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Sir Mordaunt stood looking on, much impressed by these proceedings. He plucked up when he saw Tripshore grin and heard his remark, and said to me, 'There is evidently plenty of water here, Walton.'

'So there ought to be,' I answered. Meanwhile, Tripshore, I should recommend you to keep that lead-line coiled down ready for an occasional heave. When you can't see you must feel.'

All this time the mist remained abominably thick. It was, indeed, a very fine rain, and it blew along our decks in a kind of smoke. The swell was greatly abated, but the heads of the seas as they arched out of the vapour broke quickly, and with a certain fierceness, and poured in foam against our weather bow. The schooner, in consequence of being sailed so close, crushed through the water heavily and sluggishly, throwing off the spray to leeward in broad seething masses. With her housed topmasts and streaming decks she looked more to be struggling round the Horn than ratching in July upon the Western Atlantic. And, indeed, nothing but a low temperature was wanted to make me believe myself off the Horn, with the long Pacific swell under me, and the air as thick as a feather-bed, and a sharp breeze rattling down out of the mist; just as I remembered it when our latitude was 63° south, though then the decks were covered with ice, and the salt water froze as fast as it was chucked aboard.

At four o'clock the watch below was called. Tripshore came to me and asked respectfully if I meant to stand Purchase's watch. answered that I had offered to do so, and was quite willing to keep my word.

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'I've been turning it over in my mind, sir,' said the mate, and I doubt if the men 'ud feel quite easy. You know what sailors are, sir. The crew have been taught to think of me and Mr. Purchase as their bosses, and of you as passenger.'

'Who'll take turn and turn about with you, then?'

'There's Bill Burton, sir. Bill's our oldest hand, and a good man. The men 'ud mind Bill Burton.'

Sir Mordaunt, who stood near, said, 'As you are to navigate the yacht, Walton, it is only right that others should do the practical part. Tripshore takes Purchase's place, and so let Burton take Tripshore's, if, as you say,'-to the mate- he is the best man for that duty.'

'I'll warrant Bill Burton as a steady man, sir,' said Tripshore. 'He's as good a look-out as any sailor that I was ever shipmates with, and he's something more than a yachtsman.'


'Let us consider that settled,' exclaimed Sir Mordaunt. now the men should be told of the change. Send them aft, Tripshore, or the watch below will be going to bed.' forward the baronet added, 'Will you talk to 'They'd like it better from you,' said I. are their master.'

And as the mate went them, Walton?' You pay them. You

'Very well,' said he, and he fell to stroking down his beard whilst he thought over what he should say to them.

In a few minutes they were all assembled. They were most of them in oilskins, which glistened with the wet, and they stood looking eagerly-this being a novel summons indeed, and they had no idea of what it meant. Sir Mordaunt coughed and fussed, and then rapped out:

I've sent for you to say that Mr. Purchase is no longer captain of my yacht. At this moment he is drunk in his cabin and incapable of coming on deck. Such conduct is scandalous in a responsible man. I don't believe he knows where we are within sixty or seventy miles, and yet there he is in his cabin, drunk and useless, and the weather so thick that you cannot see a boat's length from the side.' (It isn't the first time, sir,' sung out one of the men.) 'I know that. It's the third time. On the second occasion I gave him a good talking to, and he promised on his word as a man that he would not offend again. He's no longer captain. Our lives are too precious to be in the hands of a drunkard, though I always believed him to be a good seaman.' (Some of the men laughed, but Sir Mordaunt took no notice.) Mr. Tripshore will have command until we reach Kingston. Meanwhile, he will want somebody to help him to keep watch, and so I select William Burton. Step forward, Burton.'

The man addressed made a stride, and looked around much astonished.

'You and Tripshore will head the watches,' said Sir Mordaunt, ' and I'll trust to your being a smart seaman to keep a bright lookout and help us all to bring the "Lady Maud" safely to an anchorage.'

'I'm willing to obey any orders, sir,' said the man, who was a short, thick-set, intelligent-looking fellow, with earrings, and a quantity of ringlets over his forehead and down the back of his neck,

but I hope this here setting me to head my watch means no difference 'twixt me and my mates. I'm only a plain sailor man, and don't want to be better nor my equils.'

"They'll obey your orders, of course,' answered Sir Mordaunt. 'That'll be all right, Billy; don't bother about that, mate,' said a voice.

Just then old Purchase made his appearance. He stood a short distance before the mainmast, holding on to the little companion that led to the part of the vessel where his cabin was. The absorptive power of his bibulous clay,' as Southey calls the drunkard's body, had drained the liquor away from his head; but it was easy to see that he was by no means yet recovered, and it looked as if the sight of Sir Mordaunt made him unwilling to trust his legs. He blinked at us in wonder at seeing all hands together in a crowd on the quarter-deck, but was too muddled to perceive or guess the cause of the assembly. The crew were not conscious of his presence, but we who looked forward saw him at once.

Tripshore sidled up to me and whispered, He lay like a dead man, when I tried to rouse him up. But he can smell anything going on, and he knows how to pull himself together, Purchase do.'

It was probably the seeing Tripshore edge up to me and mumble in my ear that made old Purchase roar out violently, How was it no one called me at eight bells?' and knitting his brows and looking very fierce, the better to disguise the lingering effects of the drink in him, he let go his hold of the companion and came lurching along towards us.

At the sound of his voice all the men looked around. He stopped after making a few strides, and planting himself on his legs by setting them wide apart, in which posture he presented the most absurd figure that ever I saw in my life, he roared out again to Tripshore to explain why he hadn't called him at eight bells, that is, at four o'clock.

'I'll answer you,' exclaimed Sir Mordaunt, very sternly, dropping his head on one side and raising his arm. 'More than half an hour ago the mate went to your cabin to tell you I required your presence on deck, but he found you so drunk that he couldn't arouse you.'

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'Me!' said the old fellow, putting on such a face that in an instant half the crew were broadly grinning. Me-Purchasedrunk?' He tapped his breast and fell back a step. 'No, no,' says he, smiling foolishly, and looking round him; this here's some skylarkin' of Ephraim Tripshore's. Tell Sir Mordaunt it's a bit o' tomfoolin', Ephraim. Lor' bless ye, mate! I never was drunk in my life.'

'You're drunk now,' cried Sir Mordaunt, warmly, seeing nothing diverting in this exhibition. Indeed, all the time he was incessantly glancing behind him at the skylights and companion, as if he feared that some echo of what was passing would reach his wife's ears. "You are superseded, sir. I shall discharge you at Kingston, and perhaps prosecute you for this conduct. You gave me your word that you would drink no more. You have broken your promise. You are a drunken fellow, and utterly unfit for the responsible position you have filled. Go back to your cabin, sir. I have given the command to Mr. Tripshore, and William Burton will assist him. We shall manage very well without you, and a deal better than with you. So go below, Mr. Purchase, and don't let me see your face again, sir; and if I hear of you swallowing another drop of spirits before you are out of my vessel, I'll have you locked up in your cabin.'

All this was delivered with an energy that surprised me in my friend. No doubt it was the nervous irritability induced in him by the worries, anxieties, and dangers of the past few days, and our present uneasy condition, that enabled him to rap out so smartly. The men were astonished at this vehemence in their mild-mannered master, but old Purchase was absolutely confounded. After the baronet had ceased, he stood staring at him with his mouth open, No. 631 (NO. CLI. N. s.)


then slowly rolled his eyes around on the faces of the men, as though he would persuade himself by an inspection of their whiskered faces, ashine with the muggy, lukewarm, driving drizzle, that he was not in a drunken dream. Presently his gaze rested upon my face.

'Ha, Mr. Walton!' he bawled, extending his great clenched fist toward me. 'It's you I've got to thank for this, I suppose. It's you that's pisoned Sir Mordaunt's mind against me!'

I looked at him coldly. He was proceeding. 'Will you go away?' cried Sir Mordaunt.

The old fellow, retreating a step, shook his clenched fist at me. 'You call yourself a sailor?' he shouted, in the thickest and deepest notes I had ever heard rumble from him. He drew a deep breath, and added, 'You're a marine! You're a sea-cook! A sailor? Why '—he drew another deep breath-as sure as ye stan' there-—’

I was never a man to be menaced. I stepped hurriedly towards him, but at the first movement I made he rounded on his legs and started for the companion; and, drunk as he was, he managed to scull himself along fast enough to swing himself down the companion steps before I could reach that hatch, and vanished amid a halfsuppressed shout of laughter from the crew.

Sir Mordaunt had nothing more to say to the men, so they went forward, and Bill Burton, as they called him, was left to stump the deck of the schooner for a couple of hours. I could not help laughing at the gravity and look of importance the man put on. He had a nose like the bill of a hawk, and the wet collected on his face and streamed away from the point of his nose in large drops. He stepped the deck as regularly as a pendulum, his walk extending from the taffrail to abreast of the mainmast, and every time he came to a stop, before slueing round, he would dry his eyes on the knuckles of his claws, take a hard, steady squint at the fog on either side and ahead, cast a prolonged look aloft, and so start afresh, swinging along in a gait that was an indescribable roll, his arms swaying athwart his body, and the fingers of his hands curled, as though they still grasped

a rope.

as he

Sir Mordaunt now went below to change his clothes, which hung upon him like wet paper. I crossed over to Bill Burton came along, and said it was a pity that Purchase should not have held his drinking habit in check until he was ashore, or until the weather improved.

'Well, I don't mind telling 'ee, sir, I never took him for much,' he answered. We all knew he was given to'-here the man imitated the action of drinking-for most of us in our tricks at the wheel in the night, when you gents was turned in, have seen him cruising about in a way that proved his ballast was i' the wrong end of him. But it wasn't for us to take notice.'

'I should have supposed the speech he made to you, when the watches were called for the first time, enough to ruin him in the confidence of the crew,' said I.

'Ay,' be answered. 'That were a rum speech. I doubt if he

had his head when he talked that slush.'

'What drift should you think we made in the gale, Burton ? You'll allow for the send of the heavy sea, and recollect that our freeboard was tall enough to scud under every time we were hove up.'

He reflected, and said, 'Two mile an hour, might be.'

'What do you think?'

'Well, I should say that, sir.'

'That would bring it hard upon a hundred miles,' said I.

It wouldn't be much less,' he answered. I've been going to leeward two mile an hour under bare poles in a heavier craft than this vessel.'

'Purchase allows only thirty miles for drift in the gale,' said I. He went to the rail to spit, as a mark of contempt. My 'pinion is,' said he, coming back, he never saw a real gale o' wind afore this woyage.'

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'That's my notion, too,' said I. He's not only out in his dead reckoning, but I thoroughly question whether he was correct in his sights when he last took them. Therefore this thick weather and the wind dead in our eye is something to keep us uneasy. Even if Purchase's reckoning is right, the Bahamas are not far off. What instructions has Tripshore given you?'

To keep her as close as she'll go, and take a heave of the lead. every half-hour.'

'That's it. And let me add, if the vessel should break off by even a quarter of a point, put her about.'

'Ay, ay, sir.'

I went to look at the compass, and found it steady at south-eastby-south. The wind had not increased in weight, but it blew very fresh, and under the double-reefed mainsail the yacht's lee rail lay low upon the smother of foam which the bursting and chopping action of the little schooner threw up around her hull. The mist was as thick as smoke, and the water hardly to be seen outside the line of froth under the vessel.

'Is this thickness going to last?' I said to Burton.

'There's no tellin', sir. If you mustn't trust a squall ye can't see through, what's to be thought of stuff like this here?'

This sort of comfort might have suited Job, but it was of no use to me. I had been on deck all the afternoon, was wet through, as uncomfortable in body as in mind, and thought it about time to follow Sir Mordaunt's example, and dry myself.

Keep a sharp look-out,' said I, and don't forget to 'bout ship if she breaks off,' and, so saying, I gave my body a hearty swing, to shake off the wet and save the cabin carpet, and went below.

Norie was stretched along one of the lockers, reading. I pushed past, being too wet to bother with his questions, and going to my berth, dried and re-clothed myself, taking care to lay out my water

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