“He would come,” said Mrs. Jansell. “Hush! here comes your father.”
The master of the Aquila came on deck as she spoke, and walking slowly up to the group, stood sternly regarding them. Under his gaze the mate breathlessly reeled off his tale, noticing with somewhat mixed feelings the widening grin of his listener as he proceeded.
“Well, you’re a lively sort o’ man,” said the skipper as he finished. “In one day you tie up your own ship, run off with my wife, and lose us a tide. Are you always like that?”
“I want somebody to look after me, I s’pose,” said the mate, with a side glance at Nancy.
“Well, we’d put you up for the night,” said the skipper, with his arm round his wife’s shoulders; “but you’re such a chap. I’m afraid you’d burn the ship down, or something. What do you think, old girl?”
“I think we’ll try him this once,” said his wife. “And now I’ll go down and see about supper; I want it.”
The old couple went below, and the young one remained on deck. Nancy went and leaned against the side; and as she appeared to have quite forgotten his presence, the mate, after some hesitation, joined her.
“Hadn’t you better go down and get some supper?” she asked.
“I’d sooner stay here, if yon don’t mind,” said the mate. “I like watching the lights going up and down; I could stay here for hours.”
“I’ll leave you, then,” said the girl; “I’m hungry.”
She tripped lightly off with a smothered laugh, leaving the fairly-trapped man gazing indignantly at the lights which had lured him to destruction.
From below he heard the cheerful clatter of crockery, accompanied by a savoury incense, and talk and laughter. He imagined the girl making fun of his sentimental reasons for staying on deck; but, too proud to meet her ironical glances, stayed doggedly where he was, resolving to be off by the first train in the morning. He was roused from his gloom by a slight touch on his arm, and, turning sharply, saw the girl by his side.
“Supper’s quite ready,” said she soberly. “And if you want to admire the lights very much, come up and see them when I do—after supper.”
AN ELABORATE ELOPEMENT
I have always had a slight suspicion that the following narrative is not quite true. It was related to me by an old seaman who, among other incidents of a somewhat adventurous career, claimed to have received Napoleon’s sword at the battle of Trafalgar, and a wound in the back at Waterloo. I prefer to tell it in my own way, his being so garnished with nautical terms and expletives as to be half unintelligible and somewhat horrifying. Our talk had been of love and courtship, and after making me a present of several tips, invented by himself, and considered invaluable by his friends, he related this story of the courtship of a chum of his as illustrating the great lengths to which young bloods were prepared to go in his days to attain their ends.