The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 53

frightful destroyers would mean
the instant annihilation of the Halfmoon and all her company, yet this
was precisely what the almost unmanageable hulk was doing at the wheel
under the profane direction of Skipper Simms, while Ward and Theriere
with a handful of men altered the meager sail from time to time in an
effort to keep the ship off the rocks for a few moments longer.

The Halfmoon was almost upon the cliff's base when a narrow opening
showed some hundred fathoms before her nose, an opening through which
the sea ran in long, surging sweeps, rolling back upon itself in angry
breakers that filled the aperture with swirling water and high-flung
spume. To have attempted to drive the ship into such a place would have
been the height of madness under ordinary circumstances. No man knew
what lay beyond, nor whether the opening carried sufficient water to
float the Halfmoon, though the long, powerful sweep of the sea as it
entered the opening denoted considerable depth.

Skipper Simms, seeing the grim rocks rising close beside his vessel,
realized that naught could keep her from them now. He saw death peering
close to his face. He felt the icy breath of the Grim Reaper upon his
brow. A coward at heart, he lost every vestige of his nerve at this
crucial moment of his life. Leaping from the wheelhouse to the deck he
ran backward and forward shrieking at the top of his lungs begging and
entreating someone to save him, and offering fabulous rewards to the man
who carried him safely to the shore.

The sight of their captain in a blue funk had its effect upon the
majority of the crew, so that in a moment a pack of screaming,
terror-ridden men had supplanted the bravos and bullies of the Halfmoon.

From the cabin companionway Barbara Harding looked upon the disgusting
scene. Her lip curled in scorn at the sight of these men weeping and
moaning in their fright. She saw Ward busy about one of the hatches. It
was evident that he intended making a futile attempt to utilize it as a
means of escape after the Halfmoon struck, for he was attaching ropes
to it and dragging it toward the port side of the ship, away from the
shore. Larry Divine crouched beside the cabin and wept.

When Simms gave up the ship Barbara Harding saw the wheelmen, there had
been two of them, desert their post, and almost instantly the nose of
the Halfmoon turned toward the rocks; but scarcely had the men reached
the deck than Theriere leaped to

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