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- Jack Tier or The Florida Reef - 5/93 -
all gone below, under the care of Josh, a somewhat rough groom of the chambers, to take possession of their apartment, a sufficiently neat, and exceedingly comfortable cabin, supplied with everything that could be wanted at sea, and, what was more, lined on two of its sides with state-rooms. It is true, all these apartments were small, and the state-rooms were very low, but no fault could be found with their neatness and general arrangements, when it was recollected that one was on board a vessel.
"Here ebbery t'ing heart can wish," said Josh, exultingly, who, being an old-school black, did not disdain to use some of the old-school dialect of his caste. "Yes, ladies, ebbery t'ing. Let Cap'n Spike alone for dat! He won'erful at accommodation! Not a bed-bug aft--know better dan come here; jest like de people, in dat respects, and keep deir place forrard. You nebber see a pig come on de quarter-deck, nudder."
"You must maintain excellent discipline, Josh," cried Rose, in one of the sweetest voices in the world, which was easily attuned to merriment--"and we are delighted to learn what you tell us. How do you manage to keep up these distinctions, and make such creatures know their places so well?"
"Nuttin easier, if you begin right, miss. As for de pig, I teach dem wid scaldin' water. Wheneber I sees a pig come aft, I gets a little water from de copper, and just scald him wid it. You can't t'ink, miss, how dat mend his manners, and make him squeel fuss, and t'ink arter. In dat fashion I soon get de ole ones in good trainin', and den I has no more trouble with dem as comes fresh aboard; for de ole hog tell de young one, and 'em won'erful cunnin', and know how to take care of 'emself."
Rose Budd's sweet eyes were full of fun and expectation, and she could no more repress her laugh than youth and spirits can always be discreet.
"Yes, with the pigs," she cried, "that might do very well; but how is it with those--other creatures?"
"Rosy, dear," interrupted the aunt, "I wish you would say no more about such shocking things. It's enough for us that Capt. Spike has ordered them all to stay forward among the men, which is always done on board well disciplined vessels. I've heard your uncle say, a hundred times, that the quarter-deck was sacred, and that might be enough to keep such animals off it."
It was barely necessary to look at Mrs. Budd in the face to get a very accurate general notion of her character. She was one of those inane, uncultivated beings who seem to be protected by a benevolent Providence in their pilgrimage on earth, for they do not seem to possess the power to protect themselves. Her very countenance expressed imbecility and mental dependence, credulity and a love of gossip. Notwithstanding these radical weaknesses, the good woman had some of the better instincts of her sex, and was never guilty of anything that could properly convey reproach.
She was no monitress for Rose, however, the niece much oftener influencing the aunt, than the aunt influencing the niece. The latter had been fortunate in having had an excellent instructress, who, though incapable of teaching her much in the way of accomplishments, had imparted a great deal that was respectable and useful. Rose had character, and strong character, too, as the course of our narrative will show; but her worthy aunt was a pure picture of as much mental imbecility as at all comported with the privileges of self-government.
The conversation about "those other creatures" was effectually checked by Mrs. Budd's horror of the "animals," and Josh was called on deck so shortly after as to prevent its being renewed. The females staid below a few minutes, to take possession, and then they re-appeared on deck, to gaze at the horrors of the Hell Gate passage. Rose was all eyes, wonder and admiration of everything she saw. This was actually the first time she had ever been on the water, in any sort of craft, though born and brought up in sight of one of the most thronged havens in the world. But there must be a beginning to everything, and this was Rose Budd's beginning on the water. It is true the brigantine was a very beautiful, as well as an exceedingly swift vessel; but all this was lost on Rose, who would have admired a horse-jockey bound to the West Indies, in this the incipient state of her nautical knowledge. Perhaps the exquisite neatness that Mulford maintained about everything that came under his care, and that included everything on deck, or above-board, and about which neatness Spike occasionally muttered an oath, as so much senseless trouble, contributed somewhat to Rose's pleasure; but her admiration would scarcely have been less with anything that had sails, and seemed to move through the water with a power approaching that of volition.
It was very different with Mrs. Budd, She, good woman, had actually made one voyage with her late husband, and she fancied that she knew all about a vessel. It was her delight to talk on nautical subjects, and never did she really feel her great superiority over her niece, so very unequivocally, as when the subject of the ocean was introduced, about which she did know something, and touching which Rose was profoundly ignorant, or as ignorant as a girl of lively imagination could remain with the information gleaned from others.
"I am not surprised you are astonished at the sight of the vessel, Rosy," observed the self-complacent aunt at one of her niece's exclamations of admiration. "A vessel is a very wonderful thing, and we are told what extr'orny beings they are that `go down to the sea in ships.' But you are to know this is not a ship at all, but only a half-jigger rigged, which is altogether a different thing."
"Was my uncle's vessel, The Rose In Bloom, then, very different from the Swash?"
"Very different indeed, child! Why, The Rose In Bloom was a full-jiggered ship, and had twelve masts--and this is only a half-jiggered brig, and has but two masts. See, you may count them--one--two!"
Harry Mulford was coiling away a top-gallant-brace, directly in front of Mrs. Budd and Rose, and, at hearing this account of the wonderful equipment of The Rose In Bloom, he suddenly looked up, with a lurking expression about his eye that the niece very well comprehended, while he exclaimed, without much reflection, under the impulse of surprise--"Twelve masts! Did I understand you to say, ma'am, that Capt. Budd's ship had twelve masts?"
"Yes, sir, twelve! and I can tell you all their names, for I learnt them by heart--it appearing to me proper that a ship-master's wife should know the names of all the masts in her husband's vessel. Do you wish to hear their names, Mr. Mulford?"
Harry Mulford would have enjoyed this conversation to the top of his bent, had it not been for Rose. She well knew her aunt's general weakness of intellect, and especially its weakness on this particular subject, but she would suffer no one to manifest contempt for either, if in her power to prevent it. It is seldom one so young, so mirthful, so ingenuous and innocent in the expression of her countenance, assumed so significant and rebuking a frown as did pretty Rose Budd when she heard the mate's involuntary exclamation about the "twelve masts." Harry, who was not easily checked by his equals, or any of his own sex, submitted to that rebuking frown with the meekness of a child, and stammered out, in answer to the well-meaning, but weak-minded widow's question--"If you please, Mrs. Budd--just as you please, ma'am--only twelve is a good many masts--" Rose frowned again--"that is--more than I'm used to seeing--that's all."
"I dare say, Mr. Mulford--for you sail in only a half-jigger; but Capt. Budd always sailed in a full-jigger--and his full-jiggered ship had just twelve masts, and, to prove it to you, I'll give you the names--first then, there were the fore, main, and mizen masts--"
"Yes--yes--ma'am," stammered Harry, who wished the twelve masts and The Rose In Bloom at the bottom of the ocean, since her owner's niece still continued to look coldly displeased--"that's right, I can swear!"
"Very true, sir, and you'll find I am right as to all the rest. Then, there were the fore, main, and mizen top-masts--they make six, if I can count, Mr. Mulford?"
"Ah!" exclaimed the mate, laughing, in spite of Rose's frowns, as the manner in which the old sea-dog had quizzed his wife became apparent to him. "I see how it is--you are quite right, ma'am--I dare say The Rose In Bloom had all these masts, and some to spare."
"Yes, sir--I knew you would be satisfied. The fore, main and mizen top-gallant-masts make nine--and the fore, main and mizen royals make just twelve. Oh, I'm never wrong in anything about a vessel, especially if she is a full-jiggered ship."
Mulford had some difficulty in restraining his smiles each time the full-jigger was mentioned, but Rose's expression of countenance kept him in excellent order--and she, innocent creature, saw nothing ridiculous in the term, though the twelve masts had given her a little alarm. Delighted that the old lady had got through her enumeration of the spars with so much success, Rose cried, in the exuberance of her spirits--"Well, aunty, for my part, I find a half-jigger vessel, so very, very beautiful, that I do not know how I should behave were I to go on board a full-jigger."
Mulford turned abruptly away, the circumstance of Rose's making herself ridiculous giving him sudden pain, though he could have laughed at her aunt by the hour.
"Ah, my dear, that is on account of your youth and inexperience--but you will learn better in time. I was just so, myself, when I was of your age, and thought the fore-rafters were as handsome as the squared-jiggers, but soon after I married Capt. Budd I felt the necessity of knowing more than I did about ships, and I got him to teach me. He did n't like the business, at first, and pretended I would never learn; but, at last, it came all at once like, and then he used to be delighted to hear me `talk ship,' as he called it. I've known him laugh, with his cronies, as if ready to die, at my expertness in sea-terms, for half an hour together--and then he would swear--that was the worst fault your uncle had, Rosy--he would swear, sometimes, in a way that frightened me, I do declare!"
"But he never swore at you, aunty?"
"I can't say that he did exactly do that, but he would swear all round me, even if he did n't actually touch me, when things went wrong--but it would have done your heart good to hear him laugh! he had a most excellent heart, just like your own, Rosy dear; but, for that matter, all the Budds have excellent hearts, and one of the commonest ways your uncle had of showing it was to laugh,
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