She glanced at the broad back of Captain Tobias, who stood a few paces away, with legs planted wide and gaze still wrapped in contemplation of the gasometer. "Makin' so bold, sir, is that your friend we've heard tell so much about?" "It is, ma'am," Captain Cai turned about to call up 'Bias to be introduced, when Mr Tregaskis gently checked him, laying a hand on the musical box.
"Well, my dear," said Cai after a pause, pulling a wry face, "to do your master justice, he warned me 'twas a risk. There's naught to do but pay up un' look pleasant, I reckon. 'Twon't break me." "Cut the loss, you mean. The shares was paid up in full, and there can't be no call." "You're knowledgeable, missy: and yet you're wrong this time, as it happens. "Oh! and Cap'n Hunken's hundred too?"
"See here, 'Bias," said Cai desperately. "You may take this tone with me if you choose. But you don't choke me off by it, and you'll have to drop it sooner or later. I was your friend, back along let's start with that." "And a nice friend you proved!" "Let's start with that, then," pursued Cai eagerly so eagerly that 'Bias stared willy-nilly, lifting his eye-brows.
"There there's nothing unusual about the expression, is there?" he stammered. "Though how you come to guess on it " "You've been stealin' my letter, somehow!" flamed Cai. But 'Bias did not seem to hear. He continued to breathe hard, to stare into vacancy. "Did you pay a visit to Peter Benny this mornin'?" he asked at length, very slowly.
Everybody knew Mr Philp and his propensities. As Mr Toy the barber was wont to say, "Philp don't mean any harm: he just makes mischief like a bee makes honey." So Cai said, "Cheer-o, 'Bias!" his usual greeting hoped he saw Mrs Bosenna well, and fell in on the other side of her by the breast-rail.
"I did not bargain for any speech," she protested. "I in fact I never made a speech in my life. If if Captain Hocken would say a few words " "Ay, Cap'n," exhorted a voice, "speak up for her, like a man now! Seems to us she've given you the right." There was a general laugh, and it brought a heightened flush to Mrs Bosenna's cheek. Cai, not noting it, cleared his throat and doffed his tall hat.
With a grunt of relief 'Bias turned his gaze again upon the empty grate and sat smoking for a while. "I'd a sort o' fear it might come on ye sudden . . . eh? What's the matter?" He turned about again, for Cai had emitted an audible groan. "I'm sorry for ye, 'Bias you can't think " "Oh, you can stow that bachelor chaff," interrupted 'Bias with entire cheerfulness.
"An' next year 'twill be Saturday," retorted 'Bias with a sour grin; "it that'll content you, when it comes. None of us can't help it. Th' almanack says 'tis Christmas Day, and ord'nary days o' the week don't count. Besides, 'tis quarter-day, and I've brought my rent." "I've brought mine, too," replied Cai. "Well, we'll leave it to Mrs Bosenna to settle." They walked up to the house in silence.
Cai flushed again. "Well, missy, since you put it that way, we'll make it so." Still the answer did not appear to satisfy the child. She fidgetted in her chair a little, but without offering to go. "Not for no one in the wide world?" she asked at length. "Why, see here," Cai met her gaze shyly "isn't that the right way to feel when you want to make a woman your wife?"
'Hours of Collection' so-an'-so. It do make a difference fancy a thing o' that sort at sea! . . . D'ye know, although you never expressed yourself that way, I'd always a thought at the back o' my head that you'd end by takin' up with public life in one form or another." "It has been hinted to me," confessed Cai, colouring. "As one might say, it has been er " "Emanated," his friend suggested.