Page:Yule Logs.djvu/222

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206
"BY DEFAULT OF THE ENGINEER"

just described, she appeared, in my eyes, to present a melancholy aspect, something like a skinned rabbit. But as I had only recently been enjoying sea life as a midshipman in a large sailing-ship, that fact may excuse the comparison in which I indulged as to her appearance.

We were to sail next morning at nine o'clock, and the evening was passed by the chief and second officers and myself in a quiet smoke and a chat about things in general.

"What's the new skipper like, Mr. Urquhart?" said the second officer; "do you know anything of him?"

"Oh yes," replied the chief officer, "I think he's a very nice fellow."

"What's his name, sir?" said I.

"Skeed," replied the chief officer. " He was in the Navy once. I believe his nickname there was 'Donkey Skeed.' "

" 'Donkey' Skeed?" said I, laughing; "what, on account of anything in his appearance?"

"Oh no; not on account of his ears," replied the chief, "but on account of his obstinacy. When he once gets an idea in his head, nothing in the world will ever knock it out of him."

"Where did you hear all this?" said the second mate.

"Oh, I remember hearing about him at home from a naval man I knew who was messmate with him on the West Coast."

"Well," said the second officer, "there isn't much to be obstinate about at present, except fighting the south-west monsoon."

"Exactly," replied Urquhart; "and from what he said to me to-day that's just the very thing he's got in his head. He's got a new idea, he says, which he is going to try."

"What is it?" said the second officer and I simultaneously.

"Well, he thinks that, instead of steering a direct