“And I’m sure I’ve got you out of a scrape, Mr. Oxbelly.”

“How so, Mr. Easy?”

“How so!— have I not prevented your quarrelling with your wife every night?”

“Certainly, sir, you have been the means. But do you know when we were engaging the other day, I could not help saying to myself, ‘I wish my wife was here now, holding little Billy at the hatchway.’ ”

“But at night, Mr. Oxbelly.”

“At night!— why, then I’m afraid I should have wished her home again— it’s astonishing how comfortable I sleep now every night. Besides, in this climate it would be intolerable. Mrs. Oxbelly is a very large woman— very large indeed.”

“Well, but now we must hold a council of war. Are we to run up the coast, or to shape our course direct for Palermo?”

“Course direct, and we shall take nothing, that is certain,” said Gascoigne.

“If we take nothing we shall make no prize-money,” continued Oxbelly.

“If we make no prize-money the men will be discontented,” said Easy.

“If no ab noting to do— it will be d— d ’tupid,” continued Mesty.

“Now, then, the other side of the question. If we steer for Palermo, we shall be sooner there and sooner home.”

“To which I reply,” said Gascoigne, “that the shorter the cruise is, the less I shall have of your company.”

“And I shall have to sleep with Mrs. Oxbelly,” continued Oxbelly.

“Hab fine ship, fine gun, fine men, and do noting,” cried Mesty. “By de power, I no like dat, Massa Easy.”

“You want eight months of coming of age, Jack,” observed Gascoigne.

“It won’t make a difference of more than three or four weeks,” said Mr. Oxbelly; “and the expenses have been very great.”

“But— ”

“But what, Jack?”


“Agnes will be better defended going home by men who have been accustomed to be in action. And as for her waiting a little longer, it will only make her love you a little more.”

“Sleep single a little longer, Mr. Easy, it’s very pleasant,” said Mr. Oxbelly.

“That’s not very bad advice of yours,” observed Gascoigne.

Stop a little, Massa Easy,” said Mesty, “you know dat very good advice.”

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