Cyrus Brady.

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



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"Well, you," began Woywod with an oath. "Have you had your lesson? Do you know who's who aboard this ship? Are you ready to turn to?"

"I'm ready for nothing," said Beekman hotly, "except to kill you if I get a chance."

"Look here," said Woywod, "you're evidently a green hand. Probably you've never been on a ship afore, an' you don't know the law of the sea. 'T ain't to be expected that you would. We gits many aboard that makes their first v'yage with us. But there's one thing you do know, an' that's that I'm your master." His great hand shot out and shook itself beneath Beekman's face. "An' I'm your master not only because I'm first officer of this ship, but because I'm a better man than you are. I flung you into the lee scuppers an' I can do it again. I'm willin' an' wishful to do it, too. If you gimme any more mutinous back talk; if you refuse to turn to an' do your duty accordin' to the articles you signed when you come aboard, you'll git it again. If you act like a man instead of a fool, you'll have no more trouble with me 's long as you obey orders. D'ye git that?"

"I get it, yes. It's plain enough, but it makes no difference to me."

"It don't, don't it?"

"No; and I'm not a member of this crew. I signed no articles, and I don't propose to do a thing unless I please. I want to see the captain."

"You gimme the lie, do you?" said Woywod, approaching nearer.

"Now, look here," said Beekman; "I want you to understand one thing."

"What's that?"

"I'm not afraid of you. You can kill me. You've got the physical strength to do it, although if I were not so sick, there might be an argument as to that; so you might as well quit bullying me. Oh, yes, I have no doubt but what you could knock me over again, but I'll die fighting."

His hand clenched a belaying pin. He drew it out and lifted it up.

"Mr. Woywod," the captain's voice came from aft, "is that man givin' you any trouble again?"

"I can deal with him, sir."

"Send him aft to me."

Of course, Woywod could not disobey so direct an order. He had no relish for it, but there was no help for it. Beekman himself took action. He shoved past the mate, who, under the circumstances, did not dare to hit him, and made his way staggering along the deck to the bridge, where the mate followed him. Two or three of the crew came aft, but the mate drove them forward with curses and oaths.

"Young man," said the captain, an old man of short stature, but immensely broad shouldered and powerful, "do you know what mutiny is?"

"I certainly do."

"Oh, you've been to sea before, have you?"

"Many times."

"On what ships?"

"Trans-Atlantic liners and my own yacht."

"Your own yacht!" The captain burst into a roar of laughter.

"That's what I said."

"Do you know I'm the master of this ship?"

"I presume so."

"Well, then, say 'sir' to me, an' be quick about it."

"It is your due," said Beekman; "I should have done it before.

I beg your pardon, sir."

"That's better. Now, what's this cock-an'-bull story you're try in' to tell me? Look here, Smith-"

"That's not my name, sir."

"Well, that's the name you made your mark to on the ship's articles when you were brought aboard, the drunkest sailor I ever seen."

"That's exactly it," said Beekman. "I'm no sailor, and my name is not Smith."

"What's your name?"

"Beekman; Derrick Beekman."

"How came you aboard my ship?"

"I suppose I've been shanghaied. I don't know any more than you do; perhaps not as much."

"You mean," roared the captain, "that I had any hand in bringing you here?"

"I don't know anything about that. I only know that I was to be married today, Thursday."

"'Tain't Thursday; it's Friday. You've been in a drunken stupor since Thursday morning."

"Friday!"

Beekman looked about him with something like despair in his heart. There was not even a ship to be seen in the whole expanse of leaden sea.

"Captain-What's your name, sir?"

"Well, the impudence of that," ejaculated Woywod.

"What difference does it make to you what the cap'n's name is," sneered Salver.

"It's Peleg Fish, Smith-Beekman, or Beekman-Smith; Captain Peleg Fish."

"Well, Captain Fish, I'm a member of an old New York family and-"

"Families don't count for nothin' here," said the captain. "If that's all you've got to say, I've seen a many of them last scions brought down to the fok's'l."

"I was engaged to be married to the daughter of John Maynard. I presume you've heard of him."

"Do you mean the president of the Inter-Oceanic Trading Company?"

"I do."

"Well, I've heard of him all right," laughed the captain. "This is the Susquehanna. She belongs to his company. We fly his house flag. Do you mean to tell me that you claim to have been engaged to his daughter; a drunken ragamuffin like you, the off-scourin's of Water Street, which the crimps unload on us poor, helpless, seafarin' men as able seamen?"

"I was. I am. The wedding was set for yesterday. We had a bachelor dinner on Wednesday night, and I guess we all drank too much. At any rate, I don't know anything further except that I woke up here."

"It's a likely story."

"That chap's got a rich imagination," sneered the second mate.

"He'd orter be writin' romances," ejaculated Woywod.

"Enough," said Captain Fish. "Your story may be true or it may not. I don't think it is, but whether it is or not, it don't matter. You were brought aboard at two o'clock Thursday morning. We tripped and sailed at four. His name's on the articles, Mr. Woywod?"

"It is; John Smith. I witnessed his signature. He couldn't write at the time, so someone held his hand an' he made his mark."

"This is an outrage," roared Beekman. "What became of my watch and clothes?"

"You had nothin' but what you've got on now when you came aboard. Am I right, cap'n?"

"You are, sir."

"So you see there's nothin' for you to do but turn to an' behave yourself an' obey orders. When the ship reaches Vladivostok, an' we pays off, you can take your discharge an' go where you please."

"I'll give you a thousand dollars to go back to New York and land me."

The captain grinned. Taking their cue from him, Mr. Woywod and Mr. Salver exploded with laughter.

"You might as well make it ten thousand, while you're about it."

"I will make it ten thousand," said Beekman, desperately.

"Nonsense!"

"Well, then, will you trans-ship me to some vessel bound for New York?"

"We're short handed, sir," put in Woywod.

"Couldn't think of it," said the captain, who, of course, disbelieved in toto Beekman's highly improbable story.

This was the richest and most extravagant tale he had ever listened to. To do him justice, every voyage he had ever sailed had produced someone who strove to get out of the ship by urging some wildly improbable excuse for his being there.

"Well, sir, if you won't do that, I suppose Colon will be your first port of call, and you are going through the Panama Canal. Let me get on the end of the cable there and I'll get you orders from Mr. Maynard himself."

"I might be inclined to do that," said the captain facetiously, "but the canal is blocked by another slide in the Culebra cut, an' we're goin' around the Horn."

"Don't you touch anywhere?"

"Some South Sea island for vegetables an' water, mebbe, but no place where there's a cable, if I can help it. When I takes my departure I don't want nobody interferin' with me an' sendin' orders after me."

"Is there a wireless on the ship?"

"No. Now, if you've finished your questionin', perhaps you'll allow me to say a word or two."

"An' you may be very thankful to the cap'n for his kind treatment, for I never seed him so agreeable to a man tryin' to sojer out of work an' shirk his job afore," said Woywod.

"Jestice, Mr. Woywod, an' fair treatment, even to the common sailor, is my motto. As long as they obey orders, they've got nothin' to fear from me, an' that goes for you, Smith."

"Beekman," insisted the young man.

"Smith it was, Smith it is, Smith it will be. That's the first order. Now, I'll give you a little advice. Mr. Woywod and Mr. Salver is among the gentlest officers I ever sailed with, so long as they ain't crossed. You turn to an' do what you're told or you'll git it constantly; fist, rope's end, belay'n pin, sea boots, or whatever comes handiest, an' if you're obstinate enough, an' if it's serious enough, a charge of mutiny, an' double irons. Understand?"

Beekman nodded; the captain's meaning was clear.

"Go for'ard, now, an' remember, mutiny means a term in prison at the end of the voyage, an' mebbe worse. However you come aboard, you're here, an' bein' here, you got to obey orders or take the consequences."

"I protest against this outrage. I'll have the law. I'll bring you to justice."

"Belay that," said the captain, more or less indifferently. "It don't git you nowhere. If you are well advised, you'll heed my suggestions, that's all."

Beekman was absolutely helpless. There was nothing that he could do. Although more angry and more resentful than ever, he fully realized his impotency. He turned to go forward. Bill Woywod stopped him. The passion that the mate saw in Beekman's face, as he fairly gritted his teeth at him, startled him a little. Most liars and malingerers did not take it that way. They accepted the inevitable with more or less grace.

"You're in my watch," said Woywod.

"More's the pity."

"An' it happens to be the watch below. One bell has jest struck; four-thirty. The watch below takes the deck at four bells; six o'clock for the second dogwatch. I'll give you till then to think about it. If you don't turn to then with the rest an' do a man's duty, by God, you'll suffer for it."

CHAPTER VIII
THE ANVIL MUST TAKE THE POUNDING

Beekman had never thought so hard in his life as he did in the next hour and a half. Try as he would, he could see no way out of the hideous impasse into which fate had thrust him. He had not the faintest idea that his situation was caused by the treachery of his friend. No suspicion of betrayal entered his mind. He was certain it was simply the result of accident, and no one was to blame except himself.

He had got beastly drunk after that dinner. He had driven down town with Harnash. They had stopped on the way. They had finally separated. He had been assaulted, robbed, and probably left senseless from drink and the beating he had received. He hoped fervently that he had put up a good fight before being beaten into insensibility. Some crimp had picked him up, stripped him of his clothes, put him into these filthy rags, and sent him aboard the ship. By a legal mockery which would yet suffice, he had signed the articles. There was no way he could convince the captain of the truth of his story. Unless stress of weather or accident drove the ship to make port somewhere, he could communicate with nobody for six months, or until they dropped anchor at Vladivostok. He was a prisoner. Neither by physical force nor by mental alertness and ability could he alter that fact or change conditions.

Fantastic schemes came into his mind, of course; among them the organization of the crew, a mutiny, the seizure of the ship. But that would not be possible unless conditions on the ship became absolutely unbearable; and even if it were practicable, in all probability he might be leading the whole body to death and disaster. Beekman knew something about the organization and administration of the Inter-Oceanic Trading Company. He knew their ships were always well found and well provisioned. Given a well-found ship and plenty of good food to eat, and a sailor will stand almost anything.

Besides, most of these men knew fully the character of Captain Fish, Mr. Woywod, and Mr. Salver. They were as hard as iron, and as quick as lightning, and as ruthless as the devil himself, but if the men did what they were told, and did it quickly, and did it well, they got off with abuse only, and a comparative freedom from manhandling.

All three officers were fine seamen. They could handle a ship in any wind or sea as a skilled chauffeur handles a well-known car in heavy traffic, and it is a great deal harder to handle a ship than a car, especially a sailing ship. Blow high, blow low, come what would, these men were equal to any demand, and all that could be got out of timber and cordage and canvas, to say nothing of steel wire, these men could get. Also they were drivers. They would carry to'gall'n'ts'l's when other ships dared show no more than a close-reefed tops'l. Speed was a prime requisite with the owners. The Susquehanna, in particular, had to justify her use, and Captain Fish took a natural and pardonable pride in striving for the steamer record. All this pleased the men. Sailors will put up with much from a skillful, energetic, alert, daring, and successful officer. They made quick runs and drew high pay. Many of them had been attached to the Susquehanna since she had been commissioned. They had learned so to comport themselves as to avoid as much trouble as possible.

Beekman was in the receipt of not a little rough, but common-sense, advice from the watch below in the forecastle. His own better judgment told him that the unpalatable advice must be followed. Fish, Woywod, and Salver had it in their power to harry him to death. His spirit, nevertheless, rebelled against any such knuckling down as would be required. At three bells in the first dogwatch one of the ship's boys came to him with a message.

"Are you John Smith?" he said, stopping before him.

Beekman took his first lesson then and there. His inclination was, as it had been, to shout his own name to the trucks whenever he was questioned, but what was the use? He bit his lips and nodded.

"That's what they call me."

"Well, Mr. Gersey wants to see you."

"Who is he?"

"He's the ship's Bo's'n."

"Am I at the beck and call of everybody on the ship?"

"Look here, young feller," said an old, down-east sailor named Templin, who, on account of his age and experience, had been made the Bo's'n's mate of the port watch. "You've had a lot of advice throwed into you, which you may or may not foller. This last is worth 'bout as much as all the rest. The Bo's'n ain't no certificated officer. He don't live aft. He's got a position sort o' 'twixt fo'c's'l an' quarter-deck, but there's no man aboard who can do more for you or agin you than him. You seems to be a sort of a friendless damn fool. We don't none of us believe your yarn, but we sympathize with you because we've been in the same sitooation, all of us. Jim Gersey is a square man. You ain't had no chance to run athwart his hawse, an' like enough he wants to do you a good turn. You'd better go, an' go a-runnin'."

"Thank you," answered Beekman, rising and following the boy to the boatswain's cabin, right abaft the forecastle.

"Look here, Smith-" began that grizzled and veteran mariner, who had followed the sea all his life, and looked it.

"Smith is not my name."

"In course, it ain't, but it's the name you'll go by on this ship. I don't know why it is, but every man I ever seed articled on a ship without his consent got named Smith or Jones. I've knowed some mighty respectable people o' them names, an' I don't see why they've got to be saddled with all the offscourin's o' creation, meanin' no offense," said the rough, but somehow kindly, old man. "Smith it is, an'-"

"Smith goes," said Beekman briefly. "What's my first name, if I may ask?"

"Reads 'John' on the articles."

"John's as good as any."

"Now, you're takin' things in the right spirit. I heerd what you said to the officers, an' I seen how you got involved with Mr. Woywod. I sized you up good and plenty. Whether your yarn is true or not, an' I ain't passin' no judgment on that, it's evident that you ain't used to the sea, that you ain't used to rough work, I means, an' this yere is new experience for you. I'm old enough to be your father, an' it jest occurred to me that it would be a thing I'd like to remember when I quits the sea an' settles down on a farm I got my eyes on, that I took a young feller an' give him a friendly hand an' a word o' warnin', an' that's why I sent for you."

"I appreciate it more than I can tell. As man to man, I assure you that my story is absolutely true. If I ever get out of this alive, I'll remember your conduct."

"'T ain't for that I'm tryin' to steer you a straight course."

"I believe it."

"You've got to knuckle down, take your medicine, turn to an' do your dooty like a man. There ain't three harder men on the ocean to sail with than the old man an' them two mates. I've been on many ships, an' under many officers, but there couldn't be a worse hell ship than this one'd be if the men didn't knuckle down. You can't talk back; you can't even look sideways. You got to be on the jump all the time. You got to do what you're told, an' you got to do it right. Tryin' won't git you nowhere. It's doin' it. They're hell on every natural mistake."

"Why do men submit to it? How can they get a crew?" asked Beekman fiercely. "I would almost rather die than stand it."

"No, you wouldn't, sonny," said the loquacious old boatswain quickly. "If what you say is true, an' I ain't sayin' it ain't, you've got somethin' to live for, an' even if it ain't true, you've probably got something to live for ashore. If you're a fugitive from jestice, or anything o' that kind, which we gits 'em of'en, there's plenty of other lands where a man can disappear an' make a new start. An' men," he went on, reverting to the other's question, "are willin' to ship on the Susquehanna, an' do it over an' over agin, because she's well found, the grub's A-1, she's a lucky ship, an' makes quick passages. The pay is high, an' the officers are prime seamen, every inch o' them. If you do your dooty, if you do it right, if you don't make no mistakes, you'll git plenty o' hard language an' black looks, but that's all. If you don't they'll haze you until your spirit's broke, aye, until your life's gone. I'll do it myself," he added frankly. "I ain't talkin' to you now as the Bo's'n of the ship, but jest as man to man; as an old man advisin' a young one. If I find you shirkin', or sojerin', or puttin' on any airs, or playin' any tricks, I won't be far behind Woywod and Salver an' the old man. That's all."

"Mr. Gersey-"

"Cut out 'Mister.' I ain't no quarter-deck officer."

"Well, then, Bo's'n. I've thought it over. I'll accept your advice."

"It's the only thing you can do."

"That's true, and the only reason I do it. But, by heaven, if I ever get ashore, and if I ever get Woywod ashore, I'll pay him for it."

"There's many would like to help you at that job," answered Gersey; "but the trouble is to git him ashore. After ship's crews is paid off, they generally scatters an' disappears, an' sailormen's memories is short. They count on gittin' it hard from everybody, anyway. They've been trained that way from the beginnin'. They grow so forgetful that after they get on another ship there's nothin' too good to say of the last one in comparison. Do you know anything about sailorin'?"

"I don't know any knot-and-splice seamanship, if that's what you mean; but I'm a navigator, and I can sail my own yacht. I can do a trick at the wheel. I've never been on a full-rigged ship."

"What was your yacht?"

"A steamer, of course."

"Show any canvas?"

"Not to speak of."

"Ever been aloft?"

"No."

"Well, I'll do my best to train you. You've got an awful hard course to steer. You began bad by gittin' the mate down on you, an' I've no doubt but what he'll be layin' for you all the time, anyway."

"So long as he keeps his hands off me, I'll give him no further chance for trouble."

"An' if he don't?" asked the boatswain impressively.

"If he goes to that length-"

"You'll have to stand it jest the same. Mutiny on the high seas is the worst crime a sailor can be found guilty of. Everybody ashore is on the side of the officers-courts, an' jestices, an' juries."

"I'd like to get that brute in a court," said Beekman savagely. "I'd almost be willing to mutiny to do it."

"Take my advice on this p'int, too," said Gersey earnestly. "The less a sailor man has to do with law sharks an' courts ashore, the better off he finds hisself."

Thus it happened that when four bells were struck, and all the port watch were called, Beekman presented himself with the rest.

"So you've decided to turn to, have you, you dirty ragamuffin?" roared Woywod as the watch came tumbling aft.

"I have."

"Say, 'sir,'" cried the mate.

He had a piece of rattan in his hand, and he struck Beekman a blow on the arm. The hardest word he ever ejaculated in his life was that "sir" which he threw out between his teeth.

"That's well," said Woywod. "Now, you assaulted me; you've been technically guilty of mutiny, but I'll forgit that. You turn to an' do your work like a man, an' you'll have nothin' to fear from me, but if I catch you sojerin', I'll cut your heart out."

Beekman couldn't trust himself to speak. He stood rooted to his place on the deck until Woywod turned away. It was singular how the environment of a ship turned a fairly decent man ashore into a wolf, a pitiless brute, at sea. Woywod knew no other way to command men. The men with whom he had been thrown knew no other way to be commanded. The mate had completely forgotten his friend's instructions to treat Beekman with unusual consideration. As a matter of fact, Woywod was harder on Beekman in his own heart and in his intentions than on any other man for several reasons.



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