Cai stepped back, barred the door, and sought his chamber, after putting out the lamp. He slept as soundly as a child.
“Is Cap’n Hunken upstairs?”
“Ay, ay, sir,” answered Mr Tabb from behind his pile of biscuit tins and soapboxes. The pile had grown—or so it seemed to Cai—and blocked out more of the daylight than ever. “Won’t you step up? You’ll be kindly welcome.”
“I was told I should find him here.” Cai, on requesting Mrs Bowldler that morning to inform him how soon Captain Hunken would be finishing breakfast, had been met with the information that Captain Hunken had breakfasted an hour before, and gone out. ("Which,” said Mrs Bowldler, “it becomes not one in my position to carry tales between one establishment and another: but he bent his steps in the direction of the town. I beg, sir, however, that you will consider this to be strickly between you and me and the gatepost, as the saying is.”) Cai at once surmised the reason of this early sallying forth, and, following in chase, ran against the Quaymaster, from whom he learnt that ’Bias had entered the ship-chandler’s shop half an hour ago. “He has not since emerged,” added the Quaymaster Bussa darkly, as doubtful that in the interim Captain Hunken might have suffered forcible conversion into one of the obscurer “lines” of ship-chandlery, wherein so much purports to be what it is not.
—“I was told I should find him here,” said Cai. “But would ye mind fetchin’ him down to me? The fact is, I want him on a matter of private business.”
Mr Tabb considered for a moment. “If I may advise, sir,” he suggested meekly, “you’ll find it as private up there as anywhere. The master’s past hearin’ what you say—or, if he hears, he’s past takin’ notice: whereas down here, you’re liable to be interrupted by customers—let alone that I mustn’t leave the shop. And,” concluded Mr Tabb, “I would hardly recommend the Quay. Mr Philp’s just arrived there.”
On recovering from his previous stroke, Mr Rogers had given orders that, if another befell him, his bed was to be fetched downstairs and laid in the great bow-window of the parlour. There Cai found him with Fancy in attendance, and ’Bias seated on a chair by the bedside.
“Good-mornin’,” Cai nodded, hushing his voice, and advanced towards the bed almost on tiptoe. “He won’t reckernise me, I suppose?”
The invalid reclined in a posture between lying and sitting, his back propped with pillows, his eyes turned with an expressionless stare towards the harbour. Save for its rigidity and a slight drawing down of the muscles on the left side of the mouth, there was nothing to shock or terrify in the aspect of the face, which kept, moreover, its customary high colour.
“He can’t show it, if that’s what you mean,” answered Fancy. “But he knows us, somewhere at the back of his eyes—of that I’m sure. I got to be very clever watchin’ his eyes, the last stroke he had, and there was quite a different look in ’em when he was pleased, or when he was troubled or wanted something. If you go over quiet and stand by the window, right where he must see you if he sees at all, maybe you’ll notice what I mean.”