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William John Locke
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 296 pages of information about Jaffery.
wrote reams.  He had the journalist’s trick of instantaneous composition.  Like the Ouidaesque hero, who could ride a Derby Winner with one hand, and stroke a University Crew to victory with the other, Jaffery could with one hand hang on to a rope over a yawning abyss, while with the other he could scribble a graphic account of the situation on a knee-supported writing-pad.  In ordinary circumstances—­that is to say in what, to Jaffery, were ordinary circumstances—­he performed these literary gymnastics for the sake of his newspaper; but the voyage of the Vesta was an exceptional affair.  Save incidentally—­for he did send descriptive articles to The Daily Gazette—­he was not out on professional business.  The gymnastics were performed for my benefit—­yet with an ulterior motive.  He had sailed away, not on a job, but to satisfy a certain nostalgia, to escape from civilisation, to escape from Doria, to escape from desire and from heartache . . . and the deeper he plunged into the fatness of primitive life, the closer did the poor ogre come to heartache and to desire.  He wrote spaciously, in the foolish hope that I would reply narrowly, following a Doria scent laid down with the naivete of childhood.  I received constant telegrams informing me of dates and addresses—­I who, Jaffery out of England, never knew for certain whether he was doing the giant’s stride around the North Pole or horizontal bar exercise on the Equator.  It was rather pathetic, for I could give him but little comfort.

Besides the letters, he (and Liosha) deluged us with photographs taken chiefly by the absurd second mate, from which it was possible to reconstruct the S.S.  Vesta in all her dismalness.  You have seen scores of her rusty, grimy congeners in any port in the world.  You have only to picture an old, two-masted, well-decked tramp with smokestack and foul clutter of bridge-house amidships, and fore and aft a miserable bit of a deck broken by hatches and capstans and donkey-engines and stanchions and chains and other unholy stumbling blocks and offences to the casual promenader.  From the photographs and letters I learned that the dog-hole, intended by the Captain for Jaffery, but given over to Liosha, was away aft, beneath a kind of poop and immediately above the scrunch of the propeller; and that Jaffery, with singular lack of privacy, bunked in the stuffy, low cabin where the officers took their meals and relaxations.  The more vividly did they present the details of their life, the more heartfelt were my thanksgivings to a merciful Providence for having been spared so dreadful an experience.

Our two friends, however, found indiscriminate joy in everything; I have their letters to prove it.  And Jaffery especially found perpetual enjoyment in the vagaries of Liosha.  For instance, here is an extract from one of his letters: 

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