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Frederick Marryat.

Poor Jack; and The settlers in Canada online

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turned out of the service ; his friends, that he left the service
in disgust ; after all, a matter of little consequence. The
doctor is now gone, and has left behind him in the town of
Greenwich a character for charity and generosity of which no
one can deprive him. He was buried in Greenwich church-
yard ; and never was there, perhaps, such a numerous pro-
cession as voluntarily followed his remains to the grave. The
poor fully paid him the debt of gratitude, if they did not
pay him their other debts ; and when his will was opened,
it was found that he had released them all from the latter.
Peace be to him, and honour to his worth !

The shop of Dr. Tadpole was fitted up in a very curious
manner, and excited a great deal of admiration. During
his service afloat he had collected various objects of natural
history, which he had set up or prepared himself; the lower
rows of bottles in the windows were full of snakes, lizards,
and other reptiles ; the second tier of bottles in the window
were the same as are now generally seen large globes con-
taining blue and yellow mixtures, with gold hieroglyphics
outside of them ; but between each of these bottles was a
stuffed animal of some kind, generally a small monkey, or
of that description. The third row of bottles was the most
incomprehensible : no one could tell what was in them, and
the doctor, when asked, would laugh and shake his head ;
this made the women very curious. I believe they were
chiefly preparations of the stomach, and other portions of the
interior of the animal frame ; but the doctor always said that
it was his row of "secrets," and used to amuse himself with
evading the questions of the other sex. There were some
larger specimens of natural history suspended from the
ceiling, chiefly skulls and bones of animals ; and on the
shelves inside a great variety of stones and pebbles and frag-
ments of marble figures, which the doctor had picked up, I
believe, in the Mediterranean altogether the shop was a
strange medley, and made people stare very much when they
came into it. The doctor kept an old woman to cook and
clean the house, and his boy Tom, whom I have already
mentioned. Tom was a good-natured lad, and, as his master
said, very fond of liquorice ; but the doctor used to laugh at

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POOR JACK

that (when Tom was not by), saying, " It's very true that
Tom cribs my liquorice ; but I will say this for him, he is
very honest about jalap and rhubarb, and I have never missed
a grain."

Next door to the doctor lived another person, who kept a
small tobacconist's shop, which was a favourite resort of the
pensioners and other poor people. She was an Irishwoman,
with a strong accent of her country a widow by her own
account. Who her husband had been was not satisfactorily
known ; if the question was put, she always evaded it as
much as possible. All she said was, that his name was St.
Felix, and that he had been of no profession. She was about
twenty-two or twenty-three, very handsome, and very pleas-
ing in her manners, which was perhaps one cause of the
surmises and scandal which were continually afloat. Some
said that her husband was still alive ; others, that he had
been transported for seven years ; and many (and among
them my mother) declared that she could not produce her
"marriage lines." Indeed, there was no end to ill-natured
reports, as always will be the case when men are so unfor-
tunate as to have a reputation, or women so unfortunate as
to be pretty. But the widow appeared to be indifferent to
what people said : she was always lively and cheerful, and a
great favourite with the men, whatever she may have been
with the women. Dr. Tadpole had courted her ever since
she had settled at Greenwich : they were the best of friends,
but the doctor's suit did not appear to advance. Neverthe-
less, the doctor seldom passed a day without paying her
a visit, and she was very gracious to him. Although she
sold every variety of tobacco, she would not permit people to
smoke, and had no seats either in the shop or at the door
but to this rule an exception was made in favour of the
doctor. He seldom failed to be there every evening ; and
although she would not allow him a chair, she permitted him
to remain standing at the counter and smoke his cigar while
they conversed. It was this indulgence which occasioned
people to think that she would marry the doctor ; but at
last they got tired of waiting, and it became a sort of proverb
in Fisher's Alley and its precincts, when things were put off
to an indefinite period, to say, "Yes, that will be done when
the widow marries the doctor."

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POOR JACK

One evening, Ben had sent me to fill his tobacco-box at
Mrs. St. Felix's, and when I went in, I found the doctor in
her shop.

" Well, Master Tom Saunders or Mr. Poor Jack," said the
widow, "what may your pleasure be ?"

"Pigtail," said I, putting down the penny.

" Is it for your father, Jack, for report tells me that he's in
want of it ? "

" No," replied I, " it's for old Ben father's a long way from
this, I expect."

" And do you intend to follow him, Jack ? It's my opinion
you'll be the very reverse of a good sailor if you cruise bottom
up as you did on your first voyage."

" It's not the pleasantest way of sailing, is it, Jack ? " ob-
served the doctor.

" Not in winter-time," replied I.

The widow measured the length of the pigtail, as milliners
do tape, from the tip of the finger to the knuckle, and cut
it off.

"And now will you oblige me with a cigar?" said the
doctor. " I think this is the sixth, is it not, Mrs. St. Felix ?
so here's my shilling."

" Really, doctor, if it were not that the wry faces I make
at physic would spoil my beauty, I'm almost in honour bound
to send for something to take out of your shop, just by the
way of return for your patronage."

" I trust you will never require it, Mrs. St. Felix. I've no
objection to your sending for anything you please, but don't
take physic."

" Well, my girl Jane shall have a dose, I declare, she is
getting so fat and lumpy. Only don't let it be laudanum,
doctor, she's so sleepy-headed already. I told her this morn-
ing that she was looking pale, just by way of preparing
her."

" Mrs. St. Felix, you must excuse me, but you've no right
to interfere with my practice. I prescribe physic when I
think it necessary, and .Jane is perfectly well at present, and
shall not have any."

"And you've no right to interfere with my household,
doctor. If I choose, I'll physic Jane, and the dog, and the
cat, and the kitten, which I reckon to be the whole of my

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POOR JACK

establishment, all four of them on the same day. Tell me,
doctor, how much ipecacuanha will make a kitten sick ? "

" Mrs. St. Felix, I am not a veterinary surgeon, and there-
fore cannot answer."

"Veterinary ! Well, I thought they only doctored horses."

" I beg your pardon, their practice extends further, as I can
prove to you. I was once at the establishment of one in
London, and I observed in a large room about a dozen little
lap-dogs all tied up with strings. The poor little unwieldy
waddling things were sent to him because they were asth-
matic, and I don't know what all ; and how do you think he
cured them ? "

" It's for me to ask that question, doctor."

"Well, then, he told me his secret. He tied them all up,
and gave them nothing to eat, only water to drink ; and in
three weeks they were returned in as beautiful condition,
and as frisky as young kids. Nothing but diet, Mrs. St.
Felix."

" 1 should rather think it was no diet, doctor. Well, I do
declare I'll tie up Jane for three weeks, and see if nothing
but water will cure her complaints. Well, Mr. Jack, why
don't you take the tobacco to Ben ? "

"Oh ! he's in at supper now; there's no hurry," replied I ;
" and I like to hear you talk."

" Well, there'll be less scandal in your remaining to hear
us than there would be if we sent you away, anyhow. How's
little Miss Virginia, sister to Poor Jack ?"

" She's quite well, and wants to come and see you, only
mother won't let her."

" Many thanks to your sister for her compliment ; and not
forgetting your mother for hers, also. So your mother has
given up 'making toy on reasonable terms'?"

"'Cause people wouldn't come."

"And that is a sufficient reason, even if she had not
another ; which is, that she's never out of hot water without
boiling more. Doctor, you're as mute as a fish. You told
me how to cure Jane and the dogs, now tell me what's the
dose for a cat and a kitten ? "

"A ha'p'orth of liver, cut into small pieces."

"There'll be no difficulty in getting that down their
throats, anyhow."

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POOR JACK

" Talking about liver, Mrs. St. Felix, I once knew a friend
of mine who cured some geese of a liver complaint."

" Had they been long in the East Indies, poor creatures ?"

" No, but they had been in a very hot climate. You see,
he was over in France during the last peace, and he went
to the baths at Montpellier for the benefit of his health.
He lodged with an old Frenchman. Now, you see, Mrs.
St. Felix, in the south of France they have a custom of
making certain pies, which are much esteemed, and are called
pates de foie gras that means livers of geese, in French."

" It don't sound much like livers in English, doctor ; but
never mind that, go on with your story."

" Here's a customer, Mrs. St. Felix ; serve him first, and
then I will go on with my story."

An old pensioner came in, and laying the coppers on the
counter, asked for a ha'p'orth of returns and a farthing of
snuff.

" That's a large ready money order, doctor," said the
widow, as the man left the shop. " Ain't I making my
fortune ? Now go on ; I'm as eager about the liver as my
own cat."

" Well, the great object is to increase the size of the
geese's livers, that is, to bring on a regular liver complaint ;
and to effect this, they put the poor animals in a hot closet
next the kitchen fire, cram the food into their mouths
through a funnel, and give them plenty of water to drink.
This produces the disease ; and the livers of the geese, when
they are killed, very often weigh three or four pounds, while
the animals themselves are mere skeletons."

" And the French eat those liver complaints ? " interrupted
the widow, making a face.

"Yes, they do, and are as fond of it as my boy Tom is of
liquorice. Well, this doctor, who is a friend of mine, quarrelled
with his host, who boasted of his geese having the largest
livers in Montpellier, and was very proud of it. My friend
knew that he could not annoy him more than by preventing
his success ; so, having a large quantity of Cheltenham salts
with him, he used every morning to put a quantity of them
in the water which the geese were given to drink. This had
the same effect upon them as it has upon men and women ;
and instead of becoming more diseased every day, the geese

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POOR JACK

recovered their health and ; ] irits. The Frenchman crammed
and crammed, made his closet still hotter, and sacre blcu'd,
and actually tore his hair because his geese would be well
and hearty ; but, the mcr? he tried to. make them ill, the
more salts were given to them by the doctor, who gained his
point and his revenge."

" Well, that's a funny story, doctor ; and since you know
how to cure it, the first time I meet with a sick goose I'll
send him to you."

" Many thanks ; but, as it is, there's plenty of geese to
send for the doctor."

" That's true enough. And now, Master Jack, you've had
quite enough for your penny, and I won't allow Ben to be
kept waiting any longer."

" You are not going to tell any more stories, doctor ? "
said I.

" Why, you mud-larking vagabond, you don't mean to say
that I've told stories? Be off with you! And, I say, as you
pass round the corner, just tell Torn that I'm coming home
directly."

" Won't that be a story, doctor ? " said I, as I went out of
the door. I heard them both laugh, but I did not hear what
they said.



CHAPTER XII

I prefer a suit to old Nanny, and procure a new suit of
clothes The advantage of being well dressed : you may walk
out with the ladies

JL HE reader must not give me too much credit when I tell
him that, ever since I had been under the tuition of Peter
Anderson, I had quite a craving to go to church. Although
what I had gained from his precepts and explanations had
increased my desire, still I must acknowledge that the
strongest reason for my being so anxious was that my mother
would not take me, and did take Virginia. Further, my
curiosity was excited by my absolute ignorance of what he
church service consisted ; I had heard the bells toll, and as

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I sauntered by would stop ai:cl listen to the organ and the
singing. I would sometimes wait, and see the people com-
ing out ; and then I could not help comparing my ragged
dress with their cle.an and gay attire.

This wish continually worried me ; but the more I re-
flected, the moi-e impossible it appeared to be that I should
be able to gratify it. How could I possibly go to church in
my tattered and dirty clothes and what chance had I of
getting others ? I certainly gained, at an average, eighteen-
pence per week, but I saved nothing. Would my mother
give me clothes ? No, that I was sure she would not, for she
grudged me even the little victuals which I did apply for. I
thought this matter over and over as I lay in bed. Ben had
no money. Anderson I could not ask for it. I thought that
I would apply to Dr. Tadpole, but I was afraid. At last it
came into my head that I had better first ascertain how much
money I should require before I took further measures. The
next morning I went to a fitting-out shop, and asked the lad
who attended how much money 1 should have to pay for a
pair of blue trousers, waistcoat, and jacket. The lad told
me that I might have a very nice suit for twenty-two
shillings. Twenty-two shillings ! What an enormous sum it
appeared to me then ; and then there was a straw hat to buy,
and a pair of shoes and stockings. I inquired the price of
these last articles, and found that my dress could not be
made complete under thirty-three shillings. I was quite in
despair, for the sum appeared to be a fortune. I sat down
to calculate how long it would take me to save up so much
money, at sixpence a week, which was all that I could
afford ; but at that time, never having learnt anything of
figures, all I could make of it was that it was so long a
time as to be beyond my calculation.

It was Saturday evening ; I sat down on the steps of the
landing-place, very melancholy, thinking that to-morrow was
Sunday, and abandoning all hopes of ever going to church,
when a Thames fisherman, of the name of Freeman, who
lived at Greenwich, and with whom I was acquainted for
I used to assist him on the Saturday night to moor his coble
off the landing-place, and hang up his nets to dry called
out to me to come and help him. I did so ; we furled the
sails, hauled on board his little boat for keeping the fish alive,

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POOR JACK

hoisted the nets up to the mast, and made all secure ; and
I was thinking to myself that he would go to church to-
morrow, and I could not, when he asked me why I was to
sad. I told him.

" Why, Jack," said he, " I can't help you, for it is bad
times with me just now ; indeed, I could help you but little
if times were ever so good I've too many children of my
own ; but look ye, here's a good long piece of four-inch,
which I picked up, and it's well worth a shilling. I'll give
it you (for I do owe you something), and do you take it
to old Nanny. She's a queer body ; but suppose you try
whether she'll let you have the money. She can if she
chooses, and, as you have dealt with her so long, perhaps she
will, if you promise to lay some by every week, and repay her."

This idea had never occurred to me, for I knew old Nanny
was very close, and drove very hard bargains with me ; how-
ever, I thanked Freeman for his piece of rope and piece of
advice, and when^we landed I determined, at all events, I
would try.

I have before mentioned old Nanny, who kept a marine
store, and to whom I used to sell whatever I picked up on
the beach. She was a strange old woman, and appeared to
know everything that was going on. How she gained her
information I cannot tell. She was very miserly in general ;
but it was said she had done kind things in one or two in-
stances. Nobody knew her history : all that anybody knew
was that she was Old Nanny. She had no kith or kin that
she ever mentioned ; some people said she was rich, if the
truth were known, but how are we to get at the truth in
this world ?

I was soon at old Nanny's store, with the piece of rope
coiled over my arm.

" Well, Jack, what have you got here ? a piece of good
junk ? no, it is not, for it is quite rotten. Why do you bring
me such things ? What can I do with them ? "

" Why, mother," says I, " it's new rope ; not been used
hardly ; it's the very best of junk."

" Boy, boy ! do you pretend to teach me ? Well, what do
you want for it ? "

" I want a shilling," replied I.

" A shilling ! " cried she ; " where am I to find a shilling ?

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POOR JACK

And if I could find one, why should I throw it away upon a
thing not worth twopence, and which will only lumber my
store till I die ? The boy's demented ! "

" Mother," says I, " it's worth a shilling, and you know it ;
so give it to me, or I go elsewhere."

" And where will you go to, good-for-nothing that you
are? where will you go to?"

"Oh ! the fishermen will give me more."

" The fishermen will give you a couple of stale flat-fish, to
take home to your mother."

" Well, I'll try that," said I, going.

" Not so fast, Jack, not so fast ; if I make a penny by you
one day, I suppose, to keep your custom, I must lose some-
thing by you the next. Now, I'll give you sixpence ; and
how I'm to get my money back I don't know."

" No, Nanny," said I, " I must have a shilling."

" A shilling, you little cheat ! I can't give it ; but what do
you want ? don't you want a key to your chest, or something
of that sort ? "

" I've no chest, mother, and therefore don't want a key."

" But you want something out of all the pretty things in
my shop; boys always fancy something."

I laughed at the idea of " pretty things " in her shop, for
it contained nothing but old iron, empty bottles, dirty rags,
and phials ; so I told her there was nothing that I wanted.

" Well," says she, " sit down a little, and look about you ;
there's no hurry. So Mrs. East has got another boy, worse
luck for the parish, with six children already ! Look about
you, and take your time. Did you hear of Peter James
giving his wife a black eye last night because she wanted to
get him out of the alehouse ? I wonder who that letter was
from that Susan Davis had from the post-office. I think I
could guess ; poor girl ! she has looked rather peaking for
same weeks. Don't be in a hurry, Jack ; look about, there's
plenty of pretty things in my shop. So Davis the butcher
has been pulled up for bad meat ; I thought it would come
to that, and I'm glad of it. There's a capital lock and key,
Jack, to put to your chest, when you get one ; suppose you
take that. What's the doctor about ? They say he is always
sitting with the widow. Does your mother make plenty of
money by clear-starching ? I know your sister had a spotted

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POOR JACK

muslin froc!; on last Sunday, and that must have cost some-
thing. There's a spade, Jack ; very useful to dig on the
beach ; you may find something money, perhaps who
knows ? Take the spade, Jack, and then you'll owe me six-
pence. So Bill Freeman pawned his wife's best gown last
Saturday night. I thought it would be so. He may say it's
because he's caught no fish this bad weather. But I know
more than people think. Here's a nice glass bottle, Jack,
wouldn't you like to give it to your mother to put pickles
in ? it's white glass, you see. Look about, Jack ; there's plenty
of pretty things, you see. So the Governor's daughter's
going to be married ; at least, I suppose so, for I met her
riding with a young gentleman, and nowadays the quality
always make love on horseback. Well, Jack, have you found
anything ? "

" No, mother, I haven't ; and I must have my shilling or
go. Unless, indeed, you're inclined to help me to what I
want, and then I'll give you the rope for nothing."

" Give me the rope for nothing ! " replied old Nanny.
"Sit down, Jack, and let me know what it is you want."

I thought it was of little use to make the application, but
I determined to try ; so I explained my wishes.

"Humph!" said she, after a minute's thought, "so you
want thirty-three shillings to buy clothes to go to church
in. Your mother dresses your sister in spotted muslin, and
leaves you in rags ; suppose you wait till your father comes
home again ? "

" That may not be for years."

" Why, Jack, I don't go to church I am too old too
poor to dress myself to go to church, even if I could go so
far why should you go ? "

" Well, mother," said I, rising up, " if you will not do it,
I'm very sorry ; I M r ould have paid you honestly, and have
given you good bargains, so good-bye."

" Not so fast, Jack sit down, sit down, boy, look about
the shop and see if you can find something that will suit
you." Here Nanny communed with herself aloud : "Thirty-
'three shillings ! that's a great deal of money, pay me
honestly and good bargains ! His mother called me an
old cat the other day ; I think they could be got cheaper,
they always cheat boys ; she'd be vexed to see him dressed

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POOR JACK

clean at church ; honest boy, I do believe ; a boy that
wants to go to church must be a good boy. Oh, dear me,
it is so much money ! "

" I'll work day and night to pay you, Nanny."

"And mind, Jack, I'm to have good bargains, and this
piece of rope for nothing ; something paid every week."

" If I can earn it, mother, as sure as I sit here."

" Well, the old cat will do more for you, Jack, than your
mother would. You shall have the money ; but, Jack, I must
bargain for the things."

" Thank you, Nanny, thank you ! " replied I, jumping off
my seat with delight.

" Well, we can do nothing to-night, Jack. Come to me
on Monday, and if I don't change my mind "

" Change your mind ! " said I sorrowfully. " I thought
you had promised ! "

"Well, so I did and and I'll keep my promise, Jack.
Come on Monday, and as you can't go to church to-morrow,
see if you can't pick up a little money."

I did not neglect her injunctions, and was fortunate enough
to be able to bring her sixpence on the Monday morning.
Nanny went with me to the clothing-shop, haggled and
fought until she reduced the articles to twenty-eight shillings,
and then they were ordered to be made and sent to her
house. I earned but little money that week, and more than
once Nanny appeared to be very unhappy, and repent of her
kind offices ; but when Sunday came she was very cheerful ;
she washed me herself very carefully, and then put on my
clothes. I cannot express the delight I felt at that moment ;
when Nanny said to me, as she placed the hat on my head

"Well, Jack, I wouldn't have thought that you were such
a handsome boy as you are. Why, you may walk with your
sister Virginia, and she will have nothing to be ashamed of,
pretty as she is. There, go and show yourself; and, Jack,
don't forget your promise to pay me back soon, and give me
good bargains ! "

I repeated my promise, and hastened to the hospital to
find Peter Anderson. He did not know me when I came up
to him. I told him how and why I had got the clothes ; he
patted my head, said I was a good lad, and that he would
take me to the chapel at the hospital, where I could sit with

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the school-children ; he could manage that. Then I met
Ben and others, and they were all so surprised. I went to
the chapel, and although I could not hear well what was
said, for I was a long way off from the parson, and the old
pensioners coughed so much, I was very much pleased,
although a little tired before it was over. When the ser-
vice was finished, I was proceeding to my mother's, when I
met her and little Virginia coming home from the town
church.

"There's a nice little boy, Virginia," said my mother;
"wouldn't you like to walk with him?"

My mother did not know me, but Virginia did immedi-
ately ; she burst away from her mother and ran into my arms,
laughing and crying as she clung to me, and then she cried
out, " Mother, yes, mother, I will walk with him ! " and she
hastened me away with her, much to my mother's annoyance,



Online LibraryFrederick MarryatPoor Jack; and The settlers in Canada → online text (page 7 of 58)