“I thought Ace would crowd the mourners too hard,” said the captain. “Now, Jake,” said he, “will you behave?”
There was no need to ask me. A baby could have held me then.
“Don’t you know,” said the captain, “that you ortn’t to pound a feller with a horseshoe? Do you always act like this when you fight?”
“I never had a fight before,” I sobbed.
“Well, you won’t have another with Ace,” said the captain. “You damned near killed him. And next time fight fair!”
That night I drove alone, which I had been doing now for some time, taking my regular trick; and when we tied up at some place west of Lockport, I went to my bunk expecting to find Ace ready to renew his tyrannies, and determined to resist to the death. He was lying in the lower bunk asleep, and his bandaged head looked rather pitiful. For all that my anger flamed up again as I looked at him. I shook him roughly by the shoulder. He awakened with a moan.
“Get out of that bunk!” I commanded.
“Let me alone,” he whimpered, but he got out as I told him to do.
“Climb into that upper bunk,” I said.
He looked at me a moment, and climbed up. I turned in, in the lower bunk, but I could not sleep. I was boss! It was Ace now who would be the underling. It was not a cold night; but pretty soon I thought of the quilts in the upper berth, and imitating Ace’s cruelty, I called up to him fiercely, awakening him again. “Throw down that quilt,” I said, “I want it.”
“You let me alone,” whimpered Ace, but the quilt was thrown down on the deck, where I let it lie. Ace lay there, breathing occasionally with a long quivering sigh—the most pitiful thing a child ever does—and we were both children, remember, put in a most unchildlike position. I dropped asleep, but soon awakened. It had grown cold, and I reached for the quilt; but something prompted me to reach up and see whether Ace was still there. He lay there asleep, and, as I could feel, cold. I picked up the quilt, threw it over him, tucked him in as my mother used to tuck me in,—thinking of her as I did it—and went back to my bunk. I was sorry I had cut Ace’s head, and had already begun to forget how cruelly he had used me. I seemed to feel his blood on my hands, and got up and washed them. The thought of Ace’s bandages, and the vision of wounds under them filled me with remorse—but I was boss! Finally I dropped asleep, and awoke to find that Ace had got up ahead of me. I was embarrassed by my new authority; and sorry for what I had been obliged to do to get it; but I was a new boy from that day.