“Yes,” replied Mrs. Harris, “and the causes of financial disturbances are fully as difficult to divine or control.”
“It was fortunate, however, Mrs. Harris,” said the captain, “that word reached the steamer in time to intercept the Colonel so that he could return at once and assume command of his business. Aboard our ship, you must all dismiss every anxiety as to matters at home or on the “Majestic.” With your permission, Colonel Harris’s family shall be mine for the passage. Please command my services at all times.”
“Thank you,” said Alfonso, and the captain’s cordial words, like sunshine, dispelled the clouds.
“Captain,” inquired Leo, “do you think we shall have a pleasant voyage?”
“Yes, I hope so, for the sake of those aboard who are making this their first voyage, otherwise we may not have the pleasure of much of their company.”
“Captain Morgan, then you really promise a smooth passage?” said Lucille.
“Oh no, Miss Harris, we never promise in advance good weather on the ocean. Smooth water for us old sailors is irksome indeed, yet I always consider it very fortunate for our passengers, if Old Probabilities grant us a day or two of fair skies as we leave and enter port. With gentle breezes the passengers gradually get possession of their ‘sea legs’ as sailors term it, and later brisk breezes are welcomed.”
“Captain, have you a panacea for seasickness?” inquired Mrs. Harris.
“Oh, yes,” he replied, “take as vigorous exercise on the ship as is taken ashore, eat wisely, observe economy of nerve-force, and be resolved to keep on good terms with Old Neptune. Don’t fight the steamer’s movements or eccentricities, but yield gracefully to all the boat’s motions. In a word, forget entirely that you are aboard ship, and the victory is yours.”
“This is Wednesday, Captain, and do you really think you will land us in the Mersey by Monday evening?” Lucille enquired earnestly.
“Monday or Tuesday if all goes well,” the captain answered. Captain Morgan drank his coffee, excused himself, and returned to his duty on the bridge.
“What a gallant old sea-dog the captain is,” said Mrs. Harris. “We shall feel perfectly safe in his keeping. How cheery he is away from home.”
“How do you know he has a home, mother?”
“Perhaps not, my dear, for he seems really married to his ship.”
The Harrises and Leo joined the passengers who had now left the dining saloon. The light winds had freshened and the skies were overcast and gave promise of showers, if not of a storm. After walking a few times around the promenade deck, most of the passengers went below, some to the library, some to the smoking room, and some to their staterooms, perhaps thinking discretion the better part of valor. The steamer’s chairs were taken from the deck and only a few persons remained outside. Some of them were clad in warm ulsters. They walked the usual half-hour. Most of these promenaders were men of business who were required to make frequent ocean passages. They were as familiar with moistened decks, cloudy skies, and heavy seas as the land-lubbers are with stone pavements and hotel corridors.