The good ship Nupple-duck was drifting rapidly upon a sunken coral reef, which seemed to extend a reasonless number of leagues to the right and left without a break, and I was reading Macaulay’s “Naseby Fight” to the man at the wheel. Everything was, in fa...
<p>The good ship <em>Nupple-duck</em> was drifting rapidly upon a sunken coral reef, which seemed to extend a reasonless number of leagues to the right and left without a break, and I was reading Macaulay’s “Naseby Fight” to the man at the wheel. Everything was, in fact, going on as nicely as heart could wish, when Captain Abersouth, standing on the companion-stair, poked his head above deck and asked where we were. Pausing in my reading, I informed him that we had got as far as the disastrous repulse of Prince Rupert’s cavalry, adding that if he would have the goodness to hold his jaw we should be making it awkward for the wounded in about three minutes, and he might bear a hand at the pockets of the slain. Just then the ship struck heavily, and went down!</p>
<p>Calling another ship, I stepped aboard, and gave directions to be taken to No. 900 Tottenham Court Road, where I had an aunt; then, walking aft to the man at the wheel, asked him if he would like to hear me read “Naseby Fight.” He thought he would: he would like to hear that, and then I might pass on to something else – Kinglake’s “Crimean War,” the proceedings at the trial of Warren Hastings, or some such trifle, just to wile away the time till eight bells.</p>
<p>All this time heavy clouds had been gathering along the horizon directly in front of the ship, and a deputation of passengers now came to the man at the wheel to demand that she be put about, or she would run into them, which the spokesman explained would be unusual. I thought at the time that it certainly was not the regular thing to do, but, as I was myself only a passenger, did not deem it expedient to take a part in the heated discussion that ensued; and, after all, it did not seem likely that the weather in those clouds would be much worse than that in Tottenham Court Road, where I had an aunt.</p>
<p>It was finally decided to refer the matter to arbitration, and after many names had been submitted and rejected by both sides, it was agreed that the captain of the ship should act as arbitrator if his consent could be obtained, and I was delegated to conduct the negotiations to that end. With considerable difficulty, I persuaded him to accept the responsibility.</p>
<p>He was a feeble-minded sort of fellow named Troutbeck, who was always in a funk lest he should make enemies; never reflecting tha...