“Look here!” ses George, ’ardly able to speak; “do you mean to tell me he never meant to come?”
“I’m afraid not,” ses Mrs. Mitchell, “knowing wot he is. But don’t you worry; I’ll give him a bit o’ my mind when I see ’im.”
George Crofts felt as though he’d burst, and then ’e got his breath, and the things ’e said about Uncle Joe was so awful that Mrs. Mitchell told the boys to go away.
“How dare you talk of my uncle like that?” ses Gerty, firing up.
“You forget yourself, George,” ses Mrs. Mitchell. “You’ll like ’im when you get to know ’im better.”
“Don’t you call me George,” ses George Crofts, turning on ’er. “I’ve been done, that’s wot I’ve been. I ’ad fourteen pounds when I was paid off, and it’s melting like butter.”
“Well, we’ve enjoyed ourselves,” ses Gerty, “and that’s what money was given us for. I’m sure those two boys ’ave had a splendid time, thanks to you. Don’t go and spoil all by a little bit o’ temper.”
“Temper!” ses George, turning on her. “I’ve done with you, I wouldn’t marry you if you was the on’y gal in the world. I wouldn’t marry you if you paid me.”
“Oh, indeed!” ses Gerty; “but if you think you can get out of it like that you’re mistaken. I’ve lost my young man through you, and I’m not going to lose you too. I’ll send my two big cousins round to see you to-morrow.”
“They won’t put up with no nonsense, I can tell you,” ses Mrs. Mitchell.
She called the boys to her, and then she and Gerty, arter holding their ’eads very high and staring at George, went off and left ’im alone. He went straight off ’ome, counting ’is money all the way and trying to make it more, and, arter telling Bob ’ow he’d been treated, and trying hard to get ’im to go shares in his losses, packed up his things and cleared out, all boiling over with temper.
Bob was so dazed he couldn’t make head or tail out of it, but ’e went round to see Gerty the first thing next morning, and she explained things to him.
“I don’t know when I’ve enjoyed myself so much,” she ses, wiping her eyes, “but I’ve had enough gadding about for once, and if you come round this evening we’ll have a nice quiet time together looking at the furniture shops.”
[Illustration: “Over the Side.”]
Of all classes of men, those who follow the sea are probably the most prone to superstition. Afloat upon the black waste of waters, at the mercy of wind and sea, with vast depths and strange creatures below them, a belief in the supernatural is easier than ashore, under the cheerful gas-lamps. Strange stories of the sea are plentiful, and an incident which happened within my own experience has made me somewhat chary of dubbing a man fool or coward because he has encountered something he cannot explain. There are stories of the supernatural with prosaic sequels; there are others to which the sequel has never been published.