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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 536 pages of information about Jack Tier.

“Certainly not, and for that reason I would rather you should never attempt it, Rose.  We rough sons of the ocean would prefer to hear our wives make divers pretty blunders, rather than to be swaggering about like so many `old salts.’”

“Mr. Mulford!  Does Aunt Budd swagger like an old salt?”

“Dearest Rose, I was not thinking of your aunt, but of you.  Of you, as you are, feminine, spirited, lovely alike in form and character, and of you a graduate of the ocean, and full of its language and ideas.”

It was probable Rose was not displeased at this allusion to herself, for a smile struggled around her pretty mouth, and she did not look at all angry.  After another short pause, she resumed the discourse.

“My aunt did not very clearly comprehend those explanations of yours about the time of day, and the longitude,” she said, “nor am I quite certain that I did myself.”

“You understood them far better than Mrs. Budd, Rose.  Women are so little accustomed to think on such subjects at all, that it is not surprising they sometimes get confused.  I do wish, however, that your aunt could be persuaded to be more cautious in the presence of strangers, on the subject of terms she does not understand.”

“I feared it might be so, Harry,” answered Rose, in a low voice, as if unwilling even he should know the full extent of her thoughts on this subject; “but my aunt’s heart is most excellent, though she may make mistakes occasionally, I owe her a great deal, if not absolutely my education, certainly my health and comfort through childhood, and more prudent, womanly advice than you may suppose, perhaps, since I have left school.  How she became the dupe of Spike, indeed, is to me unaccountable; for in all that relates to health, she is, in general, both acute and skilful.”

“Spike is a man of more art than he appears to be to superficial observers.  On my first acquaintance with him, I mistook him for a frank, fearless but well-meaning sailor, who loved hazardous voyages and desperate speculation—­a sort of innocent gambler; but I have learned to know better.  His means are pretty much reduced to his brig, and she is getting old, and can do but little more service.  His projects are plain enough, now.  By getting you into his power, he hoped to compel a marriage, in which case both your fortune and your aunt’s would contribute to repair his.”

“He might have killed me, but I never would have married him,” rejoined Rose, firmly.  “Is not that Jack coming down the steps of the light-house?”

“It is.  I find that fellow’s attachment to Spike very extraordinary, Rose.  Can you, in any manner, account for it?”

Rose at first seemed disposed to reply.  Her lips parted, as if about to speak, and closed again, as glancing her eyes toward the open door, she seemed to expect the appearance of the steward’s little, rotund form on its threshold, which held her tongue-tied.  A brief interval elapsed, however, ere Jack actually arrived, and Rose, perceiving that Harry was curiously expecting her answer, said hurriedly—­“It may be hatred, not attachment.”

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