Page:The Days Work (1899).djvu/198

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"How long will you take to get steam?" said the skipper.

"God knows! Four hours—a day—half a week. If I can raise sixty pound I 'll not complain."

"Be sure of her first; we can't afford to go out half a mile, and break down."

"My soul and body, man, we 're one continuous breakdown, fore an' aft! We might fetch Singapore, though."

"We 'll break down at Pygang-Watai, where we can do good," was the answer, in a voice that did not allow argument. "She 's my boat, and—I 've had eight months to think in."

No man saw the Haliotis depart, though many heard her. She left at two in the morning, having cut her moorings, and it was none of her crew's pleasure that the engines should strike up a thundering half-seas-over chanty that echoed among the hills. Mr. Wardrop wiped away a tear as he listened to the new song.

"She 's gibberin'—she 's just gibberin'," he whimpered. "Yon 's the voice of a maniac."

And if engines have any soul, as their masters believe, he was quite right. There were outcries and clamours, sobs and bursts of chattering laughter, silences where the trained ear yearned for the clear note, and torturing reduplications where there should have been one deep voice. Down the screw-shaft ran murmurs and warnings, while a heart-diseased flutter without told that the propeller needed re-keying.

"How does she make it?" said the skipper.

"She moves, but—but she 's breakin' my heart.