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datatime: 2022-12-05 22:39:04 Author:NBWaifYw

"Now that we have touched, inadvertently chanced upon, as one might say, this topic-spirit, the blushful hippocrene-I wonder if by any chance you would care to join me in a thimbleful of the elixir I have here-?'

"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:

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.

If anybody had been in my cabin and gone through my belongings, he'd done it in a very circumspect way. As far as I could recall everything was as I had left it and nothing had been disturbed but, then, a practised searcher rarely left any trace of his passing. Both my cases had elasticised linen pockets in the lids and in each pocket in each lid, holding the lids as nearly horizontal as possible, I placed a small Goin just at the entrance to the pocket. Then I locked the cases. In spite of the trawler's wildly erratic behaviour those coins would remain where they were, held in place by the pressure of the clothes inside but as soon as the lid was opened, the pressure released, and the lid then lifted even partway towards the vertical, the Coins would slide down to the feel? of the pockets. I then locked my medical bag-it was considerably larger and heavier than the average medical bag but then it held a considerably greater amount of equipment -and put it out in the passage. I closed the door behind me, carefully wedging a spent book match between the foot of the door and the sill: that door would have to open only a crack and the match would drop clear. Lonnie, unsurprisingly, was still at his station in the lounge when I reached there.

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.

He broke off as I went round the back of the bar, replaced the bottles, locked the doors, placed the keys in his dressing-gown pocket and took his arm.

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

"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?"

"Where are you going?"

"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.

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

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

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.

"Where are you going?"

I don't think he quite meant it in that way, Lonnie. Anyway, doctor's orders and do me a favour-get to hell out of here. Otto will have you drawn and quartered if he finds you here."

"I'm sorry, too. I'm not rude," I lied, "just tired. Below. Back in a minute."

"I'm sorry, too. I'm not rude," I lied, "just tired. Below. Back in a minute."

I don't think he quite meant it in that way, Lonnie. Anyway, doctor's orders and do me a favour-get to hell out of here. Otto will have you drawn and quartered if he finds you here."

He broke off as I went round the back of the bar, replaced the bottles, locked the doors, placed the keys in his dressing-gown pocket and took his arm.

"I'm sorry, too. I'm not rude," I lied, "just tired. Below. Back in a minute."

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.

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

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

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