"I am not afraid. I am willing to work, and I can make my way."
"Surely, Mrs. Rushton, you do not approve Robert's scheme?" said Mr. Paine.
But to his surprise he found that Mrs. Rushton was inclined to regard it favorably. She seemed to share Robert's belief that her husband was still living, and that Robert could find him. She was not a woman in the habit of reasoning, and had no conception of the difficulties in his way. The money left behind in the hands of Mr. Paine, supplemented by her own earnings, would be enough to maintain her for two years, and this thought made her easy, for she had a great dread of poverty and destitution.
When the lawyer found how Mrs. Rushton felt on the subject, he ceased his objections to the plan; for, though he had no confidence in our young hero's success in the object he had in view, he thought that a year's tour might benefit him by extending his knowledge of the world and increasing his self-reliance.
"How soon do you wish to start, Robert?" he asked.
"It will take me a week to get your clothes ready," said Mrs. Rushton.
"Then by a week from Monday I will start," said Robert.
"Have you formed any definite plans about the manner of going?"
"I will go to New York first, and call on the gentleman who got up the subscription for me. I will tell him my story, and ask his advice."
"The most sensible thing you could do. As to the money, I will have that ready for you. Of course, you will call on me before you go."
The superintendent had made up his mind that Robert would spread the report of the deposit, and nervously awaited the result. But to his relief he observed no change in the demeanor of his fellow-townsmen. He could only conclude that, for reasons of his own, the boy he had wronged had concluded to defer the exposure. Next he heard with a feeling of satisfaction that Robert had decided to go abroad in quest of his father. He had no doubt that Captain Rushton was dead, and regarded the plan as utterly quixotic and foolish, but still he felt glad that it had been undertaken.
"If the boy never comes back, I shan't mourn much," he said to himself. "His mother is a weak woman, who will never give me any trouble, but this young rascal has a strong and resolute will, and I shall feel more comfortable to have him out of the way."
When Robert got ready to leave he made a farewell call on the lawyer, and drew two hundred dollars of his money.
"I don't know but one hundred will do," he said. "Perhaps I ought to leave five hundred for my mother."
"You carry little enough, Robert. Don't have any anxiety about your mother. I will not see her suffer."
Robert grasped his hand in earnest gratitude.
"How can I thank you?" he said.
"You need not thank me. I had a warm regard for your father, and shall be glad to help your mother if there is any occasion. Not only this, but if in your wanderings you find yourself in a tight place, and in want of help, write to me, and I will help you."
"You are a true friend," said Robert, gratefully. "I wish my father had intrusted his money to you instead of to the superintendent."
"I wish he had as matters have turned out, I should have taken care that your interests did not suffer."
"Oh," exclaimed Robert, fervently, "if I could only find my father, and bring him home to confront this false friend, and convict him of his base fraud, I believe I would willingly give ten years of my life."
"That question can only be solved by time. I, too, should earnestly rejoice if such an event could be brought about. And now, Robert, good-by, and Heaven bless you. Don't forget that you can count always on my friendship and assistance."
On the way home Robert fell in with Halbert Davis. Halbert, of course, knew nothing of the claim made upon his father, but he had heard that Robert proposed to leave home. He was both sorry and glad on account of this—sorry because he had hoped to see our hero fall into poverty and destitution, and enjoy the spectacle of his humiliation. Now he was afraid Robert would succeed and deprive him of the enjoyment he had counted upon. On the other hand, Robert's departure would leave the field free so far as concerned Hester Paine, and he hoped to win the favor of that young lady in the absence of any competitor. Of this there was not the slightest chance, but Halbert was blinded by his own vanity to the obvious dislike which Hester entertained for him.
Now when he saw Robert approaching he couldn't forego the pleasure of a final taunt.
"So you're going to leave town, Rushton?'" he commenced.
"Yes, Davis," answered Robert, in the same tone. "Shall you miss me much?"
"I guess I shall live through it," said Halbert. "I suppose you are going because you can't make a living here!"
"Not exactly. However, I hope to do better elsewhere."
"If you're going to try for a place, you'd better not mention that you got turned out of the factory. You needn't apply to my father for a recommendation."
"I shan't need any recommendation from your father," said Robert. "He is about the last man that I would apply to."
"That's where you are right," said Halbert. "What sort of a place are you going to try for?"
He knew nothing of Robert's intention to seek his father, but supposed he meant to obtain a situation in Hew York.
"You seem particularly interested in my movements, Davis."
"Call me Mr. Davis, if you please," said Halbert, haughtily.
"When you call me Mr. Rushton, I will return the compliment."
"You are impertinent."
"Not more so than you are."
"You don't seem to realize the difference in our positions."
"No, I don't, except that I prefer my own."
Disgusted with Robert's evident determination to withhold the respect which he considered his due, Halbert tried him on another tack.
"Have you bidden farewell to Hester Paine?" he asked, with a sneer.
"Yes," said Robert.
"I suppose she was very much affected!" continued Halbert.
"She said she was very sorry to part with me."
"I admire her taste."
"You would admire it more if she had a higher appreciation of you."
"I shall be good friends with her, when you are no longer here to slander me to her."
"I am not quite so mean as that," said Robert. "If she chooses to like you, I shan't try to prevent it."
"I ought to be very much obliged to you, I am sure."
"You needn't trouble yourself to be grateful," returned Robert, coolly. "But I must bid you good-by, as I have considerable to do."
"Don't let me detain you," said Halbert, with an elaborate share of politeness.
"I wonder why Halbert hates me so much!" he thought. "I don't like him, but I don't wish him any harm."
He looked with satisfaction upon a little cornelian ring which he wore upon one of his fingers. It was of very trifling value, but it was a parting gift from Hester, and as such he valued it far above its cost.
A DISHONEST BAGGAGE-SMASHER.
On the next Monday morning Robert started for the city. At the moment of parting he began to realize that he had undertaken a difficult task. His life hitherto had been quiet and free from excitement. Now he was about to go out into the great world, and fight his own way. With only two hundred dollars in his pocket he was going in search of a father, who, when last heard from was floating in an open boat on the South Pacific. The probabilities were all against that father's being still alive. If he were, he had no clew to his present whereabouts.
All this Robert thought over as he was riding in the cars to the city. He acknowledged that the chances were all against his success, but in spite of all, he had a feeling, for which he could not account, that his father was still living, and that he should find him some day. At any rate, there was something attractive in the idea of going out to unknown lands to meet unknown adventures, and so his momentary depression was succeeded by a return of his old confidence.
Arrived in the city, he took his carpetbag in his hand, and crossing the street, walked at random, not being familiar with the streets, as he had not been in New York but twice before, and that some time since.
"I don't know where to go," thought Robert. "I wish I knew where to find some cheap hotel."
Just then a boy, in well-ventilated garments and a rimless straw hat, with a blacking box over his shoulder, approached.
"Shine your boots, mister?" he asked.
Robert glanced at his shoes, which were rather deficient in polish, and finding that the expense would be only five cents, told him to go ahead.
"I'll give you the bulliest shine you ever had," said the ragamuffin.
"That's right! Go ahead!" said Robert.
When the boy got through, he cast a speculative glance at the carpetbag.
"Smash yer baggage?" le asked.
"Carry yer bag."
"Do you know of any good, cheap hotel where I can put up?" asked Robert.
"Eu-ro-pean hotel?" said the urchin, accenting the second syllable.
"What kind of a hotel is that?"
"You take a room, and get your grub where you like."
"Yes, that will suit me."
"I'll show you one and take yer bag along for two shillings."
"All right," said our hero. "Go ahead."
The boy shouldered the carpetbag and started in advance, Robert following. He found a considerable difference between the crowded streets of New York and the quiet roads of Millville. His spirits rose, and he felt that life was just beginning for him. Brave and bold by temperament, he did not shrink from trying his luck on a broader arena than was afforded by the little village whence he came. Such confidence is felt by many who eventually fail, but Robert was one who combined ability and willingness to work with confidence, and the chances were in favor of his succeeding.
Unused to the city streets, Robert was a little more cautious about crossing than the young Arab who carried his bag. So, at one broad thoroughfare, the latter got safely across, while Robert was still on the other side waiting for a good opportunity to cross in turn. The bootblack, seeing that communication was for the present cut off by a long line of vehicles, was assailed by a sudden temptation. For his services as porter he would receive but twenty-five cents, while here was an opportunity to appropriate the entire bag, which must be far more valuable. He was not naturally a bad boy, but his street education had given him rather loose ideas on the subject of property. Obeying his impulse, then, he started rapidly, bag in hand, up a side street.
"Hold on, there! Where are you going?" called out Robert.
He received no answer, but saw the baggage-smasher quickening his pace and dodging round the corner. He attempted to dash across the street, but was compelled to turn back, after being nearly run over.
"I wish I could get hold of the young rascal!" he exclaimed indignantly.
"Who do you mane, Johnny?" asked a boy at his side.
"A boy has run off with my carpetbag," said Robert.
"I know him. It's Jim Malone."
"Do you know where I can find him?" asked Robert, eagerly. "If you'll help me get back my bag, I'll give you a dollar."
"I'll do it then. Come along of me. Here's a chance to cross."
Following his new guide, Robert dashed across the street at some risk, and found himself safe on the other side.
"Now where do you think he's gone?" demanded Robert.
"It's likely he'll go home."
"Do you know where he lives?"
"Has he got any father and mother?"
"He's got a mother, but the ould woman's drunk most all the time."
"Then she won't care about his stealing?"
"No, she'll think he's smart."
"Then we'll go there. Is it far?"
"Not more than twenty minutes."
The boy was right. Jim steered for home, not being able to open the bag in the street without suspicion. His intention was to appropriate a part of the clothing to his own use, and dispose of the rest to a pawnbroker or second-hand dealer, who, as long as he got a good bargain, would not be too particular about inquiring into the customer's right to the property. He did not, however, wholly escape suspicion. He was stopped by a policeman, who demanded, "Whose bag is that, Johnny?"
"It belongs to a gentleman that wants it carried to the St. Nicholas," answered Jim, promptly.
"Where is the gentleman?"
"He's took a car to Wall street on business."
"How came he to trust you with the bag? Wasn't he afraid you'd steal it?"
"Oh, he knows me. I've smashed baggage for him more'n once."
This might be true. At any rate, it was plausible, and the policeman, having no ground of detention, suffered him to go on.
Congratulating himself on getting off so well, Jim sped on his way, and arrived in quick time at the miserable room in Mulberry street, which he called home.
His mother lay on a wretched bed in the corner, half stupefied with drink. She lifted up her head as her son entered.
"What have you there, Jimmy?" she asked.
"It's a bag, mother."
"Whose is it?"
"It's mine now."
"And where did ye get it?"
"A boy gave it to me to carry to a chape hotel, so I brought it home. This is a chape hotel, isn't it?"
"You're a smart boy, an' I always said it, Jimmy. Let me open it," and the old woman, with considerable alacrity, rose to her feet and came to Jim's side.
"I'll open it myself, mother, that is, I if I had a kay. Haven't you got one?"
"I have that same. I picked up a bunch of kays in the strate last week."
She fumbled in her pocket, and drew out half a dozen keys of different sizes, attached to a steel ring.
"Bully for you, old woman!" said Jim. "Give 'em here."
"Let me open the bag," said Mrs. Malone, persuasively.
"No, you don't," said her dutiful son. "'Tain't none of yours. It's mine."
"The kays is mine," said his mother, "and I'll kape 'em."
"Give 'em here," said Jim, finding a compromise necessary, "and I'll give you fifty cents out of what I get"
"That's the way to talk, darlint," said his mother, approvingly. "You wouldn't have the heart to chate your ould mother out of her share?"
"It's better I did," said Jim; "you'll only get drunk on the money."
"Shure a little drink will do me no harm," said Mrs. Malone.
Meanwhile the young Arab had tried key after key until he found one that fitted—the bag flew open, and Robert's humble stock of clothing lay exposed to view. There was a woolen suit, four shirts, half a dozen collars, some stockings and handkerchiefs. Besides these there was the little Bible which Robert had had given him by his father just before he went on his last voyage. It was the only book our hero had room for, but in the adventurous career upon which he had entered, exposed to perils of the sea and land, he felt that he would need this as his constant guide,
"Them shirts'll fit me," said Jim. "I guess I'll kape 'em, and the close besides."
"Then where'll you git the money for me?" asked his mother,
"I'll sell the handkerchiefs and stockings. I don't nade them," said Jim, whose ideas of full dress fell considerably short of the ordinary standard. "I won't nade the collars either."
"You don't nade all the shirts," said his mother.
"I'll kape two," said Jim. "It'll make me look respectable. Maybe I'll kape two collars, so I can sit up for a gentleman of fashion."
"You'll be too proud to walk with your ould mother," said Mrs. Malone.
"Maybe I will," said Jim, surveying his mother critically. "You aint much of a beauty, ould woman."
"I was a purty gal, once," said Mrs. Malone, "but hard work and bad luck has wore on me."
"The whisky's had something to do with it," said Jim. "Hard work didn't make your face so red."
"Is it my own boy talks to me like that?" said the old woman, wiping her eyes on her dress.
But her sorrow was quickly succeeded by a different emotion, as the door opened suddenly, and Robert Rushton entered the room.
A GOOD BEGINNING.
Jim started to his feet at the sight of the equally unwelcome and unexpected visitor. His mother, ignorant that she saw before her the owner of the bag, supposed it might be a customer wanting some washing done.
"Good-morning, sir," said she, "And have yez business with me?"
"No," said Robert, "I have business with your son, if that's he."
"Shure he's my son, and a smart bye he is too."
"He's a little too smart sometimes," returned our hero. "I gave him my carpetbag to carry this morning, and he ran away with it."
Mrs. Malone's face fell at this unexpected intelligence.
"Shur an' it was a mistake of his," she said. "He's too honest entirely to stale the value of a pin, let alone a carpetbag."
Meanwhile Jim was rapidly reviewing the situation. He was not naturally bad, but he had fallen a victim to sudden temptation. He was ashamed, and determined to make amends by a frank confession.
"My mother is wrong," he said; "I meant to kape it, and I'm sorry. Here's the bag, wid nothing taken out of it."
"That's right, to own up," said Robert, favorably impressed with his frank confession. "Give me the bag and it'll be all right. I suppose you were poor, and that tempted you. I am poor, too, and couldn't afford to lose it. But I'd rather starve than steal, and I hope you will not be dishonest again."
"I won't!" said Jim, stoutly. "I'll go with you now to a chape hotel, and won't charge you nothin'."
"I've got a boy downstairs who will take it. Don't forget what you said just now."
"No, I won't," said Jim. "Shure if I'd known what a bully young gentleman you was, I wouldn't have took it on no account."
So Robert descended the stairs, having by his forbearance probably effected a moral reformation in Jim, and confirmed in him the good principles, which, in spite of his mother's bad example, had already taken root in his heart. If the community, while keeping vigilant watch over the young outcasts that throng our streets, plying their petty avocations, would not always condemn, but encourage them sometimes to a better life, the results would soon appear in the diminution of the offenses for which they are most frequently arrested.
His new guide shouldered Robert's carpetbag, and conducted him to a hotel of good standing, managed on the European system. Dismissing the boy with the promised reward, Robert went up to his room on the fifth floor, and after attending to his toilet, sallied out into the street and made his way to the warehouse of the merchant who had been instrumental in raising the fund for him.
"Mr. Morgan is engaged," said a clerk to whom he spoke.
"I will wait for him, if you please," said Robert.
"Is it any business that I can attend to?" asked the clerk.
"No, I wish to see Mr. Morgan himself."
Mr. Morgan was engaged with two gentlemen, and our hero was obliged to wait nearly half an hour. At the end of that time, the merchant consented to see him. He did not at first recognize him, but said, inquiringly, "Well, my young friend, from whom do you come?"
"I come from no one, sir."
"Have you business with me?"
"You do not remember me, Mr. Morgan. Do you remember when the cars came so near running off the track a short time since at Millville?"
"Certainly I do," said Mr. Morgan, heartily; "and I now remember you as the brave boy who saved all our lives."
"You gave me your card and told me I might call on you."
"To be sure, I did, and I am very glad to see you. You must go home and dine with me to-day."
"Thank you, sir, for your kind invitation."
"This is my address," said the merchant, writing it in pencil, and handing it to Robert. "We dine at half-past six. You had better be at the door at six. We will then talk over your plans, for I suppose you have some, and I will do what I can to promote them. At present I am busy, and am afraid I must ask you to excuse me."
"Thank you, sir," said Robert, gratefully.
He left the office, not a little elated at his favorable reception. Mr. Morgan, judging from his place of business, must be a man of great wealth, and could no doubt be of essential service to him. What was quite as important, he seemed disposed to help him.
"That's a good beginning," thought Robert. "I wish mother knew how well I have succeeded so far. I'll just write and let her know that I have arrived safe. To-morrow perhaps I shall have better news to tell."
He went back to his hotel, and feeling hungry, made a substantial meal. He found the restaurants moderate in price, and within his means.
Six o'clock found him ringing the bell of a handsome brownstone house on Fifth avenue. Though not disposed to be shy, he felt a little embarrassed as the door opened and a servant in livery stood before him.
"Is Mr. Morgan at home?" inquired Robert.
"Yes, sir," said the servant, glancing speculatively at the neat but coarse garments of our hero.
"He invited me to dine with him," said Robert.
"Won't you walk in, sir?" said the servant, with another glance of wild surprise at the dress of the dinner guest. "If you'll walk in here," opening the door of a sumptuously furnished parlor, "I will announce you. What name shall I say?"
Robert entered the parlor, and sat down on a sofa. He looked around him with a little, pardonable curiosity, for he had never before been in an elegant city mansion.
"I wonder whether I shall ever be rich enough to live like this!" he thought.
The room, though elegant, was dark, and to our hero, who was used to bright, sunny rooms, it seemed a little gloomy. He mentally decided that he would prefer a plain country house; not so plain, indeed, as the little cottage where his mother lived, but as nice, perhaps, as the superintendent's house, which was the finest in the village, and the most magnificent he had until this time known. Its glories were wholly eclipsed by the house he was in, but Robert thought he would prefer it. While he was looking about him, Mr. Morgan entered, and his warm and cordial manner made his boy guest feel quite at his ease.
"I must make you acquainted with my wife and children," he said. "They have heard of you, and are anxious to see you."
Mrs. Morgan gave Robert a reception as warm as her husband had done.
"So this is the young hero of whom I have heard!" she said.
"I am afraid you give me too much credit," said Robert, modestly.
This modest disclaimer produced a still more favorable impression upon both Mr. and Mrs. Morgan.
I do not propose to speak in detail of the dinner that followed. The merchant and his wife succeeded in making Robert feel entirely at home, and he displayed an ease and self-possession wholly free from boldness that won their good opinion.
When the dinner was over, Mr. Morgan commenced:
"Now, Robert, dinner being over, let us come to business. Tell me your plans, and I will consider how I can promote them."
In reply, Robert communicated the particulars, already known to the reader, of his father's letter, his own conviction of his still living, and his desire to go in search of him.
"I am afraid you will be disappointed," said the merchant, "in the object of your expedition. It may, however, be pleasant for you to see something of the world, and luckily it is in my power to help you. I have a vessel which sails for Calcutta early next week. You shall go as a passenger."
"Couldn't I go as cabin-boy?" asked Robert. "I am afraid the price of a ticket will be beyond my means."
"I think not," said the merchant, smiling, "since you will go free. As you do not propose to follow the sea, it will not be worth while to go as cabin-boy. Besides, It interfere with your liberty to leave the vessel whenever you deemed it desirable in order to carry on your search for your father."
"You are very kind, Mr. Morgan," said Robert, gratefully.
"So I ought to be and mean to be," said the merchant. "You know I am in your debt."
We pass over the few and simple preparations which Robert made for his long voyage. In these he was aided by Mrs. Morgan, who sent on board, without his knowledge, a trunk containing a complete outfit, considerably better than the contents of the humble carpetbag he had brought from home.
He didn't go on board till the morning on which the ship was to sail. He went down into the cabin, and did not come up until the ship had actually started. Coming on deck, he saw a figure which seemed familiar to him. From his dress, and the commands he appeared to be issuing, Robert judged that it was the mate. He tried to think where he could have met him, when the mate turned full around, and, alike to his surprise and dismay, he recognized Ben Haley, whom he had wounded in his successful attempt to rob his uncle.
A DECLARATION OF WAR.
If Robert was surprised, Ben Haley had even more reason for astonishment. He had supposed his young enemy, as he chose to consider him, quietly living at home in the small village of Millville. He was far from expecting to meet him on shipboard bound to India. There was one difference, however, between the surprise felt by the two. Robert was disagreeably surprised, but a flash of satisfaction lit up the face of the mate, as he realized that the boy who had wounded him was on the same ship, and consequently, as he supposed, in his power.
"How came you here?" he exclaimed, hastily advancing toward Robert.
Resenting the tone of authority in which these words were spoken, Robert answered, composedly:
"I walked on board."
"You'd better not be impudent, young one," said Ben, roughly.
"When you tell me what right you have to question me in that style," said Robert, coolly, "I will apologize."
"I am the mate of this vessel, as you will soon find out."
"So I supposed," said Robert.
"And you, I suppose, are the cabin-boy. Change your clothes at once, and report for duty."
Robert felt sincerely thankful at that moment that he was not the cabin-boy, for he foresaw that in that case he would be subjected to brutal treatment from the mate—treatment which his subordinate position would make him powerless to resent. Now, as a passenger, he felt independent, and though it was disagreeable to have the mate for an enemy, he did not feel afraid.
"You've made a mistake, Mr. Haley," said our hero. "I am not the cabin-boy."
"What are you, then?"
"I am a passenger."
"You are telling a lie. We don't take passengers," said Ben Haley, determined not to believe that the boy was out of his power.
"If you will consult the captain, you may learn your mistake," said Robert.
Ben Haley couldn't help crediting this statement, since it would have done Robert no good to misrepresent the facts of the case. He resolved, however, to ask the captain about it, and inquire how it happened that he had been received as a passenger, contrary to the usual custom.
"You will hear from me again," he said, in a tone of menace.
Robert turned away indifferently, so far as appearance went, but he couldn't help feeling a degree of apprehension as he thought of the long voyage he was to take in company with his enemy, who doubtless would have it in his power to annoy him, even if he abstained from positive injury.
"He is a bad man, and will injure me if he can," he reflected; "but I think I can take care of myself. If I can't I will appeal to the captain."
Meanwhile the mate went up to the captain.
"Captain Evans," said he, "is that boy a passenger?"
"Yes, Mr. Haley."
"It is something unusual to take passengers, is it not?"
"Yes; but this lad is a friend of the owner; and Mr. Morgan has given me directions to treat him with particular consideration."
Ben Haley was puzzled. How did it happen that Mr. Morgan, one of the merchant princes of New York, had become interested in an obscure country boy?
"I don't understand it," he said, perplexed.
"I suppose the boy is a relation of Mr. Morgan."
"Nothing of the kind. He is of poor family, from a small country town."
"Then you know him?"
"I know something of him and his family. He is one of the most impudent young rascals I ever met."
"Indeed!" returned the captain, surprised. "From what I have seen of him, I have come to quite a different conclusion. He has been very gentlemanly and polite to me."
"He can appear so, but you will find out, sooner or later. He has not the slightest regard for truth, and will tell the most unblushing falsehoods with the coolest and most matter-of-fact air."
"I shouldn't have supposed it," said Captain Evans, looking over at our hero, at the other extremity of the deck. "Appearances are deceitful, certainly."
"They are in this case."
This terminated the colloquy for the time. The mate had done what he could to prejudice the captain against the boy he hated. Not, however, with entire success.
Captain Evans had a mind of his own, and did not choose to adopt any man's judgment or prejudices blindly. He resolved to watch Robert a little more closely than he had done, in order to see whether his own observation confirmed the opinion expressed by the mate. Of the latter he did not know much, since this was the first voyage on which they had sailed together; but Captain Evans was obliged to confess that he did not wholly like his first officer. He appeared to be a capable seaman, and, doubtless, understood his duties, but there was a bold and reckless expression which impressed him unfavorably.
Ben Haley, on his part, had learned something, but not much. He had ascertained that Robert was a protege of the owner, and was recommended to the special care of the captain; but what could be his object in undertaking the present voyage, he did not understand. He was a little afraid that Robert would divulge the not very creditable part he had played at Millville; and that he might not be believed in that case, he had represented him to the captain as an habitual liar. After some consideration, he decided to change his tactics, and induce our hero to believe he was his friend, or, at least, not hostile to him. To this he was impelled by two motives. First, to secure his silence respecting the robbery; and, next, to so far get into his confidence as to draw out of him the object of his present expedition. Thus, he would lull his suspicions to sleep, and might thereafter gratify his malice the more securely.
He accordingly approached our hero, and tapped him on the shoulder.
Robert drew away slightly. Haley saw the movement, and hated the boy the more for it.
"Well, my lad," he said, "I find your story is correct."
"Those who know me don't generally doubt my word," said Robert, coldly.
"Well, I don't know you, or, at least, not intimately," said Haley, "and you must confess that I haven't the best reasons to like you."
"Did you suffer much inconvenience from your wound?" asked Robert.
"Not much. It proved to be slight. You were a bold boy to wing me. I could have crushed you easily."
"I suppose you could, but you know how I was situated. I couldn't run away, and desert your uncle."
"I don't know about that. You don't understand that little affair. I suppose you think I had no right to the gold I took."
"I certainly do think so."
"Then you are mistaken. My uncle got his money from my grandfather. A part should have gone to my mother, and, consequently, to me, but he didn't choose to act honestly. My object in calling upon him was to induce him to do me justice at last. But you know the old man has become a miser, and makes money his idol. The long and short of it was, that, as he wouldn't listen to reason, I determined to take the law into my own hands, and carry off what I thought ought to come to me."
Robert listened to this explanation without putting much faith in it. It was not at all according to the story given by Mr. Nichols, and he knew, moreover, that the man before him had passed a wild and dissolute youth.
"I suppose what I did was not strictly legal," continued Ben Haley, lightly; "but we sailors are not much versed in the quips of the law. To my thinking, law defeats justice about as often as it aids it."
"I don't know very much about law," said Robert, perceiving that some reply was expected.
"That's just my case," said Ben, "and the less I have to do with it the better it will suit me. I suppose my uncle made a great fuss about the money I carried off."
"Yes," said Robert. "It was quite a blow to him, and he has been nervous ever since for fear you would come back again."
Ben Haley shrugged his shoulders and laughed.
"He needn't be afraid. I don't want to trouble him, but I was bound he shouldn't keep from me what was rightly my due. I haven't got all I ought to have, but I am not a lover of money, and I shall let it go."
"I hope you won't go near him again, for he got a severe shock the last time."
"When you get back, if you get a chance to see him privately, you may tell him there is no danger of that."
"I shall be glad to do so," said Robert.
"I thought I would explain the matter to you," continued the mate, in an off-hand manner, "for I didn't want you to remain under a false impression. So you are going to see a little of the world?"
"I suppose that is your only object?"
"No. I have another object in view."
The mate waited to learn what this object was, but Robert stopped, and did not seem inclined to go on.
"Well," said Haley, after a slight pause, "as we are to be together on a long voyage, we may as well be friends. Here's my hand."
To his surprise, Robert made no motion to take it.
"Mr. Haley," said he, "I don't like to refuse your hand, but when I tell you that I am the son of Captain Rushton, of the ship, Norman, you will understand why I cannot accept your hand."
Ben Haley started back in dismay. How could Robert have learned anything of his treachery to his father? Had the dead come back from the bottom of the sea to expose him? Was Captain Rushton still alive? He did not venture to ask, but he felt his hatred for Robert growing more intense.
"Boy," he said, in a tone of concentrated passion, "you have done a bold thing in rejecting my hand. I might have been your friend. Think of me henceforth as your relentless enemy."
He walked away, his face dark with the evil passions which Robert's slight had aroused in his breast.
OUT ON THE OCEAN.
We must now go back nearly two years. Five men were floating about in a boat in the Southern ocean. They looked gaunt and famished. For a week they had lived on short allowance, and now for two days they had been entirely without food. There was in their faces that look, well-nigh hopeless, which their wretched situation naturally produced. For one day, also, they had been without water, and the torments of thirst were worse than the cravings of hunger. These men were Captain Rushton and four sailors of the ship Norman, whose burning has already been described.
One of the sailors, Bunsby, was better educated and more intelligent than the rest, and the captain spoke to him as a friend and an equal, for all the distinctions of rank were broken down by the immediate prospect of a terrible death.
"How is all this going to end, Bunsby?" said the captain, in a low voice, turning from a vain search for some sail; in sight, and addressing his subordinate.
"I am afraid there is only one way," answered Bunsby. "There is not much prospect of our meeting a ship."
"And, if we do, it is doubtful if we can attract their attention."
"I should like the chance to try."
"I never knew before how much worse thirst is than hunger."
"Do you know, captain, if this lasts much longer, I shall be tempted to swallow some of this sea water."
"It will only make matters worse."
"I know it, but, at least, it will moisten my throat."
The other sailors sat stupid and silent, apparently incapable of motion,
"I wish I had a plug of tobacco," said one, at last.
"If there were any use in wishing, I'd wish myself on shore," said the second.
"We'll never see land again," said the third, gloomily. "We're bound for Davy Jones' locker."
"I'd like to see my old mother before I go down," said the first.
"I've got a mother, too," said the third. "If I could only have a drop of the warm tea such as she used to make! She's sitting down to dinner now, most likely, little thinking that her Jack is dying of hunger out here."
There was a pause, and the captain spoke again.
"I wish I knew whether that bottle will ever reach shore. When was it we launched it?"
"Four days since."
"I've got something here I wish I could get to my wife." He drew from his pocketbook a small, folded paper.
"What is that, captain?" asked Bunsby.
"It is my wife's fortune."
"How is that, captain?"
"That paper is good for five thousand dollars."
"Five thousand dollars wouldn't do us much good here. It wouldn't buy a pound of bread, or a pint of water."
"No; but it would—I hope it will—save my wife and son from suffering. Just before I sailed on this voyage I took five thousand dollars—nearly all my savings—to a man in our village to keep till I returned, or, if I did not return, to keep in trust for my wife and child. This is the paper he gave me in acknowledgment."
"Is he a man you can trust, captain?"
"I think so. It is the superintendent of the factory in our village—a man rich, or, at any rate, well-to-do. He has a good reputation for integrity."
"Your wife knew you had left the money in his hands?"
"No; I meant it as a surprise to her."
"It is a pity you did not leave that paper in her hands."
"What do you mean, Bunsby?" asked the captain, nervously. "You don't think this man will betray his trust?"
"I can't say, captain, for I don't know the man; but I don't like to trust any man too far."
Captain Rushton was silent for a moment. There was a look of trouble on his face.
"You make me feel anxious, Bunsby. It is hard enough to feel that I shall probably never again see my wife and child—on earth, I mean—but to think that they may possibly suffer want makes it more bitter."
"The man may be honest, captain: Don't trouble yourself too much."
"I see that I made a mistake. I should have left this paper with my wife. Davis can keep this money, and no one will be the wiser. It is a terrible temptation."
"Particularly if the man is pressed for money."
"I don't think that. He is considered a rich man. He ought to be one, and my money would be only a trifle to him."
"Let us hope it is so, captain," said Bunsby, who felt that further discussion would do no good, and only embitter the last moments of his commander. But anxiety did not so readily leave the captain. Added to the pangs of hunger and the cravings of thirst was the haunting fear that by his imprudence his wife and child would suffer.
"Do you think it would do any good, Bunsby," he said, after a pause, "to put this receipt in a bottle, as I did the letter?"
"No, captain, it is too great a risk. There is not more than one chance in a hundred of its reaching its destination. Besides, suppose you should be picked up, and go home without the receipt; he might refuse to pay you."
"He would do so at the peril of his life, then," said the captain, fiercely. "Do you think, if I were alive, I would let any man rob me of the savings of my life?"
"Other men have done so."
"It would not be safe to try it on me, Bunsby."
"It is possible that I may perish, but you may be saved."
"Not much chance of it."
"Yet it is possible. Now, if that happens, I have a favor to ask of you."
"Name it, captain."
"I want you, if I die first, to take this paper, and guard it carefully; and, if you live to get back, to take it to Millville, and see that justice is done to my wife and child."
"I promise that, captain; but I think we shall die together."
Twenty-four hours passed. The little boat still rocked hither and thither on the ocean billows. The five faces looked more haggard, and there was a wild, eager look upon them, as they scanned the horizon, hoping to see a ship. Their lips and throats were dry and parched.
"I can't stand it no longer," said one—it was the sailor I have called Jack—"I shall drink some of the sea water."
"Don't do it, Jack," said Bunsby. "You'll suffer more than ever."
"I can't," said Jack, desperately; and, scooping up some water in the hollow of his hand, he drank it eagerly. Again and again he drank with feverish eagerness.
"How is it?" said the second sailor,
"I feel better," said Jack; "my throat so dry."
"Then I'll take some, too."
The other two sailors, unheeding the remonstrances of Bunsby and the captain, followed the example of Jack. They felt relief for the moment, but soon their torments became unendurable. With parched throats, gasping for breath, they lay back in agony. Suffering themselves, Captain Rushton and Bunsby regarded with pity the greater sufferings of their wretched companions.
"This is horrible," said the captain.
"Yes," said Bunsby, sadly. "It can't last much longer now."
His words were truer than he thought. Unable to endure his suffering, the sailor named Jack suddenly staggered to his feet.
"I can't stand it any longer," he said, wildly; "good-by, boys," and before his companions well knew what he intended to do, he had leaped over the side of the boat, and sunk in the ocean waves.
There was a thrilling silence, as the waters closed over his body.
Then the second sailor also rose to his feet.
"I'm going after Jack," he said, and he, too, plunged into the waves.
The captain rose as if to hinder him, but Bunsby placed his hand upon his arm.
"It's just as well, captain. We must all come to that, and the sooner, the more suffering is saved."
"That's so," said the other sailor, tormented like the other two by thirst, aggravated by his draughts of seawater. "Good-by, Bunsby! Good-by, captain! I'm going!"
He, too, plunged into the sea, and Bunsby and the captain were left alone.
"You won't desert me, Bunsby?" said the captain.
"No, captain. I haven't swallowed seawater like those poor fellows. I can stand it better."
"There is no hope of life," said the captain, quietly; "but I don't like to go unbidden into my Maker's presence."
"Nor I. I'll stand by you, captain"
"This is a fearful thing, Bunsby. If it would only rain."
"That would be some relief."
As if in answer to his wish, the drops began to fall—slowly at first, then more copiously, till at last their clothing was saturated, and the boat partly filled with water. Eagerly they squeezed out the welcome dregs from their clothing, and felt a blessed relief. They filled two bottles they had remaining with the precious fluid.
"If those poor fellows had only waited," said the captain.
"They are out of suffering now," said Bunsby.
The relief was only temporary, and they felt it to be so. They were without food, and the two bottles of water would not last them long. Still, there was a slight return of hope, which survives under the most discouraging circumstances.
The ship Argonaut, bound for Calcutta, was speeding along with a fair wind, when the man at the lookout called:
"Boat in sight!"
The sailor pointed, out a small boat a mile distant, nearly in the ship's track, rising and falling with the billows.
"Is there any one in it?"
"I see two men lying in the bottom. They are motionless. They may be dead."
The boat was soon overtaken. It was the boat from the ill-fated Norman, Captain Rushton and Bunsby were lying stretched out in the bottom, both motionless and apparently without life. Bunsby was really dead. But there was still some life left in the captain, which, under the care of the surgeon of the ship, was carefully husbanded until he was out of immediate danger. But his system, from the long privation of food, had received such a shock, that his mind, sympathizing with it, he fell into a kind of stupor, mental and physical, and though strength and vigor came slowly back, Captain Rushton was in mind a child. Oblivion of the past seemed to have come over him. He did not remember who he was, or that he had a wife and child.
"Poor man!" said the surgeon; "I greatly fear his mind has completely given way."
"It is a pity some of his friends were not here," said the captain of the ship that had rescued him. "The sight of a familiar face might restore him."
"It is possible, but I am not sure of even that."
"Is there any clew to his identity?"
"I have found none."
It will at once occur to the reader that the receipt would have supplied the necessary information, since it was dated Millville, and contained the captain's name. But this was concealed in an inner pocket in Captain Rushton's vest, and escaped the attention of the surgeon. So, nameless and unknown, he was carried to Calcutta, which he reached without any perceptible improvement in his mental condition.
Arrived at Calcutta, the question arose: "What shall we do with him?" It was a perplexing question, since if carried back to New York, it might be difficult to identify him there, or send him back to his friends. Besides, the care of a man in his condition would be a greater responsibility than most shipmasters would care to undertake. It was at this crisis that a large-hearted and princely American merchant, resident in Calcutta, who had learned the particulars of the captain's condition, came forward, saying: "Leave him here. I will find him a home in some suitable boarding-house, and defray such expenses as may be required. God has blessed me with abundant means. It is only right that I should employ a portion in His service. I hope, under good treatment, he may recover wholly, and be able to tell me who he is, and where is his home. When that is ascertained, if his health is sufficiently good, I will send him home at my own expense."
The offer was thankfully accepted, and the generous merchant was as good as his word. A home was found for Captain Rushton in the boarding-house of Mrs. Start, a widow, who, thrown upon her own exertions for support, had, by the help of the merchant already referred to, opened a boarding-house, which was now quite remunerative.
"He will require considerable care, Mrs. Start," said Mr. Perkins, the merchant, "but I am ready and willing to compensate you for all the trouble to which you are put. Will you take him?"
"Certainly I will," said the warm-hearted widow, "if only because you ask it. But for you, I should not be earning a comfortable living, with a little money laid up in the bank, besides."
"Thank you, Mrs. Start," said the merchant. "I know the poor man could be in no better hands. But you mustn't let any considerations of gratitude interfere with your charging a fair price for your trouble. I am able and willing to pay whatever is suitable."
"I don't believe we shall quarrel on that point," said the widow, smiling. "I will do all I can for your friend. What is his name?"
"That I don't know."
"We shall have to call him something."
"Call him Smith, then. That will answer till we find out his real name, as we may some day, when his mind comes back, as I hope it may."
From that time, therefore, Captain Rushton was known as Mr. Smith. He recovered in a considerable degree his bodily health, but mentally he remained in the same condition. Sometimes he fixed his eyes upon Mrs. Start, and seemed struggling to remember something of the past; but after a few moments his face would assume a baffled look, and he would give up the attempt as fruitless.
One day when Mrs. Start addressed him as Mr. Smith, he asked:
"Why do you call me by that name?"
"Is not that your name?" she asked.
"What, then, is it?"
He put his hand to his brow, and seemed to be thinking. At length he turned to the widow, and said, abruptly:
"Do you not know my name?"
"Nor do I," he answered, and left the room hastily.
She continued, therefore, to address him as Mr. Smith, and he gradually became accustomed to it, and answered to it.
Leaving Captain Rushton at Calcutta, with the assurance that, though separated from home and family, he will receive all the care that his condition requires, we will return to our hero, shut up on shipboard with his worst enemy. I say this advisedly, for though Halbert Davis disliked him, it was only the feeling of a boy, and was free from the intensity of Ben Haley's hatred.
No doubt, it was imprudent tor him to reject the mate's hand, but Robert felt that he could not grasp in friendship the hand which had deprived him of a father. He was bold enough to brave the consequences of this act, which he foresaw clearly.
Ben Haley, however, was in no hurry to take the vengeance which he was fully resolved sooner or later to wreak upon our young hero. He was content to bide his time. Had Robert been less watchful, indeed, he might have supposed that the mate's feelings toward him had changed. When they met, as in the narrow limits of the ship they must do every day, the forms of courtesy passed between them. Robert always saluted the mate, and Haley responded by a nod, or a cool good-morning, but did not indulge in any conversation.
Sometimes, however, turning suddenly, Robert would catch a malignant glance from the mate, but Haley's expression immediately changed, when thus surprised, and he assumed an air of indifference.
With Captain Evans, on the other hand, Robert was on excellent terms. The captain liked the bold, manly boy, and talked much with him of the different countries he had visited, and seemed glad to answer the questions which our hero asked.
"Robert," said the captain, one day, "how is it that you and Mr. Haley seem to have nothing to say to each other?"
"I don't think he likes me, Captain Evans," said Robert.
"Is there any reason for it, or is it merely a prejudice?"
"There is a reason for it, but I don't care to mention it. Not that it is anything I have reason to regret, or to be ashamed of," he added, hastily. "It is on Mr. Haley's account that I prefer to keep it secret."
"Is there no chance of your being on better terms?" asked the captain, good-naturedly, desirous of effecting a reconciliation.
Robert shook his head.
"I don't wish to be reconciled, captain," he said. "I will tell you this much, that Mr. Haley has done me and my family an injury which, perhaps, can never be repaired. I cannot forget it, and though I am willing to be civil to him, since we are thrown together, I do not want his friendship, even if he desired mine, as I am sure he does not."
Captain Evans was puzzled by this explanation, which threw very little light upon the subject, and made no further efforts to bring the two together.
Time passed, and whatever might be Ben Haley's feelings, he abstained from any attempt to injure him. Robert's suspicions were lulled to sleep, and he ceased to be as vigilant and watchful as he had been.
His frank, familiar manner made him a favorite on shipboard. He had a friendly word for all the sailors, which was appreciated, for it was known that he was the protege of the owner. He was supposed by some to be a relation, or, at any rate, a near connection, and so was treated with unusual respect. All the sailors had a kind word for him, and many were the praises which he received in the forecastle.
Among those most devoted to him was a boy of fourteen, Frank Price, who had sailed in the capacity of cabin-boy. The poor boy was very seasick at first, and Captain Evans had been indulgent, and excused him from duty until he got better. He was not sturdy enough for the life upon which he had entered, and would gladly have found himself again in the comfortable home which a mistaken impulse had led him to exchange for the sea.
With this boy, Robert, who was of about the same age, struck up a friendship, which was returned twofold by Frank, whose heart, naturally warm, was easily won by kindness.
THE NEW CAPTAIN.
The voyage was more than half completed, and nothing of importance had occurred to mark it. But at this time, Captain Evans fell sick. His sickness proved to be a fever, and was very severe. The surgeon was in constant attendance, but the malady baffled all his skill. At the end of seven days, it terminated fatally, to the great grief of all on board, with whom the good-natured captain was very popular. There was one exception, however, to the general grief. It is an ill wind that blows good to no one, and Ben Haley did not lament much for an event which promoted him to the command of the vessel. Of course, he did not show this feeling publicly, but in secret his heart bounded with exultation at the thought that he was, for the time, master of the ship and all on board. He was not slow in asserting his new position. Five minutes after the captain breathed his last, one of the sailors approached him, and asked for orders, addressing him as "Mr. Haley."
"Captain Haley!" roared the new commander. "If you don't know my position on board this ship, it's time you found it out!"
"Ay, ay, sir," stammered the sailor, taken aback at his unexpected violence.
Robert mourned sincerely at the death of Captain Evans, by whom he had always been treated with the utmost kindness. Even had he not been influenced by such a feeling, he would have regarded with apprehension the elevation to the command of one whom he well knew to be actuated by a feeling of enmity to himself. He resolved to be as prudent as possible, and avoid, as far as he could, any altercation with Haley. But the latter was determined, now that he had reached the command, to pick a quarrel with our hero, and began to cast about for a fitting occasion.
Now that Captain Evans was dead, Robert spent as much time as the latter's duties would permit with Frank Price. The boys held long and confidential conversations together, imparting to each other their respective hopes and wishes. Haley observed their intimacy and mutual attachment, and, unable to assert his authority over Robert, who was a passenger, determined to strike at him through his friend. His determination was strengthened by a conversation which he overheard between the boys when they supposed him beyond earshot.
"I wish Captain Evans were alive," said Frank. "I liked him, and I don't like Captain Haley."
"Captain Evans was an excellent man," said Robert.
"He knew how to treat a fellow," said Frank. "As long as he saw us doing our best, he was easy with us. Captain Haley is a tyrant."
"Be careful what you say, Frank," said Robert. "It isn't safe to say much about the officers."
"I wouldn't say anything, except to you. You are my friend."
"I am your true friend, Frank, and I don't want you to get into any trouble."
"I am sure you don't like the captain any better than I do."
"I don't like the captain, for more reasons than I can tell you; but I shall keep quiet, as long as I am on board this ship."
"Are you going back with us?"
"I don't know. It will depend upon circumstances. I don't think I shall, though I might have done so had Captain Evans remained in command."
"I wish I could leave it, and stay with you."
"I wish you could, Frank. Perhaps you can."
"I will try."
Haley overheard the last part of this conversation. He took particular notice of Robert's remark that he would keep quiet as long as he remained on board the ship, and inferred that on arrival at the destined port our hero would expose all he knew about him. This made him uneasy, for it would injure, if not destroy, his prospect of remaining in command of the Argonaut. He resented also the dislike which Robert had cautiously expressed, and the similar feeling cherished by the cabin-boy. He had half a mind to break in upon their conversation on the spot; but, after a moment's thought, walked away, his neighborhood unsuspected by the two boys.
"They shall both rue their impudence," he muttered. "They shall find out that they cannot insult me with impunity."
The next day, when both boys were on deck, Captain Haley harshly ordered Frank to attend to a certain duty which he had already performed.
"I have done so, sir," said Frank, in a respectful tone.
"None of your impudence, you young rascal!" roared the captain, lashing himself into a rage.
Frank looked up into his face in astonishment, unable to account for so violent an outbreak.
"What do you mean by looking me in the face in that impudent manner?" demanded Captain Haley, furiously.
"I didn't mean to be impudent, Captain Haley," said Frank. "What have I done?"
"What have you done? You, a cabin-boy, have dared to insult your captain, and, by heavens, you shall rue it! Strip off your jacket."
Frank turned pale. He knew what this order meant. Public floggings were sometimes administered on shipboard, but, under the command of Captain Evans, nothing of the kind had taken place.
Robert, who had heard the whole, listened, with unmeasured indignation, to this wanton abuse on the part of Captain Haley. His eyes flashed, and his youthful form dilated with righteous indignation.
Robert was not the only one who witnessed with indignation the captain's brutality. Such of the sailors as happened to be on deck shared his feelings. Haley, looking about him, caught the look with which Robert regarded him, and triumphed inwardly that he had found a way to chafe him.
"What have you got to say about it?" he demanded, addressing our hero, with a sneer.
"Since you have asked my opinion," said Robert, boldly, "I will express it. Frank Price has not been guilty of any impudence, and deserves no punishment."
This was a bold speech to be made by a boy to a captain on his own deck, and the sailors who heard it inwardly applauded the pluck of the boy who uttered it.
"What do you mean by that, sir?" exclaimed Haley, his eyes lighting up fiercely, as he strode to the spot where Robert stood, and frowned upon him, menacingly.
"You asked my opinion, and I gave it," said Robert, not flinching.
"I have a great mind to have you flogged, too!" said Haley.
"I am not one of your crew, Captain Haley," said Robert, coolly; "and you have no right to lay a hand on me."
"What is to prevent me, I should like to know?"
"I am here as a passenger, and a friend of the owner of this vessel. If I receive any ill-treatment, it shall be reported to him."
If the sailors had dared, they would have applauded the stripling who, undaunted by the menacing attitude of the captain, faced him boldly and fearlessly. Haley would gladly have knocked him down, but there was something in the resolute mien of his young passenger that made him pause. He knew that he would keep his word, and that, with such representations as he might make, he would stand no further chance of being employed by Mr. Morgan.
"I have an account to settle with you, boy," he said; "and the settlement will not long be delayed. When a passenger tries to incite mutiny, he forfeits his privileges as a passenger."
"Who has done this, Captain Haley?"
"You have done it."
"I deny it," said Robert.
"Your denial is worth nothing. I have a right to throw you into irons, and may yet do it. At present I have other business in hand."
He left Robert, and walked back to Frank Price, who, not having Robert's courage, had been a terrified listener to the colloquy between him and the captain.
"Now, boy," he said, harshly, "I will give you a lesson that you shall remember to the latest day of your life. Bring me the cat."
The barbarous cat, as it was called, once in use on our ships, was brought, and Captain Haley signaled to one of the sailors to approach.
"Bates," he said, in a tone of authority, "give that boy a dozen lashes."
Bates was a stout sailor, rough in appearance, but with a warm and kindly heart. He had a boy of his own at home, about the age of Frank Price, and his heart had warmed to the boy whose position he felt to be far from an enviable one.
The task now imposed upon him was a most distasteful and unwelcome one. He was a good sailor, and aimed on all occasions to show proper obedience to the commands of his officers, but now he could not.
"Captain Haley," he said, not stirring from his position, "I hope you will excuse me."
"Is this mutiny?" roared the captain.
"No, Captain Haley. I always mean to do my duty on board ship."
"I have told you to flog this boy!"
"I can't do it, Captain Haley. I have a boy of my own about the size of that lad there, and, if I struck him, I'd think it was my own boy that stood in his place."
This unexpected opposition excited the fierce resentment of the captain. He felt that a crisis had come, and he was determined to be obeyed.
"Unless you do as I bid you, I will keep you in irons for the rest of the voyage!"
"You are the captain of this ship, and can throw me in irons, if you like," said Bates, with an air of dignity despite his tarred hands and sailor jacket. "I have refused to do no duty that belongs to me. When I signed my name to the ship's papers, I did not agree to flog boys."
"Put him in irons!" roared the captain, incensed. "We will see who is captain of this ship!"
The mandate was obeyed, and Bates was lodged in the forecastle, securely ironed.
The captain himself seized the cat, and was about to apply it to the luckless cabin-boy, when a terrible blast, springing up in an instant, as it were, struck the ship, almost throwing it upon its side. There was no time for punishment now. The safety of the ship required instant action, and Frank Price was permitted to replace his jacket without having received a blow.
THE CAPTAIN'S REVENGE.
The storm which commenced so suddenly was one of great violence. It required all the captain's seamanship, and the efforts of all the crew, to withstand it. However reluctant to do it, Captain Haley was forced to release Bates from his irons, and order him to duty. The latter worked energetically, and showed that he did not intend to shirk any part of his duties as seaman. But the result of the storm was that the vessel was driven out of her course, and her rigging suffered considerable injury. The wind blew all night. Toward morning it abated, and, as the morning light broke, the lookout described a small island distant about a league.
The captain looked at it through his glass, and then examined the chart.
"I can't make out what island that is," he said.
"It is not large enough," suggested the mate, "to find a place on the map."
"Perhaps it is as you say," said Captain Haley, thoughtfully. "I have a mind to go on shore and explore it. There may be some fresh fruits that will vary our diet."
This plan was carried out. A boat was got ready, and the captain got in, with four sailors to row.
Just as he was about to descend into the boat, he turned to Robert, who was looking curiously toward land, and said:
"Rushton, would you like to go with us?"
It was precisely what Robert wanted. He had a boy's love of adventure, and the thought of exploring an island, perhaps hitherto unknown, struck his fancy, and he eagerly accepted the invitation.
"Jump in, then," said Haley, striving to appear indifferent; but there was a gleam of exultation in his eye, which he took care to conceal from the unsuspecting boy.
Swiftly the boat sped through the waters, pulled by the strong arms of four stout sailors, and, reaching the island, was drawn into a little cove, which seemed made for it.
"Now for an exploring expedition," said the captain. "Boys," addressing the sailors, "remain near the boat. I will soon be back. Rushton," he said, turning to our hero, "go where you like, but be back in an hour."
"Yes, sir," answered Robert.
Had it been Captain Evans, instead of Captain Haley, he would have proposed to join him; but, knowing what he did of the latter, he preferred his own company.
The island was about five miles in circumference. Near the shore, it was bare of vegetation, but further inland there were numerous trees, some producing fruit. After some weeks of the monotonous life on shipboard, Robert enjoyed pressing the solid earth once more. Besides, this was the first foreign shore his foot had ever trodden. The thought that he was thousands of miles away from home, and that, possibly, the land upon which he now walked had never before been trodden by a civilized foot, filled him with a sense of excitement and exhilaration.
"What would mother say if she should see me now?" he thought. "What a wonderful chance it would be if my father had been wafted in his boat to this island, and I should come upon him unexpectedly!"
It was very improbable, but Robert thought enough of it to look about him carefully. But everywhere the land seemed to be virgin, without other inhabitants than the birds of strange plumage and note, which sang in the branches of the trees.
"I don't believe any one ever lived here," thought Robert.
It struck him that he should like to live upon the island a week, if he could be sure of being taken off at the end of that time. The cool breezes from the ocean swept over the little island, and made it delightfully cool at morning and evening, though hot in the middle of the day.
Robert sauntered along till he came to a little valley. He descended the slope, and sat down in the shade of a broad-leaved tree. The grass beneath him made a soft couch, and he felt that he should enjoy lying there the rest of the day. But his time was limited. The captain had told him to be back in an hour, and he felt that it was time for him to be stirring.
"I shall not have time to go any further," he reflected. "I must be getting back to the boat."
As this occurred to him, he rose to his feet, and, looking up, he started a little at seeing the captain himself descending the slope.
"Well, Robert," said Captain Haley, "how do you like the island?"
"Very much, indeed," said our hero. "It seems pleasant to be on land after being on shipboard so many weeks."
"Quite true. This is a beautiful place you have found."
"I was resting under this tree, listening to the birds, but I felt afraid I should not be back to the boat in time, and was just starting to return."
"I think we can overstay our time a little," said Haley. "They won't go back without me, I reckon," he added, with a laugh.
Robert was nothing loth to stay, and resumed his place on the grass. The captain threw himself on the grass beside him.
"I suppose you have read 'Robinson Crusoe?'" he said.
"Oh, yes; more than once."
"I wonder how it would seem to live on such an island as this?"
"I should like it very well," said Robert; "that is, if I could go off at any time. I was just thinking of it when you come up."
"Were you?" asked the captain, showing his teeth in an unpleasant smile, which, however, Robert did not see. "You think you would like it?"
"I am glad of that."
"Why?" asked Robert, turning round and looking his companion in the face.
"Because," said Haley, changing his tone, "I am going to give you a chance to try it."
Robert sprang to his feet in instant alarm, but too late. Haley had grasped him by the shoulder, and in his grasp the boy's strength was nothing.
"What are you going to do?" asked Robert, with fearful foreboding.
"Wait a minute and you will see!"
The captain had drawn a stout cord, brought for the purpose, from his pocket, and, dragging Robert to a tree, tied him securely to the trunk. The terrible fate destined for him was presented vividly to the imagination of our hero; and, brave as he was, it almost unmanned him. Finding his struggles useless, he resorted to expostulation.
"I am sure you cannot mean this, Captain Haley!" he said. "You won't leave me to perish miserably on this island?"
"Won't I?" returned the captain, with an evil light in his eyes. "Why won't I?"
"Surely, you will not be so inhuman?"
"Look here, boy," said the captain, "you needn't try to come any of your high-flown notions about humanity over me. I owe you a debt, and, by Heaven! I'm going to pay it! You didn't think much of humanity when you wounded me."
"I couldn't help it," said Robert. "I didn't want to hurt you. I only wanted to protect your uncle."
"That's all very well; but, when you interfered in a family quarrel, you meddled with what did not concern you. Besides, you have been inciting my crew to mutiny."
"I have not done so," said Robert.
"I overheard you the other night giving some of your precious advice to my cabin-boy. Besides, you had the impudence to interfere with me in a matter of discipline."
"Frank Price deserved no punishment."
"That is for me to decide. When you dared to be impudent to me on my own deck, I swore to be revenged, and the time has come sooner than I anticipated."
"Captain Haley," said Robert, "in all that I have done I have tried to do right. If I have done wrong, it was because I erred in judgment. If you will let me go, I will promise to say nothing of the attempt you make to keep me here."
"You are very kind," sneered the captain; "but I mean to take care of that myself. You may make all the complaints you like after I have left you here."
"There is One who will hear me," said Robert. "I shall not be wholly without friends."
"Who do you mean?"
"God!" said Robert, solemnly.
"Rubbish!" retorted Haley, contemptuously.
"I shall not despair while I have Him to appeal to."
"Just as you like," said the captain, shrugging his shoulders. "You are welcome to all the comfort you can find in your present situation."
By this time, Robert was bound to the trunk of the tree by a cord, which passed around his waist. In addition to this Haley tied his wrists together, fearing that otherwise he might be able to unfasten the knot. He now rose to his feet, and looked down upon the young captive, with an air of triumph.
"Have you any messages to send by me, Rushton?" he said, with a sneer.
"Are you quite determined to leave me here?" asked Robert, in anguish.
"What will the sailors say when I do not return?"
"Don't trouble yourself about them. I will take care of that. If you have got anything to say, say it quick, for I must be going."
"Captain Haley," said Robert, his courage rising, and looking the captain firmly in the face, "I may die here, and so gratify your enmity; but the time will come when you will repent what you are doing."
"I'll risk that," said Haley, coolly. "Good-by."
He walked up the slope, and disappeared from view, leaving Robert bound to the tree, a helpless prisoner.
A FRIEND IN NEED.
Captain Haley kept on his way to the shore. The four sailors were all within hail, and on the captain's approach got the boat in readiness to return.
"Where is the boy?" asked Haley. "Hasn't he got back?"
"That is strange. I told him to be back in an hour, and it is already past that time."
"Perhaps he hasn't a watch," suggested one of the sailors.
"I will wait ten minutes for him," said Haley, taking out his watch. "If he is not back in that time, I must go without him."
The sailors did not reply, but looked anxiously inland, hoping to catch sight of Robert returning. But, bound as he was, we can understand why they looked in vain.
"Shall I go and look for him?" asked one.
"No," said Haley, decidedly; "I cannot spare you."
The ten minutes were soon up.
"Into the boat with you," commanded the captain. "I shall wait no longer."
Slowly and reluctantly, the sailors took their places, for Robert was a favorite with them.
"Now, men, give way," said Haley. "If the boy is lost, it is his own fault."
They reached the vessel in due time. There was a murmur among the crew, when it was found that Robert had been left behind; but, knowing the captain's disposition, no one except Bates dared to expostulate.
"Captain Haley," said he, approaching and touching his hat, "will you give me leave to go on shore for the young gentleman that was left?"
"No," said the captain. "He had fair warning to be back in time, and chose to disregard it. My duty to the owners will not permit me to delay the ship on his account."
"He was a relation of the owner," suggested Bates.
"No, he was not; and, if he said so, he lied. Go about your duty, and take care I have no more fault to find with you, or you go back in irons!"
Bates ventured upon no further expostulation. He saw through the captain's subterfuge, and felt persuaded that it had been his deliberate intention from the first to abandon Robert to his fate. He began to think busily, and finally resolved to go to the island and search for him. For this purpose, a boat would be needful, since the distance, nearly a league, was too far to swim. Now, to appropriate one of the ship's boats when the captain was on deck would be impossible, but Haley, within five minutes, went below. Bates now proceeded to carry out his plan.
"What are you going to do?" demanded one of the sailors.
"I'm going after the boy."
"You'll be left along with him."
"I'll take the risk. He shan't say he didn't have one friend."
By the connivance of his fellow-sailors, Bates got safely off with the boat, and began to pull toward shore. He was already a mile distant from the vessel when Captain Haley came on deck.
"Who is that in the boat?" he demanded, abruptly.
"I don't know, sir."
He pointed the glass toward the boat, and, though he could not fairly distinguish the stout sailor who was pulling the boat through the water, he suspected that it was Bates.
"Where is Bates?" he asked.
No one had seen him.
"The fool has gone to destruction," said Captain Haley. "I shall not go after him. He is welcome to live on the island if he chooses."
His reason for not pursuing the fugitive may be readily understood. He feared that Robert would be found bound to the tree, and the story the boy would tell would go heavily against him. He hurried preparation for the vessel's departure, and in a short time it was speeding away from the island with two less on board.
I must now go back to Robert, whom we left bound to a tree.
After the captain left him, he struggled hard to unloose the cords which bound him. The love of life was strong within him, and the thought of dying under such circumstances was appalling. He struggled manfully, but, though he was strong for a boy, the cord was strong, also, and the captain knew how to tie a knot.
Robert ceased at last, tired with his efforts. A feeling of despair came over him, and the tears started, unbidden, to his eyes, as he thought how his mother would watch and wait for him in vain—how lonely she would feel, with husband and son both taken from her. Could it be that he was to die, when life had only just commenced, thousands of miles away from home, in utter solitude? Had he come so far for this? Then, again, he feared that his mother would suffer want and privation when the money which he had left behind was exhausted. In his pocket there were nearly two hundred dollars, not likely to be of any service to him. He wished that they were in her possession.
"If only he had left me free and unbound," thought Robert, "I might pick up a living on the island, and perhaps some day attract the attention of some vessel."
With this thought, and the hope it brought, he made renewed efforts to release himself, striving to untie the cord which fastened his wrists with his teeth. He made some progress, and felt encouraged, but it was hard work, and he was compelled to stop, from time to time, to rest. It was in one of these intervals that he heard his name called. Feeling sure that there was no one on the island but himself, he thought he was deceived. But the sound came nearer, and he distinctly heard "Robert!"
"Here I am!" he shouted, in return, his heart filled with sudden thanksgiving.
"Captain Haley only meant to frighten me," he thought. "He has sent some men back for me."
In his gratitude, he thanked Heaven fervently for so changing the heart of his enemy, and once more life looked bright.
"Robert!" he heard again.
"Here!" he shouted, with all the strength of his lungs.
This time the sound reached Bates, who, running up his boat on shore, and securing it, was exploring the island in search of our hero. Looking around him, he at length, from the edge of the valley, descried Robert.
"Is that you, lad?" he asked.
"Yes, Bates; come and untie me!"
Bates saw his situation with surprise and indignation.
"That's some of the captain's work!" he at once decided. "He must be a cursed scoundrel to leave that poor lad there to die!"
He quickened his steps, and was soon at the side of our hero.
"Who tied you to the tree, lad?" he asked.
"Did Captain Haley send you for me?" asked Robert first, for he had made up his mind in that case not to expose him.
"No; I stole one of the ship's boats, and came for you without leave."
"The captain didn't know of your coming?"
"No; I asked his leave, and he wouldn't give it."
"It was Captain Haley that tied me here," said Robert, his scruples removed.
"What did he do that for, lad?"
"It's a long story, Bates. It's because he hates me, and wishes me harm. Untie these cords, and I'll tell you all about it."
"That I'll do in a jiffy, my lad. I'm an old sailor and I can untie knots as well as tie them."
In five minutes Robert was free. He stretched his limbs, with a feeling of great relief, and then turned to Bates, whose hand he grasped.
"I owe my life to you, Bates!" he said.
"Maybe not, lad. We're in a tight place yet."
"Has the ship gone?"
"Most likely. The captain won't send back for either of us in a hurry."
"And you have made yourself a prisoner here for my sake?" asked Robert, moved by the noble conduct of the rough sailor.
"I couldn't abide to leave you alone. There's more chance for two than for one."
"Heaven bless you, Bates! I won't soon forget what you have done for me. Do you think there is any chance for us?"
"Of course there is, lad. We've got a boat, and we can live here till some vessel comes within sight."
"Let us go down to the shore, and see if we can see anything of the ship."
The two bent their steps to the shore, and looked out to sea. They could still see the ship, but it was already becoming a speck in the distant waters.
"They have left us," said Robert, turning to his companion.
"Ay, lad, the false-hearted villain has done his worst!"
"I didn't think any man would be so inhuman."
"You're young, lad, and you don't know what a sight of villainy there is in the world. We've got to live here a while, likely. Have you seen anything in the line of grub here-abouts?"
"There is fruit on some of the trees."
"That's something. Maybe we shall find some roots, besides. We'll draw the boat farther upon shore, and go on an exploring expedition."
The boat was drawn completely up, and placed, bottom upward, at a safe distance from the sea. Then Robert and his companion started to explore the island which had so unexpectedly become their home.
THE ISLAND REALM.
But for the knowledge that he was a prisoner, Robert would have enjoyed his present situation. The island, though small, was covered with a luxuriant vegetation, and was swept by cooling breezes, which tempered the ardor of the sun's rays. And, of this island realm, he and his companion were the undisputed sovereigns. There was no one to dispute their sway. All that it yielded was at their absolute disposal.
"I wonder what is the name of this island?" said Robert.
"Perhaps it has no name. Mayhap we are the first that ever visited it."
"I have a great mind to declare myself the king," said our young hero, smiling, "unless you want the office."
"You shall be captain, and I will be mate," said Bates, to whom the distinctions of sea life were more familiar than those of courts.
"How long do you think we shall have to stay here?" asked Robert, anxiously.
"There's no telling, lad. We'll have to stick up a pole on the seashore, and run up a flag when any vessel comes near,"
"We have no flag."
"Have you a handkerchief?"
"Only one," said Robert.
"That's one more than I have. We'll rig that up when it's wanted."
"Where shall we sleep?"
"That's what I have been thinking. We must build a house."
"A brownstone front?" said Robert. "The governor ought to live in a good house."
"So he shall," said Bates. "He shall have the first on the island."
"I wonder if it rains often?"
"Not much at this season. In the winter a good deal of rain falls, but I hope we won't be here then."
"Where shall we build our house?"
"It would be pleasanter inland, but we must be near the shore, so as to be in sight of ships,"
"That's true, Bates. That is the most important consideration."
They set to work at once, and built a hut, something like an Indian's wigwam, about a hundred yards from the shore. It was composed, for the most part, of branches of trees and inclosed an inner space of about fifteen feet in diameter. They gathered large quantities of leaves, which were spread upon the ground for beds.
"That's softer than our bunks aboard ship," said Bates.
"Yes," said Robert. "I wouldn't wish any better bed. It is easy to build and furnish a house of your own here."
"The next thing is dinner," said his companion.
"Shall we go to market?" asked Robert, with a smile.
"We'll find a market just outside."
"You mean the trees?"
"Yes; we'll find our dinner already cooked on them."
The fruit of which they partook freely was quite sweet and palatable. Still, one kind of food cloys after a time, and so our new settlers found it. Besides, it was not very substantial, and failed to keep up their wonted strength. This set them to looking up some other article which might impart variety to their fare. At last they succeeded in finding an esculent root, which they partook of at first with some caution, fearing that it might be unwholesome. Finding, however, that eating it produced no unpleasant effects, they continued the use of it. Even this, however, failed to afford them as much variety as they wished.
"I feel as if I should like some fish for breakfast," said Robert one morning, on waking up.
"So should I, lad," returned Bates. "Why shouldn't we have some?"
"You mean that we shall go fishing?"
"Yes; we've got a boat, and I have some cord. We'll rig up fishing lines, and go out on a fishing cruise."
Robert adopted the idea with alacrity. It promised variety and excitement.
"I wonder we hadn't thought of it before. I used to be a fisherman, Bates."
"Yes; I supplied the market at home for a short time, till Captain Haley smashed my boat."
"The mean lubber! I wish we had him here."
"I don't; I prefer his room to his company."
"I'd try how he'd like being tied to a tree."
"I don't think you'd untie him again in a hurry."
"You may bet high on that, lad."
They rigged their fishing lines—cutting poles from the trees—and armed them with hooks, of which, by good luck, Bates happened to have a supply with him. Then they launched the ship's boat, in which Bates had come to the island, and put out to sea.
Robert enjoyed the row in the early morning, and wondered they had not thought of taking out the boat before. At last they came to the business which brought them out, and in about half an hour had succeeded in catching four fishes, weighing perhaps fifteen pounds altogether.
"That'll be enough for us, unless you are very hungry," said Robert. "Now, suppose we land and cook them."
"Ay, ay, lad!"
Of course, their cooking arrangements were very primitive. In the first place, they were compelled to make a fire by the method in use among the savages, of rubbing two sticks smartly together, and catching the flame in a little prepared tinder. The fish were baked over the fire thus kindled. Though the outside was smoked, the inside was sweet and palatable, and neither was disposed to be fastidious. The preparation of the meal took considerable time, but they had abundance of that, and occupation prevented their brooding over their solitary situation.
"I wish I had 'Robinson Crusoe' here," said Robert—"we might get some hints from his adventures. I didn't imagine, when I used to read them, that I should ever be in a similar position."
"I've heard about him," said Bates; "but I never was much of a reader, and I never read his yarn. You might maybe tell me something of it."
"I will tell you all I can remember, but that isn't very much," said Robert.
He rehearsed to the attentive sailor such portions as he could call to mind of the wonderful story which for centuries to come is destined to enchain the attention of adventurous boys.
"That's a pretty good yarn," said Bates, approvingly. "Did he ever get off the island?"
"Yes, he got off, and became quite rich before he died."
"Maybe it'll be so with us, lad."
"I hope so. I don't know what I should do if I were alone as he was. It's selfish in me, Bates, to be glad that you are shut up here with me, but I cannot help it."
"You needn't try, lad. It would be mighty dull being alone here, 'specially if you was tied to a tree."
"But suppose we should never get off!"
"We won't suppose that, lad. We are sure to get off some time."
This confident assurance always cheered up Robert, and for the time inspired him with equal confidence. But when day after day passed away and the promised ship did not come in sight, he used to ponder thoughtfully over his situation, and the possibility that he might have to spend years at least on this lonely island. What in the meantime would become of his mother? She might die, and if he ever returned it would be to realize the loss he had sustained. The island, pleasant as it was, began to lose its charm. If his sailor companion ever shared his feelings, he never manifested them, unwilling to let the boy see that he was becoming discouraged.
At length—about six weeks after their arrival upon the island—they were returning from an excursion to the other side of the island, when, on arriving in sight of the shore, an unexpected sight greeted their eyes.
A pole had been planted in the sand, and from it waved the familiar flag, dear to the heart of every American—the star-spangled banner.
They no sooner caught sight of it, than, in joyful excitement, they ran to the shore with all the speed they could muster.
A SUCCESSFUL MISSION.
There was no one in sight, but it was evident that a party from an American ship had visited the island. Had they departed? That was a momentous question. Instinctively the eyes of both sought the sea. They saw an American ship riding at anchor a mile or more from shore.
"Give me your handkerchief, Robert," said Bates; "I'll signal them."
"It isn't very clean," said our hero.
"It'll do. See, they are looking at us."
"Your eyes must be good."
"I'm used to looking out to sea, lad."
He waved the handkerchief aloft, and felt sure that he had attracted the attention of those on board. But there was no motion to put off a boat.
"Do they see it?" asked Robert, eagerly.
"I think so."
"Do you think they will come for us? If not, we can put off in our boat."
"I think the party that planted that flagstaff hasn't got back. It is exploring the island, and will be back soon."
"Of course it is," said Robert, suddenly. "Don't you see their boat?"
"Ay, ay, lad; it's all right. All we've got to do is to stay here till they come."
They had not long to wait. A party of sailors, headed by an officer, came out of the woods, and headed for the shore. They stopped short in surprise at the sight of Robert and Bates.
"Who are you?" asked the leader, approaching.
Bates touched his hat, for he judged this was the captain of the vessel he had seen.
"I am a sailor from the ship Argonaut, bound from New York to Calcutta, and this young gentleman is Robert Rushton, passenger aboard the same ship."
"Where is your ship?"
"I don't know, captain."
"How came you here?"
"We were left here. The vessel went without us."
"How long have you been here?"
"There is something about this which I do not understand. Are you here of your own accord?"
"We are anxious to get away, captain," said Robert. "Will you take us?"
"To be sure I will. There's room enough on my ship for both of you. But I can't understand how you were left here."
"It's a long yarn, captain," said Bates. "If you haven't time to hear it now, I will tell you aboard ship."
"You look like a good seaman," said the captain, addressing Bates. "I'm short-handed just now. If you will engage with me, I will enroll you among my crew."
"That I'll do," said Bates, with satisfaction. "I wasn't made for a passenger."
"My ship is the Superior, bound from Boston to Calcutta; so your destination will be the same. My name is Smith. Do you know the name of this island?"
"I never heard of it before."
"I have taken possession of it in the name of the United States, supposing myself the first discoverer."
"That's all right. To my mind, the Star-Spangled Banner is the best that can wave over it."
"We might offer the captain our boat," suggested Robert.
The offer was made and accepted; and, while the captain and his party returned in one boat, Robert and Bates rowed to the ship in their own, and were soon on the deck of the Superior to their unbounded satisfaction.
"This is something like," said Bates. "The island is well enough, but there's nothing like the deck of a good ship."
"I don't think I wholly agree with you," said Robert, smiling; "but just at present I do. I am glad enough to be here. We may meet Captain Haley at Calcutta," he added, after a pause.
"Likely he'll have got away before we get there."
"I hope not. I should like to meet him face to face, and charge him with his treachery. I don't think he'll be over glad to see me."
"That's so, lad. He don't expect ever to set eyes on you again."
Robert soon felt at home on the new vessel. Captain Smith he found to be a very different man from Captain Haley. When he heard the story told him by our hero, he said:
"I like your pluck, Robert. You've had contrary winds so far, but you've borne up against them. The wind's changed now, and you are likely to have a prosperous voyage. This Captain Haley is a disgrace to the service. He'll be overhauled some time."
"When I get back to New York I shall tell Mr. Morgan how he treated me."
"That will put a spoke in his wheel."
"There's one thing I want to speak to you about, Captain Smith. How much will my passage be?"
"Nothing at all."
"But I have some money with me. I am willing to pay."
"Keep your money, my lad You will need it all before you get through. I was once a poor boy myself, obliged to struggle for my living. I haven't forgotten that time, and it makes me willing to lend a helping hand to others in the same position."
"You are very kind, Captain Smith," said Robert, gratefully.
"I ought to be. How long do you want to stay in Calcutta?"
"Only long enough to look about for my father."
"Then you can return to New York in my ship. It shall cost you nothing."
This offer was gratefully accepted—the more so that our hero had begun to realize that two hundred dollars was a small sum to carry on a journey of such length.
At last they reached Calcutta. Robert surveyed with much interest the great city of India, so different in its external appearance from New York, the only great city besides that he knew anything about.
"Well, Robert," said Captain Smith, on their arrival, "what are your plans? Will you make your home on board the ship, or board in the city, during our stay in port?"
"I think," said Robert, "I should prefer to live in the city, if you would recommend me to a good boarding place."
"That I can do. I am in the habit of boarding at a quiet house kept by a widow. Her terms are reasonable, and you can do no better than go there with me."
"Thank you, Captain Smith. I shall be glad to follow your advice."
So it happened that Captain Smith and Robert engaged board at the house of Mrs. Start, where, it will be remembered, that Captain Rushton was also a boarder, passing still under the name of Smith. Physically he had considerably improved, but mentally he was not yet recovered. His mind had received a shock, which, as it proved, a shock equally great was needed to bring it back to its proper balance.