Many years ago I was mate of the little schooner Dicky Bird. She traded mostly between the West Indies and Gulf ports, once in a while getting a charter for some point in Central America. On this particular voyage, she was bound across the Gulf from Pensacola to Vera Cruz.
We were a queer company; three whites and eight blacks. Cap’n Thomas Pratt was a first rate seaman when he wasn’t in liquor, although too easy-going to suit some people. He didn’t believe in knocking the hands about, and always said that swearing at ’em did just as much good. I have met some people who didn’t think even that was right, but they were mostly preachers or lubbers who knew mighty little of merchant sailors. Let them try moral suasion on a mule for a while if they want to see how it works with a sailor. If you never swear at ’em, they get lazy and despise you, besides thinking you a milk-sop.
But as I said, Cap’n Pratt took a drop too much now and then; mostly after dinner, for he kept pretty straight until the sun was taken. I’m no teetotlar myself, though I was green enough to sign the pledge before I’d got to what they call “the age of reason.” Still, it goes against my idees for a skipper to drink much when on duty, and if Pratt hadn’t owned his schooner, I reckon he’d lost his berth long before I knew him. After working out his sights he used to take a drink by way of celebration in case the day’s run had been good, and if we’d made a poor record he just took something to drown his sorrows—and sometimes it needed a deal of liquor to drown ’em.
There was no second mate, so the Cap’n and me stood watch and watch. We had a negro bo’s’un called Prince Saunders—a strapping big fellow as black as the ace of spades—who was on duty all day from seven in the morning till six at night. Then he turned in till next day, unless all hands were called. Prince acted as general overseer, and the way he made those darkeys come to time wasn’t slow. In fact, I wouldn’t ask for a better bo’s’un or a better crew. All the Cap’n and me had to do was to lay out the day’s work and Prince saw that it was done.
The three fellows in my watch looked exactly alike—I never could tell one negro from another—so I called ’em Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. I forgot what Pratt named his.
Steamers were scarce in the Gulf those days, and people wanting to go any distance had to take passage on whatever craft they could find, which was how we came to have the Honorable Mr. Warriner for a passenger. I couldn’t see as he had any more honor than lots of other people, but all of his mail was addressed that way, and Pratt said it was a kind of title they have on shore. He was a red faced, pompous old duck, with too much corporation, and looked as much out of place on the deck of that little schooner as I would scraping before Queen Victoria. Every time we had a squall he got almighty sick, and when a good hot day came how he did sweat and mop his face! I really pitied him.
Once he said to me: “Mr. Hunt, I would give any reasonable amount to be as slender as you are.”
“We thin chaps certainly have the advantage in the tropics, Mr. Warriner; and ever since I was seventeen, and had the yellow fever at Rio, there ain’t been any more meat on me than there is on a starved horse,” I answered.
I had no call to feel flattered, but I was, just the same, for Pratt sometimes poked fun at me for being so d—d lean; and didn’t I find a picture drawn on the bulwarks forward of an oar with clothes on that looked kind of like me? If I could have found out which of those black sons of Belial did it, he would have caught a whaling, you bet!
We had a cook who also waited off at table,—a steward was too much luxury for the Dicky Bird, and of all the infernal liars that ever lived, I believe that Cornwallis Tecumseh Jones was the worst. He knew his business pretty well, and could turn a flap-jack by throwing it up in the air from one window of the galley, and catching it as it came down by the window on the opposite side. 
The passenger, Pratt and me were talking of various things one afternoon when Warriner said: “Captain, to-morrow will be Thanksgiving, and I propose that we observe the day by having some appropriate dish for dinner. Turkey and pumpkin pie are out of the question, so what do you say to an English plum-pudding?”
“Anything, sir; anything to keep the peace. Plum-pudding or pear-pudding, Thanksgiving or lobscouse.”
(Pratt was about half heeled over, as usual with him that time of day.)
“Lobscouse! Captain Pratt, I will thank you not to mention that abominable mixture in my presence. It passes my comprehension how you can eat such stuff. Neither do I like this flippant reference to so august a day as Thanksgiving.
“But a plum-pudding will be excellent—that is, if you think that darkey won’t ruin it in the making. I have a splendid recipe in my trunk, and although some of the necessary ingredients are probably lacking, it will be possible to produce a very fair pudding.”
“Let’s have it,” said I. “Anything for a change is my sentiments.”
“Darkeys usually have quite a knack for cooking, and I suppose if the recipe is placed before Cornwallis he will do the subject justice. I will get it at once.”
“The Lord only knows, Mr. Warriner. Did you ever hear a certain proverb that is common at sea: ‘God sends meat and the devil sends cooks?’ It’s astonishing how good provisions can be changed into all sorts of queer shapes. But get your directions and take them to the galley. The black imp may surprise us.”
Pratt went below, and soon after, Warriner and me went forward with the directions for the pudding. He told the cook what was wanted and then read off the recipe, so as to be sure and have no mistake. Never did I hear of such a lot of truck being put together, and I don’t believe the cook did either, for his eyes got bigger and bigger as Warriner read the list of what he called “ingredients.” My! that pudding took some of everything. There was raisins, currants, brown sugar, beef-suet, flour, bread-crumbs, citron, candied lemon-peel, eggs, nutmeg and salt! “Boil seven hours in a buttered mould. A sprig of holly should be stuck in the center. Pour brandy around the pudding when ready to serve, and set it on fire.” Holy Moses! Then there was a sauce with brandy and other things in it.
The cook sat down on a bench and looked at Warriner.
“Golly! you done took my bref away, boss. Bile seben hour! Whar we gwine to git dese yere tings? I ’low dere ain’t no brandy on dis craf’, an’ as fur ten eggs—waal, de hens is completely gi’n out, eben ef I does feed ’em on de Champyun Egg Food.”
“How should the poor things lay, shut up in a small coop? But as for the brandy, I will furnish that, and also some nice layer raisins. Currants, lemon-peel and citron we must do without, but ten eggs are a necessity, and the other things you have.”
“We has jes’ got ’leben eggs, an’ ef yo’ takes ten from ’leben, dar ain’t but bery few lef’. Where we gwine to get moah?”
“I neither know nor care,—we shall reach Vera Cruz sometime I devoutly hope,—but ten eggs go into this pudding. The question is, can you make it?”
“Can I make it?” repeated the cook, as if someone had asked him whether he could breathe. “Waal, sah, dere ain’t no dish knowed to man or debil dat dis chile can’t make, Mistah Warmer. Must I bile de sass seben hour too?”
“Certainly not. The sauce must not be made until to-morrow morning just before dinner, and is only to be boiled a few minutes. Can’t you read?”
“Me read? Well, I hope not, boss. I’s got all my receipts in my head. None o’ yo’ new-fangled notions fur dis niggah.”
I had to laugh, poor Warriner looked so disgusted. He just all gave up for a minute and thought the pudding was done for. Then he stamped his foot and said:
“I am not to be thwarted by trifles, and will weigh out everything myself. Then you can mix the articles together.”
Warriner fetched the raisins and brandy—if he’d been smart he wouldn’t have brought the brandy till the last minute—and between ’em they managed to mix up all the truck and get it in the mould. It was about the middle of the afternoon when they got it on to boil.
Next day was fine, and Warriner was up before we finished washing down the decks. Pratt and me were curious about the plum-pudding, for we’d never seen one, and wanted to know what sort of idees the passenger had about cookery. He kept telling all the morning what fine ones his wife used to make, and said he’d show us a thing or two. We sat down to dinner—our Thanksgiving dinner. The Honorable looked more self-satisfied and important than usual, I thought; Cap’n Pratt was real good-natured and told a lot of lies that Warriner swallowed like an albacore does a flying-fish; I had scraped my face with an old hoe of a razor and put on a necktie; and Cornwallis stood in the pantry door behind Pratt with a white cap over his wool, and looking as solemn as a judge. He did well that day, and we had a first rate dinner. There was vegetable soup; chicken, rice and curry with Ceylon chutney; potatoes; boiled onions; lime-juice; and each a cold whiskey punch. At last it was time for the dessert. Cornwallis took away the things, while Warriner told us how much we had to be thankful for, and how he and the cook had worked to make the pudding a success.
Well, the minute that pudding hove in sight Pratt and me laughed. The middle of it was stuck full of long feathers!
“Heavens and earth! What are those things for?” cried Warriner.
“Dem is fedders, sah. You tole me dat holly was to be stuck up in de middle, but dat bush ain’t to be foun’ in dese pahts. I done de best I could, Mass’.”
“Was ever such a thing heard of! And are those feathers from the chicken we have just eaten?”
“Laws, no. I done kotched de rooster—Golly! how dat ole bird did squawk—and I yanked de fedders out ob his tail. Dere dey is, a wavin’ like a flag.”
Warriner was about to pull the feathers out and throw them away, but the Cap’n and me rather liked the looks of ’em, so he stopped. Then the sauce appeared. White of egg beaten stiff was on top of it. Next Cornwallis brought a dish and turned the brandy around the pudding. How awful it smelled! Not a bit like any brandy that I ever saw. Warriner looked a bit puzzled, but before he had time to say a word the cook struck a match and touched it to the liquor.
The whole thing blazed right up to the skylight, and scared all hands nearly to death! You could have knocked me over with a fish-hook, and that darky rolled up the whites of his eyes and acted as if he was praying. Warriner’s face turned all colors, and Pratt was scared and mad both. He jerked the cloth and everything off the table, took off his coat and threw it on the blaze. Then he stamped on it.
None of us spoke a word for a minute; we were clean on our beam ends. Then Pratt looked at the passenger and roared out: “Well, sir, you’ve raised h— with your pudding, I must say! Like to have burned us all up into the bargain. That’s what comes of setting brandy on fire. I thought when you spoke of it, it was the d—dest nonsense to burn up a lot of good liquor that might better be drunk.”
Warriner had found his voice by this time.
“Captain Thomas Pratt, you forget yourself. I am not accustomed to being addressed in that fashion, and you will please remember that I am a passenger on this craft—this miserable apology for a schooner—and did not come here to be sworn at!”
The old boy was on his mettle, and Pratt saw it.
“No offense meant, Mr. Warriner, but I insist that your having that brandy set on fire was a rash proceeding.”
“Brandy! That was not brandy. Do you suppose I never saw a plum-pudding before? If that had been the brandy I gave that imp of Satan” (pointing to the cook) “it would never have blazed up like that. And what foul odor did we smell when he poured the stuff around the pudding? What odor do we smell now? Kerosene, or I’m no judge.”
“Kerosene!” echoed the Cap’n.
I began to think the passenger knew what he was talking about. All of us smelled oil, and we cast our eyes on Cornwallis. He looked as innocent as a lamb.
“Gents, dat ain’t possible,” said he, his black face shining like polished ebony.
“We will see about that,” answered Warriner. “Let’s taste the sauce—I’ll warrant it’s full of kerosene too.” He took some in a spoon and smelled of it before putting his tongue to it.
“Curious,” he muttered, “there is no odor of oil or brandy either.”
Then the old chap tasted it.
“This is extraordinary! There’s nothing to this sauce—it has no body. There is positively not a drop of brandy in it; nor of kerosene, for that matter.”
“Dat am bery strange, Mass’ Warmer. De brandy must ’a’ done ’vaporated.”
“Evaporated down your throat, you black villain! Captain Pratt, I consider this a flagrant outrage. I furnished a quantity of good brandy for this pudding, not a drop of which has been used. What has become of it?”
“Dat Monday or some ob de han’s might ’a’ stole it when I wahn’t lookin’,” suggested the cook.
Prince, the bo’s’un, was standing outside near the door, and had evidently heard part of the confab. He now called out:
“Ef you ’lows me, Cap’n, I reckons I kin find out de truf in dis argument.”
“Come in, Prince,” answered Pratt. “If you can get any truth out of Cornwallis you’re smarter than I think you are.”
The cook looked indignant—not so much at being called a liar as having the bo’s’un admitted,—for he and Prince were not on good terms, and he considered the bo’s’un’s interference a piece of pure impudence.
Prince entered, cap in hand. I’m tolerable tall myself, but he was a good four inches above me, and a right good looking darkey into the bargain. He walked right up to the cook.
“Walrus Jones, you stole dat gemmen’s brandy. You lies ef you says you didn’t.”
Cornwallis looked at his accuser defiantly.
“What yo’ want wid me, niggah? Is yo’ lookin’ fur trouble? Go ’long ’bout yo’ bizness now, an’ doan’ be comin’ in de cabin whar yo’ betters is. I’s willin’ to obey de Cap’n ob dis craf’, but I tells yo’ now dat I won’t take no sass from lowdown bo’s’uns. Go an’ scar’ de life out ob dose pore debils in de crew, fur all I keer, but doan’ git gay wid me. Huh! Yo’ mus’ tink I’s jes’ turned out!”
“You awoids de subjek’. Dat am a shuah sign ob guilt.”
“Lemme tell yo’ somfin’, yo’ onery niggah! I doan’ sociate wid sech trash as yo’ be, what can’t tell who his own fadder and mudder was. I come from a hono’ble fam’ly what was tole ob in hist’ry. Ef yo’ keeps on probokin’ me to wraf I’ll put pizen in yo’ wittals, dat’s what I’ll do, an yo’ now has fair wahnin’!”
Prince showed signs of wrath himself at this speech, but Pratt interfered before he could answer.
“No more talk about poisoning people, Cornwallis. Answer me this: Where did that brandy go to?”
“Ef it didn’t go in dat sass an’ aroun’ dat puddin’, Cap’n, den I ’lows some ob de crew done stole it. Dem critters ain’t to be trusted, no how. Cockroaches is bery bad in dat galley, too, an’ dey likes sech drinks, I hearn tell. Whose to know if dey wahn’t at de bottle?”
“Why, you black rascal, you said not ten minutes ago that the brandy was put in the sauce and around the pudding!”
“So I did, Cap’n. Ef dat ain’t de truf an’ nothin’ but de truf, I hopes de good Lawd will hab me pah’lized, an’ make me fall dead heah in my tracks.”
“Impious creature! Unworthy descendant of Ham!” cried Warriner.
“Me a ham? Me, a linear decen’ant ob de great Lawd Cornwahlis, what lan’ed at Yohktown an’ chased de Yanks all ober de plains ob Ole Virgintay? Dat’s de stock I come from, Mistah Warmer, an’ so I want yo’ to understan’.”
The cook’s reference to his ancestors astounded Warriner, though none of the rest of us saw anything queer about it.
“Good heavens! What curse is there like ignorance?” said he, looking up at the ceiling.
It was lucky for me that Warriner spoke up, for I was just going to show off about Lord Cornwallis, and would likely have made a fool of myself. My history is a bit uncertain; so I stood by and kept mum.
Prince had been considering while the rest of us talked, and now said: “Cap’n Pratt, I would ax you, sah, for de Bible, an’ I promises to bring dis sinful critter to time, eben of he does b’long to de quality ob Virginny, which he don’t, unless de debil hab turned saint.”
All of us were surprised at this, but Pratt went to fetch the book. Prince could read large print tolerably well, and write a little, which facts he was very proud of. His confident air, and the new tack he had taken, made the cook a bit uneasy for the first time. He had no idee what was coming next.
Pratt beckoned to me from the door of his room, and whispered in my ear: “The Bible’s mislaid. Hasn’t been used for so long it can’t be found. Here’s a book the same size, though.”
“Maybe that’ll do,” said I. “We’ll try, anyway.”
Prince took the volume of Lieut. Maury’s sailing directions and said impressively: “Now, Mistah Jones, appearances is agin you, but dey is bery deceptible, an’ not alwuz to be trusted. You may be innocenter den a kitten, which fur y’ur own sake, I hopes you is. I has here, gemmen, de Good Book, out ob which I will read what happens to cooks which steals.”
Cornwallis looked uneasily from one to the other, and at the sacred volume. He was ignorant and superstitious, and Prince as reader and oracle was much more to be feared than Prince the bo’s’un, with all his threats and accusations.
“Dis chile better be gittin’ back to de galley an’ washin’ dem dishes. Neber will git nothin’ done at dis rate, stan’in’ aroun’ an’ talkin’ like a lot o’ wenches at a pic-nic.”
“Hold on, Cornwallis,” said Pratt, taking hold of him as he neared the door. “You don’t need to be afraid as long as you didn’t get away with the liquor. Stay right here and let’s hear how well Prince can read.”
The bo’s’un had been turning over the leaves as if searching for something, and finally stopped at a page which told the route vessels should take when bound from New York to Hong Kong and the Far East. Clearing his throat and putting on a long face, he read: “Cooks an’ stoords what steals ’taters and won’t confess, is boun’ to be set on de capstan all night long till dey owns up. Nex’ day, dey is to be whitewashed, but ef it’s a white pusson, he mus’ be painted black.
“Dem dat takes sugah is to be made to drink bilge-water an’ nothin’ else, an’ is to larn to take de sun ebery mawnin’ an’ ebenin’.
“Ef you kotch one stealin’ gin, make a rope fas’ to him an’ t’ow him oberboard all day long. Ef he don’t die de fust day, try him ag’in de second.
“Gittin’ away wid w’isky is bery bad. Ef a cook or stoord is foun’ out, he mus’ be drove full o’ marling-spikes till he stops yellin’, eben ef it done kills him.
“But ef one steals brandy,—wahl, der ain’t nothin’ bad ’nough fur him. Brandy is awful hard to make, an’ costs a hun’red dollahs a poun’; so ’tain’t no sort o’ use foolin’ with one dat steals it. De craf’ will sink ef he ain’t took in hand.
“Gib de wicked sinnah time to say his prayers, an’ den h’ist him up an’ down de main stay fou’ times, so his blood circ’lates good. Tie a grin’stone roun’ his neck an’ heave him oberboard, while all han’s prays an’ sings like de bery debil. Ef he sinks he’s guilty shuah, an’ ef he floats, haul ’im aboard an’ tie more weights on top of ’im. Ef he keeps on a floatin’, he’s a innocent man, an’ his wages is to be made biggah. Heah de chaptah ends.”
Prince made this up as he went along, pronouncing his words with much gravity, and it had such an effect on Cornwallis that we had all we could do to keep from roaring right out. We had to look solemn, though, or he would have smelt a rat. He stood with his back against the wall, rolling up the whites of his eyes and looking around in a scared way as if he didn’t know whether the whole thing was a joke or not. Finally he said: “Cap’n Pratt, I axes you, sah, ef what dat niggah done read is wrote down in dat book, or is I bein’ made a wictim ob what dey calls de cu’cumstances?”
“It’s all down in cold type, Cornwallis, and now we must put you to the test, so as to know if you’re guilty.”
“What test am dat, sah?”
“Why, we must hang a grindstone round your neck and heave you overboard. If you didn’t steal the brandy, you’ll float. That’s what the book says.”
The cook’s jaw dropped, and he fell down in a heap. Throwing his arms around Pratt’s knees, he gasped: “Does yo’ mean dat, Cap’n?”
“Oh, fur de good Lawd’s sake, what hab dis pore chile done dat he mus’ be kilt in cole blood! Ain’t I sarved you, sah, fur one, two, six,—wahl, seberal yeahs? An’ now is yo’ gwine to let dat blood-thu’sty niggah what’s been hankerin’ arter my life—is yo’ gwine to let him murdah me?”
“I feel sorry for you, Cornwallis,—d—n me if I don’t,—but there’s no help for it. The book says the craft will never reach port if the guilty person escapes, so it’s a case of your going overboard or all of us giving up the ghost.”
“Gents, is der no marcy in yo’ buzums?”
This piteous appeal was addressed to Warriner and me, and the cook looked so miserable that I could hardly play my part.
“No, you must prepare for the ordeal,” said Warriner, “and if you have told the truth you will surely float.”
“What, an’ a grin’stone made fas’ to me?”
“Oh, Mass’ Warmer, I’s not ready to die; ’deed I’s not. I’s been powe’ful wicked in my time, an’ dem kin’ o’ people has to jine de chu’ch an’ hab r’ligion ’fore deh heahs de trumpet blow.”
“No more fooling. Prince, you bring aft the grindstone that the crew sharpen their knives on. Hunt, you get the fog-horn and blow like h— when we heave him overboard. The d—d thing makes more noise than any trumpet I ever heard.”
“Yes,” added Warriner, “It may comfort the condemned.”
When we got back with the horn and grindstone, Cornwallis was jumping up and down and yelling like a maniac.
“I’s de culprit! I’s de culprit! I’s de culprit! An’ ef yo’ drap me overboard dat’s why I’s boun’ to sink! Only lemme lib till we reaches dry lan’ an’ I’ll go into one ob dem conbents whar dey is said to be dead to de worl’, an’ I won’t nebber see none ob yo’ no moah.”
“The sinner owns up,” cried Pratt, and Prince grinned till every one of his ivories showed. “Now, Cornwallis, your life will be spared on condition that you make a clean breast of this matter. No more lies; and you must pay for the brandy you drank at the rate of one hundred dollars a gallon—wasn’t that it, Prince?”
“A hun’red dollahs a poun’, sah,” corrected Prince.
“I doan know how many poun’ I drank,” sniffed the cook, “an’ ef I has to pay dat much fur each one ob ’em, I’s got to wo’k more’n a year fur nothin’.”
“That’s better than being drowned to-day,” said I, “and you’d better be thankful. Now tell us how you took the brandy.”
“I’s been close to de dahk riber, gents, an’ will perceed to tell de truf,” said Cornwallis, now much relieved after his narrow escape. He looked down at the floor and began in a low tone: “Yo’ see, it was jes’ dis way. Mass’ Warmer, he done brung de brandy an’ say, ‘Put some ob dat in de sass an’ some roun’ de puddin’.’ De las’ was to be sot on fire soon as ’twas on de table.
“Wahl, I was stan’in’ lookin’ at de bottle when I heerd a noise. I turn roun’, an’ as shuah as I lib, ef de debil wahn’t right ’side ob me! Oh, he looked orful, an’ I like to died from de shock ob seein’ him. Ef yo’ wants to know what he looks like, jes’ take a good look at dat Prince Sahnders, fur ef him an’ de debil ain’t brudders I’m a cod-fish!
“I says, ‘Debil, go ’way. I doan want no trouble wid you.’ But he gib me.a push towa’ds de bottle, and says, reel soft-like, ‘Yo’ pore, mis’able, skinny, oberwo’ked critter, you’s all fadin’ away.’ (Cornwallis weighed at least two hundred.) ’Dere ain’t nothin’ lef’ ob yo’ but skin an’ bone. Jes’ take a drap ob dat liquor, an’ it mought do lots ob good. You’s gittin’ ole, and needs some stimilant.’
“I knowed it was de gospel truf, yo’ understan’, but at de same time it wahn’t right, an’ I tried to put ole Nick out ob de galley. He wahr bigger den me, an’ jes’ made me drink dat brandy till de bottle looked a’most empty. ’Deed I tried to git him out, but ’twan’t no use, an’ ebery drap ob dat liquor done wanished ’fore he quit pesterin’ me. I’d had a misery in my head de hull mawnin’, but I felt right pert arter de brandy was gone. I sot down to reflec’ a spell.
“‘Now,’ I says, ‘ef de brandy was to be sot fire to an’ burned up, it am plain dat it can’t be drank.’ I ’lowed dat keerosene ansahs de pu’pose jes’ as well, so I puts it roun’ de puddin’. Golly! how dat ile did burn! I was real dis’pinted ’bout de sass, fur I reckoned dat ile mought pizen yo’. So I lef’ it out, an’ hoped dat fak’ would ’scape de company’s obserbation.
“I’s spoke de truf, yo’ understan’, an’ is resolbed to die ’fore I eber agin disto’ts de fak’s.”
We all laughed till we nearly parted our braces, especially Warriner. I wouldn’t have believed he had so much humor. The passenger pulled away the tablecloth and the smashed crockery till he sighted the pudding. What with the smell of oil and burned feathers, and being all scorched up and stepped on, it wasn’t a very fine sight by this time.
“Did any of you ever read ‘Great Expectations?’” he asked.
None of us had.
“It tells of a certain lady called Miss Havisham, who expected to be married one evening. The wedding supper was spread and everything ready, but the bridegroom never came. For years and years after did Miss Havisham keep that feast untouched in the deserted room—kept it until spiders spun webs over it, and mice and damp played havoc with the faded yellow cloth and the viands. Sometimes a boy named Pip would pay her a visit, and then the wax tapers would be lighted, while the strange pair walked round and round the decaying feast.
“Even so, my friends, should I preserve this pudding and enthrone it in my Brooklyn home to remind me of my lost brandy and of this most extraordinary Thanksgiving. But that is impossible, so follow me.”
He picked the pudding up from the floor and held it out at arm’s length, at the same time leading the way out on deck. Sunday and Tuesday, Flip and Jackson and all the crew forgot what they were about at sight of the queer procession, and Warriner holding out the pudding. He marched over to the lee bulwarks, got on top of an empty box, and began to look at the pudding with a very sorrowful expression, his eyes blinking and his head on one side.
“What the devil is he about?” thinks I.
He looked around at us and wiped his eyes with a silk handkerchief; then held out the blasted pudding in both hands so all of us could see it.
“Gentlemen, behold! This was a plum-pudding. Yea, thou dark and sodden mass, pierced with feathers and baptized in kerosene; thou culinary triumph, concocted by Samuel Warriner and the descendant of Lord Cornwallis;—thou fond inspiration of our brain, which, owing to the combined assaults of Satan and yon sable African, hast so abominably miscarried; we bid thee an eternal farewell!”
“Good G—, if he ain’t blubbering!” whispered Pratt, while Warriner looked so affected that Prince, Cornwallis and me nearly cried.
“Good-by, pudding. Go-od-b-bye,” (heaving it overboard) “and be thou food for worms—I should say, fishes!”
Away it went, and struck the water with a splash. All hands stared until it sunk, and then we looked at Warriner. He had taken up the fog-horn, and just as the pudding went under, he blew a mournful blast.
“May the dear departed rest in peace,” he said, feelingly.
Then we all pulled ourselves together and went back to work.
Return to the Walter McRoberts library , or . . . Read the next short story; The Life-Savers