“I thought that it would do good, Major. I don’t mean that it would do you any good, but that it would do good generally. I had to tell the other story, and that came naturally with it; and, at any rate, she could not but see that there was a deal of difference between the nature of the man who had been so good to me, and that of that scoundrel.”
“That is just the effect it did have. Well, don’t say anything about it forward, at present. The men shall be told later on.”
By one o’clock on Monday the Osprey was back at Ryde, and at two o’clock the dinghy went ashore with the mate and two of the hands, who waited a quarter of an hour till a vehicle brought down the ladies’ luggage. Soon afterwards Frank went ashore in the gig, and brought Lady Greendale and Bertha off.
As they went down to their cabin, Bertha, looking into the saloon, saw George Lechmere preparing the tea tray to bring it up on deck. She at once went to him.
“I did not thank you before,” she said, holding out her hand; “but I thank you now, and shall thank you all my life. You did me the greatest service.”
“I am glad, indeed, Miss Greendale, that it was so; for I know that the Major would never have been a happy man if this had not come about.”
For the next fortnight the Osprey was cruising along the coast, getting as far as Torquay, and returning to Cowes. Frank did not enter her for any of the races. Lady Greendale, although a fair sailor, grew nervous when the yacht heeled over far, and even Bertha did not care for racing, the memory of the last race being too fresh in her mind for her to wish to take part in another for the present.
“That is an uncommonly pretty trading schooner, Bertha,” Frank Mallett said, as he rose from his chair to get a better look at a craft that was passing along to the eastward. “I suppose she must be in the fruit trade, and must just have arrived from the Levant. I should not be surprised if she had been a yacht at one time. She is not carrying much sail, but she is going along fast. I think they would have done better if they had rigged her as a fore-and-aft schooner instead of putting those heavy yards on the foremast. That broad band of white round her spoils her appearance; her jib boom is unusually long, and she must carry a tremendous spread of canvas in light winds. I should think that she must be full up to the hatches, for she is very low in the water for a trader.”
The Osprey was lying in the outside tier of yachts off Cowes. The party that had been on board her for the regatta had broken up a week before, and only Lady Greendale and Bertha remained on board. The former had not been well for some days, and had had her maid down from town as soon as the cabins were empty. It had been proposed, indeed, that she and Bertha should return to town, but, being unwilling to cut short the girl’s pleasure, she said that she should do better on board than in London; and, moreover, she did not feel equal to travelling. She was attended by a doctor in Cowes, and the Osprey only took short sails each day, generally down to the Needles and back, or out to the Nab.