“Come, follow me,” said he; “we’ll talk it over with a friend of mine.”
The seaman followed the boy obediently, and in a few minutes stood beside Alice.
Corrie had expected to find her there, but he had not counted on meeting with Poopy and Jo Bumpus.
“Hallo, Grampus! is that you?”
“Wot! Corrie, my boy, is it yourself? Give us your flipper, small though it be. I didn’t think I’d niver see ye agin, lad.”
“No more did I, Grampus; it was very nearly all up with us.”
“Ah, my boy!” said Bumpus, becoming suddenly very grave, “you’ve no notion, how near it was all up with me. Why, you won’t believe it, I was all but scragged.”
“Dear me! what is scragged?” inquired Alice.
“You don’t mean to say you don’t know!” exclaimed Bumpus.
“No, indeed, I don’t.”
“Why, it means being hanged. I was so near hanged, just a day or two back, that I’ve had an ’orrible pain in my neck ever since at the bare thought of it! But who’s your friend?” said Bumpus, turning to the boatswain.
“Oh! I forgot him,—he’s the boatswain of the Talisman. Dick Price, this is my friend John Bumpus.”
“Glad to know you, Dick Price.”
“Same to you, and luck, John Bumpus.”
The two sea-dogs joined their enormous palms, and shook hands cordially.
After these two had indulged in a little desultory conversation, Will Corrie, who, meanwhile, consulted with Alice in an undertone, brought them back to the point that was uppermost in his mind.
“Now,” said he, “it comes to this,—we must not let Gascoyne be hanged.”
“Why, Corrie!” cried Bumpus, in surprise, “that’s the very thing I was a-thinkin’ of w’en I comed up here and found Miss Alice under the tree.”
“I’m glad to hear that, Jo; it’s what has been on my own mind all the morning. But Dick Price, he is not convinced that he deserves to escape. Now you tell him all you know about Gascoyne, and I’ll tell him all I know; and if he don’t believe us, Alice and Poopy will tell him all they know; and if that won’t do, you and I will take him up by the legs and pitch him into the sea!”
“That bein’ how the case stands, fire away,” said Dick Price, with a grin, sitting down on the grass and busily filling his pipe.
Dick was not so hard to be convinced as Corrie had feared. The glowing eulogiums of Bumpus, and the earnest pleadings of Alice, won him over very soon. He finally agreed to become one of the conspirators.
“But how is the thing to be done?” asked Corrie, in some perplexity.
“Ah! that’s the p’int,” observed Dick, looking profoundly wise.
“Nothing easier,” said Bumpus, whose pipe was by this time keeping pace with that of his new friend. “The case is as clear as mud. Here’s how it is. Gascoyne is in limbo; well, we are out of limbo. Good. Then, all we’ve got for to do is to break into limbo and shove Gascoyne out of limbo, and help him to escape. It’s all square, you see, lads.”