“He will repent of this!” said he, bitterly, as he left the room of the Secretary of the Navy, “and repent it until the day of his death. Make a fixture of me in a counting room! Shut me up in a lawyer’s office! Lock me down in a medicine chest! Mark Clifford never will submit! If I cannot enter the service in one way I will in another.”
Without pausing to weigh the consequences of his act, Mark, in a spirit of revenge towards his father, went, while the fever was on him, to the Navy Yard, and there entered the United States service as a common sailor, under the name of Edward James. On the day following, the ship on board of which he had enlisted was gliding down the Potomac, and, in a week after, left Hampton Roads and went to sea.
From Norfolk, Mr. Clifford received a brief note written by his son, upbraiding him for having defeated the application to the department, and avowing the fact that he had gone to sea in the government service, as a common sailor.
It was impossible for such passionate interviews, brief though they were, to take place without leaving on the heart of a simple minded girl like Jenny Lawson, a deep impression. New impulses were given to her feelings, and a new direction to her thoughts. Nature told her that Mark Clifford loved her; and nothing but his cold disavowal of the fact could possibly have affected this belief. He had met her, it was true, only three or four times; but their interviews during these meetings had been of a character to leave no ordinary effect behind. So long as her eyes, dimmed by overflowing tears, could follow Mark’s retiring form, she gazed eagerly after him; and when he was at length hidden from her view, she sat down to pour out her heart in passionate weeping.
Old Mrs. Lee, while she tenderly loved the sweet flower that had grown up under her care, was not, in all things, a wise and discreet woman; nor deeply versed in the workings of the human heart.
Rumor of Mark’s wildness had found its way to the neighborhood of Fairview, and made an unfavorable impression. Mrs. Lee firmly believed that he was moving with swift feet in the way to destruction, and rolling evil under his tongue as a sweet morsel. When she heard of his arrival at his grandfather’s, a fear came upon her lest he should cast his eyes upon Jenny. No wonder that she met the young man with such a quick repulse, when, to her alarm, she found that he had invaded her home, and was already charming the ear of the innocent child she so tenderly loved and cared for. To find them sitting alone in the woods, only a little while afterwards, almost maddened her; and so soon as she took Jenny home, she hurried over to Mr. Lofton, and in a confused, exaggerated, and intemperate manner, complained of the conduct of Mark.
“Together alone in the woods!” exclaimed the old gentleman, greatly excited. “What does the girl mean?”