Inkspot went off his watch at midnight, and he went into the water at fifty minutes to one. He wore nothing but a dark-gray shirt and a pair of thin trousers, and if any one had seen his head and shoulders, it is not likely, unless a good light had been turned on them, that they would have been supposed to be portions of a human form.
Inkspot was very much at home in the water, and he could swim like a dog or a deer. But it was a long, long swim to those glittering and beckoning lights. At last, however, he reached a pier, and having rested himself on the timbers under it, he cautiously climbed to the top. The pier was deserted, and he walked to the end of it, and entered the town. He knew nothing of Valparaiso, except that it was a large city where sailors went, and he was quite sure he could find a shop where they sold whiskey. Then he would have a glass—perhaps two—perhaps three—after which he would return to the brig, as Mr. Burke had done. Of course, he would have to do much more swimming than had been necessary for the second mate, but then, he believed himself to be a better swimmer than that gentleman, and he expected to get back a great deal easier than he came, because the whiskey would make him strong and happy, and he could play with the waves.
Inkspot did find a shop, and a dirty one it was—but they sold whiskey inside, and that was enough for him. With the exception of Maka, he was the most intelligent negro among the captain’s crew, and he had picked up some words of English and some of Spanish. But it was difficult for him to express an idea with these words. Among these words, however, was one which he pronounced better than any of the others, and which had always been understood whenever he used it,—whether in English or Spanish, no matter what the nationality might be of the person addressed,—and that word was “whiskey.”
Inkspot had one glass, and then another, a third, and a fourth, and then his money gave out—at least, the man who kept the shop insisted, in words that any one could understand, that the silver the big negro had fished out of his dripping pockets would pay for no more drinks. But Inkspot had had enough to make him happy. His heart was warm, and his clothes were getting drier. He went out into the glorious night. It was dark and windy, and the sky was cloudy, but to him all things were glorious. He sat down on the pavement in the cosey corner of two walls, and there he slept luxuriously until a policeman came along and arrested him for being drunk in the street.
It was two days before Inkspot got out of the hands of the police. Then he was discharged because the authorities did not desire to further trouble themselves with a stupid fellow who could give no account of himself, and had probably wandered from a vessel in port. The first thing he did was to go out to the water’s edge and look out over the harbor, but although he saw many ships, his sharp eyes told him that not one of them was the brig he had left.