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“Thought so," exclaimed Finn to me with a snuffe; "d'ye smell it now, sir? How they can get men to sign for a voyage with such a cargo beats my going a-fishing.
"Schooner ahoy!" now came from the barque again. "Hallo?"
“I've got a lady and gent here," roared the figure through his hands which he held funnelwise to his mouth, “as want to get aboard summat smelling a bit sweeter nor this. They was wrecked in a yacht like yourn, and I came across 'em in a open boat five days ago. Will’ee take 'em?"
“What was the name of the yacht, can you tell me?" cried Finn.
The man turned his head, evidently interrogating another, probably his mate, who stood a little behind him; then bringing his hands to his mouth afresh, he roared out "The Shark!”
Finn slowly brought his long face to bear upon mine; his figure moving with it as though the whole of him were a piece of mechanism warranted to perform that motion but no more.
"Gracious thunder!” he exclaimed under his breath and then his jaw fell. I heard the confused humming of the men's voices forward, a swift flow of excited talk subdued into a sort of buzzing by their habits of shipboard discipline. I felt that I was as pale in the face as if I had received some violent shock.
"The Shark!” I cried in a breathless way; "the lady and gentleman then aboard that vessel must be the Colonel and Lady Monson. The yacht probably met with the gale that swept over us and foundered in it”; then pulling myself together with an effort, for amazement seemed to have sent all my wits adrift for a moment, I exclaimed, “Hail the barque at once, Finn; say
that you will be happy to receive the lady and gentleman, Ask the captain to come aboard, or, stay—where is Crimp? Let old Jacob invite his brother. We must act with extreme wariness. My God, what an astounding confrontment!"
"Mr. Crimp," roared Finn, on a sudden exploding, as it were, out of his state of petrifaction. Jacob came aft. “Jump on that there rail, Mr. Crimp, and tell your brother who ye are and ask him aboard."
The sour little man climbed on to the bulwarks, and in a voice that was the completest imaginable echo of that in which the fellow aboard the barque had hailed us, he shouted “ 'Arry ahoy!"
The other stood a while staring, dropping his head first on one side, then on the other, in the manner of one who discredits his sight and seeks to obtain a clearer view by dodging about for a true focus.
"Why, Jacob,” he presently sang out, “is that you, brother?"
“Ay, come aboard, will ye, 'Arry?" answered Crimp, with which he dropped off the rail and trudged sourly to the gangway without the least visible expression of surprise or pleasure or emotion of any
kind. Meanwhile I had taken notice of strong manifestations of excitement amongst the little group on the forecastle of the barque—I mean the small knot of men to whom Finn had called my attention. The vessels lay so near together that postures and gestures were easily distinguishable. There could be no doubt now that the fellows had formed a portion of a yacht's crew. Their dress betokened it; they gazed with much probing and thrusting of their heads and elbowing of one another at our men, who lined the forward bulwarks-most of
our sailors having turned up as though seeking for familiar faces. I eagerly looked for signs of the colonel and his companion, but it was still very early; they were doubtless in their cabins, and the crying out of voices from vessel to vessel was so recent that even if the couple had been disturbed by the noise they would not yet have had time to dress themselves and make thir, appearance on deck.
"Will you go and report to Sir Wilfrid, sir?” said Finn.
"At once," I answered. “Let old Jacob's brother have the full story, the whole truth, should he arrive before I return. His sympathies must be enlisted on Sir Wilfrid's side, or there may happen a most worrisome difficulty if the Colonel refuses to leave that barque and should make some splendid offer to the skipper to retain him and her ladyship."
"I'll talk with Jacob whilst his brother's a-coming, sir," said Finn.
I stepped below with a beating heart. I was exceedingly agitated, could scarce bring my mind to accept the reality of what had happened, and I dreaded moreover the effect of the news upon my cousin. The Shark foundered the couple we were in chase of picked up out of an open boat!--this great, blank, lidless eye of ocean, whose infinite distances I had pointed into over and over again to Miss Laura, yielding up the pair that we were in chase of in an encounter bewildering as a surprise and miraculous for its unexpectedness !-why I confess I breathed in gasps as I thought of it all, making my way, absolutely trembling in my shoes, to Wilfrid's berth. I knocked and was told to enter. He had nearly finishod dressing, and looked up from a boot that he was
buttoning with a cold, bitter, triumphant smile at me.
“I know," he exclaimed in a voice infinitely more composed than I could have exerted; "this is Monday, Charles."
It was Monday as he said! I stared stupidly at him for a minute, and then saw how it was that he knew. The window of his port was unscrewed and lay wide open; through it I could see the barque fluctuating in the silver and blue of the atmosphere as she swayed swinging her canvas in and out with every roll. The port made a very funnel for the ear as a vehicle of sound, for I could distinctly hear the orders given on board the vessel for lowering a boat; the voice of one of the Shark's men apparently hailing our fellows; the beat of her cloths against the mast; and the recoil of the water breaking from her broad channels as she buried her plates to the height almost of those platforms.
"I am breathless with astonishment," said I ; "but, God be praised, Wilf, I see you mean to confront this business coldly.”
"The captain of that vessel is coming on board,” he said, speaking with extraordinary composure, whilst his face, from which the smile had faded, still preserved the light or expression of its mingled triumph and bitterness.
“He will be here in a minute or two," I answered.
"See that she gets the news, Charles, at once. I shall want her on deck. Then return and we will concert a little programme.
I quitted his cabin, marvelling exceedingly at his collectedness. But then I had noticed that his mind steadied in proportion as his attention grew fixed. This is true of most weak intelligences, I suppose; if you want them to ride you must let go an anchor for them. I was hesitating at Miss Jennings' door, stretching my ear for the sound of her voice that I might know she was dressing and had her maid with her, when the handle was turned and the maid came out. I inquired if her mistress was rising. She answered “Yes.” “Tell her, " said I, “that there is a vessel close to us, and that Colonel Hope-Kennedy and Lady Monson are on board of her. Sir Wilfrid begs that she will make haste, as he desires her presence on deck as soon as possible." I then returned to my cousin's berth, thinking that, though to be sure the news would immensely scare the little girl, it was best that she should have the whole truth at once, and so find time to tauten her nerves for what was to come.
As I entered my cousin's cabin I heard through the open port the sound of the grinding of oars betwixt thole pins, and immediately after there rang out a cry of “Look out for the end of the line !" by which I knew that Crimp's brother was alongside of us. Wilfrid, having buttoned his boots, was now completely dressed. He stood with a hand upon the edge of his bunk, gazing at the barque, which still hung fair in the blue and gleaming disc of the porthole, showing in that circular frame like a daguerreotype with the silvery flashing and fading of light, the shooting prismatic tints, the shot-silk-like alterations of hues that accompanied the floating heave of her by the swell to the sunshine. I picked up a small binocular glass that lay on the table, but could see nothing as yet of Lady Monson or her companion.
"My wife was always a late riser," said Wilfrid, turn