Need Must when the Devil Drives
by Morgan Robertson
Hogged at bow and stern, her deck sloped at the ends like a truck's platform, while a slight twist in the old hull canted the foremast to port and the mizzen to starboard. It would be hard to know when she was on an even keel. The uneven planking, inboard and out, was scarred like a chopping-block, possibly from a former and intimate acquaintance with the coal trade. Aloft were dingy gray spars, slack hemp rigging, untarred for years, and tan-colored sails, mended with patch upon patch of lighter-hued canvas that seemed about to fall apart from their own weight. She was English-built, bark-rigged, bluff in the bow, square in the stern, unpainted and leaky—on the whole as unkempt and disreputable-looking a craft as ever flew the black flag; and with the clank of the pumps marking time to the wailing squeak of the tiller-ropes, she wallowed through the waves like a log in an eddying tideway.
Even the black flag at the gaff-end wore a makeshift, slovenly air. It was a square section of the bark's foreroyal, painted black around the skull-and-cross-bones design, which had been left the original hue of the canvas. The port-holes were equally slovenly in appearance, being cut through between stanchions with axes instead of saws; and the bulwarks were further disfigured by extra holes smashed through at the stanchions to take the lashings of the gun-breechings. But the guns were bright and cared for, as were the uniforms of the crew; for they had been lately transhipped. Far from home, with a general cargo, this ancient trader had been taken in a fog by Captain Swarth and his men an hour before their own well-found vessel had sunk alongside—which gave them just time to hoist over guns and ammunition. When the fog shifted, the pursuing English war-brig that had riddled the pirate saw nothing but the peaceful old tub ahead, and went on into the fog, looking for the other.
"Any port in a storm, Angel," remarked Captain Swarth, as he flashed his keen eyes over the rickety fabric aloft; "but we'll find a better one soon. How do the boys stand the pumping?"
Mr. Angel Todd, first mate and quartermaster, filled a black pipe before answering. Then, between the first and second deep puffs, he said: "Growlin'—dammum."
"At the work?"
"Yep, and the grub. And they say the 'tween-deck and forecastle smells o' bedbugs and bilge-water, and they want their grog. 'An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.'" Mr. Todd had been educated for the pulpit; but, going out as a missionary, he had fallen into ungodly ways and taken to the sea, where he was more successful. Many of his old phrasings clung to him.
"Well," drawled the captain, "men get fastidious and high-toned in this business,—can't blame them,—but we've got to make the coast, and if we don't pick up something on the way, we must careen and stop the leak. Then they'll have something to growl about."
"S'pose the brig follows us in?"
"Hope she will," said Captain Swarth, with a pleasant smile and a lightening of his eyes—"hope she will, and give me a chance. Her majestic widowship owes me a brig, and that's a fine one."
Mr. Todd had never been known to smile, but at this speech he lifted one eyebrow and turned his saturnine face full at his superior, inquiry written upon every line of it. Captain Swarth was musing, however, and said no more; so the mate, knowing better than to attempt probing his mind, swung his long figure down the poop-ladder, and went forward to harass the men—which, in their opinion, was all he was good for.
According to his mood, Mr. Todd's speech was choicest English or the cosmopolitan, technical slang of the sea, mingled with wonderful profanity. But one habit of his early days he never dropped: he wore, in the hottest weather, and in storm and battle, the black frock and choker of the clerical profession. Standing now with one foot on the fore-hatch, waving his long arms and objurgating the scowling men at the pumps, he might easily have seemed, to any one beyond the reach of his language, to be a clergyman exhorting them. Captain Swarth watched him with an amused look on his sunburnt face, and muttered: "Good man, every inch of him, but he can't handle men." Then he called him aft.
"Angel," he said, "we made a mistake in cutting the ports; we can't catch anything afloat that sees them, so we'll have to pass for a peaceable craft until we can drift close enough to board something. I think the brig'll be back this way, too. Get out some old tarpaulins and cover up the ports. Paint them, if you can, the color of the sides, and you might coil some lines over the rail, as though to dry. Then you can break out cargo and strike the guns down the main-hatch."
Three days later, with Cape St. Roque a black line to the westward, a round shot across her bows brought the old vessel—minus the black emblem now, and outwardly respectable—up to the wind, with maintopsail aback, while Captain Swarth and a dozen of his men—equally respectable in the nondescript rig of the merchant sailor—watched the approach of an English brig of war. Mr. Todd and the rest of the crew were below hatches with the guns.
The brig came down the wind like a graceful bird—a splendid craft, black, shiny, and shipshape, five guns to a side, brass-bound officers on her quarter-deck, blue-jackets darting about her white deck and up aloft, a homeward-bound pennant trailing from her main-truck, and at her gaff-end a British ensign as large as her mainroyal. Captain Swarth lazily hoisted the English flag to the bark's gaff, and, as the brig rounded to on his weather beam, he pointed to it; but his dark eyes sparkled enviously as he viewed the craft whose government's protection he appealed to.
"Bark ahoy!" came a voice through a trumpet. "What bark is that?"
Captain Swarth swung himself into the mizzen-rigging and answered through his hands with an excellent cockney accent: "Tryde Wind
o' Lunnon, Cappen Quirk, fifty-one dyes out fro' Liverpool, bound to Callao, gen'ral cargo."
"You were not heading for the Horn."
"Hi'm a-leakin' badly. Hi'm a-goin' to myke the coast to careen. D'ye happen to know a good place?"
An officer left the group and returned with what Captain Swarth knew was a chart, which a few of them studied, while their captain hailed again:
"See anything more of that pirate brig the other day?"
"What! a pirate? Be 'e a pirate?" answered Captain Swarth, in agitated tones. "Be that you a-chasin' of 'im? Nao, hi seed nothink of 'im arter the fog shut 'im out."
The captain conferred with his officers a moment, then called:
"We are going in to careen ourselves. That fellow struck us on the water-line. We are homeward bound, and Rio's too far to run back. Follow us in; but if you lose sight of us, it's a small bay, latitude nine fifty-one forty south, rocks to the north, lowland to the south, good water at the entrance, and a fine beach. Look out for the brig. It's Swarth and his gang. Good morning."
"Aye, that hi will. Thank ye. Good marnin'."
In three hours the brig was a speck under the rising land ahead; in another, she was out of sight; but before this Captain Swarth and his crew had held a long conference, which resulted in sail being shortened, though the man at the wheel was given a straight course to the bay described by the English captain.
Late on the following afternoon the old bark blundered into this bay—a rippling sheet of water, bag-shaped, and bordered on all sides by a sandy beach. Stretching up to the mountainous country was a luxurious forest of palm, laurel, and cactus, bound and intertwined by almost impassable undergrowth, and about half-way from the entrance to the end of the bay was the English brig, moored and slightly careened on the inshore beach. Captain Swarth's seamanly eye noted certain appearances of the tackles that held her down, which told him that the work was done and she was being slacked upright. "Just in time," he muttered.
They brought the bark to anchor near the beach, about a half-mile from the brig, furled the canvas, and ran out an anchor astern, with the cable over the taffrail. Heaving on this, they brought the vessel parallel with the shore. So far, good. Guns and cargo lightered ashore, more anchors seaward to keep her off the beach, masthead tackles to the trees to heave her down, and preventer rigging and braces to assist the masts, would have been next in order, but they proceeded no further toward careening. Instead, they lowered the two crazy boats, provisioned and armed them on the in-shore side of the bark, made certain other preparations—and waited.
On the deck of the English brig things were moving. A gang of blue-jackets, under the first lieutenant, were heaving in the cable; another gang, under the boatswain, were sending down and stowing away the heavy tackles and careening-gear, tailing out halyards and sheets and coiling down the light-running rigging, while topmen aloft loosed the canvas to bunt-gaskets, ready to drop it at the call from the deck.
The second lieutenant, overseeing this latter, paced the port quarter-deck and answered remarks from Captain Bunce, who paced the sacred starboard side (the brig being at anchor) and occasionally turned his glass on the dilapidated craft down the beach.
"Seems to me, Mr. Shack," he said across the deck, "that an owner who would send that bark around the Horn, and the master who would take her, ought to be sequestered and cared for, either in an asylum or in jail."
"Yes, sir, I think so too," answered the second lieutenant, looking aloft. "Might be an insurance job. Clear away that bunt-gasket on the royal-yard," he added in a roar.
Captain Bunce—round, rosy, with brilliant mutton-chop whiskers—muttered: "Insurance—wrecked intentionally—no, not here where we are; wouldn't court investigation by her Majesty's officers." He rolled forward, then aft, and looked again through the glass.
"Very large crew—very large," he said; "very curious, Mr. Shack."
A hail from the forecastle, announcing that the anchor was short, prevented Mr. Shack's answering. Captain Bunce waved a deprecatory hand to the first lieutenant, who came aft at once, while Mr. Shack descended to the waist, and the boatswain ascended the forecastle steps to attend to the anchor. The first lieutenant now had charge of the brig, and from the quarter-deck gave his orders to the crew, while Captain Bunce busied himself with his glass and his thoughts.
Fore-and-aft sail was set and head-sheets trimmed down to port, square sails were dropped, sheeted home, and hoisted, foreyards braced to port, the anchor tripped and fished, and the brig paid off from the land-breeze, and, with foreyards swung, steadied down to a course for the entrance.
"Mr. Duncan," said the captain, "there are fully forty men on that bark's deck, all dressed alike—all in red shirts and knitted caps—and all dancing around like madmen. Look!" He handed the glass to the first lieutenant, who brought it to bear.
"Strange," said the officer, after a short scrutiny; "there were only a few showing when we spoke her outside. It looks as though they were all drunk."
As they drew near, sounds of singing—uproarious discord—reached them, and soon they could see with the naked eye that the men on the bark were wrestling, dancing, and running about.
"Quarters, sir?" inquired Mr. Duncan. "Shall we bring to alongside?"
"Well—no—not yet," said the captain, hesitatingly; "it's all right—possibly; yet it is strange. Wait a little."
They waited, and had sailed down almost abreast of the gray old craft, noticing, as they drew near, an appreciable diminution of the uproar, when a flag arose from the stern of the bark, a dusky flag that straightened out directly toward them, so that it was difficult to make out.
But they soon understood. As they reached a point squarely abreast of the bark, five points of flame burst from her innocent gray sides, five clouds of smoke ascended, and five round shot, coming with the thunder of the guns, hurtled through their rigging. Then they saw the design of the flag, a white skull and cross-bones, and noted another, a black flag too, but pennant-shaped, and showing in rudely painted letters the single word "Swarth," sailing up to the forepeak.
"Thunder and lightning!" roared Captain Bunce. "Quarters, Mr. Duncan, quarters, and in with the kites. Give it to them. Put about first."
A youngster of the crew had sprung below and immediately emerged with a drum which, without definite instruction, he hammered vigorously; but before he had begun, men were clearing away guns and manning flying-jib downhaul and royal clue-lines. Others sprang to stations, anticipating all that the sharp voice of the first lieutenant could order. Around came the brig on the other tack and sailed back, receiving another broadside through her rigging and answering with her starboard guns. Then for a time the din was deafening. The brig backed her main-yards and sent broadside after broadside into the hull of the old craft. But it was not until the eighth had gone that Captain Bunce noticed through the smoke that the pirates were not firing. The smoke from the burning canvas port-coverings had deluded him. He ordered a cessation. Fully forty solid shot had torn through that old hull near the water-line, and not a man could now be seen on her deck.
"Out with the boats, Mr. Duncan," he said; "they're drunk or crazy, but they're the men we want. Capture them."
"Suppose they run, sir—suppose they take to their boats and get into the woods—shall we follow?"
"No, not past the beach—not into an ambush."
The four boat-loads of men which put off from the brig found nothing but a deserted deck on the sinking bark and two empty boats hauled up on the beach. The pirates were in the woods, undoubtedly, having kept the bark between themselves and the brig as they pulled ashore. While the blue-jackets clustered around the bows of their boats and watched nervously the line of forest up the beach, from which bullets might come at any time, the two lieutenants conferred for a few moments, and had decided to put back, when a rattling chorus of pistol reports sounded from the depths of the woods. It died away; then was heard a crashing of bush and branch, and out upon the sands sprang a figure—a long, weird figure in black frock of clerical cut. Into their midst it sped with mighty bounds, and sinking down, lifted a glad face to the heavens with the groaning utterance: "O God, I thank thee. Protect me, gentlemen—protect me from those wicked men."
"What is it? Who are you?" asked Mr. Duncan. "Were they shooting at you?"
"Yes, at me, who never harmed a fly. They would have killed me. My name is Todd. Oh, such suffering! But you will protect me? You are English officers. You are not pirates and murderers."
"But what has happened? Do you live around here?"
It took some time for Mr. Todd to quiet down sufficiently to tell his story coherently. He was an humble laborer in the vineyard of the Lord. He had gleaned among the poorest of the native population in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro until his health suffered, and had taken passage home in a passenger-ship, which, ten days out, was captured by a pirate brig. And the pirate crew had murdered every soul on board but himself, and only spared his life, as he thought, for the purpose of amusement; for they had compelled him to dance—he, a minister of the gospel—and had made him drink under torture, and recite ribald poetry, and swear, and wash their clothes. All sorts of indignities had been heaped upon him, but he had remembered the injunction of the Master; he had invariably turned the other cheek when smitten, and had prayed for their souls. He told of the flight from the English war-brig, of the taking of the old bark in the fog and the sinking of the pirate craft, of the transfer of guns and treasure to the bark, and the interview at sea with the English brig, in which Captain Swarth had deceived the other, and of Captain Swarth's reckless confidence in himself, which had induced him to follow the brig in and careen in the same bay. He wound up his tale with a lurid description of the drunken debauch following the anchoring of the bark,—during which he had trembled for his life,—of the insane firing on the brig as she passed, and the tumbling into the boats when the brig returned the fire, of the flight into the woods, the fighting among themselves, and his escape under fire.
As he finished he offered an incoherent prayer of thankfulness, and the sympathetic Mr. Shack drew forth his pocket-flask and offered it to the agitated sufferer; but Mr. Todd, who could probably drink more whisky and feel it less than any other man in the pirate crew, declined the poison with a shiver of abhorrence. Then Mr. Duncan, who had listened thoughtfully, said: "You speak of treasure; did they take it with them?"
Mr. Todd opened wide his eyes, looked toward the dark shades of the forest, then at the three masts of the bark rising out of the water, and answered impressively:
"Gentlemen, they did not. They were intoxicated—mad with liquor. They took arms and a knapsack of food to each man,—they spoke of an inland retreat to which they were going,—but the treasure from the passenger-ship—the bars of gold and the bags of diamonds—they forgot. They transferred it from their sinking vessel when sober, but when intoxicated they remembered food and left it behind. Gentlemen, there is untold wealth in the hull out there which your fire has sunk. It is, verily, the root of all evil; let us hope that it remains at the bottom of the sea."
"Bars of gold—bags of diamonds!" said Mr. Duncan. "Come on board, Mr. Todd; we'll see what the captain thinks."
At dinner in the brig's cabin that evening—as a prelude to which Mr. Todd said grace—his account of the wealth spread out on Captain Swarth's cabin table after the taking of the passenger-ship was something to arouse interest in a less worldly man than Captain Bunce. Virgin gold—in bars, ingots, bricks, and dust—from the Morro Velho mines of Brazil was there, piled up on the table until the legs had given way and launched the glittering mass to the floor. Diamonds uncut, uncounted, of untold value,—a three years' product of the whole Chapada district,—some as large as walnuts, had been spread out and tossed about like marbles by those lawless men, then boxed up with the gold and stowed among the cargo under the main-hatch. Again Mr. Todd expressed the hope that Providence would see fit to let this treasure remain where the pirates had left it, no longer to tempt man to kill and steal. But Captain Bunce and his officers thought differently. Glances, then tentative comments, were exchanged, and in five minutes they were of one mind, even including Mr. Todd; for it may not be needless to state that the treasure and the passenger-ship existed only in his imagination.
Pending the return of the boats the brig's anchor had been dropped about two hundred yards from the bark; now canvas was furled, and at eight bells all hands were mustered aft to hear what was in store. Captain Bunce stated the case succinctly; they were homeward bound and under general orders until they reported to the admiral at Plymouth. Treasure was within their reach, apportionable, when obtained, as prize-money. It was useless to pursue the pirates into the Brazilian jungle; but they would need to be watchful and ready for surprise at any moment, either while at work raising the bark or at night; for though they had brought out the two boats in which the pirates had escaped, they could find other means of attack, should they dare or care to make it. The English sailors cheered. Mr. Todd begged to say a few words, and enjoined them not to allow the love of lucre to tempt their minds from the duty they owed to their God, their country, and their captain, which was also applauded and forgotten in a moment. Then, leaving a double-anchor watch, provided with blue fire and strict instructions, on deck, the crew turned in to dream of an affluent future, and Mr. Todd was shown to a comfortable state-room. He removed his coat and vest, closed the door and dead-light, filled and lighted his black pipe, and rolled into the berth with a seaman's sigh of contentment.
"That was a good dinner," he murmured, after he had filled the room with smoke—"a good dinner. Nothing on earth is too good for a sky-pilot. I'd go back to the business when I've made my pile, if it wasn't so all-fired hard on the throat; and then the trustees, with their eternal kicking on economy, and the sisters, and the donation-parties—yah, to h—l with 'em! Wonder if this brig ever carried a chaplain? Wonder how Bill and the boys are making out? Fine brig, this,—'leven knots on a bow-line, I'll bet,—fine state-room, good grub, nothin' to do but save souls and preach the Word on Sunday. Guess I'll strike the fat—duffer—for the—job—in—the—morn——" The rest of the sentence merged into a snore, and Mr. Todd slept through the night in the fumes of tobacco, which so permeated his very being that Captain Bunce remarked it at breakfast. "Smoke, Captain Bunce? I smoke? Not I," he answered warmly; "but, you see, those ungodly men compelled me to clean all their pipes,—forty foul pipes,—and I do not doubt that some nicotine has lodged on my clothing." Whereupon Captain Bunce told of a chaplain he had once sailed with whose clothing smelled so vilely that he himself had framed a petition to the admiral for his transfer to another ship and station. And the little story had the effect on Mr. Todd of causing him mentally to vow that he'd "ship with no man who didn't allow smoking," and openly aver that no sincere, consistent Christian clergyman would be satisfied to stultify himself and waste his energies in the comfort and ease of a naval chaplaincy, and that a chaplain who would smoke should be discredited and forced out of the profession. But later, when Captain Bunce and his officers lighted fat cigars, and he learned that the aforesaid chaplain had merely been a careless devotee of pipe and pigtail twist, Mr. Todd's feelings may be imagined (by a smoker); but he had committed himself against tobacco and must suffer.
During the breakfast the two lieutenants reported the results of a survey which they had taken of the wreck at daylight.
"We find," said Mr. Duncan, "about nine feet of water over the deck at the stern, and about three feet over the fore-hatch at low tide. The topgallant-forecastle is awash and the end of the bowsprit out of water, so that we can easily reach the upper ends of the bobstays. There is about five feet rise and fall of tide. Now, we have no pontoons nor casks. Our only plan, captain, is to lift her bodily."
"But we have a diving-suit and air-pump," said Mr. Shack, enthusiastically, "and fifty men ready to dive without suits. We can raise her, captain, in two weeks."
"Gentlemen," said Captain Bunce, grandly, "I have full faith in your seamanship and skill. I leave the work in your hands." Which was equivalent to an admission that he was fat and lazy, and did not care to take an active part.
"Thank you, sir," said Mr. Duncan, and "Thank you, sir," said Mr. Shack; then the captain said other pleasant things, which brought other pleasant responses, and the breakfast passed off so agreeably that Mr. Todd, in spite of the soul-felt yearning for a smoke inspired by the cigars in the mouths of the others, felt the influence of the enthusiasm and bestowed his blessing—qualifiedly—on the enterprise.
Every man of the brig's crew was eager for the work, but few could engage at first; for there was nothing but the forecastle-deck and the bark's rigging to stand upon. Down came the disgraceful black flags the first thing, and up to the gaff went the ensign of Britain. Then they sent down the fore and main lower and topsail yards, and erected them as sheers over the bow and stern, lower ends well socketed in spare anchor-stocks to prevent their sinking in the sand, upper ends lashed together and stayed to each other and to the two anchors ahead and astern. To the sheer-heads they rigged heavy threefold tackles, and to the disconnected bobstays (chains leading from the bowsprit end to the stem at the water-line) they hooked the forward tackle, and heaving on the submerged windlass, lifted the bow off the bottom—high enough to enable them to slip two shots of anchor-chain under the keel, one to take the weight at the stern, the other at the bow, for the bobstays would pull out of the stem under the increased strain as the bark arose.
Most of this work was done under water; but a wetting is nothing to men looking for gold, and nobody cared. Yet, as a result of ruined uniforms, the order came from Captain Bunce to wear underclothing only or go naked, which latter the men preferred, though the officers clung to decency and tarry duck trousers. Every morning the day began with the washing of the brig's deck and scouring of brasswork—which must be done at sea though the heavens fall; then followed breakfast, the arming of the boats ready for an attack from the shore, and the descent upon the bark of as many men as could work.
Occasionally Captain Bunce would order the dinghy, and, accompanied by Mr. Todd, would visit the bark and offer interfering suggestions, after the manner of captains, which only embarrassed the officers; and Mr. Todd would take advantage of these occasions to make landlubberly comments and show a sad ignorance of things nautical. But often he would decline the invitation, and when the captain was gone would descend to his room, and, shutting the door, grip his beloved—though empty—black pipe between his teeth and breathe through it, while his eyes shone fiercely with unsatisfied desire, and his mind framed silent malediction on Bill Swarth for condemning him to this smokeless sojourn. For he dared not smoke; stewards, cooks, and sailors were all about him.
In three days the bark's nose was as high as the seven-part tackle would bring it, with all men heaving who could find room at the windlass-brakes. Then they clapped a luff-tackle on the fall, and by heaving on this, nippering and fleeting up, they lifted the fore-hatch and forecastle scuttle out of water—which was enough. Before this another gang had been able to slip the other chain to position abaft the mizzenmast, hook on the tackle, and lead the fall through a snatch-block at the quarter-bitts forward to the midship capstan. Disdaining the diving-suit, they swam down nine feet to do these things, and when they had towed the rope forward they descended seven feet to wind it around the capstan and ship the bars, which they found in a rack at the mainmast.
A man in the water weighs practically nothing, and to heave around a capstan under water requires lateral resistance. To secure this they dived with hammers and nails, and fastened a circle of cleats to catch their feet. Then with a boy on the main fife-rail (his head out) holding slack, eighteen men—three to a bar—would inhale all the air their lungs could hold, and, with a "One, two, three," would flounder down, push the capstan around a few pawls, and come up gasping, and blue in the face, to perch on their bars and recover. It went slowly, this end, but in three days more they could walk around with their heads above water.
The next day was Sunday, and they were entitled to rest; but the flavor of wealth had entered their souls, and they petitioned the captain for privilege to work, which was granted, to the satisfaction of the officers, and against the vigorous protest of Mr. Todd, who had prepared a sermon and borrowed clean linen from Mr. Shack in which to deliver it.
With luff-tackles on the fall they hove the stern up until the cabin doors and all deck-openings but the main-hatch were out of water, and then, with the bark hanging to the sheers as a swinging-cradle hangs from its supports, some assisted the carpenter and his mates in building up and calking an upward extension of the main-hatch coaming that reached above water at high tide, while others went over the side looking for the shot-holes of eight broadsides. These, when found, were covered with planking, followed by canvas, nails being driven with shackles, sounding-leads, and stones from the bottom in the hands of naked men clinging to weighted stagings—men whose eyes protruded, whose lungs ached, whose brains were turning.
Then, and before a final inspection by the boatswain in the diving-suit assured them that the last shot-hole was covered, they began bailing from the main-hatch, and when the water perceptibly lowered—the first index of success—a feverish yell arose and continued, while nude lunatics wrestled and floundered waist-deep on the flooded deck. The bark's pumps were manned and worked under water, bailing-pumps—square tubes with one valve—were made and plunged up and down in each hatch, whips were rigged, and buckets rose and fell until the obstructing cargo confined the work to the bark's pumps. Can-hooks replaced the buckets on the whips, then boxes and barrels were hoisted, broken into, and thrown overboard, until the surface of the bay was dotted with them. They drifted back and forth with the tide, some stranding on the beach, others floating seaward through the inlet. And all the time that they worked, sharp eyes had watched through the bushes, and a few miles inland, in a glade surrounded by the giant trees of the Brazilian forest, red-shirted men lolled and smoked and grew fat, while they discussed around the central fire the qualities of barbecued wild oxen, roast opossum and venison, and criticized the seamanship of the Englishmen.
With a clear deck to work on, every man and boy of the brig's crew, except the idlers (stewards, cooks, and servants), was requisitioned, and boxes flew merrily; but night closed down on the tenth day of their labor without sign of the treasure, and now Mr. Todd, who had noticed a shade of testiness in the queries of the officers as to the exact location of the gold and diamonds, expressed a desire to climb the rigging next afternoon, a feat he had often wished to perform, which he did clumsily, going through the lubber's hole, and seated in the maintop with Mr. Duncan's Bible, he remained in quiet meditation and apparent reading and prayer until the tropic day changed to sudden twilight and darkness, and the hysterical crew returned. Then he came down to dinner.
In the morning the work was resumed, and more boxes sprinkled the bay. They drifted up with the flood, and came back with the ebb-tide; but among them now were about forty others, unobserved by Captain Bunce, pacing his quarter-deck, but noted keenly by Mr. Todd. These forty drifted slowly to the offshore side of the brig and stopped, bobbing up and down on the crisp waves, even though the wind blew briskly with the tide, and they should have gone on with the others. It was then that Captain Bunce stepped below for a cigar, and it was then that Mr. Todd became strangely excited, hopping along the port-rail and throwing overboard every rope's end within reach, to the wonder and scandal of an open-eyed steward in the cabin door, who immediately apprised the captain.
Captain Bunce, smoking a freshly lit cigar, emerged to witness a shocking sight—the good and godly Mr. Todd, with an intense expression on his somber countenance, holding a match to a black pipe and puffing vigorously, while through the ports and over the rail red-shirted men, dripping wet and scowling, were boarding his brig. Each man carried a cutlass and twelve-inch knife, and Captain Bunce needed no special intelligence to know that he was tricked.
One hail only he gave, and Mr. Todd, his pipe glowing like a hot coal, was upon him. The captain endeavored to draw his sword, but sinewy arms encircled him; his cigar was removed from his lips and inserted in the mouth of Mr. Todd alongside the pipe; then he was lifted, spluttering with astonishment and rage, borne to the rail and dropped overboard, his sword clanking against the side as he descended. When he came to the surface and looked up, he saw through a cloud of smoke on the rail the lantern-jaws of Mr. Todd working convulsively on pipe and cigar, and heard the angry utterance: "Yes, d—n ye, I smoke." Then a vibrant voice behind Mr. Todd roared out: "Kill nobody—toss 'em overboard," and the captain saw his servants, cooks, and stewards tumbling over to join him.
Captain Bunce turned and swam—there was nothing else to do. Soon he could see a black-eyed, black-mustached man on his quarter-deck delivering orders, and he recognized the thundering voice, but none of the cockney accent of Captain Quirk. Men were already on the yards loosing canvas; and as he turned on his back to rest—for, though fleshy and buoyant, swimming in full uniform fatigued him—he saw his anchor-chains whizzing out the hawse-pipes.
He was picked up by the first boat to put off from the bark, and ordered pursuit; but this was soon seen to be useless. The clean-lined brig had sternway equal to the best speed of the boats, and now head-sails were run up, and she paid off from the shore. Topsails were sheeted home and hoisted, she gathered way, and with topgallantsails and royals, spanker and staysails, following in quick succession, the beautiful craft hummed down to the inlet and put to sea, while yells of derision occasionally came back to the white-faced men in the boats.
A month later the rehabilitated old bark also staggered out the entrance, and, with a naked, half-starved crew and sad-eyed, dilapidated officers, headed southward for Rio de Janeiro.