First Page Project Gutenberg Header Page 71 of 193 Next Page Last Page CHAPTER XV - Michael, Brother of Jerry

"She's making water, sir," the mate called. "Six inches--no, seven inches, sir."

There was a rush of sailors across the wreckage of the fore-topmast to the forecastle to pack their bags.

"Swing out that starboard boat, Mr. Jackson," the captain commanded, staring after the foaming course of the cow as she surged away for a fresh onslaught. "But don't lower it. Hold it overside in the falls, or that damned fish'll smash it. Just swing it out, ready and waiting, let the men get their bags, then stow food and water aboard of her."

Lashings were cast off the boat and the falls attached, when the men fled to holding-vantage just ere the whale arrived. She struck the _Mary Turner_ squarely amidships on the port beam, so that, from the poop, one saw, as well as heard, her long side bend and spring back like a limber fabric. The starboard rail buried under the sea as the schooner heeled to the blow, and, as she righted with a violent lurch, the water swashed across the deck to the knees of the sailors about the boat and spouted out of the port scuppers.

"Heave away!" Captain Doane ordered from the poop. "Up with her! Swing her out! Hold your turns! Make fast!"

The boat was outboard, its gunwale resting against the _Mary Turner's_ rail.

"Ten inches, sir, and making fast," was the mate's information, as he gauged the sounding-rod.

"I'm going after my tools," Captain Doane announced, as he started for the cabin. Half into the scuttle, he paused to add with a sneer for Nishikanta's benefit, "And for my one chronometer."

"A foot and a half, and making," the mate shouted aft to him.

"We'd better do some packing ourselves," Grimshaw, following on the captain, said to Nishikanta.

"Steward," Nishikanta said, "go below and pack my bedding. I'll take care of the rest."

"Mr. Nishikanta, you can go to hell, sir, and all the rest as well," was Daughtry's quiet response, although in the same breath he was saying, respectfully and assuringly, to the Ancient Mariner: "You hold Killeny, sir. I'll take care of your dunnage. Is there anything special you want to save, sir?"

Jackson joined the four men below, and as the five of them, in haste and trepidation, packed articles of worth and comfort, the _Mary Turner_ was struck again. Caught below without warning, all were flung fiercely to port and from Simon Nishikanta's room came wailing curses of announcement of the hurt to his ribs against his bunk-rail. But this was drowned by a prodigious smashing and crashing on deck.

"Kindling wood--there won't be anything else left of her," Captain Doane commented in the ensuing calm, as he crept gingerly up the companionway with his chronometer cuddled on an even keel to his breast.

Placing it in the custody of a sailor, he returned below and was helped up with his sea-chest by the steward. In turn, he helped the steward up with the Ancient Mariner's sea-chest. Next, aided by anxious sailors, he and Daughtry dropped into the lazarette through the cabin floor, and began breaking out and passing up a stream of supplies--cases of salmon and beef, of marmalade and biscuit, of butter and preserved milk, and of all sorts of the tinned, desiccated, evaporated, and condensed stuff that of modern times goes down to the sea in ships for the nourishment of men. Next Page

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