Cyrus Brady.

By the World Forgot: A Double Romance of the East and West



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"What happened then?" asked Maynard.

"Well, sir," answered the boatswain, "Templin can finish the yarn better nor I can."

"Every man jack on the ship," said Templin, "had a mighty likin' for Smith. Ain't that so, mates?"

Deep-toned approvals, with much nodding of heads, came from the other seamen.

"He was the pleasantest man on the ship," said one.

"Free an' easy, always willin' to help a shipmate," said another.

"Full of good stories, an' doin' his best to be agreeable," added a third.

"An' we wasn't goin' to see him hanged for that, which it was clearly self-defense, an' a good riddance, anyway," continued Templin. "You see, the mate was hated as much as Smith was liked. So we puts our heads together, an' to make a long story short, we pervisions the whaleboat, which was hangin' at the after davits. We struck the irons off of Smith's wrists an' ankles, put him into the boat, an' lowered her the night arter."

"I had heerd the old man an' Salver plottin' the ship's position," said the boatswain. "They said there was land about seventy leagues to the sou'west'ard, an we all thought he could reach it. It seemed as if the rough weather had blowed itself out at last in the Pacific. There was some white people on them islands. There'd be some means for him to git back to the United States, eventually, or wherever he belonged."

"When did the captain learn of his escape?"

"Right then an' there. He done his best to prevent it, but it was dark an' the men refused to handle the braces to wear the ship, an' that's all there was to it."

"So Beekman wasn't on the ship when she burned," cried Harnash.

"No."

"Thank God for that," said Stephanie. "Don't you see," she continued as the bewildered seaman stared at her, "if he had been on the ship, he might have been lost in the other boat; Mr. Salver's boat, you said."

"Yes, ma'am."

"But, as it is now, there is a chance he may have got to those islands. What were they? Where are they? We may find him yet."

"It's possible. There's always a chance on the sea," admitted the boatswain. "But that ain't all the story."

"No?"

"No, ma'am; the gales hadn't quite blowed theirselves out yet, an' the next day come the worst of 'em all. What become of that boat in that storm, Cod only knows. We had to scud afore it under bare poles."

"It might not have blowed so hard where the whaleboat was," said Templin sagely.

"In course; but no man can know nothin' about that."

"We got a slant of a favorin' wind arter a few days, an' ran down our northin' at a great rate. I think it was two weeks arter we sent the whaleboat away with Beekman in it, when a fire broke out in the forehold. I suppose the strainin' an' pitchin' and buckin' of the ship was the cause of it. I don't rightly know jest what we had aboard."

"About three thousand tons of the most inflammable and explosive stuff on earth," said Mr.

Maynard.

"Well, it ketched afire. We knowed it was some kind of dangerous stuff without bein' aware of the partik'lers, an' we tried to git at the fire, but we couldn't. We knowed the old ship was doomed just about as soon as something that would explode got reached by the fire. There wan't no panic."

"The officers treated us like dogs, all of us," interposed Templin; "but they knowed their business, an' so did we."

"Two boats was got over an' pervisioned; a cutter an' a la'nch that was on chocks amidships. The cap'n ordered me with nine of the men to the cutter, an' Mr. Salver with the rest on 'em to the la'nch. The sea was calm enough, an' we had no difficulty in gittin' the boats overboard, although we had to bear a hand, an' it was well we done so. Nachurly, the cap'n was to be the last man to 'bandon the ship, which he didn't leave at all, as a matter of fact. He was to go in my boat, which was one reason why the steward was in her. Salver's boat shoved off, an' while we lay alongside at the battens waitin' for him, the old man ordered us to shove off, too. 'Mr. Gersey,' he sez-me bein' called 'Mister' habitual after I come aft-'if you git to shore, report me as havin' stayed with the ship.' 'Cap'n Fish,' sez I, 'savin' your presence, it's a kind of damn fool thing for you to do, for the ship's goin' down.' 'I ain't never yet desarted no ship under my charge,' sez the cap'n, an' when I started to argue, he told me to go to hell an' git away from there lest the boat should be lost. There wan't nothin' else for me to do, ma'am, but obey orders. I've been all my life obeyin' orders at sea, but that was about the hardest one ever put up to me. We didn't like the old man much. As a matter of fact, we hated him, an' we might have killed him in a fair fight, if it had been possible, but we didn't none of us want to see him die that way."

"No, we didn't," said one.

"But there wan't no help for it. We pulled away from the blazin' ship till we got within hail of Salver's boat. When he seed the cap'n wasn't aboard, he was for rowin' back to the ship to rescue him. We could see the old man calmly walkin' up an' down the bridge, for'ard of the mizzenmast, perfectly plain. The fire was for'ard, and the ship was hove to so the smoke druv away to lee'ard. He never left that bridge except to go aft to h'ist the American flag at the gaffend. Salver would have gone back, anyway, only the men refused. We was willin' enough, only we know'd it wan't no use. An' the ship was liable to blow up any minute."

"Well?" said Maynard in the silence that ensued.

"She did blow up, an' the cap'n an' the flag an' the ship all went down together," said the old boatswain with deep solemnity.

"He was a hard man," said Templin frowning, "but he went down with his ship."

That last act covered a multitude of sins in the eyes of the men.

"There ain't much more to tell," continued the boatswain after the tribute of respect and admiration had been conveyed by a solemn little silence which no other cared to break. "We had a hard v'yage in that open cutter, which we separated from the la'nch in the night. Food an' water give out by the end of a week, an' afore we reached Honolulu, or was picked up by a steamer headin' that way a day's sail from the port, three of the men died. Among 'em was Manuel, ship's steward. As we'd thought the old man was goin' in my boat, I had the log an' the ship's papers. We knowed, because I had seed it, that the cap'n had logged the yarn of the killing of Woywod, which he had got signed by Salver an' Manuel, the steward. Manuel was a witness to the whole thing, an' Salver to the latter part. Manuel was pretty poor stuff; afeerd of his life when Cap'n Fish was around. So he signed a lie. When he knowed he was goin' to die, he said he wanted to undo what he had done, as far as he could, so I got out the logbook an' wrote in it what he said. He made his mark after it, an' then Templin an' all the rest that could write signed it as witnesses, an' them as couldn't, made their marks. We thought if Beekman ever did git back home, an' this charge ever come up, which it wouldn't be likely, since the Susquehanna was lost, it might help him to git people to believe he was innercent."

As the old man spoke he unfolded the oil silk wrapping, disclosed the logbook, and extended it to his fascinated audience. Harnash took it.

"You'll find it there, sir," said the boatswain, opening the book at a place marked by a slip of paper.

"Read it, George," said Maynard.

"I, Manuel Silva," Harnash read from the water-stained page, with difficulty deciphering the blurred, soft pencil writing.

"We didn't have no pen an' ink," interrupted the boatswain in explanation.

"Being about to die, do hereby declare before God and Mr. Gersey and the crew of this cutter, that what I signed in the logbook about the death of the mate is a damn lie, which I hope God and the Holy Virgin and the Saints will pardon me. The mate struck at Smith, although he was twice warned, and finally drew a pistol. He would have shot him if he hadn't been killed. It was self defense. In fear of the captain and my life, I signed that false Happy David. This is the truth, so help me God."

"There's his mark," said Gersey, getting up and pointing. "An' this is my signature, an' there's Templin's an' Dumellow's, and there's Spear's and Lawton's marks, which they are here to testify. Also, there's Walling's and Allen's, which are dead."

"I see," said Harnash, handing the book to Stephanie.

"Mr. Gersey, you have done exceedingly well. I want to compliment you and every one of the men," said Maynard. "You shall not suffer in the loss of the Susquehanna. The Inter-Oceanic will pension you or give you steady work. A sum of money will be deposited to your credit, which will enable you to be independent of the sea, if you choose."

"That's handsome of you, Mr. Maynard," said Templin. "I don't know how the other men feels, but as for me, I'm too young to retire. I'd just blow in the money, wot ever it is, if it was give to me, an' I'd rather have work."

"That goes for me."

"An' for me," cried one after the other.

"So, if you'll jest keep the money for us, so's when we're too old to go to sea we'll have somethin' laid up, it'll be all right."

"Your decision is a wise one," said Maynard. "As it happens, I'll be able to offer you work. These men look to me to be all right. Can you vouch for them, Mr. Gersey?"

"They're prime seamen, every one of 'em, an' orderly an' decent men. Not but what they sometimes gits laid by the heels ashore, but afloat there ain't no more properer men to be found."

"I thought so. Well, I own a three-thousand-ton steam yacht, barkentine rigged-the Stephanie-named after my daughter here. She will be due in San Francisco in two weeks. We are contemplating an extended cruise to the south seas. Have you ever been in steam, Mr. Gersey?"

"Most of my life, sir."

"There's a berth aboard her as bo's'n, or fourth officer, for you, and I'll ship every man here at double pay before the mast. You can pick one of them for bo's'n's mate. We've never had a bo's'n on the yacht, but I've no doubt we can use one handily."

"Are you goin' to hunt for Beekman, sir, I makes bold to ask," questioned the boatswain, his face shining.

"I'm going to search the seas until I find him, or what became of him, if possible; and, incidentally, Salver and the launch."

"We're with you, howsomever long that cruise," said the boatswain. "Am I right, mates?"

"Right you are," came in deep-toned approval from the little group of sailors.

BOOK III
"Where there aren't no Ten Commandments"

CHAPTER XV
THE SPIRIT OF THE ISLAND

Derrick Beekman was astonished beyond measure at the apparition which flashed in view so suddenly far above his head and had almost immediately disappeared. So far as he had been able to view the island, he had not before discovered the slightest evidence of humanity. Indeed, the whole deep cup of the bay was so desolate and forbidding that it had not prepared him for human beings, scarcely for life, even. If he had not yet thought about it at all, he had, nevertheless, a subconsciousness that this was probably a bare and arid rock, volcanic in origin, which the busy little toilers of the sea had surrounded with a coral reef.

He came to believe afterward that this idea was correct, and that the deep bay represented one of the craters of the volcano, one side of which had been riven, by what cause he could not determine, giving access to the ocean. In his terribly weak condition, for when he had slaked his thirst, he was more acutely conscious of his hunger, not to say his starvation, than before, he could only reflect vaguely upon these matters. But one thing was really impressed upon his consciousness; namely, that he had seen a human being; that being was a woman, and that she was white!

He fell back on the sands supine, and lay staring upward. How long he lay there, he could not tell. He had been too amazed even to cry out, if he had possessed the power. And before he could decide upon anything, she was gone. He hoped, of course, that the woman or some of her companions, if she had any, would come again; but the dark, rugged, desolate rock cut the skyline with iron precision, unbroken by anything that had any suggestion of life, as before, when he had first looked upon it. He soon awoke to the realization that there was nothing to be gained by waiting. He must get something to eat to get back some of his strength before he explored the harbor to find a way to the top of the encircling cliffs.

He moved back to the spring and, thanking God for its sweetness, this time drank deeper than before. He took off his salt-encrusted clothes, held them under the falling water until they were clean of the sea marks, and then he plunged his own body in the waterfall. As he intended to swim back to the whaleboat, he laid his clothes out upon some rocks which faced the rift-like opening and through which the morning sun streamed with tropic intensity.

As he walked barefoot through the sand along the bank of the little shallow brook by which the waters that fell from the crest made their way to the sea, his foot struck something sharp that pricked him. He bent over it at once, instantly curious. In the situation in which he found himself, the slightest thing was of moment, or might be. He laughed as he recognized it. He eagerly tore from its bed in the sand-a pineapple!

Templin had replaced the sheath knife that had been taken from him by the captain, and it hung in his belt on the rocks behind him where he had left his clothes. To get it, to open it with nervous fingers, to cut into the heart of the pineapple, to bury his face greedily in the fragrant deliciousness of it, to eat it with almost animal-like ferocity, was inevitable in so ravenous a man. When he had devoured it to the last edible scrap, he searched the banks of the creek for other fruit, possible flotsam and jetsam from the upland; but the search produced nothing that met his fancy, for what he did find was decayed and useless.

He was abundantly thankful, however, for the pineapple. Leaving his clothing, except his shoes, which he put on again to protect his feet from the sharp rock, he climbed over the broken stone at the base of the rift and found himself once more on the stretch of sand opposite the wrecked whaleboat. The tide was evidently on the ebb, for much that had been covered before was now exposed. He gathered shellfish from the rocks, broke them open, and, restraining his hunger, which was still ravenous, partook sparingly of them.

Again making use of his boards, although he felt so much stronger that he might have dispensed with them, he swam out to the barrier reef and examined the whaleboat again. The lockers forward and aft were practically empty. He did come upon a few scraps of salt meat, which he had been unable to eat before in his consuming thirst; not enough for a meal for an ordinary man, but still very welcome, and these he devoured. There was not a crumb of hard bread left. That he had managed to eat, in spite of his thirst. There was not another thing in the boat except a boat hook, a stout pole with a brass hook on the end, and above the hook a sharp pointed spike. This point had got wedged in the bulkhead of the forward compartment, and the pole, lying under the thwarts, it had not been swept out by the seas which had broken over him. The boat itself was a hopeless wreck. The bottom had been torn out on the reef. Everything that had been in her was gone. If he could break her up, she would make good firewood if he should be able to compass a fire, and the copper air tanks forward and aft, which were still intact, might be of some service if he could ever get them off, which was improbable on account of the lack of tools. Nor would the boat hook be of much use to him. It would make a dangerous weapon in a hand-to-hand encounter, if he should be so unfortunate as to require it, but that was all.

The heat of the sun beating upon him warned him that he would best get back to the shelter of the cliffs and to his clothes. Taking the boat hook, after a last search of the lockers which revealed nothing, he once more swam the lagoon, by force of habit taking the planks which had assisted him before, although now he felt no need of them.

If it had not been for the presence of that woman on the upland indicating that the island was inhabited, he might have husbanded the scraps of salt meat which he had devoured so voraciously, but he reasoned as he ate them that there must be some way to the top, and that once there he would find plenty to eat. That woman could not have dropped from the clouds to the island. She or her forbears must have come up from the sea. If there were a way, he would find it. Retracing his steps, he presently regained the beach at the foot of the waterfall, and finding his clothes dry and free from salt, he put them on again with great comfort and gladness of heart.

Having taken his full meal of fruit, shellfish, and salt meat on the installment plan, as it were, and having prudently refrained from drinking his fill, contenting himself with frequent sips of water, he felt immensely refreshed. He had moved slowly in his weakness and exhaustion, and these various undertakings had used up most of the morning. He could tell from the sun that it was about noon. Selecting a spot on the warm, white sand which the sun had just left, which made a warm and even a luxurious bed for a man who had lain for how many days he could not tell on the hard planks and ribs of a boat in the tossing sea, he threw himself down on his back to rest, intending to begin his explorations in the afternoon. He instantly fell fast asleep.

When he awakened, the sun had set and, looking above and beyond the rocks that circled above him, he could see the stars shining in tropic brilliance in the quiet night sky. He was greatly refreshed by that long, undisturbed sleep on the warm, yielding sand. He was also ravenously hungry again, not famished, but just healthily hungry and thirsty. It was cool in the great cylinder at the bottom of which he lay. He concluded that it would be warmer on the ocean side where the sun had beaten with full power against the rock cliffs all day long. He would pass the night there. Drinking his fill, and drawing his belt a notch or two tighter, he found a sheltered spot protected by an overhang of rock and floored with clean, beautiful sand. He recalled whimsically enough Sancho Panza's sage reflection that "he who sleeps dines." Promising himself a day of exploration in the morning, he was soon asleep again.

Before dawn he made his way back to the waterfall. He was about to explore the harbor or cup when it occurred to him to wait until sunrise. Perhaps she would come again-that spirit of the island. With the first break of day as the splendor of the tropic morning streamed through the rift, he saw again the same radiant, beautiful, golden figure. This time he called. He shouted for help as loudly as he could, not because he had any idea that his words would be understood, but he felt that perhaps the appeal in his voice might be appreciated. He forgot that in his blue clothes he was practically invisible to anyone looking down into the gloom of the deep cup, especially as he stood against the foot of the darkest wall. The distance was great, but the sound of his voice-and it was the first time he had raised it or even spoken since he had landed-sent wild echoes flying which were thrown from wall to wall in almost maniacal ejaculations. Doubtless, they sounded much louder to him than to the woman above, but she was conscious of something unusual, for she started, and as he watched her closely he saw her peer down into the depths. Her vision swept the enclosure, but evidently she had not seen him, and although he called again and again, he finally desisted as she stopped her search, perhaps concluding that some wandering seabird with harsh cry might have sent those echoes flying, for presently she disappeared as before.

Well, he would solve the mystery of her presence when he got to the top of the rock, if he ever did. The first consideration was breakfast. The problem remained unsolved. No kindly brook rolled to his feet another pineapple. True, there were the mussels, but of these he ate sparingly. Then he took his board and launched out into the waters of the harbor. Here and there stretches of beach and piles of rock had collected at the foot of the cliffs which, for a large part of their extent, ran sheer down into the water, the blueness of which showed its depth. The sea water was warmer than the air in the hollow, at least until the sun had tempered it, and the bay was very still. He swam easily through it, landing at each stretch of sand or rock, also inspecting, as he progressed slowly, each fall of cliff that dropped into the water without breaking. Here and there practical ways of ascent seemed to open, but, when surveyed carefully or tried, they ended at greater or less distance upward.



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