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from Stageland
by Jerome K. Jerome

   HE does suffer so with his trousers. He has to stop and pull them up about twice every minute.

   One of these days, if he is not careful, there will be an accident happen to those trousers.

   If the stage sailor will follow our advice, he will be warned in time and will get a pair of braces.

   Sailors in real life do not have nearly so much trouble with their trousers as sailors on the stage do. Why is this? We have seen a good deal of sailors in real life, but on only one occasion, that we can remember, did we ever see a real sailor pull his trousers up.

   And then he did not do it a bit like they do it on the stage.

   The stage sailor places his right hand behind him and his left in front, leaps up into the air, kicks out his leg behind in a gay and bird-like way, and the thing is done.

   The real sailor that we saw began by saying a bad word. Then he leaned up against a brick wall and undid his belt, pulled up his "bags" as he stood there (he never attempted to leap up into the air), tucked in his jersey, shook his legs and walked on.

   It was a most unpicturesque performance to watch.

   The thing that the stage sailor most craves in this life is that somebody should shiver his timbers.

   "Shiver my timbers!" is the request he makes to every one he meets. But nobody ever does it.

   His chief desire with regard to the other people in the play is that they should "belay there, avast!" We do not know how this is done; but the stage sailor is a good and kindly man, and we feel convinced he would not recommend the exercise if it were not conducive to piety and health.

   The stage sailor is good to his mother and dances the hornpipe beautifully. We have never found a real sailor who could dance a hornpipe, though we have made extensive inquiries throughout the profession. We were introduced to a ship's steward who offered to do us a cellar-flap for a pot of four-half, but that was not what we wanted.

   The stage sailor is gay and rollicking: the real sailors we have met have been, some of them, the most worthy and single-minded of men, but they have appeared sedate rather than gay, and they haven't rollicked much.

   The stage sailor seems to have an easy time of it when at sea. The hardest work we have ever seen him do then has been folding up a rope or dusting the sides of the ship.

   But it is only in his very busy moments that he has to work to this extent; most of his time is occupied in chatting with the captain.

   By the way, speaking of the sea, few things are more remarkable in their behavior than a stage sea. It must be difficult to navigate in a stage sea, the currents are so confusing.

   As for the waves, there is no knowing how to steer for them; they are so tricky. At one moment they are all on the starboard, the sea on the other side of the vessel being perfectly calm, and the next instant they have crossed over and are all on the starboard, and before the captain can think how to meet this new dodge, the whole ocean has slid round and got itself into a heap at the back of him.

   Seamanship is useless against such very unprofessional conduct as this, and the vessel is wrecked.

   A wreck at (stage) sea is a truly awful sight. The thunder and lightning never leave off for an instant; the crew run round and round the mast and scream; the heroine, carrying the stage child in her arms aud with her back hair down, rushes about aud gets in everybody's way. The comic man alone is calm!

   The next instant the bulwarks fall down flat on the deck and the mast goes straight up into the sky and disappears, then the water reaches the powder magazine and there is a terrific explosion.

   This is followed by a sound as of linen sheets being ripped up, and the passengers and crew hurry downstairs into the cabin, evidently with the idea of getting out of the way of the sea, which has climbed up and is now level with the deck.

   The next moment the vessel separates in the middle and goes off R. and L., so as to make room for a small boat containing, the heroine, the child, the comic man, and one sailor.

   The way small boats are managed at (stage) sea is even more wonderful than the way in which ships are sailed.

   To begin with, everybody sits sideways along the middle of the boat, all facing the starboard. They do not attempt to row. One man does all the work with one scull. This scull be puts down through the water till it touches the bed of the ocean, and then he shoves.

   "Deep-sea punting" would be the technical term for the method, we presume.

   In this way do they toil--or rather, to speak correctly, does the one man toil--through the awful night, until with joy they see before them the lighthouse rocks.

   The lighthouse keeper comes out with a lantern. The boat is run in among the breakers and all are saved.

   And then the band plays.