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- Short Cruises - 1/34 -


SHORT CRUISES

BY

W. W. JACOBS

CONTENTS

THE CHANGELING

MIXED RELATIONS

HIS LORDSHIP

ALF'S DREAM

A DISTANT RELATIVE

THE TEST

IN THE FAMILY

A LOVE-KNOT

HER UNCLE

THE DREAMER

ANGELS' VISITS

A CIRCULAR TOUR

ILLUSTRATIONS

FROM DRAWINGS BY WILL OWEN

"'And what about my voice?' he demanded"

"'George!' she exclaimed sharply"

"He struck a match and, holding it before his face, looked up at the window"

"Mr. Stokes, taking his dazed friend by the arm, led him gently away"

"The mate smiled too"

"Sarcasm they did try, but at that the cook could more than hold his own"

"'Good-by,' he said slowly; 'and I wish you both every happiness'"

"'She's got your eyes,' said his lordship"

"'I like fools better than lords'"

"He patted 'im on the shoulder and said 'ow well he was filling out"

"Mr. Potter was then introduced and received a gracious reception"

"A gold watch and chain lent an air of substance to his waistcoat"

"'And we don't want you following us about,' said Mr. Dix, sharply"

"'I tell you he can't swim,' repeated Mr. Heard, passionately"

"'You leave go o' my lodger,' ses Bob Pretty"

"He slammed the door in Bob Pretty's face"

"On the third morning he took Mrs. Bowman out for a walk"

"'I had forgotten it was there,' he said, nervously"

"The corner of the trunk took the gesticulating Mr. Wragg by the side of the head"

"'What did you do that for?' demanded Mr. Gale, sitting up"

"'Why didn't you tell me then?' ses Ted"

"'I shall take my opportunity,' he ses, 'and break it to 'er gentle like'"

"He astonished Mrs. Jobling next day by the gift of a geranium"

"They offered Mrs. Jobling her choice of at least a hundred plans for bringing him to his senses"

"'She asked 'im whether 'e'd got a fancy for any partikler spot to be buried in"

"'All right,' ses the cabman, taking his 'orse out and leading it into a stable, 'mind you don't catch cold'" "So long"

[Illustration: THE CHANGELING]

THE CHANGELING

Mr. George Henshaw let himself in at the front door, and stood for some time wiping his boots on the mat. The little house was ominously still, and a faint feeling, only partially due to the lapse of time since breakfast, manifested itself behind his waistcoat. He coughed--a matter- of-fact cough--and, with an attempt to hum a tune, hung his hat on the peg and entered the kitchen.

Mrs. Henshaw had just finished dinner. The neatly cleaned bone of a chop was on a plate by her side; a small dish which had contained a rice- pudding was empty; and the only food left on the table was a small rind of cheese and a piece of stale bread. Mr. Henshaw's face fell, but he drew his chair up to the table and waited.

His wife regarded him with a fixed and offensive stare. Her face was red and her eyes were blazing. It was hard to ignore her gaze; harder still to meet it. Mr. Henshaw, steering a middle course, allowed his eyes to wander round the room and to dwell, for the fraction of a second, on her angry face.

"You've had dinner early?" he said at last, in a trembling voice.

"Have I?" was the reply.

Mr. Henshaw sought for a comforting explanation. "Clock's fast," he said, rising and adjusting it.

His wife rose almost at the same moment, and with slow deliberate movements began to clear the table.

"What--what about dinner?" said Mr. Henshaw, still trying to control his fears.

"Dinner!" repeated Mrs. Henshaw, in a terrible voice. "You go and tell that creature you were on the 'bus with to get your dinner."

Mr. Henshaw made a gesture of despair. "I tell you," he said emphatically, "it wasn't me. I told you so last night. You get an idea in your head and--"

"That'll do," said his wife, sharply. "I saw you, George Henshaw, as plain as I see you now. You were tickling her ear with a bit o' straw, and that good-for-nothing friend of yours, Ted Stokes, was sitting behind with another beauty. Nice way o' going on, and me at 'ome all alone by myself, slaving and slaving to keep things respectable!"

"It wasn't me," reiterated the unfortunate.

"When I called out to you," pursued the unheeding Mrs. Henshaw, "you started and pulled your hat over your eyes and turned away. I should have caught you if it hadn't been for all them carts in the way and falling down. I can't understand now how it was I wasn't killed; I was a mask of mud from head to foot."

Despite his utmost efforts to prevent it, a faint smile flitted across the pallid features of Mr. Henshaw.

"Yes, you may laugh," stormed his wife, "and I've no doubt them two beauties laughed too. I'll take care you don't have much more to laugh at, my man."

She flung out of the room and began to wash up the crockery. Mr. Henshaw, after standing irresolute for some time with his hands in his pockets, put on his hat again and left the house.

He dined badly at a small eating-house, and returned home at six o'clock that evening to find his wife out and the cupboard empty. He went back to the same restaurant for tea, and after a gloomy meal went round to discuss the situation with Ted Stokes. That gentleman's suggestion of a double alibi he thrust aside with disdain and a stern appeal to talk sense.

"Mind, if my wife speaks to you about it," he said, warningly, "it wasn't me, but somebody like me. You might say he 'ad been mistook for me before."

Mr. Stokes grinned and, meeting a freezing glance from his friend, at once became serious again.

"Why not say it was you?" he said stoutly. "There's no harm in going for


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