XX Category: W W Jacobs

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A Black Affair

“I didn’t want to bring it,” said Captain Gubson, regarding somewhat unfavourably a grey parrot whose cage was hanging against the mainmast, “but my old uncle was so set on it I had to. He said a sea-voyage would set its ‘elth up.”

“It seems to be all right at present,” said the mate, who was tenderly sucking his forefinger; “best of spirits, I should say.”

“It’s playful,” assented the skipper. “The old man thinks a rare lot of it. I think I shall have a little bit in that quarter, so keep your eye on the beggar.”

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Low Water

It was a calm, clear evening in late summer as the Elizabeth Ann, of Pembray, scorning the expensive aid of a tug, threaded her way down the London river under canvas. The crew were busy forward, and the master and part-owner–a fussy little man, deeply imbued with a sense of his own importance and cleverness–was at the wheel chatting with the mate. While waiting for a portion of his cargo,

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Made To Measure

Mr. Mott brought his niece home from the station with considerable pride. Although he had received a photograph to assist identification, he had been very dubious about accosting the pretty, well-dressed girl who had stepped from the train and gazed around with dove-like eyes in search of him. Now he was comfortably conscious of the admiring gaze of his younger fellow-townsmen.

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Angels’ Visits

Mr. William Jobling leaned against his door-post, smoking. The evening air, pleasant in its coolness after the heat of the day, caressed his shirt-sleeved arms. Children played noisily in the long, dreary street, and an organ sounded faintly in the distance.

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Dealing with a man, said the night-watchman, thoughtfully, is as easy as a teetotaller walking along a nice wide pavement; dealing with a woman is like the same teetotaller, arter four or five whiskies, trying to get up a step that ain’t there. If a man can’t get ‘is own way he eases ‘is mind with a little nasty language, and then forgets all about it;

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Bill’s Lapse

Strength and good-nature–said the night-watchman, musingly, as he felt his biceps–strength and good-nature always go together. Sometimes you find a strong man who is not good-natured, but then, as everybody he comes in contack with is, it comes to the same thing.

The strongest and kindest-‘earted man I ever come across was a man o’ the name of Bill Burton, a ship-mate of Ginger Dick’s.

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Bob’s Redemption

“GRATITOODE!” said the night-watchman, with a hard laugh. “_Hmf!_ Don’t talk to me about gratitoode; I’ve seen too much of it. If people wot I’ve helped in my time ‘ad only done arf their dooty–arf, mind you–I should be riding in my carriage.”

Forgetful of the limitations of soap-boxes he attempted to illustrate his remark by lolling, and nearly went over backwards.

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Homeward Bound

Mr. Hatchard’s conversation for nearly a week had been confined to fault- finding and grunts, a system of treatment designed to wean Mrs. Hatchard from her besetting sin of extravagance. On other occasions the treatment had, for short periods, proved successful, but it was quite evident that his wife’s constitution was becoming inured to this physic and required a change of treatment.

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“Sailormen ain’t wot you might call dandyfied as a rule,” said the night- watchman, who had just had a passage of arms with a lighterman and been advised to let somebody else wash him and make a good job of it; “they’ve got too much sense. They leave dressing up and making eyesores of theirselves to men wot ‘ave never smelt salt water; men wot drift up and down the river in lighters and get in everybody’s way.”

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His Other Self

“They’re as like as two peas, him and ‘is brother,” said the night- watchman, gazing blandly at the indignant face of the lighterman on the barge below; “and the on’y way I know this one is Sam is because Bill don’t use bad langwidge. Twins they are, but the likeness is only outside; Bill’s ‘art is as white as snow.”

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The Bequest

R. Robert Clarkson sat by his fire, smoking thoughtfully. His lifelong neighbour and successful rival in love had passed away a few days before, and Mr. Clarkson, fresh from the obsequies, sat musing on the fragility of man and the inconvenience that sometimes attended his departure.

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False Colours

“Of course, there is a deal of bullying done at sea at times,” said the night-watchman, thoughtfully. ‘The men call it bullying an’ the officers call it discipline, but it’s the same thing under another name.

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