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An Elaborate Elopement
by [?]

I have always had a slight suspicion that the following narrative is not quite true. It was related to me by an old seaman who, among other incidents of a somewhat adventurous career, claimed to have received Napoleon’s sword at the battle of Trafalgar, and a wound in the back at Waterloo. I prefer to tell it in my own way, his being so garnished with nautical terms and expletives as to be half unintelligible and somewhat horrifying. Our talk had been of love and courtship, and after making me a present of several tips, invented by himself, and considered invaluable by his friends, he related this story of the courtship of a chum of his as illustrating the great lengths to which young bloods were prepared to go in his days to attain their ends.

It was a fine clear day in June when Hezekiah Lewis, captain and part owner of the schooner Thames, bound from London to Aberdeen, anchored off the little out-of-the-way town of Orford in Suffolk. Among other antiquities, the town possessed Hezekiah’s widowed mother, and when there was no very great hurry–the world went slower in those days–the dutiful son used to go ashore in the ship’s boat, and after a filial tap at his mother’s window, which often startled the old woman considerably, pass on his way to see a young lady to whom he had already proposed five times without effect.

The mate and crew of the schooner, seven all told, drew up in a little knot as the skipper, in his shore-going clothes, appeared on deck, and regarded him with an air of grinning, mysterious interest.

“Now you all know what you have got to do?” queried the skipper.

“Ay, ay,” replied the crew, grinning still more deeply.

Hezekiah regarded them closely, and then ordering the boat to be lowered, scrambled over the side, and was pulled swiftly towards the shore.

A sharp scream, and a breathless “Lawk-a-mussy me!” as he tapped at his mother’s window, assured him that the old lady was alive and well, and he continued on his way until he brought up at a small but pretty house in the next road.

“Morning, Mr. Rumbolt,” said he heartily to a stout, red-faced man, who sat smoking in the doorway.

“Morning, cap’n, morning,” said the red-faced man.

“Is the rheumatism any better?” inquired Hezekiah anxiously, as he grasped the other’s huge hand.

“So, so,” said the other. “But it ain’t the rheumatism so much what troubles me,” he resumed, lowering his voice, and looking round cautiously. “It’s Kate.”

“What?” said the skipper.

“You’ve heard of a man being henpecked?” continued Mr. Rumbolt, in tones of husky confidence.

The captain nodded.

“I’m CHICK-PECKED” murmured the other.

“What?” inquired the astonished mariner again.

“Chick-pecked,” repeated Mr. Rumbolt firmly. “CHIK-PEKED. D’ye understand me?”

The captain said that he did, and stood silent awhile, with the air of a man who wants to say something, but is half afraid to. At last, with a desperate appearance of resolution, he bent down to the old man’s ear.

“That’s the deaf ‘un,” said Mr. Rumbolt promptly.

Hezekiah changed ears, speaking at first slowly and awkwardly, but becoming more fluent as he warmed with his subject; while the expression of his listener’s face gradually changed from incredulous bewilderment to one of uncontrollable mirth. He became so uproarious that he was fain to push the captain away from him, and lean back in his chair and choke and laugh until he nearly lost his breath, at which crisis a remarkably pretty girl appeared from the back of the house, and patted him with hearty good will.

“That’ll do, my dear,” said the choking Mr. Rumbolt. “Here’s Captain Lewis.”

“I can see him,” said his daughter calmly. “What’s he standing on one leg for?”

The skipper, who really was standing in a somewhat constrained attitude, coloured violently, and planted both feet firmly on the ground.

“Being as I was passing close in, Miss Rumbolt,” said he, “and coming ashore to see mother”–