“Good-bye, gentlemen,” said Collins; “allow me to observe that, for once, you may think yourselves fortunate in having been placed in my very respectable company!”
“Once more upon the waters.”
As Newton had lost his credentials from Captain Northfleet, as well as the vessel confided to his charge, he did not consider it necessary to pay his respects to the port-admiral at Plymouth. On the contrary, he set off, as fast as his legs would carry him, to Liverpool, to ascertain the condition of his father. We shall pass over the difficulties he experienced on his journey. There is no country where travelling is more easy or more rapid than in England, provided that you have plenty of money; but when you travel in forma pauperis, there is no country in which you get on so badly. Parish rates and poor laws have dried up the sources of benevolence; and as Newton did not apply to the overseers for his three-halfpence a mile, he got on how he could, which was badly enough. When at last he did arrive at Liverpool, he found himself a stone or two the lighter, and would have been pronounced by Captain Barclay to have been in excellent training.
Newton had written to his father, acquainting him with his impressment; but was doubtful whether the letter had ever been received, as it had been confided to the care of one of the women who left the frigate the evening previous to her sailing. When he arrived at the house he perceived his father at his bench as usual, but doing nothing, and the shop windows were bare.
Newton entered, and his father looked up.
“Why, Newton, my dear boy, is it you?” cried Nicholas; “what a long while you have been away! Well, how is Mr Hilton?—and how is your poor mother?”
“My dear father,” replied Newton, taking his hand, “did not you receive my letter?”
“No, I received no letter. What a time you have been away; I declare it must be two or three months, or more.”
“It is nearly twelve months, my dear father: I was pressed at Bristol, have been on board of a man-of-war, and have just escaped from a French prison.”