Swimming like rats, they made for the scow, scrambled on board her, howked up the anchor stone and shot out the oars.
“They’re off for the junk,” cried Ginnell. “Faith, that was a clane bit of work; look at thim rowin’ as if the divil was after thim.”
They were, literally, and now on board the junk they were hauling the boat in, shaking out the lateen sail and dragging up the anchor as though a hundred pair of hands were at work instead of twenty.
Then, as the huge sail bellied gently to the wind and the junk broke the violet breeze shadow beyond the calm of the sheltered water, a voice came over the sea, a voice like the clamour of a hundred gulls, thin, rending, fierce as the sound of tearing calico.
“Shout away, me boys,” said Ginnell. “You’ve got the shout and we’ve got the boodle, and good day to ye.”
He turned with the others to examine the contents of the sacks dropped by the vanquished ones and lying amongst the rocks. They were old gunny bags and they were stuffed with all sorts of rubbish and valuables, musical instruments, bits of old metal, cabin curtains, and even cans of bully beef—there was no sign of dollars.
“The fools were so busy picking up everything they could find lying about, they hadn’t time to search for the real stuff,” said Blood. “Didn’t know of it.”
“Well,” said Ginnell, “stick the ould truck back in the bags with the insthruments; we’ll sort it out when we get aboard and fling the rubbish over and keep what’s worth keepin’.”
Helped by the coolies, they refilled the bags and left them in position for carrying off, and then, led by Ginnell, they made round the stern of the wreck to the port side.
Now, on the sea side the Yan-Shan presented a bad enough picture of desolation and destruction, but here on the land side the sight was terrific.
The great yellow funnel had crashed over on to the rocks and lay with lengths of the guys still adhering to it; a quarter boat with bottom half out had gone the way of the funnel; crabs were crawling over all sorts of raffle, broken spars, canvas from the bridge screen and woodwork of the chart-house, whilst all forward of amidships the plates, beaten and twisted and ripped apart, showed cargo, held, or in the act of escaping. One big packing case, free of the ship, had resolved itself into staves round its once contents, a piano that appeared perfectly uninjured.
A rope ladder hung from the bulwarks amidships, and up it Ginnell went, followed by the others, reaching a roofless passage that had once been the part alley-way.
Here on the slanting deck one got a full picture of the ruin that had come on the ship; the masts were gone, as well as the funnel; boats, ventilators—with the exception of the twisted cowl looking seaward—bridge, chart-house, all had vanished wholly or in part, a picture made more impressive by the calm blue sky overhead and the brilliancy of the sunlight.