“Well, say nothing about it at present, George. It would be a great shock to my wife if she were to know it. Now you had better go and change your things at once, as I am going to do. Are all the men rescued?”
“Yes, sir, they are all five on board.”
“Hawkins,” Frank said, putting his hand in his pocket, “give the men who came to help us a couple of sovereigns each, and tell our men that I don’t want them to talk about the affair. I will see you about it again.”
Frank was not long in getting into dry clothes, and a few minutes later Bertha came in.
“Are you none the worse for it, dear?”
“Not a bit, Frank. That champagne has thoroughly warmed me. What a sudden affair it all was. Is everyone safe?”
“Yes, they stuck to the oars, and all our crew were picked up. It was a bad start, was it not? But it has never happened to me before, and I hope that it will never happen to me again.”
“Some people would be inclined to think this an unlucky beginning,” said Bertha, with a slight tone of interrogation.
“I am certainly not one of them,” he laughed. “I had only one superstition, and that is at an end. You know what it was, dear, but the spell is broken. He had a long run of minor successes, but I have won the only prize worth having, for which we have been rivals.”
Some days later the body of a sailor was washed ashore near Selsey Bill. An inquest was held, and a verdict returned that the man had been murdered by some person or persons unknown; but although the police of Portsmouth, Southampton, Cowes, and Ryde made vigilant inquiries, they were unable to ascertain that any yacht sailor hailing from those ports had suddenly disappeared.
There was much discussion, in the forecastle of the Osprey, as to the identity and motives of the man who had first got into conversation with Jackson, and then asked him to take a drink, which must have been hocussed, for Jackson remembered nothing afterwards. It was evident that the fellow had done it in order to take his place. He had staved in the boat, and, as they supposed, afterwards swam to shore; but the crime seemed so singularly motiveless that they finally put it down as the work of a madman.
It was not until the day before the Osprey anchored again in Cowes, three months later, that Bertha, on expressing some apprehension of further trouble from Carthew, if he had survived the wound George Lechmere gave him, learned the true account of the sinking of the gig, as she went on board at Southampton on her wedding day.
***End of the project gutenberg EBOOK the queen’s cup***
******* This file should be named 17436.txt or 17436.zip *******