Suddenly he recognised Captain Rayner, who, from being dressed in plain clothes, he had not at first observed. He started, and then began, with an impudent leer, "Now, mates, I'll spin you another yarn about an English captain who now holds his head mighty high, and would not condescend to speak to poor Jack if he was to meet him.
They were not informed of the exact nature of the enterprise, but were told that it was a dangerous although not a desperate one, and sure to be of great service to the Fatherland. They received, as all the rest had done, between 200 and 300 guilders in gold, that they would all be promoted to be captains and first mates.
A peasant, all red and perspiring, in nothing but his shirt, with his hair hanging dishevelled about his scared face, galloped straight towards us, and with difficulty stopped his hastily bridled horse. 'Mates, he inquired breathlessly, 'haven't you seen the foresters? 'No, we haven't. What is it? is the forest on fire? 'Yes. We must get the people together, or else if it gets to Trosnoe ...
"Him as well as anyone. He knows what he's doing, for which reason I don't care for the number of the year he was born in. Why, mates, the lieutenant is the head of them submarine boys we've read so much about in the newspapers when layin' in port. And the other two are his messmates. Now, I'll stand for it that the submarine boys are good for any kind of a job on salt water.
It was simply chums, owning and sharing everything in common, and without any agreement, written or otherwise. There were many such partnerships involving large sums of money and valuable property which existed only on a complete trust in mates. Among others on the Gilbert and Etheridge, were the mateship of Steel, Hunt and O'Brien.
"Trying to steal, are you?" "It's mine it's ours," I cried passionately. "Oh! I'll soon let yer know about that," he cried. "Look here, mates; this is our rope, ain't it?" "Yes," said one of them: "I'll swear to it." "It's mine," I cried, tugging at it angrily. "Let go, will yer d'yer hear; let go."
I could distinguish the tramp of feet overhead as if sail was being made, and shortly afterwards, the hatchway being lifted up, daylight streamed down upon me. Pining for fresh air, and desperately hungry, I lost no time in making my way on deck. There stood the captain and two mates.
On seeing Mabel, Will Sommers immediately arose, and advancing towards her with a mincing step, bowed with an air of mock ceremony, and said in an affected tone, "Welcome, fair mistress, to the king's kitchen. We are all right glad to see you; are we not, mates?" "Ay, that we are!" replied a chorus of voices.
We were not far from two hundred miles east of the Capes, or at least so one of the mates told me, gruffly answering a question, and it was already growing twilight, the sun having disappeared a half hour before. There was but little air stirring, barely enough to keep the sails taut, while the swell of the sea was sufficient to be uncomfortable, making walking on the deck a task.
We were all hard at work, changing the powder and the berths, when the last man or two, and Long John along with them, came off in a shore-boat. The cook came up the side like a monkey for cleverness, and, as soon as he saw what was doing, "So ho, mates!" says he, "what's this?" "We're a-changing of the powder, Jack," answers one.