can you? No; the Flying Scud is rubbish; if it meant
anything, it would have to mean something so almighty
intricate that James G. Blaine hasn't got the brains to
292 THE WRECKFB.
engineer it ; and I vote for more axeing, pioneering, and
opening up the resources of this phenomenal brig, and
less general fuss," he added, arising. " The dime-mu-
seum symptoms will drop in of themselves, I guess, to
keep us cheery."
But it appeared we were at the end of discoveries for
the day ; and we left the brig about sundown, without
being further puzzled or further enlightened. The best
of the cabin spoils books, instruments, papers, silks,
and curiosities we carried along with us in a blanket,
however, to divert the evening hours ; and when supper
was over, and the table cleared, and Johnson set down
to a dreary game of cribbage between his right hand and
his left, the captain and I turned out our blanket on
the floor, and sat side by side to examine and appraise
The books were the first to engage our notice. These
were rather numerous (as Nares contemptuously put it)
"for a lime-juicer." Scorn of the British mercantile
marine glows in the breast of every Yankee merchant
captain ; as the scorn is not reciprocated, I can only sup-
pose it justified in fact; and certainly the old country
mariner appears of a less studious disposition. The
more credit to the oflicers of the Flying Scud, who had
quite a library, both literary and professional. There
were Findlay's five directories of the world all broken-
backed, as is usual with Findlay, and all marked and
scribbled over with corrections and additions several
THE CABIN OF THE "FLYING SCUD." 293
books of navigation, a signal code, and an Admiralty
book of a sort of orange hue, called Islands of the Eastern
Pacific Ocean, Vol. III., which appeared from its imprint
to be the latest authority, and showed marks of frequent
consultation in the passages about the French Frigate
Shoals, the Harman, Cure, Pearl, and Hermes reefs,
Lisiansky Island, Ocean Island, and the place where
we then lay Brooks or Midway. A volume of Macau-
lay's Essays and a shilling Shakespeare led the van of
the belles lettres; the rest were novels: several Miss
Braddons of course, Aurora Floyd, which has pene-
trated to every isle of the Pacific, a good many cheap
detective books, Rob Roy, Auerbach's Auf der Hbhe in
the German, and a prize temperance story, pillaged (to
judge by the stamp) from an Anglo-Indian circulating
" The admiralty man gives a fine picture of our
island," remarked Nares, who had turned up Midway
Island. " He draws the dreariness rather mild, but you
can make out he knows the place."
"Captain," I cried, "you've struck another point
in this mad business. See here," I went on eagerly,
drawing from my pocket a crumpled fragment of the
Daily Occidental which I had inherited from Jim :
" ' misled by Hoyt's Pacific Directory ' ? Where's
Hoyt ? "
" Let's look into that," said Nares. " I got that book
on purpose for this cruise." Therewith he fetched it
294 THE WKECKER.
from the shelf in his berth, turned to Midway Island,
and read the account aloud. It stated with precision
that the Pacific Mail Company were about to form a
depot there, in preference to Honolulu, and that they
had already a station on the island.
"I wonder who gives these Directory men their infor-
mation," Nares reflected. "Nobody can blame Trent
after that. I never got in company with squarer lying;
it reminds a man of a presidential campaign."
"All very well," said I. "That's your Hoyt, and a
fine, tall copy. But what I want to know is, where
is Trent's Hoyt ? "
"Took it with him," chuckled Nares. "He had left
everything else, bills and money and all the rest; he
was bound to take something, or it would have aroused
attention on the Tempest: 'Happy thought,' says he;
'let's take Hoyt.'"
" And has it not occurred to you," I went on, " that
all the Hoyts in creation couldn't have misled Trent,
since he had in his hand that red admiralty book, an
official publication, later in date, and particularly full on
Midway Island ? "
"That's a fact!" cried Nares; "and I bet the first
Hoyt he ever saw was out of the mercantile library in
San Francisco. Looks as if he'd brought her here on
purpose, don't it? But then that's inconsistent with
the steam-crusher of the sale. That's the trouble with
this brig racket ; any one can make half a dozen theories
THE CABIN OF THE "FLYING SCUD." 295
for sixty or seventy per cent of it; but when they're
made, there's always a fathom or two of slack hanging
out of the other end."
I believe our attention fell next on the papers, of
which we had altogether a considerable bulk. I had
hoped to find among these matter for a full-length
character of Captain Trent ; but here I was doomed, on
the whole, to disappointment. We could make out he
was an orderly man, for all his bills were docketed and
preserved. That he was convivial, and inclined to be
frugal even in conviviality, several documents pro-
claimed. Such letters as we found were, with one ex-
ception, arid notes from tradesmen. The exception,
signed Hannah Trent, was a somewhat fervid appeal for
a loan. "You know what misfortunes I have had to
bear," wrote Hannah, "and how much I am disappointed
in George. The landlady appeared a true friend when
I first came here, and I thought her a perfect lady. But
she has come out since then in her true colours; and if
you will not be softened by this last appeal, I can't think
what is to become of your affectionate " and then the
signature. This document was without place or date,
and a voice told me that it had gone likewise without
answer. On the whole, there were few letters anywhere
in the ship ; but we found one before we were finished,
in a seaman's chest, of which I must transcribe some
sentences. It was dated from some place on the Clyde.
"My dearist son," it ran, "this is to tell you your
296 THE WRECKER.
dearist father passed away, Jan twelft, in the peace of
the Lord. He had your photo and dear David's lade
upon his bed, made me sit by him. Let's be a' the-
gither, he said, and gave you all his blessing. O my
dear laddie, why were nae you and Davie here? He
would have had a happier passage. He spok of both of
ye all night most beautiful, and how ye used to stravaig
on the Saturday afternoons, and of auld Kelvinside.
Sooth the tune to me, he said, though it was the Sab-
bath, and I had to sooth him Kelvin Grove, and he
looked at his fiddle, the dear man. I cannae bear the
sight of it, he'll never play it mair. O my lamb, come
home to me, I'm all by my lane now." The rest was in
a religious vein and quite conventional. I have never
seen any one more put out than Nares, when I handed
him this letter ; he had read but a few words, before he
cast it down ; it was perhaps a minute ere he picked it
up again, and the performance was repeated the third
time before he reached the end.
u It's touching, isn't it ? " said I.
For all answer, Nares exploded in a brutal oath ; and
it was some half an hour later that he vouchsafed an
explanation. "I'll tell you what broke me up about
that letter," said he. " My old man played the fiddle,
played it all out of tune: one of the things he played
was Martyrdom, I remember it was all martyrdom to
me. He was a pig of a father, and I was a pig of a son ;
but it sort of came over me I would like to hear that
THE CABIfc OF THE "FLYING SCUD." 297
fiddle squeak again. Natural," he added; "I guess
we're all beasts."
"All sons are, I guess," said I. "I have the same
trouble on my conscience : we can shake hands on that."
Which (oddly enough, perhaps) we did.
Amongst the papers we found a considerable sprink-
ling of photographs ; for the most part either of very
debonair-looking young ladies or old women of the
lodging-house persuasion. But one among them was
the means of our crowning discovery.
" They're not pretty, are they, Mr. Dodd ? " said Hares,
as he passed it over.
"Who?" I asked, mechanically taking the card (it
was a quarter-plate) in hand, and smothering a yawn;
for the hour was late, the dav had been laborious, and I
was wearying for bed.
"Trent and Company," said he. "That's a historic
picture of the gang."
I held it to the light, my curiosity at a low ebb : I had
seen Captain Trent once, and had no delight in viewing
him again. It was a photograph of the deck of the brig,
taken from forward : all in apple-pie order ; the hands
gathered in the waist, the officers oa the poop. At the
foot of the card was written, " Brig Flying Scud, Kan-
goon," and a date ; and above or below each individual
figure the name h?d been carefully noted.
As I continued to gaze, a shock went through me ; the
dimness of sleep and fatigue lifted from my eyes, as fog
298 THE WRECKER.
lifts in the channel ; and I beheld with startled clear-
ness, the photographic presentment of a crowd of stran-
gers. "I. Trent, Master" at the top of the card directed
me to a smallish, weazened man, with bushy eyebrows
and full white beard, dressed in a frock coat and white
trousers ; a flower stuck in his button-hole, his bearded
chin set forward, his mouth clenched with habitual
determination. There was not much of the sailor in his
looks, but plenty of the martinet : a dry, precise man,
who might pass for a preacher in some rigid sect ; and
whatever he was, not the Captain Trent of San Fran-
cisco. The men, too, were all new to me : the cook, an
unmistakable Chinaman, in his characteristic dress, stand-
ing apart on the poop steps. But perhaps I turned on
the who! 3 with the greatest curiosity to the figure labelled
"E. Goddedaal, 1st off." He whom I had never seen, he
inight be the identical ; he might be the clue and spring
of all this mystery; and I scanned his features with
the eye of a detective. He was of great stature, seem-
ingly blond as a viking, his hair clustering round his
head in frowsy curls, and two enormous whiskers, like
the tusks of some strange animal, jutting from his
cheeks. With these virile appendages and the defiant
attitude in which he stood, the expression of his face
only imperfectly harmonised. It was wild, heroic, and
womanish looking ; and I felt I was prepared to hear he
was a sentimentalist, and to see him weep.
For some while I digested my discovery in private,
THE CABIN OF THE "FLYING SCUD." 299
reflecting how best, and how with most of drama, I
might share it with the captain. Then my sketch-book
came in my head ; and I fished it out from where it lay,
with other miscellaneous possessions, at the foot of my
bunk and turned to my sketch of Captain Trent and the
survivors of the British brig Flying Scud in the San
"Nares," said I, "I've told you how I first saw Cap-
tain Trent in that saloon in 'Frisco ? how he came with
his men, one of them a Kanaka with a canary-bird in a
cage ? and how I saw him afterwards at the auction,
frightened to death, and as much surprised at how the
figures skipped up as anybody there ? Well," said I,
" there's the man I saw " and I laid the sketch before
him " there's Trent of 'Frisco and there are his three
hands. Find one of them in the photograph, and I'll be
Nares compared the two in silence. " Well," he said
at last, " I call this rather a relief : seems to clear the
horizon. We might have guessed at something of the
kind from the double ration of chests that figured."
" Does it explain anything ? " I asked.
"It would explain everything," Nares replied, "but
for the steam-crusher. It'll all tally as neat as a
patent puzzle, if you leave out the way these people bid
the wreck up. And there we come to a stone wall.
But whatever it is, Mr. Dodd, it's on the crook."
" And looks like piracy," I added.
300 THE WKECKBR.
" Looks like blind hookey ! " cried the captain. " No,
don't you deceive yourself ; neither your head nor mine
is big enough to put a name on this business."
THE CARGO OF THE "FLYING SCUD."
In my early days I was a man, the most wedded to
his idols of my generation. I was a dweller undei
roofs : the gull of that which we call civilisation ; a
superstitious votary of the plastic arts : a cit ; and a
prop of restaurants. I had a comrade in those days,
somewhat of an outsider, though he moved in the com-
pany of artists, and a man famous in our small world
for gallantry, knee breeches, and dry and pregnant
sayings. He, looking on the long meals and waxing
bellies of the French, whom I confess I somewhat imi-
tated, branded me as "a cultivator of restaurant fat."
And I believe he had his finger on the dangerous spot ;
I believe, if things had gone smooth, with me, I should
be now swollen like a prize-ox in body, and fallen in
mind to a thing perhaps as low as many types of bour-
geois the implicit or exclusive artist. That was a
home word of Pinkerton's, deserving to be writ in letters
of gold on the portico of every school of art : " What I
THE CARGO OF THE "FLYING SCTJD." 301
can't see is why you should want to do nothing else."
The dull man is made, not by the nature, but by the
degree of his immersion in a single business. And all
the more if that be sedentary, uneventful, and inglori-
ously safe. More than one half of him will then remain
unexercised and undeveloped ; the rest will be distended
and deformed by over-nutrition, over-cerebration, and
the heat of rooms. And I have often marvelled at the
impudence of gentlemen, who describe and pass judg-
ments on the life of man, in almost perfect ignorance of
all its necessary elements and natural careers. Those
who dwell in clubs and studios may paint excellent
pictures or write enchanting novels. There is one thing
that they should not dc *hey should pass no judgment
on man's destiny, for it is a thing with which they are
unacquainted. Their own life is an excrescence of the
moment, doomed, in the vicissitude of history, to pass
and disappear : the eternal life of man, spent under sun
and rain and in rude physical effort, lies upon one side,
scarce changed since the beginning.
I would I could have carried along with me to Midway
Island all the writers and the prating artists of my time.
Day after day of hope deferred, of heat, of unremitting
toil; night after night of aching limbs, bruised hands,
and a mind obscured with the grateful vacancy of physi-
cal fatigue : the scene, the nature of my employment ;
the rugged speech and faces of my fellow-toilers, the
glare of the day on deck, the stinking twilight in the
302 THE WBECKER.
bilge, the shrill myriads of the ocean-fowl: above all,
the sense of our immitigable isolation from the world
and from the current epoch; keeping another time,
some eras old ; the new day heralded by no daily paper,
only by the rising sun ; and the State, the churches, the
peopled empires, war, and the rumours of war, and the
voices of the arts, all gone silent as in the days ere they
were yet invented. Such were the conditions of my
new experience in life, of which (if I had been able) I
would have had all my confreres and contemporaries to
partake : forgetting, for that while, the orthodoxies of the
moment, and devoted to a single and material purpose
under the eye of heaven.
Of the nature of our task, I must continue to give
some summary idea. The forecastle was lumbered with
ship's chandlery, the hold nigh full of rice, the lazarette
crowded with the teas and silks. These must all be
dug out ; and that made but a fraction of our task. The
hold was ceiled throughout ; a part, where perhaps some
delicate cargo was once stored, had been lined, in addi-
tion, with inch boards ; and between every beam there
was a movable panel into the bilge. Any of these,
the bulkheads of the cabins, the very timbers of the hull
itself, might be the place of hiding. It was therefore
necessary to demolish, as we proceeded, a great part of
the ship's inner skin and fittings, and to auscultate what
remained, like a doctor sounding for a lung disease.
Upon the return, from any beam or bulkhead, of a flat
THE CARGO OF THE "FLYING SCUD." 303
or doubtful sound, we must up axe and hew into the
timber : a violent and from the amount of dry rot in
the wreck a mortifying exercise. Every night saw a
deeper inroad into the bones of the Flying Scud more
beams tapped and hewn in splinters, more planking
peeled away and tossed aside and every night saw us
as far as ever from the end and object of our arduous
devastation. In this perpetual disappointment, my
courage did not fail me, but my spirits dwindled ; and
Nares himself grew silent and morose. At night, when
supper was done, we passed an hour in the cabin, mostly
without speech : I, sometimes dozing over a book ; Nares,
sullenly but busily drilling sea-shells with the instru-
ment called a Yankee Fiddle. A stranger might have
supposed we were estranged ; as a matter of fact, in this
silent comradeship of labour, our intimacy grew.
I had been struck, at the first beginning of our enter-
prise upon the wreck, to find the men so ready at the
captain's lightest word. I dare not say they liked, but
I can never deny that they admired him thoroughly. A
mild word from his mouth was more valued than flattery
and half a dollar from myself ; if he relaxed at all from
his habitual attitude of censure, smiling alacrity sur-
rounded him ; and I was led to think his theory of
captainship, even if pushed to excess, reposed upon some
ground of reason. But even terror and admiration of
the captain failed us before the end. The men wearied
of the hopeless, unremunerative quest and the long
304 THE WRECKER.
strain of labour. They began to shirk and grumble,
Retribution fell on them at once, and retribution multi-
plied the grumblings. With every day it took harder
driving to keep them to the daily drudge; and we, in
our narrow boundaries, were kept conscious every mo-
ment of the ill-will of our assistants.
In spite of the best care, the object of our search was
perfectly well known to all on board; and there had
leaked out besides some knowledge of those inconsisten-
cies that had so greatly amazed the captain and myself.
I could overhear the men debate the character of Captain
Trent, and set forth competing theories of where the
opium was stowed; and as they seemed to have been
eavesdropping on ourselves, I thought little shame to
prick up my ears when I had the return chance of spying
upon them, in this way. I could diagnose their temper
and judge how far they were informed upon the mystery
of the Flying Scud. It was after having thus overheard
some almost mutinous speeches, that a fortunate idea
crossed my mind. At night, I matured it in my bed, and
the first thing the next morning, broached it to the cap-
" Suppose I spirit up the hands a bit," I asked, " by
the offer of a reward ? "
" If you think you're getting your month's wages out
of them the way it is, I don't," was his reply. " How-
ever, they are all the men you've got, and you're the
THE CAKGO OF THE "FLYING SCUD." 305
This, from a person of the captain's character, might
be regarded as complete adhesion; and the crew were
accordingly called aft. Never had the captain worn a
front more menacing. It was supposed by all that some
misdeed had been discovered, and some surprising pun-
ishment was to be announced.
" See here, you ! " he threw at them over his shoulder
as he walked the deck, " Mr. Dodd, here, is going to offer
a reward to the first man who strikes the opium in that
wreck. There's two ways of making a donkey go ; both
good, I guess : the one's kicks and the other's carrots.
Mr. Dodd's going to try the carrots. Well, my sons,"
and here he faced the men for the first time with his
hands behind him " if that opium's not found in five
days, you can come to me for the kicks."
He nodded to the present narrator, who took up the
tale. "Here is what I propose, men," said I: "I put
up one hundred and fifty dollars. If any man can lay
hands on the stuff right away, and off his own club, he
shall have the hundred and fifty down. If any one can
put us on the scent of where to look, he shall have a
hundred and twenty-five, and the balance shall be for
the lucky one who actually picks it up. We'll call it
the Pinkerton Stakes, captain," I added, with a smile.
"Call it the Grand Combination Sweep, then," cries
he. " For I go you better. Look here, men, I make up
this jack-pot to two hundred and fifty dollars, American
306 THE WRECKER.
" Thank you, Captain Nares," said I; "that was hand
"It was kindly meant," he returned.
The offer was not made in vain ; the hands had scarce
yet realised the magnitude of the reward, they had
scarce begun to buzz aloud in the extremity of hope
and wonder, ere the Chinese cook stepped forward with
gracious gestures and explanatory smiles.
"Captain," he began, "I serv-um two year Melican
navy ; serv-um six year mail-boat steward. Savvy
"Oho!" cried Nares, "you savvy plenty, do you?
(Beggar's seen this trick in the mail-boats, I guess.)
Well, why you no savvy a little sooner, sonny ? "
" I think bimeby make-um reward," replied the cook,
with smiling dignity.
"Well, you can't say fairer than that," the captain
admitted, " and now the reward's offered, you'll talk ?
Speak up, then. Suppose you speak true, you get
reward. See ? "
"I think long time," replied the Chinaman. "See
plenty litty mat lice ; too-muchy plenty litty mat lice ;
sixty ton, litty mat lice. I think all-e-time: perhaps
plenty opium plenty litty mat lice ? "
" Well, Mr. Dodd, how does that strike you ? " asked
the captain. "He may be right, he may be wrong.
He's likely to be right : for if he isn't, where can the
stuff be ? On the other hand, if he's wrong, we destroy
THE CAKGO OP THE "FLYING SCUD." 307
a hundred and fifty tons of good rice for nothing. It's
a point to be considered."
" I don't hesitate," said I. " Let's get to the bottom
of the thing. The rice is nothing ; the rice will neither
make nor break us."
" That's how I expected you to see it," returned Nares.
And we called the boat away and set forth on our new-
The hold was now almost entirely emptied ; the mats
(of which there went forty to the short ton) had been
stacked on deck, and now crowded the ship's waist and
forecastle. It was our task to disembowel and explore
six thousand individual mats, and incidentally to destroy
a hundred and fifty tons of valuable food. Nor were
the circumstances of the day's business less strange than
its essential nature. Each man of us, armed with a
great knife, attacked the pile from his own quarter,
slashed into the nearest mat, burrowed in it with his
hands, and shed forth the rice upon the deck, where it
heaped up, overflowed, and was trodden down, poured
at last into the scuppers, and occasionally spouted from
the vents. About the wreck, thus transformed into an
overflowing granary, the sea-fowl swarmed in myriads
and with surprising insolence. The sight of so much
food confounded them; they deafened us with their
shrill tongues, swooped in our midst, dashed in our
faces, and snatched the grain from between our fingers.
The men their hands bleeding from these assaults
308 THE WRECKER.
turned savagely on the offensive, drove their knives into
the birds, drew them out crimsoned, and turned again
to dig among the rice, unmindful of the gawking crea-
tures that struggled and died among their feet. We
made a singular picture : the hovering and diving birds ;
the bodies of the dead discolouring the rice with blood ;
the scuppers vomiting breadstuff ; the men, frenzied
by the gold hunt, toiling, slaying, and shouting aloud:
over all, the lofty intricacy of rigging and the radiant
heaven of the Pacific. Every man there toiled in the
immediate hope of fifty dollars ; and I, of fifty thou-
sand. Small wonder if we waded callously in blood and
It was perhaps about ten in the forenoon when the
scene was interrupted. Nares, who had just ripped open
a fresh mat, drew forth, and slung at his feet, among the
rice, a papered tin box.
" How's that ? " he shouted.
A cry broke from all hands : the next moment, for-
getting their own disappointment, in that contagious
sentiment of success, they gave three cheers that scared
the sea-birds ; and the next, they had crowded round
the captain, and were jostling together and groping with
emulous hands in the new-opened mat. Box after box
rewarded them, six in all ; wrapped, as I have said, in