Matt Peasley rounded the Cape of Good Hope nicely, but he had added materially to his stock of seamanship before he won through the tide-rips off Point Aghulas and squared away across the Indian Ocean. Coming up along the coast of Australia he had the sou’east trades and he crowded her until Mr. Murphy forgot the traditions of the sea, forgot that Matt Peasley was the skipper and hence not to be questioned, and remembered that the madman was only a boy.
“Captain Matt,” he pleaded, “take some clothes off the old girl, for the love of life! She’s making steamer time now, and if the breeze freshens you’ll lift the sticks out of her.”
“Lift nothing, Mike. I know her. Cap’n Noah told me all about her. You can drive the Retriever until she develops a certain little squeak up forward—and then it’s time to shorten sail. She isn’t squeaking yet, Mike. Don’t worry. She’ll let us know,” and his beaming glance wandered aloft to the straining cordage and bellying canvas. “Into it, sweetheart,” he crooned, “into it, girl, and we’ll show this Cappy Ricks what we know about sailing a ship that can sail! Meager maritime experience, eh? I’ll show him!”
Oh, Sally Brown, I love your daughter,
I love your daughter, indeed I do,
he caroled, and buck-and-winged his way back to the poop, for he was only a boy, life was good, he was fighting a fight and as Mr. Murphy remarked a minute later when Matt ordered him to bend the fore-staysail on her; “What the hell!”
Day and night Matt Peasley drove her into it. He stood far off shore until he ran out of the sou’east trades, fiddled around two days in light airs and then picked up the nor’east trades; drove her well into the north, hauled round and came romping up to Grays Harbor bar seventy-nine days from Cape Town. A bar tug, ranging down the coast, hooked on to him and snaked him in.
MR. SKINNER RECEIVES A TELEGRAM
Cappy Ricks was having his customary mid-afternoon nap in his big swivel chair and his feet on his desk, when Mr. Skinner came in and woke him up.
“I just couldn’t help it, sir,” he announced apologetically, as Cappy opened one eye and glared at him, “I had to wake you up and tell you the news.”
“Tell it!” Cappy snapped.
“The Retriever arrived at Grays Harbor this morning, Mr. Ricks. She’s broken the record for a fast passage,” and he handed Cappy Ricks a telegram.
“Bless my withered heart!” Cappy declared, and opened his other eye. “You don’t tell me? Well, well, well! All Hands And Feet is making good right off the bat, isn’t he?” Cappy chuckled. “Skinner, my dear boy,” he bragged, “did you ever see me start out to pick a skipper and hand myself the worst of it?”
“No, sir,” Mr. Skinner maintained dutifully, and turned away to hide a wicked little smile, which under the circumstances Skinner was entitled to.