Page:Yule Logs.djvu/58

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42
VENTURE OF THE "BERTHA" WHALER

he muttered after a pause, during which he had consulted the barometer, "it's falling fast, but he doesn't know the ropes," continued the obstinate skipper. "Now, lads, fire away; there's no trouble; eat hearty."

"We have finished, thank you, captain. The sky is getting very dark, sir."

"Eh! eh! a bit dusky. Seems the sea is rising; wind's changing too; must go and look at it," said the old fellow, as he sauntered out of the cabin. But hardly had he emerged on deck when the mate's voice rung out loudly—

"All hands take in sail; look alive there!"

The master swore, and rushed out to confront his deputy. "Let her go as she is, Jackson," he cried to the steersman. "Go below forward," he shouted to the mate furiously. "I shall have you in limbo. Stevens" (he hailed the second mate), "stand by the watch and reduce sail. Heavens! here's the squall ahead! Let the sheets fly — smart. Up with the helm — hard up! Haul up the mainsail, down flying jib there!"

The men, fortunately, were prepared, and the mate, ignoring the threat of arrest, assisted, gave orders, and generally behaved well. The barque, taken aback, plunged, shook herself, and then fell off, careening to the blast, almost dipping her yard-arms into the sea. The captain raved; the mate shouted; the men laboured; and when the barque was brought before the gale under a furled topsail and furled foresail, the angry captain called the mate, and standing in the waist, addressed him as follows:—

"You are a mutineer, sir; you shall leave this ship. I will put into port as soon as possible and try you. Go below, sir!"

"You'll do nothing of the kind," retorted the mate; "perhaps I can break you. You had better knock under."

" Mutiny, by heavens! Mr. Stevens, send the watch aft to seize this fellow."