“No,” said the son, who had so lately been a boy, “I have no news to give her, but I am going to get news for her.”
She looked at him in amazement; then she exclaimed: “You!”
“Yes,” he said, “there is no one else. And besides I would not want any one else to do it. I am going to Bridgetown in the brig which brought us here; it is a little sail, and when I get there I will find out everything. No matter what has happened, it will break her heart to think that her father deserted her without a word. I don’t believe he did it, and I shall go and find out.”
“But, Dickory,” she said, with anxious, upraised face, “how can you get back? Do you know of any vessel that will be sailing this way?”
“Get back? If I go alone, dear mother, you may be sure I shall soon get back. Craft of all kinds sail one way or another, and there are many ways in which I can get back not thought of in ordinary passage. When any kind of a vessel sails from Jamaica, I can get on board of her, whether she takes passengers or not. I can sleep on a bale of goods or on the bare deck; I can work with the crew, if need be. Oh! you need not doubt that I shall speedily come back.”
They talked long together, this mother and this son, and it was her golden dreams for him that made her invoke Heaven’s blessings upon him and tell him to go. She knew, too, that it was wise for her to tell him to go and to bless him, for it would have been impossible to withstand him, so set was he in his purpose.
“I tell you, Dame Charter,” said Mr. Delaplaine an hour later, “this son of yours should be a great credit and pride to you, and he will be, I stake my word upon it.”
“He is now,” said the good woman quietly.
“I have been pondering in my brain,” said he, “what I should do to relieve my niece of this burden of anxiety which is weighing upon her. I could see no way, for letters would be of no use, not knowing where to send them, and it would be dreary, indeed, to sit and wait and sigh and dream bad dreams until chance throws some light upon this grievous business, and here steps up this young fellow and settles the whole matter. When he comes back, Dame Charter, I shall do well for him; I shall put him in my counting-house, for, although doubtless he would fain live his young life in the fields and under the open sky, he will find the counting-house lies on the road to fortune, and good fortune he deserves.”
If that loving mother could have composed this speech for Master Delaplaine to make she could not have suited it better to her desires.
When the King and Queen was nearly ready to sail, Dickory Charter, having been detained by Mr. Delaplaine, who wished the young man to travel as one of importance and plentiful resources, hurried to the house to take his final instructions from Mistress Kate Bonnet, in whose service he was now setting forth. It might have been supposed by some that no further instructions were necessary, but how could Dickory know that? He was right. Kate met him before he reached the house.