Escaping to England, he had regained his liberty, but not his equality; his colour had prevented the latter, and in that feeling all the world appeared to conspire together against him, until, to his astonishment, he heard those sentiments boldly expressed from the lips of Jack, and that in a service where it was almost tantamount to mutiny. Mesty, whose character is not yet developed, immediately took a fondness for our hero, and in a hundred ways showed his attachment. Jack also liked Mesty, and was fond of talking with him, and every evening, since the combat with Vigors, they had generally met in the forecastle to discuss the principles of equality and the rights of man.

The boatswain, whose name was Biggs, was a slight, dapper, active little man, who, as captain of the foretop, had shown an uncommon degree of courage in a hurricane, so much so, as to recommend him to the admiral for promotion. It was given to him; and after the ship to which he had been appointed was paid off, he had been ordered to join H.M. sloop Harpy. Jack’s conversation with Mesty was interrupted by the voice of the boatswain, who was haranguing his boy. “It’s now ten minutes, sir, by my repeater,” said the boatswain, “that I have sent for you;” and Mr. Biggs pulled out a huge silver watch, almost as big as a Norfolk turnip. A Jew had sold him the watch; the boatswain had heard of repeaters, and wished to have one. Moses had only shown him watches with the hour and minute hands; he now produced one with a second hand, telling him it was a repeater.

“What makes it a repeater?” inquired the boatswain.

“Common watches,” said the cunning Jew, “only tell the minutes and hours; but all repeaters tell the seconds.”

The boatswain was satisfied—bought the watch, and although many had told him it was no repeater, he insisted that it was, and would call it so.

“I swear,” continued the boatswain, “it’s ten minutes and twenty seconds by my repeater.”

“If you please, sir,” said the boy, “I was changing my trousers when you sent for me, and then I had to stow away my bag again.”

“Silence, sir; I’d have you to know that when you are sent for by your officer, trousers or no trousers, it is your duty to come up directly.”

“Without trousers, sir!” replied the boy.

“Yes, sir, without trousers; if the captain required me, I should come without my shirt. Duty before decency.” So saying, the boatswain lays hold of the boy.

“Surely, Mr. Biggs,” said Jack, “you are not going to punish that boy for not coming up without his trousers!”

“Yes, Mr. Easy, I am—I must teach him a lesson. We are bound, now that new—fangled ideas are brought into the ship, to uphold the dignity of the service; and the orders of an officer are not to be delayed ten minutes and twenty seconds because a boy has no trousers on.” Whereupon the boatswain administered several smart cuts with his rattan upon the boy, proving that it was quite as well that he had put on his trousers before he came on deck. “There,” said Mr. Biggs, “is a lesson for you, you scamp—and, Mr. Easy, it is a lesson for you also,” continued the boatswain, walking away with a most consequential air.

“Murder Irish!” said Mesty—“how him cut caper. De oder day he hawl out de weather ear—ring, and touch him hat to a midshipman. Sure enough, make um cat laugh.”

The next day, the Harpy was at anchor in Gibraltar Bay; the captain went on shore, directing the gig to be sent for him before nine o’clock; after which hour the sally—port is only opened by special permission. There happened to be a ball given by the officers of the garrison on that evening, and a polite invitation was sent to the officers of H.M. sloop Harpy. As those who accepted the invitation would be detained late, it was not possible for them to come off that night. And as their services were required for the next

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.