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Adventure Jack London

Making The Books Come True

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Table Of Contents: Adventure

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Sheldon watched her to the foot of the steps, where she turned and called back, -

"My! I can't tell you how good it is to be home again."

And as his gaze continued to follow her across the compound to the tiny grass house, the realization came to him crushingly that Berande and that little grass house was the only place in the world she could call "home."

"And Burnett said, 'Well, I'll be damned--I beg your pardon, Miss Lackland, but you have wantonly broken the recruiting laws and you know it,'" Captain Munster narrated, as they sat over their whisky, waiting for Joan to come back. "And says she to him, 'Mr. Burnett, can you show me any law against taking the passengers off a vessel that's on a reef?' 'That is not the point,' says he. 'It's the very, precise, particular point,' says she and you bear it in mind and go ahead and pass my recruits. You can report me to the Lord High Commissioner if you want, but I have three vessels here waiting on your convenience, and if you delay them much longer there'll be another report go in to the Lord High Commissioner.'

"'I'll hold you responsible, Captain Munster,' says he to me, mad enough to eat scrap-iron. 'No, you won't,' says she; 'I'm the charterer of the Emily, and Captain Munster has acted under my orders.'

"What could Burnett do? He passed the whole hundred and fifty, though the Emily was only licensed for forty, and the Flibberty-Gibbet for thirty-five."

"But I don't understand," Sheldon said.

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"This is the way she worked it. When the Martha was floated, we had to beach her right away at the head of the bay, and whilst repairs were going on, a new rudder being made, sails bent, gear recovered from the niggers, and so forth, Miss Lackland borrows Sparrowhawk to run the Flibberty along with Curtis, lends me Brahms to take Sparrowhawk's place, and starts both craft off recruiting. My word, the niggers came easy. It was virgin ground. Since the Scottish Chiefs, no recruiter had ever even tried to work the coast; and we'd already put the fear of God into the niggers' hearts till the whole coast was quiet as lambs. When we filled up, we came back to see how the Martha was progressing."

"And thinking we was going home with our recruits," Sparrowhawk slipped in. "Lord lumme, that Miss Lackland ain't never satisfied. 'I'll take 'em on the Martha,' says she, 'and you can go back and fill up again.'"

"But I told her it couldn't be done," Munster went on. "I told her the Martha hadn't a license for recruiting. 'Oh,' she said, 'it can't be done, eh?' and she stood and thought a few minutes."

"And I'd seen her think before," cried Sparrowhawk, "and I knew at wunst that the thing was as good as done."

Munster lighted his cigarette and resumed.

"'You see that spit,' she says to me, 'with the little ripple breaking around it? There's a current sets right across it and on it. And you see them bafflin' little cat's-paws? It's good weather and a falling tide. You just start to beat out, the two of you, and all you have to do is miss stays in the same baffling puff and the current will set you nicely aground.'"

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