“Nellie, hand me a cigar. This beats cock-fighting.”
“Whist, me dear!” answered the lady, relapsing into honest brogue, “but Brady is the bhoy to know the ropes.”
“I believe you, Nellie.”
Outside the garden gate the Admiral had fallen into a brown study.
“I perceive,” he said, at length, very thoughtfully, “that wine and biscuits have gone out of fashion, as concomitants of a morning call. In some ways I regret it; but they are evidently people of extreme refinement. Sophy, how badly your gown sits.”
“Why, it was only yesterday, papa, that you praised it so!”
“Did I? H’m! Well, well, now for the boat.”
“The boat, papa?”
“Certainly, Sophy; we are going to call at Kit’s House.”
HOW A CREW, THAT WOULD SAIL ON A WASHING-DAY, WAS SHIPWRECKED: WITH AN ADVERTISEMENT AGAINST WOMEN.
It was a bright April morning, and the Admiral’s boat, as it swept proudly past the little town, cast a wealth of bright reflection on the water. Inhabitants of Troy, sitting at their windows, and overlooking the harbour, caught sight of the yellow dresses, the blue coat with its gold lace, and the red face beneath the cocked-hat, and whispered to each other that something was in the wind.
Jane and Calypso rowed—for the Trojan maidens in those days were not above pulling an oar, and did not mind blisters—while Sophia sat in the bows, her mushroom hat “a world too wide” for the little green parasol hoisted above it. The Admiral himself held the tiller ropes, and occasionally gave a word of command. It was a gracious spectacle.
But as the boat drew clear of the jetties with their press of vessels, and Kit’s Cottage hove in sight, the Admiral’s eyes, which were fixed ahead, grew suddenly very large and round.
“This is very extraordinary!” he muttered, “very extraordinary indeed!”
“What is it, papa?” and the three Misses Buzza simultaneously turned their mushroom hats to look.
“I cannot tell, Sophia; but to me it appears as if these people were—not to put too fine a point upon it—washing.”
It was quite true. On the little beach, Mr. Fogo, with his sleeves turned up and a large apron pinned around him, was standing before a huge tub, industriously washing. The tub rested on a couple of stools. A little to the left, Caleb Trotter, with his back turned to the river, was wringing the articles of male costume which his master handed him, and disposing them about the shingle to dry.
[Illustration: Washing day.]
The Admiral had chosen a washing-day for his first
call at Kit’s
The approach of the boat was at first unperceived; for Caleb, as I said, had his back turned to it, and Mr. Fogo’s spectacles were bent over his employment.
“Really,” murmured the Admiral, as his eye travelled over the beach, “anything more indelicate—Why, Miss Limpenny might be rowing this way for anything they know. Hi, sir!”