“Here, then, you had a clue at once to find the relatives of the boy,” observed the Rover, after he had deciphered the letters.
“It seems not, your Honour; for we took the child with us aboard the ‘Proserpine,’ and our worthy Captain carried sail hard after the people; but no one could give any tidings of such a craft as the ’Ark, of Lynnhaven;’ and, after a twelvemonth, or more, we were obliged to give up the chase.”
“Could the child give no account of his friends?” demanded the governess.
“But little, my Lady; for the reason he knew but little about himself. So we gave the matter over altogether; I, and Guinea, and the Captain, and all of us, turning-to to educate the boy. He got his seamanship of the black and myself, and mayhap some little of his manners also; and his navigation and Latin of the Captain, who proved his friend till such a time as he was able to take care of himself, and, for that matter, some years afterwards.”
“And how long did Mr Wilder continue in a King’s ship?” asked the Rover, in a careless and apparently indifferent manner.
“Long enough to learn all that is taught there, your Honour,” was the evasive reply.
“He came to be an officer, I suppose?”
“If he didn’t, the King had the worst of the bargain.—But what is this I see hereaway, atween the backstay and the vang? It looks like a sail; or is it only a gull flapping his wings before he rises?”
“Sail, ho!” called the look-out from the mast head. “Sail, ho!” was echoed from a top and from the deck; the glittering though distant object having struck a dozen vigilant eyes at the same instant. The Rover was compelled to lend his attention to a summons so often repeated; and Fid profited by the circumstance to quit the poop, with the hurry of one who was not sorry for the interruption. Then the governess arose too, and, thoughtful and melancholy she sought the privacy of her cabin.
“Their preparation is to-day by sea.” _—Anthony and Cleopatra._
“Sail, ho!” in the little frequented sea in which the “Rover” lay, was a cry that quickened every dull pulsation in the bosoms of her crew. Many weeks had now, according to their method of calculation, been entirely lost in the visionary and profitless plans of their chief. They were not of a temper to reason on the fatality which had forced the Bristol trader from their toils; it was enough, for their rough natures, that the rich spoil had escaped them. Without examining for the causes of this loss, as has been already seen, they had been but too well disposed to visit their disappointment on the head of the innocent officer who was charged with the care of a vessel that they already considered a prize. Here, then, was at length an opportunity to repair their loss. The stranger was about to encounter them in a part of the ocean where succour was nearly hopeless, and where time might be afforded to profit, to the utmost, by any success that the freebooters should obtain. Every man in the ship seemed sensible of these advantages; and, as the words sounded from mast to yard, and from yard to deck, they were taken up in cheerful echos from fifty mouths, which repeated the cry, until it was heard issuing from the inmost recesses of the vessel.