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"Now," Mr. Gibney inquired, approaching the skipper of the Chesapeake, "what'll you give me an' Mac, sir, to sail you in? Has it dawned on you, sir, that if I hadn't had sense enough to cockbill that anchor again you'd be on the beach this minute?"
"One thousand dollars," the skipper answered weakly.
"You refused to let us do it for a hundred. Now it'll cost you two thousand, an' I'm lettin' you off cheap at that. Of course, you can take a chance an' wait until word o' your predicament sifts into San Francisco an' a tug comes out for you, but in the meantime the wind may increase an' with the tide at the flood how do you know your anchor won't drag an' pile you up on them rocks to leeward?"
"I'll pay two thousand, Mr. Gibney."
Without further ado, Mr. Gibney went to the master's cabin, wrote out an agreement, carried the skipper aft and got his signature to the contract. Then he tucked the skipper into bed and came dashing out on deck. The wind was from the northwest and luckily the foreyard was braced to starboard while the mainyard was braced to port, so his problem was a simple one.
"Come here till I introduce you to the jib halyards," he bawled to McGuffey, and they went forward. Under Gibney's direction, the jib halyards were taken through the leading blocks to the winch head; McGuffey manned the winch and the jib was hauled up. "St-eady-y-y! 'Vast heavin'," cried Mr. Gibney. "Now then, we'll cast off them jib halyards an' make 'em fast.... Right-O.... Now stand by to brace the foreyard. Bart, for the love o' heaven, help me with this foreyard brace."
With the aid of the winch, they braced the foreyard; then McGuffey ran aft and took the wheel while Mr. Gibney scuttled forward, eased up the compressor on the windlass, and permitted the anchor chain to pay out rapidly. With the hammer, he knocked out the pin at the forty-five fathom shackle and leaving the anchor to go by the board, for it worried him no longer, the bark Chesapeake moved gently off on a west-sou'-west course that would keep her three points off the land. She had sufficient head sail on now to hold her up.
Mr. Gibney fell upon the main to'gallan'-s'l leads like a demon, carried them through the leading block to the winch head, turned over the winch and sheeted home the main-to'-gallan'-s'l. The Chesapeake gathered speed and Mr. Gibney went aft and stood beside Mr. McGuffey, the while he looked aloft and thrilled to the whine of the breeze through the rigging. "This is sailorizin'," he declared. "It sure beats bumboatin'. Here, blast you, Bart. You're spillin' the wind out o' that jib. First thing you know we'll have her in irons an' then the fat will be in the fire."
He took the wheel from McGuffey. When he was two miles off the beach he brought her up into the wind and made the wheel fast, a spoke to leeward. "Sheet home the fore-to'-gallan'-s'l," he howled and dashed forward. "Leggo them buntlines an' clewlines, my hearties, an' haul home that sheet."
The ship lay in the wind, shivering. Mr. Gibney was here, there, everywhere. One minute he was dashing along the deck with a leading line, the next he was laying out aloft. He ordered himself to do a thing and then, with the pent-up energy of a thousand devils, he did it. The years of degradation as navigating officer of the Maggie fell away from him, as he sprang, agile and half-naked, into the shrouds; a great, hairy demi-god or sea-goblin he lay out along the yards and sprang from place to place with the old exultant thrill of youth and joy in his work.
"Overhaul them buntlines an' clewlines," he bawled to an imaginary crew. "Set that main-royal." With McGuffey's help the sheets came home, the halyards were taken to, the yards mast-headed, and the halyards belayed to their pin. The main-royal was now set so they fell to on the fore-royal. A word, a gesture, from Mr. Gibney, and McGuffey would pounce on a rope like a bull-dog. With the fore-royal set, Mr. Gibney ran back to the wheel and put it hard over. There being no after sail set the bark swung off readily on to her course, slipping through the water at a nice eight-knot speed. Ten miles off the coast, Mr. Gibney hung her up in the wind again, braced his yards with the aid of the winch and McGuffey, came about and headed north. At three o'clock she cleared the lightship and wore around to come in over the bar, steering east by south, half-south, for Point Bonita. She drew the full advantage of the wind now and over the bar she came, ramping full through the Gate with her yards squared, on the last of the flood tide.
As they passed Lime Point, Mr. Gibney prepared to shorten sail and like a clarion blast his voice rang through the ship.
"Clew up them royals." He lashed the wheel and they brought the clewlines again to the winch head. The ship was falling off a little before the fore-royal was clewed up, so Mr. Gibney ran back to the wheel and put her on her course again while McGuffey brought the main-royal clewlines to the winch. Again Gibney made the wheel fast and helped McGuffey clew up the main-royal; again he set her on her course while McGuffey, following instructions, made ready to clew up the fore-to'-gallan'-s'l. They were abreast Black Point before this latter sail was clewed up, and then they smothered the lower top-s'ls; the bark was slipping lazily through the water and McGuffey took the wheel.
"Starboard a little! Steady-y-y! Keep her as she heads," Gibney warned and cast off the jib halyards. The jibs slid down the stays, hanging as they fell. They were well up toward Meiggs wharf now and it devolved upon Mr. Gibney to bring his prize in on the quarantine ground and let go his port anchor. Fortunately, the anchor was already cock-billed. Mr. Gibney sprang to the fore-top-sail halyards and let them go and the fore-top-sail came down by the run.
"Hard-a-starboard! Make her fast, Bart, an' come up here an' help me with the anchor. Let go the main-top-sail halyards as you come by an' stand by the compressor on the windlass."
The Chesapeake swung slowly, broadside to the first of the ebb and with the wind on her port beam, Mr. Gibney knocked out the stopper with his trusty hammer and away went the rusty chain, singing through the hawsepipe. "Snub her gently, Mac, snub her gently, an' give her the thirty-fathom shackle to the water's edge," he warned McGuffey.
The bark swung until her bows were straightened to the ebb tide and with a wild, triumphant yell Mr. Gibney clasped the honest McGuffey to his perspiring bosom. The deed was done!
It was dark, however, before they had all the sails snugged up shipshape, although in the meantime the quarantine launch had hove alongside, investigated, and removed those of the crew who still lived. Shortly thereafter the coroner came and removed the dead, after which Gibney and McGuffey hosed down the deck, located some hard tack and coffee, supped and turned in in the officers' quarters. In the morning, Scab Johnny arrived in a launch with their other clothes (Mr. Gibney having thoughtfully sent him ten dollars on account of their old board bill, together with a request for the clothes), and when the agents of the Chesapeake sent a watchman to relieve them they went ashore and had breakfast at the Marigold Café. After breakfast, they called at the office of the agents, where they were complimented on their daring seamanship and received a check for one thousand dollars each.
"Well, now," McGuffey declared, after they had cashed their checks, "Seein' as how I've become independently wealthy by following your lead, Adelbert, all I got to say is that I'm a-goin' to stick to you like a limpet to a rock. What'll we do with our money?"
For the first time in his checkered career Mr. Gibney had a sane, sensible, and serious thought. "Has it ever occurred to you, Mac, how much nicer it is to have a few dollars in the bank, good clothes on your back, an' a credit with your friends? Me, all my life I been a come-easy, go-easy, come-Sunday,-God'll-send-Monday sort o' feller, until in my forty-second year I'm little better'n a beachcomber. It sure hurt me to have to beg that ornery Scraggs for a job; if I ever sighed for independence it was the other night in Halfmoon Bay when, footsore an' desperate, we stood by an' let that little wart harpoon us. So now, when you ask me what I'm goin' to do with my money, I'll tell you I'm going to save it, after first payin' up about seventy-five bucks I owe here an' there along the Front. I'm through drinkin' an' raisin' hell. Me for a savings bank, Bart."
"I said I'd string with you an' I will. After we deposit our money suppose we drop down to Jackson Street wharf an' say hello to Scraggs. I got a great curiosity to see what that new engineer has done to my boiler."
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