“What a pity,” I remarked, pleasantly, “that you are so thin. Shall I come down and hold the boat still while you get out? Wet flannel has such a clinging effect.”
Jimmie is a good deal of a gentleman, so he made no reply. I was just turning away, resolving in a Christian spirit to order him a hot Scotch, when I heard a splash and a remark which was full of exclamation points, asterisks, and other things, and looking down I saw the canoe bottom upwards, with Jimmie clinging to it indignantly blowing a large quantity of Thames water from his mouth in a manner which led me to know that the sooner I got away from there the better it would be for me. I kept out of his way until dinner-time, and only permitted him to suspect that I saw his disappearance by politely ignoring the fact that all his and Mrs. Jimmie’s lingerie, to speak delicately, was floating about, hanging from pegs in unused portions of the house-boat. My silence was so suspicious that finally Jimmie could stand it no longer.
“Did you see me go down?” he demanded.
“I did not,” I answered him, firmly, whereat he released my elbow and I edged around to the other side of the table.
“But I saw you come up,” I said, pleasantly, “and I saw what you said.”
“Saw?” said Jimmie. “Saw what I said?”
“Certainly! There was enough blue light around your remarks for me to have seen them in the dark.”
“Well, what have you got to say about it?” he said, resigning himself.
“Only this, and that is that this afternoon’s performance in that canoe was the only instance in my life where I thoroughly approved of the workings of Providence. Ordinarily the good die young and the guilty one escapes.”
“Is that all?” growled Jimmie.
“Yes,” I said, hesitatingly, “I think it is. Did I mention before that I thought you were thin?”
“You certainly did,” said Jimmie.
“Your legs,” I went on, but just then I was interrupted by the reappearance of a little German musician, who had floated up the river two days before in a white flannel suit without change of linen and who played accompaniments of our singers so well that Jimmie permitted him to stay on without either actually inviting him or showing him that his presence was not any particular addition to our enjoyment.
Jimmie objected violently to some of his sentiments, which the German was tactless enough to keep thrusting in our faces. He was as offensive to our English friends on the subject of England as he was to us concerning America, but one of the Englishmen sang and couldn’t play a note, so Jimmie let the German stay, because Miss Wemyss wanted him to.
Although secretly I think Jimmie and I hated him, we are sometimes polite enough not to say everything we think, but at any rate there never was a moment when Jimmie and I wouldn’t leave off attacking each other, hoping for an opportunity for a fight with the German, which thus far he had escaped by the skin of his teeth.