The major was standing on the steamboat wharf in Baltimore, nervously consulting his watch, when Jack and I stepped from a cab next day.
“Well, by gravy! is this all? Where are the other gentlemen?”
“They’ll be down in the morning, major,” said Jack. “Where shall we send this baggage?”
“Here, just give it to me! Po’ter, po’ter!” in a stentorian voice. “Take these bags and guns, and put ’em on the upper deck alongside of my luggage. Now, gentlemen, just a sip of somethin’ befo’ they haul the gang-plank,—we’ve six minutes yet.”
The bar was across the street. On the way over, the major confided to Jack full information regarding the state-rooms, remarking that he had selected the “fo’ best on the upper deck,” and adding that he would have paid for them himself only a friend had disappointed him.
It was evident that the barkeeper knew his peculiarities, for a tall, black bottle with a wabbly cork—consisting of a porcelain marble confined in a miniature bird-cage—was passed to the major before he had opened his mouth. When he did open it—the mouth—there was no audible protest as regards the selection. When he closed it again the flow line had fallen some three fingers. It is, however, fair to the major to say that only one third of this amount was tucked away under his own waistcoat.
The trip down the bay was particularly enjoyable, brightened outside on the water by the most brilliant of sunsets, the afternoon sky a glory of purple and gold, and made gay and delightful inside the after-cabin by the charm of the major’s talk,—the whole passenger-list entranced as he skipped from politics and the fine arts to literature, tarrying a moment in his flight to discuss a yellow-backed book that had just been published, and coming to a full stop with the remark:—