Omoo, a Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas

By Hermann Melville | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXV

VISIT FROM AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE

WE had not been many days ashore, when Doctor Johnson was espied coming along the Broom Road.

We had heard that he meditated a visit, and suspected what he was after. Being upon the consul's hands, all our expenses were of course payable by him in his official capacity; and, therefore, as a friend of Wilson, and sure of good pay, the shore doctor had some idea of allowing us to run up a bill with him. True, it was rather awkward to ask us to take medicines which, on board the ship, he told us were not needed. However, he resolved to put a bold face on the matter, and give us a call.

His approach was announced by one of the scouts, upon which someone suggested that we should let him enter, and then put him in the stocks. But Long Ghost proposed better sport. What it was, we shall presently see.

Very bland and amiable, Doctor Johnson advanced, and, resting his cane on the stocks, glanced to right and left, as we lay before him. " Well, my lads "—he began —" how do you find yourselves to-day? "

Looking very demure, the men made some rejoinder; and he went on.

" Those poor fellows I saw the other day—the sick, I mean—how are they? " and he scrutinized the company. At last, he singled out one who was assuming a most unearthly appearance, and remarked that he looked as if he were extremely ill. " Yes," said the sailor dolefully, " I'm afeard, doctor, I'll soon be losing the number of my mess! " (a sea phrase, for departing this life) and he closed his eyes, and moaned.

" What does he say? " said Johnson, turning round eagerly.

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