allow you to forget that he had been a banker.
His mate, Elias Goddedaal, was a huge viking of a
man, six feet three and of proportionate mass, strong,
sober, industrious, musical, and sentimental. He ran
continually over into Swedish melodies, chiefly in the
minor. He had paid nine dollars to hear Patti ; to hear
Nilsson, he had deserted a ship and two months' wages ;
and he was ready at any time to walk ten miles for a
good concert or seven to a reasonable play. On board
he had three treasures : a canary bird, a concertina, and
a blinding copy of the works of Shakespeare. He had a
gift, peculiarly Scandinavian, of making friends at sight
an elemental innocence commended him ; he was without
fear, without reproach, and without money or the hope
of making it.
Holdorsen was second mate, and berthed aft, but
messed usually with the hands.
500 THE WRECKER.
Of one more of the crew, some image lives. This was
a foremost hand out of the Clyde, of the name of Brown.
A small, dark, thickset creature, with dog's eyes, of a
disposition incomparably mild and harmless, he knocked
ahout seas and cities, the uncomplaining whiptop of one
vice. "The drink is my trouble, ye see," he said to
Carthew shyly ; " and it's the more shame to me because
I'm come of very good people at Bowling down the
wa'er.' 7 The letter that so much affected Nares, in case
the reader should remember it, was addressed to this
Such was the ship that now carried joy into the
bosoms of the castaways. After the fatigue and the
bestia.\ emotions of their night of play, the approach of
salvation shook them from all self-control. Their hands
trembled, their eyes shone, they laughed and shouted
like children as they cleared their camp : and some one
beginning to whistle Marching Through Georgia, the
remainder of the packing was conducted, amidst a thou-
sand interruptions, to these martial strains. But the
strong head of Wicks was only partly turned.
"Boys," he said, "easy all! We're going aboard of a
ship of which we don't know nothing ; we've got a chest
of specie, and seeing the weight, we can't turn to and
deny it. Now, suppose she was fishy ; suppose it was
some kind of a Bully Hayes business ! It's my opinion
we'd better be on hand with the pistols."
Every man of the party but Hemstead had some kind
A HARD BARGAIN. 501
of a revolver; these were accordingly loaded and dis-
posed about the persons of the castaways, and the pack-
ing was resumed and finished in the same rapturous
spirit as it was begun. The sun was not yet ten degrees
above the eastern sea, but the brig was already close in
and hove to, before they had launched the boat and sped,
shouting at the oars, towards the passage.
It was blowing fresh outside with a strong send of sea.
The spray flew in the oarsmen's faces. They saw the
Union Jack blow abroad from the Flying Scud, the
men clustered at the rail, the cook in the galley door, the
captain on the quarter-deck with a pith helmet and bi-
noculars. And the whole familiar business, the comfort,
company, and safety of a ship, heaving nearer at each
stroke, maddened them with joy.
Wicks was the first to catch the line, and swarm on
board, helping hands grabbing him as he came and haul-
ing him across the rail.
"Captain, sir, I suppose?" he said, turning to the
hard old man in the pith helmet.
" Captain Trent, sir," returned the old gentleman.
" Well, I'm Captain Kirkup, and this is the crew of
the Sydney schooner Currency Lass, dismasted at sea
" Ay, ay," said Trent. " Well, you're all right now.
Lucky for you I saw your signal. I didn't know I was
so near this beastly island, there must be a drift to
the south'ard here ; and when I came on deck this morn-
ing a* eight bells, I thought it was a ship afire."
602 THE WBECKEB.
It had been agreed that, while Wicks was to board
the ship and do the civil, the rest were to remain in
the whaleboat and see the treasure safe. A tackle was
passed down to them ; to this they made fast the in-
valuable chest, and gave the word to heave. But the
unexpected weight brought the hand at the tackle to
a stand ; two others ran to tail on and help him ; and
the thing caught the eye of Trent.
" 'Vast heaving ! " he cried sharply ; and then to
Wicks : " What's that ? I don't ever remember to have
seen a chest weigh like that."
" It's money," said Wicks.
"It's what ? " cried Trent.
" Specie," said Wicks ; " saved from the wreck."
Trent looked at him sharply. "Here, let go that
chest again, Mr. Goddedaal," he commanded, " shove the
boat off, and stream her with a line astern."
" Ay, ay, sir ! " from Goddedaal.
"What the devil's wrong ? " asked Wicks.
"Nothing, I daresay," returned Trent. "But you'll
allow it's a queer thing when a boat turns up in mid-
ocean with half a ton of specie, and everybody armed,"
he added, pointing to Wicks's pocket. " Your boat will
lay comfortably astern, while you come below and make
" O, if that's all ! " said Wicks. " My log and papers
are as right as the mail ; nothing fishy about us." And
he hailed his friends in the boat, bidding them have
patience, and turned to follow Captain Trent.
A HARD BARGAIN. 503
" This way, Captain Kirkup," said the latter. " And
don't blame a man for too much caution ; no offence in-
tended; and these China rivers shake a fellow's nerve.
All I want is just to see you're what you say you are ;
it's only my duty, sir, and what you would do yourself
in the circumstances. I've not always been a ship-cap-
tain : I was a banker once, and I tell you that's the trade
to learn caution in. You have to keep your weather-eye
lifting Saturday nights." And with a dry, business-like
cordiality, he produced a bottle of gin.
The captains pledged each other; the papers were
overhauled ; the tale of Topelius and the trade was told
in appreciative ears and cemented their acquaintance.
Trent's suspicions, thus finally disposed of, were suc-
ceeded by a fit of profound thought, during which he
sat lethargic and stern, looking at and drumming on the
" Anything more ? " asked Wicks.
" What sort of a place is it inside ? " inquired Trent,
sudden as though Wicks had touched a spring.
"It's a good enough lagoon a few horses' heads, but
nothing to mention," answered Wicks.
" I've a good mind to go in," said Trent. " I was new
rigged in China; it's given very bad, and I'm getting
frightened for my sticks. We could set it up as good as
new in a day. For I daresay your lot would turn to and
give us a hand ? "
"You see if we don't ! " said Wicks.
504 THE WBECKEB.
" So be it then," concluded Trent. " A stitch in time
They returned on deck ; Wicks cried the news to the
Currency Lasses; the foretopsail was filled again, and
the brig ran into the lagoon lively, the whaleboat danc-
ing in her wake, and came to single anchor off Middle
Brooks Island before eight. She was boarded by the
castaways, breakfast was served, the baggage slung on
board and piled in the waist, and all hands turned
to upon the rigging. All day the work continued,
the two crews rivalling each other in expense of
strength. Dinner was served on deck, the officers mess-
ing aft under the slack of the spanker, the men fra-
ternising forward. Trent appeared in excellent spir-
its, served out grog to all hands, opened a bottle of Cape
wine for the after-table, and obliged his guests with
many details of the life of a financier in Cardiff. He
had been forty years at sea, had five times suffered ship-
wreck, was once nine months the prisoner of a pepper
rajah, and had seen service under fire in Chinese rivers ;
but the only thing he cared to talk of, the only thing
of which he was vain, or with which he thought it pos-
sible to interest a stranger, was his career as a money-
lender in the slums of a seaport town.
The afternoon spell told cruelly on the Currency
Lasses. Already exhausted as they were with sleepless-
ness and excitement, they did the last hours of this vio-
lent employment on bare nerves ; and when Trent was
A HARD BARGAIN. 505
ftt last satisfied with the condition of his rigging, ex-
pected eagerly the word to put to sea. But the captain
seemed in no hurry. He went and walked by himself
softly, like a man in thought. Presently he hailed
"You're a kind of company, ain't you, Captain
Kirkup?" he inquired.
" Yes, we're all on board on lays," was the reply.
" Well, then, you won't mind if I ask the lot of you
down to tea in the cabin ? " asked Trent.
Wicks was amazed, but he naturally ventured no re-
mark; and a little after, the six Currency Lasses sat
down with Trent and Goddedaal to a spread of marma-
lade, butter, toast, sardines, tinned tongue, and steaming
tea. The food was not very good, and I have no doubt
Nares would have reviled it, but it was manna to the
castaways. Goddedaal waited on them with a kindness
far before courtesy, a kindness like that of some old,
honest countrywoman in her farm. It was remembered
afterwards that Trent took little share in these atten-
tions, but sat much absorbed in thought, and seemed to
remember and forget the presence of his guests alter-
Presently he addressed the Chinaman.
" Clear out ! " said he, and watched him till he had
disappeared in the stair. "Now, gentlemen," he went
on, "I understand you're a joint-stock sort of crew,
and that'a why I've had you all down; for there's ft
506 THE WRECKER.
point I want made clear. You see what sort of a ship
this is a good ship, though I say it, and you see what
the rations are good enough for sailor-men."
There was a hurried murmur of approval, but curi-
osity for what was coming next prevented an articulate
"Well," continued Trent, making bread pills and
looking hard at the middle of the table, "I'm glad of
course to be able to give you a passage to 'Frisco ; one
sailor-man should help another, that's my motto. But
when you want a thing in this world, you generally
always have to pay for it." He laughed a brief, joyless
laugh. "I have no idea of losing by my kindness."
" We have no idea you should, Captain," said Wicks.
"We are ready to pay anything in reason," added
At the words, Goddedaal, who sat next to him,
touched him with his elbow, and the two mates
exchanged a significant look. The character of Captain
Trent was given and taken in that silent second.
"In reason?" repeated the captain of the brig. "I
was waiting for that. Reason's between two people,
and there's only one here. I'm the judge ; I'm reason.
If you want an advance you have to pay for it" he
hastily corrected himself "If you want a passage in
my ship, you have to pay my price," he substituted.
"That's business, I believe. I don't want you; you
"Well, sir," said Carthew, "and what is your price?"
A HAED BARGAIN. 507
The captain made bread pills. " If I were like you,"
he said, "when you got hold of that merchant in the
Gilberts, I might surprise you. You had your chance
then; seems to me it's mine now. Turn about's fair
play. What kind of mercy did you have on that Gil-
bert merchant?" he cried, with a sudden stridency.
"Not that I blame you. All's fair in love and busi-
ness," and he laughed again, a little frosty giggle.
" Well, sir ? " said Carthew, gravely.
" Well, this ship's mine, I think ? " he asked sharply.
" Well, I'm of that way of thinking meself," observed
" I say it's mine, sir ! " reiterated Trent, like a man
trying to be angry. "And I tell you all, if I was a
driver like what you are, I would take the lot. But
there's two thousand pounds there that don't belong to
you, and I'm an honest man. Give me the two thousand
that's yours, and I'll give you a passage to the coast, and
land every man-jack of you in 'Frisco with fifteen pounds
in his pocket, and the captain here with twenty-five."
Goddedaal laid down his head on the table like a man
" You're joking," cried Wicks, purple in the face.
" Am I ? " said Trent. " Please yourselves. You're
under no compulsion. This ship's mine, but there's that
Brooks Island don't belong to me, and you can lay there
till you die for what I care."
" It's more than your blooming brig's worth I " cried
508 THE WBECKER.
"It's my price anyway," returned Trent.
" And do you mean to say you would land us there to
starve ? " cried Tommy.
Captain Trent laughed the third time. " Starve ? I
defy you to," said he. " I'll sell you all the provisions
you want at a fair profit."
" I beg your pardon, sir," said Mac, " but my case is
by itself. I'm working me passage ; I got no share in
that two thousand pounds nor nothing in my pockut;
and I'll be glad to know what you have to say to me ? "
" I ain't a hard man," said Trent. " That shall make
no difference. I'll take you with the rest, only of course
you get no fifteen pound."
The impudence was so extreme and startling, that all
breathed deep, and Goddedaal raised up his face and
looked his superior sternly in the eye.
But Mac was more articulate. " And you're what ye
call a British sayman, I suppose ? the sorrow in your
guts ! " he cried.
" One more such word, and I clap you in irons ! " said
Trent, rising gleefully at the face of opposition.
"And where would I be while you were doin' ut? "
asked Mac. " After you and your rigging, too ! Ye ould
P u ggy ye haven't the civility of a bug, and I'll learn ye
His voice did not even rise as he uttered the threat ;
no man present, Trent least of all, expected that which
followed. The Irishman's hand rose suddenly from below
A HARD BARGAIN. 509
the table, an open clasp-knife balanced on the palm ; there
was a movement swift as conjuring ; Trent started half
to his feet, turning a little as he rose so as to escape the
table, and the movement was his bane. The missile
struck him in the jugular; he fell forward, and his blood
flowed among the dishes on the cloth.
The suddenness of the attack and the catastrophe, the
instant change from peace to war and from life to death,
held all men spellbound. Yet a moment they sat about
the table staring open-mouthed upon the prostrate cap-
tain and the flowing blood. The next, Goddedaal had
leaped to his feet, caught up the stool on which he had
been sitting, and swung it high in air, a man trans-
figured, roaring (as he stood) so that men's ears were
stunned with it. There was no thought of battle in the
Currency Lasses; none drew his weapon; all huddled
helplessly from before the face of the baresark Scandi-
navian. His first blow sent Mac to ground with a
broken arm. His second dashed out the brains of
Hemstead. He turned from one to another, menacing
and trumpeting like a wounded elephant, exulting in his
rage. But there was no counsel, no light of reason, in
that ecstasy of battle ; and he shied from the pursuit of
victory to hail fresh blows upon the supine Hemstead,
so that the stool was shattered and the cabin rang with
their violence. The sight of that post-mortem cruelty
recalled Carthew to the life of instinct, and his revolver
was in hand and he had aimed and fired before he knew.
510 THE WRECKER.
The ear-bursting sound of the report was accompanied
by a yell of pain ; the colossus paused, swayed, tottered,
and fell headlong on the body of his victim.
In the instant silence that succeeded, the sound of
feet pounding on the deck and in the companion leaped
into hearing; and a face, that of the sailor Holdorsen,
appeared below the bulkheads in the cabin doorway.
Carthew shattered it with a second shot, for he was a
" Pistols ! " he cried, and charged at the companion,
Wicks at his heels, Tommy and Amalu following. They
trod the body of Holdorsen underfoot, and flew up-stairs
and forth into the dusky blaze of a sunset red as blood.
The numbers were still equal, but the Flying Scuds
dreamed not of defence, and fled with one accord for the
forecastle scuttle. Brown was first in flight ; he disap-
peared below unscathed ; the Chinaman followed head-
foremost with a ball in his side ; and the others shinned
into the rigging.
A fierce composure settled upon Wicks and Carthew,
their fighting second wind. They posted Tommy at the
fore and Amalu at the main to guard the masts and
shrouds, and going themselves into the waist, poured out
a box of cartridges on deck and filled the chambers.
The poor devils aloft bleated aloud for mercy. But the
hour of any mercy was gone by; the cup was brewed
and must be drunken to the dregs ; since so many had
fallen, all must fall. The light was bad, the cheap
A HARD BARGAIN. 511
revolvers fouled and carried wild, the screaming wretches
were swift to flatten themselves against the masts and
yards or find a momentary refuge in the hanging sails.
The fell business took long, but it was done at last.
Hardy the Londoner was shot on the foreroyal yard, and
hung horribly suspended in the brails. Wallen, the
other, had his jaw broken on the maintop-gallant cross-
trees, and exposed himself, shrieking, till a second shot
dropped him on the deck.
This had been bad enough, but worse remained be-
hind. There was still Brown in the forepeak. Tommy,
with a sudden clamour of weeping, begged for his life.
" One man can't hurt us," he sobbed. " We can't go on
with this. I spoke to him at dinner. He's an awful
decent little cad. It can't be done. Nobody can go
into that place and murder him. It's too damned
The sound of his supplications was perhaps audible
to the unfortunate below.
"One left, and we all hang," said Wicks. "Brown
must go the same road." The big man was deadly whito
and trembled like an aspen; and he had no sooner
finished speaking, than he went to the ship's side and
"We can never do it if we wait," said Carthew.
" Now or never," and he marched towards the scuttle.
" No, no, no ! " wailed Tommy, clutching at his jacket
But Carthew flung him off, and stepped down the
ladder, his heart rising with disgust and shame. The
512 THE WRECKER.
Chinaman lay on the floor, still groaning; the place
was pitch dark.
"Brown ! " cried Carthew, " Brown, where are you ?"
His heart smote him for the treacherous apostrophe,
but no answer came.
He groped in the bunks: they were all empty. Then
he moved towards the forepeak, which was hampered
with coils of rope and spare chandlery in general.
" Brown ! " he said again.
" Here, sir," answered a shaking voice j and the poor
invisible caitiff called on him by name, and poured forth
out of the darkness an endless, garrulous appeal for
mercy. A sense of danger, of daring, had alone nerved
Carthew to enter the forecastle; and here was the
enemy crying and pleading like a frightened child. His
obsequious "Here, sir," his horrid fluency of obtesta-
tion, made the murder tenfold more revolting. Twice
Carthew raised the pistol, once he pressed the trigger
(or thought he did) with all his might, but no explosion
followed; and with that the lees of his courage ran
quite out, and he turned and fled from before his
Wicks sat on the fore hatch, raised the face of a man
of seventy, and looked a wordless question. Carthew
shook his head. With such composure as a man dis-
plays marching towards the gallows, Wicks arose, walked
to the scuttle, and went down. Brown thought it was
Carthew returning, and discovered himself, half crawl-
A HARD BARGAIN. 613
ing from his shelter, with another incoherent burst of
pleading. Wicks emptied his revolver at the voice,
which broke into mouse-like whimperings and groans.
Silence succeeded, and the murderer ran on deck like
The other three were now all gathered on the fore
hatch, and Wicks took his place beside them without
question asked or answered. They sat close, like chil-
dren in the dark, and shook each other with their shak-
ing. The dusk continued to fall; and there was no
sound but the beating of the surf and the occasional hic-
cup of a sob from Tommy Hadden.
"God, if there was another ship!" cried Carthew of a
Wicks started and looked aloft with the trick of all
seamen, and shuddered as he saw the hanging figure on
the royal yard.
"If I went aloft, I'd fall," he said simply. "I'm
It was Amalu who volunteered, climbed to the very
truck, swept the fading horizon, and announced nothing
"No odds," said Wicks. "We can't sleep ..."
" Sleep ! " echoed Carthew ; and it seemed as if the
whole of Shakespeare's Macbeth thundered at the gallop
through his mind.
" Well, then, we can't sit and chitter here," said Wicks,
we've cleaned ship ; and I can't turn to till I've had
514: THE WKECKEK.
gin, and the gin's in the cabin, and who's to letch it ? "
" I will," said Carthew, " if any one has matches."
Amalu passed him a box, and he went aft and down
the companion and into the cabin, stumbling upon bodies.
Then he struck a match, and his looks fell upon two
" Well ? " asked Mac, for it was he who still survived
in that shambles of a cabin.
" It's done ; they're all dead," answered Carthew.
" Christ ! " said the Irishman, and fainted.
The gin was found in the dead captain's cabin ; it
was brought on deck, and all hands had a dram, and
attacked their farther task. The night was come, the
moon would not be up for hours ; a lamp was set on the
main hatch to light Amalu as he washed down decks ;
and the galley lantern was taken to guide the others in
their graveyard business. Holdorsen, Hemstead, Trent,
and Goddedaal were first disposed of, the last still
breathing as he went over the side ; Wallen followed ;
and then Wicks, steadied by the gin, went aloft with a
boathook and succeeded in dislodging Hardy. The
Chinaman was tneir last task; he seemed to be light-
headed, talked aloud in his unknown language as they
brought him up, and it was only with the splash of his
sinking body that the gibberish ceased. Brown, by com-
mon consent, was left alone. Flesh and blood could go
All this time thev had been drinking undiluted gin
A HARD BARGAIN. 515
like water; three bottles stood broached in different
quarters ; and none passed without a gulp. Tommy col-
lapsed against the mainmast ; Wicks fell on his face on
the poop ladder and moved no more; Amalu had van-
ished unobserved. Carthew was the last afoot : he stood
swaying at the break of the poop, and the lantern, which
he still carried, swung with his movement. His head
hummed ; it swarmed with broken thoughts ; memory of
that day's abominations flared up and died down within
him, like the light of a lamp in a strong draught. And
then he had a drunkard's inspiration.
"There must be no more of this," he thought, and
stumbled once more below.
The absence of Holdorsen's body brought him to a
stand. He stood and stared at the empty floor, and
then remembered and smiled. From the captain's room
he cook the open case with one dozen and three bottles
of gin, put the lantern inside, and walked precariously
forth. Mac was once more conscious ; his eyes haggard,
his face drawn with pain and flushed with fever; and
Carthew remembered he had never been seen to, had
lain there helpless, and was so to lie all night, injured,
perhaps dying. But it was now too late; reason had
now fled from that silent ship. If Carthew could get
on deck again, it was as much as he could hope ; and
casting on the unfortunate a glance of pity, the tragic
drunkard shouldered his way up the companion, dropped
the case overboard, and fell in the scuppers helpless.
A BAD BARGAIN*.
With the first colour in the east, Carthew awoke
and sat up. Awhile he gazed at the scroll of the
morning bank and the spars and hanging canvas of
the brig, like a man who wakes in a strange bed,
with a child's simplicity of wonder. He wondered
above all what ailed him, what he had lost, what dis-
favour had been done him, which he knew he should
resent, yet had forgotten. And then, like a river burst-
ing through a dam, the truth rolled on him its instan-
taneous volume: his memory teemed with speech and
pictures that he should never again forget j and he
sprang to his feet, stood a moment hand to brow, and
began to walk violently to and fro by the companion.
As he walked, he wrung his hands. " God God God,"
he kept saying, with no thought of prayer, uttering a
mere voice of agony.
The time may have been long or short, it was perhaps
minutes, perhaps only seconds, ere he awoke to find
himself observed, and saw the captain sitting up and