Vandover and the Brute eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 299 pages of information about Vandover and the Brute.

Vandover slept all that day and the night following, rolled in hot blankets.  The next morning he awoke with a strange sense of unreality and of having dropped a day somewhere.  As he lay in his stuffy little bunk between decks, and felt the rolling of the pilot-boat under him, he still fancied himself upon the Mazatlan; he felt the pain in his bandaged thumb and wondered how it came there.  Then his fall on the deck came back to him, the wreck of the steamer, the excitement on board, the reports of the rifle fired as a minute gun, the clouds of steam that smelt of a great laundry, and the drowning of the little Jew of the plush cap with the ear-laps.  He shuddered and grew sick again for a minute, telling himself that he would never forget that scene.

Such of the passengers as could get about breakfasted as best they could in the cabin with the boatkeeper and four of the pilots.  Here they were informed as to what was to be done with them.  The schooner would not go in for two weeks, and it was out of the question to keep the castaways on board for that length of time.  However, at that moment the pilots were cruising in the neighbourhood on the lookout for two Cape Horners that were expected to be up at any moment.  It was decided that when the first of these should be met with the party should be transferred.

An hour after they had been picked up, the wind had begun to freshen.  By noon of the second day it had come on to blow half a gale.  One could hope only for the best as regarded the rest of the Mazatlan’s boats and rafts.  Not another sign of the wreck was seen by the schooner.

The castaways filled the little schooner to overflowing, hindering her management, and getting in the way at every step.  The pilot crew hustled them about without ceremony, and after dinner one had to intervene to prevent a fight between one of them and a sailor from the Mazatlan over the question of a broken pipe.  The women of the Mazatlan kept in their berths continually, rolled in hot blankets, dosed with steaming whisky punches.  In the afternoon, however, Vandover saw two of them in the lee of the house attempting to dry their hair; one of them was the woman he had particularly noticed in the lifeboat clad in a night-dress, and he wondered vaguely where the dress had come from she now was wearing.

About three o’clock of the afternoon of the following day Vandover was sitting on the deck near the stern, fastening on his shoes with a length of tarred rope, the laces which he had left trailing having long before broken and pulled out.  By that time the wind was blowing squally out of the northeast.  The schooner was put under try sails, “a three-reefed mitten with the thumb brailed up,” as he heard the boatkeeper call it.  This latter was at the wheel for a moment, but in a little while he called up a young man dressed in a suit of oilskins and a pea jacket and gave him the charge.  For a long time Vandover watched the boy turning the spokes back and forth, his eyes alternating between the binocle and the horizon.

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Vandover and the Brute from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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