“Well, when I got to Singapore I was nothing but skin and bone, and considerable of the skin had been knocked off by the marline-spike and the mate’s boots. I’d shipped for the v’yage out and back, but the first night in port I slipped over the side, swum ashore, and never set eyes on old Perkins again till that time in Surinam, years afterward.
“I knocked round them Singapore docks for much as a month, hoping to get a berth on some other ship, but ’twan’t no go. I fell in with a Britisher named Hammond, ’Ammond, he called it, and as he was on the same hunt that I was, we kept each other comp’ny. We done odd jobs now ‘n’ again, and slept in sailors’ lodging houses when we had the price, and under bridges or on hemp bales when we hadn’t. I was too proud to write home for money, and Hammond didn’t have no home to write to, I cal’late.
“But luck ’ll turn if you give it time enough. One night Hammond come hurrying round to my sleeping-room—that is to say, my hemp bale—and gives me a shake, and says he:
“’Turn out, you mud ‘ead, I’ve got you a berth.’
“‘Aw, go west!’ says I, and turned over to go to sleep again. But he pulled me off the bale by the leg, and that woke me up so I sensed what he was saying. Seems he’d found a feller that wanted to ship a couple of fo’mast hands on a little trading schooner for a trip over to the Java Sea.
“Well, to make a long story short, we shipped with this feller, whose name was Lazarus. I cal’late if the Lazarus in Scriptur’ had been up to as many tricks and had come as nigh being a thief as our Lazarus was, he wouldn’t have been so poor. Ourn was a shrewd rascal and nothing more nor less than a pearl poacher. He didn’t tell us that till after we sot sail, but we was so desperate I don’t know as ’twould have made much diff’rence if he had.
“We cruised round for a spell, sort of prospecting, and then we landed at a little one-horse coral island, where there wa’n’t no inhabitants, but where we was pretty dead sartin there was pearl oyster banks in the lagoon. There was five of us on the schooner, a Dutchman named Rhinelander, a Coolie cook and Lazarus and Hammond and me. We put up a slab shanty on shore and went to work pearl fishing, keeping one eye out for Dutch gunboats, and always having a sago palm ready to split open so’s, if we got caught, we could say we was after sago.
“Well, we done fairly good at the pearl fishing; got together quite a likely mess of pearls, and, as ’twas part of the agreement that the crew had a certain share in the stake, why, Hammond and me was figgering that we was going to make enough to more’n pay us for our long spell of starving at Singapore. Lazarus was feeling purty middling chipper, the cook was feeding us high, and everything looked lovely.
“Rhinelander and the Coolie and the skipper used to sleep aboard the boat, but Hammond and me liked to sleep ashore in the shanty. For one thing, the bunks on the schooner wa’n’t none too clean, and the Coolie snored so that he’d shake the whole cabin, and start me dreaming about cyclones, and cannons firing, and lions roaring, and all kind of foolishness. I always did hate a snorer.