Rushton had said, that Esau had aggravated the old man on purpose.
Several days had already passed since the Bertha quitted Plymouth. She had plunged and rolled in Biscay's Bay, and flung waves over her head aft to the waist. The lads and the Doctor lay close, sometimes venturing on deck, but more frequently keeping below till the weather moderated. The auxiliary screw was now hushed, and the barque plunged on under sail with a fine breeze on the quarter. On the day on which our tale opens, Reginald again went on deck, and the master asked him and Arthur to breakfast with him in his own cabin.
"Glad to see you up again," said the captain. "Began to think you intended to stay below until we reached the tropics. Got your sea-legs, eh? and a good appetite, I hope?"
The boys replied cheerfully in the affirmative, and the meal proceeded until, about ten minutes later, Mr. Cordell intruded his red head into the cabin and said—
"Excuse me, sir, but the weather is looking ugly. I think you had better shorten sail."
"I shall shorten sail when I please," replied the master.
"You may take a reef in your jaw-tackle, Mr. Cordell, meantime."
"Best get up steam," continued the mate, without taking any notice of the suggestion.
"Get out, sir," roared the captain. "I am master of this ship! Say, what do you know of the paper about traitors aboard? Mind your own business, sir. I'll mind mine."
"There are obstinate old fools aboard, I suspect," muttered the mate. "The ship will be struck by a squall presently. You had better shorten sail, as I tell you."
"I shall not. Go forward, or I'll put you in irons. What impudence!" puffed the captain as the mate disappeared. "He thinks he commands the ship. Hum!"