Benedict?" asked Captain Hull.
"Insects, sir," returned Cousin Benedict. "What do you expect me to look for, if not insects?"
"Insects! Faith, I must agree with you; but it is not at sea that you will enrich your collection."
"And why not, sir? It is not impossible to find on board some specimen of----"
"Cousin Benedict," said Mrs. Weldon, "do you then slander Captain Hull? His ship is so well kept, that you will return empty-handed from your hunt."
Captain Hull began to laugh.
"Mrs. Weldon exaggerates," replied he. "However, Mr. Benedict, I believe you will lose your time rummaging in our cabins."
"Ah! I know it well," cried Cousin Benedict, shrugging his shoulders. "I have had a good search----"
"But, in the 'Pilgrim's' hold," continued Captain Hull, "perhaps you will find some cockroaches--subjects of little interest, however."
"Of little interest, those nocturnal orthopters which have incurred the maledictions of Virgil and Horace!" retorted Cousin Benedict, standing up straight. "Of little interest, those near relations of the 'periplaneta orientalis' and of the American kakerlac, which inhabit----"
"Which infest!" said Captain Hull.
"Which reign on board!" retorted Cousin Benedict, fiercely.
"Ah! you are not an entomologist, sir?"
Never at my own expense."
"Now, Cousin Benedict," said Mrs. Weldon, smiling, "do not wish us to be devoured for love of science."
"I wish, nothing, Cousin Weldon," replied, the fiery entomologist, "except to be able to add to my collection some rare subject which might do it honor."
"Are you not satisfied, then, with the conquests that you have made in New Zealand?"
"Yes, truly, Cousin Weldon. I have been rather fortunate in conquering one of those new staphylins which till now had only been found some hundreds of miles further, in New Caledonia."
At that moment Dingo, who was playing with Jack, approached Cousin Benedict, gamboling.
"Go away! go away!" said the latter, pushing off the animal.
"To love cockroaches and detest dogs!" cried Captain Hull. "Oh! Mr. Benedict!"
"A good dog, notwithstanding," said little Jack, taking Dingo's great head in his small hands.
"Yes. I do not say no," replied Cousin Benedict. "But what do you want? This devil of an animal has not realized the hopes I conceived on meeting it."
"Ah! my goodness!" cried Mrs. Weldon, "did you, then, hope to be able to classify it in the order of the dipters or the hymenopters?"
"No," replied Cousin Benedict, seriously. "But is it not true that this Dingo, though it be of the New Zealand race, was picked up on the western coast of Africa?"
"Nothing is more true," replied Mrs. Weldon, "and Tom had often heard the captain of the 'Waldeck' say so."
"Well, I had thought--I had hoped--that this dog would have brought away some specimens of hemipteras peculiar to the African fauna."
"Merciful heavens!" cried Mrs. Weldon.
"And that perhaps," added Cousin Benedict, "some penetrating or irritating flea--of a new species----"
"Do you understand, Dingo?" said Captain Hull. "Do you understand, my dog? You have failed in all your duties!"
"But I have examined it well," added the entomologist, with an accent of deep regret. "I have not been able to find a single insect."
"Which you would have immediately and mercilessly put to death, I hope!" cried Captain Hull.
"Sir," replied Cousin Benedict, dryly, "learn that Sir John Franklin made a scruple of killing the smallest insect, be it a mosquito, whose attacks are otherwise formidable as those of a flea; and meanwhile you will not hesitate to allow, that Sir John Franklin was a seaman who was as good as the next."
"Surely," said Captain Hull, bowing.
"And one day, after being frightfully devoured by a dipter, he blew and sent it away, saying to it, without even using _thou_ or _thee_: 'Go! the world is large enough for you and for me!'"
"Ah!" ejaculated Captain Hull.
"Well, Mr. Benedict," retorted Captain Hull, "another had said that long before Sir John Franklin."
"Yes; and that other was Uncle Toby."
"An entomologist?" asked Cousin Benedict, quickly.