Three days passed, and Charlie and Ping Wang were still on board 오피사이트 the coper, no boat bound for Grimsby having been met. During that time Charlie and his friend had seen many things which filled them with loathing for the boat on which circumstances had placed them.

On the third evening, when the coper's boat returned from a trip around the trawlers, Charlie and Ping Wang were surprised to see that the passengers were two men who had been sent away early on the previous evening, because their money was spent.[Pg 254]

'How can they have got money since last night?' Charlie said to Ping Wang.

'They've borrowed from their mates,' Ping Wang suggested, but they soon discovered that his explanation was not the right one. As the boat bobbed up and down by the side of the Lily, the men took from the bottom of it a fishing-net, and handed it up to the skipper, who was leaning over the gunwale.

'They have stolen that net,' Charlie remarked, guessing the truth, 'and the skipper is going to buy it from them.'

'It's a new one, skipper,' one of the thieves exclaimed, as he jumped on board.

'All right,' the receiver of stolen property answered, 'Go down below and enjoy yourselves.'

The two men descended at once into the saloon, while the skipper, after examining the net, dragged it aft, and removing a hatchway dropped the net into the hold. As he did so Charlie stepped forward, and looking down, saw, by the light of the wire-guarded lamp, that the hold was half full of nets, oars, buckets, ropes, cooking utensils, brass fittings, mops, oilies, and other things too numerous to mention.

'All that is stolen property, I suppose?' Charlie said to the skipper.

'Well, it wasn't stolen from you,' the skipper answered, 'so you have no cause to grumble.'

He closed the hatchway, and then turned to Charlie to abuse him more freely, but just as he began a seaman came up and told him that a mission ship had joined the fleet of trawlers.

Forgetting all about Charlie, the skipper hurried away to look at the new craft, and found that the news was true. Very bad news he considered it, for he knew that the North Sea fishermen never came aboard a coper if there was a mission ship with the fleet. Tobacco is sold cheaper on a mission ship than on a coper, and naturally the fishermen, who have very little money to spend, buy in the cheapest market. Moreover, every man aboard a mission ship is a friend of the fishermen, and there is not a trawler in the North Sea on which it is not possible to find two or three men who have good reasons for blessing mission ships. Hundreds of men have been carried aboard these floating hospitals and nursed back to health.

When the mission ship was about half a mile from the Lily, Charlie said to the coper skipper: 'Now is your chance to get rid of Ping Wang and me. Hail that boat and send us aboard her.'

'Hail a craft like that?' the skipper answered roughly. 'I'd sink her with pleasure if I had the chance; but as for hailing her——I'd rather die!'

'I'll give you a sovereign to take us aboard her.'

'Wouldn't do it for ten sovereigns.'

Charlie went back to Ping Wang and told him of the skipper's decision.

'I'm not surprised,' Ping Wang declared. 'He will sail off as quickly as possible, I fancy.'

That, indeed, was the coper skipper's intention. He wished to start immediately, and would have done so had it not been for the two thieves who were drinking in the saloon.

'Now then,' said the skipper, coming down to the saloon and addressing the thieves, 'if you won't leave, I shall have to sail off with you.'

'Right you are; I don't care,' one of them declared, and the other added that he would thoroughly enjoy a cruise in a coper.

The skipper, however, had no intention of keeping on board two men without money, and was compelled to wait about for their departure. But just as he expected them to go, one man had a heated argument with his companion, which ended in a fight. The skipper, fearing that his saloon might be damaged, tried to stop the fight by seizing hold of the smaller man, who, however, promptly freed himself, and with two quick-following blows with his fist knocked the skipper down. The other man had in the meanwhile jumped across the counter and seized a bottle, which he put in his pocket.

'Come on, Jack,' he shouted to the man whom he had been fighting, and hurried up on deck. Jack, seeing that the skipper was not likely to interfere with him, followed his shipmate quickly on deck, and they made for the coper's boat, but none of the ship's crew were in it.

'Cut the painter, Jack,' the taller man commanded, and Jack, using his knife, soon did so. Then they grasped the oars and rowed away. It was the only boat that the coper possessed, and when the skipper discovered what the two fishermen had done he hurried on deck and shouted abuse at them. The men took no notice, and soon arrived safely at their own ship. Before they climbed aboard, the taller man said, 'Now let us sink the coper's boat. Cut a hole in her.'

The other man was delighted with the idea, and without delay removed the bottom boards and let in the water. That done, he followed his mate aboard the trawler, sending the small boat adrift.

The skipper of the coper had, in the meanwhile, by tacking, made an effort to keep his stolen boat in sight, but the night was dark, and the fear of a collision with a trawler made his endeavour a fruitless one, and he was compelled to lay to until daybreak would give him an opportunity of renewing his search. But, of course, when morning came he could see no signs of his boat, and after several hours' search he sailed away. About six hours later he sighted another fleet. He at once made for it, but finding on approaching nearer that there was a mission ship with it, he sailed off in another direction.

The skipper was now in a very bad temper, and his ill-humour spread to his men, who were mostly foreigners. It was evident to Charlie and Ping Wang, although they did not understand Dutch, that the latter were relieving their feelings by making insulting remarks concerning them.

While the coper's men were speaking about Charlie and Ping Wang, the Chinaman, innocent of any intention to be rude, made some gesture which one of the crew took for an insult. Instantly he rushed at Ping Wang and struck him a heavy blow in the face with his fist. He was about to strike him again, but Charlie pushed him roughly aside and faced him with clenched fists.

The sailor struck viciously at Charlie, who warded off two blows and then landed his opponent a heavy one full in the mouth. This he followed up with a[Pg 255] blow between the eyes, knocking the man down. For a moment the sailor lay still; then, seeing that he was likely to get the worst of the encounter, he quickly ran to the galley, and, seizing a big shovel, prepared to continue to fight with it. But the skipper, hearing a disturbance, hurried aft to see what was taking place. He met the man with the shovel, and, hearing his threat, drew his revolver and pointed it at him.

'Take it back!' he commanded, and the man obeyed reluctantly. 'I don't want murder done aboard my ship,' the skipper added, turning to Charlie and Ping Wang, 'so don't annoy my men.'

'We have done nothing whatever to annoy them,' Charlie declared, 'and the assault upon Ping Wang was quite unprovoked.'

'There must have been some reason for the fellow hitting him,' the skipper declared, and at once questioned his men, who, of course, made known the nature of the insult which they had received from the Chinaman. He explained the matter to Charlie and Ping Wang, and afterwards assured his men that no insult had been intended. The sailor who had assaulted Ping Wang then made an apology, and the whole incident was concluded by his shaking hands with Charlie. But in the middle of the night Charlie had an experience that was far more unpleasant than his brief fight. He was sleeping, as usual, on the cushioned seat in the saloon when he woke suddenly, feeling some one tampering with the belt which he wore, and which contained the whole of his money.

'You scoundrel!' he shouted, as he gripped the thief's hand. The next moment Charlie uttered a cry of pain, for the thief, who was under the table, drew a knife across his hand. Charlie released his hold of the thief instantly, and then jumped up in the hope of catching the man before he could escape. But the thief was too quick for him. The room was in darkness, and, before Charlie could make his way out of his cramped quarters at the side of the table, the thief had climbed up the ladder and closed the iron door behind him.

Ping Wang was now awake, and, finding the place in semi-darkness, struck a light.

'Turn up the lamp,' Charlie said, and, when the Chinaman had done as he desired, he told him what had happened.

'How much has he taken?' Ping Wang inquired.

'Half a sovereign,' Charlie replied, after counting his money. 'Evidently the scoundrel had only tried one of the little pockets when I woke. It is a good thing that I distributed my money all round my belt.'

'It is, indeed,' Ping Wang answered. 'Now let me bind up your hand.'

The cut was not very severe, the thief apparently having had no desire to inflict a deep wound.

'Let us go and complain to the skipper at once,' Ping Wang suggested, and, after putting on a few clothes, they went on deck, where, somewhat to their surprise, they found the skipper at the wheel.

'Hallo!' he sung out. 'What's up? Going to try another midnight swim?'

In as few words as possible Charlie told him what had happened.

'You've been dreaming,' the skipper declared, with a laugh. 'I've been at the wheel for the last three-quarters of an hour, and you are the first person I have seen come out of the saloon. No one could come out without me seeing him. Get down below again, and don't lie on your back; you are sure to dream if you do.'

'Dreams do not cut a man's fingers,' Charlie observed, sharply.

'Well, I'll make inquiries, but it is not likely that the man who did rob you—if you were robbed—will confess. Now get below, or you'll catch cold.'

Charlie and Ping Wang returned to the saloon, very dissatisfied with this conversation.

'I believe,' Ping Wang said, 'that it was the skipper himself who robbed you.'

'So do I,' Charlie replied; 'but how can I prove it? And if I could prove it, what good would it be while we are on his ship? All we can do is to take extra precautions against being robbed.'

After talking for about half an hour, they fell asleep, and were not again disturbed.

When they went on deck, shortly after breakfast, the skipper summoned all hands on deck, and questioned each man as to whether he had been into the saloon during the night. Each one denied having done so, and Charlie believed them.

'It is my opinion,' the skipper said to Charlie an hour or two later, 'that it was that Chinaman who robbed you.'

'If you knew Ping Wang as well as I do, such a foolish idea would never have entered your head.'

'All Chinamen are very crafty. You had better let me make him sleep in the foc's'le.'

'So that it would be easier for me to be robbed.'

'What do you mean? Do you accuse me of robbing you?'

'I do not accuse any one unless I can prove my charges. At any rate, I shouldn't be doing you an injustice if I did call you a thief, knowing, as I do, what a collection of stolen property you have in the hold. A receiver of stolen goods is not an atom better than a thief.'

With this parting shot Charlie walked away.

(Continued on page 258.)
A celebrated physician once attended the child of a wealthy French lady, who was so grateful for the recovery of her boy that she determined to give a larger fee than usual for his attendance. As he was taking leave on his final visit, the grateful mother handed to the doctor a handsome pocket-book, which she said she had worked with her own hands. The doctor bowed stiffly, and said, 'Madam, the pocket-book is quite a work of art, and I admire it exceedingly, but my fee is two thousand francs.'

'Not more?' she replied; and taking the pocket-book back, she removed from it five one-thousand franc-notes, and handed two of them to the doctor, bowing stiffly in her turn, and, replacing the other three notes in the rejected pocket-book, she retired.