Chapter 10


The first-lieutenant of the Aurora was a very good officer in many respects, but, as a midshipman, he had contracted the habit of putting his hands in his pockets, and could never keep them out, even when the ship was in a gale of wind; and hands are of some use in a heavy lurch. He had more than once received serious injury from falling on these occasions, but habit was too powerful; and, although he had once broken his leg by falling down the hatchway, and had moreover a large scar on his forehead, received from being thrown to leeward against one of the guns, he still continued the practice; indeed, it was said that once, when it was necessary for him to go aloft, he had actually taken the two first rounds of the Jacob’s ladder without withdrawing them, until, losing his balance, he discovered that it was not quite so easy to go aloft with his hands in his pockets. In fact, there was no getting up his hands, even when all hands were turned up. He had another peculiarity, which was, that he had taken a peculiar fancy to a quack medicine, called Enouy’s Universal Medicine for all Mankind; and Mr. Pottyfar was convinced in his own mind that the label was no libel, except from the greatness of its truth. In his opinion, it cured everything, and he spent one of his quarterly bills every year in bottles of this stuff; which he not only took himself every time he was unwell, but occasionally when quite well, to prevent his falling sick. He recommended it to everybody in the ship, and nothing pleased him so much as to give a dose of it to every one who could be persuaded to take it. The officers laughed at him, but it was generally behind his back, for he became very angry if contradicted upon this one point, upon which he certainly might be considered to be a little cracked. He was indefatigable in making proselytes to his creed, and expatiated upon the virtues of the medicine for an hour running, proving the truth of his assertions by a pamphlet which, with his hands, he always carried in his trousers pocket.

Jack reported himself when he came on board, and Mr. Pottyfar, who was on the quarter-deck at the time, expressed a hope that Mr. Easy would take his share of the duty, now that he had had such a spell on shore; to which Jack very graciously acceded, and then went down below, where he found Gascoigne and his new messmates, with most of whom he was already acquainted.

“Well, Easy,” said Gascoigne, “have you had enough of the shore?”

“Quite,” replied Jack, recollecting that, after the events of the night before, he was just as well on board; “I don’t intend to ask for any more leave.”

“Perhaps it’s quite as well, for Mr. Pottyfar is not very liberal on that score, I can tell you; there is but one way of getting leave from him.”

“Indeed,” replied Jack; “and what is that?”

“You must pretend that you are not well, take some of his quack medicine, and then he will allow you a run on shore to work it off.”

“Oh! that’s it, is it? well then, as soon as we anchor in Valette, I’ll go through a regular course, but not till then.”

“It ought to suit you, Jack; it’s an equality medicine; cures one disorder just as well as the other.”

“Or kills—which levels all the patients. You’re right, Gascoigne, I must patronize that stuff—for more reasons than one. Who was that person on deck in mufti?”

“The mufti, Jack; in other words, the chaplain of the ship; but he’s a prime sailor, nevertheless.”

“How’s that?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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