A TERRIBLE DOOM FOR AN INNOCENT MAN.
“So, you’re to be hanged for a pirate, Jo Bumpus, ye are. That’s pleasant to think of, anyhow.”
Such was the remark which our stout seaman addressed to himself when he awoke on the second morning after the departure of the Wasp. If the thought was really as pleasant as he asserted it to be, his visage must have been a bad index to the state of his mind; for at that particular moment Joe looked uncommonly miserable.
The wonted good-humored expression of his countenance had given place to a gaze of stereotyped surprise and solemnity. Indeed, Bumpus seemed to have parted with much of his reason, and all of his philosophy; for he could say nothing else during at least half an hour after awaking except the phrase, “So you’re going to be hanged for a pirate.” His comments on the phrase were, however, a little varied, though always brief; such as, “Wot a sell! Who’d ha’ thought it! It’s a dream, it is,—an ’orrible dream! I don’t believe it; who does? Wot’ll your poor mother say?” and the like.
Bumpus had, unfortunately, good ground for making this statement.
After the cutter sailed it was discovered that Bumpus was concealed in Mrs. Stuart’s cottage. This discovery had been the result of the seaman’s own recklessness and indiscretion; for when he ascertained that he was to be kept a prisoner in the cottage until the return of the Wasp, he at once made up his mind to submit with a good grace to what could not be avoided. In order to prove that he was by no means cast down, as well as to lighten the tedium of his confinement, Jo entertained himself by singing snatches of sea songs; such as, “My tight little craft,”—“A life on the stormy sea,”—“Oh for a draught of the howling blast!” etc.; all of which he delivered in a bass voice so powerful that it caused the rafters of the widow’s cottage to ring again.
These melodious, not to say thunderous, sounds also caused the ears of a small native youth to tingle with curiosity. This urchin crept on his brown little knees under the window of Bumpus’s apartment, got on his brown and dirty little tip-toes, placed his brown little hands on the sill, hauled his brown and half-naked little body up by sheer force of muscle, and peeped into the room with his large and staring brown eyes, the whites of which were displayed to their full extent.
Jo was in the middle of an enthusiastic “Oh!” when the urchin’s head appeared. Instead of expressing his passionate desire for a “draught of the howling blast,” he prolonged the “Oh!” into a hideous yell, and thrust his blazing face close to the window so suddenly that the boy let go his hold, fell backwards, and rolled head over heels into a ditch, out of which he scrambled with violent haste, and ran with the utmost possible precipitancy to his native home on the sea-shore.