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The Bonds Of Discipline
by [?]

“Take your time, Mr. Pyecroft.”

In a few moments we came to it thus–

“The old man was displeased. I don’t deny he was quite a little displeased. With the mail-boats trottin’ into Madeira every twenty minutes, he didn’t see why a lop-eared Portugee had to take liberties with a man-o’-war’s first cutter. Any’ow, we couldn’t turn ship round for him. We drew him out and took him out to Number One. ‘Drown ‘im,’ ‘e says. ‘Drown ‘im before ‘e dirties my fine new decks.’ But our owner was tenderhearted. ‘Take him to the galley,’ ‘e says. ‘Boil ‘im! Skin ‘im! Cook ‘im! Cut ‘is bloomin’ hair? Take ‘is bloomin’ number! We’ll have him executed at Ascension.’

“Retallick, our chief cook, an’ a Carth’lic, was the on’y one any way near grateful; bein’ short-‘anded in the galley. He annexes the blighter by the left ear an’ right foot an’ sets him to work peelin’ potatoes. So then, this Antonio that was avoidin’ the conscription–“

“Subscription, you pink-eyed matlow!” said the Marine, with the face of a stone Buddha, and whimpered sadly: “Pye don’t see any fun in it at all.”

“Conscription–come to his illegitimate sphere in Her Majesty’s Navy, an’ it was just then that Old ‘Op, our Yeoman of Signals, an’ a fastidious joker, made remarks to me about ‘is hands.

“‘Those ‘ands,’ says ‘Op, ‘properly considered, never done a day’s honest labour in their life. Tell me those hands belong to a blighted Portugee manual labourist and I won’t call you a liar, but I’ll say you an’ the Admiralty are pretty much unique in your statements.’ ‘Op was always a fastidious joker–in his language as much as anything else. He pursued ‘is investigations with the eye of an ‘awk outside the galley. He knew better than to advance line-head against Retallick, so he attacked ong eshlong, speakin’ his remarks as much as possible into the breech of the starboard four point seven, an’ ‘ummin’ to ‘imself. Our chief cook ‘ated ‘ummin’. ‘What’s the matter of your bowels?’ he says at last, fistin’ out the mess- pork agitated like. “‘Don’t mind me,’ says ‘Op. ‘I’m only a mildewed buntin’-tosser,’ ‘e says: ‘but speakin’ for my mess, I do hope,’ ‘e says, ‘you ain’t goin’ to boil your Portugee friend’s boots along o’ that pork you’re smellin’ so gay!’

“‘Boots! Boots! Boots!’ says Retallick, an’ he run round like a earwig in a alder-stalk. ‘Boots in the galley,’ ‘e says. ‘Cook’s mate, cast out an’ abolish this cutter-cuddlin’ aborigine’s boots!'”

“They was hove overboard in quick time, an’ that was what ‘Op was lyin’ to for. As subsequently transpired.

“‘Fine Arab arch to that cutter-cuddler’s hinstep,’ he says to me. ‘Run your eye over it, Pye,’ ‘e says. ‘Nails all present an’ correct,’ ‘e says. ‘Bunion on the little toe, too,’ ‘e says; ‘which comes from wearin’ a tight boot. What do you think?’

“‘Dook in trouble, per’aps,’ I says. ‘He ain’t got the hang of spud- skinnin’.’ No more he ‘ad. ‘E was simply cannibalisin’ ’em.

“‘I want to know what ‘e ‘as got the ‘ang of,’ says ‘Op, obstructed-like. ‘Watch ‘im,’ ‘e says. ‘These shoulders were foreign-drilled somewhere.’

‘”When it comes to “Down ‘ammicks!” which is our naval way o’ goin’ to bye-bye, I took particular trouble over Antonio, ‘oo had ‘is ‘ammick ‘ove at ‘im with general instructions to sling it an’ be sugared. In the ensuin’ melly I pioneered him to the after-‘atch, which is a orifice communicatin’ with the after-flat an’ similar suites of apartments. He havin’ navigated at three fifths power immejit ahead o’ me, I wasn’t goin’ to volunteer any assistance, nor he didn’t need it.’

“‘Mong Jew!’ says ‘e, sniffin’ round. An’ twice more ‘Mong Jew!’–which is pure French. Then he slings ‘is ‘ammick, nips in, an’ coils down. ‘Not bad for a Portugee conscript,’ I says to myself, casts off the tow, abandons him, and reports to ‘Op.

“About three minutes later I’m over’auled by our sub-lootenant, navigatin’ under forced draught, with his bearin’s ‘eated. ‘E had the temerity to say I’d instructed our Antonio to sling his carcass in the alleyway, an’ ‘e was peevish about it. O’ course, I prevaricated like ‘ell. You get to do that in the service. Nevertheless, to oblige Mr. Ducane, I went an’ readjusted Antonio. You may not ‘ave ascertained that there are two ways o’ comin’ out of an ‘ammick when it’s cut down. Antonio came out t’other way–slidin’ ‘andsome to his feet. That showed me two things. First, ‘e had been in an ‘ammick before, an’ next, he hadn’t been asleep. Then I reproached ‘im for goin’ to bed where ‘e’d been told to go, instead o’ standin’ by till some one gave him entirely contradictory orders. Which is the essence o’ naval discipline.