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a mercy the night had fallen so still, for the wind had gone down as soon as the rain began. Even as it was, I judged by the wailing of a great number of gulls that went crying and fishing round the ship, that she must have drifted pretty near the coast or one of the islands of the Hebrides; and at last, looking out of the door of the round-house, I saw the great stone hills of Skye on the right hand, and, a little more astern, the strange isle of Rum.
IN GOOD KING GEORGE'S TIME
[From "Roderick Random,” BY TOBIAS SMOLLETT]
NOW saw no resource but the army or navy, between which I hesitated so long, that I found
myself reduced to a starving condition. My spirit began to accommodate itself to my beggarly fate, and I became so mean as to go down towards Wapping, with an intention to inquire for an old schoolfellow, who, I understood, had got the command of a small coasting vessel, then in the river, and implore his assist
But my destiny prevented this abject piece of behaviour; for, as I crossed Tower Wharf, a squat tawny fellow, with a hanger by his side, and a cudgel in his hand, came up to me, calling, “Yo, hol brother, you must come along with me." As I did not like his appearance, instead of answering his salutation, I quickened my pace, in hope of ridding myself of his company; upon which he whistled aloud, and immediately another sailor appeared before me, who laid hold of me by the collar, and began to drag me along. Not being of a humour to relish such treatment, I disengaged myself of the assailant, and with one blow of my cudgel, laid him motionless on the ground; and perceiving myself surrounded in a trice, by ten or a dozen more, exerted myself with such dexterity and success, that some of my opponents were fain to attack me with drawn cutlasses;
and, after an obstinate engagement, in which I received a large wound on my head, and another on my left cheek, I was disarmed, taken prisoner, and carried on board a pressing tender, where, after being pinioned like a malefactor, I was thrust down into the hold among a parcel of miserable wretches, the sight of whom well-nigh distracted me.
As the commanding officer had not humanity enough to order my wounds to be dressed, and I could not use my own hands, I desired one of my fellowcaptives, who was unfettered, to take a handkerchief out of my pocket, and tie it round my head to stop the bleeding. He pulled out my handkerchief, 'tis true; but, instead of applying it to the use for which I designed it, went to the grating of the hatchway, and with astonishing composure, sold it before my face to a bum-boat woman then on board, for a quart of gin, with which he treated my companions, regardless of my circumstances and intreaties.
I complained bitterly of this robbery to the midshipman on deck, telling him at the same time, that unless my hurts were dressed, I should bleed to death. But compassion was a weakness of which no man could justly accuse this person, who, squirting a mouthful of dissolved tobacco upon me through the gratings, told me, “I was a mutinous dog, and that I might die and be d-d.” Finding there was no other remedy, I appealed to patience, and laid up this usage in my memory, to be recalled at a fitter season. In the meantime, loss of blood, vexation, and want of food, contributed, with the noisome stench of the place, to throw me into a swoon; out of which I was recovered by a tweak of the nose, administered by the tar who stood sentinel over us, who at the same time regaled me with a draught of Alip, and comforted me with the hopes of being put on board the Thunder next day, where I should be freed of my handcuffs, and cured of my wounds by the doctor. I no sooner heard him name the Thunder, than I asked if he had belonged to that ship long? and he giving me to understand, he had belonged to her five years, I inquired if he knew Lieutenant Bowling? “Know Lieutenant Bowling?" said he,—"odds my life! and that I do! and a good seaman he is, as ever stepp'd upon forecastle, — and a brave fellow as ever crack'd biscuit;-none of your Guinea pigs,-nor your fresh-water, wishy-washy, fair-weather fowls. Many a taut gale of wind has honest Tom Bowling and I weathered together. Here's his health with all my heart, wherever he is, aloft or alow-in heaven or in hell—all's one for that-he needs not be ashamed to show himself.” I was so much affected with this eulogium, that I could not refrain from telling him that I was Lieutenant Bowling's kinsman; in consequence of which connexion he expressed an inclination to serve me, and, when he was relieved, brought some cold boiled beef in a platter, and biscuit, on which we supped plentifully, and afterwards drank another can of Aip together. While we were thus engaged, he recounted a great many exploits of my uncle, who, I found, was very much beloved by the ship's company, and pitied for the misfortune that had happened to him in Hispaniola, which I was very glad to be informed was not so great as I imagined; for Captain Oakum had recovered of his wounds, and actually at that time commanded the ship. Having, by accident, in my pocket, my uncle's letter, written from Port Louis, I gave it to my benefactor, whose name was Jack Rattlin, for his perusal; but honest Jack told me frankly he could not read, and desired to know the contents; which I immediately communicated. When he heard that part of it in which he says he had writ to his landlord in Deal, he cried, “Body o'mel that was old Ben Block/he was dead before the letter came to hand. Ey, ey, had Ben been alive, Lieutenant Bowling would have had no occasion to skulk so long. Honest Ben was the first man that taught him to hand, reef, and steer.—Well, well, we must all die, that's certain, we must all come to port sooner or later-at sea, or on shore; we must be fast moored one day; death's like the best bower anchor, as the saying is, it will bring us all up.”
1 A bum-boat woman is one who sells bread, cheese, greens, liquor, and fresh provisions to the sailors, in a small boat that lies alongside the ship.
I could not but signify my approbation of the justness of Jack's reflections; and inquired into the occasion of the quarrel between Captain Oakum and my uncle; which he explained in this manner: “Captain Oakum, to be sure, is a good man enough,-besides he's my commander;—but what's that to me?-I do my duty, and value no man's anger of a rope's end.—Now the report goes, as how he's a lord or baron knight's brother, whereby, d'ye see me, he carries a strait arm, and keeps aloof from his officers, thof, may hap, they may be as good men in the main as he. Now we lying at anchor in Tuberoon Bay, Lieutenant Bowling had the middle watch, and as he always kept a good look out, he made, d'ye see, three lights in the offing, whereby he ran down to the great cabin for orders, and found the captain asleep; whereupon he waked him, which put him in a main high passion, and he swore woundily at the lieutenant, and called him lousy Scotchs- of a w