Part 7 out of 9
On being invited to come at once to the latter, Lucy hesitated. "Would
not that be unamiable on my part? Mr. Talboys has just paid me the
highest compliment a gentleman can pay a lady; it is for me to decline
him courteously, not abuse him to his friend and representative."
"No humbug, Lucy, if you please; I am in no humor for it."
"We should all be savages without a _little_ of it."
"I am waiting."
"Then pledge me your word of honor no word of what I now say to the
disadvantage of poor Mr. Talboys shall ever reach him."
"You may take your oath of that."
"Then he is a detractor, a character I despise."
"Who does he detract from? I never heard him."
"From all his superiors--in other words, from everybody he meets. Did
you ever know him fail to sneer at Mr. Hardie?"
"Oh, that is the offense, is it?"
"No, it is the same with others; there, the other day, Mr. Dodd joined
us on horseback. He did not dress for the occasion. He had no straps
on. He came in a hurry to have our society, not to cut a dash. But
there was Mr. Talboys, who can only do this one thing well, and who,
thanks to his servant, had straps on, sneering the whole time at Mr.
Dodd, who has mastered a dozen far more difficult and more honorable
accomplishments than putting on straps and sitting on horses. But he
is always backbiting and sneering; he admires nothing and nobody."
"He has admired you ever since he saw you."
"What! has he never sneered at me?"
"Never! ungrateful girl, never."
"How humiliating! He takes me for his inferior. His superiors he
always sneers at. If he had seen anything good or spirited in me, he
could not have helped detracting from me. Is not this a serious
reason--that I despise the person who now solicits my love, honor and
obedience? Well, then, there is another--a stronger still. But perhaps
you will call it a woman's reason."
"I know. You don't like him--that is, you fancy you don't, and can't."
"No, uncle, it is not that I don't like him. It is that I HATE HIM."
"You hate him?" and Mr. Fountain looked at her to see if it was his
niece Lucy who was uttering words so entirely out of character.
"I am but a poor hater. I have but little practice; but, with all the
power of hating I do possess, I hate that Mr. Talboys. Oh, how
delicious it is to speak one's mind out nice and rudely. It is a
luxury I seldom indulge in. Yes, uncle," said Lucy, clinching her
white teeth, "I hate that man, and I did hope his proposal would come
from himself; then there would have been nothing to alloy my quiet
satisfaction at mortifying one who is so ready to mortify others. But
no, he has bewitched you; and you take his part, and you look vexed;
so all my pleasure is turned to pain."
"It is all self-deception," gasped Fountain, in considerable
agitation; "you girls are always deceiving yourselves: you none of you
hate any man--unless you love him. He tells me you have encouraged him
of late. You had better tell me that is a lie."
"A lie, uncle; what an expression! Mr. Talboys is a gentleman; he
would not tell a falsehood, I presume."
"Aha! it is true, then, you have encouraged him?"
"There, you see; the moment we come from the generalities to facts,
what a simpleton you are proved to be. Come, now, did you or did you
not agree to go in a boat with him?"
"I did, dear."
"That was a pretty strong measure, Lucy."
"Very strong, I think. I can tell you I hesitated."
"Now you see how you have mistaken your own feelings."
Lucy hung her head. "Oh uncle, you call me simple--and look at you!
fancy not seeing why I agreed to go--_dans cette galere._ It was
that Mr. Talboys might declare himself, and so I might get rid of him
forever. I saw that if I could not bring him to the point, he would
dangle about me for years, and perhaps, at last, succeed in irritating
me to rudeness. But now, of course, I shall stay on shore with my
uncle to-morrow. _Qu'irais je faire dana cette galere?_ you have
done it all for me. Oh, my dear, dear uncle, I am so grateful to you!"
She showed symptoms of caressing Mr. Fountain, but he recoiled from
her angrily. "Viper! but no, this is not you. There is a deeper hand
than you in all this. This is that Mrs. Bazalgette's doings."
"No, indeed, uncle."
"Give me a proof it is not."
"With pleasure; any proof that is in my power."
"Then promise me not to marry Mr. Hardie."
"My dear uncle, Mr. Hardie has never asked me."
"But he will."
"What right have I to say so? What right have I to constitute Mr.
Hardie my admirer? I would not for all the world put it into any
gentleman's power to say, 'Why say "no," Miss Fountain, before I have
asked you to say "yes"?' Oh!"
And, with this, Lucy put her face into her hands, but they were not
large enough to hide the deep blush that suffused her whole face at
the bare idea of being betrayed into an indelicacy of this sort.
"How could he say that? how could he know?" said Mr. Fountain,
"Uncle, I cannot, I dare not. You and my aunt hate one another; so you
might be tempted to tell her, and she would be sure to tell him.
Besides, I cannot; my very instinct revolts from it. It would not be
modest. I love you, uncle. Let me know your wishes, and have some
faith in my affection, but pray do not press me further. Oh, what have
I done, to be spoken of with so many gentlemen!"
Lucy was in evident agitation, and the blushes glowed more and more
round her snowy hands and between her delicate fingers; and there is
something so sacred about the modesty alarmed of an intelligent young
woman--it is a feeling which, however fantastical, is so genuine in
her, and so manifestly intense beyond all we can ourselves feel of the
kind, that no man who is not utterly stupid or depraved can see it
without a certain awe. Even Mr. Fountain, who looked on Lucy's
distress as transcendent folly with a dash of hypocrisy, could not go
on making her cheek burn so. "There! there!" cried he, "don't torment
yourself, Lucy. I will spare your fanciful delicacy, though you have
no pity on me--on your poor old uncle, whose heart you will break if
you decline this match."
At these words, and the old man's change from anger to sadness, Lucy
looked up in dismay, and the vivid color died, like a retiring wave,
out of her cheek.
"You look surprised, Lucy. What! do you think this will not be a
heartbreaking disappointment to me? If you knew how I have schemed for
it--what I have done and endured to bring it about! To quarter the
arms of Fontaine and Talboys! I put by the 5,000 pounds directly, and
as much more of my own, that you should not go into that noble family
without a proper settlement. It was the dream of my heart; I could
have died contented the next hour. More fool I to care for anybody but
myself. Your selfish people escape these bitter disappointments. Well,
it is a lesson. From this hour I will live for myself and care for
nobody, for nobody cares for me."
These words, uttered with great agitation, and, I believe, with
perfect sincerity, on his own unselfishness and hard fate, were
terrible to Lucy. She wreathed her arms suddenly round him.
"Oh, uncle," she cried, despairingly, "kill me! send me to Heaven!
send me to my mother, but don't stab me with such bitter words;" and
she trembled with an emotion so much more powerful and convulsing than
his, in which temper had a large share, that she once more cowed him.
"There! there!" he muttered, "I don't want to kill you, child, God
knows, or to hurt you in any way."
Lucy trembled, and tried to smile. The good nature, which was the
upper crust of this man's character, got the better of him.
"There! there! don't distress yourself so. I know who I have to thank
for all this."
"She has not the power," said Lucy, in a faint voice, "to make me
ungrateful to you."
Mind is more rapid than lightning. At this moment, in the middle of a
sentence, it flashed across Lucy that her aunt had convinced her, sore
against her will, that there was a strong element of selfishness in
Mr. Fountain. "But it is that he deceives himself," thought Lucy. "He
would sacrifice my happiness to his hobby, and think he has done it
for love of me." Enlightened by this rapid reflection, she did not say
to him as one of his own sex would, "Look in your own heart, and you
will see that all this is not love of me, but of your own schemes."
Oh, dear, no, that would not have been the woman. She took him round
the neck, and, fixing her sapphire eyes lovingly on his, she said, "It
is for love of me you set your heart on this great match? You wish to
see me well settled in the world, and, above all, happy?"
"Of course it is. I told you so. What other object can I have?"
"Then, if you saw me wretched, and degraded in my own eyes, your heart
would bleed for your poor niece--too late. Well, uncle, I love you,
too, and I save you this day from remorse. Oh, think what it must be
to hate and despise a man, and link yourself body and soul to that man
for life. Oh, think and shudder with me. I have a quick eye. I have
seen your lip curl with contempt when that fool has been talking--ah!
you blush. You are too much his superior in everything but fortune not
to despise him at heart. See the thing as it is. Speak to me as you
would if my mother stood here beside us, uncle, and to speak to me,
you must look her in the face. Could you say to me before her, 'I love
you; marry a man we both despise!'?"
Mr. Fountain made no answer. He was disconcerted. Nothing is so easy
to resist as logic solo. We see it, as a general rule, resisted with
great success in public and private every day; but when it comes in
good company, a voice of music, an angel face, gentle, persuasive
caresses, and imploring eyes, it ceases to revolt the understanding.
And so, caught in his own trap, foiled, baffled, soothed, caressed,
all in one breath, Mr. Fountain hung his head, and could not
Lucy followed up her advantage. "No," cried she; "say to me, 'I love
you, Lucy; marry nobody; stay with your uncle, and find your happiness
in contributing to his comfort.'"
"What is the use my saying that, when I have got Mother Bazalgette
against me, and her shopkeeper?"
"Never mind, uncle, you say it, and time will show whether your
influence is small with me, and my affections small for you"; and she
looked in his face with glistening eyes.
"Well, then," said he, "I do say it, and I suppose that means I must
urge you no more about poor Talboys."
A shower of kisses descended upon him that moment. Moral: Lose no time
in sealing a good bargain.
"Come, now, Lucy, you must do me a favor."
"Oh, thank you! thank you! what is it?"
"Ah! but it is about Talboys too."
"Never mind," faltered Lucy, "if it is anything short of--" (full
"It is a long way short of that. Look here, Lucy, I must tell you the
truth. He intends to ask your hand himself: he confided this to me,
but he never authorized me to commit him as I have done, so that this
conversation cannot be acted on: it must be a secret between you and
"Oh, dear! and I thought I had got rid of him so nicely."
"Don't be alarmed," groaned Fountain; "such matches as this can always
be dropped; the difficulty is to bring them on. All I ask of you,
then, is not to make mischief between me and my friend, the proudest
man in England. If you don't value his friendship, I do. You must not
let him know I have got him insulted by a refusal. For instance, you
had better go out sailing with him to-morrow as if nothing had passed.
Will your affection for me carry you as far as that?"
The proposal was wormwood to Lucy. So she smiled and said eagerly: "Is
that all? Why, I will do it with pleasure, dear. It is not like being
in the same boat with him for life, you know. Can you give me nothing
more than that to do for you?"
"No; it does not do to test people's affection too severely. You have
shown me that. Go on with your walk, Lucy. I shall go in."
"May I not come with you?"
"No; my head aches with all this; if I don't mind I shall eat no
dinner. Agitation and vexation, don't agree with me. I have carefully
avoided them all my life. I must go in and lie down for an hour"; and
he left her rather abruptly.
She looked after him; her subtle eye noticed directly that he walked a
little more feebly than usual. She ascribed this to his
disappointment, justly perhaps, for at his age the body has less
elastic force to resist a mental blow. The sight of him creeping away
disappointed, and leaning heavier than usual on his stick, knocked at
her cool but affectionate heart. She began to cry bitterly. When he
was quite out of sight, she turned and paced the gravel slowly and
sadly. It was new to her to refuse her uncle anything, still more
strange to have to refuse him a serious wish. She was prepared,
thoroughly prepared, for the proposal, but not to find the old man's
heart so deeply set upon it. A wild impulse came over her to call him
back and sacrifice herself; but the high spirit and intelligence that
lay beneath her tenderness and complaisance stood firm. Yet she felt
almost guilty, and very, very unhappy, as we call it at her age. She
kept sighing; "Poor uncle!" and paced the gravel very slowly, hanging
her sweet head, and crying as she went.
At the end of the walk David Dodd stood suddenly before her. He came
flurried on his own account, but stopped thunder-struck at her tears.
"What is the matter, Miss Lucy?"' said he, anxiously.
"Oh, nothing, Mr. Dodd;" and they flowed afresh.
"Can I do anything for you, Miss Lucy?"
"No, Mr. Dodd."
"Won't you tell me what is the matter? Are you not friends with me
"I was put out by a very foolish circumstance, Mr. Dodd, and it is one
with which I shall not trouble you, nor any person of sense. I prefer
to retain your sympathy by not revealing the contemptible cause of my
babyish-- There!" She shook her head proudly, as if tears were to be
dispersed like dewdrops. "There!" she repeated; and at this second
effort she smiled radiantly.
"It is like the sun coming out after a shower," cried David
"That reminds me I must be _going_ in, Mr. Dodd."
"Don't say that, Miss Lucy. What for?"
"To arrange another shower, one of pearls, on a dress I am to wear
David sighed. "Ah! Miss Lucy, at sight of me you always make for the
Lucy colored. "Oh, do I? I really was not aware of that. Then I
suppose I am afraid of you. Is that what you would insinuate? "'
"No, Miss Lucy, you are not afraid of me; but I sometimes fear--" and
"It must blow very hard that day," said Lucy, with a world of
politeness. Her tongue was too quick for him. He found it so, and
announced the fact after his fashion. "I can't tack fast enough to
follow you," said he despondently.
"But you are not required to follow me," replied this amiable eel,
with hypocritical benignity; "I am going to my aunt's room to do what
I told you. I leave you in charge of the quarter-deck." So saying, she
walked slowly up the steps, and left David standing sorrowfully on the
gravel. At the top step Miss Lucy turned and inquired gently when he
was to sail. He told her the ship was expected to anchor off the fort
to-morrow, but she would not sail till she had got all her passengers
"Oh!" said Lucy, with an air of reflection. She then leaned in an easy
posture against the wall, and, whether it was that she relented a
little, or that, having secured her retreat, she was now indifferent
to flight, certain it is that she did after her own fashion what many
a daughter of Eve has done before her, and many a duchess and many a
dairymaid will do after La Fountain and I are gone from earth. A
minute ago it had been, "She must go directly." The more opposition to
her departure, the more inexorable the necessity for her going;
opposition withdrawn, and the door open, she stayed no end.
Full twenty minutes did that young lady stand there unsolicited, and
chat with David Dodd in the kindest, sweetest, most amicable way
She little knew she had an auditor--a female auditor, keen as a lynx.
All this day Reginald George Bazalgette, Esq., might have been defined
"a pest in search of a playmate." Tom had got a holiday. Lucy only
came out of her workshop to be seized by Mr. Fountain. David, who was
waiting in the garden for Lucy, begged Reginald to excuse him for
once. The young gentleman had recourse as a _pis aller_ to his
mamma. He invaded her bedroom, and besought her piteously to play at
battledoor. That lady, sighing deeply at being taken from her dress,
consented. Her soul not being in it, she played very badly. Her cub
did not fail to tell her so. "Why, I can keep up a hundred with Mr.
Dodd," said he.
"Oh, we all know Mr. Dodd is perfection," said the lady with a sneer.
She was piqued with David. He had gone and left her in a brutal way,
to make his apologies to Lucy.
"No, he is not," said Reginald. "I have found him out. He is as unjust
as the rest of them."
"Dear me! and, pray, what has he done?"
"I will tell you, mamma, if you will promise not to tell papa, because
he told me not to listen, and I didn't listen, mamma, because, you
know, a gentleman always keeps his word; but they talked so loud the
words would come into my ear; I could not keep them out. Mamma, are
there any naughty ladies here?"
"No, my dear."
"Then what did papa mean, warning Mr. Dodd against one?"
Mrs. Bazalgette began to listen as he wished.
"Oh, he called her all the names. He said she was a statue of
"Lucy? no! the naughty lady--the one that had twelve husbands. He kept
warning him, and warning him, and then Mr. Dodd and papa they began to
quarrel almost, because Mr. Dodd said the naughty lady was quite
young, and papa said she was ever so old. Mr. Dodd said she was
twenty-one. But papa told him she must be more than that, because she
had a child that would be fifteen years old; only it died. How old
would sister Emily be if she was alive, mamma? La, mamma, how pretty
you are: you have got red cheeks like Lucy--redder, oh, ever so much
redder--and in general they are so pale before dinner. Let me kiss
you, mamma. I do love the ladies when their cheeks are red."
"There! there! now go on, dear; tell me some more."
"It is very interesting, isn't it, dear mamma?"
"It is amusing, at all events."
"No, it is not amusing--at least, what came after, isn't: it is
wicked, it is unjust, it is abominable."
"Tell me, dear."
"It turned out it wasn't the naughty lady Mr. Dodd was in love for,
and who do you think he is in love of?"
"I have not an idea."
"No, no, mamma, it is not. He owned it plump."
"Are you quite sure, love?"
"Upon my honor."
"What did they say next?"
"Oh, next papa began to talk his fine words that I don't know what the
meaning of them is one bit. But Mr. Dodd, he could make them out, I
suppose, for he said, 'So, then, the upshot is--' There, now, what is
upshot? I don't know. How stupid grown-up people are; they keep using
words that one doesn't know the meaning of."
"Never mind, love! tell me. What came _after_ upshot?" said Mrs.
Bazalgette, soothingly, with great apparent calmness and flashing eye.
"How kind you are to-day, mamma! That is twice you have called me
love, and three times dear; only think. I should love you if you were
always so kind, and your cheeks as red as they are now."
"Never mind my cheeks. What did Mr. Dodd say? Try and
remember--come--'The upshot was--'"
"The upshot was--what was the upshot? I forget. No, I remember; the
upshot was, if Lucy said 'yes,' papa would not say 'no;' that meant to
marry him. Now didn't you promise me her ever so long ago--the day you
and I agreed if I went a whole day without being naughty once I should
have her for ever and ever? and I did go."
"Go to Lucy's room, and tell her to come to me," said Mrs. Bazalgette,
in a stern, thoughtful voice, which startled poor Reginald, coming so
soon after the _calinerie._ However, he told her it was no use
his going to Lucy's room, for she was out in the garden; he had seen
her there walking with Mr. Fountain. Reginald then ran to the window
which commanded the garden, to look for Lucy. He had scarcely reached
it when he began to squeak wildly, "Come here! come here! come here!"
Mrs. Bazalgette was at the window in a moment, and lo! at the end of
the garden, walking slowly side by side, were Lucy and Mr. Dodd.
Ridiculous as it may appear, a pang of jealousy shot through the
married flirt's heart that made her almost feel sick. This was
followed at the interval of half a second by as pretty a flame of
hatred as ever the _spretoe injuria formoe_ lighted up in a
coquette's heart. Doubt drove in its smaller sting besides, and at
sight of the couple she resolved to have better evidence than
Reginald's, especially as to Lucy's sentiments. The plan she hit upon
was effective, but vulgar, and must not be witnessed by a boy of
inconvenient memory and mistimed fluency. She got rid of him with
high-principled dexterity. "Reginald," said she, sadly, "you are a
naughty boy, a disobedient boy, to listen when your papa told you not,
and to tell me a pack of falsehoods. I must either tell your papa, or
I must punish you myself; I prefer to do it myself, he would whip you
so"; with this she suddenly opened her dressing-room door, and pushed
the terrible infant in, and locked the door. She then told him through
the keyhole he had better cease yelling, because, if he kept quiet,
his punishment would only last half an hour, and she flew downstairs.
There was a large hot-house with two doors, one of which came very
near to the house door that opened into the garden. Mrs. Bazalgette
entered the hothouse at the other end, and, hidden by the exotic trees
and flowers, made rapidly for the door Lucy and David must pass. She
found it wide open. She half shut it, and slipped behind it, listening
like a hare and spying like a hawk through the hinges. And, strange as
it may appear, she had an idea she should make a discovery. As the
finished sportsman watches a narrow ride in the wood, not despairing
by a snap-shot to bag his hare as she crosses it, though seen but for
a moment, so the Bazalgette felt sure that, as the couple passed her
ambush, something, either in the two sentences they might utter, or,
more probably, in their tones and general manner, would reveal to one
of her experience on what footing they were.
A shrewd calculation! But things will be things. They take such turns,
I might without exaggeration say twists, that calculation is baffled,
and prophecy dissolved into pitch and toss. This thing turned just as
not expected. _Primo,_ instead of getting only a snap-shot, Mrs.
Bazalgette heard every word of a long conversation; and,
_secundo,_ when she had heard it she could not tell for certain
on what footing the lady and gentleman were. At first, from their
familiarity, she inclined to think they were lovers; but, the more she
listened, the more doubtful she seemed. Lucy was the chief speaker,
and what she said showed an undisguised interest in her companion; but
the subject accounted in great measure for that; she was talking of
his approaching voyage, of the dangers and hardships of his
profession, and of his return two years hence, his chances of
promotion, etc. But here was no proof positive of love; they were
acquaintances of some standing. Then Lucy's manner struck her as
rather amicable than amorous. She was calm, kind, self-possessed, and
almost voluble. As for David, he only got in a word here and there.
When he did, there was something so different in his voice from
anything he had ever bestowed on _her,_ that she hated him, and
longed to stick scissors into him from the rear, unseen. At last Lucy
suddenly recollected, or seemed to recollect, she was busy, and
retired hastily--so hastily that David saw too late his opportunity
lost. But the music of her voice had so charmed him that he did not
like to interrupt it even to speak of that which was nearest his
heart. David sighed deeply, standing there alone.
Mrs. Bazalgette clinched her little fists and looked round for the
means of vengeance. David went down on his knees. La Bazalgette glared
through the crack, and wondered what on earth he was at now. Oh! he
was praying. "He loves her: he is eccentricity itself; so he is
praying for her, and on _my_ doorsteps" (the householder wounded
as well as the flirt). It was lucky she had not "a thunderbolt in her
eye"--Shakespeare, or a celestial messenger of the wrong sort would
have descended on the devout mariner. It was more than Mrs. Bazalgette
could bear: she had now and then, not often, unladylike impulses. One
of them had set her crouching behind the door of an outhouse, and
listening through a crack; and now she had another, an irresistible
one: it was, to take that empty flower-pot, fling it as hard as ever
she could at the devotee, then shut the door quick, fly out at the
other door, and leave her faithless swain in the agony of knowing
himself detected and exposed by some unknown and undiscoverable enemy.
For a vengeance extemporized in less than half a second this was very
respectable. Well, she clawed the flower-pot noiselessly, put her
other hand on the door, cast a hasty glance at the means of retreat,
and--things took another twist: she heard the rustle of a coming gown,
and drew back again, and out came Lucy, and nearly ran over David, who
was not on his knees after all, but down on his nose, prostrate
Orientally. The fact is, Lucy, among her other qualities, good and
bad, was a born housewife, and solicitously careful of certain odds
and ends called property. She found she had dropped one of her gloves
in the garden, and she came back in a state of disproportionate
uneasiness to find it, and nearly ran over David Dodd.
"What _are_ you doing, Mr. Dodd?"
David arose from his Oriental position, and, being a young man whose
impulse always was to tell the simple truth, replied, "I was kissing
the place where you stood so long."
He did not feel he had done anything extraordinary, so he gave her
this information composedly; but her face was scarlet in an instant;
and he, seeing that, began to blush too. For once Lucy's tact was
baffled; she did not know what on earth to say, and she stood blushing
like a girl of fifteen.
Then she tried to turn it off.
"Mr. Dodd, how can you be so ridiculous?" said she, affecting humorous
But David was not to be put down now; he was launched.
"I am not ridiculous for loving and worshiping you, for you are worthy
of even more love than any human heart can hold."
"Oh, hush, Mr. Dodd. I must not hear this."
"Miss Lucy, I can't keep it any longer--you must, you shall hear me.
You can despise my love if you will, but you _shall_ know it
before you reject it."
"Mr. Dodd, you have every right to be heard, but let me persuade you
not to insist. Oh, why did I come back?"
"The first moment I saw you, Miss Lucy, it was a new life to me. I
never looked twice at any girl before. It is not your beauty only--oh,
no! it is your goodness--goodness such as I never thought was to be
found on earth. Don't turn your head from me; I know my defects; could
I look on you and not see them? My manners are blunt and rude--oh, how
different from yours! but you could soon make me a fine gentleman, I
love you so. And I am only the first mate of an Indiaman; but I should
be a captain next voyage, Miss Lucy, and a sailor like me has no
expenses; all he has is his wife's. The first lady in the land will
not be petted as you will, if you will look kindly on me. Listen to
me," trying to tempt her. "No, Miss Lucy, I have nothing to offer you
worth your acceptance, only my love. No man ever loved woman as I love
you; it is not love, it is worship, it is adoration! Ah! she is going
to speak to me at last!"
Lucy presented at this moment a strange contrast of calmness and
agitation. Her bosom heaved quickly, and she was pale, but her voice
was calm, and, though gentle, decided.
"I know you love me, Mr. Dodd, and I feared this. I have tried to save
you the mortification of being declined by one who, in many things, is
your inferior. I have even been rude and unkind to you. Forgive me for
it. I meant it kindly. I regret it now. Mr. Dodd, I thank you for the
honor you do me, but I cannot accept your love." There was a pause,
but David's tongue seemed glued to the roof of his mouth. He was not
surprised, yet he was stupefied when the blow came.
At last he gasped out, "You love some other man?"
Lucy was silent.
"Answer me, for pity's sake; give me something to help me."
"You have no right to ask me such a question, but--I have no
attachment, Mr. Dodd."
"Ah! then one word more. Is it because you cannot love me, or because
I am poor, and only first mate of an Indiaman?"
"_That_ I will not answer. You have no right to question a lady
why she--Stay! you wish to despise me. Well, why not, if that will
cure you of this unfortunate-- Think what you please of me, Mr. Dodd,"
murmured Lucy, sadly.
"Ah! you know I can't," cried David, despairingly.
"I know that you esteem me more than I deserve. Well, I esteem you,
Mr. Dodd. Why, then, can we not be friends? You have only to promise
me you will never return to this subject--come!"
"Me promise not to love you! What is the use? Me be your friend, and
nothing more, and stand looking on at the heaven that is to be
another's, and never to be mine? It is my turn to decline. Never.
Betrothed lovers or strangers, but nothing between! It would drive me
mad. Away from you, and out of sight of your sweet face, I may make
shift to live, and go through my duty somehow, for my mother's and
"You are wiser than I was, Mr. Dodd. Yes, we must part."
"Of course we must. I have got my answer, and a kinder one than I
deserve; and now what is the polite thing for me to do, I wonder?"
David said this with terrible bitterness.
"You frighten me," sighed Lucy.
"Don't you be frightened, sweet angel; there! I have been used to obey
orders all my life, and I am like a ship tossed in the breakers, and
you are calm--calm as death. Give me my orders, for God's sake."
"It is not for me to command you, Mr. Dodd. I have forfeited that
right. But listen to her who still asks to be your friend, and she
will tell you what will be best for you, and kindest and most generous
"Tell me about that last; the other is a waste of words."
"I will, then. Your sister is somewhere in the neighborhood."
"She is at ----; how did you know?"
"I saw her on your arm. I am glad she is so near--Oh, so glad! Bid my
uncle and aunt good-by; make some excuse. Go to your sister at once.
_She_ loves you. She is better than I am, if you will but see us
as we really are. Go to her at once," faltered Lucy, who disliked Eve,
and Eve her.
"I will! I will! I have thought too little of my own flesh and blood.
Shall I go now?"
"Yes," murmured Lucy softly, trying to disarm the fatal word. "Forget
me--and--forgive me!" and, with this last word scarce audible, she
averted her face, and held out her hand with angelic dignity, modesty
The kind words and the gentle action brought down the stout heart that
had looked death in the face so often without flinching. "Forgive you,
sweet angel!" he cried; "I pray Heaven to bless you, and to make you
as happy as I am desolate for your sake. Oh, you show me more and more
what I lose this day. God bless you! God bless--" and David's heart
filled to choking, and he burst out sobbing despairingly, and the hot
tears ran suddenly from his eyes over her hand as he kissed and kissed
it. Then, with an almost savage feeling of shame (for these were not
eyes that were wont to weep), he uttered one cry of despair and ran
away, leaving her pale and panting heavily.
She looked piteously at her hand, wet with a hero's tears, and for the
second time to-day her own began to gush. She felt a need of being
alone. She wanted to think on what she had done. She would hide in the
garden. She ran down the steps; lo! there was Mr. Hardie coming up the
gravel-walk. She uttered a little cry of impatience, and dashed
impetuously into the hot-house, driving the half-open door before her
with her person as well as her arm.
A scream of terror and pain issued from behind it, with a crash of
Lucy wheeled round at the sound, and there was her aunt, flattened
against the flower-frame.
Lucy stood transfixed.
But soon her look of surprise gave way to a frown; ay! and a somber
THAT ready-minded lady extricated herself from the pots, and wriggled
out of the moral situation. "I was a listener, dear! an unwilling
listener; but now I do not regret it. How nobly you behaved!" and with
this she came at her with open arms, crying, "My own dear niece."
Her own dear niece recoiled with a shiver, and put up both her hands
as a shield.
"Oh, don't touch me, please. I never heard of a lady listening!!!!"
She then turned her back on her aunt in a somewhat uncourtier-like
manner, and darted out of the place, every fiber of her frame strung
up tight with excitement. She felt she was not the calm, dispassionate
being of yesterday, and hurried to her own room and locked herself in.
Mrs. Bazalgette remained behind in a state of bitter mortification,
and breathing fury on her small scale. But what could she do? David
would be out of her reach in a few minutes, and Lucy was scarce
In the absence of any definite spite, she thought she could not go
wrong in thwarting whatever Lucy wished, and her wish had been that
David should go. Besides, if she kept him in the house, who knows, she
might pique him with Lucy, and even yet turn him her way; so she lay
in wait for him in the hall. He soon appeared with his bag in his
hand. She inquired, with great simplicity, where he was going. He told
her he was going away. She remonstrated, first tenderly, then almost
angrily. "We all counted on you to play the violin. We can't dance to
the piano alone."
"I am very sorry, but I have got my orders." Then this subtle lady
said, carelessly, "Lucy will be _au desespoir._ She will get no
dancing. She said to me just now, 'Aunt, do try and persuade Mr. Dodd
to stay over the ball. We shall miss him so.'"
"When did she say that?"
"Just this minute. Standing at the door there."
"Very well; then I'll stay over the ball." And without a word more he
carried his bag and violin-case up to his room again. Oh, how La
Bazalgette hated him! She now resigned all hope of fighting with him,
and contented herself with the pleasure of watching him and Lucy
together. One would be wretched, and the other must be uncomfortable.
Lucy did not come down to dinner; she was lying down with headache.
She even sent a message to Mrs. Bazalgette to know whether she could
be dispensed with at the ball. Answer, "Impossible!" At half-past
eight she got up, put on her costume, took it off again, and dressed
in white watered silk. Her assumption of a character was confined to
wearing a little crown rising to a peak in front. Many of the guests
had arrived when she glided into the room looking every inch a queen.
David was dazzled at her, and awestruck at her beauty and mien, and at
his own presumption.
Her eye fell on him. She gave a little start, but passed on without a
word. The carpets had been taken up, and the dancing began.
Mrs. Bazalgette arranged that Lucy and David should play pianoforte
and violin until some lady could be found to take her part.
I incline to think Mrs. Bazalgette, spiteful as mortified vanity is
apt to be, did not know the depth of anguish her subtle vengeance
inflicted on David Dodd.
He was pale and stern with the bitter struggle for composure. He
ground his teeth, fixed his eyes on the music-book, and plowed the
merry tunes as the fainting ox plows the furrow. He dared not look at
Lucy, nor did he speak to her more than was necessary for what they
were doing, nor she to him. She was vexed with him for subjecting
himself and her to unnecessary pain, and in the eye of society--her
Another unhappy one was Mr. Fountain. He sat disconsolate on a seat
all alone. Mrs. Bazalgette fluttered about like a butterfly, and
sparkled like a Chinese firework.
Two young ladies, sisters, went to the piano to give Miss Fountain an
opportunity of dancing. She danced quadrilles with four or five
gentlemen, including her special admirers. She declined to waltz: "I
have a little headache; nothing to speak of."
She then sat down to the piano again. "I can play alone, Mr. Dodd; you
have not danced at all."
"I am not in the humor."
This time they played some of the tunes they had rehearsed together
that happy evening, and David's lip quivered.
Lucy eyed him unobserved.
"Was this wise--to subject yourself to this?"
"I must obey orders, whatever it costs me--'ri tum ti tum ti tum ti
"Who ordered you to neglect my advice?--'ri tum tum tum.'"
_"You_ did--'ri tum ti tum tiddy iddy.'"
A look of silent disdain: "Ri tum, ti tum, tiddy iddy." (Ah! perdona
for relating things as they happen, and not as your grand writers
pretend they happen.)
Between the quadrilles she asked an explanation.
"Your aunt met me with my bag in my hand, and told me you wanted me to
play to the company."
When he said this, David heard a sound like the click of a trigger. He
looked up; it was Lucy clinching her teeth convulsively. But time was
up: the woman of the world must go on like the prizefighter. The
couples were waiting.
"Ri tum ti tum ti tum ti tum tiddy iddy." For all that, she did not
finish the tune. In the middle of it she said to David, "'Ri tum ti
tum--' can you get through this without me?--'ri tum.'"
"If I can get through life without you, I can surely get through this
twaddle: 'ri tum ti tum ti tum ti tum tiddy iddy.'" Lucy started from
her seat, leaving David plowing solo. She started from her seat and
stood a moment, looking like an angel stung by vipers. Her eye went
all round the room in one moment in search of some one to blight. It
surprised Mr. Hardie and Mrs. Bazalgette sitting together and casting
ironical glances pianoward: "So she has been betraying to Mr. Hardie
the secret she gained by listening," thought Lucy. The pair were
probably enjoying David's mortification, his misery.
She walked very slowly down the room to this couple. She looked them
long and full in the face with that confronting yet overlooking glance
which women of the world can command on great occasions. It fell, and
pressed on them both like lead, they could not have told you why. They
looked at one another ruefully when she had passed them, and then
their eyes followed her. They saw her walk straight up to her uncle,
and sit down by him, and take his hand. They exchanged another uneasy
"Uncle," said Lucy, speaking very quickly, "you are unhappy. I am the
cause. I am come to say that I promise you not to marry anyone my aunt
shall propose to me."
"My dear girl, then you won't marry that shopkeeper there?"
"What need of names, still less of epithets? I will marry no friend of
"Ah! now you are my brother's daughter again."
"No, I love you no better than I did this morning; but the--"
Celestial happiness diffused itself over old Fountain's face, and Lucy
glided back to the piano just as the quadrille ended.
"Give me your arm, Mr. Dodd," said she, authoritatively. She took his
arm, and made the tour of the room leaning on him, and chatting gayly.
She introduced him to the best people, and contrived to appear to the
whole room joyous and flattered, leaning on David's arm.
The young fellows envied him so.
Every now and then David felt her noble white arm twitch convulsively,
and her fingers pinch the cloth of his sleeve where it was loose.
She guided him to the supper-room. It was empty. "Oblige me with a
glass of water."
He gave it her. She drank it.
"Mr. Dodd, the advice I gave you with my own lips I never retracted.
My aunt imposed upon you. It was done to mortify you. It has failed,
as you may have observed. My head aches so, it is intolerable. When
they ask you where I am, say I am unwell, and have retired to my room.
I shall not be at breakfast; directly after breakfast go to your
sister, and tell her your friend Lucy declined you, though she knows
your value, and would not let you be mortified by nullities and
heartless fools. Good-by, Mr. Dodd; try and believe that none of us
you leave in this house are worth remembering, far less regretting."
She vanished haughtily; David crept back to the ball-room. It seemed
dark by comparison now she who lent it luster was gone. He stayed a
few minutes, then heavy-hearted to bed.
The next morning he shook hands with Mr. Bazalgette, the only one who
was up, kissed the terrible infant, who, suddenly remembering his many
virtues, formally forgave him his one piece of injustice, and, as he
came, so he went away, his bag on his shoulder and his violin-case in
He went to Cousin Mary and asked for Eve. Cousin Mary's face turned
red: "You will find her at No. 80 in this street. She is gone into
lodgings." The fact is, the cousins had had a tiff, and Eve had left
the house that moment.
Oh! my sweet, my beloved heroines--you young vipers, when will you
learn to be faultless, like other people? You have turned my face into
a peony, blushing for you at every fourth page.
David came into her apartment. He smiled sweetly, but sadly. "Well, it
is all over. I have offered, and been declined."
At seeing him so quiet and resigned, Eve burst out crying.
"Don't you cry, dear," said David. "It is best so. It is almost a
relief. Anything before the suspense I was enduring."
Then Eve, recovering her spirits by the help of anger, began to abuse
Lucy for a cold-hearted, deceitful girl; but David stopped her
"Not a word against her--not a word. I should hate anyone that
miscalled her. She speaks well of you, Eve; why need you speak ill of
her? She and I parted friends, and friends let us be. There is no hate
can lie alongside love in a true heart. No, let nobody speak of her at
all to me. I shan't; my thoughts, they are my own. 'Go to your
sister,' said she, and here I am; and I beg your pardon, Eve, for
neglecting you as I have of late."
"Oh, never mind _that,_ David; _our_ affection will outlast
this folly many a long year."
"Please God! Your hand in mine, Eve, my lamb, and let us talk of
ourselves and mother: the time is short."
They sat hand in hand, and never mentioned Lucy's name again; and,
strange to say, it was David who consoled Eve; for, now the battle was
lost, her spirit seemed to have all deserted her, and she kept
bursting out crying every now and then irrelevantly.
It was three in the afternoon. David was sitting by the window, and
Eve packing his chest in the same room, not to be out of his sight a
minute, when suddenly he started up and cried, "There she is," and an
instinctive unreasonable joy illumined his face; the next moment his
The carriage passed down the street.
"I remember now," muttered David, "I heard she was to go sailing, and
Mr. Talboys was to be skipper of the boat. Ah! well."
"Well, let them sail, David. It is not your business."
"That it is not, Eve--nobody's less than mine.
"Eve, there is plenty of wind blowing up from the nor'east."
"Is there? I am afraid that will bring your ship down quick."
"Yes; but it is not that. I am afraid that lubber won't think of
looking to windward."
"Nonsense about the wind; it is a beautiful day. Come, David, it is no
use lighting against nature. Put on your hat, then, and run down to
the beach, and see the last of her; only, for my sake, don't let the
others see you, to jeer you."
"And mind and be back to dinner at four. I have got a nice roast fowl
A little before four o'clock a sailor brought a note from David,
written hastily in pencil. It was sent up to Eve. She read it, and
clasped her hands vehemently.
"Oh, David, she was born to be your destruction."
MR. FOUNTAIN, Miss Fountain, and Mr. Talboys started to go on the
boating expedition. As they were getting into the boat, Mr. Fountain
felt a little ill, and begged to be excused. Mr. Talboys offered to
return with him. He declined: "Have your little sail. I will wait at
the inn for you."
This pantomime had, I blush to say, been arranged beforehand. Miss
Fountain, we may be sure, saw through it, but she gave no sign. A
lofty impassibility marked her demeanor, and she let them do just what
they liked with her.
The boat was launched, the foresail set, and Fountain remained on
shore in anything but a calm and happy state.
But friendships like these are not free from dross; and I must confess
that among the feelings which crossed his mind was a hope that Talboys
would pop, and be refused, as _he_ had been. Why should he,
Fountain, monopolize defeat? We should share all things with a friend.
Meantime, by one of those caprices to which her sex are said to be
peculiarly subject, Lucy seemed to have given up all intention of
carrying out her plan for getting rid of Mr. Talboys. Instead of
leading him on to his fate, she interposed a subtle but almost
impassable barrier between him and destruction; her manner and
deportment were of a nature to freeze declarations of love upon the
human lip. She leaned back languidly and imperially on the luxurious
cushions, and listlessly eyed the sky and the water, and ignored with
perfect impartiality all the living creatures in the boat.
Mr. Talboys endeavored in vain to draw her out of this languid mood.
He selected an interesting subject of conversation to--himself; he
told her of his feats yachting in the Mediterranean; he did not tell
her, though, that his yacht was sailed by the master and not by him,
her proprietor. In reply to all this Lucy dropped out languid
At last Talboys got piqued and clapped on sail.
There had not been a breath of air until half an hour before they
started; but now a stiff breeze had sprung up; so they had smooth
water and yet plenty of wind, and the boat cut swiftly through-the
"She walks well," said the yachtsman.
Lucy smiled a gracious, though still rather too queenly assent. I
think the motion was pleasing her. Lively motion is very agreeable to
"This is a very fast boat," said Mr. Talboys. "I should like to try
her speed. What do you say, Miss Fountain?"
"With all my heart," said Lucy, in a tone that expressed her utter
"Here is this lateen-rigged boat creeping down on our quarter; we will
stand east till she runs down to us, and then we will run by her and
challenge her." Accordingly Talboys stood east.
But he did not get his race; for, somewhat to his surprise, the
lateen-rigged boat, instead of holding her course, which was about
south-southwest, bore up directly and stood east, keeping about half a
mile to windward of Talboys.
This puzzled Talboys. "They are afraid to try it," said he. "If they
are afraid of us sailing on a wind, they would not have much chance
with us in beating to windward. A lugger can lie two points nearer the
wind than a schooner."
All this science was lost on Lucy. She lay back languid and listless.
Mr. Talboy's crew consisted of a man and a boy. He steered the boat
himself. He ordered them to go about and sail due west. It was no
sooner done than, lo and behold, the schooner came about and sailed
west, keeping always half a mile to windward.
"That boat is following us, Miss Fountain."
"What for?" inquired she; "is it my uncle coming after us?"
"No; I see no one aboard but a couple of fishermen."
"They are not fishermen," put in the boy; "they are
sailors--coastguard men, likely."
"Besides," said Mr. Talboys, "your uncle would run down to us at once,
but these keep waiting on us and dogging us. Confound their
"It is all fancy," said Lucy; "run away as fast as you can that way,"
and she pointed down the wind, "and you will see nobody will take the
trouble to run after us."
"Hoist the mainsail," cried Talboys.
They had hitherto been sailing under the foresail only. In another
minute they were running furiously before the wind with both sails
set. The boat yawed, and Lucy began to be nervous; still, the
increased rapidity of motion excited her agreeably. The
lateen-schooner, sailing under her fore-sail only, luffed directly and
stood on in the lugger's wake. Lucy's cheek burned, but she said
"There," cried Talboys, "now do you believe me? I think we gain on
"We are going three knots to her two, sir," said the old man, "but it
is by her good will; that is the fastest boat in the town, sailing on
a wind; at beating to windward we could tackle her easy enough, but
not at running free. Ah! there goes her mainsel up; I thought she
would not be long before she gave us that."
"Oh, how beautiful!" cried Lucy; "it is like a falcon or an eagle
sailing down on us; it seems all wings. Why don't we spread wings too
and fly away?"
"You see, miss," explained the boatman, "that schooner works her sails
different from us; going down wind she can carry her mainsel on one
side of the craft and her foresel on the other. By that she keeps on
an even keel, and, what is more, her mainsel does not take the wind
out of her foresel. Bless you, that little schooner would run past the
fastest frigate in the king's service with the wind dead aft as we
have got it now; she is coming up with us hand over head, and as stiff
on her keel as a rock; this is her point of sailing, beating to
windward is ours. Why, if they ain't reefing the foresel, to make the
race even; and there go three reefs into her mainsel too." The old
boatman scratched his head.
"Who is aboard her, Dick? they are strangers to me."
By taking in so many reefs the lateen had lowered her rate of sailing,
and she now followed in their wake, keeping a quarter of a mile to
Talboys lost all patience. "Who is it, I wonder, that has the
insolence to dog us so?" and he looked keenly at Miss Fountain.
She did not think herself bound to reply, and gazed with a superior
air of indifference on the sky and the water.
"I will soon know," said Talboys.
"What does it matter?" inquired Lucy. "Probably somebody who is
wasting his time as we are."
"The road we are on is as free to him as to us," suggested the old
boatman, with a fine sense of natural justice. He added, "But if you
will take my advice, sir, you will shorten sail, and put her about for
home. It is blowing half a gale of wind, and the sea will be getting
up, and that won't be agreeable for the young lady."
"Gale of wind? Nonsense," said Talboys; "it is a fine breeze."
"Oh, thank you, sir," said Lucy to the old man; "I love the sea, but I
should not like to be out in a storm."
The old boatman grinned. "'Storm is a word that an old salt reserves
for one of those hurricanes that blow a field of turnips flat, and
teeth down your throat. You can turn round and lean your back against
it like a post; and a carrion-crow making for the next parish gets
fanned into another county. That is a storm."
The old boatman went forward grinning, and he and his boy lowered the
mainsail. Then Talboys at the helm brought the boat's head round to
the wind. She came down to her bearings directly, which is as much as
to say that to Lucy she seemed to be upsetting.
Lucy gave a little scream. The sail, too, made a report like the crack
of a pistol.
"Oh, what is that?" cried Lucy.
"Wind, mum," replied the boatman, composedly.
"What is that purple line on the water, sir, out there, a long way
beyond the other boat?
"It seems to move. It is coming this way."
"Ay, mum, that is a thing that always makes to leeward," said the old
fellow, grinning. "I'll take in a couple of reefs before it comes to
Meantime, the moment the lugger lowered her mainsail, the schooner,
divining, as it appeared, her intention, did the same, and luffed
immediately, and was on the new tack first of the two.
"Ay, my lass," said the old boatman, "you are smartly handled, no
doubt, but your square stern and your try-hanglar sail they will take
you to leeward of us pretty soon, do what you can."
The event seemed to justify this assertion; the little lugger was on
her best point of sailing, and in about ten minutes the distance
between the two boats was slightly but sensibly diminished. The
lateen, no doubt, observed this, for she began to play the game of
short tacks, and hoisted her mainsail, and carried on till she seemed
to sail on her beam-ends, to make up, as far as possible, by speed and
smartness for what she lost by rig in beating to windward.
"They go about quicker than we do," said Talboys.
"Of course they do; they have not got to dip their sail, as we have,
every time we tack."
This was the true solution, but Mr. Talboys did not accept it.
"We are not so smart as we ought to be. Now you go to the helm, and I
and the boy will dip the lug."
The old boatman took the helm as requested, and gave the word of
command to Mr. Talboys. "Stand _by_ the foretack."
"Yes," said Mr. Talboys, "here I am."
"Let _go_ the fore-tack"; and, contemporaneously with the order,
he brought the boat's head round.
Now this operation is always a nice one, particularly in these small
luggers, where the lug has to be dipped, that is to say, lowered, and
raised again on the opposite side of the mast; for the lug should not
be lowered a moment too soon, or the boat, losing her way, would not
come round; nor a moment too late, lest the sail, owing to the new
position the boat is taking under the influence of the rudder, should
receive the wind while between the wind and the mast, and so the craft
be taken aback, than which nothing can well happen more disastrous.
Mr. Talboys, though not the accomplished sailor he thought himself,
knew this as well as anybody, and with the boy's help he lowered the
sail at the right moment; but, getting his head awkwardly in the way,
the yard, in coming down, hit him on the nose and nearly knocked him
on to his beam-ends. It would have been better if it had done so quite
instead of bounding off his nose on to his shoulder and there resting;
for, as it was, the descent of the sail being thus arrested half-way
at the critical moment, and the boat's head coming round all the same,
a gust of wind caught the sail and wrapped it tight round the mast to
windward. The boy uttered a cry of terror so significant that Lucy
trembled all over, and by an uncontrollable impulse leaned
despairingly back and waved her white handkerchief toward the
antagonist boat. The old boatman with an oath darted forward with an
agility he could not have shown ashore.
The effect on the craft was alarming. If the whole sail had been thus
taken aback, she would have gone down like lead; for, as it was, she
was driven on her side and at the same time driven back by the stern;
the whole sea seemed to rise an inch above her gunwale; the water
poured into her at every drive the gusts of wind gave her, and the
only wonder seemed why the waves did not run clean over her.
In vain the old boatman, cursing and swearing, tugged at the canvas to
free it from the mast. It was wrapped round it like Dejanira's shirt,
and with as fatal an effect; the boat was filling; and as this brought
her lower in the water, and robbed her of much of her buoyancy, and as
the fatal cause continued immovable, her destruction was certain.
Every cheek was blanched with fear but Lucy's, and hers was red as
fire ever since she waved her handkerchief; so powerful is modesty
with her sex. A true virgin can blush in death's very grasp.
In the midst of this agitation and terror, suddenly the boat was
hailed. They all looked up, and there was the lateen coming tearing
down on them under all her canvas, both her broad sails spread out to
the full, one on each side. She seemed all monstrous wing. The lugger
being now nearly head to wind, she came flying down on her weather bow
as if to run past her, then, lowering her foresail, made a broad
sweep, and brought up suddenly between the lugger and the wind. As her
foresail fell, a sailor bounded over it on to the forecastle, and
stood there with one foot on the gunwale, active as Mercury, eye
glowing, and a rope in his hand.
"Stand by to lower your mast," roared this sailor in a voice of
thunder to the boatman of the lugger; and the moment the schooner came
up into the wind athwart the lugger's bows he bounded over ten feet of
water into her, and with a turn of the hand made the rope fast to her
thwart, then hauling upon it, brought her alongside with her head
literally under the schooner's wing.
He and the old boatman then instantly unstepped the mast and laid it
down in the boat, sail and all. It was not his great strength that
enabled them to do this (a dozen of him could not have done it while
the wind pressed on the mast); it was his address in taking all the
wind out of the lug by means of the schooner's mainsail. The old man
never said a word till the work was done; then he remarked, "That was
clever of you."
The new-comer took no notice whatever. "Reef that sail, Jack," he
cried; "it will be in the lady's face by and by; and heave your bailer
in here; their boat is full of water."
"Not so full as it would if you hadn't brought up alongside," said the
"Do you want to frighten the lady?" replied the sailor, in his driest
and least courtier-like way.
"I am not frightened, Mr. Dodd," said Lucy. "I was, but I am not now."
"Come and help me get the water out of her, Jack. Stay! Miss Fountain
had better step into the dry boat, meantime. Now, Jack, look alive;
lash her longside aft."
This done, the two sailors, one standing on the lugger's gunwale, one
on the schooner's, handed Miss Fountain into the schooner, and gave
her the cushions of the lugger to sit upon. They then went to work
with a will, and bailed half a ton of water out.
When she was dry David jumped back into his own boat. "Now, Miss
Fountain, your boat is dry, but the sea is getting up, and I think, if
I were you, I would stay where you are."
"I mean to," said the lady, calmly. "Mr. Talboys, _would_ you
mind coming into this boat? We shall be safer here; it--it is larger."
The gentleman thus addressed was embarrassed between two
mortifications, one on each side him. If he came into David's boat he
would be second fiddle, he who had gone out of port first fiddle. If
he stuck to the lugger Lucy would go off with Dodd, and he would look
like a fool coming ashore without her. He hesitated.
David got impatient. "Come, sir," he cried, "don't you hear the lady
invite you? and every moment is precious." And he held out his hand to
Talboys decided on taking it, and he even unbent so far as to jump
vigorously--so vigorously that, David pulling him with force at the
same moment, he came flying into the schooner like a cannon-ball, and,
toppling over on his heels, went down on the seat with his head
resting on the weather gunwale, and his legs at a right angle with his
"That is one way of boarding a craft," muttered David, a little
discontentedly; then to the old boatman: "Here, fling us that
tarpaulin. I say, here is more wind coming; are you sure you can work
that lugger, you two?"
"We will be ashore before you can, now there's nobody to bother us,"
was the prompt reply.
"Then cast loose; here we are, drifting out to sea."
The old man cast the rope loose; David hauled it on board, and the
schooner shot away from her companion and bore up north-north-west,
leaving the luggar rocking from side to side on the rising waves. But
the next minute Lucy saw her sail rise, and she bore up and stood
"Good-by to you, little horror," said Lucy.
"We shall fall in with her a good many times more before we make the
land," said David Dodd.
Lucy inquired what he meant; but he had fallen to hauling the sheet
aft and making the sail stand flatter, and did not answer her. Indeed,
he seemed much more taken up with Jack than with her, and, above all,
entirely absorbed in the business of sailing the boat.
She was a little mortified at this behavior, and held her tongue.
Talboys was sulky, and held his. It was a curious situation. In the
hurry and bustle, none of the parties had realized it; but now, as the
boat breasted the waves, and all was silent on board, they had time to
review their position.
Talboys grew gloomier and gloomier at the poor figure he cut. Lucy
kept blushing at intervals as she reflected on the obligation she had
laid herself under to a rejected lover. The rejected lover alone
seemed to mind his business and nothing else; and, as he was almost
ludicrously unconscious that he was doing a chivalrous action, a
misfortune to which those who do these things are singularly liable,
he did not gild the transaction with a single graceful speech, and
permitted himself to be more occupied with the sails than with rescued
Succeeding events, however, explained, and in some degree excused,
this commonplace behavior.
The next time they tacked some spray came flying in, and wetted all
hands. Lucy laughed. The lugger had also tacked, and the two boats
were now standing toward each other; when they met the lugger had
weathered on them some sixty or seventy yards.
A furious rain now came on almost horizontally, and the sailors
arranged the tarpaulin so as to protect Mr. Talboys and Miss Fountain.
"But you will be wet through yourself, Mr. Dodd. Will you not come
under shelter too?"
"And who is to sail the boat?" He added, "I am glad to see the rain. I
hope it will still the wind; if it doesn't, we shall have to try
something else, that is all."
"Pray, when do you undertake to land us, Mr. Dodd?" inquired Mr.
"Well, sir, if it does not blow any harder, about eight bells."
"Eight bells? Why, that means midnight," exclaimed Talboys.
"Wind and tide both dead against us," replied David, coolly.
"Oh, Mr. Dodd, tell me the truth: is there any danger?"
"Danger? Not that I see; but it is very uncomfortable, and unbecoming,
for you to be beating to windward against the tide for so many hours,
when you ought to be sitting on the sofa at home. However, next time
you run out of port, I hope those that take charge of you will look to
the almanac for the tide, and look to windward for the weather: Jack,
the lugger lies nearer the wind than we do.
"A little, sir."
"Will you take the helm a minute, Mr. Talboys? and _you_ come
forward and unbend this." The two sailors put their heads together
amidships, and spoke in an undertone. "The wind is rising with the
rain instead of falling."
"'Seems so, sir."
"What do you think yourself?"
"Well, sir, it has been blowing harder and harder ever since we came
out, and very steady."
"It will turn out one of those dry nor'easters, Jack."
"I shouldn't wonder, sir. I wish she was cutter-rigged, sir. A boat
has no business to be any other rig but cutter; there ought to be a
nact o' parliam't against these outlandish rigs."
"I don't know; I have seen wonders done with this lateen rig in the
"The lugger forereaches on us, sir."
"A little, but, for all that, I am glad she is on board our craft; we
have got more beam, and, if it comes to the worst, we can run. The
lugger can't with her sharp stern. I'll go to the helm."
Just as David was stepping aft to take the helm, a wave struck the
boat hard on the weather bow, close to the gunwale, and sent a bucket
of salt water flying all over him; he never turned his head even--took
no more notice of it than a rock does when the sea spits at it. Lucy
shrieked and crouched behind the tarpaulin. David took the helm, and,
seeing Talboys white, said kindly: "Why don't you go forward, sir, and
make yourself snug under the folksel deck? she is sure to wet us abaft
before we can make the land."
No. Talboys resisted his inclination and the deadly nausea that was
creeping over him.
"Thank you, but I like to see what is going on; and" (with an heroic
attempt at sea-slang) "I like a wet boat."
They now fell in with the lugger again lying on the opposite tack, and
a hundred yards at least to windward.
Just before they crossed her wake David sang out to Jack:
"Our masts--are they sound?"
"Bran-new, sir; best Norway pine."
"What d'ye think?"
"Think we are wasting time and daylight."
"Then stand _by_ the main sheet."
_"Slack_ the main sheet."
"Ay, ay, sir."
The boat instantly fell off into the wind, and, as she went round,
David stood up in the stern-sheets and waved his cap to the men on
board the lugger, who were watching him. The old man was seen to shake
his head in answer to the signal, and point to his lug-sail standing
flat as a board, and the next moment they parted company, and the
lateen was running close-reefed before the wind.
Mr. Talboys was sitting collapsed in the lethargy that precedes
seasickness. He started up. "What are you doing?" he shrieked.
"Keep quiet, sir, and don't bother," said David, with calm sternness,
and in his deepest tones.
"Pray don't interfere with Mr. Dodd," said Lucy; "he must know best."
"You don't see what he is doing, then," cried Talboys, wildly; "the
madman is taking us out to sea."
"Are you taking us out to sea, Mr. Dodd?" inquired Lucy, with dismay.
"I am doing according to my judgment of tide and wind, and the
abilities of the craft I am sailing," said David, firmly; "and on
board my own craft I am skipper, and skipper I will be. Go forward,
sir, if you please, and don't speak except to obey orders."
Mr. Talboys, sick, despondent and sulky, went gloomily forward, coiled
himself up under the forecastle deck, and was silent and motionless.
"Don't send me," cried Lucy, "for I will not go. Nothing but your eye
keeps up my courage. I don't mind the water," added she, hastily and a
little timidly, anxious to meet every reason that could be urged for
imprisoning her in the forecastle hold.
"You are all right where you are, miss," said Jack, cheerfully; "we
shan't have no more spray come aboard us; it won't come in by the can
full if it doesn't come by the ton."
"Will you belay your jaw?" roared David, in a fury that Lucy did not
comprehend at the time. "What a set of tarnation babblers in one
"I won't speak any more, Mr. Dodd; I won't speak."
"Bless your heart, it isn't you I meant. 'Twould be hard if a lady
might not put her word in. But a man is different. I do love to see a
man belay his jaw, and wait for orders, and then do his duty; hoist
the mainsel, you!"
"Ay, ay, sir."
"Shake out a couple of reefs."
"Ay, ay, sir."
And the lateen spread both her great wings like an albatross, and
leaped and plunged, and flew before the mighty gale.
"THIS is nice. The boat does not upset or tumble as it did. It only
courtesies and plunges. I like it."
"The sea has not got up yet, miss," said Jack.
"Hasn't it? the waves seem very large."
"Lord love you, wait till we have had four or five hours more of
"Belay your jaw, Jack."
"Ay, ay, sir."
"Why so, Mr. Dodd?" objected Lucy gently. "I am not so weak as you
think me. Do not keep the truth from me. I share the danger; let me
share the sense of danger, too. You shall not blush for me."
"Danger? There is not a grain of it, unless we make danger by
"You will not do that," said Lucy.
Equivoque missed fire.
"Not while you are on board," replied David, simply.
Lucy felt inclined to give him her hand. She had it out half-way; but
he had lately asked her to marry him, so she drew it back, and her
eyes rested on the bottom of the boat.
The wind rose higher. The masts bent so that each sail had every
possible reef taken in. Her canvas thus reduced she scudded as fast as
before, such was now the fury of the gale. The sea rose so that the
boat seemed to mount with each wave as high as the second story of a
house, and go down again to the cellar at every plunge. Talboys,
prostrated by seasickness in the forehold, lay curled but motionless,
like a crooked log, and almost as indifferent to life or death. Lucy,
pale but firm, put no more questions that she felt would not be
answered, but scanned David Dodd's face furtively yet closely. The
result was encouraging to her. His cheek was not pale, as she felt her
own. On the contrary, it was slightly flushed; his eye bright and
watchful, but lion-like. He gave a word or two of command to Jack
every now and then very sharply, but without the slightest shade of
agitation, and Jack's "ay, ay" came back as sharply, but cheerfully.
The principal feature she discerned in both sailors was a very
attentive, business-like manner. The romantic air with which heroes
face danger in story was entirely absent; and so, being convinced by
his yarns that David _was_ a hero, she inferred that their
situation could not be dangerous, but, as David himself had inferred,
merely one in which watchfulness was requisite.
The sun went down red and angry. The night came on dark and howling.
No moon. A murky sky, like a black bellying curtain above, and huge
ebony waves, that in the appalling blackness seemed all crested with
devouring fire, hemmed in the tossing boat, and growled, and snarled,
and raged above, below, and around her.
Then, in that awful hour, Lucy Fountain felt her littleness and the
littleness of man. She cowered and trembled.
The sailors, rough but tender nurses, wrapped shawls round her one
above the other, "to make her snug for the night," they said. They
seemed to her to be mocking her. "Snug? Who could hope to outlive such
a fearful night? and what did it matter whether she was drowned in one
shawl or a dozen?"
David being amidships, bailing the boat out, and Jack at the helm, she
took the opportunity, and got very close to the latter, and said in
"Mr. Jack, we are in danger."
"Not exactly in danger, miss; but, of course, we must mind our eye.
But I have often been where I have had to mind my eye, and hope to be
"Mr. Jack," said Lucy, shivering, "what is our danger? Tell me the
nature of it, then I shall not be so cowardly; will the boat break?"
"Lord bless you, no."
"Will it upset?"
"No fear of that."
"Will not the sea swallow us?"
"No, miss. How can the sea swallow us? She rides like a cork, and
there is the skipper bailing her out, to make her lighter still. No;
I'll tell you, miss; all we have got to mind is two things; we must
not let her broach to, and we must not get pooped."
"But _why_ must we not?"
"_Why?_ Because we _mustn't."_
"But I mean, what would be the consequence of--broaching to?"
Jack opened his eyes in astonishment. "Why, the sea would run over her
quarter, and swamp her."
"Oh!! And if we get pooped?"
"We shall go to Davy Jones, like a bullet."
"Who is Davy Jones?"
"The Old One, you know--down below. Leastways you won't go there,
miss; you will go aloft, and perhaps the skipper; but Davy will have
me; so I won't give him a chance, if I can help it."
"Where are we, Mr. Jack?"
"I know that; but whereabouts?"
"Heaven knows; and no doubt the skipper, he knows; but I don't. I am
only a common sailor. Shall I hail the skipper? he will tell you."
"No, no, no. He is so angry if we speak."
"He won't be angry if you speak to him, miss," said Jack, with a sly
grin, that brought a faint color into Lucy's cheek; "you should have
seen him, how anxious he was about you before we came alongside; and
the moment that lubber went forward to dip the lug, says he, 'Jack,
there will be mischief; up mainsail and run down to them. I have no
confidence in that tall boy.' (He do seem a long, weedy, useless sort
of lubber.) Lord bless you, miss, we luffed, and were running down to
you long before you made the signal of distress with your little white
flag." Lucy's cheeks got redder. "No, miss, if the skipper speaks
severe to you, Jack Painter is blind with one eye, and can't see with
Lucy's cheeks were carnation.
But the next moment they were white, for a terrible event interrupted
this chat. Two huge waves rolled one behind the other, an occurrence
which luckily is not frequent; the boat, descending into the valley of
the sea, had the wind taken out of her sails by the high wave that was
coming. Her sails flapped, she lost her speed, and, as she rose again,
the second wave was a moment too quick for her, and its combing crest
caught her. The first thing Lucy saw was Jack running from the helm
with a loud cry of fear, followed by what looked an arch of fire, but
sounded like a lion rushing, growling on its prey, and directly her
feet and ankles were in a pool of water. David bounded aft, swearing
and splashing through it, and it turned into sparks of white fire
flying this way and that. He seized the helm, and discharged a loud
volley of curses at Jack.
"Fling out ballast, ye d--d cowardly, useless lubber," cried he; and
while Jack, who had recoiled into his normal state of nerves with
almost ridiculous rapidity, was heaving out ballast, David discharged
another rolling volley at him.
"Oh, pray don't!" cried Lucy, trembling like an aspen leaf. "Oh,
think! we shall soon be in the presence of our Maker--of Him whose
"Not we," cried David, with broad, cheerful incredulity; "we have lots
more mischief to do--that lubber and I. And if he thinks he is going
there, let him end like a man, not like a skulking lubber, running
from the helm, and letting the craft come up in the wind."
"No, no, it was the sea he ran from. Who would not?"
"The lubber! If it had been a tiger or a bear I'd say nothing; but
what is the use of trying to run from the sea? Should have stuck to
his post, and set that thundering back of his up--it's broad
enough--and kept the sea out of your boots. The sea, indeed! I have
seen the sea come on board me, and clear the deck fore and aft, but it
didn't come in the shape of a cupful o' water and a spoonful o' foam."
Here David's wrath and contempt were interrupted by Jack singing
waggishly at his work,
At which sly hit David was pleased, and burst into a loud, boisterous
Lucy put her hands to her ears. "Oh, don't! don't! this is worse than
your blasphemies--laughing on the brink of eternity; these are not
men--they are devils."
"Do you hear that, Jack? Come, you behave!" roared David.
A faint snarl from Talboys. The water had penetrated him, and roused
him from a state of sick torpor; he lay in a tidy little pool some
eight inches deep.
The boat was bailed and lightened, but Lucy's fears were not set at
rest. What was to hinder the recurrence of the same danger, and with
more fatal effect? She timidly asked David's permission to let her
keep the sea out. Instead of snubbing her as she expected, David
consented with a sort of paternal benevolence tinged with incredulity.
She then developed her plan; it was, that David, Jack, and she should
sit in a triangle, and hold the tarpaulin out to windward and fence
the ocean out. Jack, being summoned aft to council, burst into a
hoarse laugh; but David checked him.
"There is more in it than you see, Jack--more than she sees, perhaps.
My only doubt is whether it is possible; but you can try."
Lucy and Jack then tried to get the tarpaulin out to windward; instead
of which, it carried them to leeward by the force of the wind. The
mast brought them up, or Heaven knows where their new invention would
have taken them. With infinite difficulty they got it down and kneeled
upon it, and even then it struggled. But Lucy would not be defeated;
she made Jack gather it up in the middle, and roll it first to the
right, then to the left, till it became a solid roll with two narrow
open edges. They then carried it abaft, and lowered it vertically over
the stern-port; then suddenly turned it round, and sat down. "Crack!"
the wind opened it, and wrapped it round the boat and the trio.
"Hallo!" cried David, "it is foul of the rudder;" and, he whipped out
his knife and made a slit in the stuff. It now clung like a blister.
"There, Mr. Dodd, will not that keep the sea out?" asked Lucy,
"At any rate, it may help to keep us ahead of the sea. Why, Jack, I
seem to feel it lift her; it is as good as a mizzen."
"But, oh, Mr. Dodd, there is another danger. We may broach to."
"How can she broach to when I am at the helm? Here is the arm that
won't let her broach to."
"Then I feel safe."
"You are as safe as on your own sofa; it is the discomfort you are put
to that worries me."
"Don't think so meanly of me, Mr. Dodd. If it was not for my
cowardice, I should enjoy this voyage far more than the luxurious ease
you think so dear to me. I despise it."
"Mr. Dodd, now I am no longer afraid. I am, oh, so sleepy."
"No wonder--go to sleep. It is the best thing you can do."
"Thank you, sir. I am aware my conversation is not very interesting."
Having administered this sudden bloodless scratch, to show that, at
sea or ashore, in fair weather or foul, she retained her sex, Lucy
disposed herself to sleep.
David, steering the boat with his left hand, arranged the cushion with
his right. She settled herself to sleep, for an irresistible
drowsiness had followed the many hours of excitement she had gone
through. Twice the heavy plunging sea brought her into light contact
with David. She instantly awoke, and apologized to him with gentle
dismay for taking so audacious a liberty with that great man,
commander of the vessel; the third time she said nothing, a sure sign
she was unconscious.
Then David, for fear she might hurt herself, curled his arm around
her, and let her head decline upon his shoulder. Her bonnet fell off;
he put it reverently on the other side the helm. The air now cleared,
but the gale increased rather than diminished. And now the moon rose
large and bright. The boat and masts stood out like white stone-work
against the flint-colored sky, and the silver light played on Lucy's
face. There she lay, all unconscious of her posture, on the man's
shoulder who loved her, and whom she had refused; her head thrown back
in sweet helplessness, her rich hair streaming over David's shoulder,
her eyes closed, but the long, lovely lashes meeting so that the
double fringe was as speaking as most eyes, and her lips half open in
an innocent smile. The storm was no storm to her now. She slept the
sleep of childhood, of innocence and peace; and David gazed and gazed
on her, and joy and tenderness almost more than human thrilled through
him, and the storm was no storm to him either; he forgot the past,
despised the future, and in the delirium of his joy blessed the sea
and the wind, and wished for nothing but, instead of the Channel, a
boundless ocean, and to sail upon it thus, her bosom tenderly grazing
him, and her lovely head resting on his shoulder, for ever, and ever,
Thus they sailed on two hours and more, and Jack now began to nod.
All of a sudden Lucy awoke, and, opening her eyes, surprised David
gazing at her with tenderness unspeakable. Awaking possessed with the
notion that she was sleeping at home on a bed of down, she looked
dumfounded an instant; but David's eyes soon sent the blood into her
cheek. Her whole supple person turned eel-like, and she glided
quickly, but not the least bruskly, from him; the latter might have
"Oh, Mr. Dodd," she cried, "what am I doing?"
"You have been getting a nice sleep, thank Heaven."
"Yes, and making use of you even in my sleep; but we all impose on
"Why did you awake? You were happy; you felt no care, and I was happy
seeing you so."
Lucy's eyes filled. "Kind, true friend," she murmured, "how can I ever
thank you as I ought? I little deserved that you should watch over my
safety as you have done, and, alas! risk your own. Any other but you
would have borne me malice, and let me perish, and said, 'It serves
"Malice! Miss Lucy. What for, in Heaven's name?"
"For--for the affront I put upon you; for the--the honor I declined."
"Hate cannot lie alongside love in a true heart."
"I see it cannot in a noble one. And then you are so generous. You
have never once recurred to that unfortunate topic; yet you have
gained a right to request me--to reconsider--Mr. Dodd, you have saved
"What! do you praise me because I don't take a mean advantage? That
would not be behaving like a man."
"I don't know that. You overrate your sex--and mine. We don't deserve
such generosity. The proof is, we reward those who are not
"I don't trouble my head about your sex. They are nothing to me, and
never will be. If you think I have done my duty like a man, and as
much like a gentleman as my homely education permits, that is enough
for me, and I shall sail for China as happy as anything on earth can
make me now."
Lucy answered this by crying gently, silently, tenderly.
"Don't ye cry. Have I said something to vex you?"
"Oh no, no."
"Are you alarmed still?"
"Oh, no; I have such faith in you."
"Then go to sleep again, like a lamb."
"I will; then I shall not tease you with my conversation."
"Now there is a way to put it."
"That I will, if you will take some repose. There, I will lash you to
my arm with this handkerchief; then you can lie the other way, and
hold on by the handkerchief--there."
She closed her eyes and fell apparently to sleep, but really to
Then David nudged Jack, and waked him. "Speak low now, Jack."
"What is it, sir?"
Jack looked out, and there was a mountain of jet rising out of the
sea, and, to a landsman's eye, within a stone's throw of them.
"Is it the French coast, sir? I must have been asleep."
"French coast? no, Channel Island--smallest of the lot."
"Better give it a wide berth, sir. We shall go smash like a teacup if
we run on to one of them rocky islands."
"Why, Jack," said David, reproachfully, "am I the man to run upon a
leeshore, and such a night as this?"
"Not likely. You will keep her head for Cherbourg or St. Malo, sir; it
is our only chance."
"It is not our only chance, nor our best. We have been running a
little ahead of this gale, Jack; there is worse in store for us; the
sea is rolling mountains high on the French coast this morning, I
know. We are like enough to be pooped before we get there, or swamped
on some harbor-bar at last."
"Well, sir, we must take our chance."
"Take our chance? What! with heads on our shoulders, and an angel on
board that Heaven has given us charge of? No, I sha'n't take my
chance. I shall try all I know, and hang on to life by my eyelids.
Listen to me. 'Knowledge is gold;' a little of it goes a long way. I
don't know much myself, but I do know the soundings of the British
Channel. I have made them my study. On the south side of this rocky
point there is forty fathoms water close to the shore, and good
"Then I wish we could jump over the thundering island, and drop on the
lee side of it; but, as we can't, what's the use?"
"We may be able to round the point."
"There will be an awful sea running off that point, sir."
"Of course there will. I mean to try it, for all that."
"So be it, sir; that is what I like to hear. I hate palaver. Let one
give his orders, and the rest obey them. We are not above half a mile
from it now."
"You had better wake the landsman. We must have a third hand for
"No," said a woman's voice, sweet, but clear and unwavering. "I shall
be the third hand."
"Curse it," cried David, "she has heard us."
"Every word. And I have no confidence in Mr. Talboys; and, believe me,
I am more to be trusted than he is. See, my cowardice is all worn out.
Do but trust me, and you shall find I want neither courage nor
David eyed her keenly, and full in the face. She met his glance
calmly, with her fine nostrils slightly expanding, and her compressed
lip curving proudly.
"It is all right, Jack. It is not a flash in the pan. She is as steady
as a rock." He then addressed her rapidly and business-like, but with
deference. "You will stand by the helm on this side, and the moment I
run forward, you will take the helm and hold it in this position. That
will require all your strength. Come, try it. Well done."
"How the sea struggles with me! But I am strong, you see," cried Lucy,
her brow flushed with the battle.
"Very good; you are strong, and, what is better, resolute. Now,
observe me: this is port, this is starboard, and this is amidships."
"I see; but how am I to know which to do?"'
"I shall give you the word of command."
"And all I have to do is to obey it?"
"That is all; but you will find it enough, because the sea will seem
to fight you. It will shake the boat to make you leave go, and will
perhaps dash in your face to make you leave go."
"Forewarned, forearmed, Mr. Dodd. I will not let go. I will hold on by
my eyelids sooner than add to your danger."
"Jack, she is on fire; she gives me double heart."
"So she does me. She makes it a pleasure."
They were now near enough the point to judge what they had to do, and
the appearance of the sea was truly terrible; the waves were all
broken, and a surge of devouring fire seemed to rage and roar round
the point, and oppose an impassable barrier between them and the inky
pool beyond, where safety lay under the lee of the high rocks.
"I don't like it," said David. "It looks to me like going through a
strip of hell fire."
"But it is narrow," said Lucy.
"That is our chance; and the tide is coming in. We will try it. She
will drench us, but I don't much think she will swamp us. Are you
ready, all hands?"