Sailor man—said the night-watchman, musingly—a sailorman is like a fish he is safest when ’e is at sea. When a fish comes ashore it is in for trouble, and so is sailorman. One poor chap I knew ’ardly ever came ashore without getting married; and he was found out there was no less than six wimmen in the court all taking away ’is character at once. And when he spoke up Solomon the magistrate pretty near bit ’is ’ead off.
Then look at the trouble they get in with their money! They come ashore from a long trip, smelling of it a’most, and they go from port to port like a lord. Everybody has got their eye on that money—everybody except the sailorman, that is—and afore he knows wot’s ’appened, and who ’as got it, he’s looking for a ship agin. When he ain’t robbed of ’is money, he wastes it; and when ’e don’t do either, he loses it.
I knew one chap who hid ’is money. He’d been away ten months, and, knowing ’ow easy money goes, ’e made up sixteen pounds in a nice little parcel and hid it where nobody could find it. That’s wot he said, and p’r’aps ’e was right. All I know is, he never found it. I did the same thing myself once with a couple o’ quid I ran acrost unexpected, on’y, unfortunately for me, I hid it the day afore my missus started ’er spring-cleaning.
One o’ the worst men I ever knew for getting into trouble when he came ashore was old Sam Small. If he couldn’t find it by ’imself, Ginger Dick and Peter Russet would help ’im look for it. Generally speaking they found it without straining their eyesight.
I remember one time they was home, arter being away pretty near a year, and when they was paid off they felt like walking gold-mines. They went about smiling all over with good-temper and ’appiness, and for the first three days they was like brothers. That didn’t last, of course, and on the fourth day Sam Small, arter saying wot ’e would do to Ginger and Peter if it wasn’t for the police, went off by ’imself.
His temper passed off arter a time, and ’e began to look cheerful agin. It was a lovely morning, and, having nothing to do and plenty in ’is pocket to do it with, he went along like a schoolboy with a ’arf holiday. He went as far as Stratford on the top of a tram for a mouthful o’ fresh air, and came back to his favourite coffee-shop with a fine appetite for dinner. There was a very nice gentlemanly chap sitting opposite ’im, and the way he begged Sam’s pardon for splashing gravy over ’im made Sam take a liking to him at once. Nicely dressed he was, with a gold pin in ’is tie, and a fine gold watch-chain acrost his weskit; and Sam could see he ’ad been brought up well by the way he used ’is knife and fork. He kept looking at Sam in a thoughtful kind o’ way, and at last he said wot a beautiful morning it was, and wot a fine day it must be in the, country. In a little while they began to talk like a couple of old friends, and he told Sam all about ’is father, wot was a clergyman in the country, and Sam talked about a father of his as was living private on three ’undred a year.