Moran of the Lady Letty HTML version

XIV. The Ocean Is Calling For You
A little while after Wilbur had set off for the station, while Moran was making the last
entries in the log-book, seated at the table in the cabin, Jim appeared at the door.
"Well," she said, looking up.
"China boy him want go asho' plenty big, seeum flen up Chinatown in um city."
"Shore leave, is it?" said Moran. "You deserted once before without even saying good-
by; and my hand in the fire, you'll come back this time dotty with opium. Get away with
you. We'll have men aboard here in a few days."
"Can go?" inquired Jim suavely.
"I said so. Report our arrival to your Six Companies."
Hoang rowed Jim and the coolies ashore, and then returned to the schooner with the
dory and streamed her astern. As he passed the cabin door on his way forward, Moran
hailed him.
"I thought you went ashore?" she cried.
"Heap flaid," he answered. "Him other boy go up Chinatown; him tell Sam Yup; I tink
Sam Yup alla same killee me. I no leaveum ship two, thlee day; bimeby I go Olegon. I
stay topside ship. You wantum cook. I cook plenty fine; standum watch for you."
Indeed, ever since leaving Coronado the ex-beach-comber had made himself very
useful about the schooner; had been, in fact, obsequiousness itself, and seemed to be
particularly desirous of gaining the good-will of the "Bertha's" officers. He understood
pigeon English better than Jim, and spoke it even better than Charlie had done. He
acted the part of interpreter between Wilbur and the hands; even turned to in the galley
upon occasion; and of his own accord offered to give the vessel a coat of paint above
the water-line. Moran turned back to her log, and Hoang went forward. Standing on the
forward deck, he looked after the "Bertha's" coolies until they disappeared behind a row
of pine- trees on the Presidio Reservation, going cityward. Wilbur was nowhere in sight.
For a longtime Hoang studied the Lifeboat Station narrowly, while he made a great
show of coiling a length of rope. The station was just out of hailing distance. Nobody
seemed stirring. The whole shore and back land thereabout was deserted; the edge of
the city was four miles distant. Hoang returned to the forecastle-hatch and went below,
groping under his bunk in his ditty-box.
"Well, what is it?" exclaimed Moran a moment later, as the beach- comber entered the
cabin, and shut the door behind him.