Wilder drew a long and deep breath, like one that awakes from a pleasing dream, reluctantly suffering himself to be forced from a spot where he fondly felt that he could have continued, without weariness, for ever.
“Let them achieve me, and then sell my bones.”—Henry V.
The Commander of the “Dart,” and his bewildered lieutenant, had gained the quarter-deck before either spoke again. The direction first taken by the eyes of the latter was in quest of the neighbouring ship; nor was the look entirely without that unsettled and vague expression which seems to announce a momentary aberration of the faculties. But the vessel of the Rover was in view, in all the palpable and beautiful proportions of her admirable construction Instead of lying in a state of rest, as when he left her, her head-yards had been swung, and, as the sails filled with the breeze, the stately fabric had he gun to Marve gracefully, though with no great velocity along the water. There was not the slightest appearance however, of any attempt at escape in the evolution. On the contrary, the loftier and lighter sails had all been furled, and men were at the moment actively employed in sending to the deck those smaller spars which were absolutely requisite in spreading the canvas that would be needed in facilitating her flight. Wilder turned from the sight with a sickening apprehension; for he well knew that these were the preparations that skillful mariners are wont to make, when bent on desperate combat.
“Ay, yonder goes your St. James’s seaman, with his three topsails full, and his mizzen out, as if he had already forgotten he is to dine with me, and that his name is to be found at one end of the list of Commanders and mine at the other,” grumbled the displeased Bignall. “But we shall have him coming round all in good time, I suppose, when his appetite tells him the dinner hour. He might wear his colours in presence of a senior, too, and no disgrace to his nobility. By the Lord, Harry Ark, he handles those yards beautifully! I warrant you, now, some honest man’s son is sent aboard his ship for a dry nurse, in the shape of a first lieutenant, and we shall have him vapouring, all dinner time, about ’how my ship does this,’ and ‘I never suffer that.’ Ha! is it not so, sir? He has a thorough seaman for his First?”
“Few men understand the profession better than does the Captain of yonder vessel himself,” returned Wilder.
“The devil he does! You have been talking with him, Mr Ark, about these matters, and he has got some of the fashions of the ‘Dart.’ I see into a mystery as quick as another!”
“I do assure you, Captain Bignall, there is no safety in confiding in the ignorance of yonder extra ordinary man.”
“Ay, ay, I begin to overhaul his character. The young dog is a quiz, and has been amusing himself with a sailor of what he calls the old school. Am I right, sir? He has seen salt water before this cruise?”