Further, he had added three words to his vocabulary. For ever after, “speak” would mean to him “speak,” and “sit down” would mean “sit down” and would not mean “lie down.” The third addition to his vocabulary was “Skipper.” That was the name he had heard the mate repeatedly call Captain Van Horn. And just as Jerry knew that when a human called “Michael,” that the call referred to Michael and not to Biddy, or Terrence, or himself, so he knew that Skipper was the name of the two-legged white master of this new floating world.
“That isn’t just a dog,” was Van Horn’s conclusion to the mate. “There’s a sure enough human brain there behind those brown eyes. He’s six months old. Any boy of six years would be an infant phenomenon to learn in five minutes all that he’s just learned. Why, Gott-fer-dang, a dog’s brain has to be like a man’s. If he does things like a man, he’s got to think like a man.”
The companionway into the main cabin was a steep ladder, and down this, after his meal, Jerry was carried by the captain. The cabin was a long room, extending for the full width of the Arangi from a lazarette aft to a tiny room for’ard. For’ard of this room, separated by a tight bulkhead, was the forecastle where lived the boat’s crew. The tiny room was shared between Van Horn and Borckman, while the main cabin was occupied by the three-score and odd return boys. They squatted about and lay everywhere on the floor and on the long low bunks that ran the full length of the cabin along either side.
In the little stateroom the captain tossed a blanket on the floor in a corner, and he did not find it difficult to get Jerry to understand that that was his bed. Nor did Jerry, with a full stomach and weary from so much excitement, find it difficult to fall immediately asleep.
An hour later he was awakened by the entrance of Borckman. When he wagged his stub of a tail and smiled friendly with his eyes, the mate scowled at him and muttered angrily in his throat. Jerry made no further overtures, but lay quietly watching. The mate had come to take a drink. In truth, he was stealing the drink from Van Horn’s supply. Jerry did not know this. Often, on the plantation, he had seen the white men take drinks. But there was something somehow different in the manner of Borckman’s taking a drink. Jerry was aware, vaguely, that there was something surreptitious about it. What was wrong he did not know, yet he sensed the wrongness and watched suspiciously.
After the mate departed, Jerry would have slept again had not the carelessly latched door swung open with a bang. Opening his eyes, prepared for any hostile invasion from the unknown, he fell to watching a large cockroach crawling down the wall. When he got to his feet and warily stalked toward it, the cockroach scuttled away with a slight rustling noise and disappeared into a crack. Jerry had been acquainted with cockroaches all his life, but he was destined to learn new things about them from the particular breed that dwelt on the Arangi.