THE ARM-CHAIR AT THE INN
every turn became so marked that I was convinced he was only waiting for a chance to put a knife into me. The captain, who studied his crew, was of the same opinion and instructed the first mate to look after us both and prevent any quarrel reaching a crisis.
“One night, off Cape Horn, a gale came up, and half a dozen of us were ordered aloft to furl a topsail. That’s no easy job for a greenhorn; sometimes it’s a pretty tough job for an old hand. The yard is generally wet and slippery, the reefers stiff as marlin-spikes, and the sail hard as a board, particularly when the wind drives it against your face. But orders were orders and up I went. Then again, I had been a fairly good gymnast when I was at school, and could throw wheels on the horizontal bars with the best of them.
“The orders had come just as we were finishing supper. As usual the Portuguese had opened on me again; this time it was my table manners, my way of treating my plate after finishing meals being to leave some of the fragments still sticking to the bottom and edge, while he wiped his clean with a crust of bread as a compliment to the cook.
“The mate had heard the last of his out-