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W. W. (William Wymark) Jacobs.

Ship's company, by W.W. Jacobs. Illustrated by Will Owen online

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SHIP'S
COMPANY




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THE LIBRARY
OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



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SHIPS COMPANY



Br THE SAME AUTHOR



MANY CARGOES

THE SKIPPERS WOOING

SEA URCHINS

A MASTER OF CRAFT

LIGHT FREIGHTS

AT SUNWICH PORT

THE LADY OF THE BARGE

ODD CRAFT

DIALSTONE LANE

SHORT CRUISES

CAPTAINS ALL

SALTHAVEN

SAILORS' KNOTS



, "t> iv ^



— if~'> !•"••" - "ill |(r I _

'f\ fifi'^




ASKBU A POLICEMAN THE DISTANCE TO CLAPHAM (/. 209)

Frontispiece



SHIP'S COMPANY



BY



W. W. JACOBS



ILLUSTRATED BT WILL OfVEN



HODDER AND STOUGHTON

LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO



Richard Clay & Sons, Limited,

BRUNSWICK STREET, STAMFORD STREET, i.fc.
AND BUNGAY, SUFFOLK.






4



TO

MY DAUGHTER OLWEN



ENGT l«;q



CONTENTS



FINE FEATHERS ........ I

II

FRIENDS IN NEED -25

III

GOOD INTENTIONS ....... 49

IV

FAIRY GOLD 70

V

WATCH-DOGS .... ... 94

VI

THE BEQUEST II5

VII

THE GUARDIAN ANGEL 1 38

ix



CONTENTS



VIII

DUAL CONTROL ...

IX

SKILLED ASSISTANCE



fAGE
162



. 184



X

FOR BETTER OR WORSE ...••• 204

XI

THE OLD MAN OF THE SEA 22?

XII

"manners makyth man" 252



ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

"asked a policeman the distance to clapham"

Frontispiece

" ' CAN I 'AVE IT TOOK OFF WHILE I EAT MY BLOATER ? '" 7

"'been PADDLIn'?' he inquired" .... 22



MR. GIBBS, WITH HIS BACK AGAINST THE POST, FOUGHT

FOR HIS WHISKERS FOR NEARLY HALF-AN-HOUR " 33



•' ' WHERE IS HE ? ' SHE GASPED " 43

"'WHAT ON earth's THE MATTER?' SHE INQUIRED,

fumbling in her pocket for the key as her
husband executed a clumsy but noisy break-
down on the front step " . . . . 81

" mr. chase, with his friend in his powerful
grasp, was doing his best, as he expressed it,
to shake the life out of him" . . • qi

" the quietest man o' the whole lot was bob

pretty" 105



"some of 'em went AND TOLD MR. BUNNETT SOME



11



MORE THINGS ABOUT BOB NEXT DAY . . . I09

JUST WHAT I TOLD HER,' SAID MR. DIGSON. ' " WHAT'lL
please YOU WILL BE SURE TO PLEASE HIM,"

I SAYS ' " 1 30

xi



xii ILLUSTRATIONS



PAGE



" ' she'll be riding in her carriage-and-pair in six
months, anyhow : the richest woman in little
moltcn'" 133

" THE LODGER WAS STANDING AT THE FOOT o' GINGER's

BED, GOING THROUGH 'iS POCKETS "... 144



<( (



WE THOUGHT YOU MIGHT WANT IT, SAM, SES PETER 150



" a faint, a very faint, squeeze in return decided

him" 171

" he felt the large and clumsy hand of mr.

butler take him by the collar" . . .- 183

" ' YOU TELL 'eR THAT THERE'S TWO GENTLEMEN HERE

WHAT HAVE BROUGHT 'ER NEWS OF 'er HUSBAND ' " 211

'•'don't you KNOW ME, MARY?'" . . . . 217

"'if I TAKE YOU BACK AGAIN,' REPEATED HIS WIFE,

'ARE YOU GOING TO BEHAVE YOURSELF?'". . 225

"'it'll do to go on with,' HE SAID " . . . 231

" ' 'OW MUCH DID YOU SAY YOU'd GOT IN THE BANK ? ' " 233

" ' THE OTHER HALF AND MY BEST GOLD WATCH AND



CHAIN I HAVE LEFT TO MY DEAR YOUNG PAL,



CHARLIE HILLS '"



250



"ARTER trying HIS 'aRDEST, he COULD ONLY ROCK

ME A bit" 261

"'gal overboard!' 1 SES, shouting" . . . 267



i



FINE FEATHERS

Mr. Jobson awoke with a Sundayish feeling,
probably due to the fact that it was Bank Holiday.
He had been aware, in a dim fashion, of the
rising of Mrs. Jobson some time before, and in a
semi-conscious condition had taken over a large
slice of unoccupied territory. He stretched him-
self and yawned, and then, by an eifort of will,
threw off the clothes and springing out of bed
reached for his trousers.

He was an orderly man, and had hung them
every night for over twenty years on the brass
knob on his side of the bed. He had hung them
there the night before, and now they had ab-
sconded with a pair of red braces just entering
their teens. Instead, on a chair at the foot of the
bed was a collection of garments that made him
shudder. With trembling fingers he turned over
a black tail-coat, a white waistcoat, and a pair of

R T



2 SHIP'S COMPANY

light check trousers. A white shirt, a collar, and
tie kept them company, and, greatest outrage of
all, a tall silk hat stood on its own band-box beside
the chair. Mr. Jobson, fingering his bristly chin,
stood regarding the collection with a wan smile.

" So that's their little game, is it? " he muttered.
" Want to make a toff of me. Where's my clothes
got to, I wonder?"

A hasty search satisfied him that they were not
in the room, and, pausing only to drape himself
in the counterpane, he made his way into the next.
He passed on to the others, and then, with a
growing sense of alarm, stole softly downstairs
and making his way to the shop continued the
search. With the shutters up the place was almost
in darkness, and in spite of his utmost care apples
and potatoes rolled on to the floor and travelled
across it in a succession of bumps. Then a sudden
turn brought the scales clattering down.

" Good gracious, Alf ! " said a voice. " What-
ever are you a-doing of? "

Mr. Jobson turned and eyed his wife, who was
standing at the door.

*' I'm looking for my clothes, mother," he
replied, briefly.



FINE FEATHERS 3

" Clothes ! " said Mrs. Jobson, with an obvious
attempt at unconcerned speech. " Clothes ! Why,
they're on the chair."

" I mean clothes fit for a Christian to wear — fit
for a greengrocer to wear," said Mr. Jobson,
raising his voice.

" It was a little surprise for you, dear," said his
wife. " Me and Bert and Gladys and Dorothy
'ave all been saving up for it for ever so long."

" It's very kind of you all," said Mr. Jobson,
feebly — *' very, but "

" They've all been doing without things them-
selves to do it," interjected his wife. "As for
Gladys, I'm sure nobody knows what she's given
up"

" Well, if nobody knows, it don't matter," said
Mr. Jobson. "As I was saying, it's very kind of
you all, but I can't wear 'em. Where's my
others ? "

Mrs. Jobson hesitated.

" Where's my others ? " repeated her husband.

" They're being took care of," replied his wife,
with spirit. " Aunt Emma's minding 'em for you
— and you know what she is. H'sh! Alf ! Alf!
I'm surprised at you ! "

B 2



4 SHIP'S COMPANY

Mr. Jobson coughed. " It's the collar, mother,"
he said at last. " I ain't wore a collar for over
twenty years; not since we was walking out
together. And then I didn't like it."

" More shame for you," said his wife. " I'm
sure there's no other respectable tradesman goes
about with a handkerchief knotted round his
neck."

" P'r'aps their skins ain't as tender as what mine
is," urged Mr. Jobson; "and besides, fancy me in
a top-'at ! Why, I shall be the laughing-stock
of the place."

" Nonsense ! " said his wife. " It's only the
lower classes what would laugh, and nobody
minds what they think."

Mr. Jobson sighed. "Well, I shall 'ave to go
back to bed again, then," he said, ruefully. " So
long, mother. Hope you have a pleasant time at
the Palace."

He took a reef in the counterpane and with a
fair amount of dignity, considering his appearance,
stalked upstairs again and stood gloomily con-
sidering affairs in his bedroom. Ever since
Gladys and Dorothy had been big enough to be



FINE FEATHERS 5

objects of interest to the young men of the neigh-
bourhood the clothes nuisance had been rampant.
He peeped through the window-blind at the bright
sunshine outside, and then looked back at the
tumbled bed. A murmur of voices downstairs
apprised him that the conspirators were awaiting
the result.

He dressed at last and stood like a lamb — a
red-faced, bull-necked lamb — while Mrs. Jobson
fastened his collar for him.

" Bert wanted to get a taller one," she remarked,
" but I said this would do to begin with."

" Wanted it to come over my mouth, I s'pose,"
said the unfortunate Mr. Jobson. "Well, 'ave it
your own way. Don't mind about me. What with
the trousers and the collar, I couldn't pick up a
sovereign if I saw one in front of me."

'* If you sec one I'll pick it up for you," said his
wife, taking up the hat and moving towards the
door. " Come along ! "

Mr. Jobson, with his arms standing out stiffly
from his sides and his head painfully erect,
followed her downstairs, and a sudden hush as he
entered the kitchen testified to the effect produced



6 SHIP'S COIVIPANY

by his appearance. It was followed by a hum
of admiration that sent the blood flying to his
head.

"Why he couldn't have done it before I don't
know," said the dutiful Gladys. " Why, there
ain't a man in the street looks a quarter as smart."

" Fits him like a glove ! " said Dorothy, walking
round him.

"Just the right length," said Bert, scrutinizing
the coat.

"And he stands as straight as a soldier," said
Gladys, clasping her hands gleefully.

"Collar," said Mr. Jobson, briefly. "Can I
'ave it took off while I eat my bloater, mother? "

" Don't be silly, Alf ," said his wife. " Gladys,
pour your father out a nice, strong, 'ot cup o' tea;
and don't forget that the train starts at ha'-past
ten."

" It'll start all right when it sees me," observed
Mr. Jobson, squinting down at his trousers.

Mother and children, delighted with the success
of their scheme, laughed applause, and Mr.
Jobson, somewhat gratified at the success of his
retort, sat down and attacked his breakfast. A



FINE FEATHERS T

short clay pipe, smoked as a digestive, was im-
pounded by the watchful Mrs. Jobson the moment
he had finished it.




"can I 'AVE IT TOOK OFF WHILE I EAT MY BLOATER? '



" He'd smoke it along the street if I didn't,"
she declared.



8 SHIP'S COMPANY

"And why not?" demanded her husband. ** I
always do."

" Not in a top-'at," said Mrs. Jobson, shaking
her head at him.

'' Or a tail-coat," said Dorothy.

" One would spoil the other," said Gladys.

" I wish something would spoil the hat," said
Mr. Jobson, wistfully. "It's no good; I must
smoke, mother."

Mrs. Jobson smiled, and, going to the cupboard,
produced, with a smile of triumph, an envelope
containing seven dangerous-looking cigars. Mr.
Jobson whistled, and taking one up examined it
carefully.

"What do they call 'em, mother.'* " he inquired.
" The ' Cut and Try Again Smokes ' ? "

Mrs. Jobson smiled vaguely. " Me and the
girls are going upstairs to get ready now," she said.
" Keep your eye on him, Bert ! "

Father and son grinned at each other, and, to
pass the time, took a cigar apiece. They had just
finished them when a swish and rustle of skirts
sounded from the stairs, and Mrs. Jobson and the
girls, beautifully attired, entered the room and



FINE FEATHERS 9

stood buttoning their gloves. A strong smell of
scent fought with the aroma of the cigars.

" You get round me like, so as to hide me a bit,"
entreated Mr. Jobson, as they quitted the house.
" I don't mind so much when we get out of our
street."

Mrs. Jobson laughed his fears to scorn.

" Well, cross the road, then," said Mr. Jobson,
urgently. " There's Bill Foley standing at his
door."

His wife sniffed. " Let him stand," she said,
haughtily.

Mr. Foley failed to avail himself of the per-
mission. He regarded Mr. Jobson with dilated
eyeballs, and, as the party approached, sank
slowly into a sitting position on his doorstep, and
as the door opened behind him rolled slowly over
on to his back and presented an enormous pair
of hob-nailed soles to the gaze of an interested
world.

" I told you 'ow it would be," said the blushing
Mr. Jobson. " You know what Bill's like as well
as I do."

His wife tossed her head and they all quickened



10 SHIP'S COMPANY

their pace. The voice of the ingenious Mr. Foley
calling piteously for his mother pursued them to
the end of the road.

" I knew what it 'ud be," said Mr. Jobson,
wiping his hot face. " Bill will never let me 'ear
the end of this."

" Nonsense ! " said his wife, bridling. *' Do you
mean to tell me you've got to ask Bill Foley 'ow
you're to dress? He'll soon get tired of it; and,
besides, it's just as well to let him see who you are.
There's not many tradesmen as would lower
themselves by mixing with a plasterer."

Mr. Jobson scratched his ear, but wisely re-
frained from speech. Once clear of his own
district mental agitation subsided, but bodily dis-
comfort increased at every step. The hat and the
collar bothered him most, but every article of
attire contributed its share. His uneasiness was
so manifest that Mrs. Jobson, after a little
womanly sympathy, suggested that, besides
Sundays, it might be as well to wear them
occasionally of an evening in order to get used to
them.

*' What, 'ave I got to wear them every



FINE FEATHERS 11

Sunday?" demanded the unfortunate, blankly;
"why, I thought they was only for Bank
Holidays/'

Mrs. Jobson told him not to be silly.

" Straight, I did," said her husband, earnestly.
"You've no idea 'ow I'm suffering; I've got a
headache, I'm arf choked, and there's a feeling
about my waist as though I'm being cuddled by
somebody I don't like."

Mrs. Jobson said it would soon wear off, and,
seated in the train that bore them to the Crystal
Palace, put the hat on the rack. Her husband's
attempt to leave it in the train was easily frustrated
and his explanation that he had forgotten all
about it received in silence. It was evident that
he would require watching, and under the clear
gaze of his children he seldom had a button
undone for more than three minutes at a time.

The day was hot and he perspired profusely.
His collar lost its starch — a thing to be grateful
for — and for the greater part of the day he wore
his tie under the left ear. By the time they had
arrived home again he was in a state of open
mutiny.



12 SHIP'S COMPANY

" Never again," he said, loudly, as he tore the
collar off and hung his coat on a chair.

There was a chorus of lamentation; but he re-
mained firm. Dorothy began to sniff ominously,
and Gladys spoke longingly of the fathers pos-
sessed by other girls. It was not until Mrs.
Jobson sat eyeing her supper, instead of eating it,
that he began to temporize. He gave way bit by
bit, garment by garment. When he gave way at
last on the great hat question, his wife took up her
knife and fork.

His workaday clothes appeared in his bedroom
next morning, but the others still remained in the
clutches of Aunt Emma. The suit provided was
of considerable antiquity, and at closing time, Mr.
Jobson, after some hesitation, donned his new
clothes and with a sheepish glance at his wife
went out. Mrs. Jobson nodded delight at her
daughters.

" He's coming round," she whispered. " He
liked that ticket-collector calling him ' sir' vester-
day. I noticed it. He's put on everything but the
topper. Don't say nothing about it; take it as a
matter of course."



FINE FEATHERS 13

It became evident as the days wore on that she
was right. Bit by bit she obtained the other
clothes — with some difficulty — from Aunt Emma,
but her husband still wore his best on Sundays
and sometimes of an evening ; and twice, on going
into the bedroom suddenly, she had caught him
surveying himself at different angles in the glass.
And, moreover, he had spoken with some heat —
for such a good-tempered man — on the shortcom-
ings of Dorothy's laundry work.

We'd better put your collars out," said his wife.
And the shirts," said Mr. Jobson. " Nothing
looks worse than a bad got-up cuff."

" You're getting quite dressy," said his wife,
with a laugh.

Mr. Jobson eyed her seriously.

" No, mother, no," he replied. " All I've done
is to find out that you're right, as you always 'ave
been. A man in my persition has got no right to
dress as if he kept a stall on the kerb. It ain't fair
to the gals, or to young Bert. I don't want 'em to
be ashamed of their father."

" They wouldn't be that," said Mrs. Jobson.

" I'm trying to improve," said her husband.



i(



II



14 SHIP'S COMPANY

" O' course, it's no use dressing up and behaving
wrong, and yesterday I bought a book what tells
you all about behaviour."

" Well done ! " said the delighted Mrs. Jobson.

Mr. Jobson was glad to find that her opinion
on his purchase was shared by the rest of the
family. Encouraged by their approval, he told
them of the benefit he was deriving from it; and
at tea-time that day, after a little hesitation, ven-
tured to affirm that it was a book that might do
them all good.

" Hear, hear ! " said Gladys.

" For one thing," said Mr. Jobson, slowly, " I
didn't know before that it was wrong to blow your
tea; and as for drinking it out of a saucer, the
book says it's a thing that is only done by the
lower orders."

"If you're in a hurry?" demanded Mr. Bert
Jobson, pausing with his saucer half-way to his
mouth.

" If you're in anything," responded his father.
"A gentleman would rather go without his tea
than drink it out of a saucer. That's the sort o'
thing Bill Foley would do."



FINE FEATHERS 15

Mr. Bert Jobson drained his saucer thought-
fully.

" Picking- your teeth with your finger is wrong,
too," said Mr. Jobson, taking a breath. " Food
should be removed in a — a — un — undemonstrative
fashion with the tip of the tongue."

" I wasn't," said Gladys.

" A knife," pursued her father — " a knife should
never in any circumstances be allowed near the
mouth."

" You've made mother cut herself," said
Gladys, sharply; "that's what you've done."

" I thought it was my fork," said Mrs, Jobson.
" I was so busy listening I wasn't thinking what
I was doing. Silly of me."

"We shall all do better in time," said Mr.
Jobson. " But what I want to know is, what about
the gravy? You can't eat it with a fork, and it
don't say nothing about a spoon. Oh, and what
about our cold tubs, mother? "

" Cold tubs? " repeated his wife, staring at him.
"What cold tubs ? "

" The cold tubs me and Bert ought to 'ave,"
said Mr. Jobson. " It says in the book that an



16 SHIP'S COMPANY

Englishman would just as soon think of going
without his breakfus' as his cold tub; and you
know how fond I am of my breakfus'."

"And what about me and the gals?" said the
amazed Mrs. Jobson.

" Don't you worry about me, ma," said Gladys,
hastily.

" The book don't say nothing about gals; it says
Englishmen," said Mr. Jobson.

" But we ain't got a bathroom," said his son.

" It don't signify," said Mr. Jobson. " A wash-
tub'U do. Me and Bert'll 'ave a washtub each
brought up overnight; and it'll be exercise for
the gals bringing the water up of a morning to
us."

"Well, I don't know, I'm sure," said the be-
wildered Mrs. Jobson. " Anyway, you and Bert'll
'ave to carry the tubs up and down. Messy, /
call it."

" It's got to be done, mother," said Mr. Jobson
cheerfully. " It's only the lower orders what don't
'ave their cold tub reg'lar. The book says so."

He trundled the tub upstairs the same night
and, after his wife had gone downstairs next



FINE FEATHERS 17

morning, opened the door and took in the can and
pail that stood outside. He poured the contents
into the tub, and, after eyeing it thoughtfully for
some time, agitated the surface with his right foot.
He dipped and dried that much enduring member
some ten times, and after regarding the damp con-
dition of the towels with great satisfaction, dressed
himself and went downstairs.

" I'm all of a glow," he said, seating himself at
the table. " I believe I could eat a elephant. I
feel as fresh as a daisy ; don't you, Bert ? "

Mr. Jobson, junior, who had just come in from
the shop, remarked, shortly, that he felt more like
a blooming snowdrop.

" And somebody slopped a lot of water over the
stairs carrying it up," said Mrs. Jobson. " I don't
believe as everybody has cold baths of a morning.
It don't seem wholesome to me."

Mr. Jobson took a book from his pocket, and
opening it at a certain page, handed it over to her.

" If I'm going to do the thing at all I must do
it properly," he said, gravely. " I don't suppose
Bill Foley ever 'ad a cold tub in his life ; he don't
know no better. Gladys! "



18 SHIP'S COMPANY

" Halloa ! " said that young lady, with a start.

" Are you — are you eating that kipper with your
fingers ? "

Gladys turned and eyed her mother appeal-
ingly.

" Page — page one hundred and something, I
think it is," said her father, with his mouth full.
" * Manners at the Dinner Table/ It's near the
end of the book, I know."

" If I never do no worse than that I shan't come
to no harm," said his daughter.

Mr. Jobson shook his head at her, and after
eating his breakfast with great care, wiped his
mouth on his handkerchief and went into the
shop.

" I suppose it's all right," said Mrs. Jobson,
looking after him, " but he's taking it very serious
— very."

" He washed his hands five times yesterday
morning," said Dorothy, who had just come in
from the shop to her breakfast; "and kept cus-
tomers waiting while he did it, too."

" It's the cold-tub business I can't get over,"
said her mother. " I'm sure it's more trouble to



FINE FEATHERS 19

empty them than what it is to fill them. There's
quite enough work in the 'ouse as it is."

"Too much," said Bert, with unwonted con-
sideration.

" I wish he'd leave me alone," said Gladys.
" My food don't do me no good when he's
watching every mouthful I eat."

Of murmurings such as these Mr. Jobson heard
nothing, and in view of the great improvement in
his dress and manners, a strong resolution was
passed to avoid the faintest appearance of discon-
tent. Even when, satisfied with his own appear-
ance, he set to work to improve that of Mrs.
Jobson, that admirable woman made no complaint.
Hitherto the brightness of her attire and the size
of her hats had been held to atone for her lack of
figure and the roomy comfort of her boots, but Mr.
Jobson, infected with new ideas, refused to listen
to such sophistry. He went shopping with
Dorothy; and the Sunday after, when Mrs. Jobson
went for an airing with him, she walked in boots
with heels two inches high and toes that ended
in a point. A waist that had disappeared some
years before was recaptured and placed in durance

C 2



20 SHIP'S COMPANY

vile; and a hat which called for a new style of
hair-dressing completed the effect.

" You look splendid, ma ! " said Gladys, as she
watched their departure. " Splendid ! "

" I don't feel splendid," sighed Mrs. Jobson to
her husband. " These 'ere boots feel red-'ot."

" Your usual size," said Mr. Jobson, looking
across the road.

"And the clothes seem just a teeny-weefiy bit
tight, p'r'aps," continued his wife.

Mr. Jobson regarded her critically. " P'r'aps
they might have been let out a quarter of an inch,"
he said, thoughtfully. " They're the best fit
you've 'ad for a long time, mother. I only 'ope
the gals'll 'ave such good figgers."

His wife smiled faintly, but, with little breath
for conversation walked on for some time in
silence. A growing redness of face testified to
her distress.

" I — I feel awful," she said at last, pressing her
hand to her side. ''Awful.''

" You'll soon get used to it," said Mr. Jobson,
gently. " Look at me ! I felt like you do at first,
and now I wouldn't go back to old clothes — and



FINE FEATHERS 21

comfort — for anything. You'll get to love them
boots."

" If I could only take 'em off I should love 'em
better," said his wife, panting; "and I can't
breathe properly — I can't breathe."

" You look ripping, mother," said her husband,
simply.

His wife essayed another smile, but failed. She
set her lips together and plodded on, Mr. Jobson
chatting cheerily and taking no notice of the fact
that she kept lurching against him. Two miles
from home she stopped and eyed him fixedly.

" If I don't get these boots off, Alf, I shall be a
'elpless cripple for the rest of my days," she
murmured. " My ankle's gone over three times."

" But you can't take 'em off here," said Mr.
Jobson, hastily. " Think 'ow it would look."

" I must 'ave a cab or something," said his wife,
hysterically. " If I don't get 'em off soon I shall



scream."



She leaned against the iron palings of a house
for support, while Mr. Jobson, standing on the
kerb, looked up and down the road for a cab. A
four-wheeler appeared just in time to prevent the



22



SHIP'S COMPANY



scandal of Mrs. Jobson removing her boots in the
street.

" Thank goodness," she gasped, as she climbed




BKKN PADDI.IN'?" HK INQUIRED



in. '' Never mind about untying 'em, Alf ; cut the
laces and get 'em off quick."

They drove home with the boots standing side



FINE FEATHERS 23

by side on the seat in front of them. Mr. Jobson


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Online LibraryW. W. (William Wymark) JacobsShip's company, by W.W. Jacobs. Illustrated by Will Owen → online text (page 1 of 11)