“And overboard he dives, ‘kersplash!’
“Julius said him and the skipper could have swum all right if Rosy had give ’em the chance, but he didn’t. He knew a trick worth two of that. He grabbed ’em round the necks and kept hauling ’em under and splashing and kicking like a water-mill. All hands was pretty well used up when they was pulled aboard the yacht.
“‘Oh, you brave man!’ says one of the women, stooping over Rosy, who was sprawled on the deck with his eyes shut, ‘Oh, you hero!’
“‘Are they living?’ asks Rosy, faint-like and opening one eye. ‘Good! Now I can die content.’
“‘Living!’ yells George, soon’s he could get the salt water out of his mouth. ’Living! By the ’oly Peter! Let me at ’im! I’ll show ‘im whether I’m living or not!’
“‘What ails you, you villain?’ says the feller that owned the yacht, a great big Englishman, Lord Somebody-or-other. ’The man saved your lives.’
“‘He knocked us overboard!’ yells Julius.
“‘Yes, and he done it a-purpose!’ sputters Van Doozen, well as he could for being so waterlogged.
“‘Let’s kill him!’ says all three.
“‘Did it on purpose!’ says the lord, scornful. ’Likely he’d throw you over and then risk his life to save you. Here!’ says he to the mate. ’Take those ungrateful rascals below. Give ’em dry clothes and then set ’em to work—hard work; understand? As for this poor, brave chap, take him to the cabin. I hope he’ll pull through,’ says he.
“And all the rest of the voyage, which was to Melbourne, Julius and his two chums had to slave and work like common sailors, while Rosy, the hero invalid, was living on beef tea and jelly and champagne, and being petted and fanned by the lord’s wife and the other women. And ’twas worse toward the end, when he pretended to be feeling better, and could set in a steamer-chair on deck and grin and make sarcastic remarks under his breath to George and the other two when they was holystoning or scrubbing in the heat.
“At Melbourne they hung around the wharf, waiting to lick him, till the lord had ’em took up for vagrants. When they got out of the lockup they found Rosy had gone. And his lordship had given him money and clothes, and I don’t know what all.
“Julius said that Rosy’s meanness sickened him of the sea. Said ’twas time to retire when such reptiles was afloat. So he come home and married the scrub-woman at the Bay View House. He lived with her till she lost her job. I don’t know where he is now.”
* * * * * *
’Twas purty quiet for a few minutes after Jonadab had unloaded this yarn. Everybody was busy trying to swaller his share of the statements in it, I cal’late. Peter T. looked at the Cap’n, admiring but reproachful.
“Wixon,” says he. “I didn’t know ’twas in you. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Oh,” says Jonadab, “I ain’t responsible. ’Twas Jule Sparrow that told it to me.”