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vants a worthless, cxacting, insolent set of fellows as they are in most instances, and as they particularly were in the ship Leander; nor was he much more so amongst the sailors, who were indeed as disreputable a set of men as had ever gone on board ship
-men picked up in the streets of Calcutta, decoyed out of the punch-houses, deserters from other ships and utterly characterless, for it happened with the Leander, as it often does happen with ships arriving at Calcutta in the middle of the unhealthy season, that half her crew died whilst the vessel was lying in the river, and the commander was obliged to procure such substitutes as he could find in the purlieus of the city of palaces. These men, rips and rascals as they were, chockful of the sailor's national prejudices, with none of the sailor's generosity to restrain them, amused themselves, throughout the few first weeks of the voyage, in playing off a number of practical jokes, of the coarsest and most annoying description, upon the poor, patient Hindoos, whenever they trusted themselves within reach of Jack's wit and the forecastle. Peer Khan, however, rarely went within reach of Jack and the forecastle, but when he did so, he was not quite so well disposed as his compatriots to submit quietly to Jack's raillery. “What for you call me black beast,” he would say, “ you white beast-you plenty more beast I am;" and on one occasion, when a sailor had amused himself with throwing a bucket of water over Peer Khan, as he was eating his mess of curry in a quiet corner, the Mussulmaun turned round without uttering a word, and discharged the hot contents of his cooking-pot with an unerring aim into Jack's face, and then quietly walked aft to do some business in his master's cabin.
This of course the sailor did not forget; but when the pain of the scalding curry was a little allayed, he began to cast about in his mind as to the best mode of revenging himself upon the “cursed niggur.” He was afraid to serve him out, as he could have wished, with a right good pummelling, because Peer Khan was a passenger's servant; besides, he thought that he might possibly annoy him in a more deadly way even than this, and he had heard that Mussulmauns, like Jews, had a religious aversion to the flesh of the swinean aversion which he thought he might take advantage of, so as to work out the discomfiture of the gentleman of the hot curry. Accordingly he saved, one day, about a third part of his messing, tied the meat to a piece of yarn, and placed it in his chest until the evening, when he thought the dark would be favourable to him, as well as the time, for Peer Khan was rarely to be seen in the fore part of the ship any time before the cuddy dinner. Nor was he disappointed, for between six and seven o'clock Peer Khan was seen ascending the forecastle, and the sailor, who was on the look out, ran down into the steerage, opened his box, abstracted the pork, and then returned to the forecastle, thinking that a glo
rious opportunity was now at hand for revenging himself on the “ beast of a niggur," who had actually dared to return the practical jokes of a man with a white face and no moustache.
“What for you do that?” cried Peer Khan, turning round suddenly, as he felt something soft and greasy smite him on the right cheek—" what for you throw wet e-swab in my face?” But the question, though spoken in a loud voice, elicited no response.
Peer Khan looked about him, but he could not distinguish the person who had thus assaulted him, nor indeed could he make out precisely what it was that had been thrown in his face. There was little light on the forecastle, for the moon had not yet risen, and there was a cluster of men standing between him and the only lantern that there was forward. He could see plenty of sailors, plenty of ropes, a pump, an anchor, the jibboom, and a considerable quantity of canvas; but as none of the sailors seemed to be looking at him, and he could not perceive that there was a swab anywhere near him, he was at a loss to conjecture what it was that had struck him so greasily upon the right cheek. Detaching, however, the end of his cumberbund*, he wiped his face, and was just tucking the folds in again, when he received another blow precisely resembling the last, a little below his left eye-again he looked around him, again he failed to discover the author of his discomfiture. So having wiped
. Shawl tied round the loins.
his face a second time with his cumberbund, and having heard by that time a tittering near the larboard bow, he walked forward to a knot of partly sitting and partly standing jack-tars, and asked them " what for they were doing laugh ?"
“What's that, blackey?" asked one foremost, removing a common Bengally cheroot from his mouth, " what's that you say, blackey?"
“What say, I say, whitey?" returned Peer Khan; “I say some too bad whitey he make blow my face - bad man."
“He blows in your face, does he ?” asked another sailor; “it was the wind, blackey, sure-ly;" and this facetious demonstration elicited a general laugh.
“No, whitey, not wind," said Peer Khan; “ some bad man—ver bad man. I know, then I fling in sea—" and it is possible that Peer Khan might have said something more, if he had not been again struck with the sost, slimy substance, and this time right in the mouth.
But the quick eye of Peer Khan had marked the thrower, and seen the missile drawn back again by a hand in the rear of the men who had spoken to him. “ Ah! I know now,” cried the Mussulmaun—" behind man, he throw_bad man, whitey—he hid like thief. I see now, light on he face curry man -ha! ha!-curry man! I know-ha! ha!-he curry face.”
“ Curry face-eh!” cried the man thus apostrophized, in a deadly passion, for he saw that his companions were beginning to turn the laugh against him-" curry face-eh! pig face-pork face. You d-d black beast,” and again the fid of pork at the end of the string saluted the faithful lips of the Mussulmaun.
With a rapid motion Peer Khan caught it in his hand, and when he found what it really was, he threw it on the deck with disgust, and being by this time violently excited, rushed forward to seize his enemy. “ Fair play! fair play,” cried the lookers on, and made way for the Mussulmaun, in expectation of a good fight, one offering to back “ Blackey," another making a knee for the sailor, and all exhibiting every possible symptom of gratification at the prospect of a skrimmage. Peer Khan, however, though he had plenty of courage, was utterly ignorant of pugilism, aud in defiance of all the laws of fighting, was rushing forward to seize his adversary by the hair, when that worthy picked up the fid of pork, that had been kicked close to his feet, and, closing with Peer Khan, tried with all his might to force it down the Mussulmaun's throat.
There was then a long tussle, for Peer Khan was no puny, delicate Asiatic, but was blessed with thews and sinews of no ordinary strength, which now were exerted to the very utmost, in the fury engendered by this last crowning act of insult, and the contest was pretty equal. Had there been any outhitting the Mussulmaun would have been floored, but in this grappling-work they were pretty equal.