Bill’s Lapse by W W Jacobs

Story type: Literature

Strength and good-nature–said the night-watchman, musingly, as he felt his biceps–strength and good-nature always go together. Sometimes you find a strong man who is not good-natured, but then, as everybody he comes in contack with is, it comes to the same thing.

The strongest and kindest-‘earted man I ever come across was a man o’ the name of Bill Burton, a ship-mate of Ginger Dick’s. For that matter ‘e was a shipmate o’ Peter Russet’s and old Sam Small’s too. Not over and above tall; just about my height, his arms was like another man’s legs for size, and ‘is chest and his back and shoulders might ha’ been made for a giant. And with all that he’d got a soft blue eye like a gal’s (blue’s my favourite colour for gals’ eyes), and a nice, soft, curly brown beard. He was an A.B., too, and that showed ‘ow good-natured he was, to pick up with firemen.

He got so fond of ’em that when they was all paid off from the Ocean King he asked to be allowed to join them in taking a room ashore. It pleased every-body, four coming cheaper than three, and Bill being that good-tempered that ‘e’d put up with anything, and when any of the three quarrelled he used to act the part of peacemaker.

Are you going–to undo–us?” ses Ginger, at last.

“No, Ginger,” ses old Sam; “in justice to myself I couldn’t do it. Arter wot you’ve said–and arter wot I’ve said–my life wouldn’t be safe. Besides which, you’d want to go shares in my money.”

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He took up ‘is chest and marched downstairs with it, and about ‘arf an hour arterward the landlady’s ‘usband came up and set ’em free. As soon as they’d got the use of their legs back they started out to look for Sam, but they didn’t find ‘im for nearly a year, and as for Bill, they never set eyes on ‘im again.

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