A sleepy brown sailor, keeping a lookout, hung in the rigging by a single hand and one bare foot while letting the rest of his body bend and sway to the grand swells lifting the Falmouth packet up and down, up and down. His lazy grace and simple freedom were the envy of Matthew, who was on his aching knees and scrubbing the wooden deck with a rough cloth wrapped around a stone in an ever-spreading puddle of dirty water.
Ever since the longboat bearing Abraham Whipple back to his ship had departed, Matthew had known little of peace and nothing of repose. There had been a steady stream of orders and adjustments and requests, the majority from other sailors who seemed eager to show him his place in the order of life on board ship, which was apparently just a notch above that of the plentiful cockroaches, or weevils, as the crew preferred they be called.
In fact, Matthew had run into trouble at breakfast by calling the ship's vermin by its real name. A sailor was about to bite into his hardtack when Matthew interrupted. "Look out! There's a cockroach in your biscuit!"