“If I wouldn’t, may I be d—d! After sailing in company for four-and-twenty years, I should be no better than a sneak, to part company, because such a trifle as a gallows hove in sight.”
“The pay of such a service should be both generous and punctual, and the cheer of the most encouraging character,” the good-man observed, in a way that manifested he should not be displeased were he to receive a reply. Fid was in no disposition to balk his curiosity, but rather deemed himself bound, since he had once entered on the subject, to leave no part of it in obscurity.
“As for the pay, d’ye see,” he said, “it is seaman’s wages. I should despise myself to take less than falls to the share of the best foremast-hand in a ship, since it would be all the same as owning that I got my deserts. But master Harry has a way of his own in rating men’s services; and if his ideas get jamm’d in an affair of this sort, it is no marling-spike that I handle which can loosen them. I once just named the propriety of getting me a quarter-master’s birth; but devil the bit would he be doing the thing, seeing, as he says himself, that I have a fashion of getting a little hazy at times, which would only be putting me in danger of disgrace; since every body knows that the higher a monkey climbs in the rigging of a ship, the easier every body on deck can see that he has a tail. Then, as to cheer, it is sea man’s fare; sometimes a cut to spare for a friend and sometimes a hungry stomach.”
“But then there are often divisions of the—a—a—the-prize-money, in this successful cruiser?” demanded the good-man, averting his face as he spoke, perhaps from a consciousness that it might betray an unseemly interest in the answer. “I dare say, you receive amends for all your sufferings, when the purser gives forth the spoils.”
“Hark ye, brother,” said Fid, again assuming a look of significance, “can you tell me where the Admiralty Court sits which condemns her prizes?”
The good-man returned the glance, with interest; but an extraordinary uproar, in another part of the vessel, cut short the dialogue, just as there was a rational probability it might lead to some consolatory explanations between the parties.
As the action of the tale is shortly to be set in motion again, we shall refer the cause of the commotion to the opening of the succeeding chapter.
—“Come, and get thee
a sword, though made of a lath:
They have been up these two days.”—King Henry VI.