The Captain of the Susan Drew
A Story of the Sea in Two Parts
Author of “Jerry,” “Burning Daylight,” “The Little Lady of the Great House,” etc.
A SUNSET of gilt and blue and rose palpitated on the horizon. A tapestry of misty rain, draping downward from indefinite clouds, obscured the eastern line of sea and sky.
Midway between, slightly nearer to the rain, a painted rainbow reached almost to the zenith. So lofty was its arch that the ends seemed to curve inward to the ocean in a vain attempt to complete the perfect circle. In this triumphal arch, toward the blue twilight beyond, sailed an open boat.
Nor did ever more strangely freighted boat float on the Pacific. In the sternsheets, in the weather side, a stupid-looking Norwegian sailor, in uniform of a quartermaster, steered with one hand, while with the other he held the sheet of the spritsail. From a holster, belted about his waist; peeped the butt of a business-like revolver. His cap lay on his knees, removed for the sake of coolness, and his short flaxen hair was prodigiously rigid over a bruise of recent origin.
Beside the sailor sat two women. The nearer one was comfortably stout and matronly, with large, dark eyes — full, direct, human. Her shoulders were protected against sunburn by a man’s light overcoat Because of the heat this was open and unbuttoned, revealing the decolleté and rich materials of a dinner dress. Jewels glinted in the hair, at the neck and on the fingers. Beside her was a young wom*n of two or three and twenty, likewise decolleté, sun-shielded by a strip of stained oilskin. Her eyes, as well as the straight fine nose and the line of the red curve of the not too passionate lips, advertised the closest relationship with the first woman. In the opposite stern-sheet and on the'first cross-seat, lolled three men in black trousers and dinner jackets. Their heads were protected by small squares of stained oilskin similar to that which lay across the young woman’s shoulders. One, a youngster of eighteen, wore an expression of deepest yearning; the second, half as old again, talked with the daughter; the third, middle-aged and complacent, devoted himself to the mother.
Amidships, on the bottom alongside the centreboard case, sat two dark-eyed women, as evidently maids as their nationality was, respectively, the one Spanish and the other Italian. On the other side of the centreboard, very straight-backed and erect, was an unmistakable English valet, with gaze always set on the middleaged gentleman to anticipate any want or order. Fór’ard of the centreboard and just aft the cast-step, crouched two hardfeatured Chinese, both with broken heads
EDITOR’S Note.— This is one of the last stories that Jack London wrote. His recent death was a sore blow, for London had become a> great force in contemporari/ literature. .I* a writer of sea stories he was at his best and in “The t'apfain of the Susan Drew,” he tells a typical London story with all his characteristic rigor, frankness and truth. It is an unusual story, despiti tin fact that it ibais with castaways, one of the oldest themes of fiction-writers. Only—this time they do not land on a lonely island and there is a denouement that is new and startling.
swathed in bloody sweat-cloths, both clad in dungaree garments, grimed and blackened with oil and coaldust.
WHEN it is considered that hundreds of weary sea-leagues intervened between the open boat and the nearest land, the inappropriateness of costume of half of its occupants may be appreciated.
“Well, brother Willie, what would you rather have or go swimming?” teased the young woman.
“A cigarette, if Harrison weren’t such a pincher,” the youth answered bitterly.
“I’ve only four left,” Harrison said. “You’ve smoked the whole case. I’ve had only two.”
Temple Harrison was a joker. He winked privily at Patty Gifford, drew a curved silver case from his hip pocket, and carefully counted the four cigarettes. Willie Gifford watched with so ferocious an infatuation that his sister cried out: “B-r-r! Stop it! You make me shiver. You look positively cannibalistic.”
“That’s all right for you,” was the brother's retort. “You don’t know what tobacco means, or you’d look cannibalistic yourself. You will, anyway,” he concluded ominously, “after a couple of days more. I noticed you weren’t a bit shy of taking a bigger cup of water than the rest when Harrison passed it around. I wasn’t asleep.”
Patty flushed guiltily “It was only a sip,” she pleaded. Harrison took out one cigarette, handed it over, and snapped the case shut
“Blackmailer!” he hisvd
But’Willie Gifford was oblivous. Already, with trembling fingers, he had lighted a match and was drawing the first inhalation deep into his lungs. On his face was a.vacuous ecstacy.
“Everything will come out alright,” Mrs. Gifford was saying to Sedley Brown, who sat opposite her in the sternsheets.
“Certainly, after the miracle of last night, being saved by some passing ship is the merest bagatelle!” he agreed. “It was a miracle. I can not understand now how our party remained intact and got away in the one boat. And if it hadn’t been for the purser, Peyton wouldn’t have been saved, nor your maids.”
“Nor would we, if it hadn’t been for dear, brave Captain Ashley,” Mrs. Gifford took up. “It was he, and the first officer.”
“They were heroes,” Sedley Brown praised warmly. “But still, there could have have been so few saved, I don’t see. . . .”
“I don’t see why you don’t see, with you and mother the heaviest stockholders in the line,” WiJlie Gifford dashed in. “Why shouldn’t they have made a special effort? It was up to them.”
Temple Harrison smiled to himself. Between them, Mrs. Gifford and Sedley Brown owned the majority of the stock of the Asiatic Mail — the flourishing steamship line that old Silas Gifford had built for the purpose of feeding his railroad with through freight from China and Japan. Mrs. Gifford had married his son, Seth, and the stock at the same time.
“I am sure, Willie, we were given no unfair consideration,” Mrs. Gifford reproved. “Of course, shipwrecks are attended by confusion and disorder, and strong measures are necessary to stay a panic. We were fortunate, that is all.”
“I wasn’t asleep,” Willie replied. “And all I’ve got to say is, it’s up to you to make the board of directors promote Captain Ashley to be Commodore; that is, if he ain’t dead and gone, which I guess he is.”
“As I was saying,” Mrs. Gifford addressed Sedley Brown, “the worst is past. It is scarcely a matter of hardship ere we shall be rescued. The weather is delightful, and the nights are not the slightest bit chilly. Depend upon it, Willie, Captain Ashley shall not be forgotten,
nor the first officer, and purser, nor-”
here she turned with a smile to the quartermaster—“nor shall Gronwold go unrewarded.”
“A penny for your thoughts,” Patty challenged Harrison several minutes later.
He started and looked at her, shook off
his absentmindedness with a laugh, and declined the offer. HE had been revisioning the hor-
FOR HE had been revisioning the horrors of less than twenty-four hours before. It had happened at dinner. The crash of collision had come just as coffee was being servedYes, Hiere had been confusion and disorder, if so could be termed the madness of a thousand souls in the face of imminent death. He saw again the silk-gowned Chinese table stewards join in the jam at the foot of the stairway, where blows were being struck and women and children trampled. He remembered, as his own party led by Captain Ashley worked its devious way up from deck to deck, seeing the white officers, engineers, and quartermasters buckling on their revolvers as they ran to their positions. Nor would he ever forget the eruption from the bowels of the great ship of the hundreds of Chinese stokers and timers, nor the half a thousand terrified steerage passenge r s — Chinese,
Japanese and Koreans, coolies and land-creatures of all, stark mad and frantic in desire to live.
Not all the deaths would b e due to drowning, he thought grimly, as he recollected the crack of revolvers and the sharp barking of automatic pistols, the thuds of clubs and boatstretchers on heads, and the grunts of men going down under the silent thrusts of sheathknives
Mrs. Gifford might believe what she wished to believe; but he, for one, was deeply grateful to his lucky star that had made him a member of the only party of passengers that had been shown any consideration. Consideration ! He could still see the protesting English duke flung neck and crop from the boat deck to. the raging steerage, fighting up the ladders. And there wras number four boat, launched by inexperienced hands, spilling its passengers into the sea and hanging perpendicularly in the davits. The white sailors who belonged to it and should have launched it, had been impressed by Captain Ashley. Then, there
was the American Consul-General to Siam—that was just before the electric lights went out—with wife, nurses, and children, shouting his official importance in Captain Ashley’s face and being directed to number four boat hanging on end.
Yes, Captain Ashley surely deserved the commodoreship of the Asiatic Mail— if he lived. But that he survived, Temple Harrison could not believe. He remembered the outburst of battle—an advertisement that the boat deck had been car-, ried—that came just as their .boat was lowering away. Of its crew, only Gronwold, with a broken head, was in it. The rest did not slide down the falls, as was intended. DoubHessly they had gone down before the rush of the Asiatics ; and so had Captain Ashley, though first he had cut the falls and shouted down to them to shove clear for their lives.
And they had, with a will, shoved
clear. Harrison recalled how he had pressed the end of an oarj against the steel side of the Mingaliá and afterward rowed insanely to the accompaniment of leaping bodies falling into tne sea astern. And when well clear he remembered how Gronwold had suddenly stood up and laid about with the heavy tiler overside, until Patty made him desist. Mutely taking the rains of blows onl their heads and clinging steadfasHy to the gunwale, were the two Chinese stokers who now crouched for’ard by the mast. No, Willie Gifford had not been asleep. He,too, had pressed an oar-blade àgainst the Mingalia’s side and rowed bhsaers into his soft hands. But Mrs. Gifforq was right.
DAYBREAK found the boafc rolling on a silken sea. Half the [night had been dead calm. The big spritsail had democratically covered coplies, servants, and masters. It was npw thrown aside, and Harrison began doling out half-cups o f water. WKllie smoking another of the igarettes, udiously ¡en a sip an the ived was for his precious looked away a more t others p o u r e sister.
A screeched “Santo Crista!” from Mercedes [ Martinex, Patty’s maid, startled them. Harrison neatly spilled the waten he was passing tk Sedley Brown. [The two Chinese hád set up an excitem chatter. Peyton was turning his head stiffly to see what all quickly s |a w ; a large, yacht-like schooner, With an enormous spread of canvas, Becalmed half a mile away. The Chin eke were the first to get oars over the side. Peyton delayed, until ordered by[ Sedley Brown.
“Now, [ Willie, row—we’re pavèd ! Patty cri
“Nothing[ to stop me from [getting my drink of water first}” replied that i m p e r tuábable youth, addressing himself to me forgotten [waterbeaker and drinking cupful I after cupful.
AS TH1 boat drew r the schooner, y saw several fi peering at thi over the rail i the waist of ship.
On the poop a large, heavy-shouldered man smoked a blackened pipe and surveyed them stolidly.
Sedley Brown did not know the etiquette of being rescued at sea from an open boat; but he. felt that this, somehow, was not the way. It was embarrassing. He resolved to make an effort.
“Good morning,” he said politely.
“Good morning,” growled the big man in a vast, husky voice that seemed to proceed from a scorched throat, and that caused Mercedes and Matilada to cross themselves. “What luck?”
“Finest in the world,” Sedley Brown replied. “We’re saved.”
“Aw, hell!” was the surprising comment. “I thought yôu was out fishing.” This was too much for Sedley Brown, who retired from the negotiations.
“We’re the sole survivors of the Mingalia, sunk in collision night before last,” Willie cried out
¡“I suppose I’ll have to let you come aboard,” came the coffee-grinder voice. “Harkins!—throw ’em a line there!” “You don’t seem a bit glad to see us,” Mrs. Gifford said airily, as she stepped on deck from the rail.
“I ain’t, madam, not a damn bit,” was the reply of the strange skipper.
MRS. GIFFORD came up the companion ladder from the stifling cabin, looked vainly about for a deck chair, and collapsed against the low side of the cabin house. Her handsome black eyes were flashing.
“It’s atrocious!” she cried. “It is not to be endured. He is an insulting brute. Anything—the open boat—is better than this horrible creature. And it isn’t as if he didn’t know better. He does it deliberately. It is his way of showing we are not welcome.”
“What has he done now?” Patty Gifford asked, from where she stood with Harrison in the shade of the mainsail.
There was no awning, and the pitch oozed from the sizzling deck. From below came the mild protesting accents of Sedley Brown, and squeals and Ave Maria’s from the maids.
“Done!” Mrs. Gifford exclaimed. “He has insisted on putting Mr. Brown and me into the same stateroom. They’re awful little cubby-holes; no ventilation,
She ceased abruptly as Captain Decker emerged from the companionway and approached her. Patty shuddered and drew closer to Harrison; for the skipper’s brown eyes were a-smoulder.
“You must excuse me, Madam,” he rumbled at Mrs. Gifford. “How was I to know? I thought you and the gentleman below was married. But it’s all right.” His face beamed with a labored benevolence. “I tell you, it’s all right. I can splice the two of you legal any time, such bein’ a captain’s authority on the high seas.”
“Go away, go away,” Mrs. Gifford moaned.
Captain Decker fixed his terrible eyes yearningly on Patty and Harrison.
“I’ve pulled teeth,” the skipper began, voluminously husky, “and I’ve buried corpses, and, once I sawed off a man’s leg; but damn me if I’ve spliced a couple yet! Now, how about the two of you?”
Patty and Harrison shrank instantly apart.
”It might make things more convenient down below,” the other was urging when Sedley Brown arrived on deck.
Him the captain immediately addressed. “Hey, you; don’t you want to get married? I can do it.”
Sedley Brown looked involuntarily at Mrs. Gifford and gasped in astonishment.
“No; bless me, no; of course not; certainly not!” he declined with embarrassed haste;
C APTAIN DECKER’S disappointment was manifest in his coffee-grinder th roat.
“All right, my bully. May be you ain’t seen the cook yet. I won’t say he’s clean, but I will say he’s a Chinaman. You’ll bunk with him.” He turned upon Harrison. “You srill got a chance. Say the word and I’ll tie you up to the girl tighter an’ all hell.”
“And if I don’t?” Harrison demanded.
“Why you’ll bunk with-”
At that moment the cabin boy, a grinning, turbaned, moustached Lascar, passed aft along the poop.
“With the cabin boy—that’s him,” the skipper completed the sentence.
“Then I’ll bunk with the cabin bo>,’ Harrison decided.
“Suit yourself.” Captain Decker strode to the companionway and shouted down. “Where’s that mate? . . . Asleep, hey? Rout him out. Tell him I want him. . . Jump! you black devil, you! Jump!” He turned about to the survivors of the Mingalia. “Now, here’s the sleepin’ arrangements. Down below there’s six rooms; two starboard, two port, two after under the deck. You two women’ll bunk in number one port; the two dago girls in number two port; the cook and his nibs
here in port after-room-”
“I shall not sleep there,” Sedley Brown announced. “I shall sleep on the cabin floor.”
. « “You’ll sleep where I tell you to!” Capv tain Decker roared. “Who asked you aboard the Susan Drew? I didn’t. You’ll sleep with the Chink, or I’ll know the reason why, or my name ain’t Bill Decker. That servant of youm’ll sleep on the cabin floor.” He now addressed Harrison. “You will bunk with the cabin boy in
the starboard after-roomWhere’s
A MOST forbidding individual came up through the companion. He was as large as the skipper and as heavily built. Swarthy skinned and high-cheeked, his features were distinctly Mongoloid, despite cut ]ips, lacerated ears, a blackened eye, and a monstrously swollen nose. He was perplexed, stupid, and in very evident fear of the captain.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the mate of the Susan Drew. He was a beauty once upon a time. He was some man before he run foul of me, which was only yesterday. Look at’m now. Flat-Nose Russ is his name. An’ take it from me that nose was flat before I landed on it. Flat-Nose, you got to take a bunk mate. Where’s that young whelp?”
Captain Decker turned and glared at Willie Gifford sauntering aft from the break of the poop, a brown-paper cigarette carelessly stuck to his lower lip. “Here, you!”
Willie stopped short.
“Take that cigarette out of your mouth when I talk to you!” the skipper bellowed. Willie hesitated, the skipper sprang to-
ward him, and Mrs! Gifford screamed. The cigarette came out with dispatch, and Captain Decker turned on Mrs. Gifford.
“Madam, is there any reason why you and his nibs oughtn’t to be married?”
Mrs. Gifford disdained reply.
“Is there any reason you ought?”
She looked appealingly to Patty, who came to her side. The captain returned to Willie.
“That’s right, youngster. Learn to take orders. You see that handsome man by the companionway? That’s Flat-Nose. And that’s what I do to them I don’t love. Throw that cigarette over the side—that’s right—and smoke no more of ’em. Take a pipe if you want to smoke like a man. Now. you and Flat-Nose are going to bunk together. Flat-Nose, you’re responsible for 'm. If he cuts up any didoes, spank him.”
Captain Decker strode thé length of the poop and back, studied the cloud-driftage crossing the sky from the north-west, debated a moment, then remarked to the company in general;
“It’s mighty hot on this deck. Now, if by chance anybody might want to get married, I guess I could manage to rig up some sort of an awning.”
t> ELOW, they sat in anxious council. U A wéék had passed, in which everybody had been .bullied and variously insulted, while Willie had been rope’s-ended twice for smoking cigarettes and then . turned to at holystoning the poop and scrubbing the paint-work. Mrs. Gifford and Patty sat at the cabin table, their shoulders and arms at last covered by extemporized shirts of cotton drill. The Susan Drew was in violent motion. The surge and gurgle of the water could be heard through her thin sides, and by her long lifts and lunges it was apparent that she was winged out and running before a stiff breeze.
“He is going to Hawaii,” Sedley Brown was reporting to Mrs. Gifford. “I charged him with it to his face—told him it must be so, judging by the course he was steering.”
“And it is only six days by our steamers from Honolulu to San Francisco,” Patty cried joyously.
“But he refuses to land us,” Sedley Brown went on. “He gives us no reason. He merely reiterates that we’ll neither see hair or hide of the island any more than he will. I can’t make out his vessel. There is something wrong about her. But what?”
“Begging your pardon, sir,” the valet spoke up, “but I know* what. This ship is a smuggler, sir.”
“Nonsense, Peyton,” Mrs. Gifford reproved sharply. “That’s just your imagination. The agé of smuggling is past, except among passengèrs from Europe landing in New York.”
“What could he smuggle?” Patty asked.
“Opium, Miss, begging your pardon,” the valet replied.
“By George, that’s right!” Harrison smote his leg, loudly. “The new tariff law’s been in effect over a year now. Opium is way up. I remember reading about it six months ago in the San Francisco papers.”
“But what will we do if he is a smuggler
Continued on page 87
The Captain of the Susan Drew
Continued from page 44
and won’t put us ashore?” Mrs. Gifford demanded.
All stared hopelessly. No suggestions ’ were offered.
“Very well, then,” she said firmly; “I shall speak to this brute myself. I shall pay him to land us. I shall-”
A pair of feet and legs appeared on the companion ladder, and Captain Decker descended.
“Look here, sir,” Sedley Brown gallantly sprang into the breach. “We’ve been discussing the situation-”
“What situation?” demanded the skipper.
“We all know about this ship,” Mrs. Gifford said sternly. “We know you are smuggling opium into Hawaii, and that is whyyou refuse to land us. But I will pay you to land us. I will pay you five thousand dollars.”
“I wouldn’t if you made it fifty thousand,'V was the gruff rejection.
“I do make it fifty thousand. I will pay you fifty thousand dollars ta put us ashore anywhere on the Hawaiian Islands.”
CAPTAIN DECKER ggve her a searching glance, and seemd convinced that she meant it. But the effect upon him was contrary to what they expected. His smooth-shaven face, harsh and savage, set obstinately.
“You can’t walk over me with your money,” he sneered. “Bill Decker ain’t a pauper. Fifty thousand ain’t no more to me than a piece of shavin’paper. Yes;, the Susan Drew is a smuggler, and I don’t give a rap who knows it, an’ 111 see to it none of you get ashore in Hawaii to spread the news. Fifty thousand ! Huh ! Me and my partners make enough of this one run to retire. I got fifty tons of the dope below. It’s worth fifteen dollars a pound. Think I’d risk a million an’ half just to please you? Why, I’d give fifty thousand myself to get rid of you, if there was any way. But there ain’t. Take it from me, madam, I ain’t stuck on you.”
THE DAYS came and went. In vain Harrison and Sedley Brown scanned the sea-line for land. They knew the high peaks of the Hawaiian Islands were often sighted a hundred miles away; but Captain Decker was true to his word and raised neither hide nor hair of them. His rendezvous was a matter of pre-arranged latitude and longitude in the ocean waste far off from the traveled steamer tracks. One day, after the morning observation, he shortened sail and hove to. Though days and nights of fresh winds blew the Susan Drew drifted idly. After each morning observation, he would put on sail, regain the lost position, and heave to again.
“Of course—the fox—he is too cunning to venture in to land,” Harrison remarked to Patty. “This is the meeting place, where he will tranship the opium. He’s made a good passage and is ahead of his time, that is all.”
Captain Decker grew more insufferable. He had little manners and less courtesy.
He dominated any conversation he engaged in, and rudely broke in upon any conversation in which others chanced to be engaged. His table conduct was abominable. He could never keep out of paint or tar. He was stronger than any two of the sailors; and it was a splendid sight to see him swinging on a halyard with a turn under a pin, throw himself back and down till bis broad shoulders almost touched on the deck. But the effect on his* hands of this inveterate sailorizing was not nice—at least, for those who sat with him at table. His hands, skinned and scarred, gnarled and calloused, filthy with dirt grimed deep into the texture of the skin, were anything save appetizing to contemplate. Furthermore, he insisted on serving, and did so with those same members, upon which, during the performance, every eye was glued. Stewed prunes was a prime favorite of his, and graced the table three times a day. When he began on his full saucer, all conversation died away. Every person at the table gazed fascinated at the prunes disappearing into his mouth. But no pits came forth. Toward the end, he would solemnly bow to the empty saucer and spit out the accumulation in one single, heroic effort.
MRS. GIFFORD he made especially uncomfortable. He would gaze at her for long periods in a curious, speculative way. They even knew him to break off in the middle of a sentence to gaze at her. with dropped jaw and puzzling «yes.
“No, you are not my style,” he remarked emerging from one such brown study. “I never did see anything in stout brunettes. Besides, it wouldn’t be legal. A sea captain can splice anybody but himself. He’s like a lighthouse that way.”
“A lighthouse?” Patty asked, boldly striving to divert the conversation.
“A lighthouse? Oh, a sky-pilot, a parson!” was the answer. “When a parson wants to get married, he has to get some other parson to do the job. Same with sea captains. Any way, blondes is what I run to.”
With her daughter and Temple Harrison very much occupied in aiding each other to pass the time, Mrs. Gifford was driven more and more by Captain Decker’s persecution to accept the attentions of Sedley Brown.
“Now, don’t worry,” she told Patty, who had twitted her. “I haven’t the slightest intention of marrying Sedley. He is too much like your dear father. No, no, nothing invidious — your father was a dear; but he was too good, too sweet, too mild. I never understood it, either, how such a gentle, non-assertive man could so successfully wield the immense financial-power that was his. Of course, Old Silas laid the foundation and built the structure, but your father ably realized all that Silas had planned and not yet achieved. And he did more. The Caledonia and North Shore was entirely his own idea; and in the face of their calling it ‘Gifford’s Folly’ for years, look at what it is to-day.”
“But I don’t object to Sedley Brown,” Patty hastened to disclaim.
“But I do—as a husband,” Mrs. Gifford went on. “I know all you would say— our financial interests are so simiiar, Asiatic Mail, Carmel Consolidated and all the rest; but ... well, I couldn’t bring myself to marry him, that’s all. He’s a dear, kind friend. As such, I adore him. But as a husband—Patty
dear, if I ever marry again it shall be a man, a big, strong man.”
“But father was big and strong,” Patty defended. “He played football at college. Sedley Brown says so, and says that he weighed nearly two hundred pounds. I scarcely remember him myself. I wasn’t more than four or live years old at the time.”
“You’ve seen photographs and portraits of him though. Don’t you remember that ridiculous bean! of his?—and on so young a man! Don’t you see, Patty? That beard tells the whole story. He hid his face from men’s eyes. He was not aggressive. He could never nerve himself to walk over the face of things rough-shod. He was an adept at finding peaceful ways around. If ever I marry again, it will be a human man, with spunk, who can raise his voice and swear at least once in a w'hile, and fly off the handle; and if he does play the fool, play it with strength. I could even forgive such a man for drinking too much on occasion. Your father, my dear, was too perfect for a commonplace mortal woman like me. But it is all beside the question. I shall never marry. There is no proof of your father’s death-”
“But the law?" Patty interposed.
“Oh, of course, it is legally established for business purposes! But I want moral proof.”
“Yet, there was his hat, picked up off Yerba Buena a week after his disappearance,” Patty argued. “In my mind, in everybody’s mind, there isn’t the slightest doubt but that he was drowned in San Francisco Bay-”
THROUGH the open skylight from below came squeals of terror from Mercedes and Matilada, the servile tones of Peyton, and the roaring huskiness of Captain Decker’s whiskey-corroded throat.
“Begging your pardon, sir, I don’t understand,” Peyton was apologizing.
“Then I say it again," rasped the skipper. “There’s the two skirts. Cast your lamps over ’em. Which’ll you have? The Dago or the Eyetalian?”
More squalls and Ave Marias from the two maids, and reiterations on the valet’s part of non-understanding.
“By the tarpaulins of Tartarus!” cursed Captain Decker. “Ain’t it plain as the nose on your face? Ain’t you a man? Ain’t these here women? Ain’t I goin’ to marry you to one or the other?”
“But you can’t, sir-”
“Can’t! Maybe you don’t know the authority of a captain on the high seas? I can do anything! I can mast-head you; I can keel-haul you; I—and I will, if you don’t pick one of them.skirts, an’ damn lively about it!”
“But I won’t be a bigamist, sir, begging your pardon,” Peyton wailed. “I’ve a wife,
sir, home in England-”
Further explanations were cut short by a snort of rage from the skipper.
“I always thought there was something underhanded about you—you, with your lick-spittlin’ and cringin’. An’ a married man all the time!”
“Begging your pardon, sir,” Peyton stammered. “Mr. Browm, my employer, sir, knows that I am married. You ask him, sir. He knows I send regular remittances home, sir. He can tell you-”
“Ar-r-r-r-g-g-g!” Captain Decker’s inarticulate disgust was as a coffee-grinder in violent eruption. “Shut up! What are you making all the noise about?”
To be Continued.