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XXX

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His face brightened at my words, and he assured me that I would find him as ready to acknowledge my command upon the wrong side of thirty as upon the right, an assurance which I hastened to tell him I did not need.
The storm continued to rage for three days, and as far as the wind scarce varied a point during all that time, I knew that we must be far beyond thirty, drifting rapidly east by south.
The crew had known almost as soon as I that we were doomed to cross thirty, and I am inclined to believe that every man jack of them was tickled to death, for the spirits of adventure and romance still live in the hearts of men of the twenty-second century, even though there be little for them to feed upon between thirty and one hundred seventy-five.
They might cross thirty with impunity, and doubtless they would return to be heroes at home; but how different the home-coming of their commanding officer!
I knew that I was a good officer and sailor, and I didn't propose submitting to degradation and discharge because a lot of old, preglacial fossils had declared over two hundred years before that no man should cross thirty.
Johnson, I intend retaining command of the ship, even though she crosses thirty, and I shall demand implicit obedience from every officer and man aboard until I am properly relieved from duty by a superior officer in the port of New York."
"You mean to say that you will cross thirty without submitting to arrest?" he almost shouted.
And then he saluted me, and strode from the bridge, a martyr to loyalty and friendship, for, though no man might know that Lieutenant Jefferson Turck had taken his ship across thirty, every man aboard would know that the first officer had committed a crime that was punishable by both degradation and death.
I would replace the destroyed instruments upon the bridge; every officer and man should know when we crossed thirty. But then I should assert the spirit which dominated me, I should resist arrest, and insist upon bringing my ship back across the dead line, remaining at my post until we had reached New York.
"I shall not know," replied Alvarez, "that the Coldwater passes thirty; nor shall any other man aboard know it," and, with his words, he drew a revolver from his pocket, and before either I or Johnson could prevent it had put a bullet into every instrument upon the bridge, ruining them beyond repair.
I must learn how to be contented with thirty. With ten men less I should have the right of avoiding any armed encounter, on account of the small number of my people; and if the encounter should take place, my chance is better with thirty men than forty.
A day and a half spent in rummaging amongst certain dens of Paris sufficed for his recruiting; and, without allowing his adventurers to communicate with each other, he had picked up and got together, in less than thirty hours, a charming collection of ill-looking faces, speaking a French less pure than the English they were about to attempt.