Chapter 14


As soon as the ship had been hauled to the wind, Jack’s ship’s company seemed to think that there was nothing to do except to make merry, so they brought up some earthen jars full of wine, and emptied them so fast that they were soon fast asleep on the deck, with the exception of the man at the helm, who, instead of thirty—two, could clearly make out sixty—four points in the compass, and of course was able to steer to a much greater nicety. Fortunately, the weather was fine, for when the man at the helm had steered till he could see no more, and requested to be released, he found that his shipmates were so overpowered with fatigue, that it was impossible to wake them. He kicked them one by one most unmercifully in the ribs, but it was of no use: under these circumstances, he did as they did, that is, lay down with them, and in ten minutes it would have taken as much kicking to awake him as he gave his shipmates.

In the meantime the ship had it all her own way, and not knowing where she was to go, she went round and round the compass during the best part of the night. Mesty had arranged the watches, Jack had made a speech, and the men had promised everything, but the wine had got into their heads, and memory had taken that opportunity to take a stroll. Mesty had been down with Jack, examining the cabin, and in the captain’s stateroom they had found fourteen thousand dollars in bags: of this they determined not to tell the men, but locked up the money and everything else of value, and took out the key. They then sat down at the cabin table, and after some conversation, it was no matter of surprise, after having been up all the night before, that Jack laid his head on the table and fell fast asleep. Mesty kept his eyes open for some time, but at last his head sank down upon his chest, and he also slumbered. Thus, about one o’clock in the morning, there was not a very good watch kept on board of the Nostra Señora del Carmen.

About four o’clock in the morning, Mesty tumbled forward, and he hit his head against the table, which roused him up.

“By de mass, I tink I almost fall asleep,” cried he, and he went to the cabin window, which had been left open, and found that there was a strong breeze blowing in. “By de Lord, de wind ab come more aft,” said Mesty, “why they not tell me?” So saying, he went on deck, where he found no one at the helm; every one drunk, and the ship with her yards braced up running before the wind, just by way of a change. Mesty growled, but there was no time to lose; the topsails only were set—these he lowered down, and then put the helm a—lee, and lashed it, while he went down to call our hero to his assistance. Jack roused up, and went on deck.

“This nebber do, Massa Easy; we all go to devil together—dam drunken dogs—I freshen um up anyhow.” So Mesty drew some buckets of water, with which he soused the ship’s company, who then appeared to be recovering their senses.

“By heavens!” says Jack, “but this is contrary to the ‘articles of war;’ I shall read them to them tomorrow morning.”

“I tell what better ting, Massa Easy; we go lock up all de wine, and sarve out so much, and no more. I go do it at once, ’fore they wake up.”

Mesty went down, leaving Jack on deck to his meditations.

“I am not sure,” thought Jack, “that I have done a very wise thing. Here I am with a parcel of fellows who have no respect for the ‘articles of war,’ and who get as drunk as David’s sow. I have a large ship, but I have very few hands; and if it comes on bad weather, what shall I do?—for I know very little—hardly how to take in a sail. Then—as for where to steer, or how to steer, I know not—nor do any of my men; but however, as it was very narrow when we came into the Mediterranean, through the straits, it is hardly

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