|Back||1 2 3 4 5||Next|
UNCOMMERCIAL. Would you mind my asking you what part of the country you come from?
WILTSHIRE. Not a bit. Theer! (exultingly) I've worked all my life o' Salisbury Plain, right under the shadder o' Stonehenge. You mightn't think it, but I haive.
UNCOMMERCIAL. And a pleasant country too.
WILTSHIRE. Ah! 'Tis a pleasant country.
UNCOMMERCIAL. Have you any family on board?
WILTSHIRE. Two children, boy and gal. I am a widderer, I am, and I'm going out alonger my boy and gal. That's my gal, and she's a fine gal o' sixteen (pointing out the girl who is writing by the boat). I'll go and fetch my boy. I'd like to show you my boy. (Here Wiltshire disappears, and presently comes back with a big, shy boy of twelve, in a superabundance of boots, who is not at all glad to be presented.) He is a fine boy too, and a boy fur to work! (Boy having undutifully bolted, Wiltshire drops him.)
UNCOMMERCIAL. It must cost you a great deal of money to go so far, three strong.
WILTSHIRE. A power of money. Theer! Eight shillen a week, eight shillen a week, eight shillen a week, put by out of the week's wages for ever so long.
UNCOMMERCIAL. I wonder how you did it.
WILTSHIRE (recognising in this a kindred spirit). See theer now! I wonder how I done it! But what with a bit o' subscription heer, and what with a bit o' help theer, it were done at last, though I don't hardly know how. Then it were unfort'net for us, you see, as we got kep' in Bristol so long - nigh a fortnight, it were - on accounts of a mistake wi' Brother Halliday. Swaller'd up money, it did, when we might have come straight on.
UNCOMMERCIAL (delicately approaching Joe Smith). You are of the Mormon religion, of course?
WILTSHIRE (confidently). O yes, I'm a Mormon. (Then reflectively.) I'm a Mormon. (Then, looking round the ship, feigns to descry a particular friend in an empty spot, and evades the Uncommercial for evermore.)
After a noontide pause for dinner, during which my Emigrants were nearly all between-decks, and the Amazon looked deserted, a general muster took place. The muster was for the ceremony of passing the Government Inspector and the Doctor. Those authorities held their temporary state amidships, by a cask or two; and, knowing that the whole Eight hundred emigrants must come face to face with them, I took my station behind the two. They knew nothing whatever of me, I believe, and my testimony to the unpretending gentleness and good nature with which they discharged their duty, may be of the greater worth. There was not the slightest flavour of the Circumlocution Office about their proceedings.
The emigrants were now all on deck. They were densely crowded aft, and swarmed upon the poop-deck like bees. Two or three Mormon agents stood ready to hand them on to the Inspector, and to hand them forward when they had passed. By what successful means, a special aptitude for organisation had been infused into these people, I am, of course, unable to report. But I know that, even now, there was no disorder, hurry, or difficulty.
All being ready, the first group are handed on. That member of the party who is entrusted with the passenger-ticket for the whole, has been warned by one of the agents to have it ready, and here it is in his hand. In every instance through the whole eight hundred, without an exception, this paper is always ready.
INSPECTOR (reading the ticket). Jessie Jobson, Sophronia Jobson, Jessie Jobson again, Matilda Jobson, William Jobson, Jane Jobson, Matilda Jobson again, Brigham Jobson, Leonardo Jobson, and Orson Jobson. Are you all here? (glancing at the party, over his spectacles).
JESSIE JOBSON NUMBER TWO. All here, sir.
This group is composed of an old grandfather and grandmother, their married son and his wife, and THEIR family of children. Orson Jobson is a little child asleep in his mother's arms. The Doctor, with a kind word or so, lifts up the corner of the mother's shawl, looks at the child's face, and touches the little clenched hand. If we were all as well as Orson Jobson, doctoring would be a poor profession.
INSPECTOR. Quite right, Jessie Jobson. Take your ticket, Jessie, and pass on.
And away they go. Mormon agent, skilful and quiet, hands them on. Mormon agent, skilful and quiet, hands next party up.
INSPECTOR (reading ticket again). Susannah Cleverly and William Cleverly. Brother and sister, eh?
SISTER (young woman of business, hustling slow brother). Yes, sir.
INSPECTOR. Very good, Susannah Cleverly. Take your ticket, Susannah, and take care of it.
And away they go.
INSPECTOR (taking ticket again). Sampson Dibble and Dorothy Dibble (surveying a very old couple over his spectacles, with some surprise). Your husband quite blind, Mrs. Dibble?
MRS. DIBBLE. Yes, sir, he be stone-blind.
MR. DIBBLE (addressing the mast). Yes, sir, I be stone-blind.
INSPECTOR. That's a bad job. Take your ticket, Mrs. Dibble, and don't lose it, and pass on.
Doctor taps Mr. Dibble on the eyebrow with his forefinger, and away they go.
INSPECTOR (taking ticket again). Anastatia Weedle.
ANASTATIA (a pretty girl, in a bright Garibaldi, this morning elected by universal suffrage the Beauty of the Ship). That is me, sir.
INSPECTOR. Going alone, Anastatia?
ANASTATIA (shaking her curls). I am with Mrs. Jobson, sir, but I've got separated for the moment.
INSPECTOR. Oh! You are with the Jobsons? Quite right. That'll do, Miss Weedle. Don't lose your ticket.
Away she goes, and joins the Jobsons who are waiting for her, and stoops and kisses Brigham Jobson - who appears to be considered too young for the purpose, by several Mormons rising twenty, who are looking on. Before her extensive skirts have departed from the casks, a decent widow stands there with four children, and so the roll goes.
|Back||1 2 3 4 5||Next|
The Uncommercial Traveller -- by Charles DickensBottom Content goes here. Wikipedia content requires these links..... Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.