JARWIN AND CUFFY, BY R.M. BALLANTYNE.
ADRIFT ON THE OCEAN.
On a certain morning, not very long ago, the sun, according to his ancient and admirable custom, rose at a very early hour, and casting his bright beams far and wide over the Pacific, lighted up the yellow sands and the verdant hills of one of the loveliest of the islands of that mighty sea.
It was early morning, as we have said, and there was plenty of life— animal as well as vegetable—to be seen on land and sea, and in the warm, hazy atmosphere. But there were no indications of man's presence in that beautiful scene. The air was perfectly calm, yet the gentle swell of the ocean terminated in great waves, which came rolling in like walls of glass, and fell on the coral-reef like rushing snow-wreaths with a roar as loud as thunder.
Thousands of sea-birds screamed and circled in the sky. Fish leaped high out of their native element into the air, as if they wished to catch the gulls, while the gulls, seemingly smitten with a similar desire, dived into the water as if they wished to catch the fish. It might have been observed, however, that while the fish never succeeded in catching the gulls, the latter very frequently caught the fish, and, without taking the trouble to kill them, bolted them down alive.
Cocoanut-palms cast the shadows of their long stems and graceful tops upon the beach, while, farther inland, a dense forest of tropical plants—bread-fruit trees, bananas, etcetera—rose up the mountain-sides. Here and there open patches might be seen, that looked like fields and lawns, but there were no cottages or villas. Droves of pigs rambled about the valleys and on the hill-sides, but they were wild pigs. No man tended them. The bread-fruits, the cocoanuts, the bananas, the plantains, the plums, all were beautiful and fit for food, but no man owned them or used them, for, like many other spots in that sea of coral isles and savage men, the island was uninhabited.
In all the wide expanse of ocean that surrounded that island, there was nothing visible save one small, solitary speck on the far-off horizon. It might have been mistaken for a seagull, but it was in reality a raft—a mass of spars and planks rudely bound together with ropes. A boat's mast rose from the centre of it, on which hung a rag of sail, and a small red flag drooped motionless from its summit. There were a few casks on the highest part of the raft, but no living soul was visible. Nevertheless, it was not without tenants. In a hollow between two of the spars, under the shadow of one of the casks, lay the form of a man. The canvas trousers, cotton shirt, blue jacket, and open necktie, bespoke him a sailor, but it seemed as though there were nothing left save the dead body of the unfortunate tar, so pale and thin and ghastly were his features. A terrier dog lay beside him, so shrunken that it looked like a mere scrap of door-matting. Both man and dog were apparently dead, but they were not so in reality, for, after lying about an hour quite motionless, the man slowly opened his eyes.
Ah, reader, it would have touched your heart to have seen those eyes! They were so deep set, as if in dark caverns, and so unnaturally large. They gazed round in a vacant way for a few moments, until they fell on the dog. Then a gleam of fire shot through them, and their owner raised his large, gaunt, wasted frame on one elbow, while he gazed with a look of eagerness, which was perfectly awful, at his dumb companion.
"Not dead yet!" he said, drawing a long sigh.
There was a strange, incongruous mixture of satisfaction and discontent in the remark, which was muttered in a faint whisper.
Another gleam shot through the large eyes. It was not a pleasant look. Slowly, and as if with difficulty, the man drew a clasp-knife from his pocket, and opened it. As he did so, his brows lowered and his teeth became clenched. It was quite plain what he meant to do. As he held the open knife over the dog's head, he muttered, "Am I to die for the sake of a dog!"
Either the terrier's slumbers had come to an end naturally, at a fortunate moment, or the master's voice had awakened it, for it opened its eyes, raised its head, and looked up in the sailor's face. The hand with the knife drooped a little. The dog rose and licked it. Hunger had done its work on the poor creature, for it could hardly stand, yet it managed to look in its master's face with that grave, simple gaze of self-forgetting love, which appears to be peculiar to the canine race. The savage glare of the seaman's eyes vanished. He dropped the knife.
"Thanks, Cuffy; thanks for stoppin' me. It would have been murder! No, no, my doggie, you and I shall die together."
His voice sank into a murmur, partly from weakness and partly from the ideas suggested by his concluding words.
"Die together!" he repeated, "surely it ain't come to that yet. Wot, John Jarwin, you're not goin' to give in like that, are you? to haul down your colours on a fine day with a clear sky like this overhead? Come, cheer up, lad; you're young and can hold out a good while yet. Hey, old dog, wot say you?"
The dog made a motion that would, in ordinary circumstances, have resulted in the wagging of its tail, but the tail was powerless to respond.
At that moment a gull flew towards the raft; Jarwin watched it eagerly as it approached. "Ah," he muttered, clasping his bony hand as tightly over his heart as his strength would allow and addressing the gull, "if I only had hold of you, I'd tear you limb from limb, and drink your blood!"
He watched the bird intently as it flew straight over him. Leaning back, he continued slowly to follow its flight, until his head rested on the block of wood which had served him for a pillow. The support felt agreeable, he forgot the gull, closed his eyes, and sank with a deep sigh into a slumber that strongly resembled death.
Presently he awoke with a start, and, once more raising himself, gazed round upon the sea. No ship was to be seen. How often he had gazed round the watery circle with the same anxious look only to meet with disappointment! The hills of the coral island were visible like a blue cloud on the horizon, but Jarwin's eyes were too dim and worn out to observe them.
"Come," he exclaimed, suddenly, scrambling to his feet, "rouse up, Cuffy; you an' I ain't a-goin' to die without a good fight for life. Come along, my hearty; we'll have another glass of grog—Adam's grog it is, but it has been good grog to you an' me, doggie—an' then we shall have another inspection o' the locker; mayhap there's the half of a crumb left."
The comparatively cheery tone in which the sailor said this seemed to invigorate the dog, for it rose and actually succeeded in wriggling its tail as it staggered after its master—indubitable sign of hope and love not yet subdued!
Jarwin went to a cask which still contained a small quantity of fresh water. Three weeks before the point at which we take up his story, a storm had left him and his dog the sole survivors on the raft of the crew of a barque which had sprung a leak, and gone to the bottom. His provision at the time was a very small quantity of biscuit and a cask of fresh water. Several days before this the last biscuit had been consumed but the water had not yet failed. Hitherto John Jarwin had husbanded his provisions, but now, feeling desperate, he drank deeply of the few remaining drops of that liquid which, at the time, was almost as vital to him as his life-blood. He gave a full draught also to the little dog.
"Share and share alike, doggie," he said, patting its head, as it eagerly lapped up the water; "but there's no wittles, Cuffy, an' ye don't care for baccy, or ye should be heartily welcome to a quid."
So saying, the sailor supplied his own cheek with a small piece of his favourite weed, and stood up on the highest part of the raft to survey the surrounding prospect. He did so without much hope, for "hope deferred" had at last made his heart sick. Suddenly his wandering gaze became fixed and intense. He shaded his eyes with one hand, and steadied himself against the mast with the other. There could be no doubt of it! "Land ho!" he shouted, with a degree of strength that surprised himself, and even drew from Cuffy the ghost of a bark. On the strength of the discovery Jarwin and his dumb friend immediately treated themselves to another glass of Adam's grog.
But poor Jarwin had his patience further tried. Hours passed away, and still the island seemed as far off as ever. Night drew on, and it gradually faded from his view. But he had unquestionably seen land; so, with this to comfort him, the starving tar lay down beside his dog to spend another night—as he had already spent many days and nights—a castaway on the wide ocean.
Morning dawned, and the sailor rose with difficulty. He had forgotten, for a moment, the discovery of land on the previous night, but it was brought suddenly to his remembrance by the roar of breakers near at hand. Turning in the direction whence the sound came, he beheld an island quite close to him, with heavy "rollers" breaking furiously on the encircling ring of the coral-reef. The still water between the reef and the shore, which was about a quarter of a mile wide, reflected every tree and crag of the island, as if in a mirror. It was a grand, a glorious sight, and caused Jarwin's heart to swell with emotions that he had never felt before; but his attention was quickly turned to a danger which was imminent, and which seemed to threaten the total destruction of his raft, and the loss of his life.
A very slight breeze—a mere zephyr—which had carried him during the night towards the island, was now bearing him straight, though slowly, down on the reef, where, if he had once got involved in the breakers, the raft must certainly have been dashed to pieces; and he knew full well, that in his weak condition, he was utterly incapable of contending with such a surf.
Being a man of promptitude, his first act, on making this discovery, was to lower the sail. This was, fortunately, done in time; had he kept it up a few minutes longer, he must inevitably have passed the only opening in the reef that existed on that side of the island. This opening was not more than fifty yards wide. To the right and left of it the breakers on the reef extended, in lines of seething foam. Already the raft was rolling in the commotion caused by these breakers, as it drifted towards the opening.
Jarwin was by no means devoid of courage. Many a time, in days gone by, when his good ship was tossing on the stormy sea, or scudding under bare poles, had he stood on the deck with unshaken confidence and a calm heart, but now he was face to face with the seaman's most dreaded enemy—"breakers ahead!"—nay, worse, breakers around him everywhere, save at that one narrow passage, which appeared so small, and so involved in the general turmoil, as to afford scarcely an element of hope. For the first time in his life Jarwin's heart sank within him—at least so he said in after years while talking of the event—but we suspect that John was underrating himself. At all events, he showed no symptoms of fear as he sat there calmly awaiting his fate.
As the raft approached the reef, each successive roller lifted it up and dropped it behind more violently, until at last the top of one of the glittering green walls broke just as it passed under the end of the raft nearest the shore. Jarwin now knew that the next billow would seal his fate.
There was a wide space between each of those mighty waves. He looked out to sea, and beheld the swell rising and taking form, and increasing in speed as it came on. Calmly divesting himself of his coat and boots, he sat down beside his dog, and awaited the event. At that moment he observed, with intense gratitude to the Almighty, that the raft was drifting so straight towards the middle of the channel in the reef, that there seemed every probability of being carried through it; but the hope thus raised was somewhat chilled by the feeling of weakness which pervaded his frame.
"Now, Cuffy," said he, patting the terrier gently, "rouse up, my doggie; we must make a brave struggle for life. It's neck or nothing this time. If we touch that reef in passing, Cuff, you an' I shall be food for the sharks to-night, an' it's my opinion that the shark as gits us won't have much occasion to boast of his supper."
The sailor ceased speaking abruptly. As he looked back at the approaching roller he felt solemnised and somewhat alarmed, for it appeared so perpendicular and so high from his low position, that it seemed as if it would fall on and overwhelm the raft. There was, indeed, some danger of this. Glancing along its length, Jarwin saw that here and there the edge was lipping over, while in one place, not far off, the thunder of its fall had already begun. Another moment, and it appeared to hang over his head; the raft was violently lifted at the stern, caught up, and whirled onward at railway speed, like a cork in the midst of a boiling cauldron of foam. The roar was deafening. The tumultuous heaving almost overturned it several times. Jarwin held on firmly to the mast with his right arm, and grasped the terrier with his left hand, for the poor creature had not strength to resist such furious motion. It all passed with bewildering speed. It seemed as if, in one instant, the raft was hurled through the narrows, and launched into the calm harbour within. An eddy, at the inner side of the opening, swept it round, and fixed the end of one of the largest spars of which it was composed on the beach.
There were fifty yards or so of sandy coral-reef between the beach outside, that faced the sea, and the beach inside, which faced the land; yet how great the difference! The one beach, buffeted for ever, day and night, by the breakers—in calm by the grand successive rollers that, as it were, symbolised the ocean's latent power—in storm by the mad deluge of billows which displayed that power in all its terrible grandeur. The other beach, a smooth, sloping circlet of fair white sand, laved only by the ripples of the lagoon, or by its tiny wavelets, when a gale chanced to sweep over it from the land.
Jarwin soon gained this latter beach with Cuffy in his arms, and sat down to rest, for his strength had been so much reduced that the mere excitement of passing through the reef had almost exhausted him. Cuffy, however, seemed to derive new life from the touch of earth again, for it ran about in a staggering drunken sort of way; wagged its tail at the root,—without, however, being able to influence the point,—and made numerous futile efforts to bark.
In the midst of its weakly gambols the terrier chanced to discover a dead fish on the sands. Instantly it darted forward and began to devour it with great voracity.
"Halo! Cuffy," shouted Jarwin, who observed him; "ho! hold on, you rascal! share and share alike, you know. Here, fetch it here!"
Cuffy had learned the first great principle of a good and useful life— whether of man or beast—namely, prompt obedience. That meek but jovial little dog, on receiving this order, restrained its appetite, lifted the fish in its longing jaws, and, carrying it to his master, humbly laid it at his feet. He was rewarded with a hearty pat on the head, and a full half of the coveted fish—for Jarwin appeared to regard the "share-and-share-alike" principle as a point of honour between them.
The fish was not good, neither was it large, and of course it was raw, besides being somewhat decayed; nevertheless, both man and dog ate it, bones and all, with quiet satisfaction. Nay, reader, do not shudder! If you were reduced to similar straits, you would certainly enjoy, with equal gusto, a similar meal, supposing that you had the good fortune to get it. Small though it was, it sufficed to appease the appetite of the two friends, and to give them a feeling of strength which they had not experienced for many a day.
Under the influence of this feeling, Jarwin remarked to Cuffy, that "a man could eat a-most anything when hard put to it," and that "it wos now high time to think about goin' ashore."
To which Cuffy replied with a bark, which one might imagine should come from a dog in the last stage of whooping-cough, and with a wag of his tail—not merely at the root thereof, but a distinct wag—that extended obviously along its entire length to the extreme point. Jarwin observed the successful effort, laughed feebly, and said, "Brayvo, Cuffy," with evident delight; for it reminded him of the days when that little shred of a door-mat, in the might of its vigour, was wont to wag its tail so violently as to convulse its whole body, insomuch that it was difficult to decide whether the tail wagged the body, or the body the tail!
But, although Jarwin made light of his sufferings, his gaunt, wasted frame would have been a sad sight to any pitiful spectator, as with weary aspect and unsteady gait he moved about on the sandy ridge in search of more food, or gazed with longing eyes on the richly-wooded island.
For it must be remembered that our castaway had not landed on the island itself, but on that narrow ring of coral-reef which almost encircled it, and from which it was separated by the lagoon, or enclosed portion of the sea, which was, as we have said, about a quarter of a mile wide.
John Jarwin would have thought little of swimming over that narrow belt of smooth water in ordinary circumstances, but now he felt that his strength was not equal to such a feat. Moreover, he knew that there were sharks in these waters, so he dismissed the idea of swimming, and cast about in his mind how he should manage to get across. With Jarwin, action soon followed thought. He resolved to form a small raft out of portions of the large one. Fortunately his clasp-knife had been attached, as seamen frequently have it, to his waist-belt, when he forsook his ship. This was the only implement that he possessed, but it was invaluable. With it he managed to cut the thick ropes that he could not have untied, and, in the course of two hours—for he laboured with extreme difficulty—a few broken planks and spars were lashed together. Embarking on this frail vessel with his dog, he pushed off, and using a piece of plank for an oar, sculled himself over the lagoon.
It was touching, even to himself, to observe the slowness of his progress. All the strength that remained in him was barely sufficient to move the raft. But the lagoon was as still as a mill-pond. Looking down into its clear depths, he could see the rich gardens of coral and sea-weed, among which fish, of varied and brilliant colours, sported many fathoms below. The air, too, was perfectly calm.
Very slowly he left the reef astern; the middle of the lagoon was gained; then, gradually, he neared the island-shore, but oh! it was a long, weary pull, although the space was so short, and, to add to the poor man's misery, the fish which he had eaten caused him intolerable thirst. But he reached the shore at last.
The first thing that greeted his eye as he landed was the sparkle of a clear spring at the foot of some cocoanut-trees. He staggered eagerly towards it, and fell down beside a hollow in the rock, like a large cup or bowl, which had been scooped out by it.
Who shall presume to describe the feelings of that shipwrecked sailor as he and his dog drank from the same cup at that sparkling crystal fountain? Delicious odours of lime and citron trees, and well-nigh forgotten herbage, filled his nostrils, and the twitter of birds thrilled his ears, seeming to bid him welcome to the land, as he sank down on the soft grass, and raised his eyes in thanksgiving to heaven. An irresistible tendency to sleep then seized him.
"If there's a heaven upon earth, I'm in it now," he murmured, as he laid down his head and closed his eyes.
Cuffy, nestling into his breast, placed his chin on his neck, and heaved a deep, contented sigh. This was the last sound the sailor recognised, as he sank into profound repose.
There are few of the minor sweets of life more agreeable than to awake refreshed, and to become gradually impressed with the conviction that you are a perfectly free agent,—that you may rise when you choose, or lie still if you please, or do what you like, without let or hindrance.
So thought our hero, John Jarwin, when he awoke, on the same spot where he had thrown himself down, after several hours of life-giving slumber. He was still weak, but his weakness did not now oppress him. The slight meal, the long draught, and the deep sleep, had restored enough of vigour to his naturally robust frame to enable him, while lying on his back, to enjoy his existence once more. He was, on first awaking, in that happy condition of mind and body in which the former does not care to think and the latter does not wish to move—yet both are pleased to be largely conscious of their own identity.
That he had not moved an inch since he lay down, became somewhat apparent to Jarwin from the fact that Cuffy's chin still rested immovable on his neck, but his mind was too indolent to pursue the thought. He had not the most remote idea as to where he was, but he cared nothing for that. He was in absolute ignorance of the time of day, but he cared, if possible, still less for that. Food, he knew, was necessary to his existence, but the thought gave him no anxiety. In short, John and his dog were in a state of quiescent felicity, and would probably have remained so for some hours to come, had not the setting sun shone forth at that moment with a farewell gleam so intense, that it appeared to set the world of clouds overhead on fire, converting them into hills and dales, and towering domes and walls and battlements of molten glass and gold. Even to the wearied seaman's sleepy vision the splendour of the scene became so fascinating, that he shook off his lethargy, and raised himself on one elbow.
"Why, Cuffy!" he exclaimed, to the yawning dog, "seems to me that the heavens is a-fire! Hope it won't come on dirty weather before you an' I get up somethin' in the shape o' a hut. That minds me, doggie," he added, glancing slowly round him, "that we must look after prokoorin' of our supper. I do believe we've bin an' slep away a whole day! Well, well, it don't much matter, seein' that we hain't got no dooty for to do—no trick at the wheel, no greasin' the masts—wust of all, no splicin' the main brace, and no grub."
This latter remark appeared to reach the understanding of the dog, for it uttered a melancholy howl as it gazed into its master's eyes.
"Ah, Cuffy!" continued the sailor with a sigh, "you've good reason to yowl, for the half of a rotten fish ain't enough for a dog o' your appetite. Come, let's see if we can't find somethin' more to our tastes."
Saying this the man rose, stretched himself, yawned, looked helplessly round for a few seconds, and then, with a cheery "Hallo! Cuff, come along, my hearty," went down to the beach in quest of food.
In this search he was not unsuccessful, for the beach abounded with shell-fish of various kinds; but Jarwin ate sparingly of these, having been impressed, in former years, by some stories which he had heard of shipwrecked sailors having been poisoned by shell-fish. For the same reason he administered a moderate supply to Cuffy, telling him that "it warn't safe wittles, an' that if they was to be pisoned, it was as well to be pisoned in moderation." The dog, however, did not appear to agree with its master on this point, for it went picking up little tit-bits here and there, and selfishly ignoring the "share-and-share-alike" compact, until it became stuffed alarmingly, and could scarcely follow its master back to the fountain.
Arrived there, the two slaked their thirst together, and then Jarwin sat down to enjoy a pipe, and Cuffy lay down to suffer the well-merited reward of gluttony.
We have said that Jarwin sat down to enjoy a pipe, but he did not enjoy it that night, for he discovered that the much-loved little implement, which he had cherished tenderly while on the raft, was broken to atoms in his coat-pocket! In his eagerness to drink on first landing, he had thrown himself down on it, and now smoking was an impossibility, at least for that night. He reflected, however, that it would not be difficult to make a wooden pipe, and that cigarettes might perhaps be made by means of leaves, or bark, while his tobacco lasted; so he consoled himself in the meantime with hopeful anticipations, and a quid. Being still weak and weary, he lay down again beside the fountain, and almost immediately fell into a sleep, which was not at all disturbed by the starts and groans and frequent yelps of Cuffy, whose sufferings could scarcely have been more severe if he had supped on turtle-soup and venison, washed down with port and claret.
Thus did those castaways spend the first night on their island.
It must not be supposed, however, that we are going to trace thus minutely every step and sensation in the career of our unfortunate friends. We have too much to tell that is important to devote our "valuable space" to everyday incidents. Nevertheless, as it is important that our readers should understand our hero thoroughly, and the circumstances in which we find him, it is necessary that we should draw attention to some incidents—trifling in themselves, but important in their effects—which occurred to John Jarwin soon after his landing on the island.
The first of these incidents was, that John one day slipped his foot on a tangle-covered rock, and fell into the sea. A small matter this, you will say, to a man who could swim, and in a climate so warm that a dip, with or without clothes, was a positive luxury. Most true; and had the wetting been all, Jarwin would have had nothing to annoy him; for at the time the accident occurred he had been a week on the island, had managed to pull and crack many cocoa-nuts, and had found various excellent wild-fruits, so that his strength, as well as Cuffy's, had been much restored. In fact, when Jarwin's head emerged from the brine, after his tumble, he gave vent to a shout of laughter, and continued to indulge in hilarious demonstrations all the time he was wringing the water out of his garments, while the terrier barked wildly round him.
But suddenly, in the very midst of a laugh, he became grave and pale,— so pale, that a more obtuse creature than Cuffy might have deemed him ill. While his mouth and eyes slowly opened wider and wider, his hands slapped his pockets, first his trousers, then his vest, then his coat, after which they fell like pistol-shots on his thighs, and he exclaimed, in a voice of horror—"Gone!"
Ay, there could be no doubt about it; every particle of his tobacco was gone! It had never been much, only three or four plugs; but it was strong, and he had calculated that, what with careful husbanding, and mixing it with other herbs, it would last him for a considerable length of time.
In a state bordering on frenzy, the sailor rushed back to the rock from which he had fallen. The "baccy" was not there. He glanced right and left—no sign of it floating on the sea. In he went, head foremost, like a determined suicide; down, down to the bottom, for he was an expert diver, and rioted among the coral groves, and horrified the fish, until he well-nigh burst, and rose to the surface with a groan and splutter that might have roused envy in a porpoise. Then down he went again, while Cuffy stood on the shore regarding him with mute amazement.
Never did pearl-diver grope for the treasures of the deep with more eager intensity than did John Jarwin search for that lost tobacco. He remained under water until he became purple in the face, and, coming to the surface after each dive, stayed only long enough to recharge his lungs with air. How deeply he regretted at that time the fact that man's life depended on so frequent and regular a supply of atmospheric air! How enviously he glanced at the fish which, with open eyes and mouths, appeared to regard him with inexpressible astonishment—as well they might! At last Jarwin's powers of endurance began to give way, and he was compelled to return to the shore, to the great relief of Cuffy, which miserable dog, if it had possessed the smallest amount of reasoning power, must have deemed its master hopelessly insane.
"But why so much ado about a piece of tobacco?" we hear some lady-reader or non-smoker exclaim.
Just because our hero was, and had been since his childhood, an inveterate smoker. Of course we cannot prove our opinion to be correct, but we are inclined to believe that if all the smoke that had issued from Jarwin's lips, from the period of his commencing down to that terrible day when he lost his last plug, could have been collected in one vast cloud, it would have been sufficient to have kept a factory chimney going for a month or six weeks. The poor man knew his weakness. He had several times tried to get rid of the habit which had enslaved him, and, by failing, had come to know the tyrannical power of his master. He had once been compelled by circumstances to forego his favourite indulgence for three entire days, and retained so vivid a recollection of his sufferings that he made up his mind never more to strive for freedom, but to enjoy his pipe as long as he lived—to swim with the current, in fact, and take it easy. It was of no use that several men, who objected to smoking from principle, and had themselves gone through the struggle and come off victorious, pointed out that if he went on at his present rate, it would cut short his life. Jarwin didn't believe that. He felt well and hearty, and said that he "was too tough, by a long way, to be floored by baccy; besides, if his life was to be short, he saw no reason why it should not be a pleasant one." It was vain for these disagreeable men of principle to urge that when his health began to give way he would not find life very pleasant, and then "baccy" would fail to relieve him. Stuff and nonsense? Did not Jarwin know that hundreds of thousands of old men enjoyed their pipes to the very last. He also knew that a great many men had filled early graves owing to the use of tobacco, but he chose to shut his eyes to this fact—moreover, although a great truth, it was a difficult truth to prove.
It was of still less use that those tiresome men of principle demonstrated that the money spent in tobacco would, if accumulated, form a snug little fortune to retire upon in his old age. John only laughed at this. "Wot did he want with a fortin in his old age," he would say; "he would rather work to the last for his three B's—his bread and beer and baccy—an' die in harness. A man couldn't get on like a man without them three B's, and he wosn't goin' for to deprive hisself of none of 'em, not he; besides, his opponents were bad argifiers," he was wont to say, with a chuckle, "for if, as they said, baccy would be the means of cuttin' his life short, why then, he wouldn't never come to old age to use his fortin, even if he should manage to save it off his baccy."
This last argument always brought Jarwin off with flying colours—no wonder, for it was unanswerable; and thus he came to love his beer and baccy so much that he became thoroughly enslaved to both.
His brief residence on the south-sea island had taught him, by painful experience, that he was capable of existing without at least two of his three B's—bread and beer. He had suffered somewhat from the change of diet; and now that his third B was thus suddenly, unexpectedly, and hopelessly wrenched from him, he sat himself down on the beach beside Cuffy, and gazed out to sea in absolute despair.
We must guard the reader at this point from supposing that John Jarwin had ever been what is called an intemperate man. He was one of those honest, straightforward tars who do their duty like men, and who, although extremely fond of their pipe and their glass of grog, never lower themselves below the level of the brutes by getting drunk. At the same time, we feel constrained to add that Jarwin acted entirely from impulse and kindly feeling. He had little to do with principle, and did not draw towards those who professed to be thus guided. He was wont to say that they "was troublesome fellers, always shovin' in their oars when they weren't wanted to, an' settin' themselves up for better than everybody else." Had one of those troublesome fellows presented John Jarwin with a pound of tobacco in his forlorn circumstances, at that time he would probably have slapped him on the shoulder, and called him one of the best fellows under the sun!
"Cuffy, my friend," exclaimed Jarwin at last, with an explosive sigh, "all the baccy's gone, so we'll have to smoke sea-weed for the futur'." The terrier said "Bow-wow" to this, cocked its ears, and looked earnest, as if waiting for more.
"Come along," exclaimed the man, overturning his dog as he leaped up, "we'll go home and have summat to eat."
Jarwin had erected a rude hut, composed of boughs and turf, near the fountain where he had first landed. It was the home to which he referred. At first he had devoted himself entirely to the erection of this shelter, and to collecting various roots and fruits and shell-fish for food, intending to delay the examination of the island until his strength should be sufficiently restored to enable him to scale the heights without more than ordinary fatigue. He had been so far recruited as to have fixed for his expedition the day following that on which he sustained his irreparable loss.
Entering his hut he proceeded to kindle a fire by means of a small burning-glass, with which, in happier times, he had been wont to light his pipe. Very soon he had several roots, resembling small potatoes, baking in the hot ashes. With these, a handful of plums, a dozen of oyster-like fish, of which there were plenty on the shore, and a draught of clear cold water, he made a hearty repast, Cuffy coming in for a large share of it, as a matter of course. Then he turned all his pockets inside out, and examined them as carefully as if diamonds lurked in the seams. No, not a speck of tobacco was to be found! He smelt them. The odour was undoubtedly strong—very strong. On the strength of it he shut his eyes, and endeavoured to think that he was smoking; but it was a weak substitute for the pipe, and not at all satisfying. Thereafter he sallied forth and wandered about the sea-shore in a miserable condition, and went to bed that night—as he remarked to his dog—in the blues.
Reader, it is not possible to give you an adequate conception of the sensations and sufferings of John Jarwin on that first night of his bereaved condition. He dreamed continuously of tobacco. Now he was pacing the deck of his old ship with a splendid pipe of cut Cavendish between his lips. Anon he was smoking a meerschaum the size of a hogshead, with a stem equal to the length and thickness of the main-topmast of a seventy-four; but somehow the meerschaum wouldn't draw, whereupon John, in a passion, pronounced it worthy of its name, and hove it overboard, when it was instantly transformed into a shark with a cutty pipe in its mouth. To console himself our hero endeavoured to thrust into his mouth a quid of negro-head, which, however, suddenly grew as big as the cabin-skylight, and became as tough as gutta-percha, so that it was utterly impossible to bite off a piece; and, stranger still, when the poor sailor had by struggling got it in, it dwindled down into a point so small that he could not feel it in his mouth at all. On reaching this, the vanishing-point, Jarwin awoke to a consciousness of the dread reality of his destitute condition. Turning on his other side with a deep groan, he fell asleep again, to dream of tobacco in some new and tantalising form until sunrise, when he awoke unrefreshed. Leaping up, he cast off his clothes, rushed down the beach, and plunged into sea, by way of relieving his feelings.
During the day John Jarwin brooded much over his dreams, for his mind was of a reflective turn, and Cuffy looked often inquiringly into his face. That sympathetic doggie would evidently have besought him to pour his sorrows into his cocked ears if he could have spoken; but—alas! for people who are cast away on desert islands—the gift of speech has been denied to dogs.
Besides being moody, Jarwin was uncommonly taciturn that day. He did not tell Cuffy the result of his cogitations, so that we cannot say anything further about them. All that we are certainly sure of is, that he was profoundly miserable that day—that he postponed his intended expedition to the top of the neighbouring hill—that he walked about the beach slowly, with his chin on his breast and his hands in his pockets— that he made various unsuccessful attempts to smoke dried leaves, and bark, and wild-flowers, mixing with those substances shreds of his trousers' pockets, in order that they might have at least the flavour of tobacco—that he became more and more restive as the day wore on, became more submissive in the evening, paid a few apologetic attentions to Cuffy at supper-time, and, finally, went to bed in a better frame of mind, though still craving painfully for the weed which had enslaved him. That night his dreams were still of tobacco! No lover was ever assailed more violently with dreams of his absent mistress than was John Jarwin with longings for his adorable pipe. But there was no hope for him—the beloved one was effectually and permanently gone; so, like a sensible man, he awoke next morning with a stern resolve to submit to his fate with a good grace.
In pursuance of this resolution he began the day with a cold bath, in which Cuffy joined him. Then he breakfasted on chestnuts, plums, citrons, oysters, and shrimps, the former of which abounded in the woods, the latter on the shore. Jarwin caught the shrimps in a net, extemporised out of his pocket-handkerchief. While engaged with his morning meal, he was earnestly watched by several green paroquets with blue heads and crimson breasts; and during pauses in the meal he observed flocks of brightly-coloured doves and wood-pigeons, besides many other kinds of birds, the names of which he did not know, as well as water-hens, plover, and wild ducks.
"Lost your appetite this morning, Cuff?" said Jarwin, offering his companion a citron, which he decidedly refused. "Ah!" he continued, patting the dog's sides, "I see how it is; you've had breakfast already this morning; bin at it when I was a-sleepin'. For shame, Cuffy!—you should have waited for me; an' you've bin an' over-ate yourself again, you greedy dog!"
This was evidently the case. The guilty creature, forgetful of its past experiences, had again gorged itself with dead fish, which it had found on the beach, and looked miserable.
"Well, never mind, doggie," said Jarwin, finishing his meal, and rising. "I'll give you a little exercise to-day for the good of your health. We shan't go sulking as we did yesterday; so, come along."
The sailor left his bower as he spoke, and set off at a round pace with his hands in his pockets, and a thick stick under his arm, whistling as he went, while Cuffy followed lovingly at his heels.
COMMUNINGS OF MAN AND BEAST.
It would appear to be almost an essential element in life that man should indulge in speech. Of course we cannot prove this, seeing that we have never been cast alone on a desert island (although we have been next thing to it), and cannot positively conclude what would have been the consequences to our castaway if he had rigidly refrained from speech. All that we can ground an opinion on is the fact that John Jarwin talked as much and as earnestly to his dog as if he knew that that sagacious creature understood every word he uttered. Indeed, he got into such a habit of doing this, that it is very probable he might have come to believe that Cuffy really did understand, though he was not gifted with the power to reply. If it be true that Jarwin came to this state of credulity, certain it is that Cuffy was deeply to blame in the matter, because the way in which that ridiculous hypocrite sat before his master, and looked up in his face with his lustrous, intelligent eyes, and cocked his ears, and wagged his tail, and smiled, might have deceived a much less superstitious man than a British tar.
We have said that Cuffy smiled, advisedly. Some people might object to the word, and say that he only "snickered," or made faces. That, we hold, is a controvertible question. Cuffy's facial contortions looked like smiling. They came very often inappropriately, and during parts of Jarwin's discourse when no smile should have been called forth; but if that be sufficient to prove that Cuffy was not smiling, then, on the same ground, we hold that a large proportion of those ebullitions which convulse the human countenance are not smiles but unmeaning grins. Be this as it may, Cuffy smiled, snickered, or grinned amazingly, during the long discourses that were delivered to him by his master, and indeed looked so wonderfully human in his knowingness, that it only required a speaking tongue and a shaved face to constitute him an unanswerable proof of the truth of the Darwinian theory of the origin of the human species.
"Cuffy," said Jarwin, panting, as he reached the summit of his island, and sat down on its pinnacle rock, "that's a splendid view, ain't it?"
To any one save a cynic or a misanthrope, Cuffy replied with eye and tail, "It is magnificent."
"But you're not looking at it," objected Jarwin, "you're looking straight up in my face; so how can you tell what it's like, doggie?"
"I see it all," replied Cuffy with a grin; "all reflected in the depths of your two loving eyes."
Of course Jarwin lost this pretty speech in consequence of its being a mute reply, but he appeared to have some intuitive perception of it, for he stooped down and patted the dog's head affectionately.
After this there was a prolonged silence, during which the sailor gazed wistfully round the horizon. The scene was indeed one of surpassing beauty and grandeur. The island on which he had been cast was one of those small coral gems which deck the breast of the Pacific. It could not have been more than nine or ten miles in circumference, yet within this area there lay a miniature world. The mountain-top on which the seaman sat was probably eight or nine hundred feet above the level of the sea, and commanded a view of the whole island. On one side lay three lesser hills, covered to their summits with indescribably rich verdure, amongst which rose conspicuous the tall stems and graceful foliage of many cocoanut-palms. Fruit-trees of various kinds glistened in the sunshine, and flowering shrubs in abundance lent additional splendour to the scene. On the other side of the mountain a small lake glittered like a jewel among the trees; and there numerous flocks of wild-fowl disported themselves in peaceful security. From the farther extremity of the lake flowed a rivulet, which, from the mountain-top, resembled a silver thread winding its way through miniature valleys, until lost in the light yellow sand of the sea-shore. On this beach there was not even a ripple, because of the deep calm which prevailed but on the ring or coral-reef, which completely encircled the island, those great "rollers"—which appear never to go down even in calm—fell from time to time with a long, solemn roar, and left an outer ring of milk-white foam. The blue lagoon between the reef and the island varied from a few yards to a quarter of a mile in breadth, and its quiet waters were like a sheet of glass, save where they were ruffled now and then by the diving of a sea-gull or the fin of a shark. Birds of many kinds filled the grove with sweet sounds, and tended largely to dispel that feeling of intense loneliness which had been creeping that day over our seaman's spirit.
"Come, my doggie," said Jarwin, patting his dumb companion's head, "if you and I are to dwell here for long, we've got a most splendid estate to look after. I only hope we won't find South Sea niggers in possession before us, for they're not hospitable, Cuffy, they ain't hospitable, bein' given, so I'm told, to prefer human flesh to most other kinds o' wittles."
He looked anxiously round in all directions at this point, as if the ideas suggested by his words were not particularly agreeable.
"No," he resumed, after a short survey, "it don't seem as if there was any of 'em here. Anyhow I can't see none, and most parts of the island are visible from this here mast-head."
Again the seaman became silent as he repeated his survey of the island; his hands, meanwhile, searching slowly, as if by instinct, round his pockets, and into their most minute recesses, if haply they might find an atom of tobacco. Both hands and eyes, however, failed in their search; so, turning once more towards his dog, Jarwin sat down and addressed it thus:—
"Cuff, my doggie, don't wink in that idiotical way, you hanimated bundle of oakum! and don't wag yer tail so hard, else you'll shake it off some fine day! Well, Cuff, here you an' I are fixed—'it may be for years, an' it may be for ever'—as the old song says; so it behoves you and me to hold a consultation as to wot's the best to be done for to make the most of our sukumstances. Ah, doggie!" he continued in a low tone, looking pensively towards the horizon, "it's little that my dear wife (your missus and mine, Cuff) knows that her John has fallen heir to sitch an estate; become, so to speak, 'monarch of all he surveys.' O Molly, Molly, if you was only here, wot a paradise it would be! Eden over again; Adam an' Eve, without a'most no difference, barrin' the clo'se, by the way, for if I ain't mistaken, Adam didn't wear a straw hat and a blue jacket, with pumps and canvas ducks. Leastwise, I've never heard that he did; an' I'm quite sure that Eve didn't go to church on Sundays in a gown wi' sleeves like two legs o' mutton, an' a bonnet like a coal-scuttle. By the way, I don't think they owned a doggie neither."
At this point the terrier, who had gradually quieted down during the above soliloquy, gave a responsive wag of its tail, and looked up with a smile—a plain, obvious, unquestionable smile, which its master believed in most thoroughly.
"Ah, you needn't grin like that, Cuff," replied Jarwin, "it's quite certain that Adam and Eve had no doggie. No doubt they had plenty of wild 'uns—them as they giv'd names to—but they hadn't a good little tame 'un like you, Cuff; no, nor nobody else, for you're the best dog in the world—if you'd only keep yer spanker-boom quiet; but you'll shake it off, you will, if you go on like that. There, lie down, an' let's get on with our consultation. Well, as I was sayin' when you interrupted me, wot a happy life we could live here if we'd only got the old girl with us! I'd be king, you know, Cuff, and she'd be queen, and we'd make you prime minister—you're prime favourite already, you know. There now, if you don't clap a stopper on that ere spanker-boom, I'll have to lash it down. Well, to proceed: we'd build a hut—or a palace— of turf an' sticks, with a bunk alongside for you; an w'en our clo'se began for to wear out, we'd make pants and jackets and petticoats of cocoanut-fibre; for you must know I've often see'd mats made o' that stuff, an' splendid wear there's in it too, though it would be rather rough for the skin at first; but we'd get used to that in coorse o' time. Only fancy Mrs Jarwin in a cocoanut-fibre petticoat with a palm-leaf hat, or somethink o' that sort! An', after all, it wouldn't be half so rediklous as some o' the canvas she's used to spread on Sundays."
Jarwin evidently thought his ideas somewhat ridiculous, for he paused at this point and chuckled, while Cuffy sprang up and barked responsively.
While they were thus engaged, a gleam of white appeared on the horizon.
"Sail ho!" shouted the sailor in the loud, full tones with which he was wont to announce such an appearance from the mast-head in days gone by.
Oh, how earnestly he strained his eyes in the direction of that little speck! It might have been a sail; just as likely it was the wing of a sea-gull or an albatross. Whatever it was, it grew gradually less until it sank out of view on the distant horizon. With it sank poor Jarwin's newly-raised hopes. Still he continued to gaze intently, in the hope that it might reappear; but it did not. With a heavy sigh the sailor rose at length, wakened Cuffy, who had gone to sleep, and descended the mountain.
This look-out on the summit of the island now became the regular place of resort for Jarwin and his dumb, but invaluable companion. And so absorbed did the castaway become, in his contemplation of the horizon, and in his expectation of the heaving in sight of another sail, that he soon came to spend most of his time there. He barely gave himself time to cook and eat his breakfast before setting out for the spot, and frequently he remained there the livelong day, having carried up enough of provision to satisfy his hunger.
At first, while there, he employed himself in the erection of a rude flag-staff, and thus kept himself busy and reasonably cheerful. He cut the pole with some difficulty, his clasp-knife being but a poor substitute for an axe; then he bored a hole at the top to reave the halliards through. These latter he easily made by plaiting together threads of cocoanut-fibre, which were both tough and long. When ready, he set up and fixed the staff, and hoisted thereon several huge leaves of the palm-tree, which, in their natural size and shape, formed excellent flags.
When, however, all this was done, he was reduced to a state of idleness, and his mind began to dwell morbidly on the idea of being left to spend the rest of his days on the island. His converse with Cuffy became so sad that the spirits of that sagacious and sympathetic dog were visibly affected. He did, indeed, continue to lick his master's hand lovingly, and to creep close to his side on all occasions; but he ceased to wag his expressive tail with the violence that used to characterise that appendage in other days, and became less demonstrative in his conduct. All this, coupled with constant exposure in all sorts of weather— although Jarwin was not easily affected by a breeze or a wet jacket— began at last to undermine the health of the stout seaman. He became somewhat gaunt and hollow-cheeked, and his beard and moustache, which of course he could not shave, and which, for a long time, presented the appearance of stubble, added to the lugubriosity of his aspect.
As a climax to his distress, he one day lost his dog! When it went off, or where it went to, he could not tell, but, on rousing up one morning and putting out his hand almost mechanically to give it the accustomed pat of salutation, he found that it was gone.
A thrill of alarm passed through his frame on making this discovery, and, leaping up, he began to shout its name. But no answering bark was heard. Again and again he shouted, but in vain. Without taking time to put on his coat, he ran to the top of the nearest eminence, and again shouted loud and long. Still no answer.
A feeling of desperate anxiety now took possession of the man. The bare idea of being left in utter loneliness drove him almost distracted. For some time he ran hither and thither, calling passionately to his dog, until he became quite exhausted; then he sat down on a rock, and endeavoured to calm his spirit and consider what he should do. Indulging in his tendency to think aloud, he said—
"Come now, John, don't go for to make a downright fool of yerself. Cuffy has only taken a longer walk than usual. He'll be home to breakfast; but you may as well look a bit longer, there's no sayin' wot may have happened. He may have felled over a precepiece or sprain'd his leg. Don't you give way to despair anyhow, John Jarwin, but nail yer colours to the mast, and never say die."
Somewhat calmed by these encouraging exhortations, the sailor rose up and resumed his search in a more methodical way. Going down to the sea, he walked thence up to the edge of the bush, gazing with the utmost intensity at the ground all the way, in the hope of discovering Cuffy's fresh footsteps; but none were to be seen.
"Come," said he, "it's clear that you haven't gone to the s'uth'ard o' yer home; now, we'll have a look to the nor'ard."
Here he was more successful. The prints of Cuffy's small paws were discovered on the wet sand bearing northward along shore. Jarwin followed them up eagerly, but, coming to a place where the sand was hard and dry, and covered with thin grass, he lost them. Turning back to where they were distinct, he recommenced the search. No red Indian, in pursuit of friend or foe, ever followed up a trail with more intense eagerness than poor Jarwin followed the track of his lost companion. He even began to develop, in quite a surprising way, some of the deep sagacity of the savage; for he came, before that day was over, not only to distinguish the prints of Cuffy's paws on pretty hard sand, where the impressions were very faint, but even on rough ground, where there were no distinct marks at all—only such indications as were afforded by the pressure of a dead leaf into soft ground, or the breaking of a fallen twig!
Nevertheless, despite his care, anxiety, and diligence, Jarwin failed to find his dog. He roamed all that day until his limbs were weary, and shouted till his voice was hoarse, but only echoes answered him. At last he sat down, overcome with fatigue and grief.
It had rained heavily during the latter part of the day and soaked him to the skin, but he heeded it not. Towards evening the weather cleared up little, but the sun descended to the horizon in a mass of black clouds, which were gilded with [a] strange lurid light that presaged a storm; while sea-birds flew overhead and shrieked in wild excitement, as if they were alarmed at the prospect before them. But Jarwin observed and cared for none of these things. He buried his face in his hands, and sat for some time perfectly motionless.
While seated thus, a cold shiver passed through his frame once or twice, and he felt unusually faint.
"Humph!" said he, the second time this occurred, "strange sort o' feelin'. Never felt it before. No doubt it's in consikince o' goin' without wittles all day. Well, well," he added, with a deep long-drawn sigh, "who'd have thought I'd lose 'ee, Cuff, in this fashion. It's foolish, no doubt, to take on like this, but I can't help it somehow. I don't believe I could feel much worse if I had lost my old 'ooman. It's kurious, but I feels awful lonesome without 'ee, my doggie."
He was interrupted by the shivering again, and was about to rise, when a long low wail struck on his ear. He listened intently. No statue ever sat more motionless on its pedestal than did Jarwin during the next three minutes.
Again the wail rose, faint and low at first, then swelling out into a prolonged loud cry, which, strange to say, seemed to be both distant and near.
John Jarwin was not altogether free from superstition. His heart beat hard under the influence of a mingled feeling of hope and fear; but when he heard the cry the third time, he dismissed his fears, and, leaping up, hurried forward in the direction whence the sound appeared to come. The bushes were thick and difficult to penetrate, but he persevered on hearing a repetition of the wail, and was thus led into a part of the island which he had not formerly visited.
Presently he came to something that appeared not unlike an old track; but, although the sun had not quite set, the place was so shut in by tangled bushes and trees that he could see nothing distinctly. Suddenly he put his right foot on a mass of twigs, which gave way under his weight, and he made a frantic effort to recover himself. Next moment, he fell headlong into a deep hole or pit at the bottom of which he lay stunned for some time. Recovering, he found that no bones were broken, and after considerable difficulty, succeeded in scrambling out of the hole. Just as he did so, the wail was again raised; but it sounded so strange, and so unlike any sound that Cuffy could produce, that he was tempted to give up the search—all the more that his recent fall had so shaken his exhausted frame that he could scarcely walk.
While he stood irresolute, the wail was repeated, and, this time, there was a melancholy sort of "bow-wow" mingled with it, that sent the blood careering through his veins like wildfire. Fatigue and hunger were forgotten. Shouting the name of his dog, he bounded forward, and would infallibly have plunged head-foremost into another pit, at the bottom of which Cuffy lay, had not that wise creature uttered a sudden bark of joy, which checked his master on the very brink.
"Hallo! Cuff, is that you, my doggie?"
"Bow, wow, wow!" exclaimed Cuffy in tones which there could be no mistaking, although the broken twigs and herbage which covered the mouth of the pit muffled them a good deal, and accounted for the strangeness of the creature's howls when heard at a distance.
"Why, where ever have 'ee got yourself into?" said Jarwin, going down on his knees and groping carefully about the opening of the pit. "I do believe you've bin an' got into a trap o' some sort. The savages must have been here before us, doggie, and made more than one of 'em, for I've just comed out o' one myself. Hallo! there, I'm into another!" he exclaimed as the treacherous bank gave way, and he slipped in headlong, with a dire crash, almost smothering Cuffy in his fall.
Fortunately, no damage, beyond a few scratches, resulted either to dog or man, and in a few minutes more both stood upon firm ground.
It would be vain, reader to attempt to give you in detail all that John Jarwin said and did on that great occasion, as he sat there on the ground caressing his dog as if it had been his own child. We leave it to your imagination!
When he had expended the first burst of feeling, he got up, and was about to retrace his steps, when he observed some bones lying near him. On examination, these proved to be the skeleton of a man. At first Jarwin thought it must be that of a native; but he was startled to find among the dust on which the skeleton lay several brass buttons with anchors on them. That he stood beside the remains of a brother seaman, who had probably been cast on that island, as he himself had been, seemed very evident, and the thought filled him with strange depressing emotions. As it was by that time too dark to make further investigations, he left the place, intending to return next day; and, going as cautiously as possible out of the wood, returned to his abode, where he kindled a fire, gave Cuffy some food, and prepared some for himself; but before he had tasted that food another of the shivering fits seized him. A strange feeling of being very ill, and a peculiar wandering of his mind, induced him to throw himself on his couch. The prolonged strain to which body and mind had been subjected had proved too much for him, and before morning he was stricken with a raging fever.
HOPES AND FEARS AND STERN RESOLVES LEAD TO VIGOROUS ACTION.
For several days the sailor lay tossing in helpless misery in his bower, without food or fire. Indeed he could not have eaten even if food had been offered him, and as to fire, there was heat enough in his veins, poor fellow! to more than counterbalance the want of that.
During part of the time he became delirious, and raved about home and sea-life and old companions in a way that evidently quite alarmed Cuffy, for that sagacious terrier approached his master with caution, with his tail between his legs, and a pitiful, earnest gaze, that was quite touching. This was partly owing to the fact that Jarwin had several times patted him with such painful violence as to astonish and render him doubtful of the affection displayed by such caresses. Jarwin also recurred at these times to his tobacco and beer, and apparently suffered a good deal from dreams about those luxuries. In his ravings he often told Cuffy to fill a pipe for him, and advised him to look sharp about it, and he frequently reproached some of his old comrades for not passing the beer. Fortunately the fountain was close at hand, and he often slaked his burning thirst at it. He also thought frequently of the skeleton in the thicket, and sometimes raved with an expression of horror about being left to die alone on a desert island.
By degrees the fever reached its climax, and then left him almost dead. For a whole day and night he lay so absolutely helpless that it cost him an effort to open his eyes, and he looked so ill that the poor dog began to whine piteously over him, but the day after that a sensation of hunger induced him to make an effort to rouse up. He tried to raise his head—it felt as if made of lead.
"Hallo! Cuffy, somethin' wrong I suspect!"
It was the first time for many days that Jarwin had spoken in his natural tones. The effect on the dog was instantaneous and powerful. It sprang up, and wagged its expressive tail with something of the energy of former times; licked the sick man's face and hands; whined and barked intelligently; ran away in little bursts, as if it had resolved to undertake a journey off-hand, but came back in a few seconds, and in many other ways indicated its intense delight at finding that Jarwin was "himself again."
But alas! Jarwin was not quite himself yet, and Cuffy, after his first ebullition, sat looking in surprise at the invalid, as he strove to turn on his side, and reach out his heavy hand and skinny arm towards a few scraps of the last meal he had cooked before being struck down. Cuffy, after eating the portion of that meal that suited his taste, had left the remnants there as being unworthy of notice, and catered for himself among the dead fish cast up on the beach. Although lying within a yard of his couch, Jarwin had the greatest difficulty in reaching the food; and when he did at length succeed in grasping it, he fell back on his couch, and lay for a long time as if dead. Soon, however, he recovered, and, with a feeling of gratitude such as he had never before experienced, began to gnaw the hard morsels.
"I'm in a bad way, Cuff," he said, after satisfying the first cravings of hunger.
Cuffy gave a responsive wag with his tail, and cocked his ears for more.
"Hows'ever, seems to me that I've got the turn; let's be thankful for that, my doggie. Wonder how long I've bin ill. Months mayhap. Don't think I could have come to be sitch a skeleton in a short time. Ha! that minds me o' the skeleton in the wood. Have 'ee seed it, Cuff, since I found 'ee there? Well, I must eat and drink too, if I would keep the skin on my skeleton. Wish you had hands, doggie, for I'm greatly in need o' help just now. But you're a comfort, anyhow, even though you hain't got no hands. I should have died without you, my doggie—you cheer me up, d'ee see, and when it's nigh low water with a man, it don't take much to make him slip his cable. The want of a kind look at this here time, Cuffy, would have sent me adrift, I do believe."
It must not be supposed that all this was spoken fluently. It came slowly, by fits and starts, with a long pause at the end of each sentence, and with many a sigh between, expressive of extreme weakness.
"I wish I had a drink, Cuffy," said the invalid after a long pause, turning a longing look towards the spring, which welled up pleasantly close to the opening of the hut. "Ay, that's all very well in its way, but bow-wowin' an' waggin' yer tail won't fetch me a can o' water. Hows'ever, it's o' no manner o' use wishin'. 'Never say die.' Here goes."
So saying, he began slowly and painfully, but with unyielding perseverance, to push, and draw, and hitch himself, while lying at full length, towards the spring, which he reached at last so exhausted, that he had barely put his lips to it and swallowed a mouthful, when his head dropped, and he almost fainted. He was within an ace of being drowned, but with a violent effort he drew his face out of the spring, and lay there in a half unconscious condition for some time, with the clear cool water playing about his temples. Reviving in a little time, he took another sip, and then crawled back to his couch. Immediately he fell into a profound slumber, from which Cuffy strove in vain to awaken him; therefore, like a sagacious dog, he lay down at his master's side and joined him in repose.
From that hour Jarwin began to mend rapidly. In a few days he was able to walk about with the aid of a stick. In a few weeks he felt somewhat like his former self, and soon after that, he was able to ascend to the top of the island, and resume his watch for a passing sail. But the first few hours of his watch beside the old flagstaff convinced him that his hopes would, in all probability, be doomed to disappointment, and that he would soon fall back into a state of apathy, from which he might perhaps be unable to rouse himself, in which case his fate would certainly be that of the poor sailor whose remains he had that day buried in the pit near to which they had been discovered. He resolved, therefore, to give up watching altogether, and to devote all his energies in future to devising some plan of escape from the island, but when he bent his mind to this task he felt a deep sinking of the heart, for he had no implements wherewith to construct a boat or canoe.
Suddenly it occurred to him, for the first time in his life, that he ought, in this extremity, to pray to God for help. He was, as we have said, a straightforward man, prompt to act as well as ready to conceive. He fell on his knees at once, humbly confessed his sin in depending so entirely on himself in time past, and earnestly asked help and guidance for the future. His prayer was not long—neither was the publican's— but it was effectual. He arose with feelings of strong resolution and confidence, which appeared to himself quite unaccountable, for he had not, as yet, conceived any new idea or method as to escaping from the island. Instead of setting his mind to work, as he had intended, he could not help dwelling on the fact that he had never before deliberately asked help from his Maker, and this raised a train of self-condemnatory thoughts which occupied him the remainder of that day. At night he prayed again before laying down to rest.
Next morning he rose like a giant refreshed, and, after a plunge in the sea and a hearty breakfast, set out with Cuffy for a meditative walk.
Great were the thoughts that swelled the seaman's broad chest during that walk, and numerous, as well as wild and quaint, were the plans of escape which he conceived and found it necessary to abandon.
"It's harder work to think it out than I had expected, Cuffy," he said, sitting down on a cliff that overlooked the sea, and thinking aloud. "If you and I could only swim twenty miles or so at a stretch, I'd risk it; but, as nothin' short o' that would be likely to be of sarvice, we must give it up. Then, if I could only cut down trees with my shoe, and saw planks with my jacket, we might make a boat; but I can't do that, and we haven't no nails—except our toe-nails, which ain't the right shape or strong enough; so we must give that up too. It's true that we might burn a canoe out of a solid tree, but who's to cut down the solid tree for us, doggie? I'm sure if the waggin' of a tail could do it you wouldn't be long about it! Why on earth can't 'ee keep it still for a bit? Well, then, as we can't swim or fly, and haven't a boat or canoe, or the means o' makin' em, what's the next thing to be done?"
Apparently neither man nor dog could return an answer to that question, for they both sat for a very long time in profound silence, staring at the sea.
After some time Jarwin suddenly exclaimed, "I'll do it!"
Cuffy, startled by the energy with which it was said, jumped up and said, "That's right!"—or something very like it—with his eyes.
"Yes, Cuffy, I'll make a raft, and you and I shall get on it, some day, with a fair wind, and make for the island that we think we've seen so often on the horizon."
He alluded here to a faint blue line which, on unusually fine and clear days, he had distinguished on the horizon to the southward, and which, from its always appearing on the same spot, he believed to be land of some sort, although it looked nothing more than a low-lying cloud.
"So that's settled," continued Jarwin, getting up and walking smartly back to his hut with the air of a man who has a purpose in view. "We shall make use of the old raft, as far as it'll go. Luckily the sail is left, as you and I know, Cuff, for it has been our blanket for many a day, and when all's ready we shall go huntin', you and I, till we've got together a stock of provisions, and then—up anchor and away! We can only be drownded once, you know, and it's better that than stopping here to die o' the blues. What think 'ee o' that, my doggie?"
Whatever the doggie thought of the idea, there can be no question what he thought of the cheery vigorous tones of his master's voice, for he gambolled wildly round, barked with vociferous delight, and wagged his "spanker boom" to such an extent that Jarwin warned him to have a care lest it should be carried away, an' go slap overboard.
In pursuance of the designs thus expressed, the sailor began the construction of a raft without delay, and worked at it diligently the remainder of that day. He found, on examination, that a considerable portion of the old raft yet remained stranded on the beach, though all the smaller spars of which it had been composed had been used for firewood. With great difficulty he rolled these logs one by one into the sea, and, getting astride of each, pushed them by means of a pole towards a point of rocks, or natural jetty, alongside of which the water was deep. Here he fastened them together by means of a piece of rope— one of the old fastenings which remained to him, the others having been used in the construction of the hut. The raft thus formed was, however, much too small to weather a gale or float in a rough sea. In whatever way he placed the spars the structure was too narrow for safety. Seeing, therefore, that it was absolutely necessary to obtain more logs, he set brain and hands to work without delay.
Many years before, he had seen an ancient stone hatchet in a museum, the head of which was fastened to the haft by means of a powerful thong of untanned hide. He resolved to make a hatchet of this sort. Long did he search the beach for a suitable stone, but in vain. At last he found one pretty nearly the proper shape, which he chipped and ground into the rude form of an axe. It had no eye for the handle. To have made a hole in it would have weakened the stone too much. He therefore cut a groove in the side of the handle, placed the head of the stone into it, and completed the fastening by tying it firmly with the tough fibrous roots of a tree. It was strongly and neatly made, though clumsy in appearance, but, do what he would, he could not put a sufficiently fine edge on it, and although it chipped pretty well when applied to the outside of a tree, it made very slow progress indeed as the cut deepened, and the work became so toilsome at last that he almost gave it up in despair. Suddenly it occurred to him that fire might be made use of to facilitate the work. Selecting a tall cocoanut-tree, he piled dry wood all round the foot of it. Before setting it on fire he dipped a quantity of cocoanut fibre in the sea and tied a thick belt of this round the tree just above the pile, so as to protect the upper parts of the spar from the flames as much and as long as possible. This done, he kindled the pile. A steady breeze fanned the flame into an intense fire, which ere long dried up the belt of fibre and finally consumed it. The fire was pretty well burnt out by that time, however, so that the upper part of the stem had been effectually preserved. Removing the ashes, he was rejoiced to find that the foot of the tree had been so deeply burned that several inches of it were reduced to charcoal, which his stone hatchet readily cut away, and the operation was so successful that it only required a second fire to enable him to fell the tree.
This done, he measured it off in lengths. Under each point of measurement he piled up dry wood—which consisted merely of broken branches—with belts of wet fibre on each side of these piles. Then, applying a light to the fires he reduced the parts to charcoal as before, and completed the work with the hatchet. Thus, in the course of a single day, he felled a tall tree and cut it up into six lengths, which he rolled down to the sea and floated off to the end of the jetty.
Next day Jarwin rose with the sun, and began to make twine of twisted cocoanut fibre—of which there was great abundance to be had everywhere. When a sufficient quantity had been made he plaited the twine into cords, and the cords into stout ropes, which, although not so neat as regular ropes, were, nevertheless, sufficiently pliable and very strong. Several days were spent over this somewhat tedious process; and we may mention here, that in all these operations the busy seaman was greatly assisted by his dog, who stuck close to him all the time, encouraging him with looks and wags of approbation.
After the ropes were made, the raft was put together and firmly lashed. There was a mast and yard in the centre of it, and also a hollow, formed by the omission of a log, which was just large enough to permit of the man and his dog lying down. This hollow, slight though it was, afterwards proved of the utmost service.
It is needless to recount all the details of the building and provisioning of this raft. Suffice it to say that, about three weeks after the idea of it had been conceived, it was completed and ready for sea.
During his residence on the island, although it had only extended over a few months, Jarwin had become very expert in the use of a sharp-pointed pole, or javelin, with which he had become quite an adept in spearing fish. He had also become such a dead-shot with a stone that when he managed to get within thirty yards of a bird, he was almost certain to hit it. Thus he was enabled to procure fish and fowl as much as he required and as the woods abounded with cocoa-nuts, plums, and other wild fruits, besides many edible roots, he had no lack of good fare. Now that he was about to "go to sea," he bethought him of drying some of the fruits as well as curing some fish and birds. This he did by degrees, while engaged on the raft, so that when all was ready he had a store of provisions sufficient to last him several weeks. In order to stow all this he removed another log from the middle of the raft, and, having deposited the food in the hollow—carefully wrapped in cocoanut leaves and made into compact bundles—he covered it over by laying a layer of large leaves above it and lashing a small spar on the top of them to keep them down. The cask with which he had landed from the original raft, and which he had preserved with great care, not knowing how soon he might be in circumstances to require it, served to hold fresh water.
On a fine morning about sunrise, Jarwin embarked with his little dog and bade farewell to the coral island, and although he had not dwelt very long there, he felt, to his own surprise, much regret at quitting it.
A fresh breeze was blowing in the direction of the island—or the supposed island—he wished to reach. This was important, because, in such a craft, it was impossible to sail in any way except before the wind. Still, by means of a rude oar or paddle, he could modify its direction so as to steer clear of the passage through the reef and get out to sea.
Once outside, he squared the sail and ran right before the breeze. Of course such a weighty craft went very slowly through the water, but the wind was pretty strong, and to Jarwin, who had been for a comparatively long time unaccustomed to moving on the water, the speed seemed fast enough. As the island went astern, and the raft lifted and fell gently on the long swell of the ocean, the seaman's heart beat with a peculiar joy to which it had long been a stranger, and he thanked God fervently for having so soon answered his prayer.
For a long time he sat reclining in the hollow of the raft, resting his hand lightly on the steering oar and gazing in silence at the gradually fading woods of his late home. The dog, as if it were aware that a great change was being effected in their destiny, lay also perfectly still—and apparently contemplative—at his master's feet; resting his chin on a log and gazing at the receding land. It was evident, however, that his thoughts were not absent or wandering, for, on the slightest motion made by his master, his dark eyes turned towards him, his ears slightly rose, and his tail gave the faintest possible indication of an intention to wag.
"Well, Cuffy," said Jarwin at last, rousing himself with a sigh, "wot are 'ee thinking of?"
The dog instantly rose, made affectionate demonstrations, and whined.
"Ah, you may well say that, Cuff," replied the man; "I know you ain't easy in yer mind, and there's some reason in that, too, for we're off on a raither uncertain viage, in a somewhat unseaworthy craft. Howsever, cheer up, doggie. Whoever turns up, you and I shall sink or swim together."
Just then the sail flapped.
"Hallo! Cuff," exclaimed Jarwin, with a look of anxiety, "the wind's going to shift."
This was true. The wind did shift, and in a few minutes had veered so much round that the raft was carried away from the blue line on the horizon, which Jarwin had so fondly hoped would turn out to be an inhabited island. It blew lightly, however, and when the sun went down, had completely died away. In these circumstances Jarwin and his dog supped together, and then lay down to rest, full of sanguine hope.
They were awakened during the night by a violent squall, which, however, did no further damage than wash a little spray over them, for Jarwin had taken the precaution to lower and make fast the sail. He now turned his attention to preparing the raft for rough weather. This consisted in simply drawing over the hollow—in which he, his dog, and his provisions lay—a piece of canvas that he had cut off the sail, which was unnecessarily large. It served as a tarpaulin, and effectually shielded them from ordinary sprays, but when the breeze freshened to a gale, and green seas swept over the raft, it leaked so badly, that Jarwin's cabin became a salt-water bath, and his provisions by degrees were soaked.
At first he did not mind this much, for the air and water were sufficiently warm, but after being wet for several hours he began feel chilled. As for poor Cuffy, his trembling body bore testimony to the state of his feelings; nevertheless he did not complain, being a dog of high spirit and endurance. In these circumstances the seaman hailed the rising sun with great joy, even although it rose in the midst of lurid murky clouds, and very soon hid its face altogether behind them, as if it had made up its mind that the state of things below was so bad as to be not worth shining upon.
All that day and night the gale continued, and they were driven before it. The waves rushed so continuously and furiously over the raft, that it was with the utmost difficulty Jarwin could retain his position on it. Indeed it would have been impossible for him to have done so, if he had not taken the precaution of making the hollow in the centre, into which he could crouch, and thus avoid the full force of the seas. Next day the wind abated a little, but the sea still rolled "mountains high." In order to break their force a little, he ventured to show a little corner of the sail. Small though it was, it almost carried away the slender mast, and drove the raft along at a wonderfully rapid rate.
At last the gale went down, and, finally, it became a dead calm, leaving the raft like a cork heaving on the mighty swell of the Pacific Ocean. Weary and worn—almost dead with watching and exposure—John Jarwin lay down and slept, but his slumber was uneasy and unrefreshing. Sunrise awoke him, and he sat up with a feeling of deep thankfulness, as he basked once more in its warm rays and observed that the sky above him was bright blue. But other feelings mingled with these when he gazed round on the wide waste of water, which still heaved its swelling though now unruffled breast, as if panting after its recent burst of fury.
"Ho! Cuffy—what's that? Not a sail, eh?" exclaimed Jarwin, suddenly starting up, while his languid eyes kindled with excitement.
He was right. After a long, earnest, anxious gaze, he came to the conclusion that it was a sail which shone, white and conspicuous, like a speck or a snow-flake on the horizon.
JARWIN AND CUFFY FALL INTO BAD COMPANY.
Immediately on discovering the sail, Jarwin hoisted a small canvas flag, which he had prepared for the purpose, to the mast-head, and then sat down to watch with indescribable earnestness the motions of the vessel. There was great cause for anxiety he well knew, because his raft was a mere speck on the great waste of waters which might easily be overlooked even by a vessel passing at a comparatively short distance, and if the vessel's course should happen to lie across that of the raft, there was every probability she would only be visible for a short time and then pass away like a ray of hope dying out.
After gazing in perfect silence for half-an-hour, Jarwin heaved a deep sigh and said—
"She steers this way, Cuffy."
Cuffy acknowledged the remark with a little whine and a very slight wag of his tail. It was evident that his spirits had sunk to a low ebb, and that he was not prepared to derive comfort from every trifling circumstance.
"Come, we'll have a bit of summat to eat, my doggie," said the sailor, reaching forward his hand to the provision bundle.
Thoroughly understanding and appreciating this remark, Cuffy roused himself and looked on with profound interest, while his master cut up a dried fish. Having received a large share of it, he forgot everything else, and devoted all his powers, physical and mental, to the business in hand. Although Jarwin also applied himself to the food with the devotion of a man whose appetite is sharp, and whose strength needs recruiting, he was very far indeed from forgetting other things. He kept his eyes the whole time on the approaching sail, and once or twice became so absorbed and so anxious lest the vessel should change her course, that he remained with his mouth half open, and with the unconsumed morsel reposing therein for a minute or more at a time.
But the vessel did not change her course. On she came; a fine large schooner with raking masts, and so trim and neat in her rig that she resembled a pleasure-yacht. As she drew near, Jarwin rose, and holding on to the mast, waved a piece of canvas, while Cuffy, who felt that there was now really good ground for rejoicing, wagged his tail and barked in an imbecile fashion, as if he didn't exactly know whether to laugh or cry.
"We're all safe now, doggie," exclaimed Jarwin, as the schooner came cutting through the water before a light breeze, leaving a slight track of foam in her wake.
When within about two or three hundred yards of the raft, the castaway could see that a figure leant on the vessel's side and brought a telescope to bear on him. With a feeling of irrepressible gladness he laughed and waved his hand.
"Ay, ay, take a good squint," he shouted, "an' then lower a boat—eh!—"
He stopped abruptly, for at that moment the figure turned towards the steersman; the schooner's head fell away, presenting her stern to the raft, and began to leave her behind.
The truth flashed upon Jarwin like a thunderbolt. It was clear that the commander of the strange vessel had no intention of relieving him. In the first burst of mingled despair and indignation, the seaman uttered a bass roar of defiance that might have done credit to the lungs of a small carronade, and at the same time shook his fist at the retiring schooner.
The effect of this was as sudden as it was unexpected. To his surprise he observed that the schooner's head was immediately thrown up into the wind, and all her sails shook for a few moments, then, filling out again, the vessel bent gracefully over on the other tack. With returning joy the castaway saw her run straight towards him. In a few minutes she was alongside, and her topsails were backed.
"Look out! catch hold!" cried a gruff voice, as a sailor sent a coil of rope whirling over the raft. Jarwin caught it, took a turn round the mast, and held on.
In a minute the raft was alongside. Weak though he was, Jarwin retained enough of his sailor-like activity to enable him to seize a rope and swing himself on board with Cuffy in his arms.
He found himself on the pure white deck of a craft which was so well appointed and so well kept, that his first impressions were revived— namely, that she was a pleasure-yacht. He knew that she was not a vessel of war, because, besides the absence of many little things that mark such a vessel, the few men on deck were not clothed like man-of-war's-men, and there was no sign of guns, with the exception of one little brass carronade, which was probably used as a signal-gun.
A tall stout man, in plain costume, which was neither quite that of a seaman nor a landsman, stood with his arms crossed on his broad chest near the man at the wheel. To him, judging him to be the captain or owner of the vessel, Jarwin went up, and, pulling his forelock by way of salutation, said—
"Why, sir, I thought 'ee was a-goin' to leave me!"
"So I was," answered the captain, drily. "Hold on to the raft," he added, turning to the man who had thrown the rope to Jarwin.
"Well, sir," said the latter in some surprise, "in course I don't know why you wos a-goin' to leave a feller-creetur to his fate, but I'm glad you didn't go for to do it, 'cos it wouldn't have bin Christian-like. But I'm bound for to thank 'ee, sir, all the same for havin' saved me— and Cuffy."
"Don't be too free with your thanks, my good man," returned the captain, "for you're not saved, as you call it, yet."
"Not saved yet?" repeated Jarwin.
"No. Whether I save you or not depends on your keeping a civil tongue in your head, and on your answers to my questions."
The captain interlarded his speech with many oaths, which, of course, we omit. This, coupled with his rude manners, induced Jarwin to suspect that the vessel was not a pleasure-yacht after all, so he wisely held his peace.
"Where do you belong to?" demanded the captain.
"To Yarmouth, sir."
"What ship did you sail in, what has come of her, and how came you to be cast adrift?"
"I sailed in the Nancy, sir, from Plymouth, with a miscellaneous cargo for China. She sprung a leak in a gale, and we was 'bliged to make a raft, the boats bein' all stove in or washed away. It was barely ready when the ship went down starn foremost. Durin' the gale all my mates were washed off the raft or died of exposure; only me and my dog left."
"How long ago was that?" asked the captain.
"Couldn't rightly say, sir, I've lost count o' time, but it's more than a year gone by anyhow."
"That's a lie," said the captain, with an oath.
"No, 'taint, sir," replied Jarwin, reddening, "it's a truth. I was nigh starved on that raft, but was cast on an island where I've bin till a few days ago ever since, when I put to sea on the raft that now lays a-starn there."
For a few seconds the captain made no rejoinder, but a glance at the raft seemed to satisfy him of the truth of what was said. At length he said abruptly—
"What's your name?"
"John Jarwin, sir."
"Well, John Jarwin, I'll save you on one condition, which is, that you become one of my crew, and agree to do my bidding and ask no questions. What say you?"
"Haul up the raft and let this man get aboard of it," said the captain, coolly but sternly, to the seaman who held the rope.
"You've no occasion to be so sharp, sir," said John, remonstratively. "If you wos to tell me to cut my own throat, you know, I could scarce be expected for to do it without puttin' a few questions as to the reason why. You're a trader, I suppose?"
"Yes, I'm a trader," replied the captain, "but I don't choose to be questioned by you. All you've got to do is to agree to my proposal or to walk over the side. To tell you the truth, when I saw you first through the glass, you looked such a starved wretch that I thought you'd be of no use to me, and if it hadn't been for the yell you gave, that showed there was something in you still, I'd have left you to sink or swim. So you see what sort of man you've got to deal with. I'm short-handed, but not so short as to engage an unwilling man, or a man who wouldn't be ready for any sort of dirty work. You may take your choice."
"Well, sir," replied Jarwin, "I've no objection to take service with 'ee. As the sayin' goes, 'beggars mustn't be choosers.' I ain't above doin' dirty work, if required."
John Jarwin, in the simplicity of his heart, imagined that the captain was in need of a man who could and would turn his hand to any sort of work, whether nautical or otherwise, on board ship or ashore, which was his idea of "dirty work;" but the captain appeared to understand him in a different sense, for he smiled in a grim fashion, nodded his head, and, turning to the seaman before mentioned, bade him cut the raft adrift. The man obeyed, and in a few minutes it was out of sight astern.
"Now, Jarwin, go below," said the captain; "Isaacs will introduce you to your messmates."
Isaacs, who had just cut away the raft, was a short, thick-set man, with a dark, expressionless face. He went forward without saying a word, and introduced Jarwin to the men as a "new 'and."
"And a green un, I s'pose; give us your flipper, lad," said one of the crew, holding out his hand.
Jarwin shook it, took off his cap and sat down, while his new friends began, as they expressed it, to pump him. Having no objection to be pumped, he had soon related the whole of his recent history. In the course of the narrative he discovered that his new associates were an unusually rough set. Their language was interspersed with frightful oaths, and their references to the captain showed that his power over them was certainly not founded on goodwill or affection. Jarwin also discovered that the freeness of his communication was not reciprocated by his new mates, for when he made inquiries as to the nature of the trade in which they were engaged, some of the men merely replied with uproarious laughter, chaff, or curses, while others made jocular allusions to sandal-wood trading, slaving, etcetera.
"I shouldn't wonder now," said one, "if you was to think we was pirates."
Jarwin smiled as he replied, "Well, I don't exactly think that, but I'm bound for to say the schooner has got such a rakish look that it wouldn't seem unnatural like if you were to hoist a black flag at the peak. An' you'll excuse me, shipmets, if I say that yer lingo ain't just so polished as it might be."
"And pray who are you, that comes here to lecture us about our lingo?" cried one of the men fiercely, starting up and confronting Jarwin with clenched fists.
"Why, mate," replied Jarwin, quietly folding back the cuffs of his coat, and putting himself in an attitude of defence, "I ain't nobody in partikler, not the Lord Chancellor o' England, anyhow still less the Archbishop of Canterbury. I'm only plain Jack Jarwin, seaman, but if you or any other man thinks—"
"Come, come," cried one of the men in a tone of authority, starting forward and thrusting Jarwin's assailant violently aside, "none o' that sort o' thing here. Keep your fists for the niggers, Bill, we're all brothers here, you know; an affectionate family, so to speak!"
There was a general laugh at this. Bill retired sulkily, and Jarwin sat down to a plate of hot "lob-scouse," which proved to be very good, and of which he stood much in need.