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The Princeton union. [volume] (Princeton, Minn.) 1876-1976, February 02, 1905, Image 6

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83016758/1905-02-02/ed-1/seq-6/

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I 1 If l-IIT
MOTMV
of the
Lady Letty
VI.
INclutchlCHAPTERt
spite of his bes efforts at self
contro Wilbur felt a slow, cold
at his heart. That sicken
ing, uncanny lifting of the schoon
er out of the glassy water at a time
when there was not enough wind to so
much as wrinkle the surface sent a
creep of something very like horror
through all his flesh.
Again he peered over the side down
into the kelp thickened sea. Nothing
not a breath of air was stirring. The
gray light that flooded down from the
stars showed not a break upon the sur
face of Magdalena bay. On shore noth
ing moved.
"Quiet there, forward!"' called Moran
to the shrill voiced coolies.
The succeeding stillness was pro
found. All on board listened intently.
The water dripped like the ticking of
a clock from the Bertha Milliter's stern,
which with the rising of the bow had
sunk almost to the rail. There was no
other sound.
"Strange!" muttered Moran, her brows
contracting.
Charlie broke the silence with a wail.
"No likee, no likee!" he cried at top
voice.
The man had gone suddenly green.
Wilbur could see the shine of his eyes,
distended like those of a harassed cat.
As he, Moran and Wilbur stood in the
schooner's waist, staring at each other,
the smell of punk came to their nos
trils. Forward the coolies were already
burning joss sticks on the fo'c'stle
head, kotowing their foreheads to the
deck.
Moran went forward and kicked
them to their feet and hurled their joss
sticks into the sea.
"Feng shui! Feng shin!*' they ex
claimed with bated breaths. "The
Feng shui no likee we."
Low in the east the horizon began
to blacken against the sky. It was
early morning. A watch was set, the
Chinamen sent below, and until day
break, when Charlie began to make a
clattering of tins in the galley as he
set about preparing breakfast, Wilbur
paced the rounds of the schooner, look
ing, listening and waiting again for
that slow, horrifying lift. But the rest
of the night was without incident
After breakfast the strangely assort
ed trioCharlie, Moran and Wilbur
held another conference in the cabin.
It was decided to move the schooner
to the other side of the bay.
"Feng shui in disa place. No likee
we,"' announced Charlie.
"Feng shuiwho are they?''
Charlie promptly became incoherent
on this subject, and Moran and Wil
but could only guess that the Feng
shui were the tutelary dieties that pre
sided over that portion of Magdalena
bay. At any rate, there were evidently
no more shark to be caught in that
fishing ground. So sail was made, and
by noon the Bertha Millner tied up to
the kelp on the opposite side of the
inlet, about half a mile from the shore.
The shark were plentiful here, and
the fishing went forward again as be
fore. Certain of these shark were haul
ed aboard, stunned by a blow on the
nose and their fins cut off. The China
men packed these fins away in sepa
rate kegs. Eventually they would be
sent to China
Two or three days passed. The
hands kept steadily at their work.
Nothing more occurred to disturb the
monotony of the scorching days and
soundless nights. The schooner sat as
easily on the unbroken water as though
built to the bottom. Soon the night
watch was discontinued. During these
days the three officers lived high. Tur
tle were plentiful, and what with their
steaks and soups, the fried abalones,
the sea fish, the really delicious shark
fins and the quail that Charlie and
Wilbur trapped along the shore, the
trio had nothing to wish for in the
way of table luxuries.
The shore was absolutely deserted
as well as the back countryan un
broken wilderness of sand and sage.
Half a dozen times Wilbur, wearying
of his inaction aboard the schooner,
made the entire circuit of the bay
from point to point. Standing on one
of the latter projections and looking
out to the west, the Pacific appeared
as empty of life as the land. Never a
keel cut those waters, never a sail
broke the edge of the horizon, never a
feather of smoke spotted the sky where
it whitened to meet the sea. Every
thing was emptyvast, unspeakably
desolatepalpitating with heat.
Another week passed. Charlie be
gan to complain that the sharks were
growing scarce again.
"I think bimeby him go way, once
a mo'."
That same night Wilbur, lying in
his hammock, was awakened by a
touch on his arm. He woke to see
Moran beside him on the deck.
"Did you hear anything?" she said in
a low voice, looking at him under her
scowl.
"No, no!" he exclaimed, getting up,
reaching for his wicker sandals. "Did
you?"
"I thought sosomething. Did you
feel anything?"
"I've been asleep I haven't noticed
anything. Is it beginning again?"
"The schooner lifted a^ain just now,
very gently. I happene#-\o be awake
or I wouldn't have noticed it." They
were talking in low voices, as is_the
MMWH
By
FRANK NORMS,
Author of "The Oc
topus," "The
Pit," Etc.
Copyright. 1898. by
S. S. M'ClureCompany
custom of people speaking in the dark.
"There, what's that?" exclaimed Wil
bur under his breath. A gentle
vibration, barely perceptible, thrilled
through the schooner. Under his hand
that was clasped upon the rail Wilbur
could feel a faint trembling in her
frame. It stopped, began again and
died slowly away.
"Well, what the deuce is it?" he mut
tered impatiently, trying to master the
returning creep of dread.
Moran shook her head, biting her
lip.
"It's beyond me," she said, frown
ing. "Can you see anything?" The
Sky, sea and land were unbroken
reaches of solisude. There was no
breath of wind.
"Listen," said Moran Far off to
landward came the faint, sleepy cluck
ing of a quail and the stridulating of un
numbered crickets. A long ripple lick
ed the slope of the beach and slid back
into the ocean. Wilbur shook his head.
"Don't hear anything,'' he whispered.
"Shthereshe's trembling again."
Once more a prolonged but faint
quivering ran through the Bertha Mill
ner from stem to stern and from keel
to masthead. There was a barely au
dible creaking of joints and panels.
The oil in the deck tubs trembled. The
vibration was so fine and rapid that it
tickled the soles of Wilbur's feet as ho
stood on the deck.
"I'd give two fingeis to know what
It all means," murmured Moran in a
low voice. "I've been to sea for"
Then suddenly she cried aloud:
"Steady, all! She's lifting again!"
The schooner heaved slowly under
them, this time by the stern. Up she
went, up and up, while Wilbur gripped
at a stay to keep his place and tried to
Choke down his heart, that seemed to
beat against his palate.
"Heavens!" ejaculated Moran, her
eyes blazing. "This thing is" The
Bertha came suddenly down to an
easy keel, rocking in that glassy sea
as if in a tide rip. The deck was awash
with oil. Far out in the bay the rip
ples widening from the schooner blur
red the reflections of the stars. The
Chinamen swarmed up the hatchway,
voluble and shrill. Again the Bertha
Millner lifted and sank, the tubs slid
ing on the deck, the masts quivering
like reeds, the timbers groaning aloud
with the strain. In the stern some
thing cracked and smashed. Then the
trouble died away, the ripples faded
into the ocean and the schooner set
tled to her keel, quite motionless.
"Look," said Moran, her face toward
the Bertha's stern. "The rudder is out
of the gudgeons." It was truethe
Bertha Millner's helm was unshipped.
There was no more sleep for any one
on board that night. Wilbur tramped
the quarter deck, sick with a feeling
he dared not put a name to. Moran
sat by the wrecked rudder head, a use
less pistol in her hand, swearing under
her breath from time to time. Charlie
appeared ou the quarter dock at inter
vals, looked at Wilbur and Moran with
wide open eyes, and then took himself
away. On the forward deck the coolies
pasted strips of red paper inscribed
with mottoes upon the mast and filled
the air with the reek of their joss
sticks.
"If one could only see what it was,"
growled Moran between her clinched
teeth. ''But thisthis heaving and
trembling, itit's queer."
"That's it, that's it," said Wilbur
quickly, facing her. "What are we go
ing to do, Moran?"
"Stick it out!" she exclaimed, strik
ing her knee with her fist. "We can't
leave the schoonerI won't leave her.
I'll stay by this dough dish as long as
two planks in her hold together. Were
you thinking of cutting away?" She
fixed him with her frown.
Wilbur looked at her, sitting erect
by the disabled rudder, her head bare,
her braids of yellow hair hanging over
her breast, sitting there in man's
clothes and man's boots, the pistol at
her side. He shook his head.
"I'm not leaving the Bertha till you
do," he answered, adding, "I'll stand
by you, mate, until we"
"Feel that?" said Moran, holding up
a hand.
A fine, quivering tremble was thrill
ing through every beam of the schoon
er, vibrating each rope like a harp
string. It passed away, but before ei
ther Wilbur or Moran could comment
upon it recommenced, this .time much
more perceptibly. Charlie dashed aft,
his cue flying.
"W'at makum heap shake?" he
shouted. "W't for him shake? No
savvy, no likee, pretty much heap flaid.
Aie-yah, aie-yah!"
Slowly the schooner heaved up as
though upon the crest of some huge
wave, slowly it settled and again
gradually lifted, till Wilbur had to
catch at the rail to steady his footing.
The quivering sensation increased so
that their very teeth chattered with it.
Below in the cabin they could hear
small objects falling from the shelves
and table. Then, with a sudden drop,
the Bertha fell back to her keel again,
the spilled oil spouting from her scup
pers, the masts rocking, the water
churning and splashing from her sides.
And that was all. There was no
soundnothing was in sight. There
was only the frightened trembling of
the little schooner and that long, slow
heave and lift.
Morning came, and breakfast was
had in silence and grim perplexity, it
was too late to think of getting away
now that the rudder was disabled. The
Bertha Millner must bide where she
was.
"And a little more of this dancing,"
exclaimed Moran, "and we'll have the
planks springing off the sternpost."
Charlie nodded solemnly. He said
nothinghis gravity had returned.
Now in the glare of the tropical day,
with the Bertha Millner sitting the sea
as placidly as a brooding gull, he was
Talleyrand again.
"I tinkum yas," he said vaguely.
"Well, I think we had better try and
fix the rudder and put back to Frisco,"
said Moran. "You're making no money
this way. There are no shark to be
caught. Something's wrong. They're
gone away somewhere. The ereA\ are
eating their heads off and not earning
enough money to pay for their keep.
What do you think?"
"I tinkum yas."
"Then we'll go home. Is that it?"
"I tinkum yastomolla."
"Tomorrow?" "Yas."
"That's settled then," persisted Mo
ran, surprised at his ready acquies
cence. "We start home tomorrow?'
Charlie nodded.
"Tomolla," he said.
The rudder was not so badly dam
aged as they had at first supposed.
The break was easily mended, but it
was found necessary for one of the
men to go over the side.
"Get over the side here, Jim," com
manded Moran. "Charlie, tell him
what's wanted. We can't work the
pintle in from the deck."
But Charlie shook his head.
"Him no likee go him plentj much
flaid."
Moran ripped out an oath.
"What do I care if he's afraid! I
want him to shove the pintle into the
lower gudgeon. What carrion:" she
exclaimed. "I'd sooner work a boat
With she monkeys. Mr. Wilbur, 1 shall
have to ask you to go over. I thought
I was captain here, but it all depends
on whether these rats are afraid or
not."
"Plenty many shark," expostulated
Charlie. "Him flaid shark come back,
catchum chop-chop."
"Stand by here with a couple of cut
ting-in spades," cried Moran, "and
fend off if you see any shark. Now
then, are you ready, mate?"
Wilbur took his determination in
both hands, threw off his coat and san
dals and went over the stern rail.
"Put your ear to the water," called
Moran from above. "Sometimes you
can hear their flukes."
It took but a minute to adjust the
pintle, and Wilbur regained the deck
again, dripping and a little pale. He
knew not what horrid form of death
might have been lurking for him down
below there underneath the kelp. As
he started forward for dry clothes he
was surprised to observe that Moran
was smiling at him, holding out her
hand.
"That was well done," she said, "and
thank you. I've seen older sailor men
than you who wouldn't have taken the
risk.". Never before had she appeared
more splendid in his eyes than at this
moment. After changing his clothes in
the foVstle he sat for a long time,
his chin in his hands, very thoughtful.
Then at length, as though voicing the
conclusion of his reflections, he said
aloud as he rose to his feet:
"But of course that is out of the
question."
He remembered that they were going
home on the next day. Within a fort
night he would be in San Francisco
again, a taxpayer, a police protected
citizen once more. It had been good
fun, after all, this three weeks' life on
the Bertha Millner. a strange episode
cut out from the normal circle of his
conventional life. He ran over the in
cidents of the cruiseKitchell, the tur
tle hunt, the finding of the derelict,
the dead captain, the squall and the
awful sight of the sinking bark, Moran
"Put^your car to the water."
at "the wheel, the grewsome business
of the shark fishing, and, last of all,
that inexplicable lifting and quivering
of the schooner. He told himself that
now he would probably never know
the explanation of that mystery.
The day passed in preparations to
put to sea again. The deck tubs and
hogsheads were stowed below and the
tackle cleared away. By evening all
was ready they would be under way
by daybreak the next morning. There
was a possibility of their being forced
to tow the schooner out by means of
the dory, so light were the airs inside.
Once beyond the heads, however, they
were sure of a breeze.
About 10 o'clock that night the same
uncanny trembling ran through the
schooner again, and about half an hour
later she lifted gently once or twice.
But after that she was undisturbed.
Later on in the night, or. rather, early
THE PBIKCETOK UNION: THTJBSDAY, FEBBTJABY 2, 1905.'
:TJ 1.ik *s *"k J^t 4fe3*L i
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M, -Tariff
in the morning, Wilbur woke suddenly
in his hammock without knowing why
and got up and stood listening. The
Bertha Millner was absolutely quiet.
The night was hot and still. The new
moon, canted over like a sinking gal
leon, was low over the horizon. Wil
bur listened intently, for now at last
he heard something.
Between the schooner and the shore
a gentle sound of splashing came to
his ears and an occasional crack as of
oars in their locks. Was it possible
that a "boat was there between the
schooner and the land? What boat,
and manned by whom?
The creaking of oarlocks and the dip
of paddles Avere unmistakable.
Suddenly Wilbur raised his voue in
a great shout
"Boat ahoy!"
There was no answer. The noise of
oars grew fainter. Moran came run
ning out of her cabin, swinging into
her coat as she ran.
"What is it? What is it?"
"A boat, I think, right off the schoon
er here. Harktheredid you hear the
oars?"
"You're right. Call the hands. Get,
the dory over. We'll follow that boat
right up. Hello, forward there! Char-1
lie, all hands, tumble out!"
Then Wilbur and Moran caught them
selves looking into I-M.I -riser's eyea
At once somethingp lL. me latent
silence of the schooiif ]o there
was to be no answer two ran for
ward. Moran &A A nut, hereon into the
fo'c'fetle hatch and without using the
ladder dropped to tli d(fk below in
an instant her AOICO vm. up to the
hatch.
"The bunks are emptythey're gone
abandoned us!'* She came up \ho lad
der again.
"Look," said Wilbur as ,she rouane
the deck "The dory's gone. They've
taken it. It was our only boat. We
can't get ashore."
"Cowardly, .superstitious, rats. I
should have expected this. They Avould
be chopped in bits before they Avould
stay longer on board this boatthey
and their Feng shui."
When morning came the deserters
could be made out camped on the
shore, near to the beached dory. What
their intentions were could not be con
jectured. Ridden with all manner of
nameless oriental superstitions, it Avas
evident that the Chinamen preferred
any hazard of fortune to remaining
longer upon the schooner.
"Well, can Ave get along without
them?" said Wilbur. "Can Ave tAvo
work the schooner back to port our
selves?"
"We'll try it on anyhow, mate," said
Moran. "We might get her into San
Diego anyhoAA*.*'
The Chinamen had left plenty of
provision on board, and Moran cooked
breakfast. Fortunately, by 8 o'clock
a very light westerly breeze came up.
Moran and Wilbur cast off the gaskets
and set the fore and main sails.
Wilbur Avas busy at the forward
bitts preparing to east loose from the
kelp, and Moran had taken up her po
sition at the wheel when suddenly she
exclaimed:
"Sail ho! And in God's name what
kind of a sail do you call it?"
In fact, a strange looking craft had
just made her appearance at the en
trance of Magdalena bay.
CHAPTER VII
WILBUdeckreturneo.n
aft and
joined Moran the quar
ter She Avas already
studying the stranger
through the glass.
"That's a new build of boat to me,"
she muttered, giving Wilbur the glass.
Wilbur looked long and carefully. The
newcomer was of the size and much
the same shape as a cara.vel of the
fifteenth centuryhigh as to bow and
stern, and to all appearances as sea
worthy as a soup tureen. Never but
in the old prints had Wilbur seen such
an extraordinary boat. She carried a
single mast, which listed forward her
lugsail was stretched upon dozens of
bamboo yards she drew hardly any
water. Two enormous red eyes were
painted upon either side of her high,
blunt bow, while just abaft the waist
projected an enormous oar, or sweep,
full forty feet in lengthlonger, in
fact, than the vessel herself. It acted
partly as a propeller, partly as a rud
der.
"They're heading for us," comment
ed Wilbur as Moran took the glass
again.
"Right," she answered, adding upon
the moment: "Hoh! More Chinamen.
The thing is alive with coolies. She's a
junk."
"Oh!" exclaimed Wilbur, recollecting
some talk of Charlie's he had over
heard. "I know."
"You know?"
"Yes. These are real beachcombers.
I've heard of them along this coast
heard our Chinamen speak of them.
They beach that junk every night and
camp on shore. They're scavengers, as
you might saypick up what they can
find or plunder along shoreabalones,
shark fins, pickings of wrecks, old
brass and copper, seals, perhaps tur
tle and shell. Between whiles they
fish for shrimp, and I've heard Kitchell
tell how they make pearls by dropping
bird shot into oysters. They are Kai
gingh to a man, and, according to
Kitchell, the wickedest breed of cats
that ever cut teeth."
The junk bore slowly down upon the
schooner. In a few moments she had
hove to alongside. But for the enor
mous red eyes upon her bow she Was
innocent of paint. She was grimed and
shellacked with dirt and grease and
smelled abominable. Her crew were
Chinamen, but such Chinamen! The
coolies of the Bertha Millner were
pampered and effete in comparison.
The beachcombers, thirteen in number,
were a smaller class of men. their
faces almost black vrith tan and dirt.
Though they still Avore the cue, their
heads were not shaven, and mats and
mops of stiff black hair fell over their
eyes from under their broad, basket
shaped hats.
They were barefoot. None of them
wore more than two garments, the
jeans and the blouse. They were the
lowest type of men Wilbur had ever
seen. The faces were those of a higher
order of anthropoid apes the lower
portionjaws, lips and teethsalient
the nostrils opening at almost right
angles, the eyes tiny and bright, the
forehead seamed and Avrinkled, un
naturally old. Their general expres
sion Avas one of simian cunning and a
ferocity that was utterly devoid of
courage.
"Aye!" exclaimed Moran between her
teeth. "If the devil were a shepherd,
here are his sheep. You don't come
aboard this schooner, my friends! I
want to live as long as I can and die
when I can't help it. Boat ahoy!" she
called.
An answer in Cantonese singsong
came back from the junk, and the
speaker gestured toward the outside
ocean.
Then a long parleying began. For
upward of half an hour Moran and
Wilbur listened to a proposition in
broken pigeon English made by the
beachcombers again and again and yet
Again and were in no way enlightened.
It was impossible to understand. Then
at last they made out that there was
question of a Avhale. Next it appeared
the whale Avas dead, and, finally, after
a prolonged pantomime of gesturing
and pointing, Moran guessed that the
beachcombers wanted the use of the
Bertha Millner to trice up the dead
leviathan Avhile the oil and whalebone
were extracted.
"That must be it," she said to Wil
bur. "That's what they mean by point
ing to our masts and tackle. You see,
they couldn't manage Avith that stick
of theirs, and they say they'll give us
a third of the loot. We'll do it, mate,
and I'll tell you why. The AAind has
fallen, and they can tow us out. If it's
a sperm whale they've found there
ought to bo thirty or forty barrels of
oil in him, let alone the blubber and
bone. Oil is at $30 now, and sper
maceti AA-ill always bring .$100. We'll
take it on, mate, but we'll keep our
eyes on the rats all the time. I don't
want them aboard at all. Look at
their belts. Not three out of the dozen
who aren't carrying those filthy little
hatchets. Faugh!" she exclaimed, with
a shudder of disgust. "Such vipers!"
What followed proved that Moran
had guessed correctly. A rope was
The two stood there Jacinu each other.
passed to the Bertha Millner, the junk
put out its sweep, and to a wailing,
eldritch chanting the schooner was
towed out of the bay.
"I wonder what Charlie and our
China boys Avill think of this?" said
Wilbur, looking shorewrard,
where the
deserters could be seen gathered to
gether in a silent, observing group.
"We're well shut of them," growled
Moran, her thumbs in her belt. "Only
now Ave'll never know what was the
matter Avith the schooner these last
few nights. "Hoh!" she exclaimed un
der her breath, her scowl thickening.
"Sometimes I don't wonder the beasts
cut."
The dead whale was lying four miles
out of the entrance of Magdalena bay,
and as the junk and the schooner drew
near seemed like a huge black boat
floating bottom up. Over it and upon
it swarmed and clamored thousands of
sea birds, while all around and below
the water was thick with gorging
sharks. A dreadful, strangling decay
fouled all the air.
The whale was a sperm whale and
fully twice the length of the Bertha
Millner. The work of tricing him up
occupied the beachcombers throughout
the entire day. It was out of the ques
tion to keep them off the schooner, and
Wilbur and Moran were too wise to
try. They swarmed the forward deck
and rigging like a plague of unclean
monkeys, climbing with an agility and
nimbleness that made Wilbur sick at
his stomach. They were unlike any
Chinamen he had ever seenhideous
to a degree that he had imagined im
possible in a human being. On two oc
casions a fight developed, and in an
instant the little hatchets were flash
ing like the flash of a snake's fangs.
Toward the end of the day one of
them returned to the junk screaming
like a stuck pig, a bit of his chin bit
ten off.
Moran and Wilbur kept to the quar
ter deck, always within reach of the
huge cutting-in spades, but the Chi
nese beachcombers were too elated
over their prize to pay them much at
tention.
And indeed the dead monster proved
a veritable treasure trove. By the end
of the day he had been triced up to the
foremast, and all hands, straining at
the windlass, had raised the mighty
head out of the water. The Chinamen
descended upon the smooth, black
body, their bare feetjsliding and slip-
l4^Kfc-? J&& 1-iMa-r JW* i&r
ping at every step. They "Beta on uy
jabbing their knives into the hide as
glacier climbers do their iee picks. The
head yielded barrel after barrel of oil
and a fair quantity of bone. The
blubber was taken aboard the junk,
minced up with hatchets and run into
casks.
Last of all, a Chinaman cut a hole
through the "case" and, actually de
scending into the inside of the head,
stripped away the spermaceti, clear as
crystal, and packed it into buckets,
which were hauled up on the junk's
deck. The work occupied some two or
three days. During this time the Ber
tha Millner Avas keeled over to nearly
twenty degrees by the weight of the
dead monster. However, neither Wil
bur nor Moran made protest. The
Chinamen ~ould do as they pleased.
That was said and signed. And they
did not release the schooner until the
whale had been emptied of oif and
blubber, spermaceti and bone.
At length, on the afternoon of the
third day, the captain of the junk,
whose name was Hoang, presented
himself upon the quarter deck. He
was naked to the waist, and his bare
brown torso was gleaming with oil
and sweat. His cue was coiled like
a snake around his neck, his hatchet
thrust into his belt.
"Well?" said Moran, coming up.
Wilbur caught his bieath as the two
stood there facing each other, so sharp
was the contrast. The man, the Mon
golian, small, weazened, leather color
ed, secretivea strange, complex crea
ture, steeped in all the obscure mys
tery of the east, nervous, ill at ease
and the girl, the Anglo-Saxon, daugh
ter of the northmen, huge, blonde, big
boned, frank, outspoken, simple of
composition, open as the day, bare
headed, her great ropes of sandy hair
falling OA-er her breast and almost fo
the top of her knee boots. As he look
ed at the two Wilbur asked himself
where else but in California could such
abrupt contrasts occur.
"All right," announced Hoang.
"Catchum all oA, catchum all bone,
catchum all same plenty many. You
help catchum, now you catchum pay.
Babe?"
The three principals came to a settle
ment with unprecedented directness.
Like all Chinamen, Hoang was true to
his promises and had already set apart
three and a half barrels of spermaceti,
ten barrels of oil and some twenty
pounds of bone as the schooner's share
in the transaction. There was no dis
cussion over the matter. He called
their attention to the discharge of his
obligations and hurried away to sum
mon his men aboard and get the junk
under way again.
The beachcombers returned to their
junk, and Wilbur and Moran set about
cutting the carcass of the whale adrift.
They found it would be easier to cut
away the hide from around the hooks
and loops of the tackle than to unfas
ten the tackle itself.
"The knots are jammed hard as
steel," declared Moran. "Hand up
that cutting-in spade stand by with
the other and cut loose at the same
time as I do, so we can ease off the
strain on these lines at the same time.
Ready there, cut!" Moran set free the
hook in the loop of black skin in a
couple of strokes, but Wilbur was
more clumsy the skin resisted. He
struck at it sharply with the heavy
spade. The blade hit the iron hook,
glanced off and opened a large slit in
the carcass below the head. A gush
of entrails started from the slit, and
Moran SAvore under breath.
"Ease aAvay, quick there! You'll
have the mast out of her nextsteady!
Hold j-our spadewhat's that?"
Wilbur had nerved himself against
the dreadful stench he expected would
issue from the putrid monster, but he
was surprised to note a pungent, sweet
and spicy odor that all at once made
thick the air about him. It was an
aromatic smell, stronger than that of
the salt ocean, stronger even than the
reek of oil and blubber from the
schooner's waistsweet as incense,
penetrating as attar, delicious as a
summer breeze.
"It smells pretty good, whatever it
is," he answered. Moran came up to
where he stood and looked at the slit
he had made in the whale's carcass.
Out of it was bulging some kind of
dull white matter marbled with gray.
It was a hard lump of irregular shape
and about as big as a hogshead.
Moran glanced 0A-er to the junk, some
forty feet distant. The beachcombers
were hoisting the lug sail. Hoang was
at the steering oar.
"Get that stuff aboard." she com
manded quietly.
"That!" exclaimed Wilbur, pointing
to the lump.
Moran's blue eyes were beginning to
cleam.
"Yes, and do it before the Chinamen
see you."
"Butbut I don't understand."
Moran stepped to the quarter deck, 1
unslung the hammock in which Wilbur
slept and tossed it to him.
"Reeve it up in that I'll pass you a
line, and we'll laul it aboard. God-,,
send, those vermin yonder have got
smells enough of their own without no
ticing this. Hurry, mate. I'll talk aft
erward."
Wilbur went over the side and, stand
ing as best he could upon the slippery
carcass, dug out the lump and bound
it up in the hammock.
"Hoh!" exclaimed Moran, with sud
den exultation. "There's a lot of it
That's the biggest lump yet, I'll be
bound. Is that all there is, mate?
Look carefully." Her voice had drop
ped to a whisper.
"Yes, yes that's all. Careful now
when you haul up. Hoang has got his
eye on you, and so have the rest of
them. What do you call it anyhow?
Wfey are you so particular about it?
Is it worth anything?" 3
"I don't knowperhaps. We'll have
a look at it anyway."
Moran hauled the stuff aboard, and
Wilbur followed.
*&
I

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