Jerry of the Islands
Part 1 out of 4
This etext was prepared from the 1917 Mills and Boon edition
by David Price, email email@example.com
Jerry of the Islands
It is a misfortune to some fiction-writers that fiction and
unveracity in the average person's mind mean one and the same thing.
Several years ago I published a South Sea novel. The action was
placed in the Solomon Islands. The action was praised by the
critics and reviewers as a highly creditable effort of the
imagination. As regards reality--they said there wasn't any. Of
course, as every one knew, kinky-haired cannibals no longer obtained
on the earth's surface, much less ran around with nothing on,
chopping off one another's heads, and, on occasion, a white man's
head as well.
Now listen. I am writing these lines in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Yesterday, on the beach at Waikiki, a stranger spoke to me. He
mentioned a mutual friend, Captain Kellar. When I was wrecked in
the Solomons on the blackbirder, the Minota, it was Captain Kellar,
master of the blackbirder, the Eugenie, who rescued me. The blacks
had taken Captain Kellar's head, the stranger told me. He knew. He
had represented Captain Kellar's mother in settling up the estate.
Listen. I received a letter the other day from Mr. C. M. Woodford,
Resident Commissioner of the British Solomons. He was back at his
post, after a long furlough to England, where he had entered his son
into Oxford. A search of the shelves of almost any public library
will bring to light a book entitled, "A Naturalist Among the Head
Hunters." Mr. C. M. Woodford is the naturalist. He wrote the book.
To return to his letter. In the course of the day's work he
casually and briefly mentioned a particular job he had just got off
his hands. His absence in England had been the cause of delay. The
job had been to make a punitive expedition to a neighbouring island,
and, incidentally, to recover the heads of some mutual friends of
ours--a white-trader, his white wife and children, and his white
clerk. The expedition was successful, and Mr. Woodford concluded
his account of the episode with a statement to the effect: "What
especially struck me was the absence of pain and terror in their
faces, which seemed to express, rather, serenity and repose"--this,
mind you, of men and women of his own race whom he knew well and who
had sat at dinner with him in his own house.
Other friends, with whom I have sat at dinner in the brave,
rollicking days in the Solomons have since passed out--by the same
way. My goodness! I sailed in the teak-built ketch, the Minota, on
a blackbirding cruise to Malaita, and I took my wife along. The
hatchet-marks were still raw on the door of our tiny stateroom
advertising an event of a few months before. The event was the
taking of Captain Mackenzie's head, Captain Mackenzie, at that time,
being master of the Minota. As we sailed in to Langa-Langa, the
British cruiser, the Cambrian, steamed out from the shelling of a
It is not expedient to burden this preliminary to my story with
further details, which I do make asseveration I possess a-plenty. I
hope I have given some assurance that the adventures of my dog hero
in this novel are real adventures in a very real cannibal world.
Bless you!--when I took my wife along on the cruise of the Minota,
we found on board a nigger-chasing, adorable Irish terrier puppy,
who was smooth-coated like Jerry, and whose name was Peggy. Had it
not been for Peggy, this book would never have been written. She
was the chattel of the Minota's splendid skipper. So much did Mrs.
London and I come to love her, that Mrs. London, after the wreck of
the Minota, deliberately and shamelessly stole her from the Minota's
skipper. I do further admit that I did, deliberately and
shamelessly, compound my wife's felony. We loved Peggy so! Dear
royal, glorious little dog, buried at sea off the east coast of
I must add that Peggy, like Jerry, was born at Meringe Lagoon, on
Meringe Plantation, which is of the Island of Ysabel, said Ysabel
Island lying next north of Florida Island, where is the seat of
government and where dwells the Resident Commissioner, Mr. C. M.
Woodford. Still further and finally, I knew Peggy's mother and
father well, and have often known the warm surge in the heart of me
at the sight of that faithful couple running side by side along the
beach. Terrence was his real name. Her name was Biddy.
HONOLULU, OAHU, T.H.
June 5, 1915
Not until Mister Haggin abruptly picked him up under one arm and
stepped into the sternsheets of the waiting whaleboat, did Jerry
dream that anything untoward was to happen to him. Mister Haggin
was Jerry's beloved master, and had been his beloved master for the
six months of Jerry's life. Jerry did not know Mister Haggin as
"master," for "master" had no place in Jerry's vocabulary, Jerry
being a smooth-coated, golden-sorrel Irish terrier.
But in Jerry's vocabulary, "Mister Haggin" possessed all the
definiteness of sound and meaning that the word "master" possesses
in the vocabularies of humans in relation to their dogs. "Mister
Haggin" was the sound Jerry had always heard uttered by Bob, the
clerk, and by Derby, the foreman on the plantation, when they
addressed his master. Also, Jerry had always heard the rare
visiting two-legged man-creatures such as came on the Arangi,
address his master as Mister Haggin.
But dogs being dogs, in their dim, inarticulate, brilliant, and
heroic-worshipping ways misappraising humans, dogs think of their
masters, and love their masters, more than the facts warrant.
"Master" means to them, as "Mister" Haggin meant to Jerry, a deal
more, and a great deal more, than it means to humans. The human
considers himself as "master" to his dog, but the dog considers his
Now "God" was no word in Jerry's vocabulary, despite the fact that
he already possessed a definite and fairly large vocabulary.
"Mister Haggin" was the sound that meant "God." In Jerry's heart
and head, in the mysterious centre of all his activities that is
called consciousness, the sound, "Mister Haggin," occupied the same
place that "God" occupies in human consciousness. By word and
sound, to Jerry, "Mister Haggin" had the same connotation that "God"
has to God-worshipping humans. In short, Mister Haggin was Jerry's
And so, when Mister Haggin, or God, or call it what one will with
the limitations of language, picked Jerry up with imperative
abruptness, tucked him under his arm, and stepped into the
whaleboat, whose black crew immediately bent to the oars, Jerry was
instantly and nervously aware that the unusual had begun to happen.
Never before had he gone out on board the Arangi, which he could see
growing larger and closer to each lip-hissing stroke of the oars of
Only an hour before, Jerry had come down from the plantation house
to the beach to see the Arangi depart. Twice before, in his half-
year of life, had he had this delectable experience. Delectable it
truly was, running up and down the white beach of sand-pounded
coral, and, under the wise guidance of Biddy and Terrence, taking
part in the excitement of the beach and even adding to it.
There was the nigger-chasing. Jerry had been born to hate niggers.
His first experiences in the world as a puling puppy, had taught him
that Biddy, his mother, and his father Terrence, hated niggers. A
nigger was something to be snarled at. A nigger, unless he were a
house-boy, was something to be attacked and bitten and torn if he
invaded the compound. Biddy did it. Terrence did it. In doing it,
they served their God--Mister Haggin. Niggers were two-legged
lesser creatures who toiled and slaved for their two-legged white
lords, who lived in the labour barracks afar off, and who were so
much lesser and lower that they must not dare come near the
habitation of their lords.
And nigger-chasing was adventure. Not long after he had learned to
sprawl, Jerry had learned that. One took his chances. As long as
Mister Haggin, or Derby, or Bob, was about, the niggers took their
chasing. But there were times when the white lords were not about.
Then it was "'Ware niggers!" One must dare to chase only with due
precaution. Because then, beyond the white lord's eyes, the niggers
had a way, not merely of scowling and muttering, but of attacking
four-legged dogs with stones and clubs. Jerry had seen his mother
so mishandled, and, ere he had learned discretion, alone in the high
grass had been himself club-mauled by Godarmy, the black who wore a
china door-knob suspended on his chest from his neck on a string of
sennit braided from cocoanut fibre. More. Jerry remembered another
high-grass adventure, when he and his brother Michael had fought
Owmi, another black distinguishable for the cogged wheels of an
alarm clock on his chest. Michael had been so severely struck on
his head that for ever after his left ear had remained sore and had
withered into a peculiar wilted and twisted upward cock.
Still more. There had been his brother Patsy, and his sister
Kathleen, who had disappeared two months before, who had ceased and
no longer were. The great god, Mister Haggin, had raged up and down
the plantation. The bush had been searched. Half a dozen niggers
had been whipped. And Mister Haggin had failed to solve the mystery
of Patsy's and Kathleen's disappearance. But Biddy and Terrence
knew. So did Michael and Jerry. The four-months' old Patsy and
Kathleen had gone into the cooking-pot at the barracks, and their
puppy-soft skins had been destroyed in the fire. Jerry knew this,
as did his father and mother and brother, for they had smelled the
unmistakable burnt-meat smell, and Terrence, in his rage of
knowledge, had even attacked Mogom the house-boy, and been
reprimanded and cuffed by Mister Haggin, who had not smelled and did
not understand, and who had always to impress discipline on all
creatures under his roof-tree.
But on the beach, when the blacks, whose terms of service were up
came down with their trade-boxes on their heads to depart on the
Arangi, was the time when nigger-chasing was not dangerous. Old
scores could be settled, and it was the last chance, for the blacks
who departed on the Arangi never came back. As an instance, this
very morning Biddy, remembering a secret mauling at the hands of
Lerumie, laid teeth into his naked calf and threw him sprawling into
the water, trade-box, earthly possessions and all, and then laughed
at him, sure in the protection of Mister Haggin who grinned at the
Then, too, there was usually at least one bush-dog on the Arangi at
which Jerry and Michael, from the beach, could bark their heads off.
Once, Terrence, who was nearly as large as an Airedale and fully as
lion-hearted--Terrence the Magnificent, as Tom Haggin called him--
had caught such a bush-dog trespassing on the beach and given him a
delightful thrashing, in which Jerry and Michael, and Patsy and
Kathleen, who were at the time alive, had joined with many shrill
yelps and sharp nips. Jerry had never forgotten the ecstasy of the
hair, unmistakably doggy in scent, which had filled his mouth at his
one successful nip. Bush-dogs were dogs--he recognized them as his
kind; but they were somehow different from his own lordly breed,
different and lesser, just as the blacks were compared with Mister
Haggin, Derby, and Bob.
But Jerry did not continue to gaze at the nearing Arangi. Biddy,
wise with previous bitter bereavements, had sat down on the edge of
the sand, her fore-feet in the water, and was mouthing her woe.
That this concerned him, Jerry knew, for her grief tore sharply,
albeit vaguely, at his sensitive, passionate heart. What it
presaged he knew not, save that it was disaster and catastrophe
connected with him. As he looked back at her, rough-coated and
grief-stricken, he could see Terrence hovering solicitously near
her. He, too, was rough-coated, as was Michael, and as Patsy and
Kathleen had been, Jerry being the one smooth-coated member of the
Further, although Jerry did not know it and Tom Haggin did, Terrence
was a royal lover and a devoted spouse. Jerry, from his earliest
impressions, could remember the way Terrence had of running with
Biddy, miles and miles along the beaches or through the avenues of
cocoanuts, side by side with her, both with laughing mouths of sheer
delight. As these were the only dogs, besides his brothers and
sisters and the several eruptions of strange bush-dogs that Jerry
knew, it did not enter his head otherwise than that this was the way
of dogs, male and female, wedded and faithful. But Tom Haggin knew
its unusualness. "Proper affinities," he declared, and repeatedly
declared, with warm voice and moist eyes of appreciation. "A
gentleman, that Terrence, and a four-legged proper man. A man-dog,
if there ever was one, four-square as the legs on the four corners
of him. And prepotent! My word! His blood'd breed true for a
thousand generations, and the cool head and the kindly brave heart
Terrence did not voice his sorrow, if sorrow he had; but his
hovering about Biddy tokened his anxiety for her. Michael, however,
yielding to the contagion, sat beside his mother and barked angrily
out across the increasing stretch of water as he would have barked
at any danger that crept and rustled in the jungle. This, too, sank
to Jerry's heart, adding weight to his sure intuition that dire
fate, he knew not what, was upon him.
For his six months of life, Jerry knew a great deal and knew very
little. He knew, without thinking about it, without knowing that he
knew, why Biddy, the wise as well as the brave, did not act upon all
the message that her heart voiced to him, and spring into the water
and swim after him. She had protected him like a lioness when the
big puarka (which, in Jerry's vocabulary, along with grunts and
squeals, was the combination of sound, or word, for "pig") had tried
to devour him where he was cornered under the high-piled plantation
house. Like a lioness, when the cook-boy had struck him with a
stick to drive him out of the kitchen, had Biddy sprung upon the
black, receiving without wince or whimper one straight blow from the
stick, and then downing him and mauling him among his pots and pans
until dragged (for the first time snarling) away by the unchiding
Mister Haggin, who; however, administered sharp words to the cook-
boy for daring to lift hand against a four-legged dog belonging to a
Jerry knew why his mother did not plunge into the water after him.
The salt sea, as well as the lagoons that led out of the salt sea,
were taboo. "Taboo," as word or sound, had no place in Jerry's
vocabulary. But its definition, or significance, was there in the
quickest part of his consciousness. He possessed a dim, vague,
imperative knowingness that it was not merely not good, but
supremely disastrous, leading to the mistily glimpsed sense of utter
endingness for a dog, for any dog, to go into the water where
slipped and slid and noiselessly paddled, sometimes on top,
sometimes emerging from the depths, great scaly monsters, huge-jawed
and horribly-toothed, that snapped down and engulfed a dog in an
instant just as the fowls of Mister Haggin snapped and engulfed
grains of corn.
Often he had heard his father and mother, on the safety of the sand,
bark and rage their hatred of those terrible sea-dwellers, when,
close to the beach, they appeared on the surface like logs awash.
"Crocodile" was no word in Jerry's vocabulary. It was an image, an
image of a log awash that was different from any log in that it was
alive. Jerry, who heard, registered, and recognized many words that
were as truly tools of thought to him as they were to humans, but
who, by inarticulateness of birth and breed, could not utter these
many words, nevertheless in his mental processes, used images just
as articulate men use words in their own mental processes. And
after all, articulate men, in the act of thinking, willy nilly use
images that correspond to words and that amplify words.
Perhaps, in Jerry's brain, the rising into the foreground of
consciousness of an image of a log awash connoted more intimate and
fuller comprehension of the thing being thought about, than did the
word "crocodile," and its accompanying image, in the foreground of a
human's consciousness. For Jerry really did know more about
crocodiles than the average human. He could smell a crocodile
farther off and more differentiatingly than could any man, than
could even a salt-water black or a bushman smell one. He could tell
when a crocodile, hauled up from the lagoon, lay without sound or
movement, and perhaps asleep, a hundred feet away on the floor mat
He knew more of the language of crocodiles than did any man. He had
better means and opportunities of knowing. He knew their many
noises that were as grunts and slubbers. He knew their anger
noises, their fear noises, their food noises, their love noises.
And these noises were as definitely words in his vocabulary as are
words in a human's vocabulary. And these crocodile noises were
tools of thought. By them he weighed and judged and determined his
own consequent courses of action, just like any human; or, just like
any human, lazily resolved upon no course of action, but merely
noted and registered a clear comprehension of something that was
going on about him that did not require a correspondence of action
on his part.
And yet, what Jerry did not know was very much. He did not know the
size of the world. He did not know that this Meringe Lagoon, backed
by high, forested mountains and fronted and sheltered by the off-
shore coral islets, was anything else than the entire world. He did
not know that it was a mere fractional part of the great island of
Ysabel, that was again one island of a thousand, many of them
greater, that composed the Solomon Islands that men marked on charts
as a group of specks in the vastitude of the far-western South
It was true, there was a somewhere else or a something beyond of
which he was dimly aware. But whatever it was, it was mystery. Out
of it, things that had not been, suddenly were. Chickens and
puarkas and cats, that he had never seen before, had a way of
abruptly appearing on Meringe Plantation. Once, even, had there
been an eruption of strange four-legged, horned and hairy creatures,
the images of which, registered in his brain, would have been
identifiable in the brains of humans with what humans worded
It was the same way with the blacks. Out of the unknown, from the
somewhere and something else, too unconditional for him to know any
of the conditions, instantly they appeared, full-statured, walking
about Meringe Plantation with loin-cloths about their middles and
bone bodkins through their noses, and being put to work by Mister
Haggin, Derby, and Bob. That their appearance was coincidental with
the arrival of the Arangi was an association that occurred as a
matter of course in Jerry's brain. Further, he did not bother, save
that there was a companion association, namely, that their
occasional disappearances into the beyond was likewise coincidental
with the Arangi's departure.
Jerry did not query these appearances and disappearances. It never
entered his golden-sorrel head to be curious about the affair or to
attempt to solve it. He accepted it in much the way he accepted the
wetness of water and the heat of the sun. It was the way of life
and of the world he knew. His hazy awareness was no more than an
awareness of something--which, by the way, corresponds very fairly
with the hazy awareness of the average human of the mysteries of
birth and death and of the beyondness about which they have no
definiteness of comprehension.
For all that any man may gainsay, the ketch Arangi, trader and
blackbirder in the Solomon Islands, may have signified in Jerry's
mind as much the mysterious boat that traffics between the two
worlds, as, at one time, the boat that Charon sculled across the
Styx signified to the human mind. Out of the nothingness men came.
Into the nothingness they went. And they came and went always on
And to the Arangi, this hot-white tropic morning, Jerry went on the
whaleboat under the arm of his Mister Haggin, while on the beach
Biddy moaned her woe, and Michael, not sophisticated, barked the
eternal challenge of youth to the Unknown.
From the whaleboat, up the low side of the Arangi, and over her six-
inch rail of teak to her teak deck, was but a step, and Tom Haggin
made it easily with Jerry still under his arm. The deck was
cluttered with an exciting crowd. Exciting the crowd would have
been to untravelled humans of civilization, and exciting it was to
Jerry; although to Tom Haggin and Captain Van Horn it was a mere
commonplace of everyday life.
The deck was small because the Arangi was small. Originally a teak-
built, gentleman's yacht, brass-fitted, copper-fastened, angle-
ironed, sheathed in man-of-war copper and with a fin-keel of bronze,
she had been sold into the Solomon Islands' trade for the purpose of
blackbirding or nigger-running. Under the law, however, this
traffic was dignified by being called "recruiting."
The Arangi was a labour-recruit ship that carried the new-caught,
cannibal blacks from remote islands to labour on the new plantations
where white men turned dank and pestilential swamp and jungle into
rich and stately cocoanut groves. The Arangi's two masts were of
Oregon cedar, so scraped and hot-paraffined that they shone like tan
opals in the glare of sun. Her excessive sail plan enabled her to
sail like a witch, and, on occasion, gave Captain Van Horn, his
white mate, and his fifteen black boat's crew as much as they could
handle. She was sixty feet over all, and the cross beams of her
crown deck had not been weakened by deck-houses. The only breaks--
and no beams had been cut for them--were the main cabin skylight and
companionway, the booby hatch for'ard over the tiny forecastle, and
the small hatch aft that let down into the store-room.
And on this small deck, in addition to the crew, were the "return"
niggers from three far-flung plantations. By "return" was meant
that their three years of contract labour was up, and that,
according to contract, they were being returned to their home
villages on the wild island of Malaita. Twenty of them--familiar,
all, to Jerry--were from Meringe; thirty of them came from the Bay
of a Thousand Ships, in the Russell Isles; and the remaining twelve
were from Pennduffryn on the east coast of Guadalcanar. In addition
to these--and they were all on deck, chattering and piping in queer,
almost elfish, falsetto voices--were the two white men, Captain Van
Horn and his Danish mate, Borckman, making a total of seventy-nine
"Thought your heart 'd failed you at the last moment," was Captain
Van Horn's greeting, a quick pleasure light glowing into his eyes as
they noted Jerry.
"It was sure near to doin' it," Tom Haggin answered. "It's only for
you I'd a done it, annyways. Jerry's the best of the litter,
barrin' Michael, of course, the two of them bein' all that's left
and no better than them that was lost. Now that Kathleen was a
sweet dog, the spit of Biddy if she'd lived.--Here, take 'm."
With a jerk of abruptness, he deposited Jerry in Van Horn's arms and
turned away along the deck.
"An' if bad luck comes to him I'll never forgive you, Skipper," he
flung roughly over his shoulder.
"They'll have to take my head first," the skipper chuckled.
"An' not unlikely, my brave laddy buck," Haggin growled. "Meringe
owes Somo four heads, three from the dysentery, an' another wan from
a tree fallin' on him the last fortnight. He was the son of a chief
"Yes, and there's two heads more that the Arangi owes Somo," Van
Horn nodded. "You recollect, down to the south'ard last year, a
chap named Hawkins was lost in his whaleboat running the Arli
Passage?" Haggin, returning along the deck, nodded. "Two of his
boat's crew were Somo boys. I'd recruited them for Ugi Plantation.
With your boys, that makes six heads the Arangi owes. But what of
it? There's one salt-water village, acrost on the weather coast,
where the Arangi owes eighteen. I recruited them for Aolo, and
being salt-water men they put them on the Sandfly that was lost on
the way to the Santa Cruz. They've got a jack-pot over there on the
weather coast--my word, the boy that could get my head would be a
second Carnegie! A hundred and fifty pigs and shell money no end
the village's collected for the chap that gets me and delivers."
"And they ain't--yet," Haggin snorted.
"No fear," was the cheerful retort.
"You talk like Arbuckle used to talk," Haggin censured. "Manny's
the time I've heard him string it off. Poor old Arbuckle. The most
sure and most precautious chap that ever handled niggers. He never
went to sleep without spreadin' a box of tacks on the floor, and
when it wasn't them it was crumpled newspapers. I remember me well,
bein' under the same roof at the time on Florida, when a big tomcat
chased a cockroach into the papers. And it was blim, blam, blim,
six times an' twice over, with his two big horse-pistols, an' the
house perforated like a cullender. Likewise there was a dead tom-
cat. He could shoot in the dark with never an aim, pullin' trigger
with the second finger and pointing with the first finger laid
straight along the barrel.
"No, sir, my laddy buck. He was the bully boy with the glass eye.
The nigger didn't live that'd lift his head. But they got 'm. They
got 'm. He lasted fourteen years, too. It was his cook-boy.
Hatcheted 'm before breakfast. An' it's well I remember our second
trip into the bush after what was left of 'm."
"I saw his head after you'd turned it over to the Commissioner at
Tulagi," Van Horn supplemented.
"An' the peaceful, quiet, everyday face of him on it, with almost
the same old smile I'd seen a thousand times. It dried on 'm that
way over the smokin' fire. But they got 'm, if it did take fourteen
years. There's manny's the head that goes to Malaita, manny's the
time untooken; but, like the old pitcher, it's tooken in the end."
"But I've got their goat," the captain insisted. "When trouble's
hatching, I go straight to them and tell them what. They can't get
the hang of it. Think I've got some powerful devil-devil medicine."
Tom Haggin thrust out his hand in abrupt good-bye, resolutely
keeping his eyes from dropping to Jerry in the other's arms.
"Keep your eye on my return boys," he cautioned, as he went over the
side, "till you land the last mother's son of 'm. They've got no
cause to love Jerry or his breed, an' I'd hate ill to happen 'm at a
nigger's hands. An' in the dark of the night 'tis like as not he
can do a fare-you-well overside. Don't take your eye off 'm till
you're quit of the last of 'm."
At sight of big Mister Haggin deserting him and being pulled away in
the whaleboat, Jerry wriggled and voiced his anxiety in a low,
whimpering whine. Captain Van Horn snuggled him closer in his arm
with a caress of his free hand.
"Don't forget the agreement," Tom Haggin called back across the
widening water. "If aught happens you, Jerry's to come back to me."
"I'll make a paper to that same and put it with the ship's
articles," was Van Horn's reply.
Among the many words possessed by Jerry was his own name; and in the
talk of the two men he had recognised it repeatedly, and he was
aware, vaguely, that the talk was related to the vague and
unguessably terrible thing that was happening to him. He wriggled
more determinedly, and Van Horn set him down on the deck. He sprang
to the rail with more quickness than was to be expected of an
awkward puppy of six months, and not the quick attempt of Van Horn
to cheek him would have succeeded. But Jerry recoiled from the open
water lapping the Arangi's side. The taboo was upon him. It was
the image of the log awash that was not a log but that was alive,
luminous in his brain, that checked him. It was not reason on his
part, but inhibition which had become habit.
He plumped down on his bob tail, lifted golden muzzle skyward, and
emitted a long puppy-wail of dismay and grief.
"It's all right, Jerry, old man, brace up and be a man-dog," Van
Horn soothed him.
But Jerry was not to be reconciled. While this indubitably was a
white-skinned god, it was not his god. Mister Haggin was his god,
and a superior god at that. Even he, without thinking about it at
all, recognized that. His Mister Haggin wore pants and shoes. This
god on the deck beside him was more like a black. Not only did he
not wear pants, and was barefooted and barelegged, but about his
middle, just like any black, he wore a brilliant-coloured loin-
cloth, that, like a kilt, fell nearly to his sunburnt knees.
Captain Van Horn was a handsome man and a striking man, although
Jerry did not know it. If ever a Holland Dutchman stepped out of a
Rembrandt frame, Captain Van Horn was that one, despite the fact
that he was New York born, as had been his knickerbocker ancestors
before him clear back to the time when New York was not New York but
New Amsterdam. To complete his costume, a floppy felt hat,
distinctly Rembrandtish in effect, perched half on his head and
mostly over one ear; a sixpenny, white cotton undershirt covered his
torso; and from a belt about his middle dangled a tobacco pouch, a
sheath-knife, filled clips of cartridges, and a huge automatic
pistol in a leather holster.
On the beach, Biddy, who had hushed her grief, lifted it again when
she heard Jerry's wail. And Jerry, desisting a moment to listen,
heard Michael beside her, barking his challenge, and saw, without
being conscious of it, Michael's withered ear with its persistent
upward cock. Again, while Captain Van Horn and the mate, Borckman,
gave orders, and while the Arangi's mainsail and spanker began to
rise up the masts, Jerry loosed all his heart of woe in what Bob
told Derby on the beach was the "grandest vocal effort" he had ever
heard from any dog, and that, except for being a bit thin, Caruso
didn't have anything on Jerry. But the song was too much for
Haggin, who, as soon as he had landed, whistled Biddy to him and
strode rapidly away from the beach.
At sight of her disappearing, Jerry was guilty of even more Caruso-
like effects, which gave great joy to a Pennduffryn return boy who
stood beside him. He laughed and jeered at Jerry with falsetto
chucklings that were more like the jungle-noises of tree-dwelling
creatures, half-bird and half-man, than of a man, all man, and
therefore a god. This served as an excellent counter-irritant.
Indignation that a mere black should laugh at him mastered Jerry,
and the next moment his puppy teeth, sharp-pointed as needles, had
scored the astonished black's naked calf in long parallel scratches
from each of which leaped the instant blood. The black sprang away
in trepidation, but the blood of Terrence the Magnificent was true
in Jerry, and, like his father before him, he followed up, slashing
the black's other calf into a ruddy pattern.
At this moment, anchor broken out and headsails running up, Captain
Van Horn, whose quick eye had missed no detail of the incident, with
an order to the black helmsman turned to applaud Jerry.
"Go to it, Jerry!" he encouraged. "Get him! Shake him down! Sick
him! Get him! Get him!"
The black, in defence, aimed a kick at Jerry, who, leaping in
instead of away--another inheritance from Terrence--avoided the bare
foot and printed a further red series of parallel lines on the dark
leg. This was too much, and the black, afraid more of Van Horn than
of Jerry, turned and fled for'ard, leaping to safety on top of the
eight Lee-Enfield rifles that lay on top of the cabin skylight and
that were guarded by one member of the boat's crew. About the
skylight Jerry stormed, leaping up and falling back, until Captain
Van Horn called him off.
"Some nigger-chaser, that pup, some nigger-chaser!" Van Horn
confided to Borckman, as he bent to pat Jerry and give him due
reward of praise.
And Jerry, under this caressing hand of a god, albeit it did not
wear pants, forgot for a moment longer the fate that was upon him.
"He's a lion-dog--more like an Airedale than an Irish terrier," Van
Horn went on to his mate, still petting. "Look at the size of him
already. Look at the bone of him. Some chest that. He's got the
endurance. And he'll be some dog when he grows up to those feet of
Jerry had just remembered his grief and was starting a rush across
the deck to the rail to gaze at Meringe growing smaller every second
in the distance, when a gust of the South-east Trade smote the sails
and pressed the Arangi down. And down the deck, slanted for the
moment to forty-five degrees, Jerry slipped and slid, vainly clawing
at the smooth surface for a hold. He fetched up against the foot of
the mizzenmast, while Captain Van Horn, with the sailor's eye for
the coral patch under his bow, gave the order "Hard a-lee!"
Borckman and the black steersman echoed his words, and, as the wheel
spun down, the Arangi, with the swiftness of a witch, rounded into
the wind and attained a momentary even keel to the flapping of her
headsails and a shifting of headsheets.
Jerry, still intent on Meringe, took advantage of the level footing
to recover himself and scramble toward the rail. But he was
deflected by the crash of the mainsheet blocks on the stout deck-
traveller, as the mainsail, emptied of the wind and feeling the wind
on the other side, swung crazily across above him. He cleared the
danger of the mainsheet with a wild leap (although no less wild had
been Van Horn's leap to rescue him), and found himself directly
under the mainboom with the huge sail looming above him as if about
to fall upon him and crush him.
It was Jerry's first experience with sails of any sort. He did not
know the beasts, much less the way of them, but, in his vivid
recollection, when he had been a tiny puppy, burned the memory of
the hawk, in the middle of the compound, that had dropped down upon
him from out of the sky. Under that colossal threatened impact he
crouched down to the deck. Above him, falling upon him like a bolt
from the blue, was a winged hawk unthinkably vaster than the one he
had encountered. But in his crouch was no hint of cower. His
crouch was a gathering together, an assembling of all the parts of
him under the rule of the spirit of him, for the spring upward to
meet in mid career this monstrous, menacing thing.
But, the succeeding fraction of a moment, so that Jerry, leaping,
missed even the shadow of it, the mainsail, with a second crash of
blocks on traveller, had swung across and filled on the other tack.
Van Horn had missed nothing of it. Before, in his time, he had seen
young dogs frightened into genuine fits by their first encounters
with heaven-filling, sky-obscuring, down-impending sails. This was
the first dog he had seen leap with bared teeth, undismayed, to
grapple with the huge unknown.
With spontaneity of admiration, Van Horn swept Jerry from the deck
and gathered him into his arms.
Jerry quite forgot Meringe for the time being. As he well
remembered, the hawk had been sharp of beak and claw. This air-
flapping, thunder-crashing monster needed watching. And Jerry,
crouching for the spring and ever struggling to maintain his footing
on the slippery, heeling deck, kept his eyes on the mainsail and
uttered low growls at any display of movement on its part.
The Arangi was beating out between the coral patches of the narrow
channel into the teeth of the brisk trade wind. This necessitated
frequent tacks, so that, overhead, the mainsail was ever swooping
across from port tack to starboard tack and back again, making air-
noises like the swish of wings, sharply rat-tat-tatting its reef
points and loudly crashing its mainsheet gear along the traveller.
Half a dozen times, as it swooped overhead, Jerry leaped for it,
mouth open to grip, lips writhed clear of the clean puppy teeth that
shone in the sun like gems of ivory.
Failing in every leap, Jerry achieved a judgment. In passing, it
must be noted that this judgment was only arrived at by a definite
act of reasoning. Out of a series of observations of the thing, in
which it had threatened, always in the same way, a series of
attacks, he had found that it had not hurt him nor come in contact
with him at all. Therefore--although he did not stop to think that
he was thinking--it was not the dangerous, destroying thing he had
first deemed it. It might be well to be wary of it, though already
it had taken its place in his classification of things that appeared
terrible but were not terrible. Thus, he had learned not to fear
the roar of the wind among the palms when he lay snug on the
plantation-house veranda, nor the onslaught of the waves, hissing
and rumbling into harmless foam on the beach at his feet.
Many times, in the course of the day, alertly and nonchalantly,
almost with a quizzical knowingness, Jerry cocked his head at the
mainsail when it made sudden swooping movements or slacked and
tautened its crashing sheet-gear. But he no longer crouched to
spring for it. That had been the first lesson, and quickly
Having settled the mainsail, Jerry returned in mind to Meringe. But
there was no Meringe, no Biddy and Terrence and Michael on the
beach; no Mister Haggin and Derby and Bob; no beach: no land with
the palm-trees near and the mountains afar off everlastingly lifting
their green peaks into the sky. Always, to starboard or to port, at
the bow or over the stern, when he stood up resting his fore-feet on
the six-inch rail and gazing, he saw only the ocean, broken-faced
and turbulent, yet orderly marching its white-crested seas before
the drive of the trade.
Had he had the eyes of a man, nearly two yards higher than his own
from the deck, and had they been the trained eyes of a man, sailor-
man at that, Jerry could have seen the low blur of Ysabel to the
north and the blur of Florida to the south, ever taking on
definiteness of detail as the Arangi sagged close-hauled, with a
good full, port-tacked to the south-east trade. And had he had the
advantage of the marine glasses with which Captain Van Horn
elongated the range of his eyes, he could have seen, to the east,
the far peaks of Malaita lifting life-shadowed pink cloud-puffs
above the sea-rim.
But the present was very immediate with Jerry. He had early learned
the iron law of the immediate, and to accept what was when it was,
rather than to strain after far other things. The sea was. The
land no longer was. The Arangi certainly was, along with the life
that cluttered her deck. And he proceeded to get acquainted with
what was--in short, to know and to adjust himself to his new
His first discovery was delightful--a wild-dog puppy from the Ysabel
bush, being taken back to Malaita by one of the Meringe return boys.
In age they were the same, but their breeding was different. The
wild-dog was what he was, a wild-dog, cringing and sneaking, his
ears for ever down, his tail for ever between his legs, for ever
apprehending fresh misfortune and ill-treatment to fall on him, for
ever fearing and resentful, fending off threatened hurt with lips
curling malignantly from his puppy fangs, cringing under a blow,
squalling his fear and his pain, and ready always for a treacherous
slash if luck and safety favoured.
The wild-dog was maturer than Jerry, larger-bodied, and wiser in
wickedness; but Jerry was blue-blooded, right-selected, and valiant.
The wild-dog had come out of a selection equally rigid; but it was a
different sort of selection. The bush ancestors from whom he had
descended had survived by being fear-selected. They had never
voluntarily fought against odds. In the open they had never
attacked save when the prey was weak or defenceless. In place of
courage, they had lived by creeping, and slinking, and hiding from
danger. They had been selected blindly by nature, in a cruel and
ignoble environment, where the prize of living was to be gained, in
the main, by the cunning of cowardice, and, on occasion, by
desperateness of defence when in a corner.
But Jerry had been love-selected and courage-selected. His
ancestors had been deliberately and consciously chosen by men, who,
somewhere in the forgotten past, had taken the wild-dog and made it
into the thing they visioned and admired and desired it to be. It
must never fight like a rat in a corner, because it must never be
rat-like and slink into a corner. Retreat must be unthinkable. The
dogs in the past who retreated had been rejected by men. They had
not become Jerry's ancestors. The dogs selected for Jerry's
ancestors had been the brave ones, the up-standing and out-dashing
ones, who flew into the face of danger and battled and died, but who
never gave ground. And, since it is the way of kind to beget kind,
Jerry was what Terrence was before him, and what Terrence's
forefathers had been for a long way back.
So it was that Jerry, when he chanced upon the wild-dog stowed
shrewdly away from the wind in the lee-corner made by the mainmast
and the cabin skylight, did not stop to consider whether the
creature was bigger or fiercer than he. All he knew was that it was
the ancient enemy--the wild-dog that had not come in to the fires of
man. With a wild paean of joy that attracted Captain Van Horn's
all-hearing ears and all-seeing eyes, Jerry sprang to the attack.
The wild puppy gained his feet in full retreat with incredible
swiftness, but was caught by the rush of Jerry's body and rolled
over and over on the sloping deck. And as he rolled, and felt sharp
teeth pricking him, he snapped and snarled, alternating snarls with
whimperings and squallings of terror, pain, and abject humility.
And Jerry was a gentleman, which is to say he was a gentle dog. He
had been so selected. Because the thing did not fight back, because
it was abject and whining, because it was helpless under him, he
abandoned the attack, disengaging himself from the top of the tangle
into which he had slid in the lee scuppers. He did not think about
it. He did it because he was so made. He stood up on the reeling
deck, feeling excellently satisfied with the delicious, wild-doggy
smell of hair in his mouth and consciousness, and in his ears and
consciousness the praising cry of Captain Van Horn: "Good boy,
Jerry! You're the goods, Jerry! Some dog, eh! Some dog!"
As he stalked away, it must be admitted that Jerry displayed pride
in himself, his gait being a trifle stiff-legged, the cocking of his
head back over his shoulder at the whining wild-dog having all the
articulateness of: "Well, I guess I gave you enough this time.
You'll keep out of my way after this."
Jerry continued the exploration of his new and tiny world that was
never at rest, for ever lifting, heeling, and lunging on the rolling
face of the sea. There were the Meringe return boys. He made it a
point to identify all of them, receiving, while he did so, scowls
and mutterings, and reciprocating with cocky bullyings and
threatenings. Being so trained, he walked on his four legs superior
to them, two-legged though they were; for he had moved and lived
always under the aegis of the great two-legged and be-trousered god,
Then there were the strange return boys, from Pennduffryn and the
Bay of a Thousand Ships. He insisted on knowing them all. He might
need to know them in some future time. He did not think this. He
merely equipped himself with knowledge of his environment without
any awareness of provision or without bothering about the future.
In his own way of acquiring knowledge, he quickly discovered, just
as on the plantation house-boys were different from field-boys, that
on the Arangi there was a classification of boys different from the
return boys. This was the boat's crew. The fifteen blacks who
composed it were closer than the others to Captain Van Horn. They
seemed more directly to belong to the Arangi and to him. They
laboured under him at word of command, steering at the wheel,
pulling and hauling on ropes, healing water upon the deck from
overside and scrubbing with brooms.
Just as Jerry had learned from Mister Haggin that he must be more
tolerant of the house-boys than of the field-boys if they trespassed
on the compound, so, from Captain Van Horn, he learned that he must
be more tolerant of the boat's crew than of the return boys. He had
less license with them, more license with the others. As long as
Captain Van Horn did not want his boat's crew chased, it was Jerry's
duty not to chase. On the other hand he never forgot that he was a
white-god's dog. While he might not chase these particular blacks,
he declined familiarity with them. He kept his eye on them. He had
seen blacks as tolerated as these, lined up and whipped by Mister
Haggin. They occupied an intermediate place in the scheme of
things, and they were to be watched in case they did not keep their
place. He accorded them room, but he did not accord them equality.
At the best, he could be stand-offishly considerate of them.
He made thorough examination of the galley, a rude affair, open on
the open deck, exposed to wind and rain and storm, a small stove
that was not even a ship's stove, on which somehow, aided by strings
and wedges, commingled with much smoke, two blacks managed to cook
the food for the four-score persons on board.
Next, he was interested by a strange proceeding on the part of the
boat's crew. Upright pipes, serving as stanchions, were being
screwed into the top of the Arangi's rail so that they served to
support three strands of barbed wire that ran completely around the
vessel, being broken only at the gangway for a narrow space of
fifteen inches. That this was a precaution against danger, Jerry
sensed without a passing thought to it. All his life, from his
first impressions of life, had been passed in the heart of danger,
ever-impending, from the blacks. In the plantation house at
Meringe, always the several white men had looked askance at the many
blacks who toiled for them and belonged to them. In the living-
room, where were the eating-table, the billiard-table, and the
phonograph, stood stands of rifles, and in each bedroom, beside each
bed, ready to hand, had been revolvers and rifles. As well, Mister
Haggin and Derby and Bob had always carried revolvers in their belts
when they left the house to go among their blacks.
Jerry knew these noise-making things for what they were--instruments
of destruction and death. He had seen live things destroyed by
them, such as puarkas, goats, birds, and crocodiles. By means of
such things the white-gods by their will crossed space without
crossing it with their bodies, and destroyed live things. Now he,
in order to damage anything, had to cross space with his body to get
to it. He was different. He was limited. All impossible things
were possible to the unlimited, two-legged white-gods. In a way,
this ability of theirs to destroy across space was an elongation of
claw and fang. Without pondering it, or being conscious of it, he
accepted it as he accepted the rest of the mysterious world about
Once, even, had Jerry seen his Mister Haggin deal death at a
distance in another noise-way. From the veranda he had seen him
fling sticks of exploding dynamite into a screeching mass of blacks
who had come raiding from the Beyond in the long war canoes, beaked
and black, carved and inlaid with mother-of-pearl, which they had
left hauled up on the beach at the door of Meringe.
Many precautions by the white-gods had Jerry been aware of, and so,
sensing it almost in intangible ways, as a matter of course he
accepted this barbed-wire fence on the floating world as a mark of
the persistence of danger. Disaster and death hovered close about,
waiting the chance to leap upon life and drag it down. Life had to
be very alive in order to live was the law Jerry had learned from
the little of life he knew.
Watching the rigging up of the barbed wire, Jerry's next adventure
was an encounter with Lerumie, the return boy from Meringe, who,
only that morning, on the beach embarking, had been rolled by Biddy,
along with his possessions into the surf. The encounter occurred on
the starboard side of the skylight, alongside of which Lerumie was
standing as he gazed into a cheap trade-mirror and combed his kinky
hair with a hand-carved comb of wood.
Jerry, scarcely aware of Lerumie's presence, was trotting past on
his way aft to where Borckman, the mate, was superintending the
stringing of the barbed wire to the stanchions. And Lerumie, with a
side-long look to see if the deed meditated for his foot was
screened from observation, aimed a kick at the son of his four-
legged enemy. His bare foot caught Jerry on the sensitive end of
his recently bobbed tail, and Jerry, outraged, with the sense of
sacrilege committed upon him, went instantly wild.
Captain Van Horn, standing aft on the port quarter, gauging the
slant of the wind on the sails and the inadequate steering of the
black at the wheel, had not seen Jerry because of the intervening
skylight. But his eyes had taken in the shoulder movement of
Lerumie that advertised the balancing on one foot while the other
foot had kicked. And from what followed, he divined what had
Jerry's outcry, as he sprawled, whirled, sprang, and slashed, was a
veritable puppy-scream of indignation. He slashed ankle and foot as
he received the second kick in mid-air; and, although he slid clear
down the slope of deck into the scuppers, he left on the black skin
the red tracery of his puppy-needle teeth. Still screaming his
indignation, he clawed his way back up the steep wooden hill.
Lerumie, with another side-long look, knew that he was observed and
that he dare not go to extremes. He fled along the skylight to
escape down the companionway, but was caught by Jerry's sharp teeth
in his calf. Jerry, attacking blindly, got in the way of the
black's feet. A long, stumbling fall, accelerated by a sudden
increase of wind in the sails, ensued, and Lerumie, vainly trying to
catch his footing, fetched up against the three strands of barbed
wire on the lee rail.
The deck-full of blacks shrieked their merriment, and Jerry, his
rage undiminished, his immediate antagonist out of the battle,
mistaking himself as the object of the laughter of the blacks,
turned upon them, charging and slashing the many legs that fled
before him. They dropped down the cabin and forecastle
companionways, ran out the bowsprit, and sprang into the rigging
till they were perched everywhere in the air like monstrous birds.
In the end, the deck belonged to Jerry, save for the boat's crew;
for he had already learned to differentiate. Captain Van Horn was
hilariously vocal of his praise, calling Jerry to him and giving him
man-thumps of joyful admiration. Next, the captain turned to his
many passengers and orated in beche-de-mer English.
"Hey! You fella boy! I make 'm big fella talk. This fella dog he
belong along me. One fella boy hurt 'm that fella dog--my word!--me
cross too much along that fella boy. I knock 'm seven bells outa
that fella boy. You take 'm care leg belong you. I take 'm care
dog belong me. Savve?"
And the passengers, still perched in the air, with gleaming black
eyes and with querulerus chirpings one to another, accepted the
white man's law. Even Lerumie, variously lacerated by the barbed
wire, did not scowl nor mutter threats. Instead, and bringing a
roar of laughter from his fellows and a twinkle into the skipper's
eyes, he rubbed questing fingers over his scratches and murmured:
"My word! Some big fella dog that fella!"
It was not that Jerry was unkindly. Like Biddy and Terrence, he was
fierce and unafraid; which attributes were wrapped up in his
heredity. And, like Biddy and Terrence, he delighted in nigger-
chasing, which, in turn, was a matter of training. From his
earliest puppyhood he had been so trained. Niggers were niggers,
but white men were gods, and it was the white-gods who had trained
him to chase niggers and keep them in their proper lesser place in
the world. All the world was held in the hollow of the white man's
hands. The niggers--well, had not he seen them always compelled to
remain in their lesser place? Had he not seen them, on occasion,
triced up to the palm-trees of the Meringe compound and their backs
lashed to ribbons by the white-gods? Small wonder that a high-born
Irish terrier, in the arms of love of the white-god, should look at
niggers through white-god's eyes, and act toward niggers in the way
that earned the white-god's reward of praise.
It was a busy day for Jerry. Everything about the Arangi was new
and strange, and so crowded was she that exciting things were
continually happening. He had another encounter with the wild-dog,
who treacherously attacked him in flank from ambuscade. Trade boxes
belonging to the blacks had been irregularly piled so that a small
space was left between two boxes in the lower tier. From this hole,
as Jerry trotted past in response to a call from the skipper, the
wild-dog sprang, scratched his sharp puppy-teeth into Jerry's
yellow-velvet hide, and scuttled back into his lair.
Again Jerry's feelings were outraged. He could understand flank
attack. Often he and Michael had played at that, although it had
only been playing. But to retreat without fighting from a fight
once started was alien to Jerry's ways and nature. With righteous
wrath he charged into the hole after his enemy. But this was where
the wild-dog fought to best advantage--in a corner. When Jerry
sprang up in the confined space he bumped his head on the box above,
and the next moment felt the snarling impact of the other's teeth
against his own teeth and jaw.
There was no getting at the wild-dog, no chance to rush against him
whole heartedly, with generous full weight in the attack. All Jerry
could do was to crawl and squirm and belly forward, and always he
was met by a snarling mouthful of teeth. Even so, he would have got
the wild-dog in the end, had not Borckman, in passing, reached in
and dragged Jerry out by a hind-leg. Again came Captain Van Horn's
call, and Jerry, obedient, trotted on aft.
A meal was being served on deck in the shade of the spanker, and
Jerry, sitting between the two men received his share. Already he
had made the generalization that of the two, the captain was the
superior god, giving many orders that the mate obeyed. The mate, on
the other hand, gave orders to the blacks, but never did he give
orders to the captain. Furthermore, Jerry was developing a liking
for the captain, so he snuggled close to him. When he put his nose
into the captain's plate, he was gently reprimanded. But once, when
he merely sniffed at the mate's steaming tea-cup, her received a
snub on the nose from the mate's grimy forefinger. Also, the mate
did not offer him food.
Captain Van Horn gave him, first of all, a pannikin of oatmeal mush,
generously flooded with condensed cream and sweetened with a heaping
spoonful of sugar. After that, on occasion, he gave him morsels of
buttered bread and slivers of fried fish from which he first
carefully picked the tiny bones.
His beloved Mister Haggin had never fed him from the table at meal
time, and Jerry was beside himself with the joy of this delightful
experience. And, being young, he allowed his eagerness to take
possession of him, so that soon he was unduly urging the captain for
more pieces of fish and of bread and butter. Once, he even barked
his demand. This put the idea into the captain's head, who began
immediately to teach him to "speak."
At the end of five minutes he had learned to speak softly, and to
speak only once--a low, mellow, bell-like bark of a single syllable.
Also, in this first five minutes, he had learned to "sit down," as
distinctly different from "lie down"; and that he must sit down
whenever he spoke, and that he must speak without jumping or moving
from the sitting position, and then must wait until the piece of
food was passed to him.
Further, he had added three words to his vocabulary. For ever
after, "speak" would mean to him "speak," and "sit down" would mean
"sit down" and would not mean "lie down." The third addition to his
vocabulary was "Skipper." That was the name he had heard the mate
repeatedly call Captain Van Horn. And just as Jerry knew that when
a human called "Michael," that the call referred to Michael and not
to Biddy, or Terrence, or himself, so he knew that Skipper was the
name of the two-legged white master of this new floating world.
"That isn't just a dog," was Van Horn's conclusion to the mate.
"There's a sure enough human brain there behind those brown eyes.
He's six months old. Any boy of six years would be an infant
phenomenon to learn in five minutes all that he's just learned.
Why, Gott-fer-dang, a dog's brain has to be like a man's. If he
does things like a man, he's got to think like a man."
The companionway into the main cabin was a steep ladder, and down
this, after his meal, Jerry was carried by the captain. The cabin
was a long room, extending for the full width of the Arangi from a
lazarette aft to a tiny room for'ard. For'ard of this room,
separated by a tight bulkhead, was the forecastle where lived the
boat's crew. The tiny room was shared between Van Horn and
Borckman, while the main cabin was occupied by the three-score and
odd return boys. They squatted about and lay everywhere on the
floor and on the long low bunks that ran the full length of the
In the little stateroom the captain tossed a blanket on the floor in
a corner, and he did not find it difficult to get Jerry to
understand that that was his bed. Nor did Jerry, with a full
stomach and weary from so much excitement, find it difficult to fall
An hour later he was awakened by the entrance of Borckman. When he
wagged his stub of a tail and smiled friendly with his eyes, the
mate scowled at him and muttered angrily in his throat. Jerry made
no further overtures, but lay quietly watching. The mate had come
to take a drink. In truth, he was stealing the drink from Van
Horn's supply. Jerry did not know this. Often, on the plantation,
he had seen the white men take drinks. But there was something
somehow different in the manner of Borckman's taking a drink. Jerry
was aware, vaguely, that there was something surreptitious about it.
What was wrong he did not know, yet he sensed the wrongness and
After the mate departed, Jerry would have slept again had not the
carelessly latched door swung open with a bang. Opening his eyes,
prepared for any hostile invasion from the unknown, he fell to
watching a large cockroach crawling down the wall. When he got to
his feet and warily stalked toward it, the cockroach scuttled away
with a slight rustling noise and disappeared into a crack. Jerry
had been acquainted with cockroaches all his life, but he was
destined to learn new things about them from the particular breed
that dwelt on the Arangi.
After a cursory examination of the stateroom he wandered out into
the cabin. The blacks, sprawled about everywhere, but, conceiving
it to be his duty to his Skipper, Jerry made it a point to identify
each one. They scowled and uttered low threatening noises when he
sniffed close to them. One dared to menace him with a blow, but
Jerry, instead of slinking away, showed his teeth and prepared to
spring. The black hastily dropped the offending hand to his side
and made soothing, penitent noises, while others chuckled; and Jerry
passed on his way. It was nothing new. Always a blow was to be
expected from blacks when white men were not around. Both the mate
and the captain were on deck, and Jerry, though unafraid, continued
his investigations cautiously.
But at the doorless entrance to the lazarette aft, he threw caution
to the winds and darted in in pursuit of the new scent that came to
his nostrils. A strange person was in the low, dark space whom he
had never smelled. Clad in a single shift and lying on a coarse
grass-mat spread upon a pile of tobacco cases and fifty-pound tins
of flour, was a young black girl.
There was something furtive and lurking about her that Jerry did not
fail to sense, and he had long since learned that something was
wrong when any black lurked or skulked. She cried out with fear as
he barked an alarm and pounced upon her. Even though his teeth
scratched her bare arm, she did not strike at him. Not did she cry
out again. She cowered down and trembled and did not fight back.
Keeping his teeth locked in the hold he had got on her flimsy shift,
he shook and dragged at her, all the while growling and scolding for
her benefit and yelping a high clamour to bring Skipper or the mate.
In the course of the struggle the girl over-balanced on the boxes
and tins and the entire heap collapsed. This caused Jerry to yelp a
more frenzied alarm, while the blacks, peering in from the cabin,
laughed with cruel enjoyment.
When Skipper arrived, Jerry wagged his stump tail and, with ears
laid back, dragged and tugged harder than ever at the thin cotton of
the girl's garment. He expected praise for what he had done, but
when Skipper merely told him to let go, he obeyed with the
realization that this lurking, fear-struck creature was somehow
different, and must be treated differently, from other lurking
Fear-struck she was, as it is given to few humans to be and still
live. Van Horn called her his parcel of trouble, and he was anxious
to be rid of the parcel, without, however, the utter annihilation of
the parcel. It was this annihilation which he had saved her from
when he bought her in even exchange for a fat pig.
Stupid, worthless, spiritless, sick, not more than a dozen years
old, no delight in the eyes of the young men of her village, she had
been consigned by her disappointed parents to the cooking-pot. When
Captain Van Horn first encountered her had been when she was the
central figure in a lugubrious procession on the banks of the
Anything but a beauty--had been his appraisal when he halted the
procession for a pow-wow. Lean from sickness, her skin mangy with
the dry scales of the disease called bukua, she was tied hand and
foot and, like a pig, slung from a stout pole that rested on the
shoulders of the bearers, who intended to dine off of her. Too
hopeless to expect mercy, she made no appeal for help, though the
horrible fear that possessed her was eloquent in her wild-staring
In the universal beche-de-mer English, Captain Van Horn had learned
that she was not regarded with relish by her companions, and that
they were on their way to stake her out up to her neck in the
running water of the Balebuli. But first, before they staked her,
their plan was to dislocate her joints and break the big bones of
the arms and legs. This was no religious rite, no placation of the
brutish jungle gods. Merely was it a matter of gastronomy. Living
meat, so treated, was made tender and tasty, and, as her companions
pointed out, she certainly needed to be put through such a process.
Two days in the water, they told the captain, ought to do the
business. Then they would kill her, build the fire, and invite in a
After half an hour of bargaining, during which Captain Van Horn had
insisted on the worthlessness of the parcel, he had bought a fat pig
worth five dollars and exchanged it for her. Thus, since he had
paid for the pig in trade goods, and since trade goods were rated at
a hundred per cent. profit, the girl had actually cost him two
dollars and fifty cents.
And then Captain Van Horn's troubles had begun. He could not get
rid of the girl. Too well he knew the natives of Malaita to turn
her over to them anywhere on the island. Chief Ishikola of Su'u had
offered five twenties of drinking coconuts for her, and Bau, a bush
chief, had offered two chickens on the beach at Malu. But this last
offer had been accompanied by a sneer, and had tokened the old
rascal's scorn of the girl's scrawniness. Failing to connect with
the missionary brig, the Western Cross, on which she would not have
been eaten, Captain Van Horn had been compelled to keep her in the
cramped quarters of the Arangi against a problematical future time
when he would be able to turn her over to the missionaries.
But toward him the girl had no heart of gratitude because she had no
brain of understanding. She, who had been sold for a fat pig,
considered her pitiful role in the world to be unchanged. Eatee she
had been. Eatee she remained. Her destination merely had been
changed, and this big fella white marster of the Arangi would
undoubtedly be her destination when she had sufficiently fattened.
His designs on her had been transparent from the first, when he had
tried to feed her up. And she had outwitted him by resolutely
eating no more than would barely keep her alive.
As a result, she, who had lived in the bush all her days and never
so much as set foot in a canoe, rocked and rolled unendingly over
the broad ocean in a perpetual nightmare of fear. In the beche-de-
mer that was current among the blacks of a thousand islands and ten
thousand dialects, the Arangi's procession of passengers assured her
of her fate. "My word, you fella Mary," one would say to her,
"short time little bit that big fella white marster kai-kai along
you." Or, another: "Big fella white marster kai-kai along you, my
word, belly belong him walk about too much."
Kai-kai was the beche-de-mer for "eat." Even Jerry knew that.
"Eat" did not obtain in his vocabulary; but kai-kai did, and it
meant all and more than "eat," for it served for both noun and verb.
But the girl never replied to the jeering of the blacks. For that
matter, she never spoke at all, not even to Captain Van Horn, who
did not so much as know her name.
It was late afternoon, after discovering the girl in the lazarette,
when Jerry again came on deck. Scarcely had Skipper, who had
carried him up the steep ladder, dropped him on deck than Jerry made
a new discovery--land. He did not see it, but he smelled it. His
nose went up in the air and quested to windward along the wind that
brought the message, and he read the air with his nose as a man
might read a newspaper--the salt smells of the seashore and of the
dank muck of mangrove swamps at low tide, the spicy fragrances of
tropic vegetation, and the faint, most faint, acrid tingle of smoke
from smudgy fires.
The trade, which had laid the Arangi well up under the lee of this
outjutting point of Malaita, was now failing, so that she began to
roll in the easy swells with crashings of sheets and tackles and
thunderous flappings of her sails. Jerry no more than cocked a
contemptuous quizzical eye at the mainsail anticking above him. He
knew already the empty windiness of its threats, but he was careful
of the mainsheet blocks, and walked around the traveller instead of
While Captain Van Horn, taking advantage of the calm to exercise the
boat's crew with the fire-arms and to limber up the weapons, was
passing out the Lee-Enfields from their place on top the cabin
skylight, Jerry suddenly crouched and began to stalk stiff-legged.
But the wild-dog, three feet from his lair under the trade-boxes,
was not unobservant. He watched and snarled threateningly. It was
not a nice snarl. In fact, it was as nasty and savage a snarl as
all his life had been nasty and savage. Most small creatures were
afraid of that snarl, but it had no deterrent effect on Jerry, who
continued his steady stalking. When the wild-dog sprang for the
hole under the boxes, Jerry sprang after, missing his enemy by
inches. Tossing overboard bits of wood, bottles and empty tins,
Captain Van Horn ordered the eight eager boat's crew with rifles to
turn loose. Jerry was excited and delighted with the fusillade, and
added his puppy yelpings to the noise. As the empty brass
cartridges were ejected, the return boys scrambled on the deck for
them, esteeming them as very precious objects and thrusting them,
still warm, into the empty holes in their ears. Their ears were
perforated with many of these holes, the smallest capable of
receiving a cartridge, while the larger ones contained-clay pipes,
sticks of tobacco, and even boxes of matches. Some of the holes in
the ear-lobes were so huge that they were plugged with carved wooden
cylinders three inches in diameter.
Mate and captain carried automatics in their belts, and with these
they turned loose, shooting away clip after clip to the breathless
admiration of the blacks for such marvellous rapidity of fire. The
boat's crew were not even fair shots, but Van Horn, like every
captain in the Solomons, knew that the bush natives and salt-water
men were so much worse shots, and knew that the shooting of his
boat's crew could be depended upon--if the boat's crew itself did
not turn against the ship in a pinch.
At first, Borckman's automatic jammed, and he received a caution
from Van Horn for his carelessness in not keeping it clean and thin-
oiled. Also, Borckman was twittingly asked how many drinks he had
taken, and if that was what accounted for his shooting being under
his average. Borckman explained that he had a touch of fever, and
Van Horn deferred stating his doubts until a few minutes later,
squatting in the shade of the spanker with Jerry in his arms, he
told Jerry all about it.
"The trouble with him is the schnapps, Jerry," he explained. "Gott-
fer-dang, it makes me keep all my watches and half of his. And he
says it's the fever. Never believe it, Jerry. It's the schnapps--
just the plain s-c-h-n-a-p-p-s schnapps. An' he's a good sailor-
man, Jerry, when he's sober. But when he's schnappy he's sheer
lunatic. Then his noddle goes pinwheeling and he's a blighted fool,
and he'd snore in a gale and suffer for sleep in a dead calm.--
Jerry, you're just beginning to pad those four little soft feet of
yours into the world, so take the advice of one who knows and leave
the schnapps alone. Believe me, Jerry, boy--listen to your father--
schnapps will never buy you anything."
Whereupon, leaving Jerry on deck to stalk the wild-dog, Captain Van
Horn went below into the tiny stateroom and took a long drink from
the very bottle from which Borckman was stealing.
The stalking of the wild-dog became a game, at least to Jerry, who
was so made that his heart bore no malice, and who hugely enjoyed
it. Also, it gave him a delightful consciousness of his own
mastery, for the wild-dog always fled from him. At least so far as
dogs were concerned, Jerry was cock of the deck of the Arangi. It
did not enter his head to query how his conduct affected the wild-
dog, though, in truth, he led that individual a wretched existence.
Never, except when Jerry was below, did the wild one dare venture
more than several feet from his retreat, and he went about in fear
and trembling of the fat roly-poly puppy who was unafraid of his
In the late afternoon, Jerry trotted aft, after having administered
another lesson to the wild-dog, and found Skipper seated on the
deck, back against the low rail, knees drawn up, and gazing absently
off to leeward. Jerry sniffed his bare calf--not that he needed to
identify it, but just because he liked to, and in a sort of friendly
greeting. But Van Horn took no notice, continuing to stare out
across the sea. Nor was he aware of the puppy's presence.
Jerry rested the length of his chin on Skipper's knee and gazed long
and earnestly into Skipper's face. This time Skipper knew, and was
pleasantly thrilled; but still he gave no sign. Jerry tried a new
tack. Skipper's hand drooped idly, half open, from where the
forearm rested on the other knee. Into the part-open hand Jerry
thrust his soft golden muzzle to the eyes and remained quite still.
Had he been situated to see, he would have seen a twinkle in
Skipper's eyes, which had been withdrawn from the sea and were
looking down upon him. But Jerry could not see. He kept quiet a
little longer, and then gave a prodigious sniff.
This was too much for Skipper, who laughed with such genial
heartiness as to lay Jerry's silky ears back and down in self-
deprecation of affection and pleadingness to bask in the sunshine of
the god's smile. Also, Skipper's laughter set Jerry's tail wildly
bobbing. The half-open hand closed in a firm grip that gathered in
the slack of the skin of one side of Jerry's head and jowl. Then
the hand began to shake him back and forth with such good will that
he was compelled to balance back and forth on all his four feet.
It was bliss to Jerry. Nay, more, it was ecstasy. For Jerry knew
there was neither anger nor danger in the roughness of the shake,
and that it was play of the sort that he and Michael had indulged
in. On occasion, he had so played with Biddy and lovingly mauled
her about. And, on very rare occasion, Mister Haggin had lovingly
mauled him about. It was speech to Jerry, full of unmistakable
As the shake grew rougher, Jerry emitted his most ferocious growl,
which grew more ferocious with the increasing violence of the
shaking. But that, too, was play, a making believe to hurt the one
he liked too well to hurt. He strained and tugged at the grip,
trying to twist his jowl in the slack of skin so as to reach a bite.
When Skipper, with a quick thrust, released him and shoved him
clear, he came back, all teeth and growl, to be again caught and
shaken. The play continued, with rising excitement to Jerry. Once,
too quick for Skipper, he caught his hand between teeth; but he did
not bring them together. They pressed lovingly, denting the skin,
but there was no bite in them.
The play grew rougher, and Jerry lost himself in the play. Still
playing, he grew so excited that all that had been feigned became
actual. This was battle a struggle against the hand that seized and
shook him and thrust him away. The make-believe of ferocity passed
out of his growls; the ferocity in them became real. Also, in the
moments when he was shoved away and was springing back to the
attack, he yelped in high-pitched puppy hysteria. And Captain Van
Horn, realizing, suddenly, instead of clutching, extended his hand
wide open in the peace sign that is as ancient as the human hand.
At the same time his voice rang out the single word, "Jerry!" In it
was all the imperativeness of reproof and command and all the
solicitous insistence of love.
Jerry knew and was checked back to himself. He was instantly
contrite, all soft humility, ears laid back with pleadingness for
forgiveness and protestation of a warm throbbing heart of love.
Instantly, from an open-mouthed, fang-bristling dog in full career
of attack, he melted into a bundle of softness and silkiness, that
trotted to the open hand and kissed it with a tongue that flashed
out between white gleaming teeth like a rose-red jewel. And the
next moment he was in Skipper's arms, jowl against cheek, and the
tongue was again flashing out in all the articulateness possible for
a creature denied speech. It was a veritable love-feast, as dear to
one as to the other.
"Gott-fer-dang!" Captain Van Horn crooned. "You're nothing but a
bunch of high-strung sensitiveness, with a golden heart in the
middle and a golden coat wrapped all around. Gott-fer-dang, Jerry,
you're gold, pure gold, inside and out, and no dog was ever minted
like you in all the world. You're heart of gold, you golden dog,
and be good to me and love me as I shall always be good to you and
love you for ever and for ever."
And Captain Van Horn, who ruled the Arangi in bare legs, a loin
cloth, and a sixpenny under-shirt, and ran cannibal blacks back and
forth in the blackbird trade with an automatic strapped to his body
waking and sleeping and with his head forfeit in scores of salt-
water villages and bush strongholds, and who was esteemed the
toughest skipper in the Solomons where only men who are tough may
continue to live and esteem toughness, blinked with sudden moisture
in his eyes, and could not see for the moment the puppy that
quivered all its body of love in his arms and kissed away the salty
softness of his eyes.
And swift tropic night smote the Arangi, as she alternately rolled
in calms and heeled and plunged ahead in squalls under the lee of
the cannibal island of Malaita. It was a stoppage of the south-east
trade wind that made for variable weather, and that made cooking on
the exposed deck galley a misery and sent the return boys, who had
nothing to wet but their skins, scuttling below.
The first watch, from eight to twelve, was the mate's; and Captain
Van Horn, forced below by the driving wet of a heavy rain squall,
took Jerry with him to sleep in the tiny stateroom. Jerry was weary
from the manifold excitements of the most exciting day in his life;
and he was asleep and kicking and growling in his sleep, ere
Skipper, with a last look at him and a grin as he turned the lamp
low, muttered aloud: "It's that wild-dog, Jerry. Get him. Shake
him. Shake him hard."
So soundly did Jerry sleep, that when the rain, having robbed the
atmosphere of its last breath of wind, ceased and left the stateroom
a steaming, suffocating furnace, he did not know when Skipper,
panting for air, his loin cloth and undershirt soaked with sweat,
arose, tucked blanket and pillow under his arm, and went on deck.
Jerry only awakened when a huge three-inch cockroach nibbled at the
sensitive and hairless skin between his toes. He awoke kicking the
offended foot, and gazed at the cockroach that did not scuttle, but
that walked dignifiedly away. He watched it join other cockroaches
that paraded the floor. Never had he seen so many gathered together
at one time, and never had he seen such large ones. They were all
of a size, and they were everywhere. Long lines of them poured out
of cracks in the walls and descended to join their fellows on the
The thing was indecent--at least, in Jerry's mind, it was not to be
tolerated. Mister Haggin, Derby, and Bob had never tolerated
cockroaches, and their rules were his rules. The cockroach was the
eternal tropic enemy. He sprang at the nearest, pouncing to crush
it to the floor under his paws. But the thing did what he had never
known a cockroach to do. It arose in the air strong-flighted as a
bird. And as if at a signal, all the multitude of cockroaches took
wings of flight and filled the room with their flutterings and
He attacked the winged host, leaping into the air, snapping at the
flying vermin, trying to knock them down with his paws.
Occasionally he succeeded and destroyed one; nor did the combat
cease until all the cockroaches, as if at another signal,
disappeared into the many cracks, leaving the room to him.
Quickly, his next thought was: Where is Skipper? He knew he was
not in the room, though he stood up on his hind-legs and
investigated the low bunk, his keen little nose quivering
delightedly while he made little sniffs of delight as he smelled the
recent presence of Skipper. And what made his nose quiver and
sniff, likewise made his stump of a tail bob back and forth.
But where was Skipper? It was a thought in his brain that was as
sharp and definite as a similar thought would be in a human brain.
And it similarly preceded action. The door had been left hooked
open, and Jerry trotted out into the cabin where half a hundred
blacks made queer sleep-moanings, and sighings, and snorings. They
were packed closely together, covering the floor as well as the long
sweep of bunks, so that he was compelled to crawl over their naked
legs. And there was no white god about to protect him. He knew it,
but was unafraid.
Having made sure that Skipper was not in the cabin, Jerry prepared
for the perilous ascent of the steep steps that were almost a
ladder, then recollected the lazarette. In he trotted and sniffed
at the sleeping girl in the cotton shift who believed that Van Horn
was going to eat her if he could succeed in fattening her.
Back at the ladder-steps, he looked up and waited in the hope that
Skipper might appear from above and carry him up. Skipper had
passed that way, he knew, and he knew for two reasons. It was the
only way he could have passed, and Jerry's nose told him that he had
passed. His first attempt to climb the steps began well. Not until
a third of the way up, as the Arangi rolled in a sea and recovered
with a jerk, did he slip and fall. Two or three boys awoke and
watched him while they prepared and chewed betel nut and lime
wrapped in green leaves.
Twice, barely started, Jerry slipped back, and more boys, awakened
by their fellows, sat up and enjoyed his plight. In the fourth
attempt he managed to gain half way up before he fell, coming down
heavily on his side. This was hailed with low laughter and
querulous chirpings that might well have come from the throats of
huge birds. He regained his feet, absurdly bristled the hair on his
shoulders and absurdly growled his high disdain of these lesser,
two-legged things that came and went and obeyed the wills of great,
white-skinned, two-legged gods such as Skipper and Mister Haggin.
Undeterred by his heavy fall, Jerry essayed the ladder again. A
temporary easement of the Arangi's rolling gave him his opportunity,
so that his forefeet were over the high combing of the companion
when the next big roll came. He held on by main strength of his
bent forelegs, then scrambled over and out on deck.
Amidships, squatting on the deck near the sky-light, he investigated
several of the boat's crew and Lerumie. He identified them
circumspectly, going suddenly stiff-legged as Lerumie made a low,
hissing, menacing noise. Aft, at the wheel, he found a black
steering, and, near him, the mate keeping the watch. Just as the
mate spoke to him and stooped to pat him, Jerry whiffed Skipper
somewhere near at hand. With a conciliating, apologetic bob of his
tail, he trotted on up wind and came upon Skipper on his back,
rolled in a blanket so that only his head stuck out, and sound
First of all Jerry needs must joyfully sniff him and joyfully wag
his tail. But Skipper did not awake and a fine spray of rain,
almost as thin as mist, made Jerry curl up and press closely into
the angle formed by Skipper's head and shoulder. This did awake
him, for he uttered "Jerry" in a low, crooning voice, and Jerry
responded with a touch of his cold damp nose to the other's cheek.
And then Skipper went to sleep again. But not Jerry. He lifted the
edge of the blanket with his nose and crawled across the shoulder
until he was altogether inside. This roused Skipper, who, half-
asleep, helped him to curl up.
Still Jerry was not satisfied, and he squirmed around until he lay
in the hollow of Skipper's arm, his head resting on Skipper's
shoulder, when, with a profound sigh of content, he fell asleep.
Several times the noises made by the boat's crew in trimming the
sheets to the shifting draught of air roused Van Horn, and each
time, remembering the puppy, he pressed him caressingly with his
hollowed arm. And each time, in his sleep, Jerry stirred
responsively and snuggled cosily to him.
For all that he was a remarkable puppy, Jerry had his limitations,
and he could never know the effect produced on the hard-bitten
captain by the soft warm contact of his velvet body. But it made
the captain remember back across the years to his own girl babe
asleep on his arm. And so poignantly did he remember, that he
became wide awake, and many pictures, beginning, with the girl babe,
burned their torment in his brain. No white man in the Solomons
knew what he carried about with him, waking and often sleeping; and
it was because of these pictures that he had come to the Solomons in
a vain effort to erase them.
First, memory-prodded by the soft puppy in his arm, he saw the girl
and the mother in the little Harlem flat. Small, it was true, but
tight-packed with the happiness of three that made it heaven.
He saw the girl's flaxen-yellow hair darken to her mother's gold as
it lengthened into curls and ringlets until finally it became two
thick long braids. From striving not to see these many pictures he
came even to dwelling upon them in the effort so to fill his
consciousness as to keep out the one picture he did not want to see.
He remembered his work, the wrecking car, and the wrecking crew that
had toiled under him, and he wondered what had become of Clancey,
his right-hand man. Came the long day, when, routed from bed at
three in the morning to dig a surface car out of the wrecked show
windows of a drug store and get it back on the track, they had
laboured all day clearing up a half-dozen smash-ups and arrived at
the car house at nine at night just as another call came in.
"Glory be!" said Clancey, who lived in the next block from him. He
could see him saying it and wiping the sweat from his grimy face.
"Glory be, 'tis a small matter at most, an' right in our
neighbourhood--not a dozen blocks away. Soon as it's done we can
beat it for home an' let the down-town boys take the car back to the
"We've only to jack her up for a moment," he had answered.
"What is it?" Billy Jaffers, another of the crew, asked.
"Somebody run over--can't get them out," he said, as they swung on
board the wrecking-car and started.
He saw again all the incidents of the long run, not omitting the
delay caused by hose-carts and a hook-and-ladder running to a cross-
town fire, during which time he and Clancey had joked Jaffers over
the dates with various fictitious damsels out of which he had been
cheated by the night's extra work.
Came the long line of stalled street-cars, the crowd, the police
holding it back, the two ambulances drawn up and waiting their
freight, and the young policeman, whose beat it was, white and
shaken, greeting him with: "It's horrible, man. It's fair
sickening. Two of them. We can't get them out. I tried. One was
still living, I think."
But he, strong man and hearty, used to such work, weary with the
hard day and with a pleasant picture of the bright little flat
waiting him a dozen blocks away when the job was done, spoke
cheerfully, confidently, saying that he'd have them out in a jiffy,
as he stooped and crawled under the car on hands and knees.
Again he saw himself as he pressed the switch of his electric torch
and looked. Again he saw the twin braids of heavy golden hair ere
his thumb relaxed from the switch, leaving him in darkness.
"Is the one alive yet?" the shaken policeman asked.
And the question was repeated, while he struggled for will power
sufficient to press on the light.
He heard himself reply, "I'll tell you in a minute."
Again he saw himself look. For a long minute he looked.
"Both dead," he answered quietly. "Clancey, pass in a number three
jack, and get under yourself with another at the other end of the
He lay on his back, staring straight up at one single star that
rocked mistily through a thinning of cloud-stuff overhead. The old
ache was in his throat, the old harsh dryness in mouth and eyes.
And he knew--what no other man knew--why he was in the Solomons,
skipper of the teak-built yacht Arangi, running niggers, risking his
head, and drinking more Scotch whiskey than was good for any man.
Not since that night had he looked with warm eyes on any woman. And
he had been noted by other whites as notoriously cold toward
pickanninnies white or black.
But, having visioned the ultimate horror of memory, Van Horn was
soon able to fall asleep again, delightfully aware, as he drowsed
off, of Jerry's head on his shoulder. Once, when Jerry, dreaming of
the beach at Meringe and of Mister Haggin, Biddy, Terrence, and
Michael, set up a low whimpering, Van Horn roused sufficiently to
soothe him closer to him, and to mutter ominously: "Any nigger
that'd hurt that pup. . . "
At midnight when the mate touched him on the shoulder, in the moment
of awakening and before he was awake Van Horn did two things
automatically and swiftly. He darted his right hand down to the
pistol at his hip, and muttered: "Any nigger that'd hurt that pup .
"That'll be Kopo Point abreast," Borckman explained, as both men
stared to windward at the high loom of the land. "She hasn't made
more than ten miles, and no promise of anything steady."
"There's plenty of stuff making up there, if it'll ever come down,"
Van Horn said, as both men transferred their gaze to the clouds
drifting with many breaks across the dim stars.
Scarcely had the mate fetched a blanket from below and turned in on
deck, than a brisk steady breeze sprang up from off the land,
sending the Arangi through the smooth water at a nine-knot clip.
For a time Jerry tried to stand the watch with Skipper, but he soon
curled up and dozed off, partly on the deck and partly on Skipper's
When Skipper carried him to the blanket and rolled him in, he was
quickly asleep again; and he was quickly awake, out of the blanket,
and padding after along the deck as Skipper paced up and down. Here
began another lesson, and in five minutes Jerry learned it was the
will of Skipper that he should remain in the blanket, that
everything was all right, and that Skipper would be up and down and
near him all the time.
At four the mate took charge of the deck.
"Reeled off thirty miles," Van Horn told him. "But now it is
baffling again. Keep an eye for squalls under the land. Better
throw the halyards down on deck and make the watch stand by. Of
course they'll sleep, but make them sleep on the halyards and
Jerry roused to Skipper's entrance under the blanket, and, quite as
if it were a long-established custom, curled in between his arm and
side, and, after one happy sniff and one kiss of his cool little
tongue, as Skipper pressed his cheek against him caressingly, dozed
off to sleep.
Half an hour later, to all intents and purposes, so far as Jerry
could or could not comprehend, the world might well have seemed
suddenly coming to an end. What awoke him was the flying leap of
Skipper that sent the blanket one way and Jerry the other. The deck
of the Arangi had become a wall, down which Jerry slipped through
the roaring dark. Every rope and shroud was thrumming and
screeching in resistance to the fierce weight of the squall.
"Stand by main halyards!--Jump!" he could hear Skipper shouting
loudly; also he heard the high note of the mainsheet screaming
across the sheaves as Van Horn, bending braces in the dark, was
swiftly slacking the sheet through his scorching palms with a single
turn on the cleat.
While all this, along with many other noises, squealings of boat-
boys and shouts of Borckman, was impacting on Jerry's ear-drums, he
was still sliding down the steep deck of his new and unstable world.
But he did not bring up against the rail where his fragile ribs
might well have been broken. Instead, the warm ocean water, pouring
inboard across the buried rail in a flood of pale phosphorescent
fire, cushioned his fall. A raffle of trailing ropes entangled him
as he struck out to swim.
And he swam, not to save his life, not with the fear of death upon
him. There was but one idea in his mind. Where was Skipper? Not
that he had any thought of trying to save Skipper, nor that he might
be of assistance to him. It was the heart of love that drives one
always toward the beloved. As the mother in catastrophe tries to
gain her babe, as the Greek who, dying, remembered sweet Argos, as
soldiers on a stricken field pass with the names of their women upon
their lips, so Jerry, in this wreck of a world, yearned toward
The squall ceased as abruptly as it had struck. The Arangi righted
with a jerk to an even keel, leaving Jerry stranded in the starboard
scuppers. He trotted across the level deck to Skipper, who,
standing erect on wide-spread legs, the bight of the mainsheet still
in his hand, was exclaiming:
"Gott-fer-dang! Wind he go! Rain he no come!"
He felt Jerry's cool nose against his bare calf, heard his joyous
sniff, and bent and caressed him. In the darkness he could not see,
but his heart warmed with knowledge that Jerry's tail was surely
Many of the frightened return boys had crowded on deck, and their
plaintive, querulous voices sounded like the sleepy noises of a
roost of birds. Borckman came and stood by Van Horn's shoulder, and
both men, strung to their tones in the tenseness of apprehension,
strove to penetrate the surrounding blackness with their eyes, while
they listened with all their ears for any message of the elements
from sea and air.
"Where's the rain?" Borckman demanded peevishly. "Always wind
first, the rain follows and kills the wind. There is no rain."
Van Horn still stared and listened, and made no answer.
The anxiety of the two men was sensed by Jerry, who, too, was on his
toes. He pressed his cool nose to Skipper's leg, and the rose-kiss
of his tongue brought him the salt taste of sea-water.
Skipper bent suddenly, rolled Jerry with quick toughness into the
blanket, and deposited him in the hollow between two sacks of yams
lashed on deck aft of the mizzenmast. As an afterthought, he
fastened the blanket with a piece of rope yarn, so that Jerry was as
if tied in a sack.
Scarcely was this finished when the spanker smashed across overhead,
the headsails thundered with a sudden filling, and the great
mainsail, with all the scope in the boom-tackle caused by Van Horn's
giving of the sheet, came across and fetched up to tautness on the
tackle with a crash that shook the vessel and heeled her violently
to port. This second knock-down had come from the opposite
direction, and it was mightier than the first.
Jerry heard Skipper's voice ring out, first, to the mate: "Stand by
main-halyards! Throw off the turns! I'll take care of the
tackle!"; and, next, to some of the boat's crew: "Batto! you fella
slack spanker tackle quick fella! Ranga! you fella let go spanker
Here Van Horn was swept off his legs by an avalanche of return boys
who had cluttered the deck with the first squall. The squirming
mass, of which he was part, slid down into the barbed wire of the
port rail beneath the surface of the sea.
Jerry was so secure in his nook that he did not roll away. But when
he heard Skipper's commands cease, and, seconds later, heard his
cursings in the barbed wire, he set up a shrill yelping and clawed
and scratched frantically at the blanket to get out. Something had
happened to Skipper. He knew that. It was all that he knew, for he
had no thought of himself in the chaos of the ruining world.
But he ceased his yelping to listen to a new noise--a thunderous
slatting of canvas accompanied by shouts and cries. He sensed, and
sensed wrongly, that it boded ill, for he did not know that it was
the mainsail being lowered on the run after Skipper had slashed the
boom-tackle across with his sheath-knife.
As the pandemonium grew, he added his own yelping to it until he
felt a fumbling hand without the blanket. He stilled and sniffed.
No, it was not Skipper. He sniffed again and recognized the person.
It was Lerumie, the black whom he had seen rolled on the beach by
Biddy only the previous morning, who, still were recently, had
kicked him on his stub of a tail, and who not more than a week
before he had seen throw a rock at Terrence.
The rope yarn had been parted, and Lerumie's fingers were feeling
inside the blanket for him. Jerry snarled his wickedest. The thing
was sacrilege. He, as a white man's dog, was taboo to all blacks.
He had early learned the law that no nigger must ever touch a white-
god's dog. Yet Lerumie, who was all of evil, at this moment when
the world crashed about their ears, was daring to touch him.
And when the fingers touched him, his teeth closed upon them. Next,
he was clouted by the black's free hand with such force as to tear
his clenched teeth down the fingers through skin and flesh until the
fingers went clear.
Raging like a tiny fiend, Jerry found himself picked up by the neck,
half-throttled, and flung through the air. And while flying through
the air, he continued to squall his rage. He fell into the sea and
went under, gulping a mouthful of salt water into his lungs, and
came up strangling but swimming. Swimming was one of the things he
did not have to think about. He had never had to learn to swim, any
more than he had had to learn to breathe. In fact, he had been
compelled to learn to walk; but he swam as a matter of course.
The wind screamed about him. Flying froth, driven on the wind's
breath, filled his mouth and nostrils and beat into his eyes,
stinging and blinding him. In the struggle to breathe he, all
unlearned in the ways of the sea, lifted his muzzle high in the air
to get out of the suffocating welter. As a result, off the
horizontal, the churning of his legs no longer sustained him, and he
went down and under perpendicularly. Again he emerged, strangling
with more salt water in his windpipe. This time, without reasoning
it out, merely moving along the line of least resistance, which was
to him the line of greatest comfort, he straightened out in the sea
and continued so to swim as to remain straightened out.
Through the darkness, as the squall spent itself, came the slatting
of the half-lowered mainsail, the shrill voices of the boat's crew,
a curse of Borckman's, and, dominating all, Skipper's voice,
"Grab the leech, you fella boys! Hang on! Drag down strong fella!
Come in mainsheet two blocks! Jump, damn you, jump!"
At recognition of Skipper's voice, Jerry, floundering in the stiff
and crisping sea that sprang up with the easement of the wind,
yelped eagerly and yearningly, all his love for his new-found
beloved eloquent in his throat. But quickly all sounds died away as
the Arangi drifted from him. And then, in the loneliness of the
dark, on the heaving breast of the sea that he recognized as one
more of the eternal enemies, he began to whimper and cry plaintively
like a lost child.
Further, by the dim, shadowy ways of intuition, he knew his weakness
in that merciless sea with no heart of warmth, that threatened the
unknowable thing, vaguely but terribly guessed, namely, death. As
regarded himself, he did not comprehend death. He, who had never
known the time when he was not alive, could not conceive of the time
when he would cease to be alive.
Yet it was there, shouting its message of warning through every
tissue cell, every nerve quickness and brain sensitivity of him--a
totality of sensation that foreboded the ultimate catastrophe of
life about which he knew nothing at all, but which, nevertheless, he
felt to be the conclusive supreme disaster. Although he did not
comprehend it, he apprehended it no less poignantly than do men who
know and generalize far more deeply and widely than mere four-legged
As a man struggles in the throes of nightmare, so Jerry struggled in
the vexed, salt-suffocating sea. And so he whimpered and cried,
lost child, lost puppy-dog that he was, only half a year existent in
the fair world sharp with joy and suffering. And he wanted Skipper.
Skipper was a god.
On board the Arangi, relieved by the lowering of her mainsail, as
the fierceness went out of the wind and the cloudburst of tropic
rain began to fall, Van Horn and Borckman lurched toward each other
in the blackness.
"A double squall," said Van Horn. "Hit us to starboard and to
"Must a-split in half just before she hit us," the mate concurred.
"And kept all the rain in the second half--"
Van Horn broke off with an oath.
"Hey! What's the matter along you fella boy?" he shouted to the man
at the wheel.
For the ketch, under her spanker which had just then been flat-
hauled, had come into the wind, emptying her after-sail and
permitting her headsails to fill on the other tack. The Arangi was
beginning to work back approximately over the course she had just
traversed. And this meant that she was going back toward Jerry
floundering in the sea. Thus, the balance, on which his life
titubated, was inclined in his favour by the blunder of a black
Keeping the Arangi on the new tack, Van Horn set Borckman clearing
the mess of ropes on deck, himself, squatting in the rain,
undertaking to long-splice the tackle he had cut. As the rain
thinned, so that the crackle of it on deck became less noisy, he was
attracted by a sound from out over the water. He suspended the work
of his hands to listen, and, when he recognized Jerry's wailing,
sprang to his feet, galvanized into action.
"The pup's overboard!" he shouted to Borckman. "Back your jib to
He sprang aft, scattering a cluster of return boys right and left.
"Hey! You fella boat's crew! Come in spanker sheet! Flatten her
down good fella!"
He darted a look into the binnacle and took a hurried compass
bearing of the sounds Jerry was making.
"Hard down your wheel!" he ordered the helmsman, then leaped to the
wheel and put it down himself, repeating over and over aloud,
"Nor'east by east a quarter, nor'east by east a quarter."
Back and peering into the binnacle, he listened vainly for another
wail from Jerry in the hope of verifying his first hasty bearing.
But not long he waited. Despite the fact that by his manoeuvre the
Arangi had been hove to, he knew that windage and sea-driftage would
quickly send her away from the swimming puppy. He shouted Borckman
to come aft and haul in the whaleboat, while he hurried below for
his electric torch and a boat compass.
The ketch was so small that she was compelled to tow her one
whaleboat astern on long double painters, and by the time the mate
had it hauled in under the stern, Van Horn was back. He was
undeterred by the barbed wire, lifting boy after boy of the boat's
crew over it and dropping them sprawling into the boat, following
himself, as the last, by swinging over on the spanker boom, and
calling his last instructions as the painters were cast off.
"Get a riding light on deck, Borckman. Keep her hove to. Don't
hoist the mainsail. Clean up the decks and bend the watch tackle on
the main boom."
He took the steering-sweep and encouraged the rowers with: "Washee-
washee, good fella, washee-washee!"--which is the beche-de-mer for
As he steered, he kept flashing the torch on the boat compass so
that he could keep headed north-east by east a quarter east. Then
he remembered that the boat compass, on such course, deviated two
whole points from the Arangi's compass, and altered his own course
Occasionally he bade the rowers cease, while he listened and called
for Jerry. He had them row in circles, and work back and forth, up
to windward and down to leeward, over the area of dark sea that he
reasoned must contain the puppy.
"Now you fella boy listen ear belong you," he said, toward the
first. "Maybe one fella boy hear 'm pickaninny dog sing out, I give
'm that fella boy five fathom calico, two ten sticks tobacco."
At the end of half an hour he was offering "Two ten fathoms calico
and ten ten sticks tobacco" to the boy who first heard "pickaninny
dog sing out."
Jerry was in bad shape. Not accustomed to swimming, strangled by
the salt water that lapped into his open mouth, he was getting loggy
when first he chanced to see the flash of the captain's torch.
This, however, he did not connect with Skipper, and so took no more
notice of it than he did of the first stars showing in the sky. It
never entered his mind that it might be a star nor even that it
might not be a star. He continued to wail and to strangle with more
salt water. But when he at length heard Skipper's voice he went
immediately wild. He attempted to stand up and to rest his forepaws
on Skipper's voice coming out of the darkness, as he would have
rested his forepaws on Skipper's leg had he been near. The result
was disastrous. Out of the horizontal, he sank down and under,
coming up with a new spasm of strangling.
This lasted for a short time, during which the strangling prevented
him from answering Skipper's cry, which continued to reach him. But
when he could answer he burst forth in a joyous yelp. Skipper was
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