First Page Project Gutenberg Header Page 23 of 193 Next Page Last Page CHAPTER VI - Michael, Brother of Jerry

CHAPTER VI

The adventure that was so to alter the future occurred when Michael, in no uncertain manner, announced to all and sundry his presence on the _Makambo_. It was due to Kwaque's carelessness, to commence with, for Kwaque left the stateroom without tight-closing the door. As the _Makambo_ rolled on an easy sea the door swung back and forth, remaining wide open for intervals and banging shut but not banging hard enough to latch itself.

Michael crossed the high threshold with the innocent intention of exploring no farther than the immediate vicinity. But scarcely was he through, when a heavier roll slammed the door and latched it. And immediately Michael wanted to get back. Obedience was strong in him, for it was his heart's desire to serve his lord's will, and from the few days' confinement he sensed, or guessed, or divined, without thinking about it, that it was Steward's will for him to stay in the stateroom.

For a long time he sat down before the closed door, regarding it wistfully but being too wise to bark or speak to such inanimate object. It had been part of his early puppyhood education to learn that only live things could be moved by plea or threat, and that while things not alive did move, as the door had moved, they never moved of themselves, and were deaf to anything life might have to say to them. Occasionally he trotted down the short cross-hall upon which the stateroom opened, and gazed up and down the long hall that ran fore and aft.

For the better part of an hour he did this, returning always to the door that would not open. Then he achieved a definite idea. Since the door would not open, and since Steward and Kwaque did not return, he would go in search of them. Once with this concept of action clear in his brain, without timidities of hesitation and irresolution, he trotted aft down the long hall. Going around the right angle in which it ended, he encountered a narrow flight of steps. Among many scents, he recognized those of Kwaque and Steward and knew they had passed that way.

Up the stairs and on the main deck, he began to meet passengers. Being white gods, he did not resent their addresses to him, though he did not linger and went out on the open deck where more of the favoured gods reclined in steamer-chairs. Still no Kwaque or Steward. Another flight of narrow, steep stairs invited, and he came out on the boat-deck. Here, under the wide awnings, were many more of the gods--many times more than he had that far seen in his life.

The for'ard end of the boat-deck terminated in the bridge, which, instead of being raised above it, was part of it. Trotting around the wheel-house to the shady lee-side of it, he came upon his fate; for be it known that Captain Duncan possessed on board in addition to two fox-terriers, a big Persian cat, and that cat possessed a litter of kittens. Her chosen nursery was the wheel-house, and Captain Duncan had humoured her, giving her a box for her kittens and threatening the quartermasters with all manner of dire fates did they so much as step on one of the kittens. Next Page

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