THE PASSIONATE SKEPTIC
Mr Vee Jay Ali came to the yacht club just before dusk. He was a slim and pushy young man whose saturnine Indian demeanour would immediately put him at arm's length from the European members, and invite contempt from the comprador Fijian aristocracy.
Nevertheless, he had come, and we discussed the sale of the yacht. I explained sheets and runners, and tacking and reaching, for he hadn't sailed before. He listened eagerly, absorbing this new cultural achievement, and seemed barely distracted when I bought the discussion around to a price for the vessel.
It was, as I have
said, almost dusk. Mr Vee Jay Ali reached over a little awkwardly to
shake my hand upon the bargain. As he did so, his left foot rested heavily
upon the transom deck. There was a dreadful sound of splintering timber,
and that damp astringent smell which comes from rotten wood. The gentleman
was suddenly lowered through the deck up to his
I could see Mr Vee Jay Ali's lust to join the privileged classes struggling heavily with the commercial acumen that had got him to this point. We exchanged pleasantries, with a promise to sleep on the problem, but I am afraid that he never did come back.
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