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immersed to the neck and smoking his pipe, and surrounded him - four
small, shouting imps, floating barrels with splashing hands and
kicking feet.

"Gwan, ye little devils!" said the Quartermaster, clutching the
stringpiece and looking about in the gloom for a weapon. The Red Un,
quite safe and audacious in his cork jacket, turned over on his back
and kicked.

"Gwan yerself, Methuselah!" he sang.

They stole the old man's pipe and passed it from mouth to mouth;
they engaged him in innocent converse while one of them pinched his
bare old toe under water, crab-fashion. And at last they prepared to
shin up the rope again and sleep the sleep of the young, the
innocent and the refreshed.

The Chief was leaning over the rail, just above, smoking!

He leaned against the rail and smoked for three hours! Eight eyes,
watching him from below, failed to find anything in his face but
contemplation; eight hands puckered like a washerwoman's; eight feet
turned from medium to clean, from clean to bleached - and still the
Chief smoked on. He watched the scolding tugs and the ferryboats
that crawled over the top of the water; he stood in rapt
contemplation of the electric signs in Jersey, while the ship's
bells marked the passage of time to eternity, while the
Quartermaster slept in his bed, while the odours of the river stank
in their nostrils and the pressure of the ship's lifebelts weighed
like lead on their clammy bodies.

At eight bells - which is midnight - the Chief emptied his
twenty-fourth pipe over the rail and smiled into the gloom beneath.

"Ye'll better be coming up," he remarked pleasantly. "I'm for
turning in mysel'."

He wandered away; none of the watch was near. The ship was dark,
save for her riding lights. Hand over puckered hand they struggled
up and wriggled out of the belts; stark naked they ducked through
passageways and alleys, and stowed their damp and cringing forms
between sheets.

The Red Un served the Chief's breakfast the next morning very
carefully. The Chief's cantaloupe was iced; his kipper covered with
a hot plate; the morning paper propped against McAndrew's hymn. The
Red Un looked very clean and rather bleached.

The Chief was busy; he read the night reports, which did not amount
to much, the well soundings, and a letter from a man offering to
show him how to increase the efficiency of his engines fifty per
cent, and another offering him a rake-off on a new lubricant.

Outwardly the Chief was calm - even cold. Inwardly he was rather
uncomfortable: he could feel two blue eyes fixed on his back and
remembered the day he had pulled them out of the river, and how
fixed and desperate they were then. But what was it McAndrew said?
"Law, order, duty an' restraint, obedience, discipline!"

Besides, if the boys were going to run off with the belts some
damned first-class passenger was likely to get a cabin minus a belt
and might write to the management. The line had had bad luck; it did
not want another black eye. He cleared his throat; the Red Un
dropped a fork.

"That sort of thing last night won't do, William."

"N-No, sir."

"Ye had seen the signs, of course?"

"Yes, sir." The Red Un never lied to the Chief; it was useless.

The Chief toyed with his kipper.

"Ye'll understand I'd ha' preferred dealin' with the matter mysel';
but it's - gone up higher."

The Quartermaster, of course! The Chief rose and pretended to glance
over the well soundings.

"The four of ye will meet me in the Captain's room in fifteen
minutes," he observed casually.

The Captain was feeding his cat when the Red Un got there. The four
boys lined up uncomfortably; all of them looked clean, subdued,
apprehensive. If they were to be locked up in this sort of weather,
and only three days to sailing time - even a fine would be better.
The Captain stroked the cat and eyed them.

"Well," he said curtly, "what have you four young imps been up to
now?"

The four young imps stood panicky. They looked as innocent as choir
boys. The cat, eating her kipper, wheezed.

"Please, sir," said the Captain's boy solicitously, "Peter has
something in his throat."

"Perhaps it's a ship's lifebelt," said the Captain grimly, and
caught the Chief's eye.

The line palpitated; under cover of its confusion the Chief,
standing in the doorway with folded arms, winked swiftly at the
Captain; the next moment he was more dour than ever.

"You are four upsetters of discipline," said the Captain, suddenly
pounding the table. "You four young monkeys have got the crew by the
ears, and I'm sick of it! Which one of you put the fish in Mrs.
Schmidt's bed?"

Mrs. Schmidt was a stewardess. The Red Un stepped forward.

"Who turned the deckhose into the Purser's cabin night before last?"

"Please," said the Doctor's boy pallidly, "I made a mistake in the
room. I thought - - "

"Who," shouted the Captain, banging again, "cut the Quartermaster's
rope two nights ago and left him sitting under the dock for four
hours?"

The Purser's boy this time, white to the lips! Fresh panic seized
them; it could hardly be mere arrest if he knew all this; he might
order them hanged from a yardarm or shot at sunrise. He looked like
the latter. The Red Un glanced at the Chief, who looked apprehensive
also, as if the thing was going too far. The Captain may have read
their thoughts, for he said:

"You're limbs of Satan, all of you, and hanging's too good for you.
What do you say, Chief? How can we make these young scamps lessons
in discipline to the crew?"

Everybody breathed again and looked at the Chief - who stood tall and
sandy and rather young to be a Chief - in the doorway.

"Eh, mon," he said, and smiled, "I'm aye a bit severe. Don't ask me
to punish the bairns."

The Captain sniffed.

"Severe!" he observed. "You Scots are hard in the head, but soft in
the disposition. Come, Chief - shall they walk the plank?"

"Good deescipline," assented the Chief, "but it would leave us a bit
shorthanded."

"True," said the Captain gloomily.

"I was thinkin'," remarked the Chief diffidently - one hates to think
before the Captain; that's always supposed to be his job.

"Yes?"

"That we could make a verra fine example of them and still retain
their services. Ha' ye, by chance, seen a crow hangin' head down in
the field, a warnin' to other mischief-makers?"

"Ou-ay!" said the Captain, who had a Scotch mother. The line wavered
again; the Captain's boy, who pulled his fingers when he was
excited, cracked three knuckles.

"It would be good deescipline," continued the Chief, "to stand the
four o' them in ship's belt at the gangway, say for an hour, morning
and evening - clad, ye ken, as they were during the said
infreengements."

"You're a great man, Chief!" said the Captain. "You hear that,
lads'?"

"With - with no trousers'?" gasped the Doctor's boy.

"If you wore trousers last night. If not - - "

* * * * *

The thing was done that morning. Four small boys, clad only in
ship's belts, above which rose four sheepish heads and freckled
faces, below which shifted and wriggled eight bare legs, stood in
line at the gangway and suffered agonies of humiliation at the hands
of crew and dockmen, grinning customs inspectors, coalpassers, and a
newspaper photographer hunting a human-interest bit for a Sunday
paper. The cooks came up from below and peeped out at them; the
ship's cat took up a position in line and came out in the Sunday
edition as "a fellow conspirator."

The Red Un, owing to an early training that had considered clothing
desirable rather than essential, was not vitally concerned. The
Quartermaster had charge of the line; he had drawn a mark with chalk
along the deck, and he kept their toes to it by marching up and down
in front of them with a broomhandle over his shoulder.

"Toe up, you little varmints!" he would snap. "God knows I'd be glad
to get a rap at you - keeping an old man down in the water half the
night! Toe up!"

Whereupon, aiming an unlucky blow at the Purser's boy, he hit the
Captain's cat. The line snickered.

It was just after that the Red Un, surmising a snap by the
photographer on the dock and thwarting it by putting his thumb to
his nose, received the shock of his small life. The little girl from
Coney Island, followed by her mother, was on the pier - was showing
every evidence of coming up the gangway to where he stood. Was
coming! Panic seized the Red Un - panic winged with flight. He
turned - to face the Chief. Appeal sprang to the Red Un's lips.

"Please!" he gasped. "I'm sick, sick as h - , sick as a dog, Chief.
I've got a pain in my chest - I - - "

Curiously enough, the Chief did not answer or even hear. He, too,
was looking at the girl on the gangway and at her mother. The next
moment the Chief was in full flight, ignominious flight, his face,
bleached with the heat of the engine room and the stokehole, set as
no emergency of broken shaft or flying gear had ever seen it. Broken
shaft indeed! A man's life may be a broken shaft.

The woman and the girl came up the gangway, exidently to inspect
staterooms. The Quartermaster had rallied the Red Un back to the
line and stood before him, brandishing his broomhandle. Black fury
was in the boy's eye; hate had written herself on his soul. His
Chief had ignored his appeal - had left him to his degradation - had
deserted him.

The girl saw the line, started, blushed, recognised the Red Un - and
laughed!


IV

The great voyage began - began with the band playing and much waving
of flags and display of handkerchiefs; began with the girl and her
mother on board; began with the Chief eating his heart out over coal
and oil vouchers and well soundings and other things; began with the
Red Un in a new celluloid collar, lying awake at night to hate his
master, adding up his injury each day to greater magnitude.

The voyage began. The gong rang from the bridge. Stand By! said the
twin dials. Half Ahead! Full Ahead! Full Ahead! Man's wits once more
against the upreaching of the sea! The Chief, who knew that
somewhere above was his woman and her child, which was not his,
stood under a ventilator and said the few devout words with which he
commenced each voyage:

"With Thy help!" And then, snapping his watch: "Three minutes past
ten!"

The chief engineer of a liner is always a gentleman and frequently a
Christian. He knows, you see, how much his engines can do and how
little. It is not his engines alone that conquer the sea, nor his
engines plus his own mother wit. It is engines plus wit plus _x_,
and the _x_ is God's mercy. Being responsible for two quantities out
of the three of the equation, he prays - if he does - with an eye on a
gauge and an ear open for a cylinder knock.

There was gossip in the engineers' mess those next days: the Old Man
was going to pieces. A man could stand so many years of the strain
and then where was he? In a land berth, growing fat and paunchy, and
eating his heart out for the sea, or - - The sea got him one way or
another!

The Senior Second stood out for the Chief.

"Wrong with him? There's nothing wrong with him," he declared. "If
he was any more on the job than he is I'd resign. He's on the job
twenty-four hours a day, nights included."

There was a laugh at this; the mess was on to the game. Most of them
were playing it.

So now we have the Red Un looking for revenge and in idle moments
lurking about the decks where the girl played. He washed his neck
under his collar those days.

And we have the Chief fretting over his engines, subduing drunken
stokers, quelling the frequent disturbances of Hell Alley, which led
to the firemen's quarters, eating little and smoking much, devising
out of his mental disquietude a hundred possible emergencies
and - keeping away from the passengers. The Junior Second took down
the two parties who came to see the engine room and gave them
lemonade when they came up. The little girl's mother came with the
second party and neither squealed nor asked questions - only at the
door into the stokeholes she stood a moment with dilated eyes. She
was a little woman, still slim, rather tragic. She laid a hand on
the Junior's arm.

"The - the engineers do not go in there, do they?"

"Yes, madam. We stand four-hour watches. That is the Senior Second
Engineer on that pile of cinders."

The Senior Second was entirely black, except for his teeth and the
whites of his eyes. There was a little trouble in a coalbunker;
they had just discovered it. There would be no visitors after this
until the trouble was over.

The girl's mother said nothing more. The Junior Second led them
around, helping a pretty young woman about and explaining to her.

"This," he said, smiling at the girl, "is a pump the men have
nicknamed Marguerite, because she takes most of one man's time and
is always giving trouble."

The young woman tossed her head.

"Perhaps she would do better if she were left alone," she suggested.

The girl's mother said nothing, but, before she left, she took one
long look about the engine room. In some such bedlam of noise and
heat _he_ spent his life. She was wrong, of course, to pity him; one
need not measure labour by its conditions or by its cost, but by the
joy of achievement. The woman saw the engines - sinister, menacing,
frightful; the man saw power that answered to his hand - conquest,
victory. The beat that was uproar to her ears was as the throbbing
of his own heart.

It was after they had gone that the Chief emerged from the forward
stokehole where the trouble was. He had not seen her; she would not
have known him, probably, had they met face to face. He was quite
black and the light of battle gleamed in his eyes.

They fixed the trouble somehow. It was fire in a coalbunker, one of
the minor exigencies. Fire requiring air they smothered it one way
and another. It did not spread, but it did not quite die. And each
day's run was better than the day before.

The weather was good. The steerage, hanging over the bow, saw far
below the undercurling spray, white under dark blue - the blue
growing paler, paler still, until the white drops burst to the top
and danced free in the sun. A Greek, going home to Crete to marry a
wife, made all day long tiny boats of coloured paper, weighted with
corks, and sailed them down into the sea.

"They shall carry back to America my farewells!" he said, smiling.
"This to Pappas, the bootblack, who is my friend. This to a girl
back in America, with eyes - behold that darkest blue, my children;
so are her eyes! And this black one to my sister, who has lost a
child."

The first class watched the spray also - as it rose to the lip of a
glass.

Now at last it seemed they would break a record. Then rain set in,
without enough wind to make a sea, but requiring the starboard ports
to be closed. The Senior Second, going on duty at midnight that
night, found his Junior railing at fate and the airpumps going.

"Shut 'em off!" said the Senior Second furiously.

"Shut 'em off yourself. I've tried it twice."

The Senior Second gave a lever a vicious tug and the pump stopped.
Before it had quite lapsed into inertia the Chief's bell rang.

"Can you beat it?" demanded the Junior sulkily. "The old fox!"

The Senior cursed. Then he turned abruptly and climbed the steel
ladder he had just descended. The Junior, who was anticipating a
shower and bed, stared after him.

The Senior thought quickly - that was why he was a Senior. He found
the Red Un's cabin and hammered at the door. Then, finding it was
not locked, he walked in. The Red Un lay perched aloft; the shirt of
his small pajamas had worked up about his neck and his thin torso
lay bare. In one hand he clutched the dead end of a cigarette. The
Senior wakened him by running a forefinger down his ribs, much as a
boy runs a stick along a paling fence.

"Wha' ish it?" demanded the Red Un in sleepy soprano. And then "Wha'
d'ye want?" in bass. His voice was changing; he sounded like two
people in animated discussion most of the time.

"You boys want to earn a sovereign?"

The Purser's boy, who had refused to rouse to this point, sat up in
bed.

"Whaffor?" he asked.

"Get the Chief here some way. You" - to the Purser's boy - "go and
tell him the Red Un's ill and asking for him. You" - to the Red
Un - "double up; cry; do something. Start him off for the
doctor - anything, so you keep him ten minutes or so!"

The Red Un was still drowsy, and between sleeping and waking we are
what we are.

"I won't do it!"

The Senior Second held out a gold sovereign on his palm.

"Don't be a bally little ass!" he said.

The Red Un, waking full, now remembered that he hated the Chief; for
fear he did not hate him enough, he recalled the lifebelt, and his
legs, and the girl laughing.

"All right!" he said. "Gwan, Pimples! What'll I have?
Appendiceetis?"

"Have a toothache," snapped the Senior Second. "Tear off a few
yells - anything to keep him!"

It worked rather well; plots have a way of being successful in
direct proportion to their iniquity. Beneficent plots, like loving
relatives dressed as Santa Claus, frequently go wrong; while it has
been shown that the leakiest sort of scheme to wreck a bank will go
through with the band playing.

The Chief came and found the Red Un in agony, holding his jaw. Owing
to the fact that he lay far back in an upper bunk, it took time to
drag him into the light. It took more time to get his mouth open;
once open, the Red Un pointed to a snag that should have given him
trouble if it didn't, and set up a fresh outcry.

Not until long after could the Red Un recall without shame his share
in that night's work - recall the Chief, stubby hair erect, kind blue
eyes searching anxiously for the offending tooth. Recall it? Would
he ever forget the arm the Chief put about him, and him: "Ou-ay!
laddie; it's a weeked snag!"

The Chief, to whom God had denied a son of his flesh, had taken Red
Un to his heart, you see - fatherless wharf-rat and childless
engineer; the man acting on the dour Scot principle of chastening
whomsoever he loveth, and the boy cherishing a hate that was really
only hurt love.

And as the Chief, who had dragged the Red Un out of eternity and was
not minded to see him die of a toothache, took him back to his cabin
the pain grew better, ceased, turned to fright. The ten minutes or
so were over and what would they find? The Chief opened the door; he
had in mind a drop of whisky out of the flask he never touched on a
trip - whisky might help the tooth.

On the threshold he seemed to scent something amiss. He glanced at
the ceiling over his bunk, where the airtrunk lay, and then - he
looked at the boy. He stooped down and put a hand on the boy's head,
turning it to the light.

"Tell me now, lad," he said quietly, "did ye or did ye no ha' the
toothache?"

"It's better now," sullenly.

"Did ye or did ye no?"

"No."

The Chief turned the boy about and pushed him through the doorway
into outer darkness. He said nothing. Down to his very depths he was
hurt. To have lost the game was something; but it was more than
that. Had he been a man of words he might have said that once again
a creature he loved had turned on him to his injury. Being a Scot
and a man of few words he merely said he was damned, and crawled
back into bed.

The game? Well, that was simple enough. Directly over his pillow, in
the white-painted airtrunk, was a brass plate, fastened with four
screws. In case of anything wrong with the ventilator the plate
could be taken off for purposes of investigation.

The Chief's scheme had been simplicity itself - so easy that the
Seconds, searching for concealed wires and hidden alarm bells, had
never thought of it. On nights when the air must be pumped, and
officious Seconds were only waiting the Chief's first sleep to shut
off steam and turn it back to the main engines, the Chief unlocked
the bolted drawer in his desk. First he took out the woman's picture
and gazed at it; quite frequently he read the words on the
back - written out of a sore heart, be sure. And then he took out
the cigar-box lid.

When he had unscrewed the brass plate over his head he replaced it
with the lid of the cigar-box. So long as the pumps in the engine
room kept the air moving, the lid stayed up by suction.

When the air stopped the lid fell down on his head; he roused enough
to press a signal button and, as the air started viciously, to
replace the lid. Then, off to the sleep of the just and the crafty
again. And so on _ad infinitum_.

Of course the game was not over because it was discovered and the
lid gone. There would be other lids. But the snap, the joy, was gone
out of it. It would never again be the same, and the worst of all
was the manner of the betrayal.

He slept but little the remainder of the night; and, because unrest
travels best from soul to soul at night, when the crowding emotions
of the day give it place, the woman slept little also. She was
thinking of the entrance to the stokehole, where one crouched under
the bellies of furnaces, and where the engineer on duty stood on a
pile of hot cinders. Toward morning her room grew very close: the
air from the ventilator seemed to have ceased.

Far down in the ship, in a breathless little cabin far aft, the Red
Un kicked the Purser's boy and cried himself to sleep.


V

The old ship made a record the next night that lifted the day's run
to four hundred and twenty. She was not a greyhound, you see.
Generally speaking, she was a nine-day boat. She averaged well under
four hundred miles. The fast boats went by her and slid over the
edge of the sea, throwing her bits of news by wireless over a
shoulder, so to speak.

The little girl's mother was not a good sailor. She sat almost all
day in a steamer chair, reading or looking out over the rail. Each
day she tore off the postal from the top of her menu and sent it to
the girl's father. She missed him more than she had expected. He had
become a habit; he was solid, dependable, loyal. He had never heard
of the Chief.

"Dear Daddy," she would write: "Having a splendid voyage so far, but
wish you were here. The baby is having such a good time - so popular;
and won two prizes to-day at the sports! With love, Lily."

They were all rather like that. She would drop them in the mailbox,
with a tug of tenderness for the man who worked at home. Then she
would go back to her chair and watch the sea, and recall the heat of
the engine room below, and wonder, wonder - -

It had turned warm again; the edges of the horizon were grey and at
night a low mist lay over the water. Rooms were stifling, humid. The
Red Un discarded pajamas and slept in his skin. The engine-room
watch came up white round the lips and sprawled over the boat deck
without speech. Things were going wrong in the Red Un's small world.
The Chief hardly spoke to him - was grave and quiet, and ate almost
nothing. The Red Un hated himself unspeakably and gave his share of
the sovereign to the Purser's boy.

The Chief was suffering from lack of exercise in the air as well as
other things. The girl's mother was not sleeping - what with heat and
the memories the sea had revived. On the fifth night out, while the
ship slept, these two met on the deck in the darkness - two shadows
out of the past. The deck was dark, but a ray from a window touched
his face and she knew him. He had not needed light to know her;
every line of her was written on his heart, and for him there was no
one at home to hold in tenderness.

"I think I knew you were here all the time," she said, and held out
both hands.

The Chief took one and dropped it. She belonged to the person at
home. He had no thought of forgetting that!

"I saw your name on the passenger list, but I have been very busy."
He never lapsed into Scotch with her; she had not liked it. "Is
your husband with you?"

"He could not come just now. I have my daughter."

Her voice fell rather flat. The Chief could not think of anything to
say. Her child, and not his! He was a one-woman man, you see - and
this was the woman.

"I have seen her," he said presently. "She's like you, Lily."

That was a wrong move - the Lily; for it gave her courage to put her
hand on his arm.

"It is so long since we have met," she said wistfully. "Yesterday,
after I saw the - the place where you lived and - and work - - " She
choked; she was emotional, rather weak. Having made the situation
she should have let it alone; but, after all, it is not what the
woman is, but what the man thinks she is.

The Chief stroked her fingers on his sleeve.

"It's not bad, Lily," he said. "It's a man's job. I like it."


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