“Where bes the medicine-chest? Was it sent aloft?” asked the skipper.
“Nay, skipper, ’twas left below—in the captain’s berth,” replied Nick; his voice shook from pain and loss of blood.
“Ye bes cut desperate bad,” said the skipper. “I’ll go fetch the medicine-chest an’ fix ye up wid plaster an’ dacent bandages. Who says his leg bes broke? Ye, Bill Lynch? I’ll fix yer leg, b’y, when I git the chest.”
He looked up at the crowd on the cliff and roared to them to lower away some brandy for the wounded men.
“An’ step lively, damn ye, or I’ll be comin’ up to ye wid a bat in me hand,” he concluded, knowing that it was not the time to display any sign of weakness. Then he went down the companion, entered the water, which had drained out with the ebbing tide until it reached no higher than to his waist, and waded aft to the lost captain’s berth. He felt decidedly uneasy, shot glances to right and left at the narrow doors of the state-rooms and experienced a sensation of creeping cold at the roots of his hair; but he forced himself onward. He soon regained the deck with the big medicine-chest in his arms. He was received by a growl of admiration from the little group of wounded. The men on the cliff looked down in silence, those who had taken part in the recent panic deeply impressed by the skipper’s action. The brandy had already been lowered to the deck, and the bottles were uncorked. The skipper placed the chest on the upper side of the hatch, and saw to the fair distribution of the liquor. He passed it around with a generous hand; but the doses administered to Nick Leary and the man with the broken leg were the most liberal. He attended to Nick’s cheek first, drawing the lips of the wound together with strips of adhesive plaster from the medicine-chest, and then padding and bandaging it securely with gauze and linen.
“That bes fine, skipper. Sure, it feels better now nor it did afore it was cut,” mumbled Nick, gazing at the other with dog-homage in his eyes.
By this time, Bill Lynch, of the broken leg, was oblivious to the world, thanks to the depth and strength of his potations. The skipper cut away a section of the leg of his heavy woollen trousers, prodded and pried at the injured limb with his strong fingers until the fracture was found, put a couple of strong splints in place, and bandaged them so that they were not likely to drop off, to say the least. He then made a sling of a blanket and sent his drunken patient swaying and twirling aloft in it to the top of the cliff. The other injured persons went ashore in the same way, one by one, like bales of sail-cloth. At last only the skipper and the dead woman were left on the wreck. The skipper stood with a scowl on his dark face and considered her. He drew the blanket sling toward him, and stood toward the poor clay.
“I’ll send her up to ye for dacent burial,” he shouted.
This suggestion was answered by a yell of protest from the men on the cliff.