PLEADING FOR LIFE.
The Pacific is not always calm, but neither is it always stormy. We think it necessary to make this latter observation because the succession of short-lived gales and squalls which have been prominently and unavoidably brought forward in our tale might lead the reader to deem the name of this ocean inappropriate.
The gale blew itself out a few hours after the destruction of the Talisman, and left the Foam becalmed within sight of Sandy Cove island, almost on the same spot of ocean where she lay when we introduced her to the reader in the first chapter.
Although the sea was not quite so still now, owing to the swell caused by the recent gale, it was quite as glassy as it was then. The sun, too, was as hot, and the sky as brilliant; but the aspect of the Foam was much changed. The deep quiet was gone. Crowded on every part of the deck, and even down in her hold, were the crew of the man-of-war, lolling about listlessly and sadly, or conversing with grave looks about the catastrophe which had deprived them so suddenly of their floating home. Gascoyne and Henry leaned over the stern, to avoid being overheard by those around them, and conversed in low tones.
“But why not attempt to escape?” said the latter, in reply to some observation made by his companion.
“Because I am pledged to give myself up to justice.”
“No; not to justice,” replied the youth quickly. “You said you would give yourself up to me and Mr. Mason, I for one won’t act the part of a—a—”
“Thief-catcher,” suggested Gascoyne.
“Well, put it so if you will; and I am certain that the missionary will not have anything to do with your capture. He will say that the officers of justice are bound to attend to such matters. It would be perfectly right in you to try to escape.”
“Ah, Henry! your feelings have warped your judgment,” said Gascoyne, shaking his head. “It is strange how men will prevaricate and deceive themselves when they want to reason themselves into a wrong course or out of a right one. But what you or Mr. Mason think or will do has nothing to do with my course of action.”
“But the law holds, if I mistake not, that a man is not bound to criminate himself,” said Henry.
“I know not and care not what the law of man holds,” replied the other sadly. “I have forfeited my life to my country, and I am willing to lay it down.”
“Nay, not your life,” said Henry; “you have done no murder.”
“Well, then, at least my liberty is forfeited. I shall leave it to those who judge me whether my life shall be taken or no. I sometimes wish that I could get away to some distant part of the world, and there, by living the life of an honest man, try to undo, if possible, a little of what I have done. But, woe’s me, wishes and regrets come too late. No; I must be content to reap what I have sown.”