I catch a glimpse of a man at the rail; the red lantern slung at the port shines down upon his head, and I get up and talk over to him. I had no object in talking, as I did not expect to get a reply, either. I said:
"Do you sail to-night, Captain?"
"Yes; in a short time," answered the man. He spoke Swedish.
"Hem, I suppose you wouldn't happen to need a man?"
I was at this instant utterly indifferent as to whether I was met by a refusal or not; it was all the same to me what reply the man gave me, so I stood and waited for it.
"Well, no," he replied; "unless it chanced to be a young fellow."
"A young fellow!" I pulled myself together, took off my glasses furtively and thrust them into my pocket, stepped up the gangway, and strode on deck.
"I have no experience," said I; "but I can do anything I am put to. Where are you bound for?"
"We are in ballast for Leith, to fetch coal for Cadiz."
"All right," said I, forcing myself upon the man; "it's all the same to me where I go; I am prepared to do my work."