A B Davis High School - Maroon and White Yearbook (Mount Vernon, NY)

 - Class of 1933

Page 148 of 180

 

A B Davis High School - Maroon and White Yearbook (Mount Vernon, NY) online yearbook collection, 1933 Edition, Page 148
Page 148



Text from page 148:


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MAROON AND WHITE stopped in my tracks. He continued, "Ups, it's me. Claypool. your old shipmate on the old 'Panther' and I don't wonder ye are surprised to see me. But ye would have recognized me if the lamps hadn't been doused. I daresay ye'll never in all your born days forget that scar ye gave me. But I don't hold it agin ye, matey. ye may lay to that. Nobody ever knew Job Claypool to hold a grudge against an old shipmatef' The last was said with a trace of irony which did not escape me. "No, it's not a pretty sight", he con- tinued. as if talking to himself, "it's a disfigured map it is. that old face of mine. and me who used to be a lady's man." I-Ie laughed a bitter, hopeless sort of laugh and lapsed back into silence. As for myself. I can hardly describe my feelings at the moment. My mind was in a turmoil as I looked at the dimly outlined figure before me and stretched my memory back to the days when I was Ben Talbot. able seaman aboard H. M. S. "Panther" and Job Claypool was my bunkmate on the same vessel. I could clearly recall the oc- casion when Claypool had received the scar referred to as the result of a six inch knife gash which I had accidently given him, Then I heard his voice again. "Ben," he was saying, "how's your luck been since ye deserted from the old tub?" I froze inside. "Claypool, keep your voice down," I whispered. "My .wife and son are upstairs asleep and 'I don't want them awakened." I-Ie snickered. "So ye never told her ye were a deserter, a fugitive from justice. and liable to be sent back to Newcastle at any time, eh?" "For God's sake, Claypool. speak lower!" I cried. "She might hear you!" There was a moment of silence un- broken save for the gentle pat-pat of rain on the roof and low rumblings of thunder in the west. Then I said. "Well, Claypool. what is it you want of me?" For I had already divined the apparent object of his visit. I could hear and vaguely see him shift in his chair as he prepared to speak. "It's a hard piece of business to put Page One Hundred and Forty-four into words, Ben, but seeing it's a king's order it has to be done and here's the gist of it. The Crown offers ye complete ab- solution from the charge of desertion for just some services which ye could do in one or two days. It's jest as simple as all that." 'But what are these services?" I asked. "Well, from what I can gather from thc letter ye are jest to go down to New York City. make a few markings of the defences on this map I have here, and that's all." I gasped in despair. "Why that's trea- son, I can't do that! It means betraying the country which has treated me so well while I've been here!" "Aye, and it means prison and disgrace on your family if ye don't do it," he fin- ished. "Disgrace on my family," I echoed as in a daze. "My son's father a convict. Why, Dick is so sensitive he could never live it down. And my wife, why, it would break her heart." My brain throbbed as I fought it out with myself within. Which was I to spare. my country or my family? Then I felt something being put into my hands. It was the map. I could hear Claypool putting on his cape. I-Ie started moving towards the door and unconscious- ly I followed him. As he opened the door, he turned, and on the instant a lightning flash illuminated his face, giving me my first and last sight of him that evening. I-Iis face looked for all the world like the devil's own. His lips were drawn back in a smile and his eyes glittered weirdlv. The scar was accentuated by the ghastly violet light from the electric flash and the expression of hidden hate which his face conveyed would have given me much to think about if I had not been in such an uowrought state. Even as we stood there, one of the con- flicting forces within me counciled me to give the map back to him. but a little voice which said. "It means the disruption of your family if you do it," proved the StrOng6r. Then suddenly he was gone and I was standing there alone, staring blindly at the door and asking myself again and again NINETEEN THIRTYTHREE

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