“Do you call six the half of ten, Joshua, my scholar, eh?”
“Well, den, seven, if you like dat better. I wants just half, and just half I means to git.”
“And half you shall have, maty. I only wish you would just tell me where we shall be, when we gets in.”
“How I know, white man? Dat belong to skipper, and better ask him. If he do n’t gib you lick in de chop, p’rhaps he tell you.”
As Jack Tier had no taste for “licks in the chops,” he did not follow Josh’s advice. But his agreeing to give half of the ten dollars to the steward kept peace in the cabins. He was even so scrupulous of his word, as to hand to Josh a half-eagle that very day; money he had received from Rose; saying he would trust to Providence for his own half of the expected douceur. This concession placed Jack Tier on high grounds with his “superior officer,” and from that time the former was left to do the whole of the customary service of the ladies’ cabin.
As respects the vessel, nothing worthy of notice occurred until she had passed Loggerhead Key, and was fairly launched in the Gulf of Mexico. Then, indeed, Spike took a step that greatly surprised his mate. The latter was directed to bring all his instruments, charts, &c., and place them in the captain’s state-room, where it was understood they were to remain until the brig got into port. Spike was but an indifferent navigator, while Mulford was one of a higher order than common. So much had the former been accustomed to rely on the latter, indeed, as they approached a strange coast, that he could not possibly have taken any step, that was not positively criminal, which would have given his mate more uneasiness than this.
At first, Mulford naturally enough suspected that Spike intended to push for some Mexican port, by thus blinding his eyes as to the position of the vessel. The direction steered, however, soon relieved the mate from this apprehension. From the eastern extremity of Yucatan, the Mexican coast trends to the westward, and even to the south of west, for a long distance, whereas the course steered by Spike was north, easterly. This was diverging from the enemy’s coast instead of approaching it, and the circumstance greatly relieved the apprehensions of Mulford.
Nor was the sequestration of the mate’s instruments the only suspicious act of Spike. He caused the brig’s paint to be entirely altered, and even went so far toward disguising her, as to make some changes aloft. All this was done as the vessel passed swiftly on her course, and everything had been effected, apparently to the captain’s satisfaction, when the cry of “land-ho!” was once more heard. The land proved to be a cluster of low, small islands, part coral, part sand, that might have been eight or ten in number, and the largest of which did not possess a surface of more than a very few acres. Many were the merest islets imaginable, and on one of the largest of the cluster rose a tall,