Chapter IX

When Michael J. Murphy returned to consciousness he found himself in his berth, although for all the effort he made to verify this fact it might have been Mr. Reardon's. For fully half an hour he lay there, gradually straightening out the tangle in his intellect, and presently he was aware that the back of his head was very sore and ached, so he put up his hand to rub it and found a lump as large as a walnut. His right shoulder was numb and he was unable to move it, although this would not have surprised him had he been aware that a hundred and eighty pounds of Teutonic masculinity had landed on that shoulder with both feet and dislocated it. As it was, the skipper wondered vaguely if the ship's funnel had fallen over on him. His right side ached externally, and when he sighed it ached internally. That was a broken rib tickling his lung, for, while he was in blissful ignorance of the reason therefor, the chronicler of this tale can serve no good purpose by concealing the true facts in the case. Immediately upon regaining consciousness, Herr August Carl von Staden had insisted upon returning Michael J. Murphy's kicks with compound interest.

"Holy mackerel!" the skipper murmured. "I feel like I've been fed into a concrete mixer. The only injury I can account for is my left shoulder, where that supercargo shot me."

After spending another half hour in mild speculation on these phenomena he was aware of an added impediment in breathing, so he put his hand up to his nose and found it clogged with blood. His luxuriant black mustache prevented an extended examination of his upper lip, but nevertheless, something told him it was split. A hard foreign substance lying between his right cheek and the inferior maxillary he concluded must be the pit of an olive left over from dinner. Subsequently, however, he discovered it was one of his own teeth. So he swore a mighty oath and felt considerably better.

"This is certainly mutiny on the high seas and punishable by hanging," he soliloquized. "I wonder if Cappy Ricks would know me now;" and he reached up to turn the switch of the electric light over his berth. He turned the switch, but the light did not come on, and while he lay considering this state of affairs, he was aware that something that was not his head was throbbing in the ship. He decided presently that it was her engines. From the steady rhythmic pulsations he realized the vessel was being driven full speed ahead; and since he could not recall having given any orders to that effect, he was not long in arriving at the correct answer to the riddle--whereupon Michael J. Murphy did what every shipmaster does when he loses the ship he loves and finds himself ravished of his reputation as a sane and careful skipper. He wept!

Those who know the breed will bid you beware the Irish when they weep from any cause save grief or sympathy.