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IOUR SHORT STORY. 1

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I OUR SHORT STORY. 1 I WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN GOLD. By VINCENT EMS. Mr. Benjamin Gimp, boatman, of Tarsea, has had a spell between the blankets. He got wet outside, and instead of going Itomc to change his garb, he wont to the Red Lion and got wet inside. The external and internal soaking, instead of neutralising the natural effect of each, had the bad grace to act in combination. Hence the spell between the blankets, gruel, medicine, a doctor, and-the di?overy of a weaL heart. "Yes," said Ben to his mate. Dan Coffin,, "the doctor says my 'eart ain't w uat it was. "I could 'ave told you that," said Dan. a trifle bitterly. "It's got hard, that's what's the matter with it. Time was if I'd 'ave asked you to lend me a couple o' quid you'd 'ave- "Forked it out like a fool, an got it back; in a couple o' years a bob at a time. com- pleted Ben. "Them days is past, Dan. The doctor says I ain't got to strain my 'eart on no account." "Bein' kind'earted ain't a strain," said Dan suggestively. "It's a drain, any rate," grinned Ben, "so you'll 'ave to tap somebody else for that couple o' quid, Dan." The latter's face fell. "What does it feel like when a 'eart is 'ard as nails, Ben?" he inquired. "It don't feel at all," replied Ben com. placency. "You're right," said Dan spitefully. "It don't." Followed a spell of silence, broken at last by Ben. "The curate came to see me yesterday," he said, "an when I told 'im about my 'eart 'e said all afflictions were sent for a pur- P(.sc- an' to do us good. Darned if I can see that!" "You wouldn't," said Dan darkly, "not now. I can see it all right, though." There was that in Dan's voice which told Ben that the vision would not be revealed, save on terms. "Sorry I can't lend you them two quid, Dan," he said, "but it's gospel truth I ain't got 'em. That's a fact. But if a pint would 'elp-" "It wouldn't 'elp so much as a quart," said Dan, "but it'll do. What the parson meant," he continued a few minutes later, when the uint had materialised and was in process of disappearance, "was thisâthat you ought to use your affliction to do your- self a bit o' good. Eh? You don't l'-8e'OW it could be worked? Well, suppose you 'urt your arm an' it rotted off at the elbow. What you'd 'ave to do then would be to 'â¢ang" about an' look miserable an' tell any old ladiesâthey're the bestâyou could get talkin' with that what you wanted was a bit o' 'elp to buy a artificial arm. They'd fork out'; sure as any thin', and' it would be as good as a old age pension, better." "But," objected Ben, "it's iiit I e that's rotten, not my arm. I see what the curate meant now all right, but it ain't gcin' to be so easy to do yourself a bit o' good wlien it s cnly your eart wnat s afflicted. 'Taint as if folks could see it, an' 'taint as if you take it out an' let 'em 'ave a look at it. Strikes me" con- cluded Ben morosely, "I've been give a bloomin' affliction what ain't goin' to be no good to me." "It seems to run a bit that wny," ad- mitted Dan. "I'll 'ave to ask the parson to give me a 'int," said Ben. "That won't be no more than 'is dooty. I suppose you ain't thought of anything Dan?" Dan shook his head. "'Earts is a bit outside my line," he said, "an' I couldn't start thinkin' unless I 'ad another pint." Ben snorted his disgust. "I'll ask the curate," he said. "'E ain't a wnlldn' reservoy 1" The curate, however, merely talked of "discipline-a lessoii-a warning," and so on, and was told, bluntly, that he didn't know his job, and the sooner he showed folks how to practise what he preached, the better it would be for himâand them. nl- n "back on his own resources, I did His best to turn his affliction to a good use. He told three old ladies about his 19: andâwith sudden inspirationâ? îõrmèd one that he bad to have it ctra?ped up, and straps were expensive. Questioned as to the cost of the straps, Ben, withhoLJ-e bubbling up in his afflicted heart, said: "The best ccst ten bob, mum, but I 'ave to 'ave the seven an' sixpenny sort." The lady opened her handbagâand gave him a tract: "The Liar's Doom." Sure you can spare it, mum?" asked Ben, with fine irony. 2 Certainly! said the lady. "In that case," said Ben, "I'll keep it. I thought, perhaps, you'd I been ordered to read it reg'Iar. I'm short o' pipe lighters," he concluded, as he put the tract into his pocket. Two or three days later Ben (whose heart was really and truly of the C3 class) came down to the jetty looking very seedy. "My 'eart's j=pin I a-bo'ut'like a cat on 'ot bricks," he confided to Dan. "You might 'op across to the Red Lion as soon as it opens and get me a drop o' brandy. I'm fair done up. There'll be a lady au' a little gal along in a minute or two that I pro- mised to take out in the Monarch, an' I'll be pantin' for a drop o 'eart mixture when I get back." Ben went out with his lady, and Dan in due course went to the Red Lion and got the mixture. On his return he saw that Ben was still out on the bay, and a fat old toff "âDan's disrespectful descriptionâwas waiting to be taken for a row. "Rightly speakin', sir," said Dan, "I shouldn't leave the beach till a friend o' mine out there with that sailin' boat comes back, but if you don't want to 'ave only a row round I'll risk it." The row round had been but half accom- plished when Dan, chancing to look at the fat old toff's face," observed that it had gone a somewhat peculiar colour-blue round the mouth and an ominous grey else- where. "You ain't feelin' sick, sir, surely? asked Dan. ''It'sâmyâheart," was the gasping reply. "I get heart attacks. Row-back- quickly â and then get me brandy. Quick "'Ere you are, sir!" said Dan, producing the small bottle he had obtained for Ben. I always keep this 'andy for any lady or gent what's taken bad." Thank God! gasped the other, and put tha bottle to his pallid lips. "Don't mention it," said Dan politely. Gradually the colour came back to the "fat old toff's" face and his gaspings cea<&ed. "You've saved my life," he said to Dan as lie stepped out of the boat. "Just wait a minute, will you, while I write out a cheque. I'm not a wealthy man, but I hope £ 5 will be acceptable to you." "Tha¡'ll do very nicely, sir," said Dan. "The l.oat'll be a shillin', an' the brandy ni 3The gentleman eased himself down slowly to a i on a ridge of shingle, took out his cli., :.o-«book and fountain pen, and wrote lieque in favour of Daniel Coffin for £ 5 Is. ~d. Mr. Part, at the Queen's Hotel, will cash it for you/' he told Dan. "You must write your name across the back, you know." w ich obliged, sir," said Dan. "Shall you be wantin' a row to-morrow? "I return to London to-night," said the gentleman, smiling a little. "Sorry to 'ear that," said Dan naively, and the "fat old toff smiled again, e,nd more than a little. < 10 put it tnat Ben was profoundly dis- gusted when he heard of Dan s slice of luck would be far too mild a description of his outraged feelings. Expostulations, re- proaches, and revilings poured from his mouth, and when Dan absolutely declined to halve the .£5, or even quarter it, Ben/e language was absolutely lurid. "You've got just as good a chance as me of makin' a few pounds," said Dan, "an' better, 'cause you take more people out. All you've got to do is to 'ave a drop o' 'eart mixture- ready, save their lives, an' get paid 'andsome for it. I'd 'ave deserved some of them names you've been callin' me if I'd 'ave kept dark about the five pounds, but I didn't. I told you 'ow much I got an' 'ow I got it, so as you could go an' do likewise, same aj it says in the Scriptures." Ben was slightly mollified, and when Dan had offered to let him have the pick of any old toffs or gals that came along and wanted a boat, and looked a bit puffy round the gills." he apologised for his outburst. "I'm sorrr," he said, "that I cracked on like I did just now, but, what riled me was that you should 'ave got the five quid with my brandy. But I'll never go out without some in my pocket now." j A month passed, but poor Ben had no luck. Heart attacks declined to happen. He himself had never "a bad turn." He attributed that to the fact that he drank the heart mixture regularly each night so that he could get a new supply, quite fresh, each morning. Most thoughtful and considerate, it will be admitted! Then there came a day when his heart "began to jump about." "'Ere goes to save my own life! he said grimly, and emptied the flask. And then (an extraordinary coincidence, but an absolute fact, nevertheless) a thin maiden lady, who, after much hesitation and trepidation, had at length made up her mind to trust herself in the Monarch, had not been ten minutes on board before she pressed her hand to her side and gasped. "Oh, I feel so bad! It'sâmyâmy heart!" (Ben's own heart gave a reciprocal jump as he steadied the tiller with his knee and put his hand to his breast pocket for the "mix- ture." And even as his hand closed on the flask he rememberedâEmpty No," he said afterwards to Dan. "I never said nothin'. I was past words." She looked all right when she came ashore," remarked Dan. "Yes," said Dan sourly. "She said it was a pin runnin' into 'er, an' she'd mistook it for a spasm. But that don't alter the fact that if I'd 'ad my mixture 'andy she might 'ave done the same for me as that old toff did for you. I've done with this 'eart busi- ness, Dan. 'Earts ain't trumps with me, I can see! So I'm goin' to try roomatics. If these "âholding out a pair of huge hairy and gnarled fists, twisted with past bouts of rheumatismâ"if these don't do me a bit o' good they ought to! "You'll wash t, 'em finlt, won't you? in- quired Dan. Not me! I'll say I've been ordered a special soap which costs a quid a bar. See?" "Wish you luck," said Dan, grinning. » I'm always so sorry for anyone who suf- fers from the scourge of rheumatism," said the old lady. Yes, I quite understand that you cannot work when your body is racked with pain. I must help you, poor man It's kind of you," said Ben, twisting his body and groaning. Do you know the cashier at the Counties' BankâMr. Browne? she asked. "I know 'im by sight, mum," said Ben. "I'm goin' to write something for you to take to him," said the lady. "I'll go to the jetty seat and do it at once. I have writing materials with me." "Y o're a real lady, mum," said Ben gratefully. & 'Ow much?" asked Dan in a hoarse whisper. Dunno yet," said Ben. "Anythin' up to twenty-five quid, I expect. She's gone up to the seat to write it down." Five minutes later the lady descended and gave Ben an envelope addressed to the cashier. "There," she said, "take care of that and hand it to Mr. Browne. It's worth its weight in gold," she added mysteriously. "Ten pounds, mum? asked Ben, whose curiosity and expectation were at fever heat. "More than that," she said, smiling. The cashier opened the letter. "Oh, yes," he said, "I'll let you have it. Could you come back in half an hour? At the end of half an hour Ben went back to the bank and got it. "'Cw much?" asked Dan, when Ben re- turned to the jetty. "I ain't one of them jealous sort, so if it's twenty, I shan't "Twenty? echoed Ben. "It ain't twenty, an' it ain't ten, an' it ain't five, an' it ain't one! It's a bloomin' recipe for the roomatics! Twenty minutes later Ben, having said all that could be said about the lady, and the cashier, and the recipe that was worth its weight in goldâ"iii imiek," was his re- vised version-buttoned Up his coat, and, with a baleful gleam in his eye, prepared to move off, Where are you goin', Ben? asked Dan, a trifle alarmed. "To 'ave a few words with the curate, said Ben, setting his jaw hard.

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