The After House (Chapter 3, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 3

From the first the captain disclaimed responsibility for me. I
was housed in the forecastle, and ate with the men. There, however,
my connection with the crew and the navigation of the ship ended.
Perhaps it was as well, although I resented it at first. I was
weaker than I had thought, and dizzy at the mere thought of going
aloft.

As a matter of fact, I found myself a sort of deck-steward, given
the responsibility of looking after the shuffle-board and other deck
games, the steamer-rugs, the cards,--for they played bridge
steadily,--and answerable to George Williams, the colored butler,
for the various liquors served on deck.

The work was easy, and the situation rather amused me. After an
effort or two to bully me, one of which resulted in my holding him
over the rail until he turned gray with fright, Williams treated me
as an equal, which was gratifying.

The weather was good, the food fair. I had no reason to repent my
bargain. Of the sailing qualities of the Ella there could be no
question. The crew, selected by Captain Richardson from the best
men of the Turner line, knew their business, and, especially after
the Williams incident, made me one of themselves. Barring the odor
of formaldehyde in the forecastle, which drove me to sleeping on
deck for a night or two, everything was going smoothly, at least
on the surface.

Smoothly as far as the crew was concerned. I was not so sure about
the after house.

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