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Adventure Jack London

"Your" Miss Lackland

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"Miss Lackland is my partner and part-owner of Berande," Sheldon interrupted.

"So she said," the irate skipper dashed on. "But she had no papers to show for it. How was I to know? And then there was that load of ivory nuts-eight tons of them."

"For heaven's sake begin at the--" Sheldon tried to interrupt.

"And then she's hired them drunken loafers, three of the worst scoundrels that ever disgraced the Solomons--fifteen quid a month each--what d'ye think of that? And sailed away with them, too! Phew!--You might give me a drink. The missionary won't mind. I've been on his teetotal hooker four days now, and I'm perishing."

Dr. Welshmere nodded in reply to Sheldon's look of inquiry, and Viaburi was dispatched for the whisky and siphons.

"It is evident, Captain Oleson," Sheldon remarked to that refreshed mariner, "that Miss Lackland has run away with your boat. Now please give a plain statement of what occurred."

"Right O; here goes. I'd just come in on the Flibberty. She was on board before I dropped the hook--in that whale-boat of hers with her gang of Tahiti heathens--that big Adamu Adam and the rest. 'Don't drop the anchor, Captain Oleson,' she sang out. 'I want you to get under way for Poonga-Poonga.' I looked to see if she'd been drinking. What was I to think? I was rounding up at the time, alongside the shoal--a ticklish place--headsails running down and losing way, so I says, 'Excuse me, Miss Lackland,' and yells for'ard, 'Let go!'

"'You might have listened to me and saved yourself trouble,' says she, climbing over the rail and squinting along for'ard and seeing the first shackle flip out and stop. 'There's fifteen fathom,' says she; 'you may as well turn your men to and heave up.'

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"And then we had it out. I didn't believe her. I didn't think you'd take her on as a partner, and I told her as much and wanted proof. She got high and mighty, and I told her I was old enough to be her grandfather and that I wouldn't take gammon from a chit like her. And then I ordered her off the Flibberty. 'Captain Oleson,' she says, sweet as you please, 'I've a few minutes to spare on you, and I've got some good whisky over on the Emily. Come on along. Besides, I want your advice about this wrecking business. Everybody says you're a crackerjack sailor-man'--that's what she said, 'crackerjack.' And I went, in her whale-boat, Adamu Adam steering and looking as solemn as a funeral.

"On the way she told me about the Martha, and how she'd bought her, and was going to float her. She said she'd chartered the Emily, and was sailing as soon as I could get the Flibberty underway. It struck me that her gammon was reasonable enough, and I agreed to pull out for Berande right O, and get your orders to go along to Poonga-Poonga. But she said there wasn't a second to be lost by any such foolishness, and that I was to sail direct for Poonga-Poonga, and that if I couldn't take her word that she was your partner, she'd get along without me and the Flibberty. And right there's where she fooled me.

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