The boy became extremely solemn at this point, took the little girl’s hand, and gazed into her face as he spoke.
“You must know,” he began, “that Henry and his mother and I go away to-night—”
“To-night?” cried Alice, quickly.
“To-night,” repeated the boy. “Bumpus and Jakolu go with us. I have said that I don’t know where we are going to, but I am pretty safe in assuring you that we are going somewhere. Why we are going I am forbidden to tell,—divulge, I think Henry called it; but what that means I don’t know. I can only guess it’s another word for tell; and yet it can’t be that either, for you can speak of telling lies, but you can’t speak of divulging them. However, that don’t matter. But I’m not forbidden to tell you why I’m going away. In the first place, then, I’m going to seek my fortune! Where I’m to find it remains to be seen. The only thing I know is, that I mean to find it somewhere or other, and then” (here Corrie because very impressive) “come back and live beside you and your father,—not to speak of Poopy and Toozle.”
Alice smiled sadly at this. Corrie looked graver than ever, and went on:
“Meanwhile, during my absence I will write letters to you, and you’ll write ditto to me. I am going away because I ought to go and be doing something for myself. You know quite well that I would rather stop beside you than go anywhere in this wide world, Alice; but that would be stupid. I’m getting to be a man now, and mustn’t go on showin’ the weaknesses of a boy. In the second, or third place,—I forget which, but no matter,—I am going with Henry, because I could not go with a better man; and in the fourth—if it’s not the fifth—place, I’m going because Uncle Ole Thorwald has long wished me to go to sea; and, to tell you the truth, I would have gone long ago had it not been for you, Alice. There’s only one thing that bothers me.” Here Corrie looked at his fair companion with a perplexed air.
“What is that?” asked Alice, sympathetically.
“It is that I must go without saying good-by to Uncle Ole. I am very sorry about it. It will look so ungrateful to him; but it can’t be helped.”
“Why not?” inquired Alice. “If he has often said he wished you to go sea, would he not be delighted to hear that you are going?”
“Yes; but he must not know that I am going to-night, and with Henry Stuart.”
“Ah! that’s the point. Mystery! Alice—mystery! What a world of mystery this is!” observed the precocious Corrie, shaking his head with profound solemnity. “I’ve been involved (I think that’s the word), rolled up, drowned, and buried in mystery for more than three weeks, and I’m beginning to fear that I’ll never again git into the unmysteriously happy state in which I lived before this abominable man-of-war came to the island. No, Alice: I dare not say anything more on that point, even to you just now. But won’t I give it you all in my first letter? and won’t you open your eyes until they look like two blue saucers?”