Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/78

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"Did they put the hose on you?" as the unfortunate man sank, apparently exhausted, into a chair.

"It's not a fire," he growled. "It's a yacht-race."

"What did they do to you?"

"Do to me? They did every thing except drown me, and almost did that. This morning," continued the dejected man, "our local editor sent me down to Swampscott to report a centre-board yacht race. He said if I could get aboard one of the racing yachts I'd have a delightful time,—a regular marine picnic. Well, I had it,—yes, indeedy; enough picnic of the kind to last the rest of life. I knew the yachtsmen were spruce sort of fellows, dressed well; and therefore I put on my best suit,—new rig just from the tailor's,—and hurried away to the Swampscott sands. I found the fleet of centre-boards tied up to a wharf. In making inquiries of a captain, I hinted that it would be agreeable to me to be a passenger on his yacht.

"He smiled serenely, the villain! and said he'd be delighted to have me come aboard. Oh, the baseness of the man! Very soon the race began; and when fairly under way, and I had settled into a comfortable seat to enjoy it, the captain shouted, 'All down, down below the'—the—what do you call the rail that runs around the top of the boat?—the gun—the gun"—


"Yes, the gunwhale. Well, he said we must keep our heads below that, in order to offer less resistance to the wind. Therefore three of us were obliged to lie on our stomachs on the bottom of the boat. If we wanted to see the race, we looked through the skipper's windows"—

"The what?"

"Why, the skipper's holes, as they call them,—a nautical term for windows, I sup"—


"Well, yes, that sounds more like. The man who lay next to me kept himself busy and contented by eating peanuts. But that was nothing, comparatively. Soon we ran into a big wave. If the skipper'd had any sense of honor or regard for his passengers, he would have turned one side to let the wave pass; but he didn't. He ran slap into it, and the crest of it came on board, caromed on the skipper himself, who stood at the helm, and then circulated among the shifting ballast. Owing to the peanut-eater, the skipper-win—no,