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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 536 pages of information about Pathfinder; or, the inland sea.

“My dear, dear father can entertain no notion so ridiculous —­ no notion so cruel!”

“Would it, then, be cruel to wish you the wife of a quartermaster?”

“I have told you what I think on that subject, and cannot make my words stronger.  Having answered you so frankly, Jasper, I have a right to ask how you know that my father thinks of any such thing?”

“That he has chosen a husband for you, I know from his own mouth; for he has told me this much during our frequent conversations while he has been superintending the shipment of the stores; and that Mr. Muir is to offer for you, I know from the officer himself, who has told me as much.  By putting the two things together, I have come to the opinion mentioned.”

“May not my dear father, Jasper,” —­ Mabel’s face glowed like fire while she spoke, though her words escaped her slowly, and by a sort of involuntary impulse, —­ “may not my dear father have been thinking of another?  It does not follow, from what you say, that Mr. Muir was in his mind.”

“Is it not probable, Mabel, from all that has passed?  What brings the Quartermaster here?  He has never found it necessary before to accompany the parties that have gone below.  He thinks of you for his wife; and your father has made up his own mind that you shall be so.  You must see, Mabel, that Mr. Muir follows you?

Mabel made no answer.  Her feminine instinct had, indeed, told her that she was an object of admiration with the Quartermaster; though she had hardly supposed to the extent that Jasper believed; and she, too, had even gathered from the discourse of her father that he thought seriously of having her disposed of in marriage; but by no process of reasoning could she ever have arrived at the inference that Mr. Muir was to be the man.  She did not believe it now, though she was far from suspecting the truth.  Indeed, it was her own opinion that these casual remarks of her father, which had struck her, had proceeded from a general wish to have her settled, rather than from any desire to see her united to any particular individual.  These thoughts, however, she kept secret; for self-respect and feminine reserve showed her the impropriety of making them the subject of discussion with her present companion.  By way of changing the conversation, therefore, after the pause had lasted long enough to be embarrassing to both parties, she said, “Of one thing you may be certain, Jasper, —­ and that is all I wish to say on the subject, —­ Lieutenant Muir, though he were a colonel, will never be the husband of Mabel Dunham.  And now, tell me of your voyage; —­when will it end?”

“That is uncertain.  Once afloat, we are at the mercy of the winds and waves.  Pathfinder will tell you that he who begins to chase the deer in the morning cannot tell where he will sleep at night.”

“But we are not chasing a deer, nor is it morning:  so Pathfinder’s moral is thrown away.”

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