“‘I’m coming,’ he ses. ’Hi! You down there! When the cap’n comes back tell ‘im that I’m taking Miss Butt to an aunt o’ mine in the country. And tell’im that in a week or two he’ll ’ave the largest and nicest piece of wedding-cake he ’as ever ‘ad in his life. So long!’
“‘Good-bye, watchman,’ ses the gal.
“They moved off without another word—from them, I mean. I heard the wicket slam and then I ’eard a cab drive off over the stones. I couldn’t believe it at first. I couldn’t believe a gal with such beautiful blue eyes could be so hard-’earted, and for a long time I stood listening and hoping to ’ear the cab come back. Then I stepped up to the companion and tried to shift it with my shoulders.
“I went back to the cabin at last, and arter lighting the lamp I ’ad another sup o’ the skipper’s whisky to clear my ’ead, and sat down to try and think wot tale I was to tell ’im. I sat for pretty near three hours without thinking of one, and then I ’eard the crew come on to the wharf.
“They was a bit startled when they saw my ’ead at the skylight, and then they all started at the same time asking me wot I was doing. I told ’em to let me out fust and then I’d tell ’em, and one of ’em ’ad just stepped round to the companion when the skipper come on to the wharf and stepped aboard. He stooped down and peeped at me through the skylight as though he couldn’t believe ’is eyesight, and then, arter sending the hands for’ard and telling ’em to stay there, wotever ’appened, he unlocked the companion and came down.”
“Dogs on board ship is a nuisance,” said the night-watchman, gazing fiercely at the vociferous mongrel that had chased him from the deck of the Henry William; “the skipper asks me to keep an eye on the ship, and then leaves a thing like that down in the cabin.”
He leaned against a pile of empty casks to recover his breath, shook his fist at the dog, and said, slowly—
Some people can’t make too much of ’em. They talk about a dog’s honest eyes and his faithful ’art. I ’ad a dog once, and I never saw his eyes look so honest as they did one day when ‘e was sitting on a pound o’ beefsteak we was ’unting high and low for.
I’ve known dogs to cause a lot of trouble in my time. A man as used to live in my street told me he ’ad been in jail three times because dogs follered him ’ome and wouldn’t go away when he told ’em to. He said that some men would ha’ kicked ’em out into the street, but he thought their little lives was far too valuable to risk in that way.
Some people used to wink when ’e talked like that, but I didn’t: I remembered a dog that took a fancy to old Sam Small and Ginger Dick and Peter Russet once in just the same way.
It was one night in a little public-’ouse down Commercial Road way. They ’ad on’y been ashore a week, and, ’aving been turned out of a music-’all the night afore because a man Ginger Dick had punched in the jaw wouldn’t behave ‘imself, they said they’d spend the rest o’ their money on beer instead. There was just the three of ’em sitting by themselves in a cosy little bar, when the door was pushed open and a big black dog came in.