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Two of a Trade
by [?]

“‘E’s a nero, that’s wot ‘e is, sir,” said the cook, as he emptied a boiler of dirty water overboard.

“A what?” said the skipper.

“A nero,” said the cook, speaking very slowly and distinctly. “A nero in real life, a chap wot, speaking for all for’ard, we’re proud to have aboard along with us.”

“I didn’t know he was much of a swimmer,” said the skipper, glancing curiously at a clumsily-built man of middle age, who sat on the hatch glancing despondently at the side.

“No more ‘e ain’t,” said the cook, “an’ that’s what makes ‘im more ‘eroish still in my own opinion.”

“Did he take his clothes off?” inquired the mate.

“Not a bit of it,” said the delighted cook; “not a pair of trowsis, nor even ‘is ‘at, which was sunk.”

“You’re a liar, cook,” said the hero, looking up for a moment.

“You didn’t take your trowsis off, George?” said the cook anxiously.

“I chucked my ‘at on the pavement,” growled George, without looking up.

“Well, anyway, you went over the Embankment after that pore girl like a Briton, didn’t you?” said the other.

There was no reply.

“Didn’t you?” said the cook appealingly.

“Did you expect me to go over like a Dutchman, or wot?” demanded George fiercely.

“That’s ‘is modesty,” said the cook, turning to the others with the air of a showman. “‘E can’t bear us to talk about it Nearly drownded ‘e was. All but, and a barge came along and shoved a boat-hook right through the seat of his trowsis an’ saved ‘im. Stand up an’ show ’em your trowsis, George.”

“If I do stand up,” said George, in a voice broken with rage, “it’ll be a bad day for you, my lad.”

Ain’t he modest?” said the cook. “Don’t it do you good to ‘ear ‘im? He was just like that when they got him ashore and the crowd started patting him.”

“Didn’t like it?” queried the mate.

“Well, they overdid it a little, p’raps,” admitted the cook; “one old chap wot couldn’t get near patted ‘is ‘ead with ‘is stick, but it was all meant in the way of kindness.”

“I’m proud of you, George,” said the skipper heartily.

“We all are,” said the mate.

George grunted.

“I’ll write for the medal for him,” said the skipper. “Were there any witnesses, cook?”

“Heaps of ’em,” said the other, “but I gave ’em ‘is name and address. ‘Schooner John Henry, of Limehouse, is ‘is home,’ I ses, ‘and George Cooper ‘is name.'”

“You talked a damned sight too much,” said the hero, “you lean, lop-sided son of a tinker.”

“There’s ‘is modesty ag’in,” said the cook, with a knowing smile. “‘E’s busting with modesty, is George. You should ha’ seen ‘im when a chap took ‘is fortygraph.”

“Took his what?” said the skipper, becoming interested.

“His fortygraph,” said the cook. “‘E was a young chap what was taking views for a noose-paper. ‘E took George drippin’ wet just as ‘e come out of the water, ‘e took him arter ‘e ‘ad ‘is face wiped, an’ ‘e took ‘im when ‘e was sitting up swearing at a man wot asked ‘im whether ‘e was very wet.”

“An’ you told ‘im where I lived, and what I was,” said George, turning on him and shaking his fist. “You did.”

“I did,” said the cook simply. “You’ll live to thank me for it, George.”

The other gave a dreadful howl, and rising from the deck walked forward and went below, giving a brother seaman who patted his shoulder as he passed a blow in the ribs, which nearly broke them. Those on deck exchanged glances.

“Well, I don’t know,” said the mate, shrugging his shoulders; “seems to me if I’d saved a fellow-critter’s life I shouldn’t mind hearing about it.”

“That’s what you think,” said the skipper, drawing himself up a little. “If ever you do do anything of the kind perhaps you’ll feel different about it.”

“Well, I don’t see how you should know any more than me,” said the other.