“And,” said I, as we leaned upon the bar to which we had made our mutual and unspoke agreement, “ends our romance, and the glory road leads only to disappointment and hokum.”
“Women,” said Bat gloomily, “are the bunk.”
“Listen,” said I, remembering something, “how about that two hundred you owe me?”
“For knockin’ you cold.”
“Steve,” said Bat, laying his hand on my shoulder in brotherly fashion, “you know I been intendin’ to pay you that all along. After all, Steve, we are seamen together, and we have just been did dirt by a woman of another race. We are both American sailors, even if you are a harp, and we got to stand by each other. Let bygones be bygones, says I. The fortunes of war, you know. We fought a fair, clean fight, and you was lucky enough to win. Let’s have one more drink and then part in peace an’ amity.”
“You ain’t holdin’ no grudge account of me layin’ you out?” I asked, suspiciously.
“Steve,” said Bat, waxing oratorical, “all men is brothers, and the fact that you was lucky enough to crown me don’t alter my admiration and affection. Tomorrow we will be sailin’ the high seas, many miles apart. Let our thoughts of each other be gentle and fraternal. Let us forgit old feuds and old differences. Let this be the dawn of a new age of brotherly affection and square dealin’.”
“And how about my two hundred?”
“Steve, you know I am always broke at the end of my shore leave. I give you my word I’ll pay you them two hundred smackers. Ain’t the word of a comrade enough? Now le’s drink to our future friendship and the amicable relations of the crews of our respective ships. Steve, here’s my hand! Let this here shake be a symbol of our friendship. May no women ever come between us again! Good-bye, Steve! Good luck! Good luck!”
And so saying, we shook and turned away. That is, I turned and then whirled back as quick as I could–just in time to duck the right swing he’d started the minute my back was turned, and to knock him cold with a bottle I snatched off the bar.
If you enjoyed that one, I bet you’ll enjoy this!
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Steve Costigan is a mariner and amateur boxer, with a heart of gold and a head of solid wood. In these 21 tales, he blows around the waterfronts of various Far East ports with his white bulldog Mike, getting swindled by clever dames, subduing the occasional underworld criminal, and getting into fistfights with anyone who can take a good punch, in and out of the ring.
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