“To be sure, a frind!” replied Pat, with emphasis.
“I will befriend him,” replied Uncle Nathan, his natural inclination triumphing over his fear of the law.
“Spoken like a Christian! Sure, that’s jist what St. Patrick would say, if the saint—long life to him!—were here,” replied Pat, rejoicing that the difficulty was overcome.
“Now, dhraw near till I tells yous all about it; and, if iver you mintion a word of it, may your sowl never lave purgatory till it is burnt to a cindther! Now, do you mind, there’s a naiger concayled in the hould of the boat, that wants to correspond with a faymale in the cabin.”
“But he will expose himself, and she may deliver him up.”
“Divil a bit! Didn’t he save her from dhrowning, last night?” exclaimed Pat, warmly, for this act of Hatchie excited all his admiration.
“Good gracious! you don’t say so!” and Uncle Nathan understood the mystery of the previous night.
“Sorra a word o’ lie in it.”
“But where in natur is the feller?” asked the wonder-struck Yankee, his curiosity getting the better of every other consideration.
“Whisht, now,” whispered Pat; “he is in one of those boxes, with the dead men! Do yous mind?”
“Good gracious! how you talk! In a coffin?”
“Divil a coffin at all. Sure as nate a bit of a box as iver held a Christian.”
“But why does he wish to speak with the lady?”
“Sorra know I know,” replied Pat, to whom Hatchie had communicated no more than was necessary.
“Does he wish to see her in person?”
“Not a bit of it. Now, do you mind, I saw you speaking to the lady, and I tould him of it. Then the naiger axed me could he trust yous. I tould him yes; and he tould me to bring yous down to him, and that’s the whole of it. Now, will yous go down the night and spake to him?”
Uncle Nathan reflected a little; for, though no craven, he was very prudent, and had no romance in his composition. After deliberating some time, much to the detriment of Pat’s patience, he replied in the affirmative.
Pat then instructed him in relation to certain precautions to be observed in order to avoid notice, and left him to ponder the strangeness of the adventure. He had well considered his course, and, having decided upon it, he was earnest in pursuing it. He had chosen, he felt, a dangerous, but his conscience assured him a right path, and nothing could now deter him from proceeding in it. He was not fickle, and invoked many a blessing on the effort he might make for the salvation of the poor negro. True, his prudence had magnified the undertaking, which was a trivial affair, into a great adventure. Imagination often makes bold men.
Already at the doors.”