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Chapter 73

Peregrine arrives at the Garrison, where he receives the last Admonitions of Commodore Trunnion, who next Day resigns his Breath, and is buried according to his own Directions — Some Gentlemen in the Country make a fruitless Attempt to accommodate Matters betwixt Mr. Gamaliel Pickle and his eldest Son.

About four o’clock in the morning our hero arrived at the garrison, where he found his generous uncle in extremity, supported in bed by Julia on one side, and Lieutenant Hatchway on the other, while Mr. Jolter administered spiritual consolation to his soul; and between whiles comforted Mrs. Trunnion, who, with her maid, sat by the fire, weeping with great decorum; the physician having just taken his last fee, and retired, after pronouncing the fatal prognostic, in which he anxiously wished he might be mistaken.

Though the commodore’s speech was interrupted by a violent hiccup, he still retained the use of his senses; and, when Peregrine approached, stretched out his hand with manifest signs of satisfaction. The young gentleman, whose heart overflowed with gratitude and affection, could not behold such a spectacle unmoved. He endeavoured to conceal his tenderness, which, in the wildness of his youth, and the pride of his disposition, he considered as a derogation from his manhood; but, in spite of all his endeavours, the tears gushed from his eyes, while he kissed the old man’s hand; and he was so utterly disconcerted by his grief, that, when he attempted to speak, his tongue denied its office; so that the commodore, perceiving his disorder, made a last effort of strength, and consoled him in these words:—“Swab the spray from your bowsprit, my good lad, and coil up your spirits. You must not let the toplifts of your heart give way, because you see me ready to go down at these years. Many a better man has foundered before he has made half my way; thof I trust, by the mercy of God, I shall be sure in port in a very few glasses, and fast moored in a most blessed riding; for my good friend Jolter hath overhauled the journal of my sins, and, by the observation he hath taken of the state of my soul, I hope I shall happily conclude my voyage, and be brought up in the latitude of heaven. Here has been a doctor that wanted to stow me chock full of physic; but, when a man’s hour is come, what signifies his taking his departure with a ‘pothecary’s shop in his hold? Those fellows come alongside of dying men, like the messengers of the Admiralty with sailing orders; but I told him as how I could slip my cable without his direction or assistance, and so he hauled off in dudgeon. This cursed hiccup makes such a rippling in the current of my speech, that mayhap you don’t understand what I say. Now, while the sucker of my wind-pump will go, I would willingly mention a few things, which I hope you will set down in the log-book of your remembrance, when I am stiff, d’ye see. There’s your aunt sitting whimpering by the fire; I desire you will keep her tight, warm, and easy in her old age, she’s an honest heart in her own way, and, thof she goes a little crank and humoursome, by being often overstowed with Nantz and religion, she has been a faithful shipmate to me, and I daresay she never turned in with another man since we first embarked in the same bottom. Jack Hatchway, you know the trim of her as well as e’er a man in England, and I believe she has a kindness for you; whereby, if you two will grapple in the way of matrimony, when I am gone, I do suppose that my godson, for love of me, will allow you to live in the garrison all the days of your life.”

Peregrine assured him, he would with pleasure comply with any request he should make in behalf of two persons whom he esteemed so much. The lieutenant, with a waggish sneer, which even the gravity of the situation could not prevent, thanked them both for their good-will, telling the commodore, he was obliged to him for his friendship, in seeking to promote him to the command of a vessel which he himself had worn out in the service; but that, notwithstanding, he should be content to take charge of her, though he could not help being shy of coming after such an able navigator.

Trunnion, exhausted as he was, smiled at this sally, and, after some pause, resumed his admonitions in this manner:—“I need not talk of Pipes, because I know you’ll do for him without any recommendation; the fellow has sailed with me in many a hard gale, and I’ll warrant him as stout a seaman as ever set face to the weather. But I hope you’ll take care of the rest of my crew, and not disrate them after I am dead, in favour of new followers. As for that young woman, Ned Gauntlet’s daughter, I’m informed as how she’s an excellent wench, and has a respect for you; whereby, if you run her on board in an unlawful way, I leave my curse upon you, and trust you will never prosper in the voyage of life. But I believe you are more of an honest man, than to behave so much like a pirate. I beg, of all love, you wool take care of your constitution, and beware of running foul of harlots, who are no better than so many mermaids, that sit upon rocks in the sea, and hang out a fair face for the destruction of passengers; thof I must say, for my own part, I never met with any of those sweet singers, and yet I have gone to sea for the space of thirty years. But howsomever, steer your course clear of all such brimstone b — s. Shun going to law, as you would shun the devil; and look upon all attorneys as devouring sharks, or ravenous fish of prey. As soon as the breath is out of my body, let minute guns be fired, till I am safe under ground. I would also be buried in the red jacket I had on when I boarded and took the Renummy. Let my pistols, cutlass, and pocket-compass b............

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