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The Boatswain’s Watch
by [?]

“So you’re going to run off to London to get married, are you, miss?” he said ferociously. “Well, we’ll see. You don’t go out of my sight until we sail, and if I catch that pettifogging lawyer round at my gate again, I’ll break every bone in his body, mind that.”

For the next three days the captain kept his daughter under observation, and never allowed her to stir abroad except in his company. The evening of the third day, to his own great surprise, he spent at a Dorcas. The company was not congenial, several of the ladies putting their work away, and glaring frigidly at the intruder; and though they could see clearly that he was suffering greatly, made no attempt to put him at his ease. He was very thoughtful all the way home, and the next day took a partner into the concern, in the shape of his boatswain.

“You understand, Tucker,” he concluded, as the hapless seaman stood in a cringing attitude before Chrissie, “that you never let my daughter out of your sight. When she goes out you go with her.”

“Yessir,” said Tucker; “and suppose she tells me to go home, what am I to do then?”

“You’re a fool,” said the captain sharply. “It doesn’t matter what she says or does; unless you are in the same room, you are never to be more than three yards from her.”

“Make it four, cap’n,” said the boatswain, in a broken voice.

“Three,” said the captain; “and mind, she’s artful. All girls are, and she’ll try and give you the slip. I’ve had information given me as to what’s going on. Whatever happens, you are not to leave her.”

“I wish you’d get somebody else, sir,” said Tucker, very respectfully. “There’s a lot of chaps aboard that’d like the job.”

“You’re the only man I can trust,” said the captain shortly. “When I give you orders I know they’ll be obeyed; it’s your watch now.”

He went out humming. Chrissie took up a book and sat down, utterly ignoring the woebegone figure which stood the regulation three yards from her, twisting its cap in its hands.

“I hope, miss,” said the boatswain, after standing patiently for three- quarters of an hour, “as ‘ow you won’t think I sought arter this ‘ere little job.”

“No,” said Chrissie, without looking up.

“I’m just obeying orders,” continued the boatswain. “I always git let in for these ‘ere little jobs, somehow. The monkeys I’ve had to look arter aboard ship would frighten you. There never was a monkey on the Monarch but what I was in charge of. That’s what a man gets through being trustworthy.”

“Just so,” said Chrissie, putting down her book. “Well, I’m going into the kitchen now; come along, nursie.”

“‘Ere, I say, miss!” remonstrated Tucker, flushing.

“I don’t know how Susan will like you going in her kitchen,” said Chrissie thoughtfully; “however, that’s your business.”

The unfortunate seaman followed his fair charge into the kitchen, and, leaning against the door-post, doubled up like a limp rag before the terrible glance of its mistress.

“Ho!” said Susan, who took the state of affairs as an insult to the sex in general; “and what might you be wanting?”

“Cap’n’s orders,” murmured Tucker feebly.

“I’m captain here,” said Susan, confronting him with her bare arms akimbo.

“And credit it does you,” said the boatswain, looking round admiringly.

“Is it your wish, Miss Chrissie, that this image comes and stalks into my kitchen as if the place belongs to him?” demanded the irate Susan.

“I didn’t mean to come in in that way,” said the astonished Tucker. “I can’t help being big.”

“I don’t want him here,” said her mistress; “what do you think I want him for?”

“You hear that?” said Susan, pointing to the door; “now go. I don’t want people to say that you come into this kitchen after me.”

“I’m here by the cap’n’s orders,” said Tucker faintly. “I don’t want to be here–far from it. As for people saying that I come here after you, them as knows me would laugh at the idea.”