As Dennis put it, there was “any amount of chicanery about the whole affair.” Some of our pay was “set against” supplying “duds” for Dennis to do dirty work in; Alister was employed as sail-maker, and then, like the carpenter, was cheated of his rest. As to food, we were nearly starved, and should have fared even worse than we did, but that the black cook was friendly towards us.
“Dis Water-Lily ob ours a leetle ober-blown, Dennis, I’m tinking,” said Alfonso, showing all his white teeth. “Hope she not fall to pieces dis voyage.”
“Hope not, Alfonso. She hasn’t lost her scent, anyhow!” At which allusion to our unsavoury cargo Alfonso yelled with laughter.
For our favour with the cook (and it means hot coffee, dry socks, and other little comforts being in favour with the cook) we had chiefly to thank Dennis. Our coal-black comrade loved jokes much, but his own dignity just a little more; and the instinctive courtesy which was as natural to Dennis as the flow of his fun, made him particularly acceptable to Alfonso.
And for the rest, we came to feel that if we could keep the Water-Lily afloat to the end of her voyage, most other considerations were minor ones.
“May it please
GOD not to make our friends so happy as to forget
The Water-Lily was re-christened by Dennis, with many flourishes of speech and a deck tub of salt water long before we reached our journey’s end. The Slut, as we now privately called her, defied all our efforts to make her look creditable for New York harbour, but we were glad enough to get her there at all.
We made the lights of Barnegat at about six o’clock one fine morning, took a pilot on board at Sandy Hook, and the Slut being by this time as ship-shape as we could get her, we cleaned ourselves to somewhat better purpose, put on our shore-togs, and were at leisure to enjoy one of the most charming sensations in the world, that of making one’s way into a beautiful harbour on a beautiful morning. The fresh breeze that favoured us, the sunshine that—helped by the enchantment of distance—made warehouses look like public buildings, and stone houses like marble palaces, a softening hue of morning mist still clinging about the heights of Brooklyn and over the distant stretch of the Hudson river islands, the sparkling waves and dancing craft in the bay, and all the dear familiar maze of spars and rigging in the docks; it is wonderful how such sights, and the knowledge that you are close to the haven where you would be, charm away the sore memories of the voyage past, and incline you to feel that it hasn’t been such a bad cruise after all.
“Poor ole Water-Lily!” sighed Alfonso, under the influence of this feeling, “you and me’s called her a heap o’ bad names, Dennis; I ’spects we has to have our grumbles, Dennis. Dat’s ’bout whar ’tis.”