Richard Carvel — Volume 04 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 93 pages of information about Richard Carvel — Volume 04.

A MAN OF DESTINY

I was picked up and thrown into the brigantine’s long-boat with a head and stomach full of salt water, and a heart as light as spray with the joy of it all.  A big, red-bearded man lifted my heels to drain me.

“The mon’s deid,” said he.

“Dead!” cried I, from the bottom-board.  “No more dead than you!”

I turned over so lustily that he dropped my feet, and I sat up, something to his consternation.  And they had scarce hooked the ship’s side when I sprang up the sea-ladder, to the great gaping of the boat’s crew, and stood with the water running off me in rivulets before the captain himself.  I shall never forget the look of his face as he regarded my sorry figure.

“Now by Saint Andrew,” exclaimed he, “are ye kelpie or pirate?”

“Neither, captain,” I replied, smiling as the comical end of it came up to me, “but a young gentleman in misfortune.”

“Hoots!” says he, frowning at the grinning half-circle about us, “it’s daft ye are—­”

But there he paused, and took of me a second sizing.  How he got at my birth behind my tangled mat of hair and wringing linsey-woolsey I know not to this day.  But he dropped his Scotch and merchant-captain’s manner, and was suddenly a French courtier, making me a bow that had done credit to a Richelieu.

“Your servant, Mr.—­”

“Richard Carvel, of Carvel Hall, in his Majesty’s province of Maryland.”

He seemed sufficiently impressed.

“Your very humble servant, Mr. Carvel.  ’Tis in faith a privilege to be able to serve a gentleman.”

He bowed me toward his cabin, and then in sharp, quick tones he gave an order to his mate to get under way, and I saw the men turning to the braces with wonder in their eyes.  My own astonishment was as great.  And so, with my clothes sucking to my body and a trail of water behind me like that of a wet walrus, I accompanied the captain aft.  His quarters were indeed a contrast to those of Griggs, being so neat that I paused at the door for fear of profaning them; but was so courteously bid to enter that I came on again.  He summoned a boy from the round house.

“William,” said he, “a bottle of my French brandy.  And my compliments to Mr. MacMuir, and ask him for a suit of clothes.  You are a larger man than I, Mr. Carvel,” he said to me, “or I would fit you out according to your station.”

I was too overwhelmed to speak.  He poured out a liberal three fingers of brandy, and pledged me as handsomely as I had been an admiral come thither in mine own barge, instead of a ragged lad picked off a piratical slaver, with nothing save my bare word and address.  ’Twas then I had space to note him more particularly.  His skin was the rich colour of a well-seasoned ship’s bell, and he was of the middle height, owned a slight, graceful figure, tapering down at the waist like a top, which

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Richard Carvel — Volume 04 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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