Mr. Goodfellow had carried the cupboard with infinite care, but the contents, I need not say, had mixed themselves up in wild disorder, though nothing was broken—not even the pot of guava-jelly. They included a superannuated watch in a loose silver case, a medal (in bronze) struck to commemorate Lord Howe’s famous victory of the First of June, two pieces-of-eight and a spade guinea (much clipped); a small china mug painted with libellous portraits of King George III. and his consort; a printed pamphlet on Admiral Byng; two strings of shells; a mourning-ring with a lock of hair set between two pearls under glass; another ring with a tiny picture of a fountain and urn, and a weeping willow; a paper containing a baby’s caul and a sampler worked with the A.B.C. and the Lord’s Prayer and signed “A.C., 1785;” a gourd, a few glass beads, and a Chinese opium-pipe; and lastly, a thick paper roll bound in yellow-stained parchment. The roll was tied about with string, and the string was sealed, in coarse wax without imprint.
Miss Belcher dived a hand into a fold of her skirt, and drew forth a most unladylike clasp-knife.
“Now for it!” said Miss Belcher.
CAPTAIN COFFIN’S LOG.
As she severed the string the roll fell open and disclosed itself as a book of small quarto shape, bound in limp parchment, with strings to tie the covers together. Its pages, measuring 9 and 3/4 by 8 in., were 64, and numbered throughout; but a bare third of them were written on, and these in an unformed hand which yet was eloquent of much. A paragraph would start with every letter drawn as carefully as in a child’s copy-book; would gradually straggle and let its words fall about, as though fainting by the way; and so would tail into incoherence, to be picked up—next day, no doubt—by a new effort, which, after marching for half a dozen lines, in its turn collapsed. There were lacunae, too, when the shaking hand had achieved but a few weak zigzags before it desisted. The two last pages were scribbled over with sums—or, to speak more correctly, with combinations of figures resembling sums. Here is a single example—
Ode to W. Bate
9 and 1/2d
Bliddin ...... 18d.
To more bacca Oct. 10th do.
Ditto and shave ditto ditto
Mem. do. to him 2s. 6d.
The fly-leaf started bravely with “D. Coffin, His Book.” After this the captain had fallen to practising his signature by way of start. “D. Coffin,” “Danl. Coffin,” “Danyel Coffin,” over and over, and once “D. Coffin, Esq.,” followed by “Steal not this Book for fear of shame.”
Danl. Coffin is my name
England is my nation
Falmth ditto ditto dwelling-place
And hopes to see Salvation.