As she was about to issue from her cottage, Henry met her, and clasped her in his arms. The meeting would have doubtless been a warmer one had the mother known what a narrow escape her son had so recently had. But Mrs. Stuart was accustomed to part from Henry for weeks at a time, and regarded this return in much the same light as former home-comings, except in so far as he had news of their lost friends to give her. She welcomed him therefore with a kiss and a glad smile, and then hurried him into the house to inquire about the result of the voyage.
“I have already heard of your success in finding Alice and our friends. Come, tell me more.”
“Have you heard how nearly I was lost, mother?”
“Lost!” exclaimed the widow, in surprise; “no, I have heard nothing of that.”
Henry rapidly narrated his escape from the wreck of the Wasp, and then, looking earnestly in his mother’s anxious face he said, slowly: “But you do not ask for Gascoyne, mother. Do you know that he is now in the jail?”
The widow looked perplexed. “I know it,” said she, “I was just going to see him when you came in.”
“Ah, mother,” said Henry, reproachfully, “why did you not tell me sooner about Gascoyne?”
He was interrupted here by Corrie and Alice rushing into the room, the latter of whom threw herself into the widow’s arms and burst into tears, while Master Corrie indulged in some eccentric bounds and cheers by way of relieving his feelings. For some time Henry allowed them to talk eagerly to each other; then he told Corrie and Alice that he had something of importance to say to his mother, and led her into an adjoining room.
Corrie had overheard the words spoken by Henry just as he entered, and great was his curiosity to know what was the mystery connected with the pirate captain. This curiosity was intensified when he heard a half-suppressed shriek in the room where mother and son were closeted. For one moment he was tempted to place his ear to the keyhole! But a blush covered his fat cheeks at the very thought of acting such a disgraceful part. Like a wise fellow, he did not give the tempter a second opportunity, but, seizing the hand of his companion, said:
“Come along, Alice; we’ll go seek for Bumpus.”
Half an hour afterwards the widow stood at the jail door. The jailer was an intimate friend, and considerately retired during the interview.
“O Gascoyne! has it come to this?” She sat down beside the pirate, and grasped one of his manacled hands in both of hers.
“Even so, Mary; my hour has come. I do not complain of my doom. I have brought it on myself.”
“But why not try to escape?” said Mrs. Stuart, earnestly. “There are some here who could aid you in the matter.”
Here the widow attempted to reason with Gascoyne, as her son had done before, but with similar want of success. Gascoyne remained immovable. He did indeed betray deep emotion while the woman reasoned with him, in tones of intense earnestness; but he would not change his mind. He said that if Montague, as the representative of the law, would set him free in consideration of what he had recently done, he would accept of liberty; but nothing could induce him to escape.