watching him over the break of the poop, a strange
blindness as of fever in his eyes, a haggard knot of
corrugations on his brow. Cain saw himself in a mirror.
For a flash they looked upon each other, and then
A BAD BARGAIN. 517
glanced guiltily aside; and Carthew fled from the eye
of his accomplice, and stood leaning on the taffrail.
An hour went by, while the day came brighter, and
the sun rose and drank up the clouds : an hour of silence
in the ship, an hour of agony beyond narration for the
sufferers. Brown's gabbling prayers, the cries of the
sailors in the rigging, strains of the dead Hemstead's
minstrelsy, ran together in Carthew's mind, with sicken-
ing iteration. He neither acquitted nor condemned him-
self: he did not think, he suffered. In the bright
water into which he stared, the pictures changed and
were repeated: the baresark rage of Goddedaal; the
blood-red light of the sunset into which they had run
forth ; the face of the babbling Chinaman as they cast
him over ; the face of the captain, seen a moment since,
as he awoke from drunkenness into remorse. And time
passed, and the sun swam higher, and his torment was
Then were fulfilled many sayings, and the weakest
of these condemned brought relief and healing to the
others. Amalu the drudge awoke (like the rest) to
sickness of body and distress of mind ; but the habit
of obedience ruled in that simple spirit, and appalled to
be so late, he went direct into the galley, kindled the
fire, and began to get breakfast. At the rattle of dishes,
the snapping of the fire, and the thin smoke that went
up straight into the air, the spell was lifted. The con-
demned felt once more the good dry land of habit under
518 THE WRECKER.
foot; they touched again the familiar guide-ropes of
sanity; they were restored to a sense of the blessed
revolution and return of all things earthly. The captain
drew a bucket of water and began to bathe. Tommy
sat up, watched him awhile, and slowly followed his
example; and Carthew, remembering his last thoughts
of the night before, hastened to the cabin.
Mac was awake; perhaps had not slept. Over his
head GoddedaaPs canary twittered shrilly from its cage.
" How are you ? " asked Carthew.
" Me arrum's broke," returned Mac ; " but I can stand
that. It's this place I can't abide. I was coming on
" Stay where you are, though," said Carthew. " It's
deadly hot above, and there's no wind. I'll wash out
this " and he paused, seeking a word and not finding
one for the grisly foulness of the cabin.
"Faith, I'll be obliged to ye, then," replied the Irish-
man. He spoke mild and meek, like a sick child with
its mother. There was now no violence in the violent
man; and as Carthew fetched a bucket and swab and
the steward's sponge, and began to cleanse the field of
battle, he alternately watched him or shut his eyes and
sighed like a man near fainting. "I have to ask all
your pardons," he began again presently, and the more
shame to me as I got ye into the trouble and couldn't do
nothing when it came. Ye saved me life, sir ; ye're g
A BAD BARGAIN. 519
"For God's sake, don't talk of it!" cried Carthew.
" It can't be talked of ; you don't know what it was. It
was nothing down here ; they fought. On deck 0, my
God ! " And Carthew, with the bloody sponge pressed to
his face, struggled a moment with hysteria.
"Kape cool, Mr. Cart'ew. It's done now," said Mac;
"and ye may bless God ye're not in pain and helpless in
There was no more said by one or other, and the cabin
was pretty well cleansed when a stroke on the ship's bell
summoned Carthew to breakfast. Tommy had been
busy in the meanwhile; he had hauled the whaleboat
close aboard, and already lowered into it a small keg of
beef that he found ready broached beside the galley
door ; it was plain he had but the one idea to escape.
" We have a shipf ul of stores to draw upon," he said.
" Well, what are we staying for ? Let's get off at once
for Hawaii I've begun preparing already."
" Mac has his arm broken," observed Carthew ; " how
would he stand the voyage ? "
" A broken arm ? " repeated the captain. " That all ?
I'll set it after breakfast. I thought he was dead like
the rest. That madman hit out like " and there, at
the evocation of the battle, his voice ceased and the talk
died with it
After breakfast, the three white men went down into
" I've come to set your arm," said the captain.
520 THE WKECKER.
" I beg your pardon, Captain," replied Mac ; " but the
firrst thing ye got to do is to get this ship to sea. We'll
talk of me arrum after that."
"0, there's no such blooming hurry," returned Wicks.
" When the next ship sails in, ye'U tell me stories ! "
"But there's nothing so unlikely in the world,"
"Don't be deceivin' yourself," said Mac. "If ye
want a ship, divil a one'll look near ye in six year ; but
if ye don't, ye may take my word for ut, we'll have a
squadron layin' here."
" That's what I say," cried Tommy ; " that's what I
call sense ! Let's stock that whaleboat and be off."
"And what will Captain Wicks be thinking of the
whaleboat ? " asked the Irishman.
"I don't think of it at all," said Wicks. "We've a
smart-looking brig under foot ; that's all the whaleboat I
"Excuse me!" cried Tommy. "That's childish talk.
You've got a brig, to be sure, and what use is she ? You
daren't go anywhere in her. What port are you to sail
"For the port of Davy Jones's Locker, my son,"
replied the captain. "This brig's going to be lost at
sea. I'll tell you where, too, and that's about forty miles
to windward of Kauai. We're going to stay by her till
she's down; and once the masts are under, she's the
A BAD BARGAIN. 521
Flying Scud no more, and we never heard of such a brig;
and it ; s the crew of the schooner Currency Lass that
conies ashore in the boat, and takes the first chance to
"Captain dear, that's the first Christian word I've
heard of ut ! " cried Mac. " And now, just let me arrum
be, jewel, and get the brig outside."
" I'm as anxious as yourself, Mac," returned Wicks j
" but there's not wind enough to swear by. So let's see
your arm, and no more talk."
The arm was set and splinted; the body of Brown
fetched from the forepeak, where it lay stiff and cold,
and committed to the waters of the lagoon ; and the
washing of the cabin rudely finished. All these were
done ere midday ; and it was past three when the first
cat's-paw ruffled the lagoon, and the wind came in a dry
squall, which presently sobered to a steady breeze.
The interval was passed by all in feverish impatience,
and by one of the party in secret and extreme concern of
mind. Captain Wicks was a fore-and-aft sailor ; he could
take a schooner through a Scotch reel, felt her mouth
and divined her temper like a rider with a horse ; she, on
her side, recognising her master and following his wishes
like a dog. But by a not very unusual train of circum-
stance, the man's dexterity was partial and circum-
scribed. On a schooner's deck he was Rembrandt or (at
the least) Mr. Whistler ; on board a brig he was Pierre
Grassou. Again and again in the course of the morning,
522 THE WKECKER.
he had reasoned out his policy and rehearsed his
orders; and ever with the same depression and weari-
ness. It was guess-work ; it was chance ; the ship
might behave as he expected, and might not; suppose
she failed him, he stood there helpless, beggared of all
the proved resources of experience. Had not all hands
been so weary, had he not feared to communicate his
own misgivings, he could have towed her out. But
these reasons sufficed, and the most he could do was to
take all possible precautions. Accordingly he had Car-
thew aft, explained what was to be done with anxious
patience, and visited along with him the various sheets
"I hope I'll remember," said Carthew. "It seems
" It's the rottenest kind of rig," the captain admitted :
" all blooming pocket handkerchiefs ! And not one sailor-
man on deck ! Ah, if she'd only been a brigantine, now !
But it's lucky the passage is so plain ; there's no manoeu-
vring to mention. We get under way before the wind,
and run right so till we begin to get foul of the island;
then we haul our wind and lie as near south-east as may
be till we're on that line; 'bout ship there and stand
straight out on the port tack. Catch the idea? "
"Yes, I see the idea," replied Carthew rather dismally,
and the two incompetents studied for a long time in
silence the complicated gear above their heads.
But the time came when these rehearsals must be put
A BAD BARGAIN. 523
in practice. The sails were lowered, and all hands
heaved the anchor short. The whaleboat was then
cut adrift, the upper topsails and the spanker set, the
yards braced up, and the spanker sheet hauled out to
" Heave away on your anchor, Mr. Carthew."
" Anchor's gone, sir."
It was done, and the brig still hung enchanted.
Wicks, his head full of a schooner's mainsail, turned his
mind to the spanker. First he hauled in the sheet, and
then he hauled it out, with no result.
" Brail the damned thing up ! " he bawled at last, with
a red face. "There ain't no sense in it."
It was the last stroke of bewilderment for the poor
captain, that he had no sooner brailed up the spanker,
than the brig came before the wind. The laws of
nature seemed to him to be suspended ; he was like a
man in a world of pantomime tricks ; the cause of any
result, and the probable result of any action, equally
concealed from him. He was the more careful not to
shake the nerve of his amateur assistants. He stood
there with a face like a torch; but he gave his orders
with aplomb ; and indeed, now the ship was under way,
supposed his difficulties over.
The lower topsails and courses were then set, and the
brig began to walk the water like a thing of life, her
forefoot discoursing music, the birds flying and crying
524 THE WBECKBR.
over her spars. Bit by bit the passage began to open
and the blue sea to show between the flanking breakers
on the reef; bit by bit, on the starboard bow, the low
land of the islet began to heave closer aboard. The
yards were braced up, the spanker sheet hauled aft again ;
the brig was close hauled, lay down to her work like
a thing in earnest, and had soon drawn near to the point
of advantage, where she might stay and lie out of the
lagoon in a single tack.
Wicks took the wheel himself, swelling with success.
He kept the brig full to give her heels, and began to
bark his orders: "Ready about. Helm's a-lee. Tacks
and sheets. Mainsail haul." And then the fatal words :
"That'll do your mainsail; jump forrard and haul round
To stay a square-rigged ship is an affair of knowledge
and swift sight; and a man used to the succinct evolu-
tions of a schooner will always tend to be too hasty with
a brig. It was so now. The order came too soon ; the
topsails set flat aback ; the ship was in irons. Even yet,
had the helm been reversed, they might have saved her.
But to think of a stern-board at all, far more to think of
profiting by one, were foreign to the schooner-sailor's
mind. Wicks made haste instead to wear ship, a
manoeuvre for which room was wanting, and the Flying
Scud took ground on a bank of sand and coral about
twenty minutes before five.
Wicks was no hand with a square-rigger, and he had
A BAD BARGAIN. 525
shown it. But he was a sailor and a born captain of
men for all homely purposes, where intellect is not
required and an eye in a man's head and a heart under
his jacket will suffice. Before the others had time to
understand the misfortune, he was bawling fresh orders,
and had the sails clewed up, and took soundings round
"She lies lovely," he remarked, and ordered out a
boat with the starboard anchor.
"Here! steady!" cried Tommy. " You ain't going to
turn us to, to warp her off ? "
" I am though," replied Wicks.
"I won't set a hand to such tomfoolery for one,"
replied Tommy. "I'm deat beat." He went and sat
down doggedly on the main hatch. "You got us on;
get us off again," he added.
Carthew and Wicks turned to each other.
"Perhaps you don't know how tired we are/' said
"The tide's flowing!" cried the captain. "You
wouldn't hare me miss a rising tide ? "
" gammon ! there's tides to-morrow ! " retorted
"And I'll tell you what," added Carthew, "the breeze
is failing fast, and the sun will soon be down. We
may get into all kinds of fresh mess in the dark and
with nothing but light airs."
" I don't deny it," answered Wicks, and stood awhile
526 THE WBECKBE.
as if in thought. "But what I can't make out," he
began again, with agitation, " what I can't make out is
what you're made of ! To stay in this place is beyond
me. There's the bloody sun going down and to stay
here is beyond me ! "
The others looked upon him with horrified surprise.
This fall of their chief pillar this irrational passion in
the practical man, suddenly barred out of his true
sphere, the sphere of action shocked and daunted
them. But it gave to another and unseen hearer the
chance for which he had been waiting. Mac, on the
striking of the brig, had crawled up the companion, and
he now showed himself and spoke up.
"Captain Wicks," he said, "it's me that brought
this trouble on the lot of ye. I'm sorry for ut, I ask all
your pardons, and if there's any one can say 'I forgive
ye,' it'll make my soul the lighter."
Wicks stared upon the man in amaze ; then his self-
control returned to him. "We're all in glass houses
here," he said; "we ain't going to turn to and throw
stones. I forgive you, sure enough; and much good
may it do you ! "
The others spoke to the same purpose.
"I thank ye for ut, and 'tis done like gentlemen," said
Mac. " But there's another thing I have upon my mind.
I hope we're all Prodestan's here ? "
It appeared they were; it seemed a small thing for
the Protestant religion to rejoice in !
A BAD BARGAIN. 527
"Well, that's as it should be," continued Mac. "And
why shouldn't we say the Lord's Prayer ? There can't
be no hurt in ut."
He had the same quiet, pleading, childlike way with
him as in the morning; and the others accepted his
proposal, and knelt down without a word.
"Knale if ye like!" said he. "I stand." And he
covered his eyes.
So the prayer was said to the accompaniment of the
surf and seabirds, and all rose refreshed and felt
lightened of a load. Up to then, they had cherished
their guilty memories in private, or only referred to
them in the heat of a moment and fallen immediately
silent. Now they had faced their remorse in company,
and the worst seemed over. Nor was it only that. But
the petition "Forgive us our trespasses," falling in so
apposite after they had themselves forgiven the imme-
diate author of their miseries, sounded like an absolu-
Tea was taken on deck in the time of the sunset, and
not long after the five castaways castaways once more
lay down to sleep.
Day dawned windless and hot. Their slumbers had
been too profound to be refreshing, and they woke list-
less, and sat up, and stared about them with dull eyes.
Only Wicks, smelling a hard day's work ahead, was more
alert. He went first to the well, sounded it once and
then a second time, and stood awhile with a grim look,
528 THE WRECKER.
so that all could see he was dissatisfied. Then he shook
himself, stripped to the buff, clambered on the rail, drew
himself up and raised his arms to plunge. The dive
was never taken. He stood instead transfixed, his eyes
on the hOPJzon.
" Hand t/p that glass," he said.
In a trice they were all swarming aloft, the nude cap-
tain leading with the glass.
On the northern horizon was a finger of grey smoke,
straight in the windless air like a point of admiration.
" What do you make it ? " they asked of Wicks.
" She's truck down," he replied ; " no telling yet. By
the way the smoke builds, she must be heading right
"What can she be?"
" She might be the China mail," returned Wicks, "and
she might be a blooming man-of-war, come to look for
castaways. Here ! This ain't the time to stand staring.
On deck, boys ! "
He was the first on deck, as he had been the first aloft,
handed down the ensign, bent it again to the signal hal-
liards, and ran it up union down.
" Now hear me," he said, jumping into his trousers,
" and everything I say you grip on to. If that's a man-
of-war, she'll be in a tearing hurry ; all these ships are
what don't do nothing and have their expenses paid.
That's our chance; for we'll go with them, and they
won't take the time to look twice or to ask a question.
A BAD BARGAIN. 529
I'm Captain Trent ; Carthew, you're Goddedaal ; Tommy,
you're Hardy; Mac's Brown; Amalu Hold hard!
we can't make a Chinaman of him ! Ah, Wing must
have deserted ; Amalu stowed away ; and I turned him
to as cook, and was never at the bother to sign him.
Catch the idea ? Say your names."
And that pale company recited their lesson earnestly.
" What were the names of the other two ? " he asked.
" Him Carthew shot in the companion, and the one I
caught in the jaw on the main top-gallant ? "
" Holdorsen and Wallen," said some one.
" Well, they're drowned," continued Wicks ; " drowned
alongside trying to lower a boat. We had a bit of a
squall last night : that's how we got ashore." He ran
and squinted at the compass. " Squall out of nor'-nor'-
west-half-west ; blew hard; every one in a mess, falls
jammed, and Holdorsen and Wallen spilt overboard.
See ? Clear your blooming heads ! " He was in his
jacket now, and spoke with a feverish impatience and
contention that rang like anger.
" But is it safe ? " asked Tommy.
" Safe ? " bellowed the captain. " We're standing on
the drop, you moon-calf ! If that ship's bound for China
(which she don't look to be), we're lost as soon as we
arrive; if she's bound the other way, she comes from
China, don't she ? Well, if there's a man on board of
her that ever clapped eyes on Trent or any blooming
hand out of this brig, we'll all be in irons in two hours.
530 THE WRECKER.
Safe ! no, it ain't safe ; it's a beggarly last chance to
shave the gallows, and that's what it is."
At this convincing picture, fear took hold on all.
"Hadn't we a hundred times better stay by the brig ? "
cried Carthew. " They would give us a hand to float her
" You'll make me waste this holy day in chattering ! "
cried Wicks. "Look here, when I sounded the well
this morning, there was two foot of water there against
eight inches last night. What's wrong ? I don't know ;
might be nothing ; might be the worst kind of smash.
And then, there we are in for a thousand miles in an
open boat, if that's your taste ! "
" But it may be nothing, and anyway their carpenters
are bound to help us repair her," argued Carthew.
" Moses Murphy ! " cried the captain. " How did she
strike ? Bows on, I believe. And she's down by the
head now. If any carpenter comes tinkering here,
where'll he go first ? Down in the f orepeak, I suppose !
And then, how about $\l that blood among the chand-
lery ? You would think you were a lot of members of
Parliament discussing Plimsoll ; and you're just a pack
of murderers with the halter round your neck. Any other
ass got any time to waste ? No ? Thank God for that !
Now, all hands ! I'm going below, and I leave you here
on deck. You get the boat cover off that boat ; then
you turn to and open the specie chest. There are five
of us ; get five chests, and divide the specie equal among
A BAD BARGAIN. 531
the five put it at the bottom and go at it like
tigers. Get blankets, or canvas, or clothes, so it won't
rattle. It'll make five pretty heavy chests, but we can't
help that. You, Carthew dash me ! You, Mr. Godde-
daal, come below. We've our share before us."
And he cast another glance at the smoke, and hurried
below with Carthew at his heels.
The logs were found in the main cabin behind the
canary's cage ; two of them, one kept by Trent, one by
Goddedaal. Wicks looked first at one, then at the other,
and his lip stuck out.
" Can you forge hand of write ? " he asked.
"No," said Carthew.
" There's luck for you no more can I ! " cried the
captain. "Hullo! here's worse yet, here's this Godde-
daal up to date ; he must have filled it in before supper.
See for yourself : ' Smoke observed. Captain Kirkup
and five hands of the schooner Currency Lass.' Ah !
this is better," he added, turning to the other log. " The
old man ain't written anything for a clear fortnight.
We'll dispose of your log altogether, Mr. Goddedaal, and
stick to the old man's to mine, I mean; only I aint
going to write it up, for reasons of my own. You are.
You're going to sit down right here and fill it in the way
I tell you."
" How to explain the loss of mine ? " asked Carthew.
"You never kept one," replied the captain. "Gross
neglect of duty. You'll catch it."
532 THE WRECKER.
"And the change of writing?" resumed Carthew.
" You began ; why do you stop and why do I come in ?
And you'll have to sign anyway."
" ! I've met with an accident and can't write," re-
"An accident?" repeated Carthew. "It don't sound
natural. What kind of an accident ? "
Wicks spread his hand face-up on the table, and drove
a knife through his palm.
"That kind of an accident," said he. "There's a
way to draw to windward of most difficulties, if you've a
head on your shoulders." He began to bind up his hand
with a handkerchief, glancing the while over Goddedaal's
log. "Hullo ! " he said, "this'll never do for us this is
an impossible kind of a yarn. Here, to begin with, is this
Captain Trent trying some fancy course, leastways he's
a thousand miles to south'ard of the great circle. And
here, it seems, he was close up with this island on the
sixth, sails all these days, and is close up with it again
by daylight on the eleventh."
"Goddedaal said they had the deuce's luck," said
"Well, it don't look like real life that's all I can
say," returned Wicks.
"It's the way it was, though," argued Carthew.
"So it is; and what the better are we for that, if it
don't look so?" cried the captain, sounding unwonted
depths of art criticism. " Here ! try and see if you can't
tie this bandage j I'm bleeding like a pig."
A BAD BARGAIN.
As Carthew sought to adjust the handkerchief, his
patient seemed sunk in a deep muse, his eye veiled, his
mouth partly open. The job was yet scarce done, when
he sprang to his feet.
" I have it," he broke out, and ran on deck. " Here,
boys ! " he cried, " we didn't come here on the eleventh ;
we came in here on the evening of the sixth, and lay
here ever since becalmed. As soon as you're done with
these chests," he added, "you can turn to and roll out
beef and water breakers; it'll look more shipshape
like as if we were getting ready for the boat voyage."
And he was back again in a moment, cooking the new
log. Goddedaal's was then carefully destroyed, and a
hunt began for the ship's papers. Of all the agonies of
that breathless morning, this was perhaps the most
poignant. Here and there the two men searched, curs-
ing, cannoning together, streaming with heat, freezing
with terror. News was bawled down to them that the
ship was indeed a man-of-war, that she was close up,
that she was lowering a boat ; and still they sought in
vain. By what accident they missed the iron box with
the money and accounts, is hard to fancy ; but they did.
And the vital documents were found at last in the pocket
of Trent's shore-going coat, where he had left them when
last he came on board.
Wicks smiled for the first time that morning. " None
too soon," said he. " And now for it ! Take these
others for me ; I'm afraid I'll get them mixed if I keep
534 THE WRECKER.
"What are they ? " Carthew asked.
" They're the Kirkup and Currency Lass papers," he
replied. "Pray God we need 'em again ! "
"Boat's inside the lagoon, sir," hailed down Mac, who
sat by the skylight doing sentry while the others worked.
"Time we were on deck, then, Mr. Goddedaal," said
As they turned to leave the cabin, the canary burst
into piercing song.
"My God! " cried Carthew, with a gulp, "we can't leave
that wretched bird to starve. It was poor Goddedaal's."
" Bring the bally thing along ! " cried the captain.
And they went on deck.
An ugly brute of a modern man-of-war lay just with,
out the reef, now quite inert, now giving a flap or two