But the cradle of the deep was empty—the ship was gone!
The gentle CASTAWAYS.
Miss Keene was awakened from a heavy sleep by a hurried shake of her shoulder and an indefinite feeling of alarm. Opening her eyes, she was momentarily dazed by the broad light of day, and the spectacle of Mrs. Brimmer, pale and agitated, in a half-Spanish dishabille, standing at her bedside.
“Get up and dress yourself, my dear, at once,” she said hurriedly, but at the same time attentively examining Miss Keene’s clothes, that were lying on the chair: “and thank Heaven you came here in an afternoon dress, and not in an evening costume like mine! For something awful has happened, and Heaven only knows whether we’ll ever see a stitch of our clothes again.”
“What has happened?” asked Miss Keene impatiently, sitting up in bed, more alarmed at the unusual circumstance of Mrs. Brimmer’s unfinished toilet than at her incomplete speech.
“What, indeed! Nobody knows; but it’s something awful—a mutiny, or shipwreck, or piracy. But there’s your friend, the Commander, calling out the troops; and such a set of Christy Minstrels you never saw before! There’s the Alcalde summoning the Council; there’s Mr. Banks raving, and running round for a steamboat—as if these people ever heard of such a thing!—and Captain Bunker, what with rage and drink, gone off in a fit of delirium tremens, and locked up in his room! And the Excelsior gone—the Lord knows where!”
“Gone!” repeated Miss Keene, hurrying on her clothes. “Impossible! What does Father Esteban tell you? What does Dona Isabel say?”
“That’s the most horrible part of it! Do you know those wretched idiots believe it’s some political revolution among ourselves, like their own miserable government. I believe that baby Isabel thinks that King George and Washington have something to do with it; at any rate, they’re anxious to know to what side you belong! So; for goodness’ sake! if you have to humor them, say we’re all on the same side—I mean, don’t you and Mrs. Markham go against Miss Chubb and me.”
Scarcely knowing whether to laugh or cry at Mrs. Brimmer’s incoherent statement, Miss Keene hastily finished dressing as the door flew open to admit the impulsive Dona Isabel and her sister Juanita. The two Mexican girls threw themselves in Miss Keene’s arms, and then suddenly drew back with a movement of bashful and diffident respect.
“Do, pray, ask them, for I daren’t,” whispered Mrs. Brimmer, trying to clasp a mantilla around her, “how this thing is worn, and if they haven’t got something like a decent bonnet to lend me for a day or two?”
“The Senora has not then heard that her goods, and all the goods of the Senores and Senoras, have been discovered safely put ashore at the Embarcadero?”
“No?” said Mrs. Brimmer eagerly.