“Well, one afternoon Mr. Robinson comes aboard alone, and says to me, ‘Williams, at what hour will the tide serve to-morrow night?’
“‘Why, sir,’ says I, after thinking, ’there’ll be plenty of water at nine o’clock.’
“‘Then,’ says he, ’see all ready, Williams, to get away to-morrow at that hour. We’re off to ——,’ and he names a Mediterranean port.
“Right, sir,’ says I, though wondering a bit to myself, for the season was pretty well advanced, and I couldn’t have guessed, from what I knew and had heard of him, that he would have pushed so far south.
“Well, at half past eight that evening the deck was hailed by a boat alongside, and up he comes handing a lady on board, thickly veiled, and they both went below as if they were in a hurry. Some parcels and a bit of a bandbox or so were chucked up to us by the watermen, who then shoved off. There was a nice little off-shore breeze a-blowing, and soon after nine we were clear of the harbor and sailing quietly along, the sea smooth and the moon rising red out of a smother of mist. Mr. Robinson came on deck and looked aloft to see what sail was made; I was at the tiller, and stepping up to me, he says—
“‘What d’yer think of the weather, Williams?’
“‘Why,’ says I, ‘it seems as if it was going to keep fair.’
“‘There can’t come too much wind for me,’ says he, ’short of a hurricane. Don’t spare your cloths, let it blow as it may. You understand that?’
“‘Quite easily,’ says I.
“Now, this order I took to be as singular as our going to the Mediterranean, for Mr. Robinson was never a man to carry on; there was no racing in him; quiet sailing was his pleasure, and what his hurry was all of a sudden I couldn’t imagine, though I guessed that the party in the cabin might have something to do with it. She came on deck after we had been under way about three quarters of an hour, this time without a veil, with what they call a turban hat on her head. There was plenty of moonlight, and I tell you that the very shadow she cast, and that lay like a carving of jet on ivory, looked beautiful on the white deck, so fine her figure was. Lord, how her big eyes flashed, too, when she drew my way and turned ’em to the moon! Being a sober, ’spectable man myself, with correct views on the bringing up of daughters, it seemed to be a queer start that if so be this young lady was keeping company with Mr. Robinson—being courted by him, you know—that her mother or some female connection wasn’t along with her. P’raps they were married, I thought; might have been spliced that very morning. She had no gloves on, and whenever she walked with Mr. Robinson near to me, I’d take a long squint at her left hand; but there was no distinguishing a wedding-ring by moonshine, and even had it been broad daylight it would have been all the same, for the jewels lay so thick on her fingers you’d have fancied them sparkling with dew.