Yet even this simple communication caused the pulse of Mrs Forster to accelerate. They might be her husband and her son. It was the first time that the spare bed had been ordered. Reflection, however, convinced her that her hopes were strung upon too slight a thread; and, musing on the improbability of not having ascertained during a year the fact of her master having so near a relative—moreover, her son was not in existence—she sighed, and dismissed the idea as ridiculous. Before the gentlemen had finished their wine, Amber was in bed, and Mrs Forster invariably sat at the side of it until her own hour of repose had arrived. A certain indefinable curiosity still remained lurking; yet, as she could not gratify it without intrusion (if the strangers were still up), she retired to bed, with the reflection that all her doubts would be relieved in the morning; and, after lying awake for some hours in a state of suspense, she at last fell into that sound sleep which is usually produced by previous excitement. How she was awakened from it, the reader has been already informed.
“It’s rather awkward, Newton,” said Mr John Forster, about ten days afterwards. “I cannot do without your mother, that’s certain; but what am I to do with your father? Humph! Well, she must take charge of him as well as Amber. She must teach him—”
“Teach him what, sir?” replied Newton, laughing.
“Teach him what? Why, to leave my watch and spectacles alone. I dare not lay them down for a moment.”
“I think we may teach him that, sir, if it is all that you require.”
“I ask no more: then he may go about the house like a tame rabbit. When will your ship be ready, boy?”
“In about a fortnight, sir. I called upon Captain Oughton the day before yesterday, but he was not at home. His steward gave me the information.”
“What is the name of the ship?”
“The Windsor Castle, sir.”
“Why, all the India ships appear to be called Castles. Your last ship was the Bombay Castle, I think?”
“Yes, sir: there are a great many of them so named—they really are floating castles.”
“And full of ladies. You ‘castle your queens,’ as they do at chess. Humph!”
A pun from Mr John Forster was a rarity: he never had been known to make one before: and Newton asserts that he never heard him guilty of it afterwards. It deserves, therefore, bad as it was, to be recorded.
“——but to stick to my route ’Twill be hard, if some novelty can’t be struck out. Is there no Algerine, no Kamschatkan arrived? No plenipo-pacha, three-tail’d and three wived? No Russian, whose dissonant, consonant name Almost rattles to fragments the trumpet of fame?
By-the-bye, have you found any friend who can construe
That Latin account, t’other day, of a monster?
If we can’t get a Russian—and that story in Latin
Be not too improper, I think I’ll bring that in.”