“How is it Sambo, that you had not sooner spoken of this? The pocket book contains papers that may be of importance; and yet there is now no means of forwarding it, unless I delay the schooner.”
“I only find him hab an hour ago, Massa Geral, when I go to make e beds and put e cabin to rights,” said the old man, in a tone that showed he felt, and was pained by the reproof of his young master. “Dis here too,” producing a small ivory handled penknife, “I find same time in e Gubbanor’s dater’s bed.”
Gerald extended his hand to receive it. “A penknife in the bed of the Governor’s daughters!” he repeated with surprise. Ruminating a moment he added to himself, “By heaven, it must be so—it is then as I expected. Would that I had had this proof of their participation before they quitted the schooner. Very well, Sambo, no blame can attach to you—go to sleep, my good fellow, but not beyond the time I have given you.”
“Tankee, Massa Geral, “and drawing the collar of his pea jacket close under his ears, the negro again extended himself at his length upon the arm chest.
The first idea of the young Commander on descending to the cabin, was to examine the blade of the penknife. Passing it over his finger, he perceived that the edge had that particular bluntness which would have been produced by cutting through a rope, and on closer examination he found it full of numerous fine notches, apparently the result of the resistance it had met with. His next care was to examine the severed portions of the rope itself, and in these he could observe, by the reflection of the lamp, near which he held them minute particles of steel, which left no doubt in his mind that this had been the instrument by which the separation of Desborough’s bonds had been effected. We will not venture to assert what were the actual feelings of the officer, on making this discovery; but it may be supposed, that, added to the great annoyance he felt at the escape of the settler, his esteem for those who had so positively denied all knowledge of, or participation in, the evasion was sensibly diminished; and yet it was not without pain that he came to a conclusion of the unworthiness of those whom he had known from boyhood, and loved no less than he had known.
In the fulness of his indignation at their duplicity, he now came to the resolution of staying the departure the schooner, yet a few hours, that he might have an opportunity of going ashore himself, presenting this undoubted evidence of their guilt, and taxing them boldly with the purpose to which it had been appropriated. Perhaps there was another secret motive which induced this determination, and that was, the opportunity it would afford him of again seeing his beloved Matilda, and delivering her pocket book with his own hand.