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Nothing brings out the worst in me more quickly than sweetly smiling suffering. I picked up the rug, did my customary two-step across the heaving deck and draped the rug over her. She looked at me gravely and said nothing.

I put the book down and headed for the lee door. She opened her eyes and lifted her head.

"Aha!" He regarded his empty glass with an air of surprise, then reached out with an unerring hand. "The kindly healer with his bag of tricks.

"Otto's really a very kindly man. I like Otto. He's always been good to me, Otto has. Most people are good, my dear chap, don't you know that? Most people are kind. Lots of them very kind. But none so kind as Otto. Why, I remember-"

She nodded, her eyes following me until I closed the door behind me.

It was after midnight but not yet closing hours in the lounge bar, for Lonnie Gilbert, with a heroically foolhardy disregard for what would surely be Otto's fearful wrath when the crime was discovered, had both glass doors swung open and latched in position, while he himself was ensconced in some state behind the bar itself, a bottle of malt whisky in one hand, a soda syphon in the other. He beamed paternally at me as I passed through and as it seemed late in the day to point out to Lonnie that the better class malts stood in no need of the anaemic assistance of soda I just nodded and went below.

Once outside I remained still for twenty seconds or so, ignoring the vagrant flurries of snow that even here, on the lee side, seemed bent on getting down my collar and up the trouser cuffs, then walked quickly foreword. I peered through the plate-glass window and she was sitting as I'd left her, only now she had her elbows on her knees and her face in her hands, shaking her head slowly from side to side. Ten years ago I'd have been back in that saloon pretty rapidly, arms round her and telling her that all her troubles were over. That was ten years ago. Now I just looked at her, wondered if she had been expecting me to take a peck at her, then made my way foreword and down to the passenger accommodation.

"Lonnie," I said, I don't think you're the least little bit like Macbeth."

"Thank you, Lonnie, no. Why don't you get to bed? If you keep it up like this, you won't be able to get up tomorrow."

"Lonnie," I said, I don't think you're the least little bit like Macbeth."

Hot-foot to the succour of suffering mankind? A new and dreadful epidemic, is it? Your old Uncle Lonnie is proud of you, boy, proud of you. This Hippocratic spirit-" He broke off only to resume almost at once.

"Neither am I being heavy-handed and moralistic. But I have a sensitive nature and I don't want to be around when you find out that your assessment of Otto is a hundred percent wrong." Lonnie came without a single murmur of protest. Clearly, he had his emergency supplies cached in his cabin. On our stumbling descent of the companionway he said:

"Otto? Do you know something?" Lonnie leaned forward confidentially.

"You think I'm headed for the next world with my gas pedal flat on the floor, don't you?"

"As long as you don't hit anybody it's none of my business how you drive, Lonnie."

"I'm not trying to deprive you of the necessities of life," I explained.

Nothing brings out the worst in me more quickly than sweetly smiling suffering. I picked up the rug, did my customary two-step across the heaving deck and draped the rug over her. She looked at me gravely and said nothing.

"And there you have it in a nutshell. I'm not. A tragic figure, a sad man, fated and laden with doom. Now, me, I'm not like that at all. We Gilberts have the indomitable spirit, the unconquerable soul. Your Shakespeares are all very well, but Walter de la Mare is my boy." He lifted his glass and squinted myopically at it against the light. ---Look your last on all things lovely every hour."'

"Thank you, Lonnie, no. Why don't you get to bed? If you keep it up like this, you won't be able to get up tomorrow."

She nodded, her eyes following me until I closed the door behind me.

Nothing brings out the worst in me more quickly than sweetly smiling suffering. I picked up the rug, did my customary two-step across the heaving deck and draped the rug over her. She looked at me gravely and said nothing.

"Where are you going?"

He stumbled into his cabin, sat heavily on his bed, then moved with remarkable swiftness to one side: I could only conclude that he'd inadvertently sat on a bottle of Scotch. He looked at me, pondering, then said:

"I'm not trying to deprive you of the necessities of life," I explained.

"Where are you going?"

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