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A Love Passage
by [?]

“Then we’ll get on by degrees,” said the other. “I expect we shall both find it come easier after a time.”

“Anything to get home again,” said the girl, rising and walking slowly away.

The mate began his part of the love-making at once, and, fixing a gaze of concentrated love on the object of his regard, nearly ran down a smack. As he had prognosticated, it came easy to him, and other well- marked symptoms, such as loss of appetite and a partiality for bright colours, developed during the day. Between breakfast and tea he washed five times, and raised the ire of the skipper to a dangerous pitch by using the ship’s butter to remove tar from his fingers.

By ten o’clock that night he was far advanced in a profound melancholy. All the looking had been on his side, and, as he stood at the wheel keeping the schooner to her course, he felt a fellow-feeling for the hapless Towson, His meditations were interrupted by a slight figure which emerged from the companion, and, after a moment’s hesitation, came and took its old seat on the skylight.

“Calm and peaceful up here, isn’t it?” said he, after waiting some time for her to speak. “Stars are very bright to-night.”

“Don’t talk to me,” said Miss Alsen snappishly.

“Why doesn’t this nasty little ship keep still? I believe it’s you making her jump about like this.”

“Me?” said the mate in amazement.

“Yes, with that wheel.”

“I can assure you “–began the mate.

“Yes, I knew you’d say so,” said the girl.

“Come and steer yourself,” said the mate; “then you’ll see.”

Much to his surprise she came, and, leaning limply against the wheel, put her little hands on the spokes, while the mate explained the mysteries of the compass. As he warmed with his subject he ventured to put his hands on the same spokes, and, gradually becoming more venturesome, boldly supported her with his arm every time the schooner gave a lurch.

“Thank you,” said Miss Alsen, coldly extricating herself, as the male fancied another lurch was coming. “Good-night.”

She retired to the cabin as a dark figure, which was manfully knuckling the last remnant of sleep from its eyelids, stood before the mate, chuckling softly.

“Clear night,” said the seaman, as he took the wheel in his great paws.

“Beastly,” said the mate absently, and, stifling a sigh, went below and turned in.

He lay awake for a few minutes, and then, well satisfied with the day’s proceedings, turned over and fell asleep. He was pleased to discover, when he awoke, that the slight roll of the night before had disappeared, and that there was hardly any motion on the schooner. The passenger herself was already at the breakfast-table.

“Cap’n’s on deck, I s’pose?” said the mate, preparing to resume negotiations where they were broken off the night before. “I hope you feel better than you did last night.”

“Yes, thank you,” said she.

“You’ll make a good sailor in time,” said the mate.

“I hope not,” said Miss Alsen, who thought it time to quell a gleam of peculiar tenderness plainly apparent in the mate’s eyes. “I shouldn’t like to be a sailor even if I were a man.”

“Why not?” inquired the other.

“I don’t know,” said the girl meditatively; “but sailors are generally such scrubby little men, aren’t they?”

“SCUBBY?” repeated the mate, in a dazed voice.

“I’d sooner be a soldier,” she continued; “I like soldiers–they’re so manly. I wish there was one here now.”

“What for?” inquired the mate, in the manner of a sulky schoolboy.

“If there was a man like that here now,” said Miss Alsen thoughtfully, “I’d dare him to mustard old Towson’s nose.”

“Do what?” inquired the astonished mate.

“Mustard old Towson’s nose,” said Miss Alsen, glancing lightly from the cruet-stand to the portrait.

The infatuated man hesitated a moment, and then, reaching over to the cruet, took out the spoon, and with a pale, determined face, indignantly daubed the classic features of the provision dealer. His indignation was not lessened by the behaviour of the temptress, who, instead of fawning upon him for his bravery, crammed her handkerchief to her mouth and giggled foolishly.