“Yes; bother the particulars, for I don’t know them; but, hark ye, by to-morrow I’ll have found a place for you to go to, so pack up the sticks, get all your stores ready to clear out, and make yourself scarce from this place.”
“I understand you,” said Henry; “We have become the subject of popular rumour; I’ve only to beg of you, admiral, that you’ll say nothing of this to Flora; she has already suffered enough, Heaven knows; do not let her have the additional infliction of thinking that her name is made familiar in every pothouse in the town.”
“Leave me alone for that,” said the admiral. “Do you think I’m an ass?”
“Ay, ay,” said Jack Pringle, who came in at that moment, and thought the question was addressed to him.
“Who spoke to you, you bad-looking horse-marine?”
“Me a horse-marine! didn’t you ask a plain question of a fellow, and get a plain answer?”
“Why, you son of a bad looking gun, what do you mean by that? I tell you what it is, Jack; I’ve let you come sneaking too often on the quarter-deck, and now you come poking your fun at your officers, you rascal!”
“I poking fun!” said Jack; “couldn’t think of such a thing. I should just as soon think of you making a joke as me.”
“Now, I tell you what it is, I shall just strike you off the ship’s books, and you shall just go and cruise by yourself; I’ve done with you.”
“Go and tell that to the marines, if you like,” said Jack. “I ain’t done with you yet, for a jolly long watch. Why, what do you suppose would become of you, you great babby, without me? Ain’t I always a conveying you from place to place, and steering you through all sorts of difficulties?”
“D—–n your impudence!”
“Well, then, d—–n yours.”
“Shiver my timbers!”
“Ay, you may do what you like with your own timbers.”
“And you won’t leave me?”
“Come here, then?”
Jack might have expected a gratuity, for he advanced with alacrity.
“There,” said the admiral, as he laid his stick across his shoulders; “that’s your last month’s wages; don’t spend it all at once.”
“Well, I’m d——d!” said Jack; “who’d have thought of that?—he’s a turning rumgumtious, and no mistake. Howsomdever, I must turn it over in my mind, and be even with him, somehow—I owes him one for that. I say, admiral.”
“What now, you lubber?”
“Nothing; turn that over in your mind;” and away Jack walked, not quite satisfied, but feeling, at least, that he had made a demonstration of attack.
As for the admiral, he considered that the thump he had given Jack with the stick, and it was no gentle one, was a decided balancing of accounts up to that period, and as he remained likewise master of the field, he was upon the whole very well satisfied.