Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne
Part 8 out of 8
on two hundredweight of Chile silver! What! ain't that good
enough to fetch a fleet? Do you mean to say that won't affect a
ship's compass? Do you mean to tell me that the lookout won't
turn to and SMELL it?" he cried.
Mac, who had no part nor lot in the bills, the forty pounds of
gold, or the two hundredweight of silver, heard this with
impatience, and fell into a bitter, choking laughter. "You'll
see!" he said harshly. "You'll be glad to feed them bills into the
fire before you're through with ut!" And he turned, passed by
himself out of the ring of the firelight, and stood gazing
His speech and his departure extinguished instantly those
sparks of better humour kindled by the dinner and the chest.
The group fell again to an ill-favoured silence, and Hemstead
began to touch the banjo, as was his habit of an evening. His
repertory was small: the chords of _Home, Sweet Home_ fell
under his fingers; and when he had played the symphony, he
instinctively raised up his voice. "Be it never so 'umble, there's
no plyce like 'ome," he sang. The last word was still upon his
lips, when the instrument was snatched from him and dashed
into the fire; and he turned with a cry to look into the furious
countenance of Mac.
"I'll be damned if I stand this!" cried the captain, leaping up
"I told ye I was a voilent man," said Mac, with a movement of
deprecation very surprising in one of his character. "Why don't
he give me a chance then? Haven't we enough to bear the way
we are?" And to the wonder and dismay of all, the man choked
upon a sob. "It's ashamed of meself I am," he said presently,
his Irish accent twenty-fold increased. "I ask all your pardons
for me voilence; and especially the little man's, who is a
harmless crayture, and here's me hand to'm, if he'll condescind
to take me by 't."
So this scene of barbarity and sentimentalism passed off,
leaving behind strange and incongruous impressions. True,
every one was perhaps glad when silence succeeded that all too
appropriate music; true, Mac's apology and subsequent
behaviour rather raised him in the opinion of his fellow-
castaways. But the discordant note had been struck, and its
harmonics tingled in the brain. In that savage, houseless isle,
the passions of man had sounded, if only for the moment, and
all men trembled at the possibilities of horror.
It was determined to stand watch and watch in case of passing
vessels; and Tommy, on fire with an idea, volunteered to stand
the first. The rest crawled under the tent, and were soon
enjoying that comfortable gift of sleep, which comes
everywhere and to all men, quenching anxieties and speeding
time. And no sooner were all settled, no sooner had the drone
of many snorers begun to mingle with and overcome the surf,
than Tommy stole from his post with the case of sherry, and
dropped it in a quiet cove in a fathom of water. But the stormy
inconstancy of Mac's behaviour had no connection with a gill
or two of wine; his passions, angry and otherwise, were on a
different sail plan from his neighbours'; and there were
possibilities of good and evil in that hybrid Celt beyond their
About two in the morning, the starry sky--or so it seemed, for
the drowsy watchman had not observed the approach of any
cloud--brimmed over in a deluge; and for three days it rained
without remission. The islet was a sponge, the castaways sops;
the view all gone, even the reef concealed behind the curtain of
the falling water. The fire was soon drowned out; after a
couple of boxes of matches had been scratched in vain, it was
decided to wait for better weather; and the party lived in
wretchedness on raw tins and a ration of hard bread.
By the 2nd February, in the dark hours of the morning watch,
the clouds were all blown by; the sun rose glorious; and once
more the castaways sat by a quick fire, and drank hot coffee
with the greed of brutes and sufferers. Thenceforward their
affairs moved in a routine. A fire was constantly maintained;
and this occupied one hand continuously, and the others for an
hour or so in the day. Twice a day, all hands bathed in the
lagoon, their chief, almost their only pleasure. Often they
fished in the lagoon with good success. And the rest was
passed in lolling, strolling, yarns, and disputation. The time of
the China steamers was calculated to a nicety; which done, the
thought was rejected and ignored. It was one that would not
bear consideration. The boat voyage having been tacitly set
aside, the desperate part chosen to wait there for the coming of
help or of starvation, no man had courage left to look his
bargain in the face, far less to discuss it with his neighbours.
But the unuttered terror haunted them; in every hour of
idleness, at every moment of silence, it returned, and breathed a
chill about the circle, and carried men's eyes to the horizon.
Then, in a panic of self-defence, they would rally to some other
subject. And, in that lone spot, what else was to be found to
speak of but the treasure?
That was indeed the chief singularity, the one thing
conspicuous in their island life; the presence of that chest of
bills and specie dominated the mind like a cathedral; and there
were besides connected with it, certain irking problems well
fitted to occupy the idle. Two thousand pounds were due to the
Sydney firm: two thousand pounds were clear profit, and fell to
be divided in varying proportions among six. It had been
agreed how the partners were to range; every pound of capital
subscribed, every pound that fell due in wages, was to count for
one "lay." Of these, Tommy could claim five hundred and ten,
Carthew one hundred and seventy, Wicks one hundred and
forty, and Hemstead and Amalu ten apiece: eight hundred and
forty "lays" in all. What was the value of a lay? This was at
first debated in the air and chiefly by the strength of Tommy's
lungs. Then followed a series of incorrect calculations; from
which they issued, arithmetically foiled, but agreed from
weariness upon an approximate value of 2 pounds, 7 shillings
7 1/4 pence. The figures were admittedly incorrect; the sum of
the shares came not to 2000 pounds, but to 1996 pounds, 6
shillings: 3 pounds, 14 shillings being thus left unclaimed.
But it was the nearest they had yet found, and the highest as
well, so that the partners were made the less critical by the
contemplation of their splendid dividends. Wicks put in 100
pounds and stood to draw captain's wages for two months; his
taking was 333 pounds 3 shillings 6 1/2 pence. Carthew had
put in 150 pounds: he was to take out 401 pounds, 18 shillings
6 1/2 pence. Tommy's 500 pounds had grown to be 1213
pounds 12 shillings 9 3/4 pence; and Amalu and Hemstead,
ranking for wages only, had 22 pounds, 16 shillings 1/2 pence,
From talking and brooding on these figures, it was but a step to
opening the chest; and once the chest open, the glamour of the
cash was irresistible. Each felt that he must see his treasure
separate with the eye of flesh, handle it in the hard coin, mark it
for his own, and stand forth to himself the approved owner.
And here an insurmountable difficulty barred the way. There
were some seventeen shillings in English silver: the rest was
Chile; and the Chile dollar, which had been taken at the rate of
six to the pound sterling, was practically their smallest coin. It
was decided, therefore, to divide the pounds only, and to throw
the shillings, pence, and fractions in a common fund. This,
with the three pound fourteen already in the heel, made a total
of seven pounds one shilling.
"I'll tell you," said Wicks. "Let Carthew and Tommy and me
take one pound apiece, and Hemstead and Amalu split the
other four, and toss up for the odd bob."
"O, rot!" said Carthew. "Tommy and I are bursting already.
We can take half a sov' each, and let the other three have forty
"I'll tell you now--it's not worth splitting," broke in Mac. "I've
cards in my chest. Why don't you play for the slump sum?"
In that idle place, the proposal was accepted with delight.
Mac, as the owner of the cards, was given a stake; the sum was
played for in five games of cribbage; and when Amalu, the last
survivor in the tournament, was beaten by Mac, it was found
the dinner hour was past. After a hasty meal, they fell again
immediately to cards, this time (on Carthew's proposal) to Van
John. It was then probably two P.M. of the 9th February; and
they played with varying chances for twelve hours, slept
heavily, and rose late on the morrow to resume the game. All
day of the 10th, with grudging intervals for food, and with one
long absence on the part of Tommy from which he returned
dripping with the case of sherry, they continued to deal and
stake. Night fell: they drew the closer to the fire. It was
maybe two in the morning, and Tommy was selling his deal by
auction, as usual with that timid player; when Carthew, who
didn't intend to bid, had a moment of leisure and looked round
him. He beheld the moonlight on the sea, the money piled and
scattered in that incongruous place, the perturbed faces of the
players; he felt in his own breast the familiar tumult; and it
seemed as if there rose in his ears a sound of music, and the
moon seemed still to shine upon a sea, but the sea was
changed, and the Casino towered from among lamplit gardens,
and the money clinked on the green board. "Good God!" he
thought, "am I gambling again?" He looked the more curiously
about the sandy table. He and Mac had played and won like
gamblers; the mingled gold and silver lay by their places in the
heap. Amalu and Hemstead had each more than held their
own, but Tommy was cruel far to leeward, and the captain was
reduced to perhaps fifty pounds.
"I say, let's knock off," said Carthew.
"Give that man a glass of Buckle," said some one, and a fresh
bottle was opened, and the game went inexorably on.
Carthew was himself too heavy a winner to withdraw or to say
more; and all the rest of the night he must look on at the
progress of this folly, and make gallant attempts to lose with
the not uncommon consequence of winning more. The first
dawn of the 11th February found him well-nigh desperate. It
chanced he was then dealer, and still winning. He had just
dealt a round of many tens; every one had staked heavily; the
captain had put up all that remained to him, twelve pounds in
gold and a few dollars; and Carthew, looking privately at his
cards before he showed them, found he held a natural.
"See here, you fellows," he broke out, "this is a sickening
business, and I'm done with it for one." So saying, he showed
his cards, tore them across, and rose from the ground.
The company stared and murmured in mere amazement; but
Mac stepped gallantly to his support.
"We've had enough of it, I do believe," said he. "But of course
it was all fun, and here's my counters back. All counters in,
boys!" and he began to pour his winnings into the chest, which
stood fortunately near him.
Carthew stepped across and wrung him by the hand. "I'll never
forget this," he said.
"And what are ye going to do with the Highway boy and the
plumber?" inquired Mac, in a low tone of voice. "They've both
wan, ye see."
"That's true!" said Carthew aloud. "Amalu and Hemstead,
count your winnings; Tommy and I pay that."
It was carried without speech: the pair glad enough to receive
their winnings, it mattered not from whence; and Tommy, who
had lost about five hundred pounds, delighted with the
"And how about Mac?" asked Hemstead. "Is he to lose all?"
"I beg your pardon, plumber. I'm sure ye mean well," returned
the Irishman, "but you'd better shut your face, for I'm not that
kind of a man. If I t'ought I had wan that money fair, there's
never a soul here could get it from me. But I t'ought it was in
fun; that was my mistake, ye see; and there's no man big
enough upon this island to give a present to my mother's son.
So there's my opinion to ye, plumber, and you can put it in your
pockut till required."
"Well, I will say, Mac, you're a gentleman," said Carthew, as
he helped him to shovel back his winnings into the treasure
"Divil a fear of it, sir! a drunken sailor-man," said Mac.
The captain had sat somewhile with his face in his hands: now
he rose mechanically, shaking and stumbling like a drunkard
after a debauch. But as he rose, his face was altered, and his
voice rang out over the isle, "Sail, ho!"
All turned at the cry, and there, in the wild light of the
morning, heading straight for Midway Reef, was the brig
Flying Scud of Hull.
A HARD BARGAIN.
The ship which thus appeared before the castaways had long
"tramped" the ocean, wandering from one port to another as
freights offered. She was two years out from London, by the
Cape of Good Hope, India, and the Archipelago; and was now
bound for San Francisco in the hope of working homeward
round the Horn. Her captain was one Jacob Trent. He had
retired some five years before to a suburban cottage, a patch of
cabbages, a gig, and the conduct of what he called a Bank. The
name appears to have been misleading. Borrowers were
accustomed to choose works of art and utility in the front shop;
loaves of sugar and bolts of broadcloth were deposited in
pledge; and it was a part of the manager's duty to dash in his
gig on Saturday evenings from one small retailer's to another,
and to annex in each the bulk of the week's takings. His was
thus an active life, and to a man of the type of a rat, filled with
recondite joys. An unexpected loss, a law suit, and the
unintelligent commentary of the judge upon the bench,
combined to disgust him of the business. I was so
extraordinarily fortunate as to find, in an old newspaper, a
report of the proceedings in Lyall v. The Cardiff Mutual
Accommodation Banking Co. "I confess I fail entirely to
understand the nature of the business," the judge had remarked,
while Trent was being examined in chief; a little after, on fuller
information--"They call it a bank," he had opined, "but it seems
to me to be an unlicensed pawnshop"; and he wound up with
this appalling allocution: "Mr. Trent, I must put you on your
guard; you must be very careful, or we shall see you here
again." In the inside of a week the captain disposed of the
bank, the cottage, and the gig and horse; and to sea again in the
Flying Scud, where he did well and gave high satisfaction to
his owners. But the glory clung to him; he was a plain sailor
-man, he said, but he could never long allow you to forget that
he had been a banker.
His mate, Elias Goddedaal, was a huge viking of a man, six
feet three and of proportionate mass, strong, sober, industrious,
musical, and sentimental. He ran continually over into
Swedish melodies, chiefly in the minor. He had paid nine
dollars to hear Patti; to hear Nilsson, he had deserted a ship
and two months' wages; and he was ready at any time to walk
ten miles for a good concert, or seven to a reasonable play. On
board he had three treasures: a canary bird, a concertina, and a
blinding copy of the works of Shakespeare. He had a gift,
peculiarly Scandinavian, of making friends at sight: an
elemental innocence commended him; he was without fear,
without reproach, and without money or the hope of making it.
Holdorsen was second mate, and berthed aft, but messed
usually with the hands.
Of one more of the crew, some image lives. This was a
foremast hand out of the Clyde, of the name of Brown. A
small, dark, thickset creature, with dog's eyes, of a disposition
incomparably mild and harmless, he knocked about seas and
cities, the uncomplaining whiptop of one vice. "The drink is
my trouble, ye see," he said to Carthew shyly; "and it's the more
shame to me because I'm come of very good people at Bowling,
down the wa'er." The letter that so much affected Nares, in
case the reader should remember it, was addressed to this man
Such was the ship that now carried joy into the bosoms of the
castaways. After the fatigue and the bestial emotions of their
night of play, the approach of salvation shook them from all
self-control. Their hands trembled, their eyes shone, they
laughed and shouted like children as they cleared their camp:
and some one beginning to whistle _Marching Through
Georgia,_ the remainder of the packing was conducted, amidst
a thousand interruptions, to these martial strains. But the
strong head of Wicks was only partly turned.
"Boys," he said, "easy all! We're going aboard of a ship of
which we don't know nothing; we've got a chest of specie, and
seeing the weight, we can't turn to and deny it. Now, suppose
she was fishy; suppose it was some kind of a Bully Hayes
business! It's my opinion we'd better be on hand with the
Every man of the party but Hemstead had some kind of a
revolver; these were accordingly loaded and disposed about the
persons of the castaways, and the packing was resumed and
finished in the same rapturous spirit as it was begun. The sun
was not yet ten degrees above the eastern sea, but the brig was
already close in and hove to, before they had launched the boat
and sped, shouting at the oars, towards the passage.
It was blowing fresh outside, with a strong send of sea. The
spray flew in the oarsmen's faces. They saw the Union Jack
blow abroad from the Flying Scud, the men clustered at the
rail, the cook in the galley door, the captain on the quarter-deck
with a pith helmet and binoculars. And the whole familiar
business, the comfort, company, and safety of a ship, heaving
nearer at each stroke, maddened them with joy.
Wicks was the first to catch the line, and swarm on board,
helping hands grabbing him as he came and hauling him
across the rail.
"Captain, sir, I suppose?" he said, turning to the hard old man
in the pith helmet.
"Captain Trent, sir," returned the old gentleman.
"Well, I'm Captain Kirkup, and this is the crew of the Sydney
schooner Currency Lass, dismasted at sea January 28th."
"Ay, ay," said Trent. "Well, you're all right now. Lucky for
you I saw your signal. I didn't know I was so near this beastly
island, there must be a drift to the south'ard here; and when I
came on deck this morning at eight bells, I thought it was a
It had been agreed that, while Wicks was to board the ship and
do the civil, the rest were to remain in the whaleboat and see
the treasure safe. A tackle was passed down to them; to this
they made fast the invaluable chest, and gave the word to
heave. But the unexpected weight brought the hand at the
tackle to a stand; two others ran to tail on and help him, and the
thing caught the eye of Trent.
"'Vast heaving!" he cried sharply; and then to Wicks: "What's
that? I don't ever remember to have seen a chest weigh like
"It's money," said Wicks.
"It's what?" cried Trent.
"Specie," said Wicks; "saved from the wreck."
Trent looked at him sharply. "Here, let go that chest again, Mr.
Goddedaal," he commanded, "shove the boat off, and stream
her with a line astern."
"Ay, ay, sir!" from Goddedaal.
"What the devil's wrong?" asked Wicks.
"Nothing, I daresay," returned Trent. "But you'll allow it's a
queer thing when a boat turns up in mid-ocean with half a ton
of specie,--and everybody armed," he added, pointing to
Wicks's pocket. "Your boat will lay comfortably astern, while
you come below and make yourself satisfactory."
"O, if that's all!" said Wicks. "My log and papers are as right
as the mail; nothing fishy about us." And he hailed his friends
in the boat, bidding them have patience, and turned to follow
"This way, Captain Kirkup," said the latter. "And don't blame
a man for too much caution; no offence intended; and these
China rivers shake a fellow's nerve. All I want is just to see
you're what you say you are; it's only my duty, sir, and what
you would do yourself in the circumstances. I've not always
been a ship-captain: I was a banker once, and I tell you that's
the trade to learn caution in. You have to keep your weather-
eye lifting Saturday nights." And with a dry, business-like
cordiality, he produced a bottle of gin.
The captains pledged each other; the papers were overhauled;
the tale of Topelius and the trade was told in appreciative ears
and cemented their acquaintance. Trent's suspicions, thus
finally disposed of, were succeeded by a fit of profound
thought, during which he sat lethargic and stern, looking at and
drumming on the table.
"Anything more?" asked Wicks.
"What sort of a place is it inside?" inquired Trent, sudden as
though Wicks had touched a spring.
"It's a good enough lagoon--a few horses' heads, but nothing to
mention," answered Wicks.
"I've a good mind to go in," said Trent. "I was new rigged in
China; it's given very bad, and I'm getting frightened for my
sticks. We could set it up as good as new in a day. For I
daresay your lot would turn to and give us a hand?"
"You see if we don't!" said Wicks.
"So be it, then," concluded Trent. "A stitch in time saves nine."
They returned on deck; Wicks cried the news to the Currency
Lasses; the foretopsail was filled again, and the brig ran into
the lagoon lively, the whaleboat dancing in her wake, and came
to single anchor off Middle Brooks Island before eight. She
was boarded by the castaways, breakfast was served, the
baggage slung on board and piled in the waist, and all hands
turned to upon the rigging. All day the work continued, the
two crews rivalling each other in expense of strength. Dinner
was served on deck, the officers messing aft under the slack of
the spanker, the men fraternising forward. Trent appeared in
excellent spirits, served out grog to all hands, opened a bottle of
Cape wine for the after-table, and obliged his guests with many
details of the life of a financier in Cardiff. He had been forty
years at sea, had five times suffered shipwreck, was once nine
months the prisoner of a pepper rajah, and had seen service
under fire in Chinese rivers; but the only thing he cared to talk
of, the only thing of which he was vain, or with which he
thought it possible to interest a stranger, was his career as a
money-lender in the slums of a seaport town.
The afternoon spell told cruelly on the Currency Lasses.
Already exhausted as they were with sleeplessness and
excitement, they did the last hours of this violent employment
on bare nerves; and when Trent was at last satisfied with the
condition of his rigging, expected eagerly the word to put to
sea. But the captain seemed in no hurry. He went and walked
by himself softly, like a man in thought. Presently he hailed
"You're a kind of company, ain't you, Captain Kirkup?" he
"Yes, we're all on board on lays," was the reply.
"Well, then, you won't mind if I ask the lot of you down to tea
in the cabin?" asked Trent.
Wicks was amazed, but he naturally ventured no remark; and a
little after, the six Currency Lasses sat down with Trent and
Goddedaal to a spread of marmalade, butter, toast, sardines,
tinned tongue, and steaming tea. The food was not very good,
and I have no doubt Nares would have reviled it, but it was
manna to the castaways. Goddedaal waited on them with a
kindness far before courtesy, a kindness like that of some old,
honest countrywoman in her farm. It was remembered
afterwards that Trent took little share in these attentions, but sat
much absorbed in thought, and seemed to remember and forget
the presence of his guests alternately.
Presently he addressed the Chinaman.
"Clear out!" said he, and watched him till he had disappeared
in the stair. "Now, gentlemen," he went on, "I understand
you're a joint-stock sort of crew, and that's why I've had you all
down; for there's a point I want made clear. You see what sort
of a ship this is--a good ship, though I say it, and you see what
the rations are--good enough for sailor-men."
There was a hurried murmur of approval, but curiosity for what
was coming next prevented an articulate reply.
"Well," continued Trent, making bread pills and looking hard
at the middle of the table, "I'm glad of course to be able to give
you a passage to 'Frisco; one sailor-man should help another,
that's my motto. But when you want a thing in this world, you
generally always have to pay for it." He laughed a brief, joyless
laugh. "I have no idea of losing by my kindness."
"We have no idea you should, captain," said Wicks.
"We are ready to pay anything in reason," added Carthew.
At the words, Goddedaal, who sat next to him, touched him
with his elbow, and the two mates exchanged a significant
look. The character of Captain Trent was given and taken in
that silent second.
"In reason?" repeated the captain of the brig. "I was waiting for
that. Reason's between two people, and there's only one here.
I'm the judge; I'm reason. If you want an advance you have to
pay for it"--he hastily corrected himself--"If you want a passage
in my ship, you have to pay my price," he substituted. "That's
business, I believe. I don't want you; you want me."
"Well, sir," said Carthew, "and what IS your price?"
The captain made bread pills. "If I were like you," he said,
"when you got hold of that merchant in the Gilberts, I might
surprise you. You had your chance then; seems to me it's mine
now. Turn about's fair play. What kind of mercy did you have
on that Gilbert merchant?" he cried, with a sudden stridency.
"Not that I blame you. All's fair in love and business," and he
laughed again, a little frosty giggle.
"Well, sir?" said Carthew, gravely.
"Well, this ship's mine, I think?" he asked sharply.
"Well, I'm of that way of thinking meself," observed Mac.
"I say it's mine, sir!" reiterated Trent, like a man trying to be
angry. "And I tell you all, if I was a driver like what you are, I
would take the lot. But there's two thousand pounds there that
don't belong to you, and I'm an honest man. Give me the two
thousand that's yours, and I'll give you a passage to the coast,
and land every man-jack of you in 'Frisco with fifteen pounds
in his pocket, and the captain here with twenty-five."
Goddedaal laid down his head on the table like a man
"You're joking," said Wicks, purple in the face.
"Am I?" said Trent. "Please yourselves. You're under no
compulsion. This ship's mine, but there's that Brooks Island
don't belong to me, and you can lay there till you die for what I
"It's more than your blooming brig's worth!" cried Wicks.
"It's my price anyway," returned Trent.
"And do you mean to say you would land us there to starve?"
Captain Trent laughed the third time. "Starve? I defy you to,"
said he. "I'll sell you all the provisions you want at a fair
"I beg your pardon, sir," said Mac, "but my case is by itself I'm
working me passage; I got no share in that two thousand
pounds nor nothing in my pockut; and I'll be glad to know what
you have to say to me?"
"I ain't a hard man," said Trent. "That shall make no
difference. I'll take you with the rest, only of course you get no
The impudence was so extreme and startling, that all breathed
deep, and Goddedaal raised up his face and looked his superior
sternly in the eye.
But Mac was more articulate. "And you're what ye call a
British sayman, I suppose? the sorrow in your guts!" he cried.
"One more such word, and I clap you in irons!" said Trent,
rising gleefully at the face of opposition.
"And where would I be the while you were doin' ut?" asked
Mac. "After you and your rigging, too! Ye ould puggy, ye
haven't the civility of a bug, and I'll learn ye some."
His voice did not even rise as he uttered the threat; no man
present, Trent least of all, expected that which followed. The
Irishman's hand rose suddenly from below the table, an open
clasp-knife balanced on the palm; there was a movement swift
as conjuring; Trent started half to his feet, turning a little as he
rose so as to escape the table, and the movement was his bane.
The missile struck him in the jugular; he fell forward, and his
blood flowed among the dishes on the cloth.
The suddenness of the attack and the catastrophe, the instant
change from peace to war and from life to death, held all men
spellbound. Yet a moment they sat about the table staring
open-mouthed upon the prostrate captain and the flowing
blood. The next, Goddedaal had leaped to his feet, caught up
the stool on which he had been sitting, and swung it high in air,
a man transfigured, roaring (as he stood) so that men's ears
were stunned with it. There was no thought of battle in the
Currency Lasses; none drew his weapon; all huddled helplessly
from before the face of the baresark Scandinavian. His first
blow sent Mac to ground with a broken arm. His second
bashed out the brains of Hemstead. He turned from one to
another, menacing and trumpeting like a wounded elephant,
exulting in his rage. But there was no counsel, no light of
reason, in that ecstasy of battle; and he shied from the pursuit
of victory to hail fresh blows upon the supine Hemstead, so that
the stool was shattered and the cabin rang with their violence.
The sight of that post-mortem cruelty recalled Carthew to the
life of instinct, and his revolver was in hand and he had aimed
and fired before he knew. The ear-bursting sound of the report
was accompanied by a yell of pain; the colossus paused,
swayed, tottered, and fell headlong on the body of his victim.
In the instant silence that succeeded, the sound of feet
pounding on the deck and in the companion leaped into
hearing; and a face, that of the sailor Holdorsen, appeared
below the bulkheads in the cabin doorway. Carthew shattered
it with a second shot, for he was a marksman.
"Pistols!" he cried, and charged at the companion, Wicks at his
heels, Tommy and Amalu following. They trod the body of
Holdorsen underfoot, and flew up-stairs and forth into the
dusky blaze of a sunset red as blood. The numbers were still
equal, but the Flying Scuds dreamed not of defence, and fled
with one accord for the forecastle scuttle. Brown was first in
flight; he disappeared below unscathed; the Chinaman
followed head-foremost with a ball in his side; and the others
shinned into the rigging.
A fierce composure settled upon Wicks and Carthew, their
fighting second wind. They posted Tommy at the fore and
Amalu at the main to guard the masts and shrouds, and going
themselves into the waist, poured out a box of cartridges on
deck and filled the chambers. The poor devils aloft bleated
aloud for mercy. But the hour of any mercy was gone by; the
cup was brewed and must be drunken to the dregs; since so
many had fallen all must fall. The light was bad, the cheap
revolvers fouled and carried wild, the screaming wretches were
swift to flatten themselves against the masts and yards or find a
momentary refuge in the hanging sails. The fell business took
long, but it was done at last. Hardy the Londoner was shot on
the foreroyal yard, and hung horribly suspended in the brails.
Wallen, the other, had his jaw broken on the maintop-gallant
crosstrees, and exposed himself, shrieking, till a second shot
dropped him on the deck.
This had been bad enough, but worse remained behind. There
was still Brown in the forepeak. Tommy, with a sudden
clamour of weeping, begged for his life. "One man can't hurt
us," he sobbed. "We can't go on with this. I spoke to him at
dinner. He's an awful decent little cad. It can't be done.
Nobody can go into that place and murder him. It's too
The sound of his supplications was perhaps audible to the
"One left, and we all hang," said Wicks. "Brown must go the
same road." The big man was deadly white and trembled like
an aspen; and he had no sooner finished speaking, than he went
to the ship's side and vomited.
"We can never do it if we wait," said Carthew. "Now or
never," and he marched towards the scuttle.
"No, no, no!" wailed Tommy, clutching at his jacket.
But Carthew flung him off, and stepped down the ladder, his
heart rising with disgust and shame. The Chinaman lay on the
floor, still groaning; the place was pitch dark.
"Brown!" cried Carthew, "Brown, where are you?"
His heart smote him for the treacherous apostrophe, but no
He groped in the bunks: they were all empty. Then he moved
towards the forepeak, which was hampered with coils of rope
and spare chandlery in general.
"Brown!" he said again.
"Here, sir," answered a shaking voice; and the poor invisible
caitiff called on him by name, and poured forth out of the
darkness an endless, garrulous appeal for mercy. A sense of
danger, of daring, had alone nerved Carthew to enter the
forecastle; and here was the enemy crying and pleading like a
frightened child. His obsequious "Here, sir," his horrid fluency
of obtestation, made the murder tenfold more revolting. Twice
Carthew raised the pistol, once he pressed the trigger (or
thought he did) with all his might, but no explosion followed;
and with that the lees of his courage ran quite out, and he
turned and fled from before his victim.
Wicks sat on the fore hatch, raised the face of a man of seventy,
and looked a wordless question. Carthew shook his head.
With such composure as a man displays marching towards the
gallows, Wicks arose, walked to the scuttle, and went down.
Brown thought it was Carthew returning, and discovered
himself, half crawling from his shelter, with another incoherent
burst of pleading. Wicks emptied his revolver at the voice,
which broke into mouse-like whimperings and groans. Silence
succeeded, and the murderer ran on deck like one possessed.
The other three were now all gathered on the fore hatch, and
Wicks took his place beside them without question asked or
answered. They sat close, like children in the dark, and shook
each other with their shaking. The dusk continued to fall; and
there was no sound but the beating of the surf and the
occasional hiccup of a sob from Tommy Hadden.
"God, if there was another ship!" cried Carthew of a sudden.
Wicks started and looked aloft with the trick of all seamen, and
shuddered as he saw the hanging figure on the royal yard.
"If I went aloft, I'd fall," he said simply. "I'm done up."
It was Amalu who volunteered, climbed to the very truck,
swept the fading horizon, and announced nothing within sight.
"No odds," said Wicks. "We can't sleep ..."
"Sleep!" echoed Carthew; and it seemed as if the whole of
Shakespeare's _Macbeth_ thundered at the gallop through his
"Well, then, we can't sit and chitter here," said Wicks, "till
we've cleaned ship; and I can't turn to till I've had gin, and the
gin's in the cabin, and who's to fetch it?"
"I will," said Carthew, "if any one has matches."
Amalu passed him a box, and he went aft and down the
companion and into the cabin, stumbling upon bodies. Then he
struck a match, and his looks fell upon two living eyes.
"Well?" asked Mac, for it was he who still survived in that
shambles of a cabin.
"It's done; they're all dead," answered Carthew.
"Christ!" said the Irishman, and fainted.
The gin was found in the dead captain's cabin; it was brought
on deck, and all hands had a dram, and attacked their farther
task. The night was come, the moon would not be up for
hours; a lamp was set on the main hatch to light Amalu as he
washed down decks; and the galley lantern was taken to guide
the others in their graveyard business. Holdorsen, Hemstead,
Trent, and Goddedaal were first disposed of, the last still
breathing as he went over the side; Wallen followed; and then
Wicks, steadied by the gin, went aloft with a boathook and
succeeded in dislodging Hardy. The Chinaman was their last
task; he seemed to be light-headed, talked aloud in his
unknown language as they brought him up, and it was only
with the splash of his sinking body that the gibberish ceased.
Brown, by common consent, was left alone. Flesh and blood
could go no further.
All this time they had been drinking undiluted gin like water;
three bottles stood broached in different quarters; and none
passed without a gulp. Tommy collapsed against the
mainmast; Wicks fell on his face on the poop ladder and moved
no more; Amalu had vanished unobserved. Carthew was the
last afoot: he stood swaying at the break of the poop, and the
lantern, which he still carried, swung with his movement. His
head hummed; it swarmed with broken thoughts; memory of
that day's abominations flared up and died down within him
like the light of a lamp in a strong draught. And then he had a
"There must be no more of this," he thought, and stumbled once
The absence of Holdorsen's body brought him to a stand. He
stood and stared at the empty floor, and then remembered and
smiled. From the captain's room he took the open case with
one dozen and three bottles of gin, put the lantern inside, and
walked precariously forth. Mac was once more conscious, his
eyes haggard, his face drawn with pain and flushed with fever;
and Carthew remembered he had never been seen to, had lain
there helpless, and was so to lie all night, injured, perhaps
dying. But it was now too late; reason had now fled from that
silent ship. If Carthew could get on deck again, it was as much
as he could hope; and casting on the unfortunate a glance of
pity, the tragic drunkard shouldered his way up the companion,
dropped the case overboard, and fell in the scuppers helpless.
A BAD BARGAIN.
With the first colour in the east, Carthew awoke and sat up. A
while he gazed at the scroll of the morning bank and the spars
and hanging canvas of the brig, like a man who wakes in a
strange bed, with a child's simplicity of wonder. He wondered
above all what ailed him, what he had lost, what disfavour had
been done him, which he knew he should resent, yet had
forgotten. And then, like a river bursting through a dam, the
truth rolled on him its instantaneous volume: his memory
teemed with speech and pictures that he should never again
forget; and he sprang to his feet, stood a moment hand to brow,
and began to walk violently to and fro by the companion. As
he walked, he wrung his hands. "God--God--God," he kept
saying, with no thought of prayer, uttering a mere voice of
The time may have been long or short, it was perhaps minutes,
perhaps only seconds, ere he awoke to find himself observed,
and saw the captain sitting up and watching him over the break
of the poop, a strange blindness as of fever in his eyes, a
haggard knot of corrugations on his brow. Cain saw himself in
a mirror. For a flash they looked upon each other, and then
glanced guiltily aside; and Carthew fled from the eye of his
accomplice, and stood leaning on the taffrail.
An hour went by, while the day came brighter, and the sun rose
and drank up the clouds: an hour of silence in the ship, an hour
of agony beyond narration for the sufferers. Brown's gabbling
prayers, the cries of the sailors in the rigging, strains of the
dead Hemstead's minstrelsy, ran together in Carthew's mind,
with sickening iteration. He neither acquitted nor condemned
himself: he did not think, he suffered. In the bright water into
which he stared, the pictures changed and were repeated: the
baresark rage of Goddedaal; the blood-red light of the sunset
into which they had run forth; the face of the babbling
Chinaman as they cast him over; the face of the captain, seen a
moment since, as he awoke from drunkenness into remorse.
And time passed, and the sun swam higher, and his torment
was not abated.
Then were fulfilled many sayings, and the weakest of these
condemned brought relief and healing to the others. Amalu the
drudge awoke (like the rest) to sickness of body and distress of
mind; but the habit of obedience ruled in that simple spirit, and
appalled to be so late, he went direct into the galley, kindled the
fire, and began to get breakfast. At the rattle of dishes, the
snapping of the fire, and the thin smoke that went up straight
into the air, the spell was lifted. The condemned felt once more
the good dry land of habit under foot; they touched again the
familiar guide-ropes of sanity; they were restored to a sense of
the blessed revolution and return of all things earthly. The
captain drew a bucket of water and began to bathe. Tommy sat
up, watched him awhile, and slowly followed his example; and
Carthew, remembering his last thoughts of the night before,
hastened to the cabin.
Mac was awake; perhaps had not slept. Over his head
Goddedaal's canary twittered shrilly from its cage.
"How are you?" asked Carthew.
"Me arrum's broke," returned Mac; "but I can stand that. It's
this place I can't abide. I was coming on deck anyway."
"Stay where you are, though," said Carthew. "It's deadly hot
above, and there's no wind. I'll wash out this----" and he
paused, seeking a word and not finding one for the grisly
foulness of the cabin.
"Faith, I'll be obliged to ye, then," replied the Irishman. He
spoke mild and meek, like a sick child with its mother. There
was now no violence in the violent man; and as Carthew
fetched a bucket and swab and the steward's sponge, and began
to cleanse the field of battle, he alternately watched him or shut
his eyes and sighed like a man near fainting. "I have to ask all
your pardons," he began again presently, "and the more shame
to me as I got ye into trouble and couldn't do nothing when it
came. Ye saved me life, sir; ye're a clane shot."
"For God's sake, don't talk of it!" cried Carthew. "It can't be
talked of; you don't know what it was. It was nothing down
here; they fought. On deck--O, my God!" And Carthew, with
the bloody sponge pressed to his face, struggled a moment with
"Kape cool, Mr. Cart'ew. It's done now," said Mac; "and ye
may bless God ye're not in pain and helpless in the bargain."
There was no more said by one or other, and the cabin was
pretty well cleansed when a stroke on the ship's bell summoned
Carthew to breakfast. Tommy had been busy in the
meanwhile; he had hauled the whaleboat close aboard, and
already lowered into it a small keg of beef that he found ready
broached beside the galley door; it was plain he had but the one
"We have a shipful of stores to draw upon," he said. "Well,
what are we staying for? Let's get off at once for Hawaii. I've
begun preparing already."
"Mac has his arm broken," observed Carthew; "how would he
stand the voyage?"
"A broken arm?" repeated the captain. "That all? I'll set it after
breakfast. I thought he was dead like the rest. That madman
hit out like----" and there, at the evocation of the battle, his
voice ceased and the talk died with it.
After breakfast, the three white men went down into the cabin.
"I've come to set your arm," said the captain.
"I beg your pardon, captain," replied Mac; "but the firrst thing
ye got to do is to get this ship to sea. We'll talk of me arrum
"O, there's no such blooming hurry," returned Wicks.
"When the next ship sails in, ye'll tell me stories!" retorted Mac.
"But there's nothing so unlikely in the world," objected
"Don't be deceivin' yourself," said Mac. "If ye want a ship,
divil a one'll look near ye in six year; but if ye don't, ye may
take my word for ut, we'll have a squadron layin' here."
"That's what I say," cried Tommy; "that's what I call sense!
Let's stock that whaleboat and be off."
"And what will Captain Wicks be thinking of the whaleboat?"
asked the Irishman.
"I don't think of it at all," said Wicks. "We've a smart-looking
brig under foot; that's all the whaleboat I want."
"Excuse me!" cried Tommy. "That's childish talk. You've got a
brig, to be sure, and what use is she? You daren't go anywhere
in her. What port are you to sail for?"
"For the port of Davy Jones's Locker, my son," replied the
captain. "This brig's going to be lost at sea. I'll tell you where,
too, and that's about forty miles to windward of Kauai. We're
going to stay by her till she's down; and once the masts are
under, she's the Flying Scud no more, and we never heard of
such a brig; and it's the crew of the schooner Currency Lass
that comes ashore in the boat, and takes the first chance to
"Captain dear, that's the first Christian word I've heard of ut!"
cried Mac. "And now, just let me arrum be, jewel, and get the
"I'm as anxious as yourself, Mac," returned Wicks; "but there's
not wind enough to swear by. So let's see your arm, and no
The arm was set and splinted; the body of Brown fetched from
the forepeak, where it lay still and cold, and committed to the
waters of the lagoon; and the washing of the cabin rudely
finished. All these were done ere midday; and it was past three
when the first cat's-paw ruffled the lagoon, and the wind came
in a dry squall, which presently sobered to a steady breeze.
The interval was passed by all in feverish impatience, and by
one of the party in secret and extreme concern of mind.
Captain Wicks was a fore-and-aft sailor; he could take a
schooner through a Scotch reel, felt her mouth and divined her
temper like a rider with a horse; she, on her side, recognising
her master and following his wishes like a dog. But by a not
very unusual train of circumstance, the man's dexterity was
partial and circumscribed. On a schooner's deck he was
Rembrandt or (at the least) Mr. Whistler; on board a brig he
was Pierre Grassou. Again and again in the course of the
morning, he had reasoned out his policy and rehearsed his
orders; and ever with the same depression and weariness. It
was guess-work; it was chance; the ship might behave as he
expected, and might not; suppose she failed him, he stood there
helpless, beggared of all the proved resources of experience.
Had not all hands been so weary, had he not feared to
communicate his own misgivings, he could have towed her out.
But these reasons sufficed, and the most he could do was to
take all possible precautions. Accordingly he had Carthew aft,
explained what was to be done with anxious patience, and
visited along with him the various sheets and braces.
"I hope I'll remember," said Carthew. "It seems awfully
"It's the rottenest kind of rig," the captain admitted: "all
blooming pocket handkerchiefs! And not one sailor-man on
deck! Ah, if she'd only been a brigantine, now! But it's lucky
the passage is so plain; there's no manoeuvring to mention. We
get under way before the wind, and run right so till we begin to
get foul of the island; then we haul our wind and lie as near
south-east as may be till we're on that line; 'bout ship there and
stand straight out on the port tack. Catch the idea?"
"Yes, I see the idea," replied Carthew, rather dismally, and the
two incompetents studied for a long time in silence the
complicated gear above their heads.
But the time came when these rehearsals must be put in
practice. The sails were lowered, and all hands heaved the
anchor short. The whaleboat was then cut adrift, the upper
topsails and the spanker set, the yards braced up, and the
spanker sheet hauled out to starboard.
"Heave away on your anchor, Mr. Carthew."
"Anchor's gone, sir."
It was done, and the brig still hung enchanted. Wicks, his head
full of a schooner's mainsail, turned his mind to the spanker.
First he hauled in the sheet, and then he hauled it out, with no
"Brail the damned thing up!" he bawled at last, with a red face.
"There ain't no sense in it."
It was the last stroke of bewilderment for the poor captain, that
he had no sooner brailed up the spanker than the vessel came
before the wind. The laws of nature seemed to him to be
suspended; he was like a man in a world of pantomime tricks;
the cause of any result, and the probable result of any action,
equally concealed from him. He was the more careful not to
shake the nerve of his amateur assistants. He stood there with
a face like a torch; but he gave his orders with aplomb; and
indeed, now the ship was under weigh, supposed his
The lower topsails and courses were then set, and the brig
began to walk the water like a thing of life, her forefoot
discoursing music, the birds flying and crying over her spars.
Bit by bit the passage began to open and the blue sea to show
between the flanking breakers on the reef; bit by bit, on the
starboard bow, the low land of the islet began to heave closer
aboard. The yards were braced up, the spanker sheet hauled aft
again; the brig was close hauled, lay down to her work like a
thing in earnest, and had soon drawn near to the point of
advantage, where she might stay and lie out of the lagoon in a
Wicks took the wheel himself, swelling with success. He kept
the brig full to give her heels, and began to bark his orders:
"Ready about. Helm's a-lee. Tacks and sheets. Mainsail
haul." And then the fatal words: "That'll do your mainsail;
jump forrard and haul round your foreyards."
To stay a square-rigged ship is an affair of knowledge and swift
sight; and a man used to the succinct evolutions of a schooner
will always tend to be too hasty with a brig. It was so now.
The order came too soon; the topsails set flat aback; the ship
was in irons. Even yet, had the helm been reversed, they might
have saved her. But to think of a stern-board at all, far more to
think of profiting by one, were foreign to the schooner-sailor's
mind. Wicks made haste instead to wear ship, a manoeuvre for
which room was wanting, and the Flying Scud took ground on
a bank of sand and coral about twenty minutes before five.
Wicks was no hand with a square-rigger, and he had shown it.
But he was a sailor and a born captain of men for all homely
purposes, where intellect is not required and an eye in a man's
head and a heart under his jacket will suffice. Before the others
had time to understand the misfortune, he was bawling fresh
orders, and had the sails clewed up, and took soundings round
"She lies lovely," he remarked, and ordered out a boat with the
"Here! steady!" cried Tommy. "You ain't going to turn us to, to
warp her off?"
"I am though," replied Wicks.
"I won't set a hand to such tomfoolery for one," replied Tommy.
"I'm dead beat." He went and sat down doggedly on the main
hatch. "You got us on; get us off again," he added.
Carthew and Wicks turned to each other.
"Perhaps you don't know how tired we are," said Carthew.
"The tide's flowing!" cried the captain. "You wouldn't have me
miss a rising tide?"
"O, gammon! there's tides to-morrow!" retorted Tommy.
"And I'll tell you what," added Carthew, "the breeze is failing
fast, and the sun will soon be down. We may get into all kinds
of fresh mess in the dark and with nothing but light airs."
"I don't deny it," answered Wicks, and stood awhile as if in
thought. "But what I can't make out," he began again, with
agitation, "what I can't make out is what you're made of! To
stay in this place is beyond me. There's the bloody sun going
down--and to stay here is beyond me!"
The others looked upon him with horrified surprise. This fall
of their chief pillar--this irrational passion in the practical man,
suddenly barred out of his true sphere, the sphere of action--
shocked and daunted them. But it gave to another and unseen
hearer the chance for which he had been waiting. Mac, on the
striking of the brig, had crawled up the companion, and he now
showed himself and spoke up.
"Captain Wicks," said he, "it's me that brought this trouble on
the lot of ye. I'm sorry for ut, I ask all your pardons, and if
there's any one can say 'I forgive ye,' it'll make my soul the
Wicks stared upon the man in amaze; then his self-control
returned to him. "We're all in glass houses here," he said; "we
ain't going to turn to and throw stones. I forgive you, sure
enough; and much good may it do you!"
The others spoke to the same purpose.
"I thank ye for ut, and 'tis done like gentlemen," said Mac.
"But there's another thing I have upon my mind. I hope we're
all Prodestan's here?"
It appeared they were; it seemed a small thing for the Protestant
religion to rejoice in!
"Well, that's as it should be," continued Mac. "And why
shouldn't we say the Lord's Prayer? There can't be no hurt in
He had the same quiet, pleading, childlike way with him as in
the morning; and the others accepted his proposal, and knelt
down without a word.
"Knale if ye like!" said he. "I'll stand." And he covered his
So the prayer was said to the accompaniment of the surf and
seabirds, and all rose refreshed and felt lightened of a load. Up
to then, they had cherished their guilty memories in private, or
only referred to them in the heat of a moment and fallen
immediately silent. Now they had faced their remorse in
company, and the worst seemed over. Nor was it only that.
But the petition "Forgive us our trespasses," falling in so
apposite after they had themselves forgiven the immediate
author of their miseries, sounded like an absolution.
Tea was taken on deck in the time of the sunset, and not long
after the five castaways--castaways once more--lay down to
Day dawned windless and hot. Their slumbers had been too
profound to be refreshing, and they woke listless, and sat up,
and stared about them with dull eyes. Only Wicks, smelling a
hard day's work ahead, was more alert. He went first to the
well, sounded it once and then a second time, and stood awhile
with a grim look, so that all could see he was dissatisfied.
Then he shook himself, stripped to the buff, clambered on the
rail, drew himself up and raised his arms to plunge. The dive
was never taken. He stood instead transfixed, his eyes on the
"Hand up that glass," he said.
In a trice they were all swarming aloft, the nude captain leading
with the glass.
On the northern horizon was a finger of grey smoke, straight in
the windless air like a point of admiration.
"What do you make it?" they asked of Wicks.
"She's truck down," he replied; "no telling yet. By the way the
smoke builds, she must be heading right here."
"What can she be?"
"She might be a China mail," returned Wicks, "and she might
be a blooming man-of-war, come to look for castaways. Here!
This ain't the time to stand staring. On deck, boys!"
He was the first on deck, as he had been the first aloft, handed
down the ensign, bent it again to the signal halliards, and ran it
up union down.
"Now hear me," he said, jumping into his trousers, "and
everything I say you grip on to. If that's a man-of-war, she'll be
in a tearing hurry; all these ships are what don't do nothing and
have their expenses paid. That's our chance; for we'll go with
them, and they won't take the time to look twice or to ask a
question. I'm Captain Trent; Carthew, you're Goddedaal;
Tommy, you're Hardy; Mac's Brown; Amalu-- Hold hard! we
can't make a Chinaman of him! Ah Wing must have deserted;
Amalu stowed away; and I turned him to as cook, and was
never at the bother to sign him. Catch the idea? Say your
And that pale company recited their lesson earnestly.
"What were the names of the other two?" he asked. "Him
Carthew shot in the companion, and the one I caught in the jaw
on the main top-gallant?"
"Holdorsen and Wallen," said some one.
"Well, they're drowned," continued Wicks; "drowned alongside
trying to lower a boat. We had a bit of a squall last night:
that's how we got ashore." He ran and squinted at the compass.
"Squall out of nor'-nor'-west-half-west; blew hard; every one in
a mess, falls jammed, and Holdorsen and Wallen spilt
overboard. See? Clear your blooming heads!" He was in his
jacket now, and spoke with a feverish impatience and
contention that rang like anger.
"But is it safe?" asked Tommy.
"Safe?" bellowed the captain. "We're standing on the drop, you
moon-calf! If that ship's bound for China (which she don't look
to be), we're lost as soon as we arrive; if she's bound the other
way, she comes from China, don't she? Well, if there's a man
on board of her that ever clapped eyes on Trent or any
blooming hand out of this brig, we'll all be in irons in two
hours. Safe! no, it ain't safe; it's a beggarly last chance to shave
the gallows, and that's what it is."
At this convincing picture, fear took hold on all.
"Hadn't we a hundred times better stay by the brig?" cried
Carthew. "They would give us a hand to float her off."
"You'll make me waste this holy day in chattering!" cried
Wicks. "Look here, when I sounded the well this morning,
there was two foot of water there against eight inches last
night. What's wrong? I don't know; might be nothing; might
be the worst kind of smash. And then, there we are in for a
thousand miles in an open boat, if that's your taste!"
"But it may be nothing, and anyway their carpenters are bound
to help us repair her," argued Carthew.
"Moses Murphy!" cried the captain. "How did she strike?
Bows on, I believe. And she's down by the head now. If any
carpenter comes tinkering here, where'll he go first? Down in
the forepeak, I suppose! And then, how about all that blood
among the chandlery? You would think you were a lot of
members of Parliament discussing Plimsoll; and you're just a
pack of murderers with the halter round your neck. Any other
ass got any time to waste? No? Thank God for that! Now, all
hands! I'm going below, and I leave you here on deck. You get
the boat cover off that boat; then you turn to and open the
specie chest. There are five of us; get five chests, and divide
the specie equal among the five--put it at the bottom--and go at
it like tigers. Get blankets, or canvas, or clothes, so it won't
rattle. It'll make five pretty heavy chests, but we can't help that.
You, Carthew--dash me!--You, Mr. Goddedaal, come below.
We've our share before us."
And he cast another glance at the smoke, and hurried below
with Carthew at his heels.
The logs were found in the main cabin behind the canary's
cage; two of them, one kept by Trent, one by Goddedaal.
Wicks looked first at one, then at the other, and his lip stuck
"Can you forge hand of write?" he asked.
"No," said Carthew.
"There's luck for you--no more can I!" cried the captain.
"Hullo! here's worse yet, here's this Goddedaal up to date; he
must have filled it in before supper. See for yourself: 'Smoke
observed.--Captain Kirkup and five hands of the schooner
Currency Lass.' Ah! this is better," he added, turning to the
other log. "The old man ain't written anything for a clear
fortnight. We'll dispose of your log altogether, Mr. Goddedaal,
and stick to the old man's--to mine, I mean; only I ain't going to
write it up, for reasons of my own. You are. You're going to
sit down right here and fill it in the way I tell you."
"How to explain the loss of mine?" asked Carthew.
"You never kept one," replied the captain. "Gross neglect of
duty. You'll catch it."
"And the change of writing?" resumed Carthew. "You began;
why do you stop and why do I come in? And you'll have to
"O! I've met with an accident and can't write," replied Wicks.
"An accident?" repeated Carthew. "It don't sound natural.
What kind of an accident?"
Wicks spread his hand face-up on the table, and drove a knife
through his palm.
"That kind of an accident," said he. "There's a way to draw to
windward of most difficulties, if you've a head on your
shoulders." He began to bind up his hand with a handkerchief,
glancing the while over Goddedaal's log. "Hullo!" he said,
"this'll never do for us--this is an impossible kind of a yarn.
Here, to begin with, is this Captain Trent trying some fancy
course, leastways he's a thousand miles to south'ard of the great
circle. And here, it seems, he was close up with this island on
the sixth, sails all these days, and is close up with it again by
daylight on the eleventh."
"Goddedaal said they had the deuce's luck," said Carthew.
"Well, it don't look like real life--that's all I can say," returned
"It's the way it was, though," argued Carthew.
"So it is; and what the better are we for that, if it don't look so?"
cried the captain, sounding unwonted depths of art criticism.
"Here! try and see if you can't tie this bandage; I'm bleeding
like a pig."
As Carthew sought to adjust the handkerchief, his patient
seemed sunk in a deep muse, his eye veiled, his mouth partly
open. The job was yet scarce done, when he sprang to his feet.
"I have it," he broke out, and ran on deck. "Here, boys!" he
cried, "we didn't come here on the eleventh; we came in here on
the evening of the sixth, and lay here ever since becalmed. As
soon as you've done with these chests," he added, "you can turn
to and roll out beef and water breakers; it'll look more
shipshape--like as if we were getting ready for the boat
And he was back again in a moment, cooking the new log.
Goddedaal's was then carefully destroyed, and a hunt began for
the ship's papers. Of all the agonies of that breathless morning,
this was perhaps the most poignant. Here and there the two
men searched, cursing, cannoning together, streaming with
heat, freezing with terror. News was bawled down to them that
the ship was indeed a man-of-war, that she was close up, that
she was lowering a boat; and still they sought in vain. By what
accident they missed the iron box with the money and accounts,
is hard to fancy; but they did. And the vital documents were
found at last in the pocket of Trent's shore-going coat, where he
had left them when last he came on board.
Wicks smiled for the first time that morning. "None too soon,"
said he. "And now for it! Take these others for me; I'm afraid
I'll get them mixed if I keep both."
"What are they?" Carthew asked.
"They're the Kirkup and Currency Lass papers," he replied.
"Pray God we need 'em again!"
"Boat's inside the lagoon, sir," hailed down Mac, who sat by
the skylight doing sentry while the others worked.
"Time we were on deck, then, Mr. Goddedaal," said Wicks.
As they turned to leave the cabin, the canary burst into piercing
"My God!" cried Carthew, with a gulp, "we can't leave that
wretched bird to starve. It was poor Goddedaal's."
"Bring the bally thing along!" cried the captain.
And they went on deck.
An ugly brute of a modern man-of-war lay just without the reef,
now quite inert, now giving a flap or two with her propeller.
Nearer hand, and just within, a big white boat came skimming
to the stroke of many oars, her ensign blowing at the stern.
"One word more," said Wicks, after he had taken in the scene.
"Mac, you've been in China ports? All right; then you can
speak for yourself. The rest of you I kept on board all the time
we were in Hongkong, hoping you would desert; but you fooled
me and stuck to the brig. That'll make your lying come easier."
The boat was now close at hand; a boy in the stern sheets was
the only officer, and a poor one plainly, for the men were
talking as they pulled.
"Thank God, they've only sent a kind of a middy!" ejaculated
Wicks. "Here you, Hardy, stand for'ard! I'll have no deck
hands on my quarter-deck," he cried, and the reproof braced the
whole crew like a cold douche.
The boat came alongside with perfect neatness, and the boy
officer stepped on board, where he was respectfully greeted by
"You the master of this ship?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," said Wicks. "Trent is my name, and this is the
Flying Scud of Hull."
"You seem to have got into a mess," said the officer.
"If you'll step aft with me here, I'll tell you all there is of it,"
"Why, man, you're shaking!" cried the officer.
"So would you, perhaps, if you had been in the same berth,"
returned Wicks; and he told the whole story of the rotten water,
the long calm, the squall, the seamen drowned; glibly and
hotly; talking, with his head in the lion's mouth, like one
pleading in the dock. I heard the same tale from the same
narrator in the saloon in San Francisco; and even then his
bearing filled me with suspicion. But the officer was no
"Well, the captain is in no end of a hurry," said he; "but I was
instructed to give you all the assistance in my power, and
signal back for another boat if more hands were necessary.
What can I do for you?"
"O, we won't keep you no time," replied Wicks cheerily.
"We're all ready, bless you--men's chests, chronometer, papers
"Do you mean to leave her?" cried the officer. "She seems to
me to lie nicely; can't we get your ship off?"
"So we could, and no mistake; but how we're to keep her
afloat's another question. Her bows is stove in," replied Wicks.
The officer coloured to the eyes. He was incompetent and
knew he was; thought he was already detected, and feared to
expose himself again. There was nothing further from his mind
than that the captain should deceive him; if the captain was
pleased, why, so was he. "All right," he said. "Tell your men
to get their chests aboard."
"Mr. Goddedaal, turn the hands to to get the chests aboard,"
The four Currency Lasses had waited the while on tenter-
hooks. This welcome news broke upon them like the sun at
midnight; and Hadden burst into a storm of tears, sobbing
aloud as he heaved upon the tackle. But the work went none
the less briskly forward; chests, men, and bundles were got
over the side with alacrity; the boat was shoved off; it moved
out of the long shadow of the Flying Scud, and its bows were
pointed at the passage.
So much, then, was accomplished. The sham wreck had
passed muster; they were clear of her, they were safe away; and
the water widened between them and her damning evidences.
On the other hand, they were drawing nearer to the ship of war,
which might very well prove to be their prison and a hangman's
cart to bear them to the gallows--of which they had not yet
learned either whence she came or whither she was bound; and
the doubt weighed upon their heart like mountains.
It was Wicks who did the talking. The sound was small in
Carthew's ears, like the voices of men miles away, but the
meaning of each word struck home to him like a bullet. "What
did you say your ship was?" inquired Wicks.
"Tempest, don't you know?" returned the officer.
Don't you know? What could that mean? Perhaps nothing:
perhaps that the ships had met already. Wicks took his
courage in both hands. "Where is she bound?" he asked.
"O, we're just looking in at all these miserable islands here,"
said the officer. "Then we bear up for San Francisco."
"O, yes, you're from China ways, like us?" pursued Wicks.
"Hong Kong," said the officer, and spat over the side.
Hong Kong. Then the game was up; as soon as they set foot on
board, they would be seized; the wreck would be examined, the
blood found, the lagoon perhaps dredged, and the bodies of the
dead would reappear to testify. An impulse almost
incontrollable bade Carthew rise from the thwart, shriek out
aloud, and leap overboard; it seemed so vain a thing to
dissemble longer, to dally with the inevitable, to spin out some
hundred seconds more of agonised suspense, with shame and
death thus visibly approaching. But the indomitable Wicks
persevered. His face was like a skull, his voice scarce
recognisable; the dullest of men and officers (it seemed) must
have remarked that telltale countenance and broken utterance.
And still he persevered, bent upon certitude.
"Nice place, Hong Kong?" he said.
"I'm sure I don't know," said the officer. "Only a day and a half
there; called for orders and came straight on here. Never heard
of such a beastly cruise." And he went on describing and
lamenting the untoward fortunes of the Tempest.
But Wicks and Carthew heeded him no longer. They lay back
on the gunnel, breathing deep, sunk in a stupor of the body: the
mind within still nimbly and agreeably at work, measuring the
past danger, exulting in the present relief, numbering with
ecstasy their ultimate chances of escape. For the voyage in the
man-of-war they were now safe; yet a few more days of peril,
activity, and presence of mind in San Francisco, and the whole
horrid tale was blotted out; and Wicks again became Kirkup,
and Goddedaal became Carthew--men beyond all shot of
possible suspicion, men who had never heard of the Flying
Scud, who had never been in sight of Midway Reef.
So they came alongside, under many craning heads of seamen
and projecting mouths of guns; so they climbed on board
somnambulous, and looked blindly about them at the tall spars,
the white decks, and the crowding ship's company, and heard
men as from far away, and answered them at random.
And then a hand fell softly on Carthew's shoulder.
"Why, Norrie, old chappie, where have you dropped from? All
the world's been looking for you. Don't you know you've come
into your kingdom?"
He turned, beheld the face of his old schoolmate Sebright, and
fell unconscious at his feet.
The doctor was attending him, a while later, in Lieutenant
Sebright's cabin, when he came to himself. He opened his
eyes, looked hard in the strange face, and spoke with a kind of
"Brown must go the same road," he said; "now or never." And
then paused, and his reason coming to him with more
clearness, spoke again: "What was I saying? Where am I?
Who are you?"
"I am the doctor of the Tempest," was the reply. "You are in
Lieutenant Sebright's berth, and you may dismiss all concern
from your mind. Your troubles are over, Mr. Carthew."
"Why do you call me that?" he asked. "Ah, I remember--
Sebright knew me! O!" and he groaned and shook. "Send
down Wicks to me; I must see Wicks at once!" he cried, and
seized the doctor's wrist with unconscious violence.
"All right," said the doctor. "Let's make a bargain. You
swallow down this draught, and I'll go and fetch Wicks."
And he gave the wretched man an opiate that laid him out
within ten minutes and in all likelihood preserved his reason.
It was the doctor's next business to attend to Mac; and he found
occasion, while engaged upon his arm, to make the man repeat
the names of the rescued crew. It was now the turn of the
captain, and there is no doubt he was no longer the man that
we have seen; sudden relief, the sense of perfect safety, a
square meal and a good glass of grog, had all combined to
relax his vigilance and depress his energy.
"When was this done?" asked the doctor, looking at the wound.
"More than a week ago," replied Wicks, thinking singly of his
"Hey?" cried the doctor, and he raised his hand and looked the
captain in the eyes.
"I don't remember exactly," faltered Wicks.
And at this remarkable falsehood, the suspicions of the doctor
were at once quadrupled.
"By the way, which of you is called Wicks?" he asked easily.
"What's that?" snapped the captain, falling white as paper.
"Wicks," repeated the doctor; "which of you is he? that's surely
a plain question."
Wicks stared upon his questioner in silence.
"Which is Brown, then?" pursued the doctor.
"What are you talking of? what do you mean by this?" cried
Wicks, snatching his half-bandaged hand away, so that the
blood sprinkled in the surgeon's face.
He did not trouble to remove it. Looking straight at his victim,
he pursued his questions. "Why must Brown go the same
way?" he asked.
Wicks fell trembling on a locker. "Carthew's told you," he
"No," replied the doctor, "he has not. But he and you between
you have set me thinking, and I think there's something
"Give me some grog," said Wicks. "I'd rather tell than have
you find out. I'm damned if it's half as bad as what any one
And with the help of a couple of strong grogs, the tragedy of
the Flying Scud was told for the first time.
It was a fortunate series of accidents that brought the story to
the doctor. He understood and pitied the position of these
wretched men, and came whole-heartedly to their assistance.
He and Wicks and Carthew (so soon as he was recovered) held
a hundred councils and prepared a policy for San Francisco. It
was he who certified "Goddedaal" unfit to be moved and
smuggled Carthew ashore under cloud of night; it was he who
kept Wicks's wound open that he might sign with his left hand;
he who took all their Chile silver and (in the course of the first
day) got it converted for them into portable gold. He used his
influence in the wardroom to keep the tongues of the young
officers in order, so that Carthew's identification was kept out
of the papers. And he rendered another service yet more
important. He had a friend in San Francisco, a millionaire; to
this man he privately presented Carthew as a young gentleman
come newly into a huge estate, but troubled with Jew debts
which he was trying to settle on the quiet. The millionaire
came readily to help; and it was with his money that the
wrecker gang was to be fought. What was his name, out of a
thousand guesses? It was Douglas Longhurst.
As long as the Currency Lasses could all disappear under fresh
names, it did not greatly matter if the brig were bought, or any
small discrepancies should be discovered in the wrecking. The
identification of one of their number had changed all that. The
smallest scandal must now direct attention to the movements of
Norris. It would be asked how he who had sailed in a schooner
from Sydney, had turned up so shortly after in a brig out of
Hong Kong; and from one question to another all his original
shipmates were pretty sure to be involved. Hence arose
naturally the idea of preventing danger, profiting by Carthew's
new-found wealth, and buying the brig under an alias; and it
was put in hand with equal energy and caution. Carthew took
lodgings alone under a false name, picked up Bellairs at
random, and commissioned him to buy the wreck.
"What figure, if you please?" the lawyer asked.
"I want it bought," replied Carthew. "I don't mind about the
"Any price is no price," said Bellairs. "Put a name upon it."
"Call it ten thousand pounds then, if you like!" said Carthew.
In the meanwhile, the captain had to walk the streets, appear in
the consulate, be cross-examined by Lloyd's agent, be badgered
about his lost accounts, sign papers with his left hand, and
repeat his lies to every skipper in San Francisco: not knowing
at what moment he might run into the arms of some old friend
who should hail him by the name of Wicks, or some new
enemy who should be in a position to deny him that of Trent.
And the latter incident did actually befall him, but was
transformed by his stout countenance into an element of
strength. It was in the consulate (of all untoward places) that
he suddenly heard a big voice inquiring for Captain Trent. He
turned with the customary sinking at his heart.
"YOU ain't Captain Trent!" said the stranger, falling back.
"Why, what's all this? They tell me you're passing off as
Captain Trent--Captain Jacob Trent--a man I knew since I was
"O, you're thinking of my uncle as had the bank in Cardiff,"
replied Wicks, with desperate aplomb.
"I declare I never knew he had a nevvy!" said the stranger.
"Well, you see he has!" says Wicks.
"And how is the old man?" asked the other.
"Fit as a fiddle," answered Wicks, and was opportunely
summoned by the clerk.
This alert was the only one until the morning of the sale, when
he was once more alarmed by his interview with Jim; and it
was with some anxiety that he attended the sale, knowing only
that Carthew was to be represented, but neither who was to
represent him nor what were the instructions given. I suppose
Captain Wicks is a good life. In spite of his personal
appearance and his own known uneasiness, I suppose he is
secure from apoplexy, or it must have struck him there and
then, as he looked on at the stages of that insane sale and saw
the old brig and her not very valuable cargo knocked down at
last to a total stranger for ten thousand pounds.
It had been agreed that he was to avoid Carthew, and above all
Carthew's lodging, so that no connexion might be traced
between the crew and the pseudonymous purchaser. But the
hour for caution was gone by, and he caught a tram and made
all speed to Mission Street.
Carthew met him in the door.
"Come away, come away from here," said Carthew; and when
they were clear of the house, "All's up!" he added.
"O, you've heard of the sale, then?" said Wicks.
"The sale!" cried Carthew. "I declare I had forgotten it." And
he told of the voice in the telephone, and the maddening
question: "Why did you want to buy the Flying Scud?"
This circumstance, coming on the back of the monstrous
improbabilities of the sale, was enough to have shaken the
reason of Immanuel Kant. The earth seemed banded together
to defeat them; the stones and the boys on the street appeared to
be in possession of their guilty secret. Flight was their one
thought. The treasure of the Currency Lass they packed in
waist-belts, expressed their chests to an imaginary address in
British Columbia, and left San Francisco the same afternoon,
booked for Los Angeles.
The next day they pursued their retreat by the Southern Pacific
route, which Carthew followed on his way to England; but the
other three branched off for Mexico.
TO WILL H. LOW.
DEAR LOW: The other day (at Manihiki of all places) I had
the pleasure to meet Dodd. We sat some two hours in the neat,
little, toy-like church, set with pews after the manner of Europe,
and inlaid with mother-of-pearl in the style (I suppose) of the
New Jerusalem. The natives, who are decidedly the most
attractive inhabitants of this planet, crowded round us in the
pew, and fawned upon and patted us; and here it was I put my
questions, and Dodd answered me.
I first carried him back to the night in Barbizon when Carthew
told his story, and asked him what was done about Bellairs. It
seemed he had put the matter to his friend at once, and that
Carthew took it with an inimitable lightness. "He's poor, and
I'm rich," he had said. "I can afford to smile at him. I go
somewhere else, that's all--somewhere that's far away and dear
to get to. Persia would be found to answer, I fancy. No end of
a place, Persia. Why not come with me?" And they had left
the next afternoon for Constantinople, on their way to Teheran.
Of the shyster, it is only known (by a newspaper paragraph)
that he returned somehow to San Francisco and died in the
"Now there's another point," said I. "There you are off to Persia
with a millionaire, and rich yourself. How come you here in
the South Seas, running a trader?"
He said, with a smile, that I had not yet heard of Jim's last
bankruptcy. "I was about cleaned out once more," he said;
"and then it was that Carthew had this schooner built, and put
me in as supercargo. It's his yacht and it's my trader; and as
nearly all the expenses go to the yacht, I do pretty well. As for
Jim, he's right again: one of the best businesses, they say, in
the West, fruit, cereals, and real estate; and he has a Tartar of a
partner now--Nares, no less. Nares will keep him straight,
Nares has a big head. They have their country-places next door
at Saucelito, and I stayed with them time about, the last time I
was on the coast. Jim had a paper of his own--I think he has a
notion of being senator one of these days--and he wanted me to
throw up the schooner and come and write his editorials. He
holds strong views on the State Constitution, and so does
"And what became of the other three Currency Lasses after they
left Carthew?" I inquired.
"Well, it seems they had a huge spree in the city of Mexico,"
said Dodd; "and then Hadden and the Irishman took a turn at
the gold fields in Venezuela, and Wicks went on alone to
Valparaiso. There's a Kirkup in the Chilean navy to this day, I
saw the name in the papers about the Balmaceda war. Hadden
soon wearied of the mines, and I met him the other day in
Sydney. The last news he had from Venezuela, Mac had been
knocked over in an attack on the gold train. So there's only the
three of them left, for Amalu scarcely counts. He lives on his
own land in Maui, at the side of Hale-a-ka-la, where he keeps
Goddedaal's canary; and they say he sticks to his dollars, which
is a wonder in a Kanaka. He had a considerable pile to start
with, for not only Hemstead's share but Carthew's was divided
equally among the other four--Mac being counted."
"What did that make for him altogether?" I could not help
asking, for I had been diverted by the number of calculations in
"One hundred and twenty-eight pounds nineteen shillings and
eleven pence halfpenny," he replied with composure. "That's
leaving out what little he won at Van John. It's something for a
Kanaka, you know."
And about that time we were at last obliged to yield to the
solicitations of our native admirers, and go to the pastor's house
to drink green cocoanuts. The ship I was in was sailing the
same night, for Dodd had been beforehand and got all the shell
in the island; and though he pressed me to desert and return
with him to Auckland (whither he was now bound to pick up
Carthew) I was firm in my refusal.
The truth is, since I have been mixed up with Havens and Dodd
in the design to publish the latter's narrative, I seem to feel no
want for Carthew's society. Of course I am wholly modern in
sentiment, and think nothing more noble than to publish
people's private affairs at so much a line. They like it, and if
they don't, they ought to. But a still small voice keeps telling
me they will not like it always, and perhaps not always stand it.
Memory besides supplies me with the face of a pressman (in
the sacred phrase) who proved altogether too modern for one of
his neighbours, and
Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum
as it were, marshalling us our way. I am in no haste to
be that man's successor. Carthew has a record as "a clane
shot," and for some years Samoa will be good enough for me.
We agreed to separate, accordingly; but he took me on board in
his own boat with the hard-wood fittings, and entertained me
on the way with an account of his late visit to Butaritari,
whither he had gone on an errand for Carthew, to see how
Topelius was getting along, and, if necessary, to give him a
helping hand. But Topelius was in great force, and had
patronised and-- well --out-manoeuvred him.
"Carthew will be pleased," said Dodd; "for there's no doubt
they oppressed the man abominably when they were in the
Currency Lass. It's diamond cut diamond now."
This, I think, was the most of the news I got from my friend
Loudon; and I hope I was well inspired, and have put all the
questions to which you would be curious to hear an answer.
But there is one more that I daresay you are burning to put to
myself; and that is, what your own name is doing in this place,
cropping up (as it were uncalled-for) on the stern of our poor
ship? If you were not born in Arcadia, you linger in fancy on
its margin; your thoughts are busied with the flutes of antiquity,
with daffodils, and the classic poplar, and the footsteps of the
nymphs, and the elegant and moving aridity of ancient art.
Why dedicate to you a tale of a caste so modern;--full of details
of our barbaric manners and unstable morals;--full of the need
and the lust of money, so that there is scarce a page in which
the dollars do not jingle;--full of the unrest and movement of
our century, so that the reader is hurried from place to place
and sea to sea, and the book is less a romance than a
panorama--in the end, as blood-bespattered as an epic?
Well, you are a man interested in all problems of art, even the
most vulgar; and it may amuse you to hear the genesis and
growth of _The Wrecker_. On board the schooner Equator,
almost within sight of the Johnstone Islands (if anybody knows
where these are) and on a moonlit night when it was a joy to be
alive, the authors were amused with several stories of the sale
of wrecks. The subject tempted them; and they sat apart in the
alley-way to discuss its possibilities. "What a tangle it would
make," suggested one, "if the wrong crew were aboard. But
how to get the wrong crew there?"--"I have it!" cried the other;
"the so-and-so affair!" For not so many months before, and not
so many hundred miles from where we were then sailing, a
proposition almost tantamount to that of Captain Trent had
been made by a British skipper to some British castaways.
Before we turned in, the scaffolding of the tale had been put
together. But the question of treatment was as usual more
obscure. We had long been at once attracted and repelled by
that very modern form of the police novel or mystery story,
which consists in beginning your yarn anywhere but at the
beginning, and finishing it anywhere but at the end; attracted
by its peculiar interest when done, and the peculiar difficulties
that attend its execution; repelled by that appearance of
insincerity and shallowness of tone, which seems its inevitable
drawback. For the mind of the reader, always bent to pick up
clews, receives no impression of reality or life, rather of an
airless, elaborate mechanism; and the book remains
enthralling, but insignificant, like a game of chess, not a work
of human art. It seemed the cause might lie partly in the abrupt
attack; and that if the tale were gradually approached, some of
the characters introduced (as it were) beforehand, and the book
started in the tone of a novel of manners and experience briefly
treated, this defect might be lessened and our mystery seem to
inhere in life. The tone of the age, its movement, the mingling
of races and classes in the dollar hunt, the fiery and not quite
unromantic struggle for existence with its changing trades and
scenery, and two types in particular, that of the American
handy-man of business and that of the Yankee merchant sailor
--we agreed to dwell upon at some length, and make the woof
to our not very precious warp. Hence Dodd's father, and
Pinkerton, and Nares, and the Dromedary picnics, and the
railway work in New South Wales--the last an unsolicited
testimonial from the powers that be, for the tale was half
written before I saw Carthew's squad toil in the rainy cutting at
South Clifton, or heard from the engineer of his "young swell."
After we had invented at some expense of time this method of
approaching and fortifying our police novel, it occurred to us it
had been invented previously by some one else, and was in
fact--however painfully different the results may seem--the
method of Charles Dickens in his later work.
I see you staring. Here, you will say, is a prodigious quantity
of theory to our halfpenny worth of police novel; and withal not
a shadow of an answer to your question.
Well, some of us like theory. After so long a piece of practice,
these may be indulged for a few pages. And the answer is at
hand. It was plainly desirable, from every point of view of
convenience and contrast, that our hero and narrator should
partly stand aside from those with whom he mingles, and be
but a pressed-man in the dollar hunt. Thus it was that Loudon
Dodd became a student of the plastic arts, and that our globe-
trotting story came to visit Paris and look in at Barbizon. And
thus it is, dear Low, that your name appears in the address of
For sure, if any person can here appreciate and read between
the lines, it must be you--and one other, our friend. All the
dominos will be transparent to your better knowledge; the
statuary contract will be to you a piece of ancient history; and
you will not have now heard for the first time of the dangers of
Roussillon. Dead leaves from the Bas Breau, echoes from
Lavenue's and the Rue Racine, memories of a common past, let
these be your bookmarkers as you read. And if you care for
naught else in the story, be a little pleased to breathe once more
for a moment the airs of our youth.
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