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A Circular Tour
by [?]

Illness? said the night watchman, slowly. Yes, sailormen get ill sometimes, but not ‘aving the time for it that other people have, and there being no doctors at sea, they soon pick up agin. Ashore, if a man’s ill he goes to a horse-pittle and ‘as a nice nurse to wait on ‘im; at sea the mate comes down and tells ‘im that there is nothing the matter with ‘im, and asks ‘im if he ain’t ashamed of ‘imself. The only mate I ever knew that showed any feeling was one who ‘ad been a doctor and ‘ad gone to sea to better ‘imself. He didn’t believe in medicine; his idea was to cut things out, and he was so kind and tender, and so fond of ‘is little box of knives and saws, that you wouldn’t ha’ thought anybody could ‘ave had the ‘art to say “no” to him. But they did. I remember ‘im getting up at four o’clock one morning to cut a man’s leg off, and at ha’-past three the chap was sitting up aloft with four pairs o’ trousers on and a belaying-pin in his ‘and.

One chap I knew, Joe Summers by name, got so sick o’ work one v’y’ge that he went mad. Not dangerous mad, mind you. Just silly. One thing he did was to pretend that the skipper was ‘is little boy, and foller ‘im up unbeknown and pat his ‘ead. At last, to pacify him, the old man pretended that he was ‘is little boy, and a precious handful of a boy he was too, I can tell you. Fust of all he showed ‘is father ‘ow they wrestled at school, and arter that he showed ‘im ‘ow he ‘arf killed another boy in fifteen rounds. Leastways he was going to, but arter seven rounds Joe’s madness left ‘im all of a sudden and he was as right as ever he was.

Sailormen are more frequent ill ashore than at sea; they’ve got more time for it, I s’pose. Old Sam Small, a man you may remember by name as a pal o’ mine, got ill once, and, like most ‘ealthy men who get a little something the matter with ’em, he made sure ‘e was dying. He was sharing a bedroom with Ginger Dick and Peter Russet at the time, and early one morning he woke up groaning with a chill or something which he couldn’t account for, but which Ginger thought might ha’ been partly caused through ‘im sleeping in the fireplace.

“Is that you, Sam?” ses Ginger, waking up with the noise and rubbing his eyes. “Wot’s the matter?”

“I’m dying,” ses Sam, with another awful groan. “Good-by, Ginger. ”

“Goo’-by,” ses Ginger, turning over and falling fast asleep agin.

Old Sam picked ‘imself up arter two or three tries, and then he staggered over to Peter Russet’s bed and sat on the foot of it, groaning, until Peter woke up very cross and tried to push ‘im off with his feet.

“I’m dying, Peter,” ses Sam, and ‘e rolled over and buried his face in the bed-clo’es and kicked. Peter Russet, who was a bit scared, sat up in bed and called for Ginger, and arter he ‘ad called pretty near a dozen times Ginger ‘arf woke up and asked ‘im wot was the matter.