He was a big, cadaverous young fellow, who looked too closely after his own interests to be much of a favourite with the other men forward. On the score of thrift, it was soon discovered that he and Mr. Lister had much in common, and the latter, pleased to find a congenial spirit, was disposed to make the most of him, and spent, despite the heat, much of his spare time in the galley.
“You keep to it,” said the greybeard impressively; “money was made to be took care of; if you don’t spend your money you’ve always got it. I’ve always been a saving man—what’s the result?”
The cook, waiting some time in patience to be told, gently inquired what it was.
“’Ere am I,” said Mr. Lister, good-naturedly helping him to cut a cabbage, “at the age of sixty-two with a bank-book down below in my chest, with one hundered an’ ninety pounds odd in it.”
“One ’undered and ninety pounds!” repeated the cook, with awe.
“To say nothing of other things,” continued Mr. Lister, with joyful appreciation of the effect he was producing. “Altogether I’ve got a little over four ’undered pounds.”
The cook gasped, and with gentle firmness took the cabbage from him as being unfit work for a man of such wealth.
“It’s very nice,” he said, slowly. “It’s very nice. You’ll be able to live on it in your old age.”
Mr. Lister shook his head mournfully, and his eyes became humid.
“There’s no old age for me,” he said, sadly; “but you needn’t tell them,” and he jerked his thumb towards the forecastle.
“No, no,” said the cook.
“I’ve never been one to talk over my affairs,” said Mr. Lister, in a low voice. “I’ve never yet took fancy enough to anybody so to do. No, my lad, I’m saving up for somebody else.”
“What are you going to live on when you’re past work then?” demanded the other.
Mr. Lister took him gently by the sleeve, and his voice sank with the solemnity of his subject: “I’m not going to have no old age,” he said, resignedly.
“Not going to live!” repeated the cook, gazing uneasily at a knife by his side. “How do you know?”
“I went to a orsepittle in London,” said Mr. Lister. “I’ve been to two or three altogether, while the money I’ve spent on doctors is more than I like to think of, and they’re all surprised to think that I’ve lived so long. I’m so chock-full o’ complaints, that they tell me I can’t live more than two years, and I might go off at any moment.”
“Well, you’ve got money,” said the cook, “why don’t you knock off work now and spend the evenin’ of your life ashore? Why should you save up for your relatives?”
“I’ve got no relatives,” said Mr. Lister; “I’m all alone. I ’spose I shall leave my money to some nice young feller, and I hope it’ll do ’im good.”
With the dazzling thoughts which flashed through the cook’s brain the cabbage dropped violently into the saucepan, and a shower of cooling drops fell on both men.