“Hail! If you call straining a man’s throat until he’s hoarse, hailing, I believe I did. I flatter myself, there is not a man north of Hatteras that can make himself heard further in gale of wind than a certain gentleman who is to be found within a foot of the spot where I stand. Yet, sir, I’ve been hailing the Swash these five minutes, and thankful am I to find some one at last who is on board to answer me.”
“What are your orders, Capt. Spike?”
“To see all clear for a start as soon as the flood makes. I shall go through the Gate on the next young flood, and I hope you’ll have all the hands aboard in time. I see two or three of them up at that Dutch beer-house, this moment, and can tell’em; in plain language, if they come here with their beer aboard them, they’ll have to go ashore again.”
“You have an uncommonly sober crew, Capt. Spike,” answered the young man, with great calmness. “During the whole time I have been with them, I have not seen a man among them the least in the wind.”
“Well, I hope it will turn out that I’ve an uncommonly sober mate in the bargain. Drunkenness I abominate, Mr. Mulford, and I can tell you, short metre, that I will not stand it.”
“May I inquire if you ever saw me, the least in the world, under the influence of liquor, Capt. Spike?” demanded the mate, rather than asked, with a very fixed meaning in his manner.
“I keep no log-book of trifles, Mr. Mulford, and cannot say. No man is the worse for bowsing out his jib when off duty, though a drunkard’s a thing I despise. Well, well—remember, sir, that the Molly Swash casts off on the young flood, and that Rose Budd and the good lady, her aunt, take passage in her, this v’y’ge.”
“Is it possible that you have persuaded them into that, at last!” exclaimed the handsome mate.
“Persuaded! It takes no great persuasion, sir, to get the ladies to try their luck in that brig. Lady Washington herself, if she was alive and disposed to a sea-v’y’ge, might be glad of the chance. We’ve a ladies’ cabin, you know, and it’s suitable that it should have some one to occupy it. Old Mrs. Budd is a sensible woman, and takes time by the forelock. Rose is ailin’—pulmonary they call it, I believe, and her aunt wishes to try the sea for her constitution—”
“Rose Budd has no more of a pulmonary constitution than I have myself,” interrupted the mate.
“Well, that’s as people fancy. You must know, Mr. Mulford, they’ve got all sorts of diseases now-a-days, and all sorts of cures for’em. One sort of a cure for consumption is what they tarm the Hyder-Ally—”
“I think you must mean hydropathy, sir—”
“Well it’s something of the sort, no matter what—but cold water is at the bottom of it, and they do say it’s a good remedy. Now Rose’s aunt thinks if cold water is what is wanted, there is no place where it can be so plenty as out on the ocean. Sea-air is good, too, and by taking a v’y’ge her niece will get both requisites together, and cheap.”