I woke and sat up, and found that the latter part of my dream had come true, as a lump on the back of my head bore witness for some days. Francis had playfully let me down “with a run by the head,” as it is called; that is, he had undone my hammock-cord and landed me on the floor. He left Alister in peace, and I can only think of two reasons for his selecting me for the joke. First that the common sailors took much more readily to Alister from his being more of their own rank in birth and upbringing, though so vastly superior by education. And secondly, that I was the weaker of the two; for what I have seen of the world has taught me that there are plenty of strong people who will not only let the weaker go to the wall, but who find an odd satisfaction in shoving and squeezing them there.
However, if I was young and sea-sick, I was not quite helpless, happily; I refastened my hammock, and got into it again, and being pretty well tired out by the day’s work, I slept that sleep of the weary which knows no dream.
“Yet more! The
billows and the depths have more:
High hearts and brave are gathered to thy breast!
* * * * * * *
Keep thy red gold and gems, thou stormy grave!
Give back the true and brave!”—FELICIA HEMANS.
“To them their duty was
clear, and they did it successfully; and
the history of the island is written briefly in that little
formula!”—Daily Telegraph, Dec. 5, 1878.
I did not feel as if I had been asleep five minutes, when I was rudely awakened, of course by noise, whistling, and inarticulate roaring, and I found that it was morning, and that the boatswain’s mate was “turning the hands up” to wash decks. Alister was ready, and I found that my toilet was, if possible, shorter than at Snuffy’s in winter.
“We puts hon our togs fust, and takes our shower-baths harterwards,” the boatswain humorously explained, as he saw me trying to get the very awkward collar of my “slops” tidy as I followed with the crowd.
The boatswain was a curious old fellow. He was born in London, “within sound of Bow bells,” as he told me; but though a Cockney by birth, he could hardly be called a native of anywhere but the world at large. He had sailed in all seas, and seemed to have tried his hand at most trades. He had at one time been a sort of man-of-all-work in a boys’ school, and I think it was partly from this, and partly out of opposition to the sail-maker, that he never seemed to grudge my not having been born a poor person, or to fancy I gave myself airs (which I never did), or to take a pleasure in making me feel the roughest edge of the menial work I had to do, like so many of the men. But he knew very well just where things did feel strangest and hardest to me, and showed that he knew it by many a bit of not unkindly chaff.