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The good ship Columbia had got fifty miles under way before Dodger opened his eyes.
He looked about him languidly at first, but this feeling was succeeded by the wildest amazement, as his eyes took in his unusual surroundings.
He had gone to sleep on a bed—he found himself on awakening in a ship’s bunk.
He half arose in his birth, but the motion of the vessel and a slight feeling of dizziness compelled him to resume a recumbent position.
“I must be dreaming,” thought Dodger. “It’s very queer. I am dreaming I am at sea. I suppose that explains it.”
He listened and heard the swish of the waters as they beat against the sides of the vessel.
He noted the pitching of the ship, and there was an unsteady feeling in his head, such as those who have gone to sea will readily recall.
Dodger became more and more bewildered.
“If it’s a dream, it’s the most real dream I ever had,” he said to himself.
“This seems like a ship’s cabin,” he continued, looking about him. “I think if I got up I should be seasick. I wonder if people ever get seasick in dreams?”
There was another pitch, and Dodger instinctively clung to the edge of his berth, to save himself from being thrown out.
“Let me see,” he said, trying to collect his scattered recollection. “I went to sleep in a house uptown—a house to which Curtis Waring lured me, and then made me a prisoner. The house was somewhere near One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street. Now it seems as if I was on board a ship. How could I get here? I wish somebody would come in that I could ask.”
As no one came in, Dodger got out of the berth, and tried to stand on the cabin floor.
But before he knew it he was staggering like one intoxicated, and his head began to feel bad, partly, no doubt, on account of the sleeping potion which he had unconsciously taken.
At this moment the steward entered the cabin. “Hello, young man! Have you got up?” he asked.
“Where am I?” asked Dodger, looking at him with a dazed expression.
“Where are you? You’re on the good ship Columbia, to be sure?”
“Are we out to sea?”
“Of course you are.”
“How far from land?”
“Well, about fifty miles, more or less, I should judge.”
“How long have I been here?”
“It seems to me you have a poor memory. You came on board last evening.”
“I suppose Curtis Waring brought me,” said Dodger, beginning to get his bearings.
“There was a gentleman came with you—so the mate told me. I don’t know his name.”
“Where is the ship bound?”
“To San Francisco, around Cape Horn. I supposed you knew that.”
“I never heard of the ship Columbia before, and I never had any idea of making a sea voyage.”
The steward looked surprised.
“I suppose your guardian arranged about that. Didn’t he tell you?”
“I have no guardian.”
“Well, you’ll have to ask Capt. Barnes about that. I know nothing, except that you are a passenger, and that your fare has been paid.”
“My fare paid to San Francisco?” asked Dodger, more and more at sea, both mentally and physically.
“Yes; we don’t take any deadheads on the Columbia.”
“Can you tell me what time it is?”
“About twelve o’clock. Do you feel hungry?”
“N—not very,” returned Dodger, as a ghastly expression came over his face, and he tumbled back into his berth, looking very pale.
The steward smiled.
“I see how it is,” he said; “you are getting initiated.”
“What’s that?” muttered Dodger, feebly.
“You’re going to be seasick. You’ll hardly be able to appear at the dinner table.”
“It makes me sick to think of eating,” said Dodger, feebly.
As he sank back into his berth, all thoughts of his unexpected position gave way to an overpowering feeling of seasickness.
He had never been tried in this way before, and he found the sensation far from agreeable.
“If only the vessel would stop pitching,” he groaned. “Oh, how happy I should be if I were on dry land.”
But the vessel wouldn’t stop—even for a minute.
The motion, on the other hand, seemed to increase, as was natural, for they were getting farther and farther from land and were exposed to the more violent winds that swept the open ocean.
There is something about seasickness that swallows up and draws away all minor cares and anxieties, and Dodger was too much affected to consider how or why it was that he so unexpectedly found himself a passenger to California.
“Lie flat on your back,” said the steward. “You will feel better if you do.”
“How long is it going to last?” groaned Dodger, feeling quite miserable.
“Oh, you’ll feel better to-morrow. I’ll bring you some porridge presently. You can get that clown, and it is better to have something on your stomach.”
He was right. The next day Dodger felt considerably better, and ventured to go upon deck. He looked about him in surprise.
There had been a storm, and the waves were white with foam.
As far as the eye could see there was a tumult and an uproar.
The ship was tossed about like a cockle shell. But the sailors went about their work unruffled. It was no new sight for them.
Though his head did not feel exactly right, the strong wind entered Dodger’s lungs, and he felt exhilarated. His eyes brightened, and he began to share in the excitement of the scene.
Pacing the deck was a stout, bronzed seaman, whose dress made it clear even to the inexperienced eyes of Dodger that he was the captain.
“Good-morning, Master Grant,” he said, pleasantly. “Are you getting your sea legs on?”
The name was unfamiliar to Dodger, but he could see that the remark was addressed to him.
“Yes, sir,” he answered.
“Ever been to sea before?”
“You’ll get used to it. Bless me, you’ll stand it like an old sailor before we get to ’Frisco.”
“Is it a long voyage, captain?” asked Dodger.
“Five months, probably. We may get there a little sooner. It depends on the winds and weather.”
“Five months,” said Dodger to himself, in a tone of dismay.
The captain laughed.
“It’ll be a grand experience for a lad like you, Arthur!” said the captain, encouragingly.
Arthur! So his name was Arthur! He had just been called Master Grant, so Arthur Grant was his name on board ship.
Dodger was rather glad to have a name provided, for he had only been known as Dodger heretofore, and this name would excite surprise. He had recently felt the need of a name, and didn’t see why this wouldn’t answer his purpose as well as any other.
“I must write it down so as not to forget it,” he resolved. “It would seem queer if I forgot my own name.”
“I shouldn’t enjoy it much if I were going to be seasick all the time,” he answered.
“Oh, a strong, healthy boy like you will soon be all right. You don’t look like an invalid.”
“I never was sick in my life.”
“But your guardian told me he was sending you on a sea voyage for your health.”
“Did Mr. Waring say that?”
“Yes; didn’t you know the object of your sea trip?” asked Capt. Barnes, in surprise.
“There may be some tendency to disease in your system—some hereditary tendency,” said the captain, after a pause.
“Were your parents healthy?”
“They—died young,” answered Dodger, hesitatingly.
“That accounts for your guardian’s anxiety. However, you look strong enough, in all conscience; and if you’re not healthy, you will be before the voyage ends.”
“I don’t know what I am to do for clothes,” said Dodger, as a new source of perplexity presented itself. “I can’t get along with one shirt and collar for five months.”
“You will find plenty of clothes in your valise. Hasn’t it been given you?”
“You may ask the steward for it. You didn’t think your guardian would send you on a five-months’ voyage without a change of clothing, did you?”
And the captain laughed heartily.
“I don’t know Mr. Waring very well,” said Dodger, awkwardly.
As he went downstairs to inquire about his valise, this question haunted him:
“Why did Curtis Waring send him on a sea voyage?”
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