Giving the major the address of the tailor who could be trusted to supply Jack’s uniform without loss of time, and accepting an invitation to dine at the “George” that evening, if he could possibly get away from the ship, Lieutenant Hethcote stepped into the gig, and made his way to the “Falcon.”
Major Archer and Jack first paid a visit to the tailor, where all the articles necessary for the outfit were ordered and promised for next day. They then visited the dockyard, and Jack was immensely impressed at the magnitude of the preparations which were being made for the war. Then they strolled down the ramparts, and stood for some time watching the batches of recruits being drilled, and then, as the short winter day was drawing to a close, they returned to the “George.”
AN ADVENTURE AT GIB
It was on the 1st of February, 1854, that the “Falcon” sailed from Portsmouth for the East, and ten days later she dropped her anchor at Gibraltar harbor. Jack Archer was by this time thoroughly at home. In the week’s hard work during the preparation for sea at Portsmouth, he had learned as much of the names of the ropes, and the various parts of the ship, as he would have done in a couple of months at sea, and had become acquainted with his new ship-mates. So great had been the pressure of work, that he had escaped much of the practical joking to which a new-comer on board ship, as at school, is generally subject.
He had for comrades four midshipmen; one of these, Simmons, had already nearly served his time, and was looking forward to the war as giving him a sure promotion; two others, Delafield and Hawtry, had already served for two or three years at sea, although only a year or so older than Jack, while the fourth, Herbert Coveney, was a year younger, and was, like Jack, a new hand. There were also in the berth two master’s mates, young men of from twenty to two-and-twenty. With all of these Jack, with his high spirits, good-tempered face, merry laugh, soon became a favorite.
During the first two days at sea he had suffered the usual agonies from sea-sickness. But before reaching Gibraltar he had got his sea-legs and was regularly doing duty, being on the watch of the second lieutenant, Mr. Pierson.
The wind, which had blown strongly across the Bay of Biscay and down the coast of Portugal, moderated as the “Falcon” steamed past Cape St. Vincent with its picturesque monastery, and the straits were calm as a mill-pond as she slowly made her way along the Spanish coast and passed Tarifa. Up to the time when she dropped her anchor in the Bay of Gibraltar, the only incident which had happened on the way was that, as they steamed up the straits, they passed close by a homeward-bound P. and O. steamer, whose passengers crowded the sides, and cheered and waved their handkerchiefs to the eastward-bound ship.