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Adventure Jack London

Making The Books Come True

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"'That little wash of sea won't more than start a sheet or two of copper,' says she, when Munster kicked," Sparrowhawk explained. "Oh, she's no green un, that girl."

"'Then I'll rescue your recruits and sail away--simple, ain't it?' says she," Munster continued. "'You hang up one tide,' says she; 'the next is the big high water. Then you kedge off and go after more recruits. There's no law against recruiting when you're empty.' 'But there is against starving 'em,' I said; 'you know yourself there ain't any kai-kai to speak of aboard of us, and there ain't a crumb on the Martha.'"

"We'd all been pretty well on native kai-kai, as it was," said Sparrowhawk.

"'Don't let the kai-kai worry you, Captain Munster,' says she; 'if I can find grub for eighty-four mouths on the Martha, the two of you can do as much by your two vessels. Now go ahead and get aground before a steady breeze comes up and spoils the manoeuvre. I'll send my boats the moment you strike. And now, good-day, gentlemen.'"

"And we went and did it," Sparrowhawk said solemnly, and then emitted a series of chuckling noises. "We laid over, starboard tack, and I pinched the Emily against the spit. 'Go about,' Captain Munster yells at me; 'go about, or you'll have me aground!' He yelled other things, much worse. But I didn't mind. I missed stays, pretty as you please, and the Flibberty drifted down on him and fouled him, and we went ashore together in as nice a mess as you ever want to see. Miss Lackland transferred the recruits, and the trick was done."

"But where was she during the nor'wester?" Sheldon asked.

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"At Langa-Langa. Ran up there as it was coming on, and laid there the whole week and traded for grub with the niggers. When we got to Tulagi, there she was waiting for us and scrapping with Burnett. I tell you, Mr. Sheldon, she's a wonder, that girl, a perfect wonder."

Munster refilled his glass, and while Sheldon glanced across at Joan's house, anxious for her coming, Sparrowhawk took up the tale.

"Gritty! She's the grittiest thing, man or woman, that ever blew into the Solomons. You should have seen Poonga-Poonga the morning we arrived--Sniders popping on the beach and in the mangroves, war-drums booming in the bush, and signal-smokes raising everywhere. 'It's all up,' says Captain Munster."

"Yes, that's what I said," declared that mariner.

"Of course it was all up. You could see it with half an eye and hear it with one ear."

"'Up your granny,' she says to him," Sparrowhawk went on. "'Why, we haven't arrived yet, much less got started. Wait till the anchor's down before you get afraid.'"

"That's what she said to me," Munster proclaimed. "And of course it made me mad so that I didn't care what happened. We tried to send a boat ashore for a pow-wow, but it was fired upon. And every once and a while some nigger'd take a long shot at us out of the mangroves."

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