“I did,” replied Ellery. “The air down here was dreadful.”
The doctor nodded approvingly. “I guess so,” he said. “It’s bad enough now. We’ve got to get this poor fellow out of here as soon as we can or he’ll die before to-morrow. Mr. Ellery,” he added sharply, “what made you do this? Don’t you realize the risk you’ve run?”
“Some one had to do it. You are running the same risk.”
“Not just the same, and, besides, it’s my business. Why didn’t you let some one else, some one we could spare—Humph! Confound it, man! didn’t you know any better? Weren’t you afraid?”
His tone rasped Ellery’s shaken nerves.
“Of course I was,” he snapped irritably. “I’m not an idiot.”
“Humph! Well, all right; I beg your pardon. But you oughtn’t to have done it. Now you’ll have to be quarantined. And who in thunder I can get to stay with me in this case is more than I know. Just say smallpox to this town and it goes to pieces like a smashed egg. Old Eb Capen will help, for he’s had it, but it needs more than one.”
“Where are you going to take—him?” pointing to the moaning occupant of the bunk.
“To one of the empty fish shanties on the beach. There are beds there, such as they are, and the place is secluded. We can burn it down when the fuss is over.”
“Then why can’t I stay? I shall have to be quarantined, I know that. Let me be the other nurse. Why should anyone else run the risk? I have run it. I’ll stay.”
Dr. Parker looked at him. “Well!” he exclaimed. “Well! I must say, young man, that you’ve got—Humph! All right, Mr. Ellery; I’m much obliged.”
IN WHICH EBENEZER CAPEN IS SURPRISED
Before sunset that afternoon the San Jose was anchored behind the point by the inlet. The fishing boats changed moorings and moved farther up, for not a single one of their owners would trust himself within a hundred yards of the stricken brigantine. As soon as the anchors were dropped, the volunteer crew was over side and away, each of its members to receive a scolding from his family for taking such a risk and to have his garments sulphur-smoked or buried. Charlie Burgess, whose wife was something of a Tartar, observed ruefully that he “didn’t take no comfort ’round home nowadays; between the smell of brimstone and the jawin’s ’twas the hereafter ahead of time.”
The largest of the beach shanties, one which stood by itself a quarter of a mile from the light, was hurriedly prepared for use as a pesthouse and the sick sailor was carried there on an improvised stretcher. Dr. Parker and Ellery lifted him from his berth and, assisted by old Ebenezer Capen, got him up to the deck and lowered him into the dory. Ebenezer rowed the trio to the beach and the rest of the journey was comparatively easy.