“He is then harsh to you?”
“You contradict yourself, Roderick. He is, and he is not. Have you not said how terrible you find his moody language?”
“Yes; for I find it changed. Once he was never thoughtful, or out of humour, but latterly he is not himself.”
Mrs Wyllys did not answer. The language of the boy was certainly much more intelligible to herself than to her young and attentive, but unsuspecting, companion; for, while she motioned to the lad to retire, Gertrude manifested a desire to gratify the curious interest she felt in the life and manners of the freebooter. The signal, however, was authoritatively repeated, and the lad slowly, and quite evidently with reluctance, withdrew.
The governess and her pupil then retired into their own state-room; and, after devoting many minutes to those nightly offerings and petitions which neither ever suffered any circumstances to cause them to neglect, they slept in the consciousness of innocence and in the hope of an all-powerful protection. Though the bell of the ship regularly sounded the hours throughout the watches of the night, scarcely another sound arose, during the darkness, to disturb the calm which seemed to have settled equally on the ocean and all that floated on its bosom.
—“But, for the miracle,
I mean our preservation, few in millions
Can speak like us.”—Tempest.
The “Dolphin” might well have been likened to a slumbering beast of prey, during those moments of treacherous calm. But as nature limits the period of repose to the creatures of the animal world, so it would seem that the inactivity of the freebooters was not doomed to any long continuance. With the morning sun a breeze came over the water, breathing the flavour of the land, to set the sluggish ship again in motion. Throughout all that day, with a wide reach of canvas spreading along her booms, her course was held towards the south. Watch succeeded watch, and night came after day, and still no change was made in her direction. Then the blue islands were seen heaving up, one after another, out of the sea. The prisoners of the Rover, for thus the females were now constrained to consider themselves, silently watched each hillock of green that the vessel glided past, each naked and sandy key, or each mountain side, until, by the calculations of the governess, they were already steering amid the western Archipelago.
During all this time no question was asked which in the smallest manner betrayed to the Rover the consciousness of his guests that he was not conducting them towards the promised port of the Continent. Gertrude wept over the sorrow her father would feel, when he should believe her fate involved in that of the unfortunate Bristol trader; but her tears flowed in private, or were freely poured upon the sympathizing bosom of her