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Title: "Where Angels Fear to Tread" and Other Stories of the Sea
Author: Robertson, Morgan, 1861-1915
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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OTHER STORIES OF THE SEA***


Transcriber's note:

   Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.

   Dialect spellings, contractions and discrepancies have been
   retained.



"WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD"

AND OTHER TALES OF THE SEA

by

MORGAN ROBERTSON



Published by The Century Co.
New York        M DCCC XC IX

Copyright, 1899, by
The Century Co.

Copyright, 1898, by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.
Copyright, 1898, 1899, by The Curtis Publishing Co.
Copyright, 1899, by Peter Fénelon Collier.
Copyright, 1899, by Street & Smith.
Copyright, 1897, 1898, by The S. S. McClure Co.
Copyright, 1898, by Harper & Brothers.



TO ITS GODFATHER
JOHN S. PHILLIPS
THIS BOOK IS GRATEFULLY
DEDICATED



"'Where Angels Fear to Tread'" was first published in the "Atlantic
Monthly"; "Salvage" in the "Century Magazine"; "The Brain of the
Battle-Ship," "The Wigwag Message," "Between the Millstones," and
"The Battle of the Monsters," in the "Saturday Evening Post"; "The
Trade-Wind" in "Collier's Weekly"; "From the Royal-Yard Down" in
"Ainslee's Magazine"; "Needs Must when the Devil Drives" and "When
Greek Meets Greek" in McClure's Syndicate; and "Primordial" in
"Harper's Monthly Magazine."

To the publishers of these periodicals I am indebted for the privilege
of republishing the stories in book form.

MORGAN ROBERTSON.



CONTENTS


                                                           PAGE

"WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD"                                  1

THE BRAIN OF THE BATTLE-SHIP                                 57

THE WIGWAG MESSAGE                                           88

THE TRADE-WIND                                              111

SALVAGE                                                     137

BETWEEN THE MILLSTONES                                      170

THE BATTLE OF THE MONSTERS                                  193

FROM THE ROYAL-YARD DOWN                                    213

NEEDS MUST WHEN THE DEVIL DRIVES                            233

WHEN GREEK MEETS GREEK                                      259

PRIMORDIAL                                                  272



"WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD"

"I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of each; and I
believe they both get paid in the end, but the fools first."
                                            ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.


PART I

The first man to climb the _Almena's_ side-ladder from the tug was the
shipping-master, and after him came the crew he had shipped. They
clustered at the rail, looking around and aloft with muttered profane
comments, one to the other, while the shipping-master approached a
gray-eyed giant who stood with a shorter but broader man at the
poop-deck steps.

"Mr. Jackson--the mate here, I s'pose?" inquired the shipping-master. A
nod answered him. "I've brought you a good crew," he continued; "we'll
just tally 'em off, and then you can sign my receipt. The captain'll be
down with the pilot this afternoon."

"I'm the mate--yes," said the giant; "but what dry-goods store did you
raid for that crowd? Did the captain pick 'em out?"

"A delegation o' parsons," muttered the short, broad man,
contemptuously.

"No, they're not parsons," said the shipping-master, as he turned to
the man, the slightest trace of a smile on his seamy face. "You're Mr.
Becker, the second mate, I take it; you'll find 'em all right, sir.
They're sailors, and good ones, too. No, Mr. Jackson, the skipper
didn't pick 'em--just asked me for sixteen good men, and there you are.
Muster up to the capstan here, boys," he called, "and be counted."

As they grouped themselves amidships with their clothes-bags, the
shipping-master beckoned the chief mate over to the rail.

"You see, Mr. Jackson," he said, with a backward glance at the men,
"I've only played the regular dodge on 'em. They've all got the
sailor's bug in their heads and want to go coasting; so I told 'em this
was a coaster."

"So she is," answered the officer; "round the Horn to Callao is
coasting. What more do they want?"

"Yes, but I said nothin' of Callao, and they were all three sheets i'
the wind when they signed, so they didn't notice the articles. They
expected a schooner, too, big enough for sixteen men; but I've just
talked 'em out of that notion. They think, too, that they'll have a
week in port to see if they like the craft; and to make 'em think it
was easy to quit, I told 'em to sign nicknames--made 'em believe that a
wrong name on the articles voided the contract."

"But it don't. They're here, and they'll stay--that is, if they know
enough to man the windlass."

"Of course--of course. I'm just givin' you a pointer. You may have to
run them a little at the start, but that's easy. Now we'll tally 'em
off. Don't mind the names; they'll answer to 'em. You see, they're all
townies, and bring their names from home."

The shipping-master drew a large paper from his pocket, and they
approached the men at the capstan, where the short, broad second mate
had been taking their individual measures with scowling eye.

It was a strange crew for the forecastle of an outward-bound,
deep-water American ship. Mr. Jackson looked in vain for the heavy,
foreign faces, the greasy canvas jackets and blanket trousers he was
accustomed to see. Not that these men seemed to be landsmen--each
carried in his face and bearing the indefinable something by which
sailors of all races may distinguish each other at a glance from
fishermen, tugmen, and deck-hands. They were all young men, and their
intelligent faces--blemished more or less with marks of overnight
dissipation--were as sunburnt as were those of the two mates; and where
a hand could be seen, it showed as brown and tarry as that of the
ablest able seaman. There were no chests among them, but the canvas
clothes-bags were the genuine article, and they shouldered and handled
them as only sailors can. Yet, aside from these externals, they gave no
sign of being anything but well-paid, well-fed, self-respecting
citizens, who would read the papers, discuss politics, raise families,
and drink more than is good on pay-nights, to repent at church in the
morning. The hands among them that were hidden were covered with
well-fitting gloves--kid or dog-skin; all wore white shirts and
fashionable neckwear; their shoes were polished; their hats were in
style; and here and there, where an unbuttoned, silk-faced overcoat
exposed the garments beneath, could be seen a gold watch-chain with
tasteful charm.

"Now, boys," said the shipping-master, cheerily, as he unfolded the
articles on the capstan-head, "answer, and step over to starboard as I
read your names. Ready? Tosser Galvin."

"Here." A man carried his bag across the deck a short distance.

"Bigpig Monahan." Another--as large a man as the mate--answered and
followed.

"Moccasey Gill."

"Good God!" muttered the mate, as this man responded.

"Sinful Peck." An undersized man, with a cultivated blond mustache,
lifted his hat politely to Mr. Jackson, disclosing a smooth, bald head,
and passed over, smiling sweetly. Whatever his character, his name
belied his appearance; for his face was cherubic in its innocence.

"Say," interrupted the mate, angrily, "what kind of a game is this,
anyhow? Are these men sailors?"

"Yes, yes," answered the shipping-master, hurriedly; "you'll find 'em
all right. And, Sinful," he added, as he frowned reprovingly at the
last man named, "don't you get gay till my receipt's signed and I'm
clear of you."

Mr. Jackson wondered, but subsided; and, each name bringing forth a
response, the reader called off: "Seldom Helward, Shiner O'Toole,
Senator Sands, Jump Black, Yampaw Gallagher, Sorry Welch, Yorker
Jimson, General Lannigan, Turkey Twain, Gunner Meagher, Ghost O'Brien,
and Poop-deck Cahill."

Then the astounded Mr. Jackson broke forth profanely. "I've been
shipmates," he declared between oaths, "with freak names of all
nations; but this gang beats me. Say, you," he called,--"you with the
cro'-jack eye there,--what's that name you go by? Who are you?" He
spoke to the large man who had answered to "Bigpig Monahan," and who
suffered from a slight distortion of one eye; but the man, instead of
civilly repeating his name, answered curtly and coolly:

"I'm the man that struck Billy Patterson."

Fully realizing that the mate who hesitates is lost, and earnestly
resolved to rebuke this man as his insolence required, Mr. Jackson had
secured a belaying-pin and almost reached him, when he found himself
looking into the bore of a pistol held by the shipping-master.

"Now, stop this," said the latter, firmly; "stop it right here, Mr.
Jackson. These men are under my care till you've signed my receipt.
After that you can do as you like; but if you touch one of them before
you sign, I'll have you up 'fore the commissioner. And you fellers," he
said over his shoulder, "you keep still and be civil till I'm rid of
you. I've used you well, got your berths, and charged you nothin'. All
I wanted was to get Cappen Benson the right kind of a crew."

"Let's see that receipt," snarled the mate. "Put that gun up, too, or
I'll show you one of my own. I'll tend to your good men when you get
ashore." He glared at the quiescent Bigpig, and followed the
shipping-master--who still held his pistol ready, however--over to the
rail, where the receipt was produced and signed.

"Away you go, now," said the mate; "you and your gun. Get over the
side."

The shipping-master did not answer until he had scrambled down to the
waiting tug and around to the far side of her deck-house. There, ready
to dodge, he looked up at the mate with a triumphant grin on his shrewd
face, and called:

"Say, Mr. Jackson, 'member the old bark _Fair Wind_ ten years ago,
and the ordinary seaman you triced up and skinned alive with a
deck-scraper? D' you 'member, curse you? 'Member breakin' the same
boy's arm with a heaver? You do, don't you? I'm him. 'Member me sayin'
I'd get square?"

He stepped back to avoid the whirling belaying-pin sent by the mate,
which, rebounding, only smashed a window in the pilot-house. Then, amid
an exchange of blasphemous disapproval between Mr. Jackson and the tug
captain, and derisive jeers from the shipping-master,--who also averred
that Mr. Jackson ought to be shot, but was not worth hanging for,--the
tug gathered in her lines and steamed away.

Wrathful of soul, Mr. Jackson turned to the men on the deck. They had
changed their position; they were now close to the fife-rail at the
mainmast, surrounding Bigpig Monahan (for by their names we must know
them), who, with an injured expression of face, was shedding outer
garments and voicing his opinion of Mr. Jackson, which the others
answered by nods and encouraging words. He had dropped a pair of
starched cuffs over a belaying-pin, and was rolling up his
shirt-sleeve, showing an arm as large as a small man's leg, and the
mate was just about to interrupt the discourse, when the second mate
called his name. Turning, he beheld him beckoning violently from the
cabin companionway, and joined him.

"Got your gun, Mr. Jackson?" asked the second officer, anxiously, as he
drew him within the door. "I started for mine when the shippin'-master
pulled. I can't make that crowd out; but they're lookin' for fight,
that's plain. When you were at the rail they were sayin': 'Soak him,
Bigpig.' 'Paste him, Bigpig.' 'Put a head on him.' They might be a lot
o' prize-fighters."

Mr. Becker was not afraid; his position and duties forbade it. He was
simply human, and confronted with a new problem.

"Don't care a rap what they are," answered the mate, who was sufficiently
warmed up to welcome any problem. "They'll get fight enough. We'll
overhaul their dunnage first for whisky and knives, then turn them to.
Come on--I'm heeled."

They stepped out and advanced to the capstan amidships, each with a
hand in his trousers pocket.

"Pile those bags against the capstan here, and go forrard," ordered the
mate, in his most officer-like tone.

"Go to the devil," they answered. "What for?--they're our bags, not
yours. Who in Sam Hill are you, anyhow? What are you? You talk like a
p'liceman."

Before this irreverence could be replied to Bigpig Monahan advanced.

"Look here, old horse," he said; "I don't know whether you're captain
or mate, or owner or cook; and I don't care, either. You had somethin'
to say 'bout my eyes just now. Nature made my eyes, and I can't help
how they look; but I don't allow any big bull-heads to make remarks
'bout 'em. You're spoilin' for somethin'. Put up your hands." He threw
himself into an aggressive attitude, one mighty fist within six inches
of Mr. Jackson's face.

"Go forrard," roared the officer, his gray eyes sparkling; "forrard,
all o' you!"

"We'll settle this; then we'll go forrard. There'll be fair play; these
men'll see to that. You'll only have me to handle. Put up."

Mr. Jackson did not "put up." He repeated again his order to go
forward, and was struck on the nose--not a hard blow; just a
preliminary tap, which started blood. He immediately drew his pistol
and shot the man, who fell with a groan.

An expression of shock and horror over-spread every face among the
crew, and they surged back, away from that murderous pistol. A
momentary hesitance followed, then horror gave way to furious rage, and
carnage began. Coats and vests were flung off, belaying-pins and
capstan-bars seized; inarticulate, half-uttered imprecations punctuated
by pistol reports drowned the storm of abuse with which the mates
justified the shot, and two distinct bands of men swayed and zig-zagged
about the deck, the center of each an officer fighting according to his
lights--shooting as he could between blows of fists and clubs. Then the
smoke of battle thinned, and two men with sore heads and bleeding faces
retreated painfully and hurriedly to the cabin, followed by snarling
maledictions and threats.

It was hardly a victory for either side. The pistols were empty and the
fight taken out of the mates for a time; and on the deck lay three
moaning men, while two others clung to the fife-rail, draining blood
from limp, hanging arms. But eleven sound and angry men were left--and
the officers had more ammunition. They entered their rooms, mopped
their faces with wet towels, reloaded the firearms, pocketed the
remaining cartridges, and returned to the deck, the mate carrying a
small ensign.

"We'll run it up to the main, Becker," he said thickly,--for he
suffered,--ignoring in his excitement the etiquette of the
quarter-deck.

"Aye, aye," said the other, equally unmindful of his breeding. "Will we
go for 'em again?" The problem had defined itself to Mr. Becker. These
men would fight, but not shoot.

"No, no," answered the mate; "not unless they go for us and it's
self-defense. They're not sailors--they don't know where they are. We
don't want to get into trouble. Sailors don't act that way. We'll wait
for the captain or the police." Which, interpreted, and plus the slight
shade of anxiety showing in his disfigured face, meant that Mr. Jackson
was confronted with a new phase of the problem: as to how much more
unsafe it might be to shoot down, on the deck of a ship, men who did
not know where they were, than to shoot down sailors who did. So, while
the uninjured men were assisting the wounded five into the forecastle,
the police flag was run up to the main-truck, and the two mates retired
to the poop to wait and watch.

In a few moments the eleven men came aft in a body, empty-handed,
however, and evidently with no present hostile intention: they had
merely come for their clothes. But that dunnage had not been searched;
and in it might be all sorts of dangerous weapons and equally dangerous
whisky, the possession of which could bring an unpleasant solution to
the problem. So Mr. Jackson and Mr. Becker leveled their pistols over
the poop-rail, and the chief mate roared: "Let those things alone--let
'em alone, or we'll drop some more o' you."

The men halted, hesitated, and sullenly returned to the forecastle.

"Guess they've had enough," said Mr. Becker, jubilantly.

"Don't fool yourself. They're not used to blood-letting, that's all. If
it wasn't for my wife and the kids I'd lower the dinghy and jump her;
and it isn't them I'd run from, either. As it is, I've half a mind to
haul down the flag, and let the old man settle it. Steward," he called
to a mild-faced man who had been flitting from galley to cabin,
unmindful of the disturbance, "go forrard and find out how bad those
fellows are hurt. Don't say I sent you, though."

The steward obeyed, and returned with the information that two men had
broken arms, two flesh-wounds in the legs, and one--the big
man--suffered from a ragged hole through the shoulder. All were
stretched out in bedless bunks, unwilling to move. He had been asked
numerous questions by the others--as to where the ship was bound, who
the men were who had shot them, why there was no bedding in the
forecastle, the captain's whereabouts, and the possibility of getting
ashore to swear out warrants. He had also been asked for bandages and
hot water, which he requested permission to supply, as the wounded men
were suffering greatly. This permission was refused, and the
slight--very slight--nautical flavor to the queries, and the hopeful
condition of the stricken ones, decided Mr. Jackson to leave the police
flag at the masthead.

When dinner was served in the cabin, and Mr. Jackson sat down before a
savory roast, leaving Mr. Becker on deck to watch, the steward imparted
the additional information that the men forward expected to eat in the
cabin.

"Hang it!" he mused; "they can't be sailor-men."

Then Mr. Becker reached his head down the skylight, and said: "Raisin'
the devil with the cook, sir--dragged him out o' the galley into the
forecastle."

"Are they coming aft?"

"No, sir."

"All right. Watch out."

The mate went on eating, and the steward hurried forward to learn the
fate of his assistant. He did not return until Mr. Jackson was about to
leave the cabin. Then he came, with a wry face and disgust in his soul,
complaining that he had been seized, hustled into the forecastle, and
compelled, with the Chinese cook, to eat of the salt beef and pea-soup
prepared for the men, which lay untouched by them. In spite of his
aches and trouble of mind, Mr. Jackson was moved to a feeble grin.

"Takes a sailor or a hog to eat it, hey, Steward?" he said.

He relieved Mr. Becker, who ate his dinner hurriedly, as became a good
second mate, and the two resumed their watch on the poop, noticing that
the cook was jabbering Chinese protest in the galley, and that the men
had climbed to the topgallant-forecastle--also watching, and
occasionally waving futile signals to passing tugs or small
sailing-craft. They, too, might have welcomed the police boat.

But, either because the _Almena_ lay too far over on the Jersey flats
for the flag to be noticed, or because harbor police share the
fallibility of their shore brethren in being elsewhere when wanted, no
shiny black steamer with blue-coated guard appeared to investigate the
trouble, and it was well on toward three o'clock before a tug left the
beaten track to the eastward and steamed over to the ship. The officers
took her lines as she came alongside, and two men climbed the
side-ladder--one, a Sandy Hook pilot, who need not be described; the
other, the captain of the ship.

Captain Benson, in manner and appearance, was as superior to the
smooth-shaven and manly-looking Mr. Jackson as the latter was to the
misformed, hairy, and brutal second mate. With his fashionably cut
clothing, steady blue eye, and refined features, he could have been
taken for an easy-going club-man or educated army officer rather than
the master of a working-craft. Yet there was no lack of seamanly
decision in the leap he made from the rail to the deck, or in the tone
of his voice as he demanded:

"What's the police flag up for, Mr. Jackson?"

"Mutiny, sir. They started in to lick me 'fore turning to, and we've
shot five, but none of them fatally."

"Lower that flag--at once."

Mr. Becker obeyed this order, and as the flag fluttered down the
captain received an account of the crew's misdoing from the mate. He
stepped into his cabin, and returning with a double-barreled shot-gun,
leaned it against the booby-hatch, and said quietly: "Call all hands
aft who can come."

Mr. Jackson delivered the order in a roar, and the eleven men forward,
who had been watching the newcomers from the forecastle-deck, straggled
aft and clustered near the capstan, all of them hatless and coatless,
shivering palpably in the keen December air. With no flinching of their
eyes, they stared at Captain Benson and the pilot.

"Now, men," said the captain, "what's this trouble about? What's the
matter?"

"Are you the captain here?" asked a red-haired, Roman-nosed man, as he
stepped out of the group. "There's matter enough. We ship for a run
down to Rio Janeiro and back in a big schooner; and here we're put
aboard a square-rigged craft, that we don't know anything about, bound
for Callao, and 'fore we're here ten minutes we're howled at and shot.
Bigpig Monahan thinks he's goin' to die; he's bleedin'--they're all
bleedin', like stuck pigs. Sorry Welch and Turkey Twain ha' got broken
arms, and Jump Black and Ghost O'Brien got it in the legs and can't
stand up. What kind o' work is this, anyhow?"

"That's perfectly right. You were shot for assaulting my officers. Do
you call yourselves able seamen, and say you know nothing about
square-rigged craft?"

"We're able seamen on the Lakes. We can get along in schooners. That's
what we came down for."

Captain Benson's lips puckered, and he whistled softly. "The Lakes," he
said--"lake sailors. What part of the Lakes?"

"Oswego. We're all union men."

The captain took a turn or two along the deck, then faced them, and
said: "Men, I've been fooled as well as you. I would not have an Oswego
sailor aboard my ship--much less a whole crew of them. You may know
your work up there, but are almost useless here until you learn.
Although I paid five dollars a man for you, I'd put you ashore and ship
a new crew were it not for the fact that five wounded men going out of
this ship requires explanations, which would delay my sailing and incur
expense to my owners. However, I give you the choice--to go to sea, and
learn your work under the mates, or go to jail as mutineers; for to
protect my officers I must prosecute you all."

"S'pose we do neither?"

"You will probably be shot--to the last resisting man--either by us or
the harbor police. You are up against the law."

They looked at each other with varying expressions on their faces; then
one asked: "What about the bunks in the forecastle? There's no
bedding."

"If you failed to bring your own, you will sleep on the bunk-boards
without it."

"And that swill the Chinaman cooked at dinner-time--what about that?"

"You will get the allowance of provisions provided by law--no more. And
you will eat it in the forecastle. Also, if you have neglected to bring
pots, pans, and spoons, you will very likely eat it with your fingers.
This is not a lake vessel, where sailors eat at the cabin table, with
knives and forks. Decide this matter quickly."

The captain began pacing the deck, and the listening pilot stepped
forward, and said kindly: "Take my advice, boys, and go along. You're
in for it if you don't."

They thanked him with their eyes for the sympathy, conferred together
for a few moments, then their spokesman called out: "We'll leave it to
the fellers forrard, captain"; and forward they trooped. In five
minutes they were back, with resolution in their faces.

"We'll go, captain," their leader said. "Bigpig can't be moved 'thout
killin' him, and says if he lives he'll follow your mate to hell but
he'll pay him back; and the others talk the same; and we'll stand by
'em--we'll square up this day's work."

Captain Benson brought his walk to a stop close to the shot-gun. "Very
well, that is your declaration," he said, his voice dropping the
conversational tone he had assumed, and taking on one more in
accordance with his position; "now I will deliver mine. We sail at once
for Callao and back to an American port of discharge. You know your
wages--fourteen dollars a month. I am master of this ship, responsible
to my owners and the law for the lives of all on board. And this
responsibility includes the right to take the life of a mutineer. You
have been such, but I waive the charge considering your ignorance of
salt-water custom and your agreement to start anew. The law defines
your allowance of food, but not your duties or your working- and
sleeping-time. That is left to the discretion of your captain and
officers. Precedent--the decision of the courts--has decided the
privilege of a captain or officer to punish insolence or lack of
respect from a sailor with a blow--of a fist or missile; but,
understand me now, a return of the blow makes that man a mutineer, and
his prompt killing is justified by the law of the land. Is this plain
to you? You are here to answer and obey orders respectfully, adding the
word 'sir' to each response; you are never to go to windward of an
officer, or address him by name without the prefix 'Mr.'; and you are
to work civilly and faithfully, resenting nothing said to you until you
are discharged in an American port at the end of the voyage. A failure
in this will bring you prompt punishment; and resentment of this
punishment on your part will bring--death. Mr. Jackson," he concluded,
turning to his first officer, "overhaul their dunnage, turn them to,
and man the windlass."

A man--the bald-headed Sinful Peck--sprang forward; but his face was
not cherubic now. His blue eyes blazed with emotion much in keeping
with his sobriquet; and, raising his hand, the nervously crooking
fingers of which made it almost a fist, he said, in a voice explosively
strident:

"That's all right. That's _your_ say. You've described the condition o'
nigger slaves, not American voters. And I'll tell you one thing, right
here--I'm a free-born citizen. I know my work, and can do it, without
bein' cursed and abused; and if you or your mates rub my fur the wrong
way I'm goin' to claw back; and if I'm shot, you want to shoot sure;
for if you don't, I'll kill that man, if I have to lash my knife to a
broom-handle, and prod him through his window when he's asleep."

But alas for Sinful Peck! He had barely finished his defiance when he
fell like a log under the impact of the big mate's fist; then, while
the pilot, turning his back on the painful scene, walked aft, nodding
and shaking his head, and the captain's strong language and leveled
shot-gun induced the men to an agitated acquiescence, the two officers
kicked and stamped upon the little man until consciousness left him.
Before he recovered he had been ironed to a stanchion in the
'tween-deck, and entered in the captain's official log for threatening
life. And by this time the dunnage had been searched, a few
sheath-knives tossed overboard, and the remaining ten men were moodily
heaving in the chain.

And so, with a crippled crew of schooner sailors, the square-rigger
_Almena_ was towed to sea, smoldering rebellion in one end of her, the
power of the law in the other--murder in the heart of every man on
board.



PART II


Five months later the _Almena_ lay at an outer mooring-buoy in Callao
Roads, again ready for sea, but waiting. With her at the anchorage
were representatives of most of the maritime nations. English ships
and barks with painted ports and spider-web braces, high-sided,
square-sterned American half-clippers, clumsy, square-bowed "Dutchmen,"
coasting-brigs of any nation, lumber-schooners from "'Frisco,"
hide-carriers from Valparaiso, pearl-boats and fishermen, and even a
couple of homesick Malay proas from the west crowded the roadstead; for
the guano trade was booming, and Callao prosperous. Nearly every type
of craft known to sailors was there; but the postman and the policeman
of the seas--the coastwise mail-steamer and the heavily sparred
man-of-war--were conspicuously absent. The Pacific Mail boat would not
arrive for a week, and the last cruiser had departed two days before.

Beyond the faint land- and sea-breeze, there was no wind nor promise of
it for several days; and Captain Benson, though properly cleared at the
custom-house for New York, was in no hurry, and had taken advantage of
the delay to give a dinner to some captains with whom he had
fraternized on shore. "I've a first-rate steward," he had told them,
"and I'll treat you well; and I've the best-trained crew that ever went
to sea. Come, all of you, and bring your first officers. I want to give
you an object-lesson on the influence of matter over mind that you
can't learn in the books."

So they came, at half-past eleven, in their own ships' dinghies, which
were sent back with orders to return at nightfall--six big-fisted,
more or less fat captains, and six big-fisted, beetle-browed, and
embarrassed chief mates. As they climbed the gangway they were met and
welcomed by Captain Benson, who led them to the poop, the only dry and
clean part of the ship; for the _Almena's_ crew were holystoning the
main-deck, and as this operation consists in grinding off the oiled
surface of the planks with sandstone, the resulting slime of sand, oily
wood-pulp, and salt water made walking unpleasant, as well as being
very hard on polished shoe-leather. But in this filthy slime the men
were on their knees, working the six-inch blocks of stone, technically
called "bibles," back and forth with about the speed and motion of an
energetic woman over a wash-board.

The mates also were working. With legs clad in long rubber boots, they
filled buckets at the deck-pump and scattered water around where
needed, occasionally throwing the whole bucketful at a doubtful spot on
the deck to expose it to criticism. As the visitors lined up against
the monkey-rail and looked down on the scene, Mr. Becker launched such
a bucketful as only a second mate can--and a man who happened to be in
the way was rolled over by the unexpected impact. He gasped a little
louder than might have been necessary, and the wasting of the bucketful
of water having forced Mr. Becker to make an extra trip to the pump,
the officer was duly incensed.

"Get out o' the way, there," he bawled, eying the man sternly. "What
are you gruntin' at? A little water won't hurt you--soap neither."

He went to the pump for more water, and the man crawled back to his
holystone. It was Bigpig Monahan, hollow-eyed and thin, slow in his
voluntary movements; minus his look of injury, too, as though he might
have welcomed the bowling over as a momentary respite for his aching
muscles.

Now and then, when the officers' faces were partly turned, a man would
stop, rise erect on his knees, and bend backward. A man may work a
holystone much longer and press it much harder on the deck for these
occasional stretchings of contracted tissue; but the two mates chose to
ignore this physiological fact, and a moment later, a little man,
caught in the act by Mr. Jackson, was also rolled over on his back, not
by a bucket of water, but by the boot of the mate, who uttered words
suitable to the occasion, and held his hand in his pocket until the
little man, grinning with rage, had resumed his work.

"There," said Captain Benson to his guests on the poop; "see that
little devil! See him show his teeth! That is Mr. Sinful Peck. I've had
him in irons with a broken head five times, and the log is full of him.
I towed him over the stern running down the trades to take the
cussedness out of him, and if he had not been born for higher things,
he'd have drowned. He was absolutely unconquerable until I found him
telling his beads one time in irons and took them away from him. Now to
get an occasional chance at them he is fairly quiet."

"So this is your trained crew, is it, captain?" said a grizzled old
skipper of the party. "What ails that fellow down in the scuppers with
a prayer-book?" He pointed to a man who with one hand was rubbing a
small holystone in a corner where a large one would not go.

"Ran foul of the big end of a handspike," answered Captain Benson,
quietly; "he'll carry his arm in splints all the way home, I think. His
name is Gunner Meagher. I don't know how they got their names, but they
signed them and will answer to them. They are unique. Look at that
outlaw down there by the bitts. That is Poop-deck Cahill. Looks like a
prize-fighter, doesn't he? But the steward tells me that he was
educated for the priesthood, and fell by the wayside. That one close to
the hatch--the one with the red head and hang-dog jib--is Seldom
Helward. He was shot off the cro'-jack yard; he fell into the lee clew
of the cro'-jack, so we pulled him in."

"What did he do, captain?" asked the grizzled skipper.

"Threw a marlinespike at the mate."

"What made him throw it?"

"Never asked. I suppose he objected to something said to him."

"Ought to ha' killed him on the yard. Are they all of a kind?"

"Every man. Not one knew the ropes or his place when he shipped.
They're schooner sailors from the Lakes, where the captain, if he is
civil and respectful to his men, is as good as any of them. They
started to clean us up the first day, but failed, and I went to sea
with them. Since then, until lately, it has been war to the knife. I've
set more bones, mended more heads, and plugged more shot-holes on this
passage than ever before, and my officers have grown perceptibly
thinner; but little by little, man by man, we've broken them in. Still,
I admit, it was a job. Why, that same Seldom Helward I ironed and ran
up on the fall of a main-buntline. We were rolling before a stiff
breeze and sea, and he would swing six feet over each rail and bat
against the mast in transit; but the dog stood it eight hours before he
stopped cursing us. Then he was unconscious. When he came to in the
forecastle, he was ready to begin again; but they stopped him. They're
keeping a log, I learn, and are going to law. Every time a man gets
thumped they enter the tragedy, and all sign their names."

Captain Benson smiled dignifiedly in answer to the outburst of laughter
evoked by this, and the men below lifted their haggard, hopeless faces
an instant, and looked at the party with eyes that were
furtive--cat-like. The grinding of the stones prevented their hearing
the talk, but they knew that they were being laughed at.

"Never knew a sailor yet," wheezed a portly and asthmatic captain, "who
wasn't ready to sue the devil and try the court in hell when he's at
sea. Trouble is, they never get past the first saloon."

"They got a little law here," resumed Captain Benson, quietly. "I put
them all in the guardo. The consul advised it, and committed them for
fear they might desert when we lay at the dock. When I took them out to
run to the islands, they complained of being starved; and to tell the
truth, they didn't throw their next meal overboard as usual.
Nevertheless, a good four weeks' board-bill comes out of their wages. I
don't think they'll have a big pay-day in New York: the natives cleaned
out the forecastle in their absence, and they'll have to draw heavily
on my slop-chest."

"That's where captains have the best of it," said one of the mates,
jocularly--and presumptuously, to judge by his captain's frown; "we
hammer 'em round and wear out their clothes, and it's the captain that
sells 'em new ones."

"Captain," said the grizzled one, who had been scanning the crew
intently, "I'd pay that crew off if I were you; you ought to ha' let
'em run, or worked 'em out and saved their pay. Look at 'em--look at
the devils in their eyes. I notice your mates seldom turn their backs
on 'em. I'd get rid of 'em."

"What! Just when we have them under control and useful? Oh, no! They
know their work now, and I'd only have to ship a crowd of beach-combers
and half-breeds at nearly double pay. Besides, gentlemen, we're just a
little proud of this crew. They are lake sailors from Oswego, a little
port on Lake Ontario. When I was young I sailed on the Lakes a season
or two and became thoroughly acquainted with the aggressive
self-respect of that breed. They would rather fight than eat. Their
reputation in this regard prevents them getting berths in any but
Oswego vessels, and even affects the policy of the nation. There's a
fort at Oswego, and whenever a company of soldiers anywhere in the
country become unmanageable--when their officers can't control them
outside the guard-house--the War Department at Washington transfers
them to Oswego for the tutelage they will get from the sailors. And
they get it; they are well-behaved, well-licked soldiers when they
leave. An Oswego sailor loves a row. He is possessed by the fighting
spirit of a bulldog; he inherits it with his Irish sense of injury; he
sucks it in with his mother's milk, and drinks it in with his whisky;
and when no enemies are near, he will fight his friends. Pay them off?
Not much. I've taken sixteen of those devils round the Horn, and I'll
take them back. I'm proud of them. Just look at them," he concluded
vivaciously, as he waved his hand at his men; "docile and obedient,
down on their knees with bibles and prayer-books."

"And the name o' the Lord on their lips," grunted the adviser; "but not
in prayer, I'll bet you."

"Hardly," laughed Captain Benson. "Come below, gentlemen; the steward
is ready."

From lack of facilities the mild-faced and smiling steward could not
serve that dinner with the style which it deserved. He would have
liked, he explained, as they seated themselves, to bring it on in
separate courses; but one and all disclaimed such frivolity. The dinner
was there, and that was enough. And it was a splendid dinner. In front
of Captain Benson, at the head of the table, stood a large tureen of
smoking terrapin-stew; next to that a stuffed and baked freshly caught
fish; and waiting their turn in the center of the spread, a couple of
brace of wild geese from the inland lakes, brown and glistening,
oyster-dressed and savory. Farther along was a steaming plum-pudding,
overhead on a swinging tray a dozen bottles of wine, by the captain's
elbow a decanter of yellow fluid, and before each man's plate a couple
of glasses of different size.

"We'll start off with an appetizer, gentlemen," said the host, as he
passed the decanter to his neighbor. "Here is some of the best Dutch
courage ever distilled; try it."

The decanter went around, each filling his glass and holding it poised;
then, when all were supplied, they drank to the grizzled old captain's
toast: "A speedy and pleasant passage home for the _Almena_, and
further confusion to her misguided crew." The captain responded
gracefully, and began serving the stew, which the steward took from him
plate by plate, and passed around.

But, either because thirteen men had sat down to that table, or because
the Fates were unusually freakish that day, it was destined that,
beyond the initial glass of whisky, not a man present should partake of
Captain Benson's dinner. On deck things had been happening, and just as
the host had filled the last plate for himself, a wet, bedraggled,
dirty little man, his tarry clothing splashed with the slime of the
deck, his eyes flaming green, his face expanded to a smile of ferocity,
appeared in the forward doorway, holding a cocked revolver which
covered them all. Behind him in the passage were other men, equally
unkempt, their eyes wide open with excitement and anticipation.

"Don't ye move," yelped the little man, "not a man. Keep yer hands out
o' yer pockets. Put 'em over yer heads. That's it. You too, cappen."

They obeyed him (there was death in the green eyes and smile), all but
one. Captain Benson sprang to his feet, with a hand in his breast
pocket.

"You scoundrels!" he cried, as he drew forth a pistol. "Leave this----"
The speech was stopped by a report, deafening in the closed-up space;
and Captain Benson fell heavily, his pistol rattling on the floor.

"Hang me up, will ye?" growled another voice through the smoke.

In the after-door were more men, the red-haired Seldom Helward in the
van, holding a smoking pistol. "Get the gun, one o' you fellows over
there," he called.

A man stepped in and picked up the pistol, which he cocked.

"One by one," said Seldom, his voice rising to the pitch and timbre of
a trumpet-blast, "you men walk out the forward companionway with your
hands over your heads. Plug them, Sinful, if two move together, and
shoot to kill."

Taken by surprise, the guests, resolute men though they were, obeyed
the command. As each rose to his feet, he was first relieved of a
bright revolver, which served to increase the moral front of the enemy,
then led out to the booby-hatch, on which lay a newly broached coil of
hambro-line and pile of thole-pins from the boatswain's locker. Here he
was searched again for jack-knife or brass knuckles, bound with the
hambro-line, gagged with a thole-pin, and marched forward, past the
prostrate first mate, who lay quiet in the scuppers, and the erect but
agonized second mate, gagged and bound to the fife-rail, to the port
forecastle, where he was locked in with the Chinese cook, who,
similarly treated, had preceded. The mild-faced steward, weeping now,
as much from professional disappointment as from stronger emotion, was
questioned sternly, and allowed his freedom on his promise not to "sing
out" or make trouble. Captain Benson was examined, his injury diagnosed
as brain-concussion, from the glancing bullet, more or less serious,
and dragged out to the scuppers, where he was bound beside his
unconscious first officer. Then, leaving them to live or die as their
subconsciousness determined, the sixteen mutineers sacrilegiously
reëntered the cabin and devoured the dinner. And the appetites they
displayed--their healthy, hilarious enjoyment of the good things on the
table--so affected the professional sense of the steward that he ceased
his weeping, and even smiled as he waited on them.

When you have cursed, beaten, and kicked a slave for five months it is
always advisable to watch him for a few seconds after you administer
correction, to give him time to realize his condition. And when you
have carried a revolver in the right-hand trousers pocket for five
months it is advisable occasionally to inspect the cloth of the pocket
to make sure that it is not wearing thin from the chafe of the muzzle.
Mr. Jackson had ignored the first rule of conduct, Mr. Becker the
second. Mr. Jackson had kicked Sinful Peck once too often; but not
knowing that it was once too often, had immediately turned his back,
and received thereat the sharp corner of a bible on his bump of
inhabitiveness, which bump responded in its function; for Mr. Jackson
showed no immediate desire to move from the place where he fell. Beyond
binding, he received no further attention from the men. Mr. Becker, on
his way to the lazarette in the stern for a bucket of sand to assist in
the holystoning, had reached the head of the poop steps when this
occurred; and turning at the sound of his superior's fall, had bounded
to the main-deck without touching the steps, reaching for his pistol as
he landed, only to pinion his fingers in a large hole in the pocket.
Wildly he struggled to reclaim his weapon, down his trouser leg, held
firmly to his knee by the tight rubber boot; but he could not reach it.
His anxious face betrayed his predicament to the wakening men, and when
he looked into Mr. Jackson's revolver, held by Sinful Peck, he
submitted to being bound to the fife-rail and gagged with the end of
the topgallant-sheet--a large rope, which just filled his mouth, and
hurt. Then the firearm was recovered, and the descent upon the
dinner-party quickly planned and carried out.

Have you ever seen a kennel of hunting-dogs released on a fine day
after long confinement--how they bark and yelp, chasing one another,
biting playfully, rolling and tumbling over and over in sheer joy and
healthy appreciation of freedom? Without the vocal expression of
emotion, the conduct of these men after that wine dinner was very
similar to that of such emancipated dogs. They waltzed, boxed,
wrestled, threw each other about the deck, turned handsprings and
cartwheels,--those not too weak,--buffeted, kicked, and clubbed the
suffering Mr. Becker, reviled and cursed the unconscious captain and
chief officer, and when tired of this, as children and dogs of play,
they turned to their captives for amusement. The second mate was taken
from the fife-rail, with hands still bound, and led to the forecastle;
the gags of all and the bonds of the cook were removed, and the
forecastle dinner was brought from the galley. This they were invited
to eat. There was a piece of salt beef, boiled a little longer than
usual on account of the delay; it was black, brown, green, and
iridescent in spots; it was slippery with ptomaïnes, filthy to the
sight, stinking, and nauseating. There were potatoes, two years old,
shriveled before boiling--hard and soggy, black, blue, and bitter after
the process. And there was the usual "weevily hardtack" in the
bread-barge.

Protest was useless. The unhappy captives surrounded that dinner on the
forecastle floor (for there was neither table to sit at, nor chests,
stools, or boxes to sit on, in the apartment), and, with hands behind
their backs and disgust in their faces, masticated and swallowed the
morsels which the Chinese cook put to their mouths, while their
feelings were further outraged by the hilarity of the men at their
backs, and their appetites occasionally jogged into activity by the
impact on their heads of a tarry fist or pistol-butt. At last a portly
captain began vomiting, and this being contagious, the meal ended; for
even the stomachs of the sailors, overcharged as they were with the
rich food and wine of the cabin table, were affected by the spectacle.

There were cool heads in that crowd of mutineers--men who thought of
consequences: Poop-deck Cahill, square-faced and resolute, but
thoughtful of eye and refined of speech; Seldom Helward, who had shot
the captain--a man whose fiery hair, arching eyebrows, Roman nose, and
explosive language indicated the daredevil, but whose intelligent
though humorous eye and corrugated forehead gave certain signs of
repressive study and thought; and Bigpig Monahan, already described.
These three men went into session under the break of the poop, and came
to the conclusion that the consul who had jailed them for nothing would
hang them for this; then, calling the rest to the conference as a
committee of the whole, they outlined and put to vote a proposition to
make sail and go to sea, leaving the fate of their captives for later
consideration--which was adopted unanimously and with much profanity,
the central thought of the latter being an intention to "make 'em
finish the holystonin' for the fun they had laughin' at us." Then
Bigpig Monahan sneaked below and induced the steward to toss through
the store-room dead-light every bottle of wine and liquor which the
ship contained. "For Seldom and Poop-deck," he said to him, "are the
only men in the gang fit to pick up navigation and git this ship into
port again; but if they git their fill of it, it's all day with you,
steward."

Six second mates on six American ships watched curiously, doubtingly,
and at last anxiously, as sails were dropped and yards mastheaded on
board the _Almena_, and as she paid off from the mooring-buoy before
the land-breeze and showed them her stern, sent six dinghies, which
gave up the pursuit in a few minutes and mustered around the buoy,
where a wastefully slipped shot of anchor-chain gave additional
evidence that all was not right. But by the time the matter was
reported to the authorities ashore, the _Almena_, having caught the
newly arrived southerly wind off the Peruvian coast, was hull down on
the western horizon.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Four days later, one of the _Almena's_ boats, containing twelve men
with sore heads, disfigured faces, and clothing ruined by oily
wood-pulp,--ruined particularly about the knees of their trousers,--came
wearily into the roadstead from the open sea, past the shipping, and up
to the landing at the custom-house docks. From here the twelve
proceeded to the American consul and entered bitter complaint of
inhuman treatment received at the hands of sixteen mutinous sailors on
board the _Almena_--treatment so cruel that they had welcomed being
turned adrift in an open boat; whereat, the consul, deploring the
absence of man-of-war or steamer to send in pursuit, took their
individual affidavits; and these he sent to San Francisco, from which
point the account of the crime, described as piracy, spread to every
newspaper in Christendom.



PART III


A Northeast gale off Hatteras: immense gray combers, five to the mile,
charging shoreward, occasionally breaking, again lifting their heads
too high in the effort, truncated as by a knife, and the liquid apex
shattered to spray; an expanse of leaden sky showing between the
rain-squalls, across which heavy background rushed the darker scud and
storm-clouds; a passenger-steamer rolling helplessly in the trough, and
a square-rigged vessel, hove to on the port tack, two miles to windward
of the steamer, and drifting south toward the storm-center. This is the
picture that the sea-birds saw at daybreak on a September morning, and
could the sea-birds have spoken they might have told that the
square-rigged craft carried a navigator who had learned that a whirling
fury of storm-center was less to be feared than the deadly Diamond
Shoals--the outlying guard of Cape Hatteras toward which that steamer
was drifting, broadside on.

Clad in yellow oilskins and sou'wester, he stood by the
after-companionway, intently examining through a pair of glasses the
wallowing steamer to leeward, barely distinguishable in the half-light
and driving spindrift. On the main-deck a half-dozen men paced up and
down, sheltered by the weather rail; forward, two others walked the
deck by the side of the forward house, but never allowed their march to
extend past the after-corner; and at the wheel stood a little man who
sheltered a cheerful face under the lee of a big coat-collar, and
occasionally peeped out at the navigator.

"Poop-deck," he shouted above the noise of the wind, "take the wheel
till I fire up."

"Thought I was exempt from steering," growled the other,
good-humoredly, as he placed the glasses inside the companionway.

"You're getting too fat and sassy; steer a little."

Poop-deck relieved the little man, who descended the cabin stairs, and
returned in a few moments, smoking a short pipe. He took the wheel, and
Poop-deck again examined the steamer with the glasses.

"There goes his ensign, union down," he exclaimed; "he's in trouble.
We'll show ours."

From a flag-locker inside the companionway he drew out the Stars and
Stripes, which he ran up to the monkey-gaff. Then he looked again.

"Down goes his ensign; up goes the code pennant. He wants to signal.
Come up here, boys," called Poop-deck; "give me a hand."

As the six men climbed the steps, he pulled out the corresponding code
signal from the locker, and ran it up on the other part of the halyards
as the ensign fluttered down. "Go down, one of you," he said, "and get
the signal-book and shipping-list. He'll show his number next. Get ours
ready--R. L. F. T."

While a man sprang below for the books named, the others hooked
together the signal-flags forming the ship's number, and Poop-deck
resumed the glasses.

"Q. T. F. N.," he exclaimed. "Look it up."

The books had arrived, and while one lowered and hoisted again the code
signal, which was also the answering pennant, the others pored over the
shipping-list.

"Steamer _Aldebaran_ of New York," they said.

The pennant came down, and the ship's number went up to the gaff.

"H. V.," called Poop-deck, as he scanned two flags now flying from the
steamer's truck. "What does that say?"

"Damaged rudder--cannot steer," they answered.

"Pull down the number and show the answering pennant again," said
Poop-deck; "and let me see that signal-book." He turned the leaves,
studied a page for a moment, then said: "Run up H. V. R. That says,
'What do you want?' and that's the nearest thing to it."

These flags took the place of the answering pennant at the gaff-end,
and again Poop-deck watched through the glasses, noting first the
showing of the steamer's answering pennant, then the letters K. R. N.

"What does K. R. N. say?" he asked.

They turned the leaves, and answered: "I can tow you."

"Tow us? We're all right; we don't want a tow. He's crazy. How can he
tow us when he can't steer?" exclaimed three or four together.

"He wants to tow us so that he _can_ steer, you blasted fools," said
Poop-deck. "He can keep head to sea and go where he likes with a big
drag on his stern."

"That's so. Where's he bound--'you that has knowledge and eddication'?"

"Didn't say; but he's bound for the Diamond Shoals, and he'll fetch up
in three hours, if we can't help him. He's close in."

"Tow-line's down the forepeak," said a man. "Couldn't get it up in an
hour," said another. "Yes, we can," said a third. Then, all speaking at
once, and each raising his voice to its limit, they argued excitedly:
"Can't be done." "Coil it on the forecastle." "Yes, we can." "Too much
sea." "Run down to wind'ard." "Line 'ud part, anyhow." "Float a
barrel." "Shut up." "I tell you, we can." "Call the watch." "Seldom,
yer daft." "Needn't get a boat over." "Hell ye can." "Call the boys."
"All hands with heavin'-lines." "Can't back a topsail in this." "Go lay
down." "Soak yer head, Seldom." "Hush." "Shut up." "Nothing _you_ can't
do." "Go to the devil." "I tell you, we can; do as I say, and we'll get
a line to him, or get his."

The affirmative speaker, who had also uttered the last declaration, was
Seldom Helward. "Put me in command," he yelled excitedly, "and do what
I tell you, and we'll make fast to him."

"No captains here," growled one, while the rest eyed Seldom
reprovingly.

"Well, there ought to be; you're all rattled, and don't know any more
than to let thousands o' dollars slip past you. There's salvage down to
looward."

"Salvage?"

"Yes, salvage. Big boat--full o' passengers and valuable cargo--shoals
to looward of him--can't steer. You poor fools, what ails you?"

"Foller Seldom," vociferated the little man at the wheel; "foller
Seldom, and ye'll wear stripes."

"Dry up, Sinful. Call the watch. It's near seven bells, anyhow. Let's
hear what the rest say. Strike the bell."

The uproarious howl with which sailors call the watch below was
delivered down the cabin stairs, and soon eight other men came up,
rubbing their eyes and grumbling at the premature wakening, while
another man came out of the forecastle and joined the two pacing the
forward deck. Seldom Helward's proposition was discussed noisily in
joint session on the poop, and finally accepted.

"We put you in charge, Seldom, against the rule," said Bigpig Monahan,
sternly, "'cause we think you've some good scheme in your head; but if
you haven't,--if you make a mess of things just to have a little fun
bossin' us,--you'll hear from us. Go ahead, now. You're captain."

Seldom climbed to the top of the after-house, looked to windward, then
to leeward at the rolling steamer, and called out:

"I want more beef at the wheel. Bigpig, take it; and you, Turkey, stand
by with him. Get away from there, Sinful. Give her the upper
maintopsail, the rest of you. Poop-deck, you stand by the
signal-halyards. Ask him if he's got a tow-line ready."

Protesting angrily at the slight put upon him, Sinful Peck relinquished
the wheel, and joined the rest on the main-deck, where they had
hurried. Two men went aloft to loose the topsail, and the rest cleared
away gear, while Poop-deck examined the signal-book.

"K. S. G. says, 'Have a tow-line ready.' That ought to do, Seldom," he
called.

"Run it up," ordered the newly installed captain, "and watch his
answer." Up went the signal, and as the men on the main-deck were
manning the topsail-halyards, Poop-deck made out the answer: "V. K. C."

"That means 'All right,' Seldom," he said, after inspecting the book.

"Good enough; but we'll get our line ready, too. Get down and help 'em
mast-head the yard first, then take 'em forrard and coil the tow-line
abaft the windlass. Get all the heavin'-lines ready, too."

Poop-deck obeyed; and while the main-topsail-yard slowly arose to place
under the efforts of the rest, Seldom himself ran up the answering
pennant, and then the repetition of the steamer's last message: "All
right." This was the final signal displayed between the two craft. Both
signal-flags were lowered, and for a half-hour Seldom waited, until the
others had lifted a nine-inch hawser from the forepeak and coiled it
down. Then came his next orders in a continuous roar:

"Three hands aft to the spanker-sheet! Stand by to slack off and haul
in! Man the braces for wearing ship, the rest o' you! Hard up the
wheel! Check in port main and starboard cro'-jack braces! Shiver the
topsail! Slack off that spanker!"

Before he had finished the men had reached their posts. The orders were
obeyed. The ship paid off, staggered a little in the trough under the
right-angle pressure of the gale, swung still farther, and steadied
down to a long, rolling motion, dead before the wind, heading for the
steamer. Yards were squared in, the spanker hauled aft, staysail
trimmed to port, and all hands waited while the ship charged down the
two miles of intervening sea.

"Handles like a yacht," muttered Seldom, as, with brow wrinkled and
keen eye flashing above his hooked nose, he conned the steering from
his place near the mizzenmast.

Three men separated themselves from the rest and came aft. They were
those who had walked the forward deck. One was tall, broad-shouldered,
and smooth-shaven, with a palpable limp; another, short, broad, and
hairy, showed a lamentable absence of front teeth; and the third, a
blue-eyed man, slight and graceful of movement, carried his arm in
splints and sling. This last was in the van as they climbed the poop
steps.

"I wish to protest," he said. "I am captain of this ship under the law.
I protest against this insanity. No boat can live in this sea. No help
can be given that steamer."

"And I bear witness to the protest," said the tall man. The short,
hairy man might have spoken also, but had no time.

"Get off the poop," yelled Seldom. "Go forrard, where you belong." He
stood close to the bucket-rack around the skylight. Seizing bucket
after bucket, he launched them at his visitors, with the result that
the big man was tumbled down the poop steps head first, while the other
two followed, right side up, but hurriedly, and bearing some sore
spots. Then the rest of the men set upon them, much as a pack of dogs
would worry strange cats, and kicked and buffeted them forward.

There was no time for much amusement of this sort. Yards were braced to
port, for the ship was careering down toward the steamer at a ten-knot
rate; and soon black dots on her rail resolved into passengers waving
hats and handkerchiefs, and black dots on the boat deck resolved into
sailors standing by the end of a hawser which led up from the bitts
below on the fantail. And the ship came down, until it might have
seemed that Seldom's intention was to ram her. But not so; when a scant
two lengths separated the two craft, he called out: "Hard down! Light
up the staysail-sheet and stand by the forebraces!"

Around the ship came on the crest of a sea; she sank into the hollow
behind, shipped a few dozen tons of water from the next comber, and then
lay fairly steady, with her bow meeting the seas, and the huge steamer
not a half-length away on the lee quarter. The fore-topmast-staysail was
flattened, and Seldom closely scrutinized the drift and heave of the ship.

"How's your wheel, Bigpig?" he asked.

"Hard down."

"Put it up a little; keep her in the trough."

He noted the effect on the ship of this change; then, as though
satisfied, roared out: "Let your forebraces hang, forrard there! Stand
by heavin'-lines fore and aft! Stand by to go ahead with that steamer
when we have your line!" The last injunction, delivered through his
hands, went down the wind like a thunder-clap, and the officers on the
steamer's bridge, vainly trying to make themselves heard against the
gale in the same manner, started perceptibly at the impact of sound,
and one went to the engine-room speaking-tube.

Breast to breast the two vessels lifted and fell. At times it seemed
that the ship was to be dropped bodily on the deck of the steamer; at
others, her crew looked up a streaked slope of a hundred feet to where
the other craft was poised at the crest. Then the steamer would drop,
and the next sea would heave the ship toward her. But it was noticeable
that every bound brought her nearer to the steamer, and also farther
ahead, for her sails were doing their work.

"Kick ahead on board the steamer!" thundered Seldom from his eminence.
"Go ahead! Start the wagon, or say your prayers, you blasted idiots!"

The engines were already turning; but it takes time to overcome three
thousand tons of inertia, and before the steamer had forged ahead six
feet the ship had lifted above her, and descended her black side with a
grinding crash of wood against iron. Fore and main channels on the ship
were carried away, leaving all lee rigging slack and useless; lower
braces caught in the steamer's davit-cleats and snapped, but the sails,
held by the weather braces, remained full, and the yards did not swing.
The two craft separated with a roll and came together again with more
scraping and snapping of rigging. Passengers left the rail, dived
indoors, and took refuge on the opposite side, where falling blocks and
small spars might not reach them. Another leap toward the steamer
resulted in the ship's maintopgallantmast falling in a zigzag whirl, as
the snapping gear aloft impeded it; and dropping athwart the steamer's
funnel, it neatly sent the royal-yard with sail attached down the iron
cylinder, where it soon blazed and helped the artificial draft in the
stoke-hold. Next came the foretopgallantmast, which smashed a couple of
boats. Then, as the round black stern of the steamer scraped the lee
bow of the ship, jib-guys parted, and the jib-boom itself went, snapping
at the bowsprit-cap, with the last bite the ship made at the steamer
she was helping. But all through this riot of destruction--while
passengers screamed and prayed, while officers on the steamer shouted
and swore, and Seldom Helward, bellowing insanely, danced up and down
on the ship's house, and the hail of wood and iron from aloft threatened
their heads--men were passing the tow-line.

It was a seven-inch steel hawser with a Manila tail, which they had
taken to the foretopsail-sheet bitts before the jib-boom had gone.
Panting from their exertions, they watched it lift from the water as
the steamer ahead paid out with a taut strain; then, though the
crippled spars were in danger of falling and really needed their first
attention, they ignored the fact and hurried aft, as one man, to attend
to Seldom.

Encouraged by the objurgations of Bigpig and his assistant, who were
steering now after the steamer, they called their late commander down
from the house and deposed him in a concert of profane ridicule and
abuse, to which he replied in kind. He was struck in the face by the
small fist of Sinful Peck, and immediately knocked the little man down.
Then he was knocked down himself by a larger fist, and, fighting
bravely and viciously, became the object of fist-blows and kicks,
until, in one of his whirling staggers along the deck, he passed close
to the short, broad, hairy man, who yielded to the excitement of the
moment and added a blow to Seldom's punishment. It was an unfortunate
mistake; for he took Seldom's place, and the rain of fists and boots
descended on him until he fell unconscious. Mr. Helward himself
delivered the last quieting blow, and then stood over him with a lurid
grin on his bleeding face.

"Got to put down mutiny though the heavens fall," he said painfully.

"Right you are, Seldom," answered one. "Here, Jackson, Benson--drag him
forrard; and, Seldom," he added, reprovingly, "don't you ever try it
again. Want to be captain, hey? You can't; you don't know enough. You
couldn't command my wheelbarrow. Here's three days' work to clear up
the muss you've made."

But in this they spoke more, and less, than the truth. The steamer,
going slowly, and steering with a bridle from the tow-line to each
quarter, kept the ship's canvas full until her crew had steadied the
yards and furled it. They would then have rigged preventer-stays and
shrouds on their shaky spars, had there been time; but there was not.
An uncanny appearance of the sea to leeward indicated too close
proximity to the shoals, while a blackening of the sky to windward told
of probable increase of wind and sea. And the steamer waited no longer.
With a preliminary blast of her whistle, she hung the weight of the
ship on the starboard bridle, gave power to her engines, and rounded
to, very slowly, head to sea, while the men on the ship, who had been
carrying the end of the coiled hawser up the foretopmast rigging,
dropped it and came down hurriedly.

Released from the wind-pressure on her strong side, which had somewhat
steadied her, the ship now rolled more than she had done in the trough,
and with every starboard roll were ominous creakings and grindings
aloft. At last came a heavier lurch, and both crippled topmasts fell,
taking with them the mizzentopgallantmast. Luckily, no one was hurt,
and they disgustedly cut the wreck adrift, stayed the fore- and
mainmasts with the hawser, and resigning themselves to a large
subtraction from their salvage, went to a late breakfast--a savory meal
of smoking fried ham and potatoes, hot cakes and coffee served to
sixteen in the cabin, and an unsavory meal of "hardtack-hash," with an
infusion of burnt bread-crust, pease, beans, and leather, handed, but
not served, to three in the forecastle.

Three days later, with Sandy Hook lighthouse showing through the haze
ahead, and nothing left of the gale but a rolling ground-swell, the
steamer slowed down so that a pilot-boat's dinghy could put a man
aboard each craft. And the one who climbed the ship's side was the
pilot that had taken her to sea, outward bound, and sympathized with
her crew. They surrounded him on the poop and asked for news, while the
three men forward looked aft hungrily, as though they would have joined
the meeting, but dared not. Instead of giving news, the pilot asked
questions, which they answered.

"I knew you'd taken charge, boys," he said at length. "The whole world
knows it, and every man-of-war on the Pacific stations has been looking
for you. But they're only looking out there. What brings you round
here, dismasted, towing into New York?"

"That's where the ship's bound--New York. We took her out; we bring her
home. We don't want her--don't belong to us. We're law-abidin' men."

"Law-abiding men?" asked the amazed pilot.

"You bet. We're goin' to prosecute those dogs of ours forrard there to
the last limit o' the law. We'll show 'em they can't starve and hammer
and shoot free-born Americans just 'cause they've got guns in their
pockets."

The pilot looked forward, nodded to one of the three, who beckoned to
him, and asked:

"Who'd you elect captain?"

"Nobody," they roared. "We had enough o' captains. This ship's an
unlimited democracy--everybody just as good as the next man; that is,
all but the dogs. They sleep on the bunk-boards, do as they're told,
and eat salt mule and dunderfunk--same as we did goin' out."

"Did they navigate for you? Did no one have charge of things?"

"Poop-deck picked up navigation, and we let him off steerin' and
standin' lookout. Then Seldom, here, he wanted to be captain just once,
and we let him--well, look at our spars."

"Poop-deck? Which is Poop-deck? Do you mean to say," asked the pilot
when the navigator had been indicated to him, "that you brought this
ship home on picked-up navigation?"

"Didn't know anything about it when we left Callao," answered the
sailor, modestly. "The steward knew enough to wind the chronometer
until I learned how. We made an offing and steered due south, while I
studied the books and charts. It didn't take me long to learn how to
take the sun. Then we blundered round the Horn somehow, and before long
I could take chronometer sights for the longitude. Of course I know we
went out in four months and used up five to get back; but a man can't
learn the whole thing in one passage. We lost some time, too, chasing
other ships and buying stores; the cabin grub gave out."

"You bought, I suppose, with Captain Benson's money."

"S'pose it was his. We found it in his desk. But we've kept account of
every cent expended, and bought no grub too good for a white man to
eat."

"What dismasted you?"

They explained the meeting with the steamer and Seldom's misdoing; then
requested information about the salvage laws.

"Boys," said the pilot, "I'm sorry for you. I saw the start of this
voyage, and you appear to be decent men. You'll get no salvage; you'll
get no wages. You are mutineers and pirates, with no standing in court.
Any salvage which the _Almena_ has earned will be paid to her owners
and to the three men whom you deprived of command. What you can
get--the maximum, though I can't say how hard the judge will lay it
on--is ten years in state's prison, and a fine of two thousand dollars
each. We'll have to stop at quarantine. Take my advice: if you get a
chance, lower the boats and skip."

They laughed at the advice. They were American citizens who respected
the law. They had killed no one, robbed no one; their wages and
salvage, independently of insurance liabilities, would pay for the
stores bought, and the loss of the spars. They had no fear of any court
of justice in the land; for they had only asserted their manhood and
repressed inhuman brutality.

The pilot went forward, talked awhile with the three, and left them
with joyous faces. An hour later he pointed out the _Almena's_ number
flying from the masthead of the steamer.

"He's telling on you, boys," he said. "He knew you when you helped him,
and used you, of course. Your reputation's pretty bad on the high seas.
See that signal-station ashore there? Well, they're telegraphing now
that the pirate _Almena_ is coming in. You'll see a police boat at
quarantine."

He was but partly right. Not only a police boat, but an outward-bound
man-of-war and an incoming revenue cutter escorted the ship to
quarantine, where the tow-line was cast off, and an anchor dropped.
Then, in the persons of a scandalized health-officer, a naval captain,
a revenue-marine lieutenant, and a purple-faced sergeant of the
steamboat squad, the power of the law was rehabilitated on the
_Almena's_ quarter-deck, and the strong hand of the law closed down on
her unruly crew. With blank faces, they discarded--to shirts, trousers,
and boots--the slop-chest clothing which belonged to the triumphant
Captain Benson, and descended the side to the police boat, which
immediately steamed away. Then a chuckling trio entered the ship's
cabin, and ordered the steward to bring them something to eat.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Now, there is no record either in the reports for that year of the
police department, or from any official babbling, or from later yarns
spun by the sixteen prisoners, of what really occurred on the deck of
that steamer while she was going up the bay. Newspapers of the time
gave generous space to speculations written up on the facts discovered
by reporters; but nothing was ever proved. The facts were few. A tug
met the steamer in the Narrows about a quarter to twelve that morning,
and her captain, on being questioned, declared that all seemed well
with her. The prisoners were grouped forward, guarded by eight officers
and a sergeant. A little after twelve o'clock a Battery boatman
observed her coming, and hied him around to the police dock to have a
look at the murderous pirates he had heard about, only to see her
heading up the North River, past the Battery. A watchman on the
elevator docks at Sixty-third Street observed her charging up the river
a little later in the afternoon, wondered why, and spoke of it. The
captain of the _Mary Powel_, bound up, reported catching her abreast of
Yonkers. He had whistled as he passed, and though no one was in sight,
the salute was politely answered. At some time during the night,
residents of Sing Sing were wakened by a sound of steam blowing off
somewhere on the river; and in the morning a couple of fishermen, going
out to their pond-nets in the early dawn, found the police boat
grounded on the shoals. On boarding her they had released a pinioned,
gagged, and hungry captain in the pilot-house, and an engineer,
fireman, and two deck-hands, similarly limited, in the lamp-room.
Hearing noises from below, they pried open the nailed doors of the
dining-room staircase, and liberated a purple-faced sergeant and eight
furious officers, who chased their deliverers into their skiff, and
spoke sternly to the working-force.

Among the theories advanced was one, by the editor of a paper in a
small Lake Ontario town, to the effect that it made little difference
to an Oswego sailor whether he shipped as captain, mate, engineer,
sailor, or fireman, and that the officers of the New York Harbor Patrol
had only under-estimated the caliber of the men in their charge,
leaving them unguarded while they went to dinner. But his paper and
town were small and far away, he could not possibly know anything of
the subject, and his opinion obtained little credence.

Years later, however, he attended, as guest, a meeting and dinner of
the Shipmasters' and Pilots' Association of Cleveland, Ohio, when a
resolution was adopted to petition the city for a harbor police
service. Captain Monahan, Captain Helward, Captain Peck, and Captain
Cahill, having spoken and voted in the negative, left their seats on
the adoption of the proposition, reached a clear spot on the floor,
shook hands silently, and then, forming a ring, danced around in a
circle (the tails of their coats standing out in horizontal rigidity)
until reproved by the chair.

And the editor knew why.



THE BRAIN OF THE BATTLE-SHIP


Build an inverted Harvey-steel box about eight feet high, one hundred
and fifty feet long, half as wide, with walls of eighteen-inch
thickness, and a roof of three, and you have strong protection against
shot and shell. Build up from the ends of the box two steel barbettes
with revolving turrets as heavy as your side-walls; place in each a
pair of thirteen-inch rifles; flank these turrets with four others of
eight-inch wall, each holding two eight-inch guns; these again with
four smaller, containing four six-inch guns, and you have power of
offense nearly equal to your protection. Loosely speaking, a modern
gun-projectile will, at short range, pierce steel equal to itself in
cross-section, and from an elevated muzzle will travel as many miles as
this cross-section measures in inches. Placed upon an outlying shoal,
this box with its guns would make an efficient fortress, but would lack
the advantage of being able to move and choose position.

Build underneath and each way from the ends of the box a cellular hull
to float it; place within it, and below the box, magazines, boilers,
and engines; construct above, between the turrets, a lighter
superstructure to hold additional quick-fire guns and torpedo-tubes;
cap the whole with a military mast supporting fighting-tops, and
containing an armored conning-tower in its base; man and equip,
provision and coal the fabric, and you can go to sea, confident of your
ability to destroy everything that floats, except icebergs and other
battle-ships.

Of these essentials was the first-class coast-defense battle-ship
_Argyll_. She was of ten thousand tons displacement, and was propelled
by twin screws which received ten thousand horse-power from twin
engines placed below the water-line. Three long tubes--one fixed in the
stem, two movable in the superstructure--could launch Whitehead
torpedoes,--mechanical fish carrying two hundred and twenty pounds of
guncotton in their heads,--which sought in the water a twenty-foot
depth, and hurried where pointed at a thirty-knot rate of speed. Their
impact below the water-line was deadly, and only equaled in effect by
the work of the ram-bow, the blow of the ship as a whole--the last
glorious, suicidal charge on an enemy that had dismounted the guns, if
such could happen.

Besides her thirteen-, eight-, and six-inch guns, she carried a
secondary quick-fire battery of twenty six-pounders, four one-pounders,
and four Gatling guns distributed about the superstructure and in the
fighting-tops. The peculiar efficacy of this battery lay in its menace
to threatening torpedo-boats, and its hostility to range-finders,
big-gun sights, and opposing gunners. A torpedo-boat, receiving the
full attention of her quick-fire battery, could be disintegrated and
sunk in a yeasty froth raised by the rain of projectiles long before
she could come within range of torpedo action; while a simultaneous
discharge of all guns would distribute over seven thousand pounds of
metal with foot-tons of energy sufficient to lift the ship herself high
out of water. Bristling, glistening, and massive, a reservoir of death
potential, a center of radiant destruction, a spitting, chattering,
thundering epitome of racial hatred, she bore within her steel walls
the ever-growing burden of progressive human thought. She was a maker
of history, a changer of boundaries, a friend of young governments; and
it chanced that on a fine tropical morning, in company with three
armored cruisers, four protected cruisers, and a fleet of torpedo-boats
and destroyers, she went into action.

She was stripped to bare steel and signal-halyards. Davits, anchors,
and cables were stowed and secured. Ladders, gratings, stanchions, and
all movable deck-fittings were below the water-line. Wooden bulkheads,
productive of splinters, were knocked down and discarded, while all
boats, with the plugs out, were overboard, riding to a sea-anchor made
up of oars and small spars.

The crew was at quarters. Below, in the magazine, handling-rooms,
stoke-holds, and bunkers, bare-waisted men worked and waited in
stifling heat; for she was under forced draft, and compartments were
closed, even though the enemy was still five miles away. The chief and
his first assistant engineer watched the main engines in their twin
compartments, while the subordinate aids and machinists attended to the
dynamos, motors, and auxiliary cylinders that worked the turrets,
pumps, and ammunition-hoists. All boilers were hot and hissing steam;
all fire-pumps were working; all fire-hose connected and spouting
streams of water. Perspiring men with strained faces deluged one
another while they waited.

In the turrets were the gun-crews, six men to a gun, with an officer
above in the sighting-hood; behind the superstructure-ports were the
quick-fire men, sailors and marines; and above all, in the
fighting-tops, were the sharp-shooters and men who handled the
one-pounders and Gatling guns--the easiest-minded of the ship's
company, for they could see and breathe. Each division of fighters and
workers was overseen by an officer; in some cases by two and three.

Preparatory work was done, and, excepting the "black gang," men were
quiescent, but feverish. Few spoke, and then on frivolous things, in
tones that were not recognized. Occasionally a man would bring out a
piece of paper and write, using for a desk a gun-breech or -carriage, a
turret-wall, or the deck. An officer in a fighting-top used a
telegraph-dial, and a stoker in the depths his shovel, in a chink of
light from the furnace. These letters, written in instalments, were
pocketed in confidence that sometime they would be mailed.

From the captain down each man knew that a large proportion of their
number was foredoomed; but not a consciousness among them could admit
the possibility of itself being chosen. The great first law forbade it.
Senior officers pictured in their minds dead juniors, and thought of
extra work after the fight. Junior officers thought of vacancies above
them and promotion. Men in the turrets bade mental good-by to their
mates in the superstructure; and these, secure in their five-inch
protection, pitied those in the fighting-tops, where, cold logic says,
no man may live through a sea-fight. Yet all would have volunteered to
fill vacancies aloft. The healthy human mind can postulate suffering,
but not its own extinction.

In a circular apartment in the military mast, protected by twelve
inches of steel, perforated by vertical and horizontal slits for
observation, stood the captain and navigating officer, both in
shirt-sleeves; for this, the conning-tower, was hot. Around the inner
walls were the nerve-terminals of the structure--the indicators,
telegraph-dials, telephones, push-buttons, and speaking-tubes, which
communicated with gun-stations, turrets, steering-room, engine-rooms,
and all parts of the ship where men were stationed. In the forward part
was a binnacle with small steering-wheel, disconnected now, for the
steering was done by men below the water-line in the stern. A spiral
staircase led to the main-deck below, and another to the first
fighting-top above, in which staircase were small platforms where a
signal-officer and two quartermasters watched through slits the signals
from the flag-ship, and answered as directed by the captain below with
small flags, which they mastheaded through the hollow within the
staircase.

The chief master-at-arms, bareheaded, climbed into the conning-tower.

"Captain Blake, what'll we do with Finnegan?" he said. "I've released
him from the brig as you ordered; but Mr. Clarkson won't have him in
the turret where he belongs, and no one else wants him around. They
even chased him out of the bunkers. He wants to work and fight, but Mr.
Clarkson won't place him; says he washes his hands of Finnegan, and
sent me to you. I took him to the bay, but he won't take medicine."

Captain Blake, stern of face and kindly of eye, drew back from a
peep-hole, and asked: "What's his condition?"

"Shaky, sir. Sees little spiders and big spiders crawling round his
cap-rim. Him and the recording angel knows where he gets it and where
he keeps it, sir; but I don't. I've watched him for six months."

"Send him to me."

"Very good, sir."

The master-at-arms descended, and in a few moments the unwanted
Finnegan appeared--a gray-bearded, emaciated, bleary-eyed seaman, who
brushed imaginary things from his neck and arms, and stammered, as he
removed his cap: "Report for duty, sir."

"For duty?" answered the captain, eying him sternly. "For death. You
will be allowed the honorable death of an English seaman. You will die
in the fighting-top sometime in the next three hours."

The man shivered, elevated one shoulder, and rubbed his ear against it,
but said nothing, while Mr. Dalrymple, the navigating officer, with his
eyes at a peep-hole and his ears open to the dialogue, wondered (as he
and the whole ship's company had wondered before) what the real
relation was between the captain and this wretched, drunken butt of the
crew. For the captain's present attitude was a complete departure.
Always he had shielded Finnegan from punishment to the extent that
naval etiquette would permit.

"I have tried for six years," continued the captain, "to reform you and
hold you to the manhood I once knew in you; but I give you up. You are
not fit to live, and will never be fitter to die than this morning,
when the chance comes to you to die fighting for your country. But I
want you to die fighting. Do you wish to see the surgeon or the
chaplain?"

"No, no, no, cappen; one's bad as t' other. The chaplain'll pray and
the doctor'll fill me up wi' bromide, and it just makes me crazy, sir.
I'm all right, cappen, if I only had a drink. Just give me a drink,
cappen,--the doctor won't,--and send me down to my station, sir. I know
it's only in my head, but I see 'em plain, all round. You'll give me a
drink, cappen, please; I know you'll give me a drink."

He brushed his knees gingerly, and stepped suddenly away from an
isolated speaking-tube. Captain Blake's stern face softened. His mind
went back to his midshipman days, to a stormy night and a heavy sea, an
icy foot-rope, a fall, a plunge, and a cold, hopeless swim toward a
shadowy ship hove to against the dark background, until this man's
face, young, strong, and cheery then, appeared behind a white
life-buoy; and he heard again the panting voice of his rescuer: "Here
ye are, Mr. Blake; boat's comin'."

He whistled down the speaking-tube, and when answered, called: "Send an
opened bottle of whisky into the conning-tower--no glasses."

"Thankee, sir."

The captain resumed his position at the peep-hole, and Finnegan busied
himself with his troubles until a Japanese servant appeared with a
quart bottle. The captain received it, and the Jap withdrew.

"Help yourself, Finnegan," said the captain, extending the bottle;
"take a good drink--a last one." Finnegan took the equivalent of three.
"Now, up with you." The captain stood the bottle under the binnacle.
"Upper top. Report to Mr. Bates."

"Cappen, please send me down to the turret where I b'long, sir. I'm all
right now. I don't want to go up there wi' the sogers. I'm not good at
machine-guns."

"No arguments. Up with you at once. You are good for nothing but to
work a lever under the eye of an officer."

Finnegan saluted silently and turned toward the stairs.

"Finnegan!"

He turned. The captain extended his hand. "Finnegan," he said, "I don't
forget that night, but you must go; the eternal fitness of things
demands it. Perhaps I'll go, too. Good-by."

The two extremes of the ship's company shook hands, and Finnegan
ascended. When past the quartermasters and out of hearing, he grumbled
and whined: "No good, hey? Thirty years in the service, and sent up
here to think of my sins like a sick monkey. Good for nothin' but to
turn a crank with the sogers. Nice job for an able seaman. What's the
blasted service a-comin' to?"

The two fleets were approaching in similar formation, double column, at
about a twelve-knot speed. Leading the left column was the _Lancaster_,
and following came the _Argyll_, _Beaufort_, and _Atholl_, the last
two, like the _Lancaster_, armored cruisers of the first class. On the
_Lancaster's_ starboard bow was the flag-ship _Cumberland_, a large
unarmored cruiser, and after her came the _Marlborough_, _Montrose_,
and _Sutherland_, unarmored craft like the flag-ship, equally
vulnerable to fire, the two columns making a zigzag line, with the
heaviest ships to the left, nearest the enemy.

Heading as they were, the fleets would pass about a mile apart. Led
by a black, high-sided monster, the left column of the enemy was made
up of four battle-ships of uncouth, foreign design and murderous
appearance, while the right column contained the flag-ship and three
others, all heavily armored cruisers. Flanking each fleet, far to the
rear, were torpedo-boats and destroyers.

"We're outclassed, Dalrymple," said Captain Blake. "There are the ships
we expected--_Warsaw_, _Riga_, _Kharkov_, and _Moscow_, all of fighting
weight, and the _Obdorsk_, _Tobolsk_, _Saratov_, and _Orenburg_.
Leaving out the _Argyll_, we haven't a ship equal to the weakest one
there. This fight is the _Argyll's_."

"And the _Argyll_ is equal to it, captain. All I fear is torpedoes. Of
course our ends and superstructure will catch it, and I suppose we'll
lose men--all the quick-fire men, perhaps."

"Those in the tops surely," said the captain. "Dalrymple, what do you
think? I don't feel right about Finnegan. He belongs in the turret, and
I've sentenced him. Have I the right? I've half a mind to call him
down." He pushed a button marked "Forward turret," and listened at a
telephone.

"Mr. Clarkson!" he called. "I've put your man Finnegan in the upper
top; but he seems all right now. Can you use him?"

The answer came:

"No, sir; I've filled his place."

"Die, then. On my soul be it, Finnegan, poor devil," muttered the
captain, gloomily.

His foot struck the bottle under the binnacle, and, on an impulse due
to his mood, he picked it up and uncorked it. Mr. Dalrymple observed
the action and stepped toward him.

"Captain, pardon me," he said, "if I protest unofficially. We are going
into action--not to dinner."

The captain's eyes opened wide and shone brighter, while his lip
curled. He extended the bottle to the lieutenant.

"The apologies are mine, Mr. Dalrymple," he said. "I forgot your
presence. Take a drink."

The officer forced a smile to his face, and stepped back, shaking his
head. Captain Blake swallowed a generous portion of the whisky.

"The fool!" mused the navigator, as he looked through the peep-hole.
"The whole world is watching him to-day, and he turns to whisky. That's
it, dammit; that's the bond of sympathy: Blake and Finnegan, Finnegan
and Blake--dipsomaniacs. Lord, I never thought. I've seen him drunker
than Finnegan, and if it wasn't for his position and obligations, he'd
see spiders, too."

Mr. Dalrymple was not the only one on board who disapproved of "Dutch
courage" for captains. The Japanese servant, whose station was at the
forward-turret ammunition-hoist, reported the service of the whisky to
his mates, and from here the news spread--as news will in a cellular
hull--up to turrets and gun-rooms, through speaking-tubes and
water-tight bulkheads, down to stoke-hold, engine-rooms, and
steering-room; and long before Captain Blake had thought of taking a
drink the whole ship's company was commenting, mentally and openly, and
more or less profanely, on the story that "the old man was getting
drunk in the conning-tower."

And another piece of news traveled as fast and as far--the whereabouts
of Finnegan. Mr. Clarkson had incidentally informed his gun-captain,
who told the gun-crew; and from them the news went down the hoist and
spread. Men swore louder over this; for though they did not want
Finnegan around and in the way, they did not want him to die. Strong
natures love those which may be teased; and not a heart was there but
contained a soft spot for the helpless, harmless, ever good-natured,
drunk, and ridiculous Finnegan.

The bark of an eight-inch gun was heard. Captain Blake saw, through the
slits of the conning-tower, a cloud of thinning smoke drifting away
from the flag-ship. Stepping back, he rang up the forward turret.

"Mr. Clarkson," he said to the telephone when it answered him,
"remember: aim for the nearest water-line, load and fire, and expect no
orders after the first shot."

Calling up the officer in the after-turret, he repeated the injunction,
substituting turrets as the object of assault. He called to the
officers at the eight-inch guns that conning-towers and superstructure
were to receive their attention; to those at the six-inch guns to aim
solely at turret apertures; to ensigns and officers of marine in charge
of the quick-fire batteries to aim at all holes and men showing, to
watch for torpedo-boats, and, like the others, to expect no orders
after the first shot. Then, ringing up the round of gun-stations, one
after another, he sang out, in a voice to be heard by all: "Fire away!"

The initial gun had been fired from the flag-ship when the leading
ships of the two fleets were nearly abreast. It was followed by
broadsides from all, and the action began. The _Argyll_, rolling
slightly from the recoil of her guns, smoked down the line like a thing
alive, voicing her message, dealing out death and receiving it. In this
first round of the battle the fire of the eight opposing vessels was
directed at her alone. Shells punctured her vulnerable parts, and,
exploding inside, killed men and dismounted guns. The groans of the
stricken, the crash of steel against steel, the roar of the
turret-guns, the rattling chorus of quick-fire rifles, and the drumming
of heavy shells against the armor and turrets made an uproarious riot
of sound over which no man above the water-line could lift his voice.
But there were some there, besides the dead,--men who worked through
and survived the action,--who, after the first impact of sound, did not
hear it, nor anything else while they lived. They were the men who had
neglected stuffing their ears with cotton.

A fundamental canon of naval tactics is to maintain formation. Another
is to keep moving, at the full speed of the slowest ship, not only to
disconcert the enemy's fire, but to obtain and hold the most
advantageous position--if possible, to flank him. As these rules apply
equally well to both sides, it is obvious that two fleets, passing in
opposite directions, and each trying to flank the rear of the other,
will eventually circle around a common center; and if the effort to
improve position dominates the effort to evade fire, this circle will
narrow until the battle becomes a mêlée.

The two lines, a mile apart and each about a mile in length, were
squarely abreast in less than five minutes from the time of firing the
first gun; and by now the furious bombardment of the _Argyll_ by eight
ships had ceased, for each one found it more profitable to deal with
its vis-à-vis. But there was yet a deafening racket in the _Argyll's_
conning-tower as small projectiles from the rear battle-ship abreast
impinged on its steel walls; and Captain Blake, his ears ringing, his
eyes streaming, half stunned by the noise, almost blinded and
suffocated by the smoke from his forward guns, did not know that his
ship had dropped back in the line until the signal-officer descended
and shouted in his ear an order signaled from the admiral: "Move ahead
to position."

"Hang the man who invented conning-towers," he muttered angrily. "Keep
a lookout up there, Mr. Wright," he shouted; "I can see very little."

The officer half saluted, half nodded, and ran up the stair, while
Captain Blake rang "full speed" to the engines. The indicators on the
wall showed increased revolution, and he resumed his place at the
peep-hole. In a few moments Mr. Wright reappeared with a message from
the flag-ship to "starboard helm; follow ship ahead."

"All right. Watch out up there; report all you see," he answered.
Peeping out, he saw the _Lancaster_ and the _Cumberland_ sheering to
port, and he moved the lever of the steering-telegraph. There was no
answering ring. "Shot away, by George," he growled. He yelled into a
supplementary voice-tube to "starboard your wheel--slowly." This was
not answered, and with his own hands he coupled up the steering-wheel
on the binnacle and gave it a turn. It was merely a governor, which
admitted steam to the steering-engine, and there was no resisting
pressure to guide him; but a helm indicator showed him the changed
position of the rudder, and, on looking ahead, he found that she
answered the wheel; also, on looking to starboard, he found that he had
barely escaped collision with the _Montrose_, whose fire he had been
masking, to the scandal of the admiral and the _Montrose's_ officers.

A little unnerved, Captain Blake called down a seven-inch tube to an
apartment in the depths,--a central station of pipes and wires, to be
used as a last resort,--directing the officer on post to notify the
chief engineer of the damage, and to order the quartermasters in the
steering-room to disconnect their wheel and stand by. This was
answered, and the captain resumed his lookout, one hand on the wheel.

"Reduces the captain of the ship to a helmsman," he muttered.

The navigating officer approached, indicating by gesture and expression
his intention of relieving him, but was waved away.

"I want the wheel myself," shouted the captain. "Devil take a
conning-tower, anyhow! Keep a lookout to port. But say, Dalrymple, send
up for Finnegan. I'll not have him killed. Get him down, if he's
alive."

Mr. Dalrymple ascended the stair to pass the word for Finnegan, but did
not come down. He had reached the signal-platform, where one
quartermaster lay dead, and was transmitting the order to Mr. Wright,
when a heavy shell struck the mast, above their heads and below the
lower top, exploded inside, killed the three men on the platform, and
hurled the upper part of the mast, with both tops full of dead men and
living, high in air. The conning-tower was filled with gas and smoke;
but Captain Blake, though burned and nearly stripped of clothing by the
blast of flame, was uninjured by the flying fragments of the shell.
Smarting, gasping, and choking, fully aware of the complete destruction
above, his mind dwelt for an instant on the man who had once saved his
life, whom he had sentenced to death. He looked up the hollow within
the wrecked staircase, but saw nothing.

Mr. Clarkson, however, happened to be looking through an upper
peep-hole in the sighting-hood at this moment, and saw the upper half
of the mast lift and turn; also, dimly through the smoke, he noticed,
among the dozen of men hurled from the tops, the blue-shirted figure of
one whom he knew to be Finnegan, clinging at arm's-length in mid-air to
a Gatling gun, which had been torn from its fastenings. Then the smoke
thickened and shut out the view; but a moment later he heard the
rattling crash of the mast as it fell upon the superstructure beneath.

"The whole mast's gone, boys," he shouted to his crew--"both tops.
Finnegan's done for."

And the story of Finnegan's finish went down the hoist and through the
ship, everywhere received with momentary sorrow, and increased
malediction on the drunken captain, who thought no more--and knew no
more--of a blue-jacket than to masthead him with the marines.

The tactics of both admirals being the same, and the speed of both
fleets--that of their slowest ships--being equal, they turned, and,
like two serpents pursuing each other's tails, charged around in a
circle, each ship firing at the nearest or most important enemy. This
fire was destructive. A ship a mile distant is a point-blank target for
modern guns and gunners, and everything protected by less than eight
inches of steel suffered. The _Argyll_ had lost her military mast and
most of her secondary guns. The flag-ship _Cumberland_, raked and
riddled by nine- and eleven-inch shells, surrounded herself with steam
from punctured boilers shortly after the signal to turn, and swung
drunkenly out of line, her boilers roaring, her heavy guns barking. A
long, black thing, low down behind the wave created by its rush, darted
by her, unstruck by the shells sent by the flag-ship and the _Marlborough_.
A larger thing, mouse-colored and nearly hidden by a larger wave, was
coming from the opposite direction, spitting one-pound shot at the rate
of sixty a minute, but without present avail; for a spindle-shaped
object left the deck of the first when squarely abreast of the helpless
flag-ship, diving beneath the surface, and the existence and position
of this object were henceforth indicated only by a line of bubbles, a
darting streak of froth, traveling toward the _Cumberland_. In less
than a minute it had reached her. The sea alongside arose in a mound,
and she seemed to lean away from it; then the mound burst, and out of
it, and spouting from funnels, ventilators, and ports, came a dense
cloud of smoke, which mingled with the steam and hid her from view,
while a dull, booming roar, barely distinguishable in the noise of
battle, came across the water. When the cloud thinned there was nothing
to be seen but heads of swimming men, who swam for a time and sank. The
flag-ship had been torpedoed.

But the torpedo-boat followed her. Pursued by the mouse-colored
destroyer, she circled around and headed back in the endeavor to reach
her consorts; but she had not time. Little by little the avenger crept
up, pounding her with small shot and shell, until, leaking from a
hundred wounds, she settled beneath the surface. She had fulfilled her
mission; she was designed to strike once and die.

No armored cruiser may withstand the fire of a battle-ship. The
_Lancaster_, leading the _Argyll_, received through her eight-inch
water-line belt the heavy shot and shell of the _Moscow_ and _Orenburg_.
Nine- and eleven-inch shell fire, sent by Canet and Hontoria guns, makes
short work of eight-inch armor, and the doomed _Lancaster_ settled and
disappeared, her crew yelling, her screws turning, and her guns firing
until the water swamped her. The following _Argyll_ scraped her funnels
and masts as she passed over.

Eight hundred feet back in the line was the _Beaufort_, armored like
the _Lancaster_. Her ending was dramatic and suicidal. Drilled through
and through by the fire of the _Riga_, she fought and suffered until
the _Lancaster_ foundered; then, with all guns out of action, but with
still intact engine-power, she left the line, not to run, but to ram.
The circle was narrowing, but she had fully four minutes to steam
before she could reach the opposite side and intercept her slayer. And
in this short time she was reduced to scrap-iron by the concentrated
fire of the _Warsaw_, _Riga_, and _Kharkov_. Every shot from every gun
on the three battle-ships struck the unlucky cruiser; but in the face
of the storm of flame and steel she went on, exhaling through fissures
and ports smoke from bursting shells and steam from broken pipes.
Half-way across, an almost solid belching upward and outward of white
steam indicated a stricken boiler, and from now on her progress was
slow. She was visibly lower in the water and rolled heavily. Soon
another cloud arose from her, her headway decreased, and she came to a
stop, two hundred yards on the port bow of the onrushing _Riga_, whose
crew yelled derisively--whose quick-fire guns still punished her.

But the yells suddenly ceased and the gunners changed their aim. A
small thing had left the nearly submerged tube in the cruiser's stem,
and the gunners were now firing at a darting line of bubbles,
obliterating the target for a moment with the churning of the water,
only to see the frothy streak within their range, coming on at
locomotive speed. They aimed ahead; two five-inch guns added their
clamor, and even a Hontoria turret-gun voiced its roar and sent its
messenger. But the bubbles would not stop; they entered the bow wave of
the battle-ship, and a second later the great floating fort separated
into two parts, with a crackling thunder of sound and an outburst of
flame and smoke which came of nothing less than an exploded magazine.
The two halves rolled far to starboard, then to port, shivered,
settled, turned completely over, and sank in a turmoil of bursting
steam and air-bubbles. Three minutes later the _Beaufort_ lifted her
stern and dived gently after her victim, still groaning hoarsely from
her punctured iron lungs. In her death-agony she had given birth to a
child more terrible than a battle-ship.

The rear ship of the inner column, the _Atholl_, was officially an
armored cruiser, but possessed none of the attributes of the cruiser
class. She was the laggard of the fleet, and her heaviest guns were of
six-inch caliber; but, being designed for a battle-ship, she carried
this temporary battery behind sixteen inches of steel, and had
maintained her integrity, taking harder blows than she could give. With
the going down of the _Beaufort_ she took a position astern of the
_Sutherland_, and the double line of battle was reduced to a single
line; for the _Argyll_ had left the column when the flag-ship sank.

And this is why the overmatched, battered, and all but demoralized
cruisers received no more attention from the enemy; it were wiser to
deal with the _Argyll_. The _Saratov_, blazing fiercely from the
effects of a well-planted shell, had drawn out of line, the better to
deal with her trouble. Her place in the line and that of the sunken
_Riga_ were filled by the following ships drawing ahead; but the fleet
still held to double column, and into the lane between the lines the
_Argyll_ was coming at sixteen knots, breathing flame, vomiting
steel--delivering destruction and death.

She had rounded the _Moscow's_ stern, raking her as she came, and
sending armor-piercing shells through her citadel. Some exploded on
impact, some inside; all did work. An eight-inch projectile entered the
after turret-port, and silenced the gun and gun-crew forever. Before
the _Argyll_ was abeam the _Moscow_ had ceased firing. Rolling and
smoking, her crew decimated, her guns disabled and steering-gear
carried away, she swung out of line; and the appearance in his field of
vision of several rushing waves with short smoke-stacks behind, and the
supplementary pelting his ship was now receiving from the _Marlborough_,
decided her commander to lower his flag.

On the starboard bow of the _Argyll_ was the armored cruiser _Orenburg_.
Her fire, hot and true, ceased on the explosion of a large shell at her
water-line, and she swung out of the fight, silent but for the roar of
escaping steam, heeled heavily to port, and sank in ten minutes, her
ensigns flying to the last. Mr. Clarkson rejoiced with his gun-crew. He
had sent the shell.

On stormed the _Argyll_. Her next adversary was the _Kharkov_, a
battle-ship nearly equal in guns and armor to herself, but not
quite--by an inch. And that inch cost her the fight. With her main
turrets damaged, her superstructure, secondary guns, and torpedo-tubes
shot away, she yielded to fate, and, while the _Argyll_ passed on,
hauled down her ensigns at the request of a torpedo-boat.

Ahead and to starboard was the cruiser _Tobolsk_, leaving the
neighborhood as fast as her twin screws could push her. Her end was in
sight; in her wake were two gray destroyers, and behind, charging
across the broken formation, was the fleet _Marlborough_. The _Argyll_
ignored the _Tobolsk_; for slowing down to await her coming was the
black and high-sided _Warsaw_, the monster of the fleet, bristling with
guns, somber, and ominous in her silence.

Ahead of her, and turning to port, was the flag-ship _Obdorsk_, also
slowed down; but she promised to be fully occupied with the _Atholl_,
_Sutherland_, and _Montrose_, who had wheeled in their tracks, no
longer obliged to traverse a circle to reach an enemy.

On rushed the _Argyll_, and when nearly up to the _Warsaw_, the latter
gave steam to her engines. Breast to breast the gladiators charged
across the sea, roaring, flaming, and smoking. A torpedo left the side
of the _Warsaw_, pointed diagonally ahead, to intercept the _Argyll_.
But it was badly aimed, and the hissing bubbles passed under her stern.
Before another could be discharged, the torpedo-room, located by the
_Argyll's_ officers, was enlarged to the size of three by the
succeeding bombardment and the explosion of the remaining torpedoes.

Twelve-inch armor cannot keep out thirteen-inch armor-piercing shell,
and torpedoes cannot explode on board without damage to machinery,
steering-gear, and vital connections. The _Warsaw_ yawed, slackened
speed, and came to a stop, her turret-guns still speaking, but the
secondary guns silent. The _Argyll_ circled around her, sending her
thirteen-, eight-, and six-inch shells into her victim with almost
muzzle energy. The two military masts of the _Warsaw_ sank, and dead
men in the fighting-tops were flung overboard. The forward turret
seemed to explode; smoke and flame shot out of the ports, and its top
lifted and fell. Then the _Argyll_ turned and headed straight for her
side.

There was little need of gun fire now; but the forward-turret guns
belched once during the charge, and the more quickly handled eight- and
six-inch rifles stormed away while there was time to reload. Smoking,
rolling, and barking,--ten thousand tons of inertia behind a solid
steel knife,--she pounced on her now silent enemy. There was a
crunching sound, muffled and continuous. The speed of the _Argyll_
seemed hardly checked. In went the ram farther and farther, until the
slanting edge began cutting above the water. Then the _Warsaw_, heeled
far over by the impact, rolled back, and the knife cut upward. The
smooth plates at the _Argyll's_ water-line wrinkled like paper, and the
pile of shattered steel which had once been her forward deck and
bulkheads was shaken up and adjusted to new positions; but not until
her nose was actually buried in the wound--until the _Warsaw_ was cut
half in two--did the reversed engines begin to work. The _Argyll_
backed out, exposing for a moment a hole like a cavern's mouth; then
the stricken ship rolled heavily toward her, burying the sore, and,
humming and buzzing with exhausting steam and rushing air, settled
rapidly and sank, while out from ports, doors, and nearly vertical
hatches came her crew, as many as could. They sprang overboard and
swam, and those that reached the now stationary _Argyll_ were rescued;
for a cry had gone through the latter from the central station in her
depths: "All hands on deck to save life! Bring ladders, life-buoys, and
ropes' ends!"

The battle was ended; for, with the ramming of the _Warsaw_, the
_Obdorsk_ struck to the three ships circling around her. They had
suffered, but the battle-ship _Argyll_ was reduced to a monitor. Her
superstructure and the bow and stern above the water-line were
shattered to a shapeless tangle of steel. What was left of her funnels
and ventilators resembled nutmeg-graters, and she was perceptibly down
by the head; for her bow leaked through its wrinkled plates, and the
forward compartment below the protective deck was filled. Yet she could
still fight in smooth water. Her box-like citadel was intact, and
standing naked out of the wreck, scarred and dented, but uninjured,
were the turrets, ammunition-hoists, and conning-tower. In the latter
was the brain of the ship, that had fought her to victory and then sent
the call to her crew to save the lives of their enemies.

Two men met on a level spot amidships and clasped hands. Both were
bare-waisted and grimy, and one showed red as a lobster under the
stains. He was the chief engineer.

"We've won, Clarkson," he said. "We've won the hottest fight that
history can tell of--won it ourselves; but he'll get the credit."

"And he's drunk as a lord--drunk through it all. What did he ram for?
Why did he send two millions of prize-money to the bottom? O Lord! O
Lord! it's enough to make a man swear at his mother. We had her licked.
Why did he ram?"

"Because he was drunk, that's why. He rang seven bells to me along at
the first of the muss, and then sent word through young Felton that he
wanted full speed. Dammit, he already had it, every pound of it. And he
gave me no signal to reverse when we struck; if it wasn't for luck and
a kind Providence we'd have followed the _Warsaw_. I barely got her
over. Here, Mr. Felton; you were in the central, were you not? How'd
the old man appear to be making it? Were his orders intelligible?"

A young man had joined them, hot, breathing hard, and unclothed.

"Not always, sir; I had to ask him often to repeat, and then I
sometimes got another order. He kept me busy from the first, when he
sent the torpedoes overboard."

"The torpedoes!" exclaimed Mr. Clarkson. "Did we use them? I didn't
know it."

"He was afraid they'd explode on board, sir," he said. "That was just
after we took full speed."

"And just before he got too full to be afraid of anything," muttered
the lieutenant. "Why don't he come out of that?" He glanced toward the
conning-tower. Other officers had joined them.

"We'll investigate," said Mr. Clarkson.

The door on the level of the main-deck leading into the mast was found
to be wedged fast by the blow of a projectile. Men, naked and black,
sprawled about the wreckage breathing fresh air, were ordered to get up
and to rig a ladder outside. They did so, and Mr. Clarkson ascended to
the ragged end of the hollow stump and looked down. Standing at the
wheel, steering the drifting ship with one hand and holding an empty
bottle in the other, was a man with torn clothing and bloody face. In
spite of the disfigurement Mr. Clarkson knew him. Jammed into the
narrow staircase leading below was the body of a man partly hidden by a
Gatling gun, the lever of which had pierced the forehead.

"Finnegan," yelled the officer, "how'd you get there?"

The man at the wheel lifted a bleary eye and blinked; then, unsteadily
touching his forehead, answered: "Fe' dow'-shtairs, shir."

"Come out of that! On deck there! Take the wheel, one hand, and stand
by it!" Mr. Clarkson descended to the others with a serious look on his
grimy face, and a sailor climbed the ladder and went down the mast.

"Gentlemen," said the first lieutenant, impressively, "we were
mistaken, and we wronged Captain Blake. He is dead. He died at the
beginning. He lies under a Gatling gun in the bottom of the tower. I
saw Finnegan hanging to that gun, whirling around it, when the mast
blew up. It is all plain now. Finnegan and the gun fell into the tower.
Finnegan may have struck the stairs and rolled down, but the gun went
down the hollow within and killed the captain. We have been steered and
commanded by a drunken man--but it was Finnegan."

Finnegan scrambled painfully down the ladder. He staggered, stumbled,
and fell in a heap.

"Rise up," said Mr. Clarkson, as they surrounded him; "rise up, Daniel
Drake Nelson Farragut Finnegan. You are small potatoes and few in the
hill; you are shamefully drunk, and your nose bleeds; you are stricken
with Spanish mildew, and you smell vilely--but you are immortal. You
have been a disgrace to the service, but Fate in her gentle irony has
redeemed you, permitting you, in one brief moment of your misspent
life, to save to your country the command of the seas--to guide, with
your subconscious intelligence, the finest battle-ship the science of
the world has constructed to glorious victory, through the fiercest
sea-fight the world has known. Rise up, Daniel, and see the surgeon."

But Finnegan only snored.



THE WIGWAG MESSAGE


As eight bells sounded, Captain Bacon and Mr. Knapp came up from
breakfast, and Mr. Hansen, the squat and square-built second mate,
immediately went down. The deck was still wet from the morning washing
down, and forward the watch below were emerging from the forecastle to
relieve the other half, who were coiling loosely over the top of the
forward house a heavy, wet hawser used in towing out the evening
before. They were doing it properly, and as no present supervision was
necessary, the first mate remained on the poop for a few moments'
further conversation with the captain.

"Poor crew, cap'n," he said, as, picking his teeth with the end of a
match, he scanned the men forward. "It'll take me a month to lick 'em
into shape."

To judge by his physique, a month was a generous limit for such an
operation. He was a giant, with a giant's fist and foot; red-haired and
bearded, and of sinister countenance. But he was no more formidable in
appearance than his captain, who was equally big, but smooth-shaven,
and showing the square jaw and beetling brows of a born fighter.

"Are the two drunks awake yet?" asked the latter.

"Not at four o'clock, sir," answered the mate. "Mr. Hansen couldn't get
'em out. I'll soon turn 'em to."

As he spoke, two men appeared from around the corner of the forward
house, and came aft. They were young men, between twenty-five and
thirty, with intelligent, sun-burnt faces. One was slight of figure,
with the refinement of thought and study in his features; the other,
heavier of mold and muscular, though equally quick in his movements,
had that in his dark eyes which said plainly that he was wont to
supplement the work of his hands with the work of his brain. Both were
dressed in the tar-stained and grimy rags of the merchant sailor at
sea; and they walked the wet and unsteady deck with no absence of
"sea-legs," climbed the poop steps to leeward, as was proper, and
approached the captain and first mate at the weather rail. The heavier
man touched his cap, but the other merely inclined his head, and
smiling frankly and fearlessly from one face to the other, said, in a
pleasant, evenly modulated voice:

"Good morning. I presume that one of you is the captain."

"I'm the captain. What do you want?" was the gruff response.

"Captain, I believe that the etiquette of the merchant service requires
that when a man is shanghaied on board an outward-bound ship he remains
silent, does what is told him cheerfully, and submits to fate until the
passage ends; but we cannot bring ourselves to do so. We were struck
down in a dark spot last night,--sandbagged, I should say,--and we do
not know what happened afterward, though we must have been kept
unconscious with chloroform or some such drug. We wakened this morning
in your forecastle, dressed in these clothes, and robbed of everything
we had with us."

"Where were you slugged?"

"In Cherry Street. The bridge cars were not running, so we crossed from
Brooklyn by the Catherine Ferry, and foolishly took a short cut to the
elevated station."

"Well, what of it?"

"What--why--why, captain, that you will kindly put us aboard the first
inbound craft we meet."

"Not much I won't," answered the captain, decidedly. "You belong to my
crew. I paid for twenty men; and you two and two others skipped at the
dock. I had to wait all day in the Horseshoe. You two were caught dead
drunk last night, and came down with the tug. That's what the runners
said, and that's all I know about it. Go forrard."

"Do you mean, captain----"

"Go forrard where you belong. Mr. Knapp, set these men to work."

Captain Bacon turned his back on them, and walked away.

"Get off the poop," snarled the mate. "Forrard wi' you both!"

"Captain, I advise you to reconsider----"

The words were stopped by a blow of the mate's fist, and the speaker
fell to the deck. Then a hoarse growl of horror and rage came from his
companion; and Captain Bacon turned, to see him dancing around the
first officer with the skill and agility of a professional boxer,
planting vicious blows on his hairy face and neck.

"Stop this," roared the captain, as his right hand sought the pocket of
his coat. "Stop it, I say. Mr. Hansen," he called down the skylight,
"on deck, here."

The huge mate was getting the worst of the unexpected battle, and
Captain Bacon approached cautiously. His right hand had come out of his
pocket, armed with large brass knuckles; but before he could use them
his dazed and astonished first officer went down under the rain of
blows. It was then, while the victor waited for him to rise, that the
brass knuckles impacted on his head, and he, too, went down, to lie
quiet where he fell. The other young man had arisen by this time,
somewhat shocked and unsteady in movement, and was coming bravely
toward the captain; but before he could reach him his arms were
pinioned from behind by Mr. Hansen, who had run up the poop steps.

"What is dis, onnyway?" he asked. "Mudiny, I dink?"

"Let go," said the other, furiously. "You shall suffer for this, you
scoundrels. Let go of my arms." He struggled wildly; but Mr. Hansen was
strong.

Mr. Knapp had regained his feet and a few of his faculties. His
conqueror was senseless on the deck, but this other mutineer was still
active in rebellion. So, while the approving captain looked on in
brass-knuckled dignity, he sprang forward and struck, with strength
born of his rage and humiliation, again and again at the man helpless
in the arms of Mr. Hansen, until his battered head sank supinely
backward, and he struggled no more. Then Mr. Hansen dropped him.

"Lay aft, here, a couple o' hands," thundered the captain from the
break of the poop, and two awe-struck men obeyed him. The whole crew
had watched the fracas from forward, and the man at the wheel had
looked unspeakable things; but no hand or voice had been raised in
protest. One at a time they carried the unconscious men to the
forecastle; then the crew mustered aft at another thundering summons,
and listened to a forceful speech by Captain Bacon, delivered in quick,
incisive epigrams, to the effect that if a man aboard his ship--whether
he believed himself shipped or shanghaied, a sailor, a priest, a
policeman, or a dry-nurse--showed the slightest hesitation at obeying
orders, or the slightest resentment at what was said to him, he would
be punished with fists, brass knuckles, belaying-pins, or
handspikes,--the officers were here for that purpose,--and if he
persisted, he would be shot like a mad dog. They could go forward.

They went, and while the watch on deck, under the supervision of the
second mate, finished coiling down the tow-line, the watch below
finished their breakfast, and when the stricken ones had recovered
consciousness, advised them, unsympathetically, to submit and make the
best of it until the ship reached Hong-Kong, where they could all "jump
her" and get better berths.

"For if ye don't," concluded an Irishman, "I take it ye'll die, an'
take sam wan of us wid ye; fur this is an American ship, where the
mates are hired fur the bigness o' their fists an' the hardness o'
their hearts. Look pleasant, now, the pair o' ye; an' wan o' ye take
this hash-kid back to the galley."

The larger of the two victims sprang to his feet. He was stained and
disfigured from the effects of the brass knuckles, and he looked
anything but "pleasant."

"Say, Irish," he said angrily, "do you know who you 're talkin' to?
Looks as though you don't. I'm used to all sorts of guff from all sorts
of men, but Mr. Breen here----"

"Johnson," interrupted the other, "wait--it's of no account now. This
man's advice is sound. No one would believe us, and we can prove
nothing. We are thoroughly helpless, and must submit until we reach a
consular port, or something happens. Now, men," he said to the others,
"my name is Breen. Call me by it. You, too, Johnson. I yield to the
inevitable, and will do my share of the work as well as I can. If I
make mistakes, don't hesitate to criticize, and post me, if you will.
I'll be grateful."

"But I'll tell you one thing to start with," said Johnson, glaring
around the forecastle: "we'll take turns at bringin' grub and cleanin'
up the forecastle. Another thing: I've sailed in these wind-jammers
enough to know my work; and that's more than you fellows know, by the
looks of you. I don't want your instructions; but Mr. Breen,
here--Breen, I mean" (a gesture from the other had interrupted
him)--"Breen's forgotten what you and I will never learn, though he
might not be used to pullin' ropes and swabbing paint-work. If I find
one o' you pesterin' him, or puttin' up any jobs, I'll break that man's
head; understand me? Any one want to put this thing to the test, now?"
He scanned each man's face in turn; but none showed an inclination to
respond. They had seen him fight the big first mate. "There's not the
makin' of a whole man among you," he resumed. "You stand still while
three men do up two, when, if you had any nerve, Mr. ---- Breen, here,
might be aft, 'stead o' eatin' cracker-hash with a lot o' dock-rats and
beach-combers. He's had better playmates; so 've I, for that matter, o'
late years."

"Johnson, keep still," said the other. "It doesn't matter what we have
had, who we were or might be. We're before the mast, bound for
Hong-Kong. We may find a consul at Anjer; I'm not sure. Meanwhile, I'm
Breen, and you are Johnson, and it is no one's business what we have
been. I'm not anxious for this matter to become public. I can explain
to the department, and no one else need know."

"Very good, sir."

"No; not 'sir.' Keep that for our superiors."

Johnson grumbled a little; then Mr. Hansen's round Swedish face
appeared at the door.

"Hi, you in dere--you big feller--you come out. You belong in der utter
watch. You hear? You come out on deck," he called.

"Aye, aye, sir," said Johnson, rising sullenly.

"All the better, Johnson," whispered Breen. "One can keep a lookout all
the time. Keep your eyes open and your mouth shut."

So for these two men the work of the voyage began. The hard-headed,
aggressive Johnson, placed in the mate's watch, had no trouble in
finding his place, and keeping it, at the top of the class. He ruled
the assorted types of all nations, who worked and slept with him, with
sound logic backed by a strong arm and hard fist, never trying to
conceal his contempt for them.

"You mixed nest o' mongrels," he would say, at the end of some petty
squabble which he had settled for them, "why don't you stay in your own
country ships? Or, if you must sign in American craft, try to feel and
act like Americans. It's just this same yawping at one another in the
forecastles that makes it easy for the buckoes aft to hunt you. And
that's why you get your berths. No skipper 'll ship an American sailor
while there's a Dutchman left in the shippin'-office. He wouldn't think
it safe to go to sea with too many American sailors forward to call him
down and make him treat 'em decent. He picks a Dago here, and a
Dutchman there, and all the Sou'wegians he sees, and fills in with the
rakin's and scrapin's o' Hell, Bedlam, and Newgate, knowin' they'll
hate one another worse than they hate him, and never stand together."

To which they would respond in kind, though of lesser degree, always
yielding him the last word when he spoke it loud enough.

But Breen, in the second mate's watch, had trouble with his fellows at
first. They could not understand his quiet, gentlemanly demeanor,
mistaking it for fear of them; so, unknown to Johnson, for he would not
complain, they subjected him to all the petty annoyances which
ignorance may inflict upon intelligence. Though he showed a theoretical
knowledge of ships and the sea superior to any they had met with, he
was not their equal in the practical work of a sailor. He was awkward
at pulling ropes with others, placing his hands in the wrong place and
mixing them up in what must be a concerted pull to be effective. His
hands, unused to labor, became blistered and sore, and he often,
unconsciously perhaps, held back from a task, to save himself from
pain. He was an indifferent helmsman, and off Hatteras, in a blow, was
sent from the wheel in disgrace. He did not know the ropes, and made
sad mistakes until he had mastered the lesson. He could box the
compass, in his own way; for instance, the quarter-points between
north-northeast and northeast by north he persisted in naming from the
first of these points instead of from the other, as was seamanlike and
proper; and the same with the corresponding sectors in the other
quadrants. Once, at the wheel, when the ship was heading southeast by
south half-south, he had been asked the course, and answered:
"South-southeast half-east, sir." For this he was profanely admonished
by the captain and ridiculed by the men. Johnson had made the same
mistake, but corrected himself in time, and nothing was said about it;
but Breen was bullied and badgered in the watch below,--the lubberly
nomenclature becoming a byword of derision and contempt,--until,
patience leaving him, he doubled his sore fingers into fists one
dog-watch, and thrashed the Irishman--his most unforgiving critic--so
quickly, thoroughly, and scientifically that persecution ceased; for
the Irishman had been the master spirit of the port forecastle.

But the captain and mates were not won over. Practical Johnson--an able
seaman from crown to toe--knew how to avoid or forestall their abuse;
but Breen did not. The very presence of such a man as he before the
mast was a continuous menace,--an insult to their artificial
superiority,--and they assailed him at each mistake with volleys of
billingsgate that brought a flush to his fine face and tears to his
eyes; later, a deadly paleness that would have been a warning to
tyrants of better discrimination. Once again, while being rebuked in
this manner, his self-control left him. With white face and blazing
eyes he darted at Mr. Knapp, and had almost repeated Johnson's feat on
the poop when an iron belaying-pin in the hands of the captain
descended upon him and broke his left arm. Mr. Knapp's fists and boots
completed his tutelage, and he was carried to his bunk with another
lesson learned. Johnson, swearing the while, skilfully set the broken
bones and made a sling; then, by tactful wheedling of the steward,
secured certain necessaries from the medicine-chest, with hot water
from the galley; but open assistance was refused by the captain.

Breen, scarcely able to move, held to his bunk for a few days; then,
the first mild skirts of the trade-wind being reached, the mate drove
him to the wheel, to steer one-handed through the day, while all hands
(in the afternoon) worked in the rigging. But the trade-wind freshened,
and his strength was not equal to the task set for it. With the men all
aloft and the two mates forward, the ship nearly broached to one day,
and only the opportune arrival of Captain Bacon on deck saved the
spars. He seized the wheel, ground it up, and the ship paid off; then a
whole man was called to relieve him, and the incompetent helmsman was
promptly and properly punished. He was kicked off the poop, and his
arm, as a consequence, needed resetting.

Johnson had been aloft, but there was murder in his dark eyes when he
came down at supper-time. Yet he knew its futility, and while bandaging
the broken arm earnestly explained, as Breen's groans would allow, that
if he killed one the other two would kill him, and nothing would be
gained. "For they've brass knuckles in their pockets, sir," he said,
"and pistols under their pillows. We haven't even sheath-knives, and
the crew wouldn't help."

Whereupon, an inspired Russian Finn of the watch remarked: "If a man
know his work an' do his work, an' gif no back lip to te mates, he get
no trupple mit te mates. In my country ships----" The dissertation was
not finished. Johnson silently knocked him down, and the incident
closed.

But they found work which the crippled man could do, after a short
"lying up." With the steward's washboard, he could wash the captain's
soiled linen, which the steward would afterward wring out and hang up.
He refused at first, but was duly persuaded, and went to work in the
lee scuppers amidships. Johnson made a detour on his way to the
main-rigging, and muttered: "Say the word, sir, and I 'll chance it. No
jury'd convict."

"No, no; go aloft, Johnson. I'm all right," answered Breen, as he bent
over the distasteful task.

Johnson climbed the rigging to the main-royalyard, which he was to
scrape for reoiling, and had no sooner reached it than he sang out:

"Sail oh! Dead ahead, sir. Looks like an armored cruiser o' the first
class."

"Armored cruiser o' the first class?" muttered the captain, as he
carried his binoculars to the weather rail and looked ahead. "More 'n I
can make out with the glasses."

If three funnels, two masts, two bridges, and two sets of fighting-tops
indicate an armored cruiser of the first class, Johnson was right.
These the oncoming craft showed plainly even at seven miles' distance.
Fifteen minutes later she was storming by, a half-mile to windward; a
beautiful picture, long and white, with an incurving ram-bow, with
buff-colored turrets and superstructure, and black guns bristling from
all parts of her. The Stars and Stripes flew from the flagstaff at the
stern; white-clad men swarmed about her decks, and one of them, on the
forward bridge, close to a group of officers, was waving by its staff a
small red-and-white flag. Captain Bacon brought out the American
ensign, and with his own hands hoisted it to the monkey-gaff on the
mizzen, dipped it three times in respectful salute, and left it at the
gaff-end. Then he looked at the cruiser, as every man on board was
doing except the man washing clothes in the lee scuppers. His business
was to wash clothes, not to cross a broad deck and climb a high rail to
look at passing craft; but, as he washed away, he looked furtively
aloft, with eyes that sparkled, at the man on the mainroyalyard.
Johnson was standing erect on the small spar, holding on with his left
hand to the royal-pole,--certainly the most conspicuous detail of the
whole ship to the eyes of those on board the cruiser,--and with his
right hand he was waving his cap to the right and left, and up and
down. There was method in his motions, for when he would cease, the
small red-and-white flag on the cruiser's bridge would answer, waving
to the right and left, and up and down.

A secondary gun spoke from a midship sponson, and Captain Bacon
exclaimed enthusiastically, "Salutin' the flag," and again dipped his
ensign. Then, after an interval, during which it became apparent that
the cruiser had altered her course to cross the ship's stern, there was
seen another tongue of flame and cloud of smoke, and something seemed
to rush through the air ahead of the ship. But it was a splash of water
far off on the lee bow which really apprised them that the gun was
shotted. At the same time a string of small flags arose to the
signal-yard, and when Captain Bacon had found this combination in his
code-book, he read with amazement: "Heave to or take the consequences."
By this time the cruiser was squarely across his wake, most certainly
rounding to for an interview.

"Heave to or take the consequences!" he exclaimed. "And he's firin' on
us. Down from aloft, all hands!" he roared upward; then he seized the
answering pennant from the flag-locker and displayed it from the rail,
begrudging the time needful to hoist it. The men were sliding to the
deck on backstays and running-gear, and the mates were throwing down
coils of rope from the belaying-pins.

"Man both main clue-garnets, some o' you!" yelled the captain. "Clue
up! Weather main-braces, the rest o' you! Slack away to looward! Round
wi' the yards, you farmers--round wi' 'em! Down wi' the wheel, there!
Bring her up three points and hold her. H----l an' blazes, what's he
firin' on me for?"

Excitedly, the men obeyed him; they were not used to gun fire, and it
is certainly exciting to be shot at. Conspicuous among them was
Johnson, who pulled and hauled lustily, shouting exuberantly the
formless calls which sailors use in pulling ropes, and smiling
sardonically. In five minutes from the time of the second gun the yards
were backed, and, with weather leeches trembling, the ship lay "hove
to," drifting bodily to leeward. The cruiser had stopped her headway,
and a boat had left her side. There were ten men at the oars, a
cockswain at the yoke-ropes, and with him in the stern-sheets a young
man in an ensign's uniform, who lifted his voice as the boat neared the
lee quarter, and shouted: "Rig a side-ladder aboard that ship!"

He was hardly more than a boy, but he was obeyed; not only the
side-ladder, but the gangway steps were rigged; and leaving the
cockswain and bow oarsman to care for the boat, the young officer
climbed aboard, followed by the rest--nine muscular man-of-war's-men,
each armed with cutlass and pistol, one of them carrying a hand-bag,
another a bundle. Captain Bacon, as became his position, remained upon
the poop to receive his visitor, while the two mates stood at the main
fife-rail, and the ship's crew clustered forward. Johnson, alert and
attentive, stood a little in the van, and the man in the lee scuppers
still washed clothes.

"What's the matter, young man?" asked the captain from the break of the
poop, with as much of dignity as his recent agitation would permit.
"Why do you stop my ship on the high seas and board her with an armed
boat's crew?"

"You have an officer and seaman of the navy on board this ship,"
answered the ensign, who had been looking about irresolutely. "Produce
them at once, if you please."

"What--what----" stuttered the captain, descending the poop steps; but
before more was said there was a sound from forward as of something
hard striking something heavy, and as they looked, they saw Captain
Bacon's bucket of clothes sailing diagonally over the lee rail,
scattering a fountain of soapy water as it whirled; his late laundryman
coming toward them with head erect, as though he might have owned the
ship and himself; and Johnson, limping slightly, making for the crowd
of blue-jackets at the gangway. With these he fraternized at once,
telling them things in a low voice, and somewhat profanely, while the
two mates at the fife-rail eyed him reprovingly, but did not interrupt.

Breen advanced to the ensign, and said, as he extended his hand: "I am
Lieutenant Breen. Did you bring the clothing? This is an extremely
fortunate meeting for me; but I can thank you--you and your brother
officers--much more gracefully aboard the cruiser."

The officer took the extended hand gingerly, with suspicion in his
eyes. Perhaps, if it had not been thoroughly clean from its late
friction with soap and water, he might have declined taking it; for
there was nothing in the appearance of the haggard, ragged wreck before
him to indicate the naval officer.

"There is some mistake," he said coldly. "I am well acquainted with
Lieutenant Breen, and you are certainly not he."

Breen's face flushed hotly, but before he could reply, the captain
broke in.

"Some mistake, hey?" said he, derisively. "I guess there is--another
mistake--another bluff that don't go. Get out o' here; and I tell you
now, blast yer hide, that if you make me any more trouble 'board my
ship yer liable to go over the side feet first, with a shackle to yer
heels. And you, young man," he stormed, turning to the ensign, "you
look round, if you like. There's my crew. All the navy officers you
find you can have, and welcome to 'em." He turned his back, stamped a
few paces along the deck, and returned, working himself into a fury.

Breen had not moved, but, with a slight sparkle to his eyes, said to
the young officer:

"I think, sir, that if you take the trouble to investigate, you will be
satisfied. There are two Breens in the navy. You know one, evidently; I
am the other. Lieutenant William Breen is on shore duty at Washington,
I think. Lieutenant John Breen, lately in command of the torpedo-boat
_Wainwright_, with his signalman Thomas Johnson, are shanghaied on
board this ship. There is Johnson talking to your men."

The young man's face changed, and his hand went to his cap in salute;
but the mischief was done. Captain Bacon's indignation was at
bursting-pressure, and his mind in no condition to respond readily to
new impressions. He was captain of the ship, and grossly affronted.
Johnson, noting his purple face, wisely reached for a topsail-brace
belaying-pin, and stepped toward him; for he now towered over Breen,
cursing with volcanic energy.

"Didn't I tell you to go forrard?" he roared, drawing back his powerful
fist.

Breen stood his ground; the officer raised his hand and half drew his
sword, while the blue-jackets sprang forward; but it was Johnson's
belaying-pin which stopped that mighty fist in mid-passage. It was an
iron club, eighteen inches long by an inch and a half diameter; and
Johnson, strong man though he was, used it two-handed. It struck the
brawny forearm just above the wrist with a crashing sound, and seemed
to sink in. Captain Bacon almost fell, but recovered his balance, and,
holding the broken bones together, staggered toward the booby-hatch for
support. He groaned in pain, but did not curse; for it requires a
modicum of self-respect for this, and Captain Bacon's self-respect was
completely shocked out of him.

But Mr. Knapp and Mr. Hansen still respected themselves, and were
coming.

"You keep back, there--you two," yelled Johnson, excitedly. "Stand by
here, mates. These buckoes 'll kill someone yet. Look out for their
brass knuckles and guns."

And the two officers halted. They had no desire to assert themselves
before nine scowling, armed men, an angry and aggressive mutineer with
a belaying-pin, and a rather confused, but wakening, young officer with
drawn sword. Johnson backed toward the latter.

"Don't you know me, Mr. Bronson," he said--"Tom Johnson, cocks'n o' the
gig on your practice-cruise? 'Member me, sir? This is Lieutenant
Breen--take my word, sir."

"Yes--yes--I understand," said the ensign, with a face redder than
Breen's had been. "I really beg your pardon, Mr. Breen. It was
inexcusable in me, I know--but--I had expected to see a different face,
and--and--we're three months out from Hong-Kong, you see----"

Breen smiled, and interrupted with a gesture.

"No time for explanations, Mr. Bronson," said he, kindly. "Did you
bring the clothes? Thoughtful of Johnson to ask for them, wasn't it? It
really would be embarrassing to join your ship in this rig. In the grip
and bundle? All right. Form your men across the deck, please, forward
of the cabin. Keep these brutes away from us while we change. Come,
Johnson."

Taking the hand-bag and the bundle, they brazenly entered the cabin by
the forward door. In ten minutes they emerged, Johnson clad in the blue
rig of a man-of-war's-man, Breen in the undress uniform of an officer,
his crippled arm buttoned into the coat. As they stepped toward the
gangway, Captain Bacon, pale and perspiring, wheezing painfully,
entered the cabin and passed out of their lives. The steward followed
at his heels, and the two mates, with curiously working faces,
approached Breen.

"Excuse me, sir," said Mr. Knapp, "but I want to say that I had no
notion o' this at all; and I hope you won't make no trouble for me
ashore."

Breen, one foot on the steps while he waited for the blue-jackets to
file over the side, eyed him thoughtfully.

"No," he said slowly. "I hardly think, Mr. Knapp, that I shall exert
myself to make trouble for you personally, or for the other two. There
is a measure now before Congress which, if it passes, will legislate
brutes like you and your captain off the American quarter-deck by its
educational conditions. This, with a consideration for your owners, is
what permits you to continue this voyage, instead of going back to the
United States in irons. But if I had the power," he added, looking at
the beautiful flag still flying at the gaff, "I would lower that
ensign, and forbid you to hoist it. It is the flag of a free country,
and should not float over slave-ships."

He mounted the steps, and, assisted by the young officer and Johnson,
descended to the boat; but before Johnson went down, he peered over the
rail at the two mates, grinning luridly.

"And I'll promise you," he said, "that I'm always willing to make
trouble for you, ashore or afloat, and wish I had a little more time
for it now. And you can tell your skipper, if you like, in case he
don't know it, that he got smashed with the same club that he used on
Mr. Breen, and I'm only d----d sorry I didn't bring it down on his
head. So long, you bloody-minded hell-drivers. See you again some day."

He descended, and Mr. Knapp gave the order to brace the yards.

"Give a good deal," he mused, as the men manned the braces, "to know
just how they got news to that cruiser. Homeward bound from
Hong-Kong--three months out. Couldn't ha' been sent after us."

But he never learned.



THE TRADE-WIND


The orgy was finished. The last sea-song had resounded over the smooth
waters of the bay; the last drunken shout, oath, and challenge were
voiced; the last fight ended in helplessness and maudlin amity, and the
red-shirted men were sprawled around on the moonlit deck, snoring.
Though the barrel of rum broached on the main-hatch was but slightly
lowered, their sleep was heavy; scurvy-tainted men at the end of a Cape
Horn passage may not drink long or deeply. Some lay as they fell--face
upward; others on their sides for a while, then to roll over on their
backs and so remain until the sleep was done; for in no other position
may the human body rest easy on a hard bed with no pillow. And as they
slept through the tropic night the full moon in the east rose higher
and higher, passed overhead and disappeared behind a thickening haze in
the western sky; but before it had crossed the meridian its cold,
chemical rays had worked disastrously on the eyes of the sleeping men.

Captain Swarth, prone upon the poop-deck, was the first to waken. There
was pain in his head, pain in his eyes,--which were swollen,--and a
whistling tumult of sound in his ears coming from the Plutonian
darkness surrounding him, while a jarring vibration of the deck beneath
him apprised his awakening brain that the anchor was dragging. As he
staggered to his feet a violent pressure of wind hurled him against the
wheel, to which he clung, staring into the blackness to windward.

"All hands, there!" he roared! "Up with you all! Go forward and pay out
on the chain!"

Shouts, oaths, and growls answered him, and he heard the nasal voice of
his mate repeating his order. "Angel," he called, "get the other anchor
over and give her all of both chains."

"Aye, aye, sir," answered the mate. "Send a lantern forrard, Bill.
Can't see our noses."

"Steward," yelled the captain, "where are you? Light up a deck-lantern
and the binnacle. Bear a hand."

He heard the steward's voice close to him, and the sound of the
binnacle lights being removed from their places, then the opening and
closing of the cabin companionway. He could see nothing, but knew that
the steward had gone below to his store-room. In a minute more a shriek
came from the cabin. It rang out again and again, and soon sounded from
the companionway: "I'm blind, I'm blind, capt'n. I can't see. I lit the
lantern and burned my fingers; but I can't see the light. I'm blind."
The steward's voice ended in a howl.

"Shut up, you blasted fool," answered Captain Swarth; "get down there
and light up."

"Where's that light?" came the mate's voice in a yell from amidships.
"Shank-painter's jammed, Bill. Can't do a thing without a light."

"Come aft here and get it. Steward's drunk."

The doors in the forward part of the cabin slammed, and the mate's
profanity mingled with the protest of the steward in the cabin. Then
shouts came from forward, borne on the gale, and soon followed by the
shuffling of feet as the men groped their way aft and climbed the poop
steps.

"We're stone-blind, cappen," they wailed. "We lit the fo'c'sle lamp,
an' it don't show up. We can't see it. Nobody can see it. We're all
blind."

"Come down here, Bill," called the mate from below.

As Captain Swarth felt his way down the stairs a sudden shock stilled
the vibrations caused by the dragging anchor, and he knew that the
chain had parted.

"Stand by on deck, Angel; we're adrift," he said. "It's darker than ten
thousand black cats. What's the matter with you?"

"Can you see the light, Bill? I can't. I'm blind as the steward, or I'm
drunker."

"No. Is it lit? Where? The men say they're blind, too."

"Here, forrard end o' the table."

The captain reached this end, searched with his hands, and burned them
on the hot glass of a lantern. He removed the bowl and singed the hair
on his wrists. The smell came to his nostrils.

"I'm blind, too," he groaned. "Angel, it's the moon. We're
moonstruck--moon-blind. And we're adrift in a squall. Steward," he said
as he made his way toward the stairs, "light the binnacle, and stop
that whining. Maybe some one can see a little."

When he reached the deck he called to the men, growling, cursing, and
complaining on the poop. "Down below with you all!" he ordered. "Pass
through and out the forrard door. If any man sees the light on the
cabin table, let that man sing out."

They obeyed him. Twenty men passed through the cabin and again climbed
the poop stairs, their lamentations still troubling the night. But not
one had seen the lantern. Some said that they could not open their eyes
at all; some complained that their faces were swollen; others that
their mouths were twisted up to where their ears should be; and one man
averred that he could not breathe through his nose.

"It'll only last a few days, boys," said the captain, bravely; "we
shouldn't have slept in the moonlight in these latitudes. Drop the lead
over, one of you--weather side. The devil knows where we're drifting,
and the small anchor won't hold now; we'll save it." Captain Swarth was
himself again.

But not so his men. They had become children, with children's fear of
the dark. Even the doughty Angel Todd was oppressed by the first horror
of the situation, speaking only when spoken to. Above the rushing sound
of wind and the smacking of short seas could be heard the voice of the
steward in the cabin, while an occasional heart-borne malediction or
groan--according to temperament--added to the distraction on deck. One
man, more self-possessed than the rest, had dropped the lead over the
side. An able seaman needs no eyes to heave the lead.

"A quarter six," he sang out, and then, plaintively: "We'll fetch up on
the Barrier, capt'n. S'pose we try an' get the other hook over."

"Yes, yes," chorused some of the braver spirits. "It may hold. We don't
want to drown on the reef. Let's get it over. Chain's overhauled."

"Let the anchor alone," roared the captain. "No anchor-chain'll hold in
this. Keep that lead a-going, Tom Plate, if it's you. What bottom do
you find?"

"Quarter less six," called the leadsman. "Soft bottom. We're shoaling."

"Angel," said the captain to his mate, who stood close to him, "we're
blowing out the south channel. We've been drifting long enough to fetch
up on the reef if it was in our way. There's hard bottom in the north
channel, and the twenty-fathom lead wouldn't reach it half a length
from the rocks."

The mate had nothing to say.

"And the south channel lay due southeast from our moorings," continued
the captain. "Wind's nor'west, I should say, right down from the
hilltops; and I've known these blasted West India squalls to last three
days, blowing straight and hard. This has the smell of a gale in it
already. Keep that lead a-going, there."

"No bottom," answered the leadsman.

"Good enough," said the captain, cheerfully.

"No bottom," was called repeatedly, until the captain sang out:
"That'll do the lead." Then the leadsman coiled up the line, and they
heard his rasping, unpleasant voice, cursing softly but fiercely to
himself. Captain Swarth descended the stairs, silenced the steward with
a blow, felt of the clock hands, secured his pistols, and returned to
the deck.

"We're at sea," he said. "Two hands to the wheel. Loose and set the
foretopmast-staysails and the foretopsail. Staysail first. Let a man
stay in the slings to square the yard by the feel as it goes up."

"What for?" they answered complainingly. "What ye goin' to do? We can't
see. Why didn't you bring to when you had bottom under you?"

"No arguments!" yelled Swarth. "Forrard with you. What are you doing on
the poop, anyway? If you can't see, you can feel, and what more do you
want? Jump, now. Set that head-sail and get her 'fore the wind--quick,
or I'll drop some of you."

They knew their captain, and they knew the ropes--on the blackest of
dark nights. Blind men climbed aloft, and felt for foot-ropes and
gaskets. Blind men on deck felt for sheets, halyards, and braces, and
in ten minutes the sails were set, and the brig was charging wildly
along before the gale, with two blind men at the wheel endeavoring to
keep her straight by the right and left pressure of the wind on their
faces.

"Keep the wind as much on the port quarter as you can without broaching
to," yelled the captain in their ears, and they answered and did their
best. She was a clean-lined craft and steered easily; yet the off-shore
sea which was rising often threw her around until nearly in the trough.
The captain remained by them, advising and encouraging.

"Where're ye goin', Bill?" asked the mate, weakly, as he scrambled up
to him.

"Right out to sea, and, unless we get our eyes back soon, right across
to the Bight of Benin, three thousand miles from here. We've no
business on this coast in this condition. What ails you, Angel? Lost
your nerve?"

"Mebbe, Bill." The mate's voice was hoarse and strained. "This is new
to me. I'm falling--falling--all the time."

"So am I. Brace up. We'll get used to it. Get a couple of hands aft and
heave the log. We take our departure from Kittredge Point, Barbados
Island, at six o'clock this morning of the 10th October. We'll keep a
Geordie's log-book--with a jack-knife and a stick."

They hove the log for him. It was marked for a now useless 28-second
sand-glass, which Captain Swarth replaced by a spare chronometer, held
to his ear in the companionway. It ticked even seconds, and when
twenty-eight of them had passed he called, "Stop." The markings on the
line that had slipped through the mate's fingers indicated an
eight-knot speed.

"Seven, allowing for wild steering," said the captain when he had
stowed away his chronometer and returned to the deck. "Angel, we know
we're going about sou'east by east, seven knots. There's practically
no variation o' the compass in these seas, and that course'll take us
clear of Cape St. Roque. Just as fast as the men can stand it at the
wheel, we'll pile on canvas and get all we can out o' this good wind.
If it takes us into the southeast trades, well and good. We can feel
our way across on the trade-wind--unless we hit something, of course.
You see, it blows almost out of the east on this side, and 'll haul
more to the sou'east and south'ard as we get over. By the wind first,
then we'll square away as we need to. We'll know the smell o' the
trades--nothing like it on earth--and the smell o' the Gold Coast,
Ivory Coast, Slave Coast, and the Kameruns. And I'll lay odds we can
feel the heat o' the sun in the east and west enough to make a fair
guess at the course. But it won't come to that. Some of us 'll be able
to see pretty soon."

It was wild talk, but the demoralized mate needed encouraging. He
answered with a steadier voice: "Lucky we got in grub and water
yesterday."

"Right you are, Angel. Now, in case this holds on to us, why, we'll
find some of our friends over in the Bight, and they'll know by our rig
that something's wrong. Flanders is somewhere on the track,--you know
he went back to the nigger business,--and Chink put a slave-deck in his
hold down Rio way last spring. And old man Slack--I did him a service
when I crippled the corvette that was after him, and he's grateful.
Hope we'll meet him. I'd rather meet Chink than Flanders in the dark,
and I'd trust a Javanese trader before either. If either of them come
aboard we'll be ready to use their eyes for our benefit, not let 'em
use ours for theirs. Flanders once said he liked the looks of this
brig."

"S'pose we run foul of a bulldog?"

"We'll have to chance it. This coast's full o' them, too. Great guns,
man! Would you drift around and do nothing? Anywhere east of due south
there's no land nearer than Cape Orange, and that's three hundred and
fifty miles from here. Beginning to-morrow noon, we'll take deep-sea
soundings until we strike the trade-wind."

The negro cook felt his way through the preparing of meals and served
them on time. The watches were set, and sail was put on the brig as
fast as the men became accustomed to the new way of steering, those
relieved always imparting what they had learned to their successors.
Before nightfall on that first day they were scudding under foresail,
topsail and topgallantsail and maintopsail, with the spanker furled as
useless, and the jib adding its aid to the foretopmast-staysail in
keeping the brig before the quartering seas which occasionally climbed
aboard. The bowsprit light was rigged nightly; they hove the log every
two hours; and Captain Swarth made scratches and notches on the
sliding-hood of the companionway, while careful to wind his chronometer
daily.

But, in spite of the cheer of his indomitable courage and confidence,
his men, with the exception of a few, dropped into a querulous, whining
discontent. Mr. Todd, spurred by his responsibility, gradually came
around to something like his old arbitrary self. Yank Tate, the
carpenter, maintained through it all a patient faith in the captain,
and, in so far as his influence could be felt, acted as a foil to the
irascible, fault-finding Tom Plate, the forecastle lawyer, the man who
had been at the lead-line at Barbados. But the rest of them were dazed
and nerveless, too shaken in brain and body to consider seriously Tom's
proposition to toss the afterguard overboard and beach the brig on the
South American coast, where they could get fresh liver of shark, goat,
sheep, or bullock, which even a "nigger" knew was the only cure for
moon-blindness.

They had not yet recovered from the unaccustomed debauch; their clouded
brains seemed too large for their skulls, and their eyeballs ached in
their sockets, while they groped tremblingly from rope to rope at the
behest of the captain or mate.

So Tom marked himself for future attention by insolent and disapproving
comments on the orders of his superiors, and a habit of moving swiftly
to another part of the deck directly he had spoken, which prevented the
blind and angry captain from finding him in the crowd.

Dim as must have been the light of day through the pelting rain and
storm-cloud, it caused increased pain in their eyes, and they bound
them with their neckerchiefs, applying meanwhile such remedies as
forecastle lore could suggest. The captain derided these remedies, but
frankly confessed his ignorance of anything but time as a means of
cure. And so they existed and suffered through a three days' damp gale
and a fourth day's dead calm, when the brig rolled scuppers under with
all sail set, ready for the next breeze. It came, cool, dry, and faint
at first, then brisker--the unmistakable trade-wind. They boxed the
brig about and braced sharp on the starboard tack, steering again by
the feel of the wind and the rattling of shaking leeches aloft. The
removal of bandages to ascertain the sun's position by sense of light
or increase of pain brought agonized howls from the experimenters, and
this deterred the rest. Not even by its warmth could they locate it. It
was overhead at noon and useless as a guide. In the early morning and
late afternoon, when it might have indicated east and west, its warmth
was overcome by the coolness of the breeze. So they steered on blindly,
close-hauled on the starboard tack, nearly as straight a course as
though they were whole men.

They took occasional deep-sea soundings with the brig shaking in the
wind, but found no bottom, and at the end of fifteen days a longer
heave to the ground-swell was evidence to Captain Swarth's mind that he
was passing Cape St. Roque, and the soundings were discontinued.

"No use bothering about St. Paul Rocks or the Rocas, Angel," said he.
"They rise out o' the deep sea, and if we're to hit, soundings won't
warn us in time. I take it we'll pass between them and well north of
Ascension." So he checked in the yards a little and brought the wind
more abeam.

One day Yank Tate appeared at the captain's elbow, and suggested, in a
low voice, that he examine the treasure-chests in the 'tween-deck. "I
was down stowing away some oakum," he said, "an' I was sure I heard the
lid close; but nobody answered me, an' I couldn't feel anybody."

Captain Swarth descended to his cabin and found his keys missing; then
he and the carpenter visited the chests. They were locked tight, and as
heavy as ever.

"Some one has the keys, Yank, and has very likely raided the diamonds.
We can't do anything but wait. He can't get away. Keep still about it."

The air became cooler as they sailed on; and judging that the
trade-wind was blowing more from the south than he had allowed for, the
captain brought the wind squarely abeam, and the brig sailed faster.
Still, it was too cool for the latitude, and it puzzled him, until a
man came aft and groaned that he had lifted his bandage to bathe his
eyes, and had unmistakably seen the sun four points off the port
quarter; but his eyes were worse now, and he could not do it again.

"Four points off!" exclaimed Swarth. "Four o'clock in the afternoon.
That's just about where the sun ought to be heading due east, and far
enough south o' the line to bring this cool weather. We're not far from
Ascension. Never knew the sou'east trade to act like this before. Must
ha' been blowing out o' the sou'west half the time."

A week later they were hove to on the port tack under double-reefed
topsails, with a cold gale of wind screaming through the rigging and
cold green seas boarding their weather bow. It was the first break in
the friendly trade-wind, and Swarth confessed to himself--though not to
his men--that he was out of his reckoning; but one thing he was sure
of--that this was a cyclone with a dangerous center.

The brig labored heavily during the lulls as the seas rose, and when
the squalls came, flattening them to a level, she would lie down like a
tired animal, while the æolian song aloft prevented orders being heard
unless shouted near by. Captain Swarth went below and smashed the glass
of an aneroid barometer (newly invented and lately acquired from an
outward-bound Englishman), in which he had not much confidence, but
which might tell him roughly of the air-density. Feeling of the
indicator, and judging by the angle it made with the center,--marked by
a ring at the top,--he found a measurement which startled him. Setting
the adjustable hand over the indicator for future reference, he
returned to the deck, ill at ease, and ordered the topsails
goose-winged. By the time the drenched and despairing blind men had
accomplished this, a further lowering of the barometer induced him to
furl topsails and foretopmast-staysail, and allow the brig to ride
under a storm-spanker. Then the increasing wind required that this also
should be taken in, and its place filled by a tarpaulin lashed to the
weather main-rigging.

"Angel," said the captain, shouting into the mate's ear, "there's only
one thing to account for this. We're on the right tack for the Southern
Ocean; but the storm-center is overtaking us faster than we can drift
away from it. We must scud out of its way."

So they took in the tarpaulin and set the foretopmast-staysail again,
and, with the best two helmsmen at the wheel, they sped before the
tempest for four hours, during which there was no increase of the wind
and no change in the barometer; it still remained at its lowest
reading.

"Keep the wind as much on the port quarter as you dare," ordered
Swarth. "We're simply sailing around the center, and perhaps in with
the vortex."

They obeyed him as they could, and in a few hours more there was less
fury in the blast and a slight rise in the barometer.

"I was right," said the captain. "The center will pass us now. We're
out of its way."

They brought the brig around amid a crashing of seas over the port
rail, and stowing the staysail, pinned her again on the port tack with
the tarpaulin. But a few hours of it brought an increase of wind and a
fall of the barometer.

"What in d--nation does it mean, Angel?" cried the captain,
desperately. "By all laws of storms we ought to drift away from the
center."

The mate could not tell; but a voice out of the night, barely
distinguishable above the shrieking wind, answered him.

"You--all-fired--fool--don't--you--know--any--more--than--to--heave--to
--in--the--Gulf--Stream?"

Then there was the faintest disturbance in the sounds of the sea,
indicating the rushing by of a large craft.

"What!" roared Swarth. "The Gulf Stream? I've lost my reckoning. Where
am I? Ship ahoy! Where am I?"

There was no answer, and he stumbled down to the main-deck among his
men, followed by the mate.

"Draw a bucket of water, one of you," he ordered.

This was done, and he immersed his hand. The water was warm.

"Gulf-Stream," he yelled frantically, "Gulf Stream--how in h----l did we
get up here? We ought to be down near St. Helena. Angel, come here.
Let's think. We sailed by the wind on the southeast trade for--no, we
didn't. It was the northeast trade. We caught the northeast trade, and
we've circled all over the Western Ocean."

"You're a bully full-rigged navigator, you are," came the sneering,
rasping voice of Tom Plate from the crowd. "Why didn't you drop your
hook at Barbados, and give us a chance for our eyes?"

The captain lunged toward him on the reeling deck; but Tom moved on.

"Your time is coming, Tom Plate," he shouted insanely; then he climbed
to the poop, and when he had studied the situation awhile, called his
bewildered mate up to him.

"We were blown out of the north entrance o' the bay, Angel, instead of
the south, as we thought. I was fooled by the soundings. At this time
o' the year Barbados is about on the thermal equator--half-way between
the trades. This is a West India cyclone, and we're somewhere around
Hatteras. No wonder the port tack drifted us into the center. Storms
revolve against the sun north o' the line, and with the sun south of
it. Oh, I'm the two ends and the bight of a d--d fool! Wear ship!" he
added in a thundering roar.

They put the brig on the starboard tack, and took hourly soundings with
the deep-sea lead. As they hauled it in for the fourth time, the men
called that the water was cold; and on the next sounding the lead
reached bottom at ninety fathoms.

"We're inside the Stream and the hundred-fathom curve, Angel. The
barometer's rising now. The storm-center's leaving us, and we're
drifting ashore," said the captain. "I know pretty well where I am.
These storms follow an invariable track, and I judge the center is to
the east of us, moving north. That's why we didn't run into it when we
thought we were dodging it. We'll square away with the wind on the
starboard quarter now, and if we pick up the Stream and the glass don't
rise, I'll be satisfied to turn in. I'm about fagged out."

"It's too much for me, Bill," answered Mr. Todd, wearily. "I can
navigate; but this ain't navigation. This is blindman's-buff."

But he set the head-sail for his captain, and again the brig fled
before the wind. Only once did they round to for soundings, and this
time found no bottom; so they squared away, and when, a few hours
later, the seas came aboard warm, Swarth was confident enough of his
position to allow his mind to dwell on pettier details of his business.

It was nearly breakfast-time now, and the men would soon be eating.
With his pistols in his coat pockets he stationed himself beside the
scuttle of the fore-hatch,--the entrance to the forecastle,--and waited
long and patiently, listening to occasional comments on his folly and
bad seamanship which ascended from below, until the harsh voice of Tom
Plate on the stairs indicated his coming up. He reached toward Tom with
one hand, holding a cocked pistol with the other; but Tom slid easily
out of his wavering grasp and fled along the deck. He followed his
footsteps until he lost them, and picked up instead the angry plaint of
the negro cook in the galley amidships.

"I do' know who you are, but you want to git right out o' my galley,
now. You heah me? I'se had enough o' dis comin' inter my galley. Gwan,
now! Is you de man dat's all time stealin' my coffee? I'll gib you
coffee, you trash! Take dat!"

Captain Swarth reached the galley door in time to receive on the left
side of his face a generous share of a pot of scalding coffee. It
brought an involuntary shriek of agony from him; then he clung to the
galley-lashings and spoke his mind. Still in torment, he felt his way
through the galley; but the cook and the intruder had escaped by the
other door and made no sound.

All that day and the night following he chose to lie in his darkened
state-room, with his face bandaged in oily cloths, while Yank Tate
stood his watch. In the morning he removed the bandages and took in the
sight of his state-room fittings: the bulkhead, his desk, chronometer,
cutlass, and clothing hanging on the hooks. It was a joyous sight, and
he shouted in gladness. He could not see with his right eye and but
dimly with his left, but a scrutiny of his face in a mirror disclosed
deep lines that had not been there, distorted eyelids, and the left
side where the coffee had scalded puffed to a large, angry blister. He
tied up his face, leaving his left eye free, and went on deck.

The wind had moderated, but on all sides was a wild gray waste of
heaving, white-crested combers, before which the brig was still
scudding under the staysail. Three miles off on the port bow was a
large, square-bowed, square-yarded ship, hove to and heading away from
them, which might be a frigate or a subsidized Englishman with painted
ports; but in either case she could not be investigated now. He looked
at the compass. The brig was heading about southeast, and his judgment
was confirmed. Two haggard-faced men with bandaged eyes were grinding
the wheel to starboard and port, and keeping the brig's yaws within two
points each way--good work for blind men. Angel Todd stood near, his
chin resting in his hand and his elbow on the companionway. Forward the
watch sat about in coils of rope and sheltered nooks or walked the deck
unsteadily, and a glance aloft showed the captain his rigging hanging
in bights and yards pointed every way. She was unkempt as a wreck. The
same glance apprised him of an English ensign, union down, tattered and
frayed to half its size, at the end of the standing spanker-gaff, with
the halyards made fast high on the royal-backstay, above the reach of
bungling blind fingers. Tom Plate was coming aft with none of the
hesitancy of the blind, and squinting aloft at the damaged
distress-signal. He secured another ensign--American--from the
flag-locker in the booby-hatch, mounted the rail, and hoisted it, union
down, in place of the other. Then he dropped to the deck and looked
into the glaring left eye and pepper-box pistol of Captain Swarth, who
had descended on him.

"Hands up, Tom Plate, over your head--quick, or I'll blow your brains
out!"

White in the face and open-mouthed, Tom obeyed.

"Mr. Todd," called the captain, "come down here--port main-rigging."

The mate came quickly, as he always did when he heard the prefix to his
name. It was used only in emergencies.

"What soundings did you get at the lead when we were blowing out?"
asked the captain. "What water did you have when you sang out 'a
quarter six' and 'a quarter less six'?"

"N-n-one, capt'n. There warn't any bottom. I jess wanted to get you to
drop the other anchor and hold her off the reef."

"Got him tight, cappen?" asked the mate. "Shall I help you hold 'im?"

"I've got my sight back. I've got Tom Plate under my gun. How long have
you been flying signals of distress, Tom Plate?"

"Ever since I could see, capt'n," answered the trembling sailor.

"How long is that?"

"Second day out, sir."

"What's your idea in keeping still about it? What could you gain by
being taken aboard a man-of-war?"

"I didn't want to have all the work piled on me jess 'cause I could
see, capt'n. I never thought anybody could ever see again. I slept
partly under No. 2 gun that night, and didn't get it so bad."

"You sneaked into my room, got my keys, and raided the treasure-chests.
You know what the rules say about that? Death without trial."

"No, I didn't, capt'n; I didn't."

"Search him, Mr. Todd."

The search brought to light a tobacco-pouch in which were about fifty
unset diamonds and a few well-jeweled solid-gold ornaments, which the
captain pocketed.

"Not much of a haul, considering what you left behind," he said calmly.
"I suppose you only took what you could safely hide and swim with."

"I only took my share, sir; I did no harm; I didn't want to be driftin'
round wi' blind men. How'd I know anybody could ever see any more?"

"Sad mistake, Tom. All we wanted, it seems, was a good scalding with
hot coffee." He mused a few moments, then continued: "There must be
some medical virtue in hot coffee which the doctors haven't learned,
and--well--Tom, you've earned your finish."

"You won't do it, capt'n; you can't do it. The men won't have it;
they're with me," stuttered the man.

"Possibly they are. I heard you all growling down the hatch yesterday
morning. You're a pack of small-minded curs. I'll get another crew. Mr.
Todd," he said to the listening mate, "steward told me he was out of
coffee, so we'll break a bag out o' the lazarette. It's a heavy
lift--two hundred pounds and over--'bout the weight of a man; so we'll
hoist it up. Let Tom, here, rig a whip to the spanker-gaff. He can
see."

"Aye, aye, sir," answered the mate. "Get a single block and a strap and
a gant-line out o' the bo's'n's locker, Tom."

"Is it all right, capt'n?" asked Tom, lowering his hands with a deep
sigh of relief. "I did what seemed right, you know."

"Rig that whip," said Swarth, turning his back and ascending the poop.

Tom secured the gear, and climbing aloft and out the gaff, fastened the
block directly over the lazarette-hatch, just forward of the binnacle.
Then he overhauled the rope until it reached the deck, and descended.

"Come up here on the poop," called the captain; and he came.

"Shall I go down and hook on, sir?" he asked zealously.

"Make a hangman's noose in the end of the rope," said Swarth.

"Eh--what--a runnin' bowline--a timber-hitch? No, no," he yelled, as he
read the captain's face. "You can't do it. The men----"

"Make a hangman's knot in the end of the rope," thundered the captain,
his pistol at Tom's ear.

With a face like that of a death's-head he tied the knot.

"Pass it round your neck and draw it tight."

Hoarse, inarticulate screams burst from the throat of the man, ended by
a blow on the side of his face by the captain's iron-hard fist. He
fell, and lay quiet, while Swarth himself adjusted the noose and bound
the hands with his own handkerchief. The men at the wheel strained
their necks this way and that, with tense waves of conflicting
expressions flitting across their weary faces, and the men forward,
aroused by the screams, stood about in anxious expectancy until they
heard Swarth's roar: "Lay aft here, the watch!"

They came, feeling their way along by rail and hatch.

"Clap on to that gant-line at the main fife-rail, and lift this bag of
coffee out o' the lazarette," sang out the captain.

They found the loose rope, tautened it, hooked the bight into an open
sheave in the stanchion, and listlessly walked forward with it. When
they had hoisted the unconscious Tom to the gaff, Swarth ordered:
"Belay, coil up the fall, and go forrard."

They obeyed, listlessly as ever, with no wondering voice raised to
inquire why they had not lowered the coffee they had hoisted.

Captain Swarth looked at the square-rigged ship, now on the port
quarter--an ill-defined blur to his imperfect vision. "Fine chance we'd
have had," he muttered, "if that happened to be a bulldog. Angel," he
said, as the mate drew near, "hot coffee is good for moon-blindness,
taken externally, as a blistering agent--a counter-irritant. We have no
fly-blisters in the medicine-chest, but smoking-hot grease must be just
as good, if not better than either. Have the cook heat up a potful, and
you get me out a nice small paint-brush."

Forty-eight hours later, when the last wakening vision among the twenty
men had taken cognizance of the grisly object aloft, the gaff was guyed
outboard, the rope cut at the fife-rail, and the body of Tom Plate
dropped, feet first, to the sea.

Then when Captain Swarth's eyes permitted he took an observation or
two, and, after a short lecture to his crew on the danger of sleeping
in tropic moonlight, shaped his course for Barbados Island, to take up
the burden of his battle with fate where the blindness had forced him
to lay it down; to scheme and to plan, to dare and to do, to war and to
destroy, against the inevitable coming of the time when fate should
prove the stronger--when he would lose in a game where one must always
win or die.



SALVAGE


She had a large crew, abnormally large hawse-pipes, and a bad
reputation--the last attribute born of the first. Registered as the
_Rosebud_, this innocent name was painted on her stern and on her
sixteen dories; but she was known among the fishing-fleet as the
_Ishmaelite_, and the name fitted her. Secretive and unfriendly, she
fished alone, avoided company, answered few hails, and, seldom filling
her hold, disposed of her catch as her needs required, in out-of-the-way
ports, often as far south as Charleston. And she usually left behind
her such bitter memories of her visit as placed the last port at the
bottom of her list of markets.

No ship-chandler or provision-dealer ever showed her receipted bills,
and not a few of them openly averred that certain burglaries of their
goods had plausible connection with her presence in port. Be this as it
may, the fact stood that farmers on the coast who saw her high bow and
unmistakable hawse-pipes when she ran in for bait invariably
double-locked their barns and chicken-coops, and turned loose all tied
dogs when night descended, often to find both dogs and chickens gone in
the morning.

Once, too, three small schooners had come home with empty holds, and
complained of the appearance, while anchored in the fog, of a flotilla
of dories manned by masked men, who overpowered and locked all hands in
cabin or forecastle, and then removed the cargoes of fish to their own
craft, hidden in the fog. Shortly after this, the _Ishmaelite_ disposed
of a large catch in Baltimore, and the piracy was believed of her, but
never proved.

Her luck at finding things was remarkable. Drifting dories, spars,
oars, and trawl-tubs sought her unsavory company, as though impelled by
the inanimate perversity which had sent them drifting. They were sold
in port, or returned to their owners, when paid for. In the early part
of her career she had towed a whistling buoy into Boston and claimed
salvage of the government, showing her logbook to prove that she had
picked it up far at sea. The salvage was paid; but, as her reputation
spread, there were those who declared that she herself had sent the
buoy adrift.

As poets and sailors believe that ships have souls, it may be that she
gloried in her shame, like other fallen creatures; for her large,
slanting oval hawse-pipes and boot-top stripe gave a fine, Oriental
sneer to her face-like bow, and there was slur and insult to
respectable craft in the lazy dignity with which she would swash
through the fleet on the port tack, compelling vessels on the starboard
tack to give up their right of way or be rammed; for she was a large
craft, and there was menace in her solid, one-piece jib-boom, thick as
an ordinary mainmast. An outward-bound coasting-schooner, resenting
this lawlessness on one occasion, attempted to assert her rights, and
being on the lawful starboard tack, bore steadily down on the
_Ishmaelite_,--who budged not a quarter-point,--and, losing heart at
the last moment, luffed up, all shaking, in just the position to allow
the ring of her port anchor to catch on the bill of the _Ishmaelite's_
starboard anchor. As her own ring-stopper and shank-painter were weak,
the patent windlass unlocked, and the end of the cable not secured in
the chain-locker, the _Ishmaelite_ walked calmly away with the anchor
and a hundred fathoms of chain, which, at the next port, she sold as
legitimate spoil of the sea.

As her reputation increased, so did the hatred of men, while the number
of ports on the coast which she could safely enter became painfully
small. To avoid conflict with local authority, she had hurried to sea
without clearing at the custom-house from Boston, Bangor, Portland, and
Gloucester. She had carried local authority in the persons of
distressed United States marshals to sea with her from three other
ports, and landed it on some outlying point before the next meal-hour.
With her blunt jib-boom she had prodded a hole in the side of a
lighthouse supply-boat, and sailed away without answering questions.
The government was taking cognizance, and her description was written
on the fly-leaves of several revenue cutters' log-books, while Sunday
newspapers in the large cities began a series of special articles about
the mysterious schooner-rigged pirate of the fishing-fleet.

The future looked dark for her, and when the time came that she was
chased away from Plymouth harbor--which she had entered for
provisions--by a police launch, it seemed that the end was at hand; for
she had done no wrong in Plymouth, and the police boat was evidently
acting on general principles and instructions, which were vital enough
to extend the pursuit to the three-mile limit. Her trips had become
necessarily longer, and there was but two weeks' supply of food in the
lazarette. The New England coast was an enemy's country, but in the
crowded harbor of New York was a chance to lie unobserved at anchor
long enough to secure the stores she needed, which only a large city
can supply. So Cape Cod was doubled on the way to New York; but the
brisk offshore wind, which had helped her in escaping the police boat,
developed to a gale that blew her to sea, and increased in force as the
hours passed by.

Hard-headed, reckless fellows were these men who owned the _Rosebud_ and
ran her on shares and under laws of their own making. Had they been of
larger, broader minds, with no change of ethics they would have acquired
a larger, faster craft with guns, hoisted the black flag, and sailed
southward to more fruitful fields. Being what they were,--fishermen gone
wrong,--they labored within their limitations and gleaned upon known
ground.

They were eighteen in number, and they typified the maritime nations of
the world. Americans predominated, of course, but English, French,
German, Portuguese, Scandinavian, and Russian were among them. The cook
was a West India negro, and the captain--or their nearest approach to a
captain--a Portland Yankee. Both were large men, and held their
positions by reason of special knowledge and a certain magnetic mastery
of soul which dominated the others against their rules; for in this
social democracy captains and bosses were forbidden. The cook was an
expert in the galley and a thorough seaman; the other as able a seaman,
and a navigator past the criticism of the rest.

His navigation had its limits, however, and this gale defined them. He
could find his latitude by meridian observation, and his longitude by
morning sights and chronometer time; his dead-reckoning was
trustworthy, and he possessed a fair working conception of the set and
force of the Atlantic currents and the heave of the sea in a blow. But
his studies had not given him more than a rudimentary knowledge of
meteorology and the laws of storms. A gale was a gale to him, and he
knew that it would usually change its direction as a clock's hands will
in moving over the dial; and if, by chance, it should back around to
its former point, he prepared for heavier trouble, with no reference to
the fluctuations of the barometer, which instrument to him was merely a
weather-glass--about as valuable as a rheumatic big toe.

So, in the case we are considering, not knowing that he was caught by
the southern fringe of a St. Lawrence valley storm, with its center of
low barometer to the northwest and coming toward him, he hove to on the
port tack to avoid Cape Cod, and drifted to sea, shortening sail as the
wind increased, until, with nothing set but a small storm-mainsail, he
found himself in the sudden calm of the storm-center, which had
overtaken him. Here, in a tumultuous cross-sea, fifty miles off the
shore, deceived by the light, shifty airs and the patches of blue sky
showing between the rushing clouds, he made all sail and headed west,
only to have the masts whipped out as the whistling fury of wind on the
opposite side of the vortex caught and jibed the canvas.

It was manifestly a judgment of a displeased Providence; and, glad that
the hull was still tight, they cut away the wreck and rode out the
gale,--now blowing out of the north,--hanging to the tangle of spar and
cordage which had once been the foremast and its gear. It made a fairly
good sea-anchor, with the forestay--strong as any chain--for a cable,
and she lay snug under the haphazard breakwater and benefited by the
protection, as the seas must first break their heads over the wreckage
before reaching her. The mainmast was far away, with all that pertained
to it; but the solid, hard-pine jib-boom was still intact, and not one
of the sixteen dories piled spoon-fashion in the four nests had been
injured when the spars went by the board. So they were content to
smoke, sleep, and kill time as they could, until the gale and sea
should moderate, and they could rig a jury-foremast of the wreck.

But before they could begin,--while there was still wind enough to curl
the head of an occasional sea into foam,--a speck which had been
showing on the shortened horizon to windward, when the schooner lifted
out of the hollows, took form and identity--a two-masted steamer, with
English colors, union down, at the gaff. High out of water, her
broadside drift was faster than that of the dismasted craft riding to
her wreckage, and in a few hours she was dangerously near, directly
ahead, rolling heavily in the trough of the sea. They could see shreds
of canvas hanging from masts and gaffs.

"Wunner what's wrong wid her," said the cook, as he relinquished the
glasses to the next man. "Amos," he called to another, "you've been in
the ingine-room, you say. Is her ingine bus' down?"

"Dunno," answered Amos. "Steam's all right; see the jet comin' out o'
the stack? There! she's turnin' over--kickin' ahead. 'Bout time if she
wants to clear us. She's signalin'. What's that say, Elisha?"

The ensign was fluttering down, and a string of small flags going aloft
on the other part of the signal-halyards, while the steamer, heading
west, pushed ahead about a length under the impulse of her propeller.
Elisha, the navigator, went below, and returned with a couple of books,
which he consulted.

"Her number," he said. "She's the _Afghan Prince_ o' London." As the
schooner carried no signal-flags, he waved his sou'wester in answer,
and the flags came down, to be replaced by others.

"Rudder carried away," he read, and then looked with the glasses.
"Rudder seems all right; must mean his steerin'-gear. Why don't they
rig up suthin', or a drag over the stern?"

"Don't know enough," said an expatriated Englishman of the crew. "She's
one o' them bloomin', undermanned tramps, run by apprentices an' Thames
watermen. They're drivin' sailors an' sailin'-ships off the sea blarst
'em!"

"Martin," said Elisha to the cook, "what's the matter with our bein' a
drag for her?"

"Dead easy, if we kin git his line an' he knows how to rig a bridle."

"We can show him, if it comes to it. What ye say, boys? If we steer her
into port we're entitled to salvage. She's helpless; we're not, for
we've got a jury-rig under the bows. Hello! what's he sayin' now?"
Other flags had gone aloft on the steamer, which asked for the
longitude. Then followed others which said that the chronometer was
broken.

"Better 'n ever!" exclaimed Elisha, excitedly. "Can't navigate. Our
chronometer's all right; we never needed it, an' don't now, but it's a
big help in a salvage claim. What ye say? Can't we get our hemp cable
to him with a dory?"

Why not? They were fishermen, accustomed to dory work. A short confab
settled this point; a dory was thrown over, and Elisha and Amos pulled
to the steamer, which was now abreast, near enough for the name which
Elisha had read to be seen plainly on the stern, but not near enough
for the men shouting from her taffrail to make themselves heard on the
schooner. Elisha and Amos, in the dory, conferred with these men and
then returned.

"Badly rattled," they reported. "Tiller-ropes parted, an' not a man
aboard can put a long splice in a wire rope, an' o' course we said we
couldn't. They'll take our line, an' we're to chalk up the position an'
the course to New York. Clear case o' salvage. We furnish everything,
an' sacrifice our jury-material to aid 'em."

"What'll be our chance in court, I'm thinkin'," said one, doubtfully.
"Hadn't we better keep out o' the courts? It's been takin' most of our
time lately."

"What's the matter wi' ye?" yelled Elisha. "We owe a few hundreds, an'
mebbe a fine or two; an' there's anywhere from one to two hundred
thousand--hull an' cargo--that we save. We'll get no less than a third,
mebbe more. Go lay down, Bill."

Bill subsided. They knotted four or five dory rodings together, coiled
the long length of rope in the dory, unbent the end of their water-laid
cable from the anchor, and waited until the wallowing steamer had
drifted far enough to leeward to come within the steering-arc of a
craft with no canvas; then they cut away the wreck, crowded forward,
all hands spreading coats to the breeze, and when the schooner had paid
off, steered her down with the wind on the quarter until almost near
enough to hail the steamer, where they rounded to, safe in the
knowledge that she could not drift as fast as the other.

Away went the dory, paying out on the roding, the end of which was
fastened to the disconnected cable, and when it had reached the
steamer, a heaving-line was thrown, by which the roding was hauled
aboard. Then the dory returned, while the steamer's men hauled the
cable to their stern. The bridle, two heavy ropes leading from the
after-winch out the opposite quarter-chocks to the end of the cable,
was quickly rigged by the steamer's crew.

With a warning toot of the whistle, she went ahead, and the long
tow-line swept the sea-tops, tautened, strained, and creaked on the
windlass-bitts, and settled down to its work, while the schooner,
dropping into her wake, was dragged westward at a ten-knot rate.

"This is bully," said Elisha, gleefully. "Now I'll chalk out the
position an' give her the course--magnetic, to make sure."

He did so, and they held up in full view of the steamer's bridge a
large blackboard showing in six-inch letters the formula: "Lat. 41-20.
Lon. 69-10. Mag. Co. W. half S."

A toot of the whistle thanked them, and they watched the steamer, which
had been heading a little to the south of this course, painfully swing
her head up to it by hanging the schooner to the starboard leg of the
bridle; but she did not stop at west-half-south, and when she pointed
unmistakably as high as northwest, still dragging her tow by the
starboard bridle, a light broke on them.

"She's goin' on her way with us," said Elisha. "No, no; she can't.
She's bound for London," he added. "Halifax, mebbe."

They waved their hats to port, and shouted in chorus at the steamer.
They were answered by caps flourished to starboard from the bridge, and
outstretched arms which pointed across the Atlantic Ocean, while the
course changed slowly to north, then faster as wind and sea bore on the
other bow, until the steamer steadied and remained at east-by-north.

"The rhumb course to the Channel," groaned Elisha, wildly. "The nerve
of it! An' I'm supposed to give the longitude every noon. Why, dammit,
boys, they'll claim they rescued us, an' like as not the English
courts'll allow them salvage on our little tub."

"Let go the tow-line! Let 'em go to h----l!" they shouted angrily, and
some started forward, but were stopped by the cook. His eyes gleamed in
his black face, and his voice was a little higher pitched than usual;
otherwise he was the steadiest man there.

"We'll hang right on to our bran-new cable, men," he said. "It's ours,
not theirs. 'Course we kin turn her adrif' ag'in, an' be wuss off, too;
we can't find de foremast now. But dat ain't de bes' way. John," he
called to the Englishman of the crew, "how many men do you' country
tramp steamers carry?"

John computed mentally, then muttered: "Two mates, six ash-cats,[1] two
flunkies, two quartermasters, watchman, deck-hands--oh, 'bout sixteen
or seventeen, Martin."

      [1] Ash-cats: engineers and firemen.

"Boys, le' 's man de win'lass. We'll heave in on our cable, an' if we
kin git close enough to climb aboard, we'll reason it out wid dat
English cappen, who can't fin' his way roun' alone widout stealin'
little fishin'-schooners."

"Right!" they yelled. "Man the windlass. We'll show the lime-juice
thief who's doin' this."

"Amos," said Martin to the ex-engineer, "you try an' 'member all you
forgot 'bout ingines in case anything happens to de crew o' dat
steamer; an', Elisha, you want to keep good track o' where we go, so's
you kin find you' way back."

"I'll get the chronometer on deck now. I can take sights alone."

They took the cable to the windlass-barrel and began to heave. It was
hard work,--equal to heaving an anchor against a strong head wind and
ten-knot tideway,--and only half the crew could find room on the
windlass-brakes; so, while the first shift labored and swore and
encouraged one another, the rest watched the approach of a small tug
towing a couple of scows, which seemed to have arisen out of the sea
ahead of them. When the steamer was nearly upon her, she let go her
tow-line and ranged up alongside, while a man leaning out of the
pilot-house gesticulated to the steamer's bridge and finally shook his
fist. Then the tug dropped back abreast of the schooner. She was a
dingy little boat, the biggest and brightest of her fittings being the
name-board on her pilot-house, which spelled in large gilt letters the
appellation _J. C. Hawks_.

"Say," yelled her captain from his door, "I'm blown out wi' my barges,
short o' grub an' water. Can you gi' me some? That lime-juice sucker
ahead won't."

"Can you tow us to New York?" asked Elisha, who had brought up the
chronometer and placed it on the house, ready to take morning sights
for his longitude if the sun should appear.

"No; not unless I sacrifice the barges an' lose my contract wi' the
city. They're garbage-scows, an' I haven't power enough to hook on to
another. Just got coal enough to get in."

"An' what do you call this--a garbage-scow?" answered Elisha,
ill-naturedly. "We've got no grub or water to spare. We've got troubles
of our own."

"Dammit, man, we're thirsty here. Give us a breaker o' water. Throw it
overboard; I'll get it."

"No; told you we have none to spare; an' we're bein' yanked out to
sea."

"Well, gi' me a bottleful; that won't hurt you."

"No; sheer off. Git out o' this. We're not in the Samaritan business."

A forceful malediction came from the tug captain, and a whirling
monkey-wrench from the hand of the engineer, who had listened from the
engine-room door. It struck Elisha's chronometer and knocked it off the
house, box and all, into the sea. He answered the profanity in kind,
and sent an iron belaying-pin at the engineer; but it only dented the
tug's rail, and with these compliments the two craft separated, the tug
steaming back to her scows.

"That lessens our chance just so much," growled Elisha, as he joined
the rest. "Now we can't do all we agreed to."

"Keep dead-reckonin', 'Lisha," said Martin; "dat's good 'nough for us;
an', say, can't you take sights by a watch--jess for a bluff, to show
in de log-book?"

"Might; 't wouldn't be reliable. Good enough, though, for log-book
testimony. That's what I'll do."

Inch by inch they gathered in their cable and coiled it down, unmoved
by the protesting toots of the steamer's whistle. When half of it lay
on the deck, the steamer slowed down, while her crew worked at their
end of the rope; then she went ahead, the schooner dropped back to
nearly the original distance, and they saw a long stretch of new Manila
hawser leading out from the bridle and knotted to their cable. They
cursed and shook their fists, but pumped manfully on the windlass, and
by nightfall had brought the knot over their bows by means of a
"messenger," and were heaving on the new hawser.

"Weakens our case just that much more," growled Elisha. "We were to
furnish the tow-line."

"Heave away, my boys!" said Martin. "Dey's only so many ropes aboard
her, an' when we get 'em all we've got dat boat an' dem men."

So they warped their craft across the Western Ocean. Knot after knot,
hawser after hawser, came over the bows and cumbered the deck.

They would have passed them over the stern as fast as they came in,
were they not salvors with litigation ahead; for their hands must be
clean when they entered their claim, and to this end Elisha chalked out
the longitude daily at noon and showed it to the steamer, always
receiving a thankful acknowledgment on the whistle. He secured the
figures by his dead-reckoning; but the carefully kept log-book also
showed longitude by chronometer sights, taken when the sun shone, with
his old quadrant and older watch, and corrected to bring a result
plausibly near to that of the reckoning by log and compass. But the
log-book contained no reference to the loss of the chronometer. That
was to happen at the last.

On stormy days, when the sea rose, they dared not shorten their
tow-line, and the steamer-folk made sure that it was long enough to
eliminate the risk of its parting. So these days were passed in
idleness and profanity; and when the sea went down they would go to
work, hoping that the last tow-line was in their hands. But it was not
until the steamer had given them three Manila and two steel hawsers,
four weak--too weak--mooring-chains, and a couple of old and frayed
warping-lines, that the coming up to the bow of an anchor-chain of
six-inch link told them that the end was near, that the steamer had
exhausted her supply of tow-lines, and that her presumably sane skipper
would not give them his last means of anchoring--the other chain.

They were right. Either for this reason or because of the proximity to
English bottom, the steamer ceased her coyness, and her crew watched
from the taffrail, while those implacable, purposeful men behind crept
up to them. It was slow, laborious work; for the small windlass would
not grip the heavy links of the chain, and they must needs climb out a
few fathoms, making fast messengers to heave on, while the idle half of
them gathered in the slackened links by hand.

On a calm, still night they finally unshipped the windlass-brakes and
looked up at the round, black stern of the steamer not fifty feet
ahead. They were surrounded by lights of outgoing and incoming craft,
and they knew by soundings taken that day, when the steamer had slowed
down for the same purpose, that they were within the hundred-fathom
curve, close to the mouth of the Channel, but not within the three-mile
limit. Rejoicing at the latter fact, they armed themselves to a man
with belaying-pins from their still intact pin-rails, and climbed out
on the cable, the whole eighteen of them, man following man, in close
climbing order.

"Now, look here," said a portly man with a gilt-bound cap to the leader
of the line, as he threw a leg over the taffrail, "what's the meaning,
may I ask, of this unreasonable conduct?"

"You may ask, of course," said the man,--it was Elisha,--"but we'd like
to ask something, too" (he was sparring for time until more should
arrive); "we'd like to ask why you drag us across the Atlantic Ocean
against our will?"

Another man climbed aboard, and said:

"Yes; we 'gree to steer you into New York. You's adrif' in de trough of
de sea, an' you got no chronometer, an' you can't navigate, an' we come
'long--under command, mind you--an' give you our tow-line, an' tell you
de road to port. Wha' you mean by dis?"

"Tut, tut, my colored friend!" answered the man of gilt. "You were
dismasted and helpless, and I gave you a tow. It was on the high seas,
and I chose the port, as I had the right."

Another climbed on board.

"We were not helpless," rejoined Elisha. "We had a good jury-rig under
the bows, and we let it go to assist you. Are you the skipper here?"

"I am."

Martin's big fist smote him heavily in the face, and the blow was
followed by the crash of Elisha's belaying-pin on his head. The captain
fell, and for a while lay quiet. There were four big, strong men over
the rail now, and others coming. Opposing them were a second mate, an
engineer, a fireman, coal-passer, watchman, steward, and cook--easy
victims to these big-limbed fishermen. The rest of the crew were on
duty below decks or at the steering-winch. It was a short, sharp
battle; a few pistols exploded, but no one was hurt, and the firearms
were captured and their owners well hammered with belaying-pins; then,
binding all victims as they overcame them, the whole party raided the
steering-winch and engine-room, and the piracy was complete.

But from their standpoint it was not piracy--it was resistance to
piracy; and when Amos, the ex-engineer, had stopped the engines and
banked the fires, they announced to the captives bound to the rail
that, with all due respect for the law, national and international,
they would take that distressed steamboat into New York and deliver her
to the authorities, with a claim for salvage. The bargain had been made
on the American coast, and their log-book not only attested this, but
the well-doing of their part of the contract.

When the infuriated English captain, now recovered, had exhausted his
stock of adjectives and epithets, he informed them (and he was backed
by his steward and engineer) that there was neither food nor coal for
the run to New York; to which Elisha replied that, if so, the foolish
and destructive waste would be properly entered in the log-book, and
might form the basis of a charge of barratry by the underwriters, if it
turned out that any underwriters had taken a risk on a craft with such
an "all-fired lunatic" for a skipper as this. But they would go back;
they might be forced to burn some of the woodwork fittings (her decks
were of iron) for fuel, and as for food, though their own supply of
groceries was about exhausted, there were several cubic yards of salt
codfish in the schooner's hold, and this they would eat: they were used
to it themselves, and science had declared that it was good
brain-food--good for feeble-minded Englishmen who couldn't splice wire
nor take care of a chronometer.

Before starting back they made some preliminary and precautionary
preparations. While Martin inventoried the stores and Amos the
coal-supply, the others towed the schooner alongside and moored her.
Then they shackled the schooner's end of the chain cable around the
inner barrel of the windlass and riveted the key of the shackle. They
transhipped their clothing and what was left of the provisions. They
also took the log-book and charts, compass, empty outer
chronometer-case,--which Elisha handled tenderly and officiously by its
strap in full view of the captives,--windlass-brakes, tool-chest,
deck-tools, axes, handspikes, heavers, boat-hooks, belaying-pins, and
everything in the shape of weapon or missile by which disgruntled
Englishmen could do harm to the schooner or their rescuers.

Then they passed the rescued ones down to the schooner, and Martin told
them where they would find the iron kettle for boiling codfish, with
the additional information that with skill and ingenuity they could
make fish-balls in the same kettle.

Martin had reported a plenitude of provisions, and anathematized the
lying captain and steward; and Amos had declared his belief that with
careful economy in the use of coal they could steam to the American
coast with the supply in the bunkers: so they did not take any of the
codfish, and the hawsers, valuable as fuel in case of a shortage, were
left where they would be more valuable as evidence against the lawless,
incompetent Englishmen. And they also left the dories, all but one, for
reasons in Elisha's mind which he did not state at the time.

They removed the bonds of one man--who could release the others--and
cast off the fastenings; then, with Amos and a picked crew of pupils in
the boat's vitals, they went ahead and dropped the prison-hulk back to
the full length of the chain, while the furious curses of the prisoners
troubled the air. They found a little difficulty in steering by the
winch and deck-compass (they would have mended the tiller-ropes with a
section of backstay had they not bargained otherwise), but finally
mastered the knack, and headed westerly.

You cannot take an Englishman's ship from under him--homeward bound and
close to port--and drag him to sea again on a diet of salt codfish
without impinging on his sanity. When day broke they looked and saw the
hawsers slipping over the schooner's rail, and afterward a fountain of
fish arising from her hatches to follow the hawsers overboard.

"What's de game, I wunner?" asked Martin. "Tryin' to starve deyselves?"

"Dunno," answered Elisha, with a serious expression. "They're not doin'
it for nothin'. They're wavin' their hats at us. Somethin' on their
minds."

"We'll jes let 'em wave. We'll go 'long 'bout our business."

So they went at eight knots an hour; for, try as he might, Amos could
get no more out of the engine. "She's a divil to chew up coal," he
explained; "we may have to burn the boat yet."

"Hope not," said Elisha. "'Tween you an' me, Amos, this is a desperate
bluff we're makin', an' if we go to destroyin' property we may get no
credit for savin' it. We'd have no chance in the English courts at all,
but it's likely an American judge 'ud recognize our original
position--our bargain to steer her in."

"Too bad 'bout that tarred cable of ours," rejoined Amos; "three days'
good fuel in that, I calculate."

"Well, it's gone with the codfish, and the fact is properly entered in
the log as barratrous conduct on the part of the skipper. Enough to
prove him insane."

And further to strengthen this possible aspect of the case, Elisha
found a blank space on the leaf of the log-book which recorded the
first meeting and bargain to tow, and filled it with the potential
sentence, "Steamer's commander acts strangely." For a well-kept logbook
is excellent testimony in court.

Elisha's knowledge of navigation did not enable him to project a course
on the great circle--the shortest track between two points on the
earth's surface, and the route taken by steamers. But he possessed a
fairly practical and ingenious mind, and with a flexible steel
straight-edge rule, and a class-room globe in the skipper's room, laid
out his course between the lane-routes of the liners,--which he would
need to vary daily,--as it was not wise to court investigation. But he
signaled to two passing steamships for Greenwich time, and set his
watch, obtaining its rate of correction by the second favor; and with
this, and his surely correct latitude by meridian observation, he hoped
to make an accurate landfall in home waters.

And so the hours went by, with their captives waving caps ceaselessly,
until the third day's sun arose to show them an empty deck on the
schooner, over a dozen specks far astern and to the southward, and an
east-bound steamship on their port bow. The specks could be nothing but
the dories, and they were evidently trying to intercept the steamship.
Elisha yelled in delight.

"They've abandoned ship--just what I hoped for--in the dories. They've
no case at all now."

"But what for, Elisha?" asked Martin. "Mus' be hungry, I t'ink."

"Mebbe, or else they think that liner, who can stop only to save
life,--carries the mails, you see,--will turn round and put 'em in
charge here. Why, nothin' but an English man-o'-war could do that now."

They saw the steamship slow down, while the black specks flocked up to
her, and then go on her way. And they went on theirs; but three days
later they had reasoned out a better explanation of the Englishmen's
conduct. Martin came on deck with a worried face, and announced that,
running short of salt meat in the harness-cask, he had broken out the
barrels of beef, pork, and hard bread that he had counted upon, and
found their contents absolutely uneatable, far gone in putrescence,
alive with crawling things.

"Must ha' thought he was fitting out a Yankee hell-ship when he bought
this," said Elisha, in disgust, as he looked into the ill-smelling
barrels. "Overboard with it, boys!"

Overboard went the provisions, for starving animals could not eat of
them, and the odor permeated the ship. They resigned themselves to a
gloomy outlook--gloomier when Amos reported that the coal in the
bunkers would last but two days longer. He had been mistaken, he said;
he had calculated to run compound engines with Scotch boilers, not a
full-powered blast-furnace with six inches of scale on the
crown-sheets.

"And they knew this," groaned Elisha. "That's why they chucked the
stuff overboard--to bring us to terms, and never thinkin' they'd starve
first. They were dead luny, but we're lunier."

They stopped the engines and visited the schooner in the dory. Not a
scrap of food was there, and the fish-kettle was scraped bright. They
returned and went on. With plenty of coal there was still six days' run
ahead to New York. How many with wood fuel, chopped on empty stomachs
and burned in coal-furnaces, they could not guess. But they went to
work. There were three axes, two top-mauls, and several handspikes and
pinch-bars aboard, and with these they attacked bulkheads and spare
woodwork, and fed the fires with the fragments; for a glance down the
hatches had shown them nothing more combustible and detachable in the
cargo than a few layers of railroad iron, which covered and blocked the
openings to the lower hold.

With the tools at hand they could not supply the rapacious fires fast
enough to keep up steam, and the engines slowed to a five-knot rate. As
this would not maintain a sufficient tension on the dragging schooner
to steer by, they were forced to sacrifice the best item in their claim
for salvage: they spliced the tiller-ropes and steered from the
pilot-house. They would have sacrificed the schooner, too, for Amos
complained bitterly of the load on the engines; but Elisha would not
hear of it. She was the last evidence in their favor now, their last
connection with respectability.

"She and the pavement o' h----l," he growled fiercely, "are all we've
got to back us up. Without proof we're pirates under the law."

However, he made no entry in the log of the splicing, trusting that a
chance would come in port to remove the section of wire rope with which
they had joined the broken ends.

And, indeed, it seemed that their claim was dwindling. The chronometer
which they were to use for the steamer's benefit was lost; the tow-line
which they were to furnish had been given back to them; the course to
New York which they chalked out had not been accepted; the abandoning
of their ship by the Englishmen was clearly enforced by the pressure of
their own presence; and now they themselves had been forced to cancel
from the claim the schooner's value as a necessary drag behind the
steamer, by substituting a three hours' splicing-job, worth five
dollars in a rigging-loft, and possibly fifty if bargained for at sea.
Nothing was left them now but their good intentions, duly entered in
the log-book.

But fate, and the stupid understanding of some one or two of them,
decreed that their good intentions also should be taken from them. The
log-book disappeared, and the strictest search failing to bring it to
light, the conclusion was reached that it had been fed to the fires
among the wreckage of the skipper's room and furniture. They blasphemed
to the extent that the occasion required, and there was civil war for a
time, while the suspected ones were being punished; then they drew what
remaining comfort they could from burning the steamer's log-book and
track-chart, which contained data conflicting with their position in
the case, and resumed their labors.

Martin had raked and scraped together enough of food to give them two
scant meals; but these eaten, starvation began. The details of their
suffering need not be given. They chopped, hammered, and pried in
hunger and anxiety, and with lessening strength, while the days passed
by--fortunately spared the torture of thirst, for there was plenty of
water in the tanks. Upheld by the dominating influence of Elisha,
Martin, and Amos, they stripped the upper works and fed to the fires
every door and sash, every bulkhead and wooden partition, all chairs,
stools, and tables, cabin berths and forecastle bunks. Then they
attempted sending down the topmasts, but gave it up for lack of
strength to get mast-ropes aloft, and attacked instead the boats on the
chocks, of which there were four.

It was no part of the plan to ask help of passing craft and have their
distressed condition taken advantage of; but when the hopelessness of
the fight at last appealed to the master spirits, they consented to the
signaling of an east-bound steamer, far to the northward, in the hope
of getting food. So the English ensign, union down, was again flown
from the gaff. It was at a time when Elisha could not stand up at the
wheel, when Amos at the engines could not have reversed them, when
Martin--man of iron--staggered weakly around among the rest and struck
them with a pump-brake, keeping them at work. (They would strive under
the blows, and sit down when he had passed.) But the flag was not seen;
a haze arose between the two craft and thickened to fog.

By Elisha's reckoning they were on the Banks now, about a hundred miles
due south from Cape Sable, and nearer to Boston than to Halifax;
otherwise he might have made for the latter port and defied alien
prejudice. But the fog continued, and it was not port they were looking
for now; it was help, food: they were working for life, not salvage;
and, wasting no steam, they listened for whistles or fog-horns, but
heard none near enough to be answered by their weak voices.

And so the boat, dragging the dismal mockery behind her, plodded and
groped her way on the course which Elisha had shaped for Boston, while
man after man dropped in his tracks, refusing to rise; and those that
were left nourished the fires as they could, until the afternoon of the
third day of fog, when the thumping, struggling engines halted,
started, made a half-revolution, and came to a dead stop. Amos crawled
on deck and forward to the bridge, where, with Elisha's help, he
dragged on the whistle-rope and dissipated the remaining steam in a
wheezy, gasping howl, which lasted about a half-minute. It was answered
by a furious siren-blast from directly astern; and out of the fog, at
twenty knots an hour, came a mammoth black steamer. Seeming to heave
the small tramp out of the way with her bow wave, she roared by at six
feet distance, and in ten seconds they were looking at her vanishing
stern. But ten minutes later the stern appeared in view, as the liner
backed toward them. The reversed English ensign still hung at the gaff;
and the starving men, some prostrate on the deck, some clinging to the
rails, unable to shout, had painted to the flag of distress and
beckoned as the big ship rushed by.

                     *      *      *      *      *

"There's a chance," said the captain of this liner to the pilot, as he
rejoined him on the bridge an hour later, "of international complications
over this case, and I may have to lose a trip to testify. That's the
_Afghan Prince_ and consort that I was telling you about. Strange,
isn't it, that I should pick up these fellows after picking up the
legitimate crew going east? I don't know which crew was the hungriest.
The real crew charge this crowd with piracy. By George, it's rather
funny!"

"And these men," said the pilot, with a laugh, "would have claimed
salvage?"

"Yes, and had a good claim, too, for effort expended; but they've
offset it by their violence. Their chance was good in the English
courts, if they'd only allowed the steamer to go on; and then, too,
they abandoned her in a more dangerous position than where they found
her. You see, they met her off Nantucket with sea-room, and nothing
wrong with her but broken tiller-ropes; and they quit her here close to
Sandy Hook, in a fog, more than likely to hit the beach before morning.
Then, in that case, she belongs to the owners or underwriters."

"Why didn't they make Boston?" asked the pilot.

"Tried to, but overran their distance. Chronometer must have been 'way
out. I talked to the one who navigated, and found that he'd never
thought of allowing for local attraction,--didn't happen to run against
the boat's deviation table,--and so, with all that railway iron below
hatches, he fetched clear o' Nantucket, and 'way in here."

"That's tough. The salvage of that steamer would make them rich,
wouldn't it? And I think they might have got it if they could have held
out."

"Yes; think they might. But here's another funny thing about it. They
needn't have starved. They needn't have chopped her to pieces for fuel.
I just remember, now. Her skipper told me there was good anthracite
coal in her hold, and Chicago canned meats, Minnesota flour, beef,
pork, and all sorts of good grub. He carried some of the rails in the
'tween-deck for steadying ballast, and I suppose it prevented them
looking farther. And now they'll lose their salvage, and perhaps have
to pay it on their own schooner if anything comes along and picks them
up. That's the craft that'll get the salvage."

"Not likely," said the pilot; "not in this fog, and the wind and sea
rising. I'll give 'em six hours to fetch up on the Jersey coast. A mail
contract with the government is sometimes a nuisance, isn't it,
captain? How many years would it take you to save money to equal your
share of the salvage if you had yanked that tramp and the schooner into
New York?"

"It would take more than one lifetime," answered the captain, a little
sadly. "A skipper on a mail-boat is the biggest fool that goes to sea."

The liner did not reach quarantine until after sundown, hence remained
there through the night. As she was lifting her anchor in the morning,
preparatory to steaming up to her dock, the crew of the _Rosebud_,
refreshed by food and sleep, but still weak and nerveless, came on deck
to witness a harrowing sight. The _Afghan Prince_ was coming toward the
anchorage before a brisk southeast wind. Astern of her, held by the
heavy iron chain, was their schooner. Moored to her, one on each side,
were two garbage-scows; and at the head of the parade, pretending to
tow them all,--puffing, rolling, and smoking in the effort to keep a
strain on the tow-line,--and tooting joyously with her whistle, was a
little, dingy tugboat, with a large gilt name on her pilot-house--_J.
C. Hawks_.



BETWEEN THE MILLSTONES


He stood before the recruiting officer, trembling with nervousness,
anxious of face, and clothed in rags; but he was clean, for, knowing
the moral effect of cleanliness, he had lately sought the beach and
taken a swim.

"Want to enlist?" asked the officer, taking his measure with trained
eye.

"Yes, sir; I read you wanted men in the navy."

"Want seamen, firemen, and landsmen. What's your occupation? You look
like a tramp."

"Yes," he answered bitterly, "I'm a tramp. That's all they'd let me be.
I used to be a locomotive engineer--before the big strike. Then they
blacklisted me, and I've never had a job above laborin' work since.
It's easy to take to the road and stay at it when you find you can't
make over a dollar a day at back-breakin' work after earnin' three and
four at the throttle. An engineer knows nothin' but his trade, sir.
Take it away, and he's a laborin' man.

"I'd ha' worked and learned another, but they jailed me--put me in
choky, 'cause I had no visible means o' support. I had no money, and
was a criminal under the law. And they kept at it,--jailed me again and
again as a vagrant,--when all I wanted was work. After a while I didn't
care. But now's my chance, sir, if you'll take me on. I don't know much
about boats and the sea, but I can fire an engine, and know something
about steam."

"A fireman's work on board a war-vessel is very different from that of
a locomotive fireman," said the officer, leaning back in his chair.

"I know, sir; that may be," the tramp replied eagerly; "but I can
shovel coal, and I can learn, and I can work. I'm not very strong now,
'cause I haven't had much to eat o' late years; but I'm not a drinkin'
man--why, that costs more than grub. Give me a chance, sir; I'm an
American; I'm sick o' bein' hunted from jail to jail, like a wild
animal, just 'cause I can't be satisfied with pick-and-shovel work.
I've spent half o' the last five years in jail as a vagrant. I put in a
month at Fernandina, and then I was chased out o' town. They gave me
two months at Cedar Keys, and I came here, only to get a month more in
this jail. I got out this mornin', and was told by the copper who
pinched me to get out o' Pensacola or he'd run me in again. And he's
outside now waitin' for me. I dodged past 'im to get in."

"Pass this man in to the surgeon," said the officer, with something
like a sympathetic snort in the tone of his voice; for he also was an
American.

An orderly escorted him to the surgeon, who examined him and passed
him. Then the recruit signed his name to a paper.

"Emaciated," wrote the surgeon in his daily report; "body badly
nourished, and susceptible to any infection. Shows slight febrile
symptoms, which should be attended to. An intelligent man; with good
food and care will become valuable."

The tramp marched to the receiving-ship with a squad of other recruits,
and on the way smiled triumphantly into the face of a mulatto
policeman, who glared at him. He had signed his name on a piece of
paper, and the act had changed his status. From a hunted fugitive and
habitual criminal he had become a defender of his country's honor--a
potential hero.

On board the receiving-ship he was given an outfit of clothes and
bedding; but before he had learned more than the correct way to lash
his hammock and tie his silk neckerchief he was detailed for sea duty,
and with a draft of men went to Key West in a navy-yard tug; for war
was on, and the fleet blockading Havana needed men.

At Key West he was appointed fireman on a torpedo-boat, where his
work--which he soon learned--was to keep up steam in a tubular boiler.
But he learned nothing of the rest of the boat, her business, or the
reason of her construction. Seasickness prevented any assertion of
curiosity at first, and later the febrile symptoms which the examining
surgeon had noted developed in him until he could think of nothing
else. There being no doctor aboard to diagnose his case, he was jeered
by his fellows, and kept at work until he dropped; then he took to his
hammock. Shooting pains darted through him, centering in his head,
while his throat was dry and his thirst tormenting.

Life on a torpedo-boat engaged in despatch duty and rushing through a
Gulf Stream sea at thirty knots is torture to a healthy, nervous
system. It sent this sick man into speedy delirium. He could eat very
little, but he drank all the water that was given him. Moaning and
muttering, tossing about in his hammock, never asleep, but sometimes
unconscious, at other times raving, and occasionally lucid, he
presented a problem which demanded solution. His emaciated face,
flushed at first, had taken on a peculiar bronzed appearance, and there
were some who declared that it was Yellow Jack. But nothing could be
done until they reached the fleet and could interview a cruiser with a
surgeon.

The sick man solved the problem. He scrambled out of his hammock at
daylight in the morning and dressed himself in his blue uniform,
carefully tying his black neckerchief in the regulation knot. Then,
muttering the while, he gained the deck.

The boat was charging along at full speed, throwing aside a bow wave
nearly as high as herself. Three miles astern, just discernible in the
half-light, was a pursuing ram-bowed gunboat, spitting shot and shell;
and forward near the conning-tower were two blue-coated, brass-buttoned
officers, watching the pursuer through binoculars.

The crazed brain of the sick man took cognizance of nothing but the
blue coats and brass buttons. He did not look for locust clubs and
silver shields. These were policemen--his deadliest enemies; but he
would escape them this time.

With a yell he went overboard, and, being no swimmer, would have
drowned had not one of the blue-coated officers flung a lifebuoy. He
came to the surface somewhat saner, and seized the white ring, which
supported him, while the torpedo-boat rushed on. She could not stop for
one man in time of war, with a heavily armed enemy so near.

A twenty-knot gunboat cannot chase a thirty-knot torpedo-boat very long
without losing her below the horizon; but this pursuit lasted ten
minutes from the time the sick man went overboard before the gunboat
ceased firing and slackened speed. The quarry was five miles away, out
of Spanish range, and the floating man directly under her bow. He was
seen and taken on board, with Spanish profanity sounding in his
unregarding ears.

He lay on the deck, a bedraggled heap, gibbering and shivering, while a
surgeon, with cotton in his nostrils and smelling-salts in his hand,
diagnosed his case. Then the gunboat headed north and dropped anchor in
the bight of a small, crescent-shaped sand-key of the Florida Reef. For
the diagnosis was such as to suggest prompt action. Two brave men
bundled him into the dinghy, lowered it, pulled ashore, and laid him on
the sand.

Returning, they stripped and threw away their clothing, sank the boat
with a buoy on the painter, took a swim, and climbed aboard to be
further disinfected. Then the gunboat lifted her anchor and steamed
eastward, her officers watching through glasses a small, low
torpedo-boat, far to the southeast,--too far to be reached by gun
fire,--which was steering a parallel course, and presumably watching
the gunboat.

An idiot, a lunatic, with bloodshot eyes glaring from a yellow face,
raved, rolled, and staggered bareheaded under the sun about the sandy
crescent until sundown, then fell prostrate and unconscious into the
water on the beach, luckily turning over so that his nostrils were not
immersed. The tide went down, leaving him damp and still on the sands.
In about an hour a sigh, followed by a deep, gasping breath, escaped
him; another long inhalation succeeded, and another; then came steady,
healthy breathing and childlike sleep, with perspiration oozing from
every pore. He had passed a crisis.

About midnight the cloudy sky cleared and the tropic stars came out,
while the tide climbed the beach again, and lapped at the sleeping
man's feet; but he did not waken, even when the Spanish gunboat stole
slowly into the bay from the sea and dropped anchor with a loud
rattling of chain in the hawse-pipe. A boat was lowered, and a single
man sculled it ashore; then lifting out a small cask and bag, he placed
them high on the sands and looked around.

Spying the sleeping man, half immersed now, he approached and felt of
the damp clothing and equally damp face. Not noticing that he breathed
softly, the man crossed himself, then moved quickly and nervously
toward his boat, muttering, "Muerto, muerto!" Pushing out, he sculled
rapidly toward the anchored craft, and disposed of the boat and his
clothing as had been done before; then he swam to the gangway and
climbed aboard.

Shortly after, the sleeping man, roused by the chill of the water,
crawled aimlessly up the sand and slept again--safe beyond the
tide-line. In three hours he sat up and rubbed his eyes, half awake,
but sane.

Strange sights and sounds puzzled him. He knew nothing of this starlit
beach and stretch of sparkling water--nothing of that long black craft
at anchor, with the longer beam of white light reaching over the sea
from her pilot-house. He could only surmise that she was a war-vessel
from the ram-bow,--a feature of the government model which had
impressed him at Key West,--and from the noise she was making. She
quivered in a maze of flickering red flashes, and the rattling din of
her rapid-fire and machine guns transcended in volume all the roadside
blastings he had heard in his wanderings. Dazed and astonished, he rose
to his feet, but, too weak to stand, sat down again and looked.

Half a mile seaward, where the beam of light ended, a small craft, low
down between two crested waves, was speeding toward the gunboat in the
face of her fire. The water about her was lashed into turmoil by the
hail of projectiles; but she kept on, at locomotive speed, until within
a thousand feet of the gunboat, when she turned sharply to starboard,
doubled on her track, and raced off to sea, still covered by the
search-light and followed by shot and shell while the gunners could see
her.

When the gun fire ceased, a hissing of steam could be heard in the
distance, and a triumphant Spanish yell answered. The small enemy had
been struck, and the gunboat slipped her cable and followed.

The tired brain could not cope with the problem, and again the man
slept, to awaken at sunrise with ravenous hunger and thirst, and a
memory of what seemed to be horrible dreams,--vague recollections of
painful experiences,--torturing labor with aching muscles and blistered
hands; harsh words and ridicule from strong, bearded men; and running
through and between, the shadowy figures of blue-coated, brass-buttoned
men, continually ordering him on, and threatening arrest. The spectacle
of the night was as dream-like as the rest; for he remembered nothing
of the gunboat which had rescued and marooned him.

His face had lost its yellowish-bronze color, but was pale and
emaciated as ever, while his sunken eyes held the soft light which
always comes of extreme physical suffering. He was too weak to remain
on his feet, but in the effort to do so he spied the cask and bag
higher up on the beach and crawled to them. Prying a plug from the
bunghole with his knife, he found water, sweet and delicious, which he
drank by rolling the cask carefully and burying his lips in the
overflow. Evidently some one in authority on the gunboat had decreed
that he should not die of hunger or thirst, for the bag contained hard
bread.

Stronger after a meal, he climbed the highest sand-dune and studied the
situation. An outcropping of coral formed the backbone of the thin
crescent which held him, and which was about half a mile between the
points. To the south, opening out from the bay, was a clear stretch of
sea, green in the sunlight, deep blue in the shadows of the clouds, and
on the horizon were a few sails and smoke columns. West and east were
other sandy islets and coral reefs, and to the north a continuous line
of larger islands which might be inhabited, but gave no indication of
it.

Out in the bay, bobbing to the heave of the slight ground-swell, were
the three white buoys left by the Spaniards to mark the sunken boats
and slipped cable; and far away on the beach, just within the western
point, was something long and round, which rolled in the gentle surf
and glistened in the sunlight. He knew nothing of buoys, but they
relieved his loneliness; they were signs of human beings, who must have
placed him there with the bread and water, and who might come for him.

"Wonder if I got pinched again, and this is some new kind of a choky,"
he mused. "Been blamed sick and silly, and must ha' lost the job and
got jailed again. Just my luck! S'pose the jug was crowded and they run
me out here. Wish they'd left me a hat. Wonder how long I'm in for this
time."

He descended to the beach and found that repeated wettings of his hair
relieved him from the headache that the sun's heat was bringing on; and
satisfied that the strong hand of local law had again closed over him,
he resigned himself to the situation, resenting only the absence of a
shade-tree or a hat. "Much better 'n the calaboose in El Paso," he
muttered, "or the brickyard in Chicago."

As he lolled on the sand, the glistening thing over at the western
point again caught his eye. After a moment's scrutiny he rose and
limped toward it, following the concave of the beach, and often pausing
to rest and bathe his head. It was a long journey for him, and the
tide, at half-ebb when he started, was rising again when he came
abreast of the object and sat down to look at it. It was of metal, long
and round, rolling nearly submerged, and held by the alternate surf and
undertow parallel with the beach, about twenty feet out.

He waded in, grasped it by a T-shaped projection in the middle, and
headed it toward the shore. Then he launched it forward with all his
strength--not much, but enough to lift a bluntly pointed end out of
water as it grounded and exposed a small, four-bladed steel wheel,
shaped something like a windmill. He examined this, but could not
understand it, as it whirled freely either way and seemed to have no
internal connection. The strange cylinder was about sixteen feet long
and about eighteen inches in diameter.

"Boat o' some kind," he muttered; "but what kind? That screw's too
small to make it go. Let's see the other end."

He launched it with difficulty, and noticed that when floating end on
to the surf it ceased to roll and kept the T-shaped projection
uppermost, proving that it was ballasted. Swinging it, he grounded the
other end, which was radically different in appearance. It was long and
finely pointed, with four steel blades or vanes, two horizontal and two
vertical,--like the double tails of an ideal fish,--and in hollowed
parts of these vanes were hung a pair of unmistakable propellers, one
behind the other, and of opposite pitch and motion.

"One works on the shaft, t' other on a sleeve," he mused, as he turned
them. "A roundhouse wiper could see that. Bevel-gearin' inside, I
guess. It's a boat, sure enough, and this reverse action must be to
keep her from rolling."

On each of the four vanes he found a small blade, showing by its
connection that it possessed range of action, yet immovable as the vane
itself, as though held firmly by inner leverage. Those on the
horizontal vanes were tilted upward. Just abaft the T-shaped
projection--which, fastened firmly to the hull, told him nothing of its
purpose--were numerous brass posts buried flush with the surface, in
each of which was a square hole, as though intended to be turned with a
key or crank. Some were marked with radiating lines and numbers, and
they evidently controlled the inner mechanism, part of which he could
see--little brass cog-wheels, worms, and levers--through a fore-and-aft
slot near the keyholes.

Rising from the forward end of this slot, and lying close to the metal
hull in front of it, was a strong lever of brass, L-shaped, connected
internally, and indicating to his trained mechanical mind that its only
sphere of action was to lift up and sink back into the slot. He
fingered it, but did not yet try to move it. A little to the left of
this lever was a small blade of steel, curved to fit the convex
hull,--which it hugged closely,--and hinged at its forward edge. This,
too, must have a purpose,--an internal connection,--and he did not
disturb it until he had learned more.

To the right of the brass lever was an oblong hatch about eight inches
long, flush with the hull, and held in place by screws. Three seams,
with lines of screws, encircled the round hull, showing that it was
constructed in four sections; and these screws, with those in the
hatch, were strong and numerous--placed there to stay.

Fatigued from his exertion, he moistened his hair, sat down, and
watched the incoming tide swing the craft round parallel with the
beach. As the submerged bow raised to a level with the stern, he
noticed that the small blades on the horizontal vanes dropped from
their upward slant to a straight line with the vanes.

"Rudders," he said, "horizontal rudders. Can't be anything else." With
his chin in his hand and his wrinkled brow creased with deeper
corrugations, he put his mind through a process of inductive reasoning.

"Horizontal rudders," he mused, "must be to keep her from diving, or to
make her dive. They work automatically, and I s'pose the vertical
rudders are the same. There's nothing outside to turn 'em with. That
boat isn't made to ride in,--no way to get into her,--and she isn't big
enough, anyhow. And as you can't get into her, that brass lever must be
what starts and stops her. Wonder what the steel blade's for. 'T isn't
a handy shape for a lever,--to be handled with fingers,--too sharp; but
it has work to do, or it wouldn't be there. That section o' railroad
iron on top must be to hang the boat by,--a traveler,--when she's out
o' water.

"And the fan-wheel on the nose--what's that for? If it's a speed or
distance indicator, the dial's inside, out o' sight. There's no
exhaust, so the motive power can't be steam. Clockwork or electricity,
maybe. Mighty fine workmanship all through! That square door is fitted
in for keeps, and she must ha' cost a heap. Now, as she has horizontal
rudders, she's intended to steer up and down; and as there's no way to
get into her or to stay on her, and as she can't be started from the
inside or steered from the outside, I take it she's a model o' one o'
those submarine boats I've heard of--some fellow's invention that's got
away from him. Guess I'll try that lever and see what happens. I'll
bury the propellers, though; no engine ought to race."

He pushed the craft into deeper water, pointed it shoreward, and
cautiously lifted the curved blade to a perpendicular position, as high
as it would go. Nothing happened. He lowered it, raised it again,--it
worked very easily,--then, leaving it upright, he threw the long brass
lever back into the slot. A slight humming came from within, the
propellers revolved slowly, and the craft moved ahead until the bow
grounded. Then he followed and lifted the lever out of the slot to its
first position, shutting off the power.

Delighted with his success, he backed it out farther than before and
again threw back the brass lever, this time with the curved blade down
flat on the hull. With the sinking of the lever into the slot the
mechanism within gave forth a rushing sound, the propellers at the
stern threw up a mound of foam, and the craft shot past him, dived
until it glanced on the sandy bottom, then slid a third of its length
out of water on the beach and stopped, the propellers still churning,
and the small wheel on the nose still spinning with the motion given it
by the water.

"Air-pressure!" he exclaimed, as he shut it off. He had seen a line of
bubbles rise as the thing dived. "An air-engine, and the whole thing
must be full o' compressed air. The brass lever turns it on, and if the
steel blade's up it gives it the slow motion; if it's down, she gets
full speed at once. Now I know why it's blade-shaped. It's so the water
itself can push it down--after she starts."

He did not try to launch it; he waited until the tide floated it, then
pushed it along the beach toward his store of food, arriving at high
water too exhausted to do more that day than ground his capture and
break hard bread. And as the afternoon drew to a close the fatigue in
his limbs became racking pain; either as a result of his exposure, or
as a later symptom of the fever, he was now in the clutch of a new
enemy--rheumatism.

Then, with the coming of night came a return of his first violent
symptoms; he was hot, shivery, and feverish by turns, with dry tongue
and throat, and a splitting headache; but in this condition he could
still take cognizance of a black, ram-bowed gunboat, which stole into
the bay from the east and dropped anchor near the buoys.

A half-moon shone in the western sky, and by its light the steamer
presented an unkempt, broken appearance, even to the untrained eye of
this castaway. Her after-funnel was but half as high as the other;
there were gaps in her iron rail, and vacancies below the twisted
davits where boats should be; and her pilot-house was wrecked--the
starboard door and nearest window merged in a large, ragged hole.

Officers on the bridge gave orders in foreign speech, in tones which
came shoreward faintly. Men sprang overboard with ropes, which they
fastened to the buoys; then they swam back, and for an hour or two the
whole crew was busy getting the boats to the davits and the end of the
cable into the hawse-pipe.

The man on the beach recognized the craft he had seen when he wakened.

He felt that she must in some way be connected with his being there,
and he waited, expecting to see a boat put off; but when both boats
were hoisted and he heard the humming of a steam-windlass, he gave up
this expectation and tried to hail.

His voice could not rise above a hoarse whisper. The anchor was fished,
and after an interval he heard the windlass again, heaving in the other
chain. They were going away--going to leave him there to die.

He crawled and stumbled down to the water's edge. The tide was up
again, rippling around the strange thing he had resolved to navigate.
It was not a boat, but it would go ahead, and it would float--it would
possibly float him.

With strength born of desperation and fear, he pushed it, inch by inch,
into the water until it was clear of the sand, and tried the engine on
the slow motion. The propellers turned and satisfied him. He shut off
the power, swung the thing round until it pointed toward the steamer,
and seated himself astride of it, just abaft the T-shaped projection in
the middle. The long cylinder sank with him, and when it had steadied
to a balance between his weight and its buoyancy he found that it bore
him, shoulders out; and the position he had taken--within reach of the
levers behind him--lifted the blunt nose higher than the stern, but not
out of water. This was practicable.

He reached behind, raised the blade lever, threw back the large brass
lever, and the craft went ahead, at about the speed of a healthy man's
walk. He kept his left hand on the blade lever to hold it up, and by
skilful paddling with his right maintained his balance and assisted his
legs in steering. He had never learned to swim, but he felt less fear
of drowning than of slow death on the island.

In five minutes he was near enough to the steamer to read her name. He
pulled the starting-lever forward, stopping his headway; for he must be
sure of his welcome.

"Say, boss," he called faintly and hoarsely, "take me along, can't you?
Or else gi' me some medicine. I'm blamed sick--I'll die if I stay
here."

The noise of the windlass and chain prevented this being heard, but at
last, after repeated calls on his part, a Spanish howl went up from
amidships, and a sailor sprang from one of the boats to the deck,
crossed himself, and pointing to the man in the water, ran forward.

"Madre de Dios!" he yelled. "El aparecido del muerto."

Work stopped, and a call down a hatchway stopped the windlass. In ports
and dead-lights appeared faces; and those on deck, officers and men,
crowded to the rail, some to cross themselves, some to sink on their
knees, others to grip the rail tightly, while they stared in silence at
the torso and livid face in the moonlight on the sea--the ghastly face
of the man they had marooned to die alone, who had been seen later dead
on the beach.

"Take me with you, boss," he pleaded with his weak voice. "I'm sick; I
can't hold on much longer."

It was not the dead man's body washed out from the beach, for it moved,
it spoke. And it was not a living man; no man may recover from advanced
yellow fever, and this man had been found afterward, dead--cold and
still. And no living man may swim in this manner--high out of water,
patting and splashing with one hand. It was a ghost. It had come to
punish them.

"Por qué nos atormentan así, hombre, deja?" cried a white-faced
officer.

"Can't you hear me?" asked the apparition. "I'll come closer."

He threw back the starting-lever, and the thing began moving. Then a
rifle-barrel protruded from a dead-light. There was a report and a
flash, and a bullet passed through his hair. The shock startled him,
and he lost his balance. In the effort to recover it his leg knocked
down the blade lever, and the steel cylinder sprang forward, leaving
him floundering in the water. Pointed upward, it appeared for a moment
on the surface, then dived like a porpoise and disappeared. In five
seconds something happened to the gunboat.

Coincident with a sound like near-by thunder, the black craft lifted
amidships like a bending jack-knife, and up from the shattered deck,
and out from ports, doors, and dead-lights, came a volcano of flame and
smoke. The sea beneath followed in a mound, which burst like a great
bubble, sending a cloud of steam and spray and whitish-yellow smoke
aloft to mingle with the first and meet the falling fragments. These
fell for several seconds--hatches, gratings, buckets, ladders,
splinters of wood, parts of men, and men whole, but limp.

A side-ladder fell near the choking and half-stunned sick man, and he
seized it. Before he could crawl on top the two halves of the gunboat
had sunk in a swirl of bubbles and whirlpools.

A few broken and bleeding swimmers approached to share his support, saw
his awful face in the moonlight, and swam away.

A few hours later a gray cruiser loomed up close by and directed a
search-light at him. Then a gray cutter full of white-clad men
approached and took him off the ladder. He was delirious again, and
bleeding from mouth, nose, and ears.

                     *      *      *      *      *

The surgeon and the torpedo-lieutenant came up from the sick-bay, the
latter with enthusiasm on his face,--for he was young,--and joined a
group of officers on the quarterdeck.

"He'll pull through, gentlemen," said the surgeon. "He is the man
Mosher lost overboard, though he doesn't know anything about it, nor
how he got on that sand-key. I suppose the _Destructor_ picked him
up and landed him. He found bread and water, he says. You see, the
first symptoms are similar in Yellow Jack and relapsing bilious fever.
I don't wonder that Mosher was nervous."

"Then it _was_ the _Destructor_?" asked an ensign, pulling out a
note-book and a pencil. "And Lieutenant Mosher was right, after all?"

"Yes; this man read her name before she blew up; and a Spanish sailor
has waked up and confirmed it. She was the _Destructor_, just over, and
trying to get into Havana. Instead of blowing up in Algeciras Bay, as
they thought, she had left with despatches for Havana, only to blow up
on the Florida Reef."

"The _Destructor_," said the ensign, as he pocketed his note-book and
pencil, "carried fifty-five men. Don't we get the bounty as the nearest
craft?"

"Not much," said the young and enthusiastic torpedo-lieutenant. "We
were not even within signal distance, and came along by accident.
Listen, all of you. When an American war-craft sinks or destroys a
larger enemy, there is a bounty due her crew of two hundred dollars for
every man on board the enemy. That is law, isn't it?" They nodded. "If
a submarine boat can be a war-craft, so may a Whitehead torpedo, and
certainly is one, being built for war. A war-craft abandoned is a
derelict, and the man who finds her becomes her lawful commander for
the time. If he belongs to the navy his position is strengthened, and
if he is alone he is not only commander, but the whole crew, and
consequently he is entitled to all the bounty she may earn. That is
law.

"Now, listen hard. Lieutenant Mosher sent one torpedo at the gunboat;
it missed and became derelict, while Mosher escaped under one boiler.
This man found the derelict adrift, puzzled out the action, waited
until the gunboat came back for her anchor, then straddled his craft,
and rode out with the water-tripper up. They shot at him. He turned his
dog loose and destroyed the enemy. If the _Destructor_ carried
fifty-five men he is entitled to eleven thousand dollars, and the
government must pay, for that is law."



THE BATTLE OF THE MONSTERS


Extract from hospital record of the case of John Anderson, patient of
Dr. Brown, Ward 3, Room 6:

    August 3. Arrived at hospital in extreme mental distress, having
    been bitten on wrist three hours previously by dog known to have
    been rabid. Large, strong man, full-blooded and well nourished.
    Sanguine temperament. Pulse and temperature higher than normal, due
    to excitement. Cauterized wound at once (2 P.M.) and inoculated
    with antitoxin.

    As patient admits having recently escaped, by swimming ashore, from
    lately arrived cholera ship, now at quarantine, he has been
    isolated and clothing disinfected. Watch for symptoms of cholera.

    August 3, 6 P.M. Microscopic examination of blood corroborative of
    Metschnikoff's theory of fighting leucocytes. White corpuscles
    gorged with bacteria.

He was an amphibian, and, as such, undeniably beautiful; for the
sunlight, refracted and diffused in the water, gave his translucent,
pearl-blue body all the shifting colors of the spectrum. Vigorous and
graceful of movement, in shape he resembled a comma of three
dimensions, twisted, when at rest, to a slight spiral curve; but in
traveling he straightened out with quick successive jerks, each one
sending him ahead a couple of lengths. Supplemented by the undulatory
movement of a long continuation of his tail, it was his way of
swimming, good enough to enable him to escape his enemies; this, and
riding at anchor in a current by his cable-like appendage, constituting
his main occupation in life. The pleasure of eating was denied him;
nature had given him a mouth, but he used it only for purposes of
offense and defense, absorbing his food in a most unheard-of
manner--through the soft walls of his body.

Yet he enjoyed a few social pleasures. Though the organs of the five
senses were missing in his economy, he possessed an inner sixth sense
which answered for all and also gave him power of speech. He would
converse, swap news and views, with creatures of his own and other
species, provided that they were of equal size and prowess; but he
wasted no time on any but his social peers. Smaller creatures he
pursued when they annoyed him; larger ones pursued him.

The sunlight, which made him so beautiful to look at, was distasteful
to him; it also made him too visible. He preferred a half-darkness and
less fervor to life's battle--time to judge of chances, to figure on an
enemy's speed and turning-circle, before beginning flight or pursuit.
But his dislike of it really came of a stronger animus--a shuddering
recollection of three hours once passed on dry land in a comatose
condition, which had followed a particularly long and intense period of
bright sunlight. He had never been able to explain the connection, but
the awful memory still saddened his life.

And now it seemed, as he swam about, that this experience might be
repeated. The light was strong and long-continued, the water
uncomfortably warm, and the crowd about him denser--so much so as to
prevent him from attending properly to a social inferior who had
crossed his bow. But just as his mind grasped the full imminence of the
danger, there came a sudden darkness, a crash and vibration of the
water, then a terrible, rattling roar of sound. The social inferior
slipped from his mouth, and with his crowding neighbors was washed far
away, while he felt himself slipping along, bounding and rebounding
against the projections of a corrugated wall which showed white in the
gloom. There was an unpleasant taste to the water, and he became aware
of creatures in his vicinity unlike any he had known,--quickly darting
little monsters about a tenth as large as himself,--thousands of them,
black and horrid to see, each with short, fish-like body and square
head like that of a dog; with wicked mouth that opened and shut
nervously; with hooked flippers on the middle part, and a bunch of
tentacles on the fore that spread out ahead and around. A dozen of them
surrounded him menacingly; but he was young and strong, much larger
than they, and a little frightened. A blow of his tail killed two, and
the rest drew off.

The current bore them on until the white wall rounded off and was lost
to sight beyond the mass of darting creatures. Here was slack water,
and with desperate effort he swam back, pushing the small enemies out
of his path, meeting some resistance and receiving a few bites, until,
in a hollow in the wall, he found temporary refuge and time to think.
But he could not solve the problem. He had not the slightest idea where
he was or what had happened--who and what were the strange black
creatures, or why they had threatened him.

His thoughts were interrupted. Another vibrant roar sounded, and there
was pitch-black darkness; then he was pushed and washed away from his
shelter, jostled, bumped, and squeezed, until he found himself in a
dimly lighted tunnel, which, crowded as it was with swimmers, was
narrow enough to enable him to see both sides at once. The walls were
dark brown and blue, broken up everywhere into depressions or caves,
some of them so deep as to be almost like blind tunnels. The dog-faced
creatures were there--as far as he could see; but besides them, now,
were others, of stranger shape--of species unknown to him.

A slow current carried them on, and soon they entered a larger tunnel.
He swam to the opposite wall, gripped a projection, and watched in
wonder and awe the procession gliding by. He soon noticed the source of
the dim light. A small creature with barrel-like body and innumerable
legs or tentacles, wavering and reaching, floated past. Its body
swelled and shrank alternately, with every swelling giving out a
phosphorescent glow, with every contraction darkening to a faint red
color. Then came a group of others; then a second living lamp; later
another and another: they were evenly distributed, and illumined the
tunnel.

There were monstrous shapes, living but inert, barely pulsing with
dormant life, as much larger than himself as the dog-headed kind were
smaller--huge, unwieldy, disk-shaped masses of tissue, light gray at
the margins, dark red in the middle. They were in the majority, and
blocked the view. Darting and wriggling between and about them were
horrible forms, some larger than himself, others smaller. There were
serpents, who swam with a serpent's motion. Some were serpents in form,
but were curled rigidly into living corkscrews, and by sculling with
their tails screwed their way through the water with surprising
rapidity. Others were barrel- or globe-shaped, with swarming tentacles.
With these they pulled themselves along, in and out through the crowd,
or, bringing their squirming appendages rearward,--each an individual
snake,--used them as propellers, and swam. There were creatures in the
form of long cylinders, some with tentacles by which they rolled along
like a log in a tideway; others, without appendages, were as inert and
helpless as the huge red-and-gray disks. He saw four ball-shaped
creatures float by, clinging together; then a group of eight, then one
of twelve. All these, to the extent of their volition, seemed to be in
a state of extreme agitation and excitement.

The cause was apparent. The tunnel from which he had come was still
discharging the dog-faced animals by the thousand, and he knew now the
business they were on. It was war--war to the death. They flung
themselves with furious energy into the parade, fighting and biting all
they could reach. A hundred at a time would pounce on one of the large
red-and-gray creatures, almost hiding it from view; then, and before
they had passed out of sight, they would fall off and disperse, and the
once living victim would come with them, in parts. The smaller, active
swimmers fled, but if one was caught, he suffered; a quick dart, a
tangle of tentacles, an embrace of the wicked flippers, a bite--and a
dead body floated on.

And now into the battle came a ponderous engine of vengeance and
defense. A gigantic, lumbering, pulsating creature, white and
translucent but for the dark, active brain showing through its walls,
horrible in the slow, implacable deliberation of its movements, floated
down with the current. It was larger than the huge red-and-gray
creatures. It was formless, in the full irony of the definition--for it
assumed all forms. It was long--barrel-shaped; it shrank to a sphere,
then broadened laterally, and again extended above and below. In turn
it was a sphere, a disk, a pyramid, a pentahedron, a polyhedron. It
possessed neither legs, flippers, nor tentacles; but out from its
heaving, shrinking body it would send, now from one spot, now from
another, an active arm, or feeler, with which it swam, pulled, or
pushed. An unlucky invader which one of them touched made few more
voluntary movements; for instantly the whole side of the whitish mass
bristled with arms. They seized, crushed, killed it, and then pushed it
bodily through the living walls to the animal's interior to serve for
food. And the gaping fissure healed at once, like the wounds of
Milton's warring angels.

The first white monster floated down, killing as he went; then came
another, pushing eagerly into the fray; then came two, then three, then
dozens. It seemed that the word had been passed, and the army of
defense was mustering.

Sick with horror, he watched the grim spectacle from the shelter of the
projection, until roused to an active sense of danger to himself--but
not from the fighters. He was anchored by his tail, swinging easily in
the eddy, and now felt himself touched from beneath, again from above.
A projection down-stream was extending outward and toward him. The cave
in which he had taken refuge was closing on him like a great mouth--as
though directed by an intelligence behind the wall. With a terrified
flirt of his tail he flung himself out, and as he drifted down with the
combat the walls of the cave crunched together. It was well for him
that he was not there.

The current was clogged with fragments of once living creatures, and
everywhere, darting, dodging, and biting, were the fierce black
invaders. But they paid no present attention to him or to the small
tentacled animals. They killed the large, helpless red-and-gray kind,
and were killed by the larger white monsters, each moment marking the
death and rending to fragments of a victim, and the horrid interment of
fully half his slayers. The tunnel grew larger, as mouth after mouth of
tributary tunnels was passed; but as each one discharged its quota of
swimming and drifting creatures, there was no thinning of the crowd.

As he drifted on with the inharmonious throng, he noticed what seemed
the objective of the war. This was the caves which lined the tunnel.
Some were apparently rigid, others were mobile. A large red-and-gray
animal was pushed into the mouth of one of the latter, and the walls
instantly closed; then they opened, and the creature drifted out, limp
and colorless, but alive; and with him came fragments of the wall,
broken off by the pressure. This happened again and again, but the
large creature was never quite killed--merely squeezed. The tentacled
non-combatants and the large white fighters seemed to know the danger
of these tunnel mouths, possibly from bitter experiences, for they
avoided the walls; but the dog-faced invaders sought this death, and
only fought on their way to the caves. Sometimes two, often four or
more, would launch themselves together into a hollow, but to no avail;
their united strength could not prevent the closing in of the
mechanical maw, and they were crushed and flung out, to drift on with
other debris.

Soon the walls could not be seen for the pushing, jostling crowd, but
everywhere the terrible, silent war went on until there came a time
when fighting ceased; for each must look out for himself. They seemed
to be in an immense cave, and the tide was broken into cross-currents
rushing violently to the accompaniment of rhythmical thunder. They were
shaken, jostled, pushed about and pushed together, hundreds of the
smaller creatures dying from the pressure. Then there was a moment of
comparative quiet, during which fighting was resumed, and there could
be seen the swiftly flying walls of a large tunnel. Next they were
rushed through a labyrinth of small caves with walls of curious,
branching formation, sponge-like and intricate. It required energetic
effort to prevent being caught in the meshes, and the large
red-and-gray creatures were sadly torn and crushed, while the white
ones fought their way through by main strength. Again the flying walls
of a tunnel, again a mighty cave, and the cross-currents, and the
rhythmical thunder, and now a wild charge down an immense tunnel, the
wall of which surged outward and inward, in unison with the roaring of
the thunder.

The thunder died away in the distance, though the walls still
surged--even those of a smaller tunnel which divided the current and
received them. Down-stream the tunnel branched again and again, and
with the lessening of the diameter was a lessening of the current's
velocity, until, in a maze of small, short passages, the invaders,
content to fight and kill in the swifter tide, again attacked the
caves.

But to the never-changing result: they were crushed, mangled, and cast
out, the number of suicides, in this neighborhood, largely exceeding
those killed by the white warriors. And yet, in spite of the large
mortality among them, the attacking force was increasing. Where one
died two took his place; and the reason was soon made plain--they were
reproducing. A black fighter, longer than his fellows, a little
sluggish of movement, as though from the restrictive pressure of a
large, round protuberance in his middle, which made him resemble a
snake which had swallowed an egg, was caught by a white monster and
instantly embraced by a multitude of feelers. He struggled, bit, and
broke in two; then the two parts escaped the grip of the astonished
captor, and wriggled away, the protuberance becoming the head of the
rear portion, which immediately joined the fight, snapping and biting
with unmistakable jaws. This phenomenon was repeated.

And on went the battle. Illumined by the living lamps, and watched by
terrified non-combatants, the horrid carnival continued with
never-slacking fury and ever-changing background--past the mouths of
tributary tunnels which increased the volume and velocity of the
current and added to the fighting strength, on through widening
archways to a repetition of the cross-currents, the thunder, and the
sponge-like maze, down past the heaving walls of larger tunnels to
branched passages, where, in comparative slack water, the siege of the
caves was resumed. For hour after hour this went on, the invaders dying
by hundreds, but increasing by thousands and ten thousands, as the
geometrical progression advanced, until, with swimming-spaces nearly
choked by their bodies, living and dead, there came the inevitable turn
in the tide of battle. A white monster was killed.

Glutted with victims, exhausted and sluggish, he was pounced upon by
hundreds, hidden from view by a living envelop of black, which pulsed
and throbbed with his death-throes. A feeler reached out, to be bitten
off; then another, to no avail. His strength was gone, and the
assailants bit and burrowed until they reached a vital part, when the
great mass assumed a spherical form and throbbed no more. They dropped
off, and, as the mangled ball floated on, charged on the next enemy
with renewed fury and courage born of their victory. This one died as
quickly.

And as though it had been foreseen, and a policy arranged to meet it,
the white army no longer fought in the open, but lined up along the
walls to defend the immovable caves. They avoided the working jaws of
the other kind, which certainly needed no garrison, and drifting slowly
in the eddies, fought as they could, with decreasing strength and
increasing death-rate. And thus it happened that our conservative
non-combatant, out in midstream, found himself surrounded by a horde of
black enemies who had nothing better to do than attack him.

And they did. As many as could crowd about him closed their wicked jaws
in his flesh. Squirming with pain, rendered trebly strong by his
terror, he killed them by twos and threes as he could reach them with
his tail. He shook them off with nervous contortions, only to make room
for more. He plunged, rolled, launched himself forward and back, up and
down, out and in, bending himself nearly double, then with lightning
rapidity throwing himself far into the reverse curve. He was fighting
for his life, and knew it. When he could, he used his jaws, only once
to an enemy. He saw dimly at intervals that the white monsters were
watching him; but none offered to help, and he had not time to call.

He thought that he must have become the object of the war; for from all
sides they swarmed, crowding about him, seeking a place on which to
fasten their jaws. Little by little the large red-and-gray creatures,
the non-combatants, and the phosphorescent animals were pushed aside,
and he, the center of an almost solid black mass, fought, in utter
darkness, with the fury of extreme fright. He had no appreciation of
the passing of time, no knowledge of his distance from the wall, or the
destination of this never-pausing current. But finally, after an
apparently interminable period, he heard dimly, with failing
consciousness, the reverberations of the thunder, and knew momentary
respite as the violent cross-currents tore his assailants away. Then,
still in darkness, he felt the crashing and tearing of flesh against
obstructing walls and sharp corners, the repetition of thunder and the
roar of the current which told him he was once more in a large tunnel.
An instant of light from a venturesome torch showed him to his enemies,
and again he fought, like a whale in his last flurry, slowly dying from
exhaustion and pain, but still potential to kill--terrible in his
agony. There was no counting of scalps in that day's work; but perhaps
no devouring white monster in all the defensive army could have shown a
death-list equal to this. From the surging black cloud there was a
steady outflow of the dead, pushed back by the living.

Weaker and weaker, while they mangled his flesh, and still in darkness,
he fought them down through branching passages to another network of
small tunnels, where he caught a momentary view of the walls and the
stolid white guard, thence on to what he knew was open space. And here
he felt that he could fight no more. They had covered him completely,
and, try as he might with his failing strength, he could not dislodge
them. So he ceased his struggles; and numb with pain, dazed with
despair, he awaited the end.

But it did not come. He was too exhausted to feel surprise or joy when
they suddenly dropped away from him; but the instinct of
self-preservation was still in force, and he swam toward the wall. The
small creatures paid him no attention; they scurried this way and that,
busy with troubles of their own, while he crept stupidly and painfully
between two white sentries floating in the eddies,--one of whom
considerately made room for him,--and anchored to a projection, luckily
choosing a harbor that was not hostile.

"Any port in a storm, eh, neighbor?" said the one who had given him
room, and who seemed to notice his dazed condition. "You'll feel better
soon. My, but you put up a good fight, that's what you did!"

He could not answer, and the friendly guard resumed his vigil. In a few
moments, however, he could take cognizance of what was going on in the
stream. There was a new army in the fight, and reinforcements were
still coming. A short distance above him was a huge rent in the wall,
and the caves around it, crushed and distorted, were grinding fiercely.
Protruding through the rent and extending half-way across the tunnel
was a huge mass of some strange substance, roughly shaped to a
cylindrical form. It was hollow, and out of it, by thousands and
hundred thousands, was pouring the auxiliary army, from which the black
fighters were now fleeing for dear life.

The newcomers, though resembling in general form the creatures they
pursued, were much larger and of two distinct types. Both were light
brown in color; but while one showed huge development of head and jaw,
with small flippers, the other kind reversed these attributes, their
heads being small, but their flippers long and powerful. They ran their
quarry down in the open, and seized them with outreaching tentacles. No
mistakes were made--no feints or false motions; and there was no
resistance by the victims. Where one was noticed he was doomed. The
tentacles gathered him in--to a murderous bite or a murderous embrace.

At last, when the inflow had ceased,--when there must have been
millions of the brown killers in the tunnel,--the great hollow cylinder
turned slowly on its axis and backed out through the rent in the wall,
which immediately closed, with a crushing and scattering of fragments.
Though the allies were far down-stream now, the war was practically
ended; for the white defenders remained near the walls, and the black
invaders were in wildest panic, each one, as the resistless current
rushed him past, swimming against the stream, to put distance between
himself and the destroyer below. But before long an advance-guard of
the brown enemy shot out from the tributaries above, and the tide of
retreat swung backward. Then came thousands of them, and the massacre
was resumed.

"Hot stuff, eh?" said his friendly neighbor to him.

"Y-y-y-es--I guess so," he answered, rather vacantly; "I don't know. I
don't know anything about it. I never saw such doings. What is it all
for? What does it mean?"

"Oh, this is nothing; it's all in a lifetime. Still, I admit it might
ha' been serious for us--and you, too--if we hadn't got help."

"But who are they, and what? They all seem of a family, and are killing
each other."

"Immortal shade of Darwin!" exclaimed the other sentry, who had not
spoken before. "Where were you brought up? Don't you know that
variations from type are the deadliest enemies of the parent stock?
These two brown breeds are the hundredth or two-hundredth cousins of
the black kind. When they've killed off their common relative, and get
to competing for grub, they'll exterminate each other, and we'll be rid
of 'em all. Law of nature. Understand?"

"Oh, y-yes, I understand, of course; but what did the black kind attack
me for? And what do they want, anyway?"

"To follow out their destiny, I s'pose. They're the kind of folks who
have missions. Reformers, we call 'em--who want to enforce their
peculiar ideas and habits on other people. Sometimes we call them
expansionists--fond of colonizing territory that doesn't belong to
them. They wanted to get through the cells to the lymph-passages,
thence on to the brain and spinal marrow. Know what that means?
Hydrophobia."

"What's that?"

"Oh, say, now! You're too easy."

"Come, come," said the other, good-naturedly; "don't guy him. He never
had our advantages. You see, neighbor, we get these points from the
subjective brain, which knows all things and gives us our instructions.
We're the white corpuscles,--phagocytes, the scientists call us,--and
our work is to police the blood-vessels, and kill off invaders that
make trouble. Those red-and-gray chumps can't take care of themselves,
and we must protect 'em. Understand? But this invasion was too much for
us, and we had to have help from outside. You must have come in with
the first crowd--think I saw you--in at the bite. Second crowd came in
through an inoculation tube, and just in time to pull you through."

"I don't know," answered our bewildered friend. "In at the bite? What
bite? I was swimming round comfortable-like, and there was a big noise,
and then I was alongside of a big white wall, and then----"

"Exactly; the dog's tooth. You got into bad company, friend, and you're
well out of it. That first gang is the microbe of rabies, not very well
known yet, because a little too small to be seen by most microscopes.
All the scientists seem to have learned about 'em is that a colony a
few hundred generations old--which they call a culture, or serum--is
death on the original bird; and that's what they sent in to help out.
Pasteur's dead, worse luck, but sometime old Koch'll find out what
we've known all along--that it's only variation from type."

"Koch!" he answered eagerly and proudly. "Oh, I know Koch; I've met
him. And I know about microscopes, too. Why, Koch had me under his
microscope once. He discovered my family, and named us--the comma
bacilli--the Spirilli of Asiatic Cholera."

In silent horror they drew away from him, and then conversed together.
Other white warriors drifting along stopped and joined the conference,
and when a hundred or more were massed before him, they spread out to a
semi-spherical formation and closed in.

"What's the matter?" he asked nervously. "What's wrong? What are you
going to do? I haven't done anything, have I?"

"It's not what you've done, stranger," said his quondam friend, "or
what we're going to do. It's what you're going to do. You're going to
die. Don't see how you got past quarantine, anyhow."

"What--why--I don't want to die. I've done nothing. All I want is peace
and quiet, and a place to swim where it isn't too light nor too dark. I
mind my own affairs. Let me alone--you hear me--let me alone!"

They answered him not. Slowly and irresistibly the hollow formation
contracted--individuals slipping out when necessary--until he was
pushed, still protesting, into the nearest movable cave. The walls
crashed together and his life went out. When he was cast forth he was
in five pieces.

And so our gentle, conservative, non-combative cholera microbe, who
only wanted to be left alone to mind his own affairs, met this violent
death, a martyr to prejudice and an unsympathetic environment.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Extract from hospital record of the case of John Anderson:

    August 18. As period of incubation for both cholera and hydrophobia
    has passed and no initial symptoms of either disease have been
    noticed, patient is this day discharged, cured.



FROM THE ROYAL-YARD DOWN


As night descended, cold and damp, the wind hauled, and by nine o'clock
the ship was charging along before a half-gale and a rising sea from
the port quarter. When the watch had braced the yards, the mate ordered
the spanker brailed in and the mizzen-royal clued up, as the ship
steered hard. This was done, and the men coiled up the gear.

"Let the spanker hang in the brails; tie up the royal," ordered the
mate from his position at the break of the poop.

"Aye, aye, sir," answered a voice from the group, and an active figure
sprang into the rigging. Another figure--slim and graceful, clad in
long yellow oilskin coat, and a sou'wester which could not confine a
tangled fringe of wind-blown hair--left the shelter of the
after-companionway and sped along the alley to the mate's side.

"The foot-rope, Mr. Adams," she said hurriedly. "The seizing was
chafed, you remember."

"By George, Miss Freda!" said the officer. "Forgot all about it. Glad
you spoke. Come down from aloft," he added in a roar.

The sailor answered and descended.

"Get a piece of spun yarn out o' the booby-hatch and take it up wi'
you," continued the mate. "Pass a temporary seizing on the lee royal
foot-rope. Make sure it's all right 'fore you get on it, now."

"Aye, aye, sir."

The man passed down the poop steps, secured the spun yarn, and while
rolling it into a ball to put in his pocket, stood for a moment in the
light shining from the second mate's room. The girl on the poop looked
down at him. He was a trim-built, well-favored young fellow, with more
refinement in his face than most sailors can show; yet there was no
lack of seamanly deftness in the fingers which balled up the spun yarn
and threw a half-hitch with the bight of the lanyard over the point of
the marlinespike which hung to his neck. As he climbed the steps, the
girl faced him, looking squarely into his eyes.

"Be careful, John--Mr. Owen," she said. "The seizing is chafed through.
I heard the man report it--it was Dutch George of the other watch. Do
be careful."

"Eh, why--why, yes, Miss Folsom. Thank you. But you startled me. I've
been Jack for three years--not John, nor Mister. Yes, it's all right;
I----"

"Get aloft to that mizzenroyal," thundered the mate, now near the
wheel.

"Aye, aye, sir." He touched his sou'wester to the girl and mounted the
weather mizzen-rigging, running up the ratlines as a fireman goes up a
ladder. It was a black night with cold rain, and having thrown off his
oiled jacket, he was already drenched to the skin; but no environment
of sunshine, green fields and woodland, and flower-scented air ever
made life brighter to him than had the incident of the last few
moments; and with every nerve in his body rejoicing in his victory, and
her bitter words of four years back crowding his mind as a contrasting
background, he danced up and over the futtock-shrouds, up the
topmast-rigging, through the crosstrees, and up the topgallant-rigging
to where the ratlines ended and he must climb on the runner of the
royal-halyards. As the yard was lowered, this was a short climb, and he
swung himself upward to the weather yard-arm, where he rolled up one
side of the sail with extravagant waste of muscular effort; for she had
said he was not a man, and he had proved her wrong: he had conquered
himself, and he had conquered her.

He hitched the gasket, and crossed over to the lee side, forgetting, in
his exhilaration, the object of the spun yarn in his pocket and the
marlinespike hung from his neck, stepped out on the foot-rope, passed
his hands along the jack-stay to pull himself farther, and felt the
foot-rope sink to the sound of snapping strands. The jackstay was torn
from his grasp, and he fell, face downward, into the black void
beneath.

An involuntary shriek began on his lips, but was not finished. He felt
that the last atom of air was jarred from his lungs by what he knew was
the topgallant-yard, four feet below the royal; and, unable to hold on,
with a freezing cold in his veins and at the hair-roots, he experienced
in its fullness the terrible sensation of falling,--whirling
downward,--clutching wildly at vacancy with stiffened fingers.

The first horror past, his mind took on a strange contemplativeness;
fear of death gave way to mild curiosity as to the manner of it. Would
he strike on the lee quarter, or would he go overboard? And might he
not catch something? There was rigging below him--the lee
royal-backstay stretched farthest out from the mast, and if he brushed
it, there was a possible chance. He was now face upward, and with the
utmost difficulty moved his eyes,--he could not yet, by any exercise of
will or muscle, move his head,--and there, almost within reach, was a
dark line, which he knew was the royal-backstay; farther in toward the
spars was another--the topgallant-backstay; and within this, two other
ropes which he knew for the topgallant-rigging, though he could see no
ratlines, nor could he distinguish the lay of the strands; the ropes
appeared like solid bars. This, with the fact that he was still but a
few feet below the topgallant-yard, surprised him, until it came to him
that falling bodies travel over sixteen feet in the first second of
descent, which is at a rate too fast for distinct vision, and that the
apparent slowness of his falling was but relative--because of the
quickness of his mind, which could not wait on a sluggish optic nerve
and more sluggish retina.

Yet he wondered why he could not reach out and grasp the backstay. It
seemed as though invisible fetters bound every muscle and joint, though
not completely. An intense effort of will resulted in the slow
extension of all the fingers of his right hand, and a little
straightening of the arm toward the backstay; but not until he had
fallen to the level of the upper topsail-yard was this result reached.
It did no good; the backstay was now farther away. As it led in a
straight line from the royal-masthead to the rail, this meant that he
would fall overboard, and the thought comforted him. The concussion
would kill him, of course; but no self-pity afflicted him now. He
merely considered that she, who had relented, would be spared the sight
of him crushed to a pulp on the deck.

As he drifted slowly down past the expanse of upper topsail, he noticed
that his head was sinking and his body turning so that he would
ultimately face forward; but still his arms and legs held their
extended position, like those of a speared frog, and the thought
recalled to him an incident of his infancy--a frog-hunt with an older
playmate, his prowess, success, wet feet, and consequent illness. It
had been forgotten for years, but the chain was started, and led to
other memories, long dead, which rose before him. His childhood passed
in review, with its pleasures and griefs; his school-days, with their
sports, conflicts, friends and enemies; college, where he had acquired
the polish to make him petted of all but one--and abhorrent to her.
Almost every person, man or woman, boy or girl, with whom he had
conversed in his whole life, came back and repeated the scene; and as
he passed the lower topsail-yard, nearly head downward, he was
muttering commonplaces to a brown-faced, gray-eyed girl, who listened,
and looked him through and through, and seemed to be wondering why he
existed.

And as he traversed the depth of the lower topsail, turning gradually
on his axis, he lived it over--next to his first voyage, the most
harrowing period of his life: the short two months during which he had
striven vainly to impress this simple-natured sailor-girl with his good
qualities, ending at last with his frantic declaration of a love that
she did not want.

"But it's not the least use, John," she said to him. "I do not love
you, and I cannot. You are a gentleman, as they say, and as such I like
you well enough; but I never can love you, nor any one like you. I've
been among men, real men, all my life, and perhaps have ideals that are
strange to you. John,"--her eyes were wide open in earnestness,--"you
are not a man."

Writhing under her words, which would have been brutal spoken by
another, he cursed, not her, nor himself, but his luck and the fates
that had shaped his life. And next she was showing him the opened door,
saying that she could tolerate profanity in a man, but not in a
gentleman, and that under no circumstances was he to claim her
acquaintance again. Then followed the snubbing in the street, when,
like a lately whipped dog, he had placed himself in her way, hoping she
would notice him; and the long agony of humiliation and despair as his
heart and soul followed her over the seas in her father's ship, until
the seed she had planted--the small suspicion that her words were
true--developed into a wholesome conviction that she had measured him
by a higher standard than any he had known, and found him wanting. So
he would go to her school, and learn what she knew.

With lightning-like rapidity his mind rehearsed the details of his
tuition: the four long voyages; the brutality of the officers until he
had learned his work; their consideration and rough kindness when he
had become useful and valuable; the curious, incongruous feeling of
self-respect that none but able seamen feel; the growth in him of an
aggressive physical courage; the triumphant satisfaction with which he
finally knew himself as a complete man, clean in morals and mind, able
to look men in the face. And then came the moment when, mustering at
the capstan with the new crew of her father's ship, he had met her
surprised eyes with a steady glance, and received no recognition.

And so he pleaded his cause, dumbly, by the life that he lived. Asking
nothing by word or look, he proved himself under her eyes--first on
deck; first in the rigging; the best man at a weather-earing; the best
at the wheel; quick, obedient, intelligent, and respectful, winning the
admiration of his mates, the jealous ill will of the officers, but no
sign of interest or approval from her until to-night--the ninety-second
day of the passage. She had surrendered; he had reached her level, only
to die; and he thought this strange.

Facing downward, head inboard now, and nearly horizontal, he was
passing the cross-jack yard. Below him was the sea--black and crisp,
motionless as though carved in ebony. Neither was there movement of the
ship and its rigging; the hanging bights of ropes were rigid, while a
breaking sea just abaft the main chains remained poised, curled, its
white crest a frozen pillow of foam. "The rapidity of thought," he
mused dreamily; "but I'm falling fast enough--fast enough to kill me
when I strike."

He could not move an eyelid now, nor was he conscious that he breathed;
but, being nearly upright, facing aft and inboard, the quarter-deck and
its fittings were before his eyes, and he saw what brought him out of
eternity to a moment of finite time and emotion. The helmsman stood at
the motionless wheel with his right hand poised six inches above a
spoke, as though some sudden paralysis gripped him, and his face,
illumined by the binnacle light, turned aloft inquiringly. But it was
not this. Standing at the taffrail, one hand on a life-buoy, was a girl
in yellow looking at him,--unspeakable horror in the look,--and around
her waist the arm of the mate, on whose rather handsome face was an
evil grin.

A pang of earthly rage and jealousy shot through him, and he wished to
live. By a supreme effort of will he brought his legs close together
and his arms straight above his head; then the picture before him shot
upward, and he was immersed in cold salt water, with blackness all
about him. How long he remained under he could not guess. He had struck
feet first and suffered no harm, but had gone down like a deep-sea
lead. He felt the aching sensation in his lungs coming from suppressed
breathing, and swam blindly in the darkness, not knowing in which
direction was the surface, until he felt the marlinespike--still
fastened to his neck--extending off to the right. Sure that it must
hang downward, he turned the other way, and, keeping it parallel with
his body, swam with bursting lungs, until he felt air upon his face and
knew that he could breathe. In choking sobs and gasps his breath came
and went, while he paddled with hands and feet, glad of his reprieve;
and when his lungs worked normally, he struck out for a white, circular
life-buoy, not six feet away. "Bless her for this," he prayed, as he
slipped it under his arms. His oilskin trousers were cumbersome, and
with a little trouble he shed them.

He was alive, and his world was again in motion. Seas lifted and
dropped him, occasionally breaking over his head. In the calm of the
hollows, he listened for voices of possible rescuers. On the tops of
the seas,--ears filled with the roar of the gale,--he shouted, facing
to leeward, and searching with strained eyes for sign of the ship or
one of her boats. At last he saw a pin-point of light far away, and
around it and above it blacker darkness, which was faintly shaped to
the outline of a ship and canvas--hove to in the trough, with
maintopsail aback, as he knew by its foreshortening. And even as he
looked and shouted it faded away. He screamed and cursed, for he wanted
to live. He had survived that terrible fall, and it was his right.

Something white showed on the top of a sea to leeward and sank in a
hollow. He sank with it, and when he rose again it was nearer.

"Boat ahoy!" he sang out. "Boat ahoy!--this way--port a
little--steady."

He swam as he could, cumbered by the life-buoy, and with every heaving
sea the boat came nearer. At last he recognized it--the ship's dinghy;
and it was being pulled into the teeth of that forceful wind and sea by
a single rower--a slight figure in yellow.

"It's Freda," he exclaimed; and then, in a shout: "This way, Miss
Folsom--a little farther."

She turned, nodded, and pulled the boat up to him. He seized the
gunwale, and she took in the oars.

"Can you climb in alone, John?" she asked in an even voice--as even as
though she were asking him to have more tea. "Wait a little,--I am
tired,--and I will help you."

She was ever calm and dispassionate, but he wondered at her now; yet he
would not be outdone.

"I'll climb over the stern, Freda, so as not to capsize you. Better go
forward to balance my weight."

She did so. He pulled himself to the stern, slipped the life-buoy over
his head and into the boat, then, by a mighty exercise of all his
strength, vaulted aboard with seeming ease and sat down on a thwart. He
felt a strong inclination to laughter and tears, but repressed himself;
for masculine hysterics would not do before this young woman. She came
aft to the next thwart, and when he felt steadier he said:

"You have saved my life, Freda; but thanks are idle now, for your own
is in danger. Give me the oars. We must get back to the ship."

She changed places with him, facing forward, and said wearily, as he
shipped the oars: "So you want to get back?"

"Why, yes; don't you? We are adrift in an open boat."

"The wind is going down, and the seas do not break," she answered, in
the same weary voice. "It does not rain any more, and we will have the
moon."

A glance around told him that she spoke truly. There was less pressure
to the wind, and the seas rose and fell, sweeping past them like moving
hills of oil. Moonlight shining through thinning clouds faintly
illumined her face, and he saw the expressionless weariness of her
voice, and a sad, dreamy look in her gray eyes.

"How did you get the dinghy down, Freda?" he asked. "And why did no one
come with you?"

"Father was asleep, and the mate was incompetent. I had my revolver,
and they backed the yards for me and threw the dinghy over. I had
loosened the gripes as you went aloft. I thought you would fall.
Still--no one would come."

"And you came alone," he said in a broken voice, "and pulled this boat
to windward in this sea. You are a wonder."

"I saw you catch the life-buoy. Why did you fall? You were cautioned."

"I forgot the foot-rope. I was thinking of you."

"You are like the mate. He forgot the foot-rope all day because he was
thinking of me. I should have gone aloft and seized it myself."

There was no reproof or sarcasm in the tired voice. She had simply made
an assertion.

"Why are you at sea, before the mast--a man of your talents?"

It was foolish, he knew; but the word "man" sent a thrill through him.

"To please you if I may; to cultivate what you did not find in me."

"Yes, I knew; when you came on board I knew it. But you might have
spoken to me."

There was petulance in the tone now, and the soul of the man rejoiced.
The woman in her was asserting itself.

"Miss Folsom," he answered warmly, "I could not. You had made it
impossible. It was your right, your duty, if you wished it. But you
ignored my existence."

"I was testing you. I am glad now, Mr. Owen."

The petulance was gone, but there was something chilling in this
answer.

"Can you see the ship?" he asked after a moment's silence. "The
moonlight is stronger."

"We will not reach her. They have squared away. The mate had the deck,
and father is asleep."

"And left you in an open boat," he answered angrily.

"He knew I was with you."

What was irrelevant in this explanation of the mate's conduct escaped
him at the time. The full moon had emerged from behind the racing
clouds, and it brightened her face, fringed by the tangled hair and
yellow sou'wester, to an unearthly beauty that he had never seen
before. He wondered at it, and for a moment a grisly thought crossed
his mind that this was not life, but death; that he had died in the
fall, and in some manner the girl had followed.

She was standing erect, her lithe figure swaying to the boat's motion,
and pointing to leeward, while the moonlit face was now sweetened by
the smile of a happy child. He stood up, and looked where she pointed,
but saw nothing, and seated himself to look at her.

"See!" she exclaimed gleefully. "They have hauled out the spanker and
are sheeting home the royal. I will never be married! I will never be
married! He knew I was with you."

Again he stood up and searched the sea to leeward. There was nothing in
sight.

"Unhinged," he thought, "by this night's trouble. Freda," he said
gently, "please sit down. You may fall overboard."

"I am not insane," she said, as though reading his thought; and,
smiling radiantly in his face, she obeyed him.

"Do you know where we are?" he asked tentatively. "Are we in the track
of ships?"

"No," she answered, while her face took on the dreamy look again. "We
are out of all the tracks. We will not be picked up. We are due west
from Ilio Island. I saw it at sundown broad on the starboard bow. The
wind is due south. If you will pull in the trough of the sea we can
reach it before daylight. I am tired--so tired--and sleepy. Will you
watch out?"

"Why, certainly. Lie down in the stern-sheets and sleep if you can."

She curled up in her yellow oil-coat and slumbered through the night,
while he pulled easily on the oars--not that he had full faith in her
navigation, but to keep himself warm. The sea became smoother, and as
the moon rose higher, it attained a brightness almost equal to that of
the sun, casting over the clear sky a deep-blue tint that shaded
indefinitely into the darkness extending from itself to the horizon.
Late in the night he remembered the danger of sleeping in strong
moonlight, and arising softly to cover her face with his damp
handkerchief, he found her looking at him.

"We are almost there, John. Wake me when we arrive," she said, and
closed her eyes.

He covered her face, and, marveling at her words, looked ahead. He was
within a half-mile of a sandy beach which bordered a wooded island. The
sea was now like glass in its level smoothness, and the air was warm
and fragrant with the smell of flowers and foliage. He shipped the
oars, and pulled to the beach. As the boat grounded she arose, and he
helped her ashore.

The beach shone white under the moonlight, and dotting it were large
shellfish and moving crabs that scuttled away from them. Bordering the
beach were forest and undergrowth with interlacery of flowering vines.
A ridge of rocks near by disclosed caves and hollows, some filled by
the water of tinkling cascades. Oranges snowed in the branches of
trees, and cocoa-palms lifted their heads high in the distance. A
small deer arose, looked at them, and lay down, while a rabbit
inspected them from another direction and began nibbling.

"An earthly paradise, I should say," he observed, as he hauled the boat
up the beach. "Plenty of food and water, at any rate."

"It is Ilio Island," she answered, with that same dreamy voice. "It is
uninhabited and never visited."

"But surely, Freda, something will come along and take us off."

"No; if I am taken off I must be married, of course; and I will never
be married."

"Who to, Freda? Whom must you marry if we are rescued?"

"The mate--Mr. Adams. Not you, John Owen--not you. I do not like you."

She was unbalanced, of course; but the speech pained him immeasurably,
and he made no answer. He searched the clean-cut horizon for a moment,
and when he looked back she was close to him, with the infantile smile
on her face, candor and sanity in her gray eyes. Involuntarily he
extended his arms, and she nestled within them.

"You _will_ be married, Freda," he said; "you _will_ be married, and to
me."

He held her tightly and kissed her lips; but the kiss ended in a
crashing sound, and a shock of pain in his whole body which expelled
the breath from his lungs. The moonlit island, sandy beach, blue sea
and sky were swallowed in a blaze of light, which gave way to pitchy
darkness, with rain on his face and whistling wind in his ears, while
he clung with both arms, not to a girl, but to a hard, wet, and cold
mizzentopgallant-yard whose iron jack-stay had bumped him severely
between the eyes. Below him in the darkness a scream rang out, followed
by the roar of the mate: "Are you all right up there? Want any help?"

He had fallen four feet.

When he could speak he answered: "I'm all right, sir." And catching the
royal foot-rope dangling from the end of the yard above him, he brought
it to its place, passed the seizing, and finished furling the royal.
But it was a long job; his movements were uncertain, for every nerve in
his body was jumping in its own inharmonious key.

"What's the matter wi' you up there?" demanded the mate when he reached
the deck; and a yellow-clad figure drew near to listen.

"It was nothing, sir; I forgot about the foot-rope."

"You're a bigger lunkhead than I thought. Go forrard."

He went, and when he came aft at four bells to take his trick at the
wheel, the girl was still on deck, standing near the companionway,
facing forward. The mate stood at the other side of the binnacle,
looking at her, with one elbow resting on the house. There was just
light enough from the cabin skylight for Owen to see the expression
which came over his face as he watched the graceful figure balancing to
the heave of the ship. It took on the same evil look which he had seen
in his fall, while there was no mistaking the thought behind the gleam
in his eyes. The mate looked up,--into Owen's face,--and saw something
there which he must have understood; for he dropped his glance to the
compass, snarled out, "Keep her on the course," and stepped into the
lee alleyway, where the dinghy, lashed upside down on the house, hid
him from view.

The girl approached the man at the wheel.

"I saw you fall, Mr. Owen," she said in a trembling voice, "and I could
not help screaming. Were you hurt much?"

"No, Miss Folsom," he answered in a low though not a steady tone; "but
I was sadly disappointed."

"I confess I was nervous--very nervous--when you went aloft," she said;
"and I cleared away the life-buoy. Then, when you fell, it slipped out
of my hand and went overboard. Mr. Adams scolded me. Wasn't it
ridiculous?" There were tears and laughter in the speech.

"Not at all," he said gravely; "it saved my life--for which I thank
you."

"How--why----"

"Who in Sam Hill's been casting off these gripe-lashings?" growled the
voice of the mate behind the dinghy.

The girl tittered hysterically, and stepped beside Owen at the wheel,
where she patted the moving spokes, pretending to assist him in
steering.

"Miss Freda," said the officer, sternly, as he came around the corner
of the house, "I must ask you plainly to let things alone; and another
thing, please don't talk to the man at the wheel."

"Will you please mind your own business?" she almost screamed; and
then, crying and laughing together: "If you paid as much attention to
your work as you do to--to--me, men wouldn't fall from aloft on account
of rotten foot-ropes."

The abashed officer went forward, grumbling about "discipline" and
"women aboard ship." When he was well out of sight in the darkness, the
girl turned suddenly, passed both arms around Owen's neck, exerted a
very slight pressure, patted him playfully on the shoulder as she
withdrew them, and sped down the companionway.

He steered a wild course during that trick, and well deserved the
profane criticism which he received from the mate.



NEEDS MUST WHEN THE DEVIL DRIVES


Hogged at bow and stern, her deck sloped at the ends like a truck's
platform, while a slight twist in the old hull canted the foremast to
port and the mizzen to starboard. It would be hard to know when she was
on an even keel. The uneven planking, inboard and out, was scarred like
a chopping-block, possibly from a former and intimate acquaintance with
the coal trade. Aloft were dingy gray spars, slack hemp rigging,
untarred for years, and tan-colored sails, mended with patch upon patch
of lighter-hued canvas that seemed about to fall apart from their own
weight. She was English-built, bark-rigged, bluff in the bow, square in
the stern, unpainted and leaky--on the whole as unkempt and
disreputable-looking a craft as ever flew the black flag; and with the
clank of the pumps marking time to the wailing squeak of the
tiller-ropes, she wallowed through the waves like a log in an eddying
tideway.

Even the black flag at the gaff-end wore a makeshift, slovenly air. It
was a square section of the bark's foreroyal, painted black around the
skull-and-cross-bones design, which had been left the original hue of
the canvas. The port-holes were equally slovenly in appearance, being
cut through between stanchions with axes instead of saws; and the
bulwarks were further disfigured by extra holes smashed through at the
stanchions to take the lashings of the gun-breechings. But the guns
were bright and cared for, as were the uniforms of the crew; for they
had been lately transhipped. Far from home, with a general cargo, this
ancient trader had been taken in a fog by Captain Swarth and his men an
hour before their own well-found vessel had sunk alongside--which gave
them just time to hoist over guns and ammunition. When the fog shifted,
the pursuing English war-brig that had riddled the pirate saw nothing
but the peaceful old tub ahead, and went on into the fog, looking for
the other.

"Any port in a storm, Angel," remarked Captain Swarth, as he flashed
his keen eyes over the rickety fabric aloft; "but we'll find a better
one soon. How do the boys stand the pumping?"

Mr. Angel Todd, first mate and quartermaster, filled a black pipe
before answering. Then, between the first and second deep puffs, he
said: "Growlin'--dammum."

"At the work?"

"Yep, and the grub. And they say the 'tween-deck and forecastle smells
o' bedbugs and bilge-water, and they want their grog. 'An ungodly
witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth
iniquity.'" Mr. Todd had been educated for the pulpit; but, going out
as a missionary, he had fallen into ungodly ways and taken to the sea,
where he was more successful. Many of his old phrasings clung to him.

"Well," drawled the captain, "men get fastidious and high-toned in this
business,--can't blame them,--but we've got to make the coast, and if
we don't pick up something on the way, we must careen and stop the
leak. Then they'll have something to growl about."

"S'pose the brig follows us in?"

"Hope she will," said Captain Swarth, with a pleasant smile and a
lightening of his eyes--"hope she will, and give me a chance. Her
majestic widowship owes me a brig, and that's a fine one."

Mr. Todd had never been known to smile, but at this speech he lifted
one eyebrow and turned his saturnine face full at his superior, inquiry
written upon every line of it. Captain Swarth was musing, however, and
said no more; so the mate, knowing better than to attempt probing his
mind, swung his long figure down the poop-ladder, and went forward to
harass the men--which, in their opinion, was all he was good for.

According to his mood, Mr. Todd's speech was choicest English or the
cosmopolitan, technical slang of the sea, mingled with wonderful
profanity. But one habit of his early days he never dropped: he wore,
in the hottest weather, and in storm and battle, the black frock and
choker of the clerical profession. Standing now with one foot on the
fore-hatch, waving his long arms and objurgating the scowling men at
the pumps, he might easily have seemed, to any one beyond the reach of
his language, to be a clergyman exhorting them. Captain Swarth watched
him with an amused look on his sunburnt face, and muttered: "Good man,
every inch of him, but he can't handle men." Then he called him aft.

"Angel," he said, "we made a mistake in cutting the ports; we can't
catch anything afloat that sees them, so we'll have to pass for a
peaceable craft until we can drift close enough to board something. I
think the brig'll be back this way, too. Get out some old tarpaulins
and cover up the ports. Paint them, if you can, the color of the sides,
and you might coil some lines over the rail, as though to dry. Then you
can break out cargo and strike the guns down the main-hatch."

Three days later, with Cape St. Roque a black line to the westward, a
round shot across her bows brought the old vessel--minus the black
emblem now, and outwardly respectable--up to the wind, with maintopsail
aback, while Captain Swarth and a dozen of his men--equally respectable
in the nondescript rig of the merchant sailor--watched the approach of
an English brig of war. Mr. Todd and the rest of the crew were below
hatches with the guns.

The brig came down the wind like a graceful bird--a splendid craft,
black, shiny, and shipshape, five guns to a side, brass-bound officers
on her quarter-deck, blue-jackets darting about her white deck and up
aloft, a homeward-bound pennant trailing from her main-truck, and at
her gaff-end a British ensign as large as her mainroyal. Captain Swarth
lazily hoisted the English flag to the bark's gaff, and, as the brig
rounded to on his weather beam, he pointed to it; but his dark eyes
sparkled enviously as he viewed the craft whose government's protection
he appealed to.

"Bark ahoy!" came a voice through a trumpet. "What bark is that?"

Captain Swarth swung himself into the mizzen-rigging and answered
through his hands with an excellent cockney accent: "_Tryde Wind_
o' Lunnon, Cappen Quirk, fifty-one dyes out fro' Liverpool, bound to
Callao, gen'ral cargo."

"You were not heading for the Horn."

"Hi'm a-leakin' badly. Hi'm a-goin' to myke the coast to careen. D'ye
happen to know a good place?"

An officer left the group and returned with what Captain Swarth knew
was a chart, which a few of them studied, while their captain hailed
again:

"See anything more of that pirate brig the other day?"

"What! a pirate? Be 'e a pirate?" answered Captain Swarth, in agitated
tones. "Be that you a-chasin' of 'im? Nao, hi seed nothink of 'im arter
the fog shut 'im out."

The captain conferred with his officers a moment, then called:

"We are going in to careen ourselves. That fellow struck us on the
water-line. We are homeward bound, and Rio's too far to run back.
Follow us in; but if you lose sight of us, it's a small bay, latitude
nine fifty-one forty south, rocks to the north, lowland to the south,
good water at the entrance, and a fine beach. Look out for the brig.
It's Swarth and his gang. Good morning."

"Aye, that hi will. Thank ye. Good marnin'."

In three hours the brig was a speck under the rising land ahead; in
another, she was out of sight; but before this Captain Swarth and his
crew had held a long conference, which resulted in sail being
shortened, though the man at the wheel was given a straight course to
the bay described by the English captain.

Late on the following afternoon the old bark blundered into this bay--a
rippling sheet of water, bag-shaped, and bordered on all sides by a
sandy beach. Stretching up to the mountainous country was a luxurious
forest of palm, laurel, and cactus, bound and intertwined by almost
impassable undergrowth, and about half-way from the entrance to the end
of the bay was the English brig, moored and slightly careened on the
inshore beach. Captain Swarth's seamanly eye noted certain appearances
of the tackles that held her down, which told him that the work was
done and she was being slacked upright. "Just in time," he muttered.

They brought the bark to anchor near the beach, about a half-mile from
the brig, furled the canvas, and ran out an anchor astern, with the
cable over the taffrail. Heaving on this, they brought the vessel
parallel with the shore. So far, good. Guns and cargo lightered ashore,
more anchors seaward to keep her off the beach, masthead tackles to the
trees to heave her down, and preventer rigging and braces to assist the
masts, would have been next in order, but they proceeded no further
toward careening. Instead, they lowered the two crazy boats,
provisioned and armed them on the in-shore side of the bark, made
certain other preparations--and waited.

On the deck of the English brig things were moving. A gang of
blue-jackets, under the first lieutenant, were heaving in the cable;
another gang, under the boatswain, were sending down and stowing away
the heavy tackles and careening-gear, tailing out halyards and sheets
and coiling down the light-running rigging, while topmen aloft loosed
the canvas to bunt-gaskets, ready to drop it at the call from the deck.

The second lieutenant, overseeing this latter, paced the port
quarter-deck and answered remarks from Captain Bunce, who paced the
sacred starboard side (the brig being at anchor) and occasionally
turned his glass on the dilapidated craft down the beach.

"Seems to me, Mr. Shack," he said across the deck, "that an owner who
would send that bark around the Horn, and the master who would take
her, ought to be sequestered and cared for, either in an asylum or in
jail."

"Yes, sir, I think so too," answered the second lieutenant, looking
aloft. "Might be an insurance job. Clear away that bunt-gasket on the
royal-yard," he added in a roar.

Captain Bunce--round, rosy, with brilliant mutton-chop
whiskers--muttered: "Insurance--wrecked intentionally--no, not here
where we are; wouldn't court investigation by her Majesty's officers."
He rolled forward, then aft, and looked again through the glass.

"Very large crew--very large," he said; "very curious, Mr. Shack."

A hail from the forecastle, announcing that the anchor was short,
prevented Mr. Shack's answering. Captain Bunce waved a deprecatory hand
to the first lieutenant, who came aft at once, while Mr. Shack
descended to the waist, and the boatswain ascended the forecastle steps
to attend to the anchor. The first lieutenant now had charge of the
brig, and from the quarter-deck gave his orders to the crew, while
Captain Bunce busied himself with his glass and his thoughts.

Fore-and-aft sail was set and head-sheets trimmed down to port, square
sails were dropped, sheeted home, and hoisted, foreyards braced to
port, the anchor tripped and fished, and the brig paid off from the
land-breeze, and, with foreyards swung, steadied down to a course for
the entrance.

"Mr. Duncan," said the captain, "there are fully forty men on that
bark's deck, all dressed alike--all in red shirts and knitted caps--and
all dancing around like madmen. Look!" He handed the glass to the first
lieutenant, who brought it to bear.

"Strange," said the officer, after a short scrutiny; "there were only a
few showing when we spoke her outside. It looks as though they were all
drunk."

As they drew near, sounds of singing--uproarious discord--reached them,
and soon they could see with the naked eye that the men on the bark
were wrestling, dancing, and running about.

"Quarters, sir?" inquired Mr. Duncan. "Shall we bring to alongside?"

"Well--no--not yet," said the captain, hesitatingly; "it's all
right--possibly; yet it is strange. Wait a little."

They waited, and had sailed down almost abreast of the gray old craft,
noticing, as they drew near, an appreciable diminution of the uproar,
when a flag arose from the stern of the bark, a dusky flag that
straightened out directly toward them, so that it was difficult to make
out.

But they soon understood. As they reached a point squarely abreast of
the bark, five points of flame burst from her innocent gray sides, five
clouds of smoke ascended, and five round shot, coming with the thunder
of the guns, hurtled through their rigging. Then they saw the design of
the flag, a white skull and cross-bones, and noted another, a black
flag too, but pennant-shaped, and showing in rudely painted letters the
single word "Swarth," sailing up to the forepeak.

"Thunder and lightning!" roared Captain Bunce. "Quarters, Mr. Duncan,
quarters, and in with the kites. Give it to them. Put about first."

A youngster of the crew had sprung below and immediately emerged with a
drum which, without definite instruction, he hammered vigorously; but
before he had begun, men were clearing away guns and manning flying-jib
downhaul and royal clue-lines. Others sprang to stations, anticipating
all that the sharp voice of the first lieutenant could order. Around
came the brig on the other tack and sailed back, receiving another
broadside through her rigging and answering with her starboard guns.
Then for a time the din was deafening. The brig backed her main-yards
and sent broadside after broadside into the hull of the old craft. But
it was not until the eighth had gone that Captain Bunce noticed through
the smoke that the pirates were not firing. The smoke from the burning
canvas port-coverings had deluded him. He ordered a cessation. Fully
forty solid shot had torn through that old hull near the water-line,
and not a man could now be seen on her deck.

"Out with the boats, Mr. Duncan," he said; "they're drunk or crazy, but
they're the men we want. Capture them."

"Suppose they run, sir--suppose they take to their boats and get into
the woods--shall we follow?"

"No, not past the beach--not into an ambush."

The four boat-loads of men which put off from the brig found nothing
but a deserted deck on the sinking bark and two empty boats hauled up
on the beach. The pirates were in the woods, undoubtedly, having kept
the bark between themselves and the brig as they pulled ashore. While
the blue-jackets clustered around the bows of their boats and watched
nervously the line of forest up the beach, from which bullets might
come at any time, the two lieutenants conferred for a few moments, and
had decided to put back, when a rattling chorus of pistol reports
sounded from the depths of the woods. It died away; then was heard a
crashing of bush and branch, and out upon the sands sprang a figure--a
long, weird figure in black frock of clerical cut. Into their midst it
sped with mighty bounds, and sinking down, lifted a glad face to the
heavens with the groaning utterance: "O God, I thank thee. Protect me,
gentlemen--protect me from those wicked men."

"What is it? Who are you?" asked Mr. Duncan. "Were they shooting at
you?"

"Yes, at me, who never harmed a fly. They would have killed me. My name
is Todd. Oh, such suffering! But you will protect me? You are English
officers. You are not pirates and murderers."

"But what has happened? Do you live around here?"

It took some time for Mr. Todd to quiet down sufficiently to tell his
story coherently. He was an humble laborer in the vineyard of the Lord.
He had gleaned among the poorest of the native population in the
outskirts of Rio de Janeiro until his health suffered, and had taken
passage home in a passenger-ship, which, ten days out, was captured by
a pirate brig. And the pirate crew had murdered every soul on board but
himself, and only spared his life, as he thought, for the purpose of
amusement; for they had compelled him to dance--he, a minister of the
gospel--and had made him drink under torture, and recite ribald poetry,
and swear, and wash their clothes. All sorts of indignities had been
heaped upon him, but he had remembered the injunction of the Master; he
had invariably turned the other cheek when smitten, and had prayed for
their souls. He told of the flight from the English war-brig, of the
taking of the old bark in the fog and the sinking of the pirate craft,
of the transfer of guns and treasure to the bark, and the interview at
sea with the English brig, in which Captain Swarth had deceived the
other, and of Captain Swarth's reckless confidence in himself, which
had induced him to follow the brig in and careen in the same bay. He
wound up his tale with a lurid description of the drunken debauch
following the anchoring of the bark,--during which he had trembled for
his life,--of the insane firing on the brig as she passed, and the
tumbling into the boats when the brig returned the fire, of the flight
into the woods, the fighting among themselves, and his escape under
fire.

As he finished he offered an incoherent prayer of thankfulness, and the
sympathetic Mr. Shack drew forth his pocket-flask and offered it to the
agitated sufferer; but Mr. Todd, who could probably drink more whisky
and feel it less than any other man in the pirate crew, declined the
poison with a shiver of abhorrence. Then Mr. Duncan, who had listened
thoughtfully, said: "You speak of treasure; did they take it with
them?"

Mr. Todd opened wide his eyes, looked toward the dark shades of the
forest, then at the three masts of the bark rising out of the water,
and answered impressively:

"Gentlemen, they did not. They were intoxicated--mad with liquor. They
took arms and a knapsack of food to each man,--they spoke of an inland
retreat to which they were going,--but the treasure from the
passenger-ship--the bars of gold and the bags of diamonds--they forgot.
They transferred it from their sinking vessel when sober, but when
intoxicated they remembered food and left it behind. Gentlemen, there
is untold wealth in the hull out there which your fire has sunk. It is,
verily, the root of all evil; let us hope that it remains at the bottom
of the sea."

"Bars of gold--bags of diamonds!" said Mr. Duncan. "Come on board, Mr.
Todd; we'll see what the captain thinks."

At dinner in the brig's cabin that evening--as a prelude to which Mr.
Todd said grace--his account of the wealth spread out on Captain
Swarth's cabin table after the taking of the passenger-ship was
something to arouse interest in a less worldly man than Captain Bunce.
Virgin gold--in bars, ingots, bricks, and dust--from the Morro Velho
mines of Brazil was there, piled up on the table until the legs had
given way and launched the glittering mass to the floor. Diamonds
uncut, uncounted, of untold value,--a three years' product of the whole
Chapada district,--some as large as walnuts, had been spread out and
tossed about like marbles by those lawless men, then boxed up with the
gold and stowed among the cargo under the main-hatch. Again Mr. Todd
expressed the hope that Providence would see fit to let this treasure
remain where the pirates had left it, no longer to tempt man to kill
and steal. But Captain Bunce and his officers thought differently.
Glances, then tentative comments, were exchanged, and in five minutes
they were of one mind, even including Mr. Todd; for it may not be
needless to state that the treasure and the passenger-ship existed only
in his imagination.

Pending the return of the boats the brig's anchor had been dropped
about two hundred yards from the bark; now canvas was furled, and at
eight bells all hands were mustered aft to hear what was in store.
Captain Bunce stated the case succinctly; they were homeward bound and
under general orders until they reported to the admiral at Plymouth.
Treasure was within their reach, apportionable, when obtained, as
prize-money. It was useless to pursue the pirates into the Brazilian
jungle; but they would need to be watchful and ready for surprise at
any moment, either while at work raising the bark or at night; for
though they had brought out the two boats in which the pirates had
escaped, they could find other means of attack, should they dare or
care to make it. The English sailors cheered. Mr. Todd begged to say a
few words, and enjoined them not to allow the love of lucre to tempt
their minds from the duty they owed to their God, their country, and
their captain, which was also applauded and forgotten in a moment.
Then, leaving a double-anchor watch, provided with blue fire and strict
instructions, on deck, the crew turned in to dream of an affluent
future, and Mr. Todd was shown to a comfortable state-room. He removed
his coat and vest, closed the door and dead-light, filled and lighted
his black pipe, and rolled into the berth with a seaman's sigh of
contentment.

"That was a good dinner," he murmured, after he had filled the room
with smoke--"a good dinner. Nothing on earth is too good for a
sky-pilot. I'd go back to the business when I've made my pile, if it
wasn't so all-fired hard on the throat; and then the trustees, with
their eternal kicking on economy, and the sisters, and the
donation-parties--yah, to h----l with 'em! Wonder if this brig ever
carried a chaplain? Wonder how Bill and the boys are making out? Fine
brig, this,--'leven knots on a bow-line, I'll bet,--fine state-room,
good grub, nothin' to do but save souls and preach the Word on Sunday.
Guess I'll strike the fat--duffer--for the--job--in--the--morn----" The
rest of the sentence merged into a snore, and Mr. Todd slept through
the night in the fumes of tobacco, which so permeated his very being
that Captain Bunce remarked it at breakfast. "Smoke, Captain Bunce? I
smoke? Not I," he answered warmly; "but, you see, those ungodly men
compelled me to clean all their pipes,--forty foul pipes,--and I do not
doubt that some nicotine has lodged on my clothing." Whereupon Captain
Bunce told of a chaplain he had once sailed with whose clothing smelled
so vilely that he himself had framed a petition to the admiral for his
transfer to another ship and station. And the little story had the
effect on Mr. Todd of causing him mentally to vow that he'd "ship with
no man who didn't allow smoking," and openly aver that no sincere,
consistent Christian clergyman would be satisfied to stultify himself
and waste his energies in the comfort and ease of a naval chaplaincy,
and that a chaplain who would smoke should be discredited and forced
out of the profession. But later, when Captain Bunce and his officers
lighted fat cigars, and he learned that the aforesaid chaplain had
merely been a careless devotee of pipe and pigtail twist, Mr. Todd's
feelings may be imagined (by a smoker); but he had committed himself
against tobacco and must suffer.

During the breakfast the two lieutenants reported the results of a
survey which they had taken of the wreck at daylight.

"We find," said Mr. Duncan, "about nine feet of water over the deck at
the stern, and about three feet over the fore-hatch at low tide. The
topgallant-forecastle is awash and the end of the bowsprit out of
water, so that we can easily reach the upper ends of the bobstays.
There is about five feet rise and fall of tide. Now, we have no
pontoons nor casks. Our only plan, captain, is to lift her bodily."

"But we have a diving-suit and air-pump," said Mr. Shack,
enthusiastically, "and fifty men ready to dive without suits. We can
raise her, captain, in two weeks."

"Gentlemen," said Captain Bunce, grandly, "I have full faith in your
seamanship and skill. I leave the work in your hands." Which was
equivalent to an admission that he was fat and lazy, and did not care
to take an active part.

"Thank you, sir," said Mr. Duncan, and "Thank you, sir," said Mr.
Shack; then the captain said other pleasant things, which brought other
pleasant responses, and the breakfast passed off so agreeably that Mr.
Todd, in spite of the soul-felt yearning for a smoke inspired by the
cigars in the mouths of the others, felt the influence of the
enthusiasm and bestowed his blessing--qualifiedly--on the enterprise.

Every man of the brig's crew was eager for the work, but few could
engage at first; for there was nothing but the forecastle-deck and the
bark's rigging to stand upon. Down came the disgraceful black flags the
first thing, and up to the gaff went the ensign of Britain. Then they
sent down the fore and main lower and topsail yards, and erected them
as sheers over the bow and stern, lower ends well socketed in spare
anchor-stocks to prevent their sinking in the sand, upper ends lashed
together and stayed to each other and to the two anchors ahead and
astern. To the sheer-heads they rigged heavy threefold tackles, and to
the disconnected bobstays (chains leading from the bowsprit end to the
stem at the water-line) they hooked the forward tackle, and heaving on
the submerged windlass, lifted the bow off the bottom--high enough to
enable them to slip two shots of anchor-chain under the keel, one to
take the weight at the stern, the other at the bow, for the bobstays
would pull out of the stem under the increased strain as the bark
arose.

Most of this work was done under water; but a wetting is nothing to men
looking for gold, and nobody cared. Yet, as a result of ruined
uniforms, the order came from Captain Bunce to wear underclothing only
or go naked, which latter the men preferred, though the officers clung
to decency and tarry duck trousers. Every morning the day began with
the washing of the brig's deck and scouring of brasswork--which must be
done at sea though the heavens fall; then followed breakfast, the
arming of the boats ready for an attack from the shore, and the descent
upon the bark of as many men as could work.

Occasionally Captain Bunce would order the dinghy, and, accompanied by
Mr. Todd, would visit the bark and offer interfering suggestions, after
the manner of captains, which only embarrassed the officers; and Mr.
Todd would take advantage of these occasions to make landlubberly
comments and show a sad ignorance of things nautical. But often he
would decline the invitation, and when the captain was gone would
descend to his room, and, shutting the door, grip his beloved--though
empty--black pipe between his teeth and breathe through it, while his
eyes shone fiercely with unsatisfied desire, and his mind framed silent
malediction on Bill Swarth for condemning him to this smokeless
sojourn. For he dared not smoke; stewards, cooks, and sailors were all
about him.

In three days the bark's nose was as high as the seven-part tackle
would bring it, with all men heaving who could find room at the
windlass-brakes. Then they clapped a luff-tackle on the fall, and by
heaving on this, nippering and fleeting up, they lifted the fore-hatch
and forecastle scuttle out of water--which was enough. Before this
another gang had been able to slip the other chain to position abaft
the mizzenmast, hook on the tackle, and lead the fall through a
snatch-block at the quarter-bitts forward to the midship capstan.
Disdaining the diving-suit, they swam down nine feet to do these
things, and when they had towed the rope forward they descended seven
feet to wind it around the capstan and ship the bars, which they found
in a rack at the mainmast.

A man in the water weighs practically nothing, and to heave around a
capstan under water requires lateral resistance. To secure this they
dived with hammers and nails, and fastened a circle of cleats to catch
their feet. Then with a boy on the main fife-rail (his head out)
holding slack, eighteen men--three to a bar--would inhale all the air
their lungs could hold, and, with a "One, two, three," would flounder
down, push the capstan around a few pawls, and come up gasping, and
blue in the face, to perch on their bars and recover. It went slowly,
this end, but in three days more they could walk around with their
heads above water.

The next day was Sunday, and they were entitled to rest; but the flavor
of wealth had entered their souls, and they petitioned the captain for
privilege to work, which was granted, to the satisfaction of the
officers, and against the vigorous protest of Mr. Todd, who had
prepared a sermon and borrowed clean linen from Mr. Shack in which to
deliver it.

With luff-tackles on the fall they hove the stern up until the cabin
doors and all deck-openings but the main-hatch were out of water, and
then, with the bark hanging to the sheers as a swinging-cradle hangs
from its supports, some assisted the carpenter and his mates in
building up and calking an upward extension of the main-hatch coaming
that reached above water at high tide, while others went over the side
looking for the shot-holes of eight broadsides. These, when found, were
covered with planking, followed by canvas, nails being driven with
shackles, sounding-leads, and stones from the bottom in the hands of
naked men clinging to weighted stagings--men whose eyes protruded,
whose lungs ached, whose brains were turning.

Then, and before a final inspection by the boatswain in the diving-suit
assured them that the last shot-hole was covered, they began bailing
from the main-hatch, and when the water perceptibly lowered--the first
index of success--a feverish yell arose and continued, while nude
lunatics wrestled and floundered waist-deep on the flooded deck. The
bark's pumps were manned and worked under water, bailing-pumps--square
tubes with one valve--were made and plunged up and down in each hatch,
whips were rigged, and buckets rose and fell until the obstructing
cargo confined the work to the bark's pumps. Can-hooks replaced the
buckets on the whips, then boxes and barrels were hoisted, broken into,
and thrown overboard, until the surface of the bay was dotted with
them. They drifted back and forth with the tide, some stranding on the
beach, others floating seaward through the inlet. And all the time that
they worked, sharp eyes had watched through the bushes, and a few miles
inland, in a glade surrounded by the giant trees of the Brazilian
forest, red-shirted men lolled and smoked and grew fat, while they
discussed around the central fire the qualities of barbecued wild oxen,
roast opossum and venison, and criticized the seamanship of the
Englishmen.

With a clear deck to work on, every man and boy of the brig's crew,
except the idlers (stewards, cooks, and servants), was requisitioned,
and boxes flew merrily; but night closed down on the tenth day of their
labor without sign of the treasure, and now Mr. Todd, who had noticed a
shade of testiness in the queries of the officers as to the exact
location of the gold and diamonds, expressed a desire to climb the
rigging next afternoon, a feat he had often wished to perform, which he
did clumsily, going through the lubber's hole, and seated in the
maintop with Mr. Duncan's Bible, he remained in quiet meditation and
apparent reading and prayer until the tropic day changed to sudden
twilight and darkness, and the hysterical crew returned. Then he came
down to dinner.

In the morning the work was resumed, and more boxes sprinkled the bay.
They drifted up with the flood, and came back with the ebb-tide; but
among them now were about forty others, unobserved by Captain Bunce,
pacing his quarter-deck, but noted keenly by Mr. Todd. These forty
drifted slowly to the offshore side of the brig and stopped, bobbing up
and down on the crisp waves, even though the wind blew briskly with the
tide, and they should have gone on with the others. It was then that
Captain Bunce stepped below for a cigar, and it was then that Mr. Todd
became strangely excited, hopping along the port-rail and throwing
overboard every rope's end within reach, to the wonder and scandal of
an open-eyed steward in the cabin door, who immediately apprised the
captain.

Captain Bunce, smoking a freshly lit cigar, emerged to witness a
shocking sight--the good and godly Mr. Todd, with an intense expression
on his somber countenance, holding a match to a black pipe and puffing
vigorously, while through the ports and over the rail red-shirted men,
dripping wet and scowling, were boarding his brig. Each man carried a
cutlass and twelve-inch knife, and Captain Bunce needed no special
intelligence to know that he was tricked.

One hail only he gave, and Mr. Todd, his pipe glowing like a hot coal,
was upon him. The captain endeavored to draw his sword, but sinewy arms
encircled him; his cigar was removed from his lips and inserted in the
mouth of Mr. Todd alongside the pipe; then he was lifted, spluttering
with astonishment and rage, borne to the rail and dropped overboard,
his sword clanking against the side as he descended. When he came to
the surface and looked up, he saw through a cloud of smoke on the rail
the lantern-jaws of Mr. Todd working convulsively on pipe and cigar,
and heard the angry utterance: "Yes, d--n ye, I smoke." Then a vibrant
voice behind Mr. Todd roared out: "Kill nobody--toss 'em overboard,"
and the captain saw his servants, cooks, and stewards tumbling over to
join him.

Captain Bunce turned and swam--there was nothing else to do. Soon he
could see a black-eyed, black-mustached man on his quarter-deck
delivering orders, and he recognized the thundering voice, but none of
the cockney accent of Captain Quirk. Men were already on the yards
loosing canvas; and as he turned on his back to rest--for, though
fleshy and buoyant, swimming in full uniform fatigued him--he saw his
anchor-chains whizzing out the hawse-pipes.

He was picked up by the first boat to put off from the bark, and
ordered pursuit; but this was soon seen to be useless. The clean-lined
brig had sternway equal to the best speed of the boats, and now
head-sails were run up, and she paid off from the shore. Topsails were
sheeted home and hoisted, she gathered way, and with topgallantsails
and royals, spanker and staysails, following in quick succession, the
beautiful craft hummed down to the inlet and put to sea, while yells of
derision occasionally came back to the white-faced men in the boats.

A month later the rehabilitated old bark also staggered out the
entrance, and, with a naked, half-starved crew and sad-eyed,
dilapidated officers, headed southward for Rio de Janeiro.



WHEN GREEK MEETS GREEK

    "Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just."
                                            BARD OF AVON.

    "But 4 times he who gits hiz blo' in fust."
                                           JOSH BILLINGS.


Captain William Belchior was more than a martinet. He was known as
"Bucko" Belchior in every port where the English language is spoken,
having earned this prefix by the earnest readiness with which, in his
days as second and chief mate, he would whirl belaying-pins, heavers,
and handspikes about the decks, and by his success in knocking down,
tricing up, and working up sailors who displeased him. With a blow of
his fist he had broken the jaw of a man helplessly ironed in the
'tween-deck, and on the same voyage, armed with a simple belaying-pin,
had sprung alone into a circle of brandishing sheath-knives and quelled
a mutiny. He was short, broad, beetle-browed, and gray-eyed, of
undoubted courage, but with the quality of sympathy left out of his
nature.

During the ten years in which he had been in command, he was relieved
of much of the executive work that had made him famous when he stood
watch, but was always ready to justify his reputation as a "bucko"
should friction with the crew occur past the power of his officers to
cope with. His ship, the _Wilmington_, a skysail-yard clipper, was
rated by sailormen as the "hottest" craft under the American flag, and
Captain Belchior himself was spoken of by consuls and commissioners,
far and near, as a man peculiarly unfortunate in his selection of men;
for never a passage ended but he was complainant against one or more
heavily ironed and badly used-up members of his crew.

His officers were, in the language of one of these defendants, "o' the
same breed o' dorg." No others could or would sign with him. His crews
were invariably put on board in the stream or at anchorage--never at
the dock. Drunk when coerced by the boarding-masters into signing the
ship's articles, kept drunk until delivery, they were driven or hoisted
up the side like animals--some in a stupor from drink or drugs, some
tied hand and foot, struggling and cursing with returning reason.

Equipped thus, the _Wilmington_, bound for Melbourne, discharged her
tug and pilot off Sandy Hook one summer morning, and, with a fresh
quartering wind and raising sea, headed for the southeast. The day was
spent in getting her sail on, and in the "licking into shape" of the
men as fast as they recovered their senses. Oaths and missiles flew
about the deck, knock-downs were frequent, and by eight bells in the
evening, when the two mates chose the watches,--much as boys choose
sides in a ball game,--the sailors were well convinced that their
masters lived aft.

Three men, long-haired fellows, sprawling on the main-hatch, helpless
from seasickness, were left to the last in the choosing and then
hustled into the light from the near-by galley door to be examined.
They had been dragged from the forecastle at the mate's call for "all
hands."

"Call yourselves able seamen, I suppose," he said with an oath, as he
glared into their woebegone faces.

"No, pard," said the tallest and oldest of the three, in a weak voice.
"We're not seamen; we don't know how we got here, neither."

The mate's answer was a fist-blow under the ear that sent the man
headlong into the scuppers, where he lay quiet.

"Say 'sir' when you speak to me, you bandy-legged farmers," he snarled,
glowering hard at the other two, as they leaned against the water-tank.
"I'm pard to none of ye."

They made him no answer, and he turned away in contempt. "Mr. Tomm," he
called, "want these Ethiopians in your watch?"

"No, sir," said the second mate; "I don't want 'em. They're no more use
'an a spare pump."

"I'll make 'em useful 'fore I'm done with 'em. Go forrard, you three.
Get the bile out o' yer gizzards 'fore mornin', 'f ye value yer good
looks." He delivered a vicious kick at each of the two standing men,
bawled out, "Relieve the wheel an' lookout--that'll do the watch," and
went aft, while the crew assisted the seasick men to the forecastle and
into three bedless bunks--bedless, because sailors must furnish their
own, and these men had been shanghaied.

The wind died away during the night, and they awoke in the morning with
their seasickness gone and appetites ravenous. Somber and ominous was
their bearing as they silently ate of the breakfast in the forecastle
and stepped out on deck with the rest in answer to the mate's roar:
"All hands spread dunnage." Having no dunnage but what they wore, they
drew off toward the windlass and conferred together while chests and
bags were dragged out on deck and overhauled by the officers for whisky
and sheath-knives. What they found of the former they pocketed, and of
the latter, tossed overboard.

"Where are the canal-drivers?" demanded the chief mate, as he raised
his head from the last chest. "Where are our seasick gentlemen, who
sleep all night--what--what----" he added in a stutter of surprise.

He was looking down three eight-inch barrels of three heavy Colt
revolvers, cocked, and held by three scowling, sunburnt men, each of
whom was tucking with disengaged left hand the corner of a shirt into a
waistband, around which was strapped a belt full of cartridges.

"Hands up!" snapped the tall man; "hands up, every one of ye! Up with
'em--over yer heads. That's right!" The pistols wandered around the
heads of the crowd, and every hand was elevated.

"What's this? What d' ye mean? Put them pistols down. Give 'em up. Lay
aft, there, some o' ye, and call the captain," blustered the mate, with
his hands held high.

Not a man stirred to obey. The scowling faces looked deadly in earnest.

"Right about, face!" commanded the tall man. "March, every man--back to
the other end o' the boat. Laramie, take the other side and round up
anybody ye see. Now, gentlemen, hurry."

Away went the protesting procession, and, joined by the carpenter,
sail-maker, donkey-man, and cook, "rounded up" from their sanctums by
the man called Laramie, it had reached the main-hatch before the
captain, pacing the quarter-deck, was aware of the disturbance. With
Captain Belchior to think was to act. Springing to the cabin skylight,
he shouted: "Steward, bring up my pistols. Bear a hand. Lower your
weapons, you scoundrels; this is rank mutiny."

A pistol spoke, and the captain's hat left his head. "There goes your
hat," said a voice; "now for a button." Another bullet sped, which cut
from his coat the button nearest his heart. "Come down from there--come
down," said the voice he had heard. "Next shot goes home. Start while I
count three. One--two----" Captain Belchior descended the steps. "Hands
up, same as the rest." Up went the captain's hands; such marksmanship
was beyond his philosophy. "'Pache," went on the speaker, "go up there
and get the guns he wanted." The steward, with two bright revolvers in
his hands, was met at the companion-hatch by a man with but one; but
that one was so big, and the hand which held it was so steady, that it
was no matter of surprise that he obeyed the terse command, "Fork over,
handles first." The captain's nickel-plated pistols went into the
pockets of 'Pache's coat, and the white-faced steward, poked in the
back by the muzzle of that big firearm, marched to the main-deck and
joined the others.

"Go down that place, 'Pache, and chase out any one else ye find,"
called the leader from behind the crowd. "Bring 'em all down here."

'Pache descended, and reappeared with a frightened cabin-boy, whom,
with the man at the wheel, he drove before him to the steps. There was
no wind, and the ship could spare the helmsman.

"Now, then, gentlemen," said the tall leader, "I reckon we're all here.
Keep yer hands up. We'll have a powwow. 'Pache, stay up there, and you,
Laramie, cover 'em from behind. Plug the first man that moves."

He mounted the steps to the quarter-deck, and, as he replaced empty
shells with cartridges, looked down on them with a serene smile on his
not ill-looking face. His voice, except when raised in accents of
command, had in it the musical, drawling, plaintive tone so peculiar to
the native Texan--and so deceptive. The other two, younger and rougher
men, looked, as they glanced at their victims through the sights of the
pistols, as though they longed for the word of permission to riddle the
ship's company with bullets.

"You'll pay for this, you infernal cut-throats," spluttered the
captain. "This is piracy."

"Don't call any names now," said the tall man; "'t ain't healthy. We
don't want to hurt ye, but I tell ye seriously, ye never were nearer
death than ye are now. It's a risky thing, and a foolish thing, too,
gentlemen, to steal three American citizens with guns under their
shirts, and take 'em so far from land as this. Hangin''s the fit and
proper punishment for hoss-stealin', but man-stealin''s so great a
crime that I'm not right sure what the punishment is. Now, we don't
know much 'bout boats and ropes,--though we can tie a hangman's knot
when necessary,--but we do know somethin' 'bout guns and human
natur'--here, you, come 'way from that fence."

The captain was edging toward a belaying-pin; but he noticed that the
speaker's voice had lost its plaintiveness, and three tubes were
looking at him. He drew inboard, and the leader resumed:

"Now, fust thing, who's foreman o' this outfit? Who's boss?"

"I'm captain here."

"You are? You are not. I'm captain. Get up on that shanty." The small
house over the mizzen-hatch was indicated, and Captain Belchior climbed
it. The tubes were still looking at him.

"Now, you, there, you man who hit me last night when I was sick, who
are you, and what?"

"Mate, d---- you."

"Up with you, and don't cuss. You did a cowardly thing, pardner--an
unmanly thing--low down and or'nary. You don't deserve to live any
longer; but my darter, back East at school, thinks I've killed enough
men for one lifetime, and mebbe she's right--mebbe she's right. Anyhow,
she don't like it, and that lets you out--though I won't answer for
'Pache and Laramie when my back's turned. You kicked 'em both. But I'll
just return the blow." The mate had but straightened up on top of the
hatch-house when the terrible pistol spat out another red tongue, and
his yell followed the report, as he clapped his hand to the ear through
which the bullet had torn.

"Hands up, there!" thundered the shooter, and the mate obeyed, while a
stream of blood ran down inside his shirt-collar.

"Any more bosses here?"

The second mate did not respond; but 'Pache's pistol sought him out,
and under its influence, and his guttural, "I know you; get up," he
followed his superiors.

"Any more?"

A manly-looking fellow stepped out of the group, and said: "You've got
the captain and two mates. I'm bo's'n here, and yonder's my mate. We're
next, but we're not bosses in the way o' bein' responsible for anything
that has happened or might happen to you. We b'long forrard. There's no
call to shoot at the crew, for there's not a man among 'em but what 'ud
be glad to see you get ashore, and get there himself."

"Silence, bo's'n," bawled the captain. But the voice of authority
seemed pitifully ludicrous and incongruous, coupled with the captain's
position and attitude, and every face on the deck wore a grin. The
leader noticed the silent merriment, and said:

"Laramie, I reckon these men'll stand. You can come up here. I'm
gettin' 'long in years, and kind o' steadyin' down, but I s'pose you
and 'Pache want some fun. Start yer whistle and turn loose."

Up the steps bounded Laramie, and, with a ringing whoop as a prelude,
began whistling a clear, musical trill, while 'Pache, growling out,
"Dance, dance, ye white-livered coyotes," sent a bullet through the
outer edge of the chief mate's boot-heel.

"Dance," repeated Laramie between bars of the music. _Crack, crack_,
went the pistols, while bullets rattled around the feet of the men on
the hatch, and Laramie's whistle rose and fell on the soft morning air.

The sun, who has looked on many scandalous sights, looked on this, and
hid his face under a cloud, refusing to witness. For never before had
the ethics of shipboard life been so outrageously violated. A squat
captain and two six-foot officers, nearly black in the face from rage
and exertion, with hands clasped over their heads, hopped and skipped
around a narrow stage to the accompaniment of pistol reports
harmoniously disposed among the notes of a whistled tune, while bullets
grazed their feet, and an unkempt, disfigured, and sore-headed crew
looked on and chuckled. When the mate, weak from loss of blood, fell
and rolled to the deck, the leader stopped the entertainment.

"Now, gentlemen," he said in his serious voice, "I'm called Pecos Tom,
and I've had considerable experience in my time, but this is my fust
with human creatur's so weak and thoughtless that they'll drug and
steal three men without takin' their guns away from them. And so, on
'count o' this shiftless improvidence, I reckon this boat will have to
turn round and go back."

They bound them, rolled and kicked the two mates to the rail, lifted
the captain to his feet, and then the leader said significantly:

"Give the right and proper order to yer men to turn this boat round."

With his face working convulsively, Captain Belchior glanced at his
captors, at his eager, waiting crew, at the wheel without a helmsman,
at a darkening of the water on the starboard bow to the southward, up
aloft, and back again at the three frowning muzzles so close to his
head.

"One hand to the wheel! Square in main and cro'-jack yards!" he called.
He was conquered.

With a hurrah which indicated the sincerity of these orders, the crew
sprang to obey them, and with foreyards braced to starboard and
head-sheets flat, the ship _Wilmington_ paid off, wore around, and
bringing the young breeze on the port quarter, steadied down to a
course for Sandy Hook, which the captain, with hands released, but
still under the influence of those threatening pistols, worked out from
the mate's dead-reckoning. Then he was pinioned again, but allowed to
pace the deck and watch his ship, while the two officers were kept
under the rail, sometimes stepped upon or kicked, and often admonished
on the evil of their ways.

Early passengers on the East River ferryboats were treated to a novel
sight next morning, which they appreciated according to their nautical
knowledge. A lofty ship, with sky-sails and royals hanging in the
buntlines, and jibs tailing ahead like flags, was charging up the
harbor before a humming southerly breeze, followed by an elbowing crowd
of puffing, whistling, snub-nosed tugs. It was noticeable that whenever
a fresh tug arrived alongside, little white clouds left her
quarter-deck, and that tug suddenly sheered off to take a position in
the parade astern. Abreast of Governor's Island, topgallant-halyards
were let go, as were those of the jibs; but no cluing up or hauling
down was done, nor were any men seen on her forecastle-deck getting
ready lines or ground-tackle. She passed the Battery and up the East
River, craft of all kinds getting out of her way,--for it was obvious
that something was wrong with her,--until, rounding slowly to a
starboard wheel, with canvas rattling and running-gear in bights, she
headed straight for a slip partly filled with canal-boats. Now her
topsail-halyards were let go, and three heavy yards came down by the
run, breaking across the caps; and amid a grinding, creaking, and
crashing of riven timbers, and a deafening din of applauding tug
whistles, she plowed her way into the nest of canal-boats and came to a
stop.

Then was a hejira. Down her black sides by ropes and chain-plates, to
the wrecked and sinking canal-boats,--some with bags or chests, some
without,--came eager men, who climbed to the dock, and answering no
questions of the gathering crowd of dock-loungers, scattered into the
side-streets. Then three other men appeared on the rail, who shook
their fists, and swore, and shouted for the police, calling
particularly for the apprehension of three dark-faced, long-haired
fellows with big hats.

In the light of later developments it is known that the police
responded, and with the assistance of boarding-house runners gathered
in that day nearly all of this derelict crew,--even to the cautious
boatswain,--who were promptly and severely punished for mutiny and
desertion. But the later developments failed to show that the three
dark-faced men were ever seen again.



PRIMORDIAL


Gasping, blue in the face, half drowned, the boy was flung
spitefully--as though the sea scorned so poor a victory--high on the
sandy beach, where succeeding shorter waves lapped at him and retired.
The encircling life-buoy was large enough to permit his crouching
within it. Pillowing his head on one side of the smooth ring, he wailed
hoarsely for an interval, then slept--or swooned. The tide went down
the beach, the typhoon whirled its raging center off to sea, and the
tropic moon shone out, lighting up, between the beach and barrier reef,
a heaving stretch of oily lagoon on which appeared and disappeared
hundreds of shark-fins quickly darting, and, out on the barrier reef,
perched high, yet still pounded by the ocean combers raised by the
storm, a fragment of ship's stern with a stump of mizzenmast. The
elevated position of the fragment, the quickly darting dorsal fins, and
the absence of company for the child on the beach spoke, too plainly,
of shipwreck, useless boats, and horrible death.

Sharks must sleep like other creatures, and they nestle in hollows at
the bottom and in coral caves, or under overhanging ledges of the reefs
which attract them. The first swimmer may pass safely by night, seldom
the second. Like she-wolves, fiendish cats, and vicious horses, they
have been known to show mercy to children. For one or both reasons,
this child had drifted to the beach unharmed.

Anywhere but on a bed of hot sand near the equator the sleep in wet
clothing of a three-year-old boy might have been fatal; but salt water
carries its own remedy for the evils of its moisture, and he wakened at
daylight with strength to rise and cry out his protest of loneliness
and misery. His childish mind could record facts, but not their reason
or coherency. He was in a new, an unknown world. His mother had filled
his old; where was she now? Why had she tied him into that thing and
thrown him from her into the darkness and wet? Strange things had
happened, which he dimly remembered. He had been roused from his sleep,
dressed, and taken out of doors in the dark, where there were frightful
crashing noises, shoutings of men, and crying of women and other
children. He had cried himself, from sympathy and terror, until his
mother had thrown him away. Had he been bad? Was she angry? And after
that--what was the rest? He was hungry and thirsty now. Why did she
not come? He would go and find her.

With the life-buoy hanging about his waist--though of cork, a heavy
weight for him--he toddled along the beach to where it ended at a
massive ridge of rock that came out of the wooded country inland and
extended into the lagoon as an impassable point. He called the chief
word in his vocabulary again and again, sobbing between calls. She was
not there, or she would have come; so he went back, glancing fearfully
at the dark woods of palm and undergrowth. She might be in there, but
he was afraid to look. His little feet carried him a full half-mile in
the other direction before the line of trees and bushes reached so
close to the beach as to stop him. Here he sat down, screaming
passionately and convulsively for his mother.

Crying is an expense of energy which must be replenished by food. When
he could cry no longer he tugged at the straps and strings of the
life-buoy. But they were wet and hard, his little fingers were weak,
and he knew nothing of knots and their untying, so it was well on
toward midday before he succeeded in scrambling out of the meshes, by
which time he was famished, feverish with thirst, and all but
sunstruck. He wandered unsteadily along the beach, falling
occasionally, moaning piteously through his parched, open lips; and
when he reached the obstructing ridge of rock, turned blindly into the
bushes at its base, and followed it until he came to a pool of water
formed by a descending spray from above. From this, on his hands and
knees, he drank deeply, burying his lips as would an animal.

Instinct alone had guided him here, away from the salt pools on the
beach, and impelled him to drink fearlessly. It was instinct--a
familiar phase in a child--that induced him to put pebbles, twigs, and
small articles in his mouth until he found what was pleasant to his
taste and eatable--nuts and berries; and it was instinct, the most
ancient and deeply implanted,--the lingering index of an arboreal
ancestry,--that now taught him the safety and comfort of these woody
shades, and, as night came on, prompted him--as it prompts a drowning
man to reach high, and leads a creeping babe to a chair--to attempt
climbing a tree. Failing in this from lack of strength, he mounted the
rocky wall a few feet, and here, on a narrow ledge, after indulging in
a final fit of crying, he slept through the night, not comfortably on
so hard a bed, but soundly.

During the day, while he had crawled about at the foot of the rocks,
wild hogs, marsupial animals, and wood-rats had examined him
suspiciously through the undergrowth and decamped. As he slept, howling
night-dogs came up, sniffed at him from a safe distance, and scattered
from his vicinity. He would have yielded in a battle with a pugnacious
kitten, but these creatures recognized a prehistoric foe, and would not
abide with him.

A week passed before he had ceased to cry and call for his mother; but
from this on her image grew fainter, and in a month the infant
intelligence had discarded it. He ate nuts and berries as he found
them, drank from the pool, climbed the rocks and strolled in the wood,
played on the beach with shells and fragments of splintered wreckage,
wore out his clothes, and in another month was naked; for when buttons
and vital parts gave way and a garment fell, he let it lie. But he
needed no clothes, even at night; for it was southern summer, and the
northeast monsoon, adding its humid warmth to the radiating heat from
the sun-baked rocks, kept the temperature nearly constant.

He learned to avoid the sun at midday, and, free from contagion and
motherly coddling, escaped many of the complaints which torture and
kill children; yet he suffered frightfully from colic until his stomach
was accustomed to the change of diet, by which time he was emaciated to
skin and bone. Then a reaction set in, and as time passed he gained
healthy flesh and muscle on the nitrogenous food.

Six months from the time of his arrival, another storm swept the beach.
Pelted by the warm rain, terror-stricken, he cowered under the rocks
through the night, and at daylight peered out on the surf-washed sands,
heaving lagoon, and white line of breakers on the barrier reef. The
short-lived typhoon had passed, but the wind still blew slantingly on
the beach with force enough to raise a turmoil of crashing sea and
undertow in the small bay formed by the extension of the wall. The
fragment of ship's stern on the reef had disappeared; but a half-mile
to the right--directly in the eye of the wind--was another wreck, and
somewhat nearer, on the heaving swell of the lagoon, a black spot,
which moved and approached. It came down before the wind and resolved
into a closely packed group of human beings, some of whom tugged
frantically at the oars of the water-logged boat which held them,
others of whom as frantically bailed with caps and hands. Escorting the
boat was a fleet of dorsal fins, and erect in the stern-sheets was a
white-faced woman, holding a child in one arm while she endeavored to
remove a circular life-buoy from around her waist. At first heading
straight for the part of the beach where the open-eyed boy was
watching, the boat now changed its course and by desperate exertion of
the rowers reached a position from which it could drift to leeward of
the point and its deadly maelstrom. With rowers bailing and the
white-faced woman seated, fastening the child in the life-buoy, the
boat, gunwale-deep, and the gruesome guard of sharks drifted out of
sight behind the point. The boy had not understood; but he had seen his
kind, and from association of ideas appreciated again his
loneliness--crying and wailing for a week; but not for his mother: he
had forgotten her.

With the change of the monsoon came a lowering of the temperature.
Naked and shelterless, he barely survived the first winter, tropical
though it was. But the second found him inured to the surroundings--hardy
and strong. When able to, he climbed trees and found birds' eggs, which
he accidentally broke and naturally ate. It was a pleasant relief from
a purely vegetable diet, and he became a proficient egg-thief; then the
birds built their nests beyond his reach. Once he was savagely pecked
by an angry brush-turkey and forced to defend himself. It aroused a
combativeness and destructiveness that had lain dormant in his nature.

Children the world over epitomize in their habits and thoughts the
infancy of the human race. Their morals and modesty, as well as their
games, are those of paleolithic man, and they are as remorselessly
cruel. From the day of his fracas with the turkey he was a hunter--of
grubs, insects, and young birds; but only to kill, maim, or torture; he
did not eat them, because hunger was satisfied, and he possessed a
child's dislike of radical change.

Deprived of friction with other minds, he was slower than his social
prototype in the reproduction of the epochs. At a stage when most boys
are passing through the age of stone, with its marbles, caves, and
slings, he was yet in the earlier arboreal period--a climber--and would
swing from branch to branch with almost the agility of an ape.

On fine, sunny days, influenced by the weather, he would laugh and
shout hilariously; a gloomy sky made him morose. When hurt, or angered
by disappointment in the hunt, he would cry out inarticulately; but
having no use for language, did not talk, hence did not think, as the
term is understood. His mind received the impressions of his senses,
and could fear, hate, and remember, but knew nothing of love, for
nothing lovable appealed to it. He could hardly reason, as yet; his
shadow puzzled, angered, and annoyed him until he noticed its
concomitance with the sun, when he reversed cause and effect,
considered it a beneficent, mysterious Something that had life, and
endeavored by gesture and grimace to placate and please it. It was his
beginning of religion.

His dreams were often horrible. Strange shapes, immense snakes and
reptiles, and nondescript monsters made up of prehistoric legs, teeth,
and heads, afflicted his sleep. He had never seen them; they were an
inheritance, but as real to him as the sea and sky, the wind and rain.

Every six months, at the breaking up of the monsoon, would come squalls
and typhoons--full of menace, for his kindly, protecting shadow then
deserted him. One day, when about ten years old, during a wild burst of
storm, he fled down the beach in an agony of terror; for, considering
all that moved as alive, he thought that the crashing sea and swaying,
falling trees were attacking him, and, half buried in the sand near the
bushes, found the forgotten life-buoy, stained and weather-worn. It was
quiescent, and new to him,--like nothing he had seen,--and he clung to
it. At that moment the sun appeared, and in a short time the storm had
passed. He carried the life-buoy back with him--spurning and
threatening his delinquent shadow--and looked for a place to put it,
deciding at last on a small cave in the rocky wall near to the pool. In
a corner of this he installed the ring of cork and canvas, and remained
by it, patting and caressing it. When it rained again, he appreciated,
for the first time, the comfort of shelter, and became a cave-dweller,
with a new god--a fetish, to which he transferred his allegiance and
obeisance because more powerful than his shadow.

From correlation of instincts, he now entered the age of stone. He no
longer played with shells and sticks, but with pebbles, which he
gathered, hoarded in piles, and threw at marks,--to be gathered
again,--seldom entering the woods but for food and the relaxation of
the hunt. But with his change of habits came a lessening of his cruelty
to defenseless creatures,--not that he felt pity: he merely found no
more amusement in killing and tormenting,--and in time he transferred
his antagonism to the sharks in the lagoon, their dorsal fins making
famous targets for his pebbles. He needed no experience with these
pirates to teach him to fear and hate them, and when he bathed--which
habit he acquired as a relief from the heat, and indulged daily--he
chose a pool near the rocks that filled at high tide, and in it learned
to swim, paddling like a dog.

And so the boy, blue-eyed and fair at the beginning, grew to early
manhood, as handsome an animal as the world contains, tall, straight,
and clean-featured, with steady eyes wide apart, and skin--the color of
old copper from sun and wind--covered with a fine, soft down, which at
the age of sixteen had not yet thickened on his face to beard and
mustache, though his wavy brown hair reached to his shoulders.

At this period a turning-point appeared in his life which gave an
impetus to his almost stagnant mental development--his food-supply
diminished and his pebble-supply gave out completely, forcing him to
wander. Pebble-throwing was his only amusement; pebble-gathering his
only labor; eating was neither. He browsed and nibbled at all hours of
the day, never knowing the sensation of a full stomach, and, until
lately, of an empty one. To this, perhaps, may be ascribed his
wonderful immunity from sickness. In collecting pebbles his method was
to carry as many as his hands would hold to a pile on the beach and go
back for more; and in the six years of his stone-throwing he had found
and thrown at the sharks every stone as small as his fist, within a
sector formed by the beach and the rocky wall to an equal distance
inland. The fruits, nuts, edible roots, and grasses growing in this
area had hitherto supported him, but would no longer, owing to a
drought of the previous year, which, luckily, had not affected his
water-supply.

One morning, trembling with excitement, eye and ear on the alert,--as a
high-spirited horse enters a strange pasture,--he ventured past the
junction of bush and tide-mark, and down the unknown beach beyond. He
filled his hands with the first pebbles he found, but noticing the
plentiful supply on the ground ahead of him, dropped them and went on;
there were other things to interest him. A broad stretch of undulating,
scantily wooded country reached inland from the convex beach of sand
and shells to where it met the receding line of forest and bush behind
him; and far away to his right, darting back and forth among stray
bushes and sand-hummocks, were small creatures--strange, unlike those
he knew, but in regard to which he felt curiosity rather than fear.

He traveled around the circle of beach, and noticed that the moving
creatures fled at his approach. They were wild hogs, hunted of men
since hunting began. He entered the forest about midday, and emerging,
found himself on a pebbly beach similar to his own, and facing a
continuation of the rocky wall, which, like the other end, dipped into
the lagoon and prevented further progress. He was thirsty, and found a
pool near the rocks; hungry, and he ate of nuts and berries which he
recognized. Puzzled by the reversal of perspective and the similarity
of conditions, he proceeded along the wall, dimly expecting to find his
cave. But none appeared, and, mystified,--somewhat frightened,--he
plunged into the wood, keeping close to the wall and looking sharply
about him. Like an exiled cat or a carrier-pigeon, he was making a
straight line for home, but did not know it.

His progress was slow, for boulders, stumps, and rising ground impeded
him. Darkness descended when he was but half-way home and nearly on a
level with the top of the wall. Forced to stop, he threw himself down,
exhausted, yet nervous and wakeful, as any other animal in a strange
place. But the familiar moon came out, shining through the foliage, and
this soothed him into a light slumber.

He was wakened by a sound near by that he had heard all his life at a
distance--a wild chorus of barking. It was coming his way, and he
crouched and waited, grasping a stone in each hand. The barking,
interspersed soon with wheezing squeals, grew painfully loud, and
culminated in vengeful growls, as a young pig sprang into a patch of
moonlight, with a dozen dingoes--night-dogs--at its heels. In the
excitement of pursuit they did not notice the crouching boy, but
pounced on the pig, tore at it, snapping and snarling at one another,
and in a few minutes the meal was over.

Frozen with terror at this strange sight, the boy remained quiet until
the brutes began sniffing and turning in his direction; then he stood
erect, and giving vent to a scream which rang through the forest,
hurled the two stones with all his strength straight at the nearest. He
was a good marksman. Agonized yelps followed the impact of stone and
hide; two dogs rolled over and over, then, gaining their feet, sped
after their fleeing companions, while the boy sat down, trembling in
every limb--completely unnerved. Yet he knew that he was the cause of
their flight. With a stone in each hand, he watched and waited until
daylight, then arose and went on homeward, with a new and intense
emotion--not fear of the dingoes: he was the superior animal, and knew
it--not pity for the pig: he had not developed to the pitying stage. He
was possessed by a strong, instinctive desire to emulate the dogs and
eat of animal food. It did not come of his empty stomach; he felt it
after he had satisfied his hunger on the way; and as he plodded down
the slope toward his cave, gripped his missiles fiercely and watched
sharply for small animals--preferably pigs.

But no pigs appeared. He reached his cave, and slept all day and the
following night, waking in the morning hungry, and with the memory of
his late adventure strong in his mind. He picked up the two stones he
had brought home, and started down the beach, but stopped, came back,
and turned inland by the wall; then he halted again and retraced his
steps--puzzled. He pondered awhile,--if his mental processes may be so
termed,--then walked slowly down the beach, entered the bush a short
distance, turned again to the wall, and gained his starting-point. Then
he reversed the trip, and coming back by way of the beach, struck
inland with a clear and satisfied face. He had solved the problem--a
new and hard one for him--that of two roads to a distant place; and he
had chosen the shortest.

In a few hours he reached his late camping-spot, and crouched to the
earth, listening for barking and squealing--for a pig to be chased his
way. But dingoes hunt only by night, and unmolested pigs do not squeal.
Impatient at last, he went on through the forest in the direction from
which they had come, until he reached the open country where he had
first seen them; and here, rooting under the bushes at the margin of
the wood, he discovered a family--a mother and four young ones--which
had possibly contained the victim of the dogs. He stalked them slowly
and cautiously, keeping bushes between himself and them, but was seen
by the mother when about twenty yards away. She sniffed suspiciously,
then, with a warning grunt and a scattering of dust and twigs, scurried
into the woods, with her brood--all but one--in her wake.

A frightened pig is as easy a target as a darting dorsal fin, and a fat
suckling lay kicking convulsively on the ground. He hurried up, the
hunting gleam bright in his eyes, and hurled the second stone at the
little animal. It still kicked, and he picked up the first stone,
thinking it might be more potent to kill, and crashed it down on the
unfortunate pig's head. It glanced from the head to the other stone and
struck a spark--which he noticed.

The pig now lay still, and satisfied that he had killed it, he tried to
repeat the carom, but failed. Yet the spark had interested him,--he
wanted to see it again,--and it was only after he had reduced the pig's
head to a pulp that he became disgusted and angrily threw the stone in
his hand at the one on the ground. The resulting spark delighted him.
He repeated the experiment again and again, each concussion drawing a
spark, and finally used one stone as a hammer on the other, with the
same result--to him, a bright and pretty thing, very small, but alive,
which came from either of the dead stones. Tired of the play at last,
he turned to the pig--the food that he had yearned for.

It was well for him, perhaps, that the initial taste of bristle and fat
prevented his taking the second mouthful. Slightly nauseated, he
dropped the carcass and turned to go, but immediately bounded in the
air with a howl of pain. His left foot was red and smarting. Once he
had cut it on a sharp shell, and now searched for a wound, but found
none. Rubbing increased the pain. Looking on the ground for the cause,
he discovered a wavering, widening ring of strange appearance, and
within it a blackened surface on which rested the two stones. They were
dry flint nodules, and he had set fire to the grass with the sparks.

Considering this to be a new animal that had attacked him, he pelted it
with stones, dancing around it in a rage and shouting hoarsely. He
might have conquered the fire and never invoked it again, had not the
supply of stones in the vicinity given out, or those he had used grown
too hot to handle; for he stayed the advancing flame at one side. But
the other side was creeping on, and he used dry branches, dropping to
his hands and knees to pound the fire, fighting bravely, crying out
with pain as he burned himself, and forced to drop stick after stick
which caught fire. Soon it grew too hot to remain near, and he stood
off and launched fuel at it, which resulted in a fair-sized bonfire;
then, in desperation and fear, he hurled the dead pig--the cause of the
trouble--at the terrible monster, and fled.

Looking back through the trees to see if he was pursued, he noticed
that the strange enemy had taken new shape and color; it was reaching
up into the air, black and cloud-like. Frightened, tired mentally and
physically, and suffering keenly from his burns, he turned his back on
the half-solved problem and endeavored to satisfy his hunger. But he
was on strange territory and found little of his accustomed food; the
chafing and abrading contact of bushes and twigs irritated his sore
spots, preventing investigation and rapid progress, and at the end of
three hours, still hungry, and exasperated by his torment into a
reckless, fighting mood, he picked up stones and returned savagely to
battle again with the enemy. But the enemy was dead. The grass had
burned to where it met dry earth, and the central fire was now a
black-and-white pile of still warm ashes, on which lay the charred and
denuded pig, giving forth a savory odor. Cautiously approaching, he
studied the situation, then, yielding to an irresistible impulse,
seized the pig and ran through the woods to the wall and down to his
cave.

Two hours later he was writhing on the ground with a violent
stomach-ache. It was forty-eight hours after when he ate again, and
then of his old food--nuts and berries. But the craving returned in a
week, and he again killed a pig, but was compelled to forego eating it
for lack of fire.

Though he had discovered fire and cooked food, his only conception of
the process, so far, was that the mysterious enemy was too powerful for
him to kill, that it would eat sticks and grass but did not like
stones, and that a dead pig could kill it, and in the conflict be made
eatable. It was only after months of playing with flints and sparks
that he recognized the part borne by dry grass or moss, and that with
these he could create it at will; that a dead pig, though always
improved by the effort, could not be depended upon to kill it unless
the enemy was young and small,--when stones would answer as well,--and
that he could always kill it himself by depriving it of food.

It is hardly possible that animal food produced a direct effect on his
mind; but the effort to obtain it certainly did, arousing his torpid
faculties to a keener activity. He grasped the relation of cause to
effect--seeing one, he looked for the other. He noticed resemblances
and soon realized the common attributes of fire and the sun; and, as
his fetish was not always good to him,--the sun and storm seeming to
follow their own sweet will in spite of his unspoken faith in the
lifebuoy,--he again became an apostate, transferring his allegiance to
the sun, of which the friendly fire was evidently a part or symbol. He
did not discard his dethroned fetish completely; he still kept it in
his cave to punch, kick, and revile by gestures and growls at times
when the sun was hidden, retaining this habit from his former faith.
The life-buoy was now his devil--a symbol of evil, or what was the same
to him--discomfort; for he had advanced in religious thought to a point
where he needed one. Every morning when the sun shone, and at its
reappearance after the rain, he prostrated himself in a patch of
sun-light--this and the abuse of the life-buoy becoming ceremonies in
his fire-worship.

In time he became such a menace to the hogs that they climbed the wall
at the high ground and disappeared in the country beyond. And after
them went the cowardly dingoes that preyed on their young. Rodent
animals, more difficult to hunt, and a species of small kangaroo
furnished him occupation and food until they, too, emigrated, when he
was forced to follow; he was now a carnivorous animal, no longer
satisfied with vegetable food.

The longer hunts brought with them a difficulty which spurred him to
further invention. He could carry only as many stones as his hands
would hold, and often found himself far from his base of supply, with
game in sight, and without means to kill it. The pouch in which the
mother kangaroo carried her young suggested to his mind a like
contrivance for carrying stones. Since he had cut his foot on the
shell, he had known the potency of a sharp edge, but not until he
needed to remove charred and useless flesh from his food did he
appreciate the utility. It was an easy advance for him roughly to skin
a female kangaroo and wear the garment for the pocket's sake. But it
chafed and irritated him; so, cutting off the troublesome parts little
by little, he finally reduced it to a girdle which held only the pouch.
And in this receptacle he carried stones for throwing and shells for
cutting, his expeditions now extending for miles beyond the wall, and
only limited by the necessity of returning for water, of which, in the
limestone rock, there were plenty of pools and trickling springs.

He learned that no stones but the dry flints he found close to the wall
would strike sparks; but, careless, improvident, petulant child of
nature that he was, he exhausted the supply, and one day, too indolent
to search his hunting-tracts to regain the necessary two, he endeavored
to draw fire from a pair that he dug from the moist earth, and failing,
threw them with all his strength at the rocky wall. One of them
shivered to irregular pieces, the other parted with a flake--a six-inch
dagger-like fragment, flat on one side, convex on the other, with sharp
edges that met in a point at one end, and at the other, where lay the
cone of percussion, rounded into a roughly cylindrical shape,
convenient for handling. Though small, no flint-chipping savage of the
stone age ever made a better knife, and he was quick to appreciate its
superiority to a shell.

Like most discoveries and inventions that have advanced the human race,
his were, in the main, accidental; yet he could now reason from the
accidental to the analogous. Idly swinging his girdle around his head,
one day, and letting go, he was surprised at the distance to which,
with little effort, he could send the stone-laden pouch. Months of
puzzled experimenting produced a sling--at first with a thong of hide
fast to each stone, later with the double thong and pouch that small
boys and savages have not yet improved upon.

To this centrifugal force, which he could use without wholly
understanding, he added the factor of a rigid radius--a handle to a
heavy stone; for only with this contrivance could he break large flints
and open cocoanuts--an article of good food that he had passed by all
his life and wondered at until his knife had divided a green one. His
experiments in this line resulted in a heavy, sharp-edged, solid-backed
flint, firmly bound with thongs to the end of a stick,--a rude
tomahawk,--convenient for the _coup de grâce_.

The ease with which he could send a heavy stone out of sight, or bury a
smaller one in the side of a hog at short range, was wonderful to him;
but he was twenty years old before, by daily practice with his sling,
he brought his marksmanship up to that of his unaided hand, equal to
which, at an earlier date, was his skill at hatchet-throwing. He could
outrun and tomahawk the fastest hog, could bring down with his sling a
kangaroo on the jump or a pigeon on the wing, could smell and
distinguish game to windward with the keen scent of a hound, and became
so formidable an enemy of his troublesome rivals, the dingoes,--whose
flesh he disapproved of,--and the sharks in the lagoon, that the one
deserted his hunting-ground and the other seldom left the reef.

He broke or lost one knife and hatchet after another, and learned, in
making new ones, that he could chip them into improved shape when
freshly dug, and that he must allow them to dry before using--when they
were also available for striking fire. He had enlarged his pocket,
making a better one of a whole skin by roughly sewing the edges
together with thongs, first curing the hide by soaking in salt water
and scraping with his knife. His food-list now embraced shellfish and
birds, wild yams, breadfruit, and cocoanuts, which, even the latter, he
cooked before eating and prepared before cooking. Pushed by an
ever-present healthy appetite, and helped by inherited instincts based
on the habits and knowledge of a long line of civilized ancestry, he
had advanced in four years from an indolent, mindless existence to a
plane of fearless, reasoning activity. He was a hunter of prowess,
master of his surroundings, lord over all creatures he had seen, and,
though still a cave-dweller when at home, in a fair way to become a
hut-builder, herdsman, and agriculturist; for he had arranged boughs to
shelter him from the rain when hunting, had attempted to block up the
pass over the wall to prevent the further wanderings of a herd of hogs
that he had pursued, and had lately become interested in the sprouting
of nuts and seeds and the encroachments and changes of the vegetation.

Yet he lacked speech, and did his thinking without words. The
deficiency was not accompanied by the unpleasant twisted features and
grimacing of mutes, which comes of conscious effort to communicate. His
features were smooth and regular, his mouth symmetrical and firm, and
his clear blue eye thoughtful and intent as that of a student; for he
had studied and thought. He would smile and frown, laugh and shout,
growl and whine, the pitch and timbre of his inarticulate utterance
indicating the emotion which prompted it to about the same degree as
does an intelligent dog's language to his master. But dogs and other
social animals converse in a speech beyond human ken; and in this
respect he was their inferior, for he had not yet known the need of
language, and did not, until, one day, in a section of his domain that
he had never visited before,--because game avoided it,--down by the sea
on the side of the wall opposite to his cave, he met a creature like
himself.

He had come down the wooded slope on the steady jog-trot he assumed
when traveling, tomahawk in hand, careless, confident, and happy
because of the bright sunshine and his lately appeased hunger, and, as
he bounded on to the beach with a joyous whoop, was startled by an
answering scream.

Mingled with the frightful monsters in the dreams of his childhood
had been transient glimpses of a kind, placid face that he seemed
to know--a face that bent over him lovingly and kissed him. These
were subconscious memories of his mother, which lasted long after
he had forgotten her. As he neared manhood, strange yearnings had
come to him--a dreary loneliness and craving for company. In his
sleep he had seen fleeting visions of forms and faces like his
reflection in a pool--like, yet unlike; soft, curving outlines,
tinted cheeks, eyes that beamed, and white, caressing hands
appeared and disappeared--fragmentary and illusive. He could not
distinctly remember them when he wakened, but their influence made
him strangely happy, strangely miserable; and while the mood lasted
he could not hunt and kill.

Standing knee-deep in a shallow pool on the beach, staring at him with
wide-open dark eyes, was the creature that had screamed--a living,
breathing embodiment of the curves and color, the softness, brightness,
and gentle sweetness that his subconsciousness knew. There were the
familiar eyes, dark and limpid, wondering but not frightened; two white
little teeth showing between parted lips; a wealth of long brown hair
held back from the forehead by a small hand; and a rounded, dimpled
cheek, the damask shading of which merged delicately into the olive
tint that extended to the feet. No Venus ever arose from the sea with
rarer lines of beauty than were combined in the picture of loveliness
which, backed by the blue of the lagoon, appeared to the astonished
eyes of this wild boy. It was a girl--naked as Mother Eve, and as
innocently shameless.

In the first confusion of his faculties, when habit and inherent
propensity conflicted, habit dominated his mind. He was a
huntsman--feared and avoided: here was an intruder. He raised his
hatchet to throw, but a second impulse brought it slowly down; she had
shown no fear--no appreciation of what the gesture threatened. Dropping
the weapon to the ground, he advanced slowly, the wonder in his face
giving way to a delighted smile, and she came out of the pool to meet
him.

Face to face they looked into each other's eyes--long and earnestly;
then, as though the scrutiny brought approval, the pretty features of
the girl sweetened to a smile, but she did not speak nor attempt to.
Stepping past him, she looked back, still smiling, halted until he
followed, and then led him up to the wall, where, on a level with the
ground, was a hollow in the formation, somewhat similar to his cave,
but larger. Flowering vines grew at the entrance, which had prevented
his seeing it before. She entered, and emerged immediately with a
life-buoy, which she held before him, the action and smiling face
indicating her desire that he admire it.

The boy thought that he saw his property in the possession of another
creature, and resented the spoliation. With an angry snarl he snatched
the life-buoy and backed away, while the girl, surprised and a little
indignant, followed with extended hands. He raised it threateningly,
and though she did not cower, she knew intuitively that he was angry,
and feeling the injustice, burst into tears; then, turning from him,
she covered her eyes with her hands and crouched to the ground, sobbing
piteously.

The face of the boy softened. He looked from the weeping girl to the
life-buoy and back again; then, puzzled,--still believing it to be his
own,--he obeyed a generous impulse. Advancing, he laid the treasure at
her feet; but she turned away. Sober-faced and irresolute, not knowing
what to do, he looked around and above. A pigeon fluttered on a branch
at the edge of the wood. He whipped out his sling, loaded it, and sent
a stone whizzing upward. The pigeon fell, and he was beneath it before
it reached the ground. Hurrying back with the dead bird, he placed it
before her; but she shuddered in disgust and would not touch it. Off in
the lagoon a misguided shark was swimming slowly along,--its dorsal fin
cutting the surface,--a full two hundred yards from the beach. He ran
to the water's edge, looked back once, flourished his sling, and two
seconds later the shark was scudding for the reef. If she had seen, she
evidently was not impressed. He returned, picked up his tomahawk on the
way, idly and nervously fingered the pebbles in his pocket, stood a
moment over the sulky girl, and then studied the life-buoy on the
ground. A light came to his eyes; with a final glance at the girl he
bounded up the slope and disappeared in the woods.

Three hours later he returned with his discarded fetish, and found her
sitting upright, with her life-buoy on her knees. She smiled gladly as
he approached, then pouted, as though remembering. Panting from his
exertion, he humbly placed the faded, scarred, and misshapen ring on
top of the brighter, better-cared-for possession of the girl, and
stood, mutely pleading for pardon. It was granted. Smiling
radiantly,--a little roguishly,--she arose and led him again to the
cave, from which she brought forth another treasure. It was a billet of
wood,--a dead branch, worn smooth at the ends,--around which were
wrapped faded, half-rotten rags of calico. Hugging it for a moment, she
handed it to him. He looked at it wonderingly and let it drop, turning
his eyes upon her; then, with impatience in her face, she reclaimed it,
entered the cave,--the boy following,--and tenderly placed it in a
corner.

It was her doll. Up to the borders of womanhood--untutored, unloved
waif of the woods--living through the years of her simple existence
alone--she had lavished the instinctive mother-love of her heart on a
stick, and had clothed it, though not herself.

With a thoughtful little wrinkle in her brow, she studied the face of
this new companion who acted so strangely, and he, equally mystified,
looked around the cave. A pile of nuts in a corner indicated her
housewifely thrift and forethought. A bed of dry moss with an evenly
packed elevation at the end--which could be nothing but a
pillow--showed plainly the manner in which she had preserved the
velvety softness of her skin. Tinted shells and strips of faded calico,
arranged with some approach to harmony of color around the sides and
the border of the floor, gave evidence of the tutelage of the
bower-birds, of which there were many in the vicinity. And the vines at
the entrance had surely been planted--they were far from others of the
kind. In her own way she had developed as fully as he. As he stood
there, wondering at what he saw, the girl approached, slowly and
irresolutely; then, raising her hand, she softly pressed the tip of her
finger into his shoulder.

In the dim and misty ages of the past, when wandering bands of ape-like
human beings had not developed their tribal customs to the level of
priestly ceremonies,--when the medicine-man had not arisen,--a marriage
between a man and young woman was generally consummated by the man
beating the girl into insensibility, and dragging her by the hair to
his cave. Added to its simplicity, the custom had the merit of
improving the race, as unhealthy and ill-favored girls were not
pursued, and similar men were clubbed out of the pursuit by stronger.
But the process was necessarily painful to the loved one, and her
female children very naturally inherited a repugnance to being wooed.

When a civilized young lady, clothed and well conducted, anticipates
being kissed or embraced by her lover, she places in the way such
difficulties as are in her power; she gets behind tables and chairs,
runs from him, compels him to pursue, and expects him to. In her
maidenly heart she may want to be kissed, but she cannot help
resisting. She obeys the same instinct that impelled this wild girl to
spring from the outstretched arms of the boy and go screaming out of
the cave and down the beach in simulated terror--an instinct inherited
from the prehistoric mother, who fled for dear life and a whole skin
from a man behind armed with a club and bent upon marriage.

Shouting hoarsely, the boy followed, in what, if he had been called
upon to classify it, might have seemed to him a fury of rage, but it
was not. He would not have harmed the girl, for he lacked the tribal
education that induces cruelty to the weaker sex. But he did not catch
her; he stubbed his toe and fell, arising with a bruised kneecap which
prevented further pursuit. Slowly, painfully, he limped back, tears
welling in his eyes and increasing to a copious flood as he sat down
with his back to the girl and nursed his aching knee. It was not the
pain that brought the tears; he was hardened to physical suffering. But
his feelings had been hurt beyond any disappointment of the hunt or
terror of the storm, and for the first time in his life since his
babyhood he wept--like the intellectual child that he was.

A soft, caressing touch on his head aroused him and brought him to his
feet. She stood beside him, tears in her own eyes, and sympathy
overflowing in every feature of the sweet face. From her lips came
little cooing, gurgling sounds which he endeavored to repeat. It was
their first attempt at communication, and the sounds that they
used--understood by mothers and infants of all races--were the first
root-words of a new language. He extended his arms, and though she held
back slightly, while a faint smile responded to his own, she did not
resist, and he drew her close--forgetting his pain as he pressed his
lips to hers.





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