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Many Cargoes
by W.W. Jacobs
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"Don't talk rubbish, cook," said Sam; "fetch the two cats out and put 'em together."

"Don't mix 'em," said the cook warningly; "for you'll never know which is which agin if you do."

He cautiously opened the top of the sack and produced his captive, and Satan, having been relieved from his prison, the two animals were carefully compared.

"They're as like as two lumps o' coal," said Sam slowly. "Lord, what a joke on the old man. I must tell the mate o' this; he'll enjoy it."

"It'll be all right if the parrot don't die," said the dainty pessimist, still harping on his pet theme. "All that bread spoilt, and two cats aboard."

"Don't mind what he ses," said Sam; "you're a brick, that's what you are. I'll just make a few holes in the lid o' the boy's chest, and pop old Satan in. You don't mind, do you, Billy?"

"Of course he don't," said the other men indignantly.

Matters being thus agreeably arranged, Sam got a gimlet, and prepared the chest for the reception of its tenant, who, convinced that he was being put out of the way to make room for a rival, made a frantic fight for freedom.

"Now get something 'eavy and put on the top of it," said Sam, having convinced himself that the lock was broken; "and, Billy, put the noo cat in the paint-locker till we start; it's home-sick."

The boy obeyed, and the understudy was kept in durance vile until they were off Limehouse, when he came on deck and nearly ended his career there and then by attempting to jump over the bulwark into the next garden. For some time he paced the deck in a perturbed fashion, and then, leaping on the stern, mewed plaintively as his native city receded farther and farther from his view.

"What's the matter with old Satan?" said the mate, who had been let into the secret. "He seems to have something on his mind."

"He'll have something round his neck presently," said the skipper grimly.

The prophecy was fulfilled some three hours later, when he came up on deck ruefully regarding the remains of a bird whose vocabulary had once been the pride of its native town. He threw it overboard without a word, and then, seizing the innocent cat, who had followed him under the impression that it was about to lunch, produced half a brick attached to a string, and tied it round his neck. The crew, who were enjoying the joke immensely, raised a howl of protest.

"The Skylark'll never have another like it, sir," said Sam solemnly. "That cat was the luck of the ship."

"I don't want any of your old woman's yarns," said the skipper brutally. "If you want the cat, go and fetch it."

He stepped aft as he spoke, and sent the gentle stranger hurtling through the air. There was a "plomp" as it reached the water, a bubble or two came to the surface, and all was over.

"That's the last o' that," he said, turning away.

The old man shook his head. "You can't kill a black cat for nothing," said he, "mark my words!"

The skipper, who was in a temper at the time, thought little of them, but they recurred to him vividly the next day. The wind had freshened during the night, and rain was falling heavily. On deck the crew stood about in oilskins, while below, the boy, in his new capacity of gaoler, was ministering to the wants of an ungrateful prisoner, when the cook, happening to glance that way, was horrified to see the animal emerge from the fo'c'sle. It eluded easily the frantic clutch of the boy as he sprang up the ladder after it, and walked leisurely along the deck in the direction of the cabin. Just as the crew had given it up for lost it encountered Sam, and the next moment, despite its cries, was caught up and huddled away beneath his stiff clammy oilskins. At the noise the skipper, who was talking to the mate, turned as though he had been shot, and gazed wildly round him.

"Dick," said he, "can you hear a cat?"

"Cat!" said the mate, in accents of great astonishment.

"I thought I heard it," said the puzzled skipper.

"Fancy, sir," said Dick firmly, as a mewing, appalling in its wrath, came from beneath Sam's coat.

"Did you hear it, Sam?" called the skipper, as the old man was moving off.

"Hear what, sir?" inquired Sam respectfully, without turning round.

"Nothing," said the skipper, collecting himself. "Nothing. All right."

The old man, hardly able to believe in his good fortune, made his way forward, and, seizing a favourable opportunity, handed his ungrateful burden back to the boy.

"Fancy you heard a cat just now?" inquired the mate casually.

"Well, between you an' me, Dick," said the skipper, in a mysterious voice, "I did, and it wasn't fancy neither. I heard that cat as plain as if it was alive."

"Well, I've heard of such things," said the other, "but I don't believe 'em. What a lark if the old cat comes back climbing up over the side out of the sea to-night, with the brick hanging round its neck."

The skipper stared at him for some time without speaking. "If that's your idea of a lark," he said at length, in a voice which betrayed traces of some emotion, "it ain't mine."

"Well, if you hear it again," said the mate cordially, "you might let me know. I'm rather interested in such things."

The skipper, hearing no more of it that day, tried hard to persuade himself that he was the victim of imagination, but, in spite of this, he was pleased at night, as he stood at the wheel, to reflect on the sense of companionship afforded by the look-out in the bows. On his part the look-out was quite charmed with the unwonted affability of the skipper, as he yelled out to him two or three times on matters only faintly connected with the progress of the schooner.

The night, which had been dirty, cleared somewhat, and the bright crescent of the moon appeared above a heavy bank of clouds, as the cat, which had by dint of using its back as a lever at length got free from that cursed chest, licked its shapely limbs, and came up on deck. After its stifling prison, the air was simply delicious.

"Bob!" yelled the skipper suddenly.

"Ay, ay, sir!" said the look-out, in a startled voice.

"Did you mew?" inquired the skipper.

"Did I WOT, sir?" cried the astonished Bob.

"Mew," said the skipper sharply, "like a cat?"

"No, sir," said the offended seaman. "What 'ud I want to do that for?"

"I don't know what you want to for," said the skipper, looking round him uneasily. "There's some more rain coming, Bob."

"Ay, ay, sir," said Bob.

"Lot o' rain we've had this summer," said the skipper, in a meditative bawl.

"Ay, ay, sir," said Bob. "Sailing-ship on the port bow, sir."

The conversation dropped, the skipper, anxious to divert his thoughts, watching the dark mass of sail as it came plunging out of the darkness into the moonlight until it was abreast of his own craft. His eyes followed it as it passed his quarter, so that he saw not the stealthy approach of the cat which came from behind the companion, and sat down close by him. For over thirty hours the animal had been subjected to the grossest indignities at the hands of every man on board the ship except one. That one was the skipper, and there is no doubt but that its subsequent behaviour was a direct recognition of that fact. It rose to its feet, and crossing over to the unconscious skipper, rubbed its head affectionately and vigorously against his leg.

From simple causes great events do spring. The skipper sprang four yards, and let off a screech which was the subject of much comment on the barque which had just passed. When Bob, who came shuffling up at the double, reached him he was leaning against the side, incapable of speech, and shaking all over.

"Anything wrong, sir?" inquired the seaman anxiously, as he ran to the wheel.

The skipper pulled himself together a bit, and got closer to his companion.

"Believe me or not, Bob," he said at length, in trembling accents, "just as you please, but the ghost of that—cat, I mean the ghost of that poor affectionate animal which I drowned, and which I wish I hadn't, came and rubbed itself up against my leg."

"Which leg?" inquired Bob, who was ever careful about details.

"What the blazes does it matter which leg?" demanded the skipper, whose nerves were in a terrible state. "Ah, look—look there!"

The seaman followed his outstretched finger, and his heart failed him as he saw the cat, with its back arched, gingerly picking its way along the side of the vessel.

"I can't see nothing," he said doggedly.

"I don't suppose you can, Bob," said the skipper in a melancholy voice, as the cat vanished in the bows; "it's evidently only meant for me to see. What it means I don't know. I'm going down to turn in. I ain't fit for duty. You don't mind being left alone till the mate comes up, do you?"

"I ain't afraid," said Bob.

His superior officer disappeared below, and, shaking the sleepy mate, who protested strongly against the proceedings, narrated in trembling tones his horrible experiences.

"If I were you "—said the mate.

"Yes?" said the skipper, waiting a bit. Then he shook him again, roughly.

"What were you going to say?" he inquired.

"Say?" said the mate, rubbing his eyes. "Nothing."

"About the cat?" suggested the skipper.

"Cat?" said the mate, nestling lovingly down in the blankets again. "Wha' ca'—goo' ni'"—

Then the skipper drew the blankets from the mate's sleepy clutches, and, rolling him backwards and forwards in the bunk, patiently explained to him that he was very unwell, that he was going to have a drop of whiskey neat, and turn in, and that he, the mate, was to take the watch. From this moment the joke lost much of its savour for the mate.

"You can have a nip too, Dick," said the skipper, proffering him the whiskey, as the other sullenly dressed himself.

"It's all rot," said the mate, tossing the spirits down his throat, "and it's no use either; you can't run away from a ghost; it's just as likely to be in your bed as anywhere else. Good-night."

He left the skipper pondering over his last words, and dubiously eyeing the piece of furniture in question. Nor did he retire until he had subjected it to an analysis of the most searching description, and then, leaving the lamp burning, he sprang hastily in, and forgot his troubles in sleep.

It was day when he awoke, and went on deck to find a heavy sea running, and just sufficient sail set to keep the schooner's head before the wind as she bobbed about on the waters. An exclamation from the skipper, as a wave broke against the side and flung a cloud of spray over him, brought the mate's head round.

"Why, you ain't going to get up?" he said, in tones of insincere surprise.

"Why not?" inquired the other gruffly.

"You go and lay down agin," said the mate, "and have a cup o' nice hot tea an' some toast."

"Clear out," said the skipper, making a dash for the wheel, and reaching it as the wet deck suddenly changed its angle. "I know you didn't like being woke up, Dick; but I got the horrors last night. Go below and turn in."

"All right," said the mollified mate.

"You didn't see anything?" inquired the skipper, as he took the wheel from him.

"Nothing at all," said the other.

The skipper shook his head thoughtfully, then shook it again vigorously, as another shower-bath put its head over the side and saluted him.

"I wish I hadn't drowned that cat, Dick," he said.

"You won't see it again," said Dick, with the confidence of a man who had taken every possible precaution to render the prophecy a safe one.

He went below, leaving the skipper at the wheel idly watching the cook as he performed marvellous feats of jugglery, between the galley and the fo'c'sle, with the men's breakfast.

A little while later, leaving the wheel to Sam, he went below himself and had his own, talking freely, to the discomfort of the conscious-stricken cook, about his weird experiences of the night before.

"You won't see it no more, sir, I don't expect," he said faintly; "I b'leeve it come and rubbed itself up agin your leg to show it forgave you."

"Well, I hope it knows it's understood," said the other. "I don't want it to take any more trouble."

He finished the breakfast in silence, and then went on deck again. It was still blowing hard, and he went over to superintend the men who were attempting to lash together some empties which were rolling about in all directions amidships. A violent roll set them free again, and at the same time separated two chests in the fo'c'sle, which were standing one on top of the other. This enabled Satan, who was crouching in the lower one, half crazed with terror, to come flying madly up on deck and give his feelings full vent. Three times in full view of the horrified skipper he circled the deck at racing speed, and had just started on the fourth when a heavy packing-case, which had been temporarily set on end and abandoned by the men at his sudden appearance, fell over and caught him by the tail. Sam rushed to the rescue.

"Stop!" yelled the skipper.

"Won't I put it up, sir?" inquired Sam.

"Do you see what's beneath it?" said the skipper, in a husky voice.

"Beneath it, sir?" said Sam, whose ideas were in a whirl.

"The cat, can't you see the cat?" said the skipper, whose eyes had been riveted on the animal since its first appearance on deck.

Sam hesitated a moment, and then shook his head.

"The case has fallen on the cat," said the skipper. "I can see it distinctly."

He might have said heard it, too, for Satan was making frenzied appeals to his sympathetic friends for assistance.

"Let me put the case back, sir," said one of the men, "then p'raps the vision 'll disappear."

"No, stop where you are," said the skipper. "I can stand it better by daylight. It's the most wonderful and extraordinary thing I've ever seen. Do you mean to say you can't see anything, Sam?"

"I can see a case, sir," said Sam, speaking slowly and carefully, "with a bit of rusty iron band sticking out from it. That's what you're mistaking for the cat, p'raps, sir."

"Can't you see anything, cook?" demanded the skipper.

"It may be fancy, sir," faltered the cook, lowering his eyes, "but it does seem to me as though I can see a little misty sort o' thing there. Ah, now it's gone."

"No, it ain't," said the skipper. "The ghost of Satan's sitting there. The case seems to have fallen on its tail. It appears to be howling something dreadful."

The men made a desperate effort to display the astonishment suitable to such a marvel, whilst Satan, who was trying all he knew to get his tail out, cursed freely. How long the superstitious captain of the Skylark would have let him remain there will never be known, for just then the mate came on deck and caught sight of it before he was quite aware of the part he was expected to play.

"Why the devil don't you lift the thing off the poor brute," he yelled, hurrying up towards the case.

"What, can YOU see it, Dick?" said the skipper impressively, laying his hand on his arm.

"SEE it?" retorted the mate. "D'ye think I'm blind. Listen to the poor brute. I should—Oh!"

He became conscious of the concentrated significant gaze of the crew. Five pairs of eyes speaking as one, all saying "idiot" plainly, the boy's eyes conveying an expression too great to be translated.

Turning, the skipper saw the bye-play, and a light slowly dawned upon him. But he wanted more, and he wheeled suddenly to the cook for the required illumination.

The cook said it was a lark. Then he corrected himself and said it wasn't a lark, then he corrected himself again and became incoherent. Meantime the skipper eyed him stonily, while the mate released the cat and good-naturedly helped to straighten its tail.

It took fully five minutes of unwilling explanation before the skipper could grasp the situation. He did not appear to fairly understand it until he was shown the chest with the ventilated lid; then his countenance cleared, and, taking the unhappy Billy by the collar, he called sternly for a piece of rope.

By this statesmanlike handling of the subject a question of much delicacy and difficulty was solved, discipline was preserved, and a practical illustration of the perils of deceit afforded to a youngster who was at an age best suited to receive such impressions. That he should exhaust the resources of a youthful but powerful vocabulary upon the crew in general, and Sam in particular, was only to be expected. They bore him no malice for it, but, when he showed signs of going beyond his years, held a hasty consultation, and then stopped his mouth with sixpence-halfpenny and a broken jack-knife.



THE SKIPPER OF THE "OSPREY"

It was a quarter to six in the morning as the mate of the sailing-barge Osprey came on deck and looked round for the master, who had been sleeping ashore and was somewhat overdue. Ten minutes passed before he appeared on the wharf, and the mate saw with surprise that he was leaning on the arm of a pretty girl of twenty, as he hobbled painfully down to the barge.

"Here you are then," said the mate, his face clearing. "I began to think you weren't coming."

"I'm not," said the skipper; "I've got the gout crool bad. My darter here's going to take my place, an' I'm going to take it easy in bed for a bit."

"I'll go an' make it for you," said the mate.

"I mean my bed at home," said the skipper sharply. "I want good nursing an' attention."

The mate looked puzzled.

"But you don't really mean to say this young lady is coming aboard instead of you?" he said.

"That's just what I do mean," said the skipper. "She knows as much about it as I do. She lived aboard with me until she was quite a big girl. You'll take your orders from her. What are you whistling about? Can't I do as I like about my own ship?"

"O' course you can," said the mate drily; "an' I s'pose I can whistle if I like—I never heard no orders against it."

"Gimme a kiss, Meg, an' git aboard," said the skipper, leaning on his stick and turning his cheek to his daughter, who obediently gave him a perfunctory kiss on the left eyebrow, and sprang lightly aboard the barge.

"Cast off," said she, in a business-like manner, as she seized a boat-hook and pushed off from the jetty. "Ta ta, Dad, and go straight home, mind; the cab's waiting."

"Ay, ay, my dear," said the proud father, his eye moistening with paternal pride as his daughter, throwing off her jacket, ran and assisted the mate with the sail. "Lord, what a fine boy she would have made!"

He watched the barge until she was well under way, and then, waving his hand to his daughter, crawled slowly back to the cab; and, being to a certain extent a believer in homeopathy, treated his complaint with a glass of rum.

"I'm sorry your father's so bad, miss," said the mate, who was still somewhat dazed by the recent proceedings, as the girl came up and took the wheel from him. "He was complaining a goodish bit all the way up."

"A wilful man must have his way," said Miss Cringle, with a shake of her head. "It's no good me saying anything, because directly my back's turned he has his own way again."

The mate shook his head despondently.

"You'd better get your bedding up and make your arrangements forward," said the new skipper presently. There was a look of indulgent admiration in the mate's eye, and she thought it necessary to check it.

"All right," said the other, "plenty of time for that; the river's a little bit thick just now."

"What do you mean?" inquired the girl hastily.

"Some o' these things are not so careful as they might be," said the mate, noting the ominous sparkle of her eye, "an' they might scrape the paint off."

"Look here, my lad," said the new skipper grimly, "if you think you can steer better than me, you'd better keep it to yourself, that's all. Now suppose you see about your bedding, as I said."

The mate went, albeit he was rather surprised at himself for doing so, and hid his annoyance and confusion beneath the mattress which he brought up on his head. His job completed, he came aft again, and, sitting on the hatches, lit his pipe.

"This is just the weather for a pleasant cruise," he said amiably, after a few whiffs. "You've chose a nice time for it."

"I don't mind the weather," said the girl, who fancied that there was a little latent sarcasm somewhere. "I think you'd better wash the decks now."

"Washed 'em last night," said the mate, without moving.

"Ah, after dark, perhaps," said the girl. "Well, I think I'll have them done again."

The mate sat pondering rebelliously for a few minutes, then he removed his jacket, put on in honour of the new skipper, and, fetching the bucket and mop, silently obeyed orders.

"You seem to be very fond of sitting down," remarked the girl, after he had finished; "can't you find something else to do?"

"I don't know," replied the mate slowly; "I thought you were looking after that."

The girl bit her lip, and was looking carefully round her, when they were both disturbed by the unseemly behaviour of the master of a passing craft.

"Jack!" he yelled in a tone of strong amazement, "Jack!"

"Halloa!" cried the mate.

"Why didn't you tell us?" yelled the other reproachfully.

"Tell you what?" roared the mystified mate.

The master of the other craft, holding on to the stays with one hand, jerked his thumb expressively towards Miss Cringle, and waited.

"When was it?" he screamed anxiously, as he realised that his craft was rapidly carrying him out of earshot.

The mate smiled feebly, and glanced uneasily at the girl, who, with a fine colour and an air of vast unconcern, was looking straight in front of her; and it was a relief to both of them when they found themselves hesitating and dodging in front of a schooner which was coming up.

"Do you want all the river?" demanded the exasperated master of the latter vessel, running to the side as they passed. "Why don't you drop anchor if you want to spoon?"

"Perhaps you 'd better let me take the wheel a bit," said the mate, not without a little malice in his voice.

"No; you can go an' keep a look-out in the bows," said the girl serenely. "It'll prevent misunderstandings, too. Better take the potatoes with you and peel them for dinner."

The mate complied, and the voyage proceeded in silence, the steering being rendered a little nicer than usual by various nautical sparks bringing their boats a bit closer than was necessary in order to obtain a good view of the fair steersman.

After dinner, the tide having turned and a stiff head-wind blowing, they brought up off Sheppey. It began to rain hard, and the crew of the Osprey, having made all snug above, retired to the cabin to resume their quarrel.

"Don't mind me," said Miss Cringle scathingly, as the mate lit his pipe.

"Well, I didn't think you minded," replied the mate; "the old man"—

"Who?" interrupted Miss Cringle, in a tone of polite inquiry.

"Captain Cringle," said the mate, correcting himself, "smokes a great deal, and I've heard him say that you liked the smell of it."

"There's pipes and pipes," said Miss Cringle oracularly.

The mate flung his on the floor and crunched it beneath his heel, then he thrust his hands in his pockets, and, leaning back, scowled darkly up at the rain as it crackled on the skylight.

"If you are going to show off your nasty temper," said the girl severely, "you'd better go forward. It's not quite the thing after all for you to be down here—not that I study appearances much."

"I shouldn't think you did," retorted the mate, whose temper was rapidly getting the better of him. "I can't think what your father was thinking of to let a pret—to let a girl like you come away like this."

"If you were going to say pretty girl," said Miss Cringle, with calm self-abnegation, "don't mind me, say it. The captain knows what he's about. He told me you were a milksop; he said you were a good young man and a teetotaller."

The mate, allowing the truth of the captain's statement as to his abstinence, hotly denied the charge of goodness. "I can understand your father's hurry to get rid of you for a spell," he concluded, being goaded beyond all consideration of politeness. "His gout 'ud never get well while you were with him. More than that, I shouldn't wonder if you were the cause of it."

With this parting shot he departed, before the girl could think of a suitable reply, and went and sulked in the dingy little fo'c'sle.

In the evening, the weather having moderated somewhat, and the tide being on the ebb, they got under way again, the girl coming on deck fully attired in an oilskin coat and sou'-wester to resume the command. The rain fell steadily as they ploughed along their way, guided by the bright eye of the "Mouse" as it shone across the darkening waters. The mate, soaked to the skin, was at the wheel.

"Why don't you go below and put your oilskins on?" inquired the girl, when this fact dawned upon her.

"Don't want 'em," said the mate.

"I suppose you know best," said the girl, and said no more until nine o'clock, when she paused at the companion to give her last orders for the night.

"I'm going to turn in," said she; "call me at two o'clock. Good-night."

"Good-night," said the other, and the girl vanished.

Left to himself, the mate, who began to feel chilly, felt in his pockets for a pipe, and was in all the stress of getting a light, when he heard a thin, almost mild voice behind him, and, looking round, saw the face of the girl at the companion.

"I say, are these your oilskins I've been wearing?" she demanded awkwardly.

"You're quite welcome," said the mate.

"Why didn't you tell me?" said the girl indignantly. "I wouldn't have worn them for anything if I had known it."

"Well, they won't poison you," said the mate resentfully. "Your father left his at Ipswich to have 'em cobbled up a bit."

The girl passed them up on the deck, and, closing the companion with a bang, disappeared. It is possible that the fatigues of the day had been too much for her, for when she awoke, and consulted the little silver watch that hung by her bunk, it was past five o'clock, and the red glow of the sun was flooding the cabin as she arose and hastily dressed.

The deck was drying in white patches as she went above, and the mate was sitting yawning at the wheel, his eyelids red for want of sleep.

"Didn't I tell you to call me at two o'clock?" she demanded, confronting him.

"It's all right," said the mate. "I thought when you woke would be soon enough. You looked tired."

"I think you'd better go when we get to Ipswich," said the girl, tightening her lips. "I'll ship somebody who'll obey orders."

"I'll go when we get back to London," said the mate. "I'll hand this barge over to the cap'n, and nobody else."

"Well, we'll see," said the girl, as she took the wheel, "I think you'll go at Ipswich."

For the remainder of the voyage the subject was not alluded to; the mate, in a spirit of sulky pride, kept to the fore part of the boat, except when he was steering, and, as far as practicable, the girl ignored his presence. In this spirit of mutual forbearance they entered the Orwell, and ran swiftly up to Ipswich.

It was late in the afternoon when they arrived there, and the new skipper, waiting only until they were made fast, went ashore, leaving the mate in charge. She had been gone about an hour when a small telegraph boy appeared, and, after boarding the barge in the unsafest manner possible, handed him a telegram. The mate read it and his face flushed. With even more than the curtness customary in language at a halfpenny a word, it contained his dismissal.

"I've had a telegram from your father sacking me," he said to the girl, as she returned soon after, laden with small parcels.

"Yes, I wired him to," she replied calmly. "I suppose you'll go NOW?"

"I'd rather go back to London with you," he said slowly.

"I daresay," said the girl. "As a matter of fact I wasn't really meaning for you to go, but when you said you wouldn't I thought we'd see who was master. I've shipped another mate, so you see I haven't lost much time."

"Who is he," inquired the mate.

"Man named Charlie Lee," replied the girl; "the foreman here told me of him."

"He'd no business too," said the mate, frowning; "he's a loose fish; take my advice now and ship somebody else. He's not at all the sort of chap I'd choose for you to sail with."

"You'd choose," said the girl scornfully; "dear me, what a pity you didn't tell me before."

"He's a public-house loafer," said the mate, meeting her eye angrily, "and about as bad as they make 'em; but I s'pose you'll have your own way."

"He won't frighten me," said the girl. "I'm quite capable of taking care of myself, thank you. Good evening."

The mate stepped ashore with a small bundle, leaving the remainder of his possessions to go back to London with the barge. The girl watched his well-knit figure as it strode up the quay until it was out of sight, and then, inwardly piqued because he had not turned round for a parting glance, gave a little sigh, and went below to tea.

The docile and respectful behaviour of the new-comer was a pleasant change to the autocrat of the Osprey, and cargoes were worked out and in without an unpleasant word. They laid at the quay for two days, the new mate, whose home was at Ipswich, sleeping ashore, and on the morning of the third he turned up punctually at six o'clock, and they started on their return voyage.

"Well, you do know how to handle a craft," said Lee admiringly, as they passed down the river. "The old boat seems to know it's got a pretty young lady in charge."

"Don't talk rubbish," said the girl austerely.

The new mate carefully adjusted his red necktie and smiled indulgently.

"Well, you're the prettiest cap'n I've ever sailed under," he said. "What do they call that red cap you've got on? Tam-o'-Shanter is it?"

"I don't know," said the girl shortly.

"You mean you won't tell me," said the other, with a look of anger in his soft dark eyes.

"Just as you like," said she, and Lee, whistling softly, turned on his heel and began to busy himself with some small matter forward.

The rest of the day passed quietly, though there was a freedom in the new mate's manner which made the redoubtable skipper of the Osprey regret her change of crew, and to treat him with more civility than her proud spirit quite approved of. There was but little wind, and the barge merely crawled along as the captain and mate, with surreptitious glances, took each other's measure.

"This is the nicest trip I've ever had," said Lee, as he came up from an unduly prolonged tea, with a strong-smelling cigar in his mouth. "I've brought your jacket up."

"I don't want it, thank you," said the girl.

"Better have it," said Lee, holding it up for her.

"When I want my jacket I'll put it on myself," said the girl.

"All right, no offence," said the other airily. "What an obstinate little devil you are."

"Have you got any drink down there?" inquired the girl, eyeing him sternly.

"Just a little drop o' whiskey, my dear, for the spasms," said Lee facetiously. "Will you have a drop?"

"I won't have any drinking here," said she sharply. "If you want to drink, wait till you get ashore."

"YOU won't have any drinking!" said the other, opening his eyes, and with a quiet chuckle he dived below and brought up a bottle and a glass. "Here's wishing a better temper to you, my dear," he said amiably, as he tossed off a glass. "Come, you'd better have a drop. It'll put a little colour in your cheeks."

"Put it away now, there's a good fellow," said the captain timidly, as she looked anxiously at the nearest sail, some two miles distant.

"It's the only friend I've got," said Lee, sprawling gracefully on the hatches, and replenishing his glass. "Look here. Are you on for a bargain?"

"What do you mean?" inquired the girl.

"Give me a kiss, little spitfire, and I won't take another drop to-night," said the new mate tenderly. "Come, I won't tell."

"You may drink yourself to death before I'll do that," said the girl, striving to speak calmly. "Don't talk that nonsense to me again."

She stooped over as she spoke and made a sudden grab at the bottle, but the new mate was too quick for her, and, snatching it up jeeringly, dared her to come for it.

"Come on, come and fight for it," said he; "hit me if you like, I don't mind; your little fist won't hurt."

No answer being vouchsafed to this invitation he applied himself to his only friend again, while the girl, now thoroughly frightened, steered in silence.

"Better get the sidelights out," said she at length.

"Plenty o' time," said Lee.

"Take the helm, then, while I do it," said the girl, biting her lips.

The fellow rose and came towards her, and, as she made way for him, threw his arm round her waist and tried to detain her. Her heart beating quickly, she walked forward, and, not without a hesitating glance at the drunken figure at the wheel, descended into the fo'c'sle for the lamps.

The next moment, with a gasping little cry, she sank down on a locker as the dark figure of a man rose and stood by her.

"Don't be frightened," it said quietly.

"Jack?" said the girl.

"That's me," said the figure. "You didn't expect to see me, did you? I thought perhaps you didn't know what was good for you, so I stowed myself away last night, and here I am."

"Have you heard what that fellow has been saying to me?" demanded Miss Cringle, with a spice of the old temper leavening her voice once more.

"Every word," said the mate cheerfully.

"Why didn't you come up and stand by me?" inquired the girl hotly.

The mate hung his head.

"Oh," said the girl, and her tones were those of acute disappointment, "you're afraid."

"I'm not," said the mate scornfully.

"Why didn't you come up, then, instead of skulking down here?" inquired the girl.

The mate scratched the back of his neck and smiled, but weakly. "Well, I—I thought"—he began, and stopped.

"You thought"—prompted Miss Cringle coldly.

"I thought a little fright would do you good," said the mate, speaking quickly, "and that it would make you appreciate me a little more when I did come."

"Ahoy! MAGGIE! MAGGIE!" came the voice of the graceless varlet who was steering.

"I'll MAGGIE him," said the mate, grinding his teeth, "Why, what the—why you 're crying."

"I'm not," sobbed Miss Cringle scornfully. "I'm in a temper, that's all."

"I'll knock his head off," said the mate; "you stay down here."

"Mag-GIE!" came the voice again, "MAG—HULLO!"

"Were you calling me, my lad?" said the mate, with dangerous politeness, as he stepped aft. "Ain't you afraid of straining that sweet voice o' yours? Leave go o' that tiller."

The other let go, and the mate's fist took him heavily in the face and sent him sprawling on the deck. He rose with a scream of rage and rushed at his opponent, but the mate's temper, which had suffered badly through his treatment of the last few days, was up, and he sent him heavily down again.

"There's a little dark dingy hole forward," said the mate, after waiting some time for him to rise again, "just the place for you to go and think over your sins in. If I see you come out of it until we get to London, I'll hurt you. Now clear."

The other cleared, and, carefully avoiding the girl, who was standing close by, disappeared below.

"You've hurt him," said the girl, coming up to the mate and laying her hand on his arm. "What a horrid temper you've got."

"It was him asking you to kiss him that upset me," said the mate apologetically.

"He put his arm round my waist," said Miss Cringle, blushing.

"WHAT!" said the mate, stuttering, "put his—put his arm—round—your waist—like"—

His courage suddenly forsook him.

"Like what?" inquired the girl, with superb innocence.

"Like THAT," said the mate manfully.

"That'll do," said Miss Cringle softly, "that'll do. You're as bad as he is, only the worst of it is there is nobody here to prevent you."



IN BORROWED PLUMES

The master of the Sarah Jane had been missing for two days, and all on board, with the exception of the boy, whom nobody troubled about, were full of joy at the circumstance. Twice before had the skipper, whose habits might, perhaps, be best described as irregular, missed his ship, and word had gone forth that the third time would be the last. His berth was a good one, and the mate wanted it in place of his own, which was wanted by Ted Jones, A. B.

"Two hours more," said the mate anxiously to the men, as they stood leaning against the side, "and I take the ship out."

"Under two hours'll do it," said Ted, peering over the side and watching the water as it slowly rose over the mud. "What's got the old man, I wonder?"

"I don't know, and I don't care," said the mate. "You chaps stand by me and it'll be good for all of us. Mr. Pearson said distinct the last time that if the skipper ever missed his ship again it would be his last trip in her, and he told me afore the old man that I wasn't to wait two minutes at any time, but to bring her out right away."

"He's an old fool," said Bill Loch, the other hand; "and nobody'll miss him but the boy, and he's been looking reg'lar worried all the morning. He looked so worried at dinner time that I give 'im a kick to cheer him up a bit. Look at him now."

The mate gave a supercilious glance in the direction of the boy, and then turned away. The boy, who had no idea of courting observation, stowed himself away behind the windlass; and, taking a letter from his pocket, perused it for the fourth time.

"Dear Tommy," it began. "I take my pen in and to inform you that I'm stayin here and cant get away for the reason that I lorst my cloes at cribage larst night, also my money, and everything beside. Don't speek to a living sole about it as the mate wants my birth, but pack up sum cloes and bring them to me without saying nuthing to noboddy. The mates cloths will do becos I havent got enny other soot, dont tell 'im. You needen't trouble about soks as I've got them left. My bed is so bad I must now conclude. Your affecshunate uncle and captin Joe Bross. P.S. Dont let the mate see you come, or else he wont let you go."

"Two hours more," sighed Tommy, as he put the letter back in his pocket. "How can I get any clothes when they're all locked up? And aunt said I was to look after 'im and see he didn't get into no mischief."

He sat thinking deeply, and then, as the crew of the Sarah Jane stepped ashore to take advantage of a glass offered by the mate, he crept down to the cabin again for another desperate look round. The only articles of clothing visible belonged to Mrs. Bross, who up to this trip had been sailing in the schooner to look after its master. At these he gazed hard.

"I'll take 'em and try an' swop 'em for some men's clothes," said he suddenly, snatching the garments from the pegs. "She wouldn't mind"; and hastily rolling them into a parcel, together with a pair of carpet slippers of the captain's, he thrust the lot into an old biscuit bag. Then he shouldered his burden, and, going cautiously on deck, gained the shore, and set off at a trot to the address furnished in the letter.

It was a long way, and the bag was heavy. His first attempt at barter was alarming, for the pawnbroker, who had just been cautioned by the police, was in such a severe and uncomfortable state of morals, that the boy quickly snatched up his bundle again and left. Sorely troubled he walked hastily along, until, in a small bye street, his glance fell upon a baker of mild and benevolent aspect, standing behind the counter of his shop.

"If you please, sir," said Tommy, entering, and depositing his bag on the counter, "have you got any cast-off clothes you don't want?"

The baker turned to a shelf, and selecting a stale loaf cut it in halves, one of which he placed before the boy.

"I don't want bread," said Tommy desperately; "but mother has just died, and father wants mourning for the funeral. He's only got a new suit with him, and if he can change these things of mother's for an old suit, he'd sell his best ones to bury her with."

He shook the articles out on the counter, and the baker's wife, who had just come into the shop, inspected them rather favourably.

"Poor boy, so you've lost your mother," she said, turning the clothes over. "It's a good skirt, Bill."

"Yes, ma'am," said Tommy dolefully.

"What did she die of?" inquired the baker.

"Scarlet fever," said Tommy, tearfully, mentioning the only disease he knew.

"Scar—Take them things away," yelled the baker, pushing the clothes on to the floor, and following his wife to the other end of the shop. "Take 'em away directly, you young villain."

His voice was so loud, his manner so imperative, that the startled boy, without stopping to argue, stuffed the clothes pell-mell into the bag again and departed. A farewell glance at the clock made him look almost as horrified as the baker.

"There's no time to be lost," he muttered, as he began to run; "either the old man'll have to come in these or else stay where he is."

He reached the house breathless, and paused before an unshaven man in time-worn greasy clothes, who was smoking a short clay pipe with much enjoyment in front of the door.

"Is Cap'n Bross here?" he panted.

"He's upstairs," said the man, with a leer, "sitting in sackcloth and ashes, more ashes than sackcloth. Have you got some clothes for him?"

"Look here," said Tommy. He was down on his knees with the mouth of the bag open again, quite in the style of the practised hawker. "Give me an old suit of clothes for them. Hurry up. There's a lovely frock."

"Blimey," said the man, staring, "I've only got these clothes. Wot d'yer take me for? A dook?"

"Well, get me some somewhere," said Tommy. "If you don't the cap'n 'll have to come in these, and I'm sure he won't like it."

"I wonder what he'd look like," said the man, with a grin. "Damme if I don't come up and see."

"Get me some clothes," pleaded Tommy.

"I wouldn't get you clothes, no, not for fifty pun," said the man severely. "Wot d'yer mean wanting to spoil people's pleasure in that way? Come on, come and tell the cap'n what you've got for 'im, I want to 'ear what he ses. He's been swearing 'ard since ten o'clock this morning, but he ought to say something special over this."

He led the way up the bare wooden stairs, followed by the harassed boy, and entered a small dirty room at the top, in the centre of which the master of the Sarah Jane sat to deny visitors, in a pair of socks and last week's paper.

"Here's a young gent come to bring you some clothes, cap'n," said the man, taking the sack from the boy.

"Why didn't you come before?" growled the captain, who was reading the advertisements.

The man put his hand in the sack, and pulled out the clothes. "What do you think of 'em?" he asked expectantly.

The captain strove vainly to tell him, but his tongue mercifully forsook its office, and dried between his lips. His brain rang with sentences of scorching iniquity, but they got no further.

"Well, say thank you, if you can't say nothing else," suggested his tormentor hopefully.

"I couldn't bring nothing else," said Tommy hurriedly; "all the things was locked up. I tried to swop 'em and nearly got locked up for it. Put these on and hurry up."

The captain moistened his lips with his tongue.

"The mate'll get off directly she floats," continued Tommy. "Put these on and spoil his little game. It's raining a little now. Nobody'll see you, and as soon as you git aboard you can borrow some of the men's clothes."

"That's the ticket, cap'n," said the man. "Lord lumme, you'll 'ave everybody falling in love with you."

"Hurry up," said Tommy, dancing with impatience. "Hurry up."

The skipper, dazed and wild-eyed, stood still while his two assistants hastily dressed him, bickering somewhat about details as they did so.

"He ought to be tight-laced, I tell you," said the man.

"He can't be tight-laced without stays," said Tommy scornfully. "You ought to know that."

"Ho, can't he," said the other, discomfited. "You know too much for a young-un. Well, put a bit o' line round 'im then."

"We can't wait for a line," said Tommy, who was standing on tip-toe to tie the skipper's bonnet on. "Now tie the scarf over his chin to hide his beard, and put this veil on. It's a good job he ain't got a moustache."

The other complied, and then fell back a pace or two to gaze at his handiwork. "Strewth, though I sees it as shouldn't, you look a treat!" he remarked complacently. "Now, young-un, take 'old of his arm. Go up the back streets, and if you see anybody looking at you, call 'im Mar."

The two set off, after the man, who was a born realist, had tried to snatch a kiss from the skipper on the threshold. Fortunately for the success of the venture, it was pelting with rain, and, though a few people gazed curiously at the couple as they went hastily along, they were unmolested, and gained the wharf in safety, arriving just in time to see the schooner shoving off from the side.

At the sight the skipper held up his skirts and ran. "Ahoy!" he shouted. "Wait a minute."

The mate gave one look of blank astonishment at the extraordinary figure, and then turned away; but at that moment the stern came within jumping distance of the wharf, and uncle and nephew, moved with one impulse leaped for it and gained the deck in safety.

"Why didn't you wait when I hailed you?" demanded the skipper fiercely.

"How was I to know it was you?" inquired the mate surlily, as he realised his defeat. "I thought it was the Empress of Rooshia."

The skipper stared at him dumbly.

"An' if you take my advice," said the mate, with a sneer, "you'll keep them things on. I never see you look so well in anything afore."

"I want to borrow some o' your clothes, Bob," said the skipper, eyeing him steadily.

"Where's your own?" asked the other.

"I don't know," said the skipper. "I was took with a fit last night, Bob, and when I woke up this morning they were gone. Somebody must have took advantage of my helpless state and taken 'em."

"Very likely," said the mate, turning away to shout an order to the crew, who were busy setting sail.

"Where are they, old man?" inquired the skipper.

"How should I know?" asked the other, becoming interested in the men again.

"I mean YOUR clothes," said the skipper, who was fast losing his temper.

"Oh, mine?" said the mate. "Well, as a matter o' fact, I don't like lending my clothes. I'm rather pertickler. You might have a fit in THEM."

"You won't lend 'em to me?" asked the skipper.

"I won't," said the mate, speaking loudly, and frowning significantly at the crew, who were listening.

"Very good," said the skipper. "Ted, come here. Where's your other clothes?"

"I'm very sorry, sir," said Ted, shifting uneasily from one leg to the other, and glancing at the mate for support; "but they ain't fit for the likes of you to wear, sir." "I'm the best judge of that," said the skipper sharply. "Fetch 'em up."

"Well, to tell the truth, sir," said Ted, "I'm like the mate. I'm only a poor sailor-man, but I wouldn't lend my clothes to the Queen of England."

"You fetch up them clothes," roared the skipper snatching off his bonnet and flinging it on the deck. "Fetch 'em up at once. D'ye think I'm going about in these petticuts?"

"They're my clothes," muttered Ted doggedly.

"Very well, then, I'll have Bill's," said the skipper. "But mind you, my lad, I'll make you pay for this afore I've done with you. Bill's the only honest man aboard this ship. Gimme your hand, Bill, old man."

"I'm with them two," said Bill gruffly, as he turned away.

The skipper, biting his lips with fury, turned from one to the other, and then, with a big oath, walked forward. Before he could reach the fo'c'sle Bill and Ted dived down before him, and, by the time he had descended, sat on their chests side by side confronting him. To threats and appeals alike they turned a deaf ear, and the frantic skipper was compelled at last to go on deck again, still encumbered with the hated skirts.

"Why don't you go an' lay down," said the mate, "an' I'll send you down a nice cup o' hot tea. You'll get histericks, if you go on like that."

"I'll knock your 'ead off if you talk to me," said the skipper.

"Not you," said the mate cheerfully; "you ain't big enough. Look at that pore fellow over there."

The skipper looked in the direction indicated, and, swelling with impotent rage, shook his fist fiercely at a red-faced man with grey whiskers, who was wafting innumerable tender kisses from the bridge of a passing steamer.

"That's right," said the mate approvingly; "don't give 'im no encouragement. Love at first sight ain't worth having."

The skipper, suffering severely from suppressed emotion, went below, and the crew, after waiting a little while to make sure that he was not coming up again, made their way quietly to the mate.

"If we can only take him to Battlesea in this rig it'll be all right," said the latter. "You chaps stand by me. His slippers and sou'-wester is the only clothes he's got aboard. Chuck every needle you can lay your hands on overboard, or else he'll git trying to make a suit out of a piece of old sail or something. If we can only take him to Mr. Pearson like this, it won't be so bad after all."

While these arrangements were in hand above, the skipper and the boy were busy over others below. Various startling schemes propounded by the skipper for obtaining possession of his men's attire were rejected by the youth as unlawful, and, what was worse, impracticable. For a couple of hours they discussed ways and means, but only ended in diatribes against the mean ways of the crew; and the skipper, whose head ached still from his excesses, fell into a state of sullen despair at length, and sat silent.

"By Jove, Tommy, I've got it," he cried suddenly, starting up and hitting the table with his fist. "Where's your other suit?"

"That ain't no bigger that this one," said Tommy.

"You git it out," said the skipper, with a knowing toss of his head. "Ah, there we are. Now go in my state-room and take those off."

The wondering Tommy, who thought that great grief had turned his kinsman's brain, complied, and emerged shortly afterwards in a blanket, bringing his clothes under his arm.

"Now, do you know what I'm going to do?" inquired the skipper, with a big smile.

"No."

"Fetch me the scissors, then. Now do you know what I'm going to do?"

"Cut up the two suits and make 'em into one," hazarded the horror-stricken Tommy. "Here, stop it! Leave off!"

The skipper pushed him impatiently off, and, placing the clothes on the table, took up the scissors, and, with a few slashing strokes, cut them garments into their component parts.

"What am I to wear," said Tommy, beginning to blubber. "You didn't think of that?"

"What are you to wear, you selfish young pig?" said the skipper sternly. "Always thinking about yourself. Go and git some needles and thread, and if there's any left over, and you're a good boy, I'll see whether I can't make something for you out of the leavings."

"There ain't no needles here," whined Tommy, after a lengthened search.

"Go down the fo'c'sle and git the case of sail-makers' needles, then," said the skipper, "Don't let anyone see what you're after, an' some thread."

"Well, why couldn't you let me go in my clothes before you cut 'em up," moaned Tommy. "I don't like going up in this blanket. They'll laugh at me."

"You go at once!" thundered the skipper, and, turning his back on him, whistled softly, and began to arrange the pieces of cloth.

"Laugh away, my lads," he said cheerfully, as an uproarious burst of laughter greeted the appearance of Tommy on deck. "Wait a bit."

He waited himself for nearly twenty minutes, at the end of which time Tommy, treading on his blanket, came flying down the companion-ladder, and rolled into the cabin.

"There ain't a needle aboard the ship," he said solemnly, as he picked himself up and rubbed his head. "I've looked everywhere."

"What?" roared the skipper, hastily concealing the pieces of cloth. "Here, Ted! Ted!"

"Ay, ay, sir!" said Ted, as he came below.

"I want a sail-maker's needle," said the skipper glibly. "I've got a rent in this skirt."

"I broke the last one yesterday," said Ted, with an evil grin.

"Any other needle then," said the skipper, trying to conceal his emotion.

"I don't believe there's such a thing aboard the ship," said Ted, who had obeyed the mate's thoughtful injunction. "NOR thread. I was only saying so to the mate yesterday."

The skipper sank again to the lowest depths, waved him away, and then, getting on a corner of the locker, fell into a gloomy reverie.

"It's a pity you do things in such a hurry," said Tommy, sniffing vindictively. "You might have made sure of the needle before you spoiled my clothes. There's two of us going about ridiculous now."

The master of the Sarah Jane allowed this insolence to pass unheeded. It is in moments of deep distress that the mind of man, naturally reverting to solemn things, seeks to improve the occasion by a lecture. The skipper, chastened by suffering and disappointment, stuck his right hand in his pocket, after a lengthened search for it, and gently bidding the blanketed urchin in front of him to sit down, began:

"You see what comes of drink and cards," he said mournfully. "Instead of being at the helm of my ship, racing all the other craft down the river, I'm skulkin' down below here like—like"—

"Like an actress," suggested Tommy.

The skipper eyed him all over. Tommy, unconscious of offence, met his gaze serenely.

"If," continued the skipper, "at any time you felt like taking too much, and you stopped with the beer-mug half-way to your lips, and thought of me sitting in this disgraceful state, what would you do?"

"I dunno," replied Tommy, yawning.

"What would you do?" persisted the skipper, with great expression.

"Laugh, I s'pose," said Tommy, after a moment's thought.

The sound of a well-boxed ear rang through the cabin.

"You're an unnatural, ungrateful little toad," said the skipper fiercely. "You don't deserve to have a good, kind uncle to look after you."

"Anybody can have him for me," sobbed the indignant Tommy, as he tenderly felt his ear. "You look a precious sight more like an aunt than an uncle."

After firing this shot he vanished in a cloud of blanket, and the skipper, reluctantly abandoning a hastily-formed resolve of first flaying him alive and then flinging him overboard, sat down again and lit his pipe.

Once out of the river he came on deck again, and, ignoring by a great effort the smiles of the crew and the jibes of the mate, took command. The only alteration he made in his dress was to substitute his sou'-wester for the bonnet, and in this guise he did his work, while the aggrieved Tommy hopped it in blankets. The three days at sea passed like a horrid dream. So covetous was his gaze, that the crew instinctively clutched their nether garments and looked to the buttoning of their coats as they passed him. He saw coats in the mainsail, and fashioned phantom trousers out of the flying jib, and towards the end began to babble of blue serges and mixed tweeds. Oblivious of fame, he had resolved to enter the harbour of Battlesea by night; but it was not to be. Near home the wind dropped, and the sun was well up before Battlesea came into view, a grey bank on the starboard bow.

Until within a mile of the harbour, the skipper held on, and then his grasp on the wheel relaxed somewhat, and he looked round anxiously for the mate.

"Where's Bob?" he shouted.

"He's very ill, sir," said Ted, shaking his head.

"Ill?" gasped the startled skipper. "Here, take the wheel a minute."

He handed it over, and grasping his skirts went hastily below. The mate was half lying, half sitting, in his bunk, groaning dismally.

"What's the matter?" inquired the skipper.

"I'm dying," said the mate. "I keep being tied up all in knots inside. I can't hold myself straight."

The other cleared his throat. "You'd better take off your clothes and lie down a bit," he said kindly. "Let me help you off with them."

"No—don't—trouble," panted the mate.

"It ain't no trouble," said the skipper, in a trembling voice.

"No, I'll keep 'em on," said the mate faintly. "I've always had an idea I'd like to die in my clothes. It may be foolish, but I can't help it."

"You'll have your wish some day, never fear, you infernal rascal," shouted the overwrought skipper. "You're shamming sickness to make me take the ship into port."

"Why shouldn't you take her in," asked the mate, with an air of innocent surprise. "It's your duty as cap'n. You'd better get above now. The bar is always shifting."

The skipper, restraining himself by a mighty effort, went on deck again, and, taking the wheel, addressed the crew. He spoke feelingly of the obedience men owed their superior officers, and the moral obligation they were under to lend them their trousers when they required them. He dwelt on the awful punishments awarded for mutiny, and proved clearly, that to allow the master of a ship to enter port in petticoats was mutiny of the worst type. He then sent them below for their clothing. They were gone such a long time that it was palpable to the meanest intellect that they did not intend to bring it. Meantime the harbour widened out before him.

There were two or three people on the quay as the Sarah Jane came within hailing distance. By the time she had passed the lantern at the end of it there were two or three dozen, and the numbers were steadily increasing at the rate of three persons for every five yards she made. Kind-hearted, humane men, anxious that their friends should not lose so great and cheap a treat, bribed small and reluctant boys with pennies to go in search of them, and by the time the schooner reached her berth, a large proportion of the population of the port was looking over each other's shoulders and shouting foolish and hilarious inquiries to the skipper. The news reached the owner, and he came hurrying down to the ship, just as the skipper, regardless of the heated remonstrances of the sightseers, was preparing to go below.

Mr. Pearson was a stout man, and he came down exploding with wrath. Then he saw the apparition, and mirth overcame him. It became necessary for three stout fellows to act as buttresses, and the more indignant the skipper looked the harder their work became. Finally he was assisted, in a weak state, and laughing hysterically, to the deck of the schooner, where he followed the skipper below, and in a voice broken with emotion demanded an explanation.

"It's the finest sight I ever saw in my life, Bross," he said when the other had finished. "I wouldn't have missed it for anything. I've been feeling very low this last week, and it's done me good. Don't talk nonsense about leaving the ship. I wouldn't lose you for anything after this, but if you like to ship a fresh mate and crew you can please yourself. If you'll only come up to the house and let Mrs. Pearson see you—she's been ailing—I'll give you a couple of pounds. Now, get your bonnet and come."



THE BOATSWAIN'S WATCH

Captain Polson sat in his comfortable parlour smiling benignly upon his daughter and sister. His ship, after an absence of eighteen months, was once more berthed in the small harbour of Barborough, and the captain was sitting in that state of good-natured affability which invariably characterised his first appearance after a long absence.

"No news this end, I suppose," he inquired, after a lengthy recital of most extraordinarily uninteresting adventures.

"Not much," said his sister Jane, looking nervously at her niece. "Young Metcalfe has gone into partnership with his father."

"I don't want to hear about those sharks," said the captain, waxing red. "Tell me about honest men."

"Joe Lewis has had a month's imprisonment for stealing fowls," said Miss Polson meekly. "Mrs. Purton has had twins—dear little fellows they are, fat as butter!—she has named one of them Polson, after you. The greedy one."

"Any deaths?" inquired the captain snappishly, as he eyed the innocent lady suspiciously.

"Poor old Jasper Wheeler has gone," said his sister; "he was very resigned. He borrowed enough money to get a big doctor from London, and when he heard that there was no hope for him he said he was just longing to go, and he was sorry he couldn't take all his dear ones with him. Mary Hewson is married to Jack Draper, and young Metcalfe's banns go up for the third time next Sunday."

"I hope he gets a Tartar," said the vindictive captain. "Who's the girl? Some silly little fool, I know. She ought to be warned!"

"I don't believe in interfering in marriages," said his daughter Chrissie, shaking her head sagely.

"Oh!" said the captain, staring, "YOU don't! Now you've put your hair up and taken to wearing long frocks, I suppose you're beginning to think of it."

"Yes; auntie wants to tell you something!" said his daughter, rising and crossing the room.

"No, I don't!" said Miss Polson hastily.

"You'd better do it," said Chrissie, giving her a little push, "there's a dear; I'll go upstairs and lock myself in my room."

The face of the captain, whilst this conversation was passing, was a study in suppressed emotions. He was a firm advocate for importing the manners of the quarter-deck into private life, the only drawback being that he had to leave behind him the language usual in that locality. To this omission he usually ascribed his failures.

"Sit down, Chrissie," he commanded; "sit down, Jane. Now, miss, what's all this about?"

"I don't like to tell you," said Chrissie, folding her hands in her lap. "I know you'll be cross. You're so unreasonable."

The captain stared—frightfully.

"I'm going to be married," said Chrissie suddenly,—"there! To Jack Metcalfe—there! So you'll have to learn to love him. He's going to try and love you for my sake." To his sister's dismay the captain got up, and brandishing his fists walked violently to and fro. By these simple but unusual means decorum was preserved.

"If you were only a boy," said the captain, when he had regained his seat, "I should know what to do with you."

"If I were a boy," said Chrissie, who, having braced herself up for the fray, meant to go through with it, "I shouldn't want to marry Jack. Don't be silly, father!"

"Jane," said the captain, in a voice which made the lady addressed start in her chair, "what do you mean by it?"

"It isn't my fault," said Miss Polson feebly. "I told her how it would be. And it was so gradual; he admired my geraniums at first, and, of course, I was deceived. There are so many people admire my geraniums; whether it is because the window has a south aspect"—

"Oh!" said the captain rudely, "that'll do, Jane. If he wasn't a lawyer, I'd go round and break his neck. Chrissie is only nineteen, and she'll come for a year's cruise with me. Perhaps the sea air'll strengthen her head. We'll see who's master in this family."

"I'm sure I don't want to be master," said his daughter, taking a weapon of fine cambric out of her pocket, and getting ready for action. "I can't help liking people. Auntie likes him too, don't you, auntie?"

"Yes," said Miss Polson bravely.

"Very good," said the autocrat promptly, "I'll take you both for a cruise."

"You're making me very un—unhappy," said Chrissie, burying her face in her handkerchief.

"You'll be more unhappy before I've done with you," said the captain grimly. "And while I think of it, I'll step round and stop those banns." His daughter caught him by the arm as he was passing, and laid her face on his sleeve. "You'll make me look so foolish," she wailed.

"That'll make it easier for you to come to sea with me," said her father. "Don't cry all over my sleeve. I'm going to see a parson. Run upstairs and play with your dolls, and if you're a good girl, I'll bring you in some sweets." He put on his hat, and closing the front door with a bang, went off to the new rector to knock two years off the age which his daughter kept for purposes of matrimony. The rector, grieved at such duplicity in one so young, met him more than half way, and he came out from him smiling placidly, until his attention was attracted by a young man on the other side of the road, who was regarding him with manifest awkwardness.

"Good evening, Captain Polson," he said, crossing the road.

"Oh," said the captain, stopping, "I wanted to speak to you. I suppose you wanted to marry my daughter while I was out of the way, to save trouble. Just the manly thing I should have expected of you. I've stopped the banns, and I'm going to take her for a voyage with me. You'll have to look elsewhere, my lad."

"The ill feeling is all on your side, captain," said Metcalfe, reddening.

"Ill feeling!" snorted the captain. "You put me in the witness-box, and made me a laughing-stock in the place with your silly attempts at jokes, lost me five hundred pounds, and then try and marry my daughter while I'm at sea. Ill feeling be hanged!"

"That was business," said the other.

"It was," said the captain, "and this is business too. Mine. I'll look after it, I'll promise you. I think I know who'll look silly this time. I'd sooner see my girl in heaven than married to a rascal of a lawyer."

"You'd want good glasses," retorted Metcalfe, who was becoming ruffled.

"I don't want to bandy words with you," said the captain with dignity, after a long pause, devoted to thinking of something worth bandying. "You think you're a clever fellow, but I know a cleverer. You're quite welcome to marry my daughter—if you can."

He turned on his heel, and refusing to listen to any further remarks, went on his way rejoicing. Arrived home, he lit his pipe, and throwing himself into an armchair, related his exploits. Chrissie had recourse to her handkerchief again, more for effect than use, but Miss Polson, who was a tender soul, took hers out and wept unrestrainedly. At first the captain took it well enough. It was a tribute to his power, but when they took to sobbing one against the other, his temper rose, and he sternly commanded silence.

"I shall be like—this—every day at sea," sobbed Chrissie vindictively, "only worse; making us all ridiculous."

"Stop that noise directly!" vociferated the captain.

"We c-c-can't," sobbed Miss Polson.

"And we d-don't want to," said Chrissie. "It's all we can do, and we're going to do it. You'd better g-go out and stop something else. You can't stop us."

The captain took the advice and went, and in the billiard-room of the "George" heard some news which set him thinking, and which brought him back somewhat earlier than he had at first intended. A small group at his gate broke up into its elements at his approach, and the captain, following his sister and daughter into the room, sat down and eyed them severely.

"So you're going to run off to London to get married, are you, miss?" he said ferociously. "Well, we'll see. You don't go out of my sight until we sail, and if I catch that pettifogging lawyer round at my gate again, I'll break every bone in his body, mind that."

For the next three days the captain kept his daughter under observation, and never allowed her to stir abroad except in his company. The evening of the third day, to his own great surprise, he spent at a Dorcas. The company was not congenial, several of the ladies putting their work away, and glaring frigidly at the intruder; and though they could see clearly that he was suffering greatly, made no attempt to put him at his ease. He was very thoughtful all the way home, and the next day took a partner into the concern, in the shape of his boatswain.

"You understand, Tucker," he concluded, as the hapless seaman stood in a cringing attitude before Chrissie, "that you never let my daughter out of your sight. When she goes out you go with her."

"Yessir," said Tucker; "and suppose she tells me to go home, what am I to do then?"

"You're a fool," said the captain sharply. "It doesn't matter what she says or does; unless you are in the same room, you are never to be more than three yards from her."

"Make it four, cap'n," said the boatswain, in a broken voice.

"Three," said the captain; "and mind, she's artful. All girls are, and she'll try and give you the slip. I've had information given me as to what's going on. Whatever happens, you are not to leave her."

"I wish you'd get somebody else, sir," said Tucker, very respectfully. "There's a lot of chaps aboard that'd like the job."

"You're the only man I can trust," said the captain shortly. "When I give you orders I know they'll be obeyed; it's your watch now."

He went out humming. Chrissie took up a book and sat down, utterly ignoring the woebegone figure which stood the regulation three yards from her, twisting its cap in its hands.

"I hope, miss," said the boatswain, after standing patiently for three-quarters of an hour, "as 'ow you won't think I sought arter this 'ere little job."

"No," said Chrissie, without looking up.

"I'm just obeying orders," continued the boatswain. "I always git let in for these 'ere little jobs, somehow. The monkeys I've had to look arter aboard ship would frighten you. There never was a monkey on the Monarch but what I was in charge of. That's what a man gets through being trustworthy."

"Just so," said Chrissie, putting down her book. "Well, I'm going into the kitchen now; come along, nursie."

"'Ere, I say, miss!" remonstrated Tucker, flushing.

"I don't know how Susan will like you going in her kitchen," said Chrissie thoughtfully; "however, that's your business."

The unfortunate seaman followed his fair charge into the kitchen, and, leaning against the door-post, doubled up like a limp rag before the terrible glance of its mistress.

"Ho!" said Susan, who took the state of affairs as an insult to the sex in general; "and what might you be wanting?"

"Cap'n's orders," murmured Tucker feebly.

"I'm captain here," said Susan, confronting him with her bare arms akimbo.

"And credit it does you," said the boatswain, looking round admiringly.

"Is it your wish, Miss Chrissie, that this image comes and stalks into my kitchen as if the place belongs to him?" demanded the irate Susan.

"I didn't mean to come in in that way," said the astonished Tucker. "I can't help being big."

"I don't want him here," said her mistress; "what do you think I want him for?"

"You hear that?" said Susan, pointing to the door; "now go. I don't want people to say that you come into this kitchen after me."

"I'm here by the cap'n's orders," said Tucker faintly. "I don't want to be here—far from it. As for people saying that I come here after you, them as knows me would laugh at the idea."

"If I had my way," said Susan, in a hard rasping voice, "I'd box your ears for you. That's what I'd do to you, and you can go and tell the cap'n I said so. Spy!"

This was the first verse of the first watch, and there were many verses. To add to his discomfort he was confined to the house, as his charge manifested no desire to go outside, and as neither she nor her aunt cared about the trouble of bringing him to a fit and proper state of subjection, the task became a labour of love for the energetic Susan. In spite of everything, however, he stuck to his guns, and the indignant Chrissie, who was in almost hourly communication with Metcalfe through the medium of her faithful handmaiden, was rapidly becoming desperate.

On the fourth day, time getting short, Chrissie went on a new tack with her keeper, and Susan, sorely against her will, had to follow suit. Chrissie smiled at him, Susan called him Mr. Tucker, and Miss Polson gave him a glass of her best wine. From the position of an outcast, he jumped in one bound to that of confidential adviser. Miss Polson told him many items of family interest, and later on in the afternoon actually consulted him as to a bad cold which Chrissie had developed.

He prescribed half-a-pint of linseed oil hot, but Miss Polson favoured chlorodyne. The conversation then turned on the deadly qualities of that drug when taken in excess, of the fatal sleep in which it lulled its victims. So disastrous were the incidents cited, that half an hour later, when, her aunt and Susan being out, Chrissie took a small bottle of chlorodyne from the mantel-piece, the boatswain implored her to try his nastier but safer remedy instead.

"Nonsense!" said Chrissie, "I'm only going to take twenty drops—one—two—three—"

The drug suddenly poured out in a little stream.

"I should think that's about it," said Chrissie, holding the tumbler up to the light.

"It's about five hundred!" said the horrified Tucker. "Don't take that, miss, whatever you do; let me measure it for you."

The girl waved him away, and, before he could interfere, drank off the contents of the glass and resumed her seat. The boatswain watched her uneasily, and taking up the phial carefully read through the directions. After that he was not at all surprised to see the book fall from his charge's hand on to the floor, and her eyes close.

"I knowed it," said Tucker, in a profuse perspiration, "I knowed it. Them blamed gals are all alike. Always knows what's best. Miss Polson! Miss Polson!"

He shook her roughly, but to no purpose, and then running to the door, shouted eagerly for Susan. No reply forthcoming he ran to the window, but there was nobody in sight, and he came back and stood in front of the girl, wringing his huge hands helplessly. It was a great question for a poor sailor-man. If he went for the doctor he deserted his post; if he didn't go his charge might die. He made one more attempt to awaken her, and, seizing a flower-glass, splashed her freely with cold water. She did not even wince.

"It's no use fooling with it," murmured Tucker; "I must get the doctor, that's all."

He quitted the room, and, dashing hastily downstairs, had already opened the hall door when a thought struck him, and he came back again. Chrissie was still asleep in the chair, and, with a smile at the clever way in which he had solved a difficulty, he stooped down, and, raising her in his strong arms, bore her from the room and downstairs. Then a hitch occurred. The triumphant progress was marred by the behaviour of the hall door, which, despite his efforts, refused to be opened, and, encumbered by his fair burden, he could not for some time ascertain the reason. Then, full of shame that so much deceit could exist in so fair and frail a habitation, he discovered that Miss Polson's foot was pressing firmly against it. Her eyes were still closed and her head heavy, but the fact remained that one foot was acting in a manner that was full of intelligence and guile, and when he took it away from the door the other one took its place. By a sudden manoeuvre the wily Tucker turned his back on the door, and opened it, and, at the same moment, a hand came to life again and dealt him a stinging slap on the face.

"Idiot!" said the indignant Chrissie, slipping from his arms and confronting him. "How dare you take such a liberty?"

The astonished boatswain felt his face, and regarded her open-mouthed.

"Don't you ever dare to speak to me again," said the offended maiden, drawing herself up with irreproachable dignity. "I am disgusted with your conduct. Most unbearable!"

"I was carrying you off to the doctor," said the boatswain. "How was I to know you was only shamming?"

"SHAMMING?" said Chrissie, in tones of incredulous horror. "I was asleep. I often go to sleep in the afternoon."

The boatswain made no reply, except to grin with great intelligence as he followed his charge upstairs again. He grinned at intervals until the return of Susan and Miss Polson, who, trying to look unconcerned, came in later on, both apparently suffering from temper, Susan especially. Amid the sympathetic interruptions of these listeners Chrissie recounted her experiences, while the boatswain, despite his better sense, felt like the greatest scoundrel unhung, a feeling which was fostered by the remarks of Susan and the chilling regards of Miss Poison.

"I shall inform the captain," said Miss Polson, bridling. "It's my duty."

"Oh, I shall tell him," said Chrissie. "I shall tell him the moment he comes in at the door."

"So shall I," said Susan; "the idea of taking such liberties!"

Having fired this broadside, the trio watched the enemy narrowly and anxiously.

"If I've done anything wrong, ladies," said the unhappy boatswain, "I am sorry for it. I can't say anything fairer than that, and I'll tell the cap'n myself exactly how I came to do it when he comes in."

"Pah! tell-tale!" said Susan.

"Of course, if you are here to fetch and carry," said Miss Polson, with withering emphasis.

"The idea of a grown man telling tales," said Chrissie scornfully. "Baby!"

"Why, just now you were all going to tell him yourselves," said the bewildered boatswain.

The two elder women rose and regarded him with looks of pitying disdain. Miss Polson's glance said "Fool!" plainly; Susan, a simple child of nature, given to expressing her mind freely, said "Blockhead!" with conviction.

"I see 'ow it is," said the boatswain, after ruminating deeply. "Well, I won't split, ladies. I can see now you was all in it, and it was a little job to get me out of the house."

"What a head he has got," said the irritated Susan; "isn't it wonderful how he thinks of it all! Nobody would think he was so clever to look at him."

"Still waters run deep," said the boatswain, who was beginning to have a high opinion of himself.

"And pride goes before a fall," said Chrissie; "remember that, Mr. Tucker."

Mr. Tucker grinned, but, remembering the fable of the pitcher and the well, pressed his superior officer that evening to relieve him from his duties. He stated that the strain was slowly undermining a constitution which was not so strong as appearances would warrant, and that his knowledge of female nature was lamentably deficient on many important points. "You're doing very well," said the captain, who had no intention of attending any more Dorcases, "very well indeed; I am proud of you."

"It isn't a man's work," objected the boatswain. "Besides, if anything happens you'll blame me for it."

"Nothing can happen," declared the captain confidently. "We shall make a start in about four days now. You're the only man I can trust with such a difficult job, Tucker, and I shan't forget you."

"Very good," said the other dejectedly. "I obey orders, then."

The next day passed quietly, the members of the household making a great fuss of Tucker, and thereby filling him with forebodings of the worst possible nature. On the day after, when the captain, having business at a neighbouring town, left him in sole charge, his uneasiness could not be concealed.

"I'm going for a walk," said Chrissie, as he sat by himself, working out dangerous moves and the best means of checking them; "would you care to come with me, Tucker?"

"I wish you wouldn't put it that way, miss," said the boatswain, as he reached for his hat.

"I want exercise," said Chrissie; "I've been cooped up long enough."

She set off at a good pace up the High Street, attended by her faithful follower, and passing through the small suburbs, struck out into the country beyond. After four miles the boatswain, who was no walker, reminded her that they had got to go back.

"Plenty of time," said Chrissie, "we have got the day before us. Isn't it glorious? Do you see that milestone, Tucker? I'll race you to it; come along."

She was off on the instant, with the boatswain, who suspected treachery, after her.

"You CAN run," she panted, thoughtfully, as she came in second; "we'll have another one presently. You don't know how good it is for you, Tucker."

The boatswain grinned sourly and looked at her from the corner of his eye. The next three miles passed like a horrible nightmare; his charge making a race for every milestone, in which the labouring boatswain, despite his want of practice, came in the winner. The fourth ended disastrously, Chrissie limping the last ten yards, and seating herself with a very woebegone face on the stone itself.

"You did very well, miss," said the boatswain, who thought he could afford to be generous. "You needn't be offended about it."

"It's my ankle," said Chrissie with a little whimper. "Oh! I twisted it right round."

The boatswain stood regarding her in silent consternation

"It's no use looking like that," said Chrissie sharply, "you great clumsy thing. If you hadn't have run so hard it wouldn't have happened. It's all your fault."

"If you don't mind leaning on me a bit," said Tucker, "we might get along."

Chrissie took his arm petulantly, and they started on their return journey, at the rate of about four hours a mile, with little cries and gasps at every other yard.

"It's no use," said Chrissie as she relinquished his arm, and, limping to the side of the road, sat down. The boatswain pricked up his ears hopefully at the sound of approaching wheels.

"What's the matter with the young lady?" inquired a groom who was driving a little trap, as he pulled up and regarded with interest a grimace of extraordinary intensity on the young lady's face.

"Broke her ankle, I think," said the boatswain glibly. "Which way are you going?"

"Well, I'm going to Barborough," said the groom; "but my guvnor's rather pertickler."

"I'll make it all right with you," said the boatswain.

The groom hesitated a minute, and then made way for Chrissie as the boatswain assisted her to get up beside him; then Tucker, with a grin of satisfaction at getting a seat once more, clambered up behind, and they started.

"Have a rug, mate," said the groom, handing the reins to Chrissie and passing it over; "put it round your knees and tuck the ends under you."

"Ay, ay, mate," said the boatswain as he obeyed the instructions.

"Are you sure you are quite comfortable?" said the groom affectionately.

"Quite," said the other.

The groom said no more, but in a quiet business-like fashion placed his hands on the seaman's broad back, and shot him out into the road. Then he snatched up the reins and drove off at a gallop.

Without the faintest hope of winning, Mr. Tucker, who realised clearly, appearances notwithstanding, that he had fallen into a trap, rose after a hurried rest and started on his fifth race that morning. The prize was only a second-rate groom with plated buttons, who was waving cheery farewells to him with a dingy top hat; but the boatswain would have sooner had it than a silver tea-service.

He ran as he had never ran before in his life, but all to no purpose, the trap stopping calmly a little further on to take up another passenger, in whose favour the groom retired to the back seat; then, with a final wave of the hand to him, they took a road to the left and drove rapidly out of sight. The boatswain's watch was over.



LOW WATER

It was a calm, clear evening in late summer as the Elizabeth Ann, of Pembray, scorning the expensive aid of a tug, threaded her way down the London river under canvas. The crew were busy forward, and the master and part-owner—a fussy little man, deeply imbued with a sense of his own importance and cleverness—was at the wheel chatting with the mate. While waiting for a portion of his cargo, he had passed the previous week pleasantly enough with some relatives in Exeter, and was now in a masterful fashion receiving a report from the mate.

"There's one other thing," said the mate. "I dessay you've noticed how sober old Dick is to-night."

"I kept him short o' purpose," said the skipper, with a satisfied air.

"Tain't that," said the mate. "You'll be pleased to hear that 'im an' Sam has been talked over by the other two, and that all your crew now, 'cept the cook, who's still Roman Catholic, has j'ined the Salvation Army."

"Salvation Army!" repeated the skipper in dazed tones. "I don't want none o' your gammon, Bob."

"It's quite right," said the other. "You can take it from me. How it was done I don't know, but what I do know is, none of 'em has touched licker for five days. They've all got red jerseys, an' I hear as old Dick preaches a hexcellent sermon. He's red-hot on it, and t'others follow 'im like sheep."

"The drink's got to his brain," said the skipper sagely, after due reflection. "Well, I don't mind, so long as they behave theirselves."

He kept silence until Woolwich was passed, and they were running along with all sails set, and then, his curiosity being somewhat excited, he called old Dick to him, with the amiable intention of a little banter.

"What's this I hear about you j'ining the Salvation Army?" he asked.

"It's quite true, sir," said Dick. "I feel so happy, you can't think—we all do."

"Glory!" said one of the other men, with enthusiastic corroboration.

"Seems like the measles," said the skipper facetiously. "Four of you down with it at one time!"

"It IS like the measles, sir," said the old man impressively, "an' I only hope as you'll catch it yourself, bad."

"Hallelujah!" bawled the other man suddenly. "He'll catch it."

"Hold that noise, you, Joe!" shouted the skipper sternly. "How dare you make that noise aboard ship?"

"He's excited, sir," said Dick. "It's love for you in 'is 'eart as does it."

"Let him keep his love to hisself," said the skipper churlishly.

"Ah! that's just what we can't do," said Dick in high-pitched tones, which the skipper rightly concluded to be his preaching voice. "We can't do it—an' why can't we do it? Becos we feel good, an' we want you to feel good too. We want to share it with you. Oh, dear friend—"

"That's enough," said the master of the Elizabeth Ann, sharply. "Don't you go 'dear friending' me. Go for'ard! Go for'ard at once!"

With a melancholy shake of his head the old man complied, and the startled skipper turned to the mate, who was at the wheel, and expressed his firm intention of at once stopping such behaviour on his ship.

"You can't do it," said the mate firmly.

"Can't do it?" queried the skipper.

"Not a bit of it," said the other. "They've all got it bad, an' the more you get at 'em the wuss they'll be. Mark my words, best let 'em alone."

"I'll hold my hand a bit and watch 'em," was the reply; "but I've always been cap'n on my own ship, and I always will."

For the next twenty-four hours he retained his sovereignty undisputed, but on Sunday morning, after breakfast, when he was at the wheel, and the crew below, the mate, who had been forward, came aft with a strange grin struggling for development at the corners of his mouth.

"What's the matter?" inquired the skipper, regarding him with some disfavour.

"They're all down below with their red jerseys on," replied the mate, still struggling, "and they're holding a sort o' consultation about the lost lamb, an' the best way o' reaching 'is 'ard 'eart."

"Lost lamb!" repeated the skipper unconcernedly, but carefully avoiding the other's eye.

"You're the lost lamb," said the mate, who always went straight to the point.

"I won't have it," said the skipper excitably. "How dare they go on in this way? Go and send 'em up directly."

The mate, whistling cheerily, complied, and the four men, neatly attired in scarlet, came on deck.

"Now, what's all this nonsense about?" demanded the incensed man. "What do you want?"

"We want your pore sinful soul," said Dick with ecstasy.

"Ay, an' we'll have it," said Joe, with deep conviction.

"So we will," said the other two, closing their eyes and smiling rapturously; "so we will."

The skipper, alarmed, despite himself, at their confidence, turned a startled face to the mate.

"If you could see it now," continued Dick impressively, "you'd be frightened at it. If you could—"

"Get to your own end of the ship," spluttered the indignant skipper. "Get, before I kick you there!"

"Better let Sam have a try," said one of the other men, calmly ignoring the fury of the master; "his efforts have been wonderfully blessed. Come here, Sam."

"There's a time for everything" said Sam cautiously. "Let's go for'ard and do what we can for him among ourselves."

They moved off reluctantly, Dick throwing such affectionate glances at the skipper over his shoulders that he nearly choked with rage.

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