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- The Belted Seas - 5/29 -
says, which I didn't tell him, not knowing how they'd do it.
For a few days Stevey Todd and I lived high on ship's stores, loafing and looking down the valley at the damaged city. All the river front was wrecked. Halfway up the long sloping hill the streets were sloppy, and any man that had a roof to sleep on, slept drier there than inside, but the upper city was well enough.
We woke up from sleeping on the shady side of the _Helen Mar_ one afternoon, to hear the jingle of bells, and soon the mule train pulled up alongside, and the drivers weren't used to seeing ships in that neighbourhood. They were expecting trouble from the _Helen Mar_ for their being two weeks late; but still, finding the _Helen Mar_ up by the foothills looking for them, it appeared to strike them as impatient and not real ladylike. But what seemed strange to me was to see Sadler and Irish, that were taken for drowned beyond further trouble, standing in front of the mule-drivers, looking down at us, and then up at the _Helen Mar_, and Sadler seeming like he had a satirical poem on his mind which he was going to propagate.
I says, "No ghosteses allowed here. You go away."
"Tommy," says Sadler, and he came and anchored alongside us in the shadow of the _Helen Mar_, "I take it these here's the facts. Your natural respectfulness to elders was shocked out of you, and you ain't got over it."
"Why, she must've got tanked up bad," he says. "She must have been full up and corked before she'd ever have come prancin' up here. My! my! It's turrible when a decent ship gets an appetite for alcohol. Here she lies! Shame and propriety forgotten! Immodestly exposed to grinnin' heathens!"
"You let the _Helen Mar_ alone," I says pretty mad. "She ain't so bad as drowned corpses riding mules."
Then Stevey put in cautiously, and said he'd never really made up his mind, and had doubts of it which he was ready to argue, supposing Sadler had any facts to put up as bearing on his and Irish's condition in nature.
Sadler said they had gone up the mule path expecting to climb Sarasara, but getting near the top of her, she began to act as if she disliked them, Sarasara did, and she threw rocks vicious and more than playful; so that they left her, and went on up the pass to look for the mule train. They didn't know anything had happened in Portate.
We put the mule-drivers up that night and charged them South American rates. That was the way Stevey Todd and I started keeping the _Helen Mar_ as a hotel. Sadler and Irish didn't care for the business. They went down to Portate and got jobs with the Transport Company, but Stevey Todd and I stayed by the _Helen Mar_, and ran the hotel.
All the year through or nearly, the mule trains might come jingling at any day or hour, coming from inland over the pass to the sea, with the packs and thirsty drivers, who paid their bills sometimes in gum rubber and Peruvian bark. Tobacco planters stopped there too, going down to Portate. Men from the ships in the harbour came out, and carried off advertisements of the hotel, and plastered the coast with them. I saw an advertisement of the "Hotel Helen Mar" ten years after in a shipping office in San Francisco, and it read:
"Hotel Helen Mar, Portate, Peru. Mountain and Sea Breezes. Board and Lodging Good and Reasonable. Sailor's Snug Harbour. Welcome Jolly Tar. Thomas Buckingham and Stephen Todd."
That was for foreign patronage. The home advertisements were in Spanish and went up country with the mule trains. Up in the Andes they knew more about the Hotel Helen Mar than they did of the Peruvian Government. We ran the hotel to surprise South America.
It was nearly a year before we heard from the ship's owners, though we sent them the proper papers; and then a man came out, and looked at the _Helen Mar_, and says:
"I guess she belongs where she is. Running a hotel, are you?" and he carried off the sails and other rigging.
She was propped up at first only by the bunch of fruit trees, but by-and-by we bedded her in stones. We painted a sign across her forty feet long, but cut no doors, because a seaman won't treat a ship that way. You had to climb ladders to the deck.
Inside she was comfortable. No hotel piazza could equal the _Helen Mar_'s deck on a warm night, with the old southern stars overhead, when a bunch of mule-drivers maybe would be forward talking, and I and Stevey Todd aft with a couple of Spanish planters, or an agent, or the officers of a warship maybe from England or the States. Over on the hillside lay Captain Goodwin and most of the crew of the _Helen Mar_, wishing us well, and close to starboard you heard all night the tinkle of the Jiron River down in its channel. It was twenty feet from the deck of the _Helen Mar_ to the ground, and twenty feet from there to the river.
Portate was a pleasant little city in those days. It had pink-uniformed soldiery for the city guard, and a fat, warm-tempered Mayor, who used often to come up to the hotel and cool off when something had stuck a pin into his dignity that made him feverish. Stevey Todd was cook and I was manager. Business was good and the company good at the Hotel Helen Mar.
SADLER IN PORTATE. THE NARRATIVE CONTINUED.
I don't know how Sadler got to be Harbour Master for the Transport Company, but so he did, and he was a capable harbour master. The Transport Company thought much of him, only they said he was reckless, and he surely acted youthful to belie his looks. He used to go around in a grimy little tugboat called the _Harvest Moon_, with Irish running the engine below, and himself busy thrashing and blackguarding roustabouts, joyful like a dewy morn; but at night he'd be found on the deck of either the _Helen Mar_ or the _Harvest Moon_, playing a banjo very melancholy, and singing his verses to tunes that he got from secret sources of sorrow maybe, which the verses were interesting, but the tunes weren't fortunate. He was particular about his poetry being accurate to facts, but he'd no gift as to tunes.
The trouble he got into all came from throwing Pedro Hillary off the stern of the _Harvest Moon_, so that Pete went out with the tide, because no one thought him worth fishing out, till it was found that he was a member of some sort of Masonic Society among the negroes in Ferdinand Street, and a British subject too, who came from Jamaica to Portate. But before that time Pete was picked up by a rowboat, and came back to Portate and Ferdinand Street. He and Ferdinand Street were very mad. It was a street occupied by negroes, and Sadler wasn't popular there.
He came up to the _Helen Mar_ the afternoon of the day that Pete went out of the harbour, and lay in a hammock on deck, where one could look down past the fruit trees toward the town and the mouth of the Jiron. He was making a requiem for Pete Hillary, such as he thought he ought to do under those circumstances, though the requiem was no good and the tune vicious. "Pete Hillary," it began,
"Pete Hillary, I make for you This lonesome, sad complaint. Alive you wa'nt no use, 'tis true, And dead you prob'ly ain't.
"Pete Hillary, Pete Hillary, I don't know where you are. Here's luck to you, Pete Hillary, Beyond the harbour bar."
Just then Irish came running up the path, and climbed the ladder on deck, and he cried:
"It's a warrant for ye, Kid I Run! Oh, wirra! What did ye do it for?" He was distracted.
Sadler paid no attention. He only twanged his banjo, and sang casual poetry, and Little Irish ran on:
"'Tis Pete Hillary himself was pulled out forninst the sand-bar," he says, "an' he's back in Ferdinand Street, swearin' for the bucket o' wather he swallyed. An' 'tis the English consul up to the City Hall says he come from Jamaica, an' a crowd of naygers from Ferdinand Street be the docks. Ah, coom, Kid! Coom quick, for the love of God!"
And Sadler says: "Gi'n me a kiss," he says,
"Gi'n me a kiss, sweetheart, says he; Don't shed no tears for me, says he, And if I meet a lass as sweet In Paraguay, in Paraguay, I'll tell her this: 'Gi'n me a kiss; You ain't half bad for Paraguay.'"
And Irish says: "An' there's two twin sojers with their guns," he says, "an' belts full of cartridges on the _Harvest Moon_, an' the gentlemen at the Transport says, Hide, dom ye! he says, till they can ship ye wid a cargo to Californy."
"The little islands fall asleep, The little wavelets wink. Aye, God's on high; the sea is deep; Go, Chepa, get some drink. Ah, Magdalena----
"_Calm_, Irish! Get _calm!_" he says.
"You mean to say there's twins like that occupying the _Harvest Moon_?--
"Magdalena, First I seen her Underneath an orange-tree--
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