“Say nothing about it, master Harry,” returned the topman, with a peculiar glance of his eye. “The sail has been flying finely, and it is now too late to deny it: and so, I suppose, the fact must be scored on the back of Richard Fid, as you would put any other misfortune into the log.”
“I would he might be pardoned. I can venture to promise, in his name, ’twill be the last offence”—
“Let it be forgotten,” returned the Rover, struggling powerfully to conquer his passion. “I will not disturb our harmony at such a moment, Mr Wilder, by refusing so small a boon: but you need not be told to what evil such negligence might lead. Give me the glass again; I will see if the fluttering canvas has escaped the eye of the stranger.”
The topman bestowed a stolen but exulting glance on Wilder, and then the latter motioned the other hastily away, turning himself to join his Commander in the examination.
“As I am an honest man, he looks pale: Art thou sick, or angry?”
Much ado about Nothing.
The approach of the strange sail was becoming rapidly more and more visible to the naked eye. The little speck of white, which had first been seen on the margin of the sea, resembling some gull floating on the summit of a wave, had gradually arisen during the last half hour, until a tall pyramid of canvas was reared on the water. As Wilder bent his look again on this growing object, the Rover put a glass into his hands, with an expression of feature which the other understood to say, “You may perceive that the carelessness of your dependant has already betrayed us!” Still the look was one rather of regret than of reproach; nor did a single syllable of the tongue confirm the meaning language of the eye. On the contrary, it would seem that his Commander was anxious to preserve their recent amicable compact inviolate; for, when the young mariner attempted an awkward explanation of the probable causes of the blunder of Fid, he was met by a quiet gesture, which said, in a sufficiently intelligible language, that the offence was already pardoned.
“Our neighbour keeps a good look-out, as you may see,” observed the other. “He has tacked, and is laying boldly up across our fore-foot. Well, let him come on; we shall soon get a look at his battery, and then may we come to our conclusion as to the nature of the intercourse we are to hold.”
“If you permit the stranger to near us, it might be difficult to throw him off the chase, should we be glad to get rid of him.”
“It must be a fast-going vessel to which the ‘Dolphin’ cannot spare a top-gallant-sail.”
“I know not, sir. The sail in sight is swift on the wind, and it is to be believed that she is no duller off. I have rarely known a vessel rise so rapidly as she has done since first we made her.”
The youth spoke with such earnestness, as to draw the attention of his companion from the object he was studying to the countenance of the speaker.