“I am a bankrupt then,” said Mrs. Harris, “but how about my daughter Lucille?”
“Your child, I fear, is the daughter of bankrupts and doubtless inherits their qualities.”
“But, doctor, can’t you do something now for us?”
“Oh yes, madam, but first let me feel your pulse, please.”
“Ninety-eight,” he said to himself, but he added to Mrs. Harris, “you need the very rest this voyage affords and you must not worry the least about the storm or affairs at home. Our vessel is built of steel, and Captain Morgan always outrides the storms. Ladies, I want you to take this preparation of my own. It is a special remedy for seasickness, the result of the study and experience of the medical force of the White Star Line.”
The faces of mother and daughter brightened. They had faith. This was noticed by Dr. Argyle. Faith was the restorative principle upon which the young doctor depended, and without it his medicine was worthless. The White Star panacea prescribed was harmless, as his powders merely inclined the patient to sleep and recovery followed, so faith or nature worked the cure. Soon after the door closed behind the doctor, Lucille was asleep, and Mrs. Harris passed into dreamland.
The winds veered into the southwest, and, reinforced, were controlled by a violent hurricane that had rushed up the Atlantic coast from the West Indies. The novice aboard was elated, for he thought that the fiercer the wind blew behind the vessel, the faster the steamer would be driven forward. How little some of us really know! The cyclone at sea is a rotary storm, or hurricane, of extended circuit. Black clouds drive down upon the sea and ship with a tiger’s fierceness as if to crush all life in their pathway.
Officers and crew, in waterproof garments, become as restless as bunched cattle in a prairie blizzard. All eyes now roam from prow to stern, from deck to top mast. The lightning’s blue flame plays with the steel masts, and overhead thunders drown the noise of engines and propellers. Thick black smoke and red-hot cinders shoot forth from the three black-throated smoke-stacks.
The huge steamer, no longer moving with the ease of the leviathan, seems a tiny craft and almost helpless in the chopped seas that give to the ship a complex motion so difficult, even for old sailors, to anticipate. Tidal wave follows tidal wave in rapid succession. Both trough and crest are whipped into whitecaps like tents afield, till sea and storm seem leagued to deluge the world again.
Captain Morgan, lashed to the bridge, has full confidence in himself, his doubled watch ahead, his compasses, and the throbbing engines below. Dangers have now aroused the man and his courage grows apace. Moments supreme come to every captain at sea, the same as to captains who wage wars on the land.
The decks are drenched, great waves pound the forward deck and life-boats are broken from their moorings. Battened hatches imprison below a regiment of souls, some suffering the torments of stomachs in open rebellion, others of heads swollen, while others lose entire control of an army of nerves that center near and drive mad the brain.