Obrázky na stránke
[ocr errors]

fine skipper—a man he is, and that's what a ship wants-a man, and not an image. The Old Sailor said this in a tone of exasperation, inspired, possibly, by some tantalising remembrance of a ship commanded by an image instead of a man. So stick to your watchword, my lad. It wouldn't be a bad thing now if we were to drink to it.'

The cunning old rascal was only too glad of a chance to get at his grog.

• Bravo ! exclaimed Dan, clapping his hands.

No sooner said than done. Hot water, lemon, sugar, rum, compounded with the skill of an artist. A glass for Joshua, a glass for Dan, a glass for the Old Sailor, and a small glass for Ellen. Not one of them seemed afraid of it—not even Ellen.

Now, then,' said the Old Sailor, smiling as the steam rose to his nostrils. Now, then; the sailor's watchword—Duty, and may Joshua never forget it !

Duty, Jo,' said Dan, nodding over his glass to Joshua.

• Duty, Dan,' said Joshua, nodding to Dan.

Ellen said nothing aloud, but whispered something into her glass. Then they drank and sipped. their grog, and resumed the conversation.

Have you been to New Holland, sir ?' asked :



[ocr errors]


Dan. The Merry Andrew was bound for New Holland.

'I was there when I was a youngster,' replied the Old Sailor, mixing a second glass of grog for himself. It was a wild country then; I am told it is growing into a wonderful country now. We were six months going out. We had nearly four hundred convicts aboard, most of them in irons. A miserable lot of desperate wretches they were ! They were not well treated, and they knew it. We had to keep close watch over them; if they could have set themselves free by any means—they talked of it many a time among themselves—they would have captured the ship, and flung us overboard, or something worse. We landed them at Port Phillip, where the British Government wanted to form a settlement.'

• Why New Holland, sir ?' asked Dan, always eager for information.

• Discovered by the Dutch in about sixteen hundred,' replied the Old Sailor oratorically. Victoria was discovered by Captain Cook; let us drink to him.' They took a sip—all but the Old Sailor, who scorned sips. 'Discovered by Captain Cook in seventeen seventy, after he had discovered New Zealand.'


on us.

* Any savages, sir ?'

Swarms. We were out in a boat exploring, and when we were close in shore, two or three hundred savages came whooping down up

We weren't afraid of them ; we pulled in to shore, and they stopped short about twenty yards from us, jabbering like a lot of black monkeys. They soon got courage enough to come closer to us, and we gave them some grog; but the ignorant lubbers spit it out of their mouths at first. Then they began to steal things from the boat; and when we gave them to understand that what was ours wasn't theirs, they grew saucy. A black fellow caught up the master's mate and ran away with him.'

• What did they want with him, sir ?'

To eat him, of course. We fired over their heads, and they dropped the master's mate, who ran back to us, glad enough to get free, for he didn't relish the idea of being made a meal of. But when the savages found that the guns didn't hurt them, they came whooping up to us again, flourishing their spears. Their faces were painted, and they had swans' feathers sticking out of their heads. Some of them had skin cloaks on, painted all over with figures of naked men, and some of

[ocr errors]

them had bones stuck through their nostrils. On they came, yelling and leaping like so many devils, thinking what a fine roast the fattest of us would make. Then we fired and killed one of them. Directly they saw him fall, they scampered off like madmen.'

When the conversation flagged, they had music and singing. Joshua played, and Dan sang a song, and the Old Sailor sang a good many. The best of the Old Sailor's songs was, that they were all about the sea, and that every one of them had a chorus in which the company could join. Of course he sang Heave the Lead,' and Yeo, heave, ho! To the windlass let us go, with yo, heave, ho!' and 'Saturday Night at Sea,' and when

Saturday night did come, my boys, to drink to Poll and Bess,' he flourished his glass, and drank to those young ladies with a will.

The number of lovely ladies with whom the Old Sailor made them acquainted was something astonishing. Poor Jack had his Poll, whom he addressed in a not very dignified manner, when he said to her,

• What argufies sniv'ling and piping your eye?

Why, what a—(hem!) fool you must be!

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

Out of respect for Ellen, the Old Sailor coughed


over good many words in the songs he sang ; for it must be confessed that there was more swearing in them than was absolutely necessary. Poor Jack, however, who called his Poll a something fool, made up for it in the end by declaring that his heart was his Poll's' (a very pretty though somewhat trite sentiment), and his rhino's his friend's' (a very unwise and foolish sentiment, as the world goes). Then there was a Polly whom the lads called so pretty, and who entreated her sweetheart, before he sailed in the good ship the Kitty, to be constant to her; and who, when he returned without any rhino, turned up her nose at him, as young women do now and then. Then there were Poll in 'My Poll ard my partner Joe' (it was wonderful how faithless the Polls were), and Poll in 'Every inch a Sailor,' who, when poor Haulyard came home in tatters, swore (very unfeminine of her) that she had never seen his face. But honest Ned Haulyard was a philosophical sailor, for he something'd her for a faithless she, and singing went again to sea. The Nancies were a better class of female:


• I love my duty, love my friend,
Love truth and merit to defend,

« PredošláPokračovať »