“Then I most certainly shall not say one word on the subject at present,” replied the major. “How many bells was that?”
“Six; dinner will be on the table in a few minutes.”
“Then, gentlemen, we had better go down and prepare. Why, Mr Irving, you have not shaved this morning!”
“No, major, I mean to do it after dinner.”
“I should rather think that you intended to say before,” replied Major Clavering.
This gentlemanlike hint was taken by the young ensign, who was aware that Major Clavering, although invariably polite, even in reproof, was not a commanding officer to be trifled with; and Mr Irving made his appearance at the dinner-table with his “chin new reaped,” and smooth as if appertaining to one of the fairer sex.
o’er the sea,
Maiden, with me,
Mine through sunshine, storm and snows;
Seasons may roll,
But the true soul
Burns the same where’er it goes.
Let fate frown on, so we love and part not,
’Tis life where thou art, ’tis death where thou’rt not.”
The voyage was at last accomplished without adventure or interest, the Windsor Castle not having fallen in with more than two or three vessels during her passage. Happy were the military officers to hear the order given for the anchor to be let go upon their arrival in Madras Roads; more happy were they to find themselves again on shore; and most happy were Captain Oughton and his officers to witness the debarkation of the troops, who had so long crowded their decks and impeded their motions. Parting was indeed “sweet sorrow,” as it always will be when there is short allowance of room, and still shorter allowance of water.
Newton Forster was in a state of anxiety during the quarter of an hour in which he was obliged to attend to his duty, furling the sails and squaring the yards; and the time appeared most insupportably long, until he could venture aft to make some inquiries from the dubashes, who were crowding alongside, as to the fate of Isabel Revel. Time and absence had but matured his passion, and it was seldom that Isabel was away from his thoughts. He had a faint idea formed by hope that she was partial to him; but this was almost smothered by the fears which opposed it, when he reflected upon what might be produced by absence, importunity, and her independent spirit, which might, if not well treated by her relation, reconcile her to a marriage, which, although not in every way eligible, secured to her a prospect of contentment and of peace.
At last the yards were squared to the satisfaction of the boatswain, the ropes were hauled taut, and coiled down, and the men sent below to their dinners. Newton walked aft, and the first person he met was the dubash who had attended the Bombay Castle. The cheeks of Newton flushed, and his heart throbbed quick, and his lips quivered, as he asked intelligence of the colonel and his family.