“Heigh-Ho-Ha-Hum! Oh dear me!”
“What’s matter, sir?”
“Matter, Dirty Dick? Nothing; only, heigh-ho-ha! Oh dear me, how sleepy I am!”
“Well, sir, I wouldn’t open my mouth like that ’ere, ’fore the sun’s up.”
“No knowing what you might swallow off this here nasty, cold, foggy, stony coast.”
“There you go again, Dick; not so good as Lincolnshire coast, I suppose?”
“As good, sir? Why, how can it be?” said the broad, sturdy sailor addressed. “Nothin’ but great high stony rocks, full o’ beds of great flat periwinkles and whelks; nowhere to land, nothin’ to see. I am surprised at you, sir. Why, there arn’t a morsel o’ sand.”
“For not praising your nasty old flat sandy shore, with its marsh beyond, and its ague and bogs and fens.”
“Wish I was ’mong ’em now, sir. Wild ducks there, as is fit to eat, not iley fishy things like these here.”
“Oh, bother! Wish I could have had another hour or two’s sleep. I say, Dirty Dick, are you sure the watch wasn’t called too soon?”
“Nay, sir, not a bit; and, beggin’ your pardon, sir, if you wouldn’t mind easin’ off the Dirty—Dick’s much easier to say.”
“Oh, very well, Dick. Don’t be so thin-skinned about a nickname.”
“That’s it, sir. I arn’t a bit thin-skinned. Why, my skin’s as thick as one of our beasts. I can’t help it lookin’ brown. Washes myself deal more than some o’ my mates as calls me dirty. Strange and curious how a name o’ that kind sticks.”
“Oh, I say, don’t talk so,” said the lad by the rough sailor’s side; and after another yawn he began to stride up and down the deck of His Majesty’s cutter White Hawk, lying about a mile from the Freestone coast of Wessex.
It was soon after daybreak, the sea was perfectly calm and a thick grey mist hung around, making the deck and cordage wet and the air chilly, while the coast, with its vast walls of perpendicular rocks, looked weird and distant where a peep could be obtained amongst the wreaths of vapour.
“Don’t know when I felt so hungry,” muttered the lad, as he thrust his hands into his breeches pockets, and stopped near the sailor, who smiled in the lad’s frank-looking, handsome face.
“Ah, you always were a one to yeat, sir, ever since you first came aboard.”
“You’re a noodle, Dick. Who wouldn’t be hungry, fetched out of his cot at this time of the morning to take the watch. Hang the watch! Bother the watch! Go and get me a biscuit, Dick, there’s a good fellow.”
The sailor showed his white teeth, and took out a brass box.
“Can’t get no biscuit yet, sir. Have a bit o’ this. Keeps off the gnawin’s wonderful.”
“Yah! Who’s going to chew tobacco!” cried the lad with a look of disgust, as he buttoned up his uniform jacket. “Oh, hang it all, I wish the sun would come out!”
“Won’t be long, sir; and then all this sea-haar will go.”
“Why don’t you say mist?” cried the lad contemptuously.
“’Acause it’s sea-haar, and you can’t make nowt else on it, sir!”
“They haven’t seen anything of them in the night, I suppose?”
“No, sir; nowt....