“I have evaded all his questions, and he is more than half-disposed to believe in necromancy. This is not the moment to confess the truth, for he is not in a condition to hear it, being already much disturbed by the uncertainty of what may follow the appearance of the brigantine on the coast, and so near his own villa. But, be assured, he shall and will acknowledge claims that I know how to support, and which, should I fail of establishing, he would not dare to refuse to the redoubtable ’Skimmer of the Seas.’ Come hither, the moment you hear his foot in the passage.”
The last injunction was soon obeyed. The Alderman entered by one door, as the active fugitive retreated by another; and where the weary burgher expected to see his guests, he found an empty apartment. This last circumstance, however, gave Myndert Van Beverout but little surprise and no concern, as would appear by the indifference with which he noted the circumstance.
“Vagaries and womanhood!” thought, rather than muttered, the Alderman. “The jade turns like a fox in his tracks, and it would be easier to convict a merchant who values his reputation, of a false invoice, than this minx of nineteen of an indiscretion! There is so much of old Etienne and his Norman blood in her eye, that one does not like to provoke extremities; but here, when I expected Van Staats had profited by his opportunity, the girl looks like a nun, at the mention of his name. The Patroon is no Cupid, we must allow; or, in a week at sea, he would have won the heart of a mermaid!—Ay—and here are more perplexities, by the return of the Skimmer and his brig, and the notions that young Ludlow has of his duty. Life and mortality! One must quit trade, at some time or other, and begin to close the books of life. I must seriously think of striking a final balance. If the sum-total was a little more in my favor it should be gladly done to-morrow!”
thou hast metamorphosed me;
Made me neglect my studies, lose my time,
War with good counsel, set the world at nought.”
Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Ludlow quitting the Lust in Rust with a wavering purpose. Throughout the whole of the preceding interview, he had jealously watched the eye and features of la belle Barberie; and he had not failed to draw his conclusions from a mien that too plainly expressed a deep interest in the free-trader. For a time, only, had he been induced, by the calmness and self-possession with which she received her uncle and himself, to believe that she had not visited the Water-Witch at all; but when the gay and reckless being who governed the movements of that extraordinary vessel, appeared, he could no longer flatter himself with this hope. He now believed that her choice for life had been made; and while he deplored the infatuation which could induce so gifted a woman to forget her station and character, he was himself too frank not to see that the individual who had in so short a time gained this ascendency over the feelings of Alida, was, in many respects, fitted to exercise a powerful influence over the imagination of a youthful and secluded female.