by Frank Norris


Captain Joseph Hodgson



This is to be a story of a battle, at least one murder, and several

sudden deaths. For that reason it begins with a pink tea and among the

mingled odors of many delicate perfumes and the hale, frank smell of

Caroline Testout roses.

There had been a great number of debutantes "coming out" that season in

San Francisco by means of afternoon teas, pink, lavender, and otherwise.

This particular tea was intended to celebrate the fact that Josie

Herrick had arrived at that time of her life when she was to wear her

hair high and her gowns long, and to have a "day" of her own quite

distinct from that of her mother.

Ross Wilbur presented himself at the Herrick house on Pacific Avenue

much too early upon the afternoon of Miss Herrick's tea. As he made,

his way up the canvased stairs he was aware of a terrifying array of

millinery and a disquieting staccato chatter of feminine voices in the

parlors and reception-rooms on either side of the hallway. A single high

hat in the room that had been set apart for the men's use confirmed him

in his suspicions.

"Might have known it would be a hen party till six, anyhow," he

muttered, swinging out of his overcoat. "Bet I don't know one girl in

twenty down there now--all mamma's friends at this hour, and

papa's maiden sisters, and Jo's school-teachers and governesses and

music-teachers, and I don't know what all."

When he went down he found it precisely as he expected. He went up to

Miss Herrick, where she stood receiving with her mother and two of the

other girls, and allowed them to chaff him on his forlornness.

"Maybe I seem at my ease," said Ross Wilbur to them, "but really I am

very much frightened. I'm going to run away as soon as it is decently

possible, even before, unless you feed me."

"I believe you had luncheon not two hours ago," said Miss Herrick. "Come

along, though, and I'll give you some chocolate, and perhaps, if you're

good, a stuffed olive. I got them just because I knew you liked them. I

ought to stay here and receive, so I can't look after you for long."

The two fought their way through the crowded rooms to the

luncheon-table, and Miss Herrick got Wilbur his chocolate and his

stuffed olives. They sat down and talked in a window recess for a

moment, Wilbur toeing-in in absurd fashion as he tried to make a lap for

his plate.

"I thought," said Miss Herrick, "that you were going on the Ridgeways'

yachting party this afternoon. Mrs. Ridgeway said she was counting on

you. They are going out with the 'Petrel.'"

"She didn't count above a hundred, though," answered Wilbur. "I got

your bid first, so I regretted the yachting party; and I guess I'd have

regretted it anyhow," and he grinned at her over his cup.

"Nice man," she said--adding on the instant, "I must go now, Ross."

"Wait till I eat the sugar out of my cup," complained Wilbur. "Tell

me," he added, scraping vigorously at the bottom of the cup with the

inadequate spoon; "tell me, you're going to the hoe-down to-night?"

"If you mean the Assembly, yes, I am."

"Will you give me the first and last?"

"I'll give you the first, and you can ask for the last then."

"Let's put it down; I know you'll forget it." Wilbur drew a couple of

cards from his case.

"Programmes are not good form any more," said Miss Herrick.

"Forgetting a dance is worse."

He made out the cards, writing on the one he kept for himself, "First


"I must go back now," said Miss Herrick, getting up.

"In that case I shall run--I'm afraid of girls."

"It's a pity about you."

"I am; one girl, I don't say, but girl in the aggregate like this," and

he pointed his chin toward the thronged parlors. "It un-mans me."

"Good-by, then."

"Good-by, until to-night, about--?"

"About nine."

"About nine, then."

Ross Wilbur made his adieu to Mrs. Herrick and the girls who were

receiving, and took himself away. As he came out of the house and stood

for a moment on the steps, settling his hat gingerly upon his hair so as

not to disturb the parting, he was not by any means an ill-looking chap.

His good height was helped out by his long coat and his high silk hat,

and there was plenty of jaw in the lower part of his face. Nor was his

tailor altogether answerable for his shoulders. Three years before this

time Ross Wilbur had pulled at No. 5 in his varsity boat in an Eastern

college that was not accustomed to athletic discomfiture.

"I wonder what I'm going to do with myself until supper time," he

muttered, as he came down the steps, feeling for the middle of his

stick. He found no immediate answer to his question. But the afternoon

was fine, and he set off to walk in the direction of the town, with a

half-formed idea of looking in at his club.

At his club he found a letter in his box from his particular chum, who

had been spending the month shooting elk in Oregon.

"Dear Old Man," it said, "will be back on the afternoon you

receive this. Will hit the town on the three o'clock boat. Get

seats for the best show going--my treat--and arrange to assimilate

nutriment at the Poodle Dog--also mine. I've got miles of talk in

me that I've got to reel off before midnight. Yours.


"I've got a stand of horns for you, Ross, that are Glory Hallelujah."

"Well, I can't go," murmured Wilbur, as he remembered the Assembly that

was to come off that night and his engaged dance with Jo Herrick. He

decided that it would be best to meet Jerry as he came off the boat and

tell him how matters stood. Then he resolved, since no one that he

knew was in the club, and the instalment of the Paris weeklies had not

arrived, that it would be amusing to go down to the water-front and loaf

among the shipping until it was time for Jerry's boat.

Wilbur spent an hour along the wharves, watching the great grain ships

consigned to "Cork for orders" slowly gorging themselves with whole

harvests of wheat from the San Joaquin Valley; lumber vessels for Durban

and South African ports settling lower and lower to the water's level as

forests of pine and redwood stratified themselves along their decks and

in their holds; coal barges discharging from Nanaimo; busy little tugs

coughing and nuzzling at the flanks of the deep-sea tramps, while hay

barges and Italian whitehalls came and went at every turn. A Stockton

River boat went by, her stern wheel churning along behind, like a

huge net-reel; a tiny maelstrom of activity centred about an Alaska

Commercial Company's steamboat that would clear for Dawson in the


No quarter of one of the most picturesque cities in the world had more

interest for Wilbur than the water-front. In the mile or so of shipping

that stretched from the docks where the China steamships landed, down

past the ferry slips and on to Meiggs's Wharf, every maritime nation

in the world was represented. More than once Wilbur had talked to

the loungers of the wharves, stevedores out of work, sailors

between voyages, caulkers and ship chandlers' men looking--not too

earnestly--for jobs; so that on this occasion, when a little, undersized

fellow in dirty brown sweater and clothes of Barbary coast cut asked

him for a match to light his pipe, Wilbur offered a cigar and passed

the time of day with him. Wilbur had not forgotten that he himself was

dressed for an afternoon function. But the incongruity of the business

was precisely what most amused him.

After a time the fellow suggested drinks. Wilbur hesitated for a moment.

It would be something to tell about, however, so, "All right, I'll drink

with you," he said.

The brown sweater led the way to a sailors' boarding-house hard by. The

rear of the place was built upon piles over the water. But in front, on

the ground floor, was a barroom.

"Rum an' gum," announced the brown sweater, as the two came in and took

their places at the bar.

"Rum an' gum, Tuck; wattle you have, sir?"

"Oh--I don't know," hesitated Wilbur; "give me a mild Manhattan."

While the drinks were being mixed the brown sweater called Wilbur's

attention to a fighting head-dress from the Marquesas that was hung on

the wall over the free-lunch counter and opposite the bar. Wilbur turned

about to look at it, and remained so, his back to the barkeeper, till

the latter told them their drinks were ready.

"Well, mate, here's big blocks an' taut hawse-pipes," said the brown

sweater cordially.

"Your very good health," returned Wilbur.

The brown sweater wiped a thin mustache in the hollow of his palm, and

wiped that palm upon his trouser leg.

"Yessir," he continued, once more facing the Marquesas head-dress.

"Yessir, they're queer game down there."

"In the Marquesas Islands, you mean?" said Wilbur.

"Yessir, they're queer game. When they ain't tattoin' theirselves with

Scripture tex's they git from the missionaries, they're pullin' out

the hairs all over their bodies with two clam-shells. Hair by hair, y'


"Pull'n out 'er hair?" said Wilbur, wondering what was the matter with

his tongue.

"They think it's clever--think the women folk like it."

Wilbur had fancied that the little man had worn a brown sweater when

they first met. But now, strangely enough, he was not in the least

surprised to see it iridescent like a pigeon's breast.

"Y' ever been down that way?" inquired the little man next.

Wilbur heard the words distinctly enough, but somehow they refused to

fit into the right places in his brain. He pulled himself together,

frowning heavily.

"What--did--you--say?" he asked with great deliberation, biting off his

words. Then he noticed that he and his companion were no longer in

the barroom, but in a little room back of it. His personality divided

itself. There was one Ross Wilbur--who could not make his hands go where

he wanted them, who said one word when he thought another, and whose

legs below the knee were made of solid lead. Then there was another Ross

Wilbur--Ross Wilbur, the alert, who was perfectly clear-headed, and who

stood off to one side and watched his twin brother making a monkey of

himself, without power and without even the desire of helping him.

This latter Wilbur heard the iridescentsweater say:

"Bust me, if y' a'n't squiffy, old man. Stand by a bit an' we'll have a


"Can't have got--return--exceptionally--and the round table--pull out

hairs wi' tu clamsh'ls," gabbled Wilbur's stupefied double; and Wilbur

the alert said to himself: "You're not drunk, Ross Wilbur, that's

certain; what could they have put in your cocktail?"

The iridescentsweater stamped twice upon the floor and a trap-door fell

away beneath Wilbur's feet like the drop of a gallows. With the eyes of

his undrugged self Wilbur had a glimpse of water below. His elbow struck

the floor as he went down, and he fell feet first into a Whitehall boat.

He had time to observe two men at the oars and to look between the piles

that supported the house above him and catch a glimpse of the bay and

a glint of the Contra Costa shore. He was not in the least surprised at

what had happened, and made up his mind that it would be a good idea to

lie down in the boat and go to sleep.

Suddenly--but how long after his advent into the boat he could not

tell--his wits began to return and settle themselves, like wild birds

flocking again after a scare. Swiftly he took in the scene. The blue

waters of the bay around him, the deck of a schooner on which he stood,

the Whitehall boat alongside, and an enormous man with a face like

a setting moon wrangling with his friend in the sweater--no longer


"What do you call it?" shouted the red man. "I want able seamen--I don't

figger on working this boat with dancing masters, do I? We ain't exactly

doing quadrilles on my quarterdeck. If we don't look out we'll step on

this thing and break it. It ain't ought to be let around loose without

its ma."

"Rot that," vociferated the brown sweater. "I tell you he's one of the

best sailor men on the front. If he ain't we'll forfeit the money. Come

on, Captain Kitchell, we made show enough gettin' away as it was, and

this daytime business ain't our line. D'you sign or not? Here's the

advance note. I got to duck my nut or I'll have the patrol boat after


"I'll sign this once," growled the other, scrawling his name on the

note; "but if this swab ain't up to sample, he'll come back by freight,

an' I'll drop in on mee dear friend Jim when we come back and give him a

reel nice time, an' you can lay to that, Billy Trim." The brown sweater

pocketed the note, went over the side, and rowed off.

Wilbur stood in the waist of a schooner anchored in the stream well off

Fisherman's wharf. In the forward part of the schooner a Chinaman in

brown duck was mixing paint. Wilbur was conscious that he still wore his

high hat and long coat, but his stick was gone and one gray glove was

slit to the button. In front of him towered the enormous red-faced man.

A pungent reek of some kind of rancid fat or oil assailed his nostrils.

Over by Alcatraz a ferry-boat whistled for its slip as it elbowed its

way through the water.

Wilbur had himself fairly in hand by now. His wits were all about him;

but the situation was beyond him as yet.

"Git for'd," commanded the big man.

Wilbur drew himself up, angry in an instant. "Look here," he began,

"what's the meaning of this business? I know I've been drugged and

mishandled. I demand to be put ashore. Do you understand that?"

"Angel child," whimpered the big man. "Oh, you lilee of the vallee, you

bright an' mornin' star. I'm reely pained y'know, that your vally can't

come along, but we'll have your piano set up in the lazarette. It gives

me genuine grief, it do, to see you bein' obliged to put your lilee

white feet on this here vulgar an' dirtee deck. We'll have the Wilton

carpet down by to-morrer, so we will, my dear. Yah-h!" he suddenly broke

out, as his rage boiled over. "Git for'd, d'ye hear! I'm captain of this

here bathtub, an' that's all you need to know for a good while to come.

I ain't generally got to tell that to a man but once; but I'll stretch

the point just for love of you, angel child. Now, then, move!"

Wilbur stood motionless--puzzled beyond expression. No experience he had

ever been through helped in this situation.

"Look here," he began, "I--"

The captain knocked him down with a blow of one enormous fist upon the

mouth, and while he was yet stretched upon the deck kicked him savagely

in the stomach. Then he allowed him to rise, caught him by the neck and

the slack of his overcoat, and ran him forward to where a hatchway, not

two feet across, opened in the deck. Without ado, he flung him down into

the darkness below; and while Wilbur, dizzied by the fall, sat on the

floor at the foot of the vertical companion-ladder, gazing about him

with distended eyes, there rained down upon his head, first an oilskin

coat, then a sou'wester, a pair of oilskin breeches, woolen socks, and

a plug of tobacco. Above him, down the contracted square of the hatch,

came the bellowing of the Captain's voice:

  • delicate [´delikət] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.精美的;微妙的   (初中英语单词)
  • celebrate [´selibreit] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.庆祝;表扬;赞美   (初中英语单词)
  • chatter [´tʃætə] 移动到这儿单词发声  vi.&n.饶舌;闲聊   (初中英语单词)
  • maiden [´meidn] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.少女 a.未婚的   (初中英语单词)
  • luncheon [´lʌntʃ(ə)n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.午餐,午宴   (初中英语单词)
  • absurd [əb´sə:d] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.荒谬的,可笑的   (初中英语单词)
  • instant [´instənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.立即的 n.紧迫;瞬间   (初中英语单词)
  • assembly [ə´sembli] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.集会;装配;与会者   (初中英语单词)
  • writing [´raitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.书写;写作;书法   (初中英语单词)
  • pointed [´pɔintid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.尖(锐)的;中肯的   (初中英语单词)
  • disturb [di´stə:b] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.扰乱;使不安;打乱   (初中英语单词)
  • height [hait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.高度;顶点;卓越   (初中英语单词)
  • altogether [,ɔ:ltə´geðə] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.完全;总而言之   (初中英语单词)
  • midnight [´midnait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.午夜;漆黑   (初中英语单词)
  • shipping [´ʃipiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.船运业;船舶(总数)   (初中英语单词)
  • valley [´væli] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.谷;河谷;流域   (初中英语单词)
  • lumber [´lʌmbə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.伐木 n.木材   (初中英语单词)
  • italian [i´tæliən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.意大利 n.意大利人   (初中英语单词)
  • function [´fʌŋkʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.机能;职责 vi.活动   (初中英语单词)
  • strangely [´streindʒli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.奇怪地;陌生地   (初中英语单词)
  • distinctly [di´stiŋktli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.清楚地,明晰地   (初中英语单词)
  • companion [kəm´pæniən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.同伴;同事;伴侣   (初中英语单词)
  • personality [,pə:sə´næliti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.人;个性;人品;人物   (初中英语单词)
  • monkey [´mʌŋki] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.猴子 v.乱弄;胡闹   (初中英语单词)
  • glimpse [glimps] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&v.瞥见   (初中英语单词)
  • swiftly [´swiftli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.迅速地,敏捷地   (初中英语单词)
  • enormous [i´nɔ:məs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.巨大地,很,极   (初中英语单词)
  • working [´wə:kiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.工人的;劳动的   (初中英语单词)
  • sample [´sæmpl, ´sɑ:mpəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.样品;试样 vt.尝试   (初中英语单词)
  • stream [stri:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.河 vi.流出;飘扬   (初中英语单词)
  • conscious [´kɔnʃəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.意识的;自觉的   (初中英语单词)
  • button [´bʌtn] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.钮扣 vt.扣上(扣子)   (初中英语单词)
  • ashore [ə´ʃɔ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.向岸上   (初中英语单词)
  • stomach [´stʌmək] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.胃;胃口,食欲   (初中英语单词)
  • tobacco [tə´bækəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.烟草(叶);卷烟   (初中英语单词)
  • lavender [´lævində] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.熏衣草;淡紫色   (高中英语单词)
  • pacific [pə´sifik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.和平的;温和的   (高中英语单词)
  • overcoat [´əuvəkəut] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.大衣   (高中英语单词)
  • precisely [pri´saisli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.精确地;刻板地   (高中英语单词)
  • crowded [´kraudid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.充(拥)满了的   (高中英语单词)
  • recess [ri´ses] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.休息;休会   (高中英语单词)
  • athletic [æθ´letik] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.运动的;强壮的   (高中英语单词)
  • amusing [ə´mju:ziŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.有趣的   (高中英语单词)
  • steamboat [´sti:mbəut] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.轮船,汽艇   (高中英语单词)
  • picturesque [,piktʃə´resk] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.似画的;别致的   (高中英语单词)
  • counter [´kauntə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.计算者;柜台;计算机   (高中英语单词)
  • perfectly [´pə:fiktli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.理想地;完美地   (高中英语单词)
  • schooner [´sku:nə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.纵帆船   (高中英语单词)
  • alongside [əlɔŋ´said] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.在旁 prep.横靠   (高中英语单词)
  • daytime [´deitaim] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.白天   (高中英语单词)
  • genuine [´dʒenjuin] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.真正的;真诚的   (高中英语单词)
  • feminine [´feminin] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.女性的   (英语四级单词)
  • vigorously [´vigərəsli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.精力旺盛地;健壮地   (英语四级单词)
  • aggregate [´ægrigeit] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.&a.&n.聚集;共计   (英语四级单词)
  • parting [´pɑ:tiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&n.分离(的)   (英语四级单词)
  • resolved [ri´zɔlvd] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.决心的;坚定的   (英语四级单词)
  • sweater [´swetə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.毛线衫   (英语四级单词)
  • mustache [mə´stɑ:ʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.髭,小胡子   (英语四级单词)
  • deliberation [dilibə´reiʃ(ə)n] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.仔细考虑;商量   (英语四级单词)
  • gallows [´gæləuz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.绞刑架   (英语四级单词)
  • advent [´ædvent] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.来临;降临   (英语四级单词)
  • setting [´setiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.安装;排字;布景   (英语四级单词)
  • forfeit [´fɔ:fit] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.罚金 a.丧失了的   (英语四级单词)
  • patrol [pə´trəul] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.巡逻 v.巡逻(查)   (英语四级单词)
  • vulgar [´vʌlgə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.粗俗的;大众的   (英语四级单词)
  • vertical [´və:tikəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.垂直的 n.垂直线   (英语四级单词)
  • breeches [´britʃiz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.裤子;马裤   (英语四级单词)
  • woolen [´wulən] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.毛线的;毛织品的   (英语四级单词)
  • hallway [´hɔ:lwei] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(美)门厅,过道   (英语六级单词)
  • wharves [wɔ:vz] 移动到这儿单词发声  wharf的复数   (英语六级单词)
  • maritime [´mæritaim] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.海(上)的;海运的   (英语六级单词)
  • iridescent [,iri´desənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.彩虹的   (英语六级单词)
  • biting [´baitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.刺痛的;尖利的   (英语六级单词)
  • contracted [kən´træktid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.收缩了的;缩略的   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 17:18:11
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