It was early morning when Bumpus said all this, and the mariner was enjoying his morning pipe in a reclining attitude on the grass beneath Alice Mason’s favorite tree, from which commanding position he gazed approvingly on the magnificent prospect of land and sea which lay before him, bathed in the light of the rising sun.
“It is wery koorious,” continued John, taking his pipe out of his mouth and addressing himself to it with much gravity—“wery koorious. Things always seems wot they isn’t, and turns out to be wot they didn’t appear as if they wasn’t; werry odd indeed, it is! Only to think that this here sandal-wood trader should turn out for to be Henry’s father and the widow’s mother,—or, I mean, the widow’s husband,—an’ a pirate an’ a deliverer o’ little boys and girls out o’ pirate’s hands,—his own hands, so to speak,—not to mention captings in the Royal Navy, an’ not sich a bad feller after all, as won’t have his liberty on no account wotiver, even if it was gived to him for nothin’, and yet wot can’t get it if he wanted it iver so much; and to think that Jo Bumpus should come for to lend hisself to—Hallo! Jo, back yer tops’ls! Didn’t Henry tell ye that ye wasn’t to convarse upon that there last matter even with yerself, for fear o’ bein’ overheard and sp’ilin’ the whole affair? Come, I’ll refresh myself.”
The refreshment in which Jo proposed to indulge was of a peculiar kind which never failed him,—it was the perusal of Susan’s love-letter.
He now sat up, drew forth the precious and much-soiled epistle, unfolded and spread it out carefully on his knees, placed his pipe very much on one side of his mouth, in order that the smoke might not interfere with his vision, and began to read.
“‘Peeler’s Farm,’—ah! Susan, darlin’, it’s Jo Bumpus as would give all he has in the world, includin’ his Sunday clo’s, to be anchored alongside o’ ye at that same farm!—’Sanfransko.’ I misdoubt the spellin’ o’ that word, Susan, dear; it seems to me raither short, as if ye’d docked off its tail. Howsomdever—’For John bumpuss’—O Susan, Susan! if ye’d only remember the big B, and there ain’t two esses. I’m sure it’s not for want o’tellin’ ye, but ye was never great in the way ov memry or spellin’. Pr’aps it’s as well. Ye’d ha’ bin too perfect, an’ that’s not desirable by no means,—’my darlin’ Jo,’—ay, them’s the words. It’s that as sets my ‘art a b’ilin’ over like.”
Here Jo raised his eyes from the letter, and revelled silently in the thought for at least two minutes, during which his pipe did double duty in half its usual time. Then he recurred to his theme; but some parts he read in silence, and without audible comment.
“Aye,” said he, “’sandle-wood skooners, the Haf ov thems pirits’—so they is, Susan. It’s yer powers o’ prophesy as amazes me; ‘an’ The other hafs no beter;’ a deal wus, Susan, if ye only know’d it. Ah! my sweet gal, if ye knew wot a grief that word ‘beter’ was to me before I diskivered wot it wos, ye’d try to improve yer hand o’ write, an’ make fewer blots!”