‘To-morrow!’ accompanying this word with an expressive look and her most gracious smile.
The enamored Stradling, always impassible, contented himself with replying:
‘It is well!’
The day following, the third, the important day, that which Catherine already regarded as her day of betrothal, early in the morning, she dressed herself in her best attire, not doubting the impatience of the captain. Before noon, the latter entered the inn and went directly up to the landlady.
She received him carelessly and coldly; she was nervous, she had not had time for reflection; she did not know what the captain wished; if he would let her alone for the present, by and by she would consider.
‘Boy! a new pipe and some ale!’ exclaimed Stradling, addressing a waiter.
And, perfectly calm in appearance, he sauntered to his accustomed place at the farther end of the bar-room. However, before leaving the Royal Salmon, approaching Catherine, he said:
’Yesterday, by your voice and gesture you said, or almost said, yes; we sailors know the signals; to-day it is no, or almost no. Very well, I will wait; but reflect, my beauty, we are neither of us young enough to lose our time in this foolish game.’
But what had thus unexpectedly changed, from white to black, the good intentions of Catherine in the captain’s behalf? The presence of a young boy whom she had not seen for many years, and towards whom she had, until then, felt only a kindly indifference.
Alexander Selkirk.—The College.—First Love.—Eight Years of Absence. —Maritime Combats.—Return and Departure.—The Swordfish.