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P. G. Wodehouse: The Man Upstairs and Other Stories
3. DEEP WATERS
Historians of the social life of the later Roman Empire speak of a certain young man of Ariminum, who would jump into rivers and swim in 'em. When his friends said, 'You fish!' he would answer, 'Oh, pish! Fish can't swim like me, they've no vim in 'em.'
Just such another was George Barnert Callender.
On land, in his land clothes, George was a young man who excited little remark. He looked very much like other young men. He was much about the ordinary height. His carriage suggested the possession of an ordinary amount of physical strength. Such was George--on shore. But remove his clothes, drape him in a bathing-suit, and insert him in the water, and instantly, like the gentleman in The Tempest, he 'suffered a sea-change into something rich and strange.' Other men puffed, snorted, and splashed. George passed through the ocean with the silent dignity of a torpedo. Other men swallowed water, here a mouthful, there a pint, anon, maybe, a quart or so, and returned to the shore like foundering derelicts. George's mouth had all the exclusiveness of a fashionable club. His breast-stroke was a thing to see and wonder at. When he did the crawl, strong men gasped. When he swam on his back, you felt that that was the only possible method of progression.
George came to Marvis Bay at about five o'clock one evening in July. Marvis Bay has a well-established reputation as a summer resort, and, while not perhaps in every respect the paradise which the excitable writer of the local guide-book asserts it to be, on the whole it earns its reputation. Its sands are smooth and firm, sloping almost imperceptibly into the ocean. There is surf for those who like it, and smoother water beyond for those whose ideals in bathing are not confined to jumping up and down on a given jelly-fish. At the northern end of the beach there is a long pier. It was to this that George made his way on his arrival.
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