“All ri’!” said the sleeper; “I’m all ri’!”
The doctor shook him again, and then rolled him backward and forward in his bunk. Under this gentle treatment the solicitor’s faculties were somewhat brightened, and, half opening his eyes, he punched viciously at the disturber of his peace, until threatening voices from the gloom promised to murder both of them.
“Where are we?” demanded the doctor, of a deep voice from the other side of the forecastle which had been particularly threatening.
“Barque Stella, o’ course,” was the reply. “Where’d you think you was?”
The doctor gripped the edge of his friend’s bunk and tried to think; then, a feeling of nausea overcoming all others, he clambered hurriedly up the forecastle ladder and lurched to the side of the vessel.
He leaned there for some time without moving, a light breeze cooling his fevered brow, and a small schooner some little distance from them playing seesaw, as he closed his eyes to the heaving blue sea. Land was conspicuous by its absence, and with a groan he turned and looked about him—at the white scrubbed deck, the snowy canvas towering aloft on lazily creaking spars, and the steersman leaning against the wheel regarding the officer who stood near by.
Dr. Carson, feeling a little better, walked sternly aft, the officer turning round and glancing in surprise at his rags as he approached.
“I beg your pardon,” began the doctor, in superior tones.
“And what the devil do you want?” demanded the second officer; “who told you to come along here?”
“I want to know what this means,” said the doctor, fiercely. “How dare you kidnap us on your beastly bilge-tank?”
“Man’s mad,” murmured the astonished second officer.
“Insufferable outrage!” continued the doctor. “Take us back to Melbourne at once.”
“You get for’ard,” said the other sharply; “get for’ard, and don’t let me have any more of your lip.”
“I want to see the captain of this ship,” cried the doctor; “go and fetch him at once.”
The second officer gazed at him, limp with astonishment, and then turned to the steersman, as though unable to believe his ears. The steersman pointed in front of him, and the other gave a cry of surprise and rage as he saw another tatterdemalion coming with uncertain steps toward him.
“Carson,” said the new arrival, feebly; and coming closer to his friend, clung to him miserably.
“I’m just having it out with ’em, Thomson,” said the doctor, energetically. “My friend here is a solicitor. Tell him what ’ll happen if they don’t take us back, Harry.”
“You seem to be unaware, my good fellow,” said the solicitor, covering a large hole in the leg of his trousers with his hand, “of the very dangerous situation in which you have placed yourselves. We have no desire to be harsh with you—”
“Not at all,” acquiesced the doctor, nodding at the second officer.