The Mystery HTML version
The Philosopher's Stone
Captain Selover received as his due the most absolute and implicit obedience imaginable.
When he condescended to give an order in his own person, the men fairly jumped to
execute it. The matter had evidently been threshed out long ago. They did not love him,
not they; but they feared him with a mighty fear, and did not hesitate to say so, vividly,
and often, when in the privacy of the forecastle. The prevailing spirit was that of the wild
beast, cowed but snarling still. Pulz and Thrackles in especial had a great deal to say of
what they were or were not going to do, but I noticed that their resolution always began
to run out of them when first foot was set to the companion ladder. One day we were
loafing along, everything drawing well, and everybody but the doctor on deck to enjoy
the sun. I was in the crow's-nest for my pleasure. Below me on the deck Captain Selover
roamed here and there, as was his custom, his eye cocked out like a housewife's for
disorder. He found it, again in the evidence of expectoration, and as Perdosa happened to
be handiest, fell on the unfortunate Mexican.
Perdosa protested that he had had nothing to do with it, but Captain Selover, enraged as
always when his precious deck was soiled, would not listen. Finally the Mexican grew
sulky and turned away as though refusing to hear more. The captain thereupon felled him
to the deck, and began brutally to kick him in the face and head.
Perdosa writhed and begged, but without avail. The other members of the crew gathered
near. After a moment, they began to murmur. Finally Thrackles ventured, most
respectfully, to intervene.
"You'll kill him, sir," he interposed. "He's had enough."
"Had enough, has he?" screeched the captain. "Well, you take what's left."
He marked Thrackles heavily over the eye. There was a breathless pause; and then
Thrackles, Pulz, the Nigger, and Perdosa attacked at once.
They caught the master unawares, and bore him to the deck. I dropped at once to the
ratlines, and commenced my descent. Before I had reached the deck, however, Selover
was afoot again, the four hanging to him like dogs. In a moment more he had shaken
them off; and before I could intervene, he had seized a belaying pin in either hand, and
was hazing them up and down the deck.
"Mutiny, would you?" he shrilled. "You poor swabs! Forgot who was your captain, did
ye? Well, it's Captain Ezra Selover, and you can lay to that! It would need about eight
fathom of stuff like you to tie me down."
He chased them forward, and he chased them aft, and every time the pins fell, blood
followed. Finally they dived like rabbits into the forecastle hatch. Captain Selover leaned
down after them.