FLINT looked at the boy for a moment with an expression of great concern
on his haggard face, and continued:
“I was in a ship once when the whole crew was hazed, and I wouldn’t go
through it again for no money. It was awful.”
“But why did you submit to it?” asked Guy, in surprise. “Were there not
enough of you to whip the officers?”
“Yes, but that would have been mutiny; and if we had tried it we would
have been shot down like dogs. There’s no way out of the scrape, Jack,
unless you go overboard. You’re held as tight as if you were in jail.”
“But I haven’t yet told you all,” said Guy, who seemed to find a gloomy
satisfaction in talking about his troubles. “The first mate is an enemy
of mine, too. You remember, do you not, that when you had the fight at
the boarding-house I ran out? Well, I went to the dock, and there I
found a man who was being robbed. I saved him by calling the police, and
through me one of the robbers was captured. I was taken to the
watch-house and locked up until the next morning, when I appeared as a
witness against the prisoner; and who do you suppose he turned out to
be? I was never more astonished in my life. Don’t say a word about it,
Flint, for he threatens to kill me if I lisp it, but it was our first
mate. He says he is going to make me think this ship is a frying-pan.”
“And he will keep his promise, too; you can bet high on that,” said
Flint, greatly amazed. “Have you told me the worst yet?”
“Yes, I think I have. Haven’t I told you enough?”
“I should say so. I told you that a boy who goes to sea always gets more
kicks than ha’pence, and now you find that I spoke the truth.”
“But is there nothing I can do?” asked Guy anxiously.
“Nothing—nothing in the world. You must take your kicks and say not a
word. One of these days, when you are an officer, you can take it out of
the green hands who ship under you. That’s your only chance to get
Flint, having offered Guy all the consolation in his power—and very poor
consolation it was, too—now bethought him of his own troubles. Thrusting
his hand under his shirt he drew out his “monk-bag”—a small leather
purse which was suspended from his neck by a string. The last time he
saw the purse it was well filled with bills and coin, but now it was
“I have been eased of my wealth,” said he. “Do you know what has become
of it? I had eighty dollars in here, and never spent a cent of it.”
“Is that gone, too?” exclaimed the boy, astonished at the calmness with
which his friend announced the discovery of his loss. “I don’t know any
thing about it, but I do know where your advance went.”
With this Guy begun, and hurriedly described the scene that had been
enacted when Flint and his insensible companions were first brought on
board, dwelling with much indignation on the fact that he had seen
Rupert steal his friend’s money, and had tried to make him give it up,
but had only succeeded in bringing down upon himself the wrath of the
captain, who choked him until he could scarcely see.
When Guy finished, he looked at Flint, expecting that he would be very
angry, and that he would at once seek the skipper and demand
satisfaction for the manner in which he had been treated; but the sailor
did nothing of the kind. He simply smiled, and said, with an effort to
“I’ve seen that same trick done more’n once, but it was never played
upon me before, and never shall be again.”
“But what are you going to do about it?” asked Guy.
“What _can_ I do?”
“Why, arrest Rupert for robbery. I will be a witness against him.”
“Ha!” laughed the sailor. “He’d bring a dozen men to prove that I owed
him every cent of my advance, and more too. Besides, there’s no telling
where Rupert will be by the time our cruise is ended.”
“But you need not go on this voyage. You were not legally shipped. You
don’t remember of signing articles, do you?”
“Of course not; but it will do no good to make a fuss about it, for the
old man will say I had too much liquor in me when I did it to remember
“Suppose he does. I have heard my father say that a note obtained from a
person in a state of intoxication is not good in law, and the same
principle ought to apply in this case.”
“Well, it won’t,” said Flint. “Law was made for land-lubbers, not for
sailors. Nobody cares for a sailor.”
Guy begun to think so, too. It was utterly incomprehensible to him that
men who had been kidnapped and robbed, as Flint and his companions had
been, must put up with it, having no redress in law. He could not see
why it was so.
Just then there was a movement in one of the bunks below, and presently
a head appeared at the foot of the ladder. Another of the sailors had
slept off the effects of the drug, and was coming up to see where he
was. He was a man considerably older than Flint, and his hair and
whiskers were as white as snow.
Guy’s heart bled for him. That a man at his time of life should be
treated worse than a brute, and be obliged to submit to it too, it
was——Guy’s indignation got the better of him, and he could only wish
that he could be the master of the vessel for an hour or two. Wouldn’t
he straighten out things in a hurry?
The old sailor came slowly up the ladder, taking no notice of Guy and
his friend, and swept his eyes over the deck. No sooner had he done so
than he started as if he had seen something frightful, took another good
look, and his face turned ghastly pale.
“What ship is this?” he asked, backing down the ladder a step or two.
“The clipper Morning Light, bound up the Mediterranean,” replied Guy.
“Morning Light be blessed!” said the old sailor. “I know her. She’s the
Guy’s under jaw dropped, and the swab fell from his hand. His worst
fears were confirmed.
He did not have time to digest this most unwelcome piece of news; for
the second mate, thinking that he was devoting considerable time and
attention to swabbing that particular part of the deck—for he had kept
steadily at work during his conversation with Flint—came forward to see
about it. He might have said or done something not altogether pleasant
to Guy’s feelings, had he not been diverted from his object by the
discovery of the two sailors on the ladder.
“Well, my hearties, you have slept it off at last, have you?” he
exclaimed. “Then tumble up and turn to.”
Flint and the gray-headed sailor promptly obeyed the order, while the
mate went into the forecastle to renew his efforts to arouse the
This time he was successful. One by one the poor fellows came up the
ladder, all of them, as Guy noticed, wearing the same expression of
blank amazement which he had observed on Flint’s face, and, seeming to
understand their situation as well as if it had been explained to them,
went to work without uttering a word of complaint.
As soon as the deck was washed down the ship was got under way, and,
when studding-sails had been set alow and aloft, the men were mustered
on deck and divided into watches. This done, the captain stepped before
them and said, in a stentorian voice, as if he were hailing the
“Now, men, we have shipped together for a long voyage, and whether or
not it is to be a pleasant one depends entirely on yourselves. You all
claim to be able seamen, and if you do your duty cheerfully and without
any grumbling, you will find me the easiest ship-master you ever sailed
under; but if there’s any nonsense among you, I’ll make this vessel the
hottest place for you this side of——” Here the captain pointed with his
finger toward the deck, indicating, no doubt, the regions below. “The
rule of this ship is, the forenoon watch below, and all hands on deck in
the afternoon; and if that regulation is changed, it will be your fault.
Mark you, now: That gentleman, Mr. Evans, is my first mate, and that one
there, Mr. Schwartz, is my second mate. I’m the captain; and when you
have taken a good look at me, go for’rd. That’s all I have to say to
“Go below, the watch,” commanded the second mate.
Guy, Flint, the gray-headed sailor, and the others belonging to the port
watch, lost no time in obeying the order. There were none among them who
felt like doing duty. Guy certainly did not, for he was so completely
exhausted that it did not seem possible he could live to draw another
breath. He threw himself upon his hard bed, drew the blankets over his
shoulders, and listened to the conversation of the sailors, who now had
leisure to talk over their situation.
To Guy’s great surprise there was not one of them who exhibited the
least indignation, or had a harsh word to say against the author of
their troubles. Some flung themselves helplessly upon their bunks as if
it mattered little to them whether they ever got up again or not, others
overhauled their bundles or chests to see if any of their dunnage was
missing, and the faces of all wore a look of sadness and dejection that
was painful to see. The furtive glances that they cast about the
forecastle, and the listening attitudes they assumed whenever any
unusual sound was heard, was enough to satisfy Guy that they were all
aware that they had been shipped aboard the very vessel they had been
most anxious to avoid.
“You needn’t be a looking and a listening now, lads,” said the
gray-haired sailor, whose name was Upham, and who had made one voyage in
the ship. “The Santa Maria is as quiet as old Davy’s locker in the
day-time, but wait until midnight, if the wind freshens a bit, then
you’ll hear something.”
“The creaking and groaning of the cordage, most likely,” said Guy. “I’ve
heard it often aboard the Ossipee.”
“You’d better take a sheep-shank in that tongue of yours,” said Upham
sharply. “When you have sailed the blue water till your hair is as white
as mine, you’ll know more than you do now.”
So saying the sailor drew the blankets over him, and with a sigh of
resignation turned his face to the bulk-head and prepared to go to
sleep. The rest of the watch, one after the other, followed his example,
and Guy was left to commune with his own thoughts. He would have been
glad to know just how and when the ghosts of the Santa Maria were
accustomed to appear, so that he might be on the lookout for them; but
Upham did not seem inclined to say more on the subject, and he had shown
himself to be such a gruff, irritable old fellow that Guy did not care
to ask him any questions, being certain of getting a sharp and
unsatisfactory reply. While he was thinking about it he fell into a
deep, untroubled slumber.
Guy that day learned by experience what “hazing” meant, and he found,
too, that Flint’s description of this mode of punishment was not in the
least exaggerated. Long before night came he was so nearly exhausted
that the fear of the rope’s end, with which the second mate constantly
threatened him, was the only thing that kept him moving.
It was his watch below from six to eight o’clock, but he was too tired
to sleep, and the time was so short that he got very little rest. He was
called on deck again at eight o’clock, and kept busy until midnight, for
the wind which arose at sunset freshened rapidly, and on several
occasions it was found necessary to shorten sail. Of course Guy could
lend no assistance in the execution of this work, but he bustled about
in response to every order that was issued, and only succeeded in
getting himself into trouble by his misdirected activity and zeal.
Once, when he was sent headlong against the rail by a push from an angry
sailor, he clung to it for a moment with a half-formed resolution in his
mind to jump into the waves which were tossing the vessel so widely
about, and put an end to his misery at once, but prudence stepped in in
time to prevent him from doing anything rash.
“The voyage can’t last forever,” thought Guy, trying hard to keep up his
courage. “We must reach some port at last, and in less than half an hour
after we are tied up to the wharf I shall be missing. I am going to
desert. I have money enough in my pocket to keep me in food until I can
find something to do. I’d rather be a wood-sawyer than a sailor.”
Midnight came at last, and the starboard watch was called. Guy happened
to be standing near the heel of the bowsprit as they came up the ladder,
and he was astonished to see that every one of them was as white as a
sheet. When they reached the deck they all cast suspicious glances back
into the forecastle, as if they were afraid that there might be
something following them. Beyond a doubt the ghosts had manifested
themselves in some way. So thought Guy, and his opinion was confirmed by
some whispered words he overheard.
“What is it, mate?” asked Flint of the sailor who was the first to reach
the deck. “Your face is as white as a landsman’s Sunday shirt.”
“And maybe your face will be white, too, after you have been down there
a few minutes,” answered the man, who was the gray-haired sailor’s
crony, and who, like him, had made one voyage in the Santa Maria.
“Here,” replied the owner of that name. “Have you seen ’em?”
“No; but I’ve heard ’em. He’ll be up directly.”
“He! Who?” asked Flint uneasily.
“Why, the ghost of the man who was lost overboard a few years ago,” said
Upham. “You see, one night, during a gale, some of the crew were sent
aloft to cut away the main topsail, for it was blowing too hard to furl
it. One man was lost overboard—he was blown fairly off the foot-rope,
they tell me—and every night after that his ghost used to get up on the
main-topsail yard and sing out: ‘Stand from under!’ I never heard him
speak, but I’ve seen him often.”
“So have I,” said Upham’s crony. “He looks like a rat.”
“But what did you see in the forecastle?” asked Flint.
“Nothing; but we heard ’em talking and going on. They’re in the hold
“Go below, you lubbers!” shouted the second mate. “This is the third
time I have spoken to you, and if you don’t pay some attention I’ll
start you down faster than you want to go.”
The men belonging to the port watch ran quickly down the ladder to avoid
the handspike which the officer began to swing about in close proximity
to their heads.
Guy was the last to leave the deck. Tired and utterly discouraged as he
was he would rather have spent the rest of the night in work than go
into the forecastle. He scouted the idea of ghosts, but when such men as
Flint and Upham showed signs of fear, he believed that it could not be
without good reason, and that there must be something to be afraid of.
He trembled violently, and his face was as pale as those of the rest of
“Aha! see him now, mates!” exclaimed the gray-headed sailor pointing to
Guy as he came down the ladder. “Here’s the chap that knows more’n all
the rest of us put together!—a regular sea-lawyer. Now look at him!”
“Listen! listen!” said one of the watch suddenly.
The sailors all held their breath, and a silence deep as that of the
grave reigned in the forecastle. This continued for a few seconds, and
then a low, moaning sound, like the wail of some one in intense bodily
agony, fell upon their ears with startling distinctness. It seemed to
come to them through the bulk-head that separated the forecastle from
Guy listened in great amazement. The cold chills begun to creep all over
him, and his face grew a shade paler than ever.
“Don’t be afraid, my son,” said Upham mockingly. “It’s only the creaking
and groaning of the rigging. You’ve heard it often, so it needn’t scare
“No, it isn’t the rigging,” said Guy; “it’s the boxes of freight rubbing
against one another.”
“Well, I never knew before that boxes of freight could talk,” said one
of the watch. “Just listen to that!”
“Oh, heavens! I can’t stand it! I can’t stand it!” came in muffled tones
from the hold. “Take it off, or I shall die!”
This was followed by a low, murmuring sound, as of several persons in
earnest conversation, and then all was still.
Guy’s philosophy was not proof against such a manifestation as this.
There was something in the hold beyond a doubt, and what else could it
be but the ghostly crew the Santa Maria was supposed to carry?
“There’s been awful things done aboard this craft,” said Upham, shaking
his gray head solemnly. “Nobody knows how many poor fellows have been
knocked overboard on dark nights by them two mates.”
“Great Scott!” soliloquized Guy, jumping into his bunk and drawing the
blankets over his head. “I never thought of that. Who knows but that the
first mate may be watching for a chance to knock me overboard?”
The old sailor’s words had excited a train of serious reflections in
Guy’s mind. A man who could deliberately attack another with the
intention of robbing and throwing him into the harbor, would be none too
good to make an end of the boy who had given evidence against him. There
was but one thing he could do in his helpless situation, he told
himself, and that was to watch the mate closely and be in readiness to
seize the first opportunity to desert the vessel.
The night wore slowly away, and another miserable day dawned for the
runaway. He was kept very busy, for the mates always found some work
that he could do, but still he had leisure to observe that there was
something unusual going on among the men. They gathered in little groups
to converse when the officers were not looking at them, and Upham talked
privately with every one of the crew, Guy alone excepted. He seemed to
be urging some sort of a movement among the sailors, but what it was Guy
could not find out, for no one, not even Flint, would enlighten him.
Was it a mutiny? Guy hoped it was, and placed a handspike where he could
seize it at a moment’s warning. If force were resorted to, he would get
in at least a blow or two in return for the barbarous treatment to which
he had been subjected.
Nothing was done until three o’clock, and then the captain came on deck
as usual to smoke his after-dinner cigar. His appearance seemed to be
the signal the sailors were waiting for. They dropped their work at once
and, headed by Upham, marched aft in a body.
“HALLOO! what do you want here, you lubbers?” demanded the captain, as
the sailors, headed by Upham, ranged themselves on the quarter-deck in
front of him and took off their caps. “I don’t allow any such doings as
this aboard my ship. Go for’ard where you belong.”
“We haven’t come for any mischief, cap’n,” said Upham, who had been
chosen to do the talking for his companions. “We’re all sailor men, and
know our duty.”
“Then go for’ard and do it,” said the skipper angrily. “Away you go.”
“We’re ready to obey orders, cap’n, and you sha’n’t have a word of fault
to find with none of us, if you will only think up some way to git rid
of them other fellows. It’s more than human flesh and blood can stand to
have them aboard here.”
“What other fellows?”
“Why, them in the hold that keeps up such a wailing and groaning all the
“Get out o’ this!” shouted the captain, looking about the deck as if he
were searching for something to throw at Upham’s head. “I’ve heard
enough. You pulled the wool over the eyes of a lot of soft Tommys on
shore and kept us waiting three days for a crew, but you can’t talk any
of your ghost stories into me. Go to your duty.”
“We’ve done our duty since we’ve been aboard, cap’n,” returned Upham,
“and we’re ready to keep on doing it if you will only get rid of that
other crew, but not a tack or sheet do we touch till this thing has been
looked into. We’ve all made up our minds to that.”
“Oh, you’re going to mutiny, are you?” roared the skipper, his face
growing purple with fury. “I’ll show you how I deal with such men. Mr.
Schwartz, just step down into the cabin and bring up my pistols.”
The second mate started in obedience to the order, but the sailors, who
were drawn up in line across the deck, moved forward as one man, and
stood between him and the companion-way.
Things were getting serious, and Guy, who stood on the outskirts of the
crowd, began edging his way toward the bow. Was he going after his
handspike? No; he intended to dodge into the forecastle, where he would
be safe. If the captain was going to use fire-arms to bring his crew to
their senses, he did not want to be found in the way of the bullets.
The skipper’s actions indicated that he was in just the right humor to
do something desperate. He stamped about the deck and swore at the top
of his voice, but it was plain that, in spite of all his bluster, he was
cowed by the bold front of his crew. When he paused to take breath,
“We don’t want to go agin yer, cap’n,” said he, “and we don’t want to
talk no ghost stories into you, neither. All we ask of you is to come
down into the forecastle and listen to ’em with your own ears. I’ve
heard ’em, and I hain’t a boy to be scared at nothing. I snuffed salt
water before you ever saw daylight.”
The captain seemed on the point of making an angry reply, but just then
the second mate, after holding a short consultation with the first
officer, stepped up and said something to him in a whisper. The sailors
could not hear what it was, but they saw the skipper’s face brighten at
“It may be possible,” said he, aloud. “I did not think of that. Come on,
men; I’ll soon get at the bottom of the matter.”
The captain led the way into the forecastle, and the sailors flocked
down the ladder after him, Guy bringing up the rear.
“Now fetch on your ghosts,” said the skipper, seating himself on one of
“Avast heaving a minute, cap’n, and you’ll see ’em,” said Upham.
The silence that followed continued so long that the sailors began to
get impatient, but not so the captain. The few words the second mate
whispered in his ear had aroused some suspicions in his mind, and he was
resolved that they should either be confirmed or entirely set at rest
before he left the forecastle.
Ten minutes passed, and then the groans that had startled the crew the
night before were distinctly heard, followed by the low murmur of
conversation. The captain seemed very much annoyed. He arose from his
seat, and placing his ear close against the bulk-head, stood there
listening intently until the sounds ceased.
“They’re there sure enough, cap’n,” said Upham. “You see that we wasn’t
complaining of nothing.”
“I am satisfied of it now,” was the reply. “Get lanterns, a couple of
you, and all the port watch come with me into the hold. Bring handspikes
every mother’s son of you.”
“Handspikes won’t do no good,” growled Flint, after the captain had
ascended from the forecastle.
“No,” assented Upham. “I never yet heard of a ghost being knocked down
and put in irons.”
Judging by the expression on the faces of the sailors, there was not a
man in the port watch who did not wish that somebody besides himself had
been called upon to accompany the captain. The alarm that prevailed
among them was contagious, and even Guy began to give way to it. He
believed, with Flint and Upham, that there was something in the hold
that could not be overcome with weapons, and when he went aft with his
watch, armed like the rest with a handspike, he stationed himself at the
heels of the captain with the determination to keep close to him. He had
faith in the skipper’s courage and prowess, and, moreover, he saw that
the latter carried pistols in his pockets. Pistols were better than
handspikes any day, even in an encounter with ghosts.
In obedience to the orders of the mate, one of the hatches was opened,
and the captain descended into the hold, followed by the port watch.
Slowly they made their way along a narrow passage toward the place where
the water-butts were stowed, and when they came within sight of them
they stopped, astonished by the scene presented to their gaze. Some of
the sailors took just one look, and then uttered exclamations of alarm
and turned to retreat. Guy would have done the same, only he could not.
He was so badly frightened that he could neither move nor speak.
A portion of the cargo had been broken out, forming a clear space about
six feet square and as many feet deep, and in it were seated the objects
that had excited his alarm—not ghosts, but living men, who held cocked
pistols in their hands, and whose faces denoted that they were anything
but pleased at the discovery of their hiding-place. In the center of
this clear space was a fourth man, lying flat on his back, and pinned
down by a box of goods which had doubtless been thrown upon him by the
lurching of the vessel. The box was so large and heavy, and his
companions had so little room to work in, that they had not been able to
release him; and there the poor fellow had lain for long hours suffering
intense agony, which was increased by every lurch the vessel gave. He it
was who had given utterance to the groans which had so greatly alarmed
the crew. The men, whoever they were, had come on board prepared for a
long voyage, for they had brought with them a large bag of provisions,
and had tapped one of the butts to get a supply of water.
“Well,” said the captain, as soon as the volley of exclamations which
arose from the sailors had subsided, so that he could make himself
heard, “this thing has turned out just as I expected it would. You’re
the lads that robbed the jewelry store, I suppose.”
“Why, so they are!” exclaimed Guy, who now comprehended the matter
perfectly; “I knew they couldn’t be ghosts.”
“Who and what we are is no business of yours,” answered one of the men
“It isn’t, ’eh?” exclaimed the captain. “I am master of this ship, if
you only knew it. Come up out of that.”
“No, we’ll not go up, and if you know when you are well off you’ll not
come down to us, either. We are all armed, as you see, and the first man
who makes a move to lay a hand on us will get a bullet through his
“Cap’n,” said Flint, who was brave enough now that he knew they had live
men and not dead ones to deal with, “just say the word and I’ll jump
down there and toss that fellow out before he knows what is the matter
“No, no,” said the captain. “Stay where you are. I know how to deal with
’em. Where are you lads going?” he added, holding one of the lanterns
over the robbers’ hiding-place and taking a good survey of it.
“We’re going wherever the ship goes,” was the surly reply.
“Well, you’ll have a good long ride. This cargo will not be broken out
under seven or eight months. Have you got provisions enough to last you
“You needn’t lose no sleep in worrying about that.”
“I won’t, for it’s your lookout, not mine. Hadn’t you better let me rig
a whip and hoist that box off that man? It’s a pity to keep him in that
“And after you get it hoisted off you would try to come some of your
sailor tricks over us,” said the robber. “We ain’t quite so green as
that. You just go off and attend to your own business. We’ll take care
“All right. Mark you now, my fine lads, I’m going to close and batten
down my hatches, and they sha’n’t be opened again until we reach port,
no matter what happens. If the ship goes to the bottom you go with her,
and without a chance to save yourselves.”
The skipper turned and crawled back toward the hatchway as he said this,
and the watch followed him. They found their companions on deck
impatiently awaiting their return, and when they heard what the captain
had to say to his mates, and learned that the men in the hold were not
ghosts, as they had supposed, but a gang of burglars, who, in spite of
the vigilance of the watch, had succeeded in smuggling themselves on
board before the ship left port, their surprise knew no bounds. Their
faces, too, as well as the long, deep sighs which came up from their
broad chests showed that their relief was fully as great as their
Guy and the four men he had found on board the Santa Maria when he first
joined her, knew more about the matter than anybody else, except the
officers, they having been on deck while the policeman was talking with
the captain about the burglars. They were obliged to repeat all they had
heard over and over again, first to one and then to another, and Guy
always wound up by declaring that that was the way all ghost stories
turned out—they could be explained easily enough if people would only
take the trouble to look into them.
“Avast there!” said Upham, who happened to overhear this last remark.
“You ain’t done with the old Santa Maria yet. You hain’t seen the ghost
who gets up on the main-topsail yard every night during a gale and says:
“Stand from under!”
By the time the hatches had all been closed and securely fastened, the
captain came up out of his cabin, where he had been busy with his chart.
A few rapid orders, which Guy, as usual, failed to comprehend, were
issued, and the ship stood off on another course.
“The old man isn’t letting grass grow under his feet,” said Flint to
Guy, as he came down out of the top. “He’s going to get rid of them
“What is he going to do with them?” asked Guy.
“He’s going to put ’em ashore. We’re heading for some port now.”
“Are we?” exclaimed Guy, highly delighted at this piece of news. “I wish
we were there now,” he added, sinking his voice to a whisper, and
looking all about to make sure that there was no one within hearing.
“You wouldn’t see me in half an hour from this time. I am going to
“And I don’t blame you,” said Flint.
“You will go with me, won’t you?”
“What are you going to do?” asked the sailor; “find another ship?”
“No, sir,” said Guy emphatically. “If I ever put my foot on the deck of
another vessel as a foremast hand, I hope she will go to the bottom with
me. I am going to stay ashore; you may depend upon that.”
“Then I don’t see what good it will do me to go with you, Jack. I’d have
to ship again at once, for I’ve got no money, and I couldn’t find any
work to do ashore, not being a landsman. I might as well stay here. Now
that I know we’ve got no ghosts aboard I shall like the Santa Maria as
well as any other ship.”
“Then I shall have to go alone, I suppose,” said Guy. “I don’t like to
leave you, Flint, but I can’t stand this any longer. I am black and blue
all over from the poundings I have received.”
“And you’re getting as thin as the royal yard,” said Flint. “You’ll be
bait for the crows if you stay aboard this craft till we reach the
Sandwich Islands, and that’s where we’re bound.”
“The Sandwich Islands!” repeated Guy. “I thought we were going up the
“Oh, that’s only one of the pack of lies that shipping agent told you,”
said the sailor, with a laugh. “If you had looked at the articles you
signed, you would have found out all about it. We’re going to discharge
our cargo at San Francisco, take another from there to Honolulu, and
fill up again for New Orleans. Where we shall go after that I don’t
“We’re going round the Horn, I suppose?”
“Of course. They don’t take ships over the isthmus yet.”
“Then I understand why Smith made me buy so many thick clothes. He said
perhaps I’d see some cold weather.”
“And so you will,” said Flint. “I’ll help you to get off if I can, but I
don’t see the use of going with you. I’d have to leave you again, unless
you would go to sea in some other vessel.”
“And that I’ll never do. I’ll starve on shore first.”
“And I’ll stay aboard the Santa Maria. Have you got any money?”
“Yes, I have sixty dollars and a little over. Do you want some of it?”
“No, I don’t,” said the sailor quickly. “I sha’n’t need any while I am
at sea, but you’ll need it ashore. Here,” he added, taking off his
monk-bag and handing it to Guy, “keep this to remember me by. Put your
money in it, and tie it around your neck, and you won’t be likely to
lose it. You can’t take your bundle with you, of course, so when we
reach port you had better put on another suit of clothes under those
you’ve got on now, and stow away all the dunnage about you that you can
without making yourself look too fat. If you put on too much you might
as well try to leave the ship with a chest on your shoulder, for the
mates will know in a minute what you’re up to. They’re posted in all
sailor tricks. We sha’n’t be long in port, so you had better be in a
hurry. Whatever you do, don’t be caught, or you’ll sup sorrow with a
spoon as big as a water-butt.”
This made Guy open his eyes. He had not expected to find any serious
obstacle in his way. If the ship came to anchor in the harbor to which
they were bound, especially if they arrived there during the night, it
would be but little trouble for him to drop overboard from the
fore-chains and swim ashore, provided the distance were not too great;
and if she were made fast to the dock, it would be still less trouble to
leave her. But now he knew that the officers would be on the watch, that
they well understood every device that could be resorted to by
deserters, and that if he were caught in the act of leaving the vessel,
the treatment he had hitherto received would be mild in comparison with
the punishment that would be inflicted upon him. The thought almost took
Guy’s breath away, but it did not discourage him. He had fully made up
his mind to desert the vessel if it were within the bounds of
possibility, and was not to be easily frightened from his purpose.
He conferred with Flint at every opportunity, and made all necessary
preparations, selecting the clothes he intended to take with him, and
tying them up in a separate bundle together with the “Boy Trappers,” the
book that belonged to Henry Stewart. This book Guy had carefully
preserved. It was the only thing he had left of the hunting outfit which
he had brought with him from home.
On the third day after the discovery of the robbers in the hold, land
was in sight once more, and at nine o’clock in the evening the Santa
Maria entered the port toward which the captain had shaped her course,
and was made fast to the wharf.
Guy did not know what the name of the town was or what country it was
in, and he did not think to inquire. All he cared for was to get safely
off the vessel; he could get his bearings afterward.
As soon as the ship touched the dock the captain jumped ashore, and
hurried away in the darkness—he was going after some officers to arrest
the men in the hold, Flint said—and Guy ran into the forecastle to make
ready for his attempt at desertion. He hastily pulled on the clothes he
had selected, secured the “Boy Trappers” about his person, and having
examined his monk-bag to make sure that his money was safe, presented
himself before his friend, who nodded approvingly.
“It’s all right,” said the sailor. “You’ll pass in the dark. Now stand
here by the side, and I’ll go aft and keep an eye on the mates. When I
see that they are not looking toward you, I’ll cough this way—here Flint
gave an illustration—and do you jump ashore, and run as if Old Nep was
after you with his three-pronged pitchfork. I can’t shake hands with you
for fear they’ll see me and suspect something; but you won’t forget me,
will you, Jack?”
“Never,” replied Guy. “You have been very kind to me, and I wouldn’t
leave you under any other circumstances.”
Flint, who did not care to prolong the interview, walked leisurely aft,
and Guy leaned over the side and impatiently waited for the signal.
FOR TEN minutes—it seemed an hour to him—Guy stood there with his hands
on the side waiting for the signal which was to tell him that the moment
had arrived for him to make a strike for his liberty; but Flint did not
Guy began to get impatient. He looked about the deck, but although the
crew were in sight, none of them seemed to be paying any attention to
him or his movements. The first mate was standing at the head of the
companion ladder, gazing toward the light-house at the entrance of the
harbor, and the second mate, the one he most feared, was nowhere to be
seen. But for all that, he was close by, and on the watch, too. Flint
saw him, and that was the reason he did not give the signal for which
Guy was so impatiently waiting.
The vigilant officer, who seemed to see everything that took place on
board the vessel, knew Guy’s plans as well as he knew them himself, for
he had crouched at the head of the ladder and looked down into the
forecastle while Guy was preparing for his attempt at escape.
The mate’s first thought was to seize him as he came on deck and shake
him out of his superfluous clothing; but after a little reflection he
decided to adopt another mode of punishment. He would wait until Guy was
about to leave the ship and then give him a lesson that he would
remember as long as he lived.
As Flint turned away after taking leave of his young friend, he saw the
mate crouching behind the long boat, holding in his hand a stick of wood
which he had caught up as he passed the galley.
The sailor knew in an instant why he was there, and would have turned
back to warn Guy, but the officer, divining his intention, made an
impatient gesture with his hand, and Flint was obliged to pass on.
Guy waited and listened, growing more and more impatient, until at last
he could no longer control himself. The wharf was almost within reach of
him, and if his feet were once firmly planted upon it, his escape could
be easily accomplished. A few quick bounds would carry him out of sight
in the darkness, and if he were followed, he could creep into some alley
or door-way and remain there until the danger was past. He resolved to
He put one leg over the rail, paused an instant to make sure that the
movement had not attracted attention, then threw the other over, and
lowered himself slowly toward the wharf. His feet had almost touched it,
and Guy was already congratulating himself on his escape, when a stick
of stove-wood, propelled with all the force of a sinewy arm, whistled
through the air, and striking the rail within an inch of his head,
bounded off, and fell into the water. Had it struck him, as the mate
fully intended it should when he sent it flying from his hand, it would
have knocked him senseless.
While Guy was looking all around to see where the missile came from, the
officer arose from his concealment and showed himself.
“That was a pretty good shot,” said he, “but the next one will come
closer than that. Crawl back, you lubber. Now,” he added, as the boy
tremblingly obeyed, “go below, and stay there till I call you.”
As Guy started off in obedience to the order, the mate hastened his
movements by aiming a blow at him with his fist, and following it up by
a vicious kick with his heavy boot; but the boy, having learned to be
always on the lookout for these favors, nimbly eluded them both.
“I wish I were a man for a few minutes,” thought Guy, as he ran down the
ladder into the forecastle and began pulling off his extra clothing;
“I’d settle with you, Mr. Schwartz, and pay you back in your own coin.
I’ve failed once, but I’ll not fail the next time I try it. I’ll have
more time at San Francisco, for Flint says we’re going to discharge our
cargo there. Perhaps it is just as well, after all,” he added,
determined, to look on the bright side, if there was any, “because when
I reach San Francisco I shall be but a short distance from the Rocky
Mountains, and can begin the life of a hunter as soon as I please. Don’t
I wish I was there now with a good horse and gun, and such a dog as the
boy trappers had? Never mind, I’ll have them one of these days, if I
only live to get off this vessel.”
About the time Guy was ordered below by the second mate, the captain
returned, accompanied by three or four policemen. Guy heard them open
the hatch and go into the hold, and remembering that the robbers had
promised to make a desperate resistance, he listened to their movements
with no little anxiety, momentarily expecting to hear the sounds of a
fierce struggle going on among the freight, but nothing of the kind
The sight of the locusts and badges borne by the officers of the law
took all the courage out of the burglars, who quietly passed up their
weapons and allowed handcuffs to be slipped on their wrists. The box was
then hoisted off the other burglar, and he was placed upon a stretcher
and carried ashore. It was all done in five minutes, and when Guy was
ordered on deck to assist in getting the vessel under way—or rather to
stand by and look on while the others did it—the policemen and their
prisoners had disappeared in the darkness.
This was the last incident worthy of record that happened while Guy
remained on board the Santa Maria. Nothing occurred to break the
monotony of the voyage, which continued two hundred and ten days, and
which our runaway afterward looked back upon as the dreariest part of
With the robbers disappeared all traces of that “other crew” of which
the sailors stood so much in fear. The most superstitious among them
kept a close watch for a few nights, starting at every unusual sound;
and when the wind freshened during the mid-watch, casting anxious
glances toward the main-topsail yard, where the ghost who shouted “Stand
from under!” was accustomed to station himself. But nothing startling
was ever seen or heard, and the men finally ceased to speak or think of
Flint came in for some slight punishment for assisting Guy in his
attempt to desert the vessel, and Upham and his crony were hazed for a
day or two for keeping the ship waiting in port for a crew; but the
mate’s ill-will seemed to wear itself out at last, and then things went
on smoothly with everybody except the runaway.
Mr. Schwartz could not forget that Guy had tried to impose upon him by
rating himself as able seaman, when he scarcely knew the maintruck from
the kelson, and he did not intend that Guy should forget it either. He
never allowed him a moment’s peace while he was on duty, and sometimes,
when he felt particularly vindictive, he would keep him on deck long
after the rest of the watch had gone below. Guy’s life almost became a
burden to him. The only pleasure he found was in looking at the pictures
in the “Boy Trappers,” and dreaming of the easy, glorious existence he
would lead when once he became a hunter.
When he tumbled into his bunk he would lie awake for hours building his
gorgeous air-castles. Under the influence of his lively imagination the
walls of his dingy quarters would seem to widen out and loom up until
they became lofty, snow-capped mountains; the dreary forecastle,
smelling of tar and bilge-water, would become a beautiful glade decked
with flowers and embowered with trees; the smoky lantern would grow into
a cheerful camp-fire; the weather-beaten walls would change into tall,
broad-shouldered hunters and trappers; the chests, which were ranged on
one side of the forecastle, would take the shape of horses staked out to
graze; and the clothing hanging about would be transformed into buffalo
humps and juicy haunches of venison.
Then Guy would imagine himself stretched out on his blanket among these
wild, congenial spirits, wearing a coonskin cap and dressed in a full
suit of buckskin, gaudily ornamented (he couldn’t be a full-fledged
hunter without a coonskin cap and a suit of buckskin, especially the
latter, which, according to the cheap novels he had read, always set off
the wearer’s “slender, well-knit frame to such good advantage”), his
“deadly rifle, with which he could drive a nail or snuff a candle at
sixty yards’ distance,” lying by his side; his tomahawk, hunting-knife
and lasso hanging from a tree over his head, his fierce wolf-dog that
could pull down a buck or throttle an Indian with all ease, reposing at
his feet, and his horse, an animal which had carried him safely through
many a desperate fight with savages and wild beasts, and which for speed
and endurance was never equaled, grazing a little apart from the others
and rendered conspicuous by his great size and exceeding beauty.
“And suppose this horse was the celebrated white pacer of the plains,”
soliloquized Guy, carried fairly up to the seventh heaven of happiness
by his wild dreamings; “a horse that no living man had ever ridden until
I caught him with my own lasso and tamed him with my own hands! Ah! And
suppose these men were government scouts and I was the chief of them?
‘The Boy Chief of the Rough Riders of the Rocky Mountains!’ Whew!
Wouldn’t that be a sounding title, though? Oh, I’m bound to make myself
famous before I am ten years older. Dear me, I wonder if this miserable
vessel will ever reach San Francisco?”
When Guy dropped to sleep at last it would be to revel in such scenes as
this, until the hoarse voice of the second mate brought him back to the
realities of earth again. He lived in this way just seven months—how
careful he was to count the days as they dragged slowly by—and when at
last he was beginning to despair and to believe that the voyage never
would have an end, Flint one day pointed out something in the horizon
which looked like a cloud, but which he said was land, adding that he
had heard the first mate say that if they had no bad luck they would
pass the Golden Gate in about three days.
Guy had been waiting most impatiently for this announcement, and now he
could not have told whether he was glad or sorry to hear it. He longed
to feel the solid ground under his feet once more, but there was an
obstacle in the way of his getting there that he dreaded to encounter.
That was the second mate, whose eyes followed every move he made while
he was on deck. Since he detected the boy in his attempt to desert the
vessel, the officer had been more brutal than he was before; and he had
promised, too, that if he caught Guy in any more tricks of that kind he
would knock him overboard the very first good chance he got.
Guy believed that the mate fully intended to carry it out. Flint thought
so, too, and advised extreme caution. He and Guy held many a long
consultation, but could decide upon no definite plan of operations. The
only thing the boy could do was to be governed by circumstances, and
this time be careful not to act in too great a hurry.
On the afternoon of the fourth day after land was discovered the Santa
Maria entered the harbor of San Francisco and came to anchor, where she
was to remain a day or two—so Guy heard—before she was hauled into the
wharf. No sooner had she swung round to her anchor than one of the boats
was put into the water, and when it had been manned the captain came on
deck carrying a basket on his arm.
“Pass the word for Thomas,” said he.
Guy heard the call, and was hurrying aft in response to it when he was
met by the second mate.
“Look here, my hearty,” said the officer, “you’re to go ashore to carry
the captain’s basket. But listen now—no nonsense. I know every hole and
corner in ’Frisco, and if you don’t come back with the old man I’ll be
after you with a sharp stick, and if I catch you—well, you know me.”
The mate finished with a peculiar nod of his head, which had a peculiar
meaning in it.
Guy picked up the captain’s basket in obedience to a gesture from that
gentleman, and followed him into the boat. His mind was in such a whirl
of excitement and uncertainty that he took no note of what was going on
around him. Here was a chance for liberty, but he did not know whether
to improve it or not. He had nothing with him except his money, and that
he always carried in his monk-bag, which was slung around his neck. The
blankets and extra clothing which he would probably need before he could
have time to earn others, were in his bundle in the forecastle, and so
was that book of Henry Stewart’s, which was to him what chart and
compass are to the mariner.
Guy set great store by that book. It would, he thought, be of as much
service to him as the blankets and extra clothing, for he knew nothing
about hunting and trapping; in fact, he had never fired a gun half a
dozen times in his life, and he could make but poor headway until he had
received instructions from some source.
Having no mind of his own and knowing next to nothing outside of school
books, he had leaned upon somebody ever since he had been away from
home—Bob Walker first, and then Flint—and he had expected when he left
the vessel to have the book for a counselor. It told how to build camps,
how to cook squirrels and venison on spits before the fire, how to
travel through the thickest woods without the aid of a compass or the
sun, and how he ought to conduct himself in all sorts of terrible
emergencies, such as fights with Indians and grizzly bears. It would be
a rather risky piece of business for him to depend on his own judgment
and resources, and it would be equally risky to wait for another
opportunity to desert, for it might never be presented.
Guy did not know what to do, and there was no one to whom he could go
“Thomas, you stay here till I come.”
These words aroused Guy from his reverie. He looked up and found himself
standing at the foot of a long, wide stairway leading up into a building
which looked like a warehouse. The Santa Maria was hidden from his view
by the masts and rigging of the vessels lying at the wharf, the boat in
which he had come ashore was out of sight, and so was the captain, who
went quickly up the stairs and disappeared through a door, which he
slammed behind him. Now or never was the thought that passed through
Guy’s mind, and without stopping to dwell upon it an instant, he dropped
the basket and darted away as fast as his legs could carry him, turning
down every street he came to, and putting as many corners as possible
between himself and the harbor.
Guy had learned at least one thing during the eight or nine months he
had been on the water, and that was that in all seaport towns the
sailors’ quarters are located near the docks, hence his desire to leave
that part of the city behind him in the shortest possible space of time.
He never wanted to meet a sea-faring man again—he had learned to despise
the name as well as the calling. Besides, he knew that if the second
mate fulfilled his threat of searching the city for him, that part of it
to which the sailors most resorted would be the very first place he
would visit. Guy wondered if there was a hunters’ boarding-house in
town. The officer would never think of looking for him there.
The deserter made remarkably good time for a boy who had been worn
almost to a shadow of his former self by hard fare and harder treatment,
settling down in a rapid walk at intervals, and then breaking into a run
again when he reached a street in which there were but few people to
observe his movements, and was finally brought to a stand-still by a
sign which caught his eye—J. Brown, gunsmith.
The words drove all thoughts of the mate out of his mind, and suggested
to him a new train of reflections. He was out of danger for the
present—he had been running fully half an hour, as nearly as he could
guess at the time—and had leisure to ponder upon a question which just
then arose in his mind. Here was a chance to provide himself with as
much of a hunter’s outfit as his limited supply of money would purchase.
Should he improve it, or wait until some future day? It was a matter
that could not be decided on the spur of the moment, so Guy seated
himself on a dry-goods box in front of a store opposite the gunsmith’s,
and thought about it.
After he had recovered a little of his wind, and got his brain in
working order, Guy walked across the street and looked in at the
gunsmith’s window. He saw there everything a hunter could possibly
need—rifles, shotguns, hunting-knives, revolvers, game-bags, traps, and
fishing-tackle—such a variety, in fact, that Guy could not at once make
up his mind what he wanted most. The window on the other side of the
door was filled with saddles, bridles, blankets, spurs and ponchos. As
Guy looked at them a second question arose in his mind.
“Now, how am I going to get my horse?” he asked himself. “I must have
one, for I never heard of a hunter traveling about on foot. It wouldn’t
look well. Besides, what if I should happen to get into a fight with
Indians or grizzly bears? Why, I’d be rubbed out sure. And if I can
think up some way to get a horse, how am I going to earn the money to
buy a saddle and bridle for him? Great Scott! there’s always some
drawback to my plans.”
And this seemed to be a serious drawback, too. Whenever Guy had indulged
in his day-dreams, he had always imagined himself a prosperous and
famous hunter, with all the comforts and luxuries of his calling at his
command. The question had sometimes forced itself upon his mind, how was
he to get all these things? But it was always an unwelcome one, and was
dismissed with the comforting reflection that it would be time enough to
worry about such little matters when he stood in need of them. That was
the way he disposed of the horse question now.
“I’ll get my gun and other things I need, and think about a horse some
other time,” he thought. “Perhaps I can buy one already trained from
some friendly Indian for a plug or two of tobacco; and, by the way, I
guess I had better get some tobacco for that purpose. Or, I may find a
hunting-ground so well stocked with game that I can trap and shoot
enough beaver and otter in a few days to pay for a good horse. But the
mischief of it is, I don’t know how to hunt and trap those animals, and
there’s that book I need so much on board the Santa Maria. No matter,
I’ll wiggle through some way. What I want just now is a shooting-iron.”
So saying, Guy opened the door and went into the gun-shop.