CAPTAIN ICHABOD PUTS THE CASE
In the river at Bridgetown lay the good brig King and Queen, just arrived from Jamaica. On her deck was an impatient young gentleman, leaning over the rail and watching the approach of a boat, with two men rowing and a passenger in the stern.
This impatient young man was Dickory Charter, that morning arrived at Bridgetown and not yet having been on shore. He came for the purpose of settling some business affairs, partly on account of Miss Kate Bonnet and partly for his mother.
As the boat came nearer, Dickory recognised one of the men who were rowing and hailed him.
“Heigho! Tom Hilyer,” he cried, “I am right glad to see you on this river again. I want a boat to go to my mother’s house; know you of one at liberty?”
The man ceased rowing for a moment and then addressed the passenger in the stern, who, having heard what he had to say, nodded briefly.
“Well, well, Dick Charter!” cried out the man, “and have you come back as governor of the colony? You look fine enough, anyway. But if you want a boat to go to your mother’s old home, you can have a seat in this one; we’re going there, and our passenger does not object.”
“Pull up here,” cried Dickory, and in a moment he had dropped into the bow of the boat, which then proceeded on its way.
The man in the stern was fairly young, handsome, sunburned, and well dressed in a suit of black. When Dickory thanked him for allowing him to share his boat the passenger in the stern nodded his head with a jerk and an air which indicated that he took the incident as a matter of course, not to be further mentioned or considered.
The men who rowed the boat were good oarsmen, but they were not thoroughly acquainted with the cove, especially at low tide, and presently they ran upon a sand-bar. Then uprose the passenger in the stern and began to swear with an ease and facility which betokened long practice. Dickory did not swear, but he knit his brows and berated himself for not having taken the direction of the course into his own hands, he who knew the river and the cove so well. The tide was rising but Dickory was too impatient to sit still and wait until it should be high enough to float the boat. That was his old home, that little house at the head of the cove, and he wanted to get there, he wanted to see it. Part of the business which brought him to Barbadoes concerned that little house. With a sudden movement he made a dive at his shoes and stockings and speedily had them lying at the bottom of the boat. Then he stepped overboard and waded towards the shore. In some of the deeper places he wetted the bottom of his breeches, but he did not mind that. The passenger in the stern sat down, but he continued to swear.
Presently Dickory was on the dry sand, and running up to that cottage door. A little back from the front of the house and in the shade there was a bench, and on this bench there sat a girl, reading. She lifted her head in surprise as Dickory approached, for his bare feet had made no noise, then she stood up quickly, blushing.