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“This is awful, Tom,” a lad of about sixteen, in the uniform of a midshipman, said to another of about the same age as, after the last boat had left the ship’s sides, they leaned against the bulwarks; “what with the heat, and what with the stench, and what with the captain and the first mate, life is not worth living. However, only another two or three days and we shall be full up, and once off we shall get rid of a good deal of the heat and most of the smell.”
“Yes, we shall be better off in those respects, Dick, but unfortunately we shan’t leave the captain and mate behind.”
“No, I don’t know which I like worst of them. It is a contrast to our last sip, Tom. What a good time we had of it on board the Zebra! The captain was a brick, and the mates were all good fellows. In fact, we have always been fortunate since the day we first came on board together up to now. I can’t think how the owners ever appointed Collet to the command; he is not one of their own officers. But when Halford was taken suddenly ill I suppose they had no others at home to put in his place, so had to go outside. My father said that Mr. Thompson had told him that they heard that he was a capital sailor, and I have no doubt he is. He certainly handled her splendidly in that big storm we had rounding the Cape. I suppose they did not inquire much farther, as we took no passengers out to San Francisco, and were coming out to pick up a cargo of hides here for the return journey; but he is a tyrant on board, and when I get back I will tell my father, and he will let Thompson know the sort of fellow Collet is. It doesn’t do one any good making complaints of a captain, but my father is such friends with Thompson that I know he will tell the other partners that he hears that Collet isn’t the sort of man they care about having commanding their ships, without my name coming into it. If he does I can’t help it. I know Thompson will see that I don’t sail with Collet again, anyhow, and will get you with me, as he has often met you at my father’s, and knows what chums we are. Collet brought Williams with him, and they were a nice pair. I believe the second and third are just as disgusted as we are, and as Allen is a nephew of one of the partners he will put a spoke in their wheel too, when he comes back.”
“Well, we might be worse off in some respects, Dick. We have two good officers out of the four, and we have a very fair crew, and we have good grub; and the company always victual their ships well, and don’t put the officers’ messing into the hands of the captain, as they do in some ships.”
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