“’Tis a pretty spot?” said Henry, interrogatively, as the party halted on the edge of a precipice, whence they obtained an uninterrupted view of the whole of that side of the island.
“Ay, pretty enough,” replied Gascoyne, in a somewhat sad tone of voice: “I had hoped to have led a quiet life here once, but that was not to be. How say you, Bumpus; could you make up your mind to cast anchor here for a year or so?”
“Wot’s that you say, capting?” inquired honest John, who was evidently lost in admiration of the magnificent scene that lay spread out before him.
“I ask if you have no objection to come to an anchor here for a time,” repeated the captain.
“Objection! I’ll tell ye wot it is, capting, I never seed sich a place afore in all my born days. Why, it’s a slice out o’ paradise. I do believe if Adam and Eve wos here they’d think they’d got back again into Eden. It’s more beautifuller than the blue ocean, by a long chalk; an’ if you wants a feller that’s handy at a’most anything after a fashion,—a jack-of-all-trades and master of-none (except seamanship, which ain’t o’ no use here),—Jo Bumpus is your man!”
“I’m glad to hear you say that, Jo,” said Henry, laughing, “for we are greatly in need of white men of your stamp in these times, when the savages are so fierce against each other that they are like to eat us up altogether, merely by way of keeping their hands in practise.”
“White men of my stamp!” remarked Bumpus, surveying complacently his deeply-bronzed hands, which were only a shade darker than his visage; “well, I would like to know what ye call black if I’m a white man.”
“Blood, and not skin, is what stamps the color of the man, Jo. If it were agreeable to Captain Gascoyne to let you off your engagement to him, I think I could make it worth your while to engage with me, and would find you plenty of work of all kinds, including a little of that same fighting for which the Bumpuses are said to be so famous.”
“Gentlemen,” said Jo, gravely, “I am agreeable to become a good and chattel for this occasion only, as the playbills say, and hold myself up to the highest bidder.”
“Nay, you are sold to me, Bumpus,” said Gascoyne, “and must do as I bid you.”
“Wery good, then bid away as fast as you like.”
“Come, captain, don’t be hard,” said Henry: “what will you take for him?”
“I cannot afford to sell him at any price,” replied the other, “for I have brought him here expressly as a gift to a certain Mary Stuart, queen of women, if not of Scotland,—a widow who dwells in Sandy Cove—”