IN WHICH MR. EASY HAS HIS FIRST LESSON AS TO ZEAL IN HIS MAJESTYS SERVICE
As there was no time to lose, our hero very soon bade adieu to his paternal roof, as the phrase is, and found his way down to Portsmouth. As Jack had plenty of money, and was very much pleased at finding himself his own master, he was in no hurry to join his ship, and five or six companions not very creditable, whom either Jack had picked up, or had picked up Jack, and who lived upon him, strongly advised him to put it off until the very last moment. As this advice happened to coincide with Jacks opinion, our hero was three weeks at Portsmouth before any one knew of his arrival, but at last Captain Wilson received a letter from Mr. Easy, by which he found that Jack had left home at the period we have mentioned, and he desired the first-lieutenant to make inquiries, as he was afraid that some accident might have happened to him. As Mr. Sawbridge, the firstlieutenant, happened to be going on shore on the same evening for the last time previous to the ships sailing, he looked into the Blue Posts, George, and Fountain Inns, to inquire if there was such a person arrived as Mr. Easy. Oh, yes, replied the waiter at the FountainMr. Easy has been here these three weeks.
The devil he has, roared Mr. Sawbridge, with all the indignation of a firstlieutenant defrauded three weeks of a midshipman; where is he; in the coffee room?
Oh dear no, sir, replied the waiter, Mr. Easy has the front apartments on the first floor.
Well, then, show me up to the first floor.
May I request the pleasure of your name, sir? said the waiter.
First-lieutenants dont send up their names to midshipmen, replied Mr. Sawbridge; he shall soon know who I am.
At this reply, the waiter walked upstairs, followed by Mr. Sawbridge, and threw open the door.
A gentleman wishes to see you, sir, said the waiter.
Desire him to walk in, said Jack, and, waiter, mind that the punch is a little better than it was yesterday; I have asked two more gentlemen to dine here.
In the meantime Mr. Sawbridge, who was not in his uniform, had entered, and perceived Jack alone, with the dinnertable laid out in the best style for eight, a considerable show of plate for even the Fountain Inn, and everything, as well as the apartment itself, according to Mr. Sawbridges opinion, much more fit for a commanderinchief than a midshipman of a sloop of war.
Now Mr. Sawbridge was a good officer, one who had really worked his way up to the present rank, that is to say, that he had served sevenandtwenty years, and had nothing but his pay. He was a little soured in the service, and certainly had an aversion to the young men of family who were now fast crowding into itand with some grounds, as he perceived his own chance of promotion decrease in the same ratio as the numbers increased. He considered that in proportion as midshipmen assumed a cleaner and more gentlemanly appearance, so did they become more useless, and it may therefore be easily imagined that his bile was raised by this parade and display in a lad, who was very shortly to be, and ought three weeks before to have been, shrinking from his frown. Nevertheless, Sawbridge was a good hearted man, although a little envious of luxury, which he could not pretend to indulge in himself.
May I beg to ask, said Jack, who was always remarkably polite and gentlemanly in his address, in what manner I may be of service to you?
Yes, sir, you mayby joining your ship immediately. And may I beg to ask in return, sir, what is the reason you have stayed on shore three weeks without joining her?
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