Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/79

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69
THE READING—CLUB.

the scupper-holes—were clogged; and the remnant of the wave, unable to escape from the boat, was absorbed by our clothing, and my new suit began to take additional shades and wrinkles.

"Suddenly that graceless captain shouted something about 'hard lee,' and then the boat lurched and tipped the other way; and we, lying prostrate, were ordered to creep carefully around the centre-board, and lie on the other side. That was the most fiendish! If my memory be good, we crawled back and forth around that centre-board a dozen times. If we were going to win the race, why didn't we keep straight on, and not turn to the right or left every twenty minutes?

"But the climax came. The skipper decided to turn the boat around when she was going at full speed, and to drive her in the opposite direction. Well, when she turned around"—

"Jibed, you mean."

"Yes, that sounds like it. When she jibed she turned over on her side, and a part of the shifting ballast, another man, and myself, went overboard; but we caught on the gunwhale, and, the boat coming down flat again, we crawled in. When I, forlorn and dripping, asked if they turned around usually in that way, they laughed.

"Well, about an hour afterward, after mopping the bottom of the boat some more with our clothing, we reached the landing from which we had departed.

"We did not win.

"In response to an inquiry in regard to our defeat, the captain, ungrateful, said that he had too much ballast. Wasn't that the refinement of cruelty? Wasn't it a dastardly insult? After I'd spoiled a suit of clothes by exerting myself in his behalf in climbing around that centreboard, and nearly lost my life,—of course, if I had not caught the side of the boat when I went overboard, they would not stop to take me in, because the race was very important, and the prize was a three-cornered blue flag,—after all that, I say, 'twas rascally to hint that I'd lost the race for him.

"When the boat was a safe distance from the shore, after leaving me on the wharf, the captain cried, 'Had a good time?' Gentlemen, to reply would have been an indignity to myself; but I indulged in a little pantomime to show the pirate skipper that, if I'd had him there, I'd injure the wharf