But Michael never sailed out of Tulagi, nigger-chaser on the
Eugenie. Once in five weeks the steamer Makambo made Tulagi its
port of call on the way from New Guinea and the Shortlands to
Australia. And on the night of her belated arrival Captain Kellar
forgot Michael on the beach. In itself, this was nothing, for, at
midnight, Captain Kellar was back on the beach, himself climbing
the high hill to the Commissioner's bungalow while the boat's crew
vainly rummaged the landscape and canoe houses.
In fact, an hour earlier, as the Makambo's anchor was heaving
out and while Captain Kellar was descending the port gangplank,
Michael was coming on board through a starboard port-hole. This was
because Michael was inexperienced in the world, because he was
expecting to meet Jerry on board this boat since the last he had
seen of him was on a boat, and because he had made a friend.
Dag Daughtry was a steward on the Makambo, who should have known
better and who would have known better and done better had he not
been fascinated by his own particular and peculiar reputation. By
luck of birth possessed of a genial but soft disposition and a
splendid constitution, his reputation was that for twenty years he
had never missed his day's work nor his six daily quarts of bottled
beer, even, as he bragged, when in the German islands, where each
bottle of beer carried ten grains of quinine in solution as a
specific against malaria.
The captain of the Makambo (and, before that, the captains of
the Moresby, the Masena, the Sir Edward Grace, and various others
of the queerly named Burns Philp Company steamers had done the
same) was used to pointing him out proudly to the passengers as a
man- thing novel and unique in the annals of the sea. And at such
times Dag Daughtry, below on the for'ard deck, feigning unawareness
as he went about his work, would steal side-glances up at the
bridge where the captain and his passengers stared down on him, and
his breast would swell pridefully, because he knew that the captain
was saying: "See him! that's Dag Daughtry, the human tank. Never's
been drunk or sober in twenty years, and has never missed his six
quarts of beer per diem. You wouldn't think it, to look at him, but
I assure you it's so. I can't understand. Gets my admiration.
Always does his time, his time-and-a-half and his double-time over
time. Why, a single glass of beer would give me heartburn and spoil
my next good meal. But he flourishes on it. Look at him! Look at
And so, knowing his captain's speech, swollen with pride in his
own prowess, Dag Daughtry would continue his ship-work with extra
vigour and punish a seventh quart for the day in advertisement of
his remarkable constitution. It was a queer sort of fame, as queer
as some men are; and Dag Daughtry found in it his justification of
Wherefore he devoted his energy and the soul of him to the
maintenance of his reputation as a six-quart man. That was why he
made, in odd moments of off-duty, turtle-shell combs and hair
ornaments for profit, and was prettily crooked in such a matter as
stealing another man's dog. Somebody had to pay for the six quarts,
which, multiplied by thirty, amounted to a tidy sum in the course
of the month; and, since that man was Dag Daughtry, he found it
necessary to pass Michael inboard on the Makambo through a
On the beach, that night at Tulagi, vainly wondering what had
become of the whaleboat, Michael had met the squat, thick, hair-
grizzled ship's steward. The friendship between them was
established almost instantly, for Michael, from a merry puppy, had
matured into a merry dog. Far beyond Jerry, was he a sociable good
fellow, and this, despite the fact that he had known very few white
men. First, there had been Mister Haggin, Derby and Bob, of
Meringe; next, Captain Kellar and Captain Kellar's mate of the
Eugenie; and, finally, Harley Kennan and the officers of the Ariel.
Without exception, he had found them all different, and
delightfully different, from the hordes of blacks he had been
taught to despise and to lord it over.
And Dag Daughtry had proved no exception from his first greeting
of "Hello, you white man's dog, what 'r' you doin' herein nigger
country?" Michael had responded coyly with an assumption of
dignified aloofness that was given the lie by the eager tilt of his
ears and the good-humour that shone in his eyes. Nothing of this
was missed by Dag Daughtry, who knew a dog when he saw one, as he
studied Michael in the light of the lanterns held by black boys
where the whaleboats were landing cargo.
Two estimates the steward quickly made of Michael: he was a
likable dog, genial-natured on the face of it, and he was a
valuable dog. Because of those estimates Dag Daughtry glanced about
him quickly. No one was observing. For the moment, only blacks
stood about, and their eyes were turned seaward where the sound of
oars out of the darkness warned them to stand ready to receive the
next cargo-laden boat. Off to the right, under another lantern, he
could make out the Resident Commissioner's clerk and the Makambo's
super-cargo heatedly discussing some error in the bill of
The steward flung another quick glance over Michael and made up
his mind. He turned away casually and strolled along the beach out
of the circle of lantern light. A hundred yards away he sat down in
the sand and waited.
"Worth twenty pounds if a penny," he muttered to himself. "If I
couldn't get ten pounds for him, just like that, with a thank-you-
ma'am, I'm a sucker that don't know a terrier from a greyhound.—
Sure, ten pounds, in any pub on Sydney beach."
And ten pounds, metamorphosed into quart bottles of beer, reared
an immense and radiant vision, very like a brewery, inside his
A scurry of feet in the sand, and low sniffings, stiffened him
to alertness. It was as he had hoped. The dog had liked him from
the start, and had followed him.
For Dag Daughtry had a way with him, as Michael was quickly to
learn, when the man's hand reached out and clutched him, half by
the jowl, half by the slack of the neck under the ear. There was no
threat in that reach, nothing tentative nor timorous. It was
hearty, all-confident, and it produced confidence in Michael. It
was roughness without hurt, assertion without threat, surety
without seduction. To him it was the most natural thing in the
world thus to be familiarly seized and shaken about by a total
stranger, while a jovial voice muttered: "That's right, dog. Stick
around, stick around, and you'll wear diamonds, maybe."
Certainly, Michael had never met a man so immediately likable.
Dag Daughtry knew, instinctively to be sure, how to get on with
dogs. By nature there was no cruelty in him. He never exceeded in
peremptoriness, nor in petting. He did not overbid for Michael's
friendliness. He did bid, but in a manner that conveyed no sense of
bidding. Scarcely had he given Michael that introductory
jowl-shake, when he released him and apparently forgot all about
He proceeded to light his pipe, using several matches as if the
wind blew them out. But while they burned close up to his fingers,
and while he made a simulation of prodigious puffing, his keen
little blue eyes, under shaggy, grizzled brows, intently studied
Michael. And Michael, ears cocked and eyes intent, gazed at this
stranger who seemed never to have been a stranger at all.
If anything, it was disappointment Michael experienced, in that
this delightful, two-legged god took no further notice of him. He
even challenged him to closer acquaintance with an invitation to
play, with an abrupt movement lifting his paws from the ground and
striking them down, stretched out well before, his body bent down
from the rump in such a curve that almost his chest touched the
sand, his stump of a tail waving signals of good nature while he
uttered a sharp, inviting bark. And the man was uninterested,
pulling stolidly away at his pipe, in the darkness following upon
the third match.
Never was there a more consummate love-making, with all the base
intent of betrayal, than this cavalier seduction of Michael by the
elderly, six-quart ship's steward. When Michael, not entirely
unwitting of the snub of the man's lack of interest, stirred
restlessly with a threat to depart, he had flung at him
"Stick around, dog, stick around."
Dag Daughtry chuckled to himself, as Michael, advancing, sniffed
his trousers' legs long and earnestly. And the man took advantage
of his nearness to study him some more, lighting his pipe and
running over the dog's excellent lines.
"Some dog, some points," he said aloud approvingly. "Say, dog,
you could pull down ribbons like a candy-kid in any bench show
anywheres. Only thing against you is that ear, and I could almost
iron it out myself. A vet. could do it."
Carelessly he dropped a hand to Michael's ear, and, with tips of
fingers instinct with sensuous sympathy, began to manipulate the
base of the ear where its roots bedded in the tightness of skin-
stretch over the skull. And Michael liked it. Never had a man's
hand been so intimate with his ear without hurting it. But these
fingers were provocative only of physical pleasure so keen that he
twisted and writhed his whole body in acknowledgment.
Next came a long, steady, upward pull of the ear, the ear
slipping slowly through the fingers to the very tip of it while it
tingled exquisitely down to its roots. Now to one ear, now to the
other, this happened, and all the while the man uttered low words
that Michael did not understand but which he accepted as addressed
"Head all right, good 'n' flat," Dag Daughtry murmured, first
sliding his fingers over it, and then lighting a match. "An' no
wrinkles, 'n' some jaw, good 'n' punishing, an' not a shade too
full in the cheek or too empty."
He ran his fingers inside Michael's mouth and noted the strength
and evenness of the teeth, measured the breadth of shoulders and
depth of chest, and picked up a foot. In the light of another match
he examined all four feet.
"Black, all black, every nail of them," said Daughtry, "an' as
clean feet as ever a dog walked on, straight-out toes with the
proper arch 'n' small 'n' not too small. I bet your daddy and your
mother cantered away with the ribbons in their day."
Michael was for growing restless at such searching examination,
but Daughtry, in the midst of feeling out the lines and build of
the thighs and hocks, paused and took Michael's tail in his magic
fingers, exploring the muscles among which it rooted, pressing and
prodding the adjacent spinal column from which it sprang, and
twisting it about in a most daringly intimate way. And Michael was
in an ecstasy, bracing his hindquarters to one side or the other
against the caressing fingers. With open hands laid along his sides
and partly under him, the man suddenly lifted him from the ground.
But before he could feel alarm he was back on the ground again.
"Twenty-six or -seven—you're over twenty-five right now, I'll
bet you on it, shillings to ha'pennies, and you'll make thirty when
you get your full weight," Dag Daughtry told him. "But what of it?
Lots of the judges fancy the thirty-mark. An' you could always
train off a few ounces. You're all dog n' all correct conformation.
You've got the racing build and the fighting weight, an' there
ain't no feathers on your legs."
"No, sir, Mr. Dog, your weight's to the good, and that ear can
be ironed out by any respectable dog—doctor. I bet there's a
hundred men in Sydney right now that would fork over twenty quid
for the right of calling you his."
And then, just that Michael should not make the mistake of
thinking he was being much made over, Daughtry leaned back,
relighted his pipe, and apparently forgot his existence. Instead of
bidding for good will, he was bent on making Michael do the
And Michael did, bumping his flanks against Daughtry's knee;
nudging his head against Daughtry's hand, in solicitation for more
of the blissful ear-rubbing and tail-twisting. Daughtry caught him
by the jowl instead and slowly moved his head back and forth as he
"What man's dog are you? Maybe you're a nigger's dog, an' that
ain't right. Maybe some nigger's stole you, an' that'd be awful.
Think of the cruel fates that sometimes happens to dogs. It's a
damn shame. No white man's stand for a nigger ownin' the likes of
you, an' here's one white man that ain't goin' to stand for it. The
idea! A nigger ownin' you an' not knowin' how to train you. Of
course a nigger stole you. If I laid eyes on him right now I'd up
and knock seven bells and the Saint Paul chimes out of 'm. ' Sure
thing I would. Just show 'm to me, that's all, an' see what I'd do
to him. The idea of you takin' orders from a nigger an' fetchin'
'n' carryin' for him! No, sir, dog, you ain't goin' to do it any
more. You're comin' along of me, an' I reckon I won't have to urge
Dag Daughtry stood up and turned carelessly along the beach.
Michael looked after him, but did not follow. He was eager to, but
had received no invitation. At last Daughtry made a low kissing
sound with his lips. So low was it that he scarcely heard it
himself and almost took it on faith, or on the testimony of his
lips rather than of his ears, that he had made it. No human being
could have heard it across the distance to Michael; but Michael
heard it, and sprang away after in a great delighted rush.