Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/262

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but don't alarm anybody and come and make your report privately to me."

"Sir, there is nothing there," announced the trusty carpenter, a few minutes later. "‘T is only the water washing up between the timbers that this booby has taken for a leak."

"Oh, very well, go upon deck and see if you can keep the water from washing down below."

"Sir, I have four people constantly keeping the hatchways secure, but there is such a weight of water upon the deck that nobody can stand it when the ship rolls."

Just then the gunner appeared to add his bit of news.

"I thought some confounded thing was the matter, and ran directly," wrote Lieutenant Archer.

" Well, what is the trouble here?"

"The ground tier of powder is spoiled," lamented the faithful gunner, "and I want to show you, sir, that it is not because of any carelessness of mine in stowing it, for no powder in the world could be better stowed. Now, sir, what am I to do? If you don't speak to Sir Hyde in my behalf, he will be angry with me."

Archer smiled to see how easily the gunner took the grave danger of the ship and replied:

"Let us shake off this gale of wind first and talk of the damaged powder later."

At the end of his watch below, Archer thought that the toiling gangs at the pumps had gained on the water a little. When he returned to the deck