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datatime: 2022-12-02 03:40:56 Author:fUHJQEGv

"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-"

"And that, my dear boy, is the whole point of the exercise, I don't want to get up tomorrow. The day after tomorrow? Well, yes, if I must, I'll face the day after tomorrow. I don't want to, mind you, for tomorrows, We found, are always distressingly similar to todays. The only good thing you can say about a today is that at any given moment such and such a portion of it is already irrevocably past'-he paused to admire his speech control-"Irrevocably past, as I say, and, with the passing of every moment, so much less of it to come. But all of tomorrow is still to come. Think of it. All of it-the livelong day." He lifted his recharged glass. "Others drink to forget the past. But some of us-very, very few and it would not be right of me to say that we're gifted with a prescience and understanding and intelligence far beyond the normal ken, so I'll just say we're different some of us, I say, drink to forget the future. How, you will ask, can one forget the future? Well, for one thing, it takes practice. And, of course, a little assistance." He drank half his malt in one gulp and intoned: Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable-"

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

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

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."

"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:

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.

"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-?'

"Where are you going?"

"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."

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

Back in my corner I picked up the booklet again but instead of reading it got to wondering about my cabin and those who might visit it during my absence. Mary Stuart had visited it, but then she'd told me she had and the fact that she was here now confirmed the reason for her visit. At least, it seemed to confirm it. She was scared, she said, she was lonely and so she naturally wanted company. Why my company? Why not that of, say, Charles Conrad who was a whole lot younger, nicer, and better looking than I was? Or even his other two fellow actors, Gunther Jungbeck and ion Heyter, both very personable characters indeed? Maybe she wanted to be with me for all the wrong reasons. Maybe she was watching me, maybe she was virtually guarding me, maybe she was giving someone the opportunity to visit my cabin while-I was suddenly very acutely aware that there were things in my cabin that I'd rather not be seen by others.

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.

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.

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.

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

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. I just-are you coming back?"

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

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