Page:The Days Work (1899).djvu/199

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

THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP SEA

The sooner we 're at Pygang-Watai, the better. She 's mad, and we 're waking the town."

"Is she at all near safe?"

"What do I care how safe she is! She 's mad. Hear that, now! To be sure, nothing 's hittin' anything, and the bearin's are fairly cool, but—can ye not hear?"

"If she goes," said the skipper, "I don't care a curse. And she 's my boat, too."

She went, trailing a fathom of weed behind her. From a slow two knots an hour she crawled up to a triumphant four. Anything beyond that made the struts quiver dangerously, and filled the engine-room with steam. Morning showed her out of sight of land, and there was a visible ripple under her bows; but she complained bitterly in her bowels, and, as though the noise had called it, there shot along across the purple sea a swift, dark proa, hawk-like and curious, which presently ranged alongside and wished to know if the Haliotis were helpless. Ships, even the steamers of the white men, had been known to break down in those waters, and the honest Malay and Javanese traders would sometimes aid them in their own peculiar way. But this ship was not full of lady passengers and well-dressed officers. Men, white, naked and savage, swarmed down her sides—some with red-hot iron bars, and others with large hammers—threw themselves upon those innocent inquiring strangers, and, before any man could say what had happened, were in full possession of the proa, while the lawful owners bobbed in the water overside. Half an hour later

[187]