One day, more than a year after Uncle Jack had left, and when they had almost given up all hope of ever seeing him again, or of being relieved from their island prison—the long-boat being dashed to pieces in the surf soon after he started—a schooner in full sail was discovered making for the island.
Presently, she came nearer and nearer.
Then she hove to, and a boat was seen to be lowered from her side, and shortly afterwards being pulled in to the shore.
A moment later, and Uncle Jack's well-known face could be seen in the stern-sheets, a glad hurrah being raised by the shipwrecked men at the sight of him.
Soon, Uncle Jack landed, and he had a long tale to tell of the jolly- boat losing her sail, and being tossed about on the ocean till picked up by an American whaler, which first took a cruise down the South Seas, there detaining him many weary months before landing him at Sandy Point, in the Straits of Magellan, from whence he got finally to Valparaiso after awaiting a passage for weeks.
Arrived here, however, he at once got in communication with the British consul, and chartered a schooner to go to Easter Island and fetch his comrades.
Uncle Jack, too, mentioned that he had written home to the owners of the Greenock, telling of her loss and the safety of all hands on their temporary island home; and he had also sent a letter to Endleigh, he said, narrating all about Master Teddy's adventures, and saying that he was safe and well.
Captain Lennard did not long delay the embarkation of his little band, who were glad enough to leave Easter Island; so, in a couple of weeks' time all landed safely in Valparaiso, where they luckily caught the outgoing mail steamer as they arrived, and started off to England, rejoicing in their timely rescue and preservation from peril amid all the dangers of the deep.
AT HOME AGAIN.
It was a bright August day at Endleigh.
There was a scent of new-mown hay in the air, and gangs of reapers were out in the fields getting in the harvest, the whirr of the threshing- machine, which the squire had lately brought down from London, making a hideous din in the meadows by the pond, where it had been set up; puffing and panting away as if its very existence were a trial, and scandalising the old-fashioned village folk—who did not believe in such new-fangled notions, and thought a judgment would come on those having to do with the machine, depriving, as it did, honest men who could wield the flail of a job!
In the garden of the vicarage, the warm sun seemed to incubate a dreamy stillness, the butterflies hardly taking the trouble to fly, and the very flowers hanging down their lazy heads; while the trees drooping their leaves, as if faint and exhausted with the heat.
Everything out of doors looked asleep, taking a mid-day siesta. Everything, that is, but the bees, which carried on their honey- gathering business as briskly as ever, utterly impervious to the warmth. Indeed, perhaps they got on all the better for it, probing the petals of the white lilies yet in bloom, and investigating the cavities of the foxglove and wonderful spider-trap of the Australian balsam, or else sweeping the golden dust off the discs of the gorgeous sunflowers, a regular mine of mellifluent wealth; a host of gnats and wasps and other idle insects buzzing round them all the time and pretending to be busy too, but really doing nothing at all!
The heat-laden atmosphere was so still that it had that oily sort of haze that distinguishes the mirage in the East, when the air appears composed of little waving lines wavering to and fro that dazzle your eyes with their almost-imperceptible motion as you look at them; and the silence was unbroken save by the chuck-chuck-chuck of some meddlesome blackbird in the shrubbery annoying the sparrows in their nap, and the answering click-clink-tweedle-deedle-dum-tum-tweedle-um of the yellow- hammer, telling as plainly as the little songster could tell that he at all events was wide awake, while, in the far distance, there could be heard the coo of ring-doves and the melancholy lament of the cuckoo investigating the hedgerows in quest of other birds' nests wherein to lay its solitary egg, and finding itself forestalled at every turn!
But if everything was so quiet without, such was not the case indoors at the vicarage.
A telegram had been received from Uncle Jack, saying that he and Teddy, having reached London in safety, would be down by the afternoon train; so, all in the house were in a state of wild excitement at meeting again those they had thought lost for ever.
Even the vicar was roused out of his usual placidity, although Uncle Jack's letter from Valparaiso had told all about the wonderful escape of the survivors of the Greenock; while, as for Miss Conny, who was now a perfectly grown-up young lady of eighteen, all her sedateness was gone for the moment and she was every bit as wild as the rest.
"Dear me, I'm sure the afternoon will never come!" exclaimed Cissy, walking to the window after arranging and re-arranging the flowers in the vases on the little table in the centre of the drawing-room and on the mantel-piece for about the one-and-twentieth time. "It's the longest day I ever knew."
"Don't be so impatient, dear," said Conny, trying to appear cool and tranquil as usual, but failing utterly in the attempt as she followed Cissy to the window and looked out over the lawn; "the time will soon pass by if you'll only try and think of something else but the hour for the train to come in."
"You're a fine counsellor," cried Cissy laughing, as she watched Conny's hands nervously twisting within each other. "Why, you are as bad as I am, and can't keep still a moment! Only Liz is calm—as if nothing had happened or was going to happen. I declare I could bang her, as Teddy used to say, for sitting there in the corner reading that heavy-looking book. I believe it must be a treatise on metaphysics or something of that sort."
"Mistaken for once, Miss Ciss," said the student, looking up with a smile. "It's a volume of travels telling all about the Pacific Ocean and Easter Island, where Teddy and Uncle Jack stopped so long with the natives; so, it is very interesting."
"Well, I'd rather for my part wait and hear about the place from our own travellers," rejoined Cissy impatiently. "I do wish they would come! I think I will go and see how Molly is getting on with the dinner. I'm sure she'll be late if somebody doesn't look after her."
"You had better leave her alone, Cissy," remonstrated Conny. "Molly, you know, doesn't like being interfered with; and, besides, it is very early yet, for they can't be here before three o'clock at the earliest."
"Oh, she won't mind me, Con," replied Cissy as she whisked out of the room, gaily singing now, the idea of having an object or doing something banishing her ennui; "Molly and I are the best of friends."
However, on entering the cook's domain Cissy found the old servant the reverse of amiable, for her face was red and hot with basting a little sucking-pig that was slowly revolving on the spit before a glowing fire that seemed to send out all the more heat from the fact of its being August, as if in rivalry of the sun without.
"Well, how are you getting on?" asked Cissy cheerfully, the sight of the little roasting piggy which Molly had selected for the repast that was to welcome Teddy, with some dim association of the fatted calf that was killed on the return of the prodigal son, making her feel more assured that the time was speeding on, and that the expected ones would arrive soon.
But, Molly was not amenable to friendly overtures at the moment.
"Excuse me, miss, I don't want to be bothered now," she replied, turning her perspiring countenance round an instant from her task and then instantly resuming it again and pouring a ladleful of gravy over the blistering crackling of her charge. "There, now—you almost made me burn it by interrupting me!"
"I'm very sorry, I'm sure, Molly," said Cissy apologetically; and seeing that her room was preferred to her company, she went out into the kitchen-garden to seek solace for her listlessness there.
It was a vain task, though.
The bees were still busily engaged hovering from flower to flower and mixing up in their pouches the different sorts of sweet flavours they extracted with their mandibles from the scabius, whose many-hued blossoms of brown, and olive, and pink, and creamy-white, scented one especial patch near the greenhouse. This corner the industrious little insects made the headquarters of their honey campaign, sallying out from thence to taste a sweet-pea or scarlet-runner and giving a passing kiss to a gaudy fuchsia, who wore a red coat and blue corporation sort of waistcoat, as they went homeward to their hive.
On the ground below quite a crowd of sparrows were taking baths in turn in a flat earthenware pan which was always kept filled with water for their particular delectation; and the butterflies, too, waking up, were poising themselves in graceful attitudes on the nasturtiums that twined over the gooseberry bushes, which were running a race with the broad- leaved pumpkins and vegetable marrow plants to see who would first clamber over the wall, the red tomatoes laughing through the greenery at the fun.
But there was little amusement for Cissy in all this at such a period of expectancy, when her pulses throbbed with excitement; so, she turned back towards the house with a yawn, uttering her longing wish aloud, "Why can't Teddy come?"
It being summer time, all the doors and windows were wide open to let in all the air possible, and as she retraced her steps slowly and disconsolately from the bottom of the garden at the back she heard a noise in front like the sound of wheels in the lane.
To dart through the side gate instead of returning by way of the kitchen was the work of a moment; and she reached the front of the house almost as soon as Conny and Liz, who had only to step out on to the smooth turf from the low French windows of the drawing-room.
It was only a false alarm, though, Doctor Jolly having driven up from visiting a patient to know when the travellers were expected.
"By the three o'clock train, eh?" he said on being told; then looking at his watch he added: "Why, it's close on two now. Any of you going down to the station to meet them?"
"Yes," answered Miss Conny in her prim way, "I was thinking of taking the children, if you do not consider it too warm to venture out in the heat of the sun? Poor papa is not so well to-day and unable to walk so far."
"Pooh, pooh!" ejaculated the doctor, with his hearty laugh. "Call this fine day too warm; you ought to be ashamed of yourself! You need not any of you walk. Go and put on your bonnets, and tell the vicar, and I'll cram you all into my old shanderadan and drive you down."
The Reverend Mr Vernon, however, besides suffering from one of his usual nervous headaches, which always came on when he was excited by anything as he was now, wished to be alone on first meeting with his lost son again, so that none might witness his emotion, being a particularly shy man amongst strangers; so, although he came out of his study on hearing Doctor Jolly's voice he begged him to excuse his going, while accepting his kind offer for the girls—who were ready in less than no time, Miss Conny losing her primness in her anxiety not to keep the doctor waiting, and the generally slow Liz being for once quick in her movements.
In another minute they were all packed within the hybrid vehicle, half gig, half wagonette, which the doctor only used on state occasions, and must have brought out this afternoon with the preconceived idea of its being specially wanted.
"This is jolly!" exclaimed Cissy as they all drove off gaily down the sleepy lane, passing neither man nor beast on their way. "You are very good to us, doctor!"
"Ho, ho, ho! Miss Cissy," laughed he; "you're getting extremely familiar to address me like that. Jolly, indeed! why, that's my name, ho, ho!"
"I—I didn't think," stammered poor Cissy rather abashed, blushing furiously, while Conny took advantage of the opportunity to point out to her the evil effects of using slang words; but the little lecture of the elder sister was soon joked away by the doctor, and they arrived at the station in the best of spirits.
Here they met with a wonderful surprise.
Some one who must have heard the news somehow or other of Teddy's return home had decorated the front of the old waiting-room with evergreens and sunflowers; and a sort of triumphal arch also being erected on the arrival platform of the same floral pattern.
Who could have done it?
Why, no less a person than Jupp, whose black beard seemed all the blacker, surrounding his good-humoured face, as he came out of the office with Mary on his arm, and a young Master Jupp and another little Mary toddling behind them—the whilom porter no longer dressed in grimy velveteens, but in a smart black frock-coat, his Sunday best, while his wife was equally spruce.
"I know it's ag'in the rules, miss," he explained to Conny; "but I see the telegram as said Master Teddy'd be here this arternoon, God bless him, and I'm thankful, that I am, he's restored safe and sound from the bottom of the sea and Davy Jones's Locker, as we all on us thought. So says I to Grigson, my old mate as was, who's in charge here now, and we detarmined as how we'd make a kind of show like to welcome of him home."
"You're a right-down brick, Jupp!" said Doctor Jolly, shaking him by the hand, while Mary kissed her former nurse children all round; and, while they were all exchanging congratulations, up came the train rumbling and whistling and panting and puffing into the station, the engine bearing a Union Jack tied to the funnel, for Jupp's interest in two of the special passengers being brought to Endleigh was well-known on the line.
Hardly had the train come to a standstill than out jumped Teddy, a trifle taller and broader across the shoulders as might have been expected from his two years of absence, but the same open-faced boy with the curly brown hair and blue eyes that all remembered so well.
What a meeting it was, to be sure, and how he hugged his sisters and Dr Jolly and Jupp and Mary all round—Uncle Jack almost being unnoticed for the moment, although he did not appear to mind it, looking on with a sympathetic grin of delight at the general joy expressed in every countenance present!
The doctor's "shanderadan" had a full cargo back to the vicarage, everybody talking to everybody all at once and none being able to finish a complete sentence—little Cissy keeping tight hold of Teddy's arm the while as if fearful of losing him again and thinking it might be all a dream.
When they got to the house Teddy was through the gate and across the lawn in two bounds, tapping at the door of the study before his father knew that he had come.
Like another father, the vicar was overcome with glad emotion, clasping him in his arms and embracing him, weeping as he cried in a broken voice:
"This, my son, was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!"
Only a word more.
The terrible experiences Teddy had had, and the sense of discipline inculcated in him during his short training at sea, made such a change in his character that henceforth he lost his former justly-earned titles, being never more called either "pickle" or "scapegrace."
He has not, however, abandoned the profession he originally adopted, in spite of its many perils and dangers, and the fact that a sailor's life is not altogether of that rose-coloured nature which story-writers usually make out.
No, he still sails under his old captain in the same line, and voyages backwards and forwards between Melbourne and London with praiseworthy punctuality, in the new ship Captain Lennard commands in place of the old Greenock. The vessel, too, is a regular clipper in her way, beating everything that tries to compete with her, whether outwards or inwards bound.
Teddy looks forward some day to taking his skipper's place when he retires from active life afloat, and following the example of Uncle Jack, who is already a captain too in his own right; for he is as steady and trustworthy now as he was formerly impetuous and headstrong.
But, mind you, he has lost none of his pluck or fearless spirit, and is the same genial, good-tempered, and happy-dispositioned boy he was in earliest childhood—knowing now the difference between true courage and mere bravado, and the value of obedience to those in authority over him.
As for Miss Conny, in spite of her ordinary sedateness of demeanour and constant asseveration that she would only marry a clergyman like her father, she is, to use Teddy's expressive diction, "spliced to a sodger," having become engaged some time since to a gallant captain in a marching regiment that was quartered for a while at Bigton, within easy access of Endleigh.
Cissy and Liz are both growing up nice girls; while the vicar is still hale and hearty, giving his parishioners the benefit every Sunday of a "thirdly" and sometimes "fourthly, brethren," in addition to the first and second divisions of his sermon; and never omitting his favourite "lastly" with "a word in conclusion" to wind up with.
Doctor Jolly, to complete our list of characters, is yet to the fore with his catching laugh, as "jolly" as ever; and, Jupp and Mary have likewise been so tenderly dealt with by time that they hardly look a day older than on that memorable occasion when Master Teddy introduced himself to public notice.
Don't you remember?
Why, when he casually mentioned to the porter and reader alike, and all whom it might concern, in the most matter-of-fact way in the world, that he wanted to "do dan'ma!"