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b'ye? Whatt now?"

"Ship firin' rockets, sir," said Jones. "Rockets . . . no mistake."
As he spoke, another coloured streamer went flaming through the eastern
sky. "Give way, there! We'll miss her if she's running south! Give
way, all!" The glare of the rocket put heart into our broken old
skipper. "Steady now, b'yes," he said, with something of his old
enthusiasm.

We laboured steadily at the oars, but our strength was gone. The sea
too, that we had thought moderate when lying to sea-anchor, came at us
broadside on and set our light boat to a furious dance. Wave crests
broke and lashed aboard, the reeling boat was soon awash, and the spare
men had to bale frantically to keep her afloat. But terror of the ship
running south from us nerved our wearied arms, and we kept doggedly
swinging the oars. Soon we made out the vessel's sidelight - the gleam
of her starboard light, that showed that she was hauled to the wind,
not running south as we had feared. They could not see on such a
night, we had nothing to make a signal, but the faint green flame gave
us heart in our distress.

The old man, himself again, was now steering, giving us Big Jones to
bear at the oars. As we drew on we made out the loom of the vessel's
sails - a big ship under topsails only, and sailing slowly to the west.
We pulled down wind to cross her course, shouting together as we rowed.
Would they never hear? . . . Again! . . . Again!

Suddenly there came a hail from the ship, a roar of orders, rattle of
blocks and gear, the yards swung round and she layed up in the wind,
while the ghostly glare of a blue light lit up the sea around.

A crowd of men were gathered at the waist, now shouting and cheering as
we laboured painfully into the circle of vivid light. Among them a big
man (huge he looked in that uncanny glare) roared encouragement in
hoarse gutturals.

Old Schenke? The _Hedwig Rickmers_?

Aye - Schenke! But a different Schenke to the big, blustering,
overbearing "Square-head" we had known in 'Frisco. Schenke as kind as
a brother - a brother of the sea indeed. Big, fat, honest Schenke,
passing his huge arm through that of our broken old skipper, leading
him aft to his own bed, and silencing his faltering story by words of
cheer. "_Ach, du lieber Gott_! It is all right, no? All right,
Cabtin, now you come on board. Ah know all 'bout it! . . . Ah pick de
oder boat up in de morning, und dey tells me. You come af mit me,
Cabtin. . . . Goot, no?"

* * * * * *

"Ninety-six days, Schenke, and here we are at the mouth of the
Channel!" Old Burke had a note of regret in the saying. "Ninety-six
days! Sure, this ship o' yours can sail. With a bit o' luck, now,
ye'll be in Falmouth under the hundred."

"So. If de vind holds goot. Oh, de _Hedwig Rickmers_ is a goot sheep,
no? But if Ah dond't get de crew of de poor lettle _Hilda_ to work
mein sheep, Ah dond't t'ink ve comes home so quick as hundert days,
no?'"

"God bless us, man. Shure, it's the least they cud do, now. An' you
kaaping' us in food an' drink an' clothes, bedad - all the time."

"Vat Ah do, Cabtin. Ah leaf you starfe, no?"

"Oh. Some men would have put into the Falklands and landed - - "

"Und spoil a goot bassage, eh? Ach nein. More better to go on. You
know dese men Ah get in 'Frisco is no goot. Dem "hoodlums," they
dond't know de sailorman vork. But your beoble is all recht, eh!
Gott! If Ah dond't haf dem here, it is small sail ve can carry on de
sheep."

"Och, now, ye just say that, Schenke, ye just say that! But it's glad
I am if we're any use t' ye."

"Hundert days to Falmouth, eh?" Schenke grinned as he said it. "Vat
'bout dot bett now, Cabtin?"

"Oh that," said Burke queerly. "You win, of course. I'm not quite
broke yet, Captain Schenke. I'll pay the twenty dollars all right."

"No, no. De bett is not von. No? De bett vass - 'who is de first on
shore come,' _Heim_? Goot. Ven de sheep comes to Falmouth ve goes on
shore, you und me, together. Like dis, eh?" He seized Burke by the
arm and made a motion that they two should thus step out together.

Burke, shamefacedly, said: "Aye, aye, b'ye."

"Ah dond't care about de bett," continued the big German. "De bett is
noting, but, look here, Cabtin - Ah tell you Ah look to vin dot
Merchants' Cup. _Gott_! Ah vass _verrickt_ ven your boys come in
first. Ach so! Und now de Cup iss at de bottom of de Pacific." He
sighed regretfully. "_Gott_! I van't t' be de first Sherman to vin
dot Cup too!"

The mate of the _Rickmers_ came on the poop and said something to his
captain. Schenke turned to the old man in some wonderment. . . . "Vat
dis is, eh? My mate tell me dot your boys is want to speak mit me.
Vat it is, Cabtin? No troubles I hope?"

Burke looked as surprised as the other. "Send them up, Heinrich," he
said. We, the crew of the _Hilda's_ gig, filed on to the poop, looking
as hot and uncomfortable as proper sailorfolk should do when they come
on a deputation. Jones headed us, and he carried a parcel under his
arm.

"Captain Schenke," he said. "We are all here - the crew of the
_Hilda's_ gig, that you picked up when - when - we were in a bad way.
All here but poor Gregson."

The big lad's voice broke as he spoke of his lost watchmate. "An, if
he was here he would want t' thank ye too for the way you've done by
us. I can't say any more, Captain Schenke - but we want you to take a
small present from us - the crew of the _Hilda's_ gig." He held out the
parcel.

Only half understanding the lad's broken words, Schenke took the parcel
and opened it. "_Ach Gott_ _Lieber Gott_," he said, and turned to show
the gift to old Burke. Tears stood in the big "squarehead's" eyes;
stood, and rolled unchecked down his fat cheeks. Tears of pleasure!
Tears of pity! Stretched between his hands was a weather-beaten flag,
its white emblem stained and begrimed by sea-water!

A tattered square of blue silk - the flag of the Merchants' Cup!




A STORM AND A RESCUE

From "The Wreck of the Grosvenor" BY W. CLARK RUSSELL


All that night it blew terribly hard, and raised as wild and raging a
sea as ever I remember hearing or seeing described. During my
watch - that is, from midnight until four o'clock - the wind veered a
couple of points, but had gone back again only to blow harder; just as
though it had stepped out of its way a trifle to catch extra breath.

I was quite worn out by the time my turn came to go below; and though
the vessel was groaning like a live creature in its death agonies, and
the seas thumping against her with such shocks as kept me thinking that
she was striking hard ground, I fell asleep as soon as my head touched
the pillow, and never moved until routed out by Duckling four hours
afterward.

All this time the gale had not bated a jot of its violence, and the
ship labored so heavily that I had the utmost difficulty in getting out
of the cuddy on to the poop. When I say that the decks fore and aft
were streaming wet, I convey no notion of the truth: the main deck was
simply _afloat_, and every time the ship rolled, the water on her deck
rushed in a wave against the bulwarks and shot high in the air, to
mingle sometimes with fresh and heavy inroads of the sea, both falling
back upon the deck with the boom of a gun.

I had already ascertained from Duckling that the well had been sounded
and the ship found dry; and therefore, since we were tight below, it
mattered little what water was shipped above, as the hatches were
securely battened down fore and aft, and the mast-coats unwrung. But
still she labored under the serious disadvantage of being overloaded;
and the result was, her fore parts were being incessantly swept by seas
which at times completely hid her forecastle in spray.

Shortly after breakfast, Captain Coxon sent me forward to dispatch a
couple of hands on to the jib-boom to snug the inner jib, which looked
to be rather shakily stowed. I managed to dodge the water on the
main-deck by waiting until it rolled to the starboard scuppers and then
cutting ahead as fast as I could; but just as I got upon the
forecastle, I was saluted by a green sea which carried me off my legs,
and would have swept me down on the main-deck had I not held on stoutly
with both hands to one of the fore-shrouds. The water nearly drowned
me, and kept me sneezing and coughing for ten minutes afterward. But
it did me no further mischief; for I was incased in good oilskins and
sou'-wester, which kept me as dry as a bone inside.

Two ordinary seamen got upon the jib-boom, and I bade them keep a good
hold, for the ship sometimes danced her figurehead under water and
buried her sprit-sail-yard; and when she sunk her stern, her flying
jib-boom stood up like the mizzenmast. I waited until this job of
snugging the sail was finished, and then made haste to get off the
forecastle, where the seas flew so continuously and heavily that had I
not kept a sharp lookout, I should several times have been knocked
overboard.

Partly out of curiosity and partly with a wish to hearten the men, I
looked into the forecastle before going aft. There were sliding-doors
let into the entrance on either side the windlass, but one of them was
kept half open to admit air, the forescuttle above being closed. The
darkness here was made visible by an oil lamp, - in shape resembling a
tin coffee-pot with a wick in the spout, - which burned black and
smokily. The deck was up to my ankles in water, which gurgled over the
pile of swabs that lay at the open entrance. It took my eye some
moments to distinguish objects in the gloom; and then by degrees the
strange interior was revealed. A number of hammocks were swung against
the upper deck and around the forecastle were two rows of bunks, one
atop the other. Here and there were sea-chests lashed to the deck; and
these, with the huge windlass, a range of chain cable, lengths of rope,
odds and ends of pots and dishes, with here a pair of breeches hanging
from a hammock, and there a row of oilskins swinging from a
beam, - pretty well made up all the furniture that met my eye.

The whole of the crew were below. Some of the men lay smoking in their
bunks, others in their hammocks with their boots over the edge; one was
patching a coat, another greasing his boots; others were seated in a
group talking; while under the lamp were a couple of men playing at
cards upon a chest, three or four watching and holding on by the
hammocks over their heads.

A man, lying in his bunk with his face toward me, started up and sent
his legs, incased in blanket trousers and brown woolen stockings,
flying out.

"Here's Mr. Royle, mates!" he called out. "Let's ask him the name of
the port the captain means to touch at for proper food, for we aren't
goin' to wait much longer."

"Don't ask me any questions of that kind, my lads," I replied promptly,
seeing a general movement of heads in the bunks and hammocks. "I'd
give you proper victuals if I had the ordering of them; and I have
spoken to Captain Coxon about you, and I am sure he will see this
matter put to rights."

I had difficulty in making my voice heard, for the striking of the seas
against the ship's bows filled the place with an overwhelming volume of
sound; and the hollow, deafening thunder was increased by the uproar of
the ship's straining timbers.

"Who the devil thinks," said a voice from a hammock, "that we're going
to let ourselves be grinded as we was last night without proper wittles
to support us? I'd rather have signed articles for a coal-barge, with
drowned rats to eat from Gravesend to Whitstable, than shipped in this
here cursed vessel, where the bread's just fit to make savages retch!"

I had not bargained for this, but had merely meant to address them
cheerily, with a few words of approval of the smart way in which they
had worked the ship in the night. Seeing that my presence would do no
good, I turned about and left the forecastle, hearing, as I came away,
one of the Dutchmen cry out: -

"Look here, Mister Rile, vill you be pleashed to ssay when we are to
hov' something to eat? - for by Gott! ve vill kill te dom pigs in the
long-boat if the skipper don't mindt - so look out!"

As ill-luck would have it, Captain Coxon was at the break of the poop,
and saw me come out of the forecastle. He waited until he had got me
alongside of him, when he asked me what I was doing among the men.

"I looked in to give them a good word for the work they did last
night," I answered.

"And who asked you to give them a good word, as you call it?"

"I have never had to wait for orders to encourage a crew."

"Mind what you are about, sir!" he exclaimed, in a voice tremulous with
rage. "I see through your game, and I'll put a stopper upon it that
you won't like."

"What game, sir? Let me have your meaning."

"An infernal mutinous game!" he roared. "Don't talk to me, sir! I
know you! I've had my eye upon you! You'll play false if you can, and
are trying to smother up your d - d rebel meanings with genteel airs!
Get away, sir!" he bellowed, stamping his foot. "Get away aft! You're
a lumping useless incumbrance! But by thunder! I'll give you two for
every one you try to give me! So stand by!"

And apparently half mad with his rage, he staggered away in the very
direction in which he had told me to go, and stood near the wheel,
glaring upon me with a white face, which looked indescribably
malevolent in the fur cap and ear-protectors that ornamented it.

I was terribly vexed by this rudeness, which I was powerless to resist,
and regretted my indiscretion in entering the forecastle after the
politic resolutions I had formed. However, Captain Coxon's ferocity
was nothing new to me; truly I believed he was not quite right in his
mind, and expected, as in former cases, that he would come round a bit
by-and-by when his insane temper had passed. Still his insinuations
were highly dangerous, not to speak of their offensiveness. It was no
joke to be charged, even by a madman, with striving to arouse the crew
to mutiny. Nevertheless I tried to console myself as best I could by
reflecting that he could not prove his charges; that I need only to
endure his insolence for a few weeks, and that there was always a law
to vindicate me and punish him, should his evil temper betray him into
any acts of cruelty against me.

The gale, at times the severest that I was ever in, lasted three days;
during which the ship drove something like eighty miles to the
northwest. The sea on the afternoon of the third day was appalling:
had the ship attempted to run, she would have been pooped and smothered
in a minute; but lying close, she rode fairly well, though there were
moments when I held my breath as she sunk in a hollow like a coal-mine,
filled with the astounding noise of boiling water, - really believing
that the immense waves which came hurtling towards us with solid,
sharp, transparent ridges, out of which the wind tore lumps of water
and flung them through the rigging of the ship, must overwhelm the
vessel before she could rise to it.

The fury of the tempest and the violence of the sea, which the boldest
could not contemplate without feeling that the ship was every moment in
more or less peril, kept the crew subdued; and they eat as best they
could the provisions, without complaint. However, it needed nothing
less than a storm to keep them quiet: for on the second day a sea
extinguished the galley fire, and until the gale abated no cooking
could be done; so that the men had to put up with cold water and
biscuit. Hence all hands were thrown upon the ship's bread for two
days; and the badness of it, therefore, was made even more apparent
than heretofore, when its wormy moldiness was in some degree qualified
by the nauseousness of bad salt pork and beef and the sickly flavor of
damaged tea.

As I had anticipated, the captain came round a little a few hours after
his insulting attack upon me. I think his temper frightened him when
it had reference to me. Like others of his breed, he was a bit of a
cur at the bottom. My character was a trifle beyond him; and he was
ignorant enough to hate and fear what he could not understand. Be this
as it may, he made some rough attempts at a rude kind of politeness
when I went below to get some grog, and condescended to say that when I
had been to sea as long as he, I would know that the most ungrateful
rascals in the world were sailors; that every crew he had sailed with
had always taken care to invent some grievance to growl over: either
the provisions were bad, or the work too heavy, or the ship
unseaworthy; and that long ago he had made up his mind never to pay
attention to their complaints, since no sooner would one wrong be
redressed than another would be coined and shoved under his nose.

I took this opportunity of assuring him that I had never willingly
listened to the complaints of the men, and that I was always annoyed
when they spoke to me about the provisions, as I had nothing whatever
to do with that matter; and that so far from my wishing to stir up the
men into rebellion, my conduct had been uniformly influenced by the
desire to conciliate them and represent their conditions as very
tolerable, so as to repress any tendency to disaffection which they
might foment among themselves.

To this he made no reply, and soon we parted; but all the next day he
was sullen again, and never addressed me save to give an order.

On the evening of the third day the gale broke; the glass had risen
since the morning; but until the first dogwatch the wind did not bate
one iota of its violence, and the horizon still retained its stormy and
threatening aspect. The clouds then broke in the west, and the setting
sun shone forth with deep crimson light upon the wilderness of
mountainous waters. The wind fell quickly, then went round to the west
and blew freshly; but there was a remarkable softness and sweetness in
the feel and taste of it.

A couple of reefs were at once shaken out of the main-topsail, and a
sail made. By midnight the heavy sea had subsided into a deep, long,
rolling swell, still (strangely enough) coming from the south; but the
fresh westerly wind held the ship steady, and for the first time for
nearly a hundred hours we were able to move about the decks with
comparative comfort. Early the next morning the watch were set to wash
down and clear up the decks; and when I left my cabin at eight o'clock,
I found the weather bright and warm, with a blue sky shining among
heavy, white, April-looking clouds, and the ship making seven knots
under all plain sail. The decks were dry and comfortable, and the ship
had a habitable and civilized look, by reason of the row of clothes
hung by the seamen to dry on the forecastle.

It was half past nine o'clock, and I was standing near the taffrail
looking at a shoal of porpoises playing some hundreds of feet astern,
when the man who was steering asked me to look in the direction to
which he pointed - that was, a little to the right of the bowsprit - and
say if there was anything to be seen there; for he had caught sight of
something black upon the horizon twice, but could not detect it now.

I turned my eyes toward the quarter of the sea indicated, but could
discern nothing whatever; and telling him that what he had seen was
probably a wave, which, standing higher than his fellows, will
sometimes show black a long distance off, walked to the fore part of
the poop.

The breeze still held good; and the vessel was slipping easily through
the water, though the southerly swell made her roll and at times shook
the wind out of the sails. The skipper had gone to lie down, - being
pretty well exhausted, I daresay; for he had kept the deck for the
greater part of three nights running. Duckling was also below. Most
of my watch were on the forecastle, sitting or lying in the sun, which
shone very warm upon the decks; the hens under the long-boat were
chattering briskly, and the cocks crowing, and the pigs grunting, with
the comfort of the warmth.

Suddenly, as the ship rose, I distinctly beheld something black out
away upon the horizon, showing just under the foot of the foresail. It
vanished instantly; but I was not satisfied, and went for the glass
which lay upon the brackets just under the companion. I then told the
man who was steering to keep her away a couple of points for a few
moments; and resting the glass against the mizzen-royal backstay,
pointed it toward the place where I had seen the black object.

For some moments nothing but sea or sky filled the field of the glass
as the ship rose and fell; but all at once there leaped into this field
the hull of a ship, deep as her main-chains in the water, which came
and went before my eye as the long seas lifted or dropped in the
foreground. I managed to keep her sufficiently long in view to
perceive that she was totally dismasted.

"It's a wreck," said I, turning to the man: "let her come to again and
luff a point. There may be living creatures aboard of her."

Knowing what sort of man Captain Coxon was, I do not think that I
should have had the hardihood to luff the ship a point out of her
course had it involved the bracing of the yards; for the songs of the
men would certainly have brought him on deck, and I might have provoked
some ugly insolence. But the ship was going free, and would head more
westerly without occasioning further change than slightly slackening
the weather-braces of the upper yards. This I did quietly; and the
dismantled hull was brought right dead on end with our flying jib-boom.
The men now caught sight of her, and began to stare and point; but did
not sing out, as they saw by the telescope in my hand that I perceived
her. The breeze unhappily began to slacken somewhat, owing perhaps to
the gathering heat of the sun; our pace fell off: and a full hour
passed before we brought the wreck near enough to see her
permanently, - for up to this she had been constantly vanishing under
the rise of the swell. She was now about two miles off, and I took a
long and steady look at her through the telescope. It was a black hull
with painted ports. The deck was flush fore and aft, and there was a
good-sized house just before where the mainmast should have been. This
house was uninjured, though the galley was split up, and to starboard
stood up in splinters like the stump of a tree struck by lightning. No
boats could be seen aboard of her. Her jib-boom was gone, and so were
all three masts, - clean cut off at the deck, as though a hand-saw had
done it; but the mizzenmast was alongside, held by the shrouds and
backstays, and the port main and fore shrouds streamed like serpents
from her chains into the water. I reckoned at once that she must be
loaded with timber, for she never could keep afloat at that depth with
any other kind of cargo in her.

She made a most mournful and piteous object in the sunlight, sluggishly
rolling to the swell which ran in transparent volumes over her sides
and foamed around the deck-house. Once when her stern rose, I read the
name _Cecilia_ in broad white letters.

I was gazing intently, in the effort to witness some indication of
living thing on board, when, to my mingled consternation and horror, I
witnessed an arm projecting through the window of the deck-house and
frantically waving what resembled a white handkerchief. As none of the
men called out, I judged the signal was not perceptible to the naked
eye; and in my excitement I shouted, "There's a living man on board of
her, my lads!" dropped the glass, and ran aft to call the captain.

I met him coming up the companion ladder. The first thing he said was,
"You're out of your course," and looked up at the sails.

"There's a wreck yonder," I cried, pointing eagerly, "with a man on
board signaling to us."

"Get me the glass," he said sulkily; and I picked it up and handed it
to him.

He looked at the wreck for some moments; and addressing the man at the
wheel, exclaimed, making a movement with his hand, "Keep her away!
Where in the devil are you steering to?"

"Good heaven!" I ejaculated: "there's a man on board - there may be
others!"

"Damnation!" he exclaimed between his teeth: "what do you mean by
interfering with me? Keep her away!" he roared out.

During this time we had drawn sufficiently near to the wreck to enable
the sharper-sighted among the hands to remark the signal, and they were
calling out that there was somebody flying a handkerchief aboard the


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