THE WIND-SHIP MAN
NORMAN REILLY RAINE
Sixty-four inches of Satan was Radcliffe, and every inch hated a steamer. Battle, murder and sudden death, jail or a watery grave— cheerfully he risked all these, in order that once more he might feel timber under his feet and see a stretch of canvas aloft.
I KNEW him for a wind-ship man the moment he stepped over the fo'castle door coaming into the
sunlight, for his first glance was aloft, then over the side at the weather.
They’ll do that, those old shellbacks, even though they are on a tramp steamer like the Tanganyika. All they see are bare masts, samson posts and a funnel, instead of reef points drumming on a spread of canvas, but that doesn’t matter. It’s instinct that does it.
While he stood, with his stocky bow legs braced to the swing of the vessel, I had a good look at him. One eye was missing, and the other, dim with booze, like a bit of blue glazed pottery, was puckered in the sun’s glare. He was short, and a bullet head crowned with a dull red thatch, rose from his thick trunk. His arms, long and hairy as an ape’s, and tattooed from wrist to elbow, hung from the widest shoulders I have ever seen, and ended in immense fists, with cracked misshapen knuckles. He was a deep-water twister, no mistake, and as tough as a hardwood knot.
It came on me, then, that I’d seen him before, and I thought hard for a minute. Then I remembered. It was
three weeks before, as we were coming alongside the Circular Quay at Sydney. He was standing at the top of the starboard ladder on the fo’castle head of a big P. and O., stark naked except for a pair of boots, and a bright rag about his middle, wild drunk, with his red hair on end, and roaring like a gorilla. One of the ship’s mates rushed the ladder, at the head of a lot of Lascar seamen, and my queer fellow fetched him a kick in the navel that spoiled his appetite for more. I didn’t see the end of it, for I was supposed to be docking my end of the ship, and the Old Man yelled at me from the bridge, to mind my eye.
“Humph!” thought I, and smiled to myself when I pic-
tured the likes of him sharing the mess kid with the scouring of backblock farmers and bush-whackers and wharf rats, that called themselves our crew. There was a seaman’s strike on, when we arrived on the Australian coast, and the men we’d brought out with us slung their hooks as soon as we made fast. We got from Sydney to Brisbane with a scratch lot, and then signed on the scrapings that a Brisbane crimp got together, the red-headed buckoamong them, although I had not seen
him till then. The Tanganyika could not afford to pick and choose, for we were bound for home, by way of Singapore and Calcutta, and the ship had a reputation with her owners for smart discharges and a quick turnround, and the Old Man, who was a dyed-in-the-wool steamboat tinker, wasn’t going to risk losing it. As Mate, I protested a bit, for if things went wrong it was my back that would feel the leather, not him. But you know what skippers are, mister!
And so, thought I, it’s a good thing we’ve got one real sailorman in the lot—but wait a bit! He had come out of the starboard fo’castle, which was the black gang’s side. I
looked aft again. My jewel was mooning over the side at the blue Queensland coast line.
“Hey there, you!” I shouted. “Lay forrard a minute.” He turned and glowered, then came to where I stood at the break of the waist, swaggering truculence in every step.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
I waited, while with studied deliberateness he walked to the rail, spat over the side, and returned.
“Radcliffe,” he said, and leered impudently up at me. I leaned over the rail. “Listen to me, ye Port Mahon baboon,” said I quietly, “you’re not the only man that’s ever tailed on to a main brace, so mend your manners, or by Barney’s bull I’ll nail your liver to the fo’mast. What’s your rating aboard?”
A glimmer of respect showed in his one good eye, and he grinned, a bit sheepishly, Ï thought.
“I didn’t know you’d been in sail, too, sir,” he replied. “I’m a fireman.”
“A fireman! What’s a sailor doing in the stokehold?”
“It was circumferences done it, sir.”
“Aye, that’s it. I’d had a drop or two afore I signed on, and—”
“—You didn’t know what you were signing on as, until you were turned out this morning. That it? Where’d you lose your eye?”
“Submarine, sir. Sea o’ Marmora in 1915.”
“Hm! What was your last ship?”
“The bark Highflyer, sir, out o’
Glasgow. She piled up on Kangaroo Island in Bass Strait. We was taken off and returned to Sydney, D.B.S.”
“You’re a fine-looking sample of distressed British seaman. What were you doing aboard of that P. and 0. in Sydney harbor?”
“I’d had a night ashore with one o’ them lascars, sir. He pinched me money and me clothes out o’ me lodging house, and I went aboard for to ask for them back. I didn’t mean no harm.” He grinned again.
“Did you get them?”
“No, sir. I got ten days in quod instead. Then I come up to Brisbane on a coaster, and here I am.”
“Ever been in steam before?”
“No, sir! I got me mate’s cerstificate in sail. I got no use for steamboats. Wish to ’ell I was out of it.” His eye glimmered wistfully. “Couldn’t you have an old shipmate shifted to the deck crowd, sir?”
“I’ll think about it—but no promises, mind. Get away aft, and behave yourself, and perhaps I’ll speak to the Chief Engineer.”
But the Chief was adamant.
“He’s the only man in the black gang that’s got strength to lift a slice bar,” he said, “and I’ll not part with him. He’s the makings of an elegant stoker, so you let him alone.”
I communicated this to Radcliffe as he passed to his watch below next day. He scowled for a minute, then a devil gleamed in his eye.
“There’s more ways o’ skinning a cat than dragging it through the hawse pipe, sir,” said he, and left me wondering exactly what he was driving at. I was yet to learn of the depth of a wind-ship’s man’s hatred of steam.
There was not long to wait. We cleared the Australian
coast, and the Tanganyika logged a steady ten knots toward Singapore. Then came an evening five days out from Brisbane. The weather was perfect, with an easy sea darkling to the horizon, where the royal blue burst into stars— you’ve seen those nights down under the Southern Cross, mister. The stewards were holding a sing-song in their quarters just below the lower bridge deck, with a mouth organ and a fou-fou band, and phosphorescence blazed under the bows. I climbed the ladder to the bridge at eight bells to relieve the second mate, for the third was ill and the watches had been shifted.
The apprentice on stand-by reported the log, and I had just stepped into the wheelhouse to check the course on the binnacle when, from the direction of the galley, came a succession of shocking screams.
I jumped out to the ladder and looked aft along the boat deck. Out of the galley shot the cook, shrieking at the peak of his lungs, and ran for his life, pursued by a grim, silent, bow-legged figure, with menace in every powerful line of him, and a gleaming meat cleaver in his hand.
The Old Man ran out in his pajamas—he wore ’em night and day in the tropics—and thrust a pistol into my hand.
“Run down and see what the hell’s the
matter,” he growled. “I’ll keep the bridge while you go.” No, it wasn’t cowardice. It was the proper thing to do. I’d have done the same in his place. That’s what ship’s officers are for—so the owners tell us.
By this time there was the sound of frantic smashing, and short animal grunts in the saloon alleyway. After the first alarm, the frightened stewards had locked themselves in their cabin and were silent as mice. The second mate came out of his room, and we were joined at the foot of the ladder by the second engineer, a big, raw-boned Glasgae killie named MacKinnon, and the Chief. “What’s wrong?” I asked them.
“That devil Radcliffe got hold of a tin o’ shellac, and
he’s drunk himself crazy,” MacKinnon snapped. “Come on! Let’s get him!”
The cook was locked in the steward’s stores! and the madman was hammering tremendous blows upon the heavy teak. MacKinnon started forward.
“Come on,” he grunted again. “We’ve got to floor the fool, or there’ll be murder done.”
Fortunately for us, at that moment Radcliffe drove his weapon through the tough wood, and even his colossal strength failed to release it before we were on him.
I’ve been in some tall fights in my time at sea, mister, but I’d chop five years off my life before I’d live again through the fifteen or twenty minutes that followed when we tackled that maniac with the fumes of shellac in his brain. It was all the four of us could do, fighting for our lives in that narrow alleyway, to down him, and we only managed it in the end because I knocked him out with the butt of the gun. We got him trussed, then, with a blanket torn in strips, and threw him in the forepeak under guard for the night.
It took three days to bring him around, and when he came to and was brought before the Skipper he was quiet, but sullen and unchastened, the devil that was in him fairly jumping in his one good eye.
“Now then you knuckle-headed sweep, what did ye di it for?” the Old Man roared.
Radcliffe thrust out his ugly jaw. “I did it because felt like it, ye hairy old monkey, and I’ll do it again, unti you take me out of the black gang and put me on decl where I belong. Do that and I’ll give you no more trouble I’m a sailor, not a........ mechanic!”
The Old Man quirked his lips a bit at that, and glance* up at me under his brows. “So that’s your little game is it Radcliffe,” he said, his voice ominously quiet now. “Thei let me tell you, my man. You’re in steam now, not sail and in the stokehold you’ll stay, and you’ll rot there fo the good o’ your soul before I’ll bring you on deck thi:
passage. You’re a sailor you say? Well we’ll see what sort o’ course you se with a shovel for a rudder and a swea rag for a mains’l!” His voice ros' again. “I’ll show you who is maste aboard o’ this ship. Logged ten day pay. Get away below!”
Radcliffe screamed vituperation al the way down the ladder, but I’n ready to swear that his one good eyeli* dropped as he glared at me on leavin¡ the room. The Old Man swung aroun* to me.
“I’d have kept him in irons for th* rest of the voyage if you hadn’ encouraged him the first day out,” hi snapped, thus passing the blame to me But I wouldn’t take it.
“Some allowance should be made fo the man, sir,” I replied. “You knov how these old sailing-ship men fee about steam. Put him in my watch oi deck, and I’ll guarantee you’ll have n* further trouble. I know his type.”
“So do I, mister,” he came back “and I’ll thank you to keep your oa out of it!”—after which, of course, n* more was to be said. Give the Ok Man his due, he knew what he wa: letting himself in for, but he was gam* to carry it through.
The next move was not unexpected
Radcliffe lay in his bunk and refused duty. “I’m sick,’ said he, and wouldn’t budge.
“ ’Tis Cape Horn fever,” diagnosed the Old Man, whicl is the way that sailors have of describing laziness or sham “ ‘Starve a fever,’ says the medical book, so starve hi shall, until he turns to.”
TT SETTLED down to a bitter struggle, but in the enc I the Old Man won, for a lank stomach makes a poo: ally, and Radcliffe went below to the fires again.
Mind you, mister, up to now, I’d had the idea that Radcliffe was only playing tricks to have his way, anc that his viciousness was more or less of a blind. Perhaps in the beginning, it was, but it had passed beyond that by now, and he was in deadly earnest. It was to be a fight to a finish, and he deliberately set out to convert th* Tanganyika into a floating hell for all he came in contact with. He was saucy to the engineers, although always careful to obey orders, for if he didn’t, they’d have hin and he taunted them unceasingly in hopes that they'c strike him, for then, d’ye see, he’d have an excuse to halt murder them—in self-defence of course-—and no marin* court would convict him. I could tell endlessly of th* tricks he played; how he terrorized the fo’castle witl his cursing, smashing ways; how he fought and cruel]} beat the other men of his watch because, of all things
they could not keep their gauges up to th* pressure that showed on his boiler; how ht emptied a steaming hot mess kid over the chie: steward’s head and got logged two more day: pay. He was sixty-four inches of Satan if eve: a man was, and we prayed the Old Man woulc get shut of him when we reached Singapore.
But the Old Man was stubborn. “I’ll nol pay him off there,” he said quietly. “He think: he can beat me. Well, I’ll show him he can't He signed on for the voyage, and aboard he’l stay.”
The loom of the land was visible througl the saloon port as he spoke, and we expecied tc fetch the lights of the Malay coast at nightfall “He’ll probably jump ship in Singapore,’ the Chief commented hopefully.
“Not if he’s the sailor he says he is. Yon know what he’ll get if he does? Six month: hard labor on the roads, chained to a lot ot native convicts, and when he is free a hamifu of uncooked rice a day until he finds a ship same as Indian ports. No, he’ll not try that on .'
The Old Man was right. But Radcliff* walked ashore as soon as we came alongsid* the Tanjong Pakar docks, and returned or sailing day to terrorize the crew with a loado* pistol. I managed to knock it out of his han*
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and over the side, thereby saving the ship a $500 fine for undeclared weapons, and a twelve hour delay in sailing.
He was logged again when we got to sea, but the run to Calcutta was fairly peaceful, for he had developed shovel sores on his hands. They turned septic, and as he refused treatment they broke out all over him. He’d turned dogged to the other extreme, by now, and sick as he really was, refused to stay off watch. He was silent, and always ugly, and his shipmates lived in constant fear of him.
The night we anchored off Garden Reach in the Hoogli, Radcliffe disappeared. We moved up to the Kidderpore docks the next morning, but he did not appear and we saw nothing of him for the next tew days. I, for one, heartily hoped that he was gone for good. We heard vivid accounts of his mad conduct ashore for he got drunk and amused himself by rolling through the native bazaars and sweeping the contents of stalls into the gutter.
Just before we sailed he came off to the ship in a shore boat, with three native policemen hanging to his arms, and a half dozen leeches, put on by some Hindu doctor, dangling from the wounds on his face. It took half the crew to subdue him. and when we were off Budge-Budge the Old Man logged him six more days pay,
We had expected, at Calcutta, to receive orders for home. Instead, we were told to proceed to Vancouver in ballast, coaling at Miiki, Japan, on the way, to load grain for the United Kingdom, and our tempers were far from sweet in consequence. But, beyond an almost daily fight with someone or other, Radcliffe laid low. Perhaps it was the change in the weather that did it.
DAY after day the Tanganyika kicked her 240 miles astern. Bucking the north-east monsoon up the Yellow Sea we coaled at Miiki, then swung up on that great circle track over the North Pacific. Y ou know what a winter passage is, under the Aleutian Islands, mister. It was head winds all the way, with a skin of ice on decks, and the air cut to the bone, after the enervating heat of the tropics. Our blood was thin, and we shivered under our greatcoats, flinching from the showers of icy brine that rattled over the bows. We lost some gear over the side, and our port quarter boat was stove before we lost sight of the Japanese coast, under the wild pounding seas. The Tanganyika was always a wet old tub, and although light, she sloshed through it, reaping the crest of every wave, and rolled gunwales under at times, till life aboard was a cold, damp misery. Like leaping, frothing wolves the gaunt waves ran to meet us, snarling with wrath, and we had life lines rigged along the decks to which the crew clung like cockroaches when they had occasion to come forrad to the galley or the bridge.
Radcliffe and his grudge were forgotten for a time, and if I noticed him at all it was only to remark that whereas the balance of the crew were wrapped about like frozen rats in all the clothing they could crowd on, he walked the decks between watches with the practiced roll of the sailing-ship man, his barrel chest and great arms bare, and apparently unconscious of the icy blasts that smote us out of the frozen waste of the Arctic. And then, in the midst of a screaming noreaster and blinding snow storm, with the Tanganyika shuddering to the impact of the giant seas, forcibly he was brought back to mind.
I was passing along the waist in the lee of the house on my way to the bridge, when the grandfather of all the greybeards caught us on the beam and poured aboard in solid might. I was swept like a straw along the run and fetched up with a crash against the rail at the break of the waist, with a broken arm, and a twisted leg ligament. That’s how I got my limp, mister, but never mind that.
The Old Man set the bone in his eabin, and made quite a nice job of it, too, and he was gentle as a woman. Oh, you can be at sea for a long time with a man, mister, before you find him out. He’d just got through and set me up with a sling on it and a peg of whisky in my throat when a terrific racket broke cut from below decks. It sounded as if all the machinery of hell
Continued from page 47
Continued, from page Uh had gone adrift and the Tanganyika shook and quivered until I thought she’d rattle out every rivet in her sturdy old hull.
The Old Man got green about the gills and darted out on deck, and I managed to hobble after him. Clouds of steam shot up the fidley and the roar and pound of metal seemed to be knocking the bottom out of her. Then it stopped.
The Chief ran from his cabin, whitelipped, and darted down the engine-room ladder. The ship gave a sudden tremendous roll, and I realized that she was stopped, and swinging in the trough. No need for the pallid-faced Chief to reappear and tell us what was wrong. We knew. We had dropped the propeller.
For all of its discipline, there are times when panic will come to a deep-water ship. The crew poured out of the fo’castle and up into the waist, where they presently were joined by the firemen on watch. They huddled in the lee of the galley until a roaring sea lipped over the top of the house and drove them to cover of the saloon alleyway. Radcliffe alone stayed out on deck.
The Chief, when he reappeared, seemed to have aged ten years. “It’s gone,” he said dully, for owners don’t like excuses, and he saw the years of his life cast on the waters.
At the moment I happened to look at Radcliffe, who overheard. A slow grin twisted his slit of a mouth, and my blood boiled. We were five days from Flattery.
“What can we do?” said the Old Man, very quiet.
“Nothing. We could never ship the spare in this sea. We’ll have to wait for better weather, or chance signalling a passing vessel, as we’ve no wireless. How’s the glass, Captain?”
“It’s low, and no sign of a change. We’ll have to make the best of it.” He bent toward the Chief. “Don’t take it too hard, Mr. Cross. “Twas not your fault, and I’ll see you through, with the owners.” They passed a look of understanding, and the Chief went below again.
The Old Man turned to me, steadying himself against a mad lurch of the sea.
“What do you suggest?”
“Better bend a bit of canvas to steady her a bit and bring her head up to it,” I suggested. “I’ll send for the bos’n. Lord knows what sort of job those farmers aft will make of it, though. Oh, for a real sailor or two!”
The same thought came into both our minds. It was a bitter pill for the old chap to swallow but he gulped it like a man.
“I’ll ask that fellow Radcliffe to bear a hand,” he said. “He is a sailor, whatever else, and God knows we need them now.”
He called to the wind-ship man, who climbed the ladder, sullen and wary. The Old Man addressed him.
“You’ve wanted your chance on deck, Radcliffe. Now you’ve got it—and a chance to wipe your slate clean at the same time. Turn to with the bos’n and give the men a hand to get her under trys'ls.”
Radcliffe’s one little eye glittered balefully. “Thank you,” he replied, “but I signed on the coffee pot as a fireman, an’ since it was your wish agin mine, a fireman I’ll remain.”
This was too much for me. “You bilge rat!” I boomed. “Call yourself a windship man? A real seam&n never lived that wouldn’t put his ship first. Why for two ,pins, crippled as I am, I’d fling you over the side!” and I moved toward him.
“Aye! I’d put a ship first, too—but not a mechanical music-box the like o’ this,” he countered, and swinging on his heel left the bridge.
IT TOOK the bosun, who had served his time in steam, the rest of the day, with the small assistance of the hands, to get trys’ls on her. It was a sorry performance when all is said, but it served after a fashion, and the Tantanyika came up better to the hard-smiting seas. The wind increased, shrieking like ten thousand devils through the thrumming stays, and we were glad when the job was done.
For three days we drifted, helpless. On the second day an Orient liner, bound for Yokohama and Hongkong, showed in a rift of fog, but was gone like a ghost before we could signal her. Then, on the morning of the fourth day someone hammered at my cabin door.
“Turn out, sir,” he called. “There’s another ship in distress close by.”
Painfully I rolled from my bunk, where I had turned in all standing, and keeping my feet with difficulty on the reeling deck staggered up the companion to the bridge. The force of the gale had lessened, but the air was bitter, and the seas gray and murderous in the early dawn. Bending against the wind I rounded the wheelhouse, and joined the Old Man on the weather side.
A bare quarter-mile off, swept continually by great smoking seas, was a small three-masted schooner, down by the head. The mainmast had carried away, and so had all but fourteen feet of the foremast, but the mizzen was sound as far as the head, and a few frayed rags of canvas fluttered and cracked like the ragged wings of carrion birds. Huddled on the poop were a half-dozen figures, and even at that distance we could make them out, by their round, flat faces, and excited gestures, to be Japanese. They were waving in frantic effort to get our notice.
“Poor devils,” the Old Man grunted as a boarding sea swept over their stern, and we saw them madly clawing for holds in the welter of foam. “And we can’t do a blessed thing.”
Those moments leave their mark, mister, when a man must stand, helpless to lend a hand or even a strengthening word, and watch his fellow men die.
“Could we not get a boat over, sir? Theirs have gone, I see,” I suggested.
“Get a boat over in this sea? And who’s to take it? You are the only officer I’ve got who could handle it, even if we could get one over the side—and you’re disabled and out of the question. There’s not another real sailor aboard, even though the second mate and the bosun’d be willing enough, no doubt. Hello—they’re semaphoring!”
We watched, while one of the group on the wreck laboriously spelled out a few words. The Old Man read them.
“ ‘Japanese vessel, Osaka Maru. Otaru I for Seattle. Foundering. Take us off.’ What the hell are we to do?”
Our crew had gathered on the poop waving and shouting vain encouragement into the teeth of the wind. Then one man separated from them and climbed down the ladder to come forward. It was Radcliffe. Our stern reared, black against the dawn, then down into a trough, while the crest of an enormous comber soared high over the side. He glanced up, and judging the fling of the giant sea as it curled over shot through with sinister jade in the morning light, stepped back toward the ladder, just as it broke aboard and filled the well deck. He waited until it had poured over the lee rail and out the freeing ports, then came forard on the run, and climbing the bridge ladder stood silent within a yard of us.
The Old Man turned. “Well?” he asked.
“I’d like to put a question, sir,” Radcliffe said, and there was nothing of bravado about him now.
“What is it?”
“The Mate here’s decapitated, sir—”
“He means incapacitated, I expect,” I murmured.
“Aye, sir. That’s it. He’ in—and I’m only a blinking fireman; but I was a sailor once, and if you’ll let me have a boat, sir, I’ll have a try at getting a line aboard o’ yonder craft, and maybe we can get her people off with a britches buoy.” His hard face was crimson. “I’m sorry about what—what happened the other day, sir.”
The Old Man was silent for a moment. When he spoke his voice was gruff.
“I’m afraid not, my lad,” said he,' “and thank ye all the same. No boat could live in that sea. It’s bitter, I know, but I can’t afford to risk my own men’s lives.”
“I’ve been mate of a Greenland whaler before to-day, sir, and I can handle a boat in any sea. Give me the bos’n and one other hand—there’s a man aft there is willing to go—and we’ll make it.”
Well, they argued the point ding-dong, and for a minute I was afraid the old bad blood would return, bu t they were fighting on different grounds, now, you understand, and in the end Radcliffe had his way. One of our quarter-boats had been stove and carried away, but we made shift to bend tackle to the other and get it shifted to the lee side. The mast was stepped and all made ready for lowering. Then Radcliffe, who had been earnestly 1
regarding the derelict for some minutes, came over to me.
“Will you tell me our last position, sir?” he asked.
Wondering, I gave it to him, and was about to ask what he required it for, whenthe bos’n announced everything set for putting off. The bos’n and the other volunteer, who had once been a yachting hand in Auckland, got in with Radcliffe, and the crew tailed on to the falls and lowered away. They waited for a rise, unhooked the blocks and manned the oars, and a receding sea whisked them down again. Again the seas swept rail high then dropped to a hollow, and a powerful sweep or two of Radcliffe’s steering oar brought them clear of the Tanganyika’s side. Surely the grace of the Almighty smiles on poor Jack.
THE caught boat the rose rag to of sail a crest. which The had wind been set and she shot like a plummet out of sight to reappear on another crest a good hundred yards away. Radcliffe was in his element, his burly figure braced against the sweep, and he even turned for a brief fraction to grin at us on the bridge of the Tanganyika, before he bent his full energy to cheating the eye of the wind in his beat up to the stricken vessel. The boat wTas towing a length of marline, light stuff which paid out over the side from the coil with a gentle swish, and we could keep check on their progress by its diminishing bulk. We had to chance the marline holding, for even light line would have been too heavy to pull against wind and sea, but to the end we had bent light line, and, when this was hauled aboard the wreck, they could take in a heavier stuff, for the breeches buoy.
Well, mister, by Radcliffe’s superb boatmanship and the help of God they made it, although our hearts were in our gullets a score of time, as the boat, only a dancing speck now, was swallowed up in the belly of a greybeard only to rise and shoot through the spume to the next. They got the line aboard the Jap, and stood by with the boat until every man aboard was landed, half drowned, and exhausted, but wildly grateful, on the Tanganyika's deck, and we sent them to food and sleep below, all but their skipper, who would not leave our bridge until the boat returned. He was a hard-bitten little sweep, but water stood in his eyes, as he tried to describe to us his opinion of the Tanganyika’s black sheep.
It was nearing dark, before the last of the Japanese was aboard, and we rigged out cluster lights to guide the quarterboat home. Darkness fell, and the cry of the wind and the roar and smash of breaking seas made us anxious for their return. An hour passed, and they did not come. Two hours.
Suddenly a light winked up 'rom the direction of the wreck.
“What the devil!” the Old Man exploded in relief and exasperation. “They must have boarded her. But what for? Why don’t the fools come back?”
Just then, to our astonished ears, came a faint voice from out the night.
“Ahoy the Tanganyika'.”
“Ahoy the boat!”
Into the glare of the cluster lights danced the quarterboat, Radcliffe alone at the sweep.
“What’s the matter?” the Old Man roared through cupped hands. “What the hell are you playing at? Where are the others?”
“They’re safe aboard the schooner, sir.” Radcliffe’s voice was astonishingly loud and clear, and I realized that the wind was falling rapidly.
“What for! Why didn’t you bring ’em back with you?”
“We’re not coming back, sir.”
“We’re not coming back!”
The Old Man hopped with rage.
“What^ are you driving at, man?” he roared. “You get those men and come back aboard and look smart about it, and no more of your nonsense. D’ye hear?” “I’m sorry, sir,” Radcliffe shouted back with the glad note in his voice of a man who has come into his own. “I don’t mean to be preversious, but that ’ere craft is seaworthy. She’s got a hundred thousand dollars worth of Japanese oak aboard and I’m going to sail her into Portland for you. We’ll send you help when we get there!” He did.