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Emperor. Then it must have been a sausage, with a glass of wine after it to help digestion.
Soldier. Better than that. But, friend, you will never be able to guess : I breakfasted off a pheasant killed in the emperor's park. What do you think of that?
Emperor. I think that very extraordinary indeed. Had you not told me, I should never have guessed it. Now it is my turn, grenadier. I will put your sharpness to the proof. Tell me who I am, and what rank I hold in the
Soldier. Well, I should have taken you for an ensign; but you are not well enough dressed to be an officer.
Emperor. Better than that.
Soldier. (Very much excited, and taking off his cap] I beg a thousand pardons of your excellency; you are a field-marshal of the empire. [He tries to get out of the cab.]
Emperor. Better than that.
[He jumps out of the cab. The emperor, delighted with the adventure, and laughing heartily, throws him a purse.] Take that, soldier, in proof that you have lost nothing !'
THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE TONQUIN.
The Tonquin set sail from the mouth of the river on the 5th of June. The whole number of persons on board amounted to twenty-three. In one of the outer bays they picked up, from a fishing-canoe, an Indian named Lamazae, who had already made two voyages along the coast, and knew something of the language of the various tribes. He agreed to accompany them as interpreter.
Steering to the north, Captain Thorn arrived in a few days at Vancouver's Island, and anchored in the harbour of Neweetee, very much against the advice of his Indian interpreter, who warned him against the perfidious character of the natives of this part of the coast.
Numbers of canoes soon came off, bringing sea-otter skins to sell. It was too late in the day to commence a traffic, but Mr M‘Kay, accompanied by a few of the men, went on shore to a large village to visit Weccananish, the chief of the surrounding territory, six of the natives remaining on board as hostages. He was received with great professions of friendship, entertained hospitably, and a couch of otter-skins was prepared for him in the dwelling of the chieftain, where he was prevailed upon to pass the night.
In the morning, before Mr M‘Kay had returned to the ship, great numbers of the natives came off in their canoes to trade, headed by two sons of Weccananish. As they brought abundance of sea-otter skins, and there was every appearance of a brisk trade, Captain Thorn did not wait for the return of Mr M‘Kay, but spread his wares upon deck, making a tempting display of blankets, cloths, knives, beads, fish-hooks, expecting a prompt and profitable sale. The Indians, however, were not so eager and simple as he had supposed, having learned the art of bargaining and the value of merchandise from the casual traders along the coast. They were guided, too, by a shrewd old chief named Nookamis, who had grown gray in traffic with New-England skippers, and prided himself upon his acuteness. His opinion seemed to regulate the market. When Captain Thorn made what he considered a liberal offer for an otter-skin, the wily old Indian treated it with scorn, and asked more than double. His comrades all took their cue from him, and not an otter-skin was to be had at a reasonable rate.
The old fellow, however, overshot his mark, and mistook the character of the man he was treating with. Thorn was a plain straightforward sailor, who never had two minds nor two prices in his dealings, was deficient in patience and pliancy, and totally wanting in the chicanery of traffic. He had a vast deal of stern but honest pride in his nature, and, moreover, held the whole savage race in sovereign contempt.
Abandoning all further attempts, therefore, to bargain with his shuffling customers, he thrust his hands into his pockets and paced up and down the deck in sullen silence. The cunning old Indian followed him to and fro, holding out a sea-otter skin to him at every turn, and pestering him to trade. Finding other means unavailing, he suddenly changed his tone, and began to jeer and banter him upon the mean prices he offered.
This was too much for the patience of the captain, who was never remarkable for relishing a joke, especially when at his own expense. Turning suddenly upon his persecutor, he snatched the proffered otter-skin from his hands, rubbed it in his face, and dismissed him over the side of the ship with no very complimentary application to accelerate his exit, he then kicked the peltries to the right and left about the deck, and broke up the market in the most ignominious manner. Old Nookamis made for shore in a furious passion, in which he was joined by Shewish, one of the sons of Weccananish, who went off breathing vengeance, and the ship was soon abandoned by the natives.
When Mr M‘Kay returned on board, the interpreter related what had passed, and begged him to prevail upon the captain to make sail, as, from his knowledge of the temper and pride of the people of the place, he was sure they would resent the indignity offered to one of their chiefs. Mr M‘Kay, who himself possessed some experience of Indian character, went to the captain, who was still pacing the deck in moody humour, represented the danger to which his hasty act had exposed the vessel, and urged him to weigh anchor. The captain made light of his counsels, and pointed to his cannon and firearms as a sufficient safeguard against naked savages. Further remonstrances only provoked taunting replies and sharp altercations. The day passed away without any signs of hostility, and at night the captain retired as usual to his cabin, taking no more than the usual precautions.
On the following morning, at daybreak, while the captain and Mr M‘Kay were yet asleep, a canoe came alongside in which were twenty Indians, commanded by young Shewish.
They were unarmed, their aspect and demeanour friendly, and they held up otter-skins, and made signs indicative of a wish to trade.
The caution enjoined by Mr Astor, in respect to tho
admission of Indians on board of the ship, had been neglected for some time past; and the officer of the watch, perceiving those in the canoe to be without weapons, and having received no orders to the contrary, readily permitted them to mount the deck. Another canoe soon succeeded, the crew of which was likewise admitted. In a little while other canoes came off, and Indians were soon clambering into the vessel on all sides.
The officer of the watch now felt alarmed, and called to Captain Thorn and Mr M‘Kay. By the time they came on deck, it was thronged with Indians. The interpreter noticed to Mr M‘Kay that many of the natives wore short mantles of skins, and intimated a suspicion that they were secretly armed. Mr M‘Kay urged the captain to clear the ship and get under-way. He again made light of the advice; but the augmented swarm of canoes about the ship, and the number still putting off from shore, at length awakened his distrust, and he ordered some of the crew to weigh anchor, while some were sent aloft to make sail.
The Indians now offered to trade with the captain on his own terms, prompted apparently by the approaching departure of the ship. Accordingly, a hurried trade was commenced. The main articles sought by the savages in barter were knives. As fast as some were supplied, they moved off; and others succeeded. By degrees, they were thus distributed about the deck, and all with weapons.
The anchor was now nearly up; the sails were loose; and the captain, in a loud voice and peremptory tone, ordered the ship to be cleared. In an instant, a signal yell was given. It was echoed on every side. Knives and war-clubs were brandished in every direction, and the savages
their victims. The first that fell