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LONDON [Vol. II]
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ARRIVAL AT THE WHARF.
collision was so powerful that the Buffer's wife was thrown from her seat; and
every plank in the Fairy oscillated with a crashing sound.
The Buffer and the Resurrection Man rushed upon the
A single glance enabled them to ascertain the cause of
the sudden alarm.
A lighter, nearly as large as the Fairy, and
heavily laden, had been so clumsily brought in against the barges moored off the
wharf, that it came with the whole weight of its broad-side upon the Fairy.
"Now then, stupids!" ejaculated the Buffer
applying this complimentary epithet to the two men who were on the deck of the
lighter which. was putting in.
"Hope we haven't hurt you, friends,"
exclaimed one of the individuals thus addressed.
"More harm might have been done," answered the
Buffer. "Who are you."
"The Blossom," was the reply.
"Where dye come from?" demanded Wicks.
"Oh! up above bridge," cried the man, speaking
in a surly and evasive manner. "Here just catch hold of this
rope, will you and let us lay alongside of you."
"No no," shouted the Buffer.
"You'd better drop astern of us, and moor alongside that chalk barge."
"Well, so we will," said the man.
While the Blossom was executing this manuvre,
which it did in a most clumsy manner, as if the two [-85-]
men that worked her had never been entrusted with the care of a lighter before,
the Buffer turned towards the Resurrection Man, and said in a whisper, "We
must remain outside all the barges, 'cause of having room to run our boat
alongside the Fairy and get the things on board easy, when we come back
from the expedition down to the Lady Anne."
"To be sure," answered the Resurrection Man.
"You did quite right to make those lubbers get lower down. I'm pleased with
you, Jack: and now I see that I can let you be spokesman on all such occasions
without any fear that you'll commit yourself."
"Why, if you want to keep in the back-ground as
much as possible, Tony," replied the Buffer, "it's much better to
trust these little things to me. But, I say I think there's
something queer about them chaps that have just put in here."
"So do I, Jack," said Tidkins. "They
certainly know no more about managing a lighter than you and I did when we first
took to it."
"Yes but we had a regular man to help
us at the beginning," observed the Buffer.
"So we had. And I precious soon sent him about his
business when he had taught us our own."
"Well p'rhaps them fellows have got a
reg'lar man too," said Wicks. "But let 'em be what and who they will,
my idea is, that they've taken to the same line as ourselves."
"We must find that out, Jack," observed the
Resurrection Man. "If they're what you think, they will of course be
respected: If they do n't belong to the same class, we must ascertain what
they've got en board, and then make up our minds whether any of their cargo will
"Well said," returned the Buffer.
"But in any case you must be the person to learn
all this," continued the Resurrection Man. "You see, I'm so well known
to a lot of different people that would show me no mercy if they got hold of me,
that I'm compelled to keep myself as quiet as possible. There's Markham there's
Crankey Jem there's the gipsies and there's the
Rattlesnake: why if I was only to be twigged by one of them I
should have to make myself scarce in a minute."
"I know all this, Tony," cried the Buffer,
impatiently; "and therefore the less you're seen about, the better. In the
day time always keep below, as you have been doing; but at night, when one can't
distinguish particular faces, you can take the air; or on such
occasions as to- morrow will be, for instance, when we run down
the river, and get away from London."
"Yes, yes," interrupted Tidkins: "don't
think that I shall throw away a chance. Those lubbers have managed to make their
lighter fast to the chalk barge now: just step across and try and find out what
you can about them."
The Buffer immediately proceeded to obey this order. He
walked across the barges, which, as we before stated, were so closely moored
together that they formed one vast floating pier; and approaching as close as
possible to the Blossom, without setting foot upon it, he said, "Holloa,
friend, there! You mustn't think that we meant any thing by telling you not to
lay alongside of us: 't was only 'cause we expect to be off to-morrow or next
"No offence is taken where none's intended,"
answered the man who had before spoken.
The Buffer now perceived that the other individual on
board the Blossom, and who had charge of the helm, was a Black, of tall
form, and dressed in the rough garb of a sailor.
"You seem well laden," said the Butter, after
"Yes pretty deep," answered the
"Do you discharge here, at Mossop's?"
"Do n't know yet," was the laconic reply.
"And what may be your freight?"
"Bales of cotton," returned the man.
"Then I suppose you're the master of that
lighter?" continued the Buffer.
"Yes," was the brief answer.
Well, it's a pleasant life," observed Wicks.
"Have you been at it long?"
"I've only just begun it," replied the master.
"And that sable gentleman there," said the
Buffer, with a laugh, "I should think he's not a Johnny Raw
on the water?"
"Not quite," returned the master. "Poor
fellow! he's deaf and dumb!"
"Deaf and dumb, eh?" repeated the Buffer.
"Well, p'rhaps that's convenient in more ways than one."
"I believe you," said the master,
"Ah! I thought so," cried Wicks, who now felt
convinced that the Blossom was not a whit better than the Fairy.
"Ain't there no one on board but you and Blackee?"
"What the devil should we want any more hands
for?" said the master, gruffly.
"Oh! I understand," observed the Buffer.
"Capital! you're the master to do as you like; Blackee's deaf
and dumb, and can't blab; and you and him are alone on board. I've hit it, you
"You're uncommon sharp, my fine feller," said
the master. "Step on board and wash your mouth out."
The Buffer did not hesitate to accept this invitation.
The Black had lighted his pipe, and was lounging on the deck over the after
cabin. The master disappeared down the hatchway of the small cabin, or cuddy,
forward; and in a few moments he returned with a bottle and two tin panikins.
"What's the name of your craft?" he said, as
he poured out the liquor, which exhaled the strong and saccharine flavour of
"The Fairy," replied the Buffer.
"Then here's a health to the Fairy."
"And here's to the Blossom."
The master and the Buffer each took draughts of the raw
"Now let us drink to our better acquaintance,"
said the master. "You seem an honest, open-hearted kind of a feller "
"And to be trusted, too," interrupted Wicks.
"Well I'm inclined to think you
are," said the master, speaking deliberately, as if he were meditating upon
some particular idea, which then occupied his mind; "and it's very
probable it may be, I mean that I shall want
a little of your advice; for which, remember, I should be happy to pay you
"You couldn't apply to a better man,"
returned the Buffer.
"And here's to you," said the master.
"What sort of a. fellow is Mossop, that keeps, this wharf?"
"He has no eyes, no ears, and no tongue for things
that don't consarn him," answered Wicks.
"Just the kind of agent I want," returned the [-86-]
master. " But I shall also require two or three good fellers in a few
days, chaps that ain't over partickler, you understand, how they
earn a ten pound note, so long as it's sure."
"And you want two or three chaps of that
kind?" asked the Buffer.
"Yes. I've a good thing to hand," returned the
master. "But I shan't say too much now."
"Well, you may reckon on me at any moment to-morrow
excepted," said Wicks; "and my pal in the Fairy will also be
glad to row in the same boat."
"What sort of a man is your pal?" demanded the
master: "one of the right kind?"
"If he wasn't, him and I should n't long hold
together," answered the Buffer. "But when do you think you'll want our
"Very soon. You say you're both engaged for
"Yes both of us."
"The day after to-morrow, in the evening, you and
your friend can come and smoke your pipes with me; and we'll talk the matter
over," said the master.
"And if any thing should prevent us coming the day
after to-morrow, the evening after that will do p'rhaps?" remarked the
"Well we must make that do,
then," answered the master. "Good night."
"Good night," said Wicks; and he then returned
to the Fairy.
"What can you make of them, Jack?" demanded
the Resurrection Mast, who was smoking his pipe on the after deck.
"They're of the right sort, Tony," was the
reply. "The master seems a good kind of a feller: the only other man on
board with him is a Black; and he's deaf and dumb. The master sounded me about
Mossop; and that shows that he knows what's what. Besides, he hinted that he'd a
good thing in view, but wanted more hands, and so he made an appointment for you
and me to smoke a pipe with him in the course of two or three evenings, to talk
over the matter."
"You didn't say much about me?" exclaimed the
Resurrection Man, hastily.
"Not more, than was proper. It's all right I
could tell that with half an eye."
"Well, business seems dropping in upon us,"
observed the Resurrection Man; "but we must be very cautious what we do.
And now let's turn in, for we have to get up early, recollect."
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
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