HOW TOM WAS BORN A FRENCHMAN 355
another refused, and our Captain was beginning to despair when he spied a brightly lighted inn from which came sounds of singing and laughing. He felt certain some ship's crew was making merry within, and pressed on, when the sound of a well-known song of his own country caused him to stop suddenly. He listened, with a heart beating for joy, and waited for the chorus. Yes, he was right! These were his fellow-countrymen, and, looking through the open door, he saw that they were not only his countrymen, but the crew of his own ship the ' Eoxalana.'
He did not hesitate an instant. Thanks to his privations and adventures he was hardly recognisable. He pushed the door wide open and walked in, followed by his bear.
A loud cheer greeted them.
The Captain regretted not having held any rehearsal, but the bear took the whole matter into his own hands —or paws.
He began by trotting round to clear a circle. The sailors stood on the benches, the first mate seated himself on the top of the stove, and the show began.
Everything a bear could learn that bear knew. He danced the minuet, rode astride on a broomstick, and pointed out the greatest rogue in the company. Such a shout of delight greeted the end of the performance that the mate offered to buy the bear as a present to the crew.
The Captain accepted the offer, but slipped out at the beginning of the second part of the performance without being recognized by any one.
He made his way to the harbour, and after some time succeeded in finding the ' Eoxalana,' swung himself on deck, and went quietly down to his cabin and to bed.
The crew came on board much later, and what was
their surprise next morning to see their missing captain
appear among them and take command of the vessel as
if he had never been absent.
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