“Mr Wilder, I owe you an apology for my seeming rudeness at parting on the hill. Though I believed you mine, I was not sure of my acquisition. You will readily see how necessary it might be, to one in my situation, to throw off a companion at such a moment.”
Wilder turned, with a countenance from which every shade of displeasure had vanished, and motioned to him to say no more.
“It was awkward enough, certainly, to find one’s self in such a prison; but I feel the justice of what you say. I might have done the very thing myself, if the same presence of mind were at hand to help me.”
“The good man, who grinds in the Newport ruin, must be in a sad way, since all the rats are leaving his mill,” cried the Rover gaily, as his companion descended after the boy. Wilder now freely returned his open, cordial laugh, and then, as he descended, the cabin was left to him who, a few minutes before, had been found in its quiet possession.
“The world affords no
law to make thee rich;
Then be not poor, but break it, and take this.”
Apoth. “My poverty, but not my will, consents.”
Romeo and Juliet.
The Rover arrested his step, as the other disappeared and stood for more than a minute in an attitude of high and self-gratulating triumph. It was quite apparent he was exulting in his success. But, though his intelligent face betrayed the satisfaction of the inward man, it was illumined by no expression of vulgar joy. It was the countenance of one who was suddenly relieved from intense care, rather than that of a man who was greedy of profiting by the services of others. Indeed, it would not have been difficult, for a close and practised observer, to have detected a shade of regret in the lightings of his seductive smile, or in the momentary flashes of his changeful eye. The feeling, however, quickly passed away, and his whole figure and countenance resumed the ordinary easy mien in which he most indulged in his hours of retirement.
After allowing sufficient time for the boy to conduct Wilder to the necessary cabin, and to put him in possession of the regulations for the police of the ship, the Captain again touched the gong, and once more summoned the former to his presence. The lad had however, to approach the elbow of his master, and to speak thrice, before the other was conscious that he had answered his call.
“Roderick,” said the Rover, after a long pause, “are you there?”
“I am here,” returned a low, and seemingly a mournful voice.
“Ah! you gave him the regulations?”
“And he reads?”
“It is well. I would speak to the General. Roderick, you must have need of rest; good night; let the General be summoned to a council, and—Good night, Roderick.”
The boy made an assenting reply; but, instead of springing, with his former alacrity, to execute the order he lingered a moment nigh his master’s chair. Failing, however, in his wish to catch his eye, he slowly and reluctantly descended the stairs which led into the lower cabins, and was seen no more.