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Sentence Deferred Sailor's Knots, Part 4.   By: (1863-1943)

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By W.W. Jacobs



[Illustration: "An elderly man with a wooden leg, who joined the indignant officer in the pursuit."]

Fortunately for Captain Bligh, there were but few people about, and the only person who saw him trip Police Sergeant Pilbeam was an elderly man with a wooden leg, who joined the indignant officer in the pursuit. The captain had youth on his side, and, diving into the narrow alley ways that constitute the older portion of Wood hatch, he moderated his pace and listened acutely. The sounds of pursuit died away in the distance, and he had already dropped into a walk when the hurried tap of the wooden leg sounded from one corner and a chorus of hurried voices from the other. It was clear that the number of hunters had increased.

He paused a second, irresolute. The next, he pushed open a door that stood ajar in an old flint wall and peeped in. He saw a small, brick paved yard, in which trim myrtles and flowering plants stood about in freshly ochred pots, and, opening the door a little wider, he slipped in and closed it behind him.

"Well?" said a voice, sharply. "What do you want?"

Captain Bligh turned, and saw a girl standing in a hostile attitude in the doorway of the house. "H'sh!" he said, holding up his finger.

The girl's cheeks flushed and her eyes sparkled.

"What are you doing in our yard?" she demanded.

The captain's face relaxed as the sound of voices died away. He gave his moustache a twist, and eyed her with frank admiration.

"Escaping," he said, briefly. "They nearly had me, though."

"You had no business to escape into our yard," said the girl. "What have you been escaping from?"

"Fat policeman," said the skipper, jauntily, twisting his moustache.

Miss Pilbeam, only daughter of Sergeant Pilbeam, caught her breath sharply.

"What have you been doing?" she inquired, as soon as she could control her voice.

"Nothing," said the skipper, airily, "nothing. I was kicking a stone along the path and he told me to stop it."

"Well?" said Miss Pilbeam, impatiently.

"We had words," said the skipper. "I don't like policemen fat policemen and while we were talking he happened to lose his balance and go over into some mud that was swept up at the side of the road."

"Lost his balance?" gasped the horrified Miss Pilbeam.

The skipper was flattered at her concern. "You would have laughed if you had seen him," he said, smiling. "Don't look so frightened; he hasn't got me yet."

"No," said the girl, slowly. "Not yet."

She gazed at him with such a world of longing in her eyes that the skipper, despite a somewhat large share of self esteem, was almost startled.

"And he shan't have me," he said, returning her gaze with interest.

Miss Pilbeam stood in silent thought. She was a strong, well grown girl, but she realized fully that she was no match for the villain who stood before her, twisting his moustache and adjusting his neck tie. And her father would not be off duty until nine.

"I suppose you would like to wait here until it is dark?" she said at last.

"I would sooner wait here than anywhere," said the skipper, with respectful ardor.

"Perhaps you would like to come in and sit down?" said the girl.

Captain Bligh thanked her, and removing his cap followed her into a small parlor in the front of the house.

"Father is out," she said, as she motioned him to an easy chair, "but I'm sure he'll be pleased to see you when he comes in."

"And I shall be pleased to see him," said the innocent skipper.

Miss Pilbeam kept her doubts to herself and sat in a brown study, wondering how the capture was to be effected. She had a strong presentiment that the appearance of her father at the front door would be the signal for her visitor's departure at the back. For a time there was an awkward silence.

"Lucky thing for me I upset that policeman," said the skipper, at last.

"Why?" inquired the girl.

"Else I shouldn't have come into your yard," was the reply. "It's the first time we have ever put into Woodhatch, and I might have sailed away and never seen you... Continue reading book >>

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