“You see Grossbeck and McKeon?”
“Well, they are the butts, as we call them. All the fellows in our watch have some beans,” added Shuffles, taking a handful of them from his pocket.
“What do they do with them?”
“You try it yourself. Take two of these beans.”
Paul took them.
“Now you must give one to Grossbeck, and the other to McKeon, without letting any fellow see you do it. If any fellow does see you give it to either of them, he will say, in a low tone, ‘Don’t know Beans,’ and then the butt must drop it on deck. When the even bell strikes, Grossbeck and McKeon must count their beans. The one who has the most must appoint the next two bean-pots, or butts; and the one who has the smaller number must pick up all the beans that have been dropped on the deck. There is fun in it; though, perhaps, you wouldn’t think so.”
“I will try it, at any rate.”
Paul did try it, and succeeded, as all others did, in giving the beans to the receivers without any one uttering the warning words. He was rather pleased with the game, so suddenly invented, and the two officers of his watch were induced to try the experiment. Then Blackburn, Endicott, and Bennington were supplied with beans by Shuffles, who instructed his auditors that not a word must be said about the matter to the “butts,” or to any one in the waist. The last three were as successful as the first three. Then Thompson and Cartwright were equally fortunate. Finally, Captain Gordon’s attention was attracted, and he descended so far from his dignity as to deposit the beans.
Shuffles was satisfied. He had procured nine votes, and he was confident that he had thus defeated his rival. As a matter of precaution, he directed McKeon to pick up the beans scattered in the waist; and the “outsiders” who had cast the nine votes believed that he was the unlucky butt, who had been beaten in the game.
“The captain and half the officers voted,” whispered Grossbeck at four bells.
“Certainly; that’s all right. You and McKeon will meet Pelham and me in the waist at eight bells,” replied Shuffles, as he went below.
THE RESULT OF THE BALLOT.
The first part of the port watch went on duty at eight o’clock, when the secret poll for the choice of a captain, under the new order of events, was closed. Shuffles was in this watch, but as neither his “trick at the wheel” nor his turn on the lookout came within the first hour, he had an opportunity to attend to the important business of the League. Pelham and the two receivers of votes belonged in the second part of the port watch, and there was nothing to prevent them from attending the conference which Shuffles had appointed.