“Mind what you’re doing! Come down directly, you young dog! Ah, I thought as much. There, doctor: a job for you.”
It was on board the great steamer Chusan, outward bound from the port of London for Rockhampton, Moreton Bay, and Sydney, by the north route, with a heavy cargo of assorted goods such as are wanted in the far south Colonies, and some fifty passengers, for the most part returning from a visit to the Old Country.
“Visit” is a very elastic word—it may mean long or short. In Carey Cranford’s case it was expressed by the former, for it had lasted ten years, during which he had been left by his father with one of his uncles in London, so that he might have the full advantage of an English education before joining his parents in their adopted land.
It had been a delightful voyage, with pleasant fellow-passengers and everything new and exciting, to the strong, well-grown, healthy lad, who had enjoyed the Mediterranean; revelled in the glowing heat of the Red Sea, where he had begun to be the regular companion of the young doctor who had charge of the passengers and crew; stared at that great cinder-heap Aden, and later on sniffed at the sweet breezes from Ceylon’s Isle.
Here the captain good-humouredly repeated what he had said more than once during the voyage: “Now look out, young fellow; if you’re not back in time I shall sail without you:” for wherever the great steamer put in the boy hurried ashore with the doctor to see all he could of the country, and came back at the last minute growling at the stay being so short.
It was horrible, he said, when they touched at Colombo not to be able to go and see what the country was like.