Accordingly, Corrie tried. He began to bake the seaman, as it were, with his fists. As the process went on he warmed to the work, and did it so energetically, in his mingled anxiety and hope, that it assumed the character of hitting rather than punching—to the dismay of Alice, who thought it impossible that any human being could stand such dreadful treatment.
Whether it was owing to this process, or to the action of nature, or to the combined efforts of nature and his friends, that Bumpus owed his recovery, we cannot pretend to say; but certain it is, that, on Corrie’s making a severer dab than usual into the pit of the seaman’s stomach, he gave a gasp and a sneeze, the latter of which almost overturned Poopy, who chanced to be gazing wildly into his countenance at the moment. At the same time he involuntarily threw up his right arm, and fetched Corrie such a tremendous backhander on the chest that our young hero was laid flat on his back, half stunned by the violence of the fall, yet shouting with delight that his rugged friend still lived to strike another blow.
Having achieved this easy though unintentional victory, Bumpus sighed again, shook his legs in the air, and sat up, gazing before him with a bewildered air, and gasping from time to time in a quiet way.
“Wot’s to do?” were the first words with which the restored seaman greeted his friends.
“Hurrah!” screamed Corrie, his visage blazing with delight, as he danced in front of him.
“Werry good,” said Bumpus, whose intellect was not yet thoroughly restored; “try it again.”
“Oh, how cold your cheeks are!” said Alice, placing her hands on them, and chafing them gently; then, perceiving that she did not communicate much warmth in that way, she placed her own fair, soft cheek against that of the sailor. Suddenly throwing both arms round his neck, she hugged him, and burst into tears.
Bumpus was somewhat taken aback by this unexpected explosion; but, being an affectionate man as well as a rugged one, he had no objection whatever to the peculiar treatment. He allowed the child to sob on his neck as long as she chose, while Corrie stood by, with his hands in his pockets, sailor-fashion, and looked on admiringly. As for Poopy, she sat down on a rock a short way off, and began to smile and talk to herself in a manner so utterly idiotical that an ignorant observer would certainly have judged her to be insane.
They were thus agreeably employed, when an event occurred which changed the current of their thoughts, and led to consequences of a somewhat serious nature. The event, however, was in itself insignificant. It was nothing more than the sudden appearance of a wild pig among the bushes close at hand.
A WILD CHASE—HOPE, DISAPPOINTMENT, AND DESPAIR—THE SANDAL-WOOD TRADER OUTWITS THE MAN-OF-WAR.
When the wild pig, referred to in the last chapter, was first observed, it was standing on the margin of a thicket, from which it had just issued, gazing, with the profoundly philosophical aspect peculiar to that animal, at our four friends, and seeming to entertain doubts as to the propriety of beating an immediate retreat.