“O Lord, sir! let me off this time, it’s only a soldier,” replied Smallbones, deprecatingly; but Snarleyyow’s appetite had been very much sharpened by his morning’s walk; it rose with the smell of the herring, so he rose on his hind legs, snapped the herring out of Smallbones’ hand, bolted forward by the lee gangway, and would soon have bolted the herring, had not Smallbones bolted after him and overtaken him just as he had laid it down on the deck preparatory to commencing his meal. A fight ensued; Smallbones received a severe bite in the leg, which induced him to seize a handspike, and make a blow with it at the dog’s head, which, if it had been well aimed, would have probably put an end to all further pilfering. As it was, the handspike descended upon one of the dog’s fore toes, and Snarleyyow retreated, yelling, to the other side of the forecastle, and as soon as he was out of reach, like all curs, bayed in defiance.
Smallbones picked up the herring, pulled up his trousers to examine the bite, poured down an anathema upon the dog, which was, “May you be starved, as I am, you beast!” and then turned round to go aft, when he struck against the spare form of Mr Vanslyperken, who, with his hands in his pocket, and his trumpet under his arm, looked unutterably savage.
“How dare you beat my dog, you villain?” said the lieutenant at last, choking with passion.
“He’s a-bitten my leg through and through, sir,” replied Smallbones, with a face of alarm.
“Well, sir, why have you such thin legs, then?”
“’Cause I gets nothing to fill ’em up with.”
“Have you not a herring there, you herring-gutted scoundrel? which, in defiance of all the rules of the service, you have brought on his Majesty’s quarter-deck, you greedy rascal, and for which I intend—”
“It ar’n’t my herring, sir, it be yours—for your breakfast—the only one that is left out of the half-dozen.”
This last remark appeared somewhat to pacify Mr Vanslyperken.
“Go down below, sir,” said he, after a pause, “and let me know when my breakfast is ready.”
Smallbones obeyed immediately, too glad to escape so easily.
“Snarleyyow,” said his master, looking at the dog, who remained on the other side of the forecastle; “O Snarleyyow, for shame! Come here, sir. Come here, sir, directly.”
But Snarleyyow, who was very sulky at the loss of his anticipated breakfast, was contumacious, and would not come. He stood at the other side of the forecastle, while his master apostrophised him, looking him in the face. Then, after a pause of indecision, he gave a howling sort of bark, trotted away to the main hatchway, and disappeared below. Mr Vanslyperken returned to the quarter-deck, and turned, and turned as before.
Showing what became of the red-herring.
Smallbones soon made his re-appearance, informing Mr Vanslyperken that his breakfast was ready for him, and Mr Vanslyperken, feeling himself quite ready for his breakfast, went down below. A minute after he had disappeared, another man came up to relieve the one at the wheel, who, as soon as he had surrendered up the spokes, commenced warming himself after the most approved method, by flapping his arms round his body.