His old friend, Mr. David Chalker, one is sorry to add, refused to give bail, so that he remained in custody, and will now endure hardness for a somewhat lengthened period.
“Clara,” said Arnold, “Iris will stay with you, if you ask her. We shall not marry, my dear, without your permission. I have promised that already, have I not?”
“I’ve knocked off the sea now for some years, but I was yachting along with all sorts of gentlemen and in all sorts of craft, from three to one hundred and twenty tons, ever since the top of my head was no higher than your knee; and as boy, man, and master, I’ll allow there’s no one who has seen much more than I have. Yet, spite of that, I can recall but one extraordinary circumstance. Daresay when I’ve told it you, you won’t believe it; but I sha’n’t be able to help that. Truth’s truth, no consequence how sing’lar its appearance may be; and so now to begin.
“No matter the port, no matter the yacht’s name, no matter her owner’s calling, no matter nothing. Terms and dates and the like shall be imaginary, and so let the vessel be a schooner of one hundred tons called the ‘Evangeline,’ and her owner Mr. Robinson, and me, who was captain of her, Jacob Williams. This’ll furnish a creep you may go on sweeping with till Doomsday without raising what’s dead and gone, though not forgotten, mind ye, from the bottom. Well, for a whole fortnight had the ‘Evangeline’ been moored in a snug berth alongside a pier wall. The English Channel was wide there, and it didn’t need much sailing to find the Atlantic Ocean. I began to think all cruising was to come to an end; for Mr. Robinson was a man fond of keeping the sea, and I had never found a fortnight’s lying by to his taste at all. But matters explained themselves after I’d seen him two or three times walking about with a very fine-looking female party. Mr. Robinson was a bachelor, his age I dare say about forty, with handsome whiskers, and one of those voices that show breeding in a man; ay, and the humblest ear that hears ’em recognizes them. I didn’t take much notice of her, though I reckoned her large black eyes the beautifullest I had ever beheld in a female countenance. She seemed young—not more than eight-and-twenty—with what they call a fine figure, though, speaking for myself, I never had much opinion of small waists. Give me bong poine, as my old master, Sir Arthur Jones, used to say; and he ought to have known, for he had been studying female beauty for eighty year, and died, I reckon, of it.
“I considered it to be a case of courting, for she was a lady; there was no mistaking that; she held her head up like one, and dressed as real ladies do, expensively but plainly—ay, old Jacob knows; he didn’t go yachting for years for nothing. But it wasn’t for me to form opinions. My berth was an easy one—just a sprawl all day long with a pipe in my mouth, and a good night’s rest to follow; and that was all it was my duty to think about.