On Board the Tucopia by Louis Becke
The little island trading barque
, Henry Robertson, master, lay just below Garden Island in
Sydney Harbour, ready to sail for the Friendly Islands and
Samoa as soon as the captain came on board. At nine o'clock, as
Bruce, the old, white-haired, Scotch mate, was pointing out to
Mrs. Lacy and the Reverend Wilfrid Lacy the many ships around,
and telling them from whence they came or where they were
bound, the second mate called out—
"Here's the captain's boat coming, sir."
Bruce touched his cap to the pale-faced, violet-eyed
clergyman's wife, and turning to the break of the poop, at once
gave orders to "heave short," leaving the field clear to Mr.
Charles Otway, the supercargo of the
, who was twenty-two years of age, had had seven years'
experience of general wickedness in the South Seas, thought he
was in love with Mrs. Lacy, and that, before the barque reached
Samoa, he would make the lady feel that the Reverend Wilfrid
was a serious mistake, and that he, Charles Otway, was the one
man in the world whom she could love and be happy with for
ever. So, being a hot-blooded
and irresponsible young villain, though careful and decorous to
all outward seeming, he set himself to work, took exceeding
care over his yellow, curly hair, and moustache, and abstained
from swearing in Mrs. Lacy's hearing.
A week before, Mr. and Mrs. Lacy had called at the owner's
office and inquired about a passage to Samoa in the
, and Otway was sent for.
"Otway," said the junior partner, "can you make room on the
for two more passengers—nice people, a clergyman and his
"D——all nice people, especially clergymen and
their wives," he answered promptly—for although the
youngest supercargo in the firm, he was considered, the
smartest—and took every advantage of the fact. "I'm sick
of carting these confounded missionaries about, Mr. Harry. Last
trip we took two down to Tonga—beastly hymn-grinding
pair, who wanted the hands to come aft every night to prayers,
and played-up generally with the discipline of the ship.
Robertson never interfered, and old Bruce, who is one of the
psalm-singing kidney himself, encouraged the beasts to turn the
ship into a floating Bethel."
"Mr. Harry" laughed good-naturedly. "Otway, my boy, you
mustn't put on so much side—the firm can't afford it. If
you hadn't drunk so much whisky last night you would be in a
better temper this morning."
"Oh, if you've got some one else to take my billet
, why don't you say so, instead of backing and filling about,
like a billy-goat in stays?
don't care a damn if you load the schooner up to her maintop
with sky-pilots and their dowdy women-kind. I've had enough of
'em, and I hereby tender you my resignation. I can get another
and a better ship to-morrow, if—"
"Sit down, you cock-a-hoopy young ass," and "Mr. Harry" hit
the supercargo a good-humoured but stiff blow in the chest.
"These people aren't missionaries; they're a cut above the
usual breed. Man's a gentleman; woman's as sweet as a rosebud.
Now look here, Otway; we give you a pretty free hand generally,
but in this instance we want you to stretch a point—you
can give these people berths in the trade-room, can't you?"
The supercargo considered a moment. "There's a lot returning
this trip. First, there's the French priest for Wallis
Island—nice old buffer, but never washes, and grinds his
teeth in his sleep—he's in the cabin next to mine; old
Miss Wiedermann for Tonga—cabin on starboard
side—fussy old cat, who is always telling me that she can
distinctly hear Robertson's bad language on deck. But her
brother is a good sort, and so I put up with her. Then there's
Captain Burr, in the skipper's cabin, two Samoan half-caste
girls in the deck-house—there's going to be trouble over
those women, old Bruce says, and I don't doubt it—and the
whole lot will have their meals in the beastly dog-kennel you
call a saloon, and I call a sweat-box."
Thank you, Mr. Otway. Your elegant manner of speaking shows
clearly the refining influence of the charming people with whom
you associate. Just let me tell you this—you looked like
a gentleman a year or two ago, but become less like one every
"No wonder," replied Otway sullenly, "the Island trade is
not calculated to turn out Chesterfields. I'm sick enough of
it, now we are carrying passengers as well as cargo. I suppose
the firm will be asking us supercargoes to wear uniform and
brass buttons soon, like the ticket collector on a penny
"Quite likely, my sulky young friend—quite likely, if
it will pay us to do so."
"Then I'll clear out, and go nigger-catching again in the
Solomons. That's a lot better than having to be civil to people
who worry the soul out of you, are always in the way at sea,
and a beastly nuisance in port. Why, do you know what old Miss
Weidermann did at Manono, in Samoa, when we were there buying
yams three months ago?"
"No; what did she do?"
"Got the skipper and myself into a howling mess through her
infernal interference; and if the chiefs and old Mataafa
himself had not come to our help there would have been some
shooting, and this firm could never have sent another ship to
Manono again. It makes me mad when I think of it—the
silly old bundle of propriety and feminine spite."
"Tell me all about it, Otway. 'Twill do you good, I can see,
to unburden yourself of some of your
bad temper. Shut that door, and we'll have a brandy-and-soda
"Well," said Otway, "this is what occurred. I was ashore in
the village, buying and weighing the yams, the skipper was
lending me a hand, and everything was going on bully, when
Mataafa and his chiefs sent an invitation to us to come up to
his house and drink kava. Of course such an invitation from the
native point of view was a great honour; and then, besides
that, it was good business to keep in with old Mataafa, who had
just given the Germans a thrashing at Vailele, and was as proud
as a dog with two tails. So, although I hate kava, I accepted
the invitation with 'many expressions of pleasure,' and felt
sure that as the old fellow knew me of old, and I knew he
wanted to buy some rifles, that I should get the bulk of a bag
of sovereigns his mongrel, low-down American secretary was
carrying around. So oft went the skipper and I, letting the
yams stand over till we returned; the barque was lying about a
mile off the beach. Mataafa was very polite to us, and during
the kava drinking I found out that he had about three hundred
sovereigns, and wanted to see the Martini-Henrys we had on
board. Of course I told him that it would be a serious business
for the ship if he gave us away—imprisonment in a
dreadful dungeon in Fiji, if not hanging at the yard-arm or a
man-of-war—and the old cock winked his eye and laughed.
Then, as time was valuable, we at once concocted a plan to get
the rifles—fifty—ashore without making too much of
a show. Well,
among some of the women present there were two great swells,
one was the
, or town maid, of Palaulae in Savaii, and the other was a
niece of Mataafa himself. These two, accompanied by a lot of
young women of Manono, were to go off on board the barque in
our boats, ostensibly to pay their respects to the white lady
on board, and invite her on shore, so as to get her out of the
way; then I was to pass the arms out of the stern ports into
some canoes which would be waiting just as it became dark.
About five o'clock they started off in one boat, leaving me and
the skipper to follow in another. I had sent a note off to the
mate telling him all about the little game, and to be mighty
polite to the two chief women, who were to be introduced to
Miss Weidermann, give the old devil some presents of mats,
fruits, and such things, and ask her to come ashore as
"Well, something had gone wrong with the Weidermann's
temper; for when the women came on board she was sulking in her
cabin, and refused to show her vinegary face outside her
state-room door. Thinking she would get over her tantrum in a
few minutes, the mate invited the two Samoan ladies and their
attendants down into the cabin, where they awaited her
appearance, behaving themselves, of course, very decorously, it
being a visit of ceremony.
"Presently Old Cat-face opened her door, and then, without
giving the native ladies time to utter a word, she launched out
at them in her bastard-mongrel Samoan-Tongan. The first thing
she said was that she knew the kind of women they were, and
had brought them on board! How dared such brazen, shameless
cattle come into the cabin! Into the same cabin as a white
lady! The bold, half-naked, disgraceful hussies, etc., etc. And
then she capped the thing by calling to the steward to come and
drive them out!
"Not one of the native women could answer her. They were all
simply dumbfounded at such a gross insult, and left the cabin
in silence. The mate tried to smooth things over, but one of
the women—Mataafa's niece—gave him a look that told
him to say no more. In half an hour the whole lot of them were
back on the beach, and came up to the chiefs house, where the
skipper and myself were having a final drink of kava with old
Mataafa and his
The face of the elder of the two women was blazing with anger,
and then, pointing to the captain and myself, she gave us such
a tongue-lashing for sending her off to the ship to be shamed
and insulted, that made us blush. Old Mataafa waited until she
had finished, and then, with an ugly gleam in his eye but
speaking very quietly, asked us what it meant.
we say but that it was no fault of ours; and then, by a happy
inspiration, I added that although Miss Weidermann was
generally well-conducted enough, she sometimes got blazing
drunk, and made a beast of herself. This explanation satisfied
the chiefs, if not the women, and everything went on
smoothly. And as it was then nearly dark, and I was determined
that Mataafa should get his rifles, half a dozen of his men
took us off in their canoes, and we went on board. The skipper
and I had fixed up as to what we should do with the Weidermann
creature. She was seated at the cabin table waiting to open out
on us, but the skipper didn't give her a chance.
"'Go to your cabin at once, madam,' he said solemnly, 'and I
trust you will not again leave it in your present condition.
Your conduct is simply astounding.
Steward, see that you give Miss Weidermann no more grog
"The poor old girl thought that either he or she herself was
going mad, but he gave her no time to talk. The captain opened
her state-room door, gently pushed her in, and put a man
outside to see that she didn't come out again. Then we handed
out the rifles through the stern-ports to the natives in the
canoes, and sent them away rejoicing. And that's the end of the
yarn, and Miss Weidermann nearly went into a fit next morning
when we told her that no less than thirty respectable native
women had taken their oaths that she was mad drunk, and abused
The junior partner laughed loudly at the story, and Otway,
with a more amiable look on his face, rose.
"Well, I'll do what I can for these people. I'll make room
for them somehow. Where are they going?"
Samoa. They have an idea of settling down there, I think, for a
few months, and then going on to China. They have plenty of
"Oh, well, tell them to come on board to-morrow, and I'll
show them what can be done for them."
So the Rev. and Mrs. Lacy did come on board, and Mr. Charles
Otway was vanquished by just one single glance from the lady's
"It would have been such a dreadful disappointment to us if
we could not have obtained passages in the
," she said, in her soft, sweet voice, as she sank back in the
deck-chair he placed before her. "My husband is so bent on
making a tour through Samoa. Now, do tell me, Mr. Otway, are
these islands so very lovely?"
"Very, very lovely, Mrs. Lacy," replied Otway, leaning with
his back against the rail and regarding her with half-closed
eyes; "as sweet and fair to look upon as a lovely woman—a
woman with violet eyes and lips like a budding rose."
She gave him one swift glance, seemingly in anger, yet her
eyes smiled into his; then she bent her head and regarded the
deck with intense interest. Otway thought he had scored. She
Otway had just shown her and her husband his own cabin, and
had told them that they could occupy it—he would make
himself comfortable in the trade-room, he said. This was after
the first look from the violet eyes.
Robertson, the skipper, came aboard, shook hands with Mrs. Lacy
and her husband, nodded to the other passengers, dived below
for a moment or two, and then reappeared on deck, full of
energy, blasphemy, and anxiety to get under way. In less than
an hour the smart barque was outside the Heads, and heeling
over to a brisk south-westerly breeze. Two days later she was
four hundred miles on her course.
The Rev. Wilfrid Lacy soon made himself very agreeable to
the rest of the passengers, who all agreed that he was a
splendid type of parson, and even Otway, who had as much
principle as a rat and began making love to his wife from the
outset, liked him. First of all, he was not the usual style of
travelling clergyman. He didn't say grace at meals, he smoked a
pipe, drank whisky and brandy with Otway and Robertson, told
rattling good stories, and displayed an immediate interest when
the skipper mentioned that the second mate was a "bit of a
bruiser," and that there were gloves on board; and the second
mate, a nuggety little Tynesider, at once consented to a
friendly mill as soon as he was off duty.
"Wilfrid," said Mrs. Lacy, "you'll shock every one. I can
see that Captain Robertson wonders what sort of a clergyman you
Robertson saw the merry light in her dark eyes, and then
laughed aloud as he saw Miss Weidermann's face. It expressed
the very strongest disapproval, and during the rest of the meal
the virgin lady preserved a dismal silence. The rest of the
passengers, however, "took" to the clerical gentleman at once.
old Father Roget—the Marist missionary who sat opposite
him—he soon entered into an animated conversation, while
the two De Boos girls, vivacious Samoan half-castes, attached
themselves to his wife. Seated beside Otway was another
passenger, an American skipper named Burr, who was going to
Apia to take command of a vessel belonging to the same firm as
. He was a silent, good-looking man of about sixty, and
possessed of much caustic humour and a remarkable fund of
smoking-room stories, which, on rare occasions, he would relate
in an inimitable, drawling manner, as if he was tired. The
chief mate was a deeply but not obtrusively religious Scotsman;
the second officer, Allen, was a young man of thirty, an
excellent seaman, but rough to the verge of brutality with the
crew. Bruce, on the other hand, was too easy-going and
"I never want to raise my hand against a man," he said one
day, as a protest, when Allen gave one of the crew an
unmerciful cuff which sent him down as if he had been shot.
"Neither do I," replied Allen, "I prefer raising my foot.
But it's habit, Mr. Bruce, only habit."
For five days the barque ran steadily on an E.N.E. course,
then on the sixth day the wind hauled, and by sunset it was
blowing hard from the eastward with a fast-gathering sea. By
two in the morning Robertson and his officers knew that they
were in for a three-days' easterly gale; a few hours later it
was decided to heave-to, as the sea had become dangerous, and
little vessel was straining badly. Just after this had been
done, the gale set in with redoubled fury, and when Mrs. Lacy
came on deck shortly before breakfast, she shuddered at the
wild spectacle. Coming to the break of the poop, she clasped
the iron rail with both hands, and gazed fearfully about
"You had better go below, ma'am," said the second mate, who
was standing near, talking to Otway, "there's some nasty, lumpy
Then he gave a yell.
"Look out there!"
Springing to Mrs. Lacy's side, he clasped his left arm
around her waist, and held on tightly to the iron rail with his
right, just as a vast mountain of water took the barque
amidships, fell on her deck with terrific force, and fairly
buried her from the topgallant foc'scle to the level of the
poop. In less than half a minute the galley, for'ard
deck-house, long-boat, which was lying on the main hatch, and
the port bulwarks had vanished, together with three poor seamen
who were asleep in the deck-house. The fearful crash brought
the captain flying on deck. One glance showed him that there
was no chance of saving the men—to attempt to lower a
boat in such a sea was utterly impossible, and would be madness
itself. He sighed, and then took off his cap. Allen and Otway
followed his example.
"Is there no hope for them?" Mrs. Lacy whispered to
"None," replied the supercargo in a low voice. "None." Then
he urged her to go below, as it was not safe for her to remain
on deck. She went at once,
and met her husband just as he was leaving their cabin.
"What is the matter, Nell?" he asked, as he saw that tears
were in her eyes.
"Three poor men have been carried overboard, Wilfrid. They
were in the deck-house asleep ten minutes ago—now they
are gone! Oh, isn't it dreadful, dreadful!" And then she sat
down beside him and wept silently.
Breakfast was a forlorn meal—Robertson and his
officers were not present, and Otway took the captain's seat.
He, too, only remained to drink a cup of coffee, then hurriedly
went on deck. Lacy rose at the same time, but at the foot of
the companion, Otway motioned him to stop.
"Don't come on deck awhile, if you please," he said, "and
tell the ladies to keep to the cabin."
"Anything fresh gone wrong?"
"Yes," replied the supercargo, looking steadily at the
clergyman—"the ship is making water badly. Don't you hear
the pumps going? Tell the ladies not to come on deck—say
it is not safe. And if the old Weidermann girl hears the pumps,
and gets inquisitive, tell her that a lot of water got into the
hold when that big sea tumbled aboard. She's an inquisitive old
ass, and would be bound to tell the other ladies that the ship
is in danger."
Lacy nodded. "All right, I'll see to her. How long has the
ship been leaking?"
"For quite a long time. And there is fourteen inches in her,
and it's as much as we can do to keep it under."
That is serious."
Otway nodded. "Yes, it is serious in weather like this. Now
I must go. Daresay we may give you a call in the course of the
morning. Ever try a spell at old-fashioned brake pumps? Fine
"I'm ready now if you want me," was the quiet answer.
was indeed in a pretty bad case. Immediately after the fatal
sea had swept her decks the carpenter had sounded the well and
found fifteen inches of water, some little of which had got
below through the fore-scuttle, but the greater portion, it was
soon evident, was the result of a leak. The barque was a
comparatively new vessel, and Robertson and his officers, after
two hours' pumping, came to the conclusion that she had either
strained herself badly or a butt-end had started somewhere.
For two hours the crew worked at the pumps, taking a spell
of ten minutes every half-hour, Otway, the American captain
Burr, and Mr. Lacy all lending a hand. Then the well was
sounded, and showed two inches less.
Robertson ordered the men to come aft and get a glass of
grog. They trooped down into the cabin wet and exhausted, and
the steward served them each out half a tumblerful of good
French brandy. They drank it off, and then went on deck again
to have a smoke before resuming pumping. A quarter of an hour
later the pumps choked. There were a hundred tons of coal in
the lower hold, and some of the small of it had been drawn up.
By the time the carpenter had
them cleared the water had gained seven inches, and the little
barque was labouring heavily. Again, however, the willing crew
turned to and pumped steadily for another hour, but only
succeeded in reducing the water by an inch or two. Then
Robertson called his officers together and consulted.
"We can't keep on like this much longer," he said, "the
water is gaining on us too fast. And we can't run before such a
sea as this, in our condition; we should be pooped in less than
five minutes. We shall have to take to the boats in another
couple of hours, unless a change takes place. Mr. Allen, and
you, Mr. Otway, see to the two boats, and get them in
Then he went below to the passengers. They were all seated
in the main cabin, and looked anxiously at him as he
"I am sorry to tell you, ladies," he said quietly, "that the
ship is leaking so badly that I fear we shall have to abandon
her. The men cannot keep on pumping much longer, now that we
are three hands short. Fortunately we have two good boats, and,
if we must take to them, shall have no trouble in reaching
They heard him in silence, then the old priest opened his
state-room door, and came out.
"That is bad news indeed, captain," he said gently. "Still
we must bow to God's will, and trust to His guidance and
protection. And you and your officers and crew are good and
"Thank you, father. We'll do all right if we
have to take to the boats. And you must try and cheer up the
ladies. Now I must leave you all for awhile. We will stick to
the pumps for another hour or two."
"Captain," said Sarah de Boos, a tall, finely built young
woman of twenty, "let my sister and myself and our servant help
the men at the pump.
, please. We are all three very strong, and our help is surely
Robertson patted her soft cheek with his big, sunburnt hand.
"You are your father's daughter, Sarah, and I thank you. Of
course your help would be something; three fine lusty young
women"—he tried to smile—"but it's too dangerous
for you to be on deck. All the bulwarks are gone, and nasty
lumping seas come aboard every now and then."
"I'm not afraid of a life-line hurting my waist," was the
prompt answer, "and neither is Sukie—are you Sukie? Go on
deck, captain, and Sukie and I and Mina" (the servant) "will
just kick off our boots and follow you."
"And I too," broke in old Father Roget. "Surely I am not too
old to help."
In less than five minutes the two half-caste girls, the
native woman Mina, and the old priest, were working the
starboard brake, three seamen being on the lee side. Every now
and then, as the barque took a heavy roll to windward, the
water would flood her deck up to the workers' knees; but they
stuck steadily to their task for half an hour, when they gave
to Burr, the carpenter, the Rev. Wilfrid, and three native
In the cabin Mrs. Lacy sat with ashen-hued face beside Miss
Weidermann, their hands clasped together, and listening to the
wild clamour of the wind and sea. Presently the two De Boos
girls, Lacy, Father Roget, and Mina, came below to rest awhile,
the water streaming from their sodden garments. The old priest,
thoroughly exhausted, threw himself down upon the transom
"Wilfrid," said Mrs. Lacy coming over to him and placing her
shaking hand on his shoulder, "cannot I do something? Oh, Miss
De Boos, I wish I were brave, like you. But I am not—I am
a coward, and I hate myself for it."
The Rev. Wilfrid smiled tenderly at her as he drew her to
him for a moment. "Don't worry, little woman. You can't do
anything—yes, you can, though! Get me my pipe and fill it
for me. My hands are wet and cramped."
Sukie De Boos, whose firm, rounded bosom and strong square
shoulders made a startling contrast, as they revealed their
shape under her soddened blouse, to Mrs. Lacy's fragile figure,
impulsively put her hands out, and taking Mrs. Lacy's face
between them, kissed her twice.
"Dear Mrs. Lacy," she said, "don't be frightened, please.
Now get Mr. Lacy's pipe, and I'll rummage the steward's pantry
and get some food for us all to eat. Mr. Otway told me to tell
you and Miss Weidermann to eat something, as maybe we may not
for some hours. So I'm just going to stay here and see that
eat. I'll set you a good example."
In a few minutes she laid upon the table an assortment of
tinned meats, bread, and some bottled beer, and some brandy for
Father Roget and Lacy. Otway came down, followed by the
steward, and nodded approval.
"That's right, Sukie. Eat as much as you can. I'll take a
drink myself. Here's luck to you, Sukie. Perhaps we won't have
to make up a boating party after all. But there's nothing like
being ready. So will you, Mr. Lacy, lend a hand here with the
steward, and pass up our provisions to the second mate? The
captain will be down in a minute, and will tell you ladies what
clothing to get ready. For my part I'll be jolly glad if we do
have to take to the boats, where we shall be nice and comfy,
instead of rolling about in this beastly way—I'll be
sea-sick in another ten minutes. Old Bruce says he felt sick an
hour ago. Come on, steward."
The assumed cheerfulness of his manner produced a good
effect, and even old Miss Weidermann plucked up heart a little
as she saw him nonchalantly light a cigar as he disappeared
with the steward below into the lazzarette.
On deck Robertson and the mate were talking in low tones, as
they assisted the second mate with the boats. There was now
nearly three feet of water in the hold, and every one knew that
the barque could not keep afloat much longer. Fortunately the
violence of the wind had decreased somewhat, though there was
still a mountainous sea.
Both the old mate and the captain knew that the two small
quarter boats would be dangerously overladen, and their
unspoken fears were shared by the rest of the officers and
crew. But another hour would perhaps make a great difference;
and then as the two men were speaking a savage sea smote the
on the starboard bow, with such violence that she trembled in
every timber, and as she staggered under the shock and then
rolled heavily to windward, she dipped the starboard quarter
boat under the water; it filled, and as she rose again, boat
and davits went away together.
Robertson groaned and looked at the mate.
"It is God's will, sir," said the old Scotsman quietly.
Robertson nodded. "Tell Allen and the others to come here,"
The Tynesider, followed by Captain Burr, Otway, and the
"Mr. Allen," said the captain, "you are the best man in such
an emergency as this. You handle a boat better than any man I
know. There is now only one boat left, and you must take charge
of her. You will have to take a big lot of people—the
four women, the parson, the old French priest, Mr. Otway,
Captain Burr, the carpenter, and the five men."
"I guess I'll stand out, and stick to the ship," said Burr
in a lazy, drawling manner, "I don't like bein' crowded up with
a lot of wimmen."
Neither do I, said Otway.
"Same here, captain," said the carpenter, a little grizzled
man of sixty.
Robertson shook hands with each of them in turn. "I knew you
," he said simply. "Come below and let's have a drink together,
and then see to the boat."
"What's all this, skipper?" said Allen, with an oath, "d'ye
think I'm going to save my carcase and let you men drown? I'll
see you all damned first!"
"You'll obey orders," growled the captain, "and my orders
are that you take charge of that boat. And don't give me any
lip. You are a married man and have children. None of us who
are standing by the ship are married men. By God, my joker, if
you don't know your duty, I'll teach you. Are you going to let
these four women go adrift in a boat to perish when you can
Allen looked the captain squarely in the face and then put
out his hand.
"I understand you, sir. But I don't like doing it. The ship
won't keep afloat another hour. But, as you say, I've a wife
and kids to consider."
Followed by the others, Robertson went below, and told his
passengers to get ready for the boat. The old French priest,
exhausted by his labour at the pumps, was still lying on the
transom cushions, sleeping; the Rev. Lacy was seated at the
table smoking his pipe (all the ladies were in their
state-rooms). He rose as the men entered, and looked at them
We're in a bit of a tight place," said the captain, as he
coolly poured out half a tumblerful of brandy, "but I'm sending
you, Mr. Lacy, and Father Roget, and the ladies away with Mr.
Allen in one of the boats. Allen is a man whom I rely upon.
He'll bring you ashore safely. He's a bit rough in his talk,
but he's one of God's own chosen in a boat, and a fine sailor
man—better than the mate, Captain Burr, or myself; isn't
that so, Mr. Bruce?"
The white-haired old mate bent his head in acknowledgment.
Then he stood up stiff and stark, his rough bony hands clasped
upon his chest.
"I'll no' deny but that Mr. Allen is far and awa' the best
man to have charge o' the boat. But as there is a meenister
here, surely he will now offer up a prayer to the Almighty for
those in peril on the sea, and especially implore Him to
consider a sma' boat, deep to the gunwales."
He looked at the clergyman, who at first made no reply, but
stood with downcast eyes. The men looked at him expectantly; he
put one hand on the table, and then slowly raised his face.
"I think, gentlemen, that ... that Father Roget is the older
man." He spoke haltingly, and a flush dyed his smooth,
clean-shaven face from brow to chin. "Will you not ask him?"
Then his eyes dropped again.
Robertson, who was in a hurry, and yet had a sincere but
secret respect for old Bruce's unobtrusive religious feelings,
now backed up his mate's request.
"I think, sir, that as the mate says, a bit of a short
prayer would not be out of place just now, seeing the mess we
are in. And that poor old gentleman over there is too done up
to stand on his feet. So will you please begin, sir. Steward,
call the ladies. We can no longer disguise from them, Mr. Lacy,
that we are in a bad way—as bad a way as I have ever been
in during my thirty years at sea."
In a couple of minutes the two De Boos girls, Miss
Weidermann, and the native girl Mina, came out of their cabins;
and when the steward said that Mrs. Lacy felt too ill to leave
her berth, her husband could not help giving an audible sigh of
relief. Then he braced up and spoke with firmness.
"Please shut Mrs. Lacy's door, steward. Mr. Bruce, will you
lend me your church service—I do not want to go into my
cabin for my own. My wife, I fear, has given way."
The mate brought the church service, and then whilst the men
stood with bowed heads, and the women knelt, the clergyman,
with strong, unfaltering voice read the second of the prayers
"To be used in Storms at Sea." He finished, and then sitting
down again, placed one hand over his eyes.
The living, the living shall praise Thee
It was the old mate who spoke. He alone of the men had knelt
beside the women, and when he rose his face bore such an
expression of calmness and content, that Otway, who five
minutes before had been silently cursing him for his "damned
idiotcy," looked at him with a sudden mingled respect and
Stepping across to the clergyman, Bruce respectfully placed his
hand on his shoulder, and as he spoke his clear blue eyes
smiled at the still kneeling women.
"Cheer up, sir. God will protect ye and your gude wife, and
us all. You, his meenister, have made supplication to Him, and
He has heard. Dinna weep, ladies. We are in the care of One who
holds the sea in the hollow of His hand."
Then he followed the captain and the others on deck, Otway
alone remaining to assist the steward.
"For God's sake give me some brandy," said Lacy to him, in a
Otway looked at him in astonishment. Was the man a coward
He brought the brandy, and with ill-disguised contempt
placed it before him without a word. Lacy looked up at him, and
his face flushed.
"Oh, I'm not funking—not a d——d bit, I can
Otway at once poured out a nip of brandy for himself, and
clinked his glass against that of the clergyman.
"Pon my soul, I couldn't make it out, and I apologise. But a
man's nerves go all at once sometimes—can't help himself,
you know. Mine did once when I was in the nigger-catching
business in the Solomon Islands. Natives opened fire on us when
our boats were aground in a creek, and some of our men got hit.
I wasn't a bit scared of a smack from a bullet, but when I got
a scratch on my hand from an arrow, I dropped in a blue funk,
and acted like a cur.
Knew it was poisoned, felt sure I'd die of lockjaw, and began
to weep internally. Then the mate called me a rotten young cur,
shook me up, and put my Snider into my hand. But I shall always
feel funky at the sight even of a child's twopenny bow and
arrow. Now I must go."
The clergyman nodded and smiled, and then rising from his
seat, he tapped at the door of his wife's state-room. She
opened it, and then Otway, who was helping the steward, heard
her sob hysterically.
"Oh, Will, Will, why did you? How could you? I love you,
Will dear, I love you, and if death comes to us in another
hour, another minute, I shall die happily with your arms round
me. But, Will dear, there is a God, I'm sure there
a God.... I feel it in my heart, I feel it. And now that death
is so near to us——"
Lacy put his arms around her, and lifted her trembling
figure upon his knees.
"There, rest yourself, my pet."
"Rest! Rest?" she said brokenly, as Lacy drew her to him.
"How can I rest when I think of how I have sinned, and how I
shall die! Will dear, when I heard you reading that
to do it, Nell."
"Will, dear Will.... Perhaps God may forgive us both.... But
as I sat here in my dark cabin, and listened to you reading
that prayer, my husband's face came before me—the face
that I thought was so dull and stupid. And his eyes seemed so
soft and kind—"
For God's sake, my dear little woman, don't think of what is
past. We have made the plunge together——"
The woman uttered one last sobbing sigh. "I am not afraid to
die, Will. I am not afraid, but when I heard you begin to read
that prayer, my courage forsook me. I wanted to scream—to
rush out and stop you, for it seemed to me as if you were doing
it in sheer mockery."
"I can only say again, Nell, that I could not help myself;
made me feel pretty sick, I assure you."
Their voices ceased, and presently Lacy stepped out into the
main cabin, and then went on deck again.
Robertson met him with a cheerful face. "Come on, Mr. Lacy.
I've some good news for you—we are making less water! The
leak must be taking up in some way." Then holding on to the
rail with one hand, he shouted to the men at the pumps.
"Shake her up, boys! shake her up. Here's Mr. Lacy come to
lend a hand, and the supercargo and steward will be with you in
a minute. Now I'm going below for a minute to tell the ladies,
and mix you a bucket of grog. Shake her up, you, Tom Tarbucket,
my bully boy with a glass eye! Shake her up, and when she sucks
dry, I'll stand a sovereign all round."
The willing crew answered him with a cheer, and Tom
Tarbucket, a square-built, merry faced native of Savage Island,
who was stripped to the waist, shouted out, amid the laughter
of his shipmates—
Ay, ay, capt'in, we soon make pump suck dry if two Miss de Boos
Robertson laughed in response, and then picking up a wooden
bucket from under the fife rail, clattered down the companion
"Where are you, Otway? Up you get on deck, and you too,
steward. The leak is taken up and 'everything is lovely and the
goose hangs high.' Up you go to the pumps, and make 'em suck.
I'll bring up some grog presently."
Then as Otway and the steward sprang up on deck, the captain
stamped along the cabin in his sodden sea boots, banging at
"Come out, Sarah, come out Sukie, my little
chickabiddies—there's to be no boat trip for you after
all. Miss Weidermann, I've good news, good news! Mrs. Lacy,
cheer up, dear lady. The leak has taken up, and you can go on
deck and see your husband working at the pumps like a number
one chop Trojan. Ha! Father Roget, give me your hand. You're a
white man, sir, and ought to be a bishop."
As he spoke to the now awakened old priest, the two De Boos
girls, Mrs. Lacy and Miss Weidermann, all came out of their
cabins, and Robertson shook hands with them, and lifting Sukie
de Boos up between his two rough hands as if she were a little
girl, he kissed her, and then made a grab at Sarah, who dodged
behind Mrs. Lacy.
"Now, father, don't you attempt to come on deck. Mrs. Lacy,
just you keep him here. Sukie, my chick, you and Sarah get a
couple of bottles of brandy,
make this bucket full of half-and-half, and bring it on deck to
As he noisily stamped out of the cabin again, the old priest
turned to the ladies, and raised his hand—
"A brave, brave man—a very good English sailor. And
now let us thank God for His mercies to us."
The four ladies, with Mina, knelt, and then the good old man
prayed fervently for a few minutes. Then Sukie de Boos and her
sister flung their arms around Mrs. Lacy, and kissed her, and
even Miss Weidermann, now thoroughly unstrung, began to cry
hysterically. She had at first detested Mrs. Lacy as being
altogether too scandalously young and pretty for a clergyman's
wife. Now she was ready to take her to her bosom (that is, to
her metaphorical bosom, as she had no other), for she believed
that Mr. Lacy's prayer had saved them all, he being a
Protestant clergyman, and therefore better qualified to avert
imminent death than a priest of Rome.
Sukie and Sally de Boos mixed the grog, took it on deck, and
served it out to the men at the pumps.
The carpenter sounded the well, and as he drew up the iron
rod, the second mate gave a shout.
"Only seven inches, captain."
"Right, my boy. Take a good spell now, Mr. Allen. Mr. Bruce,
we can give her a bit more lower canvas now. She'll stand it.
Mr. Lacy, and you Captain Burr, come aft and get into some dry
togs. The glass is rising steadily, and in a few hours we'll
feel a bit more comfy."
He prophesied truly, for the violence of the gale
decreased rapidly, and when at the end of an hour the pumps
sucked, the crew gave a cheer, and tired out as they were,
eagerly sprang aloft to repair damages and then spread more
sail, Sarah and Susan de Boos hauling and pulling at the
running gear from the deck below. They were both girls of
splendid physique, and, in a way, sailors, and had Robertson
allowed them to do so, would have gone aloft and handled the
canvas with the men.
By four o'clock in the afternoon the little barque, with her
wave-swept, bulwarkless decks, now drying under a bright sun,
was running before a warm, good-hearted breeze, and the pumps
were only attended to twice in every watch.
Mrs. Lacy, Miss Weidermann, the De Boos girls, and the
French priest were seated on the poop deck, on rugs and
blankets spread out for them by Otway and the steward. Lacy,
with Captain Burr, was pacing to and fro smoking his pipe, and
laughing heartily at Sukie de Boos's attempts to make his wife
smoke a cigarette. Presently old Bruce came along with the
second mate and some men to set a new gaff-topsail, and the
ladies rose to go below, so as to be out of the way.
"Nae, nae, leddies, dinna go below," said the old mate
cheerfully, "ye'll no' hinder us. And the sight o' sae many
sweet, bonny faces will mak' us work a' the better. And how are
ye now, Mrs. Lacy? Ah, the pink roses are in your cheeks once
mair." And then he stepped quickly up to the young clergyman
and took his hand.
Mr. Lacy, ye must pardon me, but I'm an auld man, and must hae
my way. Ye're a gude, brave man;" then he added in a low voice,
"and ye called upon Him, and He heard us."
"Thank you, Mr. Bruce," Lacy answered nervously, as he saw
his wife's eyes droop, and a vivid blush dye her fair cheeks.
Then he plucked the American captain by the sleeve and went
below, and Sukie de Boos laughed loudly when in another minute
they heard the pop of a bottle of soda water. She ran to the
skylight and bent down.
"You're a pair of exceedingly rude men. You might think of
Father Roget—even if you don't think of us poor women.
Mr. Otway, come here, you horrid, dirty-faced, ragged creature!
Go below and get a glass of port wine for Father Roget, a
bottle of champagne for Mrs. Lacy and my sister and myself, and
a cup of tea for Mrs. Weidermann, and bring some biscuits,
"Come and help me, then," said the supercargo, who was
indeed dirty-faced and ragged.
Sukie danced towards the companion way with him. Half-way
down he put his arms round her and kissed her vigorously. She
returned his kisses with interest, and laughingly smacked his
"Let me go, Charlie Otway, you horrid, bold fellow. Now,
one, two, three, or I'll call out and invoke the protection of
the clergy, above and below—those on board this ship I
mean, not those who are in heaven or elsewhere."
Ten days later the
sailed into Apia Harbour and dropped anchor inside Matautu
Point just as the evening mists were closing their fleecy
mantle around the verdant slopes of Vailima Mountain.
The two half-caste girls, with their maid and Mr. and Mrs.
Lacy, came to bid Otway and the captain a brief farewell,
before they went ashore in the pilot boat to D'Acosta's hotel
"Now remember, Otway, and you, Captain Robertson, and you,
Captain Burr, you are all to dine with us at the hotel the day
after to-morrow. And perhaps you, too, Father Roget will
reconsider your decision and come too." It was Lacy who
The gentle-voiced old Frenchman shook his head and
smiled—"Ah no, it was impossible," he said. The bishop
would not like him to so soon leave the Mission. But the bishop
and his brothers at the Mission would look forward to have the
good captain, and Mr. Burr, and Mr. Otway, and the ladies to
accept his hospitality.
Mrs. Lacy's soft little gloved hand was in Otway's.
"I thank you, Mr. Otway, very, very sincerely for your many
kindnesses to me. You have indeed been most generous to us
both. It was cruel of us to take your cabin and compel you to
sleep in the trade-room. But I shall never forget how kind you
All that was good in Otway came into his vicious heart and
voiced softly through his lips.
I am only too glad, Mrs. Lacy.... I am indeed. I didn't like
giving up my cabin to strangers at first, and was a bit of a
beast when Mr. Harry told me we were taking two extra
passengers. But I am glad now."
He turned away, and went below with burning cheeks. Before
the storm he had tried his best, late on several nights, to
make Lacy drunk, and to keep him drunk; but Lacy could stand as
much or more grog than he could himself; and when he heard that
passionate, sobbing appeal, "Oh, Will, Will, how could you?"
his better nature was stirred, and his fierce sensual desire
for her changed into a sentimental affection and respect. He
knew her secret, and now, instead of wishing to take advantage
of it, felt he was too much of a man to abuse his
Supper was over, and as the skipper, Burr, and Otway paced
the quarter-deck before going ashore to play a game or two of
billiards and meet some friends, a boat came alongside, and a
man stepped on deck and inquired for the captain. As he
followed Robertson down the companion, Otway saw that he was a
well-dressed, rather gentlemanly-looking young man of about
five and twenty.
"Who's that joker, I wonder?" he said to Burr; "not any one
living in Samoa, unless he's a new-comer. Hope he won't stay
long—it's eight o'clock now."
Ten minutes later the steward came to him.
"The captain wishes to see you, sir."
Otway entered the cabin. Robertson, with frowning
face, motioned him to a seat. The strange gentleman sat near
the captain smoking a cigar, and with some papers in his
"Mr. Otway, I have sent for you. This gentleman has a
warrant for the arrest of Mr. Lacy, issued by the New Zealand
Government and initialled by the British Consul here."
Otway rose to the occasion. He nodded to the stranger and
sat down quietly.
"Yes, sir?" he asked inquiringly of Robertson.
"You will please tell my supercargo your business, mister,"
said the captain gruffly to the stranger; "he can tell you all
you wish to know—that is, if he cares to do so. I don't
see that your warrant holds any force here in Samoa. You can't
execute it. There's no government here, no police, no anything,
and the British Consul can't act on a warrant issued from New
Zealand. It is of no more use in Samoa than it would be at Cape
"Now, sir, make haste," said Otway with a mingled and
studied insolence and politeness. He already began to detest
"I am a detective of the police force of New Zealand, and I
have come from Auckland to arrest William Barton, alias the
Rev. Wilfrid Lacy, on a charge of stealing twenty thousand,
five hundred pounds from the National Bank of Christchurch, of
which he was manager. I believe that twenty thousand pounds of
the money he has stolen is on board this vessel at this moment,
and I now demand access to his cabin."
Do you? How are you going to enforce your demand, my cocksure
Otway rose, and placing his two hands on the table, looked
insultingly at the detective. "What rot you are talking,
The detective drew back, alarmed and startled.
"The British Consul has endorsed my warrant to arrest this
man," he said, "and it will go hard with any one who attempts
to interfere with me in the performance of my duty."
Otway shot a quick, triumphant glance at the captain.
"The Consul is, and always was, a silly old ass. You have
come on a fool's errand; and are going on the wrong tack by
making threats. That idiotic warrant of yours is of no more use
to you than a sheet of fly paper—Samoa is outside British
jurisdiction. The High Commissioner for the Western Pacific
would not have endorsed such a fool of a document, and I'll
report the matter to him.... Now, sit down and tell me what you
want, and I'll try and help you all I can. But don't try to
bluff us—it's only wasting your time. Steward, bring us
something to drink."
As soon as the steward brought them "something to drink"
Otway became deeply sympathetic with the detective, and
Robertson, who knew his supercargo well, smiled inwardly at the
manner he adopted.
"Now, just tell us, Mr.—O'Donovan, I think you said is
your name—what is all the trouble? I need
hardly tell you that whilst both the captain and myself felt
annoyed at your dictatorial manner, we are both sensible men,
and will do all in our power to assist you. Our firm's
reputation has to be studied—has it not, captain? We
don't want it to be insinuated that we helped an embezzler to
escape, do we?"
"Certainly not," replied Robertson, puffing slowly at his
cigar, watching Otway keenly through his half-closed eyelids,
and wondering what that astute young gentleman was driving at.
"I guess that you, Mr. Otway, will do all that is right and
"Thank you, sir," replied Otway humbly, and with great
seriousness, "I know my duty to my employers, and I know that
this gentleman may be led into very serious trouble through the
dense stupidity of the British Consul here."
He turned to Mr. O'Donovan—"Are you aware, Mr.
O'Donikin—I beg your pardon, O'Donovan—that the
British Consul here is not, officially, the British Consul. He
is merely a commercial agent, like the United States Consul.
Neither are accredited by their Governments to act officially
on behalf of their respective countries, and even if they were,
there is no extradition treaty with the Samoan Islands, which
is a country without a recognised government. Of course, Mr.
O'Donovan, you are acting in good faith; but you have no more
legal right nor the power to arrest a man in Samoa, than you
have to arrest one in Manchuria or Patagonia. Of course, old
Johns (the British Consul) doesn't know this, or
he would not have made such a fool of himself by endorsing a
warrant from an irresponsible judge of a New Zealand court. But
as I told you, I shall aid you in every possible way."
O'Donovan was no fool. He knew that all that Otway had said
was absolutely correct, but he braced himself up.
"I daresay what you say may be right, Mr. Supercargo. But
I've come from New Zealand to get this joker, and by blazes I
mean to get him, and take him back with me to New Zealand. And
I mean to have those twenty thousand sovereigns to take back as
"Well, then, why the devil don't you go and get your man?
He's at Joe D'Acosta's hotel with his wife."
"I don't want to be bothered with him just yet. I have no
place to put him into. The Californian mail boat from San
Francisco is not due here for another ten days. But I know that
he hasn't taken his stolen money ashore yet, and you had better
hand it over to me at once. I can get
at any time."
Otway leant back in his chair and laughed.
"I don't doubt that, Mr. O'Donovan. If you have enough money
to do it, you can do as you say—get this man at any time.
But you want to have some guns behind you to enforce it; and
then his capture won't affect our custody of the money. If the
Consul instigates you to make an attack on the ship, you will
do so at your peril, for we shall resist any piratical
O'Donovan's face fell. "You said you would assist me?"
"So I will," replied Otway, lying genially, "But you must
point out a way. The High Commissioner for the Western Pacific,
in Fiji, is the only man who could give you power to arrest the
man and convey him to New Zealand, and the moment you show me
the High or the Deputy High Commissioner's order to hand over
the money, and Lacy's other effects, I'll do so."
The detective made his last stroke.
"I can take the law into my own hands and chance the
consequences. The Consul will supply me with a
Robertson smiled grimly, and pointed to the rack of Snider
rifles around the mizen-mast at the head of the table.
"You and your force will have a bad time of it then, and be
shot down before you can put foot on my deck. I've never seen a
shark eat a policeman, but there seems a chance of it now."
O'Donovan laughed uneasily, then he changed his tactics.
"Now look here, gentlemen," he said confidentially, leaning
across the table, "I can see I'm in a bit of a hole, but I'm a
business man, and you are business men, and I think we
understand one another, eh? As you say, my warrant doesn't hold
good here in Samoa. But the Consul will back me up, and if I
can take this chap back to New Zealand it means a big thing for
me. Now, what's your figure?"
Two hundred each for the skipper and myself," answered Otway
"Done. You shall have it."
"Give me till to-morrow afternoon. I've only a hundred and
fifty pounds with me, and I'll have to raise the rest."
"Very well, it's a deal. But mind, you'll have to take care
to be here before the parson. He's coming off at eleven
"Trust me for that, gentlemen."
"I'm sorry for his wife," said Otway meditatively.
O'Donovan grinned. "Ah, I haven't told you the
yarn—she's not his wife! She bolted from her husband, who
is a big swell in Auckland, a Mr.——."
"How did you get on their tracks?"
"Sydney police found out that two people answering their
description had sailed for the Islands in the
, and cabled over to us. We thought they had lit out for
America. I only got here the day before yesterday in the
, from Auckland."
Otway paid him some very florid compliments on his
smartness, and then after another drink or two, the detective
went on shore, highly pleased.
As soon as he was gone, Otway turned to Robertson.
"You won't stand in my way, Robertson, will you?" he
asked—"I want to see the poor devils get away."
"You take all the responsibility, then."
"I will," and then he rapidly told the skipper his
plan, and set to work by at once asking the second mate to get
ready the boat and then come back to the cabin.
"All ready," said Allen, five minutes later.
"Then come with the steward and help me with this gear."
He unlocked the door of Lacy's state-room, lit the swinging
candle, and quickly passed out Mr. and Mrs. Lacy's remaining
luggage to the second mate and steward. Three small leather
trunks, marked "Books with Care," were especially heavy, and he
guessed their contents.
"Stow them safely in the boat, Allen. Don't make more noise
than you can help. I'll be with you in a minute."
Going into his own cabin, he took a large handbag, threw
into it his revolver and two boxes of cartridges, then carried
it into the trade-room, and added half a dozen tins of the
brand of tobacco which he knew Lacy liked, and then filled the
remaining space with pint bottles of champagne. Then he whipped
up a sheet or two of letter paper and an envelope from the
cabin-table, thrust them into his coat pocket, and, bag in
hand, stepped quickly on deck. The old mate was in his cabin,
and had not heard anything.
"Give it to her, boys," he said to the crew, taking the
steer-oar in his hand, and heading the boat towards a small
fore-and-aft schooner lying half a mile away in the Matafele
horn of the reef encircling Apia Harbour.
The four native seamen bent to their oars in silence, and
sped swiftly through the darkness over the calm
waters of the harbour. The schooner showed no riding light on
her forestay, but, on the after deck under the awning, a lamp
was burning, and three men—the captain, mate, and
boatswain—were playing cards on the skylight.
Otway jumped on deck, just as the men rose to meet him.
"Great Ascensial Jehosophat! Why, it's you, Mr. Otway?"
cried the captain, a little clean-shaven man, as he shook hands
with the supercargo. "Well, now, I was just wondering whether
I'd go ashore and try and drop across you. Say, tell me now,
hev you any good tinned beef and a case of Winchesters you can
"Yes, both," replied Otway, shaking hands with the three in
turn—they were all old acquaintances, especially Le Brun,
the mate. "But come below with me, Revels; I've important
business, and it has to be done right away—this very
Revels led the way below into the schooner's cabin, and at
once produced a bottle of Bourbon and a couple of glasses.
"No time to drink, Revels.... All right, just a little,
then. Now, tell me, do you want to make—and make it
easy—five hundred pounds?"
"Guess I do."
"Are you ready for sea?"
"I was thinking of sailing on a cruise among the Tokelau
Islands in a day or two."
"Then don't think of it. If you put to sea to-night for a
longer voyage, I can guarantee you that you will
get five hundred pounds—if you will take two passengers
on board, and put to sea as soon as they come alongside."
"Where do they want to go?"
"That I can't say. Manila or Hongkong, most likely. It'll
"Is the money safe?"
Otway struck his hand on the table. "Safe as rain, Revels.
They have plenty. I have it here alongside, and if you don't
get five hundred sovereigns paid you when you have dropped
Samoa astern, you can come back with your passengers, and I'll
give you fifty pounds myself."
"Friends of yours?"
"That's enough fur me, Otway. Now, just tell me what to
"Tell your mate to get your boat ready to go ashore, while I
write a note."
He took a sheet of paper, and hurriedly wrote in pencil:
"DEAR LACY,—Don't hesitate to follow
my instructions. There's a man here from New Zealand. Tried to
get access to your cabin; bluffed him. You and your wife must
follow bearer of this note to his boat, which will bring you to
a schooner. The captain's name is Revels. He expects you, and
you can trust him. Have pledged him my word that you will give
him £500 to land you at Manila or thereabouts; also that
you will hand it to him as soon as the schooner is clear of the
your luggage is on board the schooner, awaiting you. Allen
helped me. You might send him a present by Revels. Goodbye, and
all good luck. One last word—
be quick, be quick
"Boat is ready," said Revels.
Right," and Otway closed the letter and handed it to the mate.
"Here you are, Le Brun. Now, listen. Pull in to the mouth of
the creek at the French Mission, just beside the bridge. Leave
your boat there and then take this letter to D'Acosta's Hotel
and ask to see Mr. Lacy. If he and his wife have gone out for a
walk, you must follow them and give him the letter; but I feel
pretty sure you'll find them on the verandah. Bring them off on
board as quickly and as quietly as possible. No one will take
any notice of the boat in the creek. Oh! and tell Mr. Lacy to
be dead sure not to bring anything in the way of even a small
bag with him—Joe D'Acosta might wonder. I'll settle the
hotel bill later on. Are you clear?"
"Clear as mud," replied Le Brun, a big, black-whiskered
The schooner's boat, manned by two hands only, pushed off,
and then Revels turned to Otway.
"Shall I heave short so as to be ready?"
"Heave short, be d——d!" replied Otway testily.
"No, just lie nice and quiet, and as soon as you have your
passengers on board slip your cable. I'll see that your anchor
is fished up for you. And even if you lost your anchor and a
few fathoms of chain it doesn't matter against five hundred
sovereigns. The people on shore would be sure to hear the sound
of the windlass pawls, and there's a man here from
Auckland—a detective—who might make a bold stroke,
get a dozen native bullies and collar
you. So slip, my boy, slip. There's a fine healthy breeze which
will take you clear of the reef in ten minutes."
The two men shook hands, and Otway stepped into his boat,
which he steered in towards the principal jetty.
Jumping out he walked along the roadway which led from
Matafele to Apia. As he passed the British Consul's house he
saw Mr. O'Donovan standing on the verandah talking to the
Consul. He waved his hand to them, and cheerfully invited the
detective to come along to "Johnnie Hall's" and play a game of
Mr. O'Donovan, little thinking that Otway had a purpose in
view, took the bait. The Consul knew Otway, and, in a measure,
dreaded him, for the supercargo's knowledge of certain
transactions in connection with the sale of arms to natives, in
which he (the Consul) had taken a leading and lucrative part.
So when he saw the supercargo of the
beckoning to O'Donovan he smiled genially at him, and hurriedly
told the detective to go.
"He's a most astute and clever young scoundrel, Mr.
O'Donovan, and in a way we are at his mercy. But you shall have
the four hundred pounds in the morning—not later than
noon. This man Barton must be brought to justice at any
"Just so, sir; and you will get a hundred out of the
business, any way," replied O'Donovan, who had gauged the
Consul's morality pretty fairly.
As Otway and the detective walked towards the
hotel known as "Johnny Hall's" the former said
"Look here, Mr. O'Donovan. Are the skipper and myself to get
those four hundred sovs to-morrow or not? To tell you the exact
truth, I have a fair amount of doubt about your promise. Where
are you going to get the money?"
"That's all right, Mr. Otway. You're a business man. And you
and the skipper will have your two hundred each before one
o'clock to-morrow. The Consul is doing the necessary."
"Right, my boy," said Otway effusively. "Now we'll play a
game or two at Johnny's and have some fun with the girls."
By eleven o'clock Mr. O'Donovan was comfortably half drunk,
and Otway led him out on to the verandah to look at the
harbour, shimmering under the starlight. They sat down on two
cane lounges, and the supercargo's keen eye saw that Revel's
schooner had gone. He breathed freely, and then brought Mr.
O'Donovan a large whisky and soda.
In the morning Mr. O'Donovan and Mr. William Johns, the
British Consul, were in a state of frenzy on discovering that
Mr. and Mrs. Lacy had escaped during the night in the schooner
. The Consul knew that Otway was at the bottom of the matter,
but dared not say so, but O'Donovan, who had more pluck and
nothing to lose, lost his temper and came on board the
just as she was being hauled up on the beach to get at the
You're a dirty sweep," he said to Otway.
The supercargo hit him between the eyes, and sent him down.
Allen picked him up, dumped him into the boat alongside, and
sent him ashore.
lay high and dry on Apia beach Otway and old Bruce walked round
under her counter and looked for the leak. As the skipper had
surmised, a butt-end had started, but the gaping orifice was
now choked and filled with a large piece of seaweed.
"The prayer of one of God's ain ministers has saved us,"
said the Scotch mate, pointing upward.
"No doubt," replied Otway, who knew that the good old man
had heard nothing of what had happened.