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hand, gazed at the sea wistfully. We asked ourselves, What next? I thought, Now, this is something like. This is great. I wonder what will happen. O youth!
“Suddenly Mahon sighted a steamer far astern. Captain Beard said, “We may do something with her yet.' We hoisted two flags, which said in the international language of the sea, 'On fire. Want immediate assistance.' The steamer grew bigger rapidly, and by-andby spoke with two flags on her foremast, 'I am coming to your assistance.'
“In half an hour she was abreast, to windward, within hail, and rolling slightly, with her engines stopped. We lost our composure, and yelled all together with excitement, 'We've been blown up.' A man in a white helmet, on the bridge, cried, “ Yes! All right! all right!' and he nodded his head, and smiled, and made soothing motions with his hand as though at a lot of frightened children. One of the boats dropped in the water, and walked towards us upon the sea with her long oars. Four Calashes, pulled a swinging stroke. This was my first sight of Malay seamen. I've known them since, but what struck me then was their unconcern; they came alongside, and even the bowman standing up and holding to our main-chains with the boat-hook did not deign to lift his head for a glance. I thought people who had been blown up deserved more attention. “ A little man, dry like a chip and agile like a monkey,
It was the mate of the steamer. He gave one look, and cried, “O boys—you had better quit.' “We were silent. He talked apart with the captain
for a time,-seemed to argue with him. Then they went away together to the steamer.
“ When our skipper came back we learned that the steamer was the Sommerville, Captain Nash, from West Australia to Singapore viâ Batavia with mails, and that the agreement was she should tow us to Anjer or Batavia, if possible, where we could extinguish the fire by scuttling, and then proceed on our voyage—to Bankok ! The old man seemed excited. We will do it yet," he said to Mahon, fiercely. He shook his fist at the sky. Nobody else said a word.
At noon the steamer began to tow. She went ahead slim and high, and what was left of the Judea followed at the end of seventy fathom of tow-rope,—followed her swiftly like a cloud of smoke with mastheads protruding above. We went aloft to furl the sails. We coughed on the yards, and were careful about the bunts. Do you see the lot of us there, putting a neat furl on the sails of that ship doomed to arrive nowhere? There was not a man who didn't think that at any moment the masts would topple over.
From aloft we could not see the ship for smoke, and they worked carefully, passing the gaskets with even turns. • Harbor furl-aloft there!' cried Mahon from below.
“ You understand this? I don't think one of those chaps expected to get down in the usual way. When we did I heard them saying to each other, “Well, I thought we would come down overboard, in a lumpsticks and all-blame me if I didn't.' That's what I was thinking to myself,' would answer wearily another
battered and bandaged scarecrow. And, mind, these were men without the drilled-in habit of obedience. To an onlooker they would be a lot of profane scallywags without a redeeming point. What made them do itwhat made them obey me when I, thinking consciously how fine it was, made them drop the bunt of the foresail twice to try and do it better? What? They had no professional reputation—no examples, no praise. It wasn't a sense of duty; they all knew well enough how to shirk, and laze, and dodge—when they had a mind to it—and mostly they had. Was it the two pounds ten a month that sent them there? They didn't think their pay half good enough. No; it was something in them, something
inborn and subtle and everlasting. I don't say positively that the crew of a French or German merchantman wouldn't have done it, but I doubt whether it would have been done in the same way. There was a completeness in it, something solid like a principle, and masterful like an instinct-a disclosure of something secret-of that hidden something, that gift, of good or evil that makes racial difference, that shapes the fate of nations.
“It was that night at ten that, for the first time since we had been fighting it, we saw the fire. The speed of the towing had fanned the smoldering destruction. A blue gleam appeared forward, shining below the wreck of the deck. It wavered in patches, it seemed to stir and creep like the light of a glowworm. I saw it first, and told Mahon. “Then the game's up,' he said. “We had better stop this towing, or she will burst out suddenly fore and aft before we can clear out.' We set up a yell;
rang bells to attract their attention; they towed on. At last Mahon and I had to crawl forward and cut the rope with an ax. There was no time to cast off the lashings. Red tongues could be seen licking the wilderness of splinters under our feet as we made our way back to the poop.
“Of course they very soon found out in the steamer that the rope was gone. She gave a loud blast of her whistle, her lights were seen sweeping in a wide circle, she came up ranging close alongside, and stopped. We were all in a tight group on the poop looking at her. Every man had saved a little bundle or a bag. Suddenly a conical flame with a twisted top shot up forward and threw upon the black sea a circle of light, with the two vessels side by side and heaving gently in its center. Captain Beard had been sitting on the gratings still and mute for hours, but now he rose slowly and advanced in front of us, to the mizzen-shrouds. Captain Nash hailed: Come along! Look sharp. I have mail-bags on board. I will take you and your boats to Singapore.' “« Thank you! No!' said our skipper.
• We must see the last of the ship.'
“I can't stand by any longer,' shouted the other. Mails—you know.'
'Ay! ay! We are all right.' “ • Very well! I'll report you in Singapore. Good-by!'
“He waved his hand. Our men dropped their bundles quietly. The steamer moved ahead, and passing out of -the circle of light, vanished at once from our sight, daz
zled by the fire which burned fiercely. And then I knew that I would see the East first as commander of a small boat. I thought it fine; and the fidelity to the old ship was fine. We should see the last of her. Oh the glamour of youth! Oh the fire of it, more dazzling than the flames of the burning ship, throwing a magic light on the wide earth, leaping audaciously to the sky, presently to be quenched by time, more cruel, more pitiless, more bitter than the sea and like the flames of the burning ship surrounded by an impenetrable night.
“ The old man warned us in his gentle and inflexible way that it was part of our duty to save for the underwriters as much as we could of the ship's gear. According we went to work aft, while she blazed forward to give us plenty of light. We lugged out a lot of rubbish. What didn't we save? An old barometer fixed with an absurd quantity of screws nearly cost me my life: a sudden rush of smoke came upon me, and I just got away
in time. There were various stores, bolts of canvas, coils of rope; the poop looked like a marine bazaar, and the boats were lumbered to the gunwales. One would have thought the old man wanted to take as much as he could of his first command with him. He was very, very quiet, but off his balance evidently. Would you believe it? He wanted to take a length of old stream-cable and a kedge-anchor with him in the long-boat. We said, • Ay, ay, sir,' deferentially, and on the quiet let the thing slip overboard. The heavy medicine-chest went