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The Boatswain's Mate - Captains All, Book 2. by W. W. Jacobs
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By W.W. Jacobs


[Illustration: "The Boatswain's Mate"]

Mr. George Benn, retired boat-swain, sighed noisily, and with a
despondent gesture, turned to the door and stood with the handle in his
hand; Mrs. Waters, sitting behind the tiny bar in a tall Windsor-chair,
eyed him with some heat.

"My feelings'll never change," said the boatswain.

"Nor mine either," said the landlady, sharply. "It's a strange thing,
Mr. Benn, but you always ask me to marry you after the third mug."

"It's only to get my courage up," pleaded the boatswain. "Next time I'll
do it afore I 'ave a drop; that'll prove to you I'm in earnest."

He stepped outside and closed the door before the landlady could make a
selection from the many retorts that crowded to her lips.

After the cool bar, with its smell of damp saw-dust, the road seemed hot
and dusty; but the boatswain, a prey to gloom natural to a man whose hand
has been refused five times in a fortnight, walked on unheeding. His
steps lagged, but his brain was active.