“Come away, and let us be sailing, sailing over seas of gold! And when you are weary of the top of the waves, down you shall sink with us through the clear green water, and the night will fall like a soft dream, and the moon-fish, with its disk of silver, shall gleam beside you to light the dimness that yet is never dark; and you shall go down, down, down—”
And about this time it must have been that the little boy went down, for when the morning broke, the Skipper found him, fast asleep, and smiling as he slept.
“Well,” said Mr. Bill Hen, “I only want to put it to you, you understand. Intelligent man like you, no need for me to do more than put it to you. There’s the child, and there’s the old man, and they ’pear to have got separated. I don’t want to be understood as implying anything, not anything in the living world; but there’s where it is, you see. And me being a justice of the peace, and sworn, you observe, to—well, I’m sure you will see for yourself the position I’m placed in. Point is, you seemed consid’able interested in the child, as one may say. Nothing strange in that,—nice little boy! would interest an Injin chief, if he had any human feelin’ in him. But bein’ a justice of the peace, you see,—well, Mr. Scraper has sent me to make inquiries, and no offence in the world, I trust—no insult, you understand, if I jest—well, all about it—do you know where in thunder the child is?”
Mr. Bill Hen, standing on the bank, delivered himself of these remarks with infinite confusion, perspiring freely, and wiping his face with a duster, which he had brought by mistake instead of a handkerchief. He looked piteously at the Skipper, who stood leaning over the side, cheerfully inscrutable, clad in spotless white, and smoking a long cigar.