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My Danish Sweetheart: A Novel. Volume 3 of 3

William Clark Russell

  Produced by Robert Cicconetti, Mary Meehan and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at (Thisfile was produced from images generously made availableby The Internet Archive)


  A Novel





  Methuen & Co. 18, BURY STREET, LONDON, W.C. 1891 [_All rights reserved_]









  VII. FIRE! 177

  VIII. HOME 221




  On the afternoon of this same day of Tuesday, October 31, Helga havinggone to her cabin, I stepped on deck to smoke a pipe--for my pipe was inmy pocket when I ran to the lifeboat, and Captain Bunting had given me asquare of tobacco to cut up.

  We had dined at one. During the course of the meal Helga and I had saidbut very little, willing that the Captain should have the labour oftalking. Nor did he spare us. His tongue, as sailors say, seemed to havebeen slung in the middle, and it wagged at both ends. His chatter was aninfinite variety of nothing; but he spoke with singular enjoyment ofthe sound of his own voice, with ceaseless reference, besides, in hismanner, to Helga, whom he continued silently and self-complacently toregard in a way that rendered her constantly uneasy, and kept herdownward-looking and silent.

  But nothing more at that table was said about our leaving his ship.Indeed, both Helga and I had agreed to drop the subject until anopportunity for our transference should arrive. We might, at all events,be very certain that he would not set us ashore in the Canary Islands;nor did I consider it politic to press him to land us there, for,waiving all consideration of other reasons which might induce him todetain us, it would have been unreasonable to entreat him to go out ofhis course to oblige us, who were without the means to repay him for histrouble and for loss of time.

  He withdrew to his cabin after dinner. Helga and I sat over hisdraughtboard for half an hour; she then went below, and I, as I havealready said, on deck, to smoke a pipe.

  The wind had freshened since noon, and was now blowing a brisk andsparkling breeze out of something to the northward of east; sail hadbeen heaped upon the barque, and when I gained the deck I found herswarming through it under overhanging wings of studdingsail, a broadwake of frost-like foam stretching behind, and many flying fish sparkingout of the blue curl from the vessel's cutwater ere the polished roundof brine flashed into foam abreast of the fore-rigging. Mr. Jonesstumped the deck, having relieved Abraham at noon. The fierce-faced,lemon-coloured creature with withered brow and fiery glances grasped thewheel. As I crouched under the lee of the companion-hatch to light mypipe, I curiously and intently inspected him; strangely enough, findingno hindrance of embarrassment from his staring at me too; which, I takeit, was owing to his exceeding ugliness, so that I looked at him as atsomething out of nature, whose sensibilities were not of a human sort togrieve me with a fancy of vexing them.

  'Well, Mr. Jones,' said I, crossing the deck and accosting the shabbyfigure of the mate as he slouched from one end to another in shamblingslippers and in a cap with a broken peak, under which his thimble-shapednose glowed in the middle of his pale face like--to match the poorcreature with an elegant simile--the heart of a daisy, 'this is a verygood wind for you, but bad for me, seeing how the ship heads. I want toget home, Mr. Jones. I have now been absent for nearly eleven days,though my start was but for an hour or two's cruise.'

  'There's no man at sea,' said he, 'but wants to get home, unless he'sgot no home to go to. That's my case.'

  'Where do you hail from?'

  'Whitechapel,' he answered, 'when I'm ashore. I live in a big house;they call it the Sailors' Home. There are no wives to be found there, sothat the good of it is to make a man glad to ship.'

  'The sea is a hard life,' said I, 'and a very great deal harder than itneed be--so Nakier and his men think, I warrant you. There's too muchpork goes to the making of the Captain's religious ideas.'

  'The pork in this ship,' said he, 'is better than the beef; and what isgood enough for English sailors is good enough for Malays.'

  'Ay! but the poor fellows' religion is opposed to pork.'

  'Don't you let them make you believe it, sir,' he exclaimed. 'Religion!You should hear them swear in English! They want a grievance. That's thenature of everything afore the mast, no matter what be the colour of thehide it's wrapped up in.'

  'What sort of sailors are they?'

  'Oh, they tumble about; they're monkeys aloft; they're willing enough;I'm bound to say that.'

  I could instinctively guess that whatever opinions I might offer on theCaptain's treatment of his crew would find no echo in him. Poverty mustmake such a man the creature of any shipmaster he sailed with.

  'Have you received orders from Captain Bunting,' I asked, 'to signal andbring-to any homeward ship that may come along?'

  'No, sir.'

  'We wish to be transhipped, you know, Mr. Jones. We should be sorry tolose the opportunity of a homeward-bounder through the Captain omittingto give you orders, and through his being below and asleep, perhaps, atthe time.'

  'I can do nothing without his instructions, sir,' he exclaimed, with asingular look that rose to the significance of a half-smile.

  'All right!' I said, perceiving that his little blue eyes had witnessedmore than I should have deemed them capable of observing in the slenderopportunities he had had for employing them.

  The wind blew the fire out of my pipe, and to save the tobacco I wentdown to the quarter-deck for the shelter of the bulwarks there. While Ipuffed I spied Jacob low down in the lee fore-rigging repairing orreplacing some chafing-gear upon the swifter-shroud. I had not exchangeda word with this honest boatman since the previous day, and strolledforward to under the lee of the galley to greet him. I asked him if hewas comfortable in his new berth. He answered 'Yes;' he was very wellsatisfied; the Captain had given orders that he was to have a glass ofgrog every day at noon; the provisions were also very good, and therewas no stint.

  ''Soides,' he called down to me, with his fat, ruddy face framed in thesquares of the ratlines, 'three pound a month's good money. There'll besomething to take up when I gets home, something that'll loighten theloss o' my eight pound o' goods and clothes, and make the foundering ofthe _Airly Marn_ easier to think of.'

  'You and Abraham, then, have regularly entered yourselves for the roundvoyage?'

  'Ay; the Capt'n put us on the articles this afternoon. He called us tohis cabin and talked like a gemman to us. Tain't often as one meets thelikes of him at sea. No language--a koind smoile--a thank'ee forwhatever a man does, if so be as it's rightly done--a feeling consarnfor your morals and your comforts: tell'ee, Mr. Tregarthen, the loikesof Capt'n Buntin' ain't agoin' to be fallen in with everyday--leastways, in vessels arter this here pattern, where mostly a man'sa dog in the cap'n's opinion
, and where the mate's got no other argumentthan the fust iron belaying-pin he can out with.'

  'I am very glad to learn that you are so well satisfied,' said I. 'Apity poor Thomas isn't with you.'

  'Pore Tommy! There's nothen in my toime as has made me feel so ordinaryas Thomas's drownding. But as to him making hisself happy here----'

  'I beg your pardon, sah,' said a voice close beside me.

  I turned, losing the remainder of Jacob's observations, and perceivedthe face of Nakier in the galley door, that was within an arm's lengthof me from where I leaned. His posture was one of hiding, as though toconceal himself from sight of the poop. As I looked, a copper-colouredface, with black, angry eyes flashing under a low forehead as wrinkledas the rind of an old apple, with the temper that worked in thecreature, showed behind Nakier's head, and vanished in a breath. I nowrecollected that when I had first taken up my station under the lee ofthe galley I had caught the hiss of a swift fiery whispering within thelittle structure, but it had instantly ceased on my calling to Jacob,and the matter went out of my head as I listened to the boatman in therigging.

  'I beg your pardon, sah! May I speak a word wit you?'

  'What is it, Nakier?' I exclaimed, finding a sort of pleasure in themere contemplation of his handsome face and noble liquid Eastern eyes,dark and luminous like the gleam you will sometimes observe in amidnight sea.

  'Are you a sailor, sah?'

  'I am not,' I responded.

  'Can you tellee me de law of ships?'

  Here the copper-coloured face came out again, and now hung steadily withits frown over Nakier's shoulder; but both fellows kept all but theirheads hidden.

  'I know what you mean,' I answered. 'I fear I cannot counsel you.'

  'Our Captain would have us starve,' said he; 'he give us meat we mustnot eat, and on dose days we have only bread and water. Dat is notright?'

  'No, indeed,' said I; 'and how little we think it right you may know bywhat the lady said to-day.'

  'Ah! she is good; she is good!' he exclaimed, always speaking verysoftly, and clasping his long thin fingers with filbert-shaped nailswhile he upturned his wonderful eyes. 'We are not of de Captain'sreligion--he sabbe dat when we ship. Is dere law among Englishman toponish he for trying to make us eat what is forbidden?'

  'I wish I knew--I wish I could advise you,' said I, somewhat secretlyrelieved by hearing this man talk of law; for when I had watched himthat morning on the poop I could have sworn that his and his mates'whole theory of justice lay in the blades which rested upon sheathsstrapped to their hips. 'One thing you may be sure of, Nakier: CaptainBunting has no right to force food upon you that is forbidden to you byyour religion. There must be lawyers in Cape Town who will tell you howto deal with this matter if it is to be dealt with. Meanwhile, try tothink of your Captain in this business as----' I significantly tapped myforehead. 'That will help you to patience, and the passage to the Capeis not a long one.'

  The copper-coloured face behind Nakier violently wagged, the frowndeepened, and the little dangerous eyes grew, if possible, more menacingin their expression.

  'He is a cruel man,' said Nakier, with a sigh as plaintive as one couldimagine in any love-sick Eastern maid: 'but we will be patient; and,sah, I tank you for listening.'

  The copper-coloured face disappeared.

  'You are no sailor, sah!' continued Nakier, smiling and showing aspearl-white a set of teeth as were ever disclosed by the fairest woman'sparted lips; 'and yet you have been shipwreck?'

  I briefly related my lifeboat adventure, and in a few words completedthe narrative of the raft and of our deliverance by the lugger. Indeed,it pleased me to talk with him: his accent, his looks, were a sort ofrealization, in their way, of early boyish dreams of travel; theycarried me in fancy to the provinces of the sun; I tasted the ripearomatic odours of tropic vegetation, there seemed a scent as of thehubble-bubble in the blue and sparkling breeze gushing fair over therail. He begot in me a score of old yearning imaginations--of theelephant richly castellated, of the gloom of palatial structuresdedicated to idols, their domes starry with encrustation of gems and theprecious ores.

  The brief spell was broken by Jacob's gruff, 'longshore voice:

  'It don't look, Mr. Tregarthen, as if you and the lady was to git homeas fast as ye want to.'

  'No,' I replied. 'Do you see anything in sight up there, Jacob?'

  He spat, and looked leisurely ahead.

  'Nothen, sir.'

  'I beg pardon, sah!' broke in Nakier's voice. 'Do you sabbe navigation?'

  'I do not,' I answered, struck with a question that recalledPunmeamootty's inquiries that morning.

  'But Mr. Vise,' he continued, 'he sabbe navigation?'

  I shook my head with a slight smile.

  'He has some trifling knowledge,' said I. 'Fortunately, there is nooccasion to trust to his skill.'

  'De sweet young lady sabbe navigation, sah?'

  'I will not answer for it!' I exclaimed, looking at him. A sudden fancyin me may have been disclosed by my eyes. His gaze fell, and he drew inhis head. Just then I caught sight of Helga at the break of the poop toleeward, looking along the decks. She saw me, and beckoned. As I knockedthe ashes out of my pipe, Jacob cried out:

  'Blowed if I don't believe that's a steamer's smoke ahead.'

  'Ha!' thought I, 'Helga has seen it;' and I at once made for thepoop-ladder.

  It was as I supposed. She had seen the smoke when she came on deck, andinstantly looked about for me. It was the merest film, the fainteststreak, dim as a filament of spider's web; but it was directly ahead,and it was easy to guess that unless the steamer was heading east orwest she must be coming our way, for assuredly, though the _Light of theWorld_ was sweeping through it at some six or seven knots, we were notgoing to overhaul a steamer at that pace.

  A telescope lay in brackets inside the companionway; I fetched andlevelled it, but there was nothing more to be seen than the soaring ofthe thin blue vein of smoke from behind the edge of the sea, where thedark, rich central blue of it went lightening out into a tint of opal.It did not take long, however, to discover, by the hanging of the smokein the same place, that the steamer was heading directly for us. I putdown the glass, and said to Mr. Jones:

  'Will you be so good as to call the Captain and tell him that there is asteamer in sight, coming this way?'

  'I have no orders to call the Captain merely to report a ship in sight,sir,' he answered.

  'That may be,' said I; 'but here is a chance for us to leave thisvessel, and the Captain might not thank you to keep him ignorant of theopportunity.'

  'I can't help it, sir. My duty here is to obey orders and to do what'sexpected of me, and no more;' and so saying, he marched shambling aft;yet I will not say that his manner of leaving me was abrupt oroffensive.

  'There is no time to be lost, Helga,' said I. 'If that steamer is doingten and we are doing six the joint speed is sixteen knots, and she willbe abreast of us and away again quickly. I will report to the Captainmyself,' with which I went on to the quarter-deck and passed into thecabin and knocked on the door of Captain Bunting's berth.

  He immediately cried:

  'Who's there?'

  'Mr. Tregarthen,' I answered.

  'Are you alone?' he called.

  I told him I was.

  'Then pray walk in,' said he.

  I opened the door and found him lying in his bunk in his shirt-sleeves.Full as I was of the business of the steamer heaving into view, I couldyet manage to notice, now that he was under no particular obligation tosmile, that his habitual grin when his face was off duty, so to speak,was of the kind that is called sardonic. It was the set of his mouthwith the thick curve of its upper lip that made the smile; but his eyesbore not the least part in this expression of mirth. It was a merestroke of nature in him, however, and, though the congenital grin didnot increase his beauty, it left untouched in his countenance the oldcharacter of blandness, self-complacency and an air of kindness too.

can I do for you, Mr. Tregarthen?' said he, promptly sitting up inhis bunk, with a glance around for his coat.

  'I must ask your pardon for intruding upon you,' said I; 'there is asteamer's smoke in sight over the bows. Mr. Jones declined to report toyou. I venture to do so, and I have also to ask you, Captain Bunting, tosignal her to stop that she may receive Miss Nielsen and me.'

  'I shall be very willing to transfer you, Mr. Tregarthen,' said he,without more or less significance in his manner than was usual in it;'but you must not, you really must not, ask me to part in this sort ofhurry with your sweet engaging companion.'

  'I certainly shall not leave you without her,' said I, breathingquickly.

  'Just so,' he exclaimed, 'nor is it my wish that you should. I want youto convert your experience of shipwreck into a little holiday cruise. Ihope you are comfortable with me?'

  'Perfectly comfortable; but all the same, Miss Nielsen and I desire toreturn to England, and I must entreat--indeed, Captain Bunting, I must_insist_ upon your signalling the steamer that is rapidly approachingus.'

  He opened his eyes at the word _insist_, which I deplored having madeuse of the moment it had escaped me; but he continued very bland, andhis smile, being now vitalized, as when he was at the table or on deckwith us, had lost what I had found sardonic in it.

  'A captain's powers, Mr. Tregarthen, are considerable,' he exclaimed.'He is first on board his own ship; his will is the law that governsthe vessel; no man aboard but he can _insist_ for an instant. But mydesire is for cordial feelings between us. Let us be friends and talk asfriends. Pray bear with me. You are in possession of my hopes. Do notadd fears to them by your behaviour.'

  He dropped his head on one side, and surveyed me with an eye that seemedalmost wistful. I believed that he meant to keep me talking till thesteamer had passed.

  'Captain Bunting,' said I, 'I am as fully disposed as you are to befriendly; but I must tell you that, if you decline to transfer us--if,in other words, you force us to proceed on this voyage--you will beacting at your peril. I shall exact reparation, and whatever the law cando for me shall be done. Practically you will be abducting Miss Nielsen,and _that_, you must know, is a highly punishable offence.'

  He motioned with both his hands.

  'It is no abduction,' said he. 'When you rescue a young lady with yourlifeboat from a foundering craft you do not abduct her. I can understandyour impatience, and forgive your irritability. Yet I had thought tohave some claim upon you for a more generous, for a handsomerinterpretation of my wishes. What is the reason of this extreme hurry inyou to return home?'

  'You surely do not require me to repeat my answer to that question!' Iexclaimed, curbing my temper with an effort.

  'To be sure. You are concerned for your poor dear mother. Come, Mr.Tregarthen, suppose we send news of your safety by this steamer you havereported!' His face beamed. 'Let me see--your home is--your home is----'he scratched his head. I viewed him without speaking. 'Ah, I haveit--Tintrenale!' He spelt it twice or thrice. 'Hugh Tregarthen,Tintrenale. Come, the steamer shall report your safety, and then yourmind will be at ease.'

  'I am to understand that you refuse to transfer us?'

  'Nay, never interpret the mind of another harshly. You know my wishes:every hour renders them dearer and dearer to me.'

  Under all this blandness I could now perceive a spirit of resolutionthat was clearly no more to be influenced by me than his ship's side wasto be kicked out by a blow of my foot. I turned to leave the cabin.

  'If you are going on deck, will you have the kindness to send Mr. Jonesto me?' said he.

  I pulled the door to, and regained the poop.

  'The Captain wants you,' I called to Mr. Jones, who immediately left thedeck.

  Helga came to me.

  'He refuses to tranship us,' said I.

  'He dare not!' she cried, turning pale.

  'The man, all smiles and blandness, says no, with as steady a thrust ofhis meaning as though it were a boarding-pike. We have to determineeither to jump overboard or to remain with him.'

  She clasped her hands. Her courage seemed to fail her; her eyes shonebrilliant with the alarm that filled her.

  'Can nothing be done? Is it possible that we are so entirely in hispower? Could we not call upon the crew to help us?' A sob arrested herbroken exclamations.

  I stood looking at the approaching steamer, wrestling with my mind forsome idea to make known our situation to her as she passed, but to nopurpose. Why, though she should thrash through it within earshot of us,what meaning could I hope to convey in the brief cry I might have timeto deliver? I cannot express the rage, the bitterness, themortification, the sense, too, of the startling absurdity of ourposition, which fumed in my brain as I stood silently gazing at thesteamer, with Helga at my side, white, straining her eyes at me, swiftlybreathing.

  In the short time during which I had been below, the approaching vesselhad shaped herself upon the sea, and was growing large with a rapiditythat expressed her an ocean mail-boat. Already with the naked sight Icould catch the glint of the sun upon the gilt device at her stemhead,and sharp flashes of the reflection of light in some many-windowed deckstructure broke from her, end-on as she was, to her slow statelyswaying, as though she were firing guns.

  The Captain remained below. A few minutes after Mr. Jones had gone tohim, he--that is, the mate--came on to the poop bearing a great blackboard, which he rested upon the deck.

  'Captain Bunting's compliments, Mr. Tregarthen,' said he, 'and he'll beglad to know if this message is satisfactory to you?'

  Upon the board were written, in chalk, in very visible, decipherablecharacters, like the letters of print, the following words:


  'That will do,' said I coldly, and resumed my place at the rail.

  Helga said, in a low voice:

  'What is the object of that board?'

  'They will read the writing aboard the steamer,' I answered, 'make anote of it, report it, and my mother will get to hear of it and knowthat I am alive.'

  'But how will she get to hear of it?'

  'Oh, the message is certain to find its way into the shipping papers,and there will be twenty people at Tintrenale to hear of it and repeatit to her.'

  'It is a good idea, Hugh,' said she. 'It is a message to rest her heart.It may reach her, too, as quickly as you yourself could if we went onboard that steamer. It was clever of you to think of it.'

  'It was the Captain's suggestion!' I exclaimed.

  'It is a good idea!' she repeated, with something of life coming intoher blanched, dismayed face; 'you will feel a little happier. I shallfeel happier too. I have grieved to think your mother may suppose youdrowned. Now, in a few days she will know that you are well.'

  'Yes, it is a good idea,' said I, with my eyes gloomily fastened uponthe steamer; 'but is it not monstrous that we should be imprisoned inthis fashion? That fellow below has no right to detain us. If it shouldcost me five years of my income, I'll punish him. It is his admirationfor you that makes him reckless--but what does the rascal hope? Hetalked of his willingness to transfer me, providing _you_ remained.'

  'Oh, but you would not leave me with him, Hugh!' she cried, grasping myarm.

  'Leave you, Helga! No, indeed. But I made one great blunder in my chatwith him this morning. He asked me if there was anything betweenus--meaning were we sweethearts--and I said no. I should have answeredyes; I should have told him we were betrothed; then perhaps he wouldhave been willing to let us leave him.'

  She returned no answer. I looked at her, and saw an expression in herface that told me I had said too much. The corners of her little mouthtwitched, she slightly glanced at me, and tried to smile on observingthat I was regarding her, then made a step from my side as though to geta better view of the steamer.

  'She's a fine big ship,' exclaimed Mr. Jones, who had quietly drawnclose to me; 'a Cape boat. In six days' time she'll be snug in dock.When I was first going to sea I laughed at steam. Now I should be gladif there was nothing else afloat.'

  My impulse was to draw away, but my temper had somewhat cooled, and wasnow allowing me to exercise my common-sense again. If I was to be keptaboard this ship, it could serve no sort of end to make an enemy of Mr.Jones.

  'Yes,' said I, 'she is coming along in fine style--a mail-steamerapparently. Why will not the Captain signal her? Surely she wouldreceive us!'

  'Not a doubt of it,' he answered, almost maliciously; 'but the Captainknows his own business, sir.'

  'Where's your flag-locker?' cried I. 'Show it me, and I'll accept theresponsibility of hoisting the ensign half-mast high!'

  'Not without the Captain's orders, Mr. Tregarthen,' said he.

  'The Captain!' I exclaimed. 'He has nothing to do with me. He's yourmaster, not mine!'

  'He's master of this ship, sir; and the master of a ship is the masterof everything aboard of her!'

  Helga softly called to me. I went to her.

  'Do not reason with him!' she whispered. 'Let the people in that steamerread the message, and we can afford to be patient--for a little,' sheadded.

  'For a little!' I rejoined. 'But how long will that little make? Is itto stretch from here to Table Bay?'

  But by this time the steamer was on the lee bow, and when abreast wouldbe within a few cables' length of us. I thought to myself, 'Shall Ispring upon the rail and hail her in God's name, wave my hands to her tostop, and take my chance of her people hearing the few words I shouldhave time to bawl?' Then, with the velocity of thought, I reflected thatthe mate would be certain to hinder any such attempt on my part, to thelength, I dare say, of laying hands upon me and pulling me off the rail,so that I might subject myself to what would prove but little short ofan outrage, while I should likewise forfeit the opportunity of gettingthe message delivered; for there was no man on the poop to hold up theboard but the mate, and if the mate was busy with me the board mustremain hidden.

  All this I thought, and while I thought the steamer was sweeping past usat a speed of some twelve or thirteen knots, with Mr. Jones standingsomething forward of the mizzen-rigging, holding up the board atarm's-length.

  The picture of that rushing metal fabric was full of glittering beauty.Her tall promenade deck, draped with white awnings, out of which theblack column of her funnel forked leaning, was crowded with passengers,male and female. Dresses of white, pink, green--the ladies of SouthAfrica, I believe, go very radiantly clad--fluttered and rippled to thesweep of the strong breeze raised by the steamer's progress. Those whowalked came to a stand to survey us, and a dozen binocular glasses werepointed. High above, on the white canvas bridge, the mate in charge ofthe ship was reading the handwriting on the black board through atelescope that flashed like silver in his hands. Beside him, twinklingin buttons and lace, stood the commander of the steamer, as I mightsuppose. The sun was in the south-west sky; his reddening brilliancebeat full upon the ship that was thundering by faster than a hurricanecould have blown the _Light of the World_ along; and the glass in herline of portholes seemed to stream in fire as though the tall black ironsides were veritably belted with flame. There were stars of gold in herbright-yellow masts and a writhing of glowing light all about thegiltwork with which her quarters were glorified. She rolled softly, andevery inclination was like the twist of a kaleidoscope for tints. Howmean did the little barque look at that instant! how squalid her poorold stumpy decks with their embellishment of rude scuttle-butt, of grimycaboose, of squab long-boat, not to mention the choice humanities of herforecastle, the copper-coloured scarecrows who had dropped the variousjobs they were upon to stare with their sloe-like eyes at the passingshow!

  She had not swept past abreast by more than her own length when thetwinkling commander on the bridge flourished his arm.

  'And about time, too!' cried Mr. Jones, lowering the board and leaningit against the rail. 'They must be poor hands at spelling aboard thatship to keep me holding up that board as if I were a topsail-yard properto set a whole sail upon!'

  'Have they read the message, do you think, Mr. Jones?' cried Helga.

  'Oh, yes, yes, miss,' he answered.

  He ran in an awkward sprawl to the skylight, where the telescope lay,pointed it, and exclaimed, 'See for yourself, miss!'

  She levelled the glass with the ease and precision of an old sailor.

  'Yes,' she called to me, while she held the telescope to her eye; 'theman in the jacket and buttons is writing in what looks to be apocket-book; the other bends over him as though to see that the wordsare correct. I am satisfied!' and, putting the glass down, she returnedto me.

  The steamer was now astern of us, showing but little more than thebreadth of her, rapidly growing toy-like as she swept onwards, with anoil-smooth wake spreading fan-shaped from her counter, and the whitefoam curving with the dazzle of sifted snow from either side the irontooth of her shearing stem. My heart ached with the yearning for home asI followed her. At that moment eight bells was struck forward, andalmost immediately Abraham came aft to relieve Mr. Jones, who, aftersaying a word or two to the boatman, picked up the board and went below.

  'There's a hopportunity lost, Mr. Tregarthen,' exclaimed Abraham,looking at the receding steamer; 'not that me and Jacob ain'tsatisfied, but there's ne'er a doubt that wessel 'ud ha' taken you andthe lady, if so be as Capt'n Bunting had asted her.'

  'We are kept here against our will,' said I. 'What the man means to do Idon't know, but what he _can_ do I now see. Unless I can get those blackfellows to back the topsail and put us aboard the next ship when shecomes along, here we must stop until it is the Captain's pleasure torelease us.'

  'But what does he want along of ye?' inquired Abraham, in a low, hoarsevoice, with a glance at the open skylight.

  I looked at Helga, and then said bluntly--for I had some dim hope ofthis boatman and his mate being able to help us, and the plain truthmust therefore be given to them: 'The long and short of it is, Abraham,the Captain greatly admires Miss Nielsen--he has fallen in love withher, in short--and so you have it.'

  Helga looked and listened without any air of embarrassment, as thoughthe reference were of general instead of individual interest.

  'But he hain't fallen in love with _you_, sir? Why do he want to keepye both, then? Couldn't he have sent _you_ aboard?'

  'You astonish me!' I cried. 'Do you suppose I would leave this ladyalone in the vessel?'

  'Why, p'raps not,' he answered; 'but, still, 'tain't as if _you_ was alady, one of her own sex, as was hacting companion to her. Oi don't meanto say that one man's as good as another; but I don't see no call for_you_ to keep all on in this here wessel.'

  'What am I to understand you to mean?' cried I. 'That Miss Nielsen is tobe left without a protector in the company of a fellow like CaptainBunting?'

  'But if he's willing to be her protector, sir, ain't it all right?' heinquired.

  'Has not your head been turned?' said Helga warmly, with a flushed face.

  He looked stupidly from one to the other of us with a slow gaze and amind labouring to master the difficulty he could not understand.

  'Sorry if I've said anything to offend ye, miss,' said he; 'this hereCapt'n's an honourable man, Oi allow, and he's evidently on the look-outfor a wife. All I says is, what's the good of his keeping Mr.Tregarthen away from his home when he's willing to take his place?'

  'But he must not take his place!' exclaimed Helga, with glowing eyes, inwhich I looked to see a tear presently. 'I would drown myself if I wereto be left here alone!'

  A slow smile animated the leathern countenance of Abraham.

  'Then, mum, asking your pardon, all Oi can say is, Mr. Tregarthen shouldha' put it differently. When there's wan there's no call for tew, andthere being wan already, then, of course, it's the Capt'n's duty to sendye both home as soon as he can.'

  'If Captain Bunting persists,' said I, not choosing to follow the lineof Abraham's reasoning, 'what is my remedy? You Deal boatmen have thereputation of knowing the law pretty well. First, has he the right tocarry us with him against our wishes?'

  'There's never much question of right along with sea captains,' heanswered. 'My 'sperience is that what the master of a wessel chooses todo he _will_ do, and the rights of it somehow seems to come out of hisdoing of it.'

  'But have we no remedy?' said I.

  'Ask yourself the question!' he answered. 'Where's the remedy to befound?' and here he sent his eyes roaming over the sea and up aloft andalong the decks.

  'Of all Job's comforters!' I exclaimed.

  'If I was you,' he continued, apparently not understanding my remark,and sending another cautious look at the open skylight, with a furthersubduing of his voice, 'what Oi'd do is this: Oi'd just enjoy myself atthis 'ere gemman's expense, eat his wittles and drink his rum--and I'mbound to say this, that a better drop o' rum than he keeps in that therelocker of his isn't to be met with afloat or ashore--I say Oi'd drinkand eat at his expense, and keep my spirits as joyful as sarcumstancesmight permit, but taking care to let him know every day, oy, and p'rapstwice a day--say at breakfast and at supper--that the lady and me wantsto get home; and this Oi'd dew till we got to port, and then Oi'd bringan action agin him and sail home on the damages, with a few pound to thegood.'

  He had barely ceased, when he turned sharply round and marched aft, andas he did so the Captain mounted the poop ladder, exclaiming:

  'What very enjoyable weather, to be sure! Mr. Jones informs me that themessage was duly noted. Now, Miss Nielsen, we may take it that ourfriend Mr. Tregarthen's mind is perfectly at ease.'