Half A Chance eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 185 pages of information about Half A Chance.

But this Mr. Gillett, agent of the police, discreetly declined to do; Captain Macpherson was a man not to be beckoned to by any one; much less by him.  As he stood squarely in the center of the ship, he looked like a mariner capable of commanding his boat and all the people aboard; indeed, some of the characteristics of his vessel seemed to have entered into his own make-up; the man matched the craft.  Broad-nosed, wide of beam, big, massive, obstinate-looking, the Lord Nelson plowed aggressively through the seas.  With every square sail tugging hard at her sturdy masts, she smote and over-rode the waves, and, beating them down, maintained an unvarying, stubborn poise.  But although she refused to vacillate or shuffle to the wooing efforts of the uneasy waters, she progressed not without noise and pother; foamed and fumed mightily at the bow and left behind her a wake, receding almost as far as the eyes might reach.  Captain Macpherson looked after the bubbles, cast his glance aloft at the bulging patches of white, and then condescended to observe the agent of the police who had silently approached.

“Sir Charles and lady, and Sir Charles’ party have expressed, Captain Macpherson, the desire to obtain permission to visit the prisoners’ deck.”

Captain Macpherson looked toward Sir Charles and his lady, the other passengers lounging around them, a little girl, at the rail, her hair, blown windward, a splash of gold against the blue sky.  “What for?” said the skipper bruskly.

“To have a look at the convicts, I suppose.”

“What good’ll that do them?” growled the commander.  “Idle curiosity, that’s what I call it.  Well, go along.  Only, I’ll hold you accountable, and bear this in your mind, no tracts!”

“I don’t think,” replied Mr. Gillett with some asperity, “you need be apprehensive on that score, Captain Macpherson.  Sir Charles and m’lady are not that sort.”

“Well, keep them away from the bars.  The weather has nae improved the tempers of a few of the rapscallions, and they’d like naught better than a chance for their claws.”

“Thanks for the permission, and,” a little stiffly, “the admonition, which latter,” turning away, “a man whose lifelong profession has been dealing with convicts is most likely to stand in need of and heed.”

Captain Macpherson frowned, stumped the other way, then looked once more aloft, and, by the exercise of that ingenuity peculiarly his own, found new tasks for the sailors.  Aboard any ship, especially a ship of this character, it was his theory and practice that discipline could not be too strictly maintained and the men on the Lord Nelson knew no idle moments.

“May I go, too?”

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Half A Chance from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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