The King's Highway eBook

George Payne Rainsford James
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 529 pages of information about The King's Highway.

The man bowed his head, and his master walked slowly and quietly away.

CHAPTER III

Now whatever might be the effect of all that passed, as recorded in the last chapter, upon the mind of Harry Sherbrooke, it is not in the slightest degree our intention to induce the reader to believe that the two personages, the officer and the little boy, whom we saw embark for the brig which was wrecked, were amongst the persons who perished upon that occasion.  True it is that every person the ship contained found a watery grave, between sunset and sunrise on the night in question.  But to explain how the whole took place, we must follow the track of the voyagers in the boat.

As soon as they were seated, Lennard Sherbrooke threw his arms affectionately round the boy, drew him a little closer to his bosom, and kissed his broad fair forehead; while the boy, on his part, with his hand leaning on the officer’s knee, and his shoulder resting confiding on his bosom, looked up in his face with eyes of earnest and deep affection.  In such mute conference they remained for some five or ten minutes; while the hardy sailors pulled away at the oars, their course towards the vessel lying right in the wind’s eye.  After a minute or two more, Lennard Sherbrooke turned round, and gazed back towards the shore, where he could now plainly perceive his cousin beginning to climb the little path up the cliff.  After watching him for a moment with a look of calculating thought, he turned towards the boy again, and saw that there were tears in his eyes, which sight caused him to bend down, saying, in a low voice, “You are not frightened, my dear boy?”

“Oh no, no!” replied the boy—­“I am only sorry to go away to a strange place.”

Lennard Sherbrooke turned his eyes once more towards the shore, but the form of his cousin had now totally disappeared.  He then remained musing for a minute or two, while the fishermen laboured away, making no very great progress against the wind.  At the distance of about a mile or a mile and a half from the shore, Lennard Sherbrooke turned round towards the man who was steering, and made some remarks upon the excellence of the boat.  The man, proud of his little vessel, boasted her capabilities, and declared that she was as sea-worthy as any frigate in the navy.

“I should like to see her tried,” said Sherbrooke.  “I should not wonder if she were well tried to-night,” replied the man.

For a moment or two the officer made no rejoinder; but then approaching the steersman nearer still, he said, in a low voice, “Come, my man, I have something to tell you.  We must alter our course very soon; I am not going to yon Frenchman at all.”

“Why, then, where the devil are you going to?” demanded the fisherman; and he proceeded, in tones and in language which none but an Irishman must presume to deal with, to express his astonishment, that after having been hired by the other gentleman to carry the person who spoke to him and the boy to the French brig of war, where berths had been secured for them, he should be told that they were not going there at all.

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The King's Highway from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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