We had nothing to look forward to at the end of the journey except a dak-bungalow's cold welcome, but the Blackies, who live at Madhabad, insisted we should go home with them to dinner; so, instead of the tinned ham-and-egg meal we had expected, we had a dainty, well-cooked dinner in a cosy dining-room. Warmed and fed, we retired to our present resting-place, and found little comfort here.
"I wonder if the old blackies do talk," said Tom, looking up at them. "How they must abuse me and East, and pray for the Doctor for stopping the slinging!" "There! look, look!" cried Arthur; "don't you see the old fellow without a tail coming up? Martin used to call him the 'clerk. He can't steer himself.
Didn't expect ye so soon." "I hope that, if unexpected, I am not unwelcome," replied I, a little vexed at this specimen of genuine Pennsylvanian dryness. "You ain't come alone, are you?" continued Bleaks, examining me at the same time out of the corners of his eyes. "Thought you'd have brought us a dozen blackies. We want 'em bad enough."
"Who knows," thought the clockmaker to himself, "but that Jared, who is a monstrous sly fellow, will pick up some southern heiress, with a thousand blackies, and an hundred acres of prime cotton-land to each, and thus ennoble the blood of the Bunces by a rapid ascent, through the various grades of office in a sovereign state, until a seat in Congress in the cabinet itself receives him;" and Ichabod grew more than ever pleased and satisfied with the idea, when he reflected that Jared had all along been held to possess a goodly person, and a very fair development of the parts of speech.
My favourite dish, pepper-pot, was much in request, and I could, by a sly peep, see some of the Massa Blackies use their fingers instead of their spoons. Roasted plantain was eaten instead of bread; palm-wine and grog were the principal beverages, although the prince, the lieutenant and myself drank two bottles of madeira which I had brought in the boat.
Lead the way, blackies, and I'll keep close to your heels." "But you have no weapons," Mr. Wright said. "Ain't I got 'em? Look here!" and to my surprise, he produced from the bosom of his flannel shirt a large pair of horse pistols, which he had borrowed from one of the farm hands. "You'll do; go ahead," our host said.
I re-entered my sedan-chair and set the blackies off again, with something potent in my mind how much I truly owed to the good man who has taken at times the health of my children, of my wife, of myself, in his hands and has seen us safely through to port.
As soon as I cleared it, I sees you and dearie hurryin' towards the beach, as though somethin' was amiss, but what it was I couldn't at first make out, until I see'd the blackies jump out of the bushes, and then I knowed at once what a reg'lar fix you was in.
"Now suppose there were sharks here as they have in the West Indies, it would not be quite so easy to go overboard as it is," observed Duff, who quickly recovered his temper, which he had lost with his half-crown. "Oh, these fellows would laugh at a shark," answered Raby. "Why even the blackies don't fear them, and will attack and kill the largest.
"And such comical blackies, that the ladies call 'aunty, and that call me 'honey' and 'child. As like as not you'll see a snag coming up through the bottom of the boat presently, and you had better try one of the life-preservers on and see how it works; though, after all, we may be blown up instead. Of course we are racing. I am sure of it." "Dear, dear! How very dreadful!