Page images

passengers wondered whether they were to be ducked, and whether they would show fight; and the sailors made a collection from the hen-coops and pigsties for “ doctor's stuff,” to administer to their victims; and the midshipmen, on their first voyage, began to get very uneasy, and at the same time uncommonly civil to the two sailors, who had been selected as barbers for the approaching interesting ceremony; and the mates began to rig out the telescopes, with hairs across the glasses to show off the line.

Now it so happened, that the passengers preferred taking no share in the saturnalia ; and therefore they felt themselves called upon to “stump up" for the benefit of the sailors. This was all fair enough, and Peregrine Pultuney took upon himself the office of collector,—" Collector of Sea Customs” as he called it.

Things went on very well; everybody subscribed and no one demurred, until Peregrine applied to Doleton ; and Doleton declined putting his name down.

This astonished Peregrine Pultuney, who, knowing but too well the constitutional timidity of the poor fellow to whom he was addressing himself, expected a more ready compliance from this, than from any other quarter. He knew that Doleton had for some days past been in grievous bodily fear from the thoughts of the approaching ceremony in crossing the line, and he naturally sup

posed that, in consequence of this, the nervous youth, would have eagerly grasped at the prospect of an easy manumission to be effected by the payment of half-a-sovereign. Such, however, was not the case, and Peregrine Pultuney was wondrously astonished.

“ You will be ducked then," said Peregrine Pultuney.

“ I can't help it,” said poor Doleton, in a voice expressive of any thing but indifference.

“You will be shaved,” continued Peregrine Pultuney.

"I can't help it,” returned poor Doleton.

“ You will be tarred and feathered,” resumed Peregrine Pultuney.

"I can't I can't help it,” said Doleton, quaking with fear as he spoke.

"But why?” asked Peregrine, kindly, “ do you object to subscribe?-half-a-sovereign will not ruin

[ocr errors]

The nervous youth looked doubtingly at Peregrine, then got up, opened his cabin-door, looked along the steerage, closed his door again, locked it, and whispered to Pultuney, “you won't tell Mr. Drawlincourt, will you?”

“ Tell him, what?" asked Peregrine Pultuney.

“ You won't tell Mr. Drawlincourt, will you, if I tell you, why I don't subscribe ?”

"I have nothing to do with Mr. Drawlincourt," observed Peregrine Pultuney.

“ No-no, I don't say that you have," stammered out the unhappy youth, “but it might get to his ears, and I shouldn't like it; not that I'm afraid of him, but, but,"

“ But what?" asked our hero, kindly.

“ But, you see, Pultuney, I've particular reasons for not wishing Mr. Drawlincourt to know; the fact is, perhaps he might be angry, and I don't wish to quarrel with him, you see.”

“Yes," observed Peregrine, " I do see that; but I don't see what Mr. Drawlincourt has to do with your not subscribing."

“ Why," returned poor Doleton, in a low voice and a sort of suspicious manner; " why you see, Pultuney, the fact is, that I have got no money."

"No money !" exclaimed Peregrine, " why I saw at least fifty pounds in your hands a few days after we came on board."

“ Ah! that's it,” sighed the wretched youth. “ That's what?" asked Peregrine Pultuney.

" Why, you see, Pultuney, that's the reason why I don't like Mr. Drawlincourt to know—all the money is now his, and he told me particularly, Pultuney-particularly not to tell you."

“ The devil he did,” cried Peregrine Pultuney; " and so this Drawlincourt, this cursed long dandy has been swindling you out of your money!"

“ Hush-hush, Pultuney; pray hush-he will hear you—he will indeed.”

“ My poor fellow," continued Peregrine, who was boiling over with the honest indignation of a generous spirit, “my poor fellow, and what if he does? -I do not care for the long scoundrel any more than for the cockroach which is crawling across the floor, let him hear me. I tell you, Doleton, that I will expose that fellow before the whole ship’s company; I will drag his dark doings into broad daylight, and he shall be crushed with the weight of shame that will press upon him. Come, come, my poor fellow, do not distress yourself; you shall be safe—you shall indeed; I will take very good care of that."

The poor youth had sunk down on his knees before Peregrine, and was looking up into the face of his friend with an aspect of idiotic supplication, which went to the very heart of our hero. When Peregrine ceased to speak, poor Doleton threw his arms about the knees of his companion, and sobbed out, “ Don't-don't-pray don't—if you do, you will kill me."

Peregrine bent down and raised the unhappy youth from his supplicating posture; comforting him with kind words and assurances of protection, which were not wholly thrown away; he strove to calm the flutterings of the broken spirit, thus left to its own guidance in a world too rough for any thing so fragile.

" And now, tell me,” asked Peregrine, after a little while,“ how he did it-how he managed to fleece you-how he got you into his net."

“ It was so very uncomfortable,” said Doleton.

“What was it?" asked Peregrine Pultuney, who somehow thought that the poor fellow was alluding to the loss of his money, and who perfectly agreed with him, if he was.

“Why,” resumed Doleton, “Mr. Drawlincourt's conduct. He was always trying to work upon my feelings. It's very unpleasant, you know, to be always kept in—no, not fear—but excitement, you know, Pultuney. It's very uncomfortable you see to-to-I mean, you see, that Mr. Drawlincourt was not very kind to me at first; he be-began by bulI mean Mr. Drawlincourt had an unpleasant manner about him at first, that I didn't very well understand; he began by telling me, you see, that if I did this, or did that, he should feel himself compelled as a gentleman to call me out, and he talked so much about the service and military honours and courtmartials, that at last I began to think that I was sure, some day or other, either to be shot in a duel or by the order of a court-martial. But one day, all on a sudden, he got a little kinder in his manner, and he came into my cabin and said to me, Doleton, do you ever play at cards?' and I answered, • Yes to be sure, sir, I can play at Beggar-myneighbour and Commerce.' This set Mr. Drawlincourt a laughing, and then he told me that those games were childish and low, and that he would teach me something better. Now I had always been particularly advised never to touch a card on

« PreviousContinue »