The Water-Witch or, the Skimmer of the Seas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 569 pages of information about The Water-Witch or, the Skimmer of the Seas.

He quitted the hatchway, and led his companions toward the accommodations in the stern of the vessel.

Chapter XV.

    “God save you, Sir!”
    “And you, Sir; you are welcome. 
    “Travel you, Sir, or are you at the furthest?”

    Taming of the Shrew.

If the exterior of the brigantine was so graceful in form and so singular in arrangement, the interior was still more worthy of observation.  There were two small cabins beneath the main-deck, one on each side of, and immediately adjoining, the limited space that was destined to receive her light but valuable cargoes.  It was into one of these that Tiller had descended, like a man who freely entered into his own apartment; but partly above, and nearer to the stern, were a suite of little rooms that were fitted and furnished in a style altogether different.  The equipments were those of a yacht, rather than those which might be supposed suited to the pleasures of even the most successful dealer in contraband.

The principal deck had been sunken several feet, commencing at the aftermost bulk-head of the cabins of the subordinate officers, in a manner to give the necessary height, without interfering with the line of the brigantine’s shear.  The arrangement was consequently not to be seen, by an observer who was not admitted into the vessel itself.  A descent of a step or two, however, brought the visiters to the level of the cabin-floor and into an ante-room that was evidently fitted for the convenience of the domestics.  A small silver hand-bell lay on a table, and Tiller rung it lightly, like one whose ordinary manner was restrained by respect.  It was answered by the appearance of a boy, whose years could not exceed ten, and whose attire was so whimsical as to merit description.

The material of the dress of this young servitor of Neptune, was a light rose-colored silk, cut in a fashion to resemble the habits formerly worn by pages of the great.  His body was belted by a band of gold, a collar of fine thread lace floated on his neck and shoulders, and even his feet were clad in a sort of buskins, that were ornamented with fringes of real lace and tassels of bullion.  The form and features of the child were delicate, and his air as unlike as possible to the coarse and brusque manner of a vulgar ship-boy.

“Waste and prodigality!” muttered the Alderman, when this extraordinary little usher presented himself, in answer to the summons of Tiller.  “This is the very wantonness of cheap goods and an unfettered commerce!  There is enough of Mechlin, Patroon, on the shoulders of that urchin, to deck the stomacher of the Queen.  ’Fore George, goods were cheap in the market, when the young scoundrel had his livery!”

The surprise was not confined, however, to the observant and frugal burgher.  Ludlow and Van Staats of Kinderhook manifested equal amazement, though their wonder was exhibited in a less characteristic manner.  The former turned short to demand the meaning of this masquerade, when he perceived that the hero of the India-shawl had disappeared.  They were then alone with the fantastic page, and it became necessary to trust to his intelligence for directions how to proceed.

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The Water-Witch or, the Skimmer of the Seas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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