All this inland navigation is new to Alec, and he has been delighted to see how I have handled the craft so far, but I think this contretemps rather shakes his faith in my knowledge, till I explain to him the cause of my neglect.
A few hearty pushes astern and we are off again, and as the sun begins to cast its long red rays across the tranquil Broad, with its reedy margin and water-lily nooks, the “Happy Return” glides alongside our little lawn. Joy! I am home again! The wanderer has returned, and the erstwhile Crusoe has once more, like Rob Roy Macgregor, “his foot upon his native heath.”
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7: See Appendix, page 277, “Norfolk Broads and Rivers.”
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I SURPRISE THE OLD FOLKS AT HOME—ALL WELL—IS PRISCILLA FALSE—WE MEET—THE MISSING LETTERS—A SNAKE IN THE GRASS—DREAMS OF VENGEANCE.
As I stepped upon the lawn no one was in sight, so treading lightly I walked up to the house, and looked quietly in at the window, peeping cautiously so as not to be seen. To my intense relief the picture I saw within quite assured me that all was well. There sat my jolly old dad and my dear mother, cosily taking their tea, quite unsuspecting who would shortly join them in a cup. They looked very happy; so did a couple of dogs gambolling on the hearthrug, while our old cat sat on a rush hassock close by, looking dreamily at them through her half-closed eyes, when they threatened to knock her off her perch in their play.
I quietly glided in at the side door, and gently opening the parlour door stood in the room before my parents. They both looked round as I made a slight sound; in a moment the quietude was broken. My mother half choked herself with the tea she was drinking, letting fall both cup and saucer on the dogs in her amazement, who scampered away, yelping at their sudden hot bath.
“Mercy me! my boy!” and she fell sobbing in my arms, or rather on my left arm, for my father had taken possession of my right hand with,
“Hang it all, Harry, do you mean to kill us all with fright? Why, my dear boy, I don’t know what to say, I feel so glad to see you. However did you get home?” etc., etc.
It was some minutes before their nerves were restored, and I had time to get a few words in edgeways between their greetings. They wanted me to answer a hundred questions, without even pausing to give me a chance to speak; but presently having satisfied them as to the chief points, I thought it high time to fetch in my companion, whom I introduced as “Mr. ‘Monday’ Ducas, Skipper of the ‘Happy Return.’” They quickly made him welcome, taking him to be the Captain of the vessel I had come over in, but remarked aside, that both he and I would look better for a wash and a shave, while possibly a few inches off our hair would make us a little more in accord with the usual mode of dressing hair in these parts. Truly on peeping at ourselves in the glass we did look a couple of wild men or North American trappers.