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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, December 22, 1907, Image 30

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1907-12-22/ed-1/seq-30/

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ically funny. A ticket inspector approached him.
"Going on, sir?" he asked.
"Goin on? Of course I am. What in thunder
d'ye think I'm stan'in' here for?" demanded the
Captain.
" But if you stand there, sir, you'll get left," said
the official good humoredly.
" Better get in, John, an' don't argy with the
gentleman," said Mrs. Stump.
Her husband obeyed, grudgingly. The inspector
examined his ticket, and Royson's, and locked the
door.
"Xice thing!" grumbled Stump. "I can't give
you a good-by hug now, Becky."
This was literally true. The Captain's breadth of
beam had never been contemplated bv the designers
of Southeastern railway carriages. Even when the
door was open, he had to enter sidewise, and the
brass rail across the window rendered it a physical
impossibility to thrust head and shoulders outside.
The shrill whistle of a guard was answered by a
colleague.
"Take care of yourself, John!" said Becky.
"No fear! And mind you wait till the bus stops
to-night. The other evening?"
Royson never learned what had befallen Mrs.
Stump on that other evening. At the moment the
train began to move he saw a man peeping into
the carriage as if looking for some one. He believed
it was the private inquiry agent whom he had
shaken off so effectively in Hyde Park. The gloom
of the station, and the fact that the man's face was
in shadow, made him doubtful; but as the train
g'athered speed the watcher on the platform nodded
to him and smiled derisively. Captain Stump had
quick eyes. He turned to Royson.
"Beg pardon, mister; but is that a friend of
yours? ' ne asked.
".No," said Dick.
" Well, he was signalin' somebody, an' it wasn't
me"
Then remarking that the unknown craft looked
like a curiously colored pirate, the Captain squeezed
himself into a seat. When the train ran into and
backed out of Cannon-st., Stump was puzzled. He
opened the carpetbag, and drew forth a ship's com
pass, which he consulted. After a few minutes'
rapid traveling his doubts seemed to subside, and
he replaced the compass. Producing a cake of
tobacco, he cut off several shavings with an ex
ceedingly sharp knife, rolled them between his
broad palms, filled a pipe, lit it, and whetted the
knife on the side of his boot. Dick noticed that all
his actions were wonderfully nimble for a man of
his build. Any stranger who imagined that this
squat Hercules was slow and ponderous in move
ment would be woefully mistaken if he based hos
tilities on that presumption.
Perhaps the Captain missed the companionship
of the stout woman he had parted from at Charing
Cross, or it might be that his gruffness was a matter
of habit, at any rate, after a puff or two, he spoke
to Royson again.
"D'ye know w'at time we're due at Dover?" he
asked.
" Yes, at ten-fifty."
"We don't stop long there?"
" No. The boat sails ten minutes later."
"Good! I don't cotton on to these blessed trains.
Every time they jolt I fancy we're on the rocks.
Give me a ship, an' the steady beat of the screw,
says I; then I know where I am."
"I quite agree with you, Captain; but you must
put up with k fair spell of railway bumping before
you reach Marseilles."
Stump gave him a questioning look. Royson did
not resemble the type of land shark with which he
was familiar. Yet his eyes gleamed like those of a
perplexed bull.
"I s'pose you heard my missus an' me talking of
Marseil fes," ne growled; "but how do you know I'm
a Captain."
" It is written on your bag."
"Well, my missus wrote that?"
"Moreover," went on Dick, determined to break
the ice, " I'm your second mate."
"W'at?" roared Stump, leaning forward and
placing a hand on each knee, while his fiery glance
took in every detail of Royson's appearance. "You
?my?second?mate?"
The words formed a crescendo of contemptuous
analysis. But Dick faced the storm boldly.
"Yes," he said. "I don't see any harm in stat
ing the fact, now that I know who you are."
"Harm! Who said anything about harm? W'at
sort of sailor d'ye call yerself? Who ever heard of
a sailor in knickers?"
Then it dawned on Royson that the Captain's
wrath was comprehensible. There is in every male
Briton who goes abroad an ingrained instinct that
leads him to don a costume usually associated with
a Highland moor. Why this should be no man can
tell, but nine out of ten Englishmen cross the Chan
nel in sporting attire, and Royson was no exception
to the rule. In his case a sheer revolt against the
office suit had induced him to dress in clothes which
recalled one glorious summer on the Westmoreland
hills. Their incongruity did not appeal to him until
Captain Stump forcibly drew attention thereto,
and his hearty laugh at the way in which he was
enlightened did not tend to soothe his skipper's in
dignation.
"Second mate!" bellowed Stump again, calling
the heavens to witness that there never was such
another. "Where's yer ticket? Seein' is believin',
they say. Who did you go to sea with? When did
you pass?"
"I have no certificate, if that is what you mean,
and I have never been to sea," said Royson.
This remark impressed Stump as an exquisite
joke. His rage yielded to a rumble of hoarse laugh
ter. "Lord love a duck!" he guffawed. "If only
I'd ha knowed, I could have told my missus. It
would have cheered her up for a week. Never
mind. We've a few minutes in Dover. I'll send
her a picture postcard. It'll 'arf tickle 'er to death."
Evidently the Captain meant to add certain ex
planatory remarks which would account for that
Gargantuan tickling. Dick, anxious not to offend
his tuture commander, smiled sheepishly, and said:
"Sorry I can't supply you with a photograph."
Stump's gaze rested on his stockings, loose
breeches, Norfolk jacket, and deerstalker cap.
"Damme!" he grinned, "it's better than a pan
tomime. Second mate! Is there any more like you
on the train? P'haps that chap in the next caboose,
in a fur coat an' top hat, is the steward. An' w'at'll
Tagesay?"
"I don't know," said Dick, half inclined to resent
this open scorn. "Who is Tagg, anyhow?"
Stump instantly became silent. He seemed to
remember his sailing orders. He muttered some
thing about "playin' me for a sucker," and shut his
lips obstinately. Not another word did he utter
till they reached Dover. He smoked furiously, gave
Royson many a wrathful glance, but bottled up
the tumultuous thoughts which troubled him. On
board the steamer, however, curiosity conquered
prudence. After surveying Dick's unusual propor
tions from several points of view, he came up and
spoke in what he intended to be a light comedy tone.
"I say, Mr. Second Mate," he said, "I don't see
the Plimsoll mark on the funnel. Do you?"
"No, Captain. I expect it has been washed off.".
"If I was you I'd write to the Board of Trade
about it."
"Best let sleeping dogs lie. Captain."
"Why?"
" Because they might look for yours, and as it
ought to be round your neck they would say you
were unseaworthy."
"So you know what it is, you long swab?"
" Yes. Come and have a drink. That will reach
your load line all right."
Royson had hit on the right method of dealing
with Stump. The skipper promised himself some
fun, and they descended to the saloon. The channel
was in boisterous mood, and Dick staggered once
or twice in transit. Stump missed none of this, and
INEVITABLE
By Cora Lapham Hazard
He hastes with gay heart on his happy, careless way;
A path of pleasantness doth urge his eager feet;
He pictures wonders of the " Palace Beautitul"
Which his delighted vision now full soon shall greet.
When from the shrouding mists, gigantic, grim, and sheer,
Looms forth a cliff?all progress it would seem to bar.
"Ah, this is fate! " sighs he. " Too high did 1 aspire."
And thus is mortal punished who would pluck a star.
He sat down and mourned the " Palace Beautiful,"
While thickly round him sprang the bitter cress and rue
That on the dull, stern bulk of cliff were niches set;
For bravely climbing feet, poor soul! he never knew.
became more jovial. Thus might one of the Here
ford stots he resembled approach a green pasture.
"If you ask the steward he'll bring you some
belayin' tackle," he said.
"I am a trifle crank just now," admitted Roy
son; "but when the wind freshens I'll take in a
reef or two."
Stump looked up at him. "You've put me clean
outof reckonin'. Never been to sea, you say? Wat's
yer name?"
"King, Richard King."
"Damme! I'm comin' to like you. You're a bit
of a charak-ter. By the time the Aphrodite points
her nose home again I'll 'ave you licked into shape."
They were crossing the saloon, and were sufficiently
noteworthy by force of contrast to draw many eyes.
Indeed, if Baron von Kerber had been on board,
he must have been disagreeably impressed by the
fact that in sending the short skipper and the long
second mate of the Aphrodite to Marseilles in com
pany he had supplied an unfailing means of track
ing their movements. Of course, he was not respon
sible for the chance that threw them together; but
the mere presence of two such men on the same ves
sel would be remembered quite easily by those who
make it their business to watch transchannel pas
sengers.
Royson gave no thought to this factor in the
queer conditions then shaping his life. Had Stump
remained taciturn, it might have occurred to him
that they were courting observation; but it needed
the exercise of much resourcefulness to withstand
the stream of questions with which his commander
sought to clear the mystery attached to a second
mate who knew not the sea. Luckily, he emerged
from the flood with credit; nay, the examiner him
self was Obliged at times to assume a knowledge
which he did not possess, for, if Stump knew how
to con a ship from port to port, Royson could give
reasons for Great Circle sailing which left Stump
gasping. At last the stout Captain could no longer
conceal his amazement when Royson had recited
correctly the rules of the road for steamships cross
ing:
If to nay starboard red appear,
It is my duty to keep clear;
Act as judgment says is proper,?
"Port!" or "Starboard!" "Back!" or "Stop her!"
But when upon my port is seen
A steamer's starboard light of green,
For me there's naught to do, but see
That green to port keeps clear of me.
"Come, now!" he growled, "w'at's your game?
D'ye mean to say you've been humbuggin' me all
this time?"
His little eyes glared redly from underneath his
shaggy eyebrows. He was ready to sulk again,
without hope of reconciliation; so Royson perforce
explained.
"?I have no objection to telling you, Captain, how
I came to acquire a good deal of unusual informa
tion about the sea; but I wish to stipulate, once
and for all, that I shall not be questioned further as
to my past life."
"Go ahead! That's fair."
"Well, I have spent many a day, since I was a
boy of ten until I was nearly twenty, sailing a
schooner rigged yacht on Windermere. My com
panion and tutor was a retired commander of the
royal navy, and he amused himself by teaching me
navigation. I learned it better than any of the
orthodox sciences I had to study at school. You
see, that was my hobby, while a wholesome respect
for my skipper led me to work hard. I have not
forgotten what I was taught, though the only
stretch of water I have seen during the last few
years is the Thames from its bridges; and I honestly
believe that if you will put up with my want of ex
perience of the sea for a week or so, I shall be quite
capable of doing any work you may intrust to
me."
"By gad!" said Stump admiringly, "you're a
wonder. Come on deck. I'll give you a tip or two
as we go into Calais."
During the journey across France it was natural
that Royson should take the lead. He spoke the
language fluently, whereas Stump's vocabulary was
limited to a few forcible expressions he had picked
up from brother mariners. There was a breakdown
on the line near Dijon, which delayed them eight
hours, and Stump might have had apoplexy if
Royson had not been at hand to translate the curt
explanations of railway officials. But the two be
came good friends, which was an excellent thing
for Dick, and the latter soon discovered to his
great surprise that Stump had never set eyes on the
Aphrodite.
"No," he said, when some chance remark from
Rovson had elicited this curious fact, "she's a
stranger to me. Me an' Tagg?Tagg is my first
mate, you see?had just left the Chirria when she
was sold to the Germans out of the East Indian
trade, an' we was lookin' about for w'at might turn
up, when the man who chartered the Aphrodite
put us onto this job. Tagg has gone ahead with
most of the crew; but I had to stoj> in London a
few days?to see after things a bit.'
Stump had really remained behind in order to
buy a complete set of charts; but he checked his
confidences at that point, nor did Royson endeavor
to probe further into the recent history of the
yacht.
Instead of traversing Marseilles at night, they
Continued on page 22

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