“I’ve come for—my money,” he said, impressively— “one ’under-eighty pounds.”
“But look ’ere,” said the scandalised Bill, tugging at his sleeve; “you ain’t dead, Jack.”
“You don’t understan’,” said Mr. Blows, impatiently. “They know wharri mean; one ‘undereighty pounds. They want to buy me a tombstone, an’ I don’t want it. I want the money. Here, stop it! Dye hear?” The words were wrung from him by the action of the president, who, after eyeing him doubtfully during his remarks, suddenly prodded him with the butt-end of one of the property spears which leaned against his chair. The solidity of Mr. Blows was unmistakable, and with a sudden resumption of dignity the official seated himself and called for silence.
“I’m sorry to say there’s been a bit of a mistake made,” he said, slowly, “but I’m glad to say that Mr. Blows has come back to support his wife and family with the sweat of his own brow. Only a pound or two of the money so kindly subscribed has been spent, and the remainder will be handed back to the subscribers.”
“Here,” said the incensed Mr. Blows, “listen me.”
“Take him away,” said the president, with great dignity. “Clear the room. Strangers outside.”
Two of the members approached Mr. Blows and, placing their hands on his shoulders, requested him to withdraw. He went at last, the centre of a dozen panting men, and becoming wedged on the narrow staircase, spoke fluently on such widely differing subjects as the rights of man and the shape of the president’s nose.
He finished his remarks in the street, but, becoming aware at last of a strange lack of sympathy on the part of his audience, he shook off the arm of the faithful Mr. Carter and stalked moodily home.
THE THIRD STRING
Love? said the night-watchman, as he watched in an abstracted fashion the efforts of a skipper to reach a brother skipper on a passing barge with a boathook. Don’t talk to me about love, because I’ve suffered enough through it. There ought to be teetotalers for love the same as wot there is for drink, and they ought to wear a piece o’ ribbon to show it, the same as the teetotalers do; but not an attractive piece o’ ribbon, mind you. I’ve seen as much mischief caused by love as by drink, and the funny thing is, one often leads to the other. Love, arter it is over, often leads to drink, and drink often leads to love and to a man committing himself for life afore it is over.
[Illustration: “Don’t talk to me about love, because I’ve suffered enough through it.”]
Sailormen give way to it most; they see so little o’ wimmen that they naturally ’ave a high opinion of ’em. Wait till they become night-watchmen and, having to be at ’ome all day, see the other side of ’em. If people on’y started life as night-watchmen there wouldn’t be one ’arf the falling in love that there is now.