That wull be the doctors launch, said Captain MacElrath.
The pilot grunted, while the skipper swept on with his glass from the launch to the strip of beach and to Kingston beyond, and then slowly across the entrance to Howth Head on the northern side.
The tides right, and well have you docked in two hours, the pilot vouchsafed, with an effort at cheeriness. Rings End Basin, is it?
This time the skipper grunted.
A dirty Dublin day.
Again the skipper grunted. He was weary with the night of wind in the Irish Channel behind him, the unbroken hours of which he had spent on the bridge. And he was weary with all the voyage behind him - two years and four months between home port and home port, eight hundred and fifty days by his log.
Proper wunter weather, he answered, after a silence. The town is undistinct. Ut wull be rainun guid an hearty for the day.
Captain MacElrath was a small man, just comfortably able to peep over the canvas dodger of the bridge. The pilot and third officer loomed above him, as did the man at the wheel, a bulky German, deserted from a warship, whom he had signed on in Rangoon. But his lack of inches made Captain MacElrath a no less able man. At least so the Company reckoned, and so would he have reckoned could he have had access to the carefully and minutely compiled record of him filed away in the office archives. But the Company had never given him a hint of its faith in him. It was not the way of the Company, for the Company went on the principle of never allowing an employee to think himself indispensable or even exceedingly useful; wherefore, while quick to censure, it never praised. What was Captain MacElrath, anyway, save a skipper, one skipper of the eighty-odd skippers that commanded the Companys eighty- odd freighters on all the highways and byways of the sea?
Beneath them, on the main deck, two Chinese stokers were carrying breakfast forard across the rusty iron plates that told their own grim story of weight and wash of sea. A sailor was taking down the life- line that stretched from the forecastle, past the hatches and cargo-winches, to the bridge-deck ladder.
A rough voyage, suggested the pilot.
Aye, she was fair smokin ot times, but not thot I minded thot so much as the lossin of time. I hate like onythun tull loss time.
So saying, Captain MacElrath turned and glanced aft, aloft and alow, and the pilot, following his gaze, saw the mute but convincing explanation of that loss of time. The smoke-stack, buff-coloured underneath, was white with salt, while the whistle- pipe glittered crystalline in the random sunlight that broke for the instant through a cloud-rift. The port lifeboat was missing, its iron davits, twisted and wrenched, testifying to the mightiness of the blow that had been struck the old Tryapsic. The starboard davits were also empty. The shattered wreck of the lifeboat they had held lay on the fiddley beside the smashed engine- room skylight, which was covered by a tarpaulin. Below, to star-board, on the bridge deck, the pilot saw the crushed mess-room door, roughly bulkheaded against the pounding seas. Abreast of it, on the smokestack guys, and being taken down by the bosn and a sailor, hung the huge square of rope netting which had failed to break those seas of their force.
Twice afore I mentioned thot door tull the owners, said Captain MacElrath. But they said ut would do. There was bug seas thot time. They was uncreditable bug. And thot buggest one dud the domage. Ut fair carried away the door an laid ut flat on the mess table an smashed out the chiefs room. He was a but sore about ut.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|