**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

by [?]

The schooner Falcon was ready for sea. The last bale of general cargo had just been shipped, and a few hairy, unkempt seamen were busy putting on the hatches under the able profanity of the mate.

“All clear?” inquired the master, a short, ruddy-faced man of about thirty-five. “Cast off there!”

“Ain’t you going to wait for the passengers, then?” inquired the mate.

“No, no,” replied the skipper, whose features were working with excitement. “They won’t come now, I’m sure they won’t. We’ll lose the tide if we don’t look sharp.”

He turned aside to give an order just as a buxom young woman, accompanied by a loutish boy, a band-box, and several other bundles, came hurrying on to the jetty.

“Well, here we are, Cap’n Evans,” said the girl, springing lightly on to the deck. “I thought we should never get here; the cabman didn’t seem to know the way; but I knew you wouldn’t go without us,”

“Here you are,” said the skipper, with attempted cheerfulness, as he gave the girl his right hand, while his left strayed vaguely in the direction of the boy’s ear, which was coldly withheld from him. “Go down below, and the mate’ll show you your cabin. Bill, this is Miss Cooper, a lady friend o’ mine, and her brother.”

The mate, acknowledging the introduction, led the way to the cabin, where they remained so long that by the time they came on deck again the schooner was off Limehouse, slipping along well under a light wind.

“How do you like the state-room?” inquired the skipper, who was at the wheel.

“Pretty fair,” replied Miss Cooper. “It’s a big name for it though, ain’t it? Oh, what a large ship!”

She ran to the side to gaze at a big liner, and as far as Gravesend besieged the skipper and mate with questions concerning the various craft. At the mate’s suggestion they had tea on deck, at which meal William Henry Cooper became a source of much discomfort to his host by his remarkable discoveries anent the fauna of lettuce. Despite his efforts, however, and the cloud under which Evans seemed to be labouring, the meal was voted a big success; and after it was over they sat laughing and chatting until the air got chilly, and the banks of the river were lost in the gathering darkness. At ten o’clock they retired for the night, leaving Evans and the mate on deck.

“Nice gal, that,” said the mate, looking at the skipper, who was leaning moodily on the wheel.

“Ay, ay,” replied he. “Bill,” he continued, turning suddenly towards the mate. “I’m in a deuce of a mess. You’ve got a good square head on your shoulders. Now, what on earth am I to do? Of course you can see how the land lays?”

“Of course,” said the mate, who was not going to lose his reputation by any display of ignorance. “Anyone could see it,” he added.

“The question is what’s to be done?” said the skipper.

“That’s the question,” said the mate guardedly.

“I feel that worried,” said Evans, “that I’ve actually thought of getting into collision, or running the ship ashore. Fancy them two women meeting at Llandalock.”

Such a sudden light broke in upon the square head of the mate, that he nearly whistled with the brightness of it.

“But you ain’t engaged to this one?” he cried.

“We’re to be married in August,” said the skipper desperately. “That’s my ring on her finger.”

“But you’re going to marry Mary Jones in September,” expostulated the mate. “You can’t marry both of ’em.”

“That’s what I say,” replied Evans; “that’s what I keep telling myself, but it don’t seem to bring much comfort. I’m too soft-‘earted where wimmen is concerned, Bill, an’ that’s the truth of it. D’reckly I get alongside of a nice gal my arm goes creeping round her before I know what it’s doing.”

“What on earth made you bring the girl on the ship?” inquired the mate. “The other one’s sure to be on the quay to meet you as usual.”