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The Widow’s Bandbox
by [?]

“Wal, by and by she come out with her han’ker-chief to her eyes, and come on deck, and begun talk-in’ to the cap’n and Mr. More, and a wishin’ all kinds o’ blessin’s on their heads.

“Wal, Tom Toothacre didn’t say a word, good or bad; but he jest kep’ a lookin’ at her, watchin’ her as a cat watches a mouse. Finally we up sail, and started with a fair breeze. The lady she kep’ a walkin’ up and down, up and down, and every time she turned on her heel, I saw Tom a lookin’ arter her and kind o’ noddin’ to himself.

“‘What makes you look arter her so, Tom?’ says I to him.

“”Cause I think she wants lookin’ arter,’ says Tom. ‘What’s more,’ says he, ‘if the cap’n don’t look sharp arter her the devil ‘ll have us all afore mornin.’ I tell ye, Sam, there’s mischief under them petticuts.’

“‘Why, what do ye think?’ says I.

“‘Think! I don’t think, I knows! That ‘are’s no gal, nor widder neither, if my name’s Tom Tooth-acre! Look at her walk; look at the way she turns on her heel I I’ve been a watchin’ on her. There ain’t no woman livin’ with a step like that!’ says he.

“‘Wal, who should the critter be, then?’ says I.

“‘Wal,’ says Tom, ‘ef that ‘are ain’t a British naval officer, I lose my bet. I’ve been used to the ways on ’em, and I knows their build and their step.’

“‘And what do you suppose she’s got in that long box?’ says I.

“‘What has she got?’ says Tom. ‘Wal, folks might say none o’ my bisness; but I s’pects it’ll turn out some o’ my bisness, and yourn too, if he don’t look sharp arter it,’ says Tom. ‘It’s no good, that ‘are box ain’t.’

“‘Why don’t you speak to Mr. More?’ says I.

“‘Wal, you see she’s a chipperin’ round and a mak-in’ herself agreeable to both on ’em, you see; she don’t mean to give nobody any chance for a talk with ’em; but I’ve got my eye on her, for all that. You see I hain’t no sort o’ disposition to sarve out a time on one o’ them British prison-ships,’ says Tom Toothacre. ‘It might be almighty handy for them British to have “The Brilliant” for a coast-vessel,’ says he; ‘but, ye see, it can’t be spared jest yet. So, madam,’ says he,’I’ve got my eye on you.’

“Wal, Tom was as good as his word; for when Mr. More came towards him at the wheel, Tom he up and says to him, ‘Mr. More,’ says he, ‘that ‘are big box in the state-room yonder wants lookin’ into.’

“Tom was a sort o’ privileged character, and had a way o’ speakin’ up that the officers took in good part, ’cause they knew he was a fust-rate hand.

“Wal, Mr. More he looks mysterious; and says he, Tom, do the boys know what’s in that ‘are box?’

“‘I bet they don’t,’ says Tom. ‘If they had, you wouldn’t a got ’em to help it aboard.’

“‘Wal, you see, poor woman,’ says Mr. More to Tom, ‘she was so distressed. She wanted to get her husband’s body to Boston; and there wa’n’t no other way, and so the cap’n let it come aboard. He didn’t want the boys to suspect what it really Was.’

“‘Husband’s body be hanged!’ said Tom. ‘Guess that ‘are corpse ain’t so dead but what there’ll be a resurrection afore mornin’, if it ain’t looked arter,’ says he.

“‘Why, what do you mean, Tom?’ said Mr. More, all in a blue maze.

“‘I mean, that ‘are gal that’s ben a switchin’ her petticuts up and down our deck ain’t no gal at all. That are’s a British officer, Mr. More. You give my duty to the cap’n, and tell him to look into his wid-der’s bandbox, and see what he’ll find there.’

“Wal, the mate he went and had a talk with the cap’n; and they ‘greed between ’em that Mr. More was to hold her in talk while the cap’n went and took observations in the state-room.