Page:The Days Work (1899).djvu/188

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP SEA

and manners of the crew. The barge returned to the Haliotis in silence, and the skipper climbed aboard, white on the cheek-bones and blue about the nostrils.

"I knew it," said Mr. Wardrop; "and they won't give us good food, either. We shall have bananas morning, noon, and night, an' a man can't work on fruit. We know that."

Then the skipper cursed Mr. Wardrop for importing frivolous side-issues into the conversation ; and the crew cursed one another, and the Haliotis, the voyage, and all that they knew or could bring to mind. They sat down in silence on the empty decks, and their eyes burned in their heads. The green harbour water chuckled at them overside. They looked at the palm-fringed hills inland, at the white houses above the harbour road, at the single tier of native craft by the quay, at the stolid soldiery sitting round the two cannon, and, last of all, at the blue bar of the horizon. Mr. Wardrop was buried in thought, and scratched imaginary lines with his untrimmed finger-nails on the planking.

"I make no promise," he said, at last, "for I can't say what may or may not have happened to them. But here 's the ship, and here 's us."

There was a little scornful laughter at this, and Mr. Wardrop knitted his brows. He recalled that in the days when he wore trousers he had been chief engineer of the Haliotis.

"Harland, Mackesy, Noble, Hay, Naughton, Fink, O'Hara, Trumbull."

"Here, sir!" The instinct of obedience waked to answer the roll-call of the engine-room.

[176]