Fred. Yes, but it has got about, and what is the consequence? Every one we capture says he's an orphan. The last three ships we took proved to be manned entirely by orphans, and so we had to let 'em go. One would think that Great Britain's mercantile navy was recruited solely from her orphan asylums, which we know is not the case. (Crosses R.)
Sam. But, hang it all! you wouldn't have absolutely merciless?
Fred. There's my difficulty. Until twelve o'clock I would: after twelve o'clock I wouldn't. Was ever a man placed in so delicate a situation?
(Ruth comes down C.)
Ruth. And Ruth, your own Ruth, whom you love so well, and who has won her middle-aged way into your boyish heart—what is to become of her?
King. Oh, he will take you with him.
Fred. Well, Ruth, I feel some little difficulty about you. It is true that I admire you very much, but I have been constantly at sea since I was eight years old, and yours is the only woman's face I have seen during that time. I think it is a sweet face.
Ruth. It is—oh, it is!
Fred. I say I think it is—that is my impression. But as I have never had an opportunity of comparing you with other women, it is just possible I may be mistaken.
Fred. What a terrible thing it would be if I were to marry this innocent person, and then find out that she is, on the whole, plain !
King. Oh, Ruth is very well—very well indeed.
Sam. Yes, there are the remains of a fine woman about Ruth.
Fred. Do you really think so? Then I will not be so selfish as to take her from you. In justice to her and in consideration for you I will leave her behind. (Hands Ruth to King.)
King. No, Frederic, this must not be. We are rough men, who lead a rough life, but we are not so utterly heartless as to deprive thee of thy love. I think I am right in saying that there is not one here who would deprive thee of this inestimable treasure for all the world holds dear.
All. (Loudly.) Not one!
King. No, I thought there wasn't. Keep thy love, Frederic—keep thy love! (Hands her back to Frederic.)
Fred. You're very good, I'm sure.
King. Well, it's the top of the tide, and we must be off. Farewell, Frederic. When your process of extermination begins,