`I don't, sir. I believe he's a good seaman; but he's too free with the crew to be a good officer. A mate should keep himself to himself - shouldn't drink with the men before the mast!'

`Do you mean he drinks?' cried the squire.

`No, sir,' replied the captain; `only that he's too familiar.'

`Well, now, and the short and long of it, captain?' asked the doctor. `Tell us what you want.'

`Well, gentlemen, are you determined to go on this cruise?'

`Like iron,' answered the squire.

`Very good,' said the captain. `Then, as you've heard me very patiently, saying things that I could not prove, hear me a few words more. They are putting the powder and the arms in the fore hold. Now, you have a good place under the cabin; why not put them there? - first point. Then you are bringing four of your own people with you, and they tell me some of them are to be berthed forward. Why not give them the berths here beside the cabin? - second point.'

`Any more?' asked Mr Trelawney.

`One more,' said the captain. `There's been too much blabbing already.'

`Far too much,' agreed the doctor.

`I'll tell you what I've heard myself,' continued Captain Smollett: `that you have a map of an island; that there's crosses on the map to show where treasure is; and that the island lies--' And then he named the latitude and longitude exactly.

`I never told that,' cried the squire, `to a soul!'

`The hands know it, sir,' returned the captain.

`Livesey, that must have been you or Hawkins,' cried the squire.

`It doesn't much matter who it was,' replied the doctor. And I could see that neither he nor the captain paid much regard to Mr Trelawney's protestations. Neither did I, to be sure, he was so loose a talker; yet in this case I believe he was really right, and that nobody had told the situation of the island.

`Well, gentlemen,' continued the captain, `I don't know who has this map; but I make it a point, it shall be kept secret even from me and Mr Arrow. Otherwise I would ask you to let me resign.'

`I see,' said the doctor. `You wish us to keep this matter dark, and to make a garrison of the stern part of the ship, manned with my friend's own people, and provided with all the arms and powder on board. In other words, you fear a mutiny.'

`Sir,' said Captain Smollett, `with no intention to take offence, I deny your right to put words into my mouth. No captain, sir, would be justified in going to sea at all if he had ground enough to say that. As for Mr Arrow, I believe hi thoroughly honest; some of the men are the same; all may be for what I know. But I am responsible for the ship's safety and the life of every man Jack aboard of her. I see thins going, as I think, not quite right. And I ask you to take certain precautions, or let me resign my berth. And that's all.'

`Captain Smollett,' began the doctor, with a smile, `did ever you hear the fable of the mountain and the mouse? You excuse me, I daresay, but you remind me of that fable. When you came in here I'll stake my wig you meant more than this.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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