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by [?]

“I never thought well of this cure from the first,” declared Sam. “For my part, I’m sick and tired of the whole business!” And with that he bounced up from the thwart and hailed a passing shark and walked down its throat in a huff, leaving Joby all alone on the wide sea.

“There’s nice brotherly behaviour for you!” said Joby to himself. “Lucky he left his walking-stick behind. The best thing I can do is to steer along close to the Equator, and then I know where I am.”

So he steered along close to the Line, and by and by he saw something shining in the distance. When he came nearer, ’twas a great gilt fowl stuck there with its beak to the Line and its wings sprawled out. And when he came close, ’twas no other than the cock belonging to the tower of his own parish church of Wendron!

“Well!” said Joby, “one has to travel to find out how small the world is. And what might you be doin’ here, naybour?”

“Is that you, Joby Teague? Then I’ll thank you to do me a good turn. I came here in a witch-ship last night, and the crew put this spell upon me because I wouldn’t pay my footing to cross the Line. A nice lot, to try and steal the gilt off a church weather-cock! ‘Tis ridiculous,” said he, “but I can’t get loose for the life o’ me!”

“Why, that’s as easy as ABC,” said Joby. “You’ll find it in any book of parlour amusements. You take a fowl, put its beak to the floor, and draw a chalk line away from it, right and left–“

Joby wetted his thumb, smudged out a bit of the Equator on each side of the cock’s nose, and the bird stood up and shook himself.

“And now is there anything I can do for you, Joby Teague?”

“To be sure there is. I’m getting completely tired of this boat: and if you can give me a lift, I’ll take it as a favour.”

“No favour at all. Where shall we go visit?–the Antipodes?”

“No, thank you,” said Toby. “I’ve heard tell they get up an’ do their business when we honest folks be in our beds: and that kind o’ person I never could trust. Squint or no squint, Wendron’s Wendron, and that’s where I’m comfortable.”

“Well, it’s no use loitering here, or we may get into trouble for what we’ve done to the Equator. Climb on my back,” said the bird, “and home we go!”

It seemed no more than a flap of the wings, and Joby found himself on his friend’s back on one of the pinnacles of Wendron Church and looking down on his own farm.

“Thankin’ you kindly, soce, and now I think I’ll be goin’,” said he.

“Not till I’ve cured your eyesight, Joby,” said the polite bird.

Joby by this time was wishing his eyesight to botheration; but before he could say a word, a breeze came about the pinnacles, and he was spinning around on the cock’s back–spinning around widdershins– clutching the bird’s neck and holding his breath.

“And now,” the cock said, as they came to a standstill again, “I think you can see a hole in a ladder as well as any man.”

Just then the bells in the tower below them began to ring merrily.

Said Joby, “What’s that for, I wonder?”

“It looks to me,” said the cock, “as if your wife was gettin’ married again.”

Sure enough, while the bells rang, Joby saw the door of his own house open, and his own wife come stepping towards the church, leaning on a man’s arm. And who should that man be but Tommy Warne?

“And to think I’ve lived fifteen years with that woman, and never lifted my hand to her!”

Said the bird, “The wedding is fixed for eleven o’clock, and ’tis on the stroke now. If I was you, Joby, I’d climb down and put back the church clock.”

“And so I would, if I knew how to get to it.”

“You’ve but to slide down my leg to the parapet: and from the parapet you can jump right on to the string-course under the clock.”

Joby slid down the bird’s leg, and jumped on to the ledge. He had never before noticed a clock in Wendron Church tower; but there one was, staring him in the face.

“Now,” cried his friend, “catch hold of the minute-hand and turn!” Joby did so–“Widdershins!” screamed the bird: “faster! faster!” Joby whizzed back the minute-hand with all his might.

“Aie, ul–ul–oo! Lemme go! ‘Tis my arm you’re pullin’ off!” ‘Twas his own wife’s voice in his own four-poster. Joby had slid down the bed-post and caught hold of her arm, and was workin’ it round like mad from right to left.

“I ax your pardon, my dear. I was thinkin’ you was another man’s bride.”

“Indeed, I must say you wasn’t behavin’ like it,” said she.

But when she got up and lit a candle, she was pleased enough. For Joby’s eyes were as straight as yours or mine. And straight they have been ever since.