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Probably some, if not all, of the six men in the deck-house of the West Wind were in the habit of taking intoxicating liquors when they were ashore, and when it was served out on board of the ship in conformity with the rules and traditions of the navy. The commander and his executive officer labored for the promotion of total abstinence among the officers and crew. More than the usual proportion of the men commuted their "grog ration" for money, through the influence of the principal officers.
While the commander of the present expedition accepted the aid of the powerful ally, "apple-jack," in the service of his country, drinking freely appeared to him to be about the same thing as going over to the enemy; and he could not permit his men to turn traitors involuntarily, when he knew they would not do so of their own free will and accord. He had settled the liquor question 93 to his own satisfaction in the deck-house, returning the bottle to French.
When Graines went below, a minute or two later than Captain Sullendine, he saw his new superior in the act of tossing off another glass of whiskey, as he concluded it was from the label on the bottle which stood on the cabin table. He had been considerably exhilarated before, and he was in a fair way to strengthen the ally of the loyalists by carrying his powerful influence to the head of the commander of the intending blockade-runner. The captain seated himself at the table, and Christy saw that he had a flat bottle in his breast-pocket.
"Now, Mr. Balker, we had better seal up the bargain we've made with forty drops from this bottle," said he, as he poured out a glass for himself, regardless of the fact that he had just indulged; and at the same time he pushed the bottle and another glass towards the new mate.
Graines covered the lower part of the glass with his hand, and poured a few drops into it. Putting some water with it from the pitcher, he raised the tumbler in imitation of the captain.
"Here's success to the right side," added the 94 master, as he drank off the contents of the glass.
"I drink that toast with all my mind, heart, and soul," added the engineer, with decided emphasis, though he knew that "the right side" did not always convey the same idea.
"Help yourself, Mr.— I've forgot your name, Second Mate," he added as he moved towards the companion ladder.
"Jerry Sandman, sir, and I will help myself to what I want," replied Christy.
"That's right, Mr. Sandman; make yourself at home in this cabin. I must go on deck and take a look at the Tallahatchie," added the master as he went up the ladder, followed by Graines.
The lieutenant helped himself to a glass of water, after rinsing the tumbler, for that was what he wanted. Sopsy the cook immediately appeared, bearing a tray on which were several dishes of eatables, bread and ham being the principal. The bottle was in his way; and after he had drunk off half a tumblerful of its contents, he removed it to the pantry. He proceeded to set the table.
"Oft in der chizzly night, 'fore slumber's yoke hab tooken me," hummed Sopsy as he worked at the table.
95 "Where is this schooner bound, Sopsy?" asked Christy.
"Bound to dat boon whar no trab'ler returns," replied the cook, pausing in his occupation and staring the second mate full in the face.
"That bourn is Nassau, I reckon," laughed the lieutenant.
"I s'pose she's gwine dar if she don't go to dat boon where no trab'lers come back agin," answered Sopsy seriously. "Be you Meth'dis' o' Bab'tis', Massa Mate?"
"Both, Sopsy."
"Can't be bof, Massa."
"Then I'm either one you like."
"That ain't right, Massa Secon' Mate, 'cordin' as you was brung up," said the cook, shaking his head violently, as though he utterly disapproved of the mate's theology.
"I'm a theosophist, Sopsy."
"A seehossofist!" exclaimed the cook, dropping a plate in his astonishment. "We don't hab none o' dem on shore in de Souf. I reckon dey libs in de water."
"No; they live on the mountains."
"We hain't got no mount'ns down here, and 96 dat's de reason we don't hab none on 'em," added Sopsy as he went to the pantry; but presently returned with a plate of pickles in one hand and the whiskey bottle in the other. "Does dem sea-hosses drink whisker, Massa Secon' Mate?"
"They never drink a drop of it."
"Dis colored pusson ain't no sea-hoss, and he do drink whiskey when he kin git it," added the cook; and he half filled a tumbler with the contents of the bottle, and drank it off at a single gulp.
He had hardly placed it on the table in the middle of the dishes before the captain came below. His first step was to take a liberal potation from the bottle. As he raised it to the swinging lamp, he discovered that the fluid had been freely expended in his absence.
"You've punished this bottle all it deserves," said he when he perceived that its level had been considerably lowered, and he did not ask the new officer to join him. "That's all right, Mr. Sandman; but I don't want you to take more than you can manage to-night, for we have a big job on our hands, and we want our heads where we shall be able to find them. Now go on deck, and learn what you 97 can about the vessel, for we hain't got but half an hour more before the Tallahatchie goes to sea. We may have lots of music after we get outside; but I reckon our steamer can outsail anything the Yankees have got on the blockade. Don't drink no more, Mr. Sandman; and when we git to Nassau you can have a reg'lar blowout."
"I won't touch another drop before we get out of the bay, Cap'n Sullendine," protested Christy, without betraying the misdemeanor of the cook, as doubtless it was.
"That's right, Mr. Sandman; ............
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