free ebooks
A Master Of Craft by W. W. Jacobs

Produced by David Widger

A MASTER OF CRAFT.

By W. W. JACOBS.

1899

CHAPTER I.

A pretty girl stood alone on the jetty of an old-fashioned wharf at Wapping, looking down upon the silent deck of a schooner below. No smoke issued from the soot-stained cowl of the galley, and the fore-scuttle and the companion were both inhospitably closed. The quiet of evening was over everything, broken only by the whirr of the paddles of a passenger steamer as it passed carefully up the centre of the river, or the plash of a lighterman's huge sweep as he piloted his unwieldy craft down on the last remnant of the ebb-tide. In shore, various craft sat lightly on the soft Thames mud: some sheeting a rigid uprightness, others with their decks at various angles of discomfort.

The girl stood a minute or two in thought, and put her small foot out tentatively towards the rigging some few feet distant. It was an awkward jump, and she was still considering it, when she heard footsteps behind, and a young man, increasing his pace as he saw her, came rapidly on to the jetty.

"This is the _Foam_, isn't it?" enquired the girl, as he stood expectantly. "I want to see Captain Flower."

"He went ashore about half an hour ago," said the other.

The girl tapped impatiently with her foot. "You don't know what time he'll be back, I suppose?" she enquired.

He shook his head. "I think he's gone for the evening," he said, pondering; "he was very careful about his dress."

The ghost of a smile trembled on the girl's lips. "He has gone to call for me," she said. "I must have missed him. I wonder what I'd better do."

"Wait here till he comes back," said the man, without hesitation.

The girl wavered. "I suppose, he'll guess I've come here," she said, thoughtfully.

"Sure to," said the other promptly.

"It's a long way to Poplar," she said, reflectively. "You're Mr. Fraser, the mate, I suppose? Captain Flower has spoken to me about you."

"That's my name," said the other.

"My name's Tyrell," said the girl, smiling. "I daresay you've heard Captain Flower mention it?"

"Must have done," said Fraser, slowly. He stood looking at the girl before him, at her dark hair and shining dark eyes, inwardly wondering why the captain, a fervid admirer of the sex, had _not_ mentioned her.

"Will you come on board and wait?" he asked. "I'll bring a chair up on deck for you if you will."

The girl stood a moment in consideration, and then, with another faint reference to the distance of Poplar from Wapping, assented. The mate sprang nimbly into the ratlins, and then, extending a hand, helped her carefully to the deck.

"How nice it feels to be on a ship again!" said the girl, looking contentedly about her, as the mate brought up a canvas chair from below. "I used to go with my father sometimes when he was alive, but I haven't been on a ship now for two years or more."


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us