Another boat was put over and filled with men. Another sea flattened them out and carried the stains away on the surge. There were only nine men left and a small boat that would hold but seven. Bedient helped to make a rigging to launch this over the stern. He saw that the thing might be done if the small craft were not broken in two against the rudder.
The Captain made no movement, had no thought to join these stragglers. He was alone at the wheel, which played with his strength. His face was calm, but a little dazed. It did not occur to him other than to go down with his ship—the old tradition. The fatuousness of this appealed suddenly to Bedient. Carreras was his friend—the only other white man left. The two mates and boatswain had tried out the first two boats—eagerly.
Bedient ran to the wheel, tore the Captain from it and carried him in his arms toward the stern. A Chinese tried to knife him, but the man died, as if struck by a flying bit of tackle. Bedient recaptured the Captain, who during the brief struggle had dumbly turned back to the wheel. It was all done in thirty seconds; Carreras was chucked into the stern-seat of the little boat, where he belonged. The body of a Laskar cushioned the craft from being broken against the rudder. And now they were seven.
The Truxton had been broken above and below. She strangled—and was sucked down. Bedient saw her stern fling high like an arm; saw the big “X” in the centre of the name in the whitish light.
He remembered hearing that typhoons always double on their tracks; and that a ship is not done that manages to live through the first charge. This one never came back. They had five days of thirst and equatorial sun. Two men died; two fell into madness; Captain Carreras, Andrew Bedient and a Chinese made Hong Kong without fatal hurt.
Captain and cook took passage for London. The former declared he was through with the sea, except as a passenger. In twenty-five years he had never encountered serious accident before; he had believed himself accident-proof; and learning differently, did not propose to lose a second ship. He could bring himself to say very little about Bedient’s action of the last moment on deck, but he asked the young man to share his fortunes. Captain Carreras intended to stay for a while at his mother’s house in Surrey, but realized he could not stand that long.... Bedient told him he was not finished with Asia yet. On the day they parted, the Captain said there would be a letter for Bedient, on or before July first of every year, sent care the “Marigold, New York."... The old embarrassment intervened at the last moment—but the younger man did not miss the Captain’s heart-break.
THE PACK-TRAIN IN LUZON
The first letter from Captain Carreras was a real experience for Bedient. Hours were needed to adjust the memories of his timid old friend to this flowing and affectionate expression. Captain Carreras, shut in a room with pen and white paper, loosed his pent soul in utterance. A fine fragrant soul it was, and all its best poured out to his memorable boy.