Rodman The Boatsteerer And Other Stories by Louis Becke

Rodman The Boatsteerer And Other Stories

byLouis Becke

Kobo ebook | June 10, 2013

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With her white cotton canvas swelling gently out and then softly
drooping flat against her cordage, the _Shawnee_, sperm whaler of New
Bedford, with the dying breath of the south-east trade, was sailing
lazily over a sea whose waters were as calm as those of a mountain lake.
Twenty miles astern the lofty peaks of Tutuila, one of the islands
of the Samoan group, stood out clearly in the dazzling sunshine,
and, almost ahead, what at dawn had been the purple loom of Upolu was
changing to a cloud-capped dome of vivid green as the ship closed with
the land.

The _Shawnee_ was "a five-boat ship," and, judging from the appearance
of her decks, which were very clean, an unlucky one. She had been out
for over a year, and three months had passed since the last fish had
been killed. That was off the coast of Chile, and she was now cruising
westward and northward towards the eastern coast of New Guinea, where
Captain Harvey Lucy, the master, expected to make up for the persistent
ill-luck that had attended him so far. Naturally a man of most violent
and ungovernable temper, his behaviour to his men on the present voyage
had led to disastrous consequences, and the crew, much as they admired
their captain as one of the most skilful whalemen who had ever trod
a deck, were now worked up into a state of exasperation bordering on
mutiny. Shortly before the Samoan Islands were sighted, the ship's
cooper, a man who took the cue for his conduct to the hands from the
example set by the captain, had had a fierce quarrel with a young
boat-steerer, named Gerald Rodman, who, in a moment of passion, struck
the cooper such a terrific blow that the man lay between life and death
for some hours. An attempt to put Rodman in irons was fiercely resisted
by a number of his shipmates, who were led by his younger brother. But
the after-guard were too strong for the men, and after a savage conflict
the two Rodmans and three other seamen were overpowered by Captain Lucy,
his four mates and the carpenter and stewards. As was common enough
in those days on American whaleships, nearly all the officers were
relatives or connections by marriage, and were always ready to stand
by the captain; in this instance the cooper was a brother of the second
mate. Six days had passed since this affair had occurred, and when Upolu
was sighted the five men were still in irons and confined in the hot
and stifling atmosphere of the sail-locker, having been given only just
enough food and water to keep body and soul together.

Title:Rodman The Boatsteerer And Other StoriesFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:June 10, 2013Publisher:WDS PublishingLanguage:English

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