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The mutiny of the elsinore

TheMutinyoftheElsinore,byJackLondon
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Title:TheMutinyoftheElsinore

Author:JackLondon

ReleaseDate:July10,2007[eBook#2415]
Language:English
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Transcribedfromthe1915MillsandBooneditionbyDavidPrice,email
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THEMUTINYOFTHEELSINORE
BY

JACKLONDON
MILLS&BOON,LIMITED
49RUPERTSTREET
LONDON,W.
Published1915
CopyrightintheUnitedStatesofAmericabyJACKLONDON


CHAPTERI
Fromthefirstthevoyagewasgoingwrong.Routedoutofmyhotelonabitter
Marchmorning,IhadcrossedBaltimoreandreachedthepier-endpreciselyon
time.Atnineo’clockthetugwastohavetakenmedownthebayandputmeon
boardtheElsinore,andwithgrowingirritationIsatfrozeninsidemytaxicaband
waited.Ontheseat,outside,thedriverandWadasathunchedinatemperature
perhapshalfadegreecolderthanmine.Andtherewasnotug.
Possum,thefox-terrierpuppyGalbraithhadsoinconsideratelyfoisteduponme,
whimperedandshiveredonmylapinsidemygreatcoatandunderthefurrobe.
Buthewouldnotsettledown.Continuallyhewhimperedandclawedand
struggledtogetout.And,onceoutandbittenbythecold,withequalinsistence
hewhimperedandclawedtogetback.
Hisunceasingplaintandmovementwasanythingbutsedativetomyjangled
nerves.InthefirstplaceIwasuninterestedinthebrute.Hemeantnothingto
me.Ididnotknowhim.Timeandagain,asIdrearilywaited,Iwasonthe
vergeofgivinghimtothedriver.Once,whentwolittlegirls—evidentlythe
wharfinger’sdaughters—wentby,myhandreachedouttothedoortoopenitso
thatImightcalltothemandpresentthemwiththepulinglittlewretch.
AfarewellsurprisepackagefromGalbraith,hehadarrivedatthehotelthenight
before,byexpressfromNewYork.ItwasGalbraith’sway.Yethemightso
easilyhavebeendecentlylikeotherfolkandsentfruit...orflowers,even.But
no;hisaffectionateinspirationhadtotaketheformofayelping,yappingtwo
months’oldpuppy.Andwiththeadventoftheterrierthetroublehadbegun.
ThehotelclerkjudgedmeacriminalbeforetheactIhadnotevenhadtimeto
meditate.AndthenWada,onhisowninitiativeandoutofhisownfoolish
stupidity,hadattemptedtosmugglethepuppyintohisroomandbeencaughtby
ahousedetective.PromptlyWadahadforgottenallhisEnglishandlapsedinto
hystericalJapanese,andthehousedetectiverememberedonlyhisIrish;while


thehotelclerkhadgivenmetounderstandinnouncertaintermsthatitwasonly
whathehadexpectedofme.


Damnthedog,anyway!AnddamnGalbraithtoo!AndasIfrozeoninthecab
onthatbleakpier-end,Idamnedmyselfaswell,andthemadfreakthathad
startedmevoyagingonasailing-shiparoundtheHorn.
Byteno’clockanondescriptyoutharrivedonfoot,carryingasuit-case,which
wasturnedovertomeafewminuteslaterbythewharfinger.Itbelongedtothe
pilot,hesaid,andgaveinstructionstothechauffeurhowtofindsomeotherpier
fromwhich,atsomeindeterminatetime,IshouldbetakenaboardtheElsinore
bysomeothertug.Thisservedtoincreasemyirritation.WhyshouldInothave
beeninformedaswellasthepilot?
Anhourlater,stillinmycabandstationedattheshoreendofthenewpier,the
pilotarrived.AnythingmoreunlikeapilotIcouldnothaveimagined.Herewas
noblue-jacketed,weather-beatensonofthesea,butasoft-spokengentleman,for
alltheworldthetypeofsuccessfulbusinessmanonemeetsinalltheclubs.He
introducedhimselfimmediately,andIinvitedhimtosharemyfreezingcabwith
Possumandthebaggage.Thatsomechangehadbeenmadeinthearrangements
byCaptainWestwasallheknew,thoughhefanciedthetugwouldcomealong
anytime.
Anditdid,atoneintheafternoon,afterIhadbeencompelledtowaitandfreeze
forfourmortalhours.DuringthistimeIfullymadeupmymindthatIwasnot
goingtolikethisCaptainWest.AlthoughIhadnevermethim,histreatmentof
mefromtheoutsethadbeen,tosaytheleast,cavalier.WhentheElsinorelayin
ErieBasin,justarrivedfromCaliforniawithacargoofbarley,Ihadcrossedover
fromNewYorktoinspectwhatwastobemyhomeformanymonths.Ihad
beendelightedwiththeshipandthecabinaccommodation.Eventhestateroom
selectedformewassatisfactoryandfarmorespaciousthanIhadexpected.But
whenIpeepedintothecaptain’sroomIwasamazedatitscomfort.WhenIsay
thatitopeneddirectlyintoabath-room,andthat,amongotherthings,itwas
furnishedwithabigbrassbedsuchasonewouldneversuspecttofindatsea,I
havesaidenough.
Naturally,Ihadresolvedthatthebath-roomandthebigbrassbedshouldbe
mine.WhenIaskedtheagentstoarrangewiththecaptaintheyseemednoncommittalanduncomfortable.“Idon’tknowintheleastwhatitisworth,”I
said.“AndIdon’tcare.Whetheritcostsonehundredandfiftydollarsorfive
hundred,Imusthavethosequarters.”
HarrisonandGray,theagents,debatedsilentlywitheachotherandscarcely


thoughtCaptainWestwouldseehiswaytothearrangement.“Thenheisthe
firstseacaptainIeverheardofthatwouldn’t,”Iassertedconfidently.“Why,the
captainsofalltheAtlanticlinersregularlyselltheirquarters.”
“ButCaptainWestisnotthecaptainofanAtlanticliner,”Mr.Harrisonobserved
gently.
“Remember,Iamtobeonthatshipmanyamonth,”Iretorted.“Why,heavens,
bidhimuptoathousandifnecessary.”
“We’lltry,”saidMr.Gray,“butwewarnyounottoplacetoomuchdependence
onourefforts.CaptainWestisinSearsportatthepresenttime,andwewill
writehimto-day.”
TomyastonishmentMr.Graycalledmeupseveraldayslatertoinformmethat
CaptainWesthaddeclinedmyoffer.“Didyouofferhimuptoathousand?”I
demanded.“Whatdidhesay?”
“Heregrettedthathewasunabletoconcedewhatyouasked,”Mr.Grayreplied.
AdaylaterIreceivedaletterfromCaptainWest.Thewritingandthewording
wereold-fashionedandformal.Heregrettednothavingyetmetme,andassured
methathewouldseepersonallythatmyquartersweremadecomfortable.For
thatmatterhehadalreadydispatchedorderstoMr.Pike,thefirstmateofthe
Elsinore,toknockoutthepartitionbetweenmystate-roomandthesparestateroomadjoining.Further—andhereiswheremydislikeforCaptainWestbegan
—heinformedmethatif,whenoncewellatsea,Ishouldfindmyself
dissatisfied,hewouldgladly,inthatcase,exchangequarterswithme.
Ofcourse,aftersucharebuff,Iknewthatnocircumstancecouldeverpersuade
metooccupyCaptainWest’sbrassbed.AnditwasthisCaptainNathanielWest,
whomIhadnotyetmet,whohadnowkeptmefreezingonpier-endsthrough
fourmiserablehours.ThelessIsawofhimonthevoyagethebetter,wasmy
decision;anditwaswithalittletickleofpleasurethatIthoughtofthemany
boxesofbooksIhaddispatchedonboardfromNewYork.ThanktheLord,Idid
notdependonseacaptainsforentertainment.
IturnedPossumovertoWada,whowassettlingwiththecabman,andwhilethe
tug’ssailorswerecarryingmyluggageonboardIwasledbythepilottoan
introductionwithCaptainWest.AtthefirstglimpseIknewthathewasnomore
aseacaptainthanthepilotwasapilot.Ihadseenthebestofthebreed,the


captainsoftheliners,andhenomoreresembledthemthandidheresemblethe
bluff-faced,gruff-voicedskippersIhadreadaboutinbooks.Byhissidestooda
woman,ofwhomlittlewastobeseenandwhomadeawarmandgorgeousblob
ofcolourinthehugemuffandboaofredfoxinwhichshewaswell-nighburied.
“MyGod!—hiswife!”Idartedinawhisperatthepilot.“Goingalongwith
him?...”
IhadexpresslystipulatedwithMr.Harrison,whenengagingpassage,thatthe
onethingIcouldnotpossiblyconsiderwastheskipperoftheElsinoretakinghis
wifeonthevoyage.AndMr.HarrisonhadsmiledandassuredmethatCaptain
Westwouldsailunaccompaniedbyawife.
“It’shisdaughter,”thepilotrepliedunderhisbreath.“Cometoseehimoff,I
fancy.Hiswifediedoverayearago.Theysaythatiswhatsenthimbackto
sea.He’dretired,youknow.”
CaptainWestadvancedtomeetme,andbeforeouroutstretchedhandstouched,
beforehisfacebrokefromreposetogreetingandthelipsmovedtospeech,Igot
thefirstastonishingimpactofhispersonality.Long,lean,inhisfaceatouchof
raceIasyetcouldonlysense,hewasascoolasthedaywascold,aspoisedasa
kingoremperor,asremoteasthefarthestfixedstar,asneutralasaproposition
ofEuclid.Andthen,justereourhandsmet,atwinkleof—oh—suchdistantand
controlledgenialityquickenedthemanytinywrinklesinthecorneroftheeyes;
theclearblueoftheeyeswassuffusedbyanalmostcolourfulwarmth;theface,
too,seemedsimilarlytosuffuse;thethinlips,harsh-settheinstantbefore,were
asgraciousasBernhardt’swhenshemouldssoundintospeech.
SocuriouslywasIaffectedbythisfirstglimpseofCaptainWestthatIwas
awareofexpectingtofallfromhislipsIknewnotwhatwordsofuntold
beneficenceandwisdom.Yetheutteredmostcommonplaceregretsatthedelay
inavoiceprovocativeoffreshsurprisetome.Itwaslowandgentle,almosttoo
low,yetclearasabellandtouchedwithafaintreminiscenttwangofoldNew
England.
“Andthisistheyoungwomanwhoisguiltyofthedelay,”heconcludedmy
introductiontohisdaughter.“Margaret,thisisMr.Pathurst.”
Herglovedhandpromptlyemergedfromthefox-skinstomeetmine,andIfound
myselflookingintoapairofgrayeyesbentsteadilyandgravelyuponme.It
wasdiscomfiting,thatcool,penetrating,searchinggaze.Itwasnotthatitwas


challenging,butthatitwassoinsolentlybusiness-like.Itwasmuchinthevery
wayonewouldlookatanewcoachmanhewasabouttoengage.Ididnotknow
thenthatshewastogoonthevoyage,andthathercuriosityaboutthemanwho
wastobeafellow-passengerforhalfayearwasthereforeonlynatural.
Immediatelysherealizedwhatshewasdoing,andherlipsandeyessmiledas
shespoke.
Aswemovedontoenterthetug’scabinIheardPossum’sshiveringwhimper
risingtoascreech,andwentforwardtotellWadatotakethecreatureinoutof
thecold.Ifoundhimhoveringaboutmyluggage,wedgingmydressing-case
securelyuprightbymeansofmylittleautomaticrifle.Iwasstartledbythe
mountainofluggagearoundwhichminewasnomorethanafringe.Ship’s
stores,wasmyfirstthought,untilInotedthenumberoftrunks,boxes,suitcases,andparcelsandbundlesofallsorts.Theinitialsonwhatlooked
suspiciouslylikeawoman’shattrunkcaughtmyeye—“M.W.”YetCaptain
West’sfirstnamewasNathaniel.OncloserinvestigationIdidfindseveral
“N.W’s.”buteverywhereIcouldsee“M.W’s.”ThenIrememberedthathehad
calledherMargaret.
Iwastooangrytoreturntothecabin,andpacedupanddownthecolddeck
bitingmylipswithvexation.Ihadsoexpresslystipulatedwiththeagentsthat
nocaptain’swifewastocomealong.ThelastthingunderthesunIdesiredin
thepetquartersofashipwasawoman.ButIhadneverthoughtabouta
captain’sdaughter.FortwocentsIwasreadytothrowthevoyageoverand
returnonthetugtoBaltimore.
Bythetimethewindcausedbyourspeedhadchilledmebitterly,InoticedMiss
Westcomingalongthenarrowdeck,andcouldnotavoidbeingstruckbythe
springandvitalityofherwalk.Herface,despiteitsfirmmoulding,hada
suggestionoffragilitythatwasbeliedbytherobustnessofherbody.Atleast,
onewouldarguethatherbodymustberobustfromherfashionofmovementof
it,thoughlittlecouldonedivinethelinesofitundertheshapelessnessofthe
furs.
Iturnedawayonmyheelandfellmoodilytocontemplatingthemountainof
luggage.Ahugepacking-caseattractedmyattention,andIwasstaringatit
whenshespokeatmyshoulder.
“That’swhatreallycausedthedelay,”shesaid.
“Whatisit?”Iaskedincuriously.


“Why,theElsinore’spiano,allrenovated.WhenImadeupmymindtocome,I
telegraphedMr.Pike—he’sthemate,youknow.Hedidhisbest.Itwasthefault
ofthepianohouse.Andwhilewewaitedto-dayIgavethemapieceofmymind
they’llnotforgetinahurry.”
Shelaughedattherecollection,andcommencedtopeepandpeerintothe
luggageasifinsearchofsomeparticularpiece.Havingsatisfiedherself,she
wasstartingback,whenshepausedandsaid:
“Won’tyoucomeintothecabinwhereit’swarm?Wewon’tbethereforhalfan
hour.”
“Whendidyoudecidetomakethisvoyage?”Idemandedabruptly.
SoquickwasthelookshegavemethatIknewshehadinthatmomentcaught
allmydisgruntlementanddisgust.
“Twodaysago,”sheanswered.“Why?”
Herreadinessforgiveandtaketookmeaback,andbeforeIcouldspeakshe
wenton:
“Nowyou’renottobeatallsillyaboutmycoming,Mr.Pathurst.Iprobably
knowmoreaboutlong-voyagingthanyoudo,andwe’reallgoingtobe
comfortableandhappy.Youcan’tbotherme,andIpromiseyouIwon’tbother
you.I’vesailedwithpassengersbefore,andI’velearnedtoputupwithmore
thantheyeverprovedtheywereabletoputupwith.Sothere.Letusstartright,
anditwon’tbeanytroubletokeepongoingright.Iknowwhatisthematter
withyou.Youthinkyou’llbecalledupontoentertainme.PleaseknowthatI
donotneedentertainment.Ineversawthelongestvoyagethatwastoolong,
andIalwaysarriveattheendwithtoomanythingsnotdoneforthepassageever
tohavebeentedious,and...Idon’tplayChopsticks.”


CHAPTERII
TheElsinore,fresh-loadedwithcoal,layverydeepinthewaterwhenwecame
alongside.Iknewtoolittleaboutshipstobecapableofadmiringherlines,and,
besides,Iwasinnomoodforadmiration.Iwasstilldebatingwithmyself
whetherornottochuckthewholethingandreturnonthetug.Fromallofwhich
itmustnotbetakenthatIamavacillatingtypeofman.Onthecontrary.
Thetroublewasthatatnotime,fromthefirstthoughtofit,hadIbeenkeenfor
thevoyage.PracticallythereasonIwastakingitwasbecausetherewasnothing
elseIwaskeenon.Forsometimenowlifehadlostitssavour.Iwasnotjaded,
norwasIexactlybored.Butthezesthadgoneoutofthings.Ihadlosttastefor
myfellow-menandalltheirfoolish,little,seriousendeavours.Forafarlonger
periodIhadbeendissatisfiedwithwomen.Ihadenduredthem,butIhadbeen
tooanalyticofthefaultsoftheirprimitiveness,oftheiralmostferocious
devotiontothedestinyofsex,tobeenchantedwiththem.AndIhadcometobe
oppressedbywhatseemedtomethefutilityofart—apompouslegerdemain,a
consummatecharlatanrythatdeceivednotonlyitsdevoteesbutitspractitioners.
Inshort,IwasembarkingontheElsinorebecauseitwaseasiertothannot;yet
everythingelsewasasequallyandperilouslyeasy.Thatwasthecurseofthe
conditionintowhichIhadfallen.Thatwaswhy,asIsteppeduponthedeckof
theElsinore,Iwashalfofamindtotellthemtokeepmyluggagewhereitwas
andbidCaptainWestandhisdaughtergood-day.
Ialmostthinkwhatdecidedmewasthewelcoming,hospitablesmileMissWest
gavemeasshestarteddirectlyacrossthedeckforthecabin,andtheknowledge
thatitmustbequitewarminthecabin.
Mr.Pike,themate,Ihadalreadymet,whenIvisitedtheshipinErieBasin.He
smiledastiff,crack-facedsmilethatIknewmustbepainful,butdidnotofferto
shakehands,turningimmediatelytocallorderstohalf-a-dozenfrozen-looking
youthsandagedmenwhoshambledupfromsomewhereinthewaistofthe
ship.Mr.Pikehadbeendrinking.Thatwaspatent.Hisfacewaspuffedand


discoloured,andhislargegrayeyeswerebitterandbloodshot.
Ilingered,withasinkingheartwatchingmybelongingscomeaboardand
chidingmyweaknessofwillwhichpreventedmefromutteringthefewwords
thatwouldputastoptoit.Asforthehalf-dozenmenwhowerenowcarrying
theluggageaftintothecabin,theywereunlikeanyconceptIhadever
entertainedofsailors.Certainly,ontheliners,Ihadobservednothingthat
resembledthem.
One,amostvivid-facedyouthofeighteen,smiledatmefromapairof
remarkableItalianeyes.Buthewasadwarf.Soshortwashethathewasall
sea-bootsandsou’wester.AndyethewasnotentirelyItalian.SocertainwasI
thatIaskedthemate,whoansweredmorosely:
“Him?Shorty?He’sadagohalf-breed.Theotherhalf’sJaporMalay.”
Oneoldman,whoIlearnedwasabosun,wassodecrepitthatIthoughthehad
beenrecentlyinjured.Hisfacewasstolidandox-like,andasheshuffledand
draggedhisbrogansoverthedeckhepausedeveryseveralstepstoplaceboth
handsonhisabdomenandexecuteaqueer,pressing,liftingmovement.Months
weretopass,inwhichIsawhimdothisthousandsoftimes,ereIlearnedthat
therewasnothingthematterwithhimandthathisactionwaspurelyahabit.His
faceremindedmeoftheManwiththeHoe,savethatitwasunthinkablyand
abysmallystupider.Andhisname,asIwastolearn,ofallnameswasSundry
Buyers.AndhewasbosunofthefineAmericansailing-shipElsinore—rated
oneofthefinestsailing-shipsafloat!
OfthisgroupofagedmenandboysthatmovedtheluggagealongIsawonly
one,calledHenry,ayouthofsixteen,whoapproximatedintheslightestwhatI
hadconceivedallsailorstobelike.Hehadcomeoffatrainingship,themate
toldme,andthiswashisfirstvoyagetosea.Hisfacewaskeen-cut,alert,as
werehisbodilymovements,andheworesailor-appearingclotheswithsailorseeminggrace.Infact,asIwastolearn,hewastobetheonlysailor-seeming
creatureforeandaft.
Themaincrewhadnotyetcomeaboard,butwasexpectedatanymoment,the
matevouchsafedwithasnarlofominousexpectancy.Thosealreadyonboard
werethemiscellaneousoneswhohadshippedthemselvesinNewYorkwithout
themediationofboarding-housemasters.Andwhatthecrewitselfwouldbe
likeGodalonecouldtell—sosaidthemate.Shorty,theJapanese(orMalay)and
Italianhalf-caste,thematetoldme,wasanableseaman,thoughhehadcomeout


ofsteamandthiswashisfirstsailingvoyage.
“Ordinaryseamen!”Mr.Pikesnorted,inreplytoaquestion.“Wedon’tcarry
Landsmen!—forgetit!Everyclodhopperan’cow-walloperthesedaysisanable
seaman.That’sthewaytheyrankandarepaid.Themerchantserviceisallshot
tohell.Thereain’tnomoresailors.Theyalldiedyearsago,beforeyouwere
borneven.”
Icouldsmelltherawwhiskeyonthemate’sbreath.Yethedidnotstaggernor
showanysignsofintoxication.NotuntilafterwardwasItoknowthathis
willingnesstotalkwasmostunwontedandwaswheretheliquorgavehimaway.
“It’da-benagracehadIdiedyearsago,”hesaid,“ratherthantoa-livedtosee
sailorsan’shipspassawayfromthesea.”
“ButIunderstandtheElsinoreisconsideredoneofthefinest,”Iurged.
“Sosheis...to-day.Butwhatisshe?—adamnedcargo-carrier.Sheain’tbuilt
forsailin’,an’ifshewasthereain’tnosailorslefttosailher.Lord!Lord!The
oldclippers!WhenIthinkof’em!—TheGamecock,Shootin’Star,Flyin’Fish,
Witcho’theWave,Staghound,HarveyBirch,Canvas-back,Fleetwing,Sea
Serpent,NorthernLight!An’whenIthinkofthefleetsofthetea-clippersthat
usedtoloadatHongKongan’racetheEasternPassages.Afinesight!Afine
sight!”
Iwasinterested.Herewasaman,aliveman.Iwasinnohurrytogointothe
cabin,whereIknewWadawasunpackingmythings,soIpacedupanddownthe
deckwiththehugeMr.Pike.Hugehewasinallconscience,broad-shouldered,
heavy-boned,and,despitetheprofoundstoopofhisshoulders,fullysixfeetin
height.
“Youareasplendidfigureofaman,”Icomplimented.
“Iwas,Iwas,”hemutteredsadly,andIcaughtthewhiffofwhiskeystrongon
theair.
Istolealookathisgnarledhands.Anyfingerwouldhavemadethreeofmine.
Hiswristwouldhavemadethreeofmywrist.
“Howmuchdoyouweigh?”Iasked.
“Twohundredan’ten.Butinmyday,atmybest,Itippedthescalescloseto


two-forty.”
“AndtheElsinorecan’tsail,”Isaid,returningtothesubjectwhichhadroused
him.
“I’lltakeyoueven,anythingfromapoundoftobaccotoamonth’swages,she
won’tmakeitaroundinahundredan’fiftydays,”heanswered.“YetI’vecome
roundintheoldFlyin’Cloudineighty-ninedays—eighty-ninedays,sir,from
SandyHookto’Frisco.Sixtymenfor’ardthatwasmen,an’eightboys,an’
drive!drive!drive!Threehundredan’seventy-fourmilesforaday’srununder
t’gallantsails,an’inthesquallseighteenknotso’linenotenoughtotimeher.
Eighty-ninedays—neverbeat,an’tiedoncebytheoldAndrewJacksonnine
yearsafterwards.Themwasthedays!”
“WhendidtheAndrewJacksontieher?”Iasked,becauseofthegrowing
suspicionthathewas“having”me.
“In1860,”washispromptreply.
“AndyousailedintheFlyingCloudnineyearsbeforethat,andthisis1913—
why,thatwassixty-twoyearsago,”Icharged.
“AndIwassevenyearsold,”hechuckled.“Mymotherwasstewardessonthe
Flyin’Cloud.Iwasbornatsea.IwasboywhenIwastwelve,ontheHeraldo’
theMorn,whenshemadearoundinninety-ninedays—halfthecrewinirons
mosto’thetime,fivemenlostfromaloftofftheHorn,thepointsofoursheathknivesbrokensquareoff,knuckle-dustersan’belayin’-pinsflyin’,threemen
shotbytheofficersinoneday,thesecondmatekilleddeadan’noonetoknow
whodoneit,an’drive!drive!drive!ninety-ninedaysfromlandtoland,arunof
seventeenthousandmiles,an’easttowestaroundCapeStiff!”
“Butthatwouldmakeyousixty-nineyearsold,”Iinsisted.
“WhichIam,”heretortedproudly,“an’abettermanatthatthanthescrubby
younglingsofthesedays.Agenerationof’emwoulddieunderthethingsI’ve
beenthrough.DidyoueverhearoftheSunnySouth?—shethatwassoldin
Havanatorunslavesan’changedhernametoEmanuela?”
“Andyou’vesailedtheMiddlePassage!”Icried,recollectingtheoldphrase.
“IwasontheEmanuelathatdayinMozambiqueChannelwhentheBriskcaught
uswithninehundredslavesbetween-decks.Onlyshewouldn’ta-caughtus


exceptforherhavingsteam.”
Icontinuedtostrollupanddownbesidethismassiverelicofthepast,andto
listentohishintsandmutteredreminiscencesofoldman-killingandmandrivingdays.Hewastoorealtobetrue,andyet,asIstudiedhisshoulder-stoop
andtheage-dragofhishugefeet,Iwasconvincedthathisyearswereashe
asserted.HespokeofaCaptainSonurs.
“Hewasagreatcaptain,”hewassaying.“An’inthetwoyearsIsailedmate
withhimtherewasneveraportIdidn’tjumptheshipgoin’inan’stayinhiding
untilIsneakedaboardwhenshesailedagain.”
“Butwhy?”
“Themen,onaccountofthemenswearin’bloodan’vengeanceandwarrants
againstmebecauseofmywaysofteachin’themtobesailors.Why,thetimesI
wascaught,andthefinestheskipperpaidforme—andyetitwasmyworkthat
madetheshipmakemoney.”
Hehelduphishugepaws,andasIstaredatthebattered,malformedknucklesI
understoodthenatureofhiswork.
“Butallthat’sstoppednow,”helamented.“Asailor’sagentlemanthesedays.
Youcan’traiseyourvoiceoryourhandtothem.”
Atthismomenthewasaddressedfromthepoop-railabovebythesecondmate,
amedium-sized,heavilybuilt,clean-shaven,blondman.
“Thetug’sinsightwiththecrew,sir,”heannounced.
Themategruntedanacknowledgment,thenadded,“Comeondown,Mr.
Mellaire,andmeetourpassenger.”
IcouldnothelpnotingtheairandcarriagewithwhichMr.Mellairecamedown
thepoop-ladderandtookhispartintheintroduction.Hewascourteousinan
old-worldway,soft-spoken,suave,andunmistakablyfromsouthofMasonand
Dixon.
“ASoutherner,”Isaid.
“Georgia,sir.”Hebowedandsmiled,asonlyaSouthernercanbowandsmile.
Hisfeaturesandexpressionweregenialandgentle,andyethismouthwasthe


cruellestgashIhadeverseeninaman’sface.Itwasagash.Thereisnoother
wayofdescribingthatharsh,thin-lipped,shapelessmouththatutteredgracious
thingssograciously.InvoluntarilyIglancedathishands.Likethemate’s,they
werethick-boned,broken-knuckled,andmalformed.BackintohisblueeyesI
looked.Onthesurfaceofthemwasafilmoflight,aglossofgentlekindness
andcordiality,butbehindthatglossIknewresidedneithersinceritynormercy.
Behindthatglosswassomethingcoldandterrible,thatlurkedandwaitedand
watched—somethingcatlike,somethinginimicalanddeadly.Behindthatgloss
ofsoftlightandofsocialsparklewasthelive,fearfulthingthathadshapedthat
mouthintothegashitwas.WhatIsensedbehindinthoseeyeschilledmewith
itsrepulsivenessandstrangeness.
AsIfacedMr.Mellaire,andtalkedwithhim,andsmiled,andexchanged
amenities,Iwasawareofthefeelingthatcomestooneintheforestorjungle
whenheknowsunseenwildeyesofhuntinganimalsarespyinguponhim.
FranklyIwasafraidofthethingambushedbehindthereintheskullofMr.
Mellaire.Onesoasamatterofcourseidentifiesformandfeaturewiththespirit
within.ButIcouldnotdothiswiththesecondmate.Hisfaceandformand
mannerandsuaveeasewereonething,insidewhichhe,anentirelydifferent
thing,layhid.
InoticedWadastandinginthecabindoor,evidentlywaitingtoaskfor
instructions.Inodded,andpreparedtofollowhiminside.Mr.Pikelookedat
mequicklyandsaid:
“Justamoment,Mr.Pathurst.”
Hegavesomeorderstothesecondmate,whoturnedonhisheelandstarted
for’ard.IstoodandwaitedforMr.Pike’scommunication,whichhedidnot
choosetomakeuntilhesawthesecondmatewelloutofear-shot.Thenhe
leanedcloselytomeandsaid:
“Don’tmentionthatlittlematterofmyagetoanybody.EachyearIsignonI
signmyageoneyearyounger.Iamfifty-four,now,onthearticles.”
“Andyoudon’tlookadayolder,”Iansweredlightly,thoughImeantitinall
sincerity.
“AndIdon’tfeelit.Icanoutworkandoutgamethehuskiestoftheyounglings.
Anddon’tletmyagegettoanybody’sears,Mr.Pathurst.Skippersarenot
particularformatesgettingaroundtheseventymark.Andownersneither.I’ve


hadmyhopesforthisship,andI’da-gother,Ithink,exceptfortheoldman
decidin’togotoseaagain.Asifheneededthemoney!Theoldskinflint!”
“Ishewelloff?”Iinquired.
“Welloff!IfIhadatenthofhismoneyIcouldretireonachickenranchin
Californiaandlivelikeafightingcock—yes,ifIhadafiftiethofwhathe’sgot
saltedaway.Why,heownsmorestockinalltheBlackwoodships...and
they’vealwaysbeenluckyandalwaysearnedmoney.I’mgettingold,andit’s
abouttimeIgotacommand.Butno;theoldcusshastotakeitintohisheadto
gotoseaagainjustastheberth’sripeformetofallinto.”
AgainIstartedtoenterthecabin,butwasstoppedbythemate.
“Mr.Pathurst?Youwon’tmentionaboutmyage?”
“No,certainlynot,Mr.Pike,”Isaid.


CHAPTERIII
Quitechilledthrough,Iwasimmediatelystruckbythewarmcomfortofthe
cabin.Alltheconnectingdoorswereopen,makingwhatImightcallalarge
suiteofroomsorawhalehouse.Themain-deckentrance,ontheportside,was
intoawide,well-carpetedhallway.Intothishallway,fromtheportside,opened
fiverooms:first,onentering,themate’s;next,thetwostate-roomswhichhad
beenknockedintooneforme;thenthesteward’sroom;and,adjoininghis,
completingtherow,astate-roomwhichwasusedfortheslop-chest.
AcrossthehallwasaregionwithwhichIwasnotyetacquainted,thoughIknew
itcontainedthedining-room,thebath-rooms,thecabinproper,whichwasin
truthaspaciousliving-room,thecaptain’squarters,and,undoubtedly,Miss
West’squarters.Icouldhearherhummingsomeairasshebustledaboutwith
herunpacking.Thesteward’spantry,separatedbycrosshallsandbythe
stairwayleadingintothechart-roomaboveonthepoop,wasplacedstrategically
inthecentreofallitsoperations.Thus,onthestarboardsideofitwerethestateroomsofthecaptainandMissWest,for’ardofitwerethedining-roomandmain
cabin;whileontheportsideofitwastherowofroomsIhavedescribed,twoof
whichweremine.
Iventureddownthehalltowardthestern,andfounditopenedintothesternof
theElsinore,formingasinglelargeapartmentatleastthirty-fivefeetfromside
tosideandfifteentoeighteenfeetindepth,curved,ofcourse,tothelinesofthe
ship’sstern.Thisseemedastore-room.Inotedwash-tubs,boltsofcanvas,
manylockers,hamsandbaconhanging,astep-ladderthatledupthroughasmall
hatchtothepoop,and,inthefloor,anotherhatch.
Ispoketothesteward,anoldChinese,smooth-facedandbriskofmovement,
whosenameIneverlearned,butwhoseageonthearticleswasfifty-six.
“Whatisdownthere?”Iasked,pointingtothehatchinthefloor.
“Himlazarette,”heanswered.


“Andwhoeatsthere?”Iindicatedatablewithtwostationarysea-chairs.
“Himsecondtable.Secondmateandcarpenterhimeatthattable.”
WhenIhadfinishedgivinginstructionstoWadaforthearrangingofmythingsI
lookedatmywatch.Itwasearlyyet,onlyseveralminutesafterthreesoIwent
ondeckagaintowitnessthearrivalofthecrew.
TheactualcomingonboardfromthetugIhadmissed,butfor’ardofthe
amidshiphouseIencounteredafewlaggardswhohadnotyetgoneintothe
forecastle.Theseweretheworseforliquor,andamorewretched,miserable,
disgustinggroupofmenIhadneverseeninanyslum.Theirclotheswererags.
Theirfaceswerebloated,bloody,anddirty.Iwon’tsaytheywerevillainous.
Theyweremerelyfilthyandvile.Theywerevileofappearance,ofspeech,and
action.
“Come!Come!Getyourdunnageintothefo’c’s’le!”
Mr.Pikeutteredthesewordssharplyfromthebridgeabove.Alightandgraceful
bridgeofsteelrodsandplankingranthefulllengthoftheElsinore,startingfrom
thepoop,crossingtheamidshiphouseandtheforecastle,andconnectingwith
theforecastle-headattheverybowoftheship.
Atthemate’scommandthemenreeledaboutandgloweredupathim,oneor
twostartingclumsilytoobey.Theothersceasedtheirdrunkenyammeringsand
regardedthematesullenly.Oneofthem,withafacemashedbysomemadgod
inthemaking,andwhowasafterwardstobeknownbymeasLarry,burstintoa
guffaw,andspatinsolentlyonthedeck.Then,withutmostdeliberation,he
turnedtohisfellowsanddemandedloudlyandhuskily:
“Whoinhell’stheoldstiff,anyways?”
IsawMr.Pike’shugeformtenseconvulsivelyandinvoluntarily,andInotedthe
wayhishugehandsstrainedintheirclutchonthebridge-railing.Beyondthathe
controlledhimself.
“Goon,you,”hesaid.“I’llhavenothingoutofyou.Getintothefo’c’s’le.”
Andthen,tomysurprise,heturnedandwalkedaftalongthebridgetowherethe
tugwascastingoffitslines.Sothiswasallhishighandmightytalkofkilland
drive,Ithought.NotuntilafterwardsdidIrecollect,asIturnedaftdownthe
deck,thatIsawCaptainWestleaningontherailatthebreakofthepoopand


gazingfor’ard.
Thetug’slineswerebeingcastoff,andIwasinterestedinwatchingthe
manoeuvreuntilshehadbackedclearoftheship,atwhichmoment,from
for’ard,aroseaqueerbabelofhowlingandyelping,asnumbersofdrunken
voicescriedoutthatamanwasoverboard.Thesecondmatesprangdownthe
poop-ladderanddartedpastmealongthedeck.Themate,stillontheslender,
white-paintedbridge,thatseemednomorethanaspiderthread,surprisedmeby
theactivitywithwhichhedashedalongthebridgetothe’midshiphouse,leaped
uponthecanvas-coveredlong-boat,andswungoutboardwherehemightsee.
Beforethemencouldclamberupontherailthesecondmatewasamongthem,
anditwashewhoflungacoiloflineoverboard.
Whatimpressedmeparticularlywasthementalandmuscularsuperiorityof
thesetwoofficers.Despitetheirage—thematesixty-nineandthesecondmate
atleastfifty—theirmindsandtheirbodieshadactedwiththeswiftnessand
accuracyofsteelsprings.Theywerepotent.Theywereiron.Theywere
perceivers,willers,anddoers.Theywereasofanotherspeciescomparedwith
thesailorsunderthem.Whilethelatter,witnessesofthehappeninganddirectly
onthespot,hadbeencryingoutinbefuddledhelplessness,andwithslowwits
andslowerbodiesbeenclimbingupontherail,thesecondmatehaddescended
thesteepladderfromthepoop,coveredtwohundredfeetofdeck,sprungupon
therail,graspedtheinstantneedofthesituation,andcastthecoiloflineintothe
water.
AndofthesamenatureandqualityhadbeentheactionsofMr.Pike.HeandMr.
Mellaireweremastersoverthewretchedcreaturesofsailorsbyvirtueofthis
remarkabledifferenceofefficiencyandwill.Truly,theyweremorewidely
differentiatedfromthemenunderthemthanwerethemenunderthem
differentiatedfromHottentots—ay,andfrommonkeys.
I,too,bythistime,wasstandingonthebighawser-bittsinapositiontoseea
maninthewaterwhoseemeddeliberatelyswimmingawayfromtheship.He
wasadark-skinnedMediterraneanofsomesort,andhisface,inaclearglimpseI
caughtofit,wasdistortedbyfrenzy.Hisblackeyesweremaniacal.Theline
wassoaccuratelyflungbythesecondmatethatitfellacrosstheman’s
shoulders,andforseveralstrokeshisarmstanglediniterehecouldswimclear.
Thisaccomplished,heproceededtoscreamsomewildharangueandonce,ashe
uptossedhisarmsforemphasis,Isawinhishandthebladeofalongknife.


Bellswerejanglingonthetugasitstartedtotherescue.Istolealookupat
CaptainWest.Hehadwalkedtotheportsideofthepoop,where,handsin
pockets,hewasglancing,nowfor’ardatthestrugglingman,nowaftatthetug.
Hegavenoorders,betrayednoexcitement,andappeared,Imaywellsay,the
mostcasualofspectators.
Thecreatureinthewaterseemednowengagedintakingoffhisclothes.Isaw
onebarearm,andthentheother,appear.Inhisstruggleshesometimessank
beneaththesurface,butalwaysheemerged,flourishingtheknifeandscreaming
hisaddledharangue.Heeventriedtoescapethetugbydivingandswimming
underneath.
Istrolledfor’ard,andarrivedintimetoseehimhoistedinovertherailofthe
Elsinore.Hewasstarknaked,coveredwithblood,andraving.Hehadcutand
slashedhimselfinascoreofplaces.Fromonewoundinthewristtheblood
spurtedwitheachbeatofthepulse.Hewasaloathsome,non-humanthing.I
haveseenascaredoranginazoo,andforalltheworldthisbestial-faced,
mowing,gibberingthingremindedmeoftheorang.Thesailorssurroundedhim,
layinghandsonhim,withstraininghim,thewhiletheyguffawedandcheered.
Rightandleftthetwomatesshovedthemaway,anddraggedthelunaticdown
thedeckandintoaroominthe’midshiphouse.Icouldnothelpmarkingthe
strengthofMr.PikeandMr.Mellaire.Ihadheardofthesuperhumanstrengthof
madmen,butthisparticularmadmanwasasawispofstrawintheirhands.Once
intothebunk,Mr.Pikehelddownthestrugglingfooleasilywithonehandwhile
hedispatchedthesecondmateformarlinwithwhichtotiethefellow’sarms.
“Bughouse,”Mr.Pikegrinnedatme.“I’veseensomebughousecrewsinmy
time,butthisone’sthelimit.”
“Whatareyougoingtodo?”Iasked.“Themanwillbleedtodeath.”
“Andgoodriddance,”heansweredpromptly.“We’llhaveourhandsfullofhim
untilwecanlosehimsomehow.WhenhegetseasyI’llsewhimup,that’sall,if
Ihavetoeasehimwithacloutofthejaw.”
Iglancedatthemate’shugepawandappreciateditsanæstheticqualities.Outon
deckagain,IsawCaptainWestonthepoop,handsstillinpockets,quite
uninterested,gazingatabluebreakintheskytothenorth-east.Morethanthe
matesandthemaniac,morethanthedrunkencallousnessofthemen,didthis
quietfigure,handsinpockets,impressuponmethatIwasinadifferentworld
fromanyIhadknown.


WadabrokeinuponmythoughtsbytellingmehehadbeensenttosaythatMiss
Westwasservingteainthecabin.


CHAPTERIV
Thecontrast,asIenteredthecabin,wasstartling.Allcontrastsaboardthe
Elsinorepromisedtobestartling.Insteadofthecold,harddeckmyfeetsank
intosoftcarpet.Inplaceofthemeanandnarrowroom,builtofnakediron,
whereIhadleftthelunatic,Iwasinaspaciousandbeautifulapartment.With
thebawlingofthemen’svoicesstillinmyears,andwiththepicturesoftheir
drink-puffedandfilthyfacesstillvividundermyeyelids,Ifoundmyselfgreeted
byadelicate-faced,prettily-gownedwomanwhosatbesidealacqueredoriental
tableonwhichrestedanexquisitetea-serviceofCantonchina.Allwasrepose
andcalm.Thesteward,noiseless-footed,expressionless,wasashadow,scarcely
noticed,thatdriftedintotheroomonsomeserviceanddriftedoutagain.
NotatoncecouldIrelax,andMissWest,servingmytea,laughedandsaid:
“Youlookasifyouhadbeenseeingthings.Thestewardtellsmeamanhas
beenoverboard.Ifancythecoldwatermusthavesoberedhim.”
Iresentedherunconcern.
“Themanisalunatic,”Isaid.“Thisshipisnoplaceforhim.Heshouldbesent
ashoretosomehospital.”
“Iamafraid,ifwebeginthat,we’dhavetosendtwo-thirdsofourcomplement
ashore—onelump?
“Yes,please,”Ianswered.“Butthemanhasterriblywoundedhimself.Heis
liabletobleedtodeath.”
Shelookedatmeforamoment,hergrayeyesseriousandscrutinizing,asshe
passedmemycup;thenlaughterwelledupinhereyes,andsheshookherhead
reprovingly.
“Nowpleasedon’tbeginthevoyagebybeingshocked,Mr.Pathurst.Such
thingsareveryordinaryoccurrences.You’llgetusedtothem.Youmust
remembersomequeercreaturesgodowntotheseainships.Themanissafe.


TrustMr.Piketoattendtohiswounds.I’veneversailedwithMr.Pike,butI’ve
heardenoughabouthim.Mr.Pikeisquiteasurgeon.Lastvoyage,theysay,he
performedasuccessfulamputation,andsoelatedwashethatheturnedhis
attentiononthecarpenter,whohappenedtobesufferingfromsomesortof
indigestion.Mr.Pikewassoconvincedofthecorrectnessofhisdiagnosisthat
hetriedtobribethecarpenterintohavinghisappendixremoved.”Shebrokeoff
tolaughheartily,thenadded:“Theysayheofferedthepoormanjustpoundsand
poundsoftobaccotoconsenttotheoperation.”
“Butisitsafe...forthe...theworkingoftheship,”Iurged,“totakesucha
lunaticalong?”
Sheshruggedhershoulders,asifnotintendingtoreply,thensaid:
“Thisincidentisnothing.Therearealwaysseverallunaticsoridiotsinevery
ship’scompany.Andtheyalwayscomeaboardfilledwithwhiskeyandraving.
Iremember,once,whenwesailedfromSeattle,alongtimeago,onesuch
madman.Heshowednosignsofmadnessatall;justcalmlyseizedtwo
boarding-houserunnersandsprangoverboardwiththem.Wesailedthesame
day,beforethebodieswererecovered.”
Againsheshruggedhershoulders.
“Whatwouldyou?Theseaishard,Mr.Pathurst.Andforoursailorswegetthe
worsttypeofmen.Isometimeswonderwheretheyfindthem.Andwedoour
bestwiththem,andsomehowmanagetomakethemhelpuscarryonourwork
intheworld.Buttheyarelow...low.”
AsIlistened,andstudiedherface,contrastingherwoman’ssensitivityandher
softprettydresswiththebrutefacesandragsofthemenIhadnoticed,Icould
nothelpbeingconvincedintellectuallyoftherightnessofherposition.
Nevertheless,Iwashurtsentimentally,—chiefly,Idobelieve,becauseofthe
veryhardnessandunconcernwithwhichsheenunciatedherview.Itwas
becauseshewasawoman,andsodifferentfromthesea-creatures,thatIresented
herhavingreceivedsuchharsheducationintheschoolofthesea.
“Icouldnothelpremarkingyourfather’s—er,ersangfroidduringthe
occurrence.”Iventured.
“Henevertookhishandsfromhispockets!”shecried.
HereyessparkledasInoddedconfirmation.


“Iknewit!It’shisway.I’veseenitsooften.IrememberwhenIwastwelve
yearsold—motherwasalone—wewererunningintoSanFrancisco.Itwasin
theDixie,ashipalmostasbigasthis.Therewasastrongfairwindblowing,and
fatherdidnottakeatug.WesailedrightthroughtheGoldenGateandupthe
SanFranciscowater-front.Therewasaswiftfloodtide,too;andthemen,both
watches,weretakinginsailasfastastheycould.
“Nowthefaultwasthesteamboatcaptain’s.Hemiscalculatedourspeedand
triedtocrossourbow.Thencamethecollision,andtheDixie’sbowcutthrough
thatsteamboat,cabinandhull.Therewerehundredsofpassengers,men,
women,andchildren.Fathernevertookhishandsfromhispockets.Hesentthe
matefor’ardtosuperintendrescuingthepassengers,whowerealreadyclimbing
ontoourbowspritandforecastle-head,andinavoicenodifferentfromwhat
he’dusetoasksomeonetopassthebutterhetoldthesecondmatetosetall
sail.Andhetoldhimwhichsailstobeginwith.”
“Butwhysetmoresails?”Iinterrupted.
“Becausehecouldseethesituation.Don’tyousee,thesteamboatwascutwide
open.AllthatkeptherfromsinkinginstantlywasthebowoftheDixiejammed
intoherside.Bysettingmoresailandkeepingbeforethewind,hecontinuedto
keepthebowoftheDixiejammed.
“Iwasterriblyfrightened.Peoplewhohadsprungorfallenoverboardwere
drowningoneachsideofus,rightinmysight,aswesailedalongupthewaterfront.ButwhenIlookedatfather,therehewas,justasIhadalwaysknownhim,
handsinpockets,walkingslowlyupanddown,nowgivinganordertothewheel
—yousee,hehadtodirecttheDixie’scoursethroughalltheshipping—now
watchingthepassengersswarmingoverourbowandalongourdeck,now
lookingaheadtoseehiswaythroughtheshipsatanchor.Sometimeshedid
glanceatthepoor,drowningones,buthewasnotconcernedwiththem.
“Ofcourse,therewerenumbersdrowned,butbykeepinghishandsinhis
pocketsandhisheadcoolhesavedhundredsoflives.Notuntilthelastperson
wasoffthesteamboat—hesentmenaboardtomakesure—didhetakeoffthe
pressofsail.Andthesteamboatsankatonce.”
Sheceased,andlookedatmewithshiningeyesforapprobation.
“Itwassplendid,”Iacknowledged.“Iadmirethequietmanofpower,thoughI
confessthatsuchquietnessunderstressseemstomealmostunearthlyand


beyondhuman.Ican’tconceiveofmyselfactingthatway,andIamconfident
thatIwassufferingmorewhilethatpoordevilwasinthewaterthanalltherest
oftheonlookersputtogether.”
“Fathersuffers!”shedefendedloyally.“Onlyhedoesnotshowit.”
Ibowed,forIfeltshehadmissedmypoint.


CHAPTERV
IcameoutfromteainthecabintofindthetugBritanniainsight.Shewasthe
craftthatwastotowusdownChesapeakeBaytosea.Strollingfor’ardInoted
thesailorsbeingroutedoutoftheforecastlebySundryBuyers,forevertenderly
pressinghisabdomenwithhishands.AnothermanwashelpingSundryBuyers
atroutingoutthesailors.IaskedMr.Pikewhothemanwas.
“Nancy—mybosun;ain’theapeach?”wastheanswerIgot,andfromthe
mate’smannerofenunciationIwasquiteawarethat“Nancy”hadbeenused
derisively.
Nancycouldnothavebeenmorethanthirty,thoughhelookedasifhehadlived
averylongtime.Hewastoothlessandsadandwearyofmovement.Hiseyes
wereslate-colouredandmuddy,hisshavenfacewassicklyyellow.Narrowshouldered,sunken-chested,withcheekscavernouslyhollow,helookedlikea
maninthelaststagesofconsumption.LittlelifeasSundryBuyersshowed,
Nancyshowedevenlesslife.Andthesewerebosuns!—bosunsofthefine
Americansailing-shipElsinore!Neverhadanyillusionofminetakenamore
distressingcropper.
Itwasplaintomethatthepairofthem,spinelessandspunkless,wereafraidof
thementheyweresupposedtoboss.Andthemen!Dorécouldneverhave
conjuredamoredelectablehell’sbroth.ForthefirsttimeIsawthemall,andI
couldnotblamethetwobosunsforbeingafraidofthem.Theydidnotwalk.
Theyslouchedandshambled,someeventottered,asfromweaknessordrink.
Butitwastheirfaces.IcouldnothelprememberingwhatMissWesthadjust
toldme—thatshipsalwayssailedwithseverallunaticsoridiotsintheircrews.
Buttheselookedasiftheywerealllunaticorfeeble-minded.AndI,too,
wonderedwheresuchamassofhumanwreckagecouldhavebeenobtained.
Therewassomethingwrongwithallofthem.Theirbodiesweretwisted,their
facesdistorted,andalmostwithoutexceptiontheywereunder-sized.The
severalquitefairlylargemenImarkedwerevacant-faced.Oneman,however,


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