Thus one evening at the close of our day-watch on deck, he approached Handy Solomon. It was at the end of ten days, on no one of which had the seaman failed to tinker away at his steel claw. Darrow balanced in front of him with a thin smile.
“Too bad it doesn’t work, my amiable pirate,” said he. “It would be so handy for fighting—See here,” he suddenly continued, pulling some object from his pocket, “here’s a pipe; present to me; I don’t smoke ’em. Twist her halfway, like that, she comes out. Twist her halfway, like this, she goes in. That’s your principle. Give her back to me when you get through.”
He thrust the briar pipe into the man’s hand, and turned away without waiting for a reply. The seaman looked after him in open amazement. That evening he worked on the socket of the steel hook, and in two days he had the job finished. Then he returned the pipe to Darrow with some growling of thanks.
“That’s all right,” said the young man, smiling full at him. “Now what are you going to fight?”
THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE
Captain Selover received as his due the most absolute and implicit obedience imaginable. When he condescended to give an order in his own person, the men fairly jumped to execute it. The matter had evidently been threshed out long ago. They did not love him, not they; but they feared him with a mighty fear, and did not hesitate to say so, vividly, and often, when in the privacy of the forecastle. The prevailing spirit was that of the wild beast, cowed but snarling still. Pulz and Thrackles in especial had a great deal to say of what they were or were not going to do, but I noticed that their resolution always began to run out of them when first foot was set to the companion ladder.
One day we were loafing along, everything drawing well, and everybody but the doctor on deck to enjoy the sun. I was in the crow’s-nest for my pleasure. Below me on the deck Captain Selover roamed here and there, as was his custom, his eye cocked out like a housewife’s for disorder. He found it, again in the evidence of expectoration, and as Perdosa happened to be handiest, fell on the unfortunate Mexican.
Perdosa protested that he had had nothing to do with it, but Captain Selover, enraged as always when his precious deck was soiled, would not listen. Finally the Mexican grew sulky and turned away as though refusing to hear more. The captain thereupon felled him to the deck, and began brutally to kick him in the face and head.
Perdosa writhed and begged, but without avail. The other members of the crew gathered near. After a moment, they began to murmur. Finally Thrackles ventured, most respectfully, to intervene.
“You’ll kill him, sir,” he interposed. “He’s had enough.”
“Had enough, has he?” screeched the captain. “Well, you take what’s left.”