Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 497
The Captain Knuckles Under
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At six o’clock, Stewart and David eat breakfast. Though the cabin is in bloody disarray, they are almost giddy over their victory last night. All of the best food and all of the drink are in the roundhouse; and Hoseason and Riach, the heaviest drinkers left on the ship, are condemned to drink water. Stewart assures David the battle will continue, as it is hard to keep men from their liquor. Stewart cuts off one of the distinctive silver buttons on his jacket and gives it to David as a reward for his work last night. Stewart’s vanity and arrogance amuse David, but he does not dare to show it.
Stewart meticulously brushes the stains from his jacket as Riach calls from the deck for a parley. David crawls up through the skylight and perches there with a pistol before telling Riach to give his terms. Riach draws near, virtually untouched by last night’s battle, and the two of them look at one another in silence for a time. Riach looks weary from having been awake all night, steering the ship and tending to the wounded men. Finally Riach says Hoseason wants to talk to Stewart. Though David suspects a trick, Riach assures him none of the sailors would fight with the captain even if that was his intention. All he and Hoseason want is to get Stewart off their ship.
The parley is set and Riach begs David for a drink. David brings him one, remembering the man’s past kindnesses to him, and Riach greedily drinks some of it before taking the rest to the captain. Soon Hoseason appears at the roundhouse window; he is a broken and pitiful man now. Stewart points his pistol at the captain and refuses to take his word that he means no harm, since Hoseason has already proven himself to be untrustworthy. The disgruntled captain says he does not have enough healthy and willing sailors to man his ship and therefore has no choice but to sail into Glasgow and turn Stewart in to the authorities. Stewart is not moved by the half-hearted threat, for he will tell the tale of his victory: fifteen hearty sailors lose a battle with one man and a boy. First officer Shuan is dead, and he was the chief navigator and knew this coastline well. Stewart demands to be delivered within thirty miles of Linnhe Loch—anywhere but near the Campbells. Hoseason wants assurance of the gold guineas Stewart offers; Stewart says if he wants payment, the captain must deliver Stewart as requested. Hoseason warns Stewart that they may be stopped by military cruisers, but Stewart reminds the captain it is his job to outmaneuver them. Stewart then trades a bottle of brandy for two buckets of water. Stewart and David are glad to clean the mess from their cabin with the water. Hoseason and Riach are glad to gain some temporary happiness from the brandy.