Here Sandy sat for the remainder of the afternoon, stared at from above and below, an object of lively curiosity. He bit his nails until the blood came, and struggled manfully to keep back the tears. He was cold, hungry, and disgraced, and his mind was full of sinister thoughts. Inch by inch he moved closer to the railing.
Suddenly something fell at his feet. It was an orange. Looking up, he saw a slender little girl in a long tan coat and a white tam-o’-shanter leaning over the railing. He only knew that her eyes were brown and that she was sorry for him, but it changed his world. He pulled off his cap, and sent her such an ardent smile of gratitude that she melted from the railing like a snowflake under the kiss of the sun.
Sandy ate the orange and took courage. Life had acquired a new interest.
The days that followed were not rose-strewn. Disgrace sat heavily upon the delinquent, and he did penance by foregoing the joys of society. Menial labor and the knowledge that he would not be allowed to land, but would be sent back by the first steamer, were made all the more unbearable by his first experience with illness. He had accepted his fate and prepared to die when the ship’s surgeon found him.
The ship’s surgeon was cruel enough to laugh, but he persuaded Sandy to come back to life. He was a small, white, round little man; and when he came rolling down the deck in his white linen suit, his face beaming from its white frame of close-cropped hair and beard, he was not unlike one of his own round white little pills, except that their sweetness stopped on the outside and his went clear through.
He discovered Sandy lying on his face in the passageway, his right hand still dutifully wielding the scrub-brush, but his spirit broken and his courage low.
“Hello!” he exclaimed briskly; “what’s your name?”
“Me name is. The rest of me’s Irish,” groaned Sandy.
“Well, Sandy, my boy, that’s no way to scrub. Come out and get some air, and then go back and do it right.”
He guided Sandy’s dying footsteps to the deck and propped him against the railing. That was when he laughed.
“Not much of a sailor, eh?” he quizzed. “You’ll be all right soon; we have been getting the tail-end of a big nor’wester.”
“A happy storm it must have been, sir, to wag its tail so gay,” said Sandy, trying to smile.
The doctor clapped him on the back. “You’re better. Want something to eat?”
Sandy declined with violence. He explained his feelings with all the authority of a first experience, adding in conclusion: “It was Jonah I used to be after feelin’ sorry for; it ain’t now. It’s the whale.”
The doctor prevailed upon him to drink some hot tea and eat a sandwich. It was a heroic effort, but Sandy would have done even more to prolong the friendly conversation.