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A Roving Commission by G. A. Henty

Nat Glover and Curtis were the exceptions


"It

is hard on them," Glover said, "but one can't be surprised that the whites do fight shy of them. Great numbers of them are brutes and no mistake, ready for any crime and up to any wickedness. There is lots of good in the niggers; they are merry fellows; and I must say for these old French planters they use their slaves a great deal better than they are as a rule treated by our planters in Jamaica. Of course there are bad masters everywhere, but if I were a slave I would certainly rather be under a French master than an English one, or, from what I have heard, than an American."

"Very well, Glover, I will make a note of that, and if you ever misbehave yourself and we have to sell you, I will drop a line to the first luff how your preference lies."

Early the next morning the frigate dropped anchor at Cape Francois, the largest and most important town in the island, with the exception of the capital of the Spanish portion of San Domingo. The _Orpheus_ carried six midshipmen. Four of these had been ashore when on the previous occasion the _Orpheus_ had entered the port. Nat Glover and Curtis were the exceptions, Curtis having at that time belonged to the frigate for but a very few weeks, and Nat having been in the first lieutenant's bad books, owing to a scrape into which he had got at the last port they had touched at. After breakfast they went up together to the first lieutenant, whose name was Hill.

justify;">"Please, sir, if we are not wanted, can we have leave for the day?"

The lieutenant hesitated, and then said:

"Yes, I think the other four will be enough for the boats. You did not go ashore last time you were here, I think, Mr. Glover," he added with a slight smile.

"No, sir."

"Very well, then, you can go, but don't get into any scrape."

"I will try not to, sir," Nat said demurely.

"Well, I hope your trial will be successful, Mr. Glover, for if not, I can tell you that it will be a long time before you have leave again. These people don't understand that sort of thing."

"He is a nice lad," Mr. Hill said to the second lieutenant as the two midshipmen walked away, "and when he has worked off those animal spirits of his he will make a capital officer, but at present he is one of the most mischievous young monkeys I ever came across."

"He does not let them interfere with his duty," the other said. "He is the smartest of our mids; he is well up in navigation, and has any amount of pluck. You remember how he jumped overboard in Port Royal when a marine fell into the water, although the harbour was swarming with sharks. It was a near touch. Luckily we threw a bowline to him, and the two were hauled up together. A few seconds more and it would have been too late, for there was a shark within twenty feet of them."


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