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An Adulteration Act
by [?]

Dr. Carson, feeling a little better, walked sternly aft, the officer turning round and glancing in surprise at his rags as he approached.

“I beg your pardon,” began the doctor, in superior tones.

“And what the devil do you want?” demanded the second officer; “who told you to come along here?”

“I want to know what this means,” said the doctor, fiercely. “How dare you kidnap us on your beastly bilge-tank?”

“Man’s mad,” murmured the astonished second officer.

“Insufferable outrage!” continued the doctor. “Take us back to Melbourne at once.”

“You get for’ard,” said the other sharply; “get for’ard, and don’t let me have any more of your lip.”

“I want to see the captain of this ship,” cried the doctor; “go and fetch him at once.”

The second officer gazed at him, limp with astonishment, and then turned to the steersman, as though unable to believe his ears. The steersman pointed in front of him, and the other gave a cry of surprise and rage as he saw another tatterdemalion coming with uncertain steps toward him.

“Carson,” said the new arrival, feebly; and coming closer to his friend, clung to him miserably.

“I’m just having it out with ’em, Thomson,” said the doctor, energetically. “My friend here is a solicitor. Tell him what ‘ll happen if they don’t take us back, Harry.”

“You seem to be unaware, my good fellow,” said the solicitor, covering a large hole in the leg of his trousers with his hand, “of the very dangerous situation in which you have placed yourselves. We have no desire to be harsh with you–“

“Not at all,” acquiesced the doctor, nodding at the second officer.

“At the same time,” continued Mr. Thomson–“at the–” He let go his friend’s arm and staggered away; the doctor gazed after him sympathetically.

“I think that you ate something that disagreed with you,” replied the doctor, grinning meaningly. “Good-by, captain.”

The master of the Stella made no reply, but rising feebly, tottered to the side, and shook his fist at the launch as it headed for the shore. Doctor Carson, who had had a pious upbringing, kissed his hand in return.