“Well, I’m here, ain’t I? Sing out, can’t you see me? Has your hair struck in and tickled your brain so you don’t know who’s boss aboard here? Who’s this galoot you’ve just kept from being ripped to ribbons? I’ll settle matters with you later on for meddling in this affair, you kelp-haired sea-pig. Sink you, Trunnell; I never expected you to turn rusty like the miserable swab you are.”
“Don’t you think it would be best to stand away for port again, sir?” said the fellow Jim, looking sharply at the skipper on the poop as he spoke, and then to myself and Trunnell.
“We don’t keer for your suggestions, young feller,” said the skipper, leaning over the rail above us. “When there’s any orders to be given, I’ll attend to matters myself.” He spoke in a low, even tone, and his eyes seemed to focus to two sharp, bright points at the sailor, making his great beak-like nose more prominent.
“Cast me adrift, Trunnell,” commanded the ruffian Andrews, with an oath. “I’m a-going to kill that lubber you’ve got for mate anyhow, and it might as well be done at once as any other time. We’ll settle the matter about who’s skipper afterward.”
“I hears ye well enough, Cap’n Andrews,” said Trunnell; “but I ain’t eggzactly clear in my mind as to how ye have authority aboard. If I was, I’d cast ye adrift in spite o’ the whole crowd, an’ ye could rip an’ cut to your bloody heart’s content. Ye know I’d back ye if ’twas all right and proper; but I never disobeyed an order yet, and stave me, I never will. I don’t care who gives it so long as he has the right.”
“Spoken like a man an’ a sailor,” came the sudden sharp tones of the skipper on the poop; and as I looked, the skipper drew forth a watch in one hand and a long revolver in the other, which clicked to readiness as it came in a line between his eye and the body of Andrews. “You have just a few seconds less than a minute to get that fellow forrads and out of the way,” he said slowly, as if counting his words, I made no movement to drag the ruffian away, for at that minute I would have offered no objection whatever to seeing the skipper make a target of him; but Trunnell and the sailor Jim instantly seized Andrews, while he cursed the captain and dared him shoot. He struggled vainly to get free of his lashings, but the little bushy-headed mate tucked him under his arm, while Jim took his feet, and the crowd of gaping men broke away as they went forward.
After I had recovered from my somewhat violent exertions, and bound up the slight cut that Andrews had made in my hand with his knife, eight bells had struck, and the steward brought aft the cabin hash. The skipper went below, and Trunnell and I followed.