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« Well, what next?” cried she.
“ I'll tell you what next,” said my father rising, and taking about eighteen inches of inch-and-a-half rope, out of his pocket. “Look you, ma'am, when I first found out that it was by your peaching that I was sent on board of the Tender, I made up this colt; and I vowed that I would keep it in my pocket till I served you outnow the time's come."
Here my father flourished his rope's end. My mother would have flown to the door, but my father was beforehand with her : he turned the key, and, to the astonishment of Virginia and me, he seized my mother, and, holding her at arm's length, gave her several blow's not severe ones, I must acknowledge, indeed they could not have hurt her.
“There," said my father; “it's well for you, my Lady lady's maid, that I did not fall in with you, when I first made up this colt; and it's well for you that I've heard a good character of you from the old chap who has just now left the house, or you'd have smarted for the false trick you played upon me. Howsomever, I've kept my oath, and you may thank your stars that it's not worse."
My mother, who had not uttered a cry during the punishment, but only looked very indignant, now that my father had finished his speech and was rolling up his colt, to put it in his pocket, suddenly threw herself down on the floor, screaming murder with all her might : the noise sunimoned the neighbours - all Fisher's Alley was in an uproar, and our house was besieged with people, who attempted to force their way in — for my mother continued her screams, and poor little Virginia became so frightened, that she also roared as loud as her mother.
“ I've more than two minds,” said my father, taking the rope's end out of his pocket again “but howsomever, since you wish it, all the world shall know it."
My father put his colt into his pocket, and went to unlock the door: my mother, perceiving what he was about, immediately rose and hastened up stairs to her own room. My father then told the neighbours what had occurred, and why my mother had been punished, and the verdict of Fisher’s Alley was, 6 sarved her right.” Ben the Whaler, who was outside with the others, espoused my father's cause ; and as soon as the people dispersed, my father invited him to join him in his pipe and pot.
Little Virginia, still terrified, had crept up to her mother. I, on the contrary, felt the highest respect for one who could dare to punish my mother, who had so often punished me; and the knowledge that he was my father inspired me with a feeling of tenderness towards him, which I could not repress. I was old enough to understand why my mother had received such treatment, and I could not feel angry with my father ; I therefore stayed below, and went for the porter as was required.
I believe that at first it had been my father's intentions to have administered a much severer castigation to my mother, and then to have left the house, taking me with him, for he had not been apprised of the birth of Virginia ; but whatever were his intentions before he came, or for the morrow, it is certain that he continued to smoke and talk with old Ben the Whaler till a very late hour, while I sat by and listened.
A BRIGHT PLEASANT EVENING AFTER A SQUALL, IN WHICH THE ART OF
ANGLING IS INTRODUCED IN A WAY WHICH WOULD HAVE ADDED TO
THE KNOWLEDGE OF IZAAC WALTON HIMSELF.
“ I beg pardon, messmate," said Ben, as he and my father became more sociable; “but may I make so bold as to ask
you contrived to get that seam across your figure-head? You did say something about a Frenchman, if I heard right; and as the war is now of two years' standing, I suppose you've had a rap or two at Mounseer.”
“ 'Xpect I have," replied my father. “ Well, old chap, I'll just wet my whistle, and then I'll tell you all about it, — and it won't take long neither. The boats were ordered away
“ Of what ship, messmate ?"
Very true, I began in the middle. Well, it was in the ship I now belongs to, the Oudacious'- we were with the squadron off Ferrol ; – signal made to chase south-east - clapt every stitch on her after two gun-boats, who were running down in-shore. Light winds — got well in for the land, and then it fell calm. Gun-boats four miles off, using their sweeps -out boats in chase; - I was coxswain of the first pinnace, a devilish fast boat, messmate, I can tell you, with a smart brass gun, — pulled two feet to their one, and came up with them hand-over-hand both cutters and the other pinnace well up with us — the old launch, half a mile astern. Now you see, sir, I've got the picture for you, havn't I ?"
“ Just exactly," replied old Ben.
“ Well, then, it was a long pull; and that reminds me that I'll have a long pull now, so hand me the porter, messmate.” My father took a tremendous long pull at the pewter, and then handing it to Ben, he recommenced.
“ We were soon within gun.shot; and they turned their heads towards us, and blazed away: very pretty shot they fired, for they cut away three of our starboard oars, before we were near enough to return the fire with our small gun. However, the second pinnace and cutters came up, and shared the shot with us; and at last the old fat launch came grunting along, for all the world like an old boar, pitching into them round and grape. Now the first lieutenant was in the launch, and, of course, commanded, and he ordered the boats to separate more, which was very right, as it divided the shot; and then he passed the word that when he sounded the bugle, we were all to pull to the headmost gun-boat and board her. D’ye understand, messmate ?”
“ Perfectly," replied Ben, taking his pipe out to reply.
“Well, then, just hand me the pot." My father drained it this time, and told me to go for another.
“ Then I shall lose the story,” replied I.
“ No, boy, you won't,” replied Ben ; “I'll answer for it your father will heave-to till you come back.”