He could not deny that he had acted and sung, though, as he said, his performance in both cases was vile. Little Miss Primrose had most comically taken upon her to patronize him, and to offer him as buccaneer captain had been a freak of her own, hardly to be accounted for, except that Purser Briggs's unsuitableness had been discussed in her presence.
His language, from long study, had been borrowed from books, more than from men and when he entered upon his favourite science of natural history, his enthusiasm made him more pedantic in his style and pompous in his phraseology than ever. But who is perfect? The purser, O'Keefe, was an elderly man, very careful of the pounds, shillings, and pence.
"But that gentleman has my ticket, and doesn't know my address!" protested the unfortunate passenger, and the purser answered: "I really cannot help it, but I will telegraph to any of your friends from the first way-port we call at, madam."
Wentworth? asked the purser blandly, as if he had known Wentworth all his life. 'No, we don't care where we sit; but my friend Mr. Kenyon and myself would like places together. 'Very good; you had better come to my table, replied the purser. 'Numbers 23 and 24 Mr. Kenyon and Mr. Wentworth.
Of course I know it's a splendid thing to see all this, and not to be seasick. Oh, there, the young gentlemen are going to play a trick on the purser. For God's sake, let us go," and the unhappy man absolutely dragged the Goblin away with him. When they next halted, it was at the edge of a broad and boundless prairie, in the middle of an oak opening.
A few other friends were of the party, but at last they left us, and we were alone upon the sea, and the sailors were busy with the sails and ropes. The Lexington was an old ship, changed from a sloop-of-war to a store-ship, with an after-cabin, a "ward-room," and "between-decks." In the cabin were Captains Bailey and Tompkins, with whom messed the purser, Wilson.
"'Oh, you mean the Frenchman, replied the purser; 'he's in the washroom. That proved to be the last ordeal through which I passed in Ireland. After being convinced that they had left the steamer I went to my berth, and being thoroughly exhausted I fell asleep in an instant, not awaking until the steamer was entering the harbor of Glasgow.
By taking up slops from the purser, and by aid of the ship's tailor, we had been enabled to walk the quarter-deck without actual holes in our dress; but the dresses themselves were grotesque, for the imitation of our spruce uniform was villainous, and our hats were deplorable; they were greased with oil, and broken, and sewed, and formless, or rather multiform: bad as were our fittings-out, we had not enough of them.
Instead of being disturbed in the middle of dinner by a poke on the shoulder, and the demand, "Dinner ticket, or fifty cents," I was allowed to remain as long as I pleased, and at the conclusion of the voyage a gentlemanly Highland purser asked me for my passage and dinner money together.
Plates were laid for twenty, and who do you suppose was on my right? The severe young purser who was on the steamer I came over in! His ship is coaling in the harbour and he is staying with the Ferrises, who are old friends of his. He is so solemn that he almost kills me. If he weren't so good looking I could let him alone, but as it is I can't help worrying the life out of him.