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Black Jack.u.m made way for the boy to see as he came up, grinning as was his wont.
"Good eatum," he said, eagerly. "Cook.u.m, good."
"Yes," said Carey, quietly. "Where is Cookie?"
"Cookie?" repeated the black, half-wonderingly, and he turned to one of the party who had stopped on board.
"Baal. Cookie he."
The man made some reply, and ran towards the forecastle to squat upon the deck and thump upon the hatch with his fists, saying something with great rapidity of speech, the only words Carey could grasp being Dan and mumkull.
Black Jack.u.m turned to the boy as soon as his companion had finished.
"Cookie," cried Jack.u.m, pointing down at the closed and fastened hatch.
"Big Dan mumkull everybody open dat."
"Big Dan says he'll kill everyone who opens that hatch?" cried Carey.
"Issum," said the black, nodding a good deal, looking sharply from Carey towards the cabin entry and back.
"Mumkull ebberbody. Shoot, bang."
"Let him shoot me then if he dares," cried Carey, in a fit of desperation, and the two blacks looked at him with horror and admiration as the boy bent down over the hatch, pulled out an iron bolt thrust through the staple, and threw open the heavy lid of wood; but all was still below.
"Bob! Are you there?" cried Carey, for there was a chilling silence below.
"Ay, ay!" came in half-smothered tones, and this was followed by the sound of someone turning out of a bunk. The next minute Bostock's bloodstained face appeared, with a tremendous swelling on the brow, the result evidently of a blow given with marlin-spike or club.
"Bob!" cried Carey, wildly, as he caught the old sailor's hand.
"Master Carey!" cried the injured man, stumbling out as if giddy. "This is a good sight, dear boy."
"Which of the blacks struck you that cowardly blow?"
"Nay, nay, it warn't one of the black fellows, my lad, but Old King Cole himself."
"But how? why--what for?"
"Don't you puzzle a chap with too many questions at once, my lad, for my head's a bit swimming."
"Oh, Bob, my poor fellow! Here, Jack.u.m, a bucket of water to bathe his head."
"Bucketum waterum? Iss!" cried the black, darting off, and Bostock seated himself on an upturned barrel.
"Let's see," he said; "how was it? I forgot, sir."
"Never mind that, then. Where's the doctor?"
"The doctor, sir?" faltered the old fellow, to Carey's agony, "I dunno.
Ah, I 'member now. Comes to me in the galley, he does."
"No, sir; Old King Cole. 'Come here,' he says, 'and get me something out o' the forecastle.' I goes with him, gets to the hatch, and he says, 'Fetch me up that noo axe as is down there.' 'Right, sir,' I says, and I'd got down three steps when I sees his shadder across me as if he was lifting something, and I turns sharply to see a club in his hand just lifted up. I shies and dodges, but I was too late; down it comes dump on my forrid, and I dropped down into the forecastle."
"Bob!" cried Carey.
"That's true enough, sir, and then I seemed to go to sleep with every idee knocked out o' me. I just recklect thinking I should be better in a bunk, and I lay there dreaming like till you calls me, and that woke me up. What's o'clock, sir?"
"Time we bestirred ourselves, Bob, to find the doctor. Bob, he must have served poor Doctor Kingsmead the same."
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.
Poor Bob Bostock's head had seemed as much swollen mentally as it had been externally, but these words on the part of Carey gave a fillip to his power of thinking, and he stared at the lad with his mouth open and, instead of being stupefied and weak, he grew rapidly stronger.
"My eyes and limbs, Master Carey!" he gasped; "you don't mean to go and say such a thing as that, do you?"
"I do, Bob, but look here," he went on, keeping to a whisper; "try and be cool and take it all as a matter of course. Everything may depend upon our taking our troubles calmly. We must not let the black fellows think we are upset over it."
"I see, sir. Yes, that's right. You mean if we show the white feather these fellows'll come and pluck us."
"Something of the kind, Bob. There, go on bathing your head and keep friendly with Black Jack."
"Right, sir. I see. Chuck dust in their eyes?"
"Here goes, then, sir, and I'll begin with water and make out that I think it all a big lark."
The old sailor knelt down before the bucket and began to bathe his forehead and the tremendous swelling, while Black Jack.u.m looked on anxiously. The next minute Bostock raised his head, saw that the second black was looking at him solemnly, and he made a hideous grimace at him--an extremely hideous grimace, for his swollen and disfigured forehead helped to make it so.
The black stared, with the opalescent whites of his eyes forming rings around his irides. Then, grasping the fact that it was done as a joke, he burst into a loud guffaw, slapped his thighs and cried, "Bunyip-- bunyip!" bounding away the next moment, for Bostock sent a handful of water splashing all over his face.
Black Jack.u.m roared at this, and Bostock made a feint of splashing him, to the other blacks' great delight.
Jack.u.m dodged and ducked his head, Bostock keeping up the threatening till Jack.u.m protested.
"No--no--no," he cried. "Let feel um," and he stretched out his hands.
"All right," cried Bostock, ceasing his watery threats; "feel then."
"Feel cookie," said Jack.u.m, solemnly. "Cookie brok.u.m?"
The black's fingers were applied with delicate touch to the old sailor's head.
"Gently, old soot-box," said Bostock, quietly submitting; "it feels as if it was red-hot."