Chapter 10


When Jack Easy had gained the deck, he found the sun shining gaily, a soft air blowing from the shore, and the whole of the rigging and every part of the ship loaded with the shirts, trousers, and jackets of the seamen, which had been wetted during the heavy gale, and were now hanging up to dry; all the wet sails were also spread on the booms or triced up in the rigging, and the ship was slowly forging through the blue water. The captain and first—lieutenant were standing on the gangway in converse, and the majority of the officers were with their quadrants and sextants ascertaining the latitude at noon. The decks were white and clean, the sweepers had just laid by their brooms, and the men were busy coiling down the ropes. It was a scene of cheerfulness, activity, and order, which lightened his heart after the four days of suffering, close air, and confinement, from which he had just emerged.

The captain, who perceived him, beckoned to him, and asked him kindly how he felt: the first—lieutenant also smiled upon him, and many of the officers, as well as his messmates, congratulated him upon his recovery.

The captain’s steward came up to him, touched his hat, and requested the pleasure of his company to dinner in the cabin. Jack was the essence of politeness, took off his hat, and accepted the invitation. Jack was standing on a rope which a seaman was coiling down; the man touched his hat and requested he would be so kind as to take his foot off. Jack took his hat off his head in return, and his foot off the rope. The master touched his hat, and reported twelve o’clock to the first—lieutenant—the first—lieutenant touched his hat, and reported twelve o’clock to the captain—the captain touched his hat, and told the first—lieutenant to make it so. The officer of the watch touched his hat, and asked the captain whether they should pipe to dinner—the captain touched his hat and said, “If you please.”

The midshipman received his orders, and touched his hat, which he gave to the head boatswain’s mate, who touched his hat, and then the calls whistled cheerily.

“Well,” thought Jack, “politeness seems to be the order of the day, and every one has an equal respect for the other.” Jack stayed on deck; he peeped through the ports, which were open, and looked down into the deep blue wave; he cast his eyes aloft, and watched the tall spars sweeping and tracing with their points, as it were, a small portion of the clear sky, as they acted in obedience to the motion of the vessel; he looked forward at the range of carronades which lined the sides of the deck, and then he proceeded to climb one of the carronades, and lean over the hammocks to gaze on the distant land.

“Young gentleman, get off those hammocks,” cried the master, who was officer of the watch, in a surly tone.

Jack looked round.

“Do you hear me, sir? I’m speaking to you,” said the master again.

Jack felt very indignant, and he thought that politeness was not quite so general as he supposed.

It happened that Captain Wilson was upon deck.

“Come here, Mr. Easy,” said the captain; “it is a rule in the service that no one gets on the hammocks, unless in case of emergency—I never do—nor the first-lieutenant—nor any of the officers or men—therefore, upon the principle of equality, you must not do it either.”

“Certainly not, sir,” replied Jack, “but still I do not see why that officer in the shining hat should be so angry, and not speak to me as if I were a gentleman, as well as himself.”

“I have already explained that to you, Mr. Easy.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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