Janice Meredith eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 705 pages of information about Janice Meredith.

Seated in the sternsheets of the approaching boat was a plainly dressed man, whose appearance so bespoke the mercantile class that it hardly needed the doffing of the captain’s cap and his obsequious “your servant, Mr. Cauldwell, and good health to you,” as the man clambered on board, to announce the owner of the ship.  To the emigrants this sudden deference was a revelation concerning the cruel and oath-using tyrant at whose mercy they had been during the weary weeks at sea.

“A long voyage ye’ve made of it, Captain Caine,” said the merchant.

“Ay, sir,” answered the captain.  “Another ten days would have put us short of water, and—­”

“But not of rum?  Eh?” interrupted Cauldwell.

“As for that,” replied the captain, “there ’s a bottle or two that’s rolled itself till ’t is cruelty not to drink it, and if you’ll test a noggin in the cabin while taking a look at the manifests—­

“Well answered,” cried the merchant, adding, “I see ye set deep.”

“Ay,” said the captain as they went toward the companion-way; “too deep for speed or safety, but the factors care little for sailors’ lives.”

“And a deep ship makes a deep purse.”

“Or a deep grave.”

“Wouldst die ashore, man?”

“God forbid!” ejaculated the mariner, in a frightened voice.  “I’ve had my share of ill-luck without lying in the cold ground.  The very thought goes through me like a dash of spray in a winter v’y’ge.”  He stamped with his foot and roared out, “Forrard there:  Two glasses and a dipper from the rundlet,” at the same time opening a locker and taking therefrom a squat bottle. “’T is enough to make a man bowse himself kissing black Betty to think of being under ground.”  He held the black bottle firmly, as if it were in fact a sailor’s life preserver from such a fate, and hastened, so soon as the cabin-boy appeared with the glasses and dipper, to mix two glasses of rum and water.  Setting these on the table, he took from the locker a bundle of papers, and handed it to the merchant.

Twenty minutes were spent on the clearances and manifests, and then Mr. Cauldwell opened yet another paper.

“Sixty-two in all,” he said, with a certain satisfaction in his voice.

“Sixty-three,” corrected the captain.

“Not by the list,” denied the merchant.

“Sixty-two from Cork Harbour, but we took one aboard ship at Bristol,” explained the captain.

“Ye must pack them close between decks.”

“Ay.  The shoats in the long boat had more room.  Mr.
Bull-dog would none of it, but slept on deck the whole v’y’ge.”

“Mr. Bull-dog?” queried Cauldwell.

“The one your factor shipped at Bristol,” explained Caine, and running over the bundle, he spread before the merchant the following paper:—­

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Janice Meredith from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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