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The Adventures of Roderick Random

Chapter 18
I carry my qualification to the Navy Office--the nature of it--the behaviour of the
Secretary--Strap's concern for my absence--a battle betwixt him a blacksmith--the
troublesome consequences of it--his harangue to me--his friend the schoolmaster
recommends me to a French Apothecary, who entertains me as a journeyman
I would most willingly have gone home to sleep, but was told by my companions, that
we must deliver our letters of qualification at the Navy office, before one o'clock.
Accordingly, we went thither, and gave them to the secretary, who opened and read
them, and I was mightily pleased to find myself qualified for second mate of a third-rate.
When he had stuck them all together on a file, one of our company asked if there were
any vacancies; to which interrogation he answered "No!" Then I ventured to inquire if
may ships were to be put in commission soon. At which question he surveyed me with a
look of ineffable contempt; and, pushing us out of his office, locked the door without
deigning us another word. We went down stairs, and conferred together on our
expectations, when I understood that each of them had been recommended to one or
other of the commissioners, and each of them promised the first vacancy that should
fall; but that none of them relied solely upon that interest, without a present to the
secretary, with whom some of the commissioners went snacks. For which reason, each
of them had provided a small purse; and I was asked what I proposed to give This was
a vexatious question to me who (far from being in a capacity to gratify a ravenous
secretary) had not wherewithal to purchase a dinner. I therefore answered, I had not yet
determined what to give; and sneaked off toward my own lodging, lamenting my fate all
the way, and inveighing with much bitterness against the barbarity of my grandfather,
and the sordid avarice of my relations, who left me a prey to contempt and indigence.
Full of these disagreeable reflections, I arrived at the house where I lodged, and
relieved my landlord from great anxiety on my account; for this honest man believed I
had met with some dismal accident, and that he never should see me again. Strap, who
had come to visit me in the morning, understanding I had been abroad all night, was
almost distracted, and after having obtained leave of his master, had gone in quest of
me, though he was even more ignorant of the town than I. Not being willing to inform the
landlord of my adventure, I told him I had met an acquaintance at Surgeons' Hall, with
whom I spent the evening and night; but being very much infested with bugs, I had not
slept much, and therefore intended to take a little repose; so saying, I went to bed, and
desired to be awakened if Strap should happen to come wile I should be asleep. I was
accordingly roused by my friend himself, who entered my chamber about three o'clock
in the afternoon, and presented a figure to my eyes that I could scarce believe real. In
short, this affectionate shaver, setting out towards Surgeons' Hall, had inquired for me
there to no purpose: from whence he found his way to the Navy Office, where he could
hear no tidings of me, because I was unknown to everybody then present; he
afterwards went upon 'Change, in hopes of seeing me upon the Scotch walk, but
without success. At last, being almost in despair of finding me, he resolved to ask