Captain Smart sat upon the deck of the wrecking-sloop _Sea-Horse_,
and read a letter from the agents of the cartridge company which had
furnished the ammunition to the _Bulldog_, brig, wrecked some time
before upon the Great Bahama Bank. It caused him some uneasiness, for
he scowled and wrinkled his brow, read and re-read it until the giant
black mate, Bahama Bill, could keep back his curiosity no longer.
“What is it, cap? What dat guy say? No use keepin’ bad news back. I kin
stan’ it, I reckon. Let’s have his lay–ain’t dat cartridge case no
“He says,” began Smart, “that the samples are good, that the cases are
all right, and he will take the ten tons, about three hundred thousand
rounds, at a cent and a half, the cartridges retailing at three cents,
or thirty dollars per thousand. That nets us four thousand five
hundred, or a little over two thousand dollars apiece for our day’s
“Well, dat ain’t so bad–no, dat’s all toe de good, hey?”
“So far, yes,” said Smart, “but the railroad won’t carry them under
three hundred dollars, and won’t give any guarantee that they’ll be
delivered on time; won’t insure them–in fact, won’t do anything but
carry them at an exorbitant rate, and they say they must have the goods
within one week from the eighth of this month, or upon the fifteenth.
Otherwise they won’t fill the order, they don’t want them. It’s now the
tenth–that’s the rub. How are we going to make good? Shall we trust
to the railroad? It never does what it agrees to, and in this case we
look like bad ones. That’s what’s worrying me. What do you say? You’re
half-partner–it’s up to you, Bill.”
The big black mate sat looking at the shore for some minutes. His
ugly face was wrinkled and his rheumy eyes were puckered in thought,
his huge shoulders hunching up, and giving him the air of one who has
struck a problem too great to solve. Finally he spoke.
“Jule will be along on the morning boat,” said he solemnly.
“Who is Jule?” asked Smart.
“Jule? Why, I thought you knew, cap–why, Jule is my wife. ‘Fightin’
Jule’ deys calls her, an’ I reckon dat’s a good name. She got dat
letter you wrote, and de money I sent from de diving at de gold plant.
She dun heard ob dat gold plant, an’ she’s comin’ on up. She’ll be here
in about an hour.”
“You think she can give us good advice–is that it?” suggested Smart,
eying the big mate keenly.
“Er–er–dat ain’t exactly what I was thinkin’–no, sah, cap,” said
Bahama Bill, with a sickly grin.
“I’m not a mind-reader, Bill,” said Smart.
“Well, sah, cap–seein’ as it’s you, well, sah–er–er–well, I don’t
know but what we better make de run toe Noo York ourselves. Or else
back toe Key West, an’ ketch de Noo York steamer. She kin make de run
in three days; dat’ll do de trick, hey?”
“Has your wife brought her children with her?” asked Smart.
“Oh, no, cap, she always leaves dem with her ma when she starts off on
“I see; you’re afraid of her,” said Smart, smiling.
“Not eggzactly dat, cap; not eggzactly–I ain’t afeared ob nothin’;
no, sah, dat I ain’t, but she shuah do make me nervous; she shuah
do make me feel–well, I jest don’t know how, but it’ll be best fo’
you–fo’ you, cap–if we start fo’ Noo York before she gits here. Yo’
Captain Smart thought a moment. He had heard of Bahama Bill’s wife,
the well but not favourably known “Fighting Jule,” of Key West. On the
whole, it was worth considering. They might make the run in five or six
days. It had been done before, but not often. The _Sea-Horse_ was an
able sloop, but that was testing her too much. The great six-masters
had made the run to Havana in five days, two hundred miles farther on,
but they seldom did it in ten. It was a great risk; a risk which might
end up in the loss of the entire consignment, for they might not be
able to get another chance for a sale.
On the other hand, there was _Key West_, the New York steamer, which
would be due the next morning, and she would take the freight at proper
prices, and be sure to land it in town–she couldn’t help it, making
the run North in three days to a certainty. The Key West run seemed to
be the best one, but there were certain other considerations which had
to be thought of.
“How about Key West?” asked Smart. “Do you think we could run in after
that fracas at Journegan’s bar? Won’t the police want us pretty bad if
they think they can shake us down for a thousand dollars?”
“I shuah think dey will dat,” assented the mate, “if dey think we got
anything. Dey certainly trim de folks right smart down dere. I reckon
you’re right, ’tain’t no place fo’ us wid a cargo of ca’tridges. I
reckon you’re wise; I reckon we’d better be gittin’ farther No’th.”
“There’s the New York ship from Jacksonville–how’s that?” asked Smart.
“We can make that run in two days with a good wind—-”
“Git de mainsail on her–Sam, Heldron–lay aft, yo fellers,” said
Bahama Bill, springing to action. “We’ll catch de Saturday ship, an’
git de stuff in town in plenty o’ time–dat’s de lay–Jacksonville–an’
dere’s de smoke o’ de _Key West_ comin’ up de Hawk’s Channel–see him?”
And he pointed to the southward.
“I’ll go ashore and get my clothes. They’re at the Chinese laundry,”
said Smart, jumping into the small boat.
“Yo’ want toe hurry up–we ain’t got no time toe lose. Git my shirts,
too, cap. I dun left ’em with de Chink las’ week–an’ git a five-poun’
ham on de way back, we’ll need a bit o’ grub—-”
Smart was already rowing briskly toward the shore, where he landed and
made his way rapidly up the street. Wah Lee, the Chinaman who ran the
laundry, stood within his doorway and gazed with mild amazement at the
unwonted gait of the seaman. Fast walking was not the habit of the
Florida cracker, and to see a man sprint along at Smart’s gait aroused
the suspicion that he was either making a “getaway” from some one or
something, or was bent upon most important business.
“He allee samee good mans,” said Wah Lee, to one of his numerous
brothers ironing a shirt. “Wachee mee skinee him–allee samee bunk. Him
sailor fell! Him gotee mon, mon, mon. Me con mans, allee samee bunk.
Ha! ha! You see.”
Smart stepped into the shanty with a brisk step.
“Get the clothes up, John. Get ’em tied fast right away–all, Bahama
Bill’s and mine both–hurry, you savvy? Hurry.” And the sailor handed
over his slip.
“You go to sea to-day?” asked the active Lee, scurrying around behind
his counter and trying to match the slip of paper with its strange
characters to one of the many bundles already tied fast with white
twine, and laid carefully upon the shelves along the walls.
“Yes; sail in a minute–hurry up. Got to get to sea before the steamer
“Ah! Allee same good–you take him. Two dolla’ fiftee cent.”
“What! For just three shirts and two ducks? You are a robber.”
“Two dolla’ fiftee cent, allee right–you pay him–no shirt, no pay
him,” said the usurious Lee, lowering truculently at the skipper. One
of his brothers sniggered.
When a Celestial sniggers at a white man it is bad. Especially if the
white man happens to be a sailor–and in a hurry. Just what makes the
Easterner an inferior is not quite definite, not quite clear to the
socialistic mind, but that he is inferior is generally conceded–among
white men. Among the Orientals there is a quite different opinion
based upon their point of view, which, when discussed from its ethical
standpoint, is not illogical or unreasonable. Sailors seldom are
analytical, seldom go into the reason of things; they are content to
accept them as they are, or as they appear to be. Therefore, Smart was
much wroth at the sniggering Chink, the more so because he knew he was
being cheated by Wah Lee in his wash bill.
But Wah Lee was a hatchetman. He was a leader of the Hip Sing Tong, and
a very bad Chinese to fool with. He was in Florida only for his health,
not for gain; and the fact that gain came his way was incidental. He
took advantage of it. His little ratlike eyes glinted strangely as he
spoke his soft sing-song speech.
“Two dolla’ fiftee cent–no shirt, no pay–you savvy?” he drawled.
“Come, come, John, be quick about it, and don’t put up any
foolishness–I haven’t time to play this morning,” said Smart quickly.
“Get the clothes or I’ll wade in and take charge of some of those on
“You pay two dolla’ fiftee cent–you no’ pay right off you pay tlee
dolla’ slixty cent,” sang Mr. Wah Lee, his eyes still narrowing, and
his hands feeling softly in among his sleeves, where he kept his
weapons; “I no time to foolish mans.”
“You’re on the ‘bunk,’ then,” said Smart; “is that it?”
“Two dolla’ fiftee cent, or—-”
His answer was quickly given. Smart swung for his jaw, and landed
full upon the Oriental chin. Wah Lee went to the floor with a crash,
bringing down an ironing-board with him; the flat-irons, clothes, and
other gear rolling in a mess. He drew a huge, blue-barrelled gun from
his sleeve, and, while he lay supine, levelled it at the sailor. Smart
missed getting the shot by a hair, and managed to land a kick upon
Lee’s pistol-arm before the furious Chink could fire, whereupon not
less than four powerful hatchetmen, trained athletes from the Orient,
sprang upon him at once.
The seaman was dumfounded at the assault. A Chink was beneath
contempt, and to find oneself beset by several powerful Orientals, who
were more than his match, was simply heart-breaking, pride-destroying.
He swung right and left, furiously clinched, and the five of them
rolled with a surging smash against the counter, breaking it down
in a mass of splinters, sending clothes, boards, and other laundry
paraphernalia in all directions.
One of the men let out a shrill yell, and the two not fighting sprang
to the doors and slammed them fast. It would not do to let the populace
of the town see the fracas. A Chinaman never advertises the fact that
he is a fighter, and is never glad to have it found out, especially
among Americans. Besides, had not the foreign pig struck down their
leader, the most high Wah Lee, and had not the august Lee essayed to
kill the pig–was he not doomed?
Yet none of them wished to act as executioner without direct and
explicit orders from the chief. This was a poor country to kill a man
in, his friends always made such a fuss; and the police with clubs
always made it bad, impossible to hide for a very long time. A rope and
a neighbouring tree were the usual finishing touches if they failed to
find the lost one.
Smart fought with a fury born of broken pride, lost self-esteem. He was
degraded, lowered to the level of common Chinks, and he gave short-arm
jolts with amazing lifting power begotten of many years’ hard hauling
With both hands and feet he strove wildly to free himself from the
tangle of baggy sleeves, cotton trousers, and yellow arms. The mass of
struggling men rolled and surged over the floor. Smart raised himself
again and again to his knees, striking, punching, clinching, using
elbows, feet, and knees; and the tide of struggling forms flowed across
the room, demolishing everything in its path.
Wah Lee tried in vain to use his gun, and a fellow ruffian tried to
strike with the deadly little hatchet used for such occasions, but ever
and again the pile of struggling arms, legs, and bodies prevented.
The noise of the struggle was drowned in the shrill curses of the
contestants, while the sailor fought silently like a bulldog, gripping,
smashing, kicking, and flinging the mass about in the vain hope to
throw them off enough to get in a full arm-stroke from his fists. If
he could but strike a full swing once or twice he felt sure of the
outcome, for a Chinaman will seldom stand to a full-arm stroke upon the
Wah Lee, seeing that to shoot was to endanger his men, dropped his gun
into his cash-drawer, and fell foul of the bunch to try to do his share
in overcoming the foreign pig. His remaining followers seeing him,
flung themselves into the pile, and the mass of men was increased.
Smart began to feel the extra weight of numbers. He was growing
tired, and, in spite of his excellent wind, was panting hoarsely, his
breathing hampered considerably by gripping fingers he was forced to
tear time and again from his throat. He raised himself to his knee
for the last giant effort. His heart was breaking. He smashed wildly,
furiously; plunged, bucked, threw himself about, twisting, turning,
striving with the last remnant of his dying strength. Then he gradually
gave way, growing weaker, fighting slower, sinking gradually down,
while the pile of men fastened their grips upon him for the finish. In
a few moments he was lying limp, and the panting Celestials rose, one
after the other, to their feet, while Wah Lee passed a line about the
sailor’s arms and legs, making him secure.
It had been a most excellent affair; a most magnificent affray worthy
of a sailor striving for his rights; and Wah Lee gazed with narrowing
eye at the form while he panted out his losses to the surrounding
brothers of his Tong. The entire front of the laundry was swept bare,
the ironing-boards smashed, the clothes in masses of rags; bundles and
papers rolled and mixed in confusion. Flat-irons, holders, chairs,
and shelves arranged themselves in piles as though an earthquake had
swept through the place; and, while Lee looked sadly at the wreck, he
murmured: “Two dolla’ fiftee cent.”
It had been a bad business for the Chinaman. He had made another
mistake, but he would wreak his vengeance at will now upon the helpless
Smart. Hot irons, melted lead, and quicklime were some of the items
running through his furious mind, and just when and how he would use
them upon his victim. He would have to wait to see if the white pig
had many friends, who might make a thorough search, but sailors, as a
rule, had no friends at all; they were soon forgotten–then he would go
In the meantime he would place the seaman where the mosquitoes would
not trouble him, after first relieving him of any unnecessary valuables
he might have upon his despicable person.
Into a filthy den he carried the now insensible Smart, casting him into
a foul bunk, which had been used by a smoker of the drug common to the
Chinese coolie, and carefully covering him, so that no one would notice
the form even should the retreat be discovered. Then he set about with
his helpers to straighten up the shop.
During the period of time Smart spent in serious argument with the
august Lee, Bahama Bill fretted and fumed about the deck of the
wrecking-sloop, _Sea-Horse_. Sam and Heldron both came in for a
dressing, and both narrowly escaped getting a morning bath, for the
big black mate was in a passion at the delay. The steamer from Key
West came to the dock, and a form–the unmistakable form of “Fightin’
Jule”–stepped ashore, and moved with no uncertain stride in the
direction of the _Sea-Horse_.
Bahama Bill grunted forth anathemas, and sprang into the small boat to
gain the wharf before his spouse could intercept him. He felt there
might be something doing. When he arrived at the landing he looked up,
and gazed right into the eyes of his partner.
“Huccum yo’ toe git heah, Jule?” asked Bahama Bill.
“I come wid de boat, shuah, nigger. How yo’ think I come–swim? I come
toe see just what yo’ doin’; why yo’ don’t come home. I knows yo’,
Bill, yo’ been runnin’ wid some trashy nigger gal up heah—-”
“It ain’t so, Jule—-”
“Don’t yo’ contradict me, nigger. I _knows_ you. You ain’t sent me all
dat money fer nothin’; yo’ ain’t done it fo’ no reason ‘cept toe try
toe make me think yo’ keers fo’ me. Don’t yo’ make me mad.”
“But, Jule, I got ter git toe sea right away. I ain’t done nothin’
but gib up de dough fast as I makes it. Got a cargo ob ca’tridges now
abo’d, an’ got toe git dem No’th right away. I jest come heah toe see
you an’ git de partner I got in de deal. I sho’ nuff glad toe see yo’,
“Don’ yo’ gib me none o’ yo’ foolishness, Bill. I knows yo’. I tells
yo’ I _knows_ yo’, an’ I’ll set right heah tel yo’ gits de partner an’
gits ready toe go abo’d dat sloop–I wants to see de kind o’ partner
yo’ has. Don’ talk toe me. Ef I wasn’t a lady, I’d knock yo’ blame’
haid off. Gwan!”
Bahama Bill was much disturbed, and he went up the street in no
pleasant frame of mind. His wife he knew would stay right in sight of
the sloop until the sloop sailed, and the indications were she’d want
to go along with him. It was very disturbing to a man of the mate’s
temperament. He went along as a man much occupied with his thoughts,
and looked neither to the right nor left until he reached the main
street. Here he met a sailor from a yacht lying in the harbour, and he
asked him if he had seen anything of Smart.
“Yo’ knows a yacht feller when yo’ see him, I reckon; have yo’ seen dat
Cap’n Smart?” he said.
“I saw your captain going toward the laundry about an hour ago,” said
Bahama Bill went into a saloon and took a drink. Where could Smart
have gone, except on a drunk, after going to the laundry. He eyed the
barkeeper sourly, and asked him if he had seen his sailor partner.
“Sure,” said the man of drinks, handing out a square-faced bottle and a
glass. “He stopped over across the way to the Chink’s–heard something
of a fracas going on over in that direction–shouldn’t wonder if he
beat up the heathen, only that Wah Lee is a corker; a sure winner for a
“What yo’ mean?” asked Bill.
“I means that the Chink is a scrapper–kin do ’em up; carries a Gatling
gun in his sleeve. He’s only here for a few months in the winter.
Belongs to the Hip Sing Tong, or some secret society in New York. He’s
something like Fat Duck, or Bill Puck, or some sech Chink I reads of in
th’ papers what does up whole theatres full o’ them yaller bellies.”
“Gimme another drink,” said Bahama Bill, meditatively gazing into his
empty glass. “It ain’t likely Cap’n Smart stayed wid no Chinks, but I
goes over dere an’ takes a peek, jest fer luck, sah. I shuah ain’t got
nothing agin’ no Chink, but I reckon I makes de yaller boy tell what he
knows.” And as he finished the gin, he put the glass down carefully and
He walked to the door of the laundry, and looked in where the men were
now hard at work again ironing, their outfit temporarily repaired, and
business going ahead as usual.
Bill looked at the place for a moment, and his trained eye saw marks of
combat still upon the walls and shelves, which showed in spite of the
new arrangements made.
“Seen a friend ob mine, a sailor man?” asked the mate, peering into the
“No see no ones–heap workee, velly busy,” replied Wah Lee.
Bahama Bill entered and stuck forth his big, ugly head right close to
“You tell me where Cap’n Smart went after cleaning yo’ place up, yo’
heah?” he said menacingly.
The memory of the fracas was heavy upon Wah Lee. He backed away and
drew his big, blue-barrelled gun.
“You getee ‘way velly quick–see?” he said fiercely.
Bahama Bill reached over like lightning and grasped a Chinaman by the
slack of his pigtail, jerking him in front of himself, and seizing
him with his left hand, to keep him in place. An iron lay handy, and
instantly it was sailing straight for the head of the belligerent Lee.
It caught him full in the neck, propelled with the power of the giant
mate’s arm, and the Chinaman spun clear across the room, landing limp
The big gun failed to explode, and went clattering upon the floor.
Instantly Bill sprang for it, and seized its barrel just as a powerful
heathen grabbed it by the stock. The mate wrenched it free with a quick
jerk, and struck the fellow twice upon the top of his shaved head.
Then the whole crowd piled upon him, swarmed up against him, grasping,
clinging, gripping for his throat, while a hatchetman made a pass with
his weapon, which reached the black man’s skull.
Bahama Bill was tough and hard, his head was thick of bone, and,
although the hatchet struck him hard enough to kill an ordinary man,
the blade glanced off, and cut only a big gash in his scalp. The stars
danced before his eyes, and he staggered for an instant, and in that
instant the whole gang closed upon him. Then the realization of his
predicament dawned upon him, and he let forth a mighty yell, tore loose
from the strangling holds upon his neck, and then smashed right into
the crowd with the fury of a wounded tiger, the blood from his head
pouring over him.
There was a wild mixture of huge black arms, flying forms of pajamaed
Chinamen going through the air, and with yell after yell he grabbed and
smashed the first that came in his path, tearing up the whole place
with the struggle.
He seized an ironing-board and swung it about his head, yelling
hoarsely. Then he struck right and left with it, knocking Chinese,
gear, and clothes indiscriminately about the room, until there was not
the slightest movement to denote life anywhere but in his own mighty
Upon the floor the forms lay about–smashed, stunned, insensible. Then
his fury abating, he stopped for a moment to gaze through the haze of
blood and dust of conflict. He grinned hideously at the sight, his
wound making him grotesquely horrible. Then he was suddenly taken with
He grasped the cue of a Chink and drew it across the room to that
of another, making them fast with a bend. Then he dragged the rest,
the whole six, and fastened them to Wah Lee’s cue. It made a pile of
Chinese aggregating about a thousand pounds in dead weight; and he
scanned the mass to contemplate. As he stopped, he was aware of a
sound in the partition. He listened for a moment, and thought he heard
his name called in a low voice–a voice which sounded far away and
indistinct. He roared out a reply, and listened again. Yes, it was the
voice of Captain Smart.
The captain was begging him to hurry and get him out of somewhere, and
the mate roared out in reply:
“Where is yo’? Where is yo’? How I get thar?” And he ran along the
partition, trying to discover a door or other opening. Nothing showed,
and, losing patience, he caught up an iron and began smashing the
planks. In a few minutes he had broken through into a dark recess, into
which he crawled without delay. Something smote him heavily upon the
head, and he fell sprawling, lying helpless and half-insensible, while
a shrill voice cried out in defiance.
* * * * *
Bahama Bill lay dazed and dizzy for a long time; probably ten minutes.
Then he was aware of Smart’s voice cursing furiously and calling for
help. The huge mate slowly gathered himself, managed to rise to his
knees, and, as he did so, the light which now shone through the gap in
the partition showed him a slight girl standing over him with an axe.
She had evidently struck him as he came through the bulkhead, and only
her youth and frailness had prevented the blow from finishing him. He
now saw she was about to repeat the operation, and he quickly snatched
the weapon from her, and drew her to him.
“What fo’ yo’ hit me?” he asked, angrily.
“You velly bad mans–go away!” screamed the child.
Bill searched the surrounding gloom with a quick, comprehensive glance,
and noticed a form lying in a bunk covered with a cloth. He made his
way to it, and uncovered the prostrate form of Smart, securely bound,
but not securely gagged. The sailor could only use his tongue, but he
did use that member to its fullest extent, while he told quickly of the
way he had run up against Wah Lee. Then the sight of Bahama Bill’s head
caught his gaze, and he made a wry face. The giant mate was like a
black fury with his marks of combat upon him.
“This child is a wife of that rascal,” said Smart, explaining the
little girl’s presence in such a place. “She’s about twelve years old,
and his property–his slave, I suppose you would call it. He keeps her
in here, where no one can ever see her, and she thought you were some
fellow going to harm her when she struck you with the axe. I tried
to tell you as you came through, but couldn’t make you hear–that’s
better, now cut loose my feet.” And the mate passed his knife through
the cords, setting him free.
“I sho’ feel some ashamed toe think yo’ dun up by dese Chinks,” said
Bill, as Smart rose from the filthy bunk. “Yo’ ain’t much hurt?”
“Not hurt at all–not like you,” said Smart impatiently.
“Dat clip was jest accident–shuah, shuah. Dey ain’t hurt me none toe
speak of–only a little blood. But dat kid gal cum near killin’ me wid
dat axe. I ain’t quite through yet. Come along into the room where dey
They took the child with them, and crawled through the bulkhead. One of
the wounded men upon the floor had recovered his senses, and was busily
at work trying to loosen his cue as Bahama Bill stepped up. A jolt with
his foot stopped operations for the time, and Smart stood contemplating
“What’ll we do about it?” asked the yachtsman.
“Do? I jest reckon we’ll take de whole bunch abo’d de ship. We’ll need
some extra hands toe make de passage quick. We got toe git a move on,
fo’ we got the git dat stuff up toe catch de steamer at Jacksonville.
Dere’s a cyart right in dat co’ner, sah. Help me pile ’em in.”
Smart, still furious from the treatment he had received, lent a willing
hand, and in a few minutes they had the whole bunch of Celestials
dumped in the cart and made secure.
“What’ll we do wif dat little gal?” asked Bill, eying the child. “She
ain’t all Chink, by de looks; reckon she’s a half-breed.”
“We’ll have to take her with us,” said Smart, and so they started out
of the shop, pushing the cart with the Chinese before them; and they
attracted no attention for some minutes, for the affrays had been
little noticed, as there had been no gun-fire.
“Hold on, let’s get the clothes,” said Smart, running back into the
doorway and grabbing what bundles he could reach handily, and which had
still been left intact from the whirlwind passage of the giant mate. He
tossed them into the cart, and they went rapidly down to the dock.
Some small boys and one or two loafers followed, wishing to see the
fun, but no one molested them or inquired their purpose. They reached
the water-side without mishap. Fighting Jule was sitting there waiting
for her lord to show up, and she was in anything but a sweet humour.
The sight of the little Chinese girl made her alter her purpose to
assault her huge partner, and she inquired briskly into details.
“Yo’ take de kid an’ keep her till we git de crew abo’d,” said Bill,
with the first approach at gentleness in his voice.
Jule took the child. She was motherly, matronly, and affectionate,
though a fighter. Her own progeny were safe at Key West, and this
little yellow girl, this Chinese, appealed to her curiosity and
motherhood alike. She gathered her in her arms and looked her over in
wonder, while the men lowered their victims into the small boat.
“Huccum yo’ toe be wif dem Chinks–is yo’ de little pickaninny ob dat
Wah Lee man?” she asked.
“Me Wah Lee’s wife,” said the child, crying.
“Yo’ stop tellin’ me lies, lil’ gal; yo’ ain’t nothin’ but a baby.”
“Me Wah Lee’s wife. He bought me last moon. Velly bad mans takee Wah
Lee away; velly bad mans takee me.” The child spoke remarkably well for
A crowd of loafers had now been attracted by the unusual proceedings,
and, in spite of the apathy of the Florida cracker, they managed to
excite some wonder as to what the men of the _Sea-Horse_ were about.
In less time than it takes to tell it, Bahama Bill and Smart had the
Mongolians aboard, where Sam and Heldron were instructed to look after
them, and see that they went to work as soon as they were recovered
sufficiently to do duty.
“Ef yo’ boys don’t want toe work dis trip, yo’ kin make de Chinks work
fo’ yo’. Dey owes us a bit ob work. Break out dat hook an’ git dat jib
In less than five minutes the _Sea-Horse_ was standing down the channel
out to sea, Sam and Heldron lost in amazement at the turn of affairs.
Some of the loafers on the dock shouted out something, but they made no
reply, and in a few minutes were beyond hailing.
“De boat leaves fo’ home at six–I reckon you’ll hab toe cum wif me,”
said Jule, leading the little girl away and gazing angrily after the
_Sea-Horse_. “Ef I wasn’t a lady I’d shuah knock dat coon in de haid,”
she added. “I dun paid er dollar an’ a half fo’ toe git heah, an’ now I
got toe go home–cum.”
* * * * *
“I reckon I’ll change mah clothes en clean up er bit,” said the mate,
after they rounded the point and stood away northward.
“So will I,” said Smart. “Better open up the clothes I brought and get
some clean ones.”
Several of the shanghaied men were now able to get about, and Sam took
them in charge. Wah Lee gazed about him dizzily, but made no comment.
Heldron had passed his knife through his cue, cutting it off close to
his head, in order to loose him from the bunch. He looked angrily at
the sailor, and felt his strange-looking pate with a rueful hand.
“You heap sabbee work,” said Sam. “Git busy, you dam’ Chink.” And
he helped the truculent Tong leader to his feet with the toe of his
The fight was pretty well worked out of Wah Lee, for he obeyed as best
he could, glancing with narrowing, wicked eyes at the sailor. Lines
were coiled up at the direction of the two men, and in less than half
an hour Sam and Heldron were lying at ease, hurling directions at the
bunch of Celestials, who endeavoured to obey orders.
Bahama Bill washed his wounded head, which ached sorely. Then he sought
clean clothes from the bundles brought from the laundry. By some chance
Smart had gotten hold of nothing save female apparel, but one bundle
happened to contain several pairs of pajamas; and, as the weather was
quite warm, he donned a suit and came on deck. Bahama Bill had no
recourse but to do likewise. He jammed his huge limbs into a pair of
the loose trousers, which came to his knees. This appeared not so bad,
for he was used to going barefooted. The loose coat covered him, the
sleeves reaching to his elbows; and thus attired he, also, came on deck
to take a look around.
The recalcitrant Wah Lee looked lugubriously at the black mate.
“Where you takee me?” he asked. “Where you go?”
“Toe China, toe de land ob Chinks,” said Bahama Bill lugubriously,
scowling at his former adversary. “Git out de shears, Sam; an’ yo’,
Heldron, git out de line toe make de Chinks fast.”
“What for you do?” asked Wah Lee.
“Me showee you, me showee you,” snarled Bahama Bill. “Is yo’ good
“I reckon I can cut the hair fairly well,” assented Smart.
“De razzer ob mine is in de locker, toe de right,” suggested Bill.
Wah Lee was quickly tied fast and his hair cut close. Then a lather was
made, and before many minutes his head was shaved as clean as a fairly
good razor could shave it.
“Next!” called Bahama Bill, in the tone of a barber.
All went through the same operation, two of the pigtails being kept as
souvenirs of the occasion. The débris was thrown overboard.
“Now yo’ Chinks git out de soap an’ de water–show ’em where dey
is kept, Heldron–an’ I wants toe see dishear ship washed fo’ an’
aft–see? Heap sabbee? I wants toe see dishear ship come inter
Jacksonville lookin’ like a yacht; lookin’ like she was something toe
be proud ob. Git toe work.”
The wind held fair, and for two days the _Sea-Horse_ ran up the coast,
making six or seven knots, raising the jetty off the bar the third
day out. The sloop had been scrubbed alow and aloft, her decks rubbed
white, her spare sails even scrubbed clean, and she looked good to a
nautical eye as she rounded the sea-buoy and stood up the St. John’s
River for town.
The inhabitants of Mayport and Pilotown were treated to the novel
sight of a heavily built sloop manned by a crew large enough for
a four-master, the officers uniformed in bright-coloured pajamas,
which fitted not at all, and the larger part of the hands distinctly
Mongolian. The customs officer stopped her and boarded her without
“Where do you come from–China?” asked the official, in amazement.
“Yo’ surely ain’t forgot de ole _Sea-Horse_, Marse Hennery,” said
Bahama Bill, coming on deck and recognizing an old acquaintance in
the boarding officer. “We got a consignment ob ca’tridges–American
ammunition–here’s de papers, an’ de crew we shipped in a hurry,
without gittin’ time toe sign ’em on in regular shape; but dey is all
right; dey belongs right in dishear State.”
As it is not necessary to sign on hands in small vessels coasting
unless there is especial reason for it, the officer left without
further remark, and the _Sea-Horse_ proceeded on her way.
The steamer for New York was at the dock, and would not sail until
after dark. There was plenty of time to make the consignment and get
the bill of sale through. The unruly crew were kept at work hoisting
out cases of ammunition until all was aboard the steamer. Then the
ship was washed down and gear put in place, and the _Sea-Horse_ looked
almost like a pleasure craft.
“I will give you a thousand dollars for her,” said a shipper who had
been attracted by the strange uniforms and crew.
“Make it fifteen hundred,” said Bahama Bill.
“She will never be in better condition to sell,” cautioned Smart, who
felt as though losing an old friend.
They finally compromised on twelve hundred, and, as Captain Sanders
showed up before dark, dead broke and very thirsty, he was more than
willing to get cash for his share. The deal was made, the money paid,
and the Celestial crew were at last allowed to go ashore.
Wah Lee made for the depot with his followers. He had no thought for
seeking redress by the aid of the authorities, for, with the Tong men,
the foreign pigs are always dealt with personally. There were plenty of
Chinese who ran laundries in Jacksonville who could be levied upon to
produce the railroad fare to get him and his gang back to their place
With new clothes and rigged out splendidly, all hands left the dock
long before darkness set in. Smart had a receipt for his share of the
salvaged ammunition, and the feeling that he had several thousand
dollars was not distasteful to him. His cruise on the wrecking-sloop
had been successful, and it was with a somewhat mixed feeling he said
good-bye to the big black mate.
“Good-bye, cap,” said Bahama Bill. “I shuah like yo’, an’ yo’ shuah
done well wif me–good-bye. Mebbe we kin make a new deal some day.
Dere’s plenty ob money wracking, ef yo’ know how toe wrack right.
Mebbe Sanders an’ us kin go inter de business right, and git a bigger
ship. Let me heah from yo’.”
“I certainly will,” said Smart. “Good-bye.” And the giant fingers of
the mate of the _Sea-Horse_ closed upon his own with their firm, solid
Late that night a sheriff came rapidly down the dock to where the
steamer was just pulling out.
“Seen anything of the sloop _Sea-Horse_?” he asked several bystanders.
“Thar she lays–right at the dock,” said the watchman of the wharf.
“Ah!” He smiled grimly.
“You want the crew?” asked the watchman.
“I certainly do that,” said the sheriff. “There’s a bit of a charge of
kidnapping against the mate and captain. Ran off with a whole lot of
Chinks from below. They are aboard, I suppose?”
“That sloop was sold out hours ago, the crew gone, and the whole thing
settled before five o’clock. It ain’t likely you’ll come up with the
men you’re after in this town. No, sir, they don’t belong here–good
night.” And the watchman grinned as the sheriff, after gazing down at
the deserted vessel, sadly went his way.
At the station Bahama Bill looked up to the window where Smart sat in
the train. He felt the parting with the keenness often developed in the
African character, and he was loath to leave until the train pulled
“Good-bye ag’in, cap; good-bye,” he called up to him as the train
gathered headway slowly.
Sanders stood near, and, not knowing the friendship between the two,
was a little disconcerted at the mate’s warmth.
“Come on, we take the train going the other way, Bill,” he said, as the
mate waved his hand.
“Shuah, shuah. Good-bye, cap—-He was all right, Sanders; dat yacht
feller was all toe de good. I ain’t got but one t’ing agin’ him.”
“What’s that?” asked Captain Sanders.
“Well–er–er, well, I cayn’t hab de highest regyard fo’ his–well,
sah, I don’t know jest how toe say it, but he sho’ never ought toe been
dun up by dem Chinks–dat’s all.”
He put his hand into his pocket and drew forth two handsomely braided
“Yo’ see dese heah? Well, I’se gwine toe make a nice dog-whip ob dem
fo’ mah little boy Will toe play wif.” And he stroked their satin
length approvingly as he boarded the cars for home.