Jack went on deck as soon as the captain had dismissed him, and found the captain and officers of the Spanish corvette standing aft, looking very seriously at the Nostra Sigñora del Carmen. When they saw our hero, whom Captain Wilson had told them was the young officer who had barred their entrance into Carthagena, they turned their eyes upon him, not quite so graciously as they might have done.

Jack, with his usual politeness, took off his hat to the Spanish captain, and, glad to have an opportunity of sporting his Spanish, expressed the usual wish, that he might live a thousand years. The Spanish captain, who had reason to wish that Jack had gone to the devil at least twenty-four hours before, was equally complimentary, and then begged to be informed what the colours were that Jack had hoisted during the action. Jack replied that they were colours to which every Spanish gentleman considered it no disgrace to surrender, although always ready to engage, and frequently attempting to board. Upon which the Spanish captain was very much puzzled. Captain Wilson, who understood a little Spanish, then interrupted by observing:

“By-the-bye, Mr. Easy, what colours did you hoist up? we could not make them out. I see Mr. Jolliffe still keeps them up at the peak.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Jack, rather puzzled what to call them, but at last he replied, “That it was the banner of equality and the rights of man.”

Captain Wilson frowned, and Jack, perceiving that he was displeased, then told him the whole story, whereupon Captain Wilson laughed, and Jack then also explained, in Spanish, to the officers of the corvette, who replied, “That it was not the first time, and would not be the last, that men had got into a scrape through a petticoat.”

The Spanish captain complimented Jack on his Spanish, which was really very good (for in two months, with nothing else in the world to do, he had made great progress), and asked him where he had learnt it.

Jack replied, “At the Zaffarine Islands.”

“Zaffarine Isles,” replied the Spanish captain; “they are not inhabited.”

“Plenty of ground sharks,” replied Jack.

The Spanish captain thought our hero a very strange fellow, to fight under a green silk petticoat, and to take lessons in Spanish from the ground sharks. However, being quite as polite as Jack, he did not contradict him, but took a huge pinch of snuff, wishing from the bottom of his heart that the ground sharks had taken Jack before he had hoisted that confounded green petticoat.

However, Jack was in high favour with the captain, and all the ship’s company, with the exception of his four enemies—the master, Vigors, the boatswain, and the purser’s steward. As for Mr. Vigors, he had come to his senses again, and had put his colt in his chest until Jack should take another cruise. Little Gossett, at any insulting remark made by Vigors, pointed to the window of the berth and grinned; and the very recollection made Vigors turn pale, and awed him into silence.

In two days they arrived at Gibraltar—Mr. Sawbridge rejoined the ship—so did Mr. Jolliffe—they remained there a fortnight, during which Jack was permitted to be continually on shore—Mr. Asper accompanied him, and Jack drew a heavy bill to prove to his father that he was still alive. Mr. Sawbridge made our hero relate to him all his adventures, and was so pleased with the conduct of Mesty, that he appointed him to a situation which was particularly suited to him—that of ship’s corporal. Mr. Sawbridge knew that it was an office of trust, and, provided that he could find a man fit for it, he was very indifferent about his colour. Mesty walked and strutted about at least three inches taller than he was before. He was always clean, did his duty conscientiously, and seldom used his cane.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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