Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion 261
planted myself alongside the governor, and canted my eye around toward my mate. Well, sir, his deadlights were bugged out like tompions; and his mouth stood that wide open that you could have laid a ham in it without him noticing it."
There was great applause at the conclusion of the old captain's story; then, after a moment's silence, a grave, pale young man said:
" Had you ever met the governor before?"
The old captain looked steadily at this inquirer awhile, and then got up and walked aft without making any reply. One passenger after another stole a furtive glance at the inquirer, but failed to make him out, and so gave him up. It took some little work to get the talk-machinery to running smoothly again after this derangement; but at length a conversation sprang up about that important and jealously guarded instrument, a ship's timekeeper, its exceeding delicate accuracy, and the wreck and destruction that have sometimes resulted from its varying a few seemingly trifling moments from the true time; then, in due course, my comrade, the Reverend, got off on a yarn, with a fair wind and everything drawing. It was a true story, too— about Captain Rounceville's shipwreck — true in every detail. It was to this effect:
Captain Rounceville's vessel was lost in mid-Atlantic, and likewise his wife and his two little children. Captain Rounceville and seven seamen escaped with life, but with little else. A small, rudely constructed raft was to be their home for eight days. They had neither provisions nor water. They had scarcely any clothing; no one had a coat but the captain. This coat was changing hands all the time, for the weather was very cold. Whenever a man became exhausted with the cold, they put the coat on him and laid him down between two shipmates until the garment and their bodies