Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Captain Lash: instalment 3

"Oh, quit it!" counselled Cocky, reaching for the keys of his instrument of torture.  "Pipe that house-side along of her -- she's booked."  Lash halted.  A man as big as himself, a man who looked as if he had been weaned on sulphuric acid, and nurtured through his adolescence on Greek fire, a man whose arms were laden with parcels approached the white-frocked girl. Lash saw an emotion akin to terror express itself in the flower-like face.  The man pressed his load into the girl's arms, spoke harshly, and turned away, shouldering a bull-like way through the swirls of humanity.

"Come back!" pleaded Cocky.  If Lash heard, he took no heed.  Clean across the street he went, dodging the traffic miraculously, and halted.

"Sweetheart," he entreated, "I'm going your way.  Which way you going, Blondie ---?"

"A bit fresh, aren't you?" asked the girl.  But she did not appear as annoyed as Mrs Grundy would have wished her to be, either; for notwithstanding his ruggedness, Lash's magnificent self inevitably aroused admiration.

"Fresh?  Me?  Fresh as the lilies of the dell, yes," grinned the cavalier of the shovel.  "Anyhow, I'm goin' your way; which is it?"  Calmly he took possession of a load of parcels, notwithstanding her vague protests and her somewhat timid glances up and down the street.  It is doubtful whether Lash would have continued his interest in her but for the wholly forbidding appearance of her lawful companion; but the hot blood of his manhood was tingling in his veins, since danger ways a titillating spice to his adventurous soul.

"Never mind him," he declared.  "Any man that leaves a lady to hunch such a load as this, isn't rightly a man.  You lead the way." Across the street Cocky tore the stifling air to rags with the brayed strains of The Campbells Are Coming.  It was of no use -- had the clan itself appeared arrayed in full panoply of war, Captain Lash would not have been diverted from his hastily-planned course.  As he linked a spare arm under the girl's elbow, Cocky, his shoulders shrugged in resignation, followed meekly at a distance.

"Well, then, here we are, and thank you," said the incognita.

"Only too pleased," murmured Lash, halting at the narrow doorway.  "Did anyone ever tell you that when you smile it makes the sun look pale?"

Excuse me, but I think I'm going to be sick.  That last line reminds me of an ironic oral application to take annual leave made to me by former Detective Sergeant Roy Saunders, once of the Metropolitan Police Fraud Squad, later of the Serious Fraud Office: "Ah, good morning, Parker.  May I just say that your charm is exceeded only by your great personal beauty?"  "What do you want?"  "Day off on Thursday please."  "Get out of here."

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