“Here we are. Properly, I ought to be on board first, but I am too wedged in. You and Wilson had better go up first; that will give more room for the ladies to move.”
“You have got new steps,” Bertha said. “When I came down with Mrs. Wilson to christen the boat we had to climb up nasty steep steps against the side. This is a great deal more comfortable. I was thinking that mamma would have a difficulty in getting up those other things, if it were at all rough.”
“Yes, I have had them specially made for the present occasion. Large cruisers always have them, and, at any rate, they are more comfortable for any-sized boats. But they take up rather more room to stow away, and they are really not so handy in a sea, for the boats cannot get so close alongside. Still, no doubt they are more comfortable for ladies. Now it is your turn.”
The cruise of the Osprey was in all respects a success. The party was well chosen and pleasant. Colonel Severn and Lady Greendale got on well together. He liked her because she had no objection whatever to his perpetual enjoyment of his pipe. She liked him because he was altogether different from anyone that she had met before; his Indian stories amused her, his views of life were original, and his grumbling at modern ways and modern innovations in no way concealed the fact that in spite of it all he evidently enjoyed life thoroughly.
The Osprey had fine weather as she ran along the south coast, anchoring under Portland for a day, while the party examined the works of the breakwater and paid a visit to the quarries, where the convicts were at work. She put into Torquay, Dartmouth and Plymouth, spending a day in the two former ports and two at the last named. They looked into Fowey, and stopped two days at Falmouth, and then, rounding the Land’s End, made for Kingstown. From here they started for the Clyde; but meeting with very heavy weather, went into Belfast Lough.
The Osprey proved to be a fine sea boat, and behaved so well that even Lady Greendale declared she would not be afraid to trust herself on board her in any weather. They sailed up the Clyde as far as Greenock, and then returning, cruised for a fortnight among the islands on the west coast. They had enjoyed their stay at Kingstown so much that they put in there again on their return voyage, shaped their course for Plymouth, and then, without looking into any other port, returned to Southampton.
Jack Hawley and Miss Sinclair had become engaged during the voyage, and the Colonel and Lady Greendale had become so confidential that Frank laughingly asked him if he had changed his views on the subject of matrimony, a suggestion which he indignantly repudiated.
“I should have thought that you knew me better,” he said, reproachfully. “I admit that Lady Greendale is a very charming woman, but you don’t think that she can imagine for a moment that I have ever entertained any idea of such a thing? You said that I was to amuse her if I could. I have tried my best to keep the old lady as much to myself as possible, so as to enable all you young people to carry out your flirtations to your heart’s content. By gad, sir, it would be a nice return for following out your instructions to find myself in such a hole as that.”