disappeared so quickly that I failed to get more than a mental photograph of the young son of Mars
, and the water closed over a stern reality.
At eight o'clock, after four hours bailing, we were relieved and treated to a breakfast fit for the gods.
As I presented my tin cup and plate to the black knight at the galley, he poured half a pint of coffee into my cup and deposited one boiled potato in the centre of my ten-inch plate—sans salt, sans pepper, sans everything.
I declare, on the honor of a soldier, that I never before saw a boiled potato look so, utterly lonesome.
I think that I made a remark to that effect at the time, for the darkey seemed amused, and when I told him to keep his black hand out of my new tin plate he opened his mouth to such an extent that his ears were in eclipse.
My breakfast disposed of, I went on deck and deposited myself in a huge coil of six-inch hawser on the after part of the quarter-deck, where for hours—and alone—I watched the mighty combers which, as yet, had not tumbled aboard to any great damage.
Suddenly the door of the after house flew open, and out shot my captain.
Righting himself, he said, ‘Sergeant
, you must not sit there, it is dangerous.
The field gun lashed to the rail near where you are sitting was washed overboard last night.’
I thanked him for his kind warning, adding that I was not a loaded field piece, and I didn't purpose to go off after that fashion.
Meanwhile, I was watching a tremendous comber making toward the starboard quarter.
Pointing in that direction, I said, ‘Captain
, that fellow means mischief, and you had better seek shelter.’
He took the hint.
As the lawless comber with a thundering roar broke over the deck, I instinctively seized the topmost flakes of the coil with both hands.
After the tons of the North Atlantic
had left the deck and gone back to its own, I found myself jammed into that coil doubled up like a jack-knife with feet and hands sticking through different parts of the mass of nearly wrecked cordage.
I knew something had happened, but which was Hawes
and which was hawser I was too badly twisted and tangled to determine.
‘What would my mother think of me now?’
By dint of vigorous kicking,