A GOLDEN AFTERNOON
When Ralph met Captain Horn that afternoon, there rose within him a sudden, involuntary appreciation of the captain’s worthiness to possess a ship-load of gold and his sister Edna. Before that meeting there had been doubts in the boy’s mind in regard to this worthiness. He believed that he had thoroughly weighed and judged the character and capacities of the captain of the Castor, and he had said to himself, in his moments of reflection, that although Captain Horn was a good man, and a brave man, and an able man in many ways, there were other men in the world who were better fitted for the glorious double position into which this fortunate mariner had fallen.
But now, as Ralph sat and gazed upon his sister’s lover and heard him talk, and as he turned from him to Edna’s glowing eyes, he acknowledged, without knowing it, the transforming power of those two great alchemists,—gold and love,—and from the bottom of his heart he approved the match.
Upon Mrs. Cliff the first sight of Captain Horn had been a little startling, and had she not hastened to assure herself that the compact with Edna was a thing fixed and settled, she might have been possessed with the fear that perhaps this gentleman might have views for his future life very different from those upon which she had set her heart. But even if she had not known of the compact of the morning, all danger of that fear would have passed in the moment that the captain took her by the hand.
To find his three companions of the wreck and desert in such high state and flourishing condition so cheered and uplifted the soul of the captain that he could talk of nothing else. And now he called for Cheditafa and Mok—those two good fellows whose faithfulness he should never forget. But when they entered, bending low, with eyes upturned toward the lofty presence to which they had been summoned, the captain looked inquiringly at Edna. As he came in that afternoon, he had seen both the negroes in the courtyard, and, in the passing thought he had given to them, had supposed them to be attendants of some foreign potentate from Barbary or Morocco. Cheditafa and Mok! The ragged, half-clad negroes of the sea-beach—a parson-butler of sublimated respectability, a liveried lackey of rainbow and gold! It required minutes to harmonize these presentments in the mind of Captain Horn.
When the audience of the two Africans—for such it seemed to be—had lasted long enough, Edna was thinking of dismissing them, when it became plain to her that there was something which Cheditafa wished to say or do. She looked at him inquiringly, and he came forward.