“That’ll do,” said the sergeant-major, rising hastily and drawing himself up to his full height.
“You asked me,” said Mr. Farrer, in an aggrieved voice.
“I know I did,” said the sergeant-major, breathing heavily. “I know I did; but if I sit here listening to any more of your lies I shall be ill. The best thing you can do is to take that giggling girl out and give her a breath of fresh air. I have done with her.”
A lad of about twenty stepped ashore from the schooner Jane, and joining a girl, who had been avoiding for some ten minutes the ardent gaze of the night-watchman, set off arm-in-arm. The watchman rolled his eyes and shook his head slowly.
Nearly all his money on ’is back, he said, and what little bit ’e’s got over he’ll spend on ’er. And three months arter they’re married he’ll wonder wot ’e ever saw in her. If a man marries he wishes he ’adn’t, and if he doesn’t marry he wishes he ’ad. That’s life.
Looking at them two young fools reminds me of a nevy of Sam Small’s; a man I think I’ve spoke to you of afore. As a rule Sam didn’t talk much about ’is relations, but there was a sister of ’is in the country wot ’e was rather fond of because ’e ’adn’t seen ’er for twenty years. She ’ad got a boy wot ’ad just got a job in London, and when ’e wrote and told ’er he was keeping company with the handsomest and loveliest and best ’arted gal in the whole wide world, she wrote to Sam about it and asked ’im to give ’is nevy some good advice.
Sam ’ad just got back from China and was living with Peter Russet and Ginger Dick as usual, and arter reading the letter about seven times and asking Ginger how ’e spelt “minx,” ’e read the letter out loud to them and asked ’em what they thought about it.
Ginger shook his ’ead, and, arter thinking a bit, Peter shook his too.
“She’s caught ’im rather young,” ses Ginger.
“They get it bad at that age too,” ses Peter. “When I was twenty, there was a gal as I was fond of, and a regiment couldn’t ha’ parted us.”
“Wot did part you then?” ses Sam.
“Another gal,” ses Peter; “a gal I took a fancy to, that’s wot did it.”
“I was nearly married when I was twenty,” ses Ginger, with a far-away look in his eyes. “She was the most beautiful gal I ever saw in my life; she ’ad one ’undred pounds a year of ’er own and she couldn’t bear me out of her sight. If a thump acrost the chest would do that cough of yours any good, Sam—”
“Don’t take no notice of ’im, Ginger,” ses Peter. “Why didn’t you marry ’er?”
“’Cos I was afraid she might think I was arter ’er money,” ses Ginger, getting a little bit closer to Sam.
Peter ’ad another turn then, and him and Ginger kept on talking about gals whose ’arts they ’ad broke till Sam didn’t know what to do with ’imself.