346 THE HISTORY OF JACKO I.
he found the feathers giving place to down and the down to skin, he became quite enthusiastic, so much so that when his task was done he fell to dancing for joy exactly as he had done the day before by Cataqua's cage.
Double Mouth was overjoyed for his part. He only regretted not having utilised Jacko's talents sooner, but he determined to do so regularly in the future. Next day the same operation took place, and on the third day, Double Mouth, recognising Jacko's genius, took off his own apron and tied it round his pupil, to whom from that moment he resigned the charge of preparing the poultry for the spit. Jacko showed himself worthy of the confidence placed in him, and by the end of a week he had quite distanced his teacher in skill and quickness.
Meantime the ship was nearing the Equator. It was a peculiarly sultry day, when the very sky seemed to sink beneath its own weight; not a creature was on deck but the man at the helm and Cataqua in the shrouds. The captain had flung himself into his hammock and was smoking his pipe whilst Double Mouth fanned him with a peacock's tail. Even Jacko seemed overcome by the heat, and instead of plucking his fowl as usual, he had placed it on a chair, taken off his apron, and appeared lost in slumber or meditation.
His reverie, however, did not last long. He opened his eyes, glanced round him, picked up a feather which he first stuck carelessly in his mouth and then dropped, and at length began to slowly climb the ladder leading on deck, pausing and loitering at each step. He found the deck deserted, which apparently pleased him, as he gave two or three little jumps whilst he glanced about to look for Cataqua, who with much gesticulation was singing ' God save the King' at the top of his voice.
Then Jacko seemed to forget his rival's existence altogether, and began lazily to climb the rigging on the opposite side, where he indulged in various exercises, swinging by his tail head down, and generally appearing