Moran of the Lady Letty HTML version
V. A G i r l C ap tai n
When Wilbur came on deck the morning after the sinking of the bark he was surprised
to find the schooner under way again. Wilbur and Charlie had berthed forward during
that night--Charlie with the hands, Wilbur in the Captain's hammock. The reason for this
change of quarters had been found in a peremptory order from Moran during the dog-
watch the preceding evening.
She had looked squarely at Wilbur from under her scowl, and had said briefly and in a
fine contralto voice, that he had for the first time noted: "I berth aft, in the cabin; you and
the Chinaman forward. Understand?"
Moran had only forestalled Wilbur's intention; while after her almost miraculous piece of
seamanship in the rescue of the schooner, Charlie and the Chinese crew accorded her
a respect that was almost superstitious.
Wilbur met her again at breakfast. She was still wearing men's clothing--part of Kitchell's
outfit--and was booted to the knee; but now she wore no hat, and her enormous mane
of rye-colored hair was braided into long strands near to the thickness of a man's arm.
The redness of her face gave a startling effect to her pale blue eyes and sandy, heavy
eyebrows, that easily lowered to a frown. She ate with her knife, and after pushing away
her plate Wilbur observed that she drank half a tumbler of whiskey and water.
The conversation between the two was tame enough. There was no common ground
upon which they could meet. To her father's death-- no doubt an old matter even before
her rescue--she made no allusion. Her attitude toward Wilbur was one of defiance and
suspicion. Only once did she relax:
"How did you come to be aboard here with these rat-eaters--you're no sailor?" she said
"Huh!" laughed Wilbur, mirthlessly; "huh! I was shanghaied."
Moran smote the table with a red fist, and shouted with sonorous, bell-toned laughter.
"Shanghaied?--you? Now, that is really good. And what are you going to do now?"
"What are you going to do?"
"Signal the first home-bound vessel and be taken into Frisco. I've my insurance to
collect (Wilbur had given her the 'Letty's' papers) and the disaster to report."
"Well, I'm not keen on shark-hunting myself," said Wilbur. But Moran showed no interest
in his plans.