
"No, I don't know as it will, only it might upset them charts,"
"Try it," I said. "See if it's gold. It'll clink when you shake
The little giant stooped and gave a grunt of disdain. "I reckon there
ain't nothin' that size I can't lift," said he, in a superior tone, which
was not lost on the women. Trunnell seldom bragged, and we crowded
around, looking for quick results.
"A little bit o' trunk a-breakin' the backs o' a pair o' fellows as has
the impudence to say they are men an' question the discipline o' the
ship!" he said, with a loud grunt of disgust. "Stan' clear an' let a man
have a chanst. If it's gold, an' ye're right, it'll rattle an' jingle
fast enough; an' I hopes then ye'll be satisfied."
He took a strong hold of the leather handle at the side and braced his
little legs wide apart. It was evident he would put forth some power.
Then he set the great muscles of his broad back slowly, like a dray horse
testing the load before putting forth his strength. Slowly and surely the
little mate's back raised. He grew red in the face, and we peered over
the treasure, hoping it would rise and give forth the welcome jingle.
Suddenly there was a ripping sound. Trunnell straightened up quickly,
staggered for an instant, and then pitched forward over the trunk,
uttering a fierce oath.
Mrs. Sackett screamed. Jennie burst into a wild fit of laughter. Chips
and Gunning stood staring with open mouths and eyes, while Trunnell
picked himself up, with the trunk handle in his iron fist.
"Faith, an' ye are a good strong man," said the carpenter. "Ye'd make a
fortune as a porter a-liftin' trunks at a hotel."
"He can lift a little thing like that," said Jennie, mimicking the mate's
tone to perfection.
Trunnell was now thoroughly mad. If the trunk contained gold, he would
soon find out.
"Bring yer tools, an' don't stan' laffin' like a loon, ye bloody
Irishman," he said to Chips, and the carpenter disappeared quickly. He
returned in a moment with a brace and bit, a cold chisel, and a hammer.
"Knock off the top," said Trunnell.
"Discipline is discipline," whispered Jennie; "and I don't want to be
around if the captain comes back."
Trunnell was too angry to pay attention to this remark, so he looked
sourly on while the carpenter cut off the rivets holding the lock.
"There ye are," he said, and we crowded around to look in while the mate
raised the lid.
Off it came easily enough. We stood perfectly silent for an instant. Then
all except Trunnell burst out laughing. The trunk was empty!
"Well, sink me down deep, but that ware the heaviest air I ever see,"
said Trunnell. Then he picked up a slip of paper in the bottom and looked
at it a moment. It had writing on it, and he unfolded it to read. I
looked over his shoulder and read aloud:--
"MY DEAR LITTLE MATE: When you get this here billee ducks, don't do
anything rash. Remember the discipline of the ship, first of all, and
then take the dollar bill here and get somebody to cut your hair fer ye,
as it's too loing fer a man of sense and is disagreeable to the ladies.
If ye thought ye had a pot of gold in this here outfit, ye get left,
sure, and no mistake. Remember money's the root of all evil and thank yer
Lord ye ain't got none. There ain't no answer to this note; but if ye
feel like writing at enny time, address it to Bill Jackwell, care of
anybody at all what happens to be around at the time I'm there--see?
Some day we'll meet agin, fer I'm stuck on the sea and am going to buy a
boat and appoint ye as captain, only yer must cut yer hair and trim up
yer beard some. That's all."
Trunnell held the dollar bill he had unfurled from the note in his hand
and dropped the note back into the trunk.
"'Tis screwed fast wid nine big bolts to th' deck," said Chips, who had
examined the outfit carefully.
Trunnell scratched his bushy head thoughtfully for a moment longer. "Is
there any sech thing as a few men aboard this ship?" he asked.
I said I thought there was.
"Then man the boat and row, for the love o' God!" he roared, springing up
the companionway to the deck, leaving us to follow after him.
When we reached the deck and looked after the brig, we found that we had
spent more time below than at first imagined. The _Shark_ was hull down
to the southward and evidently going along steadily at a three-knot rate.
The sun was almost on the horizon, and if we started after her, the
chances were that night would fall long before we could lessen the
distance between us materially. Sober appreciation of the affair took the
place of Trunnell's impetuosity.
"We'll niver see him agin," said Chips, hauling heavily on the
"There's no use, Trunnell," I cried; "we can't catch that brig in a
He was already hesitating, and stood scratching his shaggy beard.
"Avast heavin' on that tackle," he bawled. Then he turned to me. "You're
right, Rolling, we've lost a fortune an' the rascal too, but it ain't no
use making bigger fools of ourselves. Stow the boat. After that send
Johnson aft to me with a pair o' scissors. You an' Tom can set the
watches, fer ye see I'm capting of her now. Ye might say, on the side
like, that the first burgoo eater what comes along the weather side o'
the poop while I'm on deck will go over the rail. There's a-goin' to be
some discipline aboard the hooker, or I'll--well, there ain't no tellin'
just what I won't do. I'm capting o' this here ship, an' ye might jest as
well muster the men aft to hear the news."
Then he disappeared down the companion aft, and I sent Johnson to him
with the shears as he had ordered.
When Trunnell came on deck again in the evening, his beard was a sight to
be remembered. It looked as though a rat had nibbled it in spots. His
hair was equally well done by the artist, but Jackwell's last order had
been obeyed. The men were mustered aft, and Trunnell announced that he
was the man they wanted to stand from under. They remained silent until
Johnson suggested that three cheers be given for the new skipper. Then
all hands bawled themselves hoarse. That was all. I was now the first
mate and took my meals at the cabin table, where Jennie and her mother
had been wondering at Trunnell's dexterity with his knife. The little
mate appeared to realize that a certain amount of dignity and dress were
necessary for the maintenance of correct discipline aboard, and he
accordingly changed his shirt once a week and wore a new coat of blue
pilot cloth. He sat at the head of the table, and went through his
knife-juggling each meal, to the never ending amusement of Jennie, and
admiration of Gunning, who swore that, "dey ain't no man afloat cud do
dat no better." He, however, came through the rest of the cruise without
even cutting his lip.
My duties and rating being those of a first mate, I had no longer the
pleasure of being intimate with Chips and the rest forward. The
carpenter, steward, and "doctor" had the quartermaster, Tom, from
Trunnell's watch for a second mate and companion at the second table. Tom
was a Yankee and a good companion, so the change was satisfactory all
around. I sometimes looked in at the carpenter's room in the forward
house, where he and a few chosen spirits would be holding forth upon some
nautical subject, but I had to cut my visits short, for they worried
Trunnell. Being suddenly raised did not quite inspire the necessary
respect in his eyes, unless the person promoted showed unmistakable
dignity and authority by dressing down all who came in contact with him.
For some time it was pretty hard to speak to our little skipper. He
disliked anything he imagined might tend to lessen the discipline aboard
and had a horror of a mate or captain being familiar with the men.
My room was still in the forward cabin, but I now spent much time in the
saloon, and helped Trunnell to shift his belongings aft to Jackwell's
cabin. The truculent knave had left little behind him save a lot of old
clothes, bonds which were not negotiable, and some wrappers used by the
bank of Melbourne for doing up packets of bills. Upon one of these was a
mark of fifty pounds sterling, showing that Jackwell's assets, unless
enormous, could be made to fit in a very small space. He probably carried
all he owned upon his person.
We went through everything in the cabin carefully, but the only thing of
interest discovered was the photograph of a plump young woman torn fairly
in two, the lower half bearing the inscription in Jackwell's handwriting,
"Good riddance to bad rubbish."
I had found this in the chart case and had examined it some minutes
without comment, when Miss Sackett took it from me. She gazed at it a
moment, and cried out, "Why! it's the third mate."
I instantly seized it again and looked carefully at the features, and
then it was plain enough. There he was, in a neat fitting bodice, the
curly blond hair stylishly dressed, and the plump cheeks showing just
the faintest trace of the dimples of our former third officer. I looked
at the back of the photograph. It had the name of a Melbourne artist
upon it, and beneath, in a female hand, the written words, "Yours
Trunnell heard Jennie's exclamation and came up. He took the picture from
me and gazed long at the face. Then he gave a sigh which sounded like a
blackfish drawing in air, handed it back to me, and went up the
companionway, scratching his head in the manner he did when much
disturbed. He said not a word, nor did he mention Mr. Bell's name, and
that night at supper he never raised his eyes from his plate. Afterward
in the mid-watch he came on the poop and walked fore and aft for three
long hours without so much as speaking to me or asking the man at the
wheel the vessel's course. He finally went below, carrying the odor of
grog along with him. He came on deck many nights after this and walked
fore and aft in silence, as though brooding over some unpleasant subject,
and we were clear of the trade and knocking about in the uncertain
latitudes before he appeared to be anything like himself again.
I avoided any subject relating to the earlier part of the voyage and
tried to cheer him. I thought he had suffered keenly, and was glad
when he stopped drinking and looked me in the eyes without letting his
gaze fall in confusion. Sometimes I caught myself wondering at the
reticence of the men who had rowed him to the burnt wreck that night,
but I found that no one had boarded her except Trunnell and he had
sent the boat astern.
Tom, the quartermaster, made mate under me, was a good sailor. He did his
work thoroughly, and everything went along without friction throughout
the rest of the voyage to the Breakwater. We picked up the northeast
trade in a few days, and hauled our starboard tacks aboard, bracing the
yards sharp up until it gradually swung more and more to the eastward,
letting us off on a taut bowline for the latitude of the States.
The _Pirate_ showed herself to be the fast ship she had always been, for
we made the run up the trade in less than three weeks. Trunnell took such
pride in her that all hands were tired out before we ran over the
thirtieth parallel, with the scrubbing, painting, holy-stoning, etc.,
that he considered necessary to have her undergo before arriving in port.
As mate of the ship, I had much opportunity to command the deck alone;
that is, without the supervision of any one. Of course, I can't say I
spent much time alone on deck, even when in charge; but I would never let
social matters interfere with work sufficiently to merit a rebuke from
the little skipper. He soon manifested a disposition to be alone during
his watch on deck, and at first I believed this to be due to the exalted
dignity of his position. It hurt me to think he should be so changed, and
I pondered at the peculiarities of mankind for many days. After awhile,
however, he became absorbed in a game of checkers with Mrs. Sackett which
lasted two weeks. Then I forgave him. Whenever he saw Jennie and myself
on deck, he would make haste to get through his business there, and dive
below again. This kindly interest on his part was kept up until we raised
the Delaware Capes.
How good the land smelled, and how distinctly. It seemed incredible that
one could smell the land twenty miles away, almost before the color of
the water began to change. Yet it was strong in the nostrils; and even
one of the pigs we had not eaten, but had brought back alive, squealed
incessantly, as though instinctively feeling that the voyage was over.
It was late in the afternoon, but the men were mustered aft, in the
time-worn way of merchant-men, to sign off. Nearly all had bills on the
slop-chest for tobacco or clothes. As each went over the poop he gazed at
the line on the western horizon and smiled gladly. It meant a new life
for more than one. Among the last to go was the old landsman whom
Trunnell had given a chance to earn his clothes by bug-hunting. He smiled
sadly at the setting sun over the dark line which meant home. Then he
shook out several strings of vermin, and holding them at arm's length,
stopped at the cabin window. His cheap trousers failed to reach the tops
of his coarse shoes, and the gap showed the skin on meagre ankles. I was
interested to know what he would take.
"What d'ye want?" asked Trunnell.
"I come for a yaller silk ban'kercheef," said he, offering the strings.
"Don't yer think ye'd better get some o' them woollens? It'll be cold on
"I got clothes a plenty. I want a yaller silk ban'kercheef. Yer got one,
for Sam tole me so. I'm a-goin' ashore to Hennery's, an' I ain't goin'
like no clown without a wipe. Kin I have it?"
The handkerchief was passed out, and the old fellow went forward smiling.
What a strange thing is the end of a deep-water voyage! Men who have been
living together for months through suffering and hardship will go over
the ship's side with a cheery farewell. They may meet for a few moments
at the office to draw their pay, and then take a drink all around. That
is all. They seldom see or hear of each other again. The world goes on,
and they drift about, taking what part in affairs Fate has in store for
them. One should come back aboard the ship the day after she makes her
dock and look into the deserted forecastle and about the lonely decks,
where so much has taken place, to realize man's lonely mission. The old
ship-keeper, sitting alone smoking on the hatchway in the evening before
unloading begins, will affront one with his presence. Where are the men,
rough, honest, coarse, or even bad, that used to sit there so often in
the twilight of the dog-watch? There is a strange yearning to see them
again. I watched the sun go down with a feeling of mingled joy and
sorrow,--joy for the return to the States, and sorrow for the parting
which must soon take place between my shipmates.
When we came to an anchor and made ready to go ashore, the little giant
Trunnell came up to say good-by to the ladies. I had decided to accompany
them to the city.
When he shook hands, the tears ran down out of his little eyes and
trickled over his bushy beard to the deck.
"I wishes ye all the best o' luck," said he, and he fumbled in his pocket
for a moment, letting a small piece of paper escape and flutter to the
deck. I stooped and picked it up, glancing at the writing on it. The
Mrs. William Sackett, 25 Prince St., E.C., London, Eng.
He snatched it from me and seized my hand, gripping it so hard I almost
"Go along, ye lucky dog," he cried. "Say good-by to Chips an' the rest
afore ye goes ashore. We'll be berthed an' paid off when ye comes back."
I said good-by to the men at the gangway, and then helped the ladies over
the side into the boat, seating myself in the stern-sheets between them.
"I should think you'd be thankful to get in at last," said Jennie.
"Yes," I whispered; "but I have no objections to sailing again as a
Her hand closed upon mine behind the backboard.
"Neither have I," she breathed in return.
"Whose mate?" I asked her.
But that's an old story.