Their faces paled a little, but they assented with as
good a grace as they could. Harris wanted to cable his
mother - thought it his duty to do that, as he was all
she had in this world - so, while he attended to this,
I went down to the longest and finest raft and hailed
the captain with a hearty "Ahoy, shipmate!" which put us
upon pleasant terms at once, and we entered upon business.
I said we were on a pedestrian tour to Heidelberg,
and would like to take passage with him. I said this
partly through young Z, who spoke German very well,
and partly through Mr. X, who spoke it peculiarly. I can
UNDERSTAND German as well as the maniac that invented it,
but I TALK it best through an interpreter.
The captain hitched up his trousers, then shifted
his quid thoughtfully. Presently he said just what I
was expecting he would say - that he had no license
to carry passengers, and therefore was afraid the law
would be after him in case the matter got noised about
or any accident happened. So I CHARTERED the raft
and the crew and took all the responsibilities on myself.
With a rattling song the starboard watch bent to their
work and hove the cable short, then got the anchor home,
and our bark moved off with a stately stride, and soon
was bowling along at about two knots an hour.