Journegan was at the wheel with one of the men who had left with the old sailor, Jenks. Sackett did not question him in regard to the matter of Andrews, as he evidently thought he had already showed signs of mutiny.
“I’m sorry to have this trouble aboard, sir,” said Sackett to me, as he turned to go down the companion to the cabin. “You and your men can stand aside while this matter is arranged satisfactorily. Afterward you will have to take your man away with you when you can go.”
“I’m very sorry the thing has occurred as it has, captain,” I said. “We’ll stand by you, if you wish, and help you to carry out any orders.”
“I don’t think it will be necessary,” answered Sackett. “However, if anything disagreeable happens, I trust you will do what you may for the welfare of my daughter, sir. You understand how much she is at the mercy of these ruffians, should anything happen to me.”
“I will pass my word, sir,” I answered. “Your daughter shall come to no harm while there are a few American sailors afloat to do anything. I do warn you, though, to keep a lookout on that ruffian. He has tried to take my life twice, and is under sentence for a murder. Don’t let him get his gun out at you, or there might be an accident.”
“A nice fellow for your captain to send me,” said Sackett. “It was no fault of yours, my friend, so don’t think I blame you,” he added hastily.
He started toward the companionway, and had just reached it alone when the grizzled head of Andrews appeared above the combings. The fellow stood forth on deck and was followed by our third mate.
“Lay aft, here, England and Daniels,” cried Sackett.
The men came slowly along the poop. Jenks and Dalton, followed by six others of the Sovereign’s crew who had chosen to desert the ship, walked aft to the quarter to see if there was anything for them to do. Some of these men were true to their captain without doubt; but Jenks placed himself in their front, and by the strange smile the old sailor had, I knew he was looking for trouble.
Sackett went straight up to Andrews and stood before him, and for one brief moment the tableau presented was dramatic enough to be impressed forcibly upon my memory. It was sturdy, honest manhood against lawlessness and mutiny. A brave, kind-hearted, religious man, alone, against the worst human devil I have ever seen or heard of. He was, indeed, a desperate ruffian, whose life was already forfeited, but Sackett never flinched for a moment.
The dull night of the southern ocean was closing around the scene on the Sovereign’s deck, making the faces of the men indistinct in the gloom. The Englishmen stood a little apart from ours, but all looked at the captain as he walked up to Andrews. England and Daniels stopped when they were within a fathom of their skipper as though awaiting further orders before proceeding with their unpleasant duty.