“MY DEAR LITTLE MATE: When you get this here billee ducks, don’t do anything rash. Remember the discipline of the ship, first of all, and then take the dollar bill here and get somebody to cut your hair fer ye, as it’s too loing fer a man of sense and is disagreeable to the ladies. If ye thought ye had a pot of gold in this here outfit, ye get left, sure, and no mistake. Remember money’s the root of all evil and thank yer Lord ye ain’t got none. There ain’t no answer to this note; but if ye feel like writing at enny time, address it to Bill Jackwell, care of anybody at all what happens to be around at the time I’m there—see? Some day we’ll meet agin, fer I’m stuck on the sea and am going to buy a boat and appoint ye as captain, only yer must cut yer hair and trim up yer beard some. That’s all.”
Trunnell held the dollar bill he had unfurled from the note in his hand and dropped the note back into the trunk.
“‘Tis screwed fast wid nine big bolts to th’ deck,” said Chips, who had examined the outfit carefully.
Trunnell scratched his bushy head thoughtfully for a moment longer. “Is there any sech thing as a few men aboard this ship?” he asked.
I said I thought there was.
“Then man the boat and row, for the love o’ God!” he roared, springing up the companionway to the deck, leaving us to follow after him.
When we reached the deck and looked after the brig, we found that we had spent more time below than at first imagined. The Shark was hull down to the southward and evidently going along steadily at a three-knot rate. The sun was almost on the horizon, and if we started after her, the chances were that night would fall long before we could lessen the distance between us materially. Sober appreciation of the affair took the place of Trunnell’s impetuosity.
“We’ll niver see him agin,” said Chips, hauling heavily on the boat tackles.
“There’s no use, Trunnell,” I cried; “we can’t catch that brig in a whale-boat.”
He was already hesitating, and stood scratching his shaggy beard.
“Avast heavin’ on that tackle,” he bawled. Then he turned to me. “You’re right, Rolling, we’ve lost a fortune an’ the rascal too, but it ain’t no use making bigger fools of ourselves. Stow the boat. After that send Johnson aft to me with a pair o’ scissors. You an’ Tom can set the watches, fer ye see I’m capting of her now. Ye might say, on the side like, that the first burgoo eater what comes along the weather side o’ the poop while I’m on deck will go over the rail. There’s a-goin’ to be some discipline aboard the hooker, or I’ll—well, there ain’t no tellin’ just what I won’t do. I’m capting o’ this here ship, an’ ye might jest as well muster the men aft to hear the news.”
Then he disappeared down the companion aft, and I sent Johnson to him with the shears as he had ordered.