The After House HTML version
1. The Painted Ship
The Ella had been a coasting-vessel, carrying dressed lumber to South America,
and on her return trip bringing a miscellaneous cargo - hides and wool, sugar
from Pernambuco, whatever offered. The firm of Turner and Sons owned the line
of which the Ella was one of the smallest vessels.
The gradual elimination of sailing ships and the substitution of steamers in the
coasting trade, left the Ella, with others, out of commission. She was still
seaworthy, rather fast, as such vessels go, and steady. Marshall Turner, the
oldest son of old Elias Turner, the founder of the business, bought it in at a
nominal sum, with the intention of using it as a private yacht. And, since it was a
superstition of the house never to change the name of one of its vessels, the
schooner Ella, odorous of fresh lumber or raw rubber, as the case might be,
dingy gray in color, with slovenly decks on which lines of seamen's clothing were
generally hanging to dry, remained, in her metamorphosis, still the Ella.
Marshall Turner was a wealthy man, but he equipped his new pleasure-boat very
modestly. As few changes as were possible were made. He increased the size of
the forward house, adding quarters for the captain and the two mates, and thus
kept the after house for himself and his friends. He fumigated the hold and the
forecastle - a precaution that kept all the crew coughing for two days, and drove
them out of the odor of formaldehyde to the deck to sleep. He installed an electric
lighting and refrigerating plant, put a bath in the forecastle, to the bewilderment of
the men, who were inclined to think it a reflection on their habits, and almost
entirely rebuilt, inside, the old officers' quarters in the after house.
The wheel, replaced by a new one, white and gilt, remained in its old position
behind the after house, the steersman standing on a raised iron grating above
the wash of the deck. Thus from the chart-room, which had become a sort of
lounge and card-room, through a small barred window it was possible to see the
man at the wheel, who, in his turn, commanded a view of part of the chartroom,
but not of the floor.