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A Love Passage
by [?]

“She’ll marry the clerk,” said the mate, with conviction.

“I’ll bet you she don’t,” said the skipper. “I’m an artful man, Jack, an’ I, generally speaking, get my own way. I couldn’t live with my missus peaceable if it wasn’t for management.”

The mate smiled safely in the darkness, the skipper’s management consisting chiefly of slavish obedience.

“I’ve got a cabinet fortygraph of him for the cabin mantel-piece, Jack,” continued the wily father. “He gave it to me o’ purpose. She’ll see that when she won’t see the clerk, an’ by-and-bye she’ll fall into our way of thinking. Anyway, she’s going to stay here till she does.”

“You know your way about, cap’n,” said the mate, in pretended admiration.

The skipper laid his finger on his nose, and winked at the mainmast. “There’s few can show me the way, Jack,” he answered softly; “very few. Now I want you to help me too; I want you to talk to her a great deal.”

“Ay, ay,” said the mate, winking at the mast in his turn.

“Admire the fortygraph on the mantel-piece,” said the skipper.

“I will,” said the other.

“Tell her about a lot o’ young girls you know as married young middle- aged men, an’ loved ’em more an” more every day of their lives,” continued the skipper.

“Not another word,” said the mate. “I know just what you want. She shan’t marry the clerk if I can help it.”

The other turned and gripped him warmly by the hand. “If ever you are a father your elf, Jack,” he said with emotion, “I hope as how somebody’ll stand by you as you’re standing by me.”

The mate was relieved the next day when he saw the portrait of Towson. He stroked his moustache, and felt that he gained in good looks every time he glanced at it.

Breakfast finished, the skipper, who had been on deck all night, retired to his bunk. The mate went on deck and took charge, watching with great interest the movements of the passenger as she peered into the galley and hotly assailed the cook’s method of washing up.

“Don’t you like the sea?” he inquired politely, as she came and sat on the cabin skylight.

Miss Alsen shook her head dismally. “I’ve got to it,” she remarked.

“Your father was saying something to me about it,” said the mate guardedly.

“Did he tell the cook and the cabin boy too?” inquired Miss Alsen, flushing somewhat. “What did he tell you?”

“Told me about a man named Towson,” said the mate, becoming intent on the sails, “and–another fellow.”

“I took a little notice of HIM just to spoil the other,” said the girl, “not that I cared for him. I can’t understand a girl caring for any man. Great, clumsy, ugly things.”

“You don’t like him then?” said the mate.

“Of course not,” said the girl, tossing her head.

“And yet they ‘ve sent you to sea to get out of his way,” said the mate meditatively. “Well, the best thing you can do”–His hardihood failed him at the pitch.

“Go on,” said the girl.

“Well, it’s this way,” said the mate, coughing; “they’ve sent you to sea to get you out of this fellow’s way, so if you fall in love with somebody on the ship they’ll send you home again.”

“So they will,” said the girl eagerly. “I’ll pretend to fall in love with that nice-looking sailor you call Harry. What a lark!”

“I shouldn’t do that,” said the mate gravely.

“Why not?” said the girl.

“‘Tisn’t discipline,” said the mate very firmly; “it wouldn’t do at all. He’s before the mast.”

“Oh, I see,” remarked Miss Alsen, smiling scornfully.

“I only mean pretend, of course,” said the mate, colouring. “Just to oblige you.”

“Of course,” said the girl calmly. “Well, how are we to be in love?”

The mate flushed darkly. “I don’t know much about such things,” he said at length; “but we’ll have to look at each other, and all that sort of thing, you know.”

“I don’t mind that,” said the girl.