“Hello!” exclaimed the bosun. “What’s wrong with you, eh?”
Fearon did not speak, but lowered his head as though afraid to look the man in the face.
“Have you a bloody tongue in your head, or haven’t you?”
Still the boy remained silent. He seemed to be in a state of coma. He was certainly unconscious of his surroundings, his eyes had a glassy stare about them that unnerved the bosun.
“Open your rotten mouth!” he shouted at Fearon, for this continual silence was getting on his nerves, and that dominant thought still held at the back of his mind. The thought that all the blame would be laid on him as the first man amongst the crew. He’d get the sack and probably never run as boatswain again. He rushed at the boy and slapped his knees saying:
“You young sod! Where were you last night, eh? We know all about it.” It was a ruse through which he might trap the boy, he thought.
“Come now. What’s all this game of yours? There’s nothing wrong with you. Out with it now. This minute. Did you disobey orders and dodge the quartermaster last night? If we find out that you did you’ll get warmed for it, boy. Remember that. It’s not so bad with a man. A fellow might get a drink too much ashore and miss his ship, but a boy! Good Christ! You’ll be ordering the men about just now! Stand up! Stand up there!"
[Boy, Hanley, J.]