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The Boatswain’s Watch
by [?]

“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.