For a long time the only speaker was Hudson, and his discourse ran upon his own exploits at sea. But suddenly Wylie's voice broke in with an unmistakable tone of superiority. "Belay all that chat, and listen to me. It is time we settled something. I'll hear what you have got to say; and then you'll _do_ what _I_ say. Better keep your hands off the bottle a minute you have had enough for the present; this is business. I know you are good for jaw; but what are you game to do for the governor 's money? Anything?"
"More than you have ever seen or heard tell of, ye lubber," replied the irritated skipper. "Who has ever served his employers like Hiram Hudson?"
"Keep that song for your quarter-deck," retorted the mate, contemptuously. "No; on second thoughts, just tell me how you have served your employers, you old humbug. Give me chapter and verse to choose from. Come now, the _Neptune?"_
"Well, the _Neptune;_ she caught fire a hundred leagues from land."
"That is my business. Well, I put her head before the wind, and ran for the Azores; and I stuck to her, sir, till she was as black as a coal, and we couldn't stand on deck, but kept hopping like parched peas; and fire belching out of her portholes forward. Then we took to the boats, and saved a few bales of silk by way of sample of her cargo, and got ashore; and she'd have come ashore too next tide and told tales, but somebody left a keg of gunpowder in the cabin, with a long fuse, and blew a hole in her old ribs, that the water came in, and down she went, hissing like ten thousand sarpints, and nobody the wiser."
"Who lighted the fuse, I wonder?" said Wylie.
"Didn't I tell ye it was 'Somebody'?" said Hudson. "Hand me the stiff." He replenished his glass, and, after taking a sip or two, asked Wylie if he had ever had the luck to be boarded by pirates.
"Ay; and they rescued me from a watery grave, as the lubbers call it. Ye see, I was employed by Downes & Co., down at the Havanna, and cleared for Vera Cruz with some boxes of old worn-out printer's type"