Chapter 13


Whatever may have been Jack’s thoughts, at all events they did not spoil his rest. He possessed in himself all the materials of a true philosopher, but there was a great deal of weeding still required. Jolliffe’s arguments, sensible as they were, had very little effect upon him: for, strange to say, it is much more easy to shake a man’s opinions when he is wrong, than when he is right; proving that we are all of a very perverse nature. “Well,” thought Jack, “if I am to go to the mast—head, I am, that’s all; but it does not prove that my arguments are not good, only that they will not be listened to;” and then Jack shut his eyes, and in a few minutes was fast asleep.

The master had reported to the first—lieutenant, and the first—lieutenant to the captain, when he came on board the next morning, the conduct of Mr. Easy, who was sent for in the cabin, to hear if he had anything to offer in extenuation of his offence. Jack made an oration, which lasted more than half an hour, in which all the arguments he had brought forward to Jolliffe in the preceding chapter were entered fully into. Mr. Jolliffe was then examined, and also Mr. Smallsole was interrogated: after which the captain and the first— lieutenant were left alone.

“Sawbridge,” said Captain Wilson, “how true it is, that any deviation from what is right invariably leads us into a scrape. I have done wrong: wishing to get this boy out of his father’s hands, and fearful that he would not join the ship, and imagining him to be by no means the shrewd fellow that he is in reality, I represented the service in a much more favourable light than I should have done; all that he says I told him I did tell him, and it is I who really led the boy into error. Mr. Smallsole has behaved tyrannically and unjustly; he punished the lad for no crime; so that what between the master and me, I am now on the horns of a dilemma. If I punish the boy, I feel that I am punishing him more for my own fault and the fault of others than his own. If I do not punish him, I allow a flagrant and open violation of discipline to pass uncensured, which will be injurious to the service.”

“He must be punished, sir,” replied Sawbridge.

“Send for him,” said the captain.

Jack made his appearance, with a very polite bow.

“Mr. Easy, as you suppose that the articles of war contained all the rules and regulations of the service, I take it for granted that you have erred through ignorance. But recollect, that although you have erred through ignorance, such a violation of discipline, if passed unnoticed, will have a very injurious effect with the men, whose obedience is enforced by the example shown to them by the officers. I feel so convinced of your zeal, which you showed the other day in the case of Easthupp, that I am sure you will see the propriety of my proving to the men, by punishing you, that discipline must be enforced, and I shall therefore send for you on the quarter—deck, and order you to go to the mast—head in presence of the ship’s company, as it was in the presence of the ship’s company that you refused.”

“With the greatest pleasure, Captain Wilson,” replied Jack.

“And in future, Mr. Easy, although I shall ever set my face against it, recollect that if any officer punishes you, and you imagine that you are unfairly treated, you will submit to the punishment, and then apply to me for redress.”

“Certainly, sir,” replied Jack, “now that I am aware of your wishes.”

“You will oblige me, Mr. Easy, by going on the quarter—deck, and wait there till I come up.”

Jack made his best bow, and exit.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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