Slowly the officer waded through the dismal marsh to the higher land, where grew the low bushes, and by the use of his tinder box kindled a light and, wrapping his boat cloak about him, sat down on a broken mast, which some storm had driven to the highest part of the island.
The minutes passed on, and neither the Irishman nor the expected flock of birds came. Minutes grew into hours, and only the sobbing waves and melancholy cries of birds broke the silence. Surely something had happened to his companion. About midnight a dense fog settled over the island, and the alarm and discomfiture of the Englishman became supreme. At one moment he was cursing Terrence, and the next offering prayer for his soul. Never did man pass a more dreary night.
At last dawn came, and he could see, far across the water, his ship but a speck in the distance. It was to sail that forenoon, and he intended to call on Morgianna and propose; but here he was on this infernal island, hungry, damp and miserable. He knew the vessel would pass near enough for him to hail it and have a boat sent for him; but then he would miss his intended visit to Captain Lane’s, and his future happiness depended on that visit.
While he was indulging in these bitter reflections, a schooner suddenly flew past the island, and, to his amazement, he saw the Irish student, Terrence Malone, whom he had been alternately praying for and cursing all night, standing on the deck apparently in the best of health and spirits. The scoundrel even had the audacity to wave him an adieu as he passed.
THE SILENT GUNNER.
Of course, Terrence Malone had played a practical joke on the English lieutenant, and while the latter was passing the night on the gloomiest island of all the Maryland coast, the former was sweetly dreaming of dear old Ireland, in the most comfortable bed the tavern afforded. Next morning the captain of the Xenophon sent ashore for Lieutenant Matson to come aboard, as they were about to hoist anchor. Terrence, Fernando and Sukey were just going aboard the schooner as the messenger came. Fernando had passed the most miserable night of his existence, and now, pale and melancholy, went aboard the schooner utterly unconscious of the fact that some one was watching him through a glass from the big house on the hill.
Terrence was as jolly as usual and had almost forgotten the lieutenant. Just as the schooner was about to sail, ensign Post came aboard and asked for Mr. Malone. Terrence was sitting aft the main cabin smoking a cigar, when the ensign, approaching, asked:
“Where is Lieutenant Matson? I was told he went shooting with you last evening.”
“Sure he did. You will find him on Duck Island enjoying the sport I’ve no doubt. Faith, I had almost forgotten to tell ye to touch at the island and take him off, as ye sailed out of the harbor.”