“And a good job, too,” said the admiral. “I wish I’d thought of it before. You’re worse than a third day’s ague, or a hot and a cold fever in the tropics.”—“Very good,” said Jack; “I only hope Providence will have mercy upon you, and keep an eye upon you when I’m gone, otherwise, I wonder what will become of you? It wasn’t so when young Belinda, who you took off the island of Antiggy, in the Ingies, jumped overboard, and I went after her in a heavy swell. Howsomdever, never mind, you shook hands with me then; and while a bushel of the briny was weeping out of the corner of each of your blinkers, you says, says you,—”
“Hold!” cried the admiral, “hold! I know what I said, Jack. It’s cut a fathom deep in my memory. Give us your fist, Jack, and—and—“—“Hold yourself,” said Jack; “I know what you’re going to say, and I won’t hear you say it—so there’s an end of it. Lor bless you! I knows you. I ain’t a going to leave you. Don’t be afraid; I only works you up, and works you down again, just to see if there’s any of that old spirit in you when we was aboard the Victory. Don’t you recollect, admiral?”
“Yes—yes; enough, Jack.”—“Why, let me see—that was a matter of forty years ago, nearly, when I was a youngster.”
“There—there, Jack—that’ll do. You bring the events of other years fresh upon my memory. Peace—peace. I have not forgotten; but still, to hear what you know of them, if recited, would give the old man a pang.”—“A pang,” said Jack; “I suppose that’s some dictionary word for a punch in the eye. That would be mutiny with a vengeance; so I’m off.”
“Go, go.”—“I’m a going; and just to please you, I’ll go to the Hall, so you sha’n’t say that you told me to do anything that I didn’t.”
Away went Jack, whistling an air, that might have been popular when he and the admiral were young, and Henry Bannerworth could not but remark that an appearance of great sadness came over the old man, when Jack was gone.
“I fear, sir,” he said, “that heedless sailor has touched upon some episode in your existence, the wounds of which are still fresh enough to give you pain.”—“It is so,” said the old admiral; “just look at me, now. Do I look like the here of a romantic love story?”
“Not exactly, I admit.”—“Well, notwithstanding that, Jack Pringle has touched a chord that vibrates in my heart yet,” replied the admiral.
“Have you any objection to tell me of it?”—“None, whatever; and perhaps, by the time I have done, the doctor may have found his way back again, or Jack may bring us some news of him. So here goes for a short, but a true yarn.”
THE ADMIRAL’S STORY OF THE BEAUTIFUL BELINDA.
Just at this moment Flora Bannerworth stole into the room from whence she had departed a short time since; but when she saw that old Admiral Bell was looking so exceedingly serious, and apparently about to address Henry upon some very important subject, she would have retired, but he turned towards her, and said,—