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French ascended the gangway followed by Captain Sullendine. The seaman who had acted as prize-master of the West Wind touched his cap very respectfully to the first officer he met when he came on board. Christy had asked the chief engineer to send Mr. Graines to him, and he was talking to him about the prize and the chief prisoner when French presented himself before them.
"I have come on board to report, sir," said the prize-master of the West Wind.
"Is all well on board, French?" asked the wounded lieutenant.
"All well now, sir," replied the seaman, with a suggestive emphasis on the last word. "I am very sorry to learn that you have been wounded, Mr. Passford."
"Not severely, French," replied Christy. "I am ready to hear your report."
"I have something to say about this business, 236 Jerry Sandman," interposed the captain of the West Wind, whose wrath had suddenly got the better of his judgment, interlarding his brief remark with a couple of ringing oaths.
"I will hear the prize-master first," replied Christy very quietly.
The discomfited master of the schooner called down a shocking malediction upon the prize-master just as Captain Breaker presented himself before the group assembled at the arm-chair of the lieutenant, and had heard the last oaths of the angry man.
"Who is this man, Mr. Passford?" asked the commander.
"I'll let you know who I am!" exclaimed Captain Sullendine, with another couplet of oaths.
"I do not permit any profane language on the deck of this ship," said Captain Breaker. "Pass the word for the master-at-arms," he added to the nearest officer.
"Oh, you are the cap'n of this hooker," added the master of the West Wind, this time without any expletives. "I have somethin' to say to you, Cap'n, and I want to complain of your officers."
"When you have learned how to behave yourself, 237 I will hear you," replied the commander, as the master-at-arms, who is the chief of police on board a ship of war, presented himself, touching his cap to the supreme authority of the steamer. "What is the trouble here, Mr. Passford?" asked Captain Breaker in a very gentle tone, in contrast with the quiet sternness with which he had spoken to Captain Sullendine.
"No trouble at all, sir; I was about to hear the report of French, the prize-master of the schooner, when the captain of her interfered," replied Christy.
"My story comes in before the prize-master's, as you call him, though he ain't nothin' but a common sailor," interposed Captain Sullendine again.
"Will you be silent?" demanded the commander.
"No, I will not! This is an outrage!" stormed the captain of the West Wind, with a liberal spicing of oaths in his speech.
"Put this man in irons, master-at-arms, and commit him to the brig," added Captain Breaker.
The petty officer called upon the ship's corporal, whom he had brought with him, and placed his hand on the arm of the rebellious master, who 238 showed fight. A couple of seamen were called to assist the police force, and Captain Sullendine was dragged below with his wrists ironed behind him.
"Now you can proceed, French," said the captain.
"When I left you, all was quiet on board of the West Wind," added Christy, beginning to make a slight explanation for the benefit of the commander. "Captain Sullendine was very drunk, asleep in his berth, with the door of his stateroom securely fastened upon him. Bokes the seaman and Sopsy the cook were in the same condition. Go on, French."
"I picked up the boat you set adrift, Mr. Passford, and then headed for the eastward of Sand Island lighthouse, where you ordered me to anchor. The Holyoke followed the schooner, and came to anchor near the West Wind. She sent a boat on board, and I told my story to the second lieutenant. We did not need any assistance, and he left us.
illustration of quoted scene
"Captain Sullendine was dragged below." Page 238.
"About four bells in the forenoon watch I heard a tremendous racket in the cabin, and I went below. Captain Sullendine was doing his best to break down the door of his stateroom, cursing hard enough to make the blood of a Christian run cold. But he had nothing to work with, and I let him 239 kick and pound till he got tired of it. I put Vogel in the cabin to keep watch of him, and went on deck.
"He kept it up for half an hour or more, and then he seemed to have enough of it. Vogel came on deck and told me the prisoner was very humble then, and wanted to come out. I knew you did not mean that I should starve him, and I made Sopsy put his breakfast on the table in the cabin; but I did not do so till I had locked the liquor closet and put the key in my pocket.
"I let him out then, and his first move was to get at his whiskey; but the door was locked. He begged like a child for a drink; but I did not give him a drop. Sopsy and Bokes, who were tied up forward, did the same; but they did not get any. Captain Sullendine ate his breakfast, and I told him his vessel was a prize to the United States steamer Bellevite. Then he was so furious that we had to shut him up in his stateroom again.
"After a while he promised to behave himself, and I let him out again. He declared that his vessel was not a legal prize, and got off a lot of stuff that I did not take any notice of. He wanted to make a protest to the commander of the Bellevite, 240 and when he promised to behave like a gentleman, I let him come on board with me."
"You acted with very good judgment, French, and Mr. Passford has already commended your good conduct in the expedition last night," said the ............
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