“Yes,” replied Vanslyperken.
“I will be down directly, sir,” replied the old boatman, who in a minute or two appeared with his sculls on his shoulder.
“Not easy to find a boat at this time of the morning, sir,” said the man; “but I heard you speaking, for I’ve had such a toothache these two nights that I can’t shut my eyes.”
The old man unlocked the chain which fastened his wherry, and in a few minutes Vanslyperken was on the deck of the cutter, but he found there was no one to receive him,—no watch kept.
“Very well,” thought he, “we’ll talk about this to-morrow morning. Short or Coble, I wonder which of the two—pretty neglect of duty, indeed—report to the admiral, by heavens!”
So saying, Mr Vanslyperken, with Snarleyyow at his heels, went down into the cabin—undressed in the dark, for he would not let anyone know that he was on board. It being about three o’clock in the morning, and Mr Vanslyperken being well tired with the events of the day, he was soon in a sound sleep. There will be no difficulty in accounting for the return of the dog, which had a skull much thicker than even the corporal’s. He had been stunned with the heavy blows, but not killed. After a certain time he came to himself in his bed of leaves, first scratched with one paw, and then with another, till his senses returned: he rose, worked his way out, and lay down to sleep. After he had taken a long nap, he rose recovered, shook himself, and trotted down to the beach, but the boat had shoved off, and the cur had remained there waiting for an opportunity to get on board, when his master came down with the same object in view.
But as every soul is fast asleep, we shall now finish the chapter.
Listeners never hear any good of themselves.
Vanslyperken was awakened three hours after he had fallen asleep by the noise of the buckets washing the decks. He heard the men talking on deck, and aware that no one knew that he was on board, he rose from his bed, and opened one of the sliding sashes of the skylight, that he might overhear the conversation. The first words he heard were from Bill Spurey.
“I say, Coble, I wonder what the skipper will say when he comes on board, and finds that the dog is gone?”
“Hoh! hoh!” thought Vanslyperken.
“I arn’t convinced that he is gone yet,” replied Coble.
“Smallbones swears that he’s settled, this time,” replied Spurey.
“So he did before,” replied Coble.
“Smallbones again,” thought Vanslyperken. “I’ll—Smallbones him, if I hang for it.”
“Why, he says he buried him two feet deep.”
“Ay, ay; but what’s the use of burying an animal who’s not a human creature? For my part, I say this, that the imp belongs to his master, and is bound to serve him as long as his master lives. When he dies the dog may be killed, and then——”