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A Rash Experiment
by [?]

The hands on the wharf had been working all Saturday night and well into the Sunday morning to finish the Foam, and now, at ten o’clock, with hatches down and freshly-scrubbed decks, the skipper and mate stood watching the tide as it rose slowly over the smooth Thames mud.

“What time’s she coming?” inquired the skipper, turning a lazy eye up at the wharf.

“About ha’-past ten she said,” replied the mate. “It’s very good o’ you to turn out and let her have your state-room.”

“Don’t say another word about that,” said the skipper impressively. “I’ve met your wife once or twice, George, an’ I must say that a nicer spoken woman, an’ a more well-be’aved one, I’ve seldom seen.”

“Same to you,” said the mate; “your wife I mean.”

“Any man,” continued the skipper, “as would lay in a comfortable state-room, George, and leave a lady a-trying to turn and to dress and ondress herself in a poky little locker, ought to be ashamed of himself.”

“You see, it’s the luggage they bring,” said the mate, slowly refilling his pipe. “What they want with it all I can’t think. As soon as my old woman makes up her mind to come for a trip, tomorrow being Bank Holiday, an’ she being in the mind for a outing, what does she do?’ Goes down Commercial Road and buys a bonnet far beyond her station.”

“They’re all like it,” said the skipper; “mine’s just as bad. What does that boy want?”

The boy approached the edge of the jetty, and, peering down at them, answered for himself.

“Who’s Captain Bunnett?” he demanded shrilly.

“That’s me, my lad,” said the skipper, looking up.

“I’ve got a letter for yer,” said the boy, holding it out.

The skipper held out his hands and caught it; and, after reading the contents, felt his beard and looked at the mate.

“It never rains but it pours,” he said figuratively.

“What’s up?” inquired the other.

“‘Ere’s my old woman coming now,” said the skipper. “Sent a note to say she’s getting ready as fast as she can, an’ I’m not to sail on any account till she comes.”

“That’s awkward,” said the mate, who felt that he was expected to say something.

“It never struck me to tell her your wife was coming,” said the skipper. “Where we’re to put ’em both I don’t know. I s’pose it’s quite certain your wife’ll come?”

“Certain,” said the mate.

“No chance of ‘er changing ‘er mind?” suggested the skipper, looking away from him.

“Not now she’s got that bonnet,” replied the mate. “I s’pose there’s no chance of your wife changing hers?”

The skipper shook his head. “There’s one thing,” he said hopefully, “they’ll be nice company for each other. They’ll have to ‘ave the state-room between ’em. It’s a good job my wife ain’t as big as yours.”

“We’ll be able to play four ‘anded wist sometimes,” said the mate, as he followed the skipper below to see what further room could be made.

“Crowded, but jolly,” said the other.

The two cabs drove up almost at the same moment while they were below, and Mrs. Bunnett’s cabman had no sooner staggered on to the jetty with her luggage than Mrs. Fillson’s arrived with hers.

The two ladies, who were entire strangers, stood regarding each other curiously as they looked down at the bare deck of the Foam.

George!” cried Mrs. Fillson, who was a fine woman, raising her voice almost to a scream in the effort to make herself heard above the winch of a neighbouring steamer.

It was unfortunate perhaps that both officers of the schooner bore the same highly-respectable Christian name.

George!” cried Mrs. Bunnett, glancing indignantly at the other lady.

Ge-orge!” cried Mrs. Fillson, returning her looks with interest.

“Hussy,” said Mrs. Bunnett under her breath, but not very much under.


There was no response.

George!” cried both ladies together.

Still no response, and they made a louder effort

There was yet another George on board, in the forecastle, and, in response to pushes from curious friends below, he came up, and regarded the fair duettists open-mouthed.