McAdam, of the firm of McAdam
and Squire, was a highly polished
man who dwelt behind a highly
polished table in the neatest
and snuggest of offices. He was
white-haired and amiable, with
a deep-lined aquiline face, was
addicted to low bows, and indeed,
always seemed to carry himself
at half-cock, as though just
descending into one, or just
recovering himself. He wore a
high-buckled stock, took snuff,
and adorned his conversation
with little scraps from the classics.
"My dear Sir," said he, when
he had listened to their story, "any
friend of Mrs. Westmacott's is
a friend of mine. Try a pinch.
I wonder that you should have
gone to this man Metaxa. His
advertisement is enough to condemn
him. Habet foenum in cornu. They
are all rogues."
a rogue too.
I didn't like the look of him
at the time."
ambo. But now
we must see
what we can
do for you.
course what Metaxa said was perfectly
right. The pension is in itself
no security at all, unless it
were accompanied by a life assurance
which would be an income in itself.
It is no good whatever."
His clients' faces fell.
there is the
You might sell the pension right
out. Speculative investors occasionally
deal in such things. I have one
client, a sporting man, who would
be very likely to take it up
if we could agree upon terms.
Of course, I must follow Metaxa's
example by sending for a doctor."
For the second time was the
Admiral punched and tapped and
listened to. This time, however,
there could be no question of
the qualifications of the doctor,
a well-known Fellow of the College
of Surgeons, and his report was
as favorable as the other's had
"He has the heart and chest
of a man of forty," said he. "I
can recommend his life as one
of the best of his age that I
have ever examined."
"That's well," said Mr. McAdam,
making a note of the doctor's
remarks, while the Admiral disbursed
a second guinea. "Your price,
I understand, is five thousand
pounds. I can communicate with
Mr. Elberry, my client, and let
you know whether he cares to
touch the matter. Meanwhile you
can leave your pension papers
here, and I will give you a receipt
well. I should
like the money
"That is why I am retaining
the papers. If I can see Mr.
Elberry to-day we may let you
have a cheque to-morrow. Try
another pinch. No? Well, good-bye.
I am very happy to have been
of service." Mr. McAdam bowed
them out, for he was a very busy
man, and they found themselves
in the street once more with
lighter hearts than when they
bad left it.
"Well, Westmacott, I am sure
I am very much obliged to you," said
the Admiral. "You have stood
by me when I was the better for
a little help, for I'm clean
out of my soundings among these
city sharks. But I've something
to do now which is more in my
own line, and I need not trouble
you any more."
it is no trouble.
I have nothing
to do. I never
to do. I don't suppose I could
do it if I had. I should be delighted
to come with you, sir, if I can
be of any use."
no, my lad.
You go home
again. It would be kind of you,
though, if you would look in
at number one when you get back
and tell my wife that all's well
with me, and that I'll be back
in an hour or so."
"All right, sir. I'll tell
her." Westmacott raised his hat
and strode away to the westward,
while the Admiral, after a hurried
lunch, bent his steps towards
It was a long walk, but the
old seaman swung along at a rousing
pace, leaving street after street
behind him. The great business
places dwindled down into commonplace
shops and dwellings, which decreased
and became more stunted, even
as the folk who filled them did,
until he was deep in the evil
places of the eastern end. It
was a land of huge, dark houses
and of garish gin-shops, a land,
too, where life moves irregularly
and where adventures are to be
gained--as the Admiral was to
learn to his cost.
He was hurrying down one of
the long, narrow, stone-flagged
lanes between the double lines
of crouching, disheveled women
and of dirty children who sat
on the hollowed steps of the
houses, and basked in the autumn
sun. At one side was a barrowman
with a load of walnuts, and beside
the barrow a bedraggled woman
with a black fringe and a chequered
shawl thrown over her head. She
was cracking walnuts and picking
them out of the shells, throwing
out a remark occasionally to
a rough man in a rabbit-skin
cap, with straps under the knees
of his corduroy trousers, who
stood puffing a black clay pipe
with his back against the wall.
What the cause of the quarrel
was, or what sharp sarcasm from
the woman's lips pricked suddenly
through that thick skin may never
be known, but suddenly the man
took his pipe in his left hand,
leaned forward, and deliberately
struck her across the face with
his right. It was a slap rather
than a blow, but the woman gave
a sharp cry and cowered up against
the barrow with her hand to her
"You infernal villain!" cried
the Admiral, raising his stick. "You
brute and blackguard!"
"Garn!" growled the rough,
with the deep rasping intonation
of a savage. "Garn out o' this
or I'll----" He took a step forward
with uplifted hand, but in an
instant down came cut number
three upon his wrist, and cut
number five across his thigh,
and cut number one full in the
center of his rabbit-skin cap.
It was not a heavy stick, but
it was strong enough to leave
a good red weal wherever it fell.
The rough yelled with pain, and
rushed in, hitting with both
hands, and kicking with his iron-shod
boots, but the Admiral had still
a quick foot and a true eye,
so that he bounded backwards
and sideways, still raining a
shower, of blows upon his savage
antagonist. Suddenly, however,
a pair of arms closed round his
neck, and glancing backwards
he caught a glimpse of the black
coarse fringe of the woman whom
he had befriended, "I've got
him!" she shrieked. "I'll 'old
'im. Now, Bill, knock the tripe
out of him!" Her grip was as
strong as a man's, and her wrist
pressed like an iron bar upon
the Admiral's throat. He made
a desperate effort to disengage
himself, but the most that he
could do was to swing her round,
so as to place her between his
adversary and himself. As it
proved, it was the very best
thing that he could have done.
The rough, half-blinded and maddened
by the blows which he had received,
struck out with all his ungainly
strength, just as his partner's
head swung round in front of
him. There was a noise like that
of a stone hitting a wall, a
deep groan, her grasp relaxed,
and she dropped a dead weight
upon the pavement, while the
Admiral sprang back and raised
his stick once more, ready either
for attack or defense. Neither
were needed, however, for at
that moment there was a scattering
of the crowd, and two police
constables, burly and helmeted,
pushed their way through the
rabble. At the sight of them
the rough took to his heels,
and was instantly screened from
view by a veil of his friends
"I have been assaulted," panted
the Admiral. "This woman was
attacked and I had to defend
"This is Bermondsey Sal," said
one police officer, bending over
the bedraggled heap of tattered
shawl and dirty skirt. "She's
got it hot this time."
was a shortish
with a beard."
been up four times for beating
her. He's about done the job
now. If I were you I would let
that sort settle their own little
"Do you think that a man who
holds the Queen's commission
will stand by and see a woman
struck?" cried the Admiral indignantly.
just as you
lost your watch,
"My watch!" He
hand to his waistcoat. The chain
was hanging down in front, and
the watch gone.
hand over his
forehead. "I would not have lost
that watch for anything," said
he. "No money could replace it.
It was given me by the ship's
company after our African cruise.
It has an inscription."
his shoulders. "It comes from meddling," said
"What'll you give me if I tell
yer where it is?" said a sharp-faced
boy among the crowd. "Will you
gimme a quid?"
from his pocket. "Here it is."
"Then 'ere's the ticker!" The
boy pointed to the clenched hand
of the senseless woman. A glimmer
of gold shone out from between
the fingers, and on opening them
up, there was the Admiral's chronometer.
This interesting victim had throttled
her protector with one hand,
while she had robbed him with
The Admiral left his address
with the policeman, satisfied
that the woman was only stunned,
not dead, and then set off upon
his way once more, the poorer
perhaps in his faith in human
nature, but in very good spirits
none the less. He walked with
dilated nostrils and clenched
hands, all glowing and tingling
with the excitement of the combat,
and warmed with the thought that
he could still, when there was
need, take his own part in a
street brawl in spite of his
three-score and odd years.
way now led
river-side regions, and a cleansing
whiff of tar was to be detected
in the stagnant autumn air. Men
with the blue jersey and peaked
cap of the boatman, or the white
ducks of the dockers, began to
replace the cardurys and fustian
of the laborers. Shops with nautical
instruments in the windows, rope
and paint sellers, and slop shops
with long rows of oilskins dangling
from hooks, all proclaimed the
neighborhood of the docks. The
Admiral quickened his pace and
straightened his figure as his
surroundings became more nautical,
until at last, peeping between
two high, dingy wharfs, he caught
a glimpse of the mud-colored
waters of the Thames, and of
the bristle of masts and funnels
which rose from its broad bosom.
To the right lay a quiet street,
with many brass plates upon either
side, and wire blinds in all
of the windows. The Admiral walked
slowly down it until "The Saint
Lawrence Shipping Company" caught
his eye. He crossed the road,
pushed open the door, and found
himself in a low-ceilinged office,
with a long counter at one end
and a great number of wooden
sections of ships stuck upon
boards and plastered all over
"Is Mr. Henry in?" asked
"No, sir," answered an elderly
man from a high seat in the corner. "He
has not come into town to-day.
I can manage any business you
may wish seen to."
to have a first
or second officer's
vacant, do you?"
The manager looked with a dubious
eye at his singular applicant.
"Do you hold certificates?" he
you won't do
give you my
word that I
can see as well as ever, and
am as good a man in every way."
should my age
be a bar, then?"
I must put
If a man of your age, holding
certificates, has not got past
a second officer's berth, there
must be a black mark against
him somewhere. I don't know what
it is, drink or temper, or want
of judgment, but something there
there is nothing,
but I find myself stranded, and
so have to turn to the old business
"Oh, that's it," said the manager,
with suspicion in his eye. "How
long were you in your last billet?"
the same employ?"
you must have
begun as a
when I joined."
"It must be a strangely managed
business," said the manager, "which
allows men to leave it who have
served for fifty years, and who
are still as good as ever. Who
did you serve?"
you were in
the Royal Navy.
did you hold?"
of the Fleet."
The manager started, and sprang
down from his high stool.
name is Admiral
There is my card. And here are
the records of my service. I
don't, you understand, want to
push another man from his billet;
but if you should chance to have
a berth open, I should be very
glad of it. I know the navigation
from the Cod Banks right up to
Montreal a great deal better
than I know the streets of London."
over the blue papers which his
visitor had handed him. "Won't
you take a chair, Admiral?" said
you! But I
should be obliged
if you would
title now. I told you because
you asked me, but I've left the
quarter-deck, and I am plain
Mr. Hay Denver now."
"May I ask," said the manager, "are
you the same Denver who commanded
at one time on the North American
it was you
who got one
of our boats, the Comus, off
the rocks in the Bay of Fundy?
The directors voted you three
hundred guineas as salvage, and
you refused them."
"It was an offer which should
not have been made," said the
you that you should think so.
If Mr. Henry were here I am sure
that he would arrange this matter
for you at once. As it is, I
shall lay it before the directors
to-day, and I am sure that they
will be proud to have you in
our employment, and, I hope,
in some more suitable position
than that which you suggest."
"I am very much obliged to
you, sir," said the Admiral,
and started off again, well pleased,
upon his homeward journey.