The fugitives drove hurriedly to the designated house, knocked at the door, were admitted and in a few moments the final act which sealed their fate had been performed.
“Born but to banquet and to drain the bowl.”
The “Mary Ann” had just returned from a trip to New Orleans, and while waiting for her cargo lay moored at the foot of Broadway. As the quack ascended her gang-plank the captain and mate rose to greet him. There was not on the entire river, where so many extraordinary characters have been evolved, a more remarkable pair.
The captain was five feet four inches in height, round, ruddy, mellow and jocund. A complete absence or suppression of moral sense, together with health as perfect as an animal’s, had rendered him insensible to all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. He had never shed a tear save in excessive laughter, and sorrow had never yet struck a dart through the armor of fat in which he was sheathed.
The mate was his counterpart and foil. Six feet and three inches tall, he was long-legged, lantern-jawed and goggle-eyed. Bilious in his constitution, he was melancholic in his temperament, had been crossed in love and soured at twenty, betrayed and bankrupted at thirty, and at forty had turned his back upon the world, forswearing all its amusements but those of the table, which his poor digestion made more painful than pleasurable, all of its ambitions but those of getting money And all friendships but those of the captain, to whom he was attached like a limpet to a rock.
Such were the leading characteristics of the two worthies who rose from their deck-stools to meet the doctor as he rolled up the gangway.
“Howdy, doctor?” said the mate, in the peculiar drawling vernacular of the poor whites of the south, extending a hand as cold and hard as an anchor.
“Welcome, prince of quacks! For a man who has made so many others walk the plank with poison drugs, you do it but poorly yourself,” cried the captain, merrily.
“You will d-d-draw your last breath with a joke, as a d-d-drunkard sips his last drop with a sigh,” responded the doctor.
“The captain was born with the corners of his mouth turned up like a dead man’s toes,” drawled the lugubrious mate.
“Where is the judge?” asked the doctor, hitting the captain a hearty slap on the back.
“He will be here a little later,” the host replied.
The three boon companions seated themselves by the gunwale of the vessel, basking in the mellow light of the moon and quaffing the liquor which a negro brought them.
While they were drinking and recalling the many revels which they had held together, an hour passed by, and at its close a form was seen coming leisurely down the sloping bank of the river. It was the justice of the peace, come to make merry with the husband of the woman he had just betrayed. Upon that cynical countenance a close observer might have noted even in the pale light of the moon an expression of sardonic pleasure when he returned the hearty greetings with which his coming was hailed.