Whatever they thought, or however each strove to hide their conclusions from the other, no words passed between them till they came in full sight of the sea, on a distant billow of which the noble-ship bound for the Brazils rode triumphantly on its outward course. Then Mr. Sutherland remarked, with a suggestive glance at the vessel:
“The young man who has found an unexpected passage on that vessel will not come back with the pilot.”
Was the sigh which was Frederick’s only answer one of relief? It certainly seemed so.
IN THE SHADOW OP THE MAST
Mr. Sutherland was right. Sweetwater did not return with the pilot. According to the latter there was no Sweetwater on board the ship to return. At all events the minutest search had not succeeded in finding him in the cabins, though no one had seen him leave the vessel, or, indeed, seen him at all after his hasty dash below decks. It was thought on board that he had succeeded in reaching shore before the ship set sail, and the pilot was suitably surprised at learning this was not so. So were Sweetwater’s friends and associates with the exception of a certain old gentleman living on the hill, and Knapp the detective. He, that is the latter, had his explanation at his tongue’s end:
“Sweetwater is a fakir. He thought he could carry off the honours from the regular force, and when he found he couldn’t he quietly disappeared. We shall hear of him again in the Brazils.”
An opinion that speedily gained ground, so that in a few hours Sweetwater was all but forgotten, save by his mother, whose heart was filled with suspense, and by Mr. Sutherland, whose breast was burdened by gratitude. The amazing fact of Frederick, the village scapegrace and Amabel’s reckless, if aristocratic, lover, having been made the legatee of the upright Mrs. Webb’s secret savings had something to do with this. With such a topic at hand, not only the gossips, but those who had the matter of Agatha’s murder in hand, found ample material to occupy their thoughts and tongues, without wasting time over a presumptuous busybody, who had not wits enough to know that five minutes before sailing-time is an unfortunate moment in which to enter a ship.
And where was Sweetwater, that he could not be found on the shore or on the ship? We will follow him and see. Accustomed from his youth to ramble over the vessels while in port, he knew this one as well as he did his mother’s house. It was, therefore, a surprise to the sailors when, shortly after the departure of the pilot, they came upon him lying in the hold, half buried under a box which had partially fallen upon him. He was unconscious, or appeared to be so, and when brought into open light showed marks of physical distress and injury; but his eye was clear and his expression hardly as rueful as one would expect in a man who finds himself en