« PreviousContinue »
to commence the arrangements. The only person who showed any activity was Smallbones himself, who, not aware that he was to be punished and hearing all hands piped for something or another, came shambling, all legs and wings, up the hatchway, and looked around to ascertain what was to be done. He was met by the bulky form of Corporal Van Spitter, who, thinking that Smallbones' making his appearance in such haste was with the intention of jumping overboard to avoid his punishment, immediately seized him by the collar with the left hand, turned round on a pivot towards Mr. Vanslyperken, and raising his right hand to his foraging cap, reported “ The prisoner on deck, Mynheer Vanslyperken." This roused the lieutenant to action, for he had been walking the deck for a half minute in deep thought.
“Is all ready there, forward ?" cried Mr. Vanslyperken.
“ No, sir," replied Jemmy; “nobody knows how to set about it. I don't, any how I never seed any thing of the like since I've been in the service-the whole of the ship's company say the same.” But even the flakes of snow, which now fell thick, and whitened the blue jacket of Mr. Vanslyperken, could not assuage his wrath-he perceived that the men were refractory, so he summoned the six marines —who were completely under the control of their corporal.
Poor Smallbones had, in the mean time, discovered what was going on, and thought that he might as well urge something in his own defence.
“If you please, what are you going for to do with me?” said the lad, with a terrified look.
“ Lead him forward,” said Mr. Vanslyperken; “ follow me, marines ;” and the whole party, headed by the lieutenant, went before the mast.
“ Strip him,” cried Mr. Vanslyperken.
“ Strip me, with the snow Aying like this! An't I cold enough already ?”
“You'll be colder when you're under the bottom of the cutter,” replied his master.
“Oh, Lord I then it is keelhauling a'ter all; why what have I done?” cried Smallbones, as the marines divested him of his shirt, and exposed his emaciated body to the pitiless storm.
“ Where's Snarley yow, sir-confess?".
“Snarleyyow-how should I know, sir ? it's very hard, because your dog is not to be found, that I'm to be dragged under the bottom of a vessel.”
“I'll teach you to throw paving stones in the canal.”
“ Paving stones, sir !” and Smallbones' guilty conscience flew in his face.“ Well, sir, do as you please, I'm sure I don't care; if I am to be killed, be quick about it I'm sure I sha'n't come up alive.”
Here Mr. Vanslyperken remembered his dream, and the difficulty which he had in driving Smallbones' soul out of his body, and he was fearful that even keelhauling would not settle Smallbones.
By the directions of Mr. Vanslyperken, the hauling ropes and other tackle were collected by the marines, for the seamen stood by, and appeared resolved, to a man, to do nothing, and, in about half an hour, all was ready. Four marines manned the hauling line, one was placed at each side rope fastened to the lad's arms, and the corporal, as soon as he had lifted the body of Smallbones over the larboard gunnel, had directions to attend the bow-line, and not allow him to be dragged on too fast: a better selection for this purpose could not have been made than Corporal Van Spitter. Smallbones had been laid without his clothes on the deck, now covered with snow, during the time that the lines were making fast to him ; he remained silent, and as usual, when punished, with his eyes shut, and as Vanslyperken watched him with feelings of hatred, he perceived an occasional smile to cross the lad's haggard features. He knows where the dog is, thought Vanslyperken, and his desire to know what had become of Snarleyyow overcame his vengeance—he addressed the shivering Smallbones.
“ Now, sir, if you wish to escape the punishment, tell me what has become of the dog, for I perceive that you know.”
Smallbones grinned as his teeth chattered—he would have undergone a dozen keelhaulings rather than have satisfied Vanslyperken.
“I give you ten minutes to think of it," continued the lieutenant ; “ hold all fast at present."
The snow storm now came on so thick, that it was difficult to distinguish the length of the vessel. Smallbones' naked limbs were gradually covered, and, before the ten minutes were expired he was wrapped up in snow as in a garment—he shook his head occasionally to clear his face, but remained silent.
“ Now, sir,” cried Vanslyperken, “ will you tell me, or overboard you go at once? Will you tell me ?”.
“ No,” replied Smallbones.
“ Corporal Van Spitter, over with him,” cried Vanslyperken, in a rage, when a sudden stir was heard amongst the men aft, and as the corporal raised up the light frame of the culprit, to carry it to the gunnel, to the astonishment of Vanelyperken, of the corporal, and of Smallbones, Snarleyyow appeared on the forecastle, and made a rush at Smallbones, as he lay in the corporal's arms, snapped at his leg, and then set up his usual deep baying, “bow, bow, bow 1”.
The re-appearance of the dog created no small sensation—Vanslyperken felt that he had now no reason for keelhauling Smallbones, which annoyed him as much as the sight of the dog gave him pleasure. The corporal, who had dropped Smallbones on the snow, was also disappointed. As for Smallbones, at the baying of the dog, he started up on his knees, and looked at it as if it were an apparition, with every demonstration of terror in his countenance ; his eyes glared upon the animal with horror and astonishment, and he fell down in a swoon. The whole of the ship's company were taken aback-they looked at one another and shook their heads-one only remark was made by Jansen, who muttered, “De tog is no tog a'ter all.”
Mr. Vanslyperken ordered Smallbones to be taken below, and then walked aft; perceiving Obadiah Coble, he inquired whence the dog had come, and was answered that he had come off in the boat which he had taken on shore for fresh beef and vegetables. Mr. Vanslyperken made no reply, but with Snarley yow at his heels, went down into the cabin.
In which Snarley yow does not at all assist his master's cause with the widow Van
dersloosh. It will be necessary to explain to the reader by what means the life of our celebrated cur was preserved. When Smallbones had thrown him into the canal, tied up, as he supposed, in his windingsheet, what Mr. Vanslyperken observed was true, that there were people below, and the supposed paving-stone might have fallen upon them; the voices which he heard were those of a father and son, who were in a small boat going from a galliot to the steps where they intended to land, for this canal was not, like most others, with the water in it sufficiently high to enable people to step from the vessel's gunnel to the jetty. Snarley yow fell in his bag a few yards ahead of the boat, and the splash naturally attracted their attention ; he did not sink immediately, but floundered and struggled so as to keep himself partly above water.
“ What is that ?" exclaimed the father to his son, in Dutch.
“ Mein Gott! who is to know ?- but we will see ;" and the son took the boat-hook, and with it dragged the bread bags towards the boat, just as they were sinking, for Snarleyyow was exhausted with his efforts. The two together dragged the bags with their contents into the boat.
“ It is a dog, or something,” observed the son.
“ Very well, but the bread bags will be useful,” replied the father, and they pulled on to the landing stairs. When they arrived there they lifted out the bags, laid them on the stone steps, and proceeded to unrip them, when they found Snarleyyow, who was just giving signs of returning animation. They took the bags with them, after having rolled his carcase out, and left it on the steps, for there was a fine for throwing any thing into the canal. The cur soon after recovered, and was able to stand on his legs; as soon as he could walk he made his way to the door of the widow Vandersloosh, and howled for admittance. The widow had retired; she had been reading her book of prières, as every one should do, who has been cheating people all day long. She was about to extinguish her light, when this serenade saluted her ears; it became intolerable as he gained strength.
Babette had long been fast asleep, and was with difficulty roused up and directed to beat the cur away. She attempted to perform the duty, arming herself with the broom, but the moment she opened the door, Snarley yow dashed in between her legs, upsetting her on the brick pavement. Babette screamed, and her mistress came out in the passage to ascertain the cause; the dog not being able to run into the parlour, bolted up the stairs, and snapping at the widow as he passed, secured a berth underneath her bed.
“Oh, mein Gott! it is the dog of the lieutenant," exclaimed Babette, coming up the stairs in greater dishabille than her mistress, and with the broom in her hand. “What shall we dom-how shall we get rid of him ?"
“A thousand devils may take the lieutenant, and his nasty dog, too,” exclaimed the widow, in great wrath ; “this is the last time that either of them enter my house; 'try, Babette with your broom-shove at him hard.”
“Yes, ma'am,” replied Babette, pushing with all her strength at the dog beneath the bed, who seized the broom with his teeth, and pulled it away from Babette. It was a struggle of strength between the girl and Snarleyyow-pull Babette-pull dog-one moment the broom, with two-thirds of the handle disappeared under the bed, the next the maid recovered her lost ground. Snarleyyow was first tired of this contention, and to prove that he had no thoughts of abandoning his position, he let go the broom, flew at Babette's naked legs, and having inserted his teeth half through her ancle, he returned growling to his former retreat. “Oh, dear, mein Gott," exclaimed Babette, dropping her broom, and holding her ancle with both hands.
“What shall we do?” cried the widow, wringing her hands. .
It was indeed a case of difficulty. Mynheer Vandersloosh, before he had quitted this transitory scene, had become a personage as bulky as the widow herself, and the bed had been made unusually wide; the widow still retained the bed for her own use, for there was no knowing whether she might not again be induced to enter the hymeneal state. It occupied more than one half of the room, and the dog had gained a position from which it was not easy for two women to dislodge him; and, as the dog snarled and growled under the bed, so did the widow's wrath rise as she stood shivering-and it was directed against the master. She vowed mentally, that so sure as the dog was under the bed, so sure should his master never get into it.
And Babette's wrath was also kindled, now that the first pain of the bite had worn off ; she seized the broom again, and made some furious lunges at Snarleyyow, so furious, that he could not regain possession with his teeth. The door of the room had been left open that the dog might escape--so had the street-door ; and the widow stood at the foot of the bed, waiting for some such effect being produced by Babette's vigorous attacks; but the effects were not such as she anticipated; the dog became more enraged, and at last sprang out at the foot of the bed, flew at the widow, tore her only garment, and bit her in the leg. Frau Vandersloosh screamed and reeled--reeled against the door left half open, and falling against it, slammed it to with her weight, and fell down shrieking. Snarleyyow, who probably had intended to make off, seeing that his escape was prevented, again retreated under the bed, and as soon as he was there he recommenced an attack upon Babette's legs.
Now, it appears, that what the united courage of the two females could not accomplish, was at last effected by their united fears. The widow Vandersloosh gained her legs as soon as she could, and at first opened the door to run out, but her night dress was torn to ribbons in front. She looked at ber situation-modesty conquered every
other feelingshe burst into tears, and exclaiming, “ Mr. Vanslyperken! Mr. Vanslyperken!” she threw herself in an ecstacy of grief and rage on the centre of the bed. At the same moment the teeth of the dog were again fixed upon the ancles of Babette, who also shrieked, and threw herself on the bed, and upon her mistress. The bed was a good bed, and had for years done its duty; but you may even overload a bed, and so it proved in this instance. The united weights of the mistress and the maid coming down upon it with such emphasis, was more than the bed could bear the sacking gave way altogether, and the mattrass which they lay upon was now supported by the floor.
But this misfortune was their preservation-for when the mattrass came down, it came down upon Snarleyyow. The animal contrived to clear his loins, or he would have perished; but he could not clear his long mangy tail, which was now caught and firmly fixed in a new species of trap, the widow's broadest proportions having firmly secured him by it. Snarley yow pulled, and pulled, but he pulled in vain--he was fixed he could not bite, for the mattrass was between them he pulled, and he howled, and barked, and turned himself every way, and yelped; and had not his tail been of coarse and thick dimensions, he might have left it behind him, so great were his exertions; but, no, it was impossible. The widow was a widow of substance, as Vanslyperken had imagined, and as she now proved to the dog-the only difference was, that the master wished to be in the very situation which the dog was now so anxious to escape from-to wit, tailed on to the widow. Babette, who soon perceived that the dog was so, now got out of the bed, and begging her mistress not to move an inch, and seizing the broom, she hammered Snarleyyow most unmercifully, without any fear of retaliation. The dog redoubled his exertions, and the extra weight of Babette being now removed, he was at last able to withdraw his appendage, and probably feeling that there was now no chance of a quiet night's rest in his present quarters, he made a bolt out of the room, down the stairs, and into the street. Babette chased him down, threw the broom at his head as he cleared the threshold, and then bolted the door.
6 ) the beast !” exclaimed Babette, going up stairs again, out of breath; “ he's gone at last, ma'am.”
“ Yes,” replied the widow, rising up with difficulty from the hole made with her own centre of gravity ; " and and his master shall go too. Make love indeed—the atomy-the shrimp-the dried up stock-fish. Love quotha—and refuse to hang a cur like that. O dear! O dear! get me something to put on. One of my best chemises all in rags--and his nasty teeth in my leg in two places, Babette. Well, well, Mr. Vanslyperken, we shall see I don't care for their custom. Mr. Vanslyperken, you'll not sit on my sofa again, I can tell you ;-hug your nasty cur-quite good enough for you. Yes, yes, Mr. Vanslyperken.”
By this time the widow had received a fresh supply of linen from Babette; and as soon as she had put it on she rose from the bed, the fractured state of which again called forth her indignation.
“ Thirty-two years have I had this bed, wedded and single, Ba