“But women get consolation out of queer things sometimes,” he added reflectively, “and so do men.
“I remember when I was knocking about the coasts, an old aunt of mine always persisted in coming down to see the last of me, and bringing the whole family too—no matter if I was only going away for a month. I was her favourite. I always turned up again in a few months; but if I’d come back every next boat it wouldn’t have made the slightest difference to her. She’d say that I mightn’t come back some day, and then she’d never forgive herself nor the family for not seeing me off. I suppose she’ll see the end of me yet if she lives long enough—and she’s a wiry old lady of the old school. She was old-fashioned and dressed like a fright, they said at home. They hated being seen in public with her; to tell the truth, I felt a bit ashamed, too, at times. I wouldn’t be, now. When I’d get her off on to the wharf I’d be overcome with my feelings, and have to retire to the privacy of the bar to hide my emotions till the boat was going. And she’d stand on the end of the pier and wave her handkerchief and mop her old eyes with it until she was removed by force.
“God bless her old heart! There wasn’t so much affection wasted on me at home that I felt crowded by hers; and I never lost anything by her seeing the last of me.
“I do wish the Oracle would stop that confounded fiddle of his—it makes you think over damned old things.”