Page:The Days Work (1899).djvu/197

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THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP SEA

me when I say that this is in no sense regular engineerin'."

As his raiment, when he spoke, was his grey beard and uncut hair, they believed him. They did not ask too much of what they met, but polished and tallowed and scraped it to a false brilliancy.

"A lick of paint would make me easier in my mind," said Mr. Wardrop, plaintively. "I know half the condenser-tubes are started; and the propeller-shaftin' 's God knows how far out of the true, and we 'll need a new air-pump, an' the main-steam leaks like a sieve, and there 's worse each way I look; but—paint 's like clothes to a man, an' ours is near all gone."

The skipper unearthed some stale ropy paint of the loathsome green that they used for the galleys of sailing-ships, and Mr. Wardrop spread it abroad lavishly to give the engines self-respect.

His own was returning day by day, for he wore his loin-cloth continuously; but the crew, having worked under orders, did not feel as he did. The completed work satisfied Mr. Wardrop. He would at the last have made shift to run to Singapore, and gone home without vengeance taken to show his engines to his brethren in the craft; but the others and the captain forbade him. They had not yet recovered their self-respect.

"It would be safer to make what ye might call a trial trip, but beggars must n't be choosers; an' if the engines will go over to the hand-gear, the probability—I 'm only saying it 's a probability—the chance is that they 'll hold up when we put steam on her."

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