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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, December 01, 1912, Image 19

Image and text provided by University of California, Riverside; Riverside, CA

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1912-12-01/ed-1/seq-19/

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jggggg"* SUNSET OF gill and blue and rose
[■TVB] palpitated on 11,<■ horizon. A lapestrj
I I <i\' mist\ tain. draping downward
tSLjj from indefinite clouds, obscured Hie
I. I eastern line ol' sea and sky. Midway
between, slightly nearer to the rain, a
painted rainbow reached almost to the zenith. So
lofty was its arch that the ends seemed to curve in
ward to the ocean in a vain attempt to complete the
perfect circle. Into this triumphal ftrch, toward the
blue twilight beyond, sailed an open boat.
Nor did ever more strangely freighted boat float
on the I'aciiii-. In the sternsheets. on the weather
side, a stupid-looking Norwegian sailor, in uniform
of a ((nat'tei'masier, steered with one hand, while with
the other he held the sheet of the spritsail. From a
holster, belled about his waist, peeped the butt of a
business-like revolver. His cap lay on his knees, re
moved lor the sake of coolness; and his short flaxen
hair was prodigiously ridged over a bruise of recent
Beside the sailor sat Iwo
women. The nearer one was
comfortably stoiH and ma
tronly, tvith lame, dark eyes
- full, direct, human. Her
shoulders were protected
against sunburn by I eaan'a
Light overcoat. Because of the
heat, this was open and un
buttoned, revealing the decol
lete , and rich materials of din
ner dress. Jewels glinted in
the hair, at the neck, and on
the fingers. Beside bier was a
young woman of two or three
and twenty, likewise decollete,
sun-shielded by I strip of
stained oilskin. Her eves, as
well as the straight fine nose
and the line of the red curve
of the not too passionate
month, advertised the closest
relationship with the first
woman. In the opposite stern
sheet and on the iirst cross
seat, lolled three men in black
trousers and dinner jackets.
Their heads were protected by
small squares of stained oil
skin similar to that which lay
across the VOttng woman's
shoulders, One, a youngster
of eighteen, wore an expres
sion of deepest yearning; the
second, half as old again,
talked with the daughter; the
third, middle-aged and com
placent, devoted himself to the
Amidships, on the bottom
alongside the centerboard case,
sat two dark-eyed women, as
maids as their na
tionality was, respectively, the
(•lie Spanish and the other
Italian. On the other side of
the ceuterboard, very straight
harked and erect, was an un
mistakable English valet, with
•ia/.e always set on the middle
aged gentleman to anticipate
any want or order. Forward of
thf centerhoard and just alt
the mast-step, crouched two
hard-featured Chinese, both
with broken heads swathed in
bloody sweat-cloths, both clad
in dungaree garments, grimed and blackened with oil
and coal dust.
When it is considered that hundreds of weary
sea-leagues intervened between the open boat and
the nearest land, the inappropriateness of costume
of half of its occupants may be appreciated.
"Well, brother Willie, what would you rather have
or go swimming?" teased the voting woman.
"A cigarette, if Harrison were n't such a pincher,"
the youth answered bitterly.
"1 'ye only four left," Harrison said. "You 'ye
smoked the whole case. IVe had only two."
Temple Harrison was a joker. Hβ winked privily
at Patty Gilford, drew a curved silver case from his
hip pocket, and carefully counted the four cigarettes.
Willie (Jiff'ord watched with so ferocious infatuation
that his sister cried out:
"B-r-r! Stop it! You make me shiver. You look
positively cannibalistic."
"That '§ all right for you," was the brother's retort.
"You don't know what tobacco means, or you 'd look
The skipper again caught sight of his hands and tried to fling them from him.
Jack London
//lustrations by
cannibalistic yourself. You will, any way," he con
cluded ominously, "after a couple of' days more. I
noticed you were n't a bit shy of taking a bigger cup
of water than the rest when Harrison passed it
around. T was n't afcleep."
Patty flushed guiltily.
"It was only a sip," she pleaded.
Harrison took out one cigarette, handed it over,
and snapped the case shut.
"Blackmailer!" lie hissed.
But Willie Qifford was oblivious. Already, with
trembling fingers, he had lighted a match and was
thawing the first inhalation deep into his lungs. On
his face was a vacuous ecstasy.
"Everything will come out all right," Mrs. Gifford
was saying to Sedky Brown, who sat opposite her in
the sternsheets.
"Certainly; after the miracle of last night, being
saved by some passing , ship is the merest bag-atelle,"
he agreed. "Jt VMM a miracle, I can not understand
would n't have been saved, nor
your maids."
"Nor would we, if it had n't
been for dear, brave Captain
Ashley," Mrs. Gifford took up.
"They were heroes," Sedley
Brown praised warmly. "But
still, there could have been so
few saved, I don't see . . ."
"I don't see why you don't
see, with you and Mother the
heaviest stockholders in the
line," Willie Gifford dashed
in. "Why should n't they have
made a special effort? It was
up to them."
Temple Harrison smiled to
himself. Between them, Mrs.
Gifford and Sedley Brown
owned the majority of the
stock of the Asiatic Mail —
the flourishing steamship line
Hint old Silas Gifford had
built for the purpose of feed
ing his railroad with through
freight from China and Japan.
Mrs. Gifford had married his
son, Seth, and the stock at the
same time.
"I am sure, Willie, we were
given no unfair considera
tion," Mrs. Gifford reproved.
"Of course, shipwrecks are at
tended by confusion and dis
order, and strong measures are
necessary to stay a panic. We
wei'e very fortunate, that is
"I wasn't asleep," Willie
replied. "And all I 'ye got to
say is, it's up to you to make
the board of directors pro
mote Captain Ashley to be
Commodore; that is, if he ain't
dead and gone, which I guess
he is."
"As T was saying," Mrs.
Gifford addressed Sedley
Brown, "the worst is past. It
is scarcely a matter of hard
ship ere we shall be rescued.
The weather is delightful, and
the nights are not the slightest

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