Page:The Days Work (1899).djvu/178

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THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP SEA

Light an' the Shah-in-Shah, and the Aglaia, at this most alarmin' crisis. We 've been no better than pirates these ten years. Under Providence we 're no worse than thieves now. We 've much to be thankful for—if we e'er get back to her."

"Make it your own way, then," said the skipper. "If there 's the least chance—"

"I 'll leave none," said Mr. Wardrop—"none that they 'll dare to take. Keep her heavy on the tow, for we need time."

The skipper never interfered with the affairs of the engine-room, and Mr. Wardrop—an artist in his profession—turned to and composed a work terrible and forbidding. His background was the dark-grained sides of the engine-room; his material the metals of power and strength, helped out with spars, baulks, and ropes. The man-of-war towed sullenly and viciously. The Haliotis behind her hummed like a hive before swarming. With extra and totally unneeded spars her crew blocked up the space round the forward engine till it resembled a statue in its scaffolding, and the butts of

the shores interfered with every view that a dispassionate eye might wish to take. And that the dispassionate mind might be swiftly shaken out of its calm, the well-sunk bolts of the shores were wrapped round untidily with loose ends of ropes, giving a studied effect of most dangerous insecurity. Next, Mr. Wardrop took up a collection from the after engine, which, as you will remember, had not been affected in the general wreck. The cylinder escape-valve he abolished with a flogging-hammer. It is difficult in far-off ports to come by such

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