So she announced to the company with deliberation, “The Young Person is mad!”
It nettled me extremely.
“Mad!” I flung back at her. “Because I wish to save my poor aunt from such a situation as this? It would be charitable to infer madness in those who have led her into it!” When I reviewed this speech afterward I realized that it was not, under the circumstances, the best calculated to win me friends.
“Jane!” said Miss Higglesby-Browne in deep and awful tones, “the time has come to prove your strength!”
Aunt Jane proved it by uttering a shrill yelp, and clutching her hair with a reckless disregard of its having originally been that of a total stranger. So severe were her shrieks and struggles that it was with difficulty that she was borne below in the arms of two strong men.
I had seen Aunt Jane in hysterics before—she had them that time about the convict. I was not frightened, but I hurried after her—neck and neck with Miss Browne. It was fifteen minutes before Aunt Jane came to, and then she would only moan. I bathed her head, and held her hand, and did all the regulation things, under the baleful eye of Miss Browne, who steadfastly refused to go away, but sat glaring like a gorgon who sees her prey about to be snatched from her.
In the midst of my ministrations I awoke suddenly to a rhythmic heave and throb which pervaded the ship. Dropping Aunt Jane’s hand I rushed on deck. There lay the various pieces of my baggage, and in the distance the boat with the two brown rowers was skipping shoreward over the ripples.
As for the Rufus Smith, she was under weigh, and heading out of the roadstead for the open sea.
I dashed aft to the captain, who stood issuing orders in the voice of an aggrieved fog-horn.
“Captain!” I cried, “wait; turn around! You must put my aunt and me ashore!”
He whirled on me, showing a crimson angry face. “Turn around, is it, turn around ?” he shouted. “Do you suppose I can loaf about the harbor here a-waitin’ on your aunt’s fits? You come aboard without me askin’. Now you can go along with the rest. This here ship has got her course set for Frisco, pickin’ up Leeward Island on the way, and anybody that ain’t goin’ in that direction is welcome to jump overboard.”
That is how I happened to go to Leeward Island.
APOLLO AND SOME OTHERS
The Rufus Smith, tramp freighter, had been chartered to convey the Harding-Browne expedition to Leeward Island, which lies about three hundred miles west of Panama, and could be picked up by the freighter in her course. She was a little dingy boat with such small accommodation that I can not imagine where the majority of her passengers stowed themselves away. My aunt and Miss Browne had a stateroom between them the size of a packing-box,